The LDS Church unveiled a new temple movie last week, to be shown in temples around the world, including this one in Houston, Texas.

The LDS Church unveiled a new temple movie last week. It will be shown in temples around the world, including this one in Houston, Texas. (Shutterstock)

Last week, the LDS Church launched a new version of the temple movie that is shown during the endowment ceremony in all but two of 141 temples around the world. (In the Salt Lake City and Manti temples, the ritual is still performed by live actors.)

The new film will gradually replace one that has been used since 1990, which supplanted an earlier version that incorporated part of Disney’s Fantasia for the creation scenes.

Ears have perked up at this news. Why a new film? Why now? What has changed?

Not a lot, apparently. Whereas the last temple movie’s debut accompanied major changes to the text and action of the endowment ceremony itself, the Deseret News noted yesterday that the Church has confirmed there are “no changes to the script” this time around.

According to the blog Wheat and Tares, the new film features more pauses and makes the endowment ceremony take another fifteen minutes. Guy Templeton writes:

From what I understand, as the church has introduced more temples to Africa, they’ve discovered that some African languages require more words to get explain the temple ceremony.  So, the church has modified the entire ceremony, allowing more pauses to accommodate the African saints.  This makes the ceremony about 15 minutes longer.  Many temples had endowment ceremonies every 30 minutes, but due to the longer length of the endowment presentation, the church is encouraging temples to schedule sessions every hour.  Some temples are experimenting with scheduling to see if they can do sessions more often, but this is leading to challenges.

If this is true, I am delighted that the Church changed the entire movie to accommodate the Saints in Africa, where Mormonism is growing rapidly but where retention of converts is a huge problem. It seems to me that making the temple ceremony as accommodating as possible for the Saints there is exactly what the Church should be doing.

However, there is also a missed opportunity here. According to a few people I know who went to the temple last week, there are no visible changes that would make African or African American Mormons feel more at home in the ceremony.

In other words, every single person in the movie is still white. The production values are better, the music is improved . . . and that’s about it. As one person put it to me, “It’s exactly the same except that Adam, Eve, and Satan all have better hair.”

It would be lovely if Saints around the world could see themselves in the Endowment ceremony, just as white American Mormons are privileged to do every time they attend the temple. As Mormonism moves toward globalization, this is bound to happen eventually, whether through films that employ local actors of color or through following the live actor model.

117 Comments

  1. You need to look past your own bigotry problems. Skin pigmentation is not an issue with me or those who truly know the Lord personally. Even our own spirit shells (bodies) are elastic in nature and fit and form this mortal shell based on inheriting gene from those before us. They do not resemble the true image our spirits prior to mortality.

    Last, both Adams (meaning first in the original language – changed later to Eve) were white and exceedingly tall. No! There was no other skin pigmentation to be shown. Neither it is necessary to do so.

  2. Steven, the “reverse racism” that you’re implying here is a weak rhetorical strategy and a facile argument. Wanting additional inclusion for others isn’t “bigotry” any more than “pacifism” is a form of violence. How’s the view from up on that cross?

      • That’s laughable. Let’s start with one question, if you support Mormonism you deny the writings in the Bible. Ephesians 2:8-9. We are saved by grace. LDS believes in works-salvation, making Christ’s sacrifice on the cross useless. How much plain can we be? And you mock us…..

        • trytoseeitmyway

          Oh come on. That’s nonsense. Mormons believe in salvation through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and would absolutely never, ever say, suggest or imply that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was “useless.” That you say these things throws your claim to have once been a Mormon into serious doubt. No one knowledgeable about our beliefs would make a claim as you have done. By the way, does the Bible say anything about bearing false witness? Maybe you should check.

          • So, you would disagree with 2 Nephi 25:33?
            “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

            LDS doctrine states that we must work for our salvation which is in direct contrast with the Bible. I can bore you with several examples, and quotes from the prophet Joseph Smith, more from Brigham Young – all discounting the sacrifice Christ made on the cross. I refer you to Ephesians 2:8-9.

          • Dwight Rogers

            It is a good idea to believe the whole Bible and not just a few proof texts. See my reply that I already posted to you above. Notice the other verses in the Bible that also add to our understanding of Ephesians 2:8-9. Notice what the Book of Mormon says as well. I gave the references in the prior post.

        • Dwight Rogers

          Belief in Jesus Christ and dependence His grace is the central belief of Mormons. It is the critics of Mormonism who say that Mormons believe they are going to earn their way to heaven by their works. Mormon’s don’t teach that and it is a straw man argument invented by anti-Mormons. Mormons don’t teach that we can earn our way to heaven without the grace of Christ. You see, the critics are so determined to make Mormonism look non-Biblical that they have to invent straw-man Mormon doctrines. I wouldn’t use that argument if you want to appear knowledgeable about Mormonism.

          Note what Mormons believe taken from their own sources:

          Alma 22:14 (from the Book of Mormon)
          14 And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.

          2 Nephi 25:23 (from the Book of Mormon)
          23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

          2 Nephi 24:26 (from the Book of Mormon)
          “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26)

          2 Nephi 10:24-25 (From the Book of Mormon):

          24 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.
          25 Wherefore, may God raise you from death by the power of the resurrection, and also from everlasting death by the power of the atonement, that ye may be received into the eternal kingdom of God, that ye may praise him through grace divine. Amen.

          In the Bible we find both the teaching of salvation by Grace and the teaching of repentance and obedience to the commandments. They are both true. They are both Biblical. Some Christians cherry pick the teachings of the Bible, focusing on one thing that they like and ignore the other parts. Mormons believe ALL of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We try our best to understand and believe all of it. Grace and Works are two sides to the same coin. The Apostle Paul writes a lot about salvation by grace. This was to combat the tenancy in many early Jews who converted to Christianity to fall back on obeying the works oriented law of Moses. People who think they can work their way to salvation have missed the grace side of the coin. However, in Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, and other places, Paul also stresses the necessity to obey the commandments. He gives lists of sinful behavior such as adultery, fornication, lying, and so forth, and says that people who do these will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. For instance see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. And let’s not forget about James 2:14-20,24.

          The Apostle Peter tells us that even after accepting Christ one must turn from sin and obey lest he fall from grace:

          2 Peter 2:20-22
          20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

          21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
          22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

          Peter said clearly that he was talking about people who had been evil (see prior verses) but “have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 2:20) and about people who “have known the way of righteousness.”(2 Peter 2:21). Peter says that even the angels can sin and be cast out of Heaven and down to hell (2 Peter 2:4)

          Obeying God is clearly the other side of the coin to the teachings of grace in the Bible. It is incomplete to stress only Grace or only Works. They are both part of the gospel as taught in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Even confessing that Jesus is our savior is a work that we must actually do. If we were saved from sin solely on grace alone then salvation would be automatic regardless of what we do. There would be no need to even confess Jesus as our Savior let alone try to live a good Christian life.

          The specific teaching “once saved always saved” is not in the Bible and must be derived by placing specific interpretation on several Bible verses. Then there’s the problem that it contradicts Peter. Jesus taught that we will abide in His love “If ye keep my commandments.” (John 15:10; see also John 14:15,21,23; See also John’s teaching: 1 John 2;3-4.).

          In other words, we abide in his love (grace) after we have done our best to keep his commandments. Granted, that we cannot keep his commandments on our own, we fall short, and we desperately need His help, and His Grace, to be able to do so. And even after our best effort we fall short which means that we desperately need His Grace. We can’t earn our way to Heaven! See also John’s teaching: 1 John 2;3-4.

          We read the teaching of the Savior where He lists some of the commandments we must keep to “have treasure in heaven” (Mark 10:21; Luke 18:20-22). Again, we can’t keep those commandments without His grace. We can’t do it on our own. Nevertheless, we can’t deny Jesus’ words that we must do it.

          Jesus taught that whoso breaks the commandments, even “the least of these” and “teach men so” will be “the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). Here, Jesus is saying the same thing that Mormons say, or more accurately, Mormons teach what Jesus taught. Mormons are following the teaching of Jesus concerning keeping the commandments when we “do and teach them.” Those are the words of Jesus: “do and teach them.”

          “…For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He shall reward every man according to his works…” (Mt. 16:27)

          “…and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour…” (1 Cor. 3:8)

          “…But because of thy hardness and impenitence of heart, thou treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the Day of Wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds: to those who by patient continuance in welldoing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;..” (Rom. 2:5-7)

          “…For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad…” (2 Cor. 5:10)

          Mormons are often accused of ignoring Christ’s grace and of trying to work their way to salvation. However, an accurate look at what Mormons actually teach shows a very balanced approach which mirrors the balanced teaching of Grace and Works found in the Bible.

          One Evangelical Christian author wrote of his sudden discovery that his previous beliefs about salvation were very different from those held by the early Christians:

          “If there’s any single doctrine that we would expect to find the faithful associates of the apostles teaching, it’s the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. After all, that is the cornerstone doctrine of the Reformation. In fact, we frequently say that persons who don’t hold to this doctrine aren’t really Christians…

          “Our problem is that Augustine, Luther, and other Western theologians have convinced us that there’s an irreconcilable conflict between salvation based on grace and salvation conditioned on works or obedience. They have used a fallacious form of argumentation known as the “false dilemma,” by asserting that there are only two possibilities regarding salvation: it’s either (1) a gift from God or (2) it’s something we earn by our works.

          The early Christians [and Latter-day Saints!] would have replied that a gift is no less a gift simply because it’s conditioned on obedience….

          “The early Christians believed that salvation is a gift from God but that God gives His gift to whomever He chooses. And He chooses to give it to those who love and obey him.” (David W. Bercot, Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today’s Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity, 3rd edition, (Tyler, Texas: Scroll Publishing Company, 1999[1989]), 57, 61–62)

  3. Why would a church that makes such obvious attempts to include minority groups in the “Ensign,” pamphlets, and other materials let alone operate an enormous minority outreach in its U.S. missionary program make such an omission in its temple film? Perhaps there is a technical reason such as a lack of minority LDS actors where the firm was produced. Maybe my suggested technical reason is bad, but the juxtaposition of liberal use of minorities in some media and lack of it in another is odd.

    Extending Jana’s argument, why would a church that goes to such obvious lengths to preach to gospel in a person’s native language produce one film in English and dub the remaining languages. Why not produce the film in a few more languages like Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and Tagalog as well?

      • OMG! You are saying there was not a single Latino or Latina, Asian, or black LDS actor or actress who could handle the complexity of a part that says in toto “We will go down,” or “Let us go down”?

        That’s laughable.

        • A joke in economics runs like this
          Q: How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?
          A: It depends on the relative wage rate.
          My wife wanted my son to sing for the EFY CD. If he had been selected, we would have been responsible for transporting him to Texas. The wage was negative. I am again guessing, but if I were a budding performer, I would be reluctant to perform in a film with a simple script and little room for acting that will be seen by people encouraged not to talk my performance.

          Still, I would love to see minority performers, perhaps a 59 year-old Adam. It is my preference, but I would rather see the film produced in more languages than with minority performers from a U.S. perspective. Perhaps Asian Saints view the white performers as minorities.

        • Brooks Wilson

          Rachel, I want to rewrite yesterday’s comment. I do believe the acting market might be thin. If the market is so thin, perhaps church could have raised the relative wage rate and found a minority actor. I read Jana’s blog because she kindly delivers opinions that I believe reflect the views and sensibilities of many even if they are not mine.

          A glance at other LDS media probably shows an over representation of U.S. minority groups. Do you have an opinion as to why the church would be so sensitive in several forms of media and insensitive in another?

        • Do you really think the church founded by the Joseph Smith who wrote this: ““there is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient; more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less” (Doctrines of Salvation 1:61).

          Is going to have black or hispanic Gods up in the heavens? Blackness has been believed by the LDS Presidents and faithful since their religion started as a sign of God’s judgment on them. Even in the 1960s, there are quotes that can be found from prominent Mormons bragging about Mormon Indians being whiter than non-Mormon Indians.

          • And yet Joseph Smith was one of the very few religious leaders of his day who publically spoke out against the owning of slaves. So much for his racism. Hinckley spoke with CBS in the ’90′s and when asked about the black issue he candidly said there were ‘misinterpretations’ and they have been fixed and ‘we are moving on.’ What do you want to do vilify them for eternity? Do you point the accusatory finger at all religions equally? including those founded by other races that espouse racism? Or at politicians and celebrities today who make outrageous racist and anti-semitic statements? Islam says the Holocaust never happened. Where is your wrath there?

          • Martin Andersen

            Actually “Doctrines of Salvation” was written by a grandson of Joseph Smith’s brother. This Grand-nephew of the Prophet was named Joseph Fielding Smith. And the Book of Mormon contains several segments wherein the darker skinned people preached to and were much more righteous than the lighter skinned people. So skin color is not a valid marker for personal righteousness, at least not in this life.

    • I was one of the actors considered for this new film. I can tell you that the casting call was for ” actors with Mediterranean look with current temple recommends for a special Church film with limited distribution.” I auditioned but since English is my second language I was told that my accent would be distracting to viewers so I was not chosen. They wanted uniform accents, American Standard.

      I wasn’t bothered by that, I get it quite often when I audition for LDS films. The focus of this film is not the actors or the acting but the message. I think they did an outstanding job.

      • If indeed the casting call was for “actors with Mediterranean look with current temple recommends for a special Church film with limited distribution,” and if that’s what the film ended up being, then critics can really calm down. It is absurd to suggest that different films must be made for different regions of the world until all 21st century ethnic groups are represented. My personal preference would be to not have pasty white blonde Adams and Eves, but rather dark-haired actors who look more or less like what one might envision for descendants of Abraham and Noah, but it isn’t the end of the world regardless.

        Looking forward to experiencing the changes and doing my best to remain conscious!

  4. Actually, Elder Jensen never said members were leaving in “droves”. Someone else used that term when asking if he was aware of it. What *he* said was that it’s a fraction of a percent of church membership every year, and that it’s a figure which is decreasing rather than increasing. For more information see: http://www.fairblog.org/2013/01/15/reports-of-the-death-of-the-church-are-greatly-exaggerated/

    • Christopher,

      You’re joking, right?

      Question: “Follow-up question: Has the church seen the effects of Google on membership? Are the church leaders aware? I may be overstating it, but it seems like the people who I talk to about church history are people who find out and leave, quickly. Is the church aware of that problem? What about the people who are already leaving in droves?”

      Jensen’s Answer: “We are aware. Let me say this, I often get this question: ‘Do the Bretheren really know?’ They do. And I’m not speaking for me. I’m speaking for the fifteen men that are above me in the hierarchy in the church. They really do know. ”

      No matter how you try to nuance that exchange, Jensen is acknowledging that members are “leaving in droves.”

      By your logic, someone responding to the question “Did your house burn down?” with “Yes,” didn’t say their house burned down. That’s silly.

      Jensen was asked if the brethren are aware people are leaving in droves. He said yes. Any reasonable person would walk out of that meeting and agree that Jensen said members are leaving in droves.

      • Elder Jenson statement will be quoted when the church has 30 mission members and 6,000 stakes. Yes he said it. Yes he backtracked. I teach students the age of young single adults and they tend to use strong adjectives and adverbs. I generally ignore the exaggeration and answer the question. Are we losing young adults? Yes, as we did when I was a young adult. Believe it or not, the issues are not that different. It has always been easy to find anti-Mormon literature. Is the loss greater now? I have not seen any empirical evidence to suggest that it is.

        • In our stake (Midwest) there has not been a single convert baptism family in the past four years that I would regard as anything but destitute or desperate. Converts are typically welfare cases who come for a few months as they are showered with love, and the fall away.

          In that same time, four strong families have left. Their stories are consistent: They learned very disturbing things about the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other topics. These weren’t mediocre or “just active” families. One was in a bishopric, one on the high council, and one Elders Quoum president. Two wives were in YW presidencies.

          I am trying to hang on to a testimony, but stuff I am reading is really disturbing, and all I get from my bishop is “Choose to believe.”

          • I am sorry to hear about your struggles with faith and the struggles of friends. I am happy to learn that poor converts are showered with love. This says something good about our people. I am sorry to learn that most fall away. I am in Texas. We gain more than we lose and those who stay are generally more educated than those who leave. My wife is a convert; her father was a United Nations ambassador. She is not atypical. I would suggest apologetic literature. It can sometimes build faith by answering questions. If you wish, you can contact me at bwilson@mclennan.edu.

          • I am sorry to hear about your struggles with faith and the struggles of friends. I am happy to learn that poor converts are showered with love. This says something good about our people. I am sorry to learn that most fall away. I am in Texas. We gain more than we lose and those who stay are generally more educated than those who leave. My wife is a convert; her father was a United Nations ambassador. She is not atypical. I would suggest apologetic literature. It can sometimes build faith by answering questions. If you wish, you can contact me at bwilson at mclennan dot edu.

          • @Cyndi – I’ve been a college professor for over 20 years and was exposed to many of the anti-Mormon arguments early in my career by my fellow professors. I have to say that at first they had quite an effect on me and they shook my testimony. But after taking time to simmer and cool down I began doing some of my own research. I found that there are many events in the formation of the Church that have no excuse or rebut. Simply stated, many of our early leaders were humans and reflected the beliefs of their time. I have to take those actions and categorize them as “God really thinks you suck as a human at times” category. I recommend the FAIRLDS website to begin to understand some of these events. They do a fair job helping understand some of these events.

            Were early leaders racists? I believe that many of them were racists, as was most of the US at the time. They echoed the popular beliefs about the black race held by almost EVERY religious leader. Many of those who attack the Church will carefully skirt the issue that the Southern Baptist Church had a very segregationist background and formed the heart of the Klu Klux Klan. The LDS Church was one of the few churches in the US that did not segregate worshipers. Blacks and whites sat on the same pews every Sunday.

