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July 25, 2020 1:47 pm
Viewpoint on feminism. The program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint on Mormonism, is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry since 1979.
Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism.
So glad you could be with us for this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry. And with me today is Erik Johnson, my colleague at Edmar M.. But we also have as a guest today, our good friend, Dr. Rob Bowman. Rob is the president of Faith Thinkers. And you can see their Web site at Faith Thinker's dot org. Faith thinker's dot org deals with a wide variety of apologetics issues. And I would strongly encourage you to check out that Web site, because there's a lot of good information for you as a believer as to how to defend your faith in a number of given situations. Rob has written a book titled Jesus's Resurrection and Joseph's Visions Examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism. And that's what we're talking about this week. Rob, it's good to have you back. Happy to be with you. Let's get to the the issue at hand, and that is your book. As I mentioned yesterday, I had the privilege of going through the manuscript and I remember commenting to Eric on the phone as I was going through it, that you bring up some things that I was not aware of before. And I thought, man, he's got a lot of the basics and you've got a lot of really good nuggets that go along with the basics. But you also bring out a lot of other interesting food for thought, if you will. But let's talk about what does the book have in it. If I was someone who was wanting to share my faith with a latter day saint, what would I expect to hear from a latter day saint? How would I respond to what they say to me? And does your book cover that? Now, let's look at some of the chapter headings that you have in this book. Let's talk about some of those chapter headings.
The book really has two main parts. It has a series of four chapters on the evidence relating to Jesus resurrection. So it looks at the historical context of Jesus, what we know about him. Then it looks at do what we know about the resurrection as an historical event. The fact that Jesus died, that he was on the cross, that he was buried and that he rose from the dead and appeared to various individuals. There's a special chapter on Jesus's appearance. Paul, as well as a final chapter in this series of chapters on the Apostles and their ministries after Jesus resurrection and looking at the evidence of their lives and teachings as corroboration or confirmation that the resurrection really happened. So that's the first half of the book. The second half of the book is this parallel series of four chapters looking at the evidence pertaining to Justice Smith's visions, again, putting them in historical context. What do we know about Joseph Smith? That's not really debatable. Then looking at the controversial claims that Joseph Smith made about his visions of the angel Moroni, about the first vision and about other visions that he said he had leading up to the establishment of the LDS church. So the two halves of the book parallel one another. The same methods or historical methods of inquiry are used in both has to ask, what do we really know and how can we determine whether the controversial claims that are being made here are in fact, historically valid. And so trying to do this in such a way that Mormonism is giving being given just as fair a shake as possible in comparison with the resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament. So that's the basic idea of the book so that people can compare the evidence for the resurrection with the evidence for Joseph Smith's visions and determine if one is just as credible as the other or not.
And of course, in the Christian faith, if Jesus did not rise bodily, then our faith is in vain and we are still in our sins. But you've had Mormon leaders such as Gordon B. Hinckley, Mormon president, who said that if Joseph did not have this first vision, as it's understood in Mormonism, that basically Mormons are involved in blasphemy. And he used other words, perhaps not quite as strong as that word, but certainly making it very clear that if this did not take place, if Joseph did not have an encounter with God, the father in Jesus Christ in that spring day of 1820, then Mormonism is basically a fraud. And that's a big issue. So if you make your. Case. To a latter day saint reading this book, What I like, what you've done is here's your fallback. OK. No longer do you need to believe in Joseph Smith. But here's why. You still should maintain a faith in Jesus Christ in his resurrection. Is the proof for that right?
Well, let's be clear about something. And of course, the Latter-Day Saints that are listening will certainly know this. The LDS church does affirm the truth of the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. They certainly believe that it is absolutely essential to Mormonism. But Jesus rose from the dead if he didn't rise to the dead. He couldn't appear bodily to Joseph Smith in 1820. So they believe in the resurrection of Jesus, but they regard the appearance of Jesus and the father to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820 as the greatest event in world history since the resurrection. And as the foundational event of the restoration of true Christianity through Joseph Smith as God's instrument. So it's an event of unparalleled importance, except for the events of the resurrection.
