Saturday, May 11, 2013

Jacob 5: The Clusterfuck of the Olive Tree

This chapter is a beast.

It's seventy-seven very verbose verses about trees and vineyards, Lords and servants, roots and branches, digging and pruning, grafting and burning, wild fruit and tame fruit and a whole lot of symbolism.  But it's not a very good chapter.  It's very repetitive, occasionally vague (wait, which tree are we talking about now?) and entirely dull.

The Basic Flaw
This chapter is the famed Allegory of the Olive tree, which originated from an otherwise unknown prophet named Zenos.  Jacob reads Zenos's allegory to the Nephites to teach them about God's plan for his chosen people, including the scattering and gathering of the tribes of Israel.

But the whole point of an allegory (or a parable or an object lesson or whatever you want to call it) is simplicity.  The advantage of an allegory is that you can use a familiar setting to relate a complex concept to your audience so that they can better understand.  Zenos, apparently, decided that since God scattering the house of Israel because of its wickedness and then orchestrating a future gathering was such a complex idea, he'd explain this idea using a vineyard.  But he didn't just explain—he overexplained.

Suddenly this simple, real-word example that the people supposedly would understand better than bare doctrine spirals out into a massive, intricate story featuring about a zillion different characters (if you count the trees).  It's not so simple anymore.  The allegory's symbolism and meaning are lost in the textual landslide.

God is a Bad Gardener
What I think is funny about the Allegory of the Olive tree is that, on two separate occasions during this millennia-spanning epic, the Lord of the vineyard (popularly assumed to be Jesus Christ) completely ignores his vineyard (the world) for a while.  Twice, in verses 15 and 29 a "long time" goes by before the Lord goes back to see how his trees are doing.

Sounds like maybe the deists were Mormon after all.  So much for the hands-on, answers-my-prayers-to-find-my-car-keys version of God.  Apparently there are some huge gaps of time during which he doesn't have a member of the godhead directly supervising his work.  And it should have been no surprise to the Lord of the vineyard that, after he comes back from his extended sabbatical, his vineyard has gone down the tubes.  Maybe a more continuous, concerted effort would have yielded better results?

There's a potted fern on the window sill in God's celestial office.  It's been dead for centuries but he hasn't noticed.

God Is Perfectly Happy to Give Up
The Lord of the vineyard, in verse 26, wants to burn the branches that have failed to bring forth good fruit.  But in the next verse, the servant talks him out of it by offering to do some more work on the trees.  In verse 49, after whining for a while about how his vineyard is all messed up, the Lord suggests that the two of them go chop down all the trees and burn them.  But in the following verse, the servant talks him out of it.

Why is the Savior so quick to throw up his hands and admit defeat?  And why is a prophet (the servant), who is supposed to be only a fallible man doing the work inspired of God, able to change his mind?

A Final Tangential Point
During my admittedly cursory research into the vast intricacies of this chapter, I happened across a piece from BYU's Maxwell Institute.  I almost laughed out loud at its opening line:
In language that rivals the best literature has to offer, the allegory of the olive tree is the most beautiful prose expression of God's aspirations for the house of Israel during its history here on the earth.
Dude—seriously?  Jacob chapter 5 "rivals the best literature has to offer?"  Come on.  It's bland and repetitive.  It's unimaginative, largely practical prose that explains what's happening without offering much in the way of poetic wording.  It's drier than overcooked cornbread.  Here are a few examples of what I think is among the best that literature has to offer.
You're afraid of making mistakes.  Don't be.  Mistakes can be profited by.  Man, when I was young I shoved my ignorance in people's faces.  They beat me with sticks.  By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed into a fine cutting point for me.  If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn.   (Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451)
I am afraid.  Not of life, or death, or nothingness, but of wasting it as if I had never been.  (Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon)
 When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples.  (Stephen Crane, The Open Boat)
And compare:
Behold, this have I planted in a good spot of ground; and I have nourished it this long time, and only a part of the tree hath brought forth tame fruit, and the other part of the tree hath brought forth wild fruit; behold, I have nourished this tree like unto the others.  (Joseph Smith, I mean Jacob, I mean Zenos, Jacob 5:25)
One of these things is not like the others.