            The Book of Abraham question has been visited and answered by experts and there are many theories. Take the time to study them at FAIRLDS or at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute Institute. I have found the answers to be satisfactory for me.

            And most importantly, take the time to spend it in the scriptures and strengthen your testimony of Jesus. You will find that when you have His companionship then you are at peace with your soul and answers come more easily.

          • Raymond Takashi Swenson

            Cyndi, obviously I am not there, but your description of ALL of the people who joined the LDS Church in your entire stake (If it is in the MIdwest it probably covers several cities, as was my experience when I lived in Omaha) as being “destitute or desperate” makes me wonder about such a negative judgment on your part. You might recall in the book of Alma, chapter 31, where Alma is on a mission among the Zoramites and finds that it is mainly the poor, who are forced by their circumstances to be humble, who are willing to listen to his message. There is nothing wrong with that. Material success and pride are obstacles to most people being willing to reexamine their spiritual condition. Many of the early Mormons had few material possessions. And those few who had them often sacrificed them so they could help to take other Mormons from Europe to America, and then on to the West.

            Are you among those who “showered” these new members with warmth, and then stopped?

            Let me compare my experience in my stake in eastern Washington State, where in the five years since moving here, we have been in two new wards (in the same house) because of the growth of membership in our metro region of 250,000 population, and two new stakes have been organized. Four wards meet in our building each Sunday. By and large, we are keeping pace with the overall growth rate of the Church, doubling in membership every twenty years, so that we are now the second largest denomination in our county, after the Catholics.

            If you bishop is unable to address your need to discuss your questions with a faithful Latter-day Saint who is familiar with the issues that trouble you, there is no Church rule that says you can’t ask any other member. You ought to be able to ask educated adults in your ward to refer you to someone who is versed in those issues, and may be an academic at a local college or even an instructor for the local Institute of Religion. Are you taking Institute classes, and have you talked to the instructor about your questions?

            You can find a lot of information online at FAIRLDS.org (including video recordings of presentations made at various seminars), as well as recommendations for books that address specific topics. You can also make contact online with people who are willing to communicate with you about your particular questions. There are entire books you can read for free, online, at maxwellinstitute.byu.edu, which also carries twenty years of the FARMS Review of Books. Those reviews address many of the books and materials published that attack Mormon beliefs, and provide a corrective viewpoint that points out the frequent distortions made by critics and points readers to more reliable sources. Another site I find worthwhile is mormonscholarstestify.org, where educated Mormons in many fields (most of them professional academics) address their faith in the context of their knowledge of history, science, and other topics. There is a LOT of information, a LOT of answers, if you are willing to go get it.

          • Dwight Rogers

            Cyndi, I would be interested in hearing about the specific things you refer to that trouble you. I have dealt with those types of things – probably many of the same things you are running into – and I find that critics or “historians” or “authors” often spin LDS history pretty badly. They usually ignore the best first hand historic sources which supports the honesty of the Church and Joseph Smith and they cherry pick bits of historic info and misrepresent it. I am wondering if some of the things you have run into are some of the same things I have seen. Care to share some specifics?

          • Dwight Rogers

            For instance, you mention the Book of Abraham. The most prevalent criticism is that the few fragments that survived do not contain the text of the Book of Abraham but, rather, are an Egyptian funerary text. However, when one knows the true facts that the critics always leave out, this is not a problem.

            Almost all of the papyri once in Joseph Smith’s possession is still missing – including the long roll from which he translated the Book of Abraham. Using historic records and bills of sale the papyri has been traced to the Woods Museum in Chicago and burned in the great Chicago fire of 1871. However some fragments amounting to a small percentage of the original collection were not sold to the museum and therefore, did not perish in the 1871 fire. These fragments surfaced in 1967.

            Smith had multiple long rolls amounting to around 125 feet of papyri in Joseph Smith’s possession. The fragments that survive amount to about 3 feet.. Eye witnesses from Joseph Smiths time describe details about these fragments that match the fragments recovered in 1967 . Eye witnesses also describe that Joseph Translated the BoA from one of the long rolls, not the fragments.

            So, when critics try to convince informed Mormons that Joseph Smith was a fraud based on the Book of Abraham, or that the Church is hiding things, they only demonstrate that they don’t understand the papyri and its history.

            Thus, when critics claim that the extant fragments don’t contain the text Joseph Smith produced we agree with them. This fact was published by the LDS Church in their official magazine less than two months after acquiring the papyri fragments. Several follow up articles were published complete with photos and explanations that the text found thereon is not the Book of Abraham text. Here are the first three articles:

            New Era in January 1968.
            Improvement Era, Jan. 1968, pp. 12-16
            Improvement Era, (March 1968-a): 17-18.)

            These articles published by the LDS Church are up front about stating that the content of these fragments are not the Book of Abraham. These articles state that the papyri fragments contain a part of the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Egyptian Book of Breathings and that they do not the text of the Book of Abraham. Thus, critics make themselves look foolish when they demonstrate that they are unaware that three feet of papyri that were recovered are not the long roll that Joseph Smith translated from – the log roll still being missing.

            Discoveries such as “The Apocalypse of Abraham”,first published in 1897, “The Testament of Abraham which also surfaced long after the time of Joseph Smith, and many other ancient Abrahamic accounts now confirm many details in Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham – details that Joseph, nor anyone else from his time could have guessed. . Nobody in Joseph Smiths time had the information. Yet the Book of Abraham gets many details right that weren’t known in Joseph’s time.

            I could provide additional examples of things historically correct in Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham that were not known during his time period and yet he gets them right.

          • Thank you Cyndi!
            Contrary to typical Mormon belief active Mormons are not leaving the church because they are selfish or have. Great desire to sin. They are leaving because once you realize you have been lied to (even by omission) you entire life it’s hard to stay and be true to yourself.
            As a true beliving Mormon, I honestly believed that people who left the church just really couldn’t hack the guidelines. Seemed silly since these guidelines were there to bring you happiness right?

            I now no better. Leaving the church is NOT the easy way out. For most LDS people it is extremely complicated, and there are many family and friend ties to consider. There is great concern and sadness to realize those you love will feel deep sadness and heartbreak. Leaving, let me repeat, is not easy. It is far more emotional and complex than a true believer could ever understand.

          • Hi Molly. While I agree that some members of the LDS faith leave after learning some historical information, I disagree with your rhetoric. “Lied to (even by omission) is too strong a statement even with the ameliorating statement by omission. I teach principles of economics. I don’t delve into complex debates about unsettled issues.

            I am continually surprised at the number of people who claim shock at learning about “undisclosed” history. I have heard many of the events mentioned as untaught discussed in Church classes, certainly not in depth but to ignore their discussion is inaccurate. Furthermore, the Church has apologetic sites that discuss these issues. These sites may always side with the Church but they do so after describing the event and why others see it as a problem.

            I do believe that members leave the Church because of inability to follow the perfecting principles otherwise known as commandments. A beloved uncle smoked heavily. He did not pay tithes either. He might also have liked to brawl. He told me that he did not attend because he could not follow the commandments. While living the commandments may bring happiness, not living them can bring pleasure.

            To repeat, I do not doubt that members leave the Church because of information learned that appears to contradict the Church’s position. Another uncle could never get over horses in the Book of Mormon. I wonder how much of this explanation is due to cognitive dissonance. For example, a member might like to prowl bars for sexual encounters. They believe that the activity is wrong and this causes pain. They relieve that pain by finding information unflattering about the Church and conclude that they don’t have to feel bad about their activity because the Church is not true.

            I have no idea what the percentages are for each of the three groups.

          • This shows your ignorance as you lump everyone together. Believe it or not up until VERY recently, I attended church every Sunday, I had a calling in a presidency, I paid my tithing, prayed, read the scriptures, the whole nine yards. It’s my study of the “commandments” that lead me out. I’ve spent HOURS reading lds.org, FARM, and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute. It didn’t add up. Excuses were not enough, the opposing argument to make sense of the facts was weak.
            I will tell you again, leaving is NOT the easy way out.
            It’s not something someone who still defends the church could understand.
            And if you want to see what bothers me feel free to see here and justify it all away. This covers everything I have found on my own, but was all written up in one nice little place.

            I challenge you to read it. (And that should be okay since Mormon’s challenge people everyday to read the Book of Mormon.)
            http://www.mormonthink.com/personalstories/A_Letter_to_a_CES_Director.pdf

          • Brooks Wilson

            Hi Molly,
            I received a notice that you replied to my comment. You write, “This shows your ignorance as you lump everyone together.”
            I suggested that their were three types of people who leave the Church: (1) those who encounter information they find uncomfortable, (2) those who choose not to follow the commandments for any number of reasons, and (3) those who don’t follow the commandments but believe they should. I suggest the last type may use anti-Mormon literature to convince themselves the Church is false, relieving the guilt they feel for not living the commandments.

            In my last sentence, I write, “I have no idea what the percentages are for each of the three groups.” You should have no argument with me. If you were referring to another post, I am sorry for wasting your time.

            FYI, I often read anti-Mormon literature. While you prefer it, I prefer FARMS, etc.

          • Dwight Rogers

            MormonThink.com is disguised as a neutral website but it isn’t. It claims to be balanced due to supposedly presenting both sides of an argument. This is done by occasionally including a reference to FARMS or FAIR or something like that. But the best and most accurate first hand evidence is usually left out. The information presented by MormonThink resorts to using the typical skewed and out of context cherry-picked version of facts and history which leave out the best and most accurate sources of information. MormonThink heavily promotes and uses Grant palmer’s work “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins”. This work has been shown by credible scholars to be inaccurate to say the least.

            MormonThink frequently criticizes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for lack of “transparency” yet MormonThink is operated by people who are not forthright about their own identities or purposes. MormonThink claims to be operated by faithful and active members of the Church when in reality it is operated by people who are not.

            For example, the Webmaster of MormonThink anonymously posted his true intent under the name “active-Mormon” on web site “‘I am the webmaster of MormonThink.com AMA’,” ex-Mormon reddit, Jan. 2012.

            In this post the webmaster of MormonThink admits under a pseudonym that that he remains in the church for appearance only. Notice that he says retaining membership in the Church “gives me greater credibility when speaking about my own religion.” Here is a person remaining in a church under false pretenses. Furthermore he says that he can work his purposes by “subtly mentioning things in meetings I may raise some doubts.” He says that he does not want to be a member but “I chose to be one” so I “can gently guide someone to further enlightenment about church history” and adds “I play the game to keep membership.” Here is someone who is dishonest and deceiving in his behavior and words. And Mormon-Think complains about the Mormon Church being non-transparent -????

            The webmaster further posted this:
            “I personally am still a member and I think I stay in mainly just to s[t]ay on top of the latest happenings in Moism and it gives me fodder to add to the website seeing the latest craziness the church is spewing out. We also have friends there and don’t want to lose them but we don’t let the church push us around and we take it on our own terms – no tithing, garmies or other things we disagree with.” (SpongeBob SquareGarments, responding to this praise on Recovery from Mormonism, April 20, 2012. )

            The attitude of MormonThink is illustrated by its link to a routine by the late comedian George Carlin called “Religion is BS” in which Carlin claims that all religion is phony. The webmaster of MormonThink posts in a number of online ex-Mormon message boards under names like “SpongeBob SquareGarments,” “mormonthink,” and “LDS Truthseeker.” His own words reveal the true purpose of MormonThink and it’s not to be objective or accurate:

            David Twede is a 47-year-old fifth-generation Mormon and the first managing editor of MormonThink.com. According to Reuters Twede posted on his blog that he understands that “some of what I wrote in my blog may have treated the church unfairly.” (Jennifer Dobner | Reuters – Sat, Sep 22, 2012)

            David Twede was excommunicated from the Church. A poster commenting on Twede’s excommunication expresses the obvious about MormonThink saying that “Mormonthink is an anti-mormon website.” And added, “If he was really just trying to give LDS a history lesson he wouldn’t have been afraid to share his name. He was purposefully hiding his identity because he knew the consequences of what he was doing.” (jesuscrisco, posted on Recovery from Mormonism, September 26, 2012.)

            Many people who post at sites like exmormon.org or mormonthink.org may are usually the very people who have fallen for a one-sided version of history and facts. There is a plethora of alleged “histories” of Mormonism written by people who quote third hand accounts or simply quote each other but don’t quote much from the primary and more reliable sources. Much of the information is cherry-picked from historic documents and distorted into anti-Mormon propaganda while the most accurate information is ignored. While appearing on the surface to sound good, they are, in fact, just repeating old out-dated arguments that have been debunked by credible historians and researchers.

            Some Mormons fall for this and leave the church.

            I am sure that there are other reasons people leave the church too so I’m not trying to unfairly lump them all into one category. Point is that they are probably not the most objective source to go to, especially if it’s the only source you look at. I would be very hesitant to take a disgruntled former Catholic’s viewpoint as accurately portraying the Catholic Church.

          • Dwight Rogers

            Critics routinely accuse the Church of suppressing and hiding uncomfortable historical facts from its own people. Members who read these claims of “hiding” fall for it. As scholars and historians mine the historic sources such as diaries and so forth, additional details are leaned that were not previously known or well understood even by Church leadership. It’s not that the Church is hiding these things but rather that they are not known or are not central to the mission of the Church.

            The Church’s’ primary mission is to testify that Jesus Christ is the divine Savior of the world and the Son of God and that His Church is restored to the earth. During regular Sunday church meetings there is not time to delve into all the nuances and details of Church history. That’s why, in addition to Sunday Services, the Church has publications which discuss church history in further detail and that’s why the Church makes the information available to researchers and allows them to publish the information. Members often do not avail themselves of this additional information.

            It is remarkable; however, how many of the issues which critics charge the Church with “suppressing” are discussed first in Church publications. You might be surprised to find out that many of these “hidden” facts are actually hidden in plain sight in Church publications and other scholarly research made available by the Church. It’s not the Church’s fault that some members fall away because they don’t read what’s always been available..

          • Problem solved then. Throw stacks of church news at new converts and tell them to go figure it out.

        • “loss greater now?”

          Elder Jensen went on to say:
          “maybe since Kirtland, we never have had a period of, I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having right now.” (Nearly 1/2 the membership left the cult after the Kirtland ‘Bank’ scandal.)

          How many Mormons know what happened in Kirtland? Is this more of the history left out of the Mormon lesson manuals because it’s not “Faith Promoting”? Or are they taught the white washed Pro-Joe version?

      • trytoseeitmyway

        No, I think it is your comment that is silly. You see a follow up question in which a use of the word “droves” is acknowledged by the questioner as a probable overstatement. (Right? You see that don’t you? “I may be overstating it, but …”). But twice the questioner asked about awareness, using the word “aware.” The answer was, “We are aware.” The most logical inference is that the answer related back to one or both of the questions about awareness. You see that don’t you? You’re not silly, are you? So, neither of the questions about awareness used the term “droves.” But the questioner said that his or her impression of the effect of Internet research could be overstated. There is no way that you can infer that the answer agreed that “leaving in droves” was an accurate characterization.

        It would be silly to suggest otherwise. Glad I could help.

        • Raymond Takashi Swenson

          When a question is presented orally, and the answer given orally, in a conversation (and not a legal deposition under oath), the person who answers the question is not taking personal responsibility for every single word in the question. The answer was to the primary question: “Are the brethren aware” of people who leave the LDS Church. The point of the answer is to reassure those present that the Church leaders are aware of the issue and considering what they can do to address it, not to quantify it.

          If the question had been “Would YOU say that the number of people leaving the Church is ‘in droves’?” and Elder Jensen had said “Yes, ‘droves’ would be an accurate description”, you would have something to your argument. But that is NOT the question he was asked, nor the one he answered. Your argument is like the one made by someone asking “When did you stop beating your wife?”

  5. What’s your source for claiming that “retention of converts is a huge problem” in Africa? It’s a huge problem in most of the world, but my understanding is that African countries tend to have the highest retention and member activity rates in the world.

    • “my understanding is that African countries tend to have the highest retention”

      Your understanding shows you do actually have common sense. Of course the retention rate is much much higher in Africa. The vast majority of African converts don’t have access to the internet.

      I’d bet you a dollar the missionaries don’t tell the African converts that prior to 1978 they wouldn’t even qualify to enter a Mormon temple because they were black.

      I’d bet you another dollar they never mention the numerous and conflicting First Vision accounts.

      I bet you 57 dollars the missionaries never tell the prospective converts in Africa that Brigham Young was commanded by ‘God’ to marry 55 women, several of whom were already legally married to other living men & 16 of whom had his 57 children.

      You should try applying your ‘God’ given gift of common sense to some of the other problems with Mormonism.
      * By his own hand upon Papyrus – Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar.
      * Not a single shed of Archaeological, scientific or linguistic evidence supporting the Book of Mormon claims anywhere in the Americas.
      *Glass Looking.
      *The Kinderhook Plates.
      * Ludicrous temple rituals, costumes and secret handshakes plagiarised directly from the Free Masons.

      Eventually the African converts will get access to the internet. When they do they’ll be able to find the truth too.

      http://youtu.be/4ac_fLUHiBw

      • I debated whether to reply to your most recent comments or not. You seem to have an endless supply of energy. The secrets of the church were known to me before I served a mission in 1976. Most members I knew were more informed than me. Empirically, the church has added more than 14 million and 3,000 stakes since Kirkland. Perhaps Elder Jensen is correct and we are going through the greatest period of apostasy since Kirkland but the church is growing, membership, stakes, seminary and institute enrollment, and missionaries set apart are all higher now than any other time in church history.

        You suggest that African members will fall away when they learn that the church did not permit blacks to hold the priesthood until 1978. I’ll bet they know. To repeat, I knew and most members I knew, knew even without the Internet. When you write of racism, you should ask compared to what. We did burn crosses in our neighbors’ yards. European treatment of Africans in Africa was worse than slavery in the U.S. and intertribal warfare has been devastating.

        • You seriously believe that Black Africans today join your Cult knowing all about the racist history and heinous racist comments made by past Mormon “Prophets”?

          John Taylor: The reason that ‘Blacks’ had been allowed to come through the flood was “so that the ‘Devil’ had representation on the Earth.”

          Brigham Young: Blacks will not receive the priesthood “until the last of the posterity of Able had received the priesthood, until the redemption of the earth.”

          There is an endless list of racism streaming out of the mouths of Mormon Prophets right up to 1978.

          How about this little nugget in 1947 “the intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people” David O’ McKay

          If you believe the inflated numbers put out by the “church” PR department, your even more gullible than I suspected. The sheer desperation of lowering the missionary age is a pretty big sign that all is not well in Mormondom. Generous estimates suggest no more than 5 million remaining active tithe paying sheeple left in the flock.

          To now claim that Mormon racism was no worse than everybody else’s at the time is entirely disingenuous, particularly whilst claiming to have ‘God’s’ only true living “Prophets” on Earth receiving revelation directly from ‘God’. Which is it to be? The Church is True? or… It’s just like every other man made after life insurance policy scam?

          • Dave,

            Your arguments have long been addressed and proven to hold no weight. One can’t find good food looking through week old garbage.

            During the ministry of Christ, the Jewish leaders did their best to discredit His teachings when they couldn’t they put him to death.

            Like then, there are many “Christian Pharisees” who do their best to discredit others teachings of Christ. Are you one of them? Based upon your postings…….Will your dislike, turn to hate which leads to violence.

            Why do you look to damage a people who go about doing good? Yes we have made mistakes, but it IS the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it WILL roll forth, and NO ONE can stop it.

          • @ Mark Moore

            Not a single one of the issues I mentioned above has been addressed satisfactorily to anyone but a brainwashed Moron.

            Here’s just one example of the endless supply:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Abraham

            Take a look at Facsimile 1. Re-Printed in every Mormon Book of Abraham.

            Compare Joseph Smiths description to the description of the Egyptologists.

            If you can’t instantly see from this single example that Joe was nothing more than a fraud and a Con-man, then the mental gymnastics you’re performing in your brain right now are worthy of an Olympic Gold Medal.

            The FAIR response to these issues is equally ludicrous.

            I don’t dislike the people, in fact I pity the people caught up in this heinous Cult (Including several of my immediate family). There’s an awfully big difference between doing good and being a do-gooder. Most Mormons fall sadly into the second category. As i’m sure every Gay man or Woman in California can testify to.

            I may not be able to stop it, but I can certainly do my bit to help prevent unsuspecting fools getting caught up in this fraudulent afterlife insurance scam.

          • Dave,

            If your looking for answers to your questions or comments, then you can find them. But you are not. Your looking to argue. You must ask yourself who is the father of contention. I have the answers, but won’t waste my time on providing them to someone who does not want to listen.

            Like I said before, if your looking for garbage, you will find it. When you are sincerely ready to engage your ears, mind and heart, then you’ll find the answers to the questions you seek but only then, will the answers come.

            Best of luck to you.

          • Dave,

            Like I said before, I have the answers to your questions, but even if I shared them with you, you would not listen. Your mind is made up. For some reason you have a lot of anger and are choosing to argue. Who has hurt you so deeply that you are on some kind of crusade? Only you can answer that.

            I will not lower myself to name calling, just because someone does not believe as I do.

            In Christ Day, they felt the death of him would put and end to teaching and church. We know it did not happen.

            In 1830 JS under Christ direction reestablished His Church just like He had originally set it up with only 6 people. 180 years later, millions have joined and continue to join.

            If this is Christ true Church, there is nothing you nor anyone else can do to stop it. To try and do so would bring His judgments upon you.

          • @ Mark Moore

            “I have the answers, but won’t waste my time on providing them”

            Go on please humor me. Why does Joseph Smiths interpretation bare absolutely no resemblance to the universally accepted Egyptologist description?

            You don’t have any answers, what you have is a mouth full of Mormon double talk and ‘Lies for the Lord’.

            How is it that “By his own hand upon Papyrus” since 1966 no longer actually means “By his own Hand upon Papyrus” and why doesn’t the story bare any resemblance to what is actually written on the papyrus?

            “You People” re-write your own history every time a piece of it’s proven to be false. I can’t wait for the next bit of apologetic “research” explaining how the Book of Mormon lands were actually the sunken lands of Atlantis. Another few years down the track perhaps when still not a single shred of archaeological, scientific or linguistic evidence has emerged supporting a single B.O.M. claim anywhere in the Americas?

            Why don’t you try putting it to my little test:

            If you’re an intelligent seeker of truth, God will reveal to you the truthfulness of my analogy (It’s a giant scam). You can do this by coming to God in prayer with a sincere brain and asking Him if I’m telling you the truth. He will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.*

            * If you’re not intelligent enough… he won’t.

          • Dave,

            I’m not hear to humor anyone. I’ve heard all the arguments. All the claims. I’ve do and continue to do a ton of studying and research. I have done and continue to do God’s test (James 1:3). I am at peace. I wish you well.

          • @ Mark Moore

            So, in a nutshell, just like most Mormons…
            You will absolutely avoid answering a question you know there is no sensible or reasonable answer too, because anyone with half an ounce of God given common sense will see straight through it.

            You’ll then go on to bare your testimony stating “I know the Church is true” repeatedly, or until you actually believe it yourself.

            I wonder why the “Church” is suffering the greatest apostacy since the banking scam in Kirtland? LOL

            At some point people capable of thinking for themselves will want real & believable answers to these questions.

            In with anger, out with love.

            Peace to you too. x

          • Dave,

            Just like most anti – you would not believe it if I told you, so why waste my time and yours. Your are just looking for an argument. I have the answers. If you could see my library at home, you’d know.

            There is a war going on out there, a war for the souls of man. There are casualties. Who side are you on? The winning side (Christ) or the loosing side?
            Christ is not continuous. As He stated “those who are not against us are with us”. If your a believer in Christ, then why are you not joining in the fight against the evils of the world? Instead you are trying to destroy peoples views on Christ. You WILL be held accountable. You have been warned!

          • Dwight Rogers

            One of the major criticisms of Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham is that the surviving fragments don’t contain any text which matches Joseph’s Translation. Critics conclude, therefore, that he made it up.

            However, this ignores the pertinent facts of the matter. Almost all of the papyri once in Joseph Smith’s possession is still missing. Using historic records and bills of sale the papyri has been traced to the Woods Museum in Chicago and are believed to have burned in the great Chicago fire of 1871. However some fragments amounting to a small percentage of the original collection were not sold to the museum and therefore, did not perish in the 1871 fire. These fragments surfaced in 1967.

            Evidence indicates Joseph Smith had up to as many as five long rolls in his possession each being between about 20 to 29 feet long. This means that there was at least about 125 feet of papyri in Joseph Smith’s possession. Some evidence indicates that one of the rolls may have been as long as 41 feet. If this is the case he may have had significantly more than 125 feet of papyri. The papyri fragments that survived and were acquired by the LDS church make up about three feet. This means that at the most, being generous, only 2 to 3 percent of the original papyri survived. Eye witnesses from Joseph Smiths time describe seeing these fragments preserved under glass even back in that time period. These witnesses also describe details about these fragmented pieces even describing the vignettes (facsimiles) that were on them.

            The papyri fragments that surfaced in 1967 match the eye witness descriptions of these fragments. So the papyri fragments that we have are the ones that were in fragments in Joseph Smith’s day. Many eye witnesses also describe that the roll that Joseph translated from was one of the long rolls of papyri in his possession – not the fragments. Eye witnesses described the papyri which he translated from as a long roll with black and red ink and in good condition. The small fragments have only black ink, are not in such good condition (and weren’t in Joseph Smiths day either) and don’t match the eyewitness descriptions of the long roll from which the translation was made. Thus, when critics claim that the extant fragments don’t contain the text Joseph Smith produced we agree with them. This fact was published by the LDS Church in their official magazine less than two months after acquiring the papyri fragments. Several follow up articles were published complete with photos and explanations that the text found thereon is not the Book of Abraham text. Here are the first three articles:

            New Era in January 1968.
            Improvement Era, Jan. 1968, pp. 12-16
            Improvement Era, (March 1968-a): 17-18.)

            These articles published by the LDS Church are up front about stating that the content of these fragments are not the Book of Abraham. The articles state that the papyri fragments contain a part of the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Egyptian Book of Breathings and that they do not the text of the Book of Abraham.

            So, when critics try to convince informed Mormons that Joseph Smith was a fraud based on the Book of Abraham, or that the Church is hiding things, they only demonstrate that they don’t understand the papyri and its history – they are only showing their ignorance of the issue. We don’t expect the Abraham text to be found on the extant fragments since we know that they are not the pieces from which Joseph translated.

          • Dwight Rogers

            Dave, you mention facsimile 1.

            We now know that Joseph got a lot of things right in regard to the papyri and the translation. For example:

            Facsimile 1 in Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham shows Abraham on the table (Lion Couch) about to be sacrificed. Critics have claimed that this is not Abraham. However, one particular lion couch scene discovered since the time of Joseph Smith, known as the the P. Leiden I 384 papyri (also called PGM XII and PDM xii), dates to the second century A.D and is of particular interest. It is a lion-couch scene like Facsimile 1 in the book of Abraham and it contains Abraham’s name in the text below the scene. This shows that the Egyptians did associate Abraham with the Lion Couch.

            Written underneath the P. Leiden I 384 scroll is this text: “Abraham who is upon…..” and then the text breaks off where the papyrus is missing a piece. So here we have the discovery of another Egyptian Lion-couch scene that explicitly says that Abraham is the on upon the altar – Just as Joseph Smith said. Joseph got it right.

            Bald Priest
            Critics often charge that Joseph Smith got Facsimile 1 wrong which shows the priest with a bald head. They charge that the priest would have worn a jackal mask sometimes called the Anubis head. Now Egyptian documents discovered after the time of Joseph Smith however show that a shaved or bald head was a legitimate mark of certain Egyptian priests – especially during the time period to which the Joseph Smith papyri dates – something Joseph would not have known unless he were translating a genuine ancient text or unless he received it by revelation. So Joseph was right in identifying or depicting the bald man as a priest. Could Joseph Smith have just guessed this right? Not likely. That information was not available in Joseph Smith’s time.

            The Hawk as Messenger
            Previously, at least one eminent Egyptologist objected to the idea of the hawk as a messenger, or “the angel of the Lord” as Joseph calls it in Facsimile No. 1. He said the concept was alien to the Egyptians. Nibley notes how just as this scholar was making that criticism, “an article appeared in the Zeitschrift fur Aegyptische Sprache on the subject of the Hawk as a Messenger in Egyptian tradition” I[Nibley, 1980].

            In the Testament of Abraham discovered in 1880 supported by the Apocalypse of Abraham which first appeared in England in 1898 Abraham is saved from the altar and taken on a tour of the cosmos. The angel says “Behold the altar upon the mountain. . . the dove, give to me, for I ascend upon bird’s wings to show you that which is in heaven and upon earth…the_circuit of the whole world; for you shall behold all.” Here, in texts not available to Joseph Smith, we find the angel who saved Abraham from death associated with a dove which is an amazing correspondence with Joseph’s explanation of figure 1.

            Egyptologist John Gee says:

            “For a number of years, I have worked on trying to get a grasp on Egyptian religion, particularly trying to understand something about the Egyptian equivalence of the soul. And there’s a section of this on my dissertation, I’ve got four published articles on the subject. This is the latest one. As a result of that, I’m able to show that Egyptian priests when translating their native terms into Greek translate one of them as “angel”. And guess which one it is. It’s figure one in Facsimile 1 in the Book of Abraham, that’s said to be an angel. Now, I didn’t go looking for this connection, it was just a pleasant surprise to find it.” (John Gee, 2012 FAIR Conference)

            So it turns out that while critics dismiss Joseph Smiths translation of the hawk as a messenger or Angel, real Egyptologists now show that Joseph Smith was right. This was not known by Egyptologist in Joseph Smith’s time, yet he got it right. The Egyptologists took over 100 years to catch up to Joseph Smith on this one.

            Canopic Jars or Idolatrous gods or the Four Quarters of the Earth?
            The Book of Abraham says that the four figures below the lion couch are the idolatrous gods Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, and Korash (Abr. 1:6, 13, 17; facsimile 1, figs. 5-8). These same four figures appear in Facsimile 2 figure 6 where Joseph says they refer to the four cardinal directions or the four quarters of the earth.

            Critics say that Joseph got it wrong and these are simply canopic jars which are used for storing the organs of the person being embalmed. Again, the critics revert to the claim that this is just a typical embalming scene and not the living Abraham on the altar. . Joseph gives particular names for these gods (Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, and Korash), which are plausible names, according to Kerry Shirts’ article, “On the Names of the Four Canopic Jars in Facsimile 1.”

            Ancient texts not available in Joseph Smith’s day indicate that the idolatrous gods of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, and Korash, described in the book of Abraham (Abr. 1:6, 13, 17; facsimile 1, figs. 5-8), indeed were worshipped in the ancient world, just as Joseph Smith said, despite the fact that the Bible makes no mention of them. How did Joseph know that? Furthermore, ancient texts suggest that the ensemble of four figures depicted as figure 6 of Facsimile 2 could indeed “represent this earth in its four quarters” in the ancient world, just as Joseph’s explanation indicates. (Rhodes, “A Translation and Commentary of the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus”; John Gee, “Notes on the Sons of Horus” (Provo: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991). See also Apocalypse of Abraham 18, OTP, 1:698; )

            According to Egyptologist E.A. Wallis Budge:

            These jars were under the protection of Isis, Nephthys, Neith, and Serqet, and represented the south, north, east, and west respectively” [Budge, 1904, 1:210]. In the forward to Budge’s translation of the Book of the Dead, Budge wrote that the four “children of Horus” were each “supposed to be lord of one of the quarters of the world, and finally became the god of one of the cardinal points” [Budge, 1967, p. cxxiv].

            Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham gets it right. The link between the Sons of Horus and the cardinal directions was first established in 1857 [Brugsch, 1857]. This is too late for Joseph to have drawn upon scholarly knowledge for his interpretation – yet, he gets it right.. Indeed, there was essentially no valid knowledge of Egyptian to draw upon in 1842 when the Book of Abraham was published.

            The Crocodile
            A crocodile is depicted in a patterned area beneath the lion couch in Facsimile 1. Facsimile 1 figure 9. Joseph Smith identifies the crocodile as “the idolatrous god of Pharaoh.”

            Discoveries of other ancient texts made after the time of Joseph Smith confirm this interpretation. For example: The pyaramid of Unas (or Wenis) of the fifth dynasty (circa 2356-2323 B.C) still stands at Saqqara, south of modern Cairo. Utterance 317 of Unas’s Pyramid Texts includes the following: “The King Appears as the Crocodile-God Sobk,” and “Unas has come today from the overflowing flood; Unas is Sobk, green-plumed, wakeful, alert. . . . Unas arises as Sobk, son of Neith.” (Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings, 3 vols. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975-80), 1:40.)

            One scholar observes that “the god Sobk is . . . viewed as a manifestation of Horus, the god most closely identified with the kingship of Egypt” during the Egyptian Middle Kingdom era (circa 2040-1640 B.C.), which includes the time period that tradition indicates as Abraham’s lifetime. (Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 1:201.)

            Middle Kingdom Egypt saw a great deal of activity in the large oasis to the southwest of modern Cairo known as the Faiyum. Crocodiles were common there, and Sobk (or Sobek) was the chief local deity. The last king of the twelfth dynasty, which may include the period of Abraham’s life, even adopted the name of the crocodile god, calling himself Nefru-sobk (“Beautiful is Sobk”), and five pharaohs of the next dynasty, the thirteenth, took the name Sebek-hotpe (“Sobk is content”). (Compare Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973—80), 1:40, 201.)

            Kerry Shirts says:

            The Egyptologist Alan Gardner demonstrated that the kings and queens of the XVII dynasty bore the name “Sebekemsat (Sobk is his protection), and this proves that “the crocodile-god was still thought of as somehow connected with the monarchy.” In the earlier XIII dynasty, Gardner noted several kings bore the name “Sbk-htp — Sebkhotep.” The Amherst Papyri “from the Fayyum depicts the crocodile not as Pharaoh but as the god of Pharaoh [Just what Joseph Smith said]. According to Bonnet, the submission of Pharaoh to the crocodile down to the latest times is attested by the association of the crocodile with the royal image on the monuments and in annals.” With Sobek absorbing the god of the king into himself, Bonnet says this is why “hymns of praise to the king and his crown can be addressed directly to Sobek — that is, the croc is the god of Pharaoh.” And Suchos is often referred to as a “living image” of Re, in other words, the Ka of Re, the spirit of the sun god Himself! And this agreement (Einigung) with Re for the understanding of Sobek has always remained fundamental (grundlegend).

