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Gospel Topics Chapter 7 Bergera Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
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May 16, 2021 9:30 pm

Gospel Topics Chapter 7 Bergera Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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May 16, 2021 9:30 pm

Today we begin a series on a chapter on polygamy written by Gary Bergera, in response to the Signature book on the Gospel Topics Essays. For more on the Gospel Topics Essays, see


Mormonism 101 is research ministries Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson has helped many to understand what separates Mormonism from the Christian faith. Mormonism 101 is what your favorite Christian bookstore .1 examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a respected 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 addition of viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host Bill McKeever Felder director Mormonism research ministry with me today is Eric Johnson my colleague are in Friday show. We started looking at a chapter in the book the LDS gospel topics series a scholarly engagement. The chapter titled through a glass darkly, Joseph Smith, and plural marriage. It was written by a man named Gary James Berger and it deals with the gospel topics essay that was titled plural marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo. This particular essay was released by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on October 22, 2014. We are only able to get to the very introduction of what Mr. Berger is going to cover, but he does make an interesting observation and one of his complaints about what is in this essay titled plural marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo is that a lot of the first-hand accounts from people who were involved in plural marriage were recorded long after the fact, and Mr. Berger says that's narrative such as that are subject to numerous influences and are fragile.

In other words, he feels that a lot of these though first-hand accounts but written down years later tended to paint Joseph Smith as he's going to say in a more reverential way. So that's giving you a little bit of a background of what we covered on Friday so today were going to look at the bottom paragraph on page 198. He writes despite the initial caveat the church's essay proposes a reconstruction that, in my opinion, to uncritically accept the reliability of the primary sources and adopt the defense of reading of those sources that minimizes if not misrepresents the underpinnings of Smith's teaching. The essay paints a reverential portrait of Smith as a prophet of God that emphasizes the spiritual qualities and avoid serious consideration of erotic appeal and other factors in the implementation of plural marriage.

It presents Smith as a very reluctant polygamists who only accepted the sexual component of plural marriage after an angel with a drawn sword visited him three times and threatened him with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully by consummating his marriages. Let's talk about this paragraph. Because again going back to what I said earlier.

She notes this essay paints a reverential portrait of Smith as a prophet of God that emphasizes his spiritual qualities and avoids serious consideration of erotic appeal and other factors in the implementation of plural marriage. What is that tell us. I think it it explains why an essay that is supposed to be transparent or at least more transparent than in the past when it comes to Joseph Smith's plural marriages is going to make him look like he's doing this out of a solemn duty to the God he claims to serve that it's not something that Smith is making up to fulfill his own erotic appeal. That's the phrase that Mr. Berger uses but when you think about it. Should that not be a part of the equation are we going to assume based on what we know about Joseph Smith that there wouldn't be any erotic appeal at all that would cause him to implement plural marriage, a real hard time with that. And so when I read this essay when it first came out. That is something is very telling.

It does paint him in this kind of a picture especially with this whole story about the angel who had a drawn sword where if he did not go forward in practicing plural marriage that God would use this angel to actually destroy him unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully or as Gary Berger says by consummating his marriages would be something we expect from a good con man.

I really don't want to do this dear please please don't think that I have any lust for you as an individual, though I'm only wanting to do this because God has told me to, and if I don't I'm going to be killed by this angel who has a drawn sword threatening me to go through with this based on the information we have. Joseph Smith did what many carnal sexually oriented men would do. They would take advantage of the situation by claiming that God told him to do it.

I have talked to a lot of Latter Day Saints who have left the church because of these gospel topics essay's bill, and I'm going to suggest that this one essay that he is covering here regarding Kirtland and Naboo is the one essay that has taken more people out of the LDS church, especially women. When I find out somebody used to be LDS and was a gospel topics essay that did it.

I asked which one, and I'll say well this one. Why because I never knew that Joseph Smith had multiple wives. I said, but according to the essay that he did it because God told him to. And they don't buy it.

A lot of people are not buying this, but what you have. If you're the LDS church and you're trying to be transparent and you're trying to explain all of this.

I think that you're going to have to come up with the emphasis on obeying God rather than men. And he did what he had to do because otherwise he's going to be disobeying God. I don't think Bill most Latter Day Saints.

