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 Post subject: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:15 am 
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http://tarikdlacour.blogspot.co.uk/sear ... date=false

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A few weeks ago, my friend and former missionary companion Jaxon Munns messaged me on Facebook saying that he and a colleague planned to respond to the infamous Letter to A CES Director in BYU Studies, and asked if I would help, which I am of course happy to do. For those not familiar with it, Letter to A CES Director (also commonly called the CES Letter) is a pdf/book by Jeremy T. Runnells outlining things related to church history and doctrine that he found concerning, and that eventually led to the loss of his testimony. He eventually sent the text to an Institute Director, who told him the points were valid and that he would be responded to, but the director never got back to him. Since its publication, hundreds if not thousands of people have read the CES Letter and many have lost their faith in the Lord and in the Church over it (I have at least one friend who has).


Tarik has produced 9 posts in rebuttal to the CES Letter thus far.

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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:19 am 
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Claim 4: DNA analysis has concluded that Native American Indians do not originate from the Middle East or from Israelite's but rather from Asia. Why did the Church change the following section of the introduction page in the 2006 edition Book of Mormon shortly after the DNA results were released?
“…the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians” to “…the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians”

This is a popular claim that is made against the Book of Mormon, and it is one of the most easily refuted. Some, even perhaps the Prophet Joseph Smith, believed that the Lamanites were the ancestors of those we incorrectly call the American Indians. However, a careful reading of the text shows that there are no claims that that is the case. Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni nowhere state that their people are the only people who are on the continent, or thatall those on the continent are there offspring. This is a folklore belief, not a textual admission. The narrative states that a two small colonies came this continent after being directed here, and that they built cities and civilizations,that is all. As a convert, I was shocked that many Mormons believed (and many still do) that the Lamanites were the principle ancestors of the American Indians because that claim is not made in the text.

As for the introduction page, that was authored by Bruce R. McConkie, and represents his opinions on the matter. But others, such as Anthony W. Ivins, have pointed out before that introduction was penned that the text does not say that Lehi and his descendants were the only persons on this continent. So, while Elder McConkie was right on other things, he was wrong on that issue and the Church edited the introduction. I know this is hard for some to believe, but not all our beliefs are made because of scientific data. Folklore rubs off on even the best of us.


This kind of thing gets old quick. Start with Joseph Smith. It wasn't that he misread the text of the Book of Mormon. Moroni allegedly told him in person who the Indians were.

"he told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the indians, were the literal descendants of Abraham"
http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper- ... 35-1836/25

Literal descendant of Abraham meant father to son on down without interruption. That leaves no room for additional fathers in the mix.

The Book of Ether makes it clear that the flood covered the Americas and left it uninhabited before the Jaradites arrived. There is no room in the Book of Mormon to interpret that descendants of Paleoindians were in the Americas when Lehi arrived.

Ivins did not base his interpretation on descendants of Paleoindians or anyone else pre-flood. In fact he took the diffusionist approach of Welsh, Irish, etc. arriving in the Americas after Lehi, not before. Apologists don't make that point clear in their claims.

These rebuttals to the CES letter only work if one is being intellectually dishonest.


Last edited by tapirrider on Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:05 am 
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Lying to oneself, ever-changing the meaning of words to avoid being disproven, coming up with sillier and sillier justifications, or simply turning off criticism while baring testimony to oneself is what Mormonism is all about.

No thanks. I prefer reality.


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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:04 am 
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tapirrider wrote:
"he told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the indians, were the literal descendants of Abraham"
http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper- ... 35-1836/25

Literal descendant of Abraham meant father to son on down without interruption. That leaves no room for additional fathers in the mix.


This point bears repetition, endless repetition in this argument. Joseph Smith was educated regarding the Lehite colony and their descendants by resurrected Nephite angelic messengers. There is no way of wiggling out of that. To claim that Joseph Smith was wrong about this is tantamount to saying the Book of Mormon itself is in error. If the book and Joseph Smith's descriptions regarding the education he received from resurrected Nephites lines up, then that is what we should accept as Joseph Smith's uniquely informed view.

That said, the claim that there is no room for "additional fathers" is going too far. Each of us has many "fathers" in our background. I can be a literal descendant of my thrice-great grandfathers on my mother's side and also of my thrice-great grandfathers on my father's side. We all have quite a few of those grandfathers, and the number of them grows with each generation back. So, yes, Moroni could be a literal descendant of Abraham and quite a few other distant grandfathers at the same time.

