Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

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I have a question
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Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

Post by I have a question »

In the comments section of a blog piece attempting to rebut BH Robert’s supposed loss of faith, poster “Jack” writes...
Thanks for addressing this issue. Yes--it's "old hat," but I fear that a student's master's thesis on the subject might be developed into a book in the near future. I don't know for certain that that's the case--it's just a hunch. And so I'm glad to see that there are ready sources that one can turn to to get the real story. Even so, some Latter-day Saint scholar might need to be primed to pump out an in depth review--if such a book were to ever be published; or even if the thesis itself were to be widely circulated.
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeters ... qus_thread

To which the coach responds...
We're on it, I think.
Thanks for bringing it to our attention
It seems Mopologists are running scared of a masters thesis on this subject that may or may not turn into a book.

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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

Post by Kishkumen »

I look forward to the book, if one is coming. John’s interviews with Montez are fascinating. Mormonism finally slams into modernity thanks to B. H. Roberts, and it freaked some of those Brethren out. I see Roberts as a hero and trailblazer, for whom the LDS Church is still not ready. Now is the time to embrace him, since the world is increasingly catching up to his position, i.e., the information challenging the antiquity of the Nook of Mormon is everywhere. Instead of hiding from the evidence or performing prestidigitation, now is the time to rework how people view the Book of Mormon and scripture more generally. Sam Brown is on it, and it is a good thing that the task is not left to the Mopologists altogether. It’s just a shame that so many doubters go to them looking for help only to be handed a concrete block in the rising flood waters.
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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

Post by Dr Exiled »

I'd like to hear more about what she couldn't see in the first presidency vault. The church still hides a lot even in the era of the JSP and I still wonder what didn't make it into the published papers. Discovering cover-ups make scandals out of less than occurrences and too much reliance on the appeal to authority fallacy means that the cover-up continues. Maybe just deal with it? I'm sure the members all know that the leaders aren't perfect as the leaders say over and over again. The emperor doesn't have clothes. So, just admit it already. However, they don't like to say so in real time as in admitting that President Nelson's clearly false claim about paying tithing will somehow bring people out of poverty. Or maybe that the members don't need to pay 10% any longer due to the financial disclosures that occurred late last year.

From a believer's perspective, so what if E. Roberts had questions. He should have. The book of Mormon isn't historical and it is an embarrassment that the church insists on pushing this nonsense despite the facts or lack thereof. Time to rip the band aid off and let the healing begin. The people are still good and there is something to meeting together socially in a church context regardless of whether or not the beliefs are myth. But, questioning historicity leads to more questions, more doubts about authority. They are sitting on a pile of money and seem dead set on reaching $1 Trillion.
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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

Post by Analytics »

20 or 30 years ago, sociologists came up with a model where they looked at how much tension a religion has with the society in which it is located. "Low tension" religions were liberal religions where people met because they liked getting together in a place that had some trappings of church. However, low-tension religions don't ask their adherents to believe anything too crazy or make any sacrifices that are too hard. In contrast, high-tension religions require a ton of sacrifice in every way--time, money, intellectual integrity, and sometimes even family relationships. The claim was that high-tension religions were the ones that thrived, while low-tension religions withered. Part of the reasoning was the idea that because of their strict demands, high-tension religions have massive resources they can give back to the faith community, which makes membership worthwhile. The bigger point, though, had to do with psychology. There is something exhilarating about belonging to a religion that forces you to sacrifice everything, including your intellectual integrity. Such big claims are exciting. They make you feel special. They present a challenge. Sure, not everybody can do it, but enough people can do it to make the strict, literal-believing high-tension religions the ones that tend to grow and thrive. In fact, this concept of the Church being a high-tension religion was one of the bases for Rodney Stark forecasting that the Church would grow exponentially for the next century.

It seems to me that the LDS Church is inherently a high-tension religion while, say, the Unitarian Universalists are inherently low-tension. Sure, the Church could go against its fundamental nature and turn low-tension. Such a message would be, "Yea, Joseph Smith was a 'Prophet' and said some interesting things that we can appreciate if not literally believe. But we concede he was also a conman, and that most of the 'prophets' of the Church back to and including Brigham Young were just old, uninspired men. But we still go to church because we think it is worthwhile! But if you don't feel the same way that's fine--your eternal salvation is decidedly not at stake over such decisions." It could say that. But it would lose a ton of members in two groups: the people who are inherently conservative and actually believe the myths, and the people who would move on to other things if the manipulation were to end. And then some other intellectual types would feel less ostracized and might go back. In aggregate would it make the church stronger? Certainly not.

