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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What LDS Doctrines are Found in The Book of Mormon?

Importance of the Book of Mormon in the LDS Church

Joesph Smith is well known for making the following statement regarding the Book of Mormon:

I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.
What Precepts from the Book of Mormon are we to Abide by?

If this is the case, my question is what doctrines that are practiced or taught by the LDS church are based on the Book of Mormon? I will argue that most of the doctrines or practices that are taught by the LDS church are not found in the Book of Mormon.

These are the doctrines I would consider unique to Mormonism that are not found in the Book of Mormon:

  • Baptism for the dead
  • Temple Garments
  • Polygamy-as practiced on earth or in the celestial kingdom
  • 3 heaven kingdoms, or 3 degrees of glory
  • Garden of Eden was in Missouri
  • Jesus and God are separate beings, both with tangible bodies
  • There was a Council in the pre-existence
  • Our ultimate destiny is to become like God
  • Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer who became Satan
  • Tithing as a necessary commandment
  • Families are eternal
  • We lived with God before this life
  • The wording of the baptism prayer
  • Jesus and God may live near a planet or star named Kolob
These doctrines are principally found in the Doctrine and Covenants, other church sources and the Bible, particularly the Old Testament.

These teachings, which are found in the Book of Mormon can also be derived from interpretations of the Bible:

  • Baptism
  • Faith
  • Temples
  • The creation
  • The fall of Adam
  • The relationship between faith and works
  • The ministry of Jesus
  • The divinity of Jesus
  • The death and resurrection of Jesus
  • The holy ghost
  • Sacrament
  • Importance of missionary work
  • The role of prophets
  • Priesthood authority
Distinctive Mormon Doctrines Found in the Book of Mormon

There are very few teachings that are unique to the Book of Mormon that are practiced by the LDS church. The ones that come to mind are:

  • Jesus visited America
  • Native Americans are decedents of Israelites
  • The exact wording of the sacrament prayer
  • It is sinful to baptize little children
Most of the doctrines unique to Mormonism are either absent from the text in the Book of Mormon or are also found in the Bible. These principals and teachings can also be found in the Doctrine and Covenants.

What we have left in the Book of Mormon are stories with morals. It is my view that the Book of Mormon is not the source for most of the LDS teachings, but a tool used to claim divine authority due to the miraculous manner in which it was recorded, preserved and translated.

Disillusioned Mormon

36 comments:

Bishop Rick said...

BZ,

Let me add one to the "contained in both" list:

God punishes the descendants of sinners by putting a mark on them.

Brother Zelph said...

BR- That is a good point, although I would consider it a dead doctrine in the LDS church. However, arguably one of the main themes in the Book of Mormon is the struggle between the "white and delightsome" Nephites vs. the "dark and loathsome" Lamanites. I have observed a shift to interpreting this as literary poetry, as black or darkness is symbolic of evil in literature. However, this gives more credence to the non-literal view of the Book of Mormon.

It also demonstrates further that the church does not use the Book of Mormon to establish doctrine, because if it did, this idea of dark skin being a curse would still be a doctrine in the church.

Ian said...

Correct. The difference is that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record when the "Mormon" church was not yet founded. The Doctrine and Covenants, with no discernible conflicts with the BoM, is a new record of scripture tailored to the needs of the Mormon Church now. It makes sense.

Angela said...

The most important commonality (not on your list) is the concept of clear Christian worship before Christ's birth (pre-Christ Christology). Evidence for this in the Bible is scant and unclear.

Brother Zelph said...

Angela, that is a good point.

Cr@ig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cr@ig said...

What LDS Doctrines are Found in The Book of Mormon?

The Doctrine of Circular Reasoning:

Read the Book of Mormon, Ask God if it is true, God will declare its truthfulness, if God doesn’t declare its truthfulness…go back to step one and do read and pray again with more intent…if still no answer go back to step one and try again… if still no answer go back to step one and try again… if still no answer go back to step one and try again… if still no answer go back to step one and try again… if still no answer go back to step one and try again… if still no answer go back to step one and try again… if still no answer go back to step one and try again… if still no answer go back to step one and try again…… if still no answer go back to step one and try again… ARGGGGGGGGGGGG

Anonymous said...