            Yes, the crocodile can be the idolatrous god of Pharaoh–an impressive direct hit by Joseph. (Powerful Egyptological Evidence for Book of Abraham facsimile 1, figure 9 Crocodile as “Idolatrous god of Pharaoh” by Kerry Shirts)

            The Egyptian crocodile god god Sobek is now known to have been venerated in Mesopotamia during Abraham’s lifetime. At the Ebla site of Tell Mardikh, were found several images of Egyptian gods stylistically datable to 1750-1650 B.C. (Middle Kingdome), the time period to which most scholars date Abraham’s existence. Among these gods were Osiris, Hathor, Horus, and Sobek. In fact, in a FARMS update 108, Oct 1996, Research by John Gee, says we read:

            The cult of the Egyptian crocodile god Sobek flourished during the Middle Kingdom (2040-1640 B.C.), as is attested by royal and personal names during the twelfth (1991-1783 B.C.) and thirteenth dynasties (1783-1600? B.C.)

            So Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham, correctly labels the crocodile of Facsimile 1 as “the idolatrous god of Pharaoh” which we now know to be Sobek the Egyptian god closely linked with Pharaoh and at precisely the right time period and location.

          • Dwight Rogers

            many corroborating details in the Book of Abraham have surfaced in documents discovered after the time of Joseph Smith. It turns out that Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham gets a lot of details right that he could not have known by guessing. Details in Facsimile 1 and Facsimile 2 are now confirmed in other Egyptian documents. Joseph’s rendering of the meaning of various parts of the Facsimiles turn out to be correct. Documents such as the Apocalypse of Abraham and the Testament of Abraham, both of which were discovered about 40 or 50 years after Joseph Smith’s time, mirror details in the Book of Abraham – things that nobody could have gotten right by guessing or fabrication.

            Jewish traditions found in ancient texts contain details about Abraham’s life that were not available in Joseph’s Smith’s day but which mirror details in the Book of Abraham. Joseph Smith couldn’t have guessed these details and happen to get so many right, details which are now found in other ancient Abraham documents. The theory that he fabricated the translation does not hold up in light of current evidence; the information that he got correct wasn’t available during his lifetime. Two notable documents discovered well after Joseph’s lifetime are the Apocalypse of Abraham and the Testament of Abraham which contain many details that match Joseph’s translation. The Testament of Abraham was discovered in 1880. The Apocalypse of Abraham first appeared in England in 1898.

            Therefore, evidence associating the Joseph Smith Papyri with Abraham continues to mount up.

          • @ Dwight Rogers

            Could you please point me in the direction of a single respectable non-Mormon Egyptologist who will support any one of the incredible claims you’ve just made in your diatribe of nonsense?

            I thought not.

            But please If you can I truly would love you to prove me wrong.

            The lies you regurgitate from F.A.I.R. are so ridiculous I’d actually be surprised if you could find one single respectable LDS Egyptologist prepared to disgrace themselves professionally by associating their name with this nonsense.

            Of course the one little nugget you leave out is the document containing the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar

            http://www.mormonthink.com/img/grammar.jpg

            Which quite clearly shows that the existing papyrus today is the exact piece that Jo Smith used to create his scam.

            Don’t bother copying and pasting more lies from F.A.I.R. God gave me the gift of common sense. It’s blatantly obvious.

          • Dave. There can be several reasons to engage in comments to blog posts. Three come immediately to mind: to persuade, share ideas or otherwise learn. Your goal seems to be to persuade, not by the logic of your arguments or a list of facts, but by invective and shifting argument. You asked for “a single respectable non-Mormon Egytologist [sic] and Dwight Rogers had already provided two. You were ready for his answer, “The lies you regurgitate from F.A.I.R. are so ridiculous I’d actually be surprised if you could find one single respectable LDS Egyptologist prepared to disgrace themselves professionally by associating their name with this nonsense.”
            Referring to his comments as lies, regurgitated from another source is an ad hominem attack. After beginning your comment by asking for a reference, you tell Dwight Rogers not to bother because you won’t believe him if he does due to your common sense.

          • Dave, you erroneously assume that when people do not want to share the sandbox with you, it is because they are not accustomed to the joy of sandboxes and do not appreciate the graciousness of your invitation. In reality, most faithful Latter-day Saints have spent considerable time in sandboxes and are capable of playing nice with others and having a good time. But at the same time, we have also learned the difference between a sandbox and a litter box, and based upon the smell of your contributions to this conversation, it is clear that you are inviting people to the latter…

        • My understanding is that the LDS considers anyone they happen to baptize as a new member to the religion, even though most of these people are never seen again, or even get rebaptized by other folks. Since the LDS is largely a business, you can expect them to play games with the numbers. With the internet, just about anyone can disprove that Joseph Smith was a Prophet quite quickly.

        • Mark you don’t have answers to the questions. I’ve even listened to Mormons from the LDS history department, appearing before skeptical Mormons, who basically said the same thing you just did. “There are answers,” but they don’t give them. “Go to this website,” and the websites don’t have answers either, just lies, and they don’t even have all the same explanations. They even admit that Joseph Smith was married to women who were currently married to other men, and some girls as young as 14 years old. That’s adultery, polyandry and pedophilia. You expect me to believe that a Prophet of God is commanded to commit such disgusting sins?

          Mark, no one with a sound mind is seriously all that convinced by the “Mormon testimony.” You stick with your emotionalism, and the rest of us will stick with the truth.

          • Dwight Rogers

            Just about all the issues raised by critics have answers supported by historic sources and good scholarship. The arguments used by critics are usually out-of-date and have long been debunked. What are one or two examples of an issue you think have not been answered?

          • @ Dwight Rogers

            Here’s one…

            I just finished watching an incredibly interesting programme on the BBC about the advances in Archaeology. In particular the use of satellite Archaeology.

            Could you explain to me why it is in this modern day, with such advances being made in this field, there’s still not been one single finding which would support the claims of the Book of Mormon in the Americas. The claims of cities, temples, millions of people, pre-Columbus horses, chariots, steel swords or even a single coin. It’s my understanding that the “Church” gave up any pretence of actually looking for ‘proof’ of these claims years ago because their findings were never ‘Faith Promoting’.

            Or perhaps you could point me in the direction of a single shred of scientific or even linguistic evidence which supports the book in the Americas?

            You apologists, presumably serving a “Church” ‘calling’ to defend the faith online at all costs, keep saying these things have been debunked, but I’m yet to see a single bit of respectable debunking. Perhaps our ideas on “historic sources and good scholarship” differ?

          • Ricardo, you are off topic on a thread that I started. My question was, “Why would a church that makes such obvious attempts to include minority groups in the “Ensign,” pamphlets, and other materials let alone operate an enormous minority outreach in its U.S. missionary program make such an omission in its temple film?” You did not address the inconsistency but instead asserted that LDS leaders were racists, some still are, and that LDS doctrine is racist. I believe you are wrong.

            As a technical correction, Joseph Fielding Smith, not Joseph Smith wrote the “Doctrines of Salvation.” I assume that the quote is correct. It is a racist opinion typical of a man born in 1876, but the opinion was never church doctrine. Joseph Smith taught that blacks were victims of circumstance and if they were raised with the same privileges as whites they would be as successful as whites. Joseph baptized blacks, ordained them to the priesthood and allowed them to receive temple ordinances. Brigham Young, who was not as enlightened as Joseph said, when asked if “Negroes” were neutral in heaven, “No, they were not, there were no neutral [spirits] in heaven at the time of the rebellion, all took sides…. All spirits are pure that came from the presence of God. (Journal History, 25 December 1869, citing Wilford Woodruff’s journal.). I was never taught that blacks were inferior or whites, superior.

            When calling the Mormon Church or some of its past leaders racist, you need to ask, “compared to what organization or whom?” Do I need to review the racist past of other organizations or people to make my point?
            While the church’s past record with Blacks is questionable, its outreach to other nonwhite peoples is not and that outreach started as early as 1851. Missionaries were sent to the Middle East, India, China, Latin America and the South Sea Islands just to name a few countries and areas. Minority outreach continues and with success both in the United States and in other countries.

            Do I believe that blacks or Hispanics will be on an equal footing with Whites in heaven? Yes! Does the general leadership of the church believe it? Their actions speak louder than words. Our missionaries preach the gospel in every country to which we gain access and we build our temples were we find members!

      • No, they’ll just find more hate, lies, and half truths to muddy the entire thing. Too bad those of you with a hate for Mormon’s can’t spend more of your time doing good for all mankind. I pity your small minds, and especially you so called Christians who seem to generate anti-Christian sentiment more than atheists.

      • Raymond Takashi Swenson

        Dave, the earliest Mormons in Nigeria and Ghana, two of the nations with the highest concentration of Mormons today and each with its own temple, had read the Book of Mormons and wanted to join the LDS Church BEFORE 1978. Because the LDS Church did not have missionaries in those nations, they formed their own congregations where they shared their belief in the Book of Mormon with each other. When the 1978 announcement came that the priesthood ordination rule had been revoked, those people lined up en masse to be baptized as soon as the first missionaries arrived a few weeks later. They became the first leaders of the LDS Church in their nations, and their personal stories, including the events of 1978, are a core part of the common story of Mormons in Africa. Some 35 years later, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and other nations are producing second generation Mormon missionaries who proselyte in other parts of Africa and tell those same stories of 1978. Some of them go to other parts of the world; we had a missionary from Kenya based in our congregation in eastern Idaho five years ago. People in Africa are not as uneducated as you try to portray them.

        Two retired couples in my congregation here in Washington State each worked as missionaries in Africa for a year. They have both affirmed to me that the Mormons they met in Africa are intelligent and people of integrity and faith. Their numbers are approaching half a million.

      • Dwight Rogers

        Dave, I already included information from at least two non-LDS Gynecologists in the comments I already posted. So don’t be so hasty when you say “I thought not.”

        • @ Dwight Rogers

          I’m not sure if you’re trying to be funny? I have a very good friend who’s a ‘Gynecologist’ in Barcelona. He knows a lot more about a woman’s lady parts and delivering babies than he does about the false claims of Mormonism or Egyptology.

      • Dwight Rogers

        It is sad that people embarrass themselves so whey they demonstrate they don’t even know the first thing about the Joseph Smith papyri and its history. Even some Egyptologists dismiss it without due research. The Egyptologists who dismissed the Book of Abraham in 1912 have been discredited in their inaccurate evaluation. So, if you want to cite outdated Egyptological information then, of course, you can find Egyptologists who speak against the Book of Abraham. But that is old info. Even some modern Egyptologists dismiss the Book of Abraham but they do so on prior outdated opinions rather than doing an actual non-biased examination. They embarrass themselves.

      • Dwight Rogers

        Critics assume that the so called Egyptian Grammar are the working documents used by Joseph Smith to make the translation. Since the Egyptian characters don’t match the text next to them, critics claim that Joseph Smith was making it all up. However, a more scientific approach suggests something else.

        The documents were written by Warren Parrish, Oliver Cowdery, and William W. Phelps. Joseph Smiths handwriting is not found on the papers. A Correlation of Joseph’s activities and whereabouts show that he was not in Kirtland when the other brethren were working on most of these papers. The body of the document contains some of the text of the Book of Abraham with Egyptian characters written in the left margin.

        First, the characters in the margin are written with a different ink than the text in the body. The characters in the margin are cramped as if forced to fit in the available space. The text in the body is not. Therefore, the text of the body was written first and the Egyptina characters were cramped in the available space later. In some cases the characters in the margin overlay the characters in the body and the margin ink is on top of the body ink showing that the text was written first and the characters in the margin were written later. This shows that the translation was already completed when the margin characters were inserted.

        Second, Joseph Smith always translated by dictating to a scribe. Experts in the field are able to distinguish between the first dictated draft of a text and a later copy. First drafts created from dictation have certain characteristics that are corrected in later copies like sloppier handwriting, misspelled words, wrong punctuation and missing paragraphs. Parish’s English text flows smoothly and continuously, as if written in one steady stream as would be the case if copied from an original document. The text in the so called Grammar is, therefor, a later copy because it does not exhibit the typical characteristics of a first draft created by dictation.

        Third, the Egyptian symbols used in the KEP manuscripts don’t come in any discernible sequence, but, instead, come from various locations on the papyri at random. These characters were not, therefore, uses as a translation tool. Characters used for translation purposes are always listed in order.

        Fourth,;most of the symbols on the “Grammar” are not even Egyptian at all, but are symbols that appear to have been simply made up, or in some cases the symbols are derived from Masonic ciphers. There were a total of 136 characters used in the paper. Only 23 of them are Egyptian characters. Some characters are Aarabic, some are Sanskrit, and some are composite characters made by combining two other characters. The alleged “Grammar” could not have been used as a tool for translating an Egyptian document.

        Fifth, the “Grammar” also contains text from the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C), in particular sections 76 and 88. Section 76 dates to February 16 1832. Section 88 is dated December 26 and 28 1832 and January 3, 1833. The papyri did not come into Joseph’s possession until 1835. Since the D&C text was already in existence several years earlier, and Warren Parrish, Oliver Cowdery, and William W. Phelps and others knew that fact, then it is clear that none of them thought that the text on the “Grammar” was the result of translation from the Egyptian characters.

        Sixth, William Schryver has shown that the Egyptian characters in the “Alphabet and Grammer” contain only a limited vocabulary and one that happens to contains words, phrases and names unique to the Book of Abraham text. If Joseph and his associates had built the Alphabet and Grammer first, as the critics say, then it would contain a more general set of vocabulary and names. From this study Schryver shows it likely that Joseph already had the English translation of the Book of Abraham before the Alphabet and Grammer were created. This is consistent with the physical evidence already mentioned above; the usual first dictation errors are not there, different ink is used in writing the symbols in the left margin than that used for the text, and the symbols overlap the text. Evidence strongly suggests that the KEP documents were never designed as a translation tool and that the translation was already completed when the Grammar was created. It appears that the already translated text was driving the Grammar and Alphabet and not the other way around.

        Shriver posits that the brethren were making a cipher. In the KEP some of the characters are assigned a meaning and then the same characters are later re-assigned another meaning. This is a common practice in using ciphers. The same character set is used but the key, which assigns the meaning is changed on a periodic basis. This is consistent with the history of the period. At that time the Church had enemies and some need for confidentiality in written communication was needed

      • Dwight Rogers

        It really doesn’t bother us Mormons that Joseph Smith was a Mason. So what? Masonry was a well-known social institution in mid-19th century America and many people from various denominations were Masons. Will you also condemn the other Christians of the time who were Masons

        One viewpoint on the origins of Masonry, which Masons themselves sometimes support with research, indicate that they got their symbols ceremonies from the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. One version is that during the crusades the Knights Templar discovered documents underneath the temple mound in Jerusalem from which the Masonic ceremonies derive. Another version is that the masons who built Solomon’s temple passed down the temple ritual. This may be more tradition than fact but it is hard to tell. The story of Helen of Troy, long thought to be myth, turned out to be based in real historic events. The city of Troy, thought to be a fictional city, turned out to be a real city when archeologists discovered its location and evidence of a war at about the right time.

        Therefore one can assume that the link between Masonry and the temple is myth but it could also be based on fact. This would be an indication that Joseph was, in fact, restoring the correct ancient order of the temple. Other indications of the ancient Biblical origins of the temple ceremony exist in a number of ancient documents going back to both the Old Testament Jews and to the New Testament Christians. See Hugh Nibly’s “Mormonism and Early Christianity” for instance and there are other works since Hugh Nibly’s time detailing these discoveries. The ancient prayer circle is described in early Christian documents. Tokens, handclasps, and markings on clothing are found in early Christian texts and drawings as well as in Egypt. Evidence strongly suggest an origin more ancient than Medieval Masonry.. Evidence is strong that Joseph Smith did not get temple ritual from Masonry but, rather, the Masons preserved something of temple ritual from God’s temple in ancient times and Joseph Smith restored it to its correct form by revelation.

        Joseph Smith was inducted into Masonry on 15 March 1842, too late for him to have borrowed temple ritual or other Mormon beliefs from the Masons. Joseph began restoring the ancient Christian form of temple worship well before he was a Mason. Joseph claimed that the temple ceremony was revealed to him from God and there is plenty of evidence that the temple rites were at least partially restored during the mid 1830’s – too early for him to have gotten them from Masonry which he didn’t’ join until years later. He mentions the temple rites during the translation of the Egyptian papyri in 1835.

        On 5 May 1841, again, nearly a year before Joseph Smith learned he secrets of Masonry, William Appleby paid a visit to Joseph Smith, who read to him the revelation on temple ordinances, now identified as Doctrine and Covenants 124, that was received 19 January 1841. Discussing this revelation the Prophet got out his collection of Egyptian papyrus scrolls and, while exhibiting Facsimile 2, explained to Appleby that part of the drawing was related to the temple ordinances and discussed some details of the same. So Joseph already had the temple ceremonies in January 1841, over a year BEFORE he became a Mason. (William I. Appleby Journal, 5 May 1841, MS 1401 1, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.

        There is a great deal of historical evidence that Joseph already had the temple ceremony with its details well before his introduction to Masonry. In Doctrine and Covenants 105 verse 33 we read “Verily I say unto you, it is expedient in me that the first elders of my church should receive their endowment from on high in my house, which I have commanded to be built unto my name in the land of Kirtland.” This revelation was given June 22, 1834. Thus we see that the Lord was already in the process of preparing to give the leading elders of the church the endowment in the Kirtland era and at least some of the temple ceremonies were administered in that time period.

