The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog thread

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The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog thread

Post by Gadianton »

(note from the dept. of Fictional Studies: this is still work in progress and page 1 OP will be edited many times.)

What remains of the old-guard Maxwell Institute that now hails from the blog Mormon Interpreter, condemns the new Maxwell Institute for not taking the Book of Mormon seriously "as history". They charge that the new MI walks a fine line between "bracketing" the Book of Mormon as real history, and embracing what the old-guard contemptuously calls "The Inspired Fiction Theory" -- the idea that the Book of Mormon, like Moby Dick, is merely fiction.

If there is any truth to the saying "whoever smelt it dealt it", then it should come as no surprise that ironically, it is the FARMS apologists themselves who have laid more tar on the road that leads to a fictional Book of Mormon than anyone. But let's be clear: we Fictional Studies students don't accept the false dichotomy that FARMS and many critics alike assume, that a fictional Book of Mormon undermines the foundational claims of the Restoration. It is clear to us, that old-school FARMS Mopologetics forges its way to fiction in order to vindicate an angelic and miraculous production of the Book of Mormon. We do understand that some fiction theories feel more like hollow attempts to "secularize" Mormonism, but not all fiction theories do so, and the holy grail of fiction that the apologists may one day claim for themselves will not be a resignation to the secular, but a triumph of fundamentalism.

Expert Hint: If you don't want the Book of Mormon to be fiction, then steer clear of any attempt to understand it as history.

...

The Fork of Symmachus

The most direct route to a faith-promoting, fictional Book of Mormon follows from a quandary known to some as the Fork of Symmachus. Apologists haplessly stumble into the fork as they conflate an "ancient" text with a "historical" one:

Daniel Peterson wrote:I’ve been watching a small handful of overeager critics of the Church with amusement. They’ve been peering desperately at the distant horizon, hoping for a sign, any sign, that the Church is abandoning its longstanding claim that the Book of Mormon is an authentically ancient record...they devoutly hope, to its eventually abandoning the historicity of the Book of Mormon altogether


Symmachus wrote:Peterson's response itself leaves some ambiguity, whether he intends it or not, as a result of the dichotomy between "ancient" and "historical." He says that it is an "authentically ancient document" (so are the Testament of Abraham and the Sibylline Oracles and Gospel of Peter, but they're not primary documents from Abraham, the Sibyll, and Peter).


The clearest case study of the Fork comes from John Gee's work on the Book of Abraham. Gee insists the Book of Abraham came from a now-missing long scroll lost in the Chicago Fire:

Fence Sitter wrote:if all the missing sections of the papyri were to suddenly be found, somewhere on them would be a hieratic text containing the Book of Abraham we have today plus a bunch more. Whether or not that text actually represented an exact copy of something Abraham himself wrote or was simply a reproduction of a pseudepigraphal Ptolemaic scroll is not part of his [Gee's] argument as far as I can tell.


Since a "historically accurate" autobiography from Abraham himself would be utterly anachronistic, as no reputable scholar asserts Abraham ever even existed, if Joseph Smith really did get the Book of Abraham from a longer scroll now missing, then like the extant Joseph Smith papyri, it is of a class of manuscript the real world actually knows about. If the Book of Abraham really is ancient, then it is almost certainly "fiction". The upshot is that although the rook is lost, the queen is preserved: if such a pseudepigraphal text were uncovered one day and proved to contain the story found in the Book of Abraham, then Joseph Smith is vindicated as translator and as the apologists say: "how could he have known!" Fictional Studies students such as myself believe that the old-school FARMS Mopologists are confused when they erupt in anger over suggestions that the Book of Mormon is fiction. We do not believe they really care if the Book of Mormon is fiction, they care if the foundational events of the Restoration happened. It does not logically follow, as the apologists demand, that if the Book of Mormon is fiction, that the Angel Moroni didn't appear to Joseph Smith. The Angel Moroni very well may have appeared to Joseph with a stack of Gold Plates and the Book of Mormon may very well be a work of fiction. Also non-negotiable for the FARMS apologist: the production of the Book of Mormon must be miraculous. While FARMS itself blazes the trail to a fictional Book of Mormon, the concessions in terms of historicity are always, unequivocally, made to preserve the miracle of the text's production.