What I find interesting is the BofM says there's no need for baptism for the dead, but later works says it is necessary

Bishop Rick said...

The BoM also states that polygamy, as practiced in the OT, was an abomination, but that didn't quite jive with new "revelation" resulting from JS's crush on his maid. So the perfect translation was later augmented to mean "unrighteous" polygamy.

Elder Joseph said...

The Book of Mormon is the most correct book etc .

The way I was told to understand it is that it is a miraculous translation done by The Spirit and Power of God? ( Via a top hat and garden stone).

The Spirit and Power of God isn't that accurate then as there are nearly 4000 errors in the original Book Of Mormon , gramatical errors , words added,words taken out etc and its gone through alot of revision and fine tuning since that edition.

Article of Faith 8 says :
We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is TRANSLATED correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

Perhaps that should be more appropriately extended to say :

' we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God as far as it is also TRANSLATED correctly;

Its strange how the the LDS church says many precious truths were taken out of the Bible and yet many of these precious truths seem to have been missing for the Nephites as well !

They didn't baptise for the dead or teach Families are Forever etc.
They didn't seemingly have a correct understanding of the nature of god ( LDS style ) either.

I found the Book of Mormon to be very Trinitarian and heavily influenced by the Theology of the 19th century.

It teaches Heaven and hell and not 3 kingdoms of glory.

I found the prophecies of Jesus to come far too accurate and suspected it was written by someone familiar with the new Testament.

Mosiah 3: 8
8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called MARY.

If I claimed to translate an ancient document and it included a prophecy saying Brother Zelph will start a blog and will be joined by Tata , Elder Joseph , Bishop Rick, Mormon Heretic , Cr@ig etc what would the average mormon think ??


I read the book Of Mormon as instructed by my missionaries and was very suspicious in alot of places about plageurism.

I enjoyed the parts about The Fall being necessary as I have thought about that myself in times past and also the clarification of works needed with faith before the atonement would be effective.I once thought that myself too.

In fact there is quite a bit in there which I thought to myself .. hmmm This Joseph Smith character had some similar thoughts to myself.

I also enjoyed the characters like Zeezrom , Korihor etc as I have met similar myself in my search for God/truth etc and now even fit those role parts myself on occasion.
It seemed fairly obvious to me that it was a bit of an autobiography of Joseph Smiths experiences mixed with a fantasy story.

Still I did the Moroni prayer many times and felt nothing. I was accused of insincerity as supposedly there could only be one answer( Its true etc ).

Back to the subject in hand.It seems to me that Nephites knew very little of Mormon doctrine and even experienced Brigham Youngs now consigned as folklore teaching of Black skin for less valiancy/disobedience when they saw their rebel brothers turn dark skinned.

When Jesus told the Nephites ( 3 Ne. 15: 17, 21, 24 ) that they were the other Sheep spoken of in the New Testament,I'm suprised they didn't ask "What are Sheep".

Anonymous said...

I read where the BofM is now considered "the most corrected book".... :)

NM said...

Ouch. I don't know, I think you'll probably find the New World Translation with even more corrections. =)

MH said...

"what doctrines that are practiced or taught by the LDS church are based on the Book of Mormon?"

Off the top of my head, infant baptism is roundly criticized in the BoM, and is the primary reason why mormons oppose the practice.

The grace vs works argument is settled in the BoM. "For it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do." (They're both needed.) I'll look for some more, but wanted to write a quick post instead of a thesis this time.

Finally, can you guys disagree without being so disagreeable?

Joe said...

The form of Baptism and Temples are, at best, ambiguously taught in the BoM.

That said, what I find interesting is that you could ask the same question of the rest of the Mormon canon. Quite a bit of what is Mormon Doctrine cannot, in fact, be found laid out in Mormon scripture--quite a bit are interpretations, the origins of which can often be placed fairly precisely to Orson Hyde and Orson Pratt.

