More 'What's Up With Mormonism?'

The Staff Report What’s up with Mormonism? is very limited for space, and thus passes up several subjects. Since this thread isn’t so much a comment on his report as a request to expand it, and since I think it’s likely to turn into a Debate broader than the original Report, I’ve decided to start it here.

(And first, an apology of sorts. I hung around here often in ’99 through ’01, but stopped. I’d guess most of the points which may come up here have been well addressed in the meantime, but I can’t seem to find the Search function and anyway, while there are still several names I recognize (as well as others sadly missing) I’d bet that there are plenty of ‘new’ posters who have important contributions to make. So I’m asking–again, or for the first time.)

So. On to business. A couple of things which I would like to see Rico and others expand on are:

  1. According to my understanding, the LDS church for long officially discriminated against blacks. The author of The Black Mormon Home Page would seem to confirm this with his history regarding “the Priesthood ban” and “the Curse of Cain.” It was also my understanding (quite possibly mistaken; much of this is remembered from the time my mother investigated the church in the 70s) that in some (or all?) places ‘blacks’ had separate facilities or perhaps separate times of worship from ‘whites.’

As far as I know, the author above is correct when he says that the ban was limited to ‘African blacks’ in 1955 and official discrimination ended in the 1978, and when he
[quotes the 1972 President of the church]
(http://www.angelfire.com/mo2/blackmormon/000H16.html) as reviling racism. But I question whether some significant effects of that institutional teaching could end quite so quickly. And what does it mean in larger terms that that policy was instituted in the first place, and while ended apparently has not been repudiated?

  1. The “Lucifer is not Satan Error.” (I’ll try to be brief, but…) Lucifer is mentioned only once in the traditional Bible, in the (pre-Christian and pre-Exile) Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 14:12. This usage apparently dates to St. Jerome’s preparation of the Latin Vulgate in the fourth century, Lucifer being the Latin word for the Morning Star (Venus) where Phosphorus is the Greek word for the same heavenly body used originally in the Septuagint. This reference according to Jewish and traditional Old Testament scholars is to the King of Babylon, who was likened or likened himself to the Morning Star, and who is the subject of these passages in Isaiah. Over time, however, this passage came to be interpreted to mean something else: that “How art thou fallen from heaven” was not a metaphor for someone who had lost his exalted (but earthly) position but rather a literal description that could only mean a fallen angel, and from there became a synonym for Satan. But this is–per traditionalist experts–a mistake, one which became quite popular but nevertheless a mistake.

Some links I have found, in no particular order, and upon which I do not stake my reputation:
“Bible Basics” http://www.bbie.org/english/Study06GodandEvil/D19Lucifer.html
http://www.bibleweb.org/TruthAbout/TA12.htm
http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/world/christ/xt-ibel2.htm

There are of course other opinions regarding Lucifer, largely ‘modern’ ones attempting to read the New Testament into the Old or attempting to justify the modern interpretation. Also, since Jesus is apparently referred to as the Morning Star in the New Testament, some fundamentalist Christians reject the possibility that the word lucifer translates that way and see such claims as some ‘New Age’ plot to equate Jesus with Satan–but such commentaries would seem ignorant of Latin, Greek, or the pre-KJB versions of the Bible. Other modern Bible translations circumvent the ‘problem’ by avoiding the use of the Latin word Lucifer the one and only time it appears. http://pelajus.com/lucifer.html

The problem from the LDS perspective is that apparently, perhaps an expert can confirm, the Book of Mormon as well as the Doctrines and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price repeatedly equate Lucifer to Satan. This mistake was common among the people of Joseph Smith’s time familiar with the King James Bible, and it would make sense for one such to believe that, but the golden plates supposedly long predated this mistake and the translation was supposedly divinely inspired. This problem is not simply a lack of real evidence (such as the failure on the part of archeologists to find supporting evidence for Smith’s ‘American historical’ claims), but is rather direct evidence that the contents of Smith’s translations were not of the time claimed and, since not mistake free, were likely not divinely guided. So perhaps an expert on LDS matters and beliefs can comment.

Lastly, in another thread criticizing Rico’s efforts, I find reference to some Kinderhook Plates (which reference was passed over). Anyone care to comment?

Well, I haven’t got much time today to spend on this, but I’ll throw in an excellent link to black history in the LDS Church: Black LDS. Anything else will have to wait. You may also like to amble over to the (rather contentious) FAIR message boards to search for old threads, where the topic is dead, beaten, corpsified, and regularly resurrected for further beating.

As for the Lucifer thingy, I suspect that LDS theologians don’t agree with the interpretation, and we largely rely on other scripture anyway, but on the whole I have no idea, and don’t have time to look around. You could, I suppose, search the FAIR website for possible essays on the topic since I’ve already given you that link.

In case someone gets anal about it - if you originally hung around under another username (but forgot it or whatever) you might want to email a mod. I’m sure no right-minded person could see your statement above as anything wrong, but there is a bit of sock paranoia around now since paid registration came in. Obviously if you never registered back then, it’s no issue at all.

The Search function (for me as a paid member at least) is in a blue bar at the top of the thread in between New Posts and Quick Links. It may work with javascript/layers or something, because it has a sort of mouseover pulldown menu, so if your browser isn’t allowing certain things perhaps you can’t see it?

Anyway some recent mormonism threads are:

**Mormonism response - biased and inadequate **
What happened to the Ask the Mormon Thread?
Mormon staff report: a (tiny) nitpick

I don’t know much about Mormonism, but it interests me as a phenomenon, so look forward to some interesting opinions in this thread.

Re racial discrimination: I believe the early Latter-day Saints inherited various ideas about race in religion that may have been incorrect, which later were revised to fit new revelation. Mainly, that God restricted the Priesthood to white men and then later, after the prayers and pleadings of the Church’s leaders, opened it to men of all races.

I should mention that Joseph Smith was against slavery.

As mentioned before, this issue has been dealt with a billion times. I, too, would refer anyone interested in this issue to FAIR for further elucidation.

Re Lucifer is not Satan: what matters is not what a text says but what a text is interpreted to say.

A thousand and one such topics in religions throughout the world can be taken and discussed to show that what people think a text said, is incorrect. Nonetheless, it’s all irrelevant. In religion as it is practiced, interpretation trumps everything.

There are many, many Christians who believe that Satan = Lucifer and vice versa.

Furthermore, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a Bible-based or even a book-based Church. Just as in Catholic theology Christ built His Church on Peter (and not on the Bible or any book), so in Latter-day Saint theology Christ built His Church on revelation.

As it is said, if suddenly the Bible, Book of Mormon, and other Scriptures vanished, the Church would still exist and function and thrive.

As it is said, “A living prophet trumps a dead prophet.” If the living prophet teaches that Lucifer = Satan, then so it is, despite anything written before.

WRS - “Mormonism” is a very interesting phenomenon indeed. It is a phenomenon I very much like.