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.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
253 Bukit Timah Road
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.
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.