Saturday, December 25, 2004

Education and new ideas

James Robbins at National review made this point:
    James S. Robbins on War on National Review Online: "During the Korean war when the Chinese and North Koreans engaged in the brainwashing experiments on United Nations POWs, one going-in hypothesis was that it would be harder to indoctrinate the better educated Anglo-American soldiers than it would the less-learned soldiers from other countries. But the Communist indoctrinators made a significant discovery. The soldiers who were raised in a Western liberal culture, where education meant being open to new ideas, were much easier to break down. They were more willing to question premises, accept new facts (even invented ones), and draw conclusions based on the alternate frameworks their captors presented them. Yet the Communists found the Turks, for example, impossible to break. They simply refused to engage. The Turkish troops, mostly young men with rural backgrounds and limited formal education, had a very simple and unshakeable worldview: They were Turks, the enemy were [expletives], and that was the end of it. There was more than a little virtue in that degree of certainty."
This is an interesting thought as you think about the "intellectuals" that end up leaving the church. It is hard to image that we could be too smart for our own good.
But that isn't really the problem, is it? No. The problem is that get just enough "smart" to start to question but not enough "smart" to understand things as they really are, i.e. the way God sees them.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Grant Palmer's Odd Reasoning

KUTV News reports

    Palmer's book, ``An Insider's View of Mormon Origins,'' suggests that Smith didn't actually translate the Book of Mormon, as LDS faithful believe, ``by the gift and power of God'' from an ancient set of golden plates. Instead, it suggests Smith penned it himself, leaning heavily on the King James Bible, emotional Methodist tent revivals, Masonry and other personal experiences in a highly superstitious era of American history.

The article goes on to say
    ``I value my membership in the church very much,'' he said. ``That, to me, is about the saddest part of this.''

    ``In a strange way, to me, (excommunication) would be saying–since I would be forbidden to take the sacrament–that somehow Jesus Christ is subordinate to Joseph Smith.''

I must admit to being truly puzzled. Palmer is telling us he thinks that Joseph Smith, Jr. pushed a fraud on his people (The Book of Mormon) and yet somehow founded a church worth belonging to. Why would you want to follow a man you believe to be a fraud? And why on earth would you feel a need to get the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper from people you don't believe have any real basis of authority beyond the goodness of their beliefs? If belief is the basis for authority, then you may as well form your own church and provide the Sacrament for yourself. What piece of the puzzle am I missing here? Why would Palmer want to stay in a church that he believes to be built on a sandy foundation?
Elder Jeffrey Holland said it very succinctly in another forum.
    And let's not have any of the embarrassingly silly pap we have heard from some recently about Joseph earnestly "thinking" he saw an angel and "imagining" he translated from a set of gold plates. Excuse me if I am speechless--absolutely, totally, and bewilderingly incredulous--at such a comment. Is that really said with a straight face? If so, I think we have another candidate for the Flat Earth Society! That whole suggestion simply adds insult to infamy.

    I feel about this as C. S. Lewis once said about the divinity of Christ, a comparison which Dean Robert Millett and others have also made. Lewis once said about the divinity of Christ: "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: [that is,] 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to" (Mere Christianity [New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1952], pp. 40-41).

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