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In a thoughtful and well-reasoned presentation engaging the question of the historicity of the Book of Mormon, Elder Dallin H. Oaks stated: “It is our position that secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.”1 While most Latter-day Saints would probably quickly agree with the idea that secular evidence cannot disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, they may be less eager to embrace the other side of the equation—that secular external evidence cannot prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Continue reading →
For me, one of the strong evidences that Joseph Smith was a true prophet is that the scriptures given through him and the church restored through him make very hard, very challenging demands on me. These demands and requirements are just as specific, detailed and difficult as those Jesus has always asked of his followers.
For example, after teaching his disciples in a parable that foreshadowed the Last Supper and the Sacrament (John 6: 48-59) we find many of his disciples responding: “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” Jesus then asks if they are offended, and, instead of toning down his message, he gives them yet another difficult teaching regarding the resurrection. Continue reading →
Finding Laban drunk in the streets of Jerusalem, Nephi “beheld his sword, and [he] I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and . . . the blade thereof was of the most precious steel” (1 Nephi 4:9).1 This description is so precise that one is tempted to look for similar weapons from the ancient world in which Laban lived. Comparisons have been made with a long dagger found in the tomb of the fourteenth-century BC Egyptian king Tutankhamun, with its iron blade and hilt of gold, uncovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter (see Fig. A).2 This comparison is valid insofar as the workmanship is concerned, for Laban’s sword had a steel blade and a gold hilt. But the Egyptian weapon would not have been long enough for Nephi to strike off Laban’s head (1 Nephi 4:18).3Continue reading →
The golden hilt of Laban’s sword has led a number of people to suggest that this was a special sword, a symbol of office. ↩
Note also the discovery of a Canaanite dagger with a silver-plated handle (Fig. B). ↩
See the discussion in William J. Adams, Jr., “Nephi’s Jerusalem and Laban’s Sword,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/2 (1993), 194-95, reprinted in Pressing Forward With the Book of Mormon, eds. John W. Welch and Melvin J. Thorne (Provo: FARMS, 1999), 11-13. ↩
The Book of Mormon famously teaches, “For we labor diligently to
write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). This teaching has prompted a number of explorations into Mormon soteriology (the theology of salvation) and has left not a few Evangelical critics of Mormon doctrine peeved at what is perceived to be a “works based” theology of salvation. I myself, I confess, have paid little attention to the debates surrounding Mormon teachings on grace beyond some of the popularized work of Stephen Robinson and Brad Wilcox and a quip by C. S. Lewis.[i] Of course, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave a moving General Conference sermon on the topic of grace not too long ago that I appreciated,[ii] but beyond this handful of material and a 2010 article by John Gee,[iii]my interest in grace has been limited. There’s the treatment of grace by Latter-day Saint thinker Adam Miller, which has been recommended to me by a number of my friends and acquaintances,but frankly I haven’t, at this point, mustered enough interest to pursue this work.[iv](This admission, I hope, is not misconstrued as an indictment against Miller, but rather as an example of my own laziness.)
After dinner, it was my privilege to moderate a brief question-and-answer session with Drs. Barker and Webb. At the last minute, regretting that so many who might be interested couldn’t be there for what promised to be a very enjoyable conversation, we decided to record it for posting on the website of the Interpreter Foundation. Accordingly, thanks to the efforts of Bryce Haymond, Tom Pittman, and Russell Richins, and with the kind permission of Margaret Barker and Stephen Webb, who didn’t know in advance that we would be recording them and who hadn’t seen the questions beforehand, here is that discussion.
This is also available as an audio podcast, and will be included in the podcast feed. You can listen by pressing the play button or download the podcast below: