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Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
July 25, 2020 1:43 pm

Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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July 25, 2020 1:43 pm

Mormonism stands or falls on two important historical events: the First Vision and the Book of Mormon. Dr. Robert Bowman has researched the topics and shows how these two events do not stand the historical test, especially in relation to the Resurrection of Jesus. This week Bill and Eric interview Dr. Bowman and discuss these … Continue reading Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions Part 1 →

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Viewpoint on Mormonism. 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.

Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry. And with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. But we also have with us today a good friend of ours, Dr. Rob Bowman. Rob has been on viewpoint on Mormonism in the past, and we're pleased to have him again with us. We're going to be talking about a book that he has come out with. But before we get into that, Rob, I think it would help our listeners who may not have caught our past interviews to have a little bit of a background on who you are, what you're doing, because you are the president of faith thinkers. And that can be found at faith thinkers, dot org and faith thinkers. Dot org deals with a wide range of apologetic issues. Does it not?

Yes, it does. And I thank you for mentioning that our Web site is pretty small right now because we're just getting started. We really launched this ministry late in the year last year. So we're just getting started.

But faith thinkers deals with a lot of apologetic issues, including dealing with groups like Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses, Unitarianism and so forth. So dealing with some of the theological and biblical issues pertaining to these groups, we address issues like how do you know God exists and how do we know the right books are in the Bible. And, you know, all those kinds of apologetic issues are fair game. The emphasis, I would say, in what we do at Faith Thinkers is on what I might call biblical apologetics, dealing with what is the Bible is reliable. What does it teach? How do we know what it says is true? All those kinds of biblically oriented questions. And the reason why that's our focus and emphasis is because I am by profession a biblical scholar and the strength that I hopefully bring to dealing with those kinds of issues, as well as in relation to Mormonism, dealing with how Mormons use the Bible, how they understand it, how Joseph Smith used the Bible, introducing his own scriptures. All those kinds of matters that come up in Mormonism have been my main interest in dealing with that whole area because of my background and work in in biblical scholarship.

Rob, let's get into the topic of Mormonism. And you wrote an article that was published with Baker Books in 2018, and the name of the book is called The Evangelical Dictionary of World Religions. And in fact, Bill and I both had a chance to write some entries in that. But you wrote some really excellent entries, including one under the topic of Christian use and misuse of the term. And I was reading this the other day and I thought this would be interesting to ask you about it, because you reference the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And this is what you said. In recent years, the LDS church has mounted a campaign to change the perception that it is not Christian in the evangelical sense. The LDS church does not usually deny that evangelicals or other Orthodox believers are Christian. It simply wishes to be accepted as also being a legitimate body. Is concern in the main can be answered simply by agreeing that the LDS church is quote unquote Christian in the broad sense, but explaining that from an Orthodox perspective, it is not, quote unquote Christian. In the narrower theological sense, Rob, can you explain to us why you don't think Mormonism is Christian in the narrow or theological sense?

Yes. Well, the short answer is that if you look at what Christianity historically has taught theologically in all of its major branches, whether we're talking about Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, historic Protestantism, which includes evangelical denominations and Pentecostal churches and just a variety of different denominations, all of these being branches of Christianity historically have taught certain things doctrinally, theologically, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the incarnation, which is that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man two natures in one person and a number of other issues or points that these groups have all agreed on. They've also all agreed that scripture is confined to the two testaments of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Admittedly, Protestants and Catholics have some minor disagreements. A few books as to whether they belong in the Old Testament. But we all agree that the canon of scripture is complete with these two testaments and that we are not to be looking for additional scriptures that might compliment, supplement or even supersede the Bible. And so these are some basic theological beliefs that are shared in common historically by all the major Christian denominations. They've been taught for hundreds and hundreds of years.

And so when you have a religious group that professes to be Christian but that rejects many of these common doctrines of Christianity, then it doesn't fit theologically into the category of Christianity as it's normally understood. Now, when I talk with Mormons, it doesn't seem to matter what subject we're discussing. They're going to want to bring up the issue of evangelicals not acknowledging Mormons as Christians because they see this as as a kind of winning point. Well, aren't you being intolerant and narrow minded and and judgmental to say that we're not Christians? The way I want to try to handle that is to say, listen, you can call yourself whatever you want. But if we're trying to be clear in our descriptions of what we believe, we need to acknowledge that the LDS church has a radically different theological system of belief. In contrast to historic Christianity, you don't believe in creation out of nothing. You don't believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. You don't believe Jesus had two natures in one person. You think that we all have the same divine nature. But we're in different stages of development where we have radically different doctrines. So this isn't about trying to protect the use of the word Christian because we don't like people that are different from us. This is about trying to maintain clarity so that people understand where the differences lie as well as wherever similar and to be honest and clear about those things.

