Brandon, Rob, BekahTemple Square
It’s always great when I can go to Temple Square to preach for the month before Christmas when all the Christmas lights are up. It draws the crowds! I took a couple friends of ours visiting from Austin, Texas--Bekah and Brandon--to experience this. We had a great time witnessing together and praying for others. Here’s a brief Facebook video Brandon took of me doing some preaching that night. The preaching as well as the sign draw people in to ask questions.
Later in the month, I had a great time witnessing with my dad at Temple Square. I talked to a gal from Southern California, who said she was "spiritual" and thought Jesus was just one good prophet among others. She admitted she's never read the New Testament. I gave her C.S. Lewis' "Lord, liar, or lunatic," and then prayed for her. I also gave her the Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD.
Dad sharing outside Temple SquareThen we talked to two guys and a gal for quite a while. I gave them a couple DVDs. Dad shared his testimony and gave the gal a pocket New Testament. She was so happy and hugged him! She was also on something! Then I got to pray for her. One of the guys used to be LDS, but doesn't care about anything religious any more.
I confronted two Spanish LDS missionaries off the street, and they acted just like Jehovah's Witnesses. I asked if they had time to talk. They said, "Yes," so I asked them how long they'd been LDS and why do they think it's true. Of course one said that their feelings from the Holy Ghost tell them it's true.
When I challenged them how do they know it was the Holy Ghost and don't their feeling ever deceive them, then the other reached out his hand to shake mine and told me they had to go! I said, "You just told me you had time to talk." He said, "Well we don't have that much time." I said, "It doesn't have to take long. Did you know it's been proven that Joseph Smith was a false prophet?" They started walking away, so I told them that Joseph was ripping them off and that they'll never be gods someday.
It’s very difficult dealing with people addicted to their feelings they assume come from the Holy Ghost!
Last month I posted eight videos on our YouTube channel. In addition to the radio interview I mentioned last month, I posted a video of Tara being interviewed on the same radio program at the beginning of the month. She did a great job sharing her testimony of coming out of Mormonism and coming to Christ. I also posted three videos of Evie and Jordan Wilson sharing their story at our www.MeetTheExMormons.org fellowship back in October. I also posted a video of a confrontation I had with cops in Star Valley, WY back in September, who were telling me that I needed to move to a free
Tara's Branson, MO radio interviewspeech area directly across the street from the temple. I also posted two videos from my outreach at the Hartford, CT temple back in October. One has become our second most popular video to watch in just three weeks of posting (over 41,000 views)! It’s a confrontation I had with cops who responded to a disgruntled LDS security worker telling them that I was trespassing. The last video is of me preaching to a group of LDS youth who were waiting to go into the temple. Sorry these older videos took so long to post, but it was due to the transition I made from one computer to another.
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The Lord continue to bless you Rob and all that stand for Christ Jesus our Lord and for His Word in Utah and I'll pray He will meet all your requirments and I'm sorry i can only contibute in prayer for now.
His every blessing and keeping to you and your familiy.
I just took a look at your website at "http://www.mormoninfo.org/" and read what it had to say about the Bible. My parents were both LDS when I was born; I was baptized when I was eight years old and have been an active member now for 49 years. So I believe that God inspired the Bible to guide us in our lives, because that's what the LDS Church teaches. But in your first statement you say, "We challenge you to question Mormonism." So, if you want me to challenge Mormonism, shouldn't I also challenge what it says about the Bible?
My question is, if I shouldn't believe what the LDS Church teaches me about the Bible, then why should I believe the Bible is the word of God? Why should I believe that God wants the Bible to play any role in my life at all?
You said, "So if you want to throw out the Bible since we don't have the originals, you also have to throw out all other ancient works which don't have original writings from their authors." I don't want to throw out the Bible. I just want to know why I should believe it speaks for God, before I start believing it speaks for God.
One of those ancient works you're talking about is the story of Gilgamesh. I agree completely that the stories told in the Bible are much more likely to have been accurately preserved from antiquity to our day than the stories of Gilgamesh are likely to have been accurately preserved from antiquity to our day. But I had never planned on living my life based on the faith that the story of Gilgamesh was a true story. So why should I base my life on the faith that the stories told in the Bible were true stories?
[I replied:] Yes, these are appropriate questions.
First, the Bible is trustworthy in the information it gives us. It gives us trustworthy history and archaeology. This just came out for example. Ask yourself what were the Top Ten Book of Mormon Archaeology Discoveries of 2016?
