More letters…

I have finally got round to writing to Elders Ng and Jensen.
Please pray for these guys and for the whole LDS setup here in Singapore.
I’d also be happy to hear your comments.

Elder Ng
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Floor 4
253 Bukit Timah Road
259640

22 November 2002

Dear Elder Ng,

Thank you for taking the time and effort to send me the information that I asked for. I am sorry for taking so long to reply, life is hectic here both at work and personally.

In that regard we have finally found somewhere permanent to live! We are buying a flat in Farrer Court and should be completing the purchase by the time you get this letter. Once we are in our new place my wife and I would love to show you some hospitality! Please let us know if you would like that – we would be happy to open our home to you and Elder Jensen.

I trust that you got a copy of the letter that I sent to President Boone. I have not yet received a reply from him. I imagine that he is as busy as I am and yet I would have liked to hear his response on the items that I raised. Perhaps you would mention this to him next time you meet?

I wonder if you would answer some more questions on the material that you provided? I found it interesting but not entirely convincing. Let me explain my position.

The article that you presented has some serious flaws in reasoning and, I’m afraid to say, some things that appear to be untrue..

The Origin of the Native Americans
It is well documented that the Native Americans are of Mongoloid descent. Some have theorised that they entered the Americas via the Bering Straits. Whether this is true I don’t know but they certainly do not share any recognised genetic background with Jews except that which is common to all of us.
Furthermore, having investigated the subject, I learn that the Native American language is quite unlike Hebrew or ancient Egyptian in both vocab and grammatical structure. It would be reasonable to expect at least a small amount of correlation on this matter and yet, try as I might, I have been unable to find any evidence to support the claim. I am reluctant to come to these conclusions but I don’t know what else to do.

Cataclysm in the North American Continent
I read the account by the Washoe Indian.
His account reads very much like a volcanic explosion accompanied by earthquakes. He also mentions a flood with a river breaking it’s banks.

Whereas Nephi’s description seems to be quite different. It appears to have a far more global connotation. Nephi is also recorded as mentioning cities, roads, buildings and the like – all of which are notably absent in the Washoe account, not to mention any other Native American history. It seems strange that the Native Americans would have no record of the civilisation that they were once part of.

Furthermore another question came to mind. The Washoe account places the events within what I understand is referred to as “CONUS” (Continental United States). I understand that Washoe is in Nevada. Previously you had informed me that the events of the Book of Mormon took place in Central America. So I am confused as to where these events actually took place.

Is the Washoe account the same event that took place in Central America? Is it part of some massive continental upheaval? In which case why is there no third-party evidence for such a massive event?

I am prepared to accept your explanation on this issue but at the moment I have more questions than answers.

Testimonies
To be frank, this section of the paper was disappointing. To enter into evidence the testimony of a bystander may sound nice but it proves nothing. I don’t mean to belittle it but I could claim something to you tomorrow. For example I could claim that I am convinced that the Book of Mormon is a fallacy. You would of course reject such a view as having no authority in and of itself. If I were able to prove my assertion then I would have more right to make the claim.

Similarly the other side of the debate cannot expect to have the same “evidence” accepted.

On the same subject, President Boone, promised me details of a Lutheran minister who converted to your church. Up to now I have not received this from him. Perhaps you might remind him next time you meet?

Thank you for reading this far. I have one more item from the piece that you gave me to respond to. And it is the one that concerns me the most.

The Promised Witness
The final section of the paper refers to the “companion volume of scripture the Lord commanded Ezekiel to write (the stick of Joseph), which he declared he would join to the stick of Judah (our present Bible)…”

Let me tell you why this concerns me the most. It is because the interpretation of this verse bears absolutely no reference to the context of the scripture within which it is found.

You are an intelligent man, Elder Ng, you have proved yourself to be quite capable of articulate thought when we have met and so I want to appeal to you now on this basis.

I have one question of this text – what is the intended meaning?

Would you get your Bible and check that what I now present is exactly what is in the Bible? I ask this so that you can call me to task if necessary. In addition, I will quote from the KJV. As I do not yet have a copy of the Joseph Smith translation I have to apologise if there are any small differences in the text. Please let me know if there are any such differences.

The phrase “stick of Joseph” is found in the following text:

Eze 37:16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and [for] all the house of Israel his companions:
Eze 37:17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.

If I understand correctly, the LDS position is that the stick of Ephraim is the Bible and the stick of Joseph is the Book of Mormon. Under that understanding God is asking Ezekiel to bind the two together – they are both to be considered scripture and both are authoritative.