For example, the necessity of the endowment is not only missing from scripture, the scriptures pretty much state that such a thing would be blasphemy. (3 Nephi pretty much lays down the requirements for salvation.) The entire concept of sealing is only suggested in the Doctrine and Covenants and even then is so fuzzy, it wasn't clarified for another fifty years (more or less.)

Incidentally, once you go down this path you have to reconcile the original Book of Mormon with the revisions of 1832. The former VERY clearly made God, Jesus. (I believe that the redaction was actually incomplete since in 3 Nephi Jesus suddenly drops back a purely saved by grace theology--believe in me and you'll be saved. Granted, a few chapters later, this is slightly contradicted, but not by much.)

Brother Zelph said...

Joe,

Thank you for your comments. You bring up some very good points. There is no doubt that the original Book of Mormon taught that Jesus was God the father. The changes that were made to later publications of the Book of Mormon are a very big deal in my opinion because they demonstrate a doctrinal change.

Even with the current LDS version of the Book of Mormon, just reading the text one could very easily come away with the trinitarian view of the Godhead by applying the principals taught in the Book of Mormon. Nowhere in the BoM does it say that God the father and Jesus are separate people.

There are few references in the Book of Mormon to the father and the son.

Look at these examples

3 Nephi 11:6-7
"And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them: Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him."

3 Nephi 11:11
"And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning."

Then, of course it is followed up with verse 27:

"And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one."

Of course the church leadership has interpreted this to mean that they are one in purpose, but one could come to the same interpretation from the Bible.

Cr@ig said...

When Joseph Smith told the Brethren [who ever the crap that was] that the Book of Mormon was “the most correct of any book on earth” I believe he was holding back…in fact the Book of Mormon is a truly special book and perhaps the most amazingly wonderful book ever written. It is more valuable than any other book you will ever come across. Its uses are almost too numerous to count, but let me list just a few to prove my point.

1. The Book of Mormon will save you money. No longer will you need to subscribe to National Geographic or pay tuition for a degree in anthropology. Why spend time and money studying modern fads about the origins of ancient Americans when it's all clearly spelled out in the Book of Mormon. Yes, it's true. The Native Americans are descended from Jews. It's right there in the book. And where else can you learn that elephants, camels, cows and horses lived in the New World, that modern metallurgy was known to the ancient Americans or that Ancient Americans had special compasses and submarines? Also, did you know that a few dozen hard-working people built a replica of Solomon's Temple here in the New World in less than a year? And they were able to do this while fighting wars and hunting and growing their food. I mean come on, it took the Israelites 150,000 men seven years dedicated to nothing BUT building their version. Lazy bastards.

2. It is the perfect sleep aid. Yes, seriously. Get rid of your sleeping pills; forget counting sheep, hypnotism, expensive beds and pillows, and any other methods of curing insomnia. This book is so dreadfully dull and tedious that you will be snoring within minutes.

3. This book gets rid of unwanted visitors, telemarketers, annoying coworkers, obnoxious neighbors, you name it. Just try to loan them your Book of Mormon and watch their eyes glaze over, see them look anxiously at their watch, or make some excuse about being late for an appointment. Sadly this doesn’t work on home teachers.

4. Learn many startling details about a wide variety of subjects.

Human Anatomy? Did you know it's possible to have your head severed and still lift yourself up and struggle for breath?

Biology? Have you ever heard of a creature called a curelom? No, well neither has your local zoo. But it's right there in the book.

Linguistics? Did you know that early Americans of Semitic descent spoke something called Reformed Egyptian?

Genetics? Did you know that early American inhabitants were white and delightsome? God then cursed some of them with dark skin. And here you thought their skin color had something to do with climate. Plus the Book of Mormon proves that DNA is NOT a valid tool for tracing genealogies or population movements throughout the earth.

