Prophetic Flaws in Scripture

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Daughter1
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Prophetic Flaws in Scripture

Post by Daughter1 » 23 Apr 2019, 20:22

I have seen a few threads talking about imperfections in leaders. I would like to start a place to discuss flaws and weaknesses that scriptures record (usually hint at) regarding the chosen leaders through history. Personally, I find it easier to relate to these people when they exhibit flaws. When I first pointed out that Nephi has a pride problem, a friend told me off and was like "God wouldn't choose someone with a pride issue to lead His people. He would choose someone good!" For me, I have a pride issue, so I love looking at Nephi and thinking that he had some of the same problems I do, and look at how much God trusted him anyways.

Here's a couple of flawed people from scripture that I see (not including the common examples).

Nephi, as I said before, is very prideful. Yes, Lamen and Lemual were wicked, sure. But some of the exchanges make it clear that they also just got really annoyed with their uppity little brother who acted like such a know-it-all. They may have grudgingly realized he was right, but his approach to teaching them was pretty rough. He wasn't exactly tactful, compassionate, or humble. He was all like "Dad's right about that vision. I prayed and I saw it too! You just need to have more faith." It's kind of annoying. I can't totally blame them for not listening to him.

Jacob, Nephi's brother, seems to me to suffer from depression. His farewell, while beautiful, shows a sorrow that is deep and unyielding. He did so much good and was surrounded by those he loved. And yet he described a "lonesome" people. He took on leadership of a people struggling to avoid sin and had to guide them through that, while very possibly struggling with a mental illness that incapacitates some people today.

Jesus as a child. While I do not believe He ever sinned, I do think some people take that to mean he was never annoying or unruly. He ran away from his parents as a 12 year old. Yes, He ran away to discuss religion in the temple, but this still caused His earthly parents distress. The scriptures say He "grew in wisdom and understanding." I believe He was probably a child like any other. Except once He was told right from wrong in a circumstance, He never chose wrong. But a kid doesn't know not to bring a muddy lizard into the kitchen until they do it and mom tells them not to. Most kids might try again, I don't think Jesus did. That doesn't mean He didn't bring one in the first time. (This one might be considered blasphemy, but I think it makes a lot of sense in the text. Mortal Jesus still had to get to the age of 8 to be accountable, didn't He? So He had to learn a lot through His choices in that time. I also believe that His learning was completed well before His ministry began, so we don't have record of these unknowing errors other than the running away. As I type that, it makes even more sense. He likely made unknowing errors in part so that He can understand how that feels for the rest of us.)

I think all of the 12 apostles in the NT have their flaws more clearly highlighted. But we see squabbling siblings, over-protective Peter, and so many other little, normal things. It makes them relate-able.
I don't think there could ever be just one single philosophy or one single religion. Since there are so many different types of people, with a range of tendencies and inclinations, it is quite fitting that there are differences between religions. And the fact that there are so many different descriptions of the religious path shows how rich religion is. - HH the XIV Dalai Lama

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Re: Prophetic Flaws in Scripture

Post by nibbler » 24 Apr 2019, 05:30

The thread title made me think the tread was going to be about how the authors of the scriptures were flawed so it stands to reason that the scriptures themselves are flawed. You took it in a different direction. It was a nice surprise.
Daughter1 wrote:
23 Apr 2019, 20:22
Jesus as a child. While I do not believe He ever sinned, I do think some people take that to mean he was never annoying or unruly. He ran away from his parents as a 12 year old. Yes, He ran away to discuss religion in the temple, but this still caused His earthly parents distress. The scriptures say He "grew in wisdom and understanding." I believe He was probably a child like any other. Except once He was told right from wrong in a circumstance, He never chose wrong. But a kid doesn't know not to bring a muddy lizard into the kitchen until they do it and mom tells them not to. Most kids might try again, I don't think Jesus did. That doesn't mean He didn't bring one in the first time. (This one might be considered blasphemy, but I think it makes a lot of sense in the text. Mortal Jesus still had to get to the age of 8 to be accountable, didn't He? So He had to learn a lot through His choices in that time. I also believe that His learning was completed well before His ministry began, so we don't have record of these unknowing errors other than the running away. As I type that, it makes even more sense. He likely made unknowing errors in part so that He can understand how that feels for the rest of us.)
If you want a window into Jesus' childhood try reading the Infancy Gospel of Thomas (IGoT for short). I think you'll quickly see why that book was left out of the Bible.

