Does historicity matter?

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
User avatar
mom3
Posts: 4077
Joined: 02 Apr 2011, 14:11

Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by mom3 » 06 Nov 2014, 10:17

Cwald - thanks for playing. :clap:

Yes historicity matters. Look at the present disaffection from the church. It matters.

Think of all the kids who have The Stripling Warrior story etched in their hearts, and a poster that reads, "Momma's Boys" in their rooms.

We don't have posters of "parables" that kids hang up.

Yes it matters. For me the Book of Mormon is parable.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

Rsbenson
Posts: 18
Joined: 17 Oct 2014, 00:52

Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by Rsbenson » 06 Nov 2014, 22:09

Nibbler:
You wrote:” I ask myself: What's the most important takeaway, spiritual lessons or history lessons? Which lessons have the power to effect change in my life? I can fast and pray as much as I'd like but that will not change history.”
Who’s trying to change history?
“ I can fast and pray to learn from history but at that point it doesn't matter whether the historic event actually occurred, what matters is whether I am learning lessons that will help me become a better person.”
If God made it historical then it’s important. Look at the incident concerning the ten lepers. That incident could easily have been a parable. It not only really happened but when only one of the ten returned, what do you know but the one was a Samaritan. The Samaritan showed the true Church who was really just before God. Heavenly Father took one of many righteous Samaritans, gave him leprosy, sent him to Jesus to be healed by which He accomplished the same thing He did with the blind man. He showed the glory of God. If God makes an incident historical then the spiritual is already imbedded in the physical.
“Jesus' parables come to mind. Does it really matter whether Jesus had a specific, historical figure in mind when he related the parable of the prodigal son? If the focus of study becomes whether the event actually occurred I may miss out on the lessons I was meant to learn from the cast of characters that were influenced by events.”
The spiritual is always not only the most important thing to get out of the scriptures, but it’s virtually the only thing to get. Don’t study the characters but study what they are doing.
“In some cases problems with history simply cannot be resolved.”
That might be but then I have to ask you. Who’s resolving them? Is it you? Is it your favorite General Authority? Is it God? If It’s God then you won’t get the car accident wrong and tossing thousands of years into the equation won’t complicate anything.
“All of that said, I understand the place and importance of history in setting the stage for learning spiritual lessons. If one were raised up in Norse mythology their history of creation may include stories of melting ice forming frost giants and a cow. That person would hear stories of how the cow licked deity out of a rock and how man was created from trees.”
Yes. I can appreciate that. In one of the new temple films (and I suppose this is in others, but I first noticed it in this one, the snow capped mountains.) If Adam and Eve had been there at least they wouldn’t have been found naked and, certainly not dressed in fig leaves. Imagine if we, today, came to church dressed in fig leaves. There would be big problems in short order. So setting aside all the frost giants and cows licking deity out of rocks, I see only one problem with it. God didn’t do it that way. So it’s a big problem – and nothing spiritual to learn from it.
“Some puzzles of history will only be solved in the next life, that's why at times I chose to ignore the unanswered questions of history in an attempt to strengthen my connection with the spiritual.”
Who says they’re unanswered? God? In the quest for truth, I have learned one thing - that if you ask, you shall receive, if seek, you shall find, and if you knock, it shall be opened unto you. It might take decades to happen, but it will happen. If an incident, in scripture, is historical than find the spiritual in it and you might have more spiritual then you can handle.

Rsbenson
Posts: 18
Joined: 17 Oct 2014, 00:52

Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by Rsbenson » 06 Nov 2014, 22:18

"LookingHard wrote:
DarkJedi wrote:
Pretty much what Nibbler said. It really makes no difference to me if any story in the old scriptures actually happened or not - whether I believe Jonah lived in a fish for three days or not doesn't matter as long as I get the moral of the story.

I am there now also, but it does not bother me. It used to because I couldn't figure out how the earth could be completely flooded. Now I don't see a conflict and I can concentrate on what the takeaway should be - what does it tell me about God.


Further, LookingHard, I'm fine with the person sitting next to me taking everything perfectly literally - and we can carry on a conversation about the same story, reach the same conclusions and he or she might not even know I don't see it literally. Think about that next time you're sitting in Sunday School - it really doesn't matter which of the others in the room believe literally, figuratively, or a mix of the two (and some will fit into each category). That is the beauty of being able to see from this perspective."

LookingHard, DarkJedi. I'm going to try that. It might not work, I was raised in the old school. Figurative, kind of, gives me the creeps, but that's my problem. I think I'm going to be able to tell it's coming.