But that will I know. Certainly most non-Latter Day Saints. They wouldn't buy into that either because let's not forget this is happening after Joseph Smith is already married to Emma. So the idea that God would somehow send an angel to threaten Joseph Smith to Mary quote "an individual woman when he's already married legally to Emma Smith certainly sounds out of bounds. Probably one way of saying that for most people who see the New Testament is giving us guidance on sexual behavior. There's is no way a person is really going to buy into that. Unless of course you really want to be a Mormon and you really don't care about the truth of the matter. You just want to be a Latter Day Saints endless be serious. We have met Latter Day Saints were like that. Is this about protecting the profit at all costs. I would say it certainly is. And I think that's why Mr. Berger has a problem with this. He doesn't feel that they took enough time to it at least even address that there could be some kind of as he says, erotic appeal, which led him into this world you can understand why the church isn't going to do that once the church admits that any of these relationships were based on erotic appeal. Now you see Joseph Smith is nothing more than a fornicator or an adult or you don't see them doing anything righteous and I think that's the problem most of us on the outside looking in, had because we to see him as an adulterer and obviously he's doing it because of erotic appeal.

He's not doing it because God told him to because God would never tell him to do that but if your Latter Day Saints and you love Joseph Smith is your profit. You're going to make excuses for him. On page 199 it continues and says according to later reminiscences and hearsay testimony, Smith concluded that the Old Testament practice of polygamy was part of the dispensation of the fullness of times that God had commanded him to restore and then in parentheses it says this.

The essay does not point out that nowhere in the Hebrew Bible is polygamy specifically commanded for God's people, generally, nor does the essay explain why other ancient practices circumcision. For example, were not so privileged in Smith's restoration program and of parentheses will. I think we can certainly imagine why circumcision wouldn't be something that he would be excited about only getting male would be excited about that.

But when it comes to the polygamy issue. I think Mr. Berger makes a good point when he says the essay does not point out that nowhere in the Hebrew Bible is polygamy specifically commanded for God's people.

Generally, however, if you go to the first paragraph the second sentence of this essay says in biblical times.

The Lord commanded some of his people to practice plural marriage. The marriage of one man and more than one woman that when we did our critique of this essay several years ago, we noticed that in the footnotes and by the way, let me talk about those footnotes right now if you were to print this article out now, you would not get all the footnotes and resources that used to print out with the article when you go to the footnotes. Now when you click on on the footnote. A window comes out from the side with just that one footnote, but to print that out.

You have to highlight it and then print it out as just that one footnote. It doesn't highlight all the footnotes.

It makes it very difficult for you to print out all of the footnotes to this article, things that we like to read because they really explain what's being said in the text, but in this footnote. Footnote number two. List doctrine and covenants section 1 3234 through 39 Jacob 230 from the book of Mormon and Genesis 16. What's interesting about those footnotes.

Of course, only one of them is from the Bible, Genesis 16, but section 132 in the doctrine and covenants talks about Genesis 16 it inserts in its account the fact that Abraham was commanded to take on Hagar as a plural wife that's not what Genesis 16 says it doesn't say he was commanded to do that at all. That's an assumption that Joseph Smith inserts in order to make it appear that that's what's left out of Genesis 16 you're bringing up a great point.

This is what Bayside on the footnote doctrine and covenants section 132 verse 34 God commanded Abraham and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife that is not found in the text. But if you don't know your Bible very well and you're reading in the doctrine and covenants. I guess you would assume yeah God did command Abraham to do that.

Not once. As is pointed out here in this chapter.

Did God ever command anybody to ever marry a plural wife.

What about the other reference Eric Jacob 230 from the book of Mormon that seems so out of place for this sentence.

Now this is what it says.

For if I will say at the Lord of hosts raise up seed onto me.

I will command my people. Otherwise, they shall hearken unto these things and what are these things well, it certainly isn't polygamy.

Folks if you read the context of Jacob.

Chapter 2.

It's actually a command to practice polygamy so they quote verse 30 which merely says if I want to do it now. Make it a commandment, but he never did. As far as we know, until way later than Joseph Smith contradicts within Jacob chapter 2. And remember, the only reason God would change his mind. According to Jacob.

Chapter 2 is if he wants to. As it says raise up seed will Joseph Smith doesn't leave behind any record of these plural marriage relationships having children, so he seems to live, violated the whole purpose for polygamy. According to Jacob chapter 2. This is why I feel that footnote in the first paragraph is very very misleading. Thank you for listening.

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