The following was posted to The Zion's Lighthouse Message Board by "extramustard" on 02/14/2004 under the title "Will god excuse those who were taught the hemispheric model?" Capitalization in original. No words have been changed. Clarifications by me are in [brackets].
I was raised on the hemispheric model [of Book of Mormon Geography], including literal beliefs about the three nephites, curses of dark skin, actual elephants and horses, and other nonsense.
This take on BoM [i.e., Book of Mormon] history obviously cannot be true, and this fantasy was one of the main reasons I came to the conclusion the church is false.
Since I started participating here on zlmb, I've come to learn that I was totally confused and misled by all my parents, sunday school teachers, bishops, and even prophets. The deceptions extended even to church-produced videos and other materials, including just about everything ever printed in the Ensign and anything found on the walls of a temple visitors center.
Apparently the nephites and lamanites were just a small band of invisible people who fought all their wars on a small island in the caribbean, or perhaps in a large cave in mexico, leaving no physical or cultural or genetic trace of themselves except for a lone instance of some records written on golden plates in a language that is still unknown by the world to this day.
Fine. I was wrong. My leaders were wrong. The prophets were wrong.
Now, furthermore, I was also taught many of the teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as if they were true! I was raised to believe that the garden of eden was in missouri, that the cover page of the book of mormon was actually accurate, that "Mormon Doctrine" was indeed about mormon doctrine (after all, the man who wrote it was ordained as a prophet, seer, and revelator, wouldn't god have tapped on his shoulder to clarify something if he were writing down a lie?). I was told by all my teachers, bishops, parents and even church-produced seminary videos that black people were descended from Cain. I was fed quote after quote from prophets, apostles, the new era, and the ensign that confirmed the core beliefs I was mistakenly raised on.
I was told that evolution was a crock and given quotes from prophets and apostles that categorically denounced it as false. It was presented as an impossibility that was anathema to my faith. No way could both be true.
I was mistakenly told that these and other quotes about false doctrines and mistaken beliefs were reliable because the prophets will "never lead us astray", which was in itself a quote from a prophet.
Now here on zlmb I learn that no, none of this stuff is considered reliable and I should have been taught to discount anything said by a dead prophet.
I should have been taught that most of these things are outright errors and falsehoods. I am told that the belief we'll become gods is nothing more than a little couplet, not really doctrine. I'm told that prophets don't really communicate directly with god. They just pray and hope for vague direction like the rest of us. I'm told that Smith's egyptian alphabet was just his own little side project unrelated to actual divine translation duties. I'm told that his story of Zelph was a practical joke, as was the Anthon script. I'm told that none of the prophets knew anything about BoM history.
I'm told that the journal of discourses is not to be considered any more relevant than a Harry Potter novel, even though generations of mormons lived by many of its teachings as gospel, including myself and the ward I lived in. I'm told that when Joseph Smith says "Moroni told me about the original inhabitants of this contintent" he was either confused or drunk.
Ok fine, let's assume I take your word for it and discount everything I was ever told about prophets and their claims.
I was also taught not to trust anything from the "wisdom of the world". This term "wisdom of the world" was nearly always invoked whenever some scientific fact or logical reasoning was discussed that appeared to contradict a teaching of the church. This "wisdom of the world" was set up as a direct contradiction of my faith. It was us vs. them. Only one could be right. It was satan's deceptive lies that made us think we could evaluate any one else's claims about the world besides our prophet.
Bering Straits? Wisdom of the world. 4 billion years of earth? Wisdom of the world. Evolution? Wisdom of the world. Slow development of myriad languages over the course of 200,000 years rather than Tower of Babel? Wisdom of the world. Big Bang? Wisdom of the world. Epistemology? Wisdom of the World. No flood? Wisdom of the world.
I was taught to distrust the wisdom of men and then it turns out the wisdom of men is right time and time again, and time and time again the church retreats from claims that are proven false by the wisdom of men. I had no choice but to conclude the church must be false.
Now I'm told here on zlmb that just because prophets are too ignorant to understand evolution doesn't mean they aren't prophets. Of course the Big Bang is true, that's how god did it. Of course evolution is true that's how god made us. Of course death occurred before the fall of Adam what kind of nonsense is that? Of course quakers don't live on the moon, why would god tell that to his prophet? Of course the flood was localized and Noah didn't save the animals two by two. What kind of child would believe in a fantasy like that?
Ok fine, all the things I was once taught to believe must be false "wisdom of man" because if true they proved the church wrong were never actually a threat to the church's claims.
Furthermore I was taught that god's laws and principles are unchanging and not swayed by the winds of social change. God is above men. He doesn't care if modern society thinks blacks are equal with whites, his laws are eternal and thus blacks don't get priesthood. He doesn't care if people feel uncomfortable being asked to take an oath to kill themselves, his laws are eternal. He doesn't care if polygamy is offensive to narrow minded secularists, his law are eternal. The eternal nature of the laws of the gospel was always touted front and center as a strong indicator of the gospel's veracity. Being swayed by contemporary values of man was not for god.
Then I learn that god "revealed" polygamy should end just at the same time Utah wanted statehood. hmmmmmm
Then I learn that god "revealed" the priesthood ban should be revoked just at the same time Kimball and others wanted to expand the church in Brazil. And even though G.W. Bush may not know there are many black folks there, Kimball sure did. hmmmmmmmmmm
Then I also learn that god "revealed" this new commandment just around the same time the church completed a massive marketing study that revealed their #1 P.R. problem with the public was the priesthood ban. (By the way, anybody know anything more about this? Is this urban myth?) hmmmmmmmmm
Then I learn that god "revealed" changes to the endowment ceremony in 1990 after the church surveys of members revealed they were uncomfortable with many violent aspects of the ceremony. hmmmmmmmmm
Then I learned the endowment had changed radically several times over the decades, including oaths of vengeance against the united states of america being added, and subsequently removed(sometime around the time of a senate investigation?)! God wanted his people to destroy america and then changed his mind about it under presure from the senate? hmmmmmmmmmmmm
Then I learn the church changed its policies about removing your name from its records only after they got sued in court. God's laws bow to the courts of man over things as important as determining entrance to heaven!?! hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Am I the only one who was taught that god's ways are not swayed by the ephemeral values of society? Is this just another mistake all my parents, teachers and leaders taught me was a hallmark of the church's veracity? Because the church's doctrines have swayed as much or more in the face of society as any other's. Yet I was explicitly taught that doing so was a sign of a man-made religion.
So apparently, that was a false belief as well. Oh well.
Now, for the sake of discussion let me grant that everything I believed to be true about mormonism was mistaken. I was totally wrong and when it became "obvious" to me the church was a man-made fantasy, I was only evaluating a false, warped version of the chruch that had been mistakenly taught to me by my prophets, parents, and leaders.
So my question is, accoriding to mormon belief, will god hold people like me accountable for rejecting the false version of his religion? Whose fault is it that we were all taught a version of the church that was such a ludicrous fantasy nobody in their right mind could believe it?
Do people raised on the hemispheric model and other nonsense get a free pass at the judgement bar?