Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gold plates or no gold plates, so which is it....?

One of the major things that caused disillusionment with the Mormon church was the "white washing" of the controversial history given by the organization to its members.  White washing is to clean up or cover up crimes, vices or problems.  I always think of Mark Twain's story of Tom Sawyer and his white washing of an old ugly fence. 

A coat of paint does make it look better from a distance but when upon closer inspection, all of the defects and problems are still there.  No matter how many coats of paint are applied the underlying problems will always be there and will eventually begin to surface again.  If one wants a solid, lasting, and good looking fence then maybe the fence just needs to be torn out. 

The LDS church has really been painting on the layers since its inception.  A non biased look into the history of the church and its doctrine taught, will reveal the church has changed its "mind" more than a 5 year old writing a dear Santa letter.  Core doctrines that were once the norm for the members have been thrown out with the bathwater.   Respected past leaders have been thrown under the bus.  Things that were considered "from God", are now one man's opinion.   To the member of the church, a dilemma is created. One has to ask;  why should I follow today's teachings when in 10 years it won't even be considered doctrine.  Or more importantly; how does a member know when a prophet is speaking as a prophet or a man?  This is a major concern. 

Polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, Native Americans being Lamanites, Book of Abraham, blood Atonement, Adam-God theory, etc, etc,....this list can continue but you get my point.  These were the teachings and doctrine of early leaders of this church.  However, today these teachings are considered to be men's opinions.  In answer to this question, I quote President Gordon B. Hinkley, "I don't know that we teach it".  This is a major concern.

Case in point:  I was taught that Joseph Smith risked everything to bring about an ancient scripture called the gold plates.  These plates seemed to bring about danger throughout the ages to whoever possessed them. Starting with Moroni, who was chased for years by the Lamanites to this dispensation's first prophet,  Joseph Smith.  The possessor of these "ancient scripture" was always in grave danger by evil men.  All the pictures I saw during my childhood had Joseph Smith peering through some ancient spectacles reading the gold plates,  or portray him with his finger on the plates dictating "God's words" to his scribe. 

So how does a member handle the realization that the gold plates were not used during the translation process.  They were covered by a cloth on the table or sometimes the plates weren't even in the room. A talk given in 1993 to mission presidents in Provo, UT by Elder Russell M. Nelson.  Elder Nelson quoted David Whitmer's journal:

 "Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine.  A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared writing.  One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English.  Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear.  Thus the Book of Mormon was by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man."  (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ. Richmond, MO.: n.p. 1887, p.12.).

Why weren't  the plates used during this process?  Does this show that the "translation" of the Book of Mormon is any different  than using a Ouija Board to determine answers to a question?  If the gold plates were so important, if Moroni risked his life and carried the plates hundreds if not thousands of miles and  Joseph Smith risked everything to get them and keep them hidden and the angel Moroni told Joseph that if anyone looks at them they will be destroyed then why weren't they  used during the translation process? 

Members will say, "well Joseph didn't need them to bring about the Book of Mormon, he was so 'intune' with God".  If that's the case, why even have the plates? Why teach that he needed them to  bring forth  the Book of Mormon? If they weren't used, why did Moroni take them back? I feel the church has painted itself in a corner.  This is a major mark against the claim that it is God's only true church.  It seems to call into question most of the history of the restoration of the "church". Truth will reveal itself and the LDS church will continue to find its paint job may not be all that great.

CS


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