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“The cure for an intellectual apostasy is enlarging both one’s spiritual and intellectual knowledge.” One important thing to know is the way in which God works through prophets. “[T]he Lord doesn’t typically drop revelation into the minds of prophets. More often than not, the Lord grants revelation according to petitions for help or understanding.” Some examples of this are given in this article.
The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.
Brother Ash is author of the book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, as well as the book, of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both books are available for purchase online through the FAIR Bookstore.
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“The cure for an intellectual apostasy is enlarging both one’s spiritual and intellectual knowledge.”
I’m writing an internet book for those who want to increase their spiritual knowledge and faith.
As I see it, the reason for “apostasy” because of intellectual stumbling blocks is due to a lack of understanding of the basic principles of the gospel: faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost.
When one understands the first principles and applies them with real intent, the manifestations of the Spirit follow, resulting in a testimony that is unshakable.
The internet book is nearing completion. One of the things I am working on for the book is a 10 Question Quiz. I have a first draft of the quiz online. So far, 114 people have taken the quiz. I would be interested in any feed back on the quiz or the book.
Link to the quiz
Spencer Shellman says
I followed the “first principles” the best I could, but I never, ever obtained a manifestation of the spirit or an “unshakable” testimony. That’s what resulted in my “intellectual apostasy”.
I prayed for understanding and guidance from God every day, as I continued to study the scriptures and related history.
God answered my prayers, and within 6 years of continual study and prayer I became and am perfectly happy, content, and sure of my decision that the church is not true.
I don’t see that as an excuse to stop acquiring new information and re-examining my beliefs, and yet my continued study continues to reaffirm my earlier decision.
Spencer Shellman says
It took you 6 years to figure out that the Mormon church isn’t true? For me it was like a switch going off.
I grew up in the church, and I gave it every benefit of the doubt I could. I read every apologetic material I could get my hands on, including most of fairlds.org, Jeff Lindsay’s stuff, every Hugh Nibley work in existence, Ludlow, McConkie, Joseph Fielding Smith, the teachings of the prophets, the entire History of the Church… I took as many religion courses at BYU that I could fit in my schedule… learned Hebrew, also the rudiments of Egyptian culture and religion, and delved into critical biblical textual studies…
Needless to say, every part of me wanted the church to be true, and believed for a long time, relying on the hope that things I didn’t know yet would somehow in time resolve current things I was aware of.
Everyone has their switch, I guess. I wasn’t fully satisfied that the church was false until I had turned the pages of our history myself and saw how human it was. It also required a good familiarity with the scriptures — enough to read the Book of Mormon, with all the ancient near eastern and ancient american parallels gleaned from people like Nibley or John Sorenson, and realize how meager that “evidence” really is… and how strongly it gives away a 19th century cultural background instead, full of the issues and language of the day.
S Goodman says
Jacob, you wrote:
“I read every apologetic material I could get my hands on, including most of fairlds.org, Jeff Lindsay’s stuff, every Hugh Nibley work in existence, Ludlow, McConkie, Joseph Fielding Smith, the teachings of the prophets, the entire History of the Church… I took as many religion courses at BYU that I could fit in my schedule… learned Hebrew, also the rudiments of Egyptian culture and religion, and delved into critical biblical textual studies…”
I did the same, with the exception of having to learn Hebrew (I’m Jewish). Where you were raised in the church and looking to sustain your waning faith, I was an outsider with no faith encumbering me.
There was a fine article here on Fairblog some time past exploring the question of why inteligent adults can take the same body of evidence and reach vastly different conclusions. You and I represent that dichotomy.
When I felt myself compelled to be baptised by a new found understanding of God I knew it would cost me a great deal. My parents held Shiva for me (meaning that they considered me dead. a Shiva is the ritual mourning after a funeral).
I share this with you simply to call attention to the fact that it is entirely possible to take the path of study and exploration you have chosen and arrive at a different destination, one with a firm testimony of the restored Gospel.
Most definitely, S. Goodman. But as much as people will try to say that you can’t prove things one way or the other, and in the end we have to rely on faith, there is in my opinion quite enough evidence to decide the matter.
