Sunday, 28 April 2013

Miracles, history and religion


All religion, Western and Eastern, is founded upon miracle.

It makes little sense to present arguments against Joseph Smith and early Mormonism that would extend equally well to what we are told about the origins of what will eventually be Judaism, the origins of Christianity, the origins of Islam.

All religion depends upon revelation. All revelation is supernatural. If you wish to be a hard rock empiricist, then you should not entertain any religious doctrine whatsoever.

Harold Bloom


The kind of revelation that Joseph describes is the scandal of Mormonism, in the same way that the resurrection of Christ is the scandal of Christianity.

And what I mean by that is that on the face of it, that's an affront to sophisticated notions of how the Universe works.

God doesn't deliver gold plates to farm boys. It's a cause of embarrassment to many intellectuals in the church to continue to insist that Joseph had literal gold plates given to him by a real angel.

But I also mean that it's a scandal in the sense that it is inseparable from the heart and soul of Mormonism, that one could no sooner divorce the historical claims of the Book of Mormon from the church than one could divorce the story of Christ's resurrection from Christianity and survive with the religion intact.


I think there's no question that the [LDS] church rises or falls on the veracity of Joseph Smith's story.

History as theology is perilous. If it turns out that the whole story of Christ's resurrection was a fabrication, then Christianity collapses. 

That's the price we pay for believing in a God who intervenes in human history, who has real interactions with real human beings in real space and time. 

That makes it historical, and that's a reality that we just can't flee away from.

Terryl Givens


From the PBS documentary The Mormons, 2007

Bold emphasis added.