Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beware of the Experts—They Often Have an Axe to Grind Part VII

Continuing with Sorenson’s presentation to students at Brigham Young University at the Second Biennial Willes Center Book of Mormon Lecture, Sept 8, 2011, in the BYU Hinckley Center Assembly Hall, Sorenson’s statements follow his name, and our comments follow “Response."

Sorenson: “Sometimes there are sweeping assertions that Mormon couldn't have known for sure."

Response:  Not knowing what “sweeping assertions” are meant, Mormon had all the records of the Nephites (4 Nephi 1:48; Mormon 1:4; 4:23; 6:6; 8:4; 9:33) which, according to Helaman, were “many” (Helaman 3:14-16), and that they contained so much information about Nephite history, only a hundredth part could be contained in the abridged record (Halaman 3:14). Brigham Young claimed these records filled wagon loads. It is hard to understand why Mormon made “sweeping assertions” when he had at his disposal an entire thousand-year history. Plus, Mormon wrote only what the Lord told him to.

Sorenson: “How reliable were the original scribes?"

The original scribes. How reliable? They were prophets all: Top LtoR: Nephi, Jacob, Enos; Bottom LtoR: Alma, Mormon, Moroni

Response:  These so-called “original scribes” were not scribes at all, but were prophets of high standing. One might question Jarom through Abinadom as being prophets for it is not so stated. But Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Amaleki, Mosiah, Benjamin, Mosiah II, Alma, Helaman, the Disciple Nephi, Mormon, Moroni, and Ether were men of such high standards and religious standing, that it would be ridiculous to question their reliability in recording the record of their peoples and the words of God. One might be better off asking, “How reliable is Sorenson’s understanding and interpretation of the Book of Mormon?"

Sorenson: “Did they have reliable sources for events far away?"
Response:  There were no newspapers, reporters, journalists or others to write about events from their own prejudicial or bias viewpoints like today. Lieutenants, Sergeants, and Privates did not write to headquarters of far away battles—only the Generals who were in charge (such as Helaman). We do not learn of the situation with Korihor from some secondary person, but from the Chief Judge himself (Alma 30:57), or the events on the hill Onidah but from Alma himself (Alma 32:4), and we learn about the situation in the land of Ammonihah by Moroni who led the attack. We are not reading someone’s personal journal in these events, but from those who conducted the events from leadership roles and wrote on the plates themselves. Mormon merely abridged their writings.

Sorenson: “Scribes were subjective in what information to include."

Response:  Sorenson continually approaches the Book of Mormon as though he is reading some history by an early Mesoamerican native. However, the Book of Mormon was not written by scribes, but by prophets. These men were of great stature and what they wrote about were the events of the people of their time and how they acted and reacted to the word of God, and how obedient or disobedient the people were to the preachings of the Prophets. They were often inspired by the Lord to write certain things, and were sometimes restrained from writing about other matters.   

Sorenson: “Mormon appointed by previous scribe Ammaron."

Response:  Ammaron was the son of Amos, who was the son of Amos, who was the son of the Disciple and Prophet Nephi. The first Amos kept the records for 84 years, during the last of the time of peace after the Savior’s visit, his son lived during the splitting of the Nephites back into Lamanites and Nephites. In about 305 A.D., Ammaron was given the records by his father, Amos, and the Holy Ghost constrained Ammaron to hide all the records that had been handed down (4 Nephi 1:48). He then told Mormon of those records. We have no information that either Amos or Ammaron wrote upon the plates. They may heave recorded events on them, or they may have just been custodians. We do not know if Ammaron was a recorder or a prophet, but he was certainly directed by the Spirit to give Mormon his calling at age 10--somewhat similar to Samuel anointing David to be king at a young age (I Samuel 16:13).

Sorenson: “Plates of Nephi engraved by official scribes in successive books.

Response:  Sorenson’s demeaning of prophets is a little tiring after a while. The position of scribe is defined as “a member of a learned class in ancient Israel through New Testament times studying the Scriptures and serving as copyists, editors, teachers; the literal definition meant a record-keeper, and scribes played an active role in Bible History and later became known as lawyers.” Presidents of the Church today, who we know as Prophets, Seers and Revelators, all have personal scribes. A scribe is a lesser position than a Prophet, and ultimately, does not even have to have the priesthood to be one. The plates of Nephi were engraved by Prophets—though the position of Jarom through Abinadom are unclear. But there can be no question that Nephi through Enos, who wrote over 90% of the record on the Small Plates, were unquestionably prophets of the highest standard.

(See the next post, “Beware of the Experts—They Often Have an Axe to Grind Part VIII” for more of Sorenson’s statements during the Second Biennial Willes Center Book of Mormon Lecture, Sept 8, 2011, in the BYU Hinckley Center Assembly Hall)

1 comment:

  1. Disagree with: "Plus, Mormon wrote only what the Lord told him to." While I agree that the Lord inserted Himself into the narrative at times, it doesn't mean that he exercised absolute control over the text. One simple example to be brief: "And now I, Mormon, would that ye should know..." is one phrase that indicates that Mormon himself is in control of the text. There are probably a thousand other directions to refute or challenge your assertion, too. Was Mormon guided by the spirit? Yes. Does Mormon specifically mention this guidance at times? Yes. That doesn't rule out agency and duty. While the stories and characterizations are important and relevant, the true power of the Book of Mormon lies in the power of the spirit attached to it. It's not really necessary that every word, story, and observation was strictly guided by the Lord.

    Overall, this series that picks apart Sorenson, is not your best work. Sorenson is just outrageous, but in your haste/desire to expose him, the sense I get is that these posts are a bit reactionary and themselves a little loose at times.

    That being said, keep up the good work. I enjoy your points of view and reasonings--even if I don't agree with them all the time.