Lectures on Faith: Section 1

October 6, 2018


Lectures on Faith: Section 1

Faith is the foundation of all things, obviously. Without faith, literally nothing else exists!!! Pay no attention to the obvious flaws in these statements.

*waves hands in a distracting fashion*


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8 Comments on “Lectures on Faith: Section 1”

  1. Gottfried The Hirsute Says:

    To quote Bryce: “I’M SO HAPPEEEEE!” 😀 It feels good to get back to some good ol’fashioned 1830’s Kirtland era mumbo-jumbo Mormonism!

    Today we use the term “pop psychology”; I classify the Lectures as “pop theology” (with both terms being better defined as “pseudo-psychology” and “pseudo-theology”.) This is the 19th century version of “What the Bleep Do We Know?” 😉

    First off, the Lectures on Faith were (and I’ll insert the caveat ‘most likely’) written by Sidney Rigdon. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism begrudgingly acknowledges this fact, stating only that Joseph was “involved” with or “influenced” their composition. http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Lectures_on_Faith

    So what we have here quite literally is the guy with the fifth-grade education showing off how smart he is to the guy with the third-grade education! Expanding the definition of the word “faith” seemed impressive to those who didn’t have the education or experience to see the flaws in the logic, let alone counter them. It felt like new knowledge was being imparted to them. The fact that these apologetic arguments had long since been disproven and debunked was completely unknown to both author and students.

    Essentially, (and kudos to Bryce for picking up on this), “faith” is redefined as the driving force behind everything. Q: Prime mover argument? A: Faith. Q: Creation ex nihilo? A: Faith. Q: Why is the sky blue? A: Faith. Q: Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near? A: You get the idea. 😉

    Sidney created Theological Urethane Foam in a can – the ultimate filler for God of the Gaps! No pesky drafts of Enlightenment will infiltrate around the Windows of your Soul! Order now! Only $99.95 or 10% of your increase, plus shipping and handling.

    But more important than all that for me personally is that knowing that Sidney is the author of the Lectures on Faith bolsters my hypothesis (and Bryce and I have discussed this) that Sidney wrote the theological portions of the Book of Mormon and Joseph wrote the adventure story parts. Hear me out– this is not the Spalding Theory (which I contend is a convenient red herring/straw man for apologists.)

    I won’t go into depth here, but prior to joining Smith’s ‘Church of Christ’, Rigdon was a Campbellite minister in his ‘Church of Christ.’ But Rigdon had some theological disputes with his mentor Alexander Campbell. Since the Disciples of Christ (i.e. Campbellites) adhered to the principle of sola scriptura – “by scripture alone” – he needed ‘scriptures’ to prove his positions that couldn’t be backed up by the Bible. So he wrote them. And gave them to a locally renowned treasure-seeker to ‘find’ and ‘translate.’ Sure it was fraud, but it was pious fraud. Greater good and all that, don’t you know?

    So for me, when Abinadi is preaching for three chapters while being burned alive, that’s Rigdon speaking. When Alma laments “O that I were an angel…that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people,” that’s Rigdon lamenting. (Conversely, Nephi and Lehi – Joseph and Joseph Sr. Wicked priests of King Noah kidnapping young Lamanite women – pure Joseph! 😀 )

    As you read the rest of the Lectures, note the similarities in the flawed logic and simple bald assertions with the Ayn-Rand-style episodes of Korihor and Nehor in the Book of Mormon (i.e. each character represents a different opposing view which the protagonist then proceeds to disprove via ‘logical’ argument.)

    Note also that the whole of Lecture 1 is, as stated, a riff on Hebrews 11:1 (KJV) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This shows up in repackaged form twice in the Book of Mormon:

    Alma 32:21 And now as I said concerning faith— faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.

    Ether 12:6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

    By applying methods of literary criticism, one can see a continuity between the theological portions of the Book of Mormon, the Joseph Smith Translation (which Ridgon [co-]authored) of Matthew (Rigdon’s self-stated favorite Gospel) and the Lectures on Faith. Poor old Sidney – whitewashed out of history again. 😦

    And if you’re wondering why the Lectures on Faith (i.e. the “Doctrine”) were removed from the Doctrine and Covenants, don’t worry. You’ll figure it out before you get to Lecture 7. No spoilers! 😉

    OH! Book of Jasher! OK, part two of this comment to follow…


    • Gottfried The Hirsute Says:

      CORRECTION: Abinadi wasn’t being burned for the entire three chapter speech, only the last five verses. My exuberance clouded my memory. It only felt like three chapters of torture! 😉


  2. help3434 Says:

    “But more important than all that for me personally is that knowing that Sidney is the author of the Lectures on Faith bolsters my hypothesis (and Bryce and I have discussed this) that Sidney wrote the theological portions of the Book of Mormon and Joseph wrote the adventure story parts. Hear me out– this is not the Spalding Theory (which I contend is a convenient red herring/straw man for apologists.)”

