A quote from Louis Midgley regarding those who question the Book of Mormon historicity--Sterling McMurrin, former philosophy prof at the University of Utah, typifies this crowd, and was the poster child of many of the current followers of the dissident camp.
Revisionist History—The Great Leap Forward Some are still insisting that the Church must abandon the traditional understanding of the beginnings of the faith. Why is such a revisionist history, as it is now being called, especially by RLDS historians, either desirable or necessary? Presumably, a competent, honest scrutiny of the historical foundations of the faith, that is, a serious look at the beginnings, discloses what Sterling McMurrin labels "a good many unsavory things." McMurrin, for example, charges "that the Church has intentionally distorted its own history by dealing fast and loose with historical data and imposing theological and religious interpretations on those data that are entirely unwarranted." For McMurrin, the Mormon "faith is so mixed up with so many commitments to historical events—or to events that are purported to be historical—that a competent study of history can be very disillusioning. Mormonism is a historically oriented religion. To a remarkable degree, the Church has concealed much of its history from its people, while at the same time causing them to tie their religious faith to its own controlled interpretations of its history." The problem, as McMurrin sees it, is a "fault of the weakness of the faith" which should not be tied at all to history. fn He strives to separate faith from history, substituting "naturalistic humanism" fn for prophetic faith—promoting the enterprise of philosophical theology as a substitute for divine special revelations. McMurrin provides the least sentimental statement of the intellectual grounds for a secular revisionist Mormon history, that is, one done entirely in naturalistic terms. McMurrin sees the Mormon past in what Leonard Arrington once called "human or naturalistic terms." We should, from McMurrin's perspective, begin with the dogma "that you don't get books from angels and translate them by miracles; it is just that simple." fn A history resting on that premise would require a fundamental reordering of the faith. fn His program would retain only fragments of a culture resting on abandoned beliefs. Marty, straying from the core of his argument, eventually introduces "many kinds of integrity. Some of these are appropriate to insiders and others to outsiders, some to church authorities and some to historians." fn But given what Marty had already shown about the necessity of the decisive generative events surviving the acids of modernity, it is difficult to see how he could defend the integrity of a stance such as McMurrin's. Certainly McMurrin's denials do not permit the survival of the crucial historical foundations. But still, Marty defends the history being done by some of those on the fringes of the Church whose arguments are not as coherent as those of McMurrin, yet whose premises are not unlike certain of his dogmas. fn The Book of Mormon, when viewed as a fictional or mythical account, and not as reality, no longer can have authority over us or provide genuine hope for the future. To treat the Book of Mormon as a strange theologically motivated brand of fiction, and in that sense as myth, is to alter radically both the form and content of faith and thereby fashion a new "church" in which the texts are told what they can and cannot mean on the basis of some exterior ideology. To reduce the Book of Mormon to mere myth weakens, if not destroys, the possibility of it witnessing to the truth about divine things. A fictional Book of Mormon fabricated by Joseph Smith, even when his inventiveness, genius, or inspiration is celebrated, does not witness to Jesus Christ but to human folly. A true Book of Mormon is a powerful witness; a fictional one is hardly worth reading and pondering. fn Still, the claims of the text must be scrutinized and tested, then either believed or not believed without a final historical proof. An historically grounded faith is vulnerable to the potential ravages of historical inquiry, but it is also one that could be true in a way that would make a profound difference. We are left, by God, with a witness to mighty acts, but we must judge, for we are always at the turning point between two ways. And listening to the text, not proving it true—an impossibility if not a presumption—to discover what its truth is for us, both reveals its truth and makes the sacred past plausible and thereby gives meaning to the life and deepest longings of the believer. The truth of the prophetic message found in the Book of Mormon is linked to both its claim to be an authentic history and to Joseph Smith's story of how we came to have the book. To be a Latter-day Saint is to believe, among other things, that the Book of Mormon is true, that there once was a Lehi who made a covenant with God and was led out of Jerusalem and so forth. John M. Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks, eds., By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday, 27 March 1990, 2 vols. [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1990], 2: 525.) ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// /// ZION LIST CHARTER: Please read it at /// /// http://www.zionsbest.com/charter.html /// ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ==^================================================================ This email was sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org EASY UNSUBSCRIBE click here: http://topica.com/u/?aaP9AU.bWix1n.YXJjaGl2 Or send an email to: [EMAIL PROTECTED] T O P I C A -- Register now to manage your mail! http://www.topica.com/partner/tag02/register ==^================================================================