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Saints: The Standard of Truth Review Part 2, The Palmyra Revivals

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
February 3, 2020 8:58 pm

Saints: The Standard of Truth Review Part 2, The Palmyra Revivals

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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February 3, 2020 8:58 pm

In this first week of a six-week series, MRM’s Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson review different sections throughout the church’s new history book titled Saints: The Standard of Truth, that was published in 2018.


Answering Mormons questions by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson deals with 36 commonly asked questions by your LDS friends and neighbors. It's a great resource for Christians want to share their faith with friends and loved ones. Be sure to pick up your copy today at your favorite Christian bookstore viewpoint on Mormonism program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint when Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ 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 agree with us for this additional viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry with me today is Eric Johnson.

My colleague at MRM yesterday.

We began looking at the history book published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, titled Saints the standard of truth. It was published in 2018 and we are going to be going through this book is not meant to be exhaustive, but there is a lot of information in there that I think is very important and if we are going to be effective in our witness and sharing our faith with the Latter Day Saints and trying to bring up some historical issues.

It would be good to be familiar with the contents of this book chapter 1 titled ask in faith starts off with an interesting story. It talks about the abruption of a volcano eruption of Tambor which took place in the year 1815 in the book tries to give the impression that it was the climate change as a result of this huge eruption that led Joseph Smith, Senior, the father of Joseph Smith to move to the New York area.

I don't know Eric why they had to tell this story because it seems a bit questionable that the eruption of this volcano would really have anything to do that for what it mentions in here that Joseph Smith Senior was a frustrated farmer because his land was really nothing more than rocky hills. It says and then even on page 6 it says that he abandoned their home in Vermont for better land which we assume was in the Palmyra area of New York, so I don't even know why they bring up this whole story about the volcano because the move from Vermont to New York was not really a north to south movement was more of a from the east to the west move them basically on the same latitude. So how would the climate change all that much. It just seemed like it was a filler's far as I was concerned, but it talks about the Smith family and how Joseph Smith Senior was 45 years old and he was no longer a young man. It describes his family, but then at the bottom of page 5. It talks about his middle son, 10-year-old Joseph Junior who was a different matter different from the other kids in the family for years earlier. It says Joseph Junior had undergone an operation to remove an infection in his leg since then. He had walked with a crutch.

Although his leg was starting to feel sturdy again. Joseph Junior had a painful, limp and Joseph Senior did not know if he would grow up to be as strong as Alvin and Hiram, who of course were two of his other sons, but then we get to page 9. Eric what is it say there as Joseph Junior got older, his leg grew stronger and he could easily walk through Palmyra in town he came in contact with people from all over the region and many of them were turning to religion to satisfy spiritual yearnings and explain the hardships of life. Joseph and his family did not belong to a church, but many of their neighbors worshiped in one of the tall Presbyterian chapels.

The Baptist meetinghouse the Quaker hall or the campground where traveling Methodist preachers held revival meetings from time to time when Joseph was 12 religious debate swept Palmyra although he read little he like to think deeply about ideas he listened to preachers, hoping to learn more about his immortal soul, but their sermons often left him unsettled. They told him he was a sinner in a sinful world helpless without the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And while Joseph believed the message and felt bad about his sins. He was not sure how to find forgiveness when I read that I sensed a bit of a contradiction here. He's talking about Presbyterians Baptist Quakers Methodist but yet he's not sure how to find forgiveness even after talking to some of these preachers that belong to these various denominations and that struck me as strange when you look at those various denominations. They all have basically the same idea of how to be saved. You put your faith in Jesus Christ. What he did for you on the cross of Calvary's righteousness becomes your righteousness that imputed righteousness of Christ. They all have that message. Why is it that Joseph Smith claims that he's not sure how to find forgiveness.

It says right here.

They told him he was a sinner in a sinful world helpless without the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Isn't that the answer for what he was looking for because they were preaching the gospel as it is presented in the Bible. I would think so. But notice what this narrative is trying to imply they want to bring out the confusion and even outright contradiction that the LDS church holds to today regarding what they view as apostate Christendom. They have to make a case in there making the case here in this first chapter that all the churches were involved in one big spiritual free-for-all. Even as it's implied here as to how it a person comes to forgiveness. Look at the On page 9, right after what I just finished and says what he thought going to church could help him, but he could not settle on a place to worship the different churches argued endlessly about how people could be free of sin.

After listening to these arguments for a while. Joseph was distressed to see people reading the same Bible but coming to different conclusions about its meaning, we apply that same argument to the modern LDS movement. Aren't there a lot of splinter groups that use the book of Mormon, but yet they come to different conclusions.