    But Rigdon didn’t meet Smith until after the Book of Mormon was published.The idea that he secretly helped Joseph Smith write the Book of Mormon, then later pretended to meet him for the first time seems like a stretch to me to say the least.


    • Gottfried The Hirsute Says:

      I can understand your initial skepticism. I didn’t lay out a fully researched and logical argument – to do so would take an entire book. And I’ll be the first to admit that my hypothesis is unproveable without the discovery of some new documentation. However, your rebuttal also consists of an assertion with no proof – that Sidney never met Joseph prior to 1831.

      My hypothesis rests on the study of Rigdon’s early life and theology specifically and in general on the theology of the Disciples of Christ (i.e. Campbellites), of which Sidney was an ordained minister. So much Campbellite theology appears in the Book of Mormon as written that it’s impossible to deny a connection. Later additions to the theology by Joseph in Missouri and Nauvoo clouds the issue. (I like to refer to Kirtland-era Mormonism as “Reformed Campbellism”)

      Consider the following:

      Rigdon always wanted his own church. He quit farming as a teenager to study with a local Baptist minister, then attempted to usurp that pastorship, causing a schism in the congregation.

      Once Rigdon became a Campbellite minister, he established multiple congregations in the Western Reserve region of Ohio, including Mentor, Ohio, three miles from Kirtland.

      Rigdon was also a believer in communal living, that the Lord’s people should “hold all things in common.” He established a utopian community on Isaac Morley’s farm at Kirtland prior to 1830.

      In 1828, Rigdon was co-Pastor of a congregation with another Campbellite minister, Walter Scott. Scott was noted for creating his “Five Finger Exercise” in 1827, the purpose of which was to teach the fundamental principles of the Disciples of Christ by counting off on the fingers 1) Faith 2) Repentance 3) Baptism [by immersion, of course] 4) Remission of sins 5) Gift of the Holy Ghost.

      In 1824, Rigdon wrote the “Third Epistle of Peter,” a faux-scripture in KJV-style English. Although a satirical critique of church politics, it establishes a precedent for creating ‘scripture’ to back his theological point of view.

      Rigdon developed sharp differences in theology with his mentor, Alexander Campbell. Where the theology in the Book of Mormon differs from Campbellite theology, it almost always falls in favor of Rigdon’s assertions – thereby giving him ‘sola scriptura’ ammunition to rebut Campbell.

      Because of those differences with Campbell, and prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon, Rigdon was expelled from the Disciples of Christ. Thus, when he finally received a copy of the book and pronounced it ‘true,’ his first course of action was to convert as many of his former Campbellite congregants as possible (including Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight), thereby reconstituting his congregations.

      As Rigdon travelled between his various congregations to preach prior to 1831, he kept a journal of his travels. There are, however, periods of time in which his whereabouts are unaccounted for. Many of these gaps have a correlation with either reported sightings of Rigdon in Palmyra, New York (such as those by Samuel Lawrence, close friend of Joseph Smith, Sr.) or, appearances of “the angel Moroni” as reported by Joseph Smith, Jr.

      There are more, but that’s enough for starters.

      Now I’ll be the first to admit that the presented evidence is circumstantial; however, a preponderance of circumstantial evidence is still enough to convict. Rigdon’s ‘fingerprints’ are all over the Book of Mormon (and the Joseph Smith Translation, for that matter.)

      My contention, as stated previously, is that Rigdon hired Smith to ‘find’ and ‘translate’ the Book of Mormon so that he (Rigdon) could use them to establish his theological views as the tenets of Campbellism (over those of Campbell himself) and himself as the leader of the Disciples of Christ (usurpation, again). At the same time, Joseph figured out that starting a church was a great way to make money – the members would all need to buy the book, after all (and it sure as shooting beat farming as a profession – just ask Sidney.)

      Unfortunately, Sidney’s plans went awry, and he was left with no option than to ingratiate himself into Smith’s Church of Christ and hope that Joseph would be content to be the figurehead while he (Rigdon) actually ran things. But Rigdon underestimated Smith and ultimately lost control of the thing he had spent years creating.

      It wasn’t long until Smith and Rigdon were disagreeing over doctrine – for example, baptism at age 8 is a compromise between Smith’s belief in infant baptism and Rigdon’s that baptism was only for adults. The Book of Mormon is categorically opposes polygamy; Joseph espoused it (pun intended!). Rigdon didn’t believe that God the Father had a physical body of flesh and bone; Smith stated the opposite – eventually.

      The differences grew stronger as their theologies diverged. Rigdon more than once threatened to expose the “true origins” of the Book of Mormon and bring it all crashing down. But Sidney knew that exposing Joseph would expose himself as a fraud also, and he had invested too much time and effort to bring about his own ruin at the same time.