Population Studies The amazing Book of Mormon gives proof that a population of 1-2 dozen people CAN multiply into tens of millions of people just a few short years. Nowhere in the history of the earth has a population grown at such an amazing rate. And what is the most amazing is that before the Book of Mormon those silly scientist who study population growth rates in ancient societies thought populations only grew at a rate of a fraction of 1 or 2 percent. WELL thanks to the Book of Mormon, we now KNOW that they were wrong, cuz we have proof from the most correct book on the face of the earth that ancient populations in America grew at an mind-boggling rate of 25% annually.

Now I don’t pretend to have the ear of “The Brethren” But based on all of this information I believe another name change is in order for“The Book of Mormon, Another Testiment of Jesus Christ” But knowing that they are aware of all of this amazing knowledge found in the book, I most humblely suggest that they consider changing its name just one more time to.

“Rippley’s Most Amazing, Stupendous,Remarkabley Incredible, Mind Blowing, Book of Mormon; Believe it or Not, But do so at your own peril…cuz it is the Most Correct Book on the Face of the Entire Earth…oh and it mentions Jesus Christ also Now that’s a book name you could really sink your teeth into.

PS: Did I mention that the Book of Mormon makes a really great paper weight too?

Teresita said...

I'm not sure which Mormon doctrines are supported by the book of Mormon, but I know at least one Mormon doctrine that is refuted by the book of Mormon.

Alma 11:28-31: "Now Zeezrom said: ‘Is there more than one God?’ and [Amulek] answered, ‘No.’ And Zeezrom said unto him again, ‘How knowest thou these things?’ And he said: ‘An angel hath made them known unto me.’"

Now the objection is made that the plurality of gods (as part of eternal progression) is not official doctrine, but the position that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate Gods is official LDS doctrine.

Teresita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tatabug said...

JS never claimed that the Book of Mormon contained all truth, and within its very pages it speaks about things which were revealed but were not permitted to be written. There was even the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon which contained information which was not permitted to be revealed until a later time.

(Most of the following comments I just cut and pasted since I was being lazy. The source is "The Book of Mormon and the Fulness of the Gospel" by Michael B. Parker.)

It is called the most correct book, not the most comprehensive. The statement "the earth revolves around the sun" is correct, but not comprehensive.

Becoming like God

The three Nephite disciples, because they desired to "bring the souls of men unto [Christ], while the world shall stand," were promised by the Lord:

And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one. (3 Nephi 28:10, italics added.)

This promise that the faithful would become like Christ ("gods," if you wish), is also expressed by Alma2:

And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.
And I know that he will raise me up at the last day, to dwell with him in glory; yea, and I will praise him forever . . ." (Alma 36:27-28, italics added.)

Also note the significant language regarding "inheritance" (2 Nephi 9:18), dwelling on the Lord's "right hand" (Mosiah 26:23), and becoming "high priests forever, after the order of the Son" (Alma 13:9). The Book of Mormon clearly contains the promise that, if faithful, we can become like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Pre-Mortal Existence

Man's premortal existence is taught by Alma, in connection with his teaching on the responsibilities of the high priesthood:

. . . I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. . . .
And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.
Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son . . . . (Alma 13:1, 3-5.)

In other words, those who are ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood in this life were foreordained to hold this priesthood. They were "called and prepared" before they were born and were ordained because of "their exceeding faith and good works" and because in "the first place" (the premortal life) they chose good over evil. Those who chose evil were cast out of heaven with Satan and denied mortality and the priesthood, and "if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren."

Marriage for eternity

Just outside Caesarea Philippi, Jesus promised the apostle Peter that he would receive

. . . the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19.)

Latter-day Saints believe that this power constitutes the "sealing keys," under which "covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations" (D&C 132:7) can be made to continue in force after the resurrection of the dead. This power includes the ability to bind and seal the marriage agreement for eternity.

In the Book of Mormon, this same power was also given to Nephi:

Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. . . . Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people. (Helaman 10:6-7.)

While the full doctrine of eternal marriage was revealed later, the basic ingredients behind the authority to do so are found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Polygamy

The Book of Mormon does say that plural marriage is acceptable when God commands it (Jacob 2:30).

