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Does Historicity Matter?

Here’s part of a FAIR article on the historicity of the Book of Mormon as quoted in a recent Meridian article:

The important question here is not whether or not scientific evidence can prove or disprove the Book of Mormon. The real question becomes: Does it really matter?

Other Christian religions seem to make room for members who see, for example, the creation story of Adam and Eve as a profound metaphor, in a way of explaining the ultimate truth of the creation without requiring any definite belief in the literalness of the story as it comes down to us in Genesis. Can’t the faithful LDS view the Book of Mormon as other Christians view the Bible — inspirational stories and myths, which may not be literally true?

Sure, I could get behind that. I don’t know how inspirational I would find most of the Book of Mormon, but that is no different than the Bible. If I could go to an LDS church and openly admit that I thought the Book of Mormon probably wasn’t historically true, I might be more tempted to stick around. That sounds like the beginning of honest, enlightened discourse. The Meridian article goes on:

The answer to that question is no.

Tease! Don’t toy with my emotions like that.

If someone comes to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon is not historical at all, is there a place for him in the Church? Probably. We cast a very broad net. That person cannot go around teaching his heterodox views on the subject, but if he is willing to keep them to himself, he can be a contributing active member of the Church, simply bracketing the historicity issue.

In other words, come pay your tithing and babysit in the nursery but keep your heretical ideas to yourself. Anyone who makes us think about our beliefs is an apostate or an anti-Mormon. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: visitors welcome, check your brains at the door.

Nice. And you wonder why I wanted to leave once I started really thinking about my beliefs.

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  1. Lincoln Cannon said,

    January 8, 2008 @ 11:12 am

    I think questions of historicity are important and interesting, but are not what matters most. What matters most are the practical consequences of our beliefs — the kind of world our ideologies promote.

    . . . and I esteem some interpretations of Mormonism to be superior in practical consequence to any other well-established ideology with which I am acquainted.

  2. Seth R. said,

    January 8, 2008 @ 11:46 am

    If you take Meridian Magazine as your spiritual windsock in the LDS faith, it’s no wonder you’d want to leave.

  3. Jonathan Blake said,

    January 9, 2008 @ 8:56 am

    Lincoln, I have a pragmatic bent of my own, though I have a faith of sorts that knowing the truth—as much of it as we can assimilate—better prepares us to obtain our desires.

    Seth, I think Meridian is a fair sample of chapel Mormons culture, in my neck of the woods anyway. I’m not sure why I have never unsubscribed. Perhaps I like being annoyed once in a while. :)

  4. Kullervo said,

    January 9, 2008 @ 4:47 pm

    I was pretty sure the answer was going to be no. Mormonism’s claims of exclusive truth absolutely rely on the literal historicity of the whole package. Sacrifice the Church’s truth-claims and you’re left with no compelling reason for Mormonism’s continued existence other than some peoples’ personal preference, and that is starkly at odds with what the Church has taught and claimed from the very beginning.

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