The Church is in a damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don't situation. There are forces that are causing the Church to transition from being a high-tension "cult" to a low-tension "sect". We see some of that at BYU and the Maxwell institute. But despite that, the leaders have decided that they are going all-in on being a high-tension religion.

The first principle of the gospel is faith, not intellectual integrity.
It’s relatively easy to agree that only Homo sapiens can speak about things that don’t really exist, and believe six impossible things before breakfast. You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.

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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

Post by Dr Exiled »

Analytics wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 1:08 pm
20 or 30 years ago, sociologists came up with a model where they looked at how much tension a religion has with the society in which it is located. "Low tension" religions were liberal religions where people met because they liked getting together in a place that had some trappings of church. However, low-tension religions don't ask their adherents to believe anything too crazy or make any sacrifices that are too hard. In contrast, high-tension religions require a ton of sacrifice in every way--time, money, intellectual integrity, and sometimes even family relationships. The claim was that high-tension religions were the ones that thrived, while low-tension religions withered. Part of the reasoning was the idea that because of their strict demands, high-tension religions have massive resources they can give back to the faith community, which makes membership worthwhile. The bigger point, though, had to do with psychology. There is something exhilarating about belonging to a religion that forces you to sacrifice everything, including your intellectual integrity. Such big claims are exciting. They make you feel special. They present a challenge. Sure, not everybody can do it, but enough people can do it to make the strict, literal-believing high-tension religions the ones that tend to grow and thrive. In fact, this concept of the Church being a high-tension religion was one of the bases for Rodney Stark forecasting that the Church would grow exponentially for the next century.

It seems to me that the LDS Church is inherently a high-tension religion while, say, the Unitarian Universalists are inherently low-tension. Sure, the Church could go against its fundamental nature and turn low-tension. Such a message would be, "Yea, Joseph Smith was a 'Prophet' and said some interesting things that we can appreciate if not literally believe. But we concede he was also a conman, and that most of the 'prophets' of the Church back to and including Brigham Young were just old, uninspired men. But we still go to church because we think it is worthwhile! But if you don't feel the same way that's fine--your eternal salvation is decidedly not at stake over such decisions." It could say that. But it would lose a ton of members in two groups: the people who are inherently conservative and actually believe the myths, and the people who would move on to other things if the manipulation were to end. And then some other intellectual types would feel less ostracized and might go back. In aggregate would it make the church stronger? Certainly not.

The Church is in a damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don't situation. There are forces that are causing the Church to transition from being a high-tension "cult" to a low-tension "sect". We see some of that at BYU and the Maxwell institute. But despite that, the leaders have decided that they are going all-in on being a high-tension religion.

The first principle of the gospel is faith, not intellectual integrity.
This is a great point. The church is in a dilemma. I think the rising generations will continue to leave and the church will have to soften a la the Community of Christ or become a smaller church of fanatics. Either way, it's going to shrink.
Last edited by Dr Exiled on Wed Sep 23, 2020 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

Post by Physics Guy »

I think the low to high tension spectrum for religions makes a fair amount of sense, as long as one doesn’t think too carelessly about what “tension” means. Someone like Dietrich Bonhoeffer could be pretty relaxed about how seriously you should take medieval metaphysics but kind of strict about opposing the Nazi government. So I think this religious tension has some element of demand for sacrifice in it, but I don’t think that’s quite the main thrust of it. To me the tension is more essentially about how differently you have to see the world from how people outside your religion see it.

My impression from some higher-tension evangelical Christians I’ve known is that high-tension religions tend to reinforce their own high-tension nature. Fundamentalist Christian preachers, for example, like to emphasize how worthless any less fundamentalist form of belief would be. I think there’s a tendency to eliminate from the religion anything which might appeal independently from the official beliefs, like catchy music or fine art. It’s a sort of scorched earth defense that tries to discourage the rank and file from retreating by leaving them nothing onto which they could fall back.

So I keep asking whether Mormonism can really manage a lowering of tension. There may be some good things in Mormonism without literal faith in the Prophet and priesthood power and the golden plates, but the question is whether there is enough good, compared to similar things that one can have better or more easily in other religions or without any religion.

I can’t claim to know but my impression is that the most distinctive things about Mormonism are precisely the most wackily untenable things. Once you lower the tension in Mormonism, is there really anything left that is still distinctively Mormon?