While it is possible to say that a "pseudepigraphal Ptolemaic scroll" might one day be proven to be substantially historical by a discovered authentic Abraham Autograph, that is such a fanciful and anachronistic hope as such a thing has never happened, that one might as well just believe the text burned in the fire was the preserved Abraham Autograph itself. Look at it this way: All of the "bringing forth of ancient texts" is really a way to establish Joseph Smith as prophet. if a pseudepigraphal manuscript were uncovered that matched the Book of Abraham, the discovery would be so earth-shaking that further discoveries of an original Abraham Autograph with links to the pseudepigraphal manuscript would end up as footnotes.
Last edited by Gadianton on Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:31 am, edited 12 times in total.
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

Post by churchistrue »

I don't like the word fiction. And I don't like the way you're making fun of the non-historical view. But I am trying to define it as well as possible and pushing for my seat at the table.

https://wheatandtares.org/2019/02/21/st ... storicity/
Sharing a view of non-historical/metaphorical "New Mormonism" on my blog http://www.churchistrue.com/

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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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churchistrue wrote:I don't like the word fiction. And I don't like the way you're making fun of the non-historical view. But I am trying to define it as well as possible and pushing for my seat at the table.

https://wheatandtares.org/2019/02/21/st ... storicity/


I think if there is any sarcasm or "making fun of the non-historical view," that is because the church and apologists are so over the top and illogical with their proclamations of the historical view, so unwilling to look at the lack of evidence, that one has to be a little strident. They cause more to leave than anyone because people look for answers from them and their so-called "answers" are so incredibly lacking that one has to conclude that the critics are correct.
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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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I cannot even entertain the idea that a God would use a hoax to restore his church. I'm one of those who cannot accept the idea that the Book of Mormon can stand on its own as inspired fiction.

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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

Post by Gadianton »

Thanks Churchistrue for your input. In my trusty set of notes on this topic, I have some information from your website (the curchistrue site) that came up in a google search a while back that I found quite helpful. Your recent article also has some interesting material.

Ostler's theory, as you suggest, is one way in which "fictional" content crops up in a faithful context. Certainly, these kinds of thoughts stake out some territory, but when invoking the word "fiction" in a loose translation context, it comes across as sarcastic, because we're saying Joseph Smith wittingly or not, interjected his own ideas -- because they aren't real history they are "fiction" in a tongue-in-cheek sense.

Now, get ready to have your mind blown (and thank you, as I see I need to edit the OP already for clarity) because the faithful fiction Book of Mormon that I'm speaking of, is most likely a tight translation fiction-as-fiction theory. AND, it's Smoot's own cohorts at Interpreter leading the way with plenty of thanks to FARMS.

Stay tuned. I'll be looking forward to your thoughts.

(oh, and thanks for putting in another piece to the Wayment puzzle)
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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There is nothing wrong with embracing the beneficial and nurturing parts of a faith tradition, while limiting or removing its falsehoods and needless superstitions. Doing so makes things easier for both thinking followers and apologists.

However, there is more at work here than revamping religious beliefs. There is a grudge match between the Interpreter and the Maxwell Institute.

In order to hold the upper hand, the Interpreter needs the support of the Brethren in order to either regain control of the Maxwell Institute or be given a higher position as official defenders of the faith. This requires that they paint themselves as being ultraorthodox in their approach, while at the same time portraying the Maxwellians as secular academicians who are uninterested in defending the core peculiarities of the LDS Church.

The term sacred allegory sounds better than faithful fiction.

I'm one of those who cannot accept the idea that the Book of Mormon can stand on its own as inspired fiction.

No need to let it stand alone. Put it on the shelf between the Book of Kells and the Book of Mulling.
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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog thread

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Excellent observations, Dean Robbers. Yes: the Mopologists, dealing as of late with topics like science fiction and LDS theology have certainly opened the door, haven't they? Of course we all remember Grant Hardy's epic remarks at the FAIR Conference a couple of years ago. So why not a "fictional" Book of Mormon? (Maybe "metaphorical" or "allegorical" is a term that churchistrue can more readily accept?) You are right: there's no reason why Heavenly Father couldn't have produced a text that's meant to sketch out theology and inspire faith, but which isn't necessarily historical. (I think that most Mopologists feel this way about the Bible, don't they?)

The lynchpin seems to be connected to Joseph Smith: if it's "fictional" (or "metaphorical" or "allegorical," or whatever), then doesn't that mean Joseph Smith was lying? What about the Gold Plates? Or the angel Moroni? The thing is, I don't see how they have a way out of this. Moroni could still have appeared to Joseph, and he could have sort of lied or exaggerated, no? ("Some truths aren't very useful," eh?) There still could have been Gold Plates. All of these things could be real, and the book could still *not* be historical.
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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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The problem I see with accepting a fictional or metaphorical bofm is authority. Historicity is the basis of their belief that they have authority and a fictional bofm takes that away. They aren't ready to be ordinary. How can they sell a fictional bofm that was inspired? It means that god misled or that Joseph misled or both. The evidence demands fiction, but the leaders are too married to the status quo to change, in my opinion.
Last edited by Dr Exiled on Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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Doctor Scratch wrote:Moroni could still have appeared to Joseph, and he could have sort of lied or exaggerated, no? ("Some truths aren't very useful," eh?) There still could have been Gold Plates. All of these things could be real, and the book could still *not* be historical.

