Thursday, October 13, 2011

Meaning of Mormon

At another blog, christian-with-a-view, is posted an article entitled: RESPONSE TO A READER.

Here is the opening section:

Monday, October 10, 2011
The reader said: "So what would you do if I told you that, having read both several times, and having prayed about them both, the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God, and it does not contradict the teachings of the Bible........"

The author of the blog proceeds to give a series of quotations from the Book Mormon, showing valid examples of how the Book of Mormon directly contradicts the doctrine of the Bible. To see the examples that he gives, please visit the post at his site. He also gives a quote from the Mormons’ Doctrine and Covenants, demonstrating one example of how this Mormon book of doctrine additionally contradicts the Book of Mormon.

In this post, I do not intend to try to disprove the Book of Mormon. Rather, I want to address the issue raised by the questioner regarding praying to God regarding knowing the truth. Certainly we are to pray to God with this request. However, is this to be prayed as the Mormons presume? For that matter, is it to be prayed as most Christians presume?

Before I address this, however, I would like to exercise and stretch some learning.

For the moment, I draw attention to the meaning of the word mormon.

At Mormon Meaning and Definition has the following:

Mormon Meaning and Definition

1. (n.) A genus of sea birds, having a large, thick bill; the puffin.
2. (a.) Of or pertaining to the Mormons; as, the Mormon religion; Mormon practices.
3. (n.) One of a sect in the United States, followers of Joseph Smith, who professed to have found an addition to the Bible, engraved on golden plates, called the Book of Mormon, first published in 1830. The Mormons believe in polygamy, and their hierarchy of apostles, etc., has control of civil and religious matters.
4. (n.) The mandrill.
5. (n.) A member of a sect, called the Reorganized Church of Jesus of Latterday Saints, which has always rejected polygamy. It was organized in 1852, and is represented in about forty States and Territories of the United States.

I searched the Internet for “meaning of mormon,” wanting to see whether perhaps the word had any meaning besides that of the person invented by Joseph Smith and the apparition that approached him with this amazing revelation. Lo and behold, I learned meanings to the word that I had never imagined.

The first listed meaning is “A genus of sea birds, having a large, thick bill; the puffin.”

I am an Animal Science bachelor, and I did not learn this in my undergraduate studies. But I am pleased to be made aware of this fact now. (I suppose that if I had read ALL of the material in my textbooks that perhaps this genus was listed somewhere that I overlooked. But then again, perhaps not.) At any rate, I believe that it would be reasonable to assume that Joseph Smith did not know this either.

Even more curiously I noted the fourth definition: The mandrill.

I had to look this up as I had NO idea what a mandrill is. Do you know? If so, Wow! has mandrill listed.



a large West African baboon with a brightly colored red and blue face, the male having a blue rump.
* Mandrillus sphinx, family Cercopithecidae

mid 18th century: probably from man + drill

This was a surprise to me. Interestingly enough, this word existed at the time of Joseph Smith’s encounter with Moroni. It seems that he would have been surprised to know this.

I have a copy of the Book of Mormon, ANOTHER testament of Jesus Christ (Something that St. Paul specifically and vehemently condemns)(Galatians 1:6-9). I cannot currently find my copy as it must be buried in one of my many piles. However, it is available on-line, a resource which I will utilize in connection with this posting.

Returning to the question of praying to God to reveal the truth, how do the Mormons actually pray this? How one prays makes a difference, as James says in Chapter 4:

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3)

So how do the Mormons pray concerning this issue? They state this in their Introduction to the Book of Mormon.

We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)

Here is what is written in Moroni 10:3-5:

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

There are two very important points to consider in reading this admonition.

First one should realize that the answer to the prayer has already been determined by the one praying. The person has already determined that this Other Testament of Jesus Christ must be from God and that God will therefore make it manifest to the praying one that it is indeed the truth.

The second thing to consider is that this admonition declares that this manifestation of this truth is dependent upon the intent of the one praying. That is, if the person prays this prayer believing that the Book of Mormon is true, then the answer that will be received is that the Book of Mormon is true.

The second is really a reiteration of the first.

Another way of saying this is to say that a person should pray to God to show one that the Book of Mormon is true, being convinced that God will show that the Book of Mormon is true, and to keep praying this until one is convinced that his desire to believe that the Book of Mormon is true is a desire that the Holy Ghost is working in the person so that the person will be convinced that it is God’s will that one should believe that the Book of Mormon is true.

Does this sound circular?

When Moses presented the two tablets of the Ten Words or Commandments, did he tell the people to pray to God to show them that this really was the Word of God and that it is true and to be received as true? No, in fact, Moses had to tear down the idolatrous notions and punish them for their false prayers so that they could receive the words that God wrote with His own finger. The Lord already made it manifest that this was His doing. For the forty days that Moses was on the mountain the mountain trembled and caught on fire! Nothing was done in secret! No one had to ask afterward whether or not this was truly from the Lord.

The first Testament was given to keep the people in the Word that declared the coming of the Christ. All of the prophets pointed to this. The birth and ministry and sacrificial death of Christ was the fulfillment of that Testament.

Having fulfilled that Testament Christ instituted the New Testament, His own Testament. And what does He say is the New Testament? He says that it is the cup by which His blood is given for the forgiveness of sins.

Now, how hard will a person have to pray to fulfill this testament so that another testament should be instituted?

