Does historicity matter?

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
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DarkJedi
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Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by DarkJedi » 07 Nov 2014, 13:39

Heber13 wrote:DJ, nibbler,
Would you both agree, that while parables are helpful, some things necessarily matter if they happened or not?


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Yes, of course, and Nibbler gave a good example in the resurrection (unless the whole story of Jesus itself is also symbolic/figurative, in which case, no). I do happen to believe Jesus really lived, really atoned for our sins (in some way we don't understand), really was resurrected, and really lives. I believe he is the Savior. Nevertheless, he taught in parables, and I'm not sure some of the things he is said to have done (healing, miracles, Lazarus) really did happen. To me, it does matter that Jesus really was resurrected (the miracle of Easter), but it does not matter of Lazarus really was or not, I'm fine with it being a faith promoting story.

That said, I'm also fine if you (generic you) believe all of what is written about Jesus is absolutely accurate and correct. I don't need to believe God helps me fine my car keys in order to have faith in Him - I'm fine if you do believe He helps you find your car keys if your faith needs that kind of confirmation. Some of you here will note that this has been an evolution of thought for me.
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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mom3
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Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by mom3 » 07 Nov 2014, 15:28

Heber asked
Would you both agree, that while parables are helpful, some things necessarily matter if they happened or not?
I know you asked DJ and Nibbler. I hope you don't mind if I add my two cents. I think some things do matter. At the phase I am in, I need somethings to have happened. I love the positive growth experiences shared through Holocaust survivors. For me the Holocaust, unfortunately needs to be real, for their lessons from those experiences to be of worth for me. Do I dread the Holocaust. Yes I am sickened by it - yet I gain character traits and values from the lessons the survivors teach me. Some of those are religious, others universal human traits.

Rolling back the scroll of my religion I want the Book of Mormon to have either been a real event(s) or a God guided parable because I anchor some key parts of my life vision by that. It's not just a good idea. Like the golden rule. I imagine a harmonious community because of the Book of Mormon. If the book is entirely made up and no glorious Zion experience happened - I need to lower my expectations that it will happen.

Right now Jesus is a master life teacher who saw human struggle and gave it hope. He is an individual who gave his life for the love of his heart. I keep dreaming and wanting a place where all of us are trying "To Be Like Jesus." Heck, right now I will settle for everyone trying to be like Buddha.

For me, though, presently historicity does have a place. If Joseph had said it was book God gave him - I think I would feel better. I think God was exalted to a being that he isn't through Josephs presentation. And now Joseph becomes exalted through us to a place he wasn't/isn't. I don't hate him, I don't think he was a charlatan - I just don't think it happened as we have built it to be and it leads us to goals that are not real.
"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
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Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by Rsbenson » 07 Nov 2014, 21:45

Heber13, DarkJedi:
How should I put this? If you read an historical event in the scriptures and don't get anything spiritual out of it, I would say, for the most part, you didn't read it. Getting the message (the spiritual lesson) out of it is the all important thing- unless you're studying for a detailed quiz game. My thing with the spiritual/figurative interpretations is that, in the past, I have had very little trust in them or the people who used them. To me, it was just mushy incincerety, but you people seems to be very sincere. Amidst the corn stalks of Minnesota, we need people to show up for church, regularily. So when I first read this kind of, going for a walk in the woods on Sunday instead of going to church, talk in bloggersville all I could think of was - Oh, SPARE me! The spiritual message is very important to me. And, by the way, I hang for dear life for a purely doctrinal reason. I don't think it has anything to do with figurtive/literal. If you leave the Church, you leave a valid baptism, you leave any chance of kingdom of glory. You are a son of perdition, forever. Leaving the Church makes no sense, WHATsoever, for any reason. No matter how stupid things get, I'm staying.

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cwald
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Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by cwald » 07 Nov 2014, 22:14

Rsbenson wrote:... If you leave the Church, you leave a valid baptism, you leave any chance of kingdom of glory. You are a son of perdition, forever. Leaving the Church makes no sense, WHATsoever, for any reason...
;)
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Nov 2014, 23:34

If you read an historical event in the scriptures and don't get anything spiritual out of it, I would say, for the most part, you didn't read it.


Everyone here has read the scriptures multiple times, and there are some things that simply lack spiritual messages of personal relevance. Again, sweeping statements like this are not only incorrect, they don't contribute in any way to helping the people who participate here stay LDS.
If you leave the Church, you leave a valid baptism, you leave any chance of kingdom of glory. You are a son of perdition, forever.