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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

Post by Analytics »

One of the things that the sociologists emphasized was that there was a natural lifecycle of religions to start out has high-tension cults and then mellow out over time. The idea is that as the religion grows and matures, the leaders want to be respected and be respectable, so they mellow things out.

This has undoubtedly happened in the Mormon context. The first big step towards lowering tension was abandoning polygamy. They've also abandoned or at least stopped emphasizing frequent additions to the canon, a physical gathering of the saints to Zion, the law of consecration, Adam-God, blood atonement, oath of vengeance, young-earth creationism, a hemispheric Book of Mormon geography, no death amongst animals before the fall, the second coming (at least imminently), the anti-Christ, food storage, white horse prophesy, God was once a man, an infinite regression of gods, King Follet discourse, the Gulf of Mexico being the crater left over when the city of Enoch was translated and floated away into the sky, Cain never dying and wandering around like a 7-foot monster, the three Nephites, demonic possession, blacks sitting on the fence in the war in heaven, a reworking of--what--over 50% of the temple endowment, sex outside of marriage being the third worst sin (i.e. not as bad as denying the Holy Ghost and murder, but worse than torturing children etc.) etc.

I'm not sure if we remember what Mormonism was like 40 years ago. There were a lot of mysteries and a lot of answers. They've gotten rid of almost all of that in exchange for putting the word Jesus Christ really prominently on the Church's logo. There has been a major retrenchment where they've given up on almost everything other than the Book of Mormon and the story of its origins being literally true.
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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

Post by Res Ipsa »

Analytics wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 4:04 pm
One of the things that the sociologists emphasized was that there was a natural lifecycle of religions to start out has high-tension cults and then mellow out over time. The idea is that as the religion grows and matures, the leaders want to be respected and be respectable, so they mellow things out.

This has undoubtedly happened in the Mormon context. The first big step towards lowering tension was abandoning polygamy. They've also abandoned or at least stopped emphasizing frequent additions to the canon, a physical gathering of the saints to Zion, the law of consecration, Adam-God, blood atonement, oath of vengeance, young-earth creationism, a hemispheric Book of Mormon geography, no death amongst animals before the fall, the second coming (at least imminently), the anti-Christ, food storage, white horse prophesy, God was once a man, an infinite regression of gods, King Follet discourse, the Gulf of Mexico being the crater left over when the city of Enoch was translated and floated away into the sky, Cain never dying and wandering around like a 7-foot monster, the three Nephites, demonic possession, blacks sitting on the fence in the war in heaven, a reworking of--what--over 50% of the temple endowment, sex outside of marriage being the third worst sin (i.e. not as bad as denying the Holy Ghost and murder, but worse than torturing children etc.) etc.

I'm not sure if we remember what Mormonism was like 40 years ago. There were a lot of mysteries and a lot of answers. They've gotten rid of almost all of that in exchange for putting the word Jesus Christ really prominently on the Church's logo. There has been a major retrenchment where they've given up on almost everything other than the Book of Mormon and the story of its origins being literally true.
That's the only Mormonism I know -- the Mormonism of mystery and answers. I have trouble imagining what it's like to be LDS today. Yet, the majority of folks I knew back in the day remain LDS today. I wonder if they notice the change.
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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

Post by consiglieri »

I let Shannon know.

She is flattered by the attention her thesis is receiving.

She is also considering submitting it to The Interpreter for publication.
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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

Post by moksha »

When I first heard the Mormon Stories podcasts, I thought the subject matter should be in a book. Not sure if Dr. Midgley is too old to pull on his high top black boots and faded trenchcoat to hound Ms. Montez's church leaders, work colleagues, neighbors, and family members for salacious tidbits into which he could weave a so-called "book review". Maybe one of the shiftier young apologists could cast the required desecration spells to make it happen. Anyway, might as well get started early with spurious arguments. No need to actually read the book.


consiglieri wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 7:51 pm
I let Shannon know.

She is also considering submitting it to The Interpreter for publication.
Brilliant!
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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

Post by aussieguy55 »

In Studies in the Book of Mormon Roberts writes a letter to Heber J Grant expressing disappointment "over the next results of the discussion" p.48 The answers to Mr Couch's questions are very inadequate" p.50.
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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

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Here is an article done by the young apologist and former couch meister Smoot in response to more evidence provided by Ms. Montez that shows that B.H. Roberts was at least considering the non-historical perspective: https://www.plonialmonimormon.com/2020/ ... endum.html