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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:59 am 
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tapirrider wrote:
Claim 4: DNA analysis has concluded that Native American Indians do not originate from the Middle East or from Israelite's but rather from Asia. Why did the Church change the following section of the introduction page in the 2006 edition Book of Mormon shortly after the DNA results were released?
“…the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians” to “…the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians”

This is a popular claim that is made against the Book of Mormon, and it is one of the most easily refuted. Some, even perhaps the Prophet Joseph Smith, believed that the Lamanites were the ancestors of those we incorrectly call the American Indians. However, a careful reading of the text shows that there are no claims that that is the case. Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni nowhere state that their people are the only people who are on the continent, or thatall those on the continent are there offspring. This is a folklore belief, not a textual admission. The narrative states that a two small colonies came this continent after being directed here, and that they built cities and civilizations,that is all. As a convert, I was shocked that many Mormons believed (and many still do) that the Lamanites were the principle ancestors of the American Indians because that claim is not made in the text.

As for the introduction page, that was authored by Bruce R. McConkie, and represents his opinions on the matter. But others, such as Anthony W. Ivins, have pointed out before that introduction was penned that the text does not say that Lehi and his descendants were the only persons on this continent. So, while Elder McConkie was right on other things, he was wrong on that issue and the Church edited the introduction. I know this is hard for some to believe, but not all our beliefs are made because of scientific data. Folklore rubs off on even the best of us.


This kind of thing gets old quick. Start with Joseph Smith. It wasn't that he misread the text of the Book of Mormon. Moroni allegedly told him in person who the Indians were.

"he told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the indians, were the literal descendants of Abraham"
http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper- ... 35-1836/25


Yes, it gets old. Consider the clear explanation of 2 Nephi 1. The Lord God Himself promised that Lehi and his seed would have the land all to themselves forever, only to share with others who God brought here. That promise is the main theme of The Book of Mormon. Lehi said that the land was to be "kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves." They get the land all to themselves until God decides to "bring other nations unto them." (vs. 11)

The book describes how the Lehites, Mulekites, and Jaredites were brought to the land of promise, and every single person in the book is described as a full descendant of those three immigrations. 1 Nephi 13 further clarifies the point. The "gentiles" were separated from the Lamanites by "the many waters." The descendants of Nephi's brothers didn't have their DNA signature diluted by the gentiles who already dominated the Land of Promise. They were separated from the gentiles until Columbus came across the many waters. It was only then that a multitude of gentiles came to the Land of Promise.

The apologetic that there were "others" is based on trying to shoehorn the book into reality, but to do so is to deny the most fundamental message of the book itself.

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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:19 am 
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I wouldn't mind hearing from Don Bradley on this one. Going with the apologetic argument that Joseph was ignorant about the Nephites/Lehites, I'd like to hear an explanation of how this can be made to fit with the text of the book. Forget anything Joseph did or didn't say, just looking at the text of the book. Specifically, how did the Nephites integrate with an indigenous civilization, communicate with them, convert them to a new religion, become leaders over them, etc., and all without mentioning a word of it? Is there any known example throughout all of human history where something comparable like this has happened?


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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:27 am 
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Analytics wrote:
Yes, it gets old. Consider the clear explanation of 2 Nephi 1. The Lord God Himself promised that Lehi and his seed would have the land all to themselves forever, only to share with others who God brought here. That promise is the main theme of The Book of Mormon. Lehi said that the land was to be "kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves." They get the land all to themselves until God decides to "bring other nations unto them." (vs. 11)

The book describes how the Lehites, Mulekites, and Jaredites were brought to the land of promise, and every single person in the book is described as a full descendant of those three immigrations. 1 Nephi 13 further clarifies the point. The "gentiles" were separated from the Lamanites by "the many waters." The descendants of Nephi's brothers didn't have their DNA signature diluted by the gentiles who already dominated the Land of Promise. They were separated from the gentiles until Columbus came across the many waters. It was only then that a multitude of gentiles came to the Land of Promise.

The apologetic that there were "others" is based on trying to shoehorn the book into reality, but to do so is to deny the most fundamental message of the book itself.

From a literary perspective too it seems clear that this theme has 'Merica written all over it. This is the post-revolutionary american frontier. I'm sure Kish would have much to say regarding this.


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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:36 am 
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The only benefit these rebuttals provide is something for the brainwashed chapel Mormon to point at and say, "See all is still well in Zion". The majority don't read, don't think, don't care facts and don't want their comfortable little worlds rocked. This describes the majority of my family tree.