        In evidence of this fact, we find that upon his initiation into Masonry Joseph Smith was already explaining things which the Masons themselves did not comprehend. According to one witness:

        “the Prophet explained many things about the rites that even Masons do not pretend to understand but which he made most clear and beautiful.” (Horace H. Cummings, “True Stories from My Journal,” The Instructor 64 no. 8 (August 1929), 441.; cited in Matthew B. Brown, “Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger,” FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131)

        A few of the early leaders of the Church pointed out that one of the aims of Masonry was to teach adherents proper respect for promises of confidentiality. (See footnote 20 of Matthew B. Brown, “Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger,” FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131)For instance:

        Joseph Smith said: “The secret of Masonry is to keep a secret.” (Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 329. ISBN 087579243X. off-site{15 October 1843))

        Brigham Young: “The main part of Masonry is to keep a secret.” (Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 5:418, (22 January 1860, spelling standardized)]

        This institutionalized Masonic principle of keeping a confidence was a trait that would be necessary for the Saints to incorporate into their lives once they were endowed, because certain elements of the temple ritual were considered to be very sacred and were not to be divulged to the uninitiated. This may be the key for understanding why the Prophet encouraged so many of the Nauvoo-era Saints to join the Masonic brotherhood.

        Most similarities between Masonry and LDS temple ritual are superficial and have more to do with outward ceremony than with the content or meaning. It would seem that the Masons preserved some outward symbols of the ancient temple ritual but lost their significance. The goals of Masonry and the LDS endowment are not the same. Both teach important truths, but the truths they teach are different. There are more differences between Masonry and the LDS temple than there are similarities. Masonry teaches of man’s relationship to his fellow men and offers no means of salvation; i.e., it is not a religion. Although it accepts and is supportive of religion in general it does not teach any particular faith. It does not teach of Jesus Christ nor does it contain the teachings or the covenants that are contained in the temple. The temple endowment, on the other hand, teaches of man’s relationship to God, and Latter-day Saints consider it to be essential for exaltation in the world to come.

        Greg Kearny is a temple going Latter-day Saint and also a Mason who’s family traces its history in Masonry back one-thousand years. Kearny postulates a distinction between the truths and covenants of the temple endowment and the method of delivery. In other words, the truths and covenants of the temple are separate from the ritual and symbols used. The ritual and symbols are the method of teaching the truths but are not the truths themselves. Kearny postulates that Joseph Smith recognized in Masonry a teaching method which was well suited for conveying the truths and covenants of the temple and he borrowed those teaching methods. While I find this theory intriguing it does not explain the ceremony and symbols from ancient Christianity and Judaism which are also found in both Masonry and Mormonism. It would seem to me, therefore, that strong evidence exists indicating that both Mormonism and Masonry derive from more ancient sources and that Joseph was, indeed, restoring ancient temple ritual. As already discussed, he already had much if not all of the temple endowment before he learned the secrets of Masonry so, how could he have stolen them from Masonry? Considering the substantial evidence that these symbols and ceremonies pre-date Masonry it seem more likely that Joseph simply recognized in Masonry a remnant of the original temple ritual that he had already received by revelation. We should also note that Joseph Smith gets a number of things right which are not found in Masonry but which are found in ancient Christian and Jewish documents not available in Joseph’s time. It is difficult to imagine how Joseph could have guessed these things if he were making it up.

      • Dwight Rogers

        Dave, you mention glass looking as a criticism. This may look strange to non-Bible believers. I understand that. But to people who are Christian or who believe the Bible it should not be a problem.

        Christian scripture has been created in a very similar way. The Bible demonstrates that God communicates with man in the manner that is expected or accepted during a particular time period. Throughout the Bible there are various ways in which God gave revelation to prophets. These range from visions, angels, hearing the voice of God, God speaking from a burning bush, seeing writing on a wall, writing on a tablet, casting lots, magic rods, magic cups, dreams, and hearing the voice of his Spirit in the heart and mind. I think God can decide for Himself how he wishes to give a prophet a revelation or a translation. Who is man that he should tell God how He can or can’t give a translation?

        Nevertheless, the method in which Joseph Smith was given the text of the Book of Mormon, by the gift and power of God is amazingly similar to other Biblical accounts of God giving written material to prophets.

        For example, Daniel’s experience of seeing God’s writing on the wall is similar to Joseph Smiths experience of seeing God’s writing on a stone:

        “In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.” (Daniel 5:5)

        Moses struck a rock and water flowed out of it. Moses struck the ground and the Red Sea parted.

        The Old Testament Joseph had a silver cup which he used to divine (Genesis 44:2, 5).

        We read, for instance, that Aaron had a magical rod (Exodus 7:9-12). Jacob also used magical rods to produce speckled offspring from Laban’s cattle (Genesis 30:37-39). We read that a priest could tell if a woman had committed adultery by seeing if her thigh swelled after drinking a special potion (Numbers 5: 11-13, 21)

        The Bible describes Moses communicating with God from between the two cheibums on the Arc of the covenants lid. (Ex 25;22)

        The casting of lots (sortilege) to choose a new Apostle (see Acts 1:26) was known and practiced by the pagans of Jesus’ day. Even some of Christ’s miracles were similar to the magic of surrounding pagans. Jesus’ healing of the deaf man by putting his fingers in his ears (Mark 7:33–35) and Jesus’ healing of the blind man by touching his eyes with spittle and clay were also common pagan practices.

        As recorded in 1 Samuel 14:41, 1 Samual 10:22, and 2 Samual 5:23 that the urim and thummim was used by ancient seers to receive revelation from God. The high priest in Israel would place the urim and thummim the breast plate as described in the book of Exodus in order to receive revelation. The star used as a symbol for the Jewish people or the Jewish state of Israel is traditionally based on the urim and thummim. The urim and thummim was said to be two stones or lenses that were triangular shaped and if you put an upward pointing triangle over an inverted triangle it makes the star.

        The prophecy of John the Revelator, wherein he said that some would have a white stone which would have writing on it is amazingly similar to what actually happened to Joseph Smith:

        “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” (Revelations 2:17)

        Note that John tells us that “no man knoweth” about the stone and the writing “saving he that receiveth it.” So, of course, critics will doubt and mock.

        And, of course, we have what is probably the best known example of a prophet receiving writing from God on a stone, that of Moses:

        “And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”(Exodus 31:18) And also:“And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the Lord spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.” (Deuteronomy 9:10)

        Here, God writes words on a stone tablet, very similar to words being written on the stone that Joseph used.

        God can give revelation to a prophet in whatever manner He chooses. And He did use a variety of methods with various prophets, some of which would look like folk magic to us today.

        Although the historical picture of the Book of Mormon translation process is not as commonly known to some members as it perhaps should be, despite the cries of critics the Church hasn’t been hiding this information. It has been mentioned for instance in the Ensign, (one instance in which the talk was originally given to Mission Presidents, the Friend, as well as other LDS-targeted publications. (Russell M. Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign (July 1993; A Peaceful Heart,” Friend (September 1974

      • Dwight Rogers

        Some buried plates were “discovered” near Kinderhook. Critics charge that Joseph Smith claimed to translate the Kinderhook Plates but that the plates were acknowledged to be a fraud created to deceive Joseph Smith and that through modern technology the Kinderhook Plates have been shown to be a fraud, therefore, Joseph Smith was making it up.

        Joseph said nothing about translating the kinderhook plates in his journal, nor is there a mention of translation by Willard Richards who was assigned to take dictation for Joseph for the History of the Church, which was being compiled at the time.

        The plates were in Nauvoo for only five days (April 29th thru May 3, 1843). Joseph’s diary shows the following during that those five days:

        - Riding about the prairie apportioning land” (April 29th)

        - “Attending church services” (April 30th)

        - “Riding out to William Allen’s to pay off some debt on the Nauvoo House” (May 1st)

        - “Picking up his wife at the ferry dock and meeting with the Apostles” (May 2nd)

        - “Going to his office to meet with Sister Richards and to review the conference minutes, holding a Mayor’s court, and directing a letter be written to General Adams” (May 3rd)

        Of the men who came from Kinderhook to deliver the plates to Nauvoo:

        - Mr. Savage gave no known account of the meeting or alleged translation.

        - Joshua Moore implied that the translation was not done at that time. (He only believed that the prophet could translate them.)

        - Mr. Sharp (who was said to be a Mormon) had been given the plates to take to Nauvoo. However, according to Mr. Fugate (one of the people who perpetrated the hoax), Sharp “wanted to take the plates to Joe Smith”, but we refused to let them go.”
        - In addition, Sharp and Marsh gave no known account of the meeting or translation.

        It is possible that these men were trying to catch Joseph in a trap. Of this, historian Richard Busham says:

        “The fact is he never walked into the trap and those connivers never sprung the trap, they didn’t come out and say, ‘Aha ha ha! We’ve caught you off base trying to translate plates that are bogus.’ The confession is not made until the 1870s and the reason they couldn’t spring the trap is Joseph didn’t step into it–he never carried on what looked like might be a translation of the Kinderhook Plates. So, I don’t see that as really a damaging incident.” (FAIR Conference 2005).

        Busman makes a good point. If the Kinderhook plates were fabricated as a trap for Joseph Smith, they did not serve their purpose for Joseph never translated them. This deprived the perpetrators from ever being able to spring he trap. This could be viewed as further evidence of Joseph’s prophetic calling. He was not deceived. William Clayton’s statement, that Joseph translated a portion, was his own statement recorded in his diary and not Joseph’s statement and may reflect the speculation circulating in Nauvoo at the time. Joseph may have initially thought that they might be authentic. At first how would he know? He may have gone to the Lord later and found out differently. You may say that this is my speculation and you would be right.

        It is equally speculative to claim that William Clayton’s statement is a reflection of Joseph’s viewpoint. Nobody knows that either. Nobody has shown this to be the case. It is possible that William thought this was Joseph’s viewpoint. He could have gotten the idea from Joseph or he could have got this idea from the rumors circulating in Nauvoo at the time which rumors have been documented and have been shown to be incorrect and contradictory to each other.

        Therefore, there is no case to be made against the prophet. Joseph did not buy the plates when they were for sale and he never seemed to exhibit any interest in obtaining them or examining them again. The Kinderhook plates are not proof of fraud on the part of Joseph nor are they proof of inability to translate. I know that people who are desperate to show that the Church is false would like this to be proof against the Church or against Joseph. However, good scholarship requires examining all the evidence – right?

        Don Bradley has demonstrated how it is plausible that Joseph could have attempting to translate manually (without inspiration) and matched a character found on the plates with a character found in the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language (GAEL) The “translation” Joseph produced, as reported by William Clayton, matches the explanation given for that character in the GAEL. This is only one theory.

        It is important to note that LDS scripture, such as the Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants, have been vetted and approved for publication. Even if (and it’s a big if) Joseph translated a character or two from the Kinderhook Plates, his translation was never completed nor approved nor published by the Church.

        It is also important to note that, in spite of Stanley Kimball’s widely accepted 1981 article which concludes that the Kinderhook Plates are false, there are scholars who point out that this conclusion is not accepted by all scholars who have examined the plates. “Kinderhook Plates – Fraudulent or Authentic” by David Stewart Jr.

        Stewart makes the following points:

        1. The allegation that the ancients could not make an alloy as pure as the metal in the Kinderhook plates is an unproven assumption

        2. He points out that the plates were examined by physicists, engravers, a jeweler, a metalworker, and several photographers, with mixed results. There is not complete consensus on the issue by these experts as to whether the plates were etched or engraved

        After the plates were dug up, witnesses say they were encrusted with oxidation and rust which they could not clean off by scrubbing with water so they cleaned them with sulphuric acid. Etching is done using a solution containing nitrogen. Sulphuric acid in the 19th century often had nitrogen impurities in it which could have left the residue which was interpreted as proof of etching. Also, this solution would have done some of its own etching during the cleaning process which could have removed the microscopic grooves left by an engraver and produced the pock marked look typical of etching.

        3. We don’t know that the ancients did not know how to etch. That is an assumption. It is interesting to note that clay jars have been found in ancient Babylon that are batteries. Yes, that’s right – electrical batteries. They are filled with battery acid and have a positive and a negative pole suggesting that the ancient Babylonians were far more advanced, at least in some areas, than previously thought. It is posited that the batteries were used to generate electrical current used in the electrolysis method of gold plating.

        4. Fulgate’s confession that the Kinderook Plates were a fraud was made 46 years after the event. This is conveniently after all the other witnesses who could confirm or challenge his statement were dead. There are other inconsistencies with his statement regarding what type of metal the plates were made of which don’t match what other witnesses said.

        5. Why were the plates encrusted with oxidation and rust and why did the iron bands around the plates crumbled to dust when touched if they were manufactured as a hoax only days earlier. It also seems unlikely to me that people digging a hole that deep, would not notice that the ground had already been loosened by recent digging.

        6. Characters on the plates turn out to be genuine ancient characters that match script not discovered until 100 years later or more. How could the Kinderhook script match ancient Semitic, Egyptian, Byblos, scripts from ancient Crete and Cyprus, and scripts found at archeological sites in Central and South America? These scripts were not known at the time. How did perpetrators of a fraud see into the future and put correct characters on the plates which turn up in scripts not discovered until much later?

        Kinderhook characters also match some characters found on the Michigan artifacts. Some believe the Michigan artifacts are a fraud and others present evidence of authenticity. There are accounts that people really were finding artifacts in mounds at that time. I posit a theory. I propose the possibility that some were authentic which motivated the creation of the fakes. By definition counterfeit items are always inspired by the real thing. This is a common occurrence in artifacts. There is a robust industry in genuine Mayan artifacts and, because there is money to be made, fakes are also created. This is true of other parts of the world where artifacts are found. If some of the Michigan artifacts are real the Kinderhook characters could have been copied from them and this would explain why the kinderhook characters are also found in other ancient scripts not known at the time of Joseph Smith. Or, maybe the Kinderhook plates are also authentic after all. There is evidence on both sides as I have just pointed out.

        In the absence of new information any continued effort to use the Kinderhook Plates to discredit the prophet just tells me that the person pushing the issue is not current on all the information or is biased and is willing to use one-sided evidence. This seems to me to be an act of desperation and is bad scholarship.

      • Dwight Rogers

        Linguistic experts continue to find indications of Hebrew and Egyptian influence in the Americas.

        The Book of Mormon specifically states that the Reformed Egyptian was a result of modifications the Nephites made to their language and was unique to them. “Reformed” is used as an adjective in the Book of Mormon, not a Noun. “Reformed Egyptian” is not the name of the language the Book of Mormon peoples used; rather, it is a description of the language they used . We don’t expect it to be known in other places in the world or to the scholars as a title of a known language.

        Recent scholarly research suggests a link between Uto-Aztecan (a family of about 30 Native American languages) and Hebrew. For example, Brian Stubbs, a leading scholar on the Uto-Aztecan language family, argues for numerous parallels between Hebrew and Uto-Aztecan. Stubbs has shown that languages of that group show major similarities with Hebrew and Egyptian.

        Brian Stubbs, a leading scholar on the Uto-Aztecan language family, has shown that languages of that group show major similarities with Hebrew and Egyptian. He did so preliminarily in A Few Hundred Hints of Egyptian and Two Dialects of Hebrew (or Northwest Semitic) in Uto-Aztecan, a 142-page manuscript, 2004; it is presently in revision as a book, More on Uto-Aztecan. (See earlier treatments in Brian D. Stubbs, “Looking Over vs. Overlooking Native American Languages: Let’s Void the Void,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 5/1 (1996): 1–49; “Elements of Hebrew in Uto-Aztecan: A Summary of the Data” (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1988); and “Hebrew and Uto-Aztecan: Possible Linguistic Connections,” in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, ed. John W. Welch (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1992), 279–81.)

        Stubbs concludes that the Uto-Aztecan family developed as a creole tongue formed from Hebrew, Egyptian, and a native ancestral language of central Mexico that then divided multiple times. Some, but not all, other Mesoamerican tongues show similar characteristics.

        As a professional linguist, Dr. Stubbs avoids the pitfalls of amateurs who simply point at similar words between two different languages. As he points out,

        Any two languages can have a few similar words by pure chance. What is called the comparative method is the linguist’s tool for eliminating chance similarities and determining with confidence whether two languages are historically—that is, genetically—related. This method consists of testing for three criteria. First, consistent sound correspondences must be established, for linguists have found that sounds change in consistent patterns in related languages; for example, German tag and English day are cognates (related words), as well as German tür and English door. So one rule about sound change in this case is that German initial t corresponds to English initial d. Some general rules of sound change that occur in family after family help the linguist feel more confident about reconstructing original forms from the descendant words or cognates, although a certain amount of guesswork is always involved.

        Second, related languages show parallels in specific structures of grammar and morphology, that is, in rules that govern sentence and word formation.

        Third, a sizable lexicon (vocabulary list) should demonstrate these sound correspondences and grammatical parallels.

        When consistent parallels of these sorts are extensively demonstrated, we can be confident that there was a sister-sister connection between the two tongues at some earlier time.

        A few of Stubbs’ many examples are below showing on the left the Hebrew word and it’s meaning and on the right the New World word and it’s meaning. Stubbs and ather scholars have documented many more examples:

        Hebrew-Semitic Uto-Aztecan
        kilyah/kolyah ‘kidney’ – kali ‘kidney’

        baraq ‘lightning’ – berok (derived from *pïrok) ‘lightning’

        sekem/sikm- ‘shoulder’ – sikum/sïka ‘shoulder’

        mayim/meem ‘water’ – meme-t ‘ocean’

        These are just a few examples out or many that Stubbs gives.

        Rhodes Scholar Dr. Roger Westcott, non-LDS Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Linguistics at Drew University, has made positive comments about Dr. Stubbs’ research:

        “Perhaps the most surprising of all Eurasian-American linguistic connections, at least in geographic terms, is that proposed by Brian Stubbs: a strong link between the Uto-Aztecan and Afro-Asiatic (or Hamito-Semitic) languages. The Uto-Aztecan languages are, or have been, spoken in western North America from Idaho to El Salvador. One would expect that, if Semites or their linguistic kinsmen from northern Africa were to reach the New World by water, their route would be trans-Atlantic. Indeed, what graphonomic evidence there is indicates exactly that: Canaanite inscriptions are found in Georgia and Tennessee as well as in Brazil; and Mediterranean coins, some Hebrew and Moroccan Arabic, are found in Kentucky as well as Venezuela [citing Cyrus Gordon]. “

        But we must follow the evidence wherever it leads. And lexically, at least, it points to the Pacific rather than the Atlantic coast. Stubbs finds Semitic and (more rarely) Egyptian vocabulary in about 20 of 25 extant Uto-Aztecan languages. Of the word-bases in these vernaculars, he finds about 40 percent to be derivable from nearly 500 triliteral Semitic stems. Despite this striking proportion, however, he does not regard Uto-Aztecan as a branch of Semitic or Afro-Asiatic. Indeed, he treats Uto-Aztecan Semitisms as borrowings. But, because these borrowings are at once so numerous and so well “nativized,” he prefers to regard them as an example of linguistic creolization – that is, of massive lexical adaptation of one language group to another. (By way of analogy, . . . historical linguists regard the heavy importation of French vocabulary into Middle English as a process of creolization.)….

        Lest skeptics should attribute these correspondences to coincidence, however, Stubbs takes care to note that there are systematic sound-shifts, analogous to those covered in Indo-European by Grimm’s Law, which recur consistently in loans from Afro-Asiatic to Uto-Aztecan. One of these is the unvoicing of voiced stops in the more southerly receiving languages. Another is the velarization of voiced labial stops and glides in the same languages. (Roger Williams Westcott, “Early Eurasian Linguistic Links with North America,” in Across Before Columbus?, edited. by Donald Y. Gilmore and Linda S. McElroy (Laconia, New Hampshire: New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA), 1998),193–197; cited by Jeff Lindsay, “Nugget #8: Uto-Aztecan and the Book of Mormon: Linguists Provide Possible Evidence Consistent with Book of Mormon Claims,” jefflindsay.com (accessed 16 September 2007)

        http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon/Anachronisms/Language/Hebrew_and_Native_American_language

        Meanwhile, a number of other Native American languages have been shown to be connected to Old World sources, few of which had been suspected. (Bede Fahey, “Mayan: A Sino-Tibetan language? A comparative study,” Sino-Platonic Papers, no. 130 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, 2004).)

        Morris Swadesh was among other linguists who feel that “it is perfectly possible that a group of people having arrived speaking a new language [in the New World] eventually was absorbed into an already established linguistic community.”( Morris Swadesh, “Linguistic Relations Across Bering Strait,” American Anthropologist 64/6 (December 1962): 1262.)

        The phenomenon he describes would be like what took place with native “Toltecs” who migrated into Guatemala, where they came to dominate local populations: “Linguistic patterns of highland Guatemala suggest that Toltec influence involved no mass migration of Nahua speakers to the highlands. Only small numbers of the Toltecs must have come in contact with a well-established indigenous population, the invaders’ tongue being absorbed within the linguistic milieu of the more numerous indigenous population.” (Robert M. Carmack, “Toltec Influence on the Postclassic Culture History of Highland Guatemala,” in Archaeological Studies in Middle America, Middle American Research Institute, Publication 26, ed. E. Wyllys Andrews IV et al. (New Orleans: Tulane University, 1970), 46–92.)

        After only about five hundred years, Robert Carmack found very little linguistic or cultural, let alone archaeological, evidence for their presence there as their history in the Popol Vuh reported. Yet today no Mesoamericanist scholar considers the Popol Vuh anything but a fundamental source on the native pre-Spanish culture. The Book of Mormon is in the same situation.

        Charles William Johnson has done work similar to that of Brian Stubbs except that his work is with evidence for Egyptian in the new world. Johnson has shown that Egyptian words appear in multiple New World native languages including Mayan dialects, the Southwestern United States, and the Gulf coast. These include Taino, Quechua (Runa Simi), Purépecha, and native languages in Louisiana.

        The Book of Mormon continues to make a serious impression on non-LDS scholars. As early as 1966 Near Eastern scholar William F. Albright, though not a believer in the Book of Mormon, wrote a letter in response to an anti-Mormon critic, noting that Joseph Smith probably could not have learned Egyptian from scholars of his day, yet included some authentic Egyptian names in the Book of Mormon. “It is all the more surprising that there are two Egyptian names, Paanch[i] and Pahor[an] which appear in the Book of Mormon in close connection with a reference to the original language being ‘Reformed Egyptian.’” (William F. Albright to Grant S. Heward, Baltimore, Maryland, July 25, 1966, as cited by Tvedtnes, 2001.)

        The Book of Mormon added about 180 new words to the English language when it was published in 1830. Most of these are names of people and places. Now, many of these names have surfaced in ancient document discoveries in the very areas and time periods that the Book of Mormon assignes to them. This information was not available in Joseph Smith’s day. How did he get so many details right? When the archive at Elephantine, on the upper Nile River was discovered around 1900 we learned of a group of Jews who left Jerusalem not long before the time of Lehi and settled on the upper Nile river at Elephantine. It turns out that many names and words in the Elephantine archive match and verify the authenticity of the book of Mormon names No one in Joseph Smith’s time could have fabricated those names because Elephantine had not yet been discovered in Joseph Smith’s day and yet archeological evidence discovered long after Joseph Smith’s time corroborates the Book of Mormon.

        He then implied that Joseph Smith might have been some kind of “religious genius.” Given today’s impressive and growing list of authentic Semitic names in the Book of Mormon, it’s doubtful that the “religious genius” theory can survive. Joseph Smith was not a religious Einstein–he was a largely unschooled Prophet of God.

        A preliminary study was conducted by Peter Balk of the New World Archaeological Foundation through which he reported similarities of word comparisons between Hebrew and Zapotec. The study was conducted among the Zapotec people living in the town of Zaachila, which is located at the base of the hill where the ruins of Monte Alban are situated. Zaachila is also near the city of Oaxaca.

        An additional hint of Hebrew culture at Monte Alban is derived from a four-horned incense burner that is on display in the Oaxaca Valley Room of the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. The urn dates to Monte Alban Period I, 500 BC to 100 BC, and is similar to the types of urns from Jerusalem dating to the same time period.

        Writing was first discovered in Mesoamerica at Monte Alban. However, it is different from Maya writing and has not yet been interpreted.

      • Dwight Rogers

        Discoveries made since the time of Joseph Smith and advancements in scholarship and archeology have provided many types of evidences for the Book of Mormon. These were not available in Joseph Smith’s day and yet the Book of Mormon gets them right. No one, not even the best scholars of Joseph Smith’s time, could have made up the Book of Mormon and gotten so many details correct.

        The Book of Mormon was published in the year 1830. At that time there was little in the way of scholarly or archeological evidence to support it. Joseph Smith (and Mormons ever since) claim that it is a true historic account that really happened. We will call this claim one.

        The critics claim that the Book of Mormon is false and that it was fabricated by Joseph Smith and/or some of Joseph’s associates. We will call this claim two. Let us, therefore, set up a very simple and common sense guideline for evaluating these two positions:

        If the claim one is true, then we would expect, over time, that science and various branches of archeology, language studies, cultural studies, etc… would produce a convergence of data and evidence that supports the book. Even if there was no, or little, evidence to support the Book of Mormon in 1830, we would expect now, after 183 years, that at least some significant discoveries would have been made which verify or support different parts of the Book of Mormon. These would have to be discoveries or information that was not available to Joseph Smith in 1830 which were discovered since that time and which verify or support various parts of the Book of Mormon. These would be things that an author, who was fabricating a book, could not get right by guessing

        If claim two is true then we would expect the opposite of the above. We would expect that more and more details in the Book of Mormon would be shown to be false as more discoveries in archeology and other fields are made.

        It turns out that the longer we go, the more evidence is discovered which confirms parts of the Book of Mormon. There are literally scores and scores, probably several hundred, Book of Mormon details that are now confirmed or supported by evidence that was not available in Joseph Smith’s time.

        After 60 years of research Mesoamerican archeologist, John Sorenson is about to publish his “Mormon Codex” showing 420 details that match up between the Book of Mormon and features of geography, language, and culture in Guatemala and Southern Mexico. Since these details were not known by science or scholars in 1830 when the Book of Mormon was published, how did that book get so many things right? In the world of scholarship and archeology there is seldom anything that “proves” something true. But any other book or claim would have been considered proven true beyond any reasonable doubt with only 10% of the amount data that now exists supporting the Book of Mormon.

      • I joined the church in 1972 when I was a teenager. All the things you spoke about not being told? I can tell you that I had several discussions with the missionaries about it. My parents were there and we all talked about it. I even did further research about it at the library and there was never any hiding of it or attempt to not inform me. Even the bishop openly talked about it so when people say they were duped into joining all I can think is they didn’t pay attention, they didn’t do their own due diligence or they are lying….er forgot. :)

  6. To go Along with Christopher Nicholson, Africa has the best activity and retention rates then anywhere in the world. The Cumorah Foundation (http://www.cumorah.com/) (https://www.facebook.com/cumorahlds) gets reports from missionaries and mission presidents around the world and has reported that many of the stakes in Ghana, the DRC, and other African nations have stakes that have 90%+ activity rates. South America is the place with retention problems, not Africa.

  7. President Hinckley once said that to think out of the box, you first must have a box.
    I for one have spent most of my long life in deep study of LDS doctrine and
    Church hIstory. Some of my best resources have been what some call “anti” literature. By using the footnotes and references I have been able to increase my knowledge to a point that there is almost no doctrinal or historical question that can be explored that does not increase my testimony that all truth can be included under the purview of the Gospel. To me it’s like comparing science and religion. The more you learn about both, the more they have in common.

    • Hmm.. The more i compare science and religion, the more religion looks like a leftover substitute for science when it didn’t exist. People are scared to stay in religion by the spirit death threat. Sad but that’s going to work for a while longer, but not forever.

      And Hinckley lost me at the Larry King Live interview. Fail.

  8. What does the temple ceremonies, and how the movie is filmed (with all white actors) have to do with retention? The temple is a strange place at the best of times. I don’t miss it.

  9. What a confusion here in the comment section!

    What can I say? For those of strong faith, we understand that spiritual knowledge is gained separately than physical knowledge: by the way taught in all the scriptures of all religions I know of: by first taking the leap of faith, planting a seed and seeing if it will grow, knocking and having opened unto us. This faith can exist even knowing all the anti-smut that’s out there: both true and false. People aren’t perfect, nor is Mormon culture perfect or even the Church which teaches the gospel. The gospel alone is perfect. Meanwhile, we can all practice living the gospel by withholding judgement and forgiving, even past and present Church leaders.

    I have lived in areas of great diversity. Yes, minority members in the United States (and I imagine elsewhere) rejoice to see themselves in pictures in LDS magazines, media, etc. However, those with a strong doctrinal understanding/testimony know that skin color doesn’t matter one single bit. Therefore, I conclude that in the temple ceremony that members don’t really care about the skin color of the actors, because it doesn’t matter. What matters is the peace, Spirit, understanding, and love the temple can bring into our lives.

    • FYI, I’ve been a member of the LDS Church for many years. What I discovered, regarding actual church history, inbiblical church doctrine and who Joseph Smith REALLY was, has caused me to turn away from LDS, and to true Christianity – as laid out in the Bible. Contrary to popular LDS belief, most of us who had chosen to sought spiritual paths elsewhere, have not read purpose-driven anti-Mormon “smut” as you would call it. I simply read the Bible. Just about every doctrinal tenet the LDS Church supports can be proven wrong by the Bible. This is why LDS are trained NOT to trust the Bible as inaccurate and missing plain & precious things.

      You say people aren’t perfect. I’ll give you that one, but I would not follow a self proclaimed prophet who slept with at least 33 women and girls, who was blatantly dishonest with his dealings with his fellow men, created a book with his head in a hat and called it scripture and added/corrupted scripture that has no place in the Bible – such as the Masonic-rich temple ordinances.

      • Randal,

        You may have been a member, but if you believe you drifted away because of you studying the history of the church is lying to yourself. Your reason for leaving was a result of sin, pride or selfishness.

        If you know the bible so well, please do your research on how the bible came into being. How many times has it been retranslated? What writings have been lefts out? Why some religious organizations bibles are different and include writing’s of different Christian of the time period? Next study about how difficult it is to translate the Hebrew language into Latin into English. How curtain words and phrases loose their meaning or change the meaning of a point that is being made. Next ask yourself why so many churches can view doctrine so differently if all claim to worship for the same bible.
        You as a former member who seem to know so much about the church claim we believe we are saved by works. You are DEAD wrong and you would know this if you were a Mormon who put as much time into studying the teachings as you have studying the anti stuff. Your just trying to justify your hurt and pain by these efforts. My suggestion. Humble yourself, repent and come back and partake of the goodness found in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. You could contribute a lot to this great work and you will once again have peace in your life, instead of hurt and anger.

        • Dwight Rogers

          Randal,

          I have had the opposite experience. The more I study the Bible the more Mormonism I find in it. It is amazing to find out how many things Joseph Smith got right. Let’s take one of the issues you raise as an example:

          Mormons did practice polygamy over 100 years ago. So did Abraham, Jacob, and other Bible prophets and patriarchs. for example: David was commanded by God to take plural wives by God’s prophet Nathan(2 Samual 12:8). In the Bible the Lord does not condemn polygamy but rather, gives instructions on how men are to treat their plural wives. (Deuteonomy 21:15-17), and that these should be wives that will not turn his heart away from God (1 Kings 11:3-4).

          In the Bible we see where Abraham had plural wives – Sarai, Hagar, Keturah and others.(See Gen. 16:3, Gen 25:1,6) Abraham was righteous and God appeared to him at least twice during the time he had plural wives (Gen 17:1, Gen 18:1). Abraham is blessed and God makes His covenant with him and blesses him to be the father of many nations (Gen 17:1-6). God didn’t care that Abraham was a polygamist. Instead, God appears to him and blesses him. Here we see that God not only condoned polygamy but he blessed Abraham for it and it is the means by which Abraham fulfills God’s promise to become the father of many nations.

          Abijah had fourteen wives (2 Chronicles 13:21) and yet he is described as a righteous king of Judah who honored the Lord (2 Chronicles 13:8-12) and prospered in battle because the Lord blessed him (2 Chronicles 13:16-18)

          In the New Testament Abraham is called the Father of the Faithful (Galations 3:7,9,29) Even Jesus says that the righteous do the works of Abraham (John 8:39).

          We see Jesus teaching that those polygamists Abraham and Jacob, along with the other prophets, will be in the Kingdom of God while others are thrust out (Luke 13:28). So, clearly, Jesus thought that polygamists can go to heaven. We see Christ affirming this again in the Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus wherein Jesus tells us that Abraham, that old polygamist, is in paradise while the Rich man is in Hell (Luke 16: 19-31).

        • Dwight Rogers

          You claim that Joseph Smith slept “slept with at least 33 women and girls.” Yet no historic sources say that. DNA testing has been done on the people who are alleged by critics to descend from Joseph Smith through women other than his first wife Emma. All the testing yields negative result.

          There is little historic evidence that Joseph was sexually intimate with anyone other than Emma Smith. Credible historians and researchers say that this argument (that Joseph Smith was lustful) is a week anti-Mormon argument without historic support. It is not what non-Mormon historians say:

          Historian Richard Bushman shows that Joseph’s relationship with his plural wives was a matter of obeying commandment. There is little if any evidence of licentiousness. Bushaman says:

          “Joseph did not marry women to form a warm, human companionship but to create a network of related wives, children, and kinsmen that would endure into the eternities.”( Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 440.)

          As non-Mormon historian Ernst Benz wrote:

          “Mormon polygamy has nothing to do with sexual debauchery but is tied to a strict patriarchal system of family order and demonstrates in the relationship of the husband to his individual wives all the ethical traits of a Christian, monogamous marriage. It is completely focused on bearing children and rearing them in the bosom of the family and the Mormon community. Actually, it exhibits a very great measure of selflessness, a willingness to sacrifice, and a sense of duty.” (Ernst Benz, “Imago dei: Man as the Image of God,” FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 223–254.)

          Non-Mormon George Bernard Shaw declared:

          “Now nothing can be more idle, nothing more frivolous, than to imagine that this polygamy had anything to do with personal licentiousness. If Joseph Smith had proposed to the Latter-day Saints that they should live licentious lives, they would have rushed on him and probably anticipated their pious neighbors who presently shot him.” (Bernard Shaw, The Future of Political Science in America; an Address by Mr. Bernard Shaw to the Academy of Political Science, at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, on the 11th. April, 1933 (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1933) as cited in Richard Vetterli, Mormonism, Americanism and Politics (Salt Lake City: Ensign Publishing, 1961),

          Historians show that, as Richard Van Wagoner put it: “Contrary to popular nineteenth-century notions about polygamy, the Mormon harem, dominated by lascivious males with hyperactive libidos, did not exist.” (See these historians: Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986); Kathryn Daynes, More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001); Lola Van Wagenen, Sister-Wives and Suffragists: Polygamy and the Politics of Woman Suffrage, 1870-1896 (Provo, Utah: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History, 2003); Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997); Sarah Barrigner Gordon, The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth Century America (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 2002); see also J. Max Anderson, The Polygamy Story: Fiction and Fact (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1979).)