Ms. Montez points to a radio address that B.H. Roberts gave while he was mission president in the eastern U.S. The bolded parts below are where B.H. Roberts shows that he is at least acknowledging a non-historical book of Mormon:
Following its bold and unique initiative, “Mormonism” announced a revelation respecting America and her ancient inhabitants that was equally astounding and appealing. Who were these people of the western world discovered with their continent four hundred years ago? Were they children of the Most High? And if so had God left himself without witnesses among them? To this question men could give no answer. But “Mormonism” did by producing an American volume of scripture written and compiled by their prophets, proclaiming not only an Israelitish origin for the people, but giving an account of the resurrected Christ’s personal visit to them, after his departure from Judea; also the proclamation of the one and “Everlasting Gospel” to them by the Christ; the founding of a church; and at the necessary departure of the Son of God from their midst, a promise given of a future return, and a personal reign with the righteous in a Kingdom of Glory. If all this were not true, it might well be hoped that it was true, for it should say so much in vindication of the justice of God in not allowing whole continents of people to perish in ignorance of God’s plan of human salvation. It would add so much to the vision of a loving Christ, this visit to the people of America, and the establishment of his Gospel and his church among them: It would mean so much to the present distraught Christendom if a New Witness could be found in the voice of the sleeping nations of ancient America, testifying to the Deity of the Christ; to the reality of the resurrection from the dead, and the life everlasting. To the Latter-day Saint this is what the Book of Mormon is, A New Witness for God, and for the fundamental truths of the old Christian faith. This is what it does for him: strengthens his faith, but increasing the evidence on which that faith rests; makes brighter his star of hope of the life everlasting; his church, rising out of all this, and guided by continuous revelation,—abiding in touch with God—becomes for him a present temple of God, built up of living stones wherein is not darkness or doubt. Does all this excellent initiative and procedure in the founding of a great religious movement arise merely from the happy and forceful but eratic [sic] cogitation of an ignorant youth, Joseph Smith? Or is there something more in it than that?
Would one of the apostles venture today to even consider a non-historical book of Mormon in a public address? I don't think so and perhaps this address by E. Roberts can be viewed as acknowledgment that non-historical views are rational and perhaps inevitable?
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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

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Dr Exiled wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:46 am
Here is an article done by the young apologist and former couch meister Smoot in response to more evidence provided by Ms. Montez that shows that B.H. Roberts was at least considering the non-historical perspective: https://www.plonialmonimormon.com/2020/ ... endum.html

Ms. Montez points to a radio address that B.H. Roberts gave while he was mission president in the eastern U.S. The bolded parts below are where B.H. Roberts shows that he is at least acknowledging a non-historical book of Mormon:
Following its bold and unique initiative, “Mormonism” announced a revelation respecting America and her ancient inhabitants that was equally astounding and appealing. Who were these people of the western world discovered with their continent four hundred years ago? Were they children of the Most High? And if so had God left himself without witnesses among them? To this question men could give no answer. But “Mormonism” did by producing an American volume of scripture written and compiled by their prophets, proclaiming not only an Israelitish origin for the people, but giving an account of the resurrected Christ’s personal visit to them, after his departure from Judea; also the proclamation of the one and “Everlasting Gospel” to them by the Christ; the founding of a church; and at the necessary departure of the Son of God from their midst, a promise given of a future return, and a personal reign with the righteous in a Kingdom of Glory. If all this were not true, it might well be hoped that it was true, for it should say so much in vindication of the justice of God in not allowing whole continents of people to perish in ignorance of God’s plan of human salvation. It would add so much to the vision of a loving Christ, this visit to the people of America, and the establishment of his Gospel and his church among them: It would mean so much to the present distraught Christendom if a New Witness could be found in the voice of the sleeping nations of ancient America, testifying to the Deity of the Christ; to the reality of the resurrection from the dead, and the life everlasting. To the Latter-day Saint this is what the Book of Mormon is, A New Witness for God, and for the fundamental truths of the old Christian faith. This is what it does for him: strengthens his faith, but increasing the evidence on which that faith rests; makes brighter his star of hope of the life everlasting; his church, rising out of all this, and guided by continuous revelation,—abiding in touch with God—becomes for him a present temple of God, built up of living stones wherein is not darkness or doubt. Does all this excellent initiative and procedure in the founding of a great religious movement arise merely from the happy and forceful but eratic [sic] cogitation of an ignorant youth, Joseph Smith? Or is there something more in it than that?
Would one of the apostles venture today to even consider a non-historical book of Mormon in a public address? I don't think so and perhaps this address by E. Roberts can be viewed as acknowledgment that non-historical views are rational and perhaps inevitable?
Dr Exiled, I am puzzled. I cannot find anything in the quote that would point to a fictional Book of Mormon. It explicitly points out a series of central strengths of the book none of which would work if the book was fiction. How would the book testify of Jesus appearance in the new world or anywhere outside of Israel if the book was fiction? It would only testify of a wish held by people in 19th century America. I am afraid all I hear is a well used apologetic statement.