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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:04 am 
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Tator wrote:
The only benefit these rebuttals provide is something for the brainwashed chapel Mormon to point at and say, "See all is still well in Zion". The majority don't read, don't think, don't care facts and don't want their comfortable little worlds rocked. This describes the majority of my family tree.


This is absolutely spot on. They don't read the apologia. They're just glad it's there. That's enough. It's been answered!

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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:08 am 
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Tator wrote:
The only benefit these rebuttals provide is something for the brainwashed chapel Mormon to point at and say, "See all is still well in Zion". The majority don't read, don't think, don't care facts and don't want their comfortable little worlds rocked. This describes the majority of my family tree.


BYU:A House of Faith, by Bergera and Priddis, pg 362. Emphasis added by me.

................

"As a former BYU history professor observed in 1984, '[Nibley] has been a security blanket for Latter-day Saints to whom dissonance is intolerable.... His contribution to dissonance management is not so much what he has written, but that he has written. After knowing Hugh Nibley for forty years, I am of the opinion that he has been playing games with his readers all along.... Relatively few Latter-day Saints read the Nibley books that they give one another, or the copiously annotated articles that he has contributed to church publications. It is enough for most of us that they are there.'"
Reading Nibley reminds me of a quote from a line in Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum" which says, "...wanting connections, we found connections--always, everywhere, and between everything."

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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:16 am 
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Kishkumen wrote:

That said, the claim that there is no room for "additional fathers" is going too far. Each of us has many "fathers" in our background. I can be a literal descendant of my thrice-great grandfathers on my mother's side and also of my thrice-great grandfathers on my father's side. We all have quite a few of those grandfathers, and the number of them grows with each generation back. So, yes, Moroni could be a literal descendant of Abraham and quite a few other distant grandfathers at the same time.


Joseph Smith's understanding might disagree. Consider the literal descendants of Aaron.
D&C 107:40
The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.

One father in the paternal line not from Aaron would disrupt the chain. "Fathers" from the mother's side don't count. If your thrice-great grandfather on your father's side was not the son of one who was in the direct line to Abraham, the "literal" chain would likewise be broken.

Just going with Joseph Smith's teachings, not that I believe any of it because I don't.


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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:55 am 
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tapirrider wrote:
Joseph Smith's understanding might disagree. Consider the literal descendants of Aaron.
D&C 107:40
The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.

One father in the paternal line not from Aaron would disrupt the chain. "Fathers" from the mother's side don't count. If your thrice-great grandfather on your father's side was not the son of one who was in the direct line to Abraham, the "literal" chain would likewise be broken.

Just going with Joseph Smith's teachings, not that I believe any of it because I don't.


I agree that Joseph Smith was obsessed with patriarchy, and this is most true of Abraham's patriarchy. Read chapter 1 of the Book of Abraham, where "the fathers" and their tradition is so important to "Abraham." And, given Joseph's obsession, I suppose you may be right. Every last Native American could very well be, in Joseph Smith's mind, a patrilineal descendant of Abraham. I like this argument, but I would be careful in reading an 1835 concept back into the Book of Mormon. You may be right, but you may not be. 1835 is a crucial year, and both D&C 107 and chapter 1 of the Book of Abraham are produced at that time. It is also a time when the idea of priesthood is transformed, and both of these texts are all about the priesthood. The Book of Mormon is more concerned with the blessings of Josephite Israel, and so I am not completely sure that the literal descent we are discussing is such a restrictive concept in pre-1830 Book of Mormon terms. I'll have to give this some thought.

ETA: Another thing I need to check is the date of D&C107:60-100. The Church claims this section was produced in 1831. So, the 1835 version of the section is an expansion, and the verse you quote is supposedly from 1831. That makes a difference.

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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:29 pm 
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3 Nephi 4:11

"And the battle commenced in this the sixth month; and great and terrible was the battle thereof, yea, great and terrible was the slaughter thereof, insomuch that there never was known so great a slaughter among all the people of Lehi since he left Jerusalem." [Emphasis mine]

I suppose one could argue, in this specific instance, as in all the other specific instances, that Mormon is just speaking generally, but at some point all of the examples like this in the text itself add up and corroborate Joseph's understanding. When both the text and Joseph Smith himself (as well as the angels who spoke to him) are in agreement against the contorted, twisted definitions of apologists, it is time for the apologists to cede the field and prevent further casualties.

