Thursday, January 24, 2008

A new word in the Book of Mormon

That's a way to deal with the problems generated by apparent conflict between science and one's holy book: just get the holy book changed a little.

P. S. One Brow is quite right, of course. The change is to the introduction, written in the 1980s. A more interesting question concerns what this does to the historic mission of the Mormon church. Historically, this has involved a special mission to Native Americans on grounds that they are Lamanites, that is, descendants of the Book of Mormon peoples. At one time this was the basis for an adoption program of Native Americans into Mormon households, and past President Spencer Kimball is notorious for having said that the program must be working because you can see the effects of greater righteousness in these adoptees by seeing that their skin has gotten whiter in the course of their adoption to those Mormon households. If Mormons stop believing that the people who live on the res are Lamanites, doesn't that entail that one of the Mormon Church's primary missions has been misguided all these years?

Another interesting question is whether the Prophet, Seer and Revelator (aka the President) of the Mormon Church could change the text of the book of Mormon if the PSR were to claims fresh revelation as a basis for doing so. Given a belief not only in modern revelation but also in ongoing revelation, this would be more to be expected coming from Mormonism than it would be coming from either Catholic or Protestant Christianity.

4 comments:

One Brow said...

Except, the Book of Mormon was not changed. The introduction was changed, but that's not part of the text.

One Brow said...

Another interesting question is whether the Prophet, Seer and Revelator (aka the President) of the Mormon Church could change the text of the book of Mormon if the PSR were to claims fresh revelation as a basis for doing so. Given a belief not only in modern revelation but also in ongoing revelation, this would be more to be expected coming from Mormonism than it would be coming from either Catholic or Protestant Christianity.
I think there actually was a similar change back in the 1970s in the BoM itself, to alter an apparent racist reference.

Also, even though the Catholics don't change the Bible, their equating of Tradition along with the Bible in improtance allows them to effectively alter their dogma in a similar fashion, along the lines of ongoing revelation.

Mike Darus said...

I think I have heard the use of the term "clarification" in Mormon explanations of subsequent revelation that seems diferent from the original. It is not inconsisent with biblical revelation for there to be changes. The New Testament gospel produced dramatic changes from Old Testament belief and practice. A new revelation could mark the beginning of a new dispensation. The other type of legitimate change would be related to "reformation" when things start heading the wrong way institutionally. I would not be surprised to see the Mormon church continue to make changes that look more like orthodox Christianity. One of their hopes is to be recognized as just another Christian denomination.

IlĂ­on said...

However, for Mormonism to be seen as just another Christian denomination, one of two things must happen:
1) Mormonism must cease to be Mormonism.
2) Christianity must cease to be Christianity.