Second, if the Bible gives us trustworthy info, we know what Jesus taught. 1) He taught the Hebrew Bible was God's word, and that it was truth which with we should be sanctified and feed off of (Jn. 10:35, 17:17, and Mat. 4:4). 2) Jesus taught He was God and accepted worship that was due only to God (Mat. 4:10, 28:16-18, Jn. 8:58 and 10:30). As C. S. Lewis reasoned, Jesus was either Lord, a liar, or a lunatic. There's no option for Him simply being a nice prophet. 3) He taught that His Spirit would later come upon His disciples and cause them to remember everything He taught and teaching them all things (Mat. 28:19 and Jn. 14:26). 4) He taught that He would raise Himself from the dead (Jn. 2:19-21).
Third, we believe Jesus because 1) He fulfilled prophecy written about Him hundreds, even thousands of years before He came on the scene (e.g., a classic text is Isa. 53) and 2) the best case of history infers the best explanation that He really rose from the dead. The empty tomb eyewitness testimonies were early accounts in the first century with not enough time for myth to embellish the story. The message of the 1st century Church was that Christ had been experienced by many who went to their deaths for this belief and the whole course of Western civilization was radically changed as a result of this belief.
There are many good resources to get, but here are 2 popular books: Craig Blomberg's The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (IVP) and Josh McDowell's The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Nelson).
Hope this is of some help!
[He replied:] Thanks for the quick response.
=First, the Bible is trustworthy in the information it gives us. It gives us
=trustworthy history and archaeology. This just came out for example:
=yourself what were the Top Ten Book of Mormon Archaeology Discoveries of 2016?
=Second, if the Bible gives us trustworthy info, we know what Jesus taught.
I took a look at that link. So are you saying that because much of the Bible is supported by history and archaeology, we can conclude that it's telling the truth about what Jesus said and did?
=As C. S. Lewis reasoned, Jesus was either Lord, a liar, or a lunatic. There's
=no option for Him simply being a nice prophet.
So we should consider the possibility that Jesus might be a liar, but not the possibility that the Biblical authors might be lying when they put words in Jesus' mouth? The possibility exists that Jesus may have lied, but there's no possibility that the Biblical authors lied? Why is that?
=Third, we believe Jesus because 1) He fulfilled prophecy written about Him
=hundreds, even thousands of years before He came on the scene (e.g., a classic
=text is Isa. 53)
Whatever else in the Biblical account is true or false about Jesus, Jesus clearly grew up exposed to the Hebrew scriptures, including Isaiah 53. How difficult would it have been for Him to model His life on the verses He read? Does that really mean God predicted Him, or does it just mean Jesus made choices in His life in order to make it appear God predicted Him?
=The message of the 1st century Church was that Christ had been experienced by
=many who went to their deaths for this belief and the whole course of Western
=civilization was radically changed as a result of this belief.
I definitely do not contest that many Christians did go to their deaths for belief that Jesus rose from the dead. Today's media outlets are full of stories of many Muslims who go to their deaths for belief that Allah will richly reward them in the afterlife. A willingness to die for one's beliefs is not always proof that those beliefs are true.
=The empty tomb eyewitness testimonies were early accounts in the first century
=with not enough time for myth to embellish the story.
How do you tell how long it takes for myth to embellish a story?
[I replied:] I used the archaeological link as just a recent example. As I stated on MormonInfo.org, "The Bible is archaeologically, historically, prophetically, and scientifically accurate." You can look at the other links I provided in what I said about the Bible there. So I take it that if it's faithful in these areas, then it deserves the benefit of the doubt when it gives information on what Jesus taught. Yes, there's always a possibility for anything in any empirical matter. We aren't dealing with a mathematical theorem here or an analytic statement something like "bachelors are unmarried males;" we're dealing with matters of history, which includes what Jesus taught, and we can always be wrong about it. However, Christians take it that the evidence is better than not that we got what He taught and that He fulfilled prophecy and that He rose from the dead, and if that's what we take to be true, then we'd be irrational not to follow Him, since only He has the words of life (Jn. 6:68). Socrates didn't have the words of life, but no one really makes a fuss about whether Plato gave us accurate information about what Socrates taught. And Plato's just one guy.
There's additional evidence for the disciples being faithful in communicating what Jesus taught. 1) The fact that they gave different eyewitness accounts in which they were obviously not colluding with each other is another piece of evidence. There are apparent contradictions in the accounts, and I hold these can be worked out in cross-examination. But these are what we would expect from different people giving different perspectives of a particular event. Now to throw out eyewitness testimony of these disciples would also warrant throwing out all eyewitness testimonies altogether, and that would be imprudent.
2) They named women as the first to see the risen Lord, which would hardly be a selling point in the 1st century. Their testimony was worthless. However, they didn't care about marketing; they cared about being accurate.
