Monthly Archives: September 2012

Mormon FAIR-Cast 108: Jeffrey Bradshaw on Temple Themes in the Scriptures

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Dr. Jeffrey Bradshaw discusses his book, Temple Themes in the Book of Moses as well as some examples of temple worship among early Christians, and the Jews. He also touches on the Book of Enoch, the Council in Heaven and ancient temple architecture.

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw (Ph.D., Cognitive Science, University of Washington) is a Senior Research Scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) in Pensacola, Florida. Formerly, he led research groups at The Boeing Company and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He has authored hundreds of research articles and edited several volumes on topics relating to human and machine intelligence and interaction. Jeff was a missionary in the Belgium-Brussels mission, and has since served in a variety of teaching and leadership capacities including early-morning seminary teacher, bishop, high councilor, counselor in a stake presidency, stake executive secretary and temple ordinance worker. He and his wife Kathleen are the parents of four children.

Dr. Bradshaw has published a number of books addressing temples themes in the scriptures including “In God’s Image and Likeness,” “Temple Themes in the Book of Moses,” and “Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood.” Each is available for purchase at the FAIR Bookstore, here.

Dr. Bradshaw also gave a presentation at the Temple on Mount Zion conference in Provo, Utah on September 23, 2012 regarding temple symbolism in the story of Noah’s ark, and is available for viewing on YouTube.

This recording is posted here by permission of K-Talk Radio. The opinions expressed in this interview do not necessarily represent the views of FAIR or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It’s the Interpretation, Stupid!

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A generation ago in a hotly contested election, those seeking to unseat the incumbent president seized upon the effects of a recession as a way to differentiate themselves from their political opponents. A brilliant political strategist coined the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid” as a rallying cry. The phrase had a great deal of power with voters, as it sent a short, pithy message that could not be misunderstood. The incumbent lost, the opposition won, and the era of the Clinton presidency was born.

Some people look at the verbiage used in the phrase—particularly the use of the word stupid—and take offense. They think it is mean. They think it is cruel. They think it is insensitive. They think it is snarky. But, consider two facts: First, the phrase wasn’t directed at the opposition; by some accounts it was directed by James Carville (the political strategist) at the candidate he was advising (Bill Clinton). It was to force focus in his campaign, not to denigrate the opposition’s campaign. Second, the phrase was much more memorable and “focusing” than any alternative. (Could anyone really see “It’s the economy, guys!” or “It really is the economy!” being as successful in forcing focus?)

Fast forward to today, in a different venue only of interest to Mormons on the Internet, and we see a couple of people who are either leaving the Church or threatened with expulsion from the Church because of their participation in and responsibility for the MormonThink website. Only a month or so ago, the founder of MormonThink resigned his membership in the Church after facing the possibility of a disciplinary council for apostasy.
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A New Twist on the Spalding Theory–And Sidney’s Amazing Voice Trick

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For some critics, the story of the lost 116 pages in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is utterly ridiculous. Some say it shows Joseph was just making things up on the fly and would have all sorts of accidental changes as he went through the fabrication process a second time, so for safety, he just punted with the first part of the record and concocted the story of the small plates. This is the “Joseph was an idiot with bad memory” theory. The story of the 116 pages from that perspective directly challenges the popular theory of “Joseph got help from Sidney Rigdon or some other very smart person” to create the impressive and remarkably self-consistent text of the Book of Mormon. These theories based on plagiarism and texts from the likes of Solomon Spaulding or Sidney Rigdon or both assume that there was some text that had been prepared and carefully edited over many months or even years in preparation for the grand Book of Mormon scheme. When Joseph was dictating the Book of Mormon to his scribes, he must have been reading from the pre-written manuscript. If such a manuscript existed, then it would have been no trouble reading it again exactly as read before.
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Mormon FAIR-Cast 107: Mesoamerican Connections to the Book of Mormon

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Professor Mark Alan Wright reflects on a number of Mesoamerican practices and their possible connection with the Book of Mormon, including “day-keepers,” Shamanism and divine investiture, taking the countenance of a god by wearing deity masks, and the Maya calendar system and prophecy. For Dr. Wright’s presentation on Nephite Daykeepers, see this YouTube video.

Mark Alan Wright earned his BA in Anthropology at UCLA and his MA and PhD in Anthropology (with a subfield of specialization in Mesoamerican Archaeology) from UC Riverside. His dissertation is entitled “A Study of Classic Maya Rulership.” He regularly conducts research in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. Dr. Wright is Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University.

This interview appears here by courtesy of the Interpreter. This views expressed in this interview do not necessarily represent the views of FAIR or of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Critical Evidences of the Restoration

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Critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often quick to jump forward with any and all criticisms that they believe might prove the undoing of the testimony of our members. It is not uncommon to see the proverbial “shotgun” approach of bombarding individuals who are young in the gospel with a barrage of information that all seems damning on the surface.

Just as with birdshot that only requires a single pellet to bring down a flying bird, such an approach relies upon the notion that with so many things being claimed, that if only a few – or even one – were proven true, then the Church cannot be true!