I want to expounding on the thoughts that the thread title conjured up. I'll end up poking at the quoted section above, I hope you don't mind. :angel: I'll do my best to relate it back to the topic.

Do the scriptures accurately portray Jesus as he truly was or did we forge a Jesus of our own creation through:
1) What people choose to write and say about Jesus.
2) What people choose to be the authoritative writings and sayings about Jesus.

A sinless Jesus. A Jesus that never chose wrong. A Jesus that grew in wisdom. A Jesus that became accountable at age eight. A Jesus that took upon himself the sins of the world. In all of that I see a filtered Jesus, a Jesus that has been distilled over time for my consumption.

Going back to the IGoT. Weird stuff... but so are the gospels we hold up as being authoritative. But some time long ago someone else decided for you and me that the things found in the IGoT weren't Jesus. So do the scriptures accurately portray Jesus as he truly was or did we forge a Jesus of our own creation?

One thing that leapt off the screen in the quoted portion above is the idea that Jesus had to get to the age of eight to be accountable. That idea is extremely Mormon. People outside of Mormon religions may view that as being every bit as strange as we view things in the IGoT and other non-canonical texts... but it hints that the process of distilling our concept of Jesus is ongoing.

...and it's not a bad thing. It could be seen as a part of the ongoing restoration. Refining our knowledge of Jesus.

Yeah, so this post went in a totally different direction. Oops. It's nice to have examples of fallible prophets (Jonah is also good example) in authoritative texts. I just find it interesting, it becomes a contradiction of sorts. Examples of prophets being infallible witnessed through texts they produced that we often hold up as being 100% authoritative.

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Re: Prophetic Flaws in Scripture

Post by AmyJ » 24 Apr 2019, 05:31

For me, when I realized that General Mormon (he was the leader of their armies after all) spent the majority of his life leading people and trying to raise the morale in the face of a lost cause of the survival of the Nephites, it helped me understand why there are such stark "Us vs Them" examples throughout, and why he devoted so much to armies and other generals. I think it's in part why he included the people who covenanted not to pick up the sword (it would have been unthinkable to him to be so defenseless) and why he included what happened to their children.

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Re: Prophetic Flaws in Scripture

Post by dande48 » 24 Apr 2019, 06:39

To be very blunt and maybe a little too honest... what about God? We say God is perfect, and "good", and has the best interests of humanity at heart. But here are some evidences I feel that show God (at least as described by prophets) is kind of a butt:
  1. Mosaic Law:
    -God used bleeding from the hymen as evidence as to whether a newly married bride was a virgin. Lack of blood was evidence she was not a virgin, and subjected her to stoning. But that ain't how hymens worked.
    -God said if a married woman got raped in the city, she was subject to stoning, because obviously she didn't scream and fight hard enough for people to come to her rescue.
    -God commanded gays to be stoned.
    -But if a guy rapes an unmarried woman, all he had to do was pay her father and marry her, and its ok.
  2. God killed every first born male of the Egyptians, because the pharaoh wouldn't do what Moses asked.
  3. Absolute religious intolerance, for any belief system other than the "correct version" (good luck guessing which one that is).
  4. God killed Uzzah, for trying to balance the Ark, when the oxen stumbled.
  5. When few of boys made fun of Elijah for being bald, God sent a couple of bears to maul them.
  6. God had a child with an teenage virgin (who was engaged, BTW), and then had the bastard gruesomely tortured and killed in order to forgive humanity of all the things they've done he doesn't like.
Last edited by dande48 on 24 Apr 2019, 06:44, edited 1 time in total.
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dande48
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Re: Prophetic Flaws in Scripture

Post by dande48 » 24 Apr 2019, 06:43

AmyJ wrote:
24 Apr 2019, 05:31
For me, when I realized that General Mormon (he was the leader of their armies after all) spent the majority of his life leading people and trying to raise the morale in the face of a lost cause of the survival of the Nephites, it helped me understand why there are such stark "Us vs Them" examples throughout, and why he devoted so much to armies and other generals. I think it's in part why he included the people who covenanted not to pick up the sword (it would have been unthinkable to him to be so defenseless) and why he included what happened to their children.
There was that whole issue of "prophetic revelation", where Mormon sent that very angry letter to Pahoran for not providing aid to the Nephite armies, and delared that God had commanded if they didn't send aid, he should march into the capital with his armies and coup the government. Pahoran has GOT to be one of my favorite Book of Mormon characters. He completely takes it in stride, let's Moroni know he's already been deposed by the Kingmen, and asks for assistance. But as far as revelation falling short, I think that's a pretty solid example.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

