My month with the Book of Mormon – May 2017

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The Bible is really, incredibly old! The Old and New Testaments were copied by hand for centuries, if not millennia! And to interpret the Bible correctly, an expert ought to be well aware of the original languages! At least, that’s how it is with my Bible.

All the more striking, then, that the Book of Mormon (BofM) was the first scripture I have read that was originally composed in – or, according to Joseph Smith, miraculously and infallibly translated into – my own language. That is, it is the English text of the BofM that is considered divinely authoritative, beyond which version there is no further appeal.[1]

The BofM is one of the principal books of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) popularly known as the Mormons, and other related groups.[2] It is not the only one considered as new revelation; the LDS later added “Doctrine and Covenants” and “Pearl of Great Price” to their canon.

We live in an age of people giving reviews of books they have never read. The Bible is probably the most-reviewed and least-read book of our age (more…)

Christian urban legends

I can remember my first brush with an “urban legend”. In the early 1970s, I was in a group for Christian boys, and we got a monthly magazine, similar to “Boys’ Life”. One article passed along the following story, saying it was solid fact:

In a southern state, two men were traveling along a rural road. They saw a hitchhiker and decided to give him a lift. He sat in the back and chatted with them. Then out of the blue, the hitchhiker made the statement: “Jesus is coming back, you know, and very soon.” When they turned around to ask him what he meant by that, they saw that…the stranger had disappeared! They immediately braked, thinking he might have fallen out and gotten killed. They drove back and forth and couldn’t find him, so they pulled over at the next town to alert the sheriff. When they told him their story, the sheriff said, “Normally this would constitute an emergency; nevertheless, you’re about the tenth person this week to tell me they’ve had this same experience!”

Maybe you’ve heard the same story and are certain that it happened to a friend of a friend. Well, I too was a believer and repeated it as true. It didn’t strike me as odd that the details were a little vague: Now, where exactly did this happen? When? What was the sheriff’s name? In what newspaper was this reported? and so on. It was years later than I learned that I’d been pulled in by an “urban legend” – a story that is repeated again and again over many years. In fact, Jan Harold Brunvand, the authority on urban legends, titled one of his collections The Vanishing Hitchhiker. The whole phenomenon fascinated me enough that I got in touch with Dr. Brunvand and we exchanged several stories. In 2009 “the vanishing hitchhiker” started turning up again, with the new twist that now he says, “Gabriel is putting the trumpet to his lips; the Lord is coming back” (click HERE). People on this blog who affirm that the story is true report the experience happened to the aunt of a friend of my husband; my son’s friend’s mother; the friend of a friend of a co-worker. See the pattern? (more…)