Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from December, 2013

Book of Mormon Authenticity and the “Burden of Proof”

From time to time on the Internet, a critic will make the assertion that the Book of Mormon is not ancient in any way, shape, or form, without providing any arguments, evidences, or sources to back-up the claim. When challenged to provide such support, they will at times refuse, insisting that the “burden of proof” is not theirs, but the believer’s. This is because, allegedly, the burden of proof only falls on the one making a positive claim, and their claim is negative. It is the responsibility of the believer, they will say, to prove (or, at least, provide evidence for) the claim that the book is ancient. If they cannot do that, then we should not accept the book as ancient. I would suggest that this reflects a somewhat simplistic notion of the burden of proof.

The Church of the Lamb and the Church of the Devil

In his sweeping vision of human history (or, from Nephi’s perspective, human future), Nephi divides all people into “save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil” (1 Nephi 14:10). Such a dichotomy is a common theme in the Book of Mormon, and is an indispensible aspect of early Judeo-Christian literature, dating back to Lehi’s time (see Jeremiah 21:8).[1] This can be easily misunderstood to insinuate that anyone who is not a Latter-day Saint is of the church of the devil, and therefore evil. Here, I would note the interpretation of these two symbols by several scholars, which suggests that the picture is much more complex.