Trib article on Book of Mormon intro change

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shrff
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Postby shrff » Fri 09 Nov, 2007 03:59 pm

Ishmael wrote:I don't think I agree with your parsing of the word "principal," mostly because it's clear from McConkie's other writings that he believed all or most of the native Americans were descended from Lehi, whether that was actually true or not. Why use a tortured definition when we are free to disavow the whole thing?


Does what I say above really qualify as a "tortured definition"? I gave the actual definition of the word. Might not others have imposed their own definition of the word on their own misconceptions and vain traditions pertaining to Book of Mormon cultural issues? This is what I am suggesting.

Ishmael wrote:But it's a moot point anyway, because this idea is well represented in other sources that are more canonical than the intro and chapter headings. Things like Conference talks, lesson manuals, and proclamations.


Could you flesh out what you mean by "this idea"? I assume that you mean the idea that the Americas were mostly empty when the Lehites arrived, and that all Native Americans area more or less exclusively descended from this core group. While I agree that Elder McConkie and many others believe this, I do not think it is accurate, nor have I seen the idea in "more canonical" sources, and I have looked.

What I have seen indicated repeatedly is the idea that current Native American and Polynesian groups possess the blood of Israel. It only takes a few drops of blood to make one a descendent of Israel. This is much different than the idea of an empty continent populated exclusively by Lehites.

I would be interested to see some of these more canonical sources. My research was far from comprehensive, although, I did cover a lot of ground in my search. Furthermore, I am less concerned with what Elder McConkie himself thought, and am more concerned with what actually made it into the Book of Mormon title page. Conflating his intent and what was approved by the Brethren is, in my opinion, unwise.
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Postby Ishmael » Fri 09 Nov, 2007 05:11 pm

Furthermore, I am less concerned with what Elder McConkie himself thought, and am more concerned with what actually made it into the Book of Mormon title page. Conflating his intent and what was approved by the Brethren is, in my opinion, unwise.


That's a fair point. McConkie could have meant "principal" in the way that most members today understand the term, but the First Presidency approved it based on the way you've defined it.

But is that likely? Wouldn't they have anticipated the confusion? Besides, it's clear from his many talks on the subject that Spencer W. Kimball agreed with McConkie's views on the ancestry of the Native Americans, and I've never seen anything to suggest that N. Eldon Tanner, Marion G. Romney, or Gordon B. Hinckley believed differently. They've all used "Lamanites" and "Native Americans" (or "Indians") interchangeably, just as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young did, and just as the D&C does. So again, why go to the trouble? After all, they approved his chapter heading for Alma 11, didn't they?

What I have seen indicated repeatedly is the idea that current Native American and Polynesian groups possess the blood of Israel. It only takes a few drops of blood to make one a descendent of Israel. This is much different than the idea of an empty continent populated exclusively by Lehites.

I would be interested to see some of these more canonical sources.


Well, I can't point to anything that explicitly states that all American Indians are full-blooded, direct descendants of Lehi. But I think it's pretty clear that virtually every prophet and apostle who has spoken on the subject from Joseph Smith to Spencer W. Kimball believed exactly that. I guess it's possible, though, that the Lord would allow them to personally hold an errant view, and implicitly propagate that view among the membership, all while carefully ensuring that they never stated it explicitly. That just seems like a stretch to me.

For starters, the 1845 proclamation states that the Lord has revealed the origin of the aboriginal tribes of America. I don't think the Quorum of the 12 had the Bering Strait in mind when they wrote that.

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Postby jds88 » Fri 09 Nov, 2007 06:53 pm

Ishmael--

It has been the goal of prophets from Moses on down to create a "nation of prophets". Joseph Smith had that same vision. So, aside from the administrative duties of running the Church, I see the function of the GAs as twofold:

1) To lead us to a state where we are able to receive revelation for ourselves, and
2) To serve as a continuing "cross-check" against our own personal revelations.

The "cross-check" function is, of course, necessary because sometimes we have a hard time distinguishing between revelation and our own personal desires. (Brian David Mitchell, anyone?)

Seen in this light, the purpose of the GAs is not to fill in the blanks of the Book of Mormon with a lot of trivia, or to give us details of the pre-existence or explain who God's Father was or detail exactly how Jesus was conceived (fascinating though those topics are). The purpose of the GAs is to keep us on the track that enables us to receive ever-increasing amounts of revelation until the "perfect day", and to the extent that they go beyond that duty they may or may not be speaking the mind and will of God.

So while I don't consider myself free to lightly set aside a statement just because it isn't canonical, I also don't consider myself obligated to accept, believe, and conform my life to every statement ever made by a General Authority--especially if I receive a revelation to the contrary. Instead I try to reconcile the two, considering a number of factors:

--the category of the statement that conflicts with the revelation (canon, correlated, or individual statement)
--whether the person who made the statement is still alive
--the degree to which an error on the issue might adversely affect my salvation or my ability to receive future revelations.

--Jim

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Postby WiseNLucky » Sat 10 Nov, 2007 05:35 am

"I have always felt free to disavow the language of the [Book of Mormon's] introduction, footnotes and dictionary, which are not part of the canonical scripture," said Barney, on the board of FAIR, a Mormon apologist group. "These things can change as the scholarship progresses and our understanding enlarges. This suggests to me that someone on the church's scripture committee is paying attention to the discussion."


My emphasis. I find it interesting that the church has a "scripture committee" and wonder who's on it. But mostly, I find the change in the BOM and all this discussion about that change interesting but not really all that significant. My testimony and my eternal salvation don't depend on whether I know who the principal ancestors of Native Americans were. If it did, the Lord would have given clear reveletory direction and the issue wouldn't be in question.

I thought the whole point about having living prophets was so we would have clear direction at a point in time rather than having to go back and carefully parse words that were written a decade, century or several millenia ago. I personally feel no strong urge to avow or disavow anything. But maybe that's just me?
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Postby Momma Snider » Sat 10 Nov, 2007 11:14 am

It's me, too, Wise. Thanks for doing better with the word thing than I do.

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Postby shrff » Thu 15 Nov, 2007 02:42 pm

I agree with you Wise. Even though I am an archaeologist, I don't really care about a lot of these details because if I needed to know, it would have been revealed through the prophets.

I am not an apologist, and don't really like what they do by and large. Many of them do more harm than good, especially the amateurs...
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Postby shrff » Tue 20 Nov, 2007 12:05 pm

Here is a guy who thinks he triggered the title page change we have discussed. They also speak to some apologists, including Joseph Allen and John Sorenson.
"I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos!" Walter Sobchak

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Postby angela n » Sun 30 Dec, 2007 06:02 pm

Regarding the presence or absence of a population already in place when the Lehites arrived:

The idea of there being people already there when Lehi's family arrived makes more sense to me the more I think about it, and my primary "evidence," if you will, is this: in the olive tree allegory, the branch is grafted into a tree in that very good ground -- it's not planted by itself. This to me says that Lehi's little branch came to be (and influence) a part of a much larger tree when they moved, not that it sprouted a whole new tree.
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