Three Degrees of Glory

This doctrine is not expounded on in the Book of Mormon either, but there are subtle allusions to it with the term "mansions" in Enos 1:27 and Ether 12:32-37.

God has a tangible body of flesh and bones

In Doctrine and Covenants 130:22, it says—"The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's." While the Book of Mormon lacks such a statement, it does describe the relationship between the physical appearance of men and God.

The Genesis account of the creation explains that "God created man in his own image" (1:27). Most Christians would follow this prominent scholar by interpreting "in his own image" as:

The likeness to God lies in the mental and moral features of man's character, such as reason, personality, free will, the capacity for communion with God.

The Book of Mormon, however, explains:

. . . [Christ] should take upon him the image of man, and it should be the image after which man was created in the beginning; or in other words, he said that man was created after the image of God, and that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood, and go forth upon the face of the earth. (Mosiah 7:27)

The quoted passage in Mosiah clarifies the meaning of Genesis by stating that:

Christ would come to earth and take the image (or likeness) of man, and
this likeness would be the same one given to man at the creation,
which was patterned after the image (or likeness) of God.
How much clearer can this be? When God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26), he intended for man to resemble him in in physical form.

The Book of Mormon further demonstrates that, in his premortal state, Christ's spirit had a form similar to mortal man's. In his encounter with the brother of Jared on mount Shelem, Christ explained:

Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.
Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh. (Ether 3:15-16)

The physical body of man looks like Christ's spirit did before he himself took a body. Cross-referencing this with other scriptures (notably Philippians 2:5-6 and John 14:9b), it is logical to conclude that Christ looked like his Father, who is a physical, exalted Being.

(The following comments are primarily my own)

Tithing

Alma 13:15 and 3 Nephi 24:8, 10 each talk about tithing as being necessary.

Regarding the confusion over God and Jesus being separate beings, there are other scriptures besides the ones in 3 Nephi which talk about the Father and Son, namely Alma 11:44, 12:33-34, 2 Nephi 31:21, Ether 12:41, Mormon 7:7, and Mosiah 15:2-5.

In particular, 2 Nephi 31:11-15 seems to be very explicit in its distinctions between the Father and the Son. Notice that Nephi hears two different voices:

11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.
13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should adeny me, it would have been bbetter for you that ye had not known me.
15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.

But please note that in LDS doctrine, we believe that the title of Father is also given to the Son. The Book of Mormon, particularly in Mosiah, talks about this. This is somewhat symbolic, but it is also a divine investiture of authority. This doesn't mean that there aren't still two separate beings.

Elder Joseph said...

Tata

You said of the Keys etc being handed to Peter in the NT and given to Nephi in the New World !

"This power includes the ability to bind and seal the marriage agreement for eternity. "

"Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. . . . Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people. (Helaman 10:6-7.)"

So why were there NO Eternal marriages in the Book Of Mormon or any mention of it ? If it is a plain and precious truth taken out of the bible then why is it missing from the BofM as well.

Why did these keys given to Nephi and church fail and had to be restored?

Why did the original church of the New Testament fail despite Jesus saying


Matt 28
19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

:20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: AND, LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD. Amen.

Even unto the end of the world ?? , though I will be absent for approx 1700 years until I need to get Joseph to restore it?

Its strange that Jesus set up a church ( twice according to Mormonism ) and both times failed and needed to be restored by Joseph Smith and even more suspicious LDS Ledaers tell us it can't fail this time ? How do they know that ?
I know why they say that !

Bishop Rick said...

I know too. Jesus never setup a church, therefore there were no churches to fail.

vballrh said...

BZ- That wording "dark and loathsome" has always bothered me, a lot! I always wondered what people of different races think when they read it.

Ian- I like your point. I hadn't thought of it that way. That the BOM doesn't contain everything because they didn't necessarily know everything themselves? But then the D&C should be complete for our modern use-do you believe it is?