The statement acknowledges that people might wonder if the book is fiction. People have wondered that since the books first appearance. I think generally the people who decided in favor of the fiction view did not join the church.

For myself I do not see enough in a fictional Book of Mormon to hold together much of an organized church. I realize I must be missing something because I understand the Reorganized church allows for a fictional view. I wonder what percent of members actually view it that way. I wonder what missionaries say about the book. (we have a swell novel that we like, would you like to join our church?)

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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

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Taking a quick review of Community of Christ official comments on line I find no actual statement that the Book of Mormon is fiction. The book is carefully subservient to the Bible for authority. There is a statement about scripture authority in general which rejects historical inerrancy in favor of scriptural inspiration. It is the sort of view that I have always held about the Bible. Then I believe there is a historical trunk or stem running through the Bible even if hazy behind later reconstruction.

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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

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Of course people can continue to be LDS while personally believing the Book of Mormon to be fiction. It is better to keep the view to oneself I suspect. I am put in mind of a comment I heard long ago from an older Mormon long active in the church. He liked going to church because he could always fall asleep and upon wakening know what is being said and done.

I do not wish to be too critical of nonbelieving participants.(or participants with limited belief) My father likely was one though he did not actually admit it. My mother was the one with the firm belief.

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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

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huckelberry wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:42 am

Dr Exiled, I am puzzled. I cannot find anything in the quote that would point to a fictional Book of Mormon. It explicitly points out a series of central strengths of the book none of which would work if the book was fiction. How would the book testify of Jesus appearance in the new world or anywhere outside of Israel if the book was fiction? It would only testify of a wish held by people in 19th century America. I am afraid all I hear is a well used apologetic statement.

The statement acknowledges that people might wonder if the book is fiction. People have wondered that since the books first appearance. I think generally the people who decided in favor of the fiction view did not join the church.

For myself I do not see enough in a fictional Book of Mormon to hold together much of an organized church. I realize I must be missing something because I understand the Reorganized church allows for a fictional view. I wonder what percent of members actually view it that way. I wonder what missionaries say about the book. (we have a swell novel that we like, would you like to join our church?)
I think the point is that B.H. Roberts was allowing for a non-historical book of Mormon when he said "If all this were not true," in the quote. This combined with the other evidence Ms. Montez supplied and others have supplied and the Madsen book about B.H. Robert's questions, seem to point to B.H. Roberts not believing in a historical book of Mormon. Of course this is speculation as Mr. Roberts isn't here to give us his views or clarify his views.
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Re: Interpreter planning a hit piece disguised as a book review before the book is even written...

Post by huckelberry »

Dr Exiled wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 12:07 pm
huckelberry wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:42 am

Dr Exiled, I am puzzled. I cannot find anything in the quote that would point to a fictional Book of Mormon. It explicitly points out a series of central strengths of the book none of which would work if the book was fiction. How would the book testify of Jesus appearance in the new world or anywhere outside of Israel if the book was fiction? It would only testify of a wish held by people in 19th century America. I am afraid all I hear is a well used apologetic statement.

The statement acknowledges that people might wonder if the book is fiction. People have wondered that since the books first appearance. I think generally the people who decided in favor of the fiction view did not join the church.

For myself I do not see enough in a fictional Book of Mormon to hold together much of an organized church. I realize I must be missing something because I understand the Reorganized church allows for a fictional view. I wonder what percent of members actually view it that way. I wonder what missionaries say about the book. (we have a swell novel that we like, would you like to join our church?)
I think the point is that B.H. Roberts was allowing for a non-historical book of Mormon when he said "If all this were not true," in the quote. This combined with the other evidence Ms. Montez supplied and others have supplied and the Madsen book about B.H. Robert's questions, seem to point to B.H. Roberts not believing in a historical book of Mormon. Of course this is speculation as Mr. Roberts isn't here to give us his views or clarify his views.
Exiled I can see how other statements from Mr Roberts would color how the one quote would read. I do not wish to claim to know Mr Roberts mind on the matter. Perhaps Mr Madsen book would provide interesting observations.

A preplanned rebuttal does suggest there could be material of interest in Madsen's book.

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