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Re: Prophetic Flaws in Scripture

Post by DarkJedi » 24 Apr 2019, 15:49

I think if we looked closely at what records/stories we have we'd see that all of the prophets were flawed, some very seriously flawed. This includes Joseph Smith and the original Twelve Apostles (and maybe even especially Peter). I think there's a lesson in there. Being flawed humans does not mean God cannot work with us and through us because we are all flawed. And the human being flawed does not negate the work of God.
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Re: Prophetic Flaws in Scripture

Post by SamBee » 24 Apr 2019, 16:15

* David had a man killed to grab his wife.
* Noah got drunk and commited incest.
* Jonah wouldn't do what he was told.
* Peter denied he knew Jesus.
* Thomas refused to believe in the resurrection.
* Joseph Smith lost 116 pages through foolishness (this is a failing the church admits to).
* Paul persecuted Christians and had fights with Jesus' brother.
* Solomon reputedly got mixed up in occultism.
* Saul got involved in necromancy and spiritism.
* Moses murdered a man.
* Isaac stole Ishmael's birthright.
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Re: Prophetic Flaws in Scripture

Post by Daughter1 » 25 Apr 2019, 12:29

nibbler wrote:
24 Apr 2019, 05:30
The thread title made me think the tread was going to be about how the authors of the scriptures were flawed so it stands to reason that the scriptures themselves are flawed. You took it in a different direction. It was a nice surprise.

...

If you want a window into Jesus' childhood try reading the Infancy Gospel of Thomas (IGoT for short). I think you'll quickly see why that book was left out of the Bible.
I do believe that flaws existing in scripture is a natural and logical conclusion from the authors being flawed. The BoM prophets multiple times state that any errors are the errors of man. This strongly suggests there are errors. Else why would the warning have made it through abridgment and translation? I lean on this when I find contradictions and try to determine which version is applicable to me through prayer.
dande48 wrote:
24 Apr 2019, 06:39
To be very blunt and maybe a little too honest... what about God? We say God is perfect, and "good", and has the best interests of humanity at heart. But here are some evidences I feel that show God (at least as described by prophets) is kind of a butt:
This is one I've had to put on my shelf. Why, if the God I know and love, is kind and understanding and full of grace and mercy, does the God of the Old Testament (in particular) seem so angry? Scriptures often reference that He has run out of patience. Or is vengeful. Or is fierce in anger. Is this a situation of human authors anthropomorphizing Him? Or selecting what they attribute to Him (suggesting He wasn't all that involved actually)? Or do we not understand what perfection really looks like? For me it is easier to look at some of those options before assuming He is flawed, since I cannot understand why a flawed God would deserve the level of worship He demands. But the examples you provided as well as other stories do suggest that if He is flawless, it isn't what we would imagine a flawless being to be like.
DarkJedi wrote:
24 Apr 2019, 15:49
I think if we looked closely at what records/stories we have we'd see that all of the prophets were flawed, some very seriously flawed. This includes Joseph Smith and the original Twelve Apostles (and maybe even especially Peter). I think there's a lesson in there. Being flawed humans does not mean God cannot work with us and through us because we are all flawed. And the human being flawed does not negate the work of God.
Yes. And for me, this makes them more relatable as well. It's hard to emulate and try to follow in the footsteps of someone flawless. It's easier to try to follow someone who isn't perfect because it gives hope when I stumble.
I don't think there could ever be just one single philosophy or one single religion. Since there are so many different types of people, with a range of tendencies and inclinations, it is quite fitting that there are differences between religions. And the fact that there are so many different descriptions of the religious path shows how rich religion is. - HH the XIV Dalai Lama

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Re: Prophetic Flaws in Scripture

Post by Roy » 25 Apr 2019, 17:03

This is a wonderful discussion.

I believe that we tend to follow certain schemas or formulas in our systematic religious beliefs.

I have heard the following logic: The bible is the word of God. The bible says that it is sufficient. God cannot lie. God has enough power to fulfill his promises and to protect his word/book from mistranslations or schemes of men. Therefore, to find the bible in any way insufficient is to set yourself up in opposition to God.
Daughter1 wrote:
23 Apr 2019, 20:22
Jesus as a child. While I do not believe He ever sinned, I do think some people take that to mean he was never annoying or unruly. He ran away from his parents as a 12 year old.
We believe Jesus to be perfect. Where does that come from? I believe it comes from Paul and for us Mormons is also found in the BoM. Pauline christianity says that Jesus had to perfect because only a perfect being could pay the price for another being. Thus if you want your sins forgiven then you have to believe that Jesus was perfect.

