Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Did that really happpen? or Should I repeat a faith promoting lie?

I was talking with my wife last week about King Herod. Apparently she had recently read that Herod died in 4 B.C. and this indicates that there is something wrong with our calendar. Well, that wasn't much of a surprise to me. If the calendar was right, that would be a surprise. But it got me thinking, what if the whole King Herod killing the newborns because of the wise men story is not true? Would it shake my testimony of the divinity of Jesus? What about the universal flood? In fact, the real question is ... does the historicity of the scriptures make a difference?

As believers of "Mormonism" we accept that here are errors of translation in the Bible. But do we believe there are some thing that are just plain wrong? The people who put it together were not prophets, after all. They could not have known what to include and what not to include. I'm sure they made their best judgment. But their best judgment got us the Nicene Creed, after all. Can we really trust them?

The Book of Mormon is another issue altogether. Being put together under clearly divine direction, most Mormons accept the historicity of the Book of Mormon account, even without clear evidentiary proof. Yes, there are a handful of issues presented by the Book of Mormon not completely explained by scientists, yet. Over the years, however, that list is getting smaller. Scores of articles at what was once called FARMS describe and discuss these issues. I enjoy reading these articles from time to time. I particularly enjoy reading about the recently resolved ones. But I digress.

In the end I will base my answer to historicity question on the testimony I have. The spiritual experiences which form the basis of my testimony are not reliant upon whether every event in the scriptures happened as described. But perhaps for some people it would be an issue. So it gives me pause when I think about the history we are creating. Will the stories we tell about early Mormon history be better if they are accurate? Or do I not let the truth get in the way of a good story? I recently read this idea at JI; the Spirit can't testify of the truthfulness of an important event in church history if the story we tell is in fact not true. I can live with someone deciding they can't accept Mormonism because of polygamy or Mountain Meadows or the priesthood ban. But I don't want someone to decide that their testimony was false because something I said turned out not to be true after all.


Sean said...

Interesting thought. In my ignorant opinion, I think, like you that the calendar is a little (or more than a little) off. I also recently wondered if there was a little oral tradition in some of the books of the Bible.

BruceCrow said...

Ignorant is too strong a word for an opinion. I prefer uninformed opinion when I speak about things I know little about like how our calendar was created. I rely on uninformed opinions all the time. It doesn't make me (or you) ignorant.

Jim B said...

Too many times we miss the mark, of what we are to gain a testimony of; D&C 76 offers the following standards.
51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—
52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
53 And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.

I don't see where the date or knowing the exact time or every precise detail of an event has any sway on the standard. Faith requires that sometimes we need to step into the darkness without a complete knowledge of what awaits us just because the spirit prompts.

With that said we do need to gather what we can of the truth and learn of the past, for it is a big part of who we are.