Can you honor the truth of another? Can you sit with and have a conversation that tries to understand why someone believes differently than you? I was asked, “Bill, Do you spend equal time reading the positive sources as you do the critical?” here is my answer.
I need you to not only hear my answer but feel it? I have read the Book of Mormon over a dozen times all the way through and have read from its pages thousands and thousands of times. I have read the new testament and old testament deeply as well. I had read and thought about the teachings on those pages so deeply and was one who pondered the scriptures continuously. I read all the correlated materials. manuals, periodicals, LDS.org. I read and studied the institute manuals. I read “Our Heritage and “truth restored”, all of talmadge, Mcconkie, JFS, I read everything. I read the motivational guys like Wilcox, Millet, and so many others. Have you seen my LDS library. No doubt what so ever, I have read more faithful material than 99.9% of members as well as critical material in order to understand both sides. Are there folks who have read more. Sure but not many.
We like to point to critics as inaccurate. We like to say they intentionally deceive and share things out of context. But the fact of the matter is the institutional church is who is the most inaccurate about its story. It is the Church that witholds info most deeply, tells false faith promoting stories in more plenty, and whitewashes at every turn. Such is demonstrable. It is not even close. But because you know I am wrong and you are confident that you are right, you likely will avoid diving as deeply as I have. But to show just how inaccurate the Church has been take time to read a few books
Richard Bushman “Rough Stone rolling” – Bushman is a well respected faithful scholar. He is sought out by GA’s when they have historical questions and his book is as well a written book about Joseph Smith.
D. Michael Quinn – “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View” – Take a few hours to soak in just how much folk magic was involved in Joseph Smith and his family. Try to see how much our early church history is tied in knots with the Smith family practice of folk magic. When Quinn wrote these books he was a church historian working with Leonard Arrington. He was a professor at BYU. The guy knows his stuff.
D. Michael Quinn “Origins of Power” & “Extensions of Power” These two books will help you invariably see behind the curtain into the day to day behind the scenes operations of LDS Church leaders.
Grant Palmer “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins” – This book will help you see what went into creating the Book of Mormon. it is a must read.
Start with those. If your serious about your faith, then take a few hours and set aside the story your church told you about itself and really get to know what our history really looks like.
Have you read the Mormon Primer yet?
The Church and its speakers have painted a picture that doubts can be resolved.
For every thousand members who have a faith crisis in the way I have, very very few put it back together. The problem is this. If the evidence was 50/50 (in favor of the Church being what it claims versus not) then most people could continue in faith. In fact what we want to be true often has more power in our thinking then what is actually true (psychological ideas like confirmation bias, belief persistance, and the backfire effect play deeply into how willing our brains are to let go of comfortable but false notions). In other words if the evidence were 50/50, people in the church want so bad for it to be true that the far majority would be able to continue in belief having faith, But the evidence is not 50/50. By the way this works the same way for members of other false religions as well. It is overwhelmingly against the Church’s narrative. So for every thousand people who dive deep into these issues, 95% of them or more lose confidence in the LDS faith. You don’t know these issues yet. And to be honest, it is pretty apparent that deep down you really don’t want to know these issues.
These issues are so messy and they take hours and hours to deconstruct the story the Church told you versus the truth, that one has to be serious about whether they really want to know and if they are willing to put the time in. It will take you years if you are voracious and decades if you do this in your spare time
Would you even do that with one issue among 5000 ? Let’s see
=====The Book of Abraham problem=====
Can you take the time to try to understand the issue.
Start with the Book of Abraham Gospel Topic essay.
Please openly acknowledge before you begin what the story was that the Church told you about this scriptural text. then see if you can see a shift in the essay
Then now seeing the ground the church holds and that they seem to offer several solutions to a percieved problem, ask yourself is there still deep issues with each possible solution
now there are 50 more articles to read but this will give you a start. Do you sense that the story is not what the Church originally claimed and now as the Church has retreated and concedes points that Joseph assuredly was not translating accurately the Egyptian and that the document is not what he claimed? Now take the solutions they give such as a missing scroll or a catalyst theory and try to be rational. Do you see the problems those have too? What is the most reasonable conclusion?
And now recognize there are 5000 other issues with just as much to read and understand and know the evidence is just as problematic on those. And yes I have read it. Have You? Can you see why folks like me who have read literally everything throw in the towel? The Church makes a whole lot more sense through the lens of being a fictional creation from a brilliant mind and all leaders after being old men who are thirty to forty years behind their time on social issues who have zero access to God magic. Once you try that lens on, it all makes more sense. We can all choose belief in it but can you sense such a choice becomes irrational and illogical for most who go down the rabbit hole.
If you want the other issues, read the Mormon Primer or CES Letter
But do you really want to know?
now sense that I have read every positive article and book on the Book of abaraham issue and I have read the critical argument on those 50 more that I mention. The critic has the more rational reasonable explanation and the problems are too big for my brain to overcome if I choose to be logical and rational. The Church does not have a satisfactory answer beyond “have faith” which if you can grasp that is that “have faith” is another way to tell someone to make space for the irrational answer rather than too accept the most logical rational conclusion. “Have faith” is irrational thinking knowing the evidence is against you.
now sense how much more there is to read that I have read and you and everyone saying “have faith” havent read. plus I read the footnotes and I chase sources down. I am always looking for the rational and logical explanation and I read everything, pro and con. I know these issues inside and out but as a believing member, you and others dismiss my knowledge because you have comfortable beliefs you want to maintain and you sense deep down just how much is at risk and the deep need to maintain belief even if the evidence is against your view.
I dare you to dive into this deeply. But please don’t do that if you sense the risk is too great or too uncomfortable. The truth is all that ever mattered to me. To anyone who says otherwise, they simply dont know me.
The Church would like you to think that most people who go down this rabbit hole, find a way to reconcile it. Thats not true. the far and wide majority who dive into this – step away. First they keep going trying to make it better and having the bare minimum as far as faith and belief. They try to gently move the church towards being better. But little by little it falls apart and the majority of them within 5 years leave. NOW are there a handful (percentage wise) who make it work and know the problems and maintain faith? SURE but also grant in the same breath, that every religion has such and having such does is not evidence nor should it be something one places confidence in. Lastly I share that most of these folks acknowledge more problems privately than they maintain publicly.
Let me know if you want another issue to study out. But trust me, not one facet of our story is the way the church taught it. But don’t take my word for it.