EJ-

I appreciate your enthusiasm for the subjuct, but coming from someone who read everything on this blog in about a month (give or take) You really do repeat yourself, a lot. Not that you don't have some valid points.

MH-

I am glad you brought up infant baptism! How do you feel about 8 year olds taking on the responsibilty of baptism? I used to be okay with it, until I had kids. Now I feel that after all my teaching, I still have doubts over the veracity of the church how can an 8 year old possibly be able to truly decide for themselves whether or not the church is true? Especially after (typically) being taught by their parents and primary leaders to always bear "their" testimony of the church being true since they could talk and formulate sentences. Eight seems so young to be now, how do you reconcile your beliefs with it? Because for me it is still a little like "infant baptism" since all the 9 year olds are in trouble if they die before they are baptized having consciously made the choice to wait.

Craig- Believe me, I understand the skepticism, but it did come off a little harsh. After all, even though you no longer believe in the BoM some people still do, and might wish more respect be given. after all you catch more flies with honey than vinegar (if you get my meaning)

Brotherzelph said...

Vball,

You do draw a good point about baptisms for children.

What is the difference between baptizing an infant and an 8 year old?...

About 8 years *rimshot*

Seriously, it is splitting hairs for me. Even though infants have no choice in the matter, I think an 8 year old can be coerced to believe anything. 8 year olds still believe in Santa Claus and the like, are they REALLY capable of making this choice on their own? Jesus was baptized when he was 30. I didn't start questioning the church until I turned around 22 just after my mission.

I have seen scientific evidence that the brain is not fully developed until adulthood and that is why teenagers are so emotional and non-rational and unreasonable.

vballrh said...

BZ-

hehehe, good joke! And I would contend accurate. It seems to be a common theme of not questioning until one is older/out of the house so to speak. It does make me wonder why we aren't following Christ's example and being baptized at age 30? I think most people would have it together by then as far as having enough time to thoroughly research before deciding if this is truly the church for them.

vballrh said...

Oh, and good point about the brain not being fully developed yet, I have seen that, although, admitedly it was on Law and Order, but one more thing for my to look up!

Joe said...

Brotherzelph,

One of the guilts I carry with me is manipulating my oldest son into getting baptized when he was eight. His older sister was very enthusiastic about it and I didn't question my son's desire until we were sitting in the bishop's office and he gave me a puzzled "why do I have to do this?" look.

This is why I chose to not baptize the rest of my children even before I stopped going to church all together.

Elder Joseph said...

One one of the occasions I went tracting with missionaries ( yes suprise suprise I was very active - mostly helping these poor missionary kids and I knew the church was nonsense by then ).

On one door 'we' knocked , a dispute arose , it was absolutely ridiculous .The female householder was telling the elder missionary that she is already baptised and she doesn't need anything from him , so he was trying to tell her that her baptism at birth was not valid ! he then arrogantly said to her
" was Jesus baptised as a baby ? was he ?? "

I had to pull him up and inform him that neither was Jesus baptised at 8 Years old , he was 30!!!

His face went RED and he calmed down on the next doors..

I blame all this pressure on these gullible young missionaries on the church missionary system .They needed to get a baptism and soon otherwise the Mission President would think they were sinning all the time !

They were so desperate that they were started telling me how much they LOVED ME !

What I witnessed tracting was a very troubling experience.

In fact there was a Ward prayer effort for 6 baptisms that October of 2007 . I was included in that figure.The missionaries asked me to join in and pray for 6 baptisms.

I prayed that they might get only one at best and more hopefully non and only 1 got baptised.Now if I was LDS I could say my prayer was answered.

They even asked a girl to get baptised they had visited just a few times .When her husband got home he rang the missionaries and told them he would thump them hard if they come again .

Mormon Heretic said...

Sorry all, I have been checking the much more spirited discussion on the other post more than this one. I didn't realize there were some questions for me here.

Now, the original topic was "What LDS Doctrines are Found in The Book of Mormon?" Now, the topic is not the validity of infant baptism. In the other "spirited" post, I have been accused of by two different people of not sticking to the topic at hand.

