We seem, in our modern Mormon intellectual smugness, to be doing the same thing that was done in the 1930's, and which is fashionable every once in a while, which is de-mystifying the scriptures, removing any trace of the supernatural. (Think Thomas Jefferson's Bible). It's a nice easy way to have it both ways, to say, well, I like the Book of Mormon I think it teaches great things, but all that nonsense about the angel and golden plates? If the origin stories are not true, especially of the Book of Mormon, why bother with it at all? There are plenty of nice moralistic stories you can use to lead a better, happier life. I wouldn't bother with the Book of Mormon or the Church if I didn't actually believe it, or Jesus for that matter if I thought He was just a great moral instructor.
I am tired of reading posts like those I linked. Perhaps I'm just not very bright but I honestly didn't see what the authors were getting at. Do we take this stuff seriously or not? I'm reminded that nobody took Jesus really seriously either. All that stuff about a man rising from the dead. Where's the body? If I don't see I won't believe. It was just as incredible to Thomas that Jesus should rise as that an angel should deliver a book to Joseph Smith. Of course it's a fantastic tale. Why shouldn't it be?
I have no rational reason to believe any of this stuff, none that I can transfer to you in any meaningful way. All of my experiences with the spirit could be easily explained away as psychological effect. One thing I can't get away from is the intelligence given to me of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, the power of the confirmation of the spirit. It has happened repeatedly but not often. Again last week reading from the Doctrine and Covenants in class. I've only felt of that spirit in conjunction with a scriptural or temple format. Never outside of that format. Still I have to have faith. If I'm not willing there isn't much left. Faith is meeting the Lord at least part way.
I can live with that. And that's right. Jesus and Joseph Smith make no sense at all. That's the beauty of it. As Nibley pointed out of Joseph Smith, lazy charlatans don't write big books. What would be the point of J.S. going through all that when it didn't get him anywhere? The best you can say about the coherence of the Jesus story is that he didn't exist at all. Then you have to account for somebody making that stuff up. Why bother?
Sunday my Elders' Quorum was supposed to be talking about hope. We got mired down in technicalities. The amount of time Jesus suffered, how many times, so forth. Having the loss of my mom still fresh I'd finally had enough. I usually say nothing in church. But I told the Elders that I don't care anything about the technicalities of the suffering of Jesus. What I want to know is did it really happen? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Now that's Hope. Who care how long he suffered, or the amount of pain? Was it enough.
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine. . . . And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them. 3 Nephi 11:31, 37-40.