And so comparing these two accounts, these two events to see if both of them have and or, you know, what does the evidence actually show? And, of course, what I'm trying to show in the book. And it's the conclusion I came to. May I please let people understand this after examining the evidence? Not before. I didn't assume that this was the case. But after examining the evidence, both for the resurrection of Jesus and for the visions that Joseph Smith claimed he had. My conclusion is we have excellent, excellent evidence for Jesus resurrection and no good evidence against it. As long as you believe that God could do a miracle, there's no evidence against it. On the other hand, we have very poor evidence for Joseph Submission's and we actually have some serious problems with it historically. That there's this actual evidence against some of the claims that Joseph Smith made that are directly relevant to whether these visions took place. So it isn't true that if you can believe Paul, you should also be able to believe Joseph. That's just not the case. We have very good evidence for Paul and the other apostles that having their experiences of Jesus appearing to them, we have no good evidence against their accounts. That's not the situation with Joseph Smith.
Well, what do you do with the Latter-Day Saints? Who says the first vision in the Book of Mormon? It doesn't really matter if they're historical, as long as it's existential. For me, it's true. How do you deal with that?
I actually do not address that question in the book because I'm really focusing in the book on the traditional LDS understanding, which is it is indeed absolutely essential that these things really took place. Now, what I would say to a Latter-Day Saints who says that is with regards to Joseph Smith, you can believe what you want, but for the guard to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the founders of Christianity were insistent that it was vitally important that it actually took place. They put themselves and their lives on the line saying that they were witnesses to these things. Paul in First Corinthians, fifteen said that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we who have been bearing witness to his resurrection are liars. And we are offending God by lying about God, by saying that God raised Christ from the dead if he didn't, in fact, do that. So I would just say it does matter whether Jesus rose from the dead as to whether Christianity is true or not. If Jesus did not rise to a dead, Christianity may have some good morals to teach. But it is not the way to God. It is not the way to know God. It's not the true faith as it claims to be in the New Testament.
Rob, you said something very interesting on page 32, and I want to read it because I think it sets the tone for your entire work. This is what you said. Some people worry that subjecting their beliefs to reason examination would be a sign of on belief, of doubting God or as truth. Not at all. We are not proposing to subject God to critical examination, but our beliefs about God. If I subject my beliefs to reason examination, it is because I recognize that though God is infallible. I am not. I am quite fallible and air prone. I don't know everything. And some of the things I think I know are likely incorrect. It is precisely because I believe that God's truth is of extreme importance, that I am willing to subject my beliefs to reason, examination and even criticism. But, Rob, we live in a day and age where people feel attacked when we disagree with their world view. Do you believe it's possible to attack ideas without resorting to the ad hominem and attacking people?
I definitely think it is possible to do that. It's not always done that way. It is possible. And I think the point here is that. When we criticize Joseph Smith's claims to have seen God in Christ and to have seen the angel Moroni, undoubtedly we are criticizing Joseph Smith. We are saying that he was wrong to make these claims. We're saying that he spread falsehoods and that's unavoidable. We have we have to face that. And it may be unpleasant for people who love Joseph Smith and think that, you know, he's this wonderful person, that their whole faith is almost inextricably bound up with their confidence in Joseph Smith. They may say they have a testimony that they know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. So you're attacking in their point of view, you're attacking Joseph Smith and you're attacking them because you're attacking the integrity or the credibility of their experience, their testimony. And I understand all that. But what I would say is this. I could say nothing for the rest of my life about Mormonism, about Joseph Smith, about the Book of Mormon, et cetera. And without saying anything. Numerous people in the LDS church are going to come to a point of recognizing that what they've been taught is not true. It's already happening. People are leaving the LDS church in droves because in some measure anyway, because they have come to the recognition that Joseph's claims aren't credible. I don't have to really do anything to make that case. That case is already being made by members of the church themselves who are looking at the evidence, looking at the primary source documents and realizing they weren't told the truth about what really happened. What I'm trying to do in this book is really to help people like that to say, yes, you're on the right track with regards to Joseph Smith. But the good news is the New Testament and the resurrection of Christ do not have these same kinds of problems. And I want to do a kind of intervention, intellectually speaking, with people who are already either convinced that Mormonism is false or seriously doubting it and say don't feel badly about that. Look at the evidence. If Mormonism is true. Fine. But if it isn't, I want you to know something. The truth of Christianity does not rest on whether Joseph Smith told the truth. You can believe in Jesus and the New Testament without believing in Joseph Smith.
You need to get the book written by Rob Bowman. It's published by D Word and 2020. It's called Jesus's Resurrection and Joseph's Visions Examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism. It's available from online retailers, including You, TLM Dawg. You can go there onto the Web site and order that book. And you can also see a review that I've done on the book MRM dot org slash bowmen, VFW, M.A, an excellent book. I think everybody needs to read it.
And in tomorrow's show, we're going to continue looking at this book and hearing what Rob has to say about what you will find inside of it.
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