None of those items follow from an allegorical account. They are just part of the foundational story.

The important point is that a Church arose from that story and it currently has millions of adherents. Best to concentrate efforts on making the existing Church something beneficial to humankind.
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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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moksha wrote:No need to let it stand alone. Put it on the shelf between the Book of Kells and the Book of Mulling.


Sorry, for me there is no place for it on a shelf between those two books. Neither of them have an origin story involving an angel, God bringing those books forth to restore His church, etc. Apologists unwittingly helped me to see all of the holes in the church, my only recourse was to discard the Book of Mormon and leave the church. But that is me. Others might be able to cling to an inspired fiction theory but like Dr. Scratch said, it means Joseph Smith was lying. I came to the conclusion that it was all a hoax, painful and devastating as that was for me to face.
Last edited by tapirrider on Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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it means Joseph Smith was lying.

Not in the tight-translation version, which is the kind of "faithful" or "faith promoting" fiction I'm talking about.
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog thread

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Moses is a fiction, in a sense. Whoever told his story had no idea what actually happened in the past. Why not Nephi? Scripture *may* use facts, but facts are not an indispensable ingredient. The Book of Daniel and Job are light on historical accuracy, to be generous. Hell, Daniel is an ancient hero. He might as well be Herakles. The demand for historical truth in the scriptures is based on an erroneous understanding of the literature in the Bible.
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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

Post by tapirrider »

Gadianton wrote:
it means Joseph Smith was lying.

Not in the tight-translation version, which is the kind of "faithful" or "faith promoting" fiction I'm talking about.

No gold plates, no Moroni, no John the Baptist appearance conferring the Aaronic priesthood, no Peter James and John conferring the Melchizedek priesthood. Just faith promoting fiction? Sorry, like I said, it just won't work for me. Maybe others can make it work for themselves but it is not for me. The most obvious conclusion to me is that it was all made up by humans with no deity involvement.

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churchistrue wrote:I don't like the word fiction.

NEWSFLASH: Just because churchistrue doesn't like something doesn't mean it magically becomes inapplicable.

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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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Kishkumen wrote:Moses is a fiction, in a sense. Whoever told his story had no idea what actually happened in the past. Why not Nephi? Scripture *may* use facts, but facts are not an indispensable ingredient. The Book of Daniel and Job are light on historical accuracy, to be generous. Hell, Daniel is an ancient hero. He might as well be Herakles. The demand for historical truth in the scriptures is based on an erroneous understanding of the literature in the Bible.


All peoples have origin and creation myths and stories that are not real but are part of those people's cultures. I have no problem with that. My wife understands that her people did not really emerge from Wind Cave in the Black Hills, but that is part of her culture and it is ancient, dating back as far back as nearly 6,000 years. The problem I have with this approach to the Book of Mormon is that is isn't an ancient story passed down through countless generations. It was a 19th century fabrication produced by a con-man. And it pretends to be stories of ancient people in America. When one honestly compares the stories and the message portrayed in them to 19th century ideas about American Indians, the source becomes clear. Now to use that with all of the racist connotations as an inspired scripture and try to perpetuate it for numerous future generations just doesn't work for me. I threw it out. Maybe others can cling to it with that method but it isn't for me.

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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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Sorry, like I said, it just won't work for me


Tapirrider, just in case there's a misunderstanding here: I am an atheist, and I don't give a rat's ass what you believe in or don't believe in. My intent here is to document some very interesting information that suggests the apologists are paving the way to a faithful, fiction theory of the Book of Mormon. That's all. It probably won't work for you. Feel free to announce with every addition I make that it won't work for you, but I'd hardly expect otherwise. I'm more interested in whether it will work for the average TBM, and whether the Mopologists will go all the way and be first to invent a fictional theory. I wonder if it will be Smoot himself?

No gold plates, no Moroni, no John the Baptist appearance conferring the Aaronic priesthood, no Peter James and John conferring the Melchizedek priesthood. Just faith promoting fiction?


Cite one sentence in my opening post that implies there were no gold plates or Moroni in the faithful fiction theory. You are in runaway freight train mode right now. ;) Slow down, read the OP, and come back for updates if interested or if not, then I understand.

granted, the OP is substantially incomplete, and I understand there is confusion about where I'm coming from. Updates will be made regularly.
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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moksha wrote:The important point is that a Church arose from that story and it currently has millions of adherents. Best to concentrate efforts on making the existing Church something beneficial to humankind.


