30 May 2008

50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (answer 10)

Tower To Truth Question:

10. If the words "familiar spirit" in Is. 29:4 refer to the Book of Mormon, why does "familiar spirit" always refer to occult practices such as channeling and necromancy everywhere else in the Old Testament?


FAIR Answer:

The term "familiar spirit," quoted in the often-poetic Isaiah (and used by Nephi to prophesy about the modern publication of the Book of Mormon) is a metaphor, not a description of any text or its origin.

To learn more: Book of Mormon as a "familiar spirit"


My Response:

I believe the question from Tower To Truth, while understandable, is not quite accurate. And I say this with all due respect to the ministry of Tower To Truth, to the work they do, and in all humility. I do not say this to defend the existence of FAIR. But I do want to be honest with every answer I give, since an incorrect answer can lead to an indefensible position. I think the question stems from a slight misreading of the BOM text. I would have to agree with FAIR on this one, that the Isaiah passage (reiterated in 2nd Nephi) does say "as one with a familiar spirit" and is not saying the BOM "is a familiar spirit." In fact, in Genesis, God tells Cain that his brother's blood "cries out to Me from the ground" (Genesis 4:10).

That said, however, FAIR stands to be corrected. For one thing, at the link that says "Book of Mormon as a 'familiar spirit'" they have this to say:
The Book of Mormon verse also emphasizes that the power to translate the Book of Mormon comes from God, not from channeling or necromancy: "the Lord God will give unto him [the translator] power." But, the critics do not mention this inconvenient fact.

Actually, the "power to translate" the BOM was no gift at all--it was simply Joseph Smith sticking a rock in a hat and telling his scribe what to write. And if this "gift of translation" came from God, then somebody got their wires crossed, because in less than 7 years, editors had to clean up almost 4000 errors Joseph made in "translating" the BOM (poor grammar, misspellings, and make changes according to doctrine).

Second, FAIR states:
Critics also ignore that the Book of Mormon also speaks negatively about appealing to actual "familiar spirits"

Now, this is where FAIR kinda runs into a pickle. They say that, in essence, the BOM condemns speaking with the dead. Hmmm. That's interesting. I mean, what with all that "baptizing for the dead" stuff. Then there's the matter of how Joesph obtained the "Keys to the Priesthood." Wilford Woodruff said:
John the Baptist conferred upon him the Aaronic Priesthood; Peter, James and John, the Apostleship and Melchisedek Priesthood; and all the Prophets who held any keys and powers belonging to the Gospel, these also visited Joseph Smith and conferred upon him those keys and powers and authority to administer them on the earth.

Ok, either these men were, like, really, really old, or they were really, really dead. Well, we know they were dead. So, this means that Joseph was communicating with the dead. Some people call that praying to the saints or veneration. God calls it necromancy.

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