Such tactics, also referred to as the “spaghetti” method of “throw it and see what sticks,” do not require depth of thought, or for that matter, even truth or context. It relies exclusively on the notion that if you throw enough at someone, they may just give up under the burden of fending off the attacks.
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Is Defending the Church Against Church Doctrine?

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I was speaking today with a woman who is not a member of the Church who was asking me about apologetics and the work I do with FAIR. She said that recently she discussed Mormon apologetics with a former LDS bishop and was surprised to hear him say that doing apologetics is contrary to the doctrine of the Church. I certainly don’t want to act in any way that is contrary to Church doctrine, and if anyone can convince me that it is contrary to God’s will that I defend the Church, I’ll stop right now.

However, as I read the scriptures, it seems to me that apologetics (defense of the faith) is not only permissible, but required of all believing members. We should “be ready always to give an answer [apologia] to every man that asketh . . . a reason of the hope that is in [us] with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of [us], as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse [our] good conversation in Christ.” (1 Pet. 3:15-16.) Likewise, Joseph Fielding Smith once said, “Every member of the Church ought to know that [the Book of Mormon] …is true, and we ought to be prepared with an answer to all those critics who condemn it” (“The Book of Mormon, A Divine Record,” Improvement Era [December 1961], 925.) And Harold B. Lee wrote, “The term ‘elder,’ which is applied to all holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood, means a defender of the faith. That is our prime responsibility and calling. Every holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood is to be a defender of the faith. (Conference Report, April 1970, 54-57).

Rather than wait for a specific calling by a bishop, or for the Church Public Affairs office to issue a statement, or wait for apostles to tell us to defend the Church on the internet (which, incidentally, they have done here and here), all Church members have been told to “be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.” (D&C 58:27-28.) In addition to simply bearing my testimony to others, it is my understanding that I should “reason with them.” (D&C 49:4. See also D&C 66:7 & 68:1.)

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Mormon FAIR-Cast 106: Temple Study Fireside 3–Importance of the Temple

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This is the third in a series of on-line fireside discussions of the book Temple Worship: 20 Truths That Will Bless Your Life, by Andrew C. Skinner. This discussion discusses the temple as being the “ultimate” of our worship, what it means to “serve” in the temple, where temples or temple worship can take place on the earth, the first endowments given in the Nauvoo Temple attic, temple “work” vs. temple “worship,” the fact that the Nauvoo temple was only in use for 2 months (8 weeks) before it was destroyed which makes us reflect on the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in ancient times, what it means to have a “fullness of the Holy Ghost” which we can attain to in the temple, and the profound importance of the temple in the lives of Latter-day Saints and in our worship in the Church. Panelists include Bryce Haymond, Gary Anderson, Gerald Smith, and William Hamblin.

This discussion was conducted live on August 22, 2012 through Google’s Hangouts on Air. It was streamed live on TempleStudy.com, where the video can also be found. A rough transcript of the discussion can be found here.

Andrew C. Skinner is a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, was dean of Religious Education and the first executive director of BYU’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. He holds master’s degrees in Biblical Hebrew and Jewish Studies and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern and European History, specializing in Judaism.  He is the author or co-author of over 100 publications.

Mormon FAIR-Cast 105: Temple Study Fireside 2–the Dead Sea Scrolls and Jacob at Bethel

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Professor William J. Hamblin leads the second of this series of on-line fireside discussions of the book Temple Worship: 20 Truths That Will Bless Your Life, by Andrew C. Skinner. This discussion focusses on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes, Qumran, the Temple Scroll, Jacob at Bethel the symbolism of Jacob’s Ladder, as well as some thoughts from Elder Carlos E. Asay. Others who participated in this disussion were Bryce Haymond and Gary N. Anderson. This discussion was conducted live on August 16, 2012 through Google’s Hangouts on Air. It was streamed live on TempleStudy.com, where the video can also be found. A rough transcript of the discussion can be found here.

Andrew C. Skinner is a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, was dean of Religious Education and the first executive director of BYU’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. He holds master’s degrees in Biblical Hebrew and Jewish Studies and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern and European History, specializing in Judaism.  He is the author or co-author of over 100 publications.

“The Temple on Mount Zion” Conference

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The Temple on Mount Zion

Saturday, 22 September, 2012, 9:15 am – 5:30 pm

3rd floor Ballroom, Provo Public Library,

550 North University Avenue, Provo, Utah 84601

In honor of Matthew B. Brown, who passed away unexpectedly last year, there will be a conference this month on September 22, 2012, from 9:15am – 5:30pm entitled “The Temple on Mount Zion.” It will be held at the Provo Public Library. Br. Brown was the original organizer of this annual conference which is now being organized by David Seely and William Hamblin.

The conference focuses on LDS conceptions of ancient and modern Temple theology as reflected in the Bible and LDS scripture.

Admission to the conference is free, but seating is limited to about 300. During the lunch hour you can bring a bag lunch to eat in conference room, or visit some of the restaurants around Center St. and University Ave, a few blocks south of the library. The underground garage at the library is available for parking, but cars must be out at 6 pm.

The program and abstracts are available online.