Mormon loyalty to their sacred book can get a little ridiculous sometimes.  Whether it's the word of God or not, nobody should be comparing its contents to the works of people who could really turn a phrase—you know, Dickens or Twain or Wilde or Steinbeck.  As a novel, the Book of Mormon is crap.  It's nowhere near the level of the classics.  Its only value is in its religious significance—which, ironically, is zero to everyone on the planet except for a couple million practicing Mormons.


  1. Great post!

    As you know, the BOM is loaded with plagiarism from many sources, so it's no surprise to me that the idea for the vineyard came from somewhere else.

    What Joseph had to do was take the Parable of the Fig Tree found in Luke 13; change the fig to olive; add "and it came to pass" a whole bunch of times; copy words and phrases like cumbereth, good fruit, dig, dung, hewn down, cast into the fire; ramble on and on; and he had his chapter.

    Here is some of the plagiarism of the Bible found in Jacob 5:


    Therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 5:42, 46, 49, 6:7 (Matthew 3:10)

    What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? 5:47, 49 (Isaiah 5:4)

    I shall dig about it, and dung it. 5:47, 64, 76 (Luke 13:8)

    Why cumbereth it the ground? 5:49, 66 (Luke 13:7)

    But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. 5:63 (Matthew 19:30)

    I just realized something. Here is the other alternative. Jacob 5 was written by Zenos somewhere between 544-421 B.C. Jesus may have been quoting him.

    1. Wow, I didn't realize that. I guess that shows just how "cursory" my research on this chapter was!

      So I looked up the parable of the fig tree, and it's pretty short. Like five verses. It makes Jacob 5 seem like it's supposed to be like a deleted scene from the Bible or something. You know, here's Luke 13 from a different camera angle, with extra dialogue.

      I have a feeling, though, that most LDS people would have a problem with your theory that Jesus was quoting somebody else in one of his parables. Makes me chuckle to think about it.

  2. What I love about your blog is your instincts, personal insights and great writing. I'm glad you don't overly research this BOM commentary, because I believe it would change your writing. I love it.

    I think your analysis of this chapter is dead on. It is boring, poorly written, and confusing. It's surprising that a loving God would not only leave his children alone for so long but would give up on them so quickly. I can't believe in a God like that.

    This next part may be off the point of Jacob 5, but it's important to me. Over half a life ago, as a missionary, I, like many other missionaries, contemplated becoming a Seminary teacher. What kept me from pursuing that was the lack of testimony. I could not honestly say I knew the church was true. I was afraid some evidence would be uncovered that would prove the church untrue. I brought up plagiarism earlier, because that is the evidence I anticipated one day finding. Joseph conveniently gave the plates back, but we can still see the sources of many of his ideas in the Bible and many other books, mostly about travel, that were readily available to him. Many of the major stories came from these other books. The Book of Abraham is about 80% plagiarized. We have the actual papyrus, and we know Joseph's "translation" was a complete fraud. Why should we believe any differently about the Book of Mormon.

  3. Wow. You're very kind. I'm e-blushing.

    I don't usually try to do a lot of research anyway. I don't want to get into the crazy-detailed stuff that apologists fight over. People can always say that science is mistaken and history is incomplete and things like that because there's really only a few people that have any real firsthand knowledge of, for example, DNA evidence. Most people just base their knowledge on other people's research. While I'm sure DNA evidence contradicts the Book of Mormon's claims, I can't force my TBM family members to learn everything there is to know about DNA and perform tests themselves. So I think an approach more focused on reason and logic, instead of specialized knowledge, is more useful.

    Not that I've actually done any convincing to get people to leave the church. But if I did, it wouldn't be by waving a 500-page document full of dense scientific jargon in somebody's face.

    Anyway, thanks again for your kind comments and your discussion. And if you don't mind me asking (I'm just curious), where are you now, half a lifetime later, religion-wise? Agnostic? Atheist? Born-Again?

  4. Where am I now?

    I am in transition. Fortunately, my wife and I are together on this. We have both been independently unhappy with the church and unbelieving for many years. However, because of our extremely orthodox, TBM parents (they still have no idea), our children, and the fact we live in Northern Utah with all its social pressure, we still are semi-active. My wife goes to an occasional sacrament meeting. I only go to sacrament meeting. By the end of that, I am so uncomfortable, that I leave my kids and go home. I no longer enjoy the social aspect of attending church and certainly don't believe the doctrine.

    Right now, I would say I am agnostic atheist. I don't believe in anything magical or supernatural. I'm not real sure where she places herself, but I believe we are pretty close, even though we have problems with very different things.

    The catalyst for us wanting to leave for good is how the church has dealt with issues of sexual abuse that members of our family have been through. The church will protect its image at pretty much all costs and has programmed its members to do the same up to the point of excusing and "forgiving" child abusers without holding them accountable. I could cite several examples in my wife's family, but this is not the place to do it.

    She finally told her longtime inactive sister about our disbelief the other day, so that may move things along.

    If it were possible for us to move away from this craziness, we would, but that may be a few years away. In the meantime, we will find our way out.

    Keep writing. I have really enjoyed your 1-2 times a week insights.


    1. Wow, I'm sorry to hear about the sexual abuse. That's one of the things that I've heard the church is absolutely awful at approaching that I've been lucky enough not to have dealt with. It seems there is a shockingly high number of LDS sexual abuse stories floating around the internet and part of the problem usually seems to be that the leaders try to cover things up and blame the victims. That's not the kind of thing I'd wish on my worst enemy.

      And I gotta say I admire your ability just to go to sacrament meeting every week for so long. I went to sacrament meeting for maybe a year or so as a definite unbeliever and that's about all I could stomach before I gave up.

      Again, I appreciate your comments. I wish you and your family the best of luck!

    2. Your impression is accurate. The church really leaves a lot to the bishops' discretion. When someone tells the bishop about abuse, they are required to call the church's hotline. The very first question is if it happened on church property. Then they ask if it has been reported. If it didn't involve the church and had been reported, then they tell the bishop to handle it and end the call. Our bishop told us this. Well, they are extremely unprepared and make big mistakes. However, since they are "following the spirit," they think they are doing what the savior would do. It is a crazy nightmare.

      Thanks for your support and understanding.

  5. I just thought of something as I read the BoM quote. Sometimes I help my kids write a paper for school, because they can't think of what to say. I start writing and worry that it sounds like an adult wrote it so I "dumb it down." It sounds to me like not wanting to sound like a modern person wrote it he dumbs it down, over explains, writes confusingly and tells us it is plain and easy to understand. Just like everything else it is perfect and our fault if it is confusing.

    Last time I helped my young son he went through my writing and corrected it to even better writing than I had done before I childified it. I wonder if Jacob and the others are looking down from their planet ashamed that when Joe translated their painstakingly etched words, he dumbed them down.

    1. Or maybe the authors of the Bible are looking down, pissed off that he did such a horrible job ripping off their writing styles!

  6. I'm doing research right now on the Book of Mormon (one of my best friends is a Mormon) I consider myself Christian (of Pentecostal denomination), and have been in church my entire life. She recently got back from her mission and I went to go hear her speak at her church about her experiences (just to show my support). At one point while she was speaking she took a detour to mention how glad she was that I was there, that she had been praying for me to know the truth of Mormon faith. I in turn have been praying for her to figure out that the Book or Mormon is false teaching. But then it dawned on me that how is she ever going to figure this out if the Church tells you that all you need to know that the Book or Mormon is the truth is a revelation from God through prayer. Who is going to challenge the Book of Mormon if they're taught using that kind of thinking? So here I am reading the whole Book of Mormon, trying to do it with an open mind. I just want to figure out for myself why the Book of Mormon is false teaching instead of having the same mindset that, because my church says its wrong it must be wrong. But how can I be unbiased in my interpretation of the Book of Mormon because I eventually want to talk to my Mormon friend and help her understand without damaging our friendship?

    1. I would recommend that you read it, try the promise (praying about it), and then be honest with her about the answer. Mormons don't believe a person can read it from cover to cover, pray about it, and get an answer other than that it's true. You can show her it's possible.

      You have a big challenge ahead of you. You have to remember that Mormons believe it's more likely an angel brought ancient gold plates to Joseph Smith than that he or someone else wrote it. They aren't swayed by the fact there is no archeological evidence for the book. DNA evidence contrary to the book doesn't convince them. The numerous anachronisms in the book (like elephants, horses, wheat, etc.) are easily overlooked.

      Alex has done an amazing job with his analysis of each chapter in this blog. There are plenty of great things you can bring up in your discussions with her. Good luck!

    2. I don't know if you can be unbiased. She desperately wants it to be true, you're hoping it's wrong, I desperately want everyone to realize it's false...we all have our biases.

      NearKolobite's idea is a good one. I'm guessing she's told you about the "promise" in Moroni 10:4-5. If you pray about the Book of Mormon, you're supposed to receive confirmation from the Holy Ghost that the book is actually the word of God. The fact that the promise doesn't work is really what started my own journey out of Mormonism. Maybe if you try the promise and it fails you, that could get her thinking. But you gotta convince that you really did try.

      I have to applaud you for reading the whole Book of Mormon despite not being Mormon or wanting to become Mormon. It's a pretty long, dry, useless book if you're not expecting to discover the mysteries of the universe in its pages. And I definitely have to applaud you for being open-minded and going to the source material yourself instead of, as you said, using the same mindset to assess the Book of Mormon.

      In a perfect world, Mormons and Pentecostals should be able to be great friends without religion getting in the way. There are some things about the Mormon mindset that can make this difficult, of course. Hopefully your friend realizes that you're just trying to understand her and you only want to help. There are too many stories of Mormons choosing religion over family and belief over friendship. Your concerns are legitimate.

      I guess my only original suggestion for you is that, when you do talk to your friend about this stuff, make sure it's actually a discussion. In my eyes, there's so much awful stuff in the Book of Mormon. But in my experience, it's not helpful to just dump all that stuff in front of someone. It's too much to process at once and it puts people on the defensive. I'd suggest keeping a dialogue going, asking questions more often than you make definitive statements, and sand the sharp edges off of your strongest points. Instead of pointing out how racist the Book of Mormon is, try explaining that you have a tough time getting around the fact that God chose to manifest a curse as a skin color. Instead of talking about how much of a jerk God was for letting the chief judge of Ammonihah burn all the believers, ask your friend to explain to you why God needed those believers as witnesses against him if He already knows what's in our hearts. But then make sure you actually listen to the answers and discuss them. If your friend is a typical Mormon, she holds a lot of these beliefs very dear and she's used them as a foundation for her whole life. Be gentle. Poke the foundation with a stick, don't try to bulldoze it.

      That comment went on a lot longer than I expected. Best of luck! I'm pretty curious how this will turn out, so feel free to leave another comment sometime letting me know how it's going. If you wind up getting through to her, I may have to steal some of your successful strategies and use them on my family members!

    3. That was actually really helpful, thank you! The problem I'm going to eventually face though is that we live in different states now, we both went our separate ways after high school, of course we still keep in touch though the various ways of technology and maybe see each other once a year when we happen to be visiting our parents in our hometown at the same time. My original thought process was I was going to send her the Book of Mormon that she gave me back to her through the mail with all my notes and a letter explaining why I did it and hope that she actually looks through it. And in turn, it encourages her to do her own research trying to prove me wrong considering the fact that I put so much time and effort into it...but now I see that that might be too harsh of a tactic. We've always had an open mindset towards each other about our faiths never really trying to sway one another to the other side.

      When you (and NearKolobite) mentioned the prayer thing, I've been told that so many times by some of my other Mormon friends, but I fear that even if I do pray and don't "receive the truth" that I can't use that as proof because I'm not a believer and I'm not really trying to be. I think I might be able to pray and ask God if its true but then the question becomes, did I not get an answer because its not true or because I'm inherently bias and didn't seek the truth with my whole heart.

      I'm only half way through and I've already found so many things that contradict and things that just don't make sense at all I wonder how someone could believe this and not question it. Is it possible to get a revelation from God that its not true lol

    4. Sorry, I was re-reading your reply and this stuck out to me.

      "I'm guessing she's told you about the "promise" in Moroni 10:4-5. If you pray about the Book of Mormon, you're supposed to receive confirmation from the Holy Ghost that the book is actually the word of God. The fact that the promise doesn't work is really what started my own journey out of Mormonism"

      What do you mean that the promise didn't work for you? Did you just never get that feeling of "peace" that so many people have said is how they felt the confirmation?

  7. Every situation is different, of course. Your plan to send your Book of Mormon back to her with your own notes has a certain flair to it. I was born into Mormonism and spent the first twenty or so years of my life steeped in it, so I may know a lot about the LDS church, but I don't know anything about your friend. Your idea may work. If you guys text each other or chat on Facebook or something, maybe my "discussion" suggestion would work too. But it's your friend. You're the expert. We just have a couple of ideas based on our own experiences with Mormons.

    Your point about Moroni's promise is a good one. Your friend could very well invalidate your whole experience just because you aren't trying to be converted and you couldn't have "asked with real intent." That's why it's so important to try to convince her that you really, honestly, asked and prayed as hard as you could.

    The promise didn't work for me because I never felt anything. No answer. I was nineteen years old and the pressure to serve as a missionary was pretty intense, but I was terrified of spending two years of my life in a strange place. So I figured I should make sure that I really had a testimony of my church before I dedicated that much time to it. I took Moroni's promise and I prayed about it and I received no answer, no peaceful feeling, no warmth, no sense of calm. I'd been taught that sometimes our prayers aren't answered immediately, but that sometimes our daily experiences following the prayer can manifest the answer. So I paid close attention over the next few days, praying frequently, to see if something would happen that would answer my prayer and seal the deal. I spent maybe two weeks like this before I gave up. When people have told me about their experiences praying to know if the Book of Mormon is true and they describe the feeling they got when it was confirmed to them, I have no friggin' idea what they're talking about. I never felt it.

    A few years later, when I'd lost my faith completely and I finally worked up the courage to tell my parents I didn't want to go to church anymore, I used that experience when I was trying to explain to my father why I no longer believed. He had all kinds of ideas why my prayer didn't seem like it was answered. I hadn't prayed enough. I hadn't exercised enough faith. I had some kind of recent sin hanging over me that was blocking the Spirit. I got an answer, but I didn't recognize it. God didn't answer me because he was trying to tell me that I didn't need an answer because I already knew it was true.

    1. Even if your friend comes up with tons of creative reasons why your prayer about the Book of Mormon wasn't answered with a resounding yes, if you're keeping a respectful discussion going, it still allows you to ask some questions that may make her think. For example, if God loves us and wants us to join his church and learn the truth, why would he make us jump through hoops (like exercising faith first, like praying about it more than once, like requiring faith to be exercised first, like predicating access to an answer on "worthiness") to find out about it? Or you could ask why you received confirmation when you prayed about the Bible, but not the Book of Mormon. Or flip it around on your friend and ask if she's prayed about the Quran and ask her about experiences of Muslims who have felt a spiritual confirmation of its truthfulness. Chances are that she'll have decent answers for some or all of your questions, but the more you discuss and the more varied concepts you bring up, the more she might have to think about things.