      It is telling that when word of Joseph’s death reached Sidney in Pennsylvania, the first thing he did was race to Nauvoo to (finally!) take control of ‘his’ church. But he underestimated Brigham Young also. Poor Sidney, always second fiddle.

      When he returned to Pennsylvania, he re-established his “Church of Christ,” but this time with himself as the sole leader. Period. And he started receiving revelations, written in KJV-style English. The revelations reaffirmed the Lord’s opposition of polygamy, requirement for adults to be baptized by immersion, and stated that the Lord’s people should live communally, having all things in common.

      Sidney’s church struggled for years, but never achieved the success or fame of either the Disciples of Christ or the LDS Church. But there are still a few adherents to this day.

      And shortly before he died, Sidney burned all of his papers that he had kept with him, locked in a trunk, for the previous forty years.


      • Gottfried The Hirsute Says:

        One more: The Morgan Affair (i.e. William Morgan’s disappearance and suspected murder for exposing Masonic rites) caused a wave of anti-Masonic sentiment in 1826.

        The Book of Mormon is stridently against “secret combinations.”

        Joseph became a Freemason, established a Masonic Lodge in Nauvoo, and transformed the Masonic initiation ceremony into the temple endowment ceremony.

        Does it make sense that Joseph wrote the anti-Masonic portions of the Book of Mormon?

        Does it make any more sense that an all-knowing God inspired Joseph to write those portions of the Book of Mormon, knowing that those Masonic ceremonies were supposed ‘counterfeit’ versions of the ‘true’ temple ceremony?

        Or does it make more sense to think that anti-Mason Sidney wrote those portions for inclusion in the Book of Mormon?


  3. Gottfried The Hirsute Says:

    OK, on to Jasher!

    And Jasher is not a person’s name.

    The Book of Jasher (Hebrew: Sefer ha-Yashar) as we have it today is a “Midrash” – a Rabbinic commentary or interpolation of Biblical texts. Specifically, the present Book of Jasher is an expansion of Biblical history from Genesis to the beginning of Judges. Jasher fills in the ‘gaps’ in the Biblical narrative. It provides additional details to explain or justify problematic portions of the texts. It is considered to have been composed in the 13th century and was first published in Hebrew in Venice in 1652.

    It is very important to note that this “Book of Jasher” is NOT the one referred to in Joshua and 2 Samuel (even though the cover of some editions still make this claim.) The original Book of Jasher is most certainly lost.

    The original Book of Jasher (meaning literally “The Upright Record” usually translated as “The Correct Record”) was a history or chronicle of events in the Kingdom of Israel. It was the practice in ancient Israel to keep two sets of official records – one secular, one religious. At times, when the ‘religious history’ omits details from the story, it refers the reader to the ‘secular history’ e.g. Joshua 10:3 “Is not this written in the book of Jasher?” and 2 Samuel 1:18 “Behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.”

    In 1834-35, when the Lectures on Faith were written, these two Biblical references were all that was known of the Book of Jasher outside of the Hebrew-speaking world. It’s very interesting that same concept appears in the Book of Mormon – large plates for the secular history (Book of Lehi) and small plates for the religious history (Books of Nephi [1 & 2]).

    However, in 1840, the first English translation of the Sefer ha-Yashar – the medieval Midsrash stories – was published by M. Mordecai Noah. Mr. Noah was a Jewish businessman from New York City who purchased Grand Island in the Niagara River near Buffalo, New York, for the purpose of establishing “Ararat” – a homeland for the gathering of Jews, including the Native Americans whom he believed to be descended from Hebrews who had come to North America in ancient times (Hmmm… that sounds strangely familiar…).

    We know that Joseph Smith, Jr., had at least seen a copy of the Book of Jasher by 1842, as he states in the Times and Seasons that it “has not been disproved as [having] a bad author.” It has been noticed by some – myself included – that there are similarities between some of the ‘expanded’ stories in Jasher and the ‘revealed’ stories in the books of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. I know of no detailed study, so here’s an opportunity for some new research!

    An interesting footnote to this story is that in 1886, Joseph Hyrum Parry of Salt Lake City acquired the right to the book from Mordecai Noah’s estate and published an edition in 1887 which was highly regarded and quite popular with Mormons for some years after.

    Also, the Book of Jasher is not in the Apochrypha, which is a specific set of books included in some versions of the Bible, but not in the KJV. The term ‘apochryphal’ is commonly misunderstood to mean any non-Biblical scripture of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

    Finally, the Book of Jasher has a special significance for me. I happened upon it in a bookstore in Logan, Utah, almost 30 years ago. That was the first time that I realized that there were books of ‘scripture’ besides what were in the Church’s Standard Works. That started me on a course of study and research that has led me on both physical and spiritual journeys that have changed my life for the better. Thanks, Jasher! 🙂


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