Rsbenson
Posts: 18
Joined: 17 Oct 2014, 00:52

Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by Rsbenson » 06 Nov 2014, 23:09

Somebody said:
"Really? I've read a large portion of Sorenson's "Mormon Codex" - it's proposed as the best evidence for the Book of Mormon (at least the new world sections of it). There were correlations and convergences but very little conclusive. evidence.

I think NHM/Bountiful proposed locations are probably among the only robust pieces of archaeological evidences.

With 1000s of data points in the BoM and millions of data points in the old and new world the probability that a few things would converge is very, very high, even if on an individual level the NHM probability seems very, very low.

I took my kids to the ruins of a Roman villa a few months ago. From a single location we could see their family customs, their religions and cultural practices. We could see the convergence of paganism and Christianity over a 100-200 year period. There was more evidence of Romans in that single location than has ever been found in the last 2 centuries for the Book of Mormon."

Ok, people, here is some histocracy I can't handle and never will be able to handle. Why did God let a histocracy get in the way of a histocracy that I feel is really there? And what are the spiritual things I'm supposed to learn from this? I haven't studied this near enough and, probably, never will. For me, this is where doctrine comes crashing in. I believe, strongly, in the Restoration. People did not destroy the original Church. God took it away. With the restoration the keys of the kingdom of God, or the priesthood were restored. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only church that has these keys making that church the Lord's Church. So even though I find myself in a jungle of histocracy I can't explain I just can't be phased by it. Isn't that funny? I can't see anything spiritual about it,either. Without the keys we're all going to hell anyway, so I'm hanging on for dear life. I'm staying on board. You'll have to decide what you're going to do.

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16842
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 Nov 2014, 23:30

Some people are oriented to see things figuratively, while some people are oriented to see things literally. It can be really hard for some of each type to understand, accept and value the other view - but at least valuing differing perspectives is important.

Perhaps the best example of this within Mormonism is the temple endowment, since some members see it all as literal (including the Garden of Eden account), while others see it all as figurative (including the Garden of Eden account). It's interesting that the film used to start by saying the creation account was figurative "as far as the man and the woman are concerned", but that phrase was deleted. I believe it was deleted NOT because the account was literal but rather because there were lots of members who couldn't wrap their minds around the statement, so the leadership decided simply to let each member interpret it in whatever way worked best for that person.

Rsbenson, if you want a further view of how I see differing orientations playing out even among the apostles (ancient and modern), read the following post from my personal blog:

"Paul v. John - Oaks v. Uchtdorf: Why We NEED a Quorum of 12 Apostles" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2009 ... -need.html)
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

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4475
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by nibbler » 07 Nov 2014, 09:24

Rsbenson wrote:Who’s trying to change history?
No one, that was my point. I don't want to get too carried away with something over which I have no control. Just my way of saying I don't want to discard all of the spiritual lessons that I've learned should I later find out that some of the events that I thought were historical turned out to be myth. If I learned a good lesson from a myth I can retain that lesson.
Rsbenson wrote:If God made it historical then it’s important. Look at the incident concerning the ten lepers. That incident could easily have been a parable. It not only really happened but when only one of the ten returned, what do you know but the one was a Samaritan. The Samaritan showed the true Church who was really just before God. Heavenly Father took one of many righteous Samaritans, gave him leprosy, sent him to Jesus to be healed by which He accomplished the same thing He did with the blind man. He showed the glory of God. If God makes an incident historical then the spiritual is already imbedded in the physical.
Yes, I agree. The spiritual is always imbedded in the physical. I could also see god as purposely injecting symbolism into events. Why did the fish swallow Jonah? Maybe it didn't really happen and it was just a man-made device to help followers remember. Maybe it did really happen and god sent the fish to help people remember the story and give the event additional symbolism that he wanted to convey. Either way I remember the event and am free to extract meaning.

