Was Nephi a real person?

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SamBee
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Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by SamBee » 13 Apr 2019, 04:21

Roy wrote:
08 Apr 2019, 09:20
I appreciate that this question hinges to a great degree on what we accept as evidence. I believe that the LDS church position is that without a spiritual witness there is not enough evidence to prove the historicity of the BoM with archeology and other sciences alone. For whatever reason, God positioned this book as something that would require faith. If JS was the source of the text and narrative then he got a good number of things right - but he also got enough things wrong to make it understandable for non-believers to continue not to believe. There is evidence, on both sides, but there is no proof.
There are plenty of people out there who think the Holocaust and the Moon landings never took place. I put this partly down to the fact that both are receding into history - the last Moon landing was the best part of fifty years ago (1972) - and those who were adults at the time are fast dying off.

So if things like that, which are still within living memory with very good attestation are disbelieved, then what chance something produced in the early part of the century before last?
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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Rumin8
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Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by Rumin8 » 13 Apr 2019, 22:36

On the moon landings, I recently watched some documentaries on how the original moon landing could have been, and probably was, faked. I myself don’t believe that it was faked, but the evidence was interesting and compelling. When I brought it up to my wife, she got upset with me and said something to the effect of “why can’t people [me] just let go of the “why” and “what” and accept it as the marvel it was? Why does everything have to be “proved?” It was quite an outburst for her and it took me off guard until I realized that the things I was sharing about “truth” about the moon landings are very similar to the ideas I have been sharing during my faith crises. It was an interesting parallel, and I have tried harder since then to dwell more in the wonder (and meaning) of things, and try (somewhat unsuccessfully) to leave alone the “why” and “what.” This is easier said than done.
"Moderation in all things, especially moderation." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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grobert93
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Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by grobert93 » 14 Apr 2019, 05:37

Rumin8 wrote:
13 Apr 2019, 22:36
On the moon landings, I recently watched some documentaries on how the original moon landing could have been, and probably was, faked. I myself don’t believe that it was faked, but the evidence was interesting and compelling. When I brought it up to my wife, she got upset with me and said something to the effect of “why can’t people [me] just let go of the “why” and “what” and accept it as the marvel it was? Why does everything have to be “proved?” It was quite an outburst for her and it took me off guard until I realized that the things I was sharing about “truth” about the moon landings are very similar to the ideas I have been sharing during my faith crises. It was an interesting parallel, and I have tried harder since then to dwell more in the wonder (and meaning) of things, and try (somewhat unsuccessfully) to leave alone the “why” and “what.” This is easier said than done.
When you put your testimony / trust in the wrong thing, and that thing proves to be something different than you thought, it can lead to shattering spirits and aggressive emotions. Missionaries teach that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and had restored the church? Gain a testimony of him as perfect. Learn later that he used rocks and a hat to translate the BOM and had under aged wives, plus violently destroyed a printing press? Lose your testimony or fight against these "truths" by arguing they are ruining your belief in his happy, well mannered self that the church and missionaries teach. Taught by missionaires and church leaders that the church has been fully restored, that is it 100% true, led directly by the Lord and all commandments are given by revelation? Then gain a testimony that tithing builds temples, the leaders are all in unity and anyone who protests the church is confused, sad or led astray. Find out that the church pays the 12 and prophet, has stock and other assets, banned blacks from the priesthood and currently struggle to accept the LGBT community? Same reaction.

My mom and sister are both this way with movies, sometimes. Growing up my dad would make fun of a movie as we'd watch it and they'd complain he's ruining it for them. Movies like harry potter he'd point out a flaw in the editing and they'd get upset that "he's reminding us the movie is fictional". While I enjoyed the educational moments, they didn't. It was interesting to see the needs different people have and how something that is helpful to one person can be harmful to another.

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dande48
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Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by dande48 » 14 Apr 2019, 12:47

Rumin8 wrote:
13 Apr 2019, 22:36
On the moon landings, I recently watched some documentaries on how the original moon landing could have been, and probably was, faked.
I just watched a similar documntary on Netflix, on the "Flat Eather's movement". It was interesting, and offered lots of perspectives. The conclusion I thought was particularly interesting, and I think could apply to anyone who sees things differently than we do. In essence, they said that flat earther's aren't stupid or irrational. On the contrary, some of them are very smart. One of the physicists on there said something to the effect of, "It's not about intelligence. It's about mis-education." He goes on to say that we shouldn't look down on those who believe differently, even with something as far-fetched as "flat earth". That just causes them to double-down. Instead we should see them as normal, rational people who have, through their experience, arrived at a different conclusion.

