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…)

Bible Prophecy, ch 1 – “Bible Prophecies” that are NOT found in the Bible

This is a long essay with numerous footnotes. The reader may prefer to download it in pdf form: Shogren_Bible Prophecy #1 Bible Prophecies that are NOT in the Bible

I plan on at least two more articles in this series, in which I will describe End-Time expectations that may or may not be found in the Bible, depending on your interpretation; and End-Time expectations that are in the Bible.

I grew up in the woods. By “woods”, I don’t mean a park with some scattered trees, but a place where large patches were so choked with brush and thorns and fallen branches and boulders from the last Ice Age that it was literally impossible to pass through. My mind returns to the woods every time I fight my way through the thicket created by our modern prophets. Because of their creativity, the predictions that people claim to be in the Bible outnumber, exponentially, the predictions that actually are in the Bible. That is why, before we can begin to talk about Bible prophecy, we have to clear the ground of heavy undergrowth, the things that people have been told are in the Bible, but which we cannot seem to find on any actual page of Scripture. I write this, not because I don’t love Bible prophecy, but because I respect it too much to see it taken lightly.

The very length of this article is the unfortunate side-effect of the tonnage of “prophecy myths” that are out there. One reason for this is that End-Time predictions are big business: take a look at the books by Tim LaHaye, Jack Van Impe, Jonathan Cahn, John Hagee, and even David Jeremiah. The Left Behind series of books alone has sold over 65 million, not to mention the movies and the merchandise. Irwin Baxter has no difficulty selling his very expensive DVD’s; and there are influential sites like Rapture Ready and End Times Prophecy News and Signs of the End and The Jeremiah Project and Terry James Prophecy Line or groups such as Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Many of them employ the same opening stratagem: “I have been studying and teaching Bible prophecy for X number of years; therefore, you should trust me to know what is in the Bible!”

In fact no: the Word of God tells us what to believe, and the believer has no need of a Prophecy Gatekeeper to access its pages.

Here we will focus on those who teach with the Bible in one hand, and today’s headlines in the other.[i] There are two problems with their method: first, it assumes that Bible prophecy must be being fulfilled in today’s news, as opposed to headlines from AD 582, 1007, 1851, or 2086; two, the prophecy experts have the unhappy tendency of starting with the news headlines, and then reading them back into the Bible. The 2016 Blizzard? Yes, someone discovered that it was an End-Times event, but only after the storm.[ii] Minor stock market crash in 2016? Same thing, and from the same source, the always-ready-to speculate Charisma News. While we would take to the streets in protest if some theologian placed his or her own tradition about the Bible, we don’t blink when the high priests of prophecy do basically the same thing with today’s headlines. We won’t even delve into the secular gurus such as David Ickes or Alex Jones or the Flat Earthers, who preach an apocalyptic viewpoint with very little Bible mixed in.

If some evangelicals (and yes, some Catholics,[iii] some Orthodox,[iv] some Adventists, plus the majority of the sects) are known for this sleight of hand, then the Jehovah’s Witnesses have to get the blue ribbon. Their modus operandi is to zero in on the Anxiety of the Day, knock on your door, mention how anxious people are about it, and then show how they, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, saw it all coming ahead of time! Exhibit A: this issue of Awake magazine from 1968: “Is it Later than you Think? Is time running out for this generation? What will the 1970’s bring?”

Take any headline from today’s paper, or Time magazine, or YouTube, or your newsfeed, or Facebook, and if you really, really try, I guarantee you’ll be able to find a Bible verse to show how it was predicted long ago. Syria in the news? Just look in the concordance and you will find a verse that fits.

Wow! All those 7’s, and just because Donald Trump sent a few small missiles into an empty airfield, one which the Syrians were able to quickly repair and start using again.

Another example: I just saw on CNN, “Promising Zika Vaccine Moves to Next Stage.”[v] And so let’s say I channel my Prophetic Ingenuity to put together an article like this:

“Revelation 16 says that there will be many plagues, which will kill a huge number of people. And what do we see in the news? People are coming down with Zika, and desperately trying to find a vaccine, instead of repenting from their sins.”

Now – remember that I did this “blindfolded,” without peeking, but let’s see if I can find someone doing this very thing (more…)

Published in: on April 27, 2017 at 1:23 pm  Comments (1)  
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Did they discover a giant skeleton in Greece (or Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Wisconsin?). Well, no…

Don’t believe everything you read. When it comes to spams, the rule of thumb is, reject it unless you have credible proof (a second spam is not credible proof). To put in another way, an e-mail that has obviously been circulating for a while with the header THIS IS REALLY COOL is probably not the best source for reliable information.

I keep receiving spams in Spanish and in English, claiming that they have discovered skeletons of giants. This is said to prove the truth of Genesis 6:4, that there were giants in the land. The spam offers pictures, which, of course, have supposedly been suppressed.

In fact, the “giant” picture was an entrant in a photo-editing contest by the group “Word 1000” by a guy using software. Someone found it, assumed it was genuine, and passed it around. It’s a complete hoax. There are plenty of second, third and fourth-hand rumors: watch for telltale signs such as “the evidence has mysteriously disappeared” or “so-and-so said he saw them but the photos didn’t come out right” or the old standby, “the mainstream media do not want you to see this!” or “The Smithsonian is involved in a massive cover-up!”

See http://www.snopes.com/photos/odd/giantman.asp

Now somebody has found a way to connect these “skeletons” with Bible prophecy. Google “Nephilim” and “prophecy” and you will encounter a wave of interest in the idea that the Nephilim will appear on earth before the Second Coming.

The logical error is that if the End Times will be like the days of Noah in one way (sudden, unexpected destruction of the wicked), then they must be like Noah’s days in every way.

They are thought to be genetically-enhanced humans, extraterrestrials, UFO creatures, angels and all sorts of other options. As in many pop-prophecy theories, they are tied in with the New World Order, the book of First Enoch (a Jewish apocalypse that has mythical ideas but no connection with Enoch – we read it in one of my courses), the Mayans, the Masons, President Obama, and who knows what else. None of these notions has any basis in the Bible.

Here is other supposed proof of giants: Only giants could have used this staircase! But in fact, this is Ollantaytambo, an Incan ruin in Peru, an example of using terracing for stepped agriculture. It’s a prime example of seeking the simplest solution to a problem, not the most outrageous. In medicine it’s called, “When you hear hoofbeats, look for horses, not zebras.”

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And of course, there are plenty of people who link “alternative history” with UFOs “research” and who knows what.

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Enjoy your Bible…use common sense…reject hoaxes.

“Did they discover a giant skeleton?” by Gary Shogren, PhD, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica