Dylan and I wanted to spend time examining the evidence for and against the Book of Mormon (BOM). We had worked hard to set this up and we were hoping they were ready to set their testimony aside and test the truth of the BOM.
Week 8: We met with the two Mormon missionaries Elders Baker & Davidson. We spent our first 10 minutes talking about our lives and laughing about funny things that happened this past week. I then ask if they had an agenda they wanted to share. Elder Davidson said they wanted to discuss the 6 things we had laid out as a test of our faith. They both were challenged last week to consider the evidence and were willing to subject the BOM to the test. We asked them if they had read the Bible and both said yes. Davidson said it had been years since he read it cover to cover but he reads it all the time.
Dylan asked them if they had prayed over both of them to see if they were true. Elder Baker said he had and God confirmed both to be true. Davidson said he had only prayed about the BOM but ever since he was a kid he assumed the Bible to be true.
The first test was prophecy and Dylan asked what prophecies were there in the Book of Mormon. Davidson showed how in 2 Nephi 29 (supposedly, written about 559-545BC) was a prophecy concerning how the Bible would come about. Dylan asked if the references, around this time, pointing to the coming of the Son of God were prophecies and they said yes. Dylan then said, it appeared that Joseph Smith just read this information from the Bible during his day, then created this fictional story and used Biblical accounts to show Nephi predicted these events. Could this be true? They said from their standpoint no, but they understood from our beliefs how we could reach such a conclusion. I said another area we could test would be historical. I said if we tested the Bible we would find loads of historical support. I showed them a book on the reliability of the Old Testament (OT) and indicated how much evidence supports the Bible. I said if we had a book on the historical evidence of the New Testament (NT), then the book would be 5 times larger. They agreed the evidence is strong. I gave a NT example in John 5 about the pool of Bethesda with 5 columns and how archeological digs discovered a pool in the area with exactly 5 columns.
Davidson produced a small 4 page pamphlet that gave some archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon but he didn’t know how accurate it was. It was developed by a professor at BYU. In the pamphlet it spoke about critics pointing to a DNA problem and Davidson gave an explanation about how over the years the DNA gets watered down and the Hebrew DNA has been lost. I said yet we know from the DNA evidence the American Indians came from Asia and not Israel. The Indians are Mongoloid and not Hebrew.
I asked if the BOM predicted the birthplace of Jesus. Elder Davidson said it was Jerusalem. Dylan said this is a problem because the Bible clearly says Bethlehem. Davidson said since Bethlehem and Jerusalem are so close, the BOM was referring to the general area. Dylan said there is a problem; not only are they about 6 miles apart, there are cities in-between. I then said we also have a problem in that the OT has a prophecy about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem. I asked them, do you know where that is? Davidson said it was in Micah 5:2. I told him I was impressed he knew exactly where that prophecy came from. Micah was written before the writings of the BOM and God told him the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Matthew and Luke support the fact Jesus was born in Bethlehem and yet the BOM says Jerusalem. I said this is a problem! Here we have the earlier prophecy Micah 100% accurate. How did God get it wrong a few hundred years later in the BOM? They acknowledged this was a problem.
Davidson said he would love to talk more about the nature of God and suggested we listen to a talk by Elder Holland. In this speech Holland made a defense concerning some of the issues we had brought up. Elder Davidson said he loves a book by James Talmage called, Jesus the Christ. I said I was given a copy by a Mormon and brought it out. I told them I’d read sections they recommend. They didn’t have a recommendation. Knowing their resources were limited, they said they’d research some of our challenges through individuals in their ward. Dylan said he would use the internet to find more evidence pro or con in the area of archeology and DNA. We planned to meet next Friday.
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