However, I’m not sure that accepting texts is not the issue. Nephi says his words would condemn those who did not accept them. He also says that if we believe in Christ, we will believe his words. To the extent we detach accepting Christ from accepting the BoM, aren’t we rewriting our own doctrine? Even the whole purpose of the BoM?
I do agree with you that having a correct view of BoM historicity is not necessary for salvation; however, the topic of the blog was has the bigger task, defenders or opponents of the BoM. So long as we rely solely on a spiritual witness, the question is moot because each individual relies on his or her own witness. But if we rely on extrinsic evidence (as Joseph Smith did with the witnesses, and for that matter Moroni did when he said it was the history of the ancient inhabitants), then, based on current knowledge about historicity, it seems to me that apologists have the more difficult task, both because they have the burden of proof and because the preponderance of the evidence does not support historicity.]]>
Accepting texts isn’t the issue, but accepting Christ. Now I think the Book of Mormon does testify of Christ and its messages are entailed with accepting Christ. But I’m not at all convinced that having a correct view of Book of Mormon historicity is necessary for salvation anymore than having a correct understanding of events in the council of heaven is necessary.
I think we conflate issues of truth with issues of salvation while they are separate.
With respect to D&C 84:74, I think you are conflating content of the words with the form of the words. I do think that ultimate salvation does require baptism by proper authority. So there are things we have to do to take hold of salvation. But it seems to me that is a different issue from what you address.
Now we do say to the world that to be saved they have to change, either now or in the spirit world. But that, to me, seems to be a different matter from the issue of accepting the Book of Mormon.
But perhaps this is more a semantic issue over what it means to accept the Book of Mormon?]]>
On second thought, I like Jonathan’s suggestion; that whoever has the ball is going to get attacked…and the literalness and divinity of BoM is the apologist’s ball.
If you want to put a skeptic on the defensive, attack his ball…the belief that faith without more or less solid physical evidence is unfounded…or other claims of skeptics.
To state that skeptics don’t stand for anything is to ignore your opponent’s strenghts…and not advisable. :-)]]>
They are not defending anything themselves. Kinda like a soccer game with a goal at only one end that the skeptic shoots at and the apologist has to defend.
While I see your point, I think it’s a better analogy to place the skeptic in the role of referee with the job of challenging all players (including his own role) on the rules of the game and how they are best interprested in a given situation.
Certainly the referee is also a key player in the game, and his/her role as arbiter of the rules and advocate of the game is unquestionably a position of value and clear purpose.]]>
The apologists (by this I don’t mean merely intellectual defenders of the faith but anyone who promulgates the faith) have the burden of proof, just as a plaintiff in a trial, because the apologists are taking the initiative; i.e., as LDS we are saying to the world “you can’t continue as you are; you must change your lives, your beliefs, your behavior, and your goals, or you will be damned.” (This is more blunt than our normal PR-influence approach, but it is how the scriptures described the situation.) If, on the other hand, we were content to live our lives without trying to convert others, and instead people were challenging our beliefs to change us, then I’d agree that we would not have the burden of proof.
Eric: In my experience, most skeptics do defend something else. Evangelical Christians, for example, are defending their beliefs against the implications of the BoM. For that matter, everyone who encounters a missionary is on the defensive, at least at first; the missionary is clearly on the offensive. I see missionary work as having the soccer ball in your analogy.]]>
As to the burden of proof, the question is why the apologists have the burden of proof. What is the context in this? In an academic debate? Perhaps. If only because one has posed the question so that one has to be convinced. i.e. cast it in terms of passive acceptance of evidence.]]>
If the apologists haven’t already tired of defending their trump cards, I’d like to hear as measured and reasoned a response as this one.]]>
The mere existence of the BoM is relevant, but how is it more relevant than the existence of other inspired books? One could as easily claim that A Course In Miracles was the sole divine word, if it were not for the historical claims of the BoM. If the BoM turns out to accurately describe actual people, it is the strongest extrinsic evidence of God’s existence that the world has known. Until we can identify the people, though, it’s difficult to distinguish from many other inspired religious books.
The apologist has a heavy burden of proof because the basic claim of the BoM is that people who don’t believe it will be damned. At the time of Joseph Smith, maybe the witnesses were sufficient corroboration for Joseph’s claims, as supplemented by speculation about extrinsic evidence; but in our day, we don’t have the luxury of unfounded speculations. We are confronted by frequent new discoveries in archaeology, DNA, geology, anthropology, etc., that, for the most part, undermine at least our assumptions about BoM historicity.
Assuming BoM historicity is never established, the apologist has a difficult task to explain why the existence of the BoM leads to the claim that the Church is the only true Church (which is the real issue), while all other comparable inspired books do not.]]>