          The images of lustful Mormons was an invention of early propagandists or, simply the invention of journalists and authors trying to sell a book. As Van Wagoner puts it:“the image of unlimited lust was largely the creation of travelers to Salt Lake City more interested in titillating audiences back home than in accurately portraying plural marriage.” (Van Wagoner, 89.) Because polygamy was dedicated to “propagating the species righteously and dispassionately,” plural marriage “proved to be a rather drab lifestyle compared to the imaginative tales dripping with sensationalism, demanded by a scandal-hungry eastern media market.” Historians critical of the Joseph Smith often quote these types of sources but that is like quoting the tabloids at the checkout counter as if they were reliable sources of information.

        • Dwight Rogers

          You claim that Joseph Smith “was blatantly dishonest with his dealings with his fellow men.” What evidence exists for this claim? Historic sources indicate exactly the opposite. Let me present you two examples:

          Historic sources consistently indicate that Joseph Smith was known as truthful in his community and to those who knew him.

          In January 1819, Joseph Smith Sr. and his eldest son, Alvin, initiated a lawsuit against Jeremiah Hurlbut, the eldest male member of a prominent founding family in Palmyra, N.Y. Legal historian Jeffrey Walker analyzes the documents surviving from the suit in his article “Joseph Smith’s Introduction to the Law: The 1819 Hurlbut Case,” which appeared in the spring 2010 issue of “Mormon Historical Studies.” The trial was held on Feb. 6, 1819. Twelve jurors were impaneled from some of the more wealthy and influential families of the community. The Smiths called five witnesses, while Hurlbut called seven. Both Joseph Smith Jr. and his older brother Hyrum were called to testify. the Smiths prevailed in court. They won their case.

          As Jeffrey Walker summarizes the matter:

          “The jurors, composed of the more affluent members of the community, found in favor of Joseph Smith Sr.’s claims against a much more prominent family. Even more important, this same jury, in conjunction with the local justice of the peace, found the young boy Joseph Smith Jr. to be both a credible and competent witness — something that some choose to dispute today. Yet there it is.”
          The proceedings of the 1819 trial are particularly important because they permit us a reliable glimpse into the Palmyra community’s estimation of Joseph and his family before his prophetic claims made him a focus of controversy.

      • Dwight Rogers

        In March of 1826 several of Josiah Stowell’s relatives felt that Joseph had been defrauding Stowell, and brought charges against him. Joseph was taken before a judge in a preliminary hearing. The judge dismissed the charges for lack of evidence and no trial was heald. The judge found that there were no grounds for going forward with a trial and Joseph was aquitted. Joseph was never convicted of any crime.

        A second published account of the trial kept by Dr. Purple said that Joseph was simply arrested and kept overnight for trial: After Joseph, his father and other witnesses had testified, Josiah Stoal was called to be the key witness against Joseph. Josiah Stowell is the one Joseph was supposed to have defrauded. Instead, Stowall turned the tables and testified in defense of Joseph saying of Josephs side of the story:

        “Do I believe it? No, it is not a matter of belief: I positively know it [Joseph’s claims] to be true.” The charges were brought by Stowell’s family members, who appear to have been worried that Josiah would accept Joseph’s religious claims. Stowell himself joined the Church founded by Joseph and remained a faithful member to the day of his death.

        Non-Mormon John Reid had this to say about it. “I was called to defend Joseph but declined because I was not a sophisticated lawyer as was the accusing prosecution’s lawyer. But I knew Joseph and I knew that his character was irreproachable; he was well known for truth and uprightness; spoken of as a young man of intelligence and good morals, expressing an anxious desire to know the will of God.” He was an instrument “in the hands of God to do a good work, I knew not what.” (History of Church, V1:94, footnotes by B. H. Roberts)

      • Dwight Rogers

        The enemies of Joseph charged him with fraud in various property conveyances, mostly in behalf of the Church. A succession of court proceedings that extended for nearly a decade examined these claims in meticulous detail. Finally, in 1852, long after the Saints’ exodus from Illinois (so there was no conceivable political or other cause for anyone to favor the Prophet), a federal judge concluded this litigation with a decree that found no fraud or other moral impropriety by the Prophet. (See Dallin H. Oaks and Joseph I. Bentley, “Joseph Smith and Legal Process: In the Wake of the Steamboat Nauvoo,” BYU Law Review [1976]: 735.)

      • Dwight Rogers

        You mention the way Joseph translated the Book of Mormon.

        Actually, Christian scripture has been created in a very similar way. The Bible demonstrates that God communicates with man in the manner that is expected or accepted during a particular time period. Throughout the Bible there are various ways in which God gave revelation to prophets. These range from visions, angels, hearing the voice of God, God speaking from a burning bush, seeing writing on a wall, writing on a tablet, casting lots, magic rods, magic cups, dreams, and hearing the voice of his Spirit in the heart and mind. I think God can decide for Himself how he wishes to give a prophet a revelation or a translation. Who is man that he should tell God how He can or can’t give a translation?

        Nevertheless, the method in which Joseph Smith was given the text of the Book of Mormon, by the gift and power of God is amazingly similar to other Biblical accounts of God giving written material to prophets.

        For example, Daniel’s experience of seeing God’s writing on the wall is similar to Joseph Smiths experience of seeing God’s writing on a stone:

        “In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.” (Daniel 5:5)

        Moses struck a rock and water flowed out of it. Moses struck the ground and the Red Sea parted.

        The Old Testament Joseph had a silver cup which he used to divine (Genesis 44:2, 5).

        We read, for instance, that Aaron had a magical rod (Exodus 7:9-12). Jacob also used magical rods to produce speckled offspring from Laban’s cattle (Genesis 30:37-39). We read that a priest could tell if a woman had committed adultery by seeing if her thigh swelled after drinking a special potion (Numbers 5: 11-13, 21)

        The Bible describes Moses communicating with God from between the two cheibums on the Arc of the covenants lid. (Ex 25;22)

        The casting of lots (sortilege) to choose a new Apostle (see Acts 1:26) was known and practiced by the pagans of Jesus’ day. Even some of Christ’s miracles were similar to the magic of surrounding pagans. Jesus’ healing of the deaf man by putting his fingers in his ears (Mark 7:33–35) and Jesus’ healing of the blind man by touching his eyes with spittle and clay were also common pagan practices.

        As recorded in 1 Samuel 14:41, 1 Samual 10:22, and 2 Samual 5:23 that the urim and thummim was used by ancient seers to receive revelation from God. The high priest in Israel would place the urim and thummim the breast plate as described in the book of Exodus in order to receive revelation. The star used as a symbol for the Jewish people or the Jewish state of Israel is traditionally based on the urim and thummim. The urim and thummim was said to be two stones or lenses that were triangular shaped and if you put an upward pointing triangle over an inverted triangle it makes the star.

        The prophecy of John the Revelator, wherein he said that some would have a white stone which would have writing on it is amazingly similar to what actually happened to Joseph Smith:

        “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” (Revelations 2:17)

        Note that John tells us that “no man knoweth” about the stone and the writing “saving he that receiveth it.” So, of course, critics will doubt and mock.

        And, of course, we have what is probably the best known example of a prophet receiving writing from God on a stone, that of Moses:

        “And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”(Exodus 31:18) And also:“And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the Lord spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.” (Deuteronomy 9:10)

        Here, God writes words on a stone tablet, very similar to words being written on the stone that Joseph used.

        God can give revelation to a prophet in whatever manner He chooses. And He did use a variety of methods with various prophets, some of which would look like folk magic to us today.

        Although the historical picture of the Book of Mormon translation process is not as commonly known to some members as it perhaps should be, despite the cries of critics the Church hasn’t been hiding this information. It has been mentioned for instance in the Ensign, (one instance in which the talk was originally given to Mission Presidents, the Friend, as well as other LDS-targeted publications. (Russell M. Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign (July 1993; A Peaceful Heart,” Friend (September 1974))

      • Dwight Rogers

        It really doesn’t bother us Mormons that Joseph Smith was a Mason. So what? Masonry was a well-known social institution in mid-19th century America and many people from various Christian denominations were Masons.

        Masons claim that they get their ceremonies from ancient sources linked to Solomon’s temple. Ancient Christian and Jewish sources not available to Joseph Smith contain temple details that Joseph got right. How could he get such details right when the information wasn’t available in his time? This shows that he was actually telling the truth. He was restoring the correct order of the temple.

        One viewpoint on the origins of Masonry, which Masons themselves sometimes support with research, indicate that they got their symbols ceremonies from the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. One version is that during the crusades the Knights Templar discovered documents underneath the temple mound in Jerusalem from which the Masonic ceremonies derive. Another version is that the masons who built Solomon’s temple passed down the temple ritual. This may be more tradition than fact but it is hard to tell. The story of Helen of Troy, long thought to be myth, turned out to be based in real historic events. The city of Troy, thought to be a fictional city, turned out to be a real city when archeologists discovered its location and evidence of a war at about the right time.

        Therefore one can assume that the link between Masonry and the temple is myth but it could also be based on fact. This would be an indication that Joseph was, in fact, restoring the correct ancient order of the temple. Other indications of the ancient Biblical origins of the temple ceremony exist in a number of ancient documents going back to both the Old Testament Jews and to the New Testament Christians. See Hugh Nibly’s “Mormonism and Early Christianity” for instance and there are other works since Hugh Nibly’s time detailing these discoveries. The ancient prayer circle is described in early Christian documents. Other specific details of the temple endowment are found in early Christian texts and drawings as well as in Egypt. Evidence strongly suggest an origin more ancient than Medieval Masonry.. Evidence is strong that Joseph Smith did not get temple ritual from Masonry but, rather, the Masons preserved something of temple ritual from God’s temple in ancient times and Joseph Smith restored it to its correct form by revelation.

        Joseph Smith was inducted into Masonry on 15 March 1842, too late for him to have borrowed temple ritual or other Mormon beliefs from the Masons. Joseph began restoring the ancient Christian form of temple worship well before he was a Mason. Joseph claimed that the temple ceremony was revealed to him from God and there is plenty of evidence that the temple rites were at least partially restored during the mid 1830’s – too early for him to have gotten them from Masonry which he didn’t’ join until years later. He mentions the temple rites during the translation of the Egyptian papyri in 1835.

        On 5 May 1841, again, nearly a year before Joseph Smith learned he secrets of Masonry, William Appleby paid a visit to Joseph Smith, who read to him the revelation on temple ordinances, now identified as Doctrine and Covenants 124, that was received 19 January 1841. Discussing this revelation the Prophet got out his collection of Egyptian papyrus scrolls and, while exhibiting Facsimile 2, explained to Appleby that part of the drawing was related to the temple ordinances and discussed some details of the same. So Joseph already had the temple ceremonies in January 1841, over a year BEFORE he became a Mason. (William I. Appleby Journal, 5 May 1841, MS 1401 1, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.

        There is a great deal of historical evidence that Joseph already had the temple ceremony with its details well before his introduction to Masonry. In Doctrine and Covenants 105 verse 33 we read “Verily I say unto you, it is expedient in me that the first elders of my church should receive their endowment from on high in my house, which I have commanded to be built unto my name in the land of Kirtland.” This revelation was given June 22, 1834. Thus we see that the Lord was already in the process of preparing to give the leading elders of the church the endowment in the Kirtland era and at least some of the temple ceremonies were administered in that time period.

        In evidence of this fact, we find that upon his initiation into Masonry Joseph Smith was already explaining things which the Masons themselves did not comprehend. According to one witness:

        “the Prophet explained many things about the rites that even Masons do not pretend to understand but which he made most clear and beautiful.” (Horace H. Cummings, “True Stories from My Journal,” The Instructor 64 no. 8 (August 1929), 441.; cited in Matthew B. Brown, “Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger,” FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131)

        A few of the early leaders of the Church pointed out that one of the aims of Masonry was to teach adherents proper respect for promises of confidentiality. (See footnote 20 of Matthew B. Brown, “Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger,” FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131)For instance:

        Joseph Smith said: “The secret of Masonry is to keep a secret.” (Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 329. ISBN 087579243X. off-site{15 October 1843))

        Brigham Young: “The main part of Masonry is to keep a secret.” (Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 5:418, (22 January 1860, spelling standardized)]

        This institutionalized Masonic principle of keeping a confidence was a trait that would be necessary for the Saints to incorporate into their lives once they were endowed, because certain elements of the temple ritual were considered to be very sacred and were not to be divulged to the uninitiated. This may be the key for understanding why the Prophet encouraged so many of the Nauvoo-era Saints to join the Masonic brotherhood.

        Most similarities between Masonry and LDS temple ritual are superficial and have more to do with outward ceremony than with the content or meaning. It would seem that the Masons preserved some outward symbols of the ancient temple ritual but lost their significance. The goals of Masonry and the LDS endowment are not the same. Both teach important truths, but the truths they teach are different. There are more differences between Masonry and the LDS temple than there are similarities. Masonry teaches of man’s relationship to his fellow men and offers no means of salvation; i.e., it is not a religion. Although it accepts and is supportive of religion in general it does not teach any particular faith. It does not teach of Jesus Christ nor does it contain the teachings or the covenants that are contained in the temple. The temple endowment, on the other hand, teaches of man’s relationship to God, and Latter-day Saints consider it to be essential for exaltation in the world to come.

        Greg Kearny is a temple going Latter-day Saint and also a Mason who’s family traces its history in Masonry back one-thousand years. Kearny postulates a distinction between the truths and covenants of the temple endowment and the method of delivery. In other words, the truths and covenants of the temple are separate from the ritual and symbols used. The ritual and symbols are the method of teaching the truths but are not the truths themselves. Kearny postulates that Joseph Smith recognized in Masonry a teaching method which was well suited for conveying the truths and covenants of the temple and he borrowed those teaching methods. While I find this theory intriguing it does not explain the ceremony and symbols from ancient Christianity and Judaism which are also found in both Masonry and Mormonism. It would seem to me, therefore, that strong evidence exists indicating that both Mormonism and Masonry derive from more ancient sources and that Joseph was, indeed, restoring ancient temple ritual. As already discussed, he already had much if not all of the temple endowment before he learned the secrets of Masonry so, how could he have stolen them from Masonry? Considering the substantial evidence that these symbols and ceremonies pre-date Masonry it seem more likely that Joseph simply recognized in Masonry a remnant of the original temple ritual that he had already received by revelation. We should also note that Joseph Smith gets a number of things right which are not found in Masonry but which are found in ancient Christian and Jewish documents not available in Joseph’s time. It is difficult to imagine how Joseph could have guessed these things if he were making it up.

    • Dwight Rogers

      Ben,

      When people post false things do you really think that’s OK and that we are supposed to just lay down and die and give no response? It’s easy to put five or ten criticisms of the Church into a few sentences. It takes far more space and time to respond to those criticisms and to discuss the evidence from scholars and historians. Thus, sites like these make it easy for critics to post false information without giving any sources or backing for their uninformed claims. It takes more time and space to have an informed discussion, something which critics seldom do. In any reasonable system of justice the burden of proof is upon the accuser not the defendant. Yet critics seldom have any real scholarship to back up their accusations.

      • Not to mention the fact that critics often put forth their alleged research which ends up being nothing more than rehashing someone else’s shoddy scholarship without attribution. It’s a rare day that I encounter a genuine first-hand criticism which was discovered quite innocently as the result of a person’s own research.

        • Dwight Rogers

          Hi Tom, Yes exactly right! I have consistently found, as you say, that critics cite other critics as proof. The critics end up citing each other as proof rather than citing the better first hand sources. Sometime a more recent critic will cite an older critic from, say 50 or 100 years ago, but it’s still critics citing critics.

          And, I have appreciated your comments throughout!

          Thanks!

          Dwight

          • Sometimes they’ll refer to an original source, such as Journal of Discourses, when it is evident that they have never read the JD itself and have no idea how anything appears in context. Their preferred critics will say that something is located in the JD, and that’s as close as they get when repeating the criticism. No originality. Just a regurgitation of someone else’s superficial examination.

  10. Should minority actors be used to portray Ab in a film about Abraham Lincoln? Let’s be logical. It is not racist to use actors of the same race as the characters being played, it is just common sense.

    • Except, of course, that we have absolutely no idea what race Adam and Eve were. For lack of direct revelation on the matter, it seems somewhat practical to go for a look consistent with our conceptions of folks like Abraham. But regardless of how close or far actors may come to resembling the true Adam and Eve, that really has nothing to do with the point of the Endowment anyway. If that’s where our focus lies, we’re off track to begin with.

  11. Miguel Montes

    I am Hispanic and the idea of having an Hispanic or Black actor never occurred to me. It has no bearing on my experience. The experience meets me at the point I am at and what my attitude is during the process.

  12. As a black man who joined the church 30 years ago I can tell you the last thing that came to my mind (until I read these comments) was the color of people in the church. Yes when I did join the church all my friends told me about the prejudices in the church, but that is of man, an obstical that satan has put here on earth to draw people away from learning the truth. Once I prayed and knew what I was reading was true, I couldn’t deny it. Never. If you’ve been lead away by hurt feelings by the actions of man, I’d start back on square one, take the missionary lessons again and make it your church, not your parents, not your friends or ex friends. The gospel is restored, feel the spirit in your heart, receive the blessings.