      When I was in high school I had some friends of various Protestant faiths who tried (gently) to convert me, and I found most of their questions pretty easy at the time. When I was in college, though, discussing some of the weirder, more complex, more troubling things about the church in greater detail (with a Mormon roommate, no less) actually made me look more closely at what I believed and helped me deconstruct it. It's possible the same thing could happen to your friend.

      "Is it possible to get a revelation from God that its not true lol"

      It's funny you should say that, actually. I don't remember where it is in Mormon scripture, but there's something along the lines of "a stupor of thought" if you pray about something and God is telling you it's bad or you shouldn't do it. The stupor of thought is much closer to what I felt when I prayed about the Book of Mormon because I was hoping for some kind of warm reassurance and I felt nothing...which scared the crap out of me. It confused me and worried me because I didn't want to face the possibility that the Book of Mormon wasn't true. Less peace. More stupor!
      And there I go rambling again. Hopefully some of this mess is helpful.

    2. I havn't come across a verse like that yet, but I've been stuck on the whole allegory of the olive tree thing (which is how I came across your blog). It's so confusing I'm going through reading it a second time and making a bunch of small notes. I came across this piece, and found this quote

      "The allegory speaks mainly of one much-loved tree. But there are others—an entire orchard of trees—each of which is valued by the Lord. In the allegory he toils personally alongside his hardworking crew of devoted servants as they cut and prune and transplant and nourish the precious trees." "This allegory typologically represents many forms of God's love and care, as well as many states of righteousness and apostasy, whether collective or individual."

      I didn't read the whole thing, just the introduction, but that part stuck out to me concerning your comments about how God left his vineyard for "a long time". I find the whole allegory to be contradictory of itself.

      Sorry for all this, your the first person that's actually given me some helpful advise from any of the ex-mormon blogs and web sights I've come across that I've tried to contact.

    3. Yeah, I completely agree with your assessment of the parable of the olive tree. It's self-contradictory nonsense. I think whoever wrote it (Joseph Smith, or maybe one of his friends) was just trying to sound deep but didn't really have a concept in mind with any substance to it. As a teenager, I was blown away by the complexity and the detail of the allegory, but I had no idea what it meant because it was so convoluted. Now, I think the complexity and the detail were the whole point. It's kind of showmanship and misdirection to obscure the fact that there's really nothing of value to be learned from the whole thing.

      I'm sorry you haven't gotten much help from the sites you've visited. I like to think that we ex-Mormons are a generally friendly bunch. Have you tried Reddit? If you post your story in /r/exmormon you might get a lot of useful responses. It's a pretty good community with lots of active users, and people from other religious backgrounds asking how to deal with Mormon friends is something that actually happens pretty regularly.

    4. Cool thanks, I'll try that.

  8. God started the problem, he brought the branches from the wild trees and grafted them into the good trees. Aren't we supposed to have free will, the freedom to make our own choices? So why is God forcing this "evil" onto his pure trees? Shouldn't he have known the outcome? Ant then when he sees what he has subjected his pure trees to he decides to take the wild branches he put on his pure trees off. So he basically comes up with a solution to the problem he caused in the first place. Why did he listen to his servant? Anyone's guess, but in the end he decides that if the problem arises again that he's gonna go with his original plan (before his servant talked him out of it) and get rid of the evil altogether. To burn the bad branches, as he stated at the beginning of the allegory.

    1. It really makes it seem like God doesn't plan ahead, right? He's supposed to be the ultimate big-picture kind of guy but he's very fickle and shortsighted in this allegory.

  9. Alex makes a ton of great points, and it does all depend on your friend. One thing I was thinking you might want to try is emailing her questions after you read a chapter or two. If you can't think of anything, that's fine, but Alex has done a fantastic job in this blog. I would suggest you read a chapter, come up with your own questions and impressions, then read Alex.