How is this possible when there are 15 jackasses that believe the voices they hear in their heads are from God? A lot of humility needs to sweep through 47 E. South Temple prior to making this thing beneficial to anyone.
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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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Gadianton wrote: My intent here is to document some very interesting information that suggests the apologists are paving the way to a faithful, fiction theory of the Book of Mormon. That's all.


OK, thanks for the clarification. Like splinter groups forming within the church?

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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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Exiled wrote:The problem I see with accepting a fictional or metaphorical bofm is authority. Historicity is the basis of their belief that they have authority and a fictional bofm takes that away. T


That's certainly what the Mopologists say, but I tend to think that this is a clear case of the "intellect" outweighing "the Mantle," because why should greater authority be given to the academic discipline of History than to the influence of God Himself?

At the end of the day, I think that Doctor Robbers's observations are at least provocative, and that they may very well turn out to be correct, because the Mopologists' position is fundamentally self-serving. Who, in the end, benefits from the notion that the Book of Mormon is real history--not only that, but that it *must* be real history and if you believe differently, then you are an apostate. It serves them: the Mopologist academics. I'm sure you've noticed the name-dropping, the constant insistence on mentioning academic credentials, idolization of the top-ranked universities, and so on and so forth. Why do you think they do that? There are so few appeals to basic faith in the Mopologists' oeuvre that you kind of have to wonder what it is that they're up to. (I'll post a new thread in a moment that underscores this point.) I think the simplest answer is that the Mopologists want to be "Kings on Earth." There is a very real part of them that resents the Brethren's authority, which is why they are perfectly willing to openly depict them--including former LDS prophets!--as bumbling fools and manipulators.

So: the Mopologists may very well *need* an "inspired fiction" theory as a means of re-situating themselves in the overall power structure. I mean, they are basically just a tick or two away from Meldrum at this point, in terms of their zealotry. That simply isn't sustainable.
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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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tapirrider wrote:
Gadianton wrote: My intent here is to document some very interesting information that suggests the apologists are paving the way to a faithful, fiction theory of the Book of Mormon. That's all.


OK, thanks for the clarification. Like splinter groups forming within the church?


That's exactly right.
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: The official, faithful fiction Book of Mormon Watchdog t

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Doctor Scratch wrote:
Exiled wrote:The problem I see with accepting a fictional or metaphorical bofm is authority. Historicity is the basis of their belief that they have authority and a fictional bofm takes that away. T


That's certainly what the Mopologists say, but I tend to think that this is a clear case of the "intellect" outweighing "the Mantle," because why should greater authority be given to the academic discipline of History than to the influence of God Himself?

At the end of the day, I think that Doctor Robbers's observations are at least provocative, and that they may very well turn out to be correct, because the Mopologists' position is fundamentally self-serving. Who, in the end, benefits from the notion that the Book of Mormon is real history--not only that, but that it *must* be real history and if you believe differently, then you are an apostate. It serves them: the Mopologist academics. I'm sure you've noticed the name-dropping, the constant insistence on mentioning academic credentials, idolization of the top-ranked universities, and so on and so forth. Why do you think they do that? There are so few appeals to basic faith in the Mopologists' oeuvre that you kind of have to wonder what it is that they're up to. (I'll post a new thread in a moment that underscores this point.) I think the simplest answer is that the Mopologists want to be "Kings on Earth." There is a very real part of them that resents the Brethren's authority, which is why they are perfectly willing to openly depict them--including former LDS prophets!--as bumbling fools and manipulators.

So: the Mopologists may very well *need* an "inspired fiction" theory as a means of re-situating themselves in the overall power structure. I mean, they are basically just a tick or two away from Meldrum at this point, in terms of their zealotry. That simply isn't sustainable.


I think the brethren have sold the historicity theory so much that they may believe it themselves or at least realize the necessity of it. Joseph Smith staked his authority on its validity and he claimed it was historical. Benson reiterated the historical importance and the dodo did as well in 2009 with his angry "crawling under the bofm" speech. Perhaps the mopes realize the change to fiction needs to be made due to a realization of reality. However, the community of Christ suffered a lot of defections going through the transition to fiction and I'm sure the brethren know the story. It'll be difficult to be the messenger on this one.

What do you make of the recent Holland speech to MI where he seemed to be demanding that the apologists be willing to be ridiculed if necessary in defense of the faith? Perhaps this is like the CEO who claims everything is fine right before filing bankruptcy, but maybe it is retrenchment?
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