JSH 1:34
"He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;"


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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:54 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:

I agree that Joseph Smith was obsessed with patriarchy, and this is most true of Abraham's patriarchy. Read chapter 1 of the Book of Abraham, where "the fathers" and their tradition is so important to "Abraham." And, given Joseph's obsession, I suppose you may be right. Every last Native American could very well be, in Joseph Smith's mind, a patrilineal descendant of Abraham. I like this argument, but I would be careful in reading an 1835 concept back into the Book of Mormon. You may be right, but you may not be. 1835 is a crucial year, and both D&C 107 and chapter 1 of the Book of Abraham are produced at that time. It is also a time when the idea of priesthood is transformed, and both of these texts are all about the priesthood. The Book of Mormon is more concerned with the blessings of Josephite Israel, and so I am not completely sure that the literal descent we are discussing is such a restrictive concept in pre-1830 Book of Mormon terms. I'll have to give this some thought.

ETA: Another thing I need to check is the date of D&C107:60-100. The Church claims this section was produced in 1831. So, the 1835 version of the section is an expansion, and the verse you quote is supposedly from 1831. That makes a difference.


Like I said, I don't believe that any of it is real and I could be wrong about Joseph Smith's take on it. He changed his position on so many things that it is hard to even believe what he said Moroni allegedly told him.

I bring this one up about the literal descendants according to Moroni because of where it leads. The apostle Paul and adoption into the lineage of Abraham. There is nothing in the Book of Mormon of missions during Book of Mormon times to anyone that deals with that. All of the missionary work dealt with those who were from Abraham. Even the missions to the Lamanites were to tell them who their fathers were.

There is nothing in the Book of Mormon that compares to Paul's mission to the gentiles or the lineage controversy that caused in the early Christian church. So when apologists claim that Book of Mormon people were just a tiny group in a vast population of others not from the Middle East, the Book of Mormon itself lacks any written account on par with the New Testament experiences of early apostles in the same situation.


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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:05 pm 
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Here is a relevant discussion of D&C 107:

http://boap.org/LDS/Historical-Analysis-the-Doctrine-and-Covenants/An-Historical-Analysis-of-D&C-107.html

It looks like the "literal descendant" stuff may have been added in 1835, but I am not exactly sure as I do not have time at the moment to go through the article carefully. Someone who knows more about the evolution of Section 107 can perhaps enlighten us on this question.

ETA: Upon further examination, the website shows the "literal descendant" material in the 1831 portion (vv. 58-100) was added in 1835.

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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:11 pm 
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orangganjil wrote:
3 Nephi 4:11

"And the battle commenced in this the sixth month; and great and terrible was the battle thereof, yea, great and terrible was the slaughter thereof, insomuch that there never was known so great a slaughter among all the people of Lehi since he left Jerusalem." [Emphasis mine]

I suppose one could argue, in this specific instance, as in all the other specific instances, that Mormon is just speaking generally, but at some point all of the examples like this in the text itself add up and corroborate Joseph's understanding. When both the text and Joseph Smith himself (as well as the angels who spoke to him) are in agreement against the contorted, twisted definitions of apologists, it is time for the apologists to cede the field and prevent further casualties.

JSH 1:34
"He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;"


orangganjil, I am inclined to agree with you and tapirrider, but I am also interested in trying to read it as an apologist might, and in seeing whether that makes for a feasible argument.

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 Post subject: Re: Rebutting the CES Letter, Tarik LaCour...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:01 pm 
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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterso ... avado.html

Debate about the contents of Runnells letter. Some vitriol on the letters section especially by Migley.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:21 pm 
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aussieguy55 wrote:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2017/07/jeremy-runnells-anti-mormon-bravado.html

Debate about the contents of Runnells letter. Some vitriol on the letters section especially by Migley.


I love the Big Distraction that is the fight between apologists and critics. None of it changes the fact that the Book of Mormon was written in the 19th century, or that the LDS Church as Joseph Smith organized it ceased to exist at his death. So, there you are. Fight and flog away, my friends. The argument is pointless, though many believe otherwise.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:43 pm 
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If only the Holy Ghost knew how to handle it..........it would make things so much better and easier.....

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:10 pm 
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I wonder if Petersen would engage on a one to one debate with Dr Ritner on the Book of Abraham. Yesterday I was in the local library and spoke to some missionaries who were wanting to get online on the library computers. One a guy was from South Korea and struggling with his English. He and his companion had appeared on my doorstep a week ago. I asked him about his knowledge of the Book of Abraham. He was totally unaware of the issues. He was born in a church family. And the LDS church sends these guys out here. I see them in the CBD of Brisbane with their button indicating they speak chinese trying to talk with the young Chinese in the CBD mall.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:11 pm 
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Philo Sofee wrote:
If only the Holy Ghost knew how to handle it..........it would make things so much better and easier.....


Exactly!


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