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  1. My Bible study group is almost done with our study on Judges and we've loved it. Israel got so bad that they were trying to walk away from God and basically become Philistines, but God wouldn't let it happen. He used Samson's addiction to sex and danger to drive a wedge between Israel and the Philistines. One of the main themes is God faithfully protects His people, especially when they call out to Him. I fully agree that they rebelled many times. But they never had to wait anywhere near 1700 years to be restored. The Old Testament prophets also didn't "restore" God's teachings. Israel had the law. Their problem was they often ignored it. The pattern of prophets in the OT was them pointing back to the scriptures God's people already had. They didn't show up and restore lost or corrupted scripture. LDS prophets haven't really followed the pattern of OT prophets. Yes, like I said, I've heard the slavery verses in the OT already. But those verses didn't say anything even close to slavery being based on sinful, dark skin. And there certainly aren't any verses that mention skin color changing.
  2. I was going to write a response earlier today, but it doesn't seem like there's much point. For me, believing many of the LDS claims would still require me to have more faith in Joseph Smith than in God. I don't see a way around it. I don't see how having faith in God is compatible with the ideas that God failed to protect His church while people were still sincerely trying to follow Him or that God would let so many fundamental teachings get lost. I simply don't see how that is faith in God. Even if an angel showed up at my door preaching this gospel, that doesn't mean I should doubt God or trust that the angel is actually from heaven. Regardless, thank you all for answering my questions. On a related note, I also find it hard to take the BoM seriously after I noticed 3 Nephi 2:15 while reading through the book. 15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; Say what you will about slavery verses in the Old Testament, but the Bible never says skin color has anything to do with sin. It certainly never says anything even close to people having lighter skin when they start following God. I had seen discussions before on the church's history with race issues, but I never knew it was this bad. I was seriously shocked when I read that in the passage. It's disgusting.
  3. I noticed you didn't answer my question about faith. Everything comes back to faith. What exactly do you mean by 'faith?' Who or what should I have faith in? Obviously, we agree I should have faith in God. But when I read verses that say God's words last forever, and have faith that God's teachings and gospel last forever, that's some how a bad faith? Should I not trust God when He said His words last forever? We agree I should have faith that the apostles witnessed Christ's death and resurrection. But when I read verses about how they taught the Gospel, and have faith that those teachings show us how we're supposed to teach the Gospel, that's a bad faith? Everything comes back to faith. I have no problem making a leap of faith if that faith is in God or the Bible. But if you're asking me to have faith that God hasn't protected fundamental teachings and the Apostles teachings in the Bible aren't enough, then it's basically asking me to have more faith in Joseph Smith and the BoM than in God and the Bible. What else am I supposed to think? A fundamental part of LDS doctrine, testing teachers or doctrine with prayer, is absent from the Bible. There's no objective reason for believing the Apostles taught that. Why would God set up a system where following Him requires us to doubt the accuracy and/or the sufficiency of His words to us? Okay, how do you know James 1:5 is a milk passage? I was asking if I should expect a 'yes' answer. Is that what Moroni is saying? Is expecting a 'yes' answer part of sincerity, humility and faith in Christ? Again, everything comes back to faith. The question is who or what the faith is in. If having faith means doubting my faith in God and the Bible, then I don't understand what you mean by 'faith.' Where do you get your faith? Did the founder or Islam or Hinduism die for their claims and then come back to life? The difference is Christ came back to life. Yes, there's substantial objective evidence that the historical figure known as Jesus died about 2000 years ago and came back to life. Reading Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace is a good place to start. I took the time to explain my understanding of Matt. 21 and how it has nothing to do with Moroni 10. Could you at least write a few sentences so I know what you're talking about? I've made it clear I disagree with your interpretations. But I never tried to claim you don't even believe in a passage. There's a big difference. Interpretations are not equal. If one person looks at a verse and says what they feel it means while another person looks at the context, cultural history and original language of the verse, which person has a better chance to figure out what the verse actually means? I don't understand. I thought the purpose of the Alma 32 and Moroni 10 process is to let us know we can trust the Book of Mormon. Are you saying I need to trust it before I even get an answer? I prayed and ask God if the Book of Mormon is true or not. I asked Him to open my eyes and show me if there was anything else he wanted to reveal. Was that not enough? Should I have been expecting the Book of Mormon to be true?