I think the same could be said of many groups we inherently disagree with. I'm not wanted to bring politics into this forum, but a solid example is with different political parties. One of the reasons a particular United States leader was elected, and maintains such a commited group of followers, is because another political group seriously harassed them, called them "stupid", "racist", "sexist", etc, etc. With the Church, if we habitually call those who leave "selfish", "stupid", or "wicked", they're not coming back. Heck, those blanket judgements are largely why I'm not more active. It works the other way too, with maintaining good relations with Church members.

Julia Galef (big fan) recently had a podcast on "Erisology", or "the Study of Disagrement". The transcript is up too. It goes pretty heavy into why "disagreements" often explode into unconstructive fights, and what we can do to be more productive in our approach. I highly recommend it.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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DarkJedi
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Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by DarkJedi » 14 Apr 2019, 13:30

grobert93 wrote:
14 Apr 2019, 05:37
When you put your testimony / trust in the wrong thing, and that thing proves to be something different than you thought, it can lead to shattering spirits and aggressive emotions. Missionaries teach that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and had restored the church? Gain a testimony of him as perfect. Learn later that he used rocks and a hat to translate the BOM and had under aged wives, plus violently destroyed a printing press? Lose your testimony or fight against these "truths" by arguing they are ruining your belief in his happy, well mannered self that the church and missionaries teach. Taught by missionaires and church leaders that the church has been fully restored, that is it 100% true, led directly by the Lord and all commandments are given by revelation? Then gain a testimony that tithing builds temples, the leaders are all in unity and anyone who protests the church is confused, sad or led astray. Find out that the church pays the 12 and prophet, has stock and other assets, banned blacks from the priesthood and currently struggle to accept the LGBT community? Same reaction.
I just wanted to point out here that this is the problem when one's testimony is rooted in Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, or anything else besides Jesus Christ. Richard Bushman in a BYU Hawaii devotional about what we learn from the first vision in 2016 said this:
Of late, I have taken to asking the doubters a question? How do you feel about Jesus Christ? If they say the Savior means everything to them, I assure them, you will be all right. If you can hold to Christ, you will find your way. But to my dismay, others say that in losing faith in Joseph Smith, they also lose faith in Christ and even in God and prayer. Everything falls apart. I feel bad when I hear this response. It means that Joseph Smith, not the Savior, is the foundation of their faith. Once Joseph is removed, the whole building collapses.

This is not what Joseph intended. He did not organize a Church of Joseph Smith. The Articles of Faith do not mention Joseph Smith’s name. They begin with the statement we believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. That is the foundation.

Those who lose faith in Christ because they have lost faith in Joseph Smith have things backward. Joseph’s mission was to increase faith in Christ, not in himself. He thought of himself as one of the weak things of the world who came forth that faith might increase in the earth and that Christ’s everlasting covenant might be established. He would want us to develop faith in his teachings, in Christ and the atonement, in prayer and adhesion to high moral standards, not in him as a man. He would want us to believe in the principles independent of the man, as the Saints in the first decade did. We honor him as a prophet, to be sure, but as one who testified of the Savior. His revelations pointed beyond himself to Christ and the Father. I believe in Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, and most of you here today do too. But we must place our faith first in Christ, and believe in him apart from our faith in his messenger. Christ should be the anchor when we struggle and question.
https://devotional.byuh.edu/node/1514

I should also note that I freely admit that part of my own faith crisis rested on having a testimony of something else. Jesus Christ absolutely needs to be the stone foundation (envision a house with a stone foundation when thinking of building on rock) of our testimonies. If such is the case, it doesn't matter if Nephi is real or not. (And yes, I do believe that missionaries often teach things backwards and that needs to be changed.)
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Arrakeen
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Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by Arrakeen » 14 Apr 2019, 14:13

DarkJedi wrote:
14 Apr 2019, 13:30
I should also note that I freely admit that part of my own faith crisis rested on having a testimony of something else. Jesus Christ absolutely needs to be the stone foundation (envision a house with a stone foundation when thinking of building on rock) of our testimonies. If such is the case, it doesn't matter if Nephi is real or not. (And yes, I do believe that missionaries often teach things backwards and that needs to be changed.)
I think part of the problem is that we take the idea that the Book of Mormon's purpose is to testify of Jesus Christ, and then say that the best way to gain a testimony of Christ is through the Book of Mormon.
One of the most effective ways to teach and testify of the Savior is to read together from the Book of Mormon.
--Preach My Gospel
^This can make it really easy for a testimony of Jesus Christ to be dependent on a testimony of the Book of Mormon instead of the other way around. I think we're sometimes afraid of investigators seeing us as "just another Christian church, " so we put a little too much emphasis on getting them to believe in the church before even believing in Christ.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 14 Apr 2019, 15:09

Fwiw, I think it is unfair to say we try to get people to believe in the Church before they believe in Christ.