I'll be happy to address vballrh's question, if everyone agrees that it is acceptable to get side-tracked on this topic.

It seems sometimes the personal attacks can get a little silly, and I am just pointing this out. Now, I'm not trying to point fingers at vballrh, so don't take this the wrong way. Is it ok for me to answer this, or is it too far off topic?

vballrh said...

I didn't mean to go off on a tangent. I just got so excited to be able to be part of the "real time" discussion! That said, I think it is still a little bit a part of the post. Near the end BZ lists some doctrines that are unique to the BoM including "it is a sin to baptize little children"

Brother Zelph said...

vball-

I don't call that a tangent. That was very related to the topic at hand.

Speaking of which, MH, what do you think about the idea that Jesus wasn't baptized until he was 30 and that started his ministry?

Mormon Heretic said...

The history of baptism is quite interesting, and much more complex than most people know.

Baptism seems to be related to the ancient Jewish rite called "mikvah", which was/is used for conversion to Judaism, ritual cleansing (Law of Moses type things, childbirth, women's menstruation, and other things.) If you go to this link at Wikipedia, you can see a contemporary Mikvah font which look quite similar to a modern-day Christian baptismal font (at the bottom of the article.)

It seems that during Christ's ministry, baptism became an important part of conversion. Yes he certainly was baptized at 30. Prior to that, there is no evidence that he embarked on starting a religion. I think one could make a case that if he had started his ministry at a younger age, he probably would have been baptized at a younger age. His baptism is one of the first events (if not the first) of the organization of his church.

One of the first questions among earlier followers of Jesus was the question of when to baptize. Now the Emporer Constantine (Appx 350 AD) often gets a bad rap for waiting until his deathbed to get baptized. However, it was a very common practice for early clergy to support this position. So Constantine was actually following the spiritual advice of the clergy of his day.

Now, while Constantine's baptism was by no means unusual for the day, the whole topic of when to baptize was by no means uniform. It is unclear when infant baptism was first performed, but it could date to this early church period also.

There were 2 main thoughts on baptism during this period. One line of reasoning said that it should be put off as long as possible, in order to wash away all sins. Because if one didn't wait until deathbed, and one later sinned, there could be no forgiveness of sins.

So using this logic, Constantine's baptism makes perfect sense. However, it is not always easy to predict when death will occur, so some people erroneously waited too long, which was also a problem.

Since infant mortality was also a big problem, it made sense to baptize infants. The doctrine of original sin was being developed in this early time period also. Of course, people who subscribed to infant baptism felt that sins could be forgiven as long as they weren't "major" sins, such as sacrificing to pagan gods, adultery, fornication, or a few other sins.

Then there were some who said a major sin could be forgiven just once. The dispute on this doctrine became quite contentious.

So, as you can see, when to baptize is not an easy question to answer, and really isn't addressed well in early christian history.

From that point of view, the Book of Mormon position is quite unique. Now, is 8 years old the appropriate age? According to revelation in the D&C, it is. I don't have a problem with the age of 8.

I can understand vball's position, that "an 8 year old can be coerced to believe anything." (I would have chosen the word manipulated, instead of coerced.) I think that vball has a reasonable position, but I don't think that "9 year olds are in trouble if they die."

From an LDS point of view, I think the sin of the 9 year old would be "answered upon the heads of the parents" for not teaching the child properly. I really don't think God is going to come down hard on a 9 year old for refusing baptism.

Is 8 years old too young? I can appreciate why some people think so, but it is not really that big of a deal to me. I think infants are too young for sure.

All devout christians teach religion to their kids, and want them to join their church. There has never been a consensus on the appropriate age to baptize, so I respect any christian religion's right to specify an appropriate age.

I know this is not testimony meeting, but since I believe Joseph was a prophet, I have no reason to call either the BoM or D&C into question regarding this matter. (I know others do question LDS scriptures, but please show some respect.)

