The Faith of Abraham

Back in my Mormon Matters days (a John Dehlin website), it seems like we’d get a post every couple of weeks about how the scriptures are full of bad stories of God commanding the death of someone. We’d get complaints about Nephi and Laban, of course, but the story that seemed to get the most attention was that of Abraham being commanded to sacrifice Isaac.

I remember one post, in particular that suggested the story should be changed to have Abraham refuse to sacrifice Isaac and the angel of God then praises Abraham for refusing to do something immoral even if God commands it.

I can see why this story is so troubling to theological liberals and non-believers. This story simply leaves no room to ethically explain it away. Continue reading

Declining Sunstone and Bloggernacle “Safe Zones”

I was recently invited to be part of a panel at Sunstone on Mormon Blog boundaries. CHanson sent me an invitation (and gave me permission to print it) that described the panel like this:
LDS-interest blogspace is divided into a bunch of different communities.  The completely out-of-the-church end has its secular (atheist/agnostic) wing and its Christian wing, then there’s the Borderland/NOM crowd, then there’s the Feminists and the mommies (who are sometimes the same people, and sometimes not), then there’s the core of the Bloggernacle, and on the super-conservative end there’s “Nothing Wavering”. Continue reading

The Secret in the Mormon Sauce: Sacrifice for Literal Beliefs

I was reading Andrew S’s article about Joanna Brooks over at Wheat and Tares: Who Puts the Mormon in Mormon Girl? I’m good friends with SilverRain and I was enjoying her comments on this thread as the commenters all chime in what what they think it is about Mormonism that makes it have such a ‘psychic impression’ that a Joanna Brooks can stop believing in it doctrines and even its culture but still want to be fully involved in it. Here, she tells us herself why:

I went back to church so that my daughters could know the same loving, kind, and powerful God I was raised to believe in

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Peter, Oliver Cowdery, and the Melchezidek Priesthood

How many of you remember this post where I talked about “the problem of history“? In that post I gave a fake example of how in history, especially religious history, we often build informationless narrative fallacies that, due to the way human beings think, seem like rational arguments but in fact are not.

Now compare that to this post from John Nilsson back from my Mormon Matters days. I found it an interesting example of how difficult it is for us to remove our biases when dealing with religious history. (Or probably with any sort of history we care about.)

When I turned this rudimentary training [in history] on the sources describing the stories above [about angelic ordination of the priesthood], I found the records to be vague and contradictory, more so than in the case of Joseph’s different accounts of the First Vision. This is partly because Joseph had a co-participant, Oliver Cowdery, who left his own account of these experiences, and that many other early Church members wrote as if they did not hear of these ordinations until 1834 or 1835. Cowdery’s account is especially interesting, as he mentions only one occasion of priesthood bestowal, only one priesthood, only one angel visiting, and declines to name the angel as either John the Baptist or Peter, James, and John. (Note that the Church has added an “s” to “holy angel(s) in the link to the Oliver Cowdery account above to soften the ambiguity, under the guise of correcting “spelling, grammar, and punctuation”.

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A Fascinating Quote from the Salem Witch Trial

I came across this quote from the “confession” of William Barker, Sr. from the Salem Witch trial. (Forgive the poor spelling. They were more ‘creative’ than us back then.)

Satans design was to set up his own worship, abolish all the churches in the land, to fall next upon Salem and soe goe through the countrey, He sayth the devil promeised that all his people should live bravely that all persones should be equall; that their should be no day of resurection or of judgement, and neither punishment nor shame for sin.

It’s a suprisingly accurate description of modern times, isn’t it? I’m not even sure all of it sounds that bad to me. (What’s wrong with everyone being brave and equal?)

But here’s a thought for you. I assume most of you, like me, don’t believe any of these people were actual Satanists in contact with some supernatural power. So that means this William person is laying out what the good God-fearing people of that time feared the most: Becoming us!

And while you are chewing on that, consider this: doesn’t this quote mean that the 17th century people were already well aware of what a ‘modern progressive’ society might look like? Doesn’t that make it not modern? And doesn’t it sound like they were fighting against such a society on moral grounds?