I'm glad that is not Mormon doctrine and that it hasn't been taught that way from the General Conference pulpit in my lifetime. In fact, as worded, it is not in line at all with actual Mormon theology. It is false doctrine - and it is false doctrine of the most pernicious kind. I am 100% certain that not one modern apostle would say it - simply because not one modern apostle believes it. Leaving the LDS Church and denying the Holy Ghost are VERY, VERY, VERY different things.
Leaving the Church makes no sense, WHATsoever, for any reason...


I hope that view works for you in your own life for yourself for the rest of your life, Rsbenson - seriously. I also hope even more that, someday, you will know someone well enough to know how wrong and dismissive and uncharitable that statement is. I also hope you read some of what President Uchtdorf has said about those who leave, since he obviously disagrees with you. If you believe he is wrong, that is your choice - but, at least, you should know that you are not in line with what is being taught by the Second Counselor in the First Presidency.

As an admin, I hope you can find a way to participate here while respecting other people's views and feelings and very real experiences - but if all you can do is continue to dismiss other people's views and feelings and very real experiences, you might want to find another community where you fit better. I really hope you can come to understand who we are and why we are here - but I think that is going to take some work and patience on your part. I suggest taking some extended time to go through our archives and read with the intent not to correct or comment but simply to understand. If you can begin to see value in our discussions for what they are and for who we are, you might be able to contribute constructively. If you continue to see us as fundamentally different, wrong, misguided, ignorant and in need of correction (which is what comes across in your comments), it will continue to be like a Catholic priest attending Mormon Testimony Meeting and telling everyone how wrong they are - or a Mormon attending Mass and correcting everyone else there.

May God continue to bless you in whatever choices you make in life, and may you be able to stay LDS with peace in your heart.
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

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Heber13
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Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by Heber13 » 08 Nov 2014, 09:50

Rsbenson wrote:Amidst the corn stalks of Minnesota, we need people to show up for church, regularily.
My guess is more will want to show up if you develop charity and acceptance so others can go to a place where they get uplifted and feel the Spirit, even if they come from a different background and perspective as you, even if they took a walk through the woods last week and felt good about it.
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."

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Heber13
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Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by Heber13 » 08 Nov 2014, 10:08

mom3 wrote:I know you asked DJ and Nibbler. I hope you don't mind if I add my two cents.
Haha...yes, yes...any and all can answer and join the discussion. ;)
mom3 wrote:I think some things do matter. At the phase I am in, I need somethings to have happened.
I wonder if in another phase of life, some things matter more or less if they are literal. The way you worded that makes total sense to me. It also makes me think that same idea could be very, very important to this discussion.

When those who wrote the stories that became the bible....what phase of "needing it to be literal" were they in?
When those who compiled the bible...what phase of "needing it to be literal" were they in?
When we read the bible...what phase of "needing it to be literal" are we in?

That suggests there could be various levels of "need" for particular meaning. Maybe Job wasn't a real person, maybe the prodigal son was actually a real dude the Savior knew about and referred to but left out his name to be respectful.

That may be important to some people, not for others. That's the beauty of the scriptures and their power.
DarkJedi wrote:To me, it does matter that Jesus really was resurrected (the miracle of Easter), but it does not matter of Lazarus really was or not, I'm fine with it being a faith promoting story.
Thanks for sharing.

I believe the levels of what is important to us in order to believe varies by individual. How far can your faith take you without literal historical accuracy? (mom3, that's a question to anyone :D )

Is it possible the biblical accounts of Christ's resurrection are not historically accurate? And yet, Christ still be God?

My limits, and rsbenson's limits, of what scripture needs to be may be very different. And those differences won't change the historicity one bit. And the church rolls on.
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."

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cwald
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Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by cwald » 08 Nov 2014, 11:15

Ray, i appreciate your attempt to moderate fairly and eveningly. You have a difficult task.

Well, this thread does not surprise me at all. It is what the faithful LDS members really believe and feel, in my experience.

RSbenson and Daddy etc are just being honest, and I appreciate that. Validates and reminds me why I have had to walk the path I am traveling. Thank you.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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journeygirl
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Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by journeygirl » 08 Nov 2014, 12:10

I've enjoyed reading this discussion. I feel like this point is missing though: if the church leaders are teaching the scriptures as historically true, then it does matter. Now, you might say they don't, but that is what I grew up thinking so at least where I lived it was taught that way. If the scriptures had been taught only as stories to learn from or if it was clearly left up to individuals to decide, then I agree that you can still get spiritual lessons from them. However, I can get spiritual messages from other fiction books. What would then set the scriptures apart? Does that make any good author a prophet?

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Heber13
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Re: Does historicity matter?

Post by Heber13 » 08 Nov 2014, 12:53

To your point, journeygirl, when Paul H Dunn was revealed as presenting facts in his inspirational stories that were not true, it totally impacted not only the impact of the story, but also his own credibility. It did impact the spirituality of those stories, right?


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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."

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