  4. Isn't it possible for someone to interpret a passage different than you without believing the passage is wrong? There are plenty of protestants who disagree with you on various passages, but they don't assume those authors were wrong. We're talking about a letter that was written almost 2000 years ago in a different language to a very different culture. How can you expect to understand what it means just by reading the text? Can we agree that there are milk passages and meat passages in scripture? There are passages useful for sharing your faith with non-believers and there are passages that are written more to believers who already have faith. So how do we know what's a milk passage and what's meat?
  5. Agreed. The issue is where we get that divine paradigm. What does the Bible say that paradigm should be? What direction does the Bible give us on how to tell the difference between true and false teachers? As always, we need to look at the verse in context. Matt. 21 18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. 20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Basically, Jesus performed a miracle and the disciples asked how He did it. Jesus says if they have faith, they could even throw a mountain into the sea. If they ask for something in prayer, they will receive it. So the passage is talking about how God can do miracles through us if we have faith. If someone gets to the point of miracles, I think it's safe to say they already have the right Gospel. There's nothing in this passage that suggests anything about praying to test teachers or doctrine. So my question still stands. Can you show me one verse in the Bible that teaches testing teachers or doctrine with prayer? If that teaching isn't in the Bible, then the Bible doesn't support the Book of Mormon. Just think of all the times the Christ and the NT authors quoted from their scriptures. Did they ever add any books or passages of scripture that had been lost? Did they ever correct any of the current manuscripts of scripture at the time? Did they ever restore scripture like Joseph Smith started to do with with the JST? If they doubted the accuracy of the scriptures at all, they certainly didn't act like it. There are also quite verses that say God preserves His words. Can you give any reason I should doubt those and not take them at face value? Okay, I'll ask this a different way. Can we agree that there are milk passages and meat passages in scripture? There are passages useful for sharing your faith with non-believers and there are passages that are written more to believers who already have faith. So how do we know what's a milk passage and what's meat? I don't think I was expecting anything, at least not consciously. Should I be expecting something while I pray? Moroni 10 is a little unclear on if we're supposed to expect a specific response or not. What do you mean by weeding and watering? I've heard responses like that before and I don't understand what it means. What do you mean by 'faith'? Faith in who or what? I already have faith in God and the Bible. What good does it do to tell someone they need to have faith when they already have faith? 1 John 4:1-3 The point is John didn't tell them to pray to test the spirits. He said they were supposed to test them by comparing the teachings with other doctrine. Verses 2-3 mention a specific doctrine because he was responding to a specific false teaching. But verse 1 also makes it clear it can be used as a general model to test teachers or doctrine. If there is some doubt whether something is from God, compare it to the doctrine we already have from God, like the Bible. Again, it doesn't mention prayer. John's method of testing doctrine is completely different from the method taught in the BoM. Gal. 1:8 Firstly, it's key that Paul puts himself and every other apostle under the authority of the gospel. No one, not even an apostle or an angel has the authority to teach a different gospel. Secondly, Paul makes it clear we should reject anyone who teaches a gospel different than the one Paul taught. Again, prayer isn't part of the process. Just like with John's model, we compare a teaching with the doctrine we already have from God. Yes, we don't have the text of what Paul originally taught the Galatians. But Paul spent the rest of the book reviewing in depth the gospel, so it's safe to say we have the text of what he taught, and prayer was not part of the process to know it was true. Acts 3:15 This is one of many examples from Acts. Look at how the Apostles taught the gospel. They told people Christ died and came back to life. This was a bold claim, but they simply expected people to trust them as eyewitnesses. They didn't ask people to pray to know it was true. That's how the Apostles taught the gospel. So what are we supposed to do when someone shows up claiming to be a modern prophet, but preaches the gospel in a way that none of the apostles preached? Why should we trust anything that "prophet" says when he asks us to do something that none of the apostles asked people to do? The apostles did not tell people to pray to test teachers or doctrine. Please, explain where you got the idea. I've grown up going to church for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I just assumed it was true because most of the people in my life said it was. Since then, I've read articles and books on the reliability of the Bible. I've seen how God has worked in my life and the lives around me.