From a spiritual point of view, I believe it is an inspired doctrine. From a logical point of view, I have no qualms about it. And from a historical point of view, the matter is open to debate.

I agree with Angela, that there is not "clear Christian worship before Christ's birth (pre-Christ Christology). Evidence for this in the Bible is scant and unclear." The Book of Mormon shows the importance of baptism in 2 Nephi. While it is unclear when mikvah started, it dates to at least the 1st century. This definitely is "scant and unclear", but I think it could be a plausible position that jewish mikvah's are related to baptism, and pre-christian mikvahs/baptisms certainly could have been performed in the Old World, as well as the New World.

Bishop Rick said...

I believe that Mikvah was a predecessor to baptism but the two are only related in the respect of cleansing. Mikvah was not used for conversion but was used after conversion repeatedly, whenever cleansing was needed. In addition it was not performed by an authority figure, but was performed on oneself by oneself. Not the same thing as being baptized for the remission of sins (just once) by someone in authority. Mikvah predates Christ.

My personal opinion is that religious rituals are not needed for eternal salvation. They mean nothing meaningful. Anyone (worthy or not) can go through the motions of ritual. IMO it is the intention of one's heart that will determine all (if in fact there is an "all"). What difference does it make when someone gets baptized. Its just a ritual. If someone chooses to participate in a ritual with pure intent and of their own volition, then that is great. To require ritual for salvation or reward seems silly to me.

tatabug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mormon Heretic said...

BR,

I appreciate your position. I was trying to give some historical perspective on mikvah/baptism.

I think Tata posted her comments on the wrong post. I don't know if BZ can move her comments to the appropriate topic, but it would be nice. If not, I want others to understand that she is really commenting on something else.

vballrh said...

MH-

Thank you for the info on baptisms history. I just wanted to point out that I was misquoted. It was Brother Zelph who said "I think an 8 year old can be coerced to believe anything" The other is correct "9 year olds are in trouble if they die" and it sounded worse when I read it quoted back to me! I didn't mean for it to come out harshly, and I tend to take the point of view that the parents would more likely take some responsibility. I still am not really okay with the doctrine though, simply for the reason I stated before, that if I can't decide if the church is true/correct for sure, how can my child make that decision at 8?

Mormon Heretic said...

Vball,

I can appreciate your position, and wish you well in your spiritual journey. Sorry for the misquote.

BR, I wanted to give you the definition from the Judaism 101 website:

"Mikvah (MIK-vuh)

A ritual bath used for spiritual purification. It is used primarily in conversion rituals and after the period of sexual separation during a woman's menstrual cycles, but many Chasidim immerse themselves in the mikvah regularly for general spiritual purification. "

I just wanted to make clear that it is used for both conversion and is definitely done routinely. The conversion part is quite similar to Christianity. I am sure it is done under direction of a rabbi.

I also want to quote wikipedia's reference on Conversion to Judaism, which gives more details than the Judaism 101 site.

"According to the Talmud (Keritot 8b), the process of conversion to Judaism involves three components, which must be witnessed and affirmed by a beth din:

* Circumcision (Brit milah or hatafat dam brit) for men
* Immersion (tevilah) in a mikveh (ritual bath)
* Offering a certain korban (sacrifice) in the Beit Hamikdash (the Temple) - this requirement does not apply today because the Beit Hamikdash does not exist."

Also from wikipedia,

Beth Din is "A beth din, beit din or beis din (Hebrew: בית דין, "house of judgment"; plural battei din) is a rabbinical court of Judaism. In ancient times, it was the building block of the legal system in the Land of Israel. Today, it is invested with legal powers in a number of religious matters (din Torah, "matter of litigation," plural dinei Torah) both in Israel and in Jewish communities in the Diaspora, where its judgments hold varying degrees of authority (depending upon the jurisdiction and subject matter) in matters specifically germane to Jewish religious life."

There certainly seems to be some authority present in the mikveh conversion process.

But, then again, I'm probably wrong. I'm sure this is a silly argument to you, but for others, I thought a little additional insight would be appreciated.