Roughly four hours ago, the following item, from someone calling himself or herself “wayfarer,” appeared on a typically rather hostile ex-Mormon message board. It represents a reply to a previous entry on this blog:
I posted the following response on ‘sic et non’/Dan Peterson’s blog. I’m going to guess it doesn’t survive his moderation.
In doing a little research on your post here, I believe I am the “pseudonymous poster who had been wondering, given her own unbelief (I’m simplifying here; her position is somewhat obscure and perhaps incoherent), whether she still belongs in a church in which nasty people like me insist so firmly on the literal deity of Christ, his physical resurrection from the dead, and the literality of Joseph Smith’s First Vision and of the visits from Moroni.”
I love the Gospel of John. In it, a well-educated, rational Jew named Nicodemus interprets Christ’s words literally that we must be born again. He asks, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” After which Jesus explains that there is a difference between heavenly things and earthly things, and that spiritual things are equally real even if not physically so. That’s why Jesus taught in parables — the truth is the normative value of the story, not the physical literalism thereof.
Nicodemus continued to be caught in a literalist mindset, so Jesus asks, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?”
I have stated that it is possible to be a fully faithful member of the Church in good standing and not have a literal belief in certain claims. Faith is distinct from belief, in that faith recognizes explicitly the difference between knowing something, and hoping for and acting on something while not knowing it is true. Belief is passive, faith is active. Belief does not recognize the difference between knowing and not knowing, but simply claims to know. Belief does not distinguish whether something is true or not: faith in something not true, by Alma’s definition is not faith at all.
To recognize that someone can have faith in something without knowing it is true seems to be entirely consistent with Alma 32′s definition of faith. This is and has been my position. I hold this position because by not anchoring on the literal, my faith can withstanding the knowledge, for example, that the Book of Abraham was not a translation of the Papyrus as Joseph Smith claimed, or that the Book of Mormon is not a literal history of the native americans as a whole as prophets have claimed up until recently.
To be specific, I do not know that Jesus physically resurrected from the dead — I neither believe it nor disbelieve it — there is no *reason* to believe it — meaning that it defies logical proof (“reason”) — yet I know through personal experience and testimony that He lives. How is an honest self-appraisal of the lack of valid empirical evidence for something an obscure or incoherent position? Yet you and others “insist so firmly on the literal”, implying that those who are honest and sincere about their lack of knowledge are somehow lesser Mormons than you. Your colleagues have gone so far as to call those who don’t believe ‘anti-christs’, and having asked you to repudiate this, you have firmly stood behind it.
I consider you, Dr. Peterson, a master of Mormon Israel. How is it that you do not know these things?
In the fading hope of protecting my mental health, I don’t participate on that message board. But I was bemused by wayfarer’s claim, and commented on it elsewhere:
Sorry, but I have to raise this somewhere, to put it on public record:
For several pages of this thread, wayfarer accused me of calling him names, mocking him, abusing him, and etc., on this very thread. I was mystified by his claim, because I had done nothing of the sort. In fact, I challenged both him and yootaw to give specific examples of my alleged name calling and abuse, and they both refused. Wayfarer eventually vowed that he would stop posting here, because he couldn’t abide by the “terms” that I demand on this board. But I had demanded no “terms.” None at all.
I became genuinely exasperated when, over on the message board where he plainly feels more comfortable, he repeated the charges (to predictable applause there) and amplified them by . . . calling me names (really, really harsh ones) and claiming that I’m mentally ill, etc.
I found it so odd that I actually invited a specific person from that other board whom I considered reasonably fair minded, even though he’s typically hostile toward and critical of me, to come over and have a look. He could find no real name calling on my part, he admitted, and he commented that wayfarer seemed intent merely on stirring up trouble. (Unsurprisingly, perhaps, he made that comment only in a private email to me; back on his board, he was silent as the tomb about it.)
Nearly three hours ago now, on that other board where I don’t participate, wayfarer posted a fairly lengthy and substantive comment that he claimed to have already submitted to my blog. It’s uncharacteristically civil, but he predicted that I won’t allow it to appear.
Which is likely to prove true, considering that, so far as I can tell, he hasn’t really submitted it to my blog.
It seems possible that I’m being set up.
What motivates this sort of nonsense?
Somebody has now told wayfarer that I claim never to have seen anything submitted from him to my blog, and he has now commented further:
And, as I can’t find it at sic et non, I am guessing it didn’t survive.
you are correct. By timestamp, he has posted an article as well as responses to other posters after I submitted my response to him. These are the terms of the apologist: he can sling mud, but when someone posts a thoughtful response that doesn’t fit his worldview, it doesn’t exist.
I posted a response to all three of his most recent blog-posts on sic-et-non. None of them survived moderation, so I posted “My responses to an apologist” on my blog, for those very few readers who go there…
DCP claims it was never submitted.
Of course he does. That way, it’s easier to absolve responsibility for labeling and dismissing those that oppose you.
He is free to comment on my blog — I don’t actively moderate, so anyone is free to post.
I’ll comment on wayfarer’s original comments above a bit later, after I get a few more important things done and when I get some time. Probably in the “comments” to this very entry, as I don’t want to litter my blog with these nonsensical “inside baseball” exchanges. For the record, I haven’t seen a single comment from wayfarer actually submitted to my blog. Not a single one. And certainly not three.