Defending the restored church of Christ - I created this blog several years ago to provide an alternative to what I saw at the time as a lot of bad "Mormon blogs" that were floating around the web. Also, it was my goal to collect and share a plethora of positive and useful information about what I steadfastly believe to be Christ's restored church. It has been incredibly enjoyable and I hope you find the information worthwhile.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A 40-day gap in the New Testament

(by Daniel Peterson 5-29-14)

Today is Ascension Day, or Holy Thursday. It commemorates the physical ascension of the resurrected Jesus Christ into heaven as recorded in the New Testament:

“And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God” (Luke 24:50-53; compare Mark 16:19).

Although no documentary evidence for the observance of the Feast of the Ascension (as it is also known) exists from prior to the fourth century, it was celebrated almost universally in the Christian church thereafter, along with Good Friday, Easter and Pentecost. St. Augustine attributed its origin to the apostles themselves; plainly its observance had become widespread long before his time.

Ascension Day is traditionally (though not always) celebrated on a Thursday, 40 days after Easter. Its date is derived from the first few verses of the book of Acts, the second part of Luke’s account of the formative events of Christianity. Referring to his earlier gospel, Luke writes:

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:1-3).

But, after three years of public preaching, what remained to be said? The apostles had been with Jesus almost constantly during that time, walking the long, dusty roads of Palestine, conversing with him. What did Jesus still have to teach them for nearly six weeks between his resurrection and his ascension?

Luke himself tells us virtually nothing about what was done and said during those 40 days. The final chapter of his gospel focuses on Easter Sunday itself. In Acts, Luke says that Jesus taught his apostles “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God,” but he doesn’t say what they were. A few items are mentioned very briefly in Matthew 28, Mark 16 and John 20-21.

(For an important article on this topic, originally published in the scholarly journal Vigiliae Christianae, and then reprinted by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, see Hugh Nibley, “Evangelium Quadraginta Dierum: The Forty-day Mission of Christ — The Forgotten Heritage.”

Did Jesus merely repeat the teachings of his mortal ministry?

Plainly, no. Still unrecognized, walking with two deeply disappointed and distraught disciples on the road to Emmaus, the newly risen Savior saw that they had failed to understand his mission. So, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

However, the four gospels contain nothing remotely resembling a systematic exposition of the Old Testament by the Savior. It would be priceless, but we don’t have it anywhere.

The plain fact is that only some of the teaching of Jesus is preserved in the New Testament. As the fourth gospel testifies, “there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25).

The New Testament offers clear hints that other sayings and teachings of the Savior went unrecorded. For instance, Paul exhorts the Saints at Ephesus “to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). However, no such admonition occurs in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Plainly, Paul and his audience were aware of oral traditions or written documents of which we know basically nothing.

“Wherefore,” says the Lord in the Book of Mormon, “because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written” (2 Nephi 29:10).

Some Christians insist that the Bible as we now have it is all there ever was and all that we should ever want. It seems, though, that the Bible disagrees.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

20 little known church history sites

10 significant LDS Church history sites you might not know about
(by Aaron Christensen 5-13-14)
Kenneth Mays, who works as an instructor in the Church Educational System and serves as trustee for the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation, remembers taking his first photographs as a hobby in 1985. Since then, it's turned into "an out-of-control passion."
Tens of thousands of pictures later, Mays has amassed a collection of LDS Church history photos from around the world.

First list of 10

Second list of 10

Monday, May 5, 2014

The process of building a Mormon temple


2 Book of Mormon "errors"

(by Daniel Peterson 5-1-14)

“Peace!” exclaims Brutus to Cassius in Shakespeare’s tragic play “Julius Caesar” (Act II, Scene ii). “Count the clock.” And Cassius, obeying, replies that “The clock hath stricken three.”

Unfortunately, though, there were no clocks in the Rome of 44 B.C. when the real Brutus and his fellow plotters stabbed Caesar to death in the Roman Senate. Either through carelessness or ignorance, Shakespeare has written an anachronism, something that doesn’t fit the claimed historical period of the story, into his play.

Critics of the Book of Mormon have typically sought similar elements in it that would prove the text to be a product of Joseph Smith or some other group of conspirators in 19th-century America.

They’ve hoped to find concepts or items mistakenly inserted into its supposedly ancient story by an ignorant or careless modern author.

Some, for example, have settled on the name “Alma,” which the Book of Mormon attaches to an important prophet and his equally important son. “Alma,” they point out, is a woman’s name — for instance, Alma Powell is the wife of the former American four-star general and Secretary of State — and it isn’t Hebrew at all. Instead, it comes from Latin. Many people are familiar with it from the phrase “alma mater,” which means something like “foster mother” or “bounteous mother” and commonly refers to a benevolent or protective institute (most often, nowadays, a college or university).

However, during the archaeological season of 1960-61, while he was excavating in the Judean caves on the western shore of the Dead Sea near En-Gedi, the eminent Israeli scholar Yigael Yadin found an interesting document from the early second century A.D. that not only destroys the critics’ objection but, in a sense, provides support for the Book of Mormon.

During the second Jewish revolt against Rome (A.D. 132-136), the leader of that revolt, Shimeon Bar-Kokhba (or Bar-Kosiba), had nationalized some of the real estate around the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea.

Yadin discovered a land deed bearing the names of four people who had rented nationalized property under Bar-Kokhba and wanted to set down the boundaries of each of their holdings with more precision. One of those four was “Alma, son of Yehudah.” (This is the way Yadin himself rendered the name, which, of course, was originally written in Hebrew letters.)

The name "Alma" was sometimes given to men in early America, but it was mostly given to women, as it is still given today — and that is how Joseph Smith likely would have known it, if he knew it at all. But we know now, from evidence found slightly more than 50 years ago, that “Alma” is an authentically ancient Semitic masculine personal name, just as the Book of Mormon presents it.

Another popular claim among critics is that the word “adieu” at Jacob 7:27 is anachronistic. French, they point out, didn’t even exist in the sixth century B.C., so why does a French word appear in the Book of Mormon?

What they seem to forget, however, is that the Book of Mormon, as we have it today, claims to be a translation. And the language into which a book is translated is, obviously, different from its original language. (It’s most commonly the native language of the translator.)

The presence of “adieu” in the English Book of Mormon no more implies the existence of French on the original Nephite plates than the occurrence of the words “in the beginning” indicates that there was English in the original Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1.

Anyway, it’s doubtful that the very unsophisticated Joseph Smith of 1829-30 was even aware that “adieu” was French. As the refrain of a popular 19th-century cowboy song shows, the word had thoroughly worked its way into the language of quite ordinary speakers of English:

So come sit by my side if you love me.

Do not hasten to bid me adieu.

Just remember the Red River Valley,

And the cowboy that has loved you so true.

In fact, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word had been a common one in English since at least 1374. It’s included in the OED and the Oxford American Dictionary as well as, most importantly, Noah Webster’s 1828 “American Dictionary of the English Language.” It was simply a word that Joseph knew.

Thus, neither “Alma” nor “adieu” represents a valid argument against the authentic antiquity of the Book of Mormon.