3) Further, the disciples are the ones who originated the resurrection story, and yet went to their deaths affirming the story, even under the threat of murder for it. These were commoners, not James Bond types to pull off such a hoax, and would have easily recanted their story under the threat of duress if they were making it up. That testimony has to count for something. This is completely different from Muslims who believe their religion, but never originated historical, verifiable claims concerning their religion.
4) Christianity is a falsifiable religion. It would have been very easy to produce the body of Jesus back then, and Christianity would have disappeared, because it was based on the claim that He rose and that claim is well documented not long from the alleged event.
How do I know that? A number of reasons, not the least of which is that Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, died in the mid 60s AD. Every historian knows that. Further, the book of Acts was Luke's second letter to Theophilus as chapter 1 says. Yet you would think Paul's death would be recorded in the first book of Church history if the event had already occurred. Further, you'd also think that Christ's prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem (Lk. 21) would have been used to buttress His legitimacy if the event had already happened. But it was never mentioned in Acts because it hadn't happened yet. It happened in 70 AD. And all New Testament scholars know that the gospel of Luke wasn't even the first gospel written. That means the gospels were well into the first century with plenty of time to verify the event that supposedly took place in 33 AD, since basically all historians agree that this is when Christ died.
Apologist and philosopher J. P. Moreland wrote, "A. N. Sherwin-White, a scholar of ancient Roman and Greek history at Oxford, has studied the rate at which legend accumulated in the ancient world, using the writings of Herodotus as a test case. He argues that even a span of two generations is not sufficient for legend to wipe out a solid core of historical facts" (Scaling the Secular City, 156).
It's on the basis of this assumption that the New Testament writers were faithful that Lewis left us with the Lord, liar, lunatic option.
Sure some 1st century Jew could have attempted to have his life fulfill all the prophecies of the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament, but to fulfill all of them? That's a little hard to buy. It seems more likely that Jesus is the one the Old Testament prophesied given what historians know of Jesus of Nazareth: family line, where born, where he'd grow up, how he'd died, some would argue from Daniel when Messiah would be cut off, the type of grave, his resurrection, etc.
Again, please read the resources I gave you. They provide much more detail than I can give.
[He replied:] =So I take it that if it's faithful in these areas, then it deserves
=the benefit of the doubt when it gives information on what Jesus
=taught. Yes, there's always a possibility for anything in any
In other words, the Bible might be lying when it puts words in Jesus' mouth. Saying the Bible "deserves the benefit of the doubt" is saying there is room for doubt. There's nothing the Bible says Jesus said that we can be absolutely certain Jesus actually said. What I don't understand is why God would want people to believe the Bible is His word to mankind, when as far as we know the Bible might not be His word to mankind.
=These were commoners, not James Bond types to pull off such a hoax,
=and would have easily recanted their story under the threat of duress
=if they were making it up. That testimony has to count for
The same thing could be said of Joseph Smith. From the point in Missouri where he was almost killed by a firing squad, it could not have escaped him that if he kept on with his claims of prophetic inspiration he would very likely die. For some reason he did not recant. If that does not mean that Joseph Smith was telling the truth, then the fact that none of the eleven apostles recanted does not mean that they were telling the truth.
=Christianity is a falsifiable religion. It would have been very easy
=to produce the body of Jesus back then, and Christianity would have
=disappeared, because it was based on the claim that He rose and that
=claim is well documented not long from the alleged event.
An inability to produce the body proves that the person in question is in fact alive? That would be quite comforting to several parents of children whose pictures appear on milk cartons! I don't dispute that something happened to the body of Jesus, and that the Jewish hierarchy were unable to produce the body; I just don't see how that fact establishes that Jesus rose from the dead.
=Apologist and philosopher J. P. Moreland wrote, "A. N. Sherwin-White,
=a scholar of ancient Roman and Greek history at Oxford, has studied
=the rate at which legend accumulated in the ancient world, using the
=writings of Herodotus as a test case. He argues that even a span of
=two generations is not sufficient for legend to wipe out a solid core
=of historical facts" (Scaling the Secular City, 156).
Perhaps legend and myth are the wrong words to be using. Joseph Smith didn't even have one generation to generate what many Evangelicals consider to be fiction. I have no idea whether those Evangelicals would consider what Smith said about God legend or myth or outright lie, but the fact is that what Smith did on his own, the apostles could very possibly have done collectively.
=It's on the basis of this assumption that the New Testament writers
=were faithful that Lewis left us with the Lord, liar, lunatic option.
Rob, do you really think that it's more likely that Jesus was a liar than it was that those New Testament writers were liars?
=It seems more likely that Jesus is the one the Old Testament
=prophesied given what historians know of Jesus of Nazareth: family
=line, where born, where he'd grow up, how he'd died, some would argue
=from Daniel when Messiah would be cut off, the type of grave, his
How do those historians determine what Jesus' family line was, or where Jesus was born? And what did the Old Testament prophesy about how the Messiah would die?