  13. I found the comments about using masonic symbology as a teaching methodology valid and interesting. And yet, the question must be asked: What type of methodology are we talking about? Masonic rituals do contain threats at least in figurative terms (less figurative for those who experienced the side effects of the teaching for the last time in their life!). The LDS temple cerimony featuring Satan who threatens temple participants to strictly obey the ordinances otherwise they will be in Satan’s power is also a threatening teaching methodology. Some members report of being scared to death after watching the movie and not being able to even follow up with the rest of the action. Now, I may not be an expert in terms of the New Testament (let us drop the threatening voice and actions of the Jehovah of the Old Testament) but I do not recollect Jesus the Lord using this threatening method of teaching his sheep. If I am mistaken, please correct me. Thanks.

    • Dwight Rogers

      See these references (1 John 5:16; 2 Cor. 4:11; Rom. 1;32; Rom 6:20-21,23; Rom. 7:5; Rev. 2:23; Acts 5:1-10

      Nevertheless, you won’t find the most sacred teachings recorded. On several occasions the teachings of Jesus were so sacred that he did not want to discuss them openly. After Peter James and John saw Moses, and Elias, and heard God’s voice on the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus told them “tell the vision to no man, until the Son of Man be risen again from the dead” (Matt. 17:9).

      When teaching the people Jesus often used parables. When His disciples asked him why He taught in parables “He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” (Matthew 13:11) It was meant for his more trusted followers to understand truths that the body of people were not yet prepared to receive.

      And Jesus again taught “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matthew 7:6) Or as it is given in the JST: “And the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet.” (JST Matt. 7:10)

      Shortly before His crucifixion Jesus said to the apostles: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12) Luke tells us that Jesus did come back and teach the disciples the “many things” the he desired to teach them before he was taken from them and crucified. After His resurrection, Jesus was “seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3) Here we are informed that, after His resurrection, Jesus spent forty days teaching his disciples of the things of God. Is there any doubt that, during the forty days, Jesus fulfilled his wish to share “many things” with his trusted disciples? We are explicitly told that during the forty days He taught them “of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” and yet Luke does not record in Acts what those teachings were.

      Luke writes that the resurrected Lord “aShewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). The phrase “infallible proofs” was translated by King James scholars from the Greek, tekmēriois, which literally means “sure signs or tokens. (See Also Isaiah 22:23)

      The apostle Paul writes to “the church of God which is at Corinth.” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Then, as recorded in chapter two of the King James version Paul say to them “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)

      However, in an alternate translation it reads: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not declaring unto you the secret ritual of God with eloquence or the wisdom. For I determined to not know anything among you but Jesus Christ and him crucified.” He then goes on to say “However, we do speak wisdom among those who are initiated; not the wisdom of this world or of the rulers of this world who are coming to nothing, but we speak the wisdom of God in a secret ritual, even the secret wisdom that God has ordained before the world unto our glory” (1 Cor. 2:1-2,6-7)

      In the KJV verse six says “we speak wisdom among them that are perfect”. It actually reads “among the teleos.” Teleos is sometimes translated as “the mature” or “the perfect” but here it more accurately means “the initiated” meaning those who are sufficiently mature in the gospel and are, therefore, initiated into the mysteries.

      To sum up, Paul, then, is saying that he will not speak of the secret rituals to the body of Christians but limits his discussion with them to Jesus Christ and his crucifixion. But then Paul admits that he does speak of the secret rituals with the more mature Christians saying: “we do speak wisdom among those who are initiated. . . we speak the wisdom of God in a secret ritual, even the secret wisdom that God has ordained before the world unto our glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-7) [Later, some of the early church fathers also equated this verse with the secret mysteries]. Here Paul divides the people into three groups: 1) Those who have the “wisdom of this world. . . that come to nought.” 2) Those Christians who are “not to know any thing…save Jesus Christ , and him crucified.” and 3) Those Christians “who are initiated” into the “secret ritual, even the secret wisdom that God has ordained before the world unto our glory.”

      In the next chapter he again reminds the body of Christians at Corinth that “I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” ( 1 Corinthians 3:1-2). Here Paul maintains the policy of Jesus that “it is given unto you to know the amysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (Matthew 13:11), and not to “cast ye your pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6). The Hebrews are also told that some of them are still babes in Christ and are ready only for milk and not yet ready for meat (Heb. 5:12-14). When are they to receive the “meat?” When they are more mature, ready to be initiated into the mysteries, which means the sacred and secret rituals of the temple.

      The early Christians continued this policy. In his younger years Clement of Rome followed Peter around and was not only taught by Peter but recorded many of Peter’s teachings that are not recorded in the Bible. Peter later became Bishop of Rome about 90 AD. Clement records what Peter taught him about Jesus’ teaching regarding the necessity to protect sacred things associated with “my house” meaning the Temple:

      Peter Said to me, “Let us remember that the Lord commanded us saying : ‘Guard those secret things which belong to me and the sons of my house. Keep my secret ye who are kept by it.’ …Now Clement you are forcing me with your questions to discuss things that are not allowed to talk about. But I will explain things so far as it is allowed. With the passing of time the more secret things will be disclosed to you….. it is not permitted to me now to disclose these things to you. God has concealed his mind from men and we are under obligation to honor with silence the very highest teachings. Nothing is harder than to reason about the truth in the presence of mixed multitudes of people. I try for the most part by using a certain circumlocution to avoid publishing the chief knowledge concerning the Supreme Divinity to unworthy ears. The teaching of all doctrine has a certain order, and there are some things which must be delivered first, others in the second place, and others in the third, and so all in their order; and if these things be delivered in their order, they become plain; but if they be brought forward out of order, they will seem to be spoken against reason…” (The Recognitions of Clement/Book III/Chapter 24)

      Here Peter cites Jesus about guarding secret things having to do with “my house.” This is a reference to the Temple and is very similar to what Joseph Smith taught:

      “It was the design of the councils of heaven before the world was, that the principles and laws of the priesthood should be predicated upon the gathering of the people in every age of the world. Jesus did everything to gather the people, and they would not be gathered…. The main object [of gathering] was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto. His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose. ”

      Peter is also quoted by Clement of Rome as saying: “But if [Simon] remains wrapped up and polluted in those sins which are manifestly such, it does not become me to speak to him at all of the more secret and sacred things of divine knowledge, but rather to protest and confront him, that he cease from sin, and cleanse his actions from vice.”

      “But if he insinuate himself, and lead us on to speak what he . . . ought not to hear, it will be our part to parry him cautiously. For not to answer him at all does not seem proper, for the sake of the hearers, lest haply they may think that we decline the contest through want of ability to answer him, and so their faith may be injured through their misunderstanding of our purpose.” (Clement recognitions in Ante-Nicene Fathers or ANF, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and A. Cleaveland Coxe, vol. 5 [Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999], 8:98)

      Here Peter teaches to withhold the more “secret and sacred things” from those who are not ready to receive them but that we should give them an answer nevertheless. Do you think that, like Latter-day Saints, the early Christians also suffered from the criticism of having secret information that they hide from others? I’m pretty sure they did.

      It wasn’t just Peter and Paul who followed the Lord in this policy: Ignatius was the third bishop of Antioch. Some sources place his birth as early as 35 A.D. and others place it around 50 A.D. He lived sometime between about 35 to about 117 AD. Some sources place his death at 108 AD. He, and Polycarp were trained by the apostle John and he was made bishop of Antioch by Peter. Ignatius, Polycarp, and Clement, all early bishops commissioned by the apostles, wrote letters to each other in which they said that the apostles had told them that they could either go with the church into apostasy or they could remain faithful and be martyred. All three were fed to the lions in the arena.

      On his way to martyrdom in Rome Ignatius wrote seven letters which give one of the earliest and most important glimpses into early Christian doctrine. Of these letters the Catholic encyclopedia says: “…the best modern criticism favors the authenticity of the seven letters mentioned by Eusebius….The Martyred Bishop of Antioch constitutes a most important link between the Apostles and the Fathers of the early Church. His testimony must necessarily carry with it the greatest weight and demand the most serious consideration.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Ignatius)

      Ignatius wrote to the Saints at Tralles (SW Turkey) who had asked him for a letter about the mysteries. He replied: “I would like to write to you of heavenly things (or of things more full of mystery), but I fear to do so, lest I should inflict injury on you who are but babes . . . you would be strangled by such things.” (Ignatius, Epist. Ad Tralles, c. 5. ;Nibley: Since Cumorah p. 111 )

      He wrote similar words to the Saints at Rome saying: “I am able to write to you of heavenly things, but I fear lest I should do you an injury. . . . For I am cautious lest ye should not be able to receive [such knowledge], and should be perplexed. For even I, not because I am in bonds, and am able to know heavenly things, and the places of angels, and the stations of the powers that are seen and that are not seen, and on this account a disciple; for I am far short of the perfection which is worthy of God.” ( Epistle to the Romans in ANF 1:104)

      Ignatius, being one of the earliest witnesses to early Christian doctrine, and having been taught in person by apostles John and Peter, continues the policy of Jesus, Paul, and Peter, regarding the transmission of the sacred and secret mysteries. The mysteries were seldom shared, not even with most Christians, they being reserved for the few who demonstrated that they were prepared to be initiated into the mysteries.

      The Apocryphon of James.( Secret Book of James,) begins: “Since you have asked me to send you a secret book of revelation, which was given to me and to Peter by the Lord, I cannot refuse or be silent…. But I … send it to you and to you alone…. Take care not to let this book of the Lord be communicated to many. The Savior did not want it transmitted to all the Twelve.” (Apocryphon of James, 1:8-25; Nibley: Since Cumorah p. 112 )

      The very early Testament of Our Lord Jesus opens with the admonition that the document is to come into the hands “only of proven saints who dwell in the third order (or level) next to the mansion of my Father who sent me.” (Test. Dom. n. J. Christi, Rahmani, ed. I, xviii (pp.22f.); Nibley: Since Cumorah p. 111 )

      Clement of Alexandria (c.150 – c. 215) says: ”The Mysteries of the Faith, are not to be disclosed indiscriminately to everyone, since not all are ready to receive the truth.”‘ (Clement of Alexandria, Patrologia) Clement says that “Jesus explained to his disciples privately the mysteries of the Kingdome of Heaven.”

      Clement, though orthodox, applied the term “Gnostic” to himself and other Christians who possessed certain higher knowledge. Clement is quoted by Eusebius thus: “The Lord after his resurrection imparted knowledge (gnosis) to James the Just and to John and Peter, and they imparted it to the rest of the apostles, and the rest of the apostles to the seventy, of whom Barnabas was one.” ” (Clement of Alexandria as quoted by Eusebius. The Church History of EusebiusI 214. Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers Series Two, 14 vols. [1885; reprint., Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004.] 1:104)

      Eusebius goes on saying: “The secret discipline thus instituted by Christ was familiar to those who had been his [Clement’s] masters and preceptors. The multitude of professing Christianity were therefore divided by them into the profane, or those who were not yet admitted to the mysteries, and the initiated, or faithful and perfect. . . and as none were permitted to be present at these mysteries, as they were termed, save those whose admission into the fellowship of the church was perfect and complete, so likewise was it expected that, as a matter of duty, the most sacred silence should be observed in regard to everything connected with the celebration of them, and nothing whatever relating thereto to be committed to the ears of the profane.” (Ibid)

      In Clement’s view, the so called Gnostics usurped the title which rightfully belonged to the elite of mainstream orthodox Christianity. A true Gnostic is an orthodox Christian trained in the mysteries. Those others who became known as Gnostics stole the title and imitated the mysteries.
      Clement says: “Wherefore also all men are his, some through gnosis, others not yet so, and some as friends, some as faithful servants, some as servants merely. This is the teacher who trains the Gnostic by mysteries, and the believer by good hopes, and the hard of heart by corrective discipline through sensible operation.” (Clement)
      The mysteries are not given to the hard of heart or even the believing Christians, but only to the Christians who are trained in the mysteries. These are they who have repented and passed through purification. These are the three levels spoken of earlier by Paul which includes the non-believer or non-obedient, the believer or Christian, and the advanced Christian who is initiated into the mysteries. This teaching of Paul, Peter, and the early fathers, and initiated by Jesus Himself, recognize a distinction between regular Christians and those Christians who are prepared for initiation into the mysteries. The teaching runs through the writings of early Christianity.

      Origen (185-254 A.D.) was Clement of Alexandria’s disciple. While writing a response to the heretic Celsus he too describes two levels of Christians: “Now, in answer to such statements [of Celsus], we say that it is not the same thing to invite those who are sick in soul to be cured, and those who are in health to the knowledge and study of divine things. We, however, keeping both these things in view, at first invite all men to be healed, and exhort those who are sinners to come to the consideration of the doctrines which teach men not to sin. . . .And when those who have been turned towards virtue have made progress, and have shown that they have been purified by the word, and have led as far as they can a better life, then and not before do we invite them to participate in our mysteries. ‘For we speak wisdom among them that are perfect.’ [citing 2 Corinthians 2:6 which we have previously discussed]. . . . .Whoever is pure not only from all defilement, but from what are regarded as lesser transgressions, let him be boldly initiated in the mysteries of Jesus, which properly are made known only to the holy and the pure. . .He who acts as initiator, according to the precepts of Jesus, will say to those who have been purified in heart, ‘He whose soul has, for a long time, been conscious of no evil, and especially since he yielded himself to the healing of the word, let such an one hear the doctrines which were spoken in private by Jesus to His genuine disciples.’ [Celsus] does not know the difference between inviting the wicked to be healed, and initiating those already purified into the sacred mysteries! Not to participation in mysteries, then, and to fellowship in the wisdom hidden in a mystery, which God ordained before the world to the glory of His saints, do we invite the wicked man, and the thief, and the housebreaker, and the poisoner, and the committer of sacrilege, and the plunderer of the dead and all those others whom Celsus may enumerate in his exaggerated style, but such as these we invite to be healed. . . God the Word was sent, indeed, as a physician to sinners, but as a teacher of divine mysteries to those who are already pure and who sin no more.” (Against Celsus in ANF 4:487-489)

      Hippolytus (170-235 A.D) is said to be the most important 3rd century theologian in the Christian Church. Around 200 A.D he taught: “But if there is any other matter which ought to be told, let the bishop impart it secretly to those who are communicated. He shall not tell this to any but the faithful and only after they have first been communicated. This is the white stone of which John said that there is a new name written upon it which no man knows except him who receives. Clement of Alexandria claimed to possess a secret tradition of knowledge (gnosis) handed down from the Savior to the Apostles and on to Clement himself by way of certain of his teachers.”

      Lactantius (ca. 240 – ca. 320) wrote “We do not make a practice of defending and discussing this thing publicly, because, with the help of God, we quietly keep his secret to ourselves in silence . . . for it is proper to withhold and conceal the mystery with all possible care—especially so for us who bear the name of believers.”(Lactantius, Divine Institutes VIII. 26 (Nibley: Since Cumorah p. 111 ) And: “The mystery ought to be most faithfully concealed and covered especially by us who bear the name of faith.”

      St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop of Constantinople (329-390 A.D), wrote in A.D. 379: “You have heard as much of the Mystery as we are allowed to speak openly in the ears of all; the rest will be communicated to you in private; and that you must retain within yourself… Our Mysteries are not to be known to strangers.”

  14. Actually, in the two new films, both the lead female characters and one of the two lead male characters have darker skin and to the viewer could be considered of multiple races, spanning the gammit from polynesian, to asian, to black (a lighter back color to be sure, but still could be considered a blacker skin color than white).

    As for grace, Mormons believe it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do. That doesn’t mean that we meet Christ half way. What it means is that we have some responsiblity in the process of salvation. Only Christ, through his grace can save us. But this whole earth life would be an utter waste of time if we weren’t required to practice being more kind, more loving, more patient, more honest, more giving, essentially practicing the attributes of heaven. There is simply no way we could offer any sacrifice of our own making that would pay for our sins. The only acceptable payment was the offering of an eternal sacrifice, meaning the sacrifice of a divine being, namely Jesus Christ.

    Its sort of like a parent getting his/her son to take piano lessons. The son can’t afford to pay the teacher, so mom pays the teacher. The son can’t afford to buy the piano, so dad busy the piano. The whole thing is bought and paid for by mom and dad, but because they did all of that for their son, they can require their son to do one thing: practice. And that’s what Mormons believe is our relationship to the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on our behalf. He is divine. He is God. He offered himself as the eternal (meaning god) sacrifice for our sins. And then, like a parent, he requires that we practice. heaven. We don’t earn heaven, we must LEARN heaven. We must learn in this earthly existence what love and honesty and patience and kindness and selflessness are. And Christ expects us to practice those things. And when we fall short, he extends his mercy to us again and again, and by virtue of his sacrifice our sins can be washed away, and we can be clean again. We offer to God our will, and we follow Jesus Christ, and through him we are made clean, and we are prepared to return to his presence–the very same God who gave us life, clean, and pure, and practiced.

    It is false doctrine to teach that because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we are absolved on any responsibility in this life. That’s a teaching that came out of the church in the early 13th century, and many church leaders taught against it, but it managed to prevail. God expects us to repent, and try and try again, until our weaknesses are made into strengths. And, like a divine parent, he stands beside us offering his atonement for our repentance.

    Any other doctrine simply denies the importance and reason for any earthly probation. Why come to earth at all if we have no responsibility to practice heaven.

    Mormons don’t earn heaven, they are busy learning heaven. And thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Mormons believe that we can fall, repent, and practice again. The beginning piano student is not expected to play the piece perfectly the first time. If he strikes a wrong note he doesn’t lose the chance to practice more. He keeps practicing and until he eliminates all the wrong notes and can play the piece without errors. So, too, when we fail and have need of repentance, it is Jesus Christ who makes that possible. But only AFTER ALL WE CAN DO. We must keep practicing, eliminating the wrong notes, and we do that only and completely through Jesus Christ.

    Good practicing to us all!

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