Mormon (LDS): Email Defense of the Gospel, p. 4

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>>>Where was the Garden of Eden located? (1) D&C 116 says it was located at “Adam-ondi-Ahman”, near Spring Hill, Missouri. (See also D&C 78:15, 107:53-57, HoC 3:35). BUT: PoGP (Moses 3:10-15, corresponding to Joseph Smith’s “Inspired” translation of Genesis 2:10-15) says it was located in the vicinity of Assyria and Ethiopia and the Euphrates River.

>>>Comment: Mormons try to explain this by suggesting that those Biblical names were also used in Adam’s day to refer to areas and rivers in ancient Missouri.

You’re right that we Mormons believe that Moses was referring to places near ancient Missouri, using names that had later (i.e. after the flood) been attached to places in the near East. A modern example of this use of names is New England (I lived there for many years). Many of the names of towns in New England were named after the cities in England from which came the emigrants to New England.

>>>This argument overlooks the fact that the author of Genesis (or the inspired “Book of Moses” – who was the biblical Moses, according to Mormon doctrine) was writing for an audience who knew those names only as designations in the Old World, and would have understood them as such.

You assume that the people being taught by Moses had no knowledge of the true (from our viewpoint) location of the Garden of Eden, and that, therefore, they would think Moses was referring to places near to them. We assume that the people did have knowledge of the true location of the Garden of Eden and that they understood, by context, that Moses was referring to places in North America. When I lived in New England and would hear people speak of “Portsmouth”, I knew by, context, whether they were referring to the city in New Hampshire or the city in England. It was not necessary for the speaker to elaborate on which city was being referenced. Until archeological evidence is discovered that pinpoints the places mentioned by Moses, I think our assumption is a reasonable and acceptable assumption.

>>>(2) Should there be a paid ministry? D&C 42:71-73 says yes: elders, high priests and bishops should receive support and “remuneration” for their services. BUT: BoM 2 Ne 26:31, Mosiah 27:5, 18:24, Alma 1:2-3, 1:20, 30:32-35 (and Bible Acts 20:33-34, 2 Cor 11:9, 2 Thess 3:8) say they should support themselves.

>>>(The present practice of the church is that only the upper echelons in the church hierarchy receive salaries and other remuneration, as well as those employed as full-time teachers, secretaries, etc. Local-level elders, bishops, high priests, missionaries, etc., support themselves by outside employment.)

We need to understand the difference between eternal principles that don’t change and policies and practices that do change. Faith is an eternal principle. Followers of God in mortality will always need faith in God. Whether or not people working in the ministry should receive remuneration of some kind is not a principle but is a policy or practice. Policies and practices change to meet the conditions. This is one of the advantages of having a living prophet of God. God can reveal how policies should be adapted to new conditions. Without a living prophet, people are limited to what their scriptures say, even though those scriptures were, many times, referring to policies that were in place due to particular circumstances at that time. Without a living prophet to receive direction from God, customs and policies referred to in the Bible become hard, fast rules, in effect becoming pseudo principles.

>>>(3) Instructions for missionaries: Should they take money and provisions (“purse and scrip”) along for their support?

>>>D&C 84:86, 91 says: “Therefore, let no man among you … from this hour take purse or scrip, that goeth forth to proclaim this gospel of the kingdom… And he that doeth not these things is not my disciple; by this you may know my disciples.” (See also v 78)

>>>BUT: All Mormon missionaries now carry money and do not rely on the charity of those to whom they preach for support.

>>>Instructions for missionaries: Should they plan what to preach? D&C 84:85 says: “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say [when >>>preaching as a missionary]: BUT: Mormon missionaries are trained intensively for several weeks before embarking on their mission in the “Uniform System For Teaching the Gospel,” published in a series of booklets (available for $4.50 from the Church Distribution Center, item 33417 000), giving exact wording for six sessions of lessons to be given to prospective converts. The accompanying instructions state (p. 1) that this system “is the approved set of missionary discussions for teaching investigators.” For each discussion, the instructions to the missionary are: “Master the information in this column [‘Discussion (What You Teach)’].” Missionaries are instructed: “Do not digress…” (p. 2)

You have referred to two policies or practices: missionaries carrying or not carrying money, and missionaries giving pre-planned lessons. Of course those practices will change as conditions in the mission field change. That’s the advantage of having a living prophet to receive guidance from God about policies and practices.

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