Examples of visions then apostacy in the Bible?

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sknab
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Examples of visions then apostacy in the Bible?

Post by sknab » 26 Feb 2020, 12:49

I've been struggling recently with the concept that one can see God (or another celestial being) and then "forget" later in life what they experienced. Examples like the witnesses of the BOM or a number of examples in the BOM like Laman and Lemual. My Bible knowledge is not sufficient enough to be confident in saying there's an example of this in the Bible... Does anyone know?

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LDS_Scoutmaster
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Re: Examples of visions then apostacy in the Bible?

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 26 Feb 2020, 16:26

Technically you could argue that Adam and Eve were the first.

:P
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sknab
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Re: Examples of visions then apostacy in the Bible?

Post by sknab » 26 Feb 2020, 16:50

LDS_Scoutmaster wrote:Technically you could argue that Adam and Eve were the first.

:P
I guess you're right! That's embarrassing!!

I guess I should clarify a little bit. I'm having a hard time believing that somebody could see a celestial being and be told something or learn something and then years later forget what they learned. I was recently in a gospel doctrine class where they talked about how many of the witnesses of the book of Mormon fell away and how important it is to continue to have spiritual experiences even if you have had one of these great spiritual visions because visions aren't sustaining testimony builders. I have a hard time believing that if I saw God and he told me that the Mormon church was true, for example, that I wouldn't do anything in my power to magnify that religion in my life whether or not I was one week or 20 years removed from that vision.

I wondered if the phenomenon of seeing a celestial being and then turning back to wickedness ie Laman and Lemuel is a common theme throughout the Bible as well it doesn't seem to be.

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Re: Examples of visions then apostacy in the Bible?

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 26 Feb 2020, 17:10

I agree, my reply was tongue in cheek :)

I had the same question when I first read about L&L. It seemed so cardboard, so 2 dimensional. As soon as they are walking away from the angel scolding them, them are murmuring again.

I think of these details more in alegory now, as life lessons rather than historical accuracies. Half of the scriptural stories in the Bible were based on actual events and / or people, but embellished and 'hollywooded' for the audience they were written for.

In short I can only think of the children of isreal feasing on Mana by day and forging golden calfs by night, King David with all his goodly help and support only to murder and adulterize.
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Re: Examples of visions then apostacy in the Bible?

Post by nibbler » 26 Feb 2020, 19:03

There's lots I could say. I'll try to keep it short and related to the subject.

Words are symbols and symbols represent abstract ideas. We could hear the same word and come away thinking two totally different things. Words can also symbolize something completely different based on the context of surrounding words. Scriptures are just words/symbols strung together. Words work because there's a base agreement on what words mean but I'd say that it's never quite a one to one translation. Transmission of ideas from one person to another will always go through a translation process, even when speaking the same language.

Authors of the scriptures used words to describe their ideas, when we read someone else's words we're interpreting those words based on the symbols as we define them. If I explained my interpretation back to the author the author might say, "No, that's not quite right. This is what I meant." And it might take a few iterations of this back and forth before we're closer to being on the same page.

Consider D&C 13:
Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.
A person at church may describe someone as a "ministering angel" and I might look at that same person and describe them as an 11 year old deacon.

Lots of words to say that perhaps a stranger (human) ran up and stood between Nephi and his brothers and Nephi called him an "angel of the Lord" because the stranger saved him from being beat to death. If Laman and Lemuel told their version of the story they might say that it was just some random guy.

Yeah, considering the text it's a stretch, but here's the thing... personally I think Nephi is an unreliable narrator. He's cartoonishly perfect and his brothers are cartoonishly evil. Life just isn't like that. Life isn't black and white, not even visions.
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Re: Examples of visions then apostacy in the Bible?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 26 Feb 2020, 19:54

IF we take the story as factual, I can see it this way:

Nephi saw visions.

Laman and Lemuel didn't see visions.

Nephi saw an angel defending him and Sam.

Laman and Lemuel got tired of beating Nephi and Sam and didn't see an angel - and probably chalked it up to one more reason to think Nephi was crazy.

That is unorthodox, but it fits the overall narrative well as an alternate way to look at it.
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Arrakeen
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Re: Examples of visions then apostacy in the Bible?

Post by Arrakeen » 26 Feb 2020, 21:05

I'm not sure people really would "forget" experiences of seeing God. However, everyone reinterprets experiences over time. Some could see an angel and originally think that means the church must be true. However, 20 years later they may think the experience shows there is a God, but doesn't necesssarily prove the church is the one true church.