Preaching to other Christians has been the baseline norm for most of our existence as a church, so there is relatively more in the earliest missionary discussions about the Restoration than the life and mission of Jesus. An understanding of the most basic belief in Christ is assumed in most missions. However, Jesus is the core of Preach My Gospel. Also, the Book of Mormon focuses obsessively on Christ, so using it extensively in the discussions highlights our focus on Jesus.

I served in Japan. Teaching more deeply about Jesus was common, because we were teaching non-Christians. We used the Bible and the Book of Mormon to teach about Jesus, but the Book of Mormon was the primary tool simply because it is unique to our church - and because Jesus is so central in it.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Arrakeen
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Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by Arrakeen » 14 Apr 2019, 16:16

Curt Sunshine wrote:
14 Apr 2019, 15:09
Preaching to other Christians has been the baseline norm for most of our existence as a church, so there is relatively more in the earliest missionary discussions about the Restoration than the life and mission of Jesus. An understanding of the most basic belief in Christ is assumed in most missions.
I suppose this makes more sense looking at it that way. I mostly taught people from China with no religious background whatsoever, so it always seemed weird to me to emphasize the restoration. We always had to start with prayer and the existence of God. We would pretty much exclusively use the Book of Mormon to teach about Christ, but mainly because the Bible translation was very difficult for most people to understand.

I just wonder, if someone whose first belief in Christ came from the Book of Mormon later stops believing in the origins of the Book of Mormon, are they more likely to also lose their faith in Christ than someone who learned first from the Bible? Though I suppose the same could happen if they lost faith in the Bible. Is there a way to make our faith in Christ not dependent on the validity of the scriptures where we learn about him? So that even if Nephi never existed, or even if the gospel accounts were not reliable, we could still maintain faith inn Christ?

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DarkJedi
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Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by DarkJedi » 15 Apr 2019, 08:50

Curt Sunshine wrote:
14 Apr 2019, 15:09
Fwiw, I think it is unfair to say we try to get people to believe in the Church before they believe in Christ.

Preaching to other Christians has been the baseline norm for most of our existence as a church, so there is relatively more in the earliest missionary discussions about the Restoration than the life and mission of Jesus. An understanding of the most basic belief in Christ is assumed in most missions. However, Jesus is the core of Preach My Gospel. Also, the Book of Mormon focuses obsessively on Christ, so using it extensively in the discussions highlights our focus on Jesus.

I served in Japan. Teaching more deeply about Jesus was common, because we were teaching non-Christians. We used the Bible and the Book of Mormon to teach about Jesus, but the Book of Mormon was the primary tool simply because it is unique to our church - and because Jesus is so central in it.
I see your point, Curt, but I partially disagree. But there are probably just as many people sitting in the pews without a testimony of Christ at any Catholic church as there are in our own pews. There might be a few less in some Protestant churches, but into necessarily - the same forces are still in play (I grew up in this church, etc.). So just because someone is coming from a Christian tradition does not mean he or she has a testimony of Christ. Such was the case with me. My testimony of Christ came several years after joining the church and then went through a major renovation about 5 years ago. When I was baptized (in the days of flipbooks, 1981) and when I served my mission (still flipbookss) the First Vision was the first memorized lesson. It's the first one in Preach My Gospel, too, except missionaries are given some leeway now in what is presented when and how it is presented - what I don't know is how often missionaries use that leeway.

Also, consider this: When DHO was head missionary he regularly admonished conversion to Christ before conversion to the church (two examples, there are more: https://www.lds.org/church/news/elder-d ... l?lang=eng https://www.lds.org/church/news/mission ... s?lang=eng). Frankly most of those 18-year-old boys out there, most of who don't have a testimony of Christ themselves, are not the least bit interested in converting people to Christ, they're interested in the stat of dunking people. FWIW, I do believe the recent changes in home centered church are designed to increase conversion to Christ in our families thus better preparing those young people to convert to Christ first in the mission field.

That said, your statement about the BoM is correct - it is a great tool. The early church missionaries didn't teach the First Vision, some of them didn't even know about it. They used the BoM.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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