But this is the problem. Who is responsible for accepting this Other Testament? The person praying is responsible. The person must decide to accept this Other Testament so as to pray for God to manifest it as true. This is why it is impossible to present anything from the Bible that will convince a person who has so prayed that the Book of Mormon is not of God. The person has already convinced oneself that this is of God and has prayed it into oneself so determinedly that to deny it is to deny oneself.

And this denial of self is what the Bible teaches that Jesus says is necessary for one to be a true disciple of Him. (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

If a person is unwilling to deny oneself and one’s own prayers, how can a person hear when God says that one is praying wrongly? How can a person hear when God speaks a word of correction if that person has already determined to pray until God says that the truth that the person is praying to be manifested is true? If a person is convinced that the burning in one’s bosom that comes from praying so hard to be convinced that this is true is proof of its truth, how can this burning be distinguished from the burning that the Holy Spirit works when He convinces the person of being wrong?

If the person has already determined to count the burning in one’s bosom as proof that the Book of Mormon is correct and truly from God, will it be possible to hear what the Bible says to the contrary?

Doctrine and Covenants 9:8

8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

Does the God of the Bible ever teach to pray this way? Does the Lord Jesus ever teach His disciples to pray this way? To what does Jesus tell people to look for evidence that His doctrine is true? Is it not to His works? Is it not to the fact that everything that He says matches perfectly with the will of God as it is taught in the Scriptures? Is this not the way of His apostles also?

To what does Jesus say that the Scriptures testify?

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39)

Is this what the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants teach? Is this how they say to pray and to look to know the truth?

Is this the way that most Christians pray for understanding and knowledge of the truth? Or do most Christians approach the doctrine of the Bible in the same way as the Book of Mormon teaches?

By the way, do you know who else urges people to pray and to consider God’s Word in this way? Do you know who else teaches people to seek understanding through their own attempts at understanding God’s will and what is right and good and true?

     Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:1-5)

Do you see the problem here? How did the serpent urge the woman (and her husband who stood there allowing it instead of doing his duty in teaching the Word) to approach knowing what is true? He presented to her the notion that it is proper to examine the Word of God regarding its validity. Moreover, he tempted her to imagine that she needed to defend the Word with her own wisdom.

How many Christians approach understanding and knowing truth in this same way? How many imagine that they should interpret the Word that the Scriptures declare rather than seeking to hear the Word? How many Christians approach the doctrine taught in the Scriptures asking, “Did God really say?” Joseph Smith and his Moroni set an entirely other testament beside it. But how many Christians do likewise with their presuppositions, their doubts, and their worship? For example, how do people approach what the Scriptures teach concerning Baptism? Do they argue against the Scriptural doctrine that babies can have faith or do they accept the words of Acts 2:38-39; 1 Peter 3:20-21; and Titus 3:3-7? When they pray regarding what the words of the Scriptures say concerning this, how do they pray?

Now the Mormons pray to God to show them that the Book of Mormon stands along side of the Bible as being true. They assume that the Bible is true, but then pray concerning their Other Testament.

How do Christians pray regarding the Bible? How many Christians still even believe the Bible to be true? Of those who do still believe the Bible to be true, how many pray that they hear what the Bible teaches so as to deny themselves and their own faith so as to hear and be convicted of the faith that the Bible teaches? How many Christians even believe that God will do this? How many Christians want God to do this?

The Mormons decide what they want to hear from God and then pray that God will show them that they are right. They do not realize that this is what the Smith/Moroni team admonish them, but if they read their admonishments carefully and honestly they would realize this.

How about you? How do you pray? Who is leading your direction in your praying? Is it God? Is it a church body or church leader? Is it you? Is it someone even more fiendish? Have you even seriously pondered this so as to be sure?

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I was curious whether perhaps the site above could have made up the information regarding the genus mormon. I found a direct reference here.

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I also decided to double check the reference to mormon and mandrill. Here is one of the links that I found, which includes a black and white picture. Here is another.

Just to be thorough.

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covnitkepr1 said...

Very exhaustive post and also very informative. You have given answers to questions many ask about Mormonism.
Thanks for sharing.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Here are a couple of additional things:

When I read the Book of Mormon or the other Mormon doctrinal texts, I do not find them to say what I read in the Bible. Mormons say that they find them to say the same thing.

How can this be?

Additionally, in the Introduction to the Book of Mormon is this statement:

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

What does Joseph Smith here say regarding the Bible?

How can he say this if indeed the Book of Mormon and the Bible teach the same doctrine?

Anonymous said...

The first time I read the Book of Mormon, I felt that "burning feeling". Later, I found I also got the same feeling when reading a book by Tom

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

It is amazing, isn't it, how powerfully the devil and our own sinful flesh work through our emotions and our desire to equate emotional feelings with God's actions? We are inclined to make of our emotional response some sort of sign of God, rather than trusting the ordained signs/means that He has given. In this subtle way we are turned from looking to God to looking to self and faith is very craftily turned in our thinking into our work rather than God's work and gift. Then we pile on more and more from our own imaginations, or the imagination of someone like Smith, and the Word that the Scriptures proclaim becomes just a tool rather than our Savior. Worship is transformed into acts of emotional response rather than the reception of God's means of grace which truly generate faith in us through which we are led in the new life of Christ's resurrection, the life of worshiping in spirit and truth.