I've never had a vision, but I had spiritual experiences that I used to think proved beyond a doubt that the church was true. Now, I'm not so sure. I know I experienced something, but I'm no longer sure what it means.

I think it's entirely possible for scriptural figures to draw different lessons and meanings from their experience after some time.

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Re: Examples of visions then apostacy in the Bible?

Post by DarkJedi » 27 Feb 2020, 08:16

I also don't know if it's as much of forgetting as it is maybe doubting which would include doubting themselves. I think back almost 40 years to when I joined the church and the spiritual experiences I had then and then think about how I view those same experiences now. Something was definitely afoot then, whether it was the Spirit or emotion or some kind of mix of those and/or something else. However, I don't view those things the same way now as I did in 1990. This whole thing was actually the main part of my own faith crisis because I no longer knew what to believe, what was the Spirit and what wasn't, etc.

I also think it's important to recognize Curt's point. What does the BOM really say happened with Laman and Lemuel (as examples) and from whose point of view? Like the Broadway musical Wicked, the point of view of Laman and Lemuel might be very different and their description of the experiences would likely differ greatly from Nephi's.
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sknab
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Re: Examples of visions then apostacy in the Bible?

Post by sknab » 27 Feb 2020, 15:12

These are great thoughts. Thanks for replying. I love the perspective, something I definitely needed. Still not sure I've processed all of it or made up my mind on this topic but, I now have a lot more to think about.

It's been a tough few months trying to reestablish my beliefs and thoughts. Thanks.

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Re: Examples of visions then apostacy in the Bible?

Post by Roy » 27 Feb 2020, 18:14

nibbler wrote:
26 Feb 2020, 19:03
personally I think Nephi is an unreliable narrator. He's cartoonishly perfect and his brothers are cartoonishly evil. Life just isn't like that. Life isn't black and white, not even visions.
Yes, we have only Nephi's word that he or his brothers saw an angel and we have only Nephi's word that his brothers soon rejected the message of the angel. We have Nephi's word that God approved of Nephi and selected him to rule over his brothers. Nephi also said the God cursed the families of his brethren with a skin of blackness. This is not in accordance with current church understanding of how God operates. IOW, Nephi (through his narrative) put racist words and actions in God's mouth. According to the BoM, Nephi recorded his recollection of all these events approximately 30 years later and after he was already estranged from the families of his brethren (also after Nephi had a vision of his posterity's destruction at the hands of the posterity of his brethren). Nephi had very self serving reasons for saying as much bad stuff as he could about his brothers and his brothers' posterity.
sknab wrote:
26 Feb 2020, 16:50
I was recently in a gospel doctrine class where they talked about how many of the witnesses of the book of Mormon fell away and how important it is to continue to have spiritual experiences even if you have had one of these great spiritual visions because visions aren't sustaining testimony builders. I have a hard time believing that if I saw God and he told me that the Mormon church was true, for example, that I wouldn't do anything in my power to magnify that religion in my life whether or not I was one week or 20 years removed from that vision.
1) We tend to think of these visions as something concrete. Some of the descriptions make us to understand that they were seen with "spiritual eyes" etc. What does that mean? Good question! Our more scientific brains struggle to understand it! Was it physical or was it dreamlike? We do have a good account of the reception of D & C 76 (called "The Vision"). This "vision" was shared by JS and Sydney Rigdon. Others were present in the room and did not see the vision. 2) I believe that some of those early church leaders that "fell away" had very good reason for dissent. About a year ago, our EQ teacher said in his lesson that he had a relative that firmly believed JS to be a child molester. I wanted to (but did not) raise my hand and say that I have a 14 year old daughter and if I lived in the time of JS I would not permit her to work (as a domestic employee) in the Smith household. JS had a tendency of marrying those young women so employed. Seen through the eye of faith, such a marriage was an eternal boon that brought exaltation to your household. I (with my 20th century upbringing and sensibilities) would not be willing to sacrifice my daughter upon that metaphorical altar and I am pretty sympathetic to any others that might have had serious concerns.

Sometimes we take real people from the early history of the church and we use them as caricatures or two dimensional figures. We portray them as stalwart examples of faith and loyalty, evil and sinister opposition figures, or perhaps cautionary tales (don't do what so and so did!). It sounds like your gospel doctrine class was using them as cautionary tales. We can feel superior to them because they "fell away" after having such "great spiritual visions" while we can stay loyal to the church even without such visions. To paraphrase Jesus in John 20:29 "They believed because they saw great visions and yet they still faltered, blessed are those that have not seen and yet believed." It can become an exercise in patting ourselves on the back.
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