Now, Robin, early 2020, you came out with a book titled Jesus's Resurrection and Joseph Smith Visions. And that's really what we'd like you to talk about during this series, because having read your manuscript and I was privileged to you, let me have a look at it, I thought you made some excellent points on what is really important to us as Christian believers, and that is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ as opposed to what is really important to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. And that, of course, would be Joseph Smith first vision. Now, of course, he had other visions as well, but you really focus on Joseph Smith first vision and a lot of the contradictions that deal with that event that is so important to Latter-Day Saints. Could you spend just a few moments explaining why you felt it was important to write a book that dealt with these two main topics?

In a way, you can blame Joseph Smith himself. He was the first person to make this comparison in the little LDS scripture book called Joseph Smith History in the Pearl of Great Price. Joseph, after he gives his account of the first vision, claims that he was persecuted for telling people about his vision. And then he attempts to compare himself with the apostle Paul, basically saying Paul had a vision and he was persecuted for it, but he never backed down. He kept maintaining that he had his vision. And I'm doing the same thing. I'm maintaining that I I had this vision. I have been persecuted for it ever since, but I'm not backing down either. And so he I kind of know how Paul felt because he went through the same thing I'm going through. So Joseph makes this comparison in this LDS scripture book called Joseph Smith History. And ever since then, especially in the last hundred years or so, Mormons have routinely turned to this comparison in order to deflect attention away from problems in Joseph story. So if you point out that there are discrepancies in Joseph's own accounts of the first vision, they'll say, well, there are discrepancies in the three accounts in the Book of Acts about Paul's Damascus road experience.

Or if you say, gee, how come we don't have anything in writing from Joseph about the first vision prior to the late eighteen thirties? Other than that draft that got shelved after 1832. How come we don't have in writing about this and talking about it prior to that time that say, well, Paul saw Jesus and then it was all, you know, almost 20 years later before he wrote any of his epistles where he talks about the resurrection or Jesus appearing to. So they'll try to make these comparisons to try to argue that any apparent deficiency or lack in the evidence for Joseph's visions is matched by. Similar or even worse, a problem with regard to Paul's first vision. And so to address that particular argument is really the heart of the book. Now, there's a twist to this, which is really what drove me finally to say this is what the book needed to do was to make this comparison. Many Mormons, when they realized that Joseph did not really have that first vision or did not really see the angel Moroni. When they come to doubt those things, they often doubt Jesus resurrection as well, because they have been taught that the evidence for one is just as good as the evidence for the other. Once they realize the evidence for Joseph's visions is bad, they often will reject the evidence. For Jesus, resurrection is supposedly being equally poor. And then finally, it's worth noting that atheists and skeptics are turning this argument on its head.

They're now saying to evangelical Christians, if you can believe Paul, why don't you believe Joseph? And their intent is to say, you shouldn't believe Joseph.

We don't believe him either. But you're being inconsistent because you're taking on faith. What the New Testament says Paul experienced, but you're not accepting what Joseph Smith said happened to him.

So it's ironic that the skeptics and the Mormons are both using this line of reasoning, comparing Paul to Joseph or Joseph Smith to Paul and the other apostles, and arguing that somehow Orthodox Christians are being inconsistent by accepting the New Testament appearances of Jesus to Paul and others, but not accepting their appearance of Jesus to Joseph Smith in 1820 or the other visions that he said he had. So to address that line of argument is really the point of the book.

We're hardly recommending this book at MRM. It's called Jesus's Resurrection and Joseph's Visions examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism. And you can get that book at any online retailer. We suggests Utah Lighthouse Ministry. You TLM Dawg, which you get it on others such as Amazon. And if you would like to see a full review of the book, you can go to our Web site, MRM dot org slash Bohman. One last question in 30 seconds, Rob. Would you like a Latter day Saints to read this book?

Well, I would love for them to read the book because it's going to encourage them to know that they can have a solid faith in Jesus Christ and in his resurrection without tying it to Joseph Smith.

We've been talking to Dr Rob Bowman. He's the president of Faith Thinkers. And you can find that Web site at Faith Thinker's dot org. Rob, tomorrow we're going to continue this conversation because there's certainly a lot more we'd like to talk about when it comes to this book. You've written Jesus Resurrection and Joseph's Visions examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism.

Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Morman is a research ministry. We encourage you to visit our Web site at W W W dot m or M dot org, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism. You just listen to today's broadcast, a viewpoint on Mormonism. But did you know that you can hear previous shows at your convenience?

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