Why I Left Mormonism (Episode 5)

The Ultimate Blasphemy

This week (Feb 10) on Shabbat Night Live, Joseph Smith, the father of Mormonism, lied about an Egyptian papyrus that he said was the writings of Abraham, but that’s not the worst of it.

Jake Hilton shares what Joseph Smith claimed about artwork depicting YeHoVaH in Egyptian mythology that is anything but holy.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

1.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 17:00) How does Facsimile 2 in the “Book of Abraham” underscore the credulity of Joseph Smith’s followers through its considerable detail and cryptic imagery?  How does its actual meaning and function retroactively serve to discredit both its role in Mormon doctrine and the presumption of those who would engage in pseudo-science?

2.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How does Smith’s failure to recognize the meaning of the reversed segment of this emblem call into question both his knowledge of Egyptology and also the importance of deliberate stylization within ancient cultures?  How do his annotations of Figure 7 constitute an anachronistic, Western gloss on an eastern cultural expression?

3.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how does the recognition of the fertility god Min in this image represent a withering rebuttal to Smith’s questionable description of the invisible deity?  How does this distinction further dramatize the enduring dynamic between the multiple gods of various pagan societies and the advocates of monotheism throughout so-called Judeo-Christian culture to the present day?  

4.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How does the uncompromising description of the god Min by Prof. Nibley beg the question of this figure’s place within LDS doctrine and teaching?  How does this god’s inclusion within Mormonism reveal a level of exaggeration and excess that transcends fantasy or carnivalism to the point of outright blasphemy, thanks to its alignment with the deity of Abraham?

5.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) How does Joseph Smith’s categorical, presumptive claim of divine revelation for his presentation and interpretation of Egyptian artifacts serve to characterize him as a questionable prophet?  How is this ironically underscored by its presence alongside the numerous warnings within the epistles of Paul, Peter, and John against disobedience and the influence of false, self-serving teachers?

6.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 37:00) How is Joseph Smith’s reputation as a cult figure underscored by the predication of the entire Mormon infrastructure upon his texts and precepts?  In light of its longevity, how likely is this vast congregation to continue undeterred, or to collapse from increasing exposure and for its remnants to be absorbed into another Christian denomination?

7.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) How does Smith’s appropriation of the serpentine image of Nehebkau to the dove symbolizing the Holy Ghost suggest a deliberate attempt to rewrite ancient history for his own purposes?  How might this further demonstrate the dangers of allegorization in its apparent failure to recognize the resonance between this pagan figure and the appearance of Satan in the Book of Genesis?

8.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How do the cynical and patronizing comments attributed to Joseph Smith about his own congregation in 1877 not only cast doubt upon his integrity as a religious figurehead, but also beg the question of the legitimacy of his canonical texts?  How does this underscore the frequently overlooked characterization of Satan, whatever his physical depiction, as the Father of Lies?

9.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) How likely is the LDS Church to face decisive scrutiny in the near future over the matters of Smith’s erroneous assertions, thanks to the rapidity of communication and information exchange?  How has growing public awareness of imposture – valor thieves, 9/11 hoaxers, media disinformation – allowed for a more discerning and critical treatment of provocative claims and the reputations built upon them?

10.  (VIDEO TIMELINE: 51:00) Similarly, how does a latter-day statement from LDS Apostle Boyd K. Packer arouse suspicion of self-interest in its cautionary phraseology?  How do his admonitions to his fellow advocates regarding “faith promoting,” “responsibility to build faith,” and the distinction between what is “true” instead of “useful” illustrate a subtle but unmistakable attempt to justify the continued promotion of Smith’s doctrine?

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