The prevalence of a spirit of contention amongst a people is a certain sign of deadness with respect to the things of religion. When men's spirits are hot with contention, they are cold to religion. - Jonathan Edwards “The Book of Mormon does not supplant the Bible. It expands, extends, clarifies, and amplifies our knowledge of the Savior. Surely, this second witness should be cause for great rejoicing by all Christians.” - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Consensus building-MormonBookReviews

If you don't know about him already, you should start watching Steven Pynakker's youtube channel Mormon Book Reviews. He is doing more to explore and explain all the facets of the Restoration than anyone else I know of.

He recently posted an interview we did about my book Infinite Goodness, which examines the influence of Jonathan Edwards on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

In my view, the Book of Mormon is the fulfillment of long-held Christian hopes and dreams, including those expressed by Jonathan Edwards. There is tremendous potential for all Christians to come together and pursue the glorious future that Edwards described, as I discuss in the book.


On this blog we've discussed the pros and cons of consensus. Often, groups seek consensus for purposes other than seeking truth. They can seek consensus for harmony, for consolidation of common beliefs, for financial reasons, and for lots of other reasons that may or may not be productive.

In other cases, individuals or groups who have differences of opinion can unite by finding common ground in the pursuit of truth.

It has been said that a necessary condition of any "solution" is to live in truth, and to address the facts honestly.

Regarding the Book of Mormon, there has been a long-running debate over the existence of biblical passages in the text, along with nonbiblical language drawn from other sources, such as The Late War.

Critics claim such evidence shows Joseph Smith composed (copied or plagiarized) the text. Believers deny Joseph read those sources because he was mostly uneducated and illiterate.

What both sides seem to have overlooked is that evidence of composition is also evidence of translation.

Translators necessarily draw upon their personal lexicons to express the information from the original source into the target language they are translating into. Thus, if Joseph translated the plates as he claimed, he would have had to draw upon his own lexicon, or mental language bank. And he could have acquired that lexicon only by reading (or, possibly, hearing) the Bible and related Christian writings.

My study led me to focus on Jonathan Edwards, whose works were easily accessible to Joseph Smith, as I explain in my book Infinite Goodness

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