Can you tell me, what do you do to resolve major scriptural issues? For instance, Genesis 1:1-2:4a is one account of the creation (the so-called Priestly version), whereas Genesis 2:4b-3:24 is an entirely different account (the Yahwist version). That’s not necessarily a big deal, until you look at the Books of Moses and of Abraham. Why aren’t the different accounts even realized by the authors of those texts?
Or consider the Isaiah content in the Book of Mormon. Ignoring for now the idea of Deutero-Isaiah, why doesn’t the Book of Mormon text reflect the more likely original texts, gleaned from a comparison of the LXX, the masoretic, and the dead sea Isaiah? Such as Isaiah 3:24 (2 Nephi 13:24) where it should read “instead of beauty, shame”, rather than “burning instead of beauty”. Or Isaiah 14:4 (2 Nephi 24:4) where it likely should read “his insolence ceased!” rather than “the golden city ceased!” Or Isaiah 14:30 (2 Nephi 24:30) where it ought to say “and I shall slay thy remnant” rather than “and he shall slay they remnant”. Or Isaiah 49:24 (1 Ne 21:24), where it should definitely say, “or the captives of the terrible be delivered?” rather than “or the lawful captive[s] deilvered?”. Or Isaiah 53:11 (Mosiah 14:11), where it should say “out of his travail, he shall see light” rather than “he shall see the travail of his soul”. If you open up an 1830 Book of Mormon and compare the Isaiah texts with the KJV, you will find that the author of the Book of Mormon was mainly aware that italicized texts were not original in the Hebrew, and so the “changes” to the texts mainly occur where there were italics. Trying to match them instead to the LXX or Qumran version actually proves rather unfruitful. Why did the author(s) of the Book of Mormon only know so much, and yet so little?
Or what do you do about the “virgin” text of Isaiah 7:14, where the Hebrew clearly denotes that Isaiah is talking about a pregnant young woman of his own time, and which only becomes a “virgin” in the LXX?
S Goodman says
Jacob, I wrestled with the Isaiah texts as well. I also had a difficult time reconciling the apparent anomalies in the Books of Moses and Abraham and the controversies surounding its translation.
There were two things that resolved the issue for me. You used the words “more likely…should…likely should”. I realized I was trying to reconcile the texts in front of me to my best understanding given my background, training, and inteligentce. Either the text was flawed, or I could fault my own understanding. I chose to accept the idea that the fault might be ny own.
Or maybe I had been well schooled and my understanding was actually inciteful. I thought back to the ban on blacks holding the preisthood and that reminded me of another truth.
I’m convinced that Brigham Young, God’s chosen prophet and a man of amazing talent and worth, was racist and allowed that racism to color (no pun intended) his views and resulted in the ban. Heavenly Father saw no lasting harm and allowed it to go unchecked untill Spenser Kimball put forth the effort to inquire. My testimony of Brigham Young remains unabated. I don’t require that he be perfect.
Then I look to the verses in Isaiah. I don’t know if the fault or misunderstanding is mine, Joseph Smith’s, Isaiah’s or some/several unnamed transcriptionists. I continue to study it out in hopes of a final and definitive answer but it no longer shakes my faith.
You stated “I grew up in the church, and I gave it every benefit of the doubt I could. I read every apologetic material I could get my hands on, including most of fairlds.org, Jeff Lindsay’s stuff, every Hugh Nibley work in existence, Ludlow, McConkie, Joseph Fielding Smith, the teachings of the prophets, the entire History of the Church… I took as many religion courses at BYU that I could fit in my schedule… learned Hebrew, also the rudiments of Egyptian culture and religion, and delved into critical biblical textual studies”.
Quite frankly, I find it hard to believe that you had time to do any this in any depth while attending BYU. Most people attending the “Y” do well to keep up with their major studies. In my case I graduated years ago from Southern Utah University with degrees in Psychology and Biology. I didn’t have time to do much else except focus on majors.