[I replied:] If you’re looking for absolute certainty here, I’m not going to be able to give that to you. This is a debatable matter of history. Those who tell you they’ll give you absolute certainty here just aren’t being honest. Humility is always in order. So yes, you’re right that I’m saying the Bible “might not” be His word to mankind and it may in fact turn out that the disciples were making things up. However, just because something is possible doesn’t entail it is no longer probable. In fact, I think the case for Christianity is quite strong.
That said, I’ve already given you some reasons why I don’t think the disciples were making stuff up. In addition, until you can demonstrate to me that they were untrustworthy, I’ll stick with the tradition of Christianity for 2,000 years now.
Now I contrast that with how the evidence is quite strong that Smith lied, had bad motives, and as a result was very untrustworthy. Take for example this piece by Jim Wallace, a retired cold-case detective and former atheist (he has LDS family, by the way), who wrote another good book you should get called Cold-Case Christianity. As such, I’ve got lots of good reasons to not believe Smith’s story, which originated from him. There are bad witnesses and there are good witnesses. Smith, Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc. are clearly in the former category, and it’s hard to find anyone who would clearly put the early disciples in that same category.
While we both accept the Bible as God’s word, one can still accept Christ’s resurrection on the bare facts of history without accepting the Bible as God’s word. This approach is put forth by a couple outstanding Christian thinkers—Gary Habermas and William Lane Craig. Their claim is that there are 4 basic facts of history (Habermas may utilize more) that are accepted by all historians of the New Testament—whether they are conservative and hold the whole Bible is the word of God or whether they are liberal and don’t hold that or they are even agnostic or deny God’s existence altogether. Nothing here presupposes the miraculous. These facts are:
1) Jesus lived and died and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
2) Three days later the tomb was empty.
3) After those three days, the disciples took themselves to have appearances of Jesus.
4) Their lives were radically changed and became bold witnesses to their death so that Western Civilization was turned upside-down.
If these are all the case, then the best explanation isn’t that Jesus faked His death, that the disciples stole His body, or had mass hallucinations all at once, etc. The best explanation is the traditional one that claims Jesus rose from the dead. All other explanations fail to explain one or more of the facts. You may be tempted to say like those liberal scholars that miracles just can’t happen, so this can’t be the best explanation, but that simply begs the question against God showing up in history. As Mormon, you hold to miracles, but if you are beginning to question that, then please get a hold of Douglas Geivett and Gary Habermas’ edited work In Defense of Miracles (IVP).
Since I take that Jesus rose from the dead, then of course I want to get my hands on anything He taught, and again, I’ll take the writings of the apostles to be authoritative for that end until proven otherwise.
Again, as LDS, your Church agrees with me that the Bible is the word of God. Since it does, then it’s common ground and I think we ought to use it to see if your church stands the test as Brigham offered we do in Journal of Discourses 16:46. So the normative test is in place and doesn’t rely on LDS sources, since it predates them. The independent grounds for its reliability are found elsewhere. Given what you’ve seen on www.MormonInfo.org, I’m convinced Mormonism has failed the test. That doesn’t entail that the Bible can’t be trusted anymore. To think such would simply be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You’re simply left with what you already accept as the word of God (i.e., the Bible).
Tormenting another religion is not consitutional. You have free speach, but you have the responsiblity to be clean and uplifting in you speach, You are promting hate for anothers religion you personally do not approve of. What you are doing is wickedness. Can you show me in the Bible that Christ the Lord supports what you are doing?
[I replied:] Instead of regurgitating the Mormon and PC view that you've imbibed, perhaps you should actually read the New Testament. How about reading Matthew 23 for starters? Then you can read about the different accounts of Jesus cleaning out the temple on occasion. You need to spend less time on the internet, and more time reading the New Testament.
Where in the constitution does it say that I have to use "clean and uplifting speech"? This is ridiculous. Especially since it's hypocritical... you are degrading me in what I take to be my religious beliefs in correcting people (2 Tim. 4:2). And if you can degrade and attempt to correct me, then so can I for you and others.
You have a screwy notion of what hate is and it's not biblical. True love warns others of the dangers of following a false god, since their troubles will be multiplied (Ps. 16:4). What you seem to mean by hate is speaking negatively. Again, if that's what hate means, then you hate, since you're speaking negatively against me. Biblical hate is the opposite of love, which is defined in 1 Cor. 13. I love people and that's why I patiently warn them about the broad path that they are on that's leading them to hell (Mat. 7:13-14). And since I'm a disciple of Jesus, I'm instructed to teach everything He taught (Mat. 28:19).
Here’s a set of encouraging posts that Mike Norton (the originator of JosephLied.com) sent to me.