However, we must ask ourselves if this is what was the intended meaning? I wonder if you have ever read further in the text, Elder Ng? Allow me to quote the next verse:

Eze 37:18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou [meanest] by these?

Now, that is exactly the question before us, isn’t it? What is meant by these verses? The LDS church maintains that the two sticks are two books of scripture. But what does Ezekiel have to say?

Eze 37:19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which [is] in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, [even] with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.
Eze 37:20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.

The answer is completely different! The stick of Joseph and the stick of Judah represent the divided tribes of the nation of Israel that God will again bring to unity. In fact, He then goes on to describe exactly how He will do this:

Eze 37:21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
Eze 37:22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:

Now who am I to believe on this issue, Elder Ng? Am I to believe what your church tells me these sticks represent or am I to believe what the Bible tells me they represent? I know that this is a hard question but I am unable to reconcile the two positions. One says that the sticks are books of scripture and the other says that they represent a divided nation brought together again. Which should I believe?

I hope you now see my continued difficulty? You have urged me to pray about these things and, indeed, the writer of the article also refers me to Moroni 10:4. But how can I ask with sincerity when it is abundantly clear that the stick of Joseph, according to the very passage in the Bible within which it lies, is not a piece of scripture but a representation of some of the tribes of Israel?

I’m not trying to be deliberately difficult. This is a genuine concern that I simply cannot reconcile. I hope you appreciate my position on this.

I trust you are still enjoying your mission work and that it is as satisfying as I am finding my work. I am still amazed at the dedication to your task that you and Elder Jensen show. I hope that this letter finds you well. I imagine that many of your fellow missionaries will be celebrating Thanksgiving next week. I know that I enjoyed that when I was in the States and I hope that you do too.

It would be good to hear from you, if only a quick note saying that you are well.

Can I repeat our invitation to cook you dinner sometime? You can reach me at our church number and also on my mobile phone, 94554150. I would love to get a call from you.

Please pass on my best wishes to Elders Jensen and Leicester.

Yours,

David

Leave a Reply

8 comments on “More letters…

    • finding people

      hi there, sorry for the delay.

      I probably read one of your posts on a Christian forum and thought it was interesting!
      Hope that’s ok.

      david

      • Re: finding people

        It’s fine with me… although I don’t belong to any Christian communities, I occasionally read one and less occasionally comment on its posts. 🙂

  1. Interesting . . .

    You’ve hit all the highlights.

    There are a bunch of things that float around the Church that might be considered “LDS Urban Legends.” Although a significant amount of archaeological stuff has been found that may correlate early Central American cultures with Book of Mormon peoples and events, there is certainly no proof. If proof is what you want from the elders or the mission president, you’re gonna be disappointed.

    The notion that Indian languages are descended from Hebrew, that early Indians described the BoM cataclysms, and so on are not matters of LDS doctrine – nor, as far as I’m aware, of eternal significance. LDS history simply states that the Book of Mormon is a record of events in the history of the Western Hemisphere, treating primarily the spiritual travails of a group of people descended from the Jews, whose fathers emigrated across the sea to the American land-mass. LDS doctrine states that it is a collection of the writings of ancient prophets, and is thus the word of God and Scripture, like the Bible. The primary importance of the BoM is spiritual, not historical or archaeological.

    I suspect you’ve heard all of this. But I hope your missionariy friends have not attempted to hang the truth of their teachings on the hook of BoM historicity. It has not been disproven – but I don’t think it will ever be proven, either. Why? Because its importance is the way you feel when you read it, whether its teachings change your life, whether they lead you to a knowledge of Jesus as Savior, God as your Father, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the restored church of God on Earth.

    That’s why Moroni directs you, not to worry about the similarities (or lack thereof) between Indian language and Hebrew, but to pray with a sincere heart, having faith in Christ. That means, by the way, being willing to accept God’s answer and act on it.

    I’m not a linguist nor an archaeologist, so I can’t address the absence of proof you cite above (I am sure you know that lack of positive proof is not proof of the negative). I can tell you that Moroni’s promise is true, and that I have put the Lord to the test and know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. That is what has changed my life, not earthquakes and volcanoes. That is how you need to test the book. Hope you will – my life has a purpose and direction, and I have a peace, that I never dreamed possible. I hope you can find that too.