    I served a mission without ever getting an answer. Never did, and never will. I've read the book many times. When I finally realized it wasn't true was when I went through a tough situation. I wanted comfort from the church, so I read the entire book in a little over a week. Reading it that quickly showed me what a jumbled mess it is. I prayed but got no answer. The church teaches that some people are given the gift of faith while some must rely on the faith of others. Joseph Smith was a very smart manipulator and covered all the bases. It's like, if you don't believe, you can just rely on the testimony of your mom and dad. To me, that's not good enough. If God wants me in his church, he's going to have to answer me directly, and so far, he never has.

    1. Here's an example of a type of question you could ask.

      "2 And as these plates are small, and as these things are written for the intent of the benefit of our brethren the Lamanites, wherefore, it must needs be that I write a little; but I shall not write the things of my prophesying, nor of my revelations. For what could I write more than my fathers have written? For have not they revealed the plan of salvation? I say unto you, Yea; and this sufficeth me." Jarom 1:2.

      In this verse, he says that the plan of salvation has been fully revealed and written about on the plates, but there's no mention of Temples, temple ceremonies, baptism for the dead, celestial marriage, the three degrees of glory, the war in heaven, spirit prison, etc. anywhere in the Book of Mormon but especially not up to that point. Why? Don't accept the answer that it was left out in Moroni's abridgement. Moroni's final draft was supposed to include the most plain and precious parts. What's more precious to Mormons than temples? The more probable answer is that Joseph Smith made up the temple stuff after the Book of Mormon had already been published. Many of the present Mormon beliefs are way different from and even contradict the Book of Mormon. You'll discover that as you read it.

    2. That's a great question and a good example of a discussion-generator that could make someone think. I think there's a scripture in Corinthians (maybe) that Mormons like to use to "show" that baptism for the dead is referenced in the Bible (depending on a generously bad interpretation). But how come there isn't a verse like that in the Book of Mormon? How come polygamy, which Brigham Young taught was vital to salvation, is condemned instead of commanded in the church's founding book of scripture?

    3. NearKolobite, Ive been going through the Book of Mormon book by book taking notes on things that jump out to me and writing down questions to look up answers to or if I can't find the answers to ask my friend. I like your idea about striking up an email conversation with her asking questions as I go along that might turn out to be a great way for both of us to learn about the Mormon religion and their beliefs together. Seeing as it will give her an excuse to look up answers right there on the spot rather than bombarding her with all my questions and research all at once. Which now I realize would have been a hard pill to swallow seeing it all at once...

      Alex, I actually did some research when I was reading 2 Nephi about the requirements to get into heaven, one of them was that you MUST to get baptized. I know that mormons don't nessesarilly follow the scriptures of the Bible because some "pure and precious" things were taken out. But if you look at the story about Jesus death he was hung up on the cross with two other men one of which was talking to Jesus and had decided that he wanted to go to heaven. He basically asks Jesus if he will see him in heaven and Jesus said yes. This man was never baptized so how did he get into heaven?

    4. I'm guessing the easy answer is that someone will be baptized by proxy in an LDS temple for the other men on Calvary and they'll be able to accept the ordinances performed on their behalf.

      Of course, good luck trying to uncover accurate genealogical data about that poor guy. The only way ordinances for the dead make any sense to me is if it all ends with a blanket baptism for everyone who fell through the cracks. But then if a blanket ordinance is possible, that makes all of today's specific temple stuff nothing more than unnecessary busywork.

  10. I see your points, but I like to look at the parable as insight into God's love looking at the individual not the whole historical House of Israel thing.

  11. I see your points, but I like to look at the parable as insight into God's love looking at the individual not the whole historical House of Israel thing.

    1. Well, the whole historical House of Israel is only one of my points. Did you read the others? Personally, I don't think the allegory is much of an insight into God's love, considering that he takes two sabbaticals from his responsibilities and twice expresses a desire to burn the whole vineyard down.

      But I do find it amusing that your site's URL is just as straightforward as mine! At least nobody visiting our blogs will have any misconceptions about our biases, right?