  6. Whoa, slow down. I never said anything like 'James was wrong' or 'I dislike James' or 'James can't be trusted.' Can you respond to what I've actually said about James? Again, I didn't say that. It's just a question. Since Christ and the NT authors trusted that their scriptures were complete and accurate, why can't we have the same faith about our scriptures? Yes, that's it. So why did James address his letter to the "twelve tribes" in verse 1? Are the opening greetings in the New Testament books useless? Should we just ignore them and assume everything was written to everyone? Isn't the point of interpretation to figure out what the author really meant when they wrote those words? We can't start by asking 'What does this mean to me?' Protestants deal with this problem as well. There's too many people just looking at a passage and saying 'This is saying X to me.' That's one of the main reasons why there's so much disagreement about what the Bible teaches. No one alive today is part of the twelve tribes. So how could the "you" be referring to modern people? How does that make sense? This kind of response is a big part of why I started this thread. In the first post, I was asking why it sounds like the BoM is blaming someone if they don't receive a 'yes' to the prayer. People were quick to respond and assure me I was reading the text wrong, so I backed off. But now here you are blaming me for not receiving the right answer. It's a rigged experiment. God reaches out to us. He doesn't ignore our prayer if our motives don't exactly line up correctly. You can believe whatever you want about me, but it won't change the fact that I have sincerely prayed and asked God. But my question was about more than me. Are you saying the LDS church is the only church with people sincerely trying to follow God? Are they part of the 'all men' that God gives wisdom to or not? It almost sounds like your whole faith system depending on the idea that Mormons are more faithful and sincere than everyone else. Do you see how that could be seen as prideful? Again, why do you insist on quoting from a few vague verses and ignoring the verses that actually address the subject or give examples of the subject? I've responded to James 1:5 and explained what I believe it's saying. Can you at least explain your interpretation of some other verses? How should we apply 1 John 4:1-3, Gal. 1:8 and Acts 3:15 to the issue of knowing what teachers to trust?
  7. What happened to Alma 32? I planted the seed and it didn't grow. So according to verse 32, the seed is bad. What about my other question? Why do you insist on falling back on an epistemology that's not taught in the Bible? So it's reasonable to just assume an extremely important teaching was lost from multiple passages and letters between early church members? That's a very dim view of God's protection. Christ and the New Testament authors were very confident in the scriptures they had. They freely quoted from many passages and didn't need to restore any scripture or teachings that had been lost. Since they trusted that God had preserved His words for 2000-3000 years, why can't we have the same faith that God has preserved His words for the last 2000 years? Can we agree that James wasn't writing to people in modern times or to people who weren't in the faith? That would mean the "you" was being addressed to a limited group of people. Of course, people today can still be part of that faith, so they can apply these teachings to themselves. But that doesn't mean the "you" can be applied to everyone on earth. But do you really believe God gives to ALL men liberally? What about the people in the early church and the next 1700 years who were sincerely seeking wisdom from God? What did God give to them? I've followed the direction of many Mormons by reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it, but God hasn't confirmed it. What has he given me? The fact is we both put certain limitations and qualifications on the "all men" phrase. The verse simply doesn't give us enough details to know either way. If that verse was all we had, I would probably be a Mormon by now. But it's not all we have. There are other verses that give more insight into how we can know what the true Gospel is. So why do you insist on quoting from a few vague verses and ignoring the verses that actually address the subject or give examples of the subject?
  8. When did I say prayer is secondary? James makes it clear he was writing to brothers in the faith who were experiencing persecution. They needed wisdom on dealing with persecution, not on learning the Gospel. The passage is not about testing teachers or doctrines. Just because a verse mentions prayer doesn't mean it supports the BoM. For it to support the BoM, it would need to talk about prayer being used to test teachers or doctrine. Why can't you quote a passage that actually talks about testing teachers or doctrine? Shouldn't those passages support the BoM? I've heard LDS quote 'by their fruit you will know them.' But again, that doesn't mention prayer as the test. Plus, if prayer plays such a key role in learning what the true Gospel is, wouldn't the Apostles have mentioned prayer when they were preaching about the Gospel? Where in Acts did the Apostles tell people to pray to know what they were saying was true?
  9. We're not talking about some secondary detail of an obscure teaching. If your view on prayer is true, it would be an extremely important doctrine, maybe more important than the gospel itself. It would be an explicit part of the Apostle's message. But it's not. It's not mentioned when the Apostles are spreading the Gospel. There are plenty of passages that talk about prayer, but none mention what would be prayer's most important function. There are many passage about false teachers, but none mention using prayer to know who the true teachers are. So either there was a huge conspiracy to meticulously remove all mentions of this extremely important doctrine from many passages and supporting early church communications . . . or the doctrine was never taught in the first place. Which one seems more reasonable? Could you support your claim that it's taught in the Bible by listing a verse that mentions testing teachers or doctrine with prayer?
  10. When the Apostles were preaching the Gospel in Acts, they didn't tell people to sincerely pray with real intent to know it was true (Acts 3:15). When Paul was responding to the false teachings in Galatians, he told them to reject any gospel that was different than the one he taught (Gal 1:8). He didn't mention using prayer to distinguish truth from error. John taught the same principle when he was responding to false teachers. If you're questioning a teacher or doctrine, compare them to the doctrine in the Bible (1 John 4:1-3). Again, prayer isn't mentioned. Fine, don't trust my interpretations. But can you give me a reason to trust your interpretations? Can you show me one verse in the Bible that teaches testing teachers or doctrine with prayer? If that teaching isn't in the Bible, then the Bible doesn't support the Book of Mormon.
  11. James makes it clear he was writing to brothers in the faith who were experiencing persecution. It's not about testing teachers or doctrines. Just because a verse mentions prayer doesn't mean it supports the BoM. For it to support the BoM, it would need to talk about prayer being used to test teachers or doctrine. Why can't you quote a passage that actually talks about testing teachers or doctrine? Shouldn't those passages support the BoM? I've heard LDS quote 'by their fruit you will know them.' But again, that doesn't mention prayer as the test. Okay, take Matt 7 at face value. Surely, God gives good gifts to people who ask Him. Then what about the millions of non-Mormons who are sincerely praying and trying to follow God? What good gift is God giving them? Some might say He's blessing them for the faith they do have, but that wouldn't be a good gift. If LDS doctrine is right, then Protestants are fooling themselves into thinking they're following the Gospel while they're really wasting their primary opportunity to prove themselves worthy in this grand test for eternal progression and exaltation. If your child refused to go to school, would you reward him for doing a few math problems? Of course not. Math is part of his education, but you wouldn't reward him when he's rejecting the rest of his education. That wouldn't be a good gift. If Matt 7 really means that, then the LDS church would be the dominant denomination. The God would be leading the vast majority of people who are sincerely seeking Him to the LDS church. You might say they're not really sincere or seeking with real intent, but again, that's not in the Bible. If the Bible supported the BoM, it would do so without you needing to supplement it with BoM phrases.
  12. Fine, where does the Bible say we're supposed to test teachers or doctrine with prayer? That would be an extremely important principle if it was true. Then why do the New Testament authors, at best, vaguely allude to it? Why don't the apostles mention it when they're spreading the gospel in Acts? I've heard Mormons refer to Protestants as modern Pharisees because we reject God's modern prophet like they rejected Christ. But where do the Apostles ask the Pharisees to pray to test their claims?
  13. Okay, I read another chapter in the BoM last night and prayed about it. I did what you said. I wasn’t thinking about my own beliefs. I was just praying for God to show me if He had anything more to reveal to me. I asked if the BoM is true. I said multiple times I would move on and not ask anymore if I didn’t receive an answer. You know when you’re trying to fall asleep and either your mind wanders or it’s just blank? That’s the ‘answer’ I got. Nothingness. The seed did not grow. According to Alma 32, that means the seed is not good and should be cast away as a false teaching. The fact that you've used it does not mean it's reliable or from God. Where did the idea come from in the first place? The Bible talks about prayer and it talks about testing teachers by comparing their doctrine to scripture, but it does NOT talk about testing teachers with prayer. There’s no Bible verse that testifies of that process. If the apostles actually taught that process, wouldn’t it have been a major point in their letters? The process would be a huge part of the New Testament, but it’s not. Since you didn’t get the process from the Bible, where did you get it? So a growing seed will enlarge my soul, enlighten my understanding and begin to be delicious. What? That sounds like it was written by a high school student who didn’t have anything substantive to say on a paper, so they just used a thesaurus to sound fancy. What does it mean to have your soul enlarged? How is a thought delicious? It sounds nice without saying much at all. Like I said, the passage doesn’t really explain what that growth looks like. How does it gel with Biblical teachings when the Bible doesn’t teach us to test teachers with prayer? How can you just dodge that question? According to Alma 32, if I plant the seed and it doesn’t grow, then it’s not true. I prayed just like James asked me to and the seed didn’t grow. If the passage is consistent, that means it’s false. Right, but the difference comes in how you use that perception. Many people in the Old Testament thought it felt right to worship idols along with worshipping God. The Galatians thought it felt right to mix the gospel with the old covenant. In both cases, they could have used their perception to follow what God had already revealed, but they chose to look elsewhere. We can use our perception by following what the Bible says about testing teachers and doctrine with scripture or we can follow what the Book of Mormon says about it.