They don't all worship exactly the same. They certainly don't believe and worship the same as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints headquartered in Salt Lake City so I don't know if that's a real good argument to use against the Christian faith because some people might read the Bible and draw a different conclusion on a particular verse, but this is certainly the point that this book is trying to bring out Bill. Then on page 11 it says the very top seen his parents dissatisfaction with local churches only confuse Joseph Junior more. His soul was at stake, but no one could give him satisfying answers, Bill. If you're somebody who doesn't know much about Mormonism and you were told to read this book you would seem to have a bad view toward the Christian churches because they are confusing this poor young boy named Joseph Junior who is trying as hard as the financers and they're just giving him the runaround and I think you're absolutely right and I think that's exactly what this chapter, at least is supposed to be instilling in the mind of the readers you need to have an apostasy in order to have the LDS church preach my gospel manual. The manual that the missionaries use says that very implicitly. BH Roberts, who was a church historian and a 70 in the LDS church also said that very same thing if there was no apostasy of the Christian faith there would be no reason for the Mormon church to exist, so they have to make their case and their doing so in this first chapter. Then on page 11. It talks about how the family moved and bought a parcel of land in Manchester which was just south of Palmyra. This is what it reads in the middle there. On page 11 as he worked the land. Young Joseph continue to worry about his sins and the welfare of his soul.

The religious revival in Palmyra had quieted down.

But preachers continue to compete for converts there and throughout the region.

Stop either because when you read those two sentences I don't know which revival in Palmyra, it's referring to. I quit back to see if I could find some context to it, but it talks about the Methodist revival, but that was a Methodist revival. It certainly was not the revival of Joseph Smith seems to describe in Joseph Smith history so when it says the religious revival in Palmyra had quieted down. What revival is it talking about it doesn't say now it's interesting and this is one of the positive things about reading this history book on the tablet on your computer because if you have an electronic version of it. It has links from these footnotes in these footnotes will often take you to various other essays that have been written on the subject. Sometimes it helps fill in some of the blanks that the book itself doesn't seem to give you but if you click on one of these footnotes.

It will take you to an article titled debate about revivals in Palmyra and this is what it says. Some researchers have questioned whether Palmyra was indeed the scene of unusual religious excitement. And that's the phrase that Joseph Smith uses in Joseph Smith history and the pearl of great price, the scene of unusual religious excitement and contention between churches in 1820 as described in Joseph Smith history Joseph's account. However, it does not single out Palmyra, but rather indicates the excitement arose."

The whole district of country.

Now it does say that in Joseph Smith history 15 it says sometime in the second year after our removal to Manchester there was in the place where we lived in unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodist, but soon became general among all the sects in the region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties which created no small stir and division amongst the people, here's the problem folks there trying to make it sound like the area that Smith is talking about is a huge area that would hopefully give them these great multitudes necessary to concur with how Joseph Smith has described this in verse five, but there was no revival like this in 1820. That's the problem and notice Smith says sometime in the second year after our removal to Manchester there was in the place where we lived. Unusual excitement on the subject of religion which would tend to point to the area itself Palmyra where they moved and lived at that time and on page 12. The book says that he he referring to Joseph Smith often felt like he was in the middle of a war of words and opinions who have all these parties are right and are they all wrong together. The appearance given is that Joseph Smith was at these revivals. He was listening to the preachers if you go to our website You can see an article by Wesley Walters, but there's a booklet that he wrote called the Palmyra revival and Mormon origins. You can order that right on our website, but in this book Wesley Walters said there was no revivals between 1819 through 1823 very clearly during that four-year. There were no revivals. The revival does not take place until 1824.

On that same page you just cited Eric page 12 it says that Smith says who of all these parties are right or are they all wrong together, making it sound like it was at that point he's asking that question, but yet we know from his 1832 diary, he said that when he was very young. He had already come to the conclusion that all the churches were wrong and one of the footnotes on the electronic version will take you to that account showing what Joseph Smith wrote in that 1832 diary, verifying that Smith already knew the churches were wrong and that that was not something that he learned later on through what was known as the first vision which we talk about in chapter 2. Thank you for listening you would like more information regarding this research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website at you can request a free newsletter Mormonism research. We hope you join us again as we look at another viewpoint is pastor. Could your congregation benefit from a presentation that explains the differences between Mormonism and New Testament Christianity MRM's Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson would be to come to your church, whether it's a single crash course for a we can symposium hundreds of churches have benefited from their fully documented and easy to understand PowerPoint presentations you'd like to schedule MRM at your church.

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