Then you go on to state
“Everyone has their switch, I guess. I wasn’t fully satisfied that the church was false until I had turned the pages of our history myself and saw how human it was. It also required a good familiarity with the scriptures — enough to read the Book of Mormon, with all the ancient near eastern and ancient american parallels gleaned from people like Nibley or John Sorenson, and realize how meager that “evidence” really is… and how strongly it gives away a 19th century cultural background instead, full of the issues and language of the day”
Since being medically retired some 4 years ago, I have spent 4 to 8 hours a day researching the same background information that you mentioned and have come to an entirely different conclusion. Maybe the difference is at age 60 I have come to understand the limitations of using the intellect to decide matters of faith. By the way, you didn’t mention the work of FARMS. I can state that I have read every publication they have available on the web.(Some 25 years worth). It took almost a year working at it 4 to 6 hours a day.
The FARMS website as well as FAIR and Shields discuss many of the issues you bring up like the Isaiah matter. Have you spent any time at the FARM’s website reading their material.
Other individuals have read the same material that you claim to and have come to different conclusions. Don’t allow your bitterness towards the church to become a consuming passion. Since you have left it, move on and find more productive ways to spend your time.
As a psychologist of some 40 years now, that is the issue I find the most fascinating, why people who leave the church can’t leave it alone. It seems that the idea of cognitive dissonance is still alive and well.
Finally, let me make this clear, I do have a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I wish you well in life, and hope you will find more profitable and pleasant ways to employ your time, than attacking the church you have left
Okay, so my comment to S. Goodman from yesterday is “awaiting moderation”, so here is a link to it.
S. Goodman, could you take a look at it? I basically commend your honesty and point you to an area that, using apologetic material, we can clearly show data is being distorted and that there really is evidence enough to decide the issue.
Some background info on myself. I generally do not study outside of my classes for coursework, except for what I can’t finish in class, which tends to be very little. I went to BYU when I was 16, having been strongly converted to the Gospel through seminary when I was 14. At that time I had only read the Book of Mormon a few times, the Doctrine and Covenants a few times, and the New Testament once since I was 14. I had also read a couple church manuals like the Seminary Book of Mormon manual, selected portions of Joseph F. Smith’s “Gospel Doctrines”, “Search These Things Diligently” by Brian Garner, “How Wide the Divide?” by Blomberg and Robinson.
You stated that “Most people attending the “Y” do well to keep up with their major studies.” True enough. I am not one of those people. My viewpoint at 16 was that this was the time in my life when I’d have more free time than any other time in the future, up until the time I retired.
So, accordingly, I wanted to use my time to really know the Gospel. 12 hours on Sunday was definitely not enough to cut it, so I spent from 2 to 6 hours a day weekdays and pretty much the whole weekend during the school years studying church material rather than school material.
I’m glad I did so. Since leaving BYU my studies continued. You don’t have to take my word for it, Mark, but please try me at my knowledge. No, I did not mention FARMS or SHIELDS. Nor the Sunstone or Dialogue, for that matter. I have read a few FARMS publications, and much material to be found on FAIRLDS overlaps the other sources. This is part of my reason for this engagement; I would like to know what I am missing, if I am mistaken.
We can begin a discussion on any topic covered and see how well the evidence fairs. I am disappointed, when, for instance, I open up a random SHIELDS article (such as this one, and see that the defenses John Gee uses contain the same crap Mormons have been toting for some time. Take, for instance, the quote Gee gives with footnote 38. You can find the original here, and see for yourself the quality of the witnesses Gee is using for his defense. The conclusions like those reached here for the evidence match exactly the conclusions I reached just by reading the evidence myself.
You say that “many of the issues” I bring up are already addressed on these web sites. Well, the responses I’ve seen have in the main been miserable attempts at dealing with the real issues. Consider the discussion that ensued here when someone linked the pages that “respond” to my questions about the texts.
Are you lying to yourself, Mark, in thinking that these web sites and articles really resolve the harder issues involved in making Mormonism credible? Is this why you resort to making a caricature of me in the end of your response?