  14. I still don't understand what you mean by that state of mind. I can't just ignore the elephant in the room. Obviously, I need to have faith in God while I pray, but I also have faith in my beliefs about salvation, heaven and the Bible which contradict your beliefs on those subjects. That faith is intricately interlinked just like your faith in God is linked with your faith in the Book of Mormon. So what things was Jacob saying we should cast aside? The verse makes sense for an atheist praying, but what about someone who's spent years sincerely trying to follow God? Belief that God exists could certainly be described as "wisdom," but that same wisdom also supports my belief in salvation, heaven and the Bible. So again, where is the line between what I should keep and what I should cast away? I have no doubt you and many other LDS have put thought into this issue, but that's not the issue here. I'm sure the author of the reincarnation book also put a lot of thought into it. But no amount of thought will ever make a false teaching true. The question is whether or not God has those thoughts. Other than your feelings, tasting and looking inward, is there any evidence in the Bible that God has those thoughts? Why is the indulgences doctrine just 'stringing scriptures together'? Repenting and tithing are both taught in the Bible. So why can't we conclude 'repenting + tithing = indulgences'? If that's unreasonable, how is 'prayer/feeling/tasting + testing teachers = truth' any better? Of course it feels and tastes right to look inward. Where else do you think pride leads people? That's exactly what Lucifer wants you to do. He wants you looking anywhere but the Bible for guidance and truth. He wants you to feel like you're following God because the most effective lies have a lot of truth in them. With Lucifer roaming around seeking whom he may devour, we need an anchor a lot more reliable than human perception. I started this thread because I didn't see how the "experiment" is a reliable and consistent method of testing truth claims, and that hasn't changed. Verses 30-32 say 'If the seed grows, it's good. If it doesn't grow, it's not good.' But it doesn't explain what that growth or lack of growth might look like. As I said in the OP, Moroni 10 is also part of this. It seems to be saying if someone doesn't get a confirmation to the prayer, then they weren't praying with a sincere heart of have real intent. Mormons I've talked to have backed that implication up by saying I need to keep reading and praying. I tried planting the seed and it didn't grow, so doesn't that mean it's not good? Has James really used it for extra-canonical teachings? Did he cast away fundamental LDS beliefs while he prayed about those teachings? I've seen quite a few Mormons say it may take years of reading and praying to receive a real answer. So unless he's been reading the reincarnation book for years, has he really used it for those other teachings? Even if it was internally consistent, that doesn't mean it's consistent with the Bible. Why don't any Biblical authors describe finding God's truth as an 'experiment'? If it's true, then it's a crucial part of the foundation of faith. It would be one of the most important doctrines taught in the Bible. But it's not. At best, Biblical authors vaguely allude to that extremely important doctrine. How does that make sense? We know the gospel is extremely important because it's extremely emphasized. How can you claim this method of testing doctrine is extremely important when the Bible, at best, barely mentions it?
  15. What pre-conceived notions? Could you give an example? I already have faith in the Bible and God. Can I keep any of those notions while I pray? Where is the line between what I should keep and what I should cast away? Take a moment to look at a few other words from Christ on a different topic. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2). Then in Luke, "Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box,and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.And he said, 'Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on' " (21:1-3). So Jesus taught repentance and financially supporting the church. Therefore, we can repent by financially supporting the church. The Catholics must have had it right when they were donating to the church to help pay for their sins, right? Of course, the repentance passage doesn't talk about tithing and the tithing passage doesn't talk about repentance, but why would that matter? Christ said both of those statements, so why couldn't we use them together like that? If you prayed about it one last time, would you also cast away pre-conceived notions? What notions would those be?