Therefore we look at everything that we have record of Jesus doing in the Gospels and we twist and interpret until we can say that the actions of Jesus were perfect because to say otherwise is say that the atonement never happened.

I was in SS when the lesson covered the incident where Jesus went missing as a child. I asked the instructor if the young Jesus could have just been thoughtless. I was told that is not possible because JS says that even at this young age Jesus had the intellect and mental capacities to rule over isreal as their king. Just to reiterate, a childhood Jesus could not have been thoughtless because a man born over 1000 years later said so. I, of course, smiled and thanked the teacher for her insight. To the teacher's mindset, to question Jesus's perfection is to question everything. Also, to question the accuracy of Joseph Smith's knowledge of the childhood of Jesus is to question JS's role as prophet.

(as an aside, I do not believe that we have a record of Jesus claiming to be perfect - that came from people that followed after. Also, when Jesus returned to Nazareth the townspeople rejected him saying "is not this the carpenter's son?" Therefore, whatever "perfection" Jesus might have displayed in his youth must not have been overly impressive to the people that he grew up with.)

We sometimes teach that the BoM is "true" then JS had to be a "true" prophet because God would not give a true book to a false prophet. If JS was a true prophet then the priesthood line was restored and the authority of God rests in the LDS church and only the LDS church (JS said so). Therefore the LDS church is the only true church and you can know it by reading and praying about the BoM. Once you assent to the BoM being true then you also assent to all the rest.
[If you believe in evolution] Then Adam, and by that I mean the first man, was not capable of sin. He could not transgress, and by doing so bring death into the world; for according to this theory, death had always been in the world. If, therefore, there was no fall, there was no need of an atonement, hence the coming into the world of the Son of God as the Savior of the world is a contradiction, a thing impossible. Are you prepared to believe such a thing as that?
Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, v. 1, pp. 141-42
JFS made the case that to believe in evolution was to deny the atonement... one could not believe in one without denying the other.

My point is that we follow these schemas or formulas because they prove to us the validity of and provide boundary maintenance for our beliefs. We have a system of beliefs that are all interlocking and come in a package - you are all in or all out. This, of course, is not true. It is black and white thinking or a false dichotomy. You can believe in evolution and still believe in the atonement. I can believe that the bible is limited and has errors without believing that God is a liar or impotent. I can believe the BoM to not be historical without rejecting the work of JS or the church that he founded. I can also believe that Jesus was not perfect or even had sinned at some point prior to the crucifiction and still believe that He paid the price for my sins out of love.

However, because other people that we love may believe in the above schemas and formulas it can be very tricky to have meaningful discussions on these topics. Because the formulas and schemas referenced above may be taught in church it can be hard to discuss this without being labeled as apostate or dangerous - denying the divinity of Christ, the efficacy of the atonement, the prophethood of JS, or even the very power of God himself. It can be a delicate situation.
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dande48
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Re: Prophetic Flaws in Scripture

Post by dande48 » 25 Apr 2019, 18:00

Daughter1 wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 12:29
...I cannot understand why a flawed God would deserve the level of worship He demands.
Haha, I could say the same thing about most CEOs, board members, politicians, and world leaders.

Back to a more serious note, I think just about all of our religious beliefs begin with premises far outside of the recorded scripture. Hence, scriptures (et al) will most often conform to what we already believe, despite the fact that so many believing in the same scriptures can come to very different conclusions. My personal feeling is that the actual, historical Jesus Christ would be unrecognizable to most Christians today, and would be thoroughly put-off by many of our modern-day practices and religious worship. Suppose, for example, if Jesus would be outraged to learn we've made him into a god to be worshiped? I've heard many times (including on this site), that our understanding of God is closer to the objective truth than in any other time in history... but I think that's a little arrogant, and "against the odds". I think the ancient prophets, even up through the prophets of the restoration, had a very different view of God than we have today.

But I don't judge them for it, flaws and all. A lot of who we are stems from factors outside of our control. They tried to make the best sense of it, and find comfort and purpose. They did the best they could with what they had. They grew up in a different world, in different societies with different values. I don't even think many of what we percieve as "flaws" they felt (or their societies felt) were flaws. They are very human. Christ was very human. And I think that makes them very relatable.
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