Stop claiming that I only “claim” to have read what I have told you, and prove me wrong if you can. You will find I have done as I have said. I don’t think anyone who is honest with the source materials and evidence, rather than who just reads the arguments and relies on their feelings, can come to a conclusion other than what I have. I invite anyone to examine the evidence with me.
Another correction of a caricature you made of me (and others): I’m not bitter against the church. I have loved learning everything I can concerning doctrine, scripture, and history. I still love it. The prophet Joseph is one of the most fascinating characters of history. Reading his words and journals is well worth the time. I strongly believe that a true and careful understanding of the Book of Mormon reveals buckets of treasure concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith. I still enjoy reading the Book of Mormon, and continuing to seek understanding of the text. I feel my understanding is rather thorough.
I am engaging in a dialogue here because I have nowhere else to go. I don’t routinely visit antimormon sites, I harbor no bitterness against the church. But I believe I am right, and I have made my conclusions by buying and studying apologetic material and the sources referenced by said material. I am aware of a truthfulness gap in many of the works of these apologists and so I’d like to call it out, and see if it can be filled and still retain its pro-mormon character. If there is actual substantive evidence regarding the church’s truth claims, I would like to be aware of it. And I can tell you honestly, when I compare the sources myself, many apologist claims don’t hold water. They mask details to make the truth sound mormon-friendly.
So will you engage me, Mark, or are you stuck in the mire of “I have come to understand the limitations of using the intellect to decide matters of faith”. Well, of course there are limitations when you wish to use your intellect to show that your faith is right, when in fact it’s wrong. You sound like you’ve barely begun a real journey to find out truth, critically examine sources, and realize that a large measure of truth indeed can be determined, and doesn’t have to rely on faith and rhetoric. Don’t let the formidable hood of all those FARMS publications hoodwink you into thinking matters can’t be decided by reason.
Maybe the difference is at my age I have come to understand the limitations of using wishful thinking to decide matters of truth. =D
I am sorry if you feel I was making a caricature of you or any one else, that was not my intent. Let me give you a little of my background. I served 40 years in the army before being medevaced out of Iraq and medically retired. Now as a part of that 40 years experience I learned a great lesson about “trust, but validate”. You have made claims in previous posts that you attended the “Y”, and that you have made an exhaustive study of all the materials available in deciding that the church is false. Now you say you attended the “Y” at age 16 and dropped out or quit. I will admit that based on my experience there are some discrepancies with what you claim to have done, and how you have gained scriptural knowledge that others generally take decades to acquire. Now, having said that, I would like know why you feel this particular website is the appropriate place to debate the validity of the gospel. Again, I want to stress my interest in this matter is why you left the church, but you can’t leave it alone. What has made you desire to engage in public debates with those who believe differently than you. One thing I have learned is that debates rarely solve anything or change anyone’s mind especially when both parties are firmly committed to their beliefs or ideas. What you regard as “decided matters of truth” I see as someones opinion of what they regard the truth as being at that point in time. Again my interest in talking with you revolves around the matter of why you left the church, but you can’t leave it alone. You can contact me at [email protected] if you wish to continue this discussion.
It seems that it all boils down to being told by an authority figure that common varieties of psycho-emotional religious experience should be interpreted as a Ghost bearing witnesss of truth and knowledge. And just believing it and then doing just exactly that.
For instance, “We believe the Bible is the word of God…” (whether or not translated correctly).
What other than childhood inculcation and indoctrination leads an otherwise educated, informed, honest, critically thinking adult to come to or hold that belief?
If a convert’s ONLY exposure to Hebrew scripture is in Christian translation as the OT, presented by Christians with Christian interpretation and application, is he/she still not profoundly ignorant of Hebrew scripture? Even even if the convert has memorized the whole OT verbatim? And therefore ignorant of true Hebrew thoughts and concepts concerning salvation, sin, atonement and messiah? Is such ignorance, then, a prerequisite for the adult convert?
A “cure for intellectual apostasy” assumes that it’s a disease in need of a cure, rather than just simple honesty. In the end, that “cure” can only boil down, ultimately, to a Ghost bearing witness through common varieties of religious experience. Because somebody once told you that’s what it was, and you just believed it: a Ghost.