I also agree with another point . It can be very important to have the miracles of Jesus and events like the atonement rooted in history.
nibbler wrote:In some cases problems with history simply cannot be resolved.
Rsbenson wrote:That might be but then I have to ask you. Who’s resolving them? Is it you? Is it your favorite General Authority? Is it God? If It’s God then you won’t get the car accident wrong and tossing thousands of years into the equation won’t complicate anything.
I agree, but then the question shifts to how do I know when it's god, when it's me, or when it's my favorite GA? The spirit. I have to rely on the spirit to discover things. At one point in my life it was vital for me to resolve problems with history. Now I'm at a place where I don't need historical problems resolved. It's okay to have problems looming out there, problems have become my muse.
Rsbenson wrote:So setting aside all the frost giants and cows licking deity out of rocks, I see only one problem with it. God didn’t do it that way. So it’s a big problem – and nothing spiritual to learn from it.
There may not be much, if anything, spiritual to learn from Norse mythology for you and me. I can only imagine what the ancient Norseman learned from it. To a person raised up in that mythology Christianity would sound just as foreign to them as Norse mythology does to us. Someone raised in Norse mythology might even have strong, undeniable feelings about frost giants and cows. Those are the tools that they had to work with to make a connection with deity while in their probationary state. In their case their unquestionable, yet erroneous version of history would only be ironed out in the next life.
Rsbenson wrote:Who says they’re unanswered? God? In the quest for truth, I have learned one thing - that if you ask, you shall receive, if seek, you shall find, and if you knock, it shall be opened unto you. It might take decades to happen, but it will happen. If an incident, in scripture, is historical than find the spiritual in it and you might have more spiritual then you can handle.
The good thing is that people never stop asking. People don't generally buy into Norse mythology these days. People kept questioning and that mythology was replaced with another that better explains our world. That new mythology was replaced by yet another, with each iteration hopefully bringing us closer to truth. I've picked on the Norse but this process goes back to the dawn of reason. This has played out over centuries and even millennia.

So now many people have the Christ mythology. Is that the final iteration that god intended for us after millennia of asking? We certainly believe so. These are the tools we have to work with to make a connection with god. Are our tools better than the tools that other mythologies provide? We certainly believe so.

We live in interesting times. The world is a much smaller place, we no longer live in isolation. Belief systems are intermingling on a level that they never have before. Some people even appear to be moving on from long held aspects of Christian beliefs. The Pope adopting the big bang and evolution theories, that would have been unheard of in the not to distant past.

What's interesting about Mormonism is that we believe that humanity started with the Christ mythology, that all the other mythologies represent departures from original truth and that we have finally come full circle with Mormonism. It really turns my iterative process on it's head... then again the restoration is ongoing. The restoration could have started in 1820, it could have started when the first human asked "Why?"
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

User avatar
Heber13
Site Admin
Posts: 7219
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by Heber13 » 07 Nov 2014, 09:51

Rsbenson wrote: So even though I find myself in a jungle of histocracy I can't explain I just can't be phased by it. Isn't that funny? I can't see anything spiritual about it,either. Without the keys we're all going to hell anyway, so I'm hanging on for dear life. I'm staying on board.
Rsbenson, I appreciate you joining the discussion and sharing your views.

I respect you for such conviction, and say "Amen." Hang on to your historical literalism with both hands and don't let go, if that is what brings you closer to God. Stay on board and use that paradigm to forge your path in the Church to become more like Christ and what the scriptures teach.

Don't let anyone else's view sway you from what you know. And don't bother studying it if it doesn't enhance your faith, that would be a waste of time, I think.

You have your testimony of the restored gospel and keys, now use it to love and serve others who need to hear your testimony and be blessed by the restored gospel.

Thanks for your example, and explaining what works for you.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7268
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by DarkJedi » 07 Nov 2014, 10:17

Rsbenson wrote:If God made it historical then it’s important. Look at the incident concerning the ten lepers. That incident could easily have been a parable. It not only really happened but when only one of the ten returned, what do you know but the one was a Samaritan. The Samaritan showed the true Church who was really just before God. Heavenly Father took one of many righteous Samaritans, gave him leprosy, sent him to Jesus to be healed by which He accomplished the same thing He did with the blind man. He showed the glory of God. If God makes an incident historical then the spiritual is already imbedded in the physical.
That is exactly the point being made, rsbenson. Whether the story of the 10 lepers had been a parable or whether it really happened makes no difference - what we get out of it is the same message. I'm not sure if that's what you're talking about with the "spiritual" that you repeatedly referred to, but if it is I don't see that you and Nibbler disagree at all. If, on the other and, you are saying Nibbler is not spiritual because he doesn't believe a particular story is literal, I think you're off base.
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

User avatar
Heber13
Site Admin
Posts: 7219
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by Heber13 » 07 Nov 2014, 10:24

DJ, nibbler,
Would you both agree, that while parables are helpful, some things necessarily matter if they happened or not?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4475
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by nibbler » 07 Nov 2014, 11:48

Heber13 wrote:DJ, nibbler,
Would you both agree, that while parables are helpful, some things necessarily matter if they happened or not?
Sure, I made a small reference to that in my post. Jesus resurrecting from the dead for instance. That's a case where I'm not sure which has more power, the legend or the historical event.

A lot of it depends on the subject matter. Suddenly I find the words "spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers" more palatable. Maybe it depends on whether we are seeking historical confirmation or spiritual witnesses. More often than not that may be one and the same thing, maybe one leads to the other.
D&C 29:31:32 wrote:For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal— First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work—
As with all things there's a balance to be had.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

Locked