  2. Interesting

    Hello David,

    I would first like to start out by saying that I think that you had some very good points in your letter to the missionary. You are very wise and know a lot about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints a.k.a. Mormon faith. I was born and raised Mormon. I personally love the church with all my heart. I am no longer Mormon. I left the church just recently. Let me explain myself. I left the church because I have issues with ALL organized religion. I find them to be closed minded and stubborn. Including the the people of the Mormon faith. There are other reasons why I left but that is besides the point. The reason for me saying that I love the church is that is does have truth. As does all religion. It all has some aspect of truth. The Mormon faith promotes happy families and good lives. The church promotes good. I love all the values it has instilled in me. I feel that the church gave me the backbone to who I am today. But like I said I left the church. I do have my fair share of issues with the faith but what you said about not even trying to persuade Mormons out of Mormonism, that they will never be saved and need Jesus badly. That was very uncalled for. I believe we are all entitled to our own beliefs on this earth. That’s why we have so many beliefs. When you go around saying that the Mormons are wrong and working your whole life to disprove another religion, what sense does that make. Why don’t you just worry about what you believe in instead of putting another’s down. I hate the way churches put down other sects of christianity. Is that Christ-like? So what if you don’t believe in it. Why do you need to put it down so brutally? It’s good to question the missionaries and even not agree with them but why the anti-mormon talk. Mormons are Christian too. We both believe in Christ right. the center of Christianity. I find it offensive to be writing this anti-Mormon literature in a Christian lj. We are Christian too. Besides it says in the bible to do unto others what you would have them do unto you. So you want a whole lj community writing bad stuff about your religion or beliefs. You know it is people like you that make this world the way it is. People who think that since people have different views then you then they are wrong. That just leads to hate and that leads to death. God doesn’t want his children to hate each other does he. Why don’t you ponder that for a while. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’d like to talk to you more about this. Please write back!
    ~Nicole Weidauer

    • Re: Interesting

      thanks for your post Nicole.
      Just so you’re aware, I don’t spend my life trying to prove mormonism wrong! The missionaries come to me on a regular basis and, through that, I started to learn lots more about them. As I did that and compared what they were tellign me to the Bible I found gross contradictions.

      Believe me, I’m not putting them down brutally. There is a massive issue at stake which lies at the heart of these dialogues and in my work as a pastor.

      Mormons teach us that we can become perfect by our hard effort in doing good works. That the ‘gospel’ is simply a list of rules that I can keep to become perfect.

      This is, frankly, outrageous. The gospel is the good news that I can have eternal life as a free gift by knowing Jesus. Nothing more. My life will change as a result but my works are no being measured to see if I pass. But the LDS church teaches that we must become perfect and, frankly, it’s a terrible burden.

      Jesus holds out open arms to us and invites us to know Him, to simply know Him and yet some think that working hard is the way to get right with Him.

      Makes me think of the prodigal’s older brother.

      I have to say that we have a different Christ. Your Christ gives me a listof rules that I would struggle to keep. In fact James 2:10 tells me that if I fail in even one then I have failed in all.

      The Christ of the Bible holds open his arms to sinners that know they are never going to be good enough because he did the work for us.

      It is amazing grace and I want to proclaim it, particularly amongst those who don’t know it.

      I hope this finds you well. I appreciate you writing.

      David

      • Re: Interesting

        I totally understnd that you are just trying to proclaim your views of Christ. I too belive that no matter what you do Christ and Heavenly Father will love you. I believe that there are some things you must abide by though. Just common sense things like refered to in the 10 commandments but I do understand why you would think that the Mormon faith is just a long list of rules. For me I have been in the church and know why these rules are there. For me i belive that they are there to strive to be perfect not be perfect since we will never achieve that but to strive to be perfect like Jesus. But like I said, I understand where you are coming from. The only issue I had with what you wrote is the fact that it sounded like you were saying that Mormons were wrong and that people with different views, namely mormons, are damned and wrong in their beliefs. Just today I got in a disscussion with a girl in a class with me. She is a very fundamentalist christian. Kind of closed minded in the sense that she is eager to say what she believes and says that she is right in her beliefs but everyone else she wouldnt give the time of day. It angers me that people would claim to be so crist-like yet shut everyone else down and put down other religions. Thanks once again for taking the time to read this and respond! Oh and did I hear you say you were a minister?
        ~Nicole Weidauer

        • Re: Interesting

          thanks for replying.
          Unfortunately he Mormon church teaches that we must be perfect – not just to be like Jesus but to actually be perfect else we will never obtain what is promised us.

          Perfection is a requirement of the “latter-day” revelation. I’m not up to it. Are you?

          As for the girl in your class, all I can say is that I”m not her.

          Yes, I am a minister in an Anglican church out in Singapore.

          David

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