Monday, September 01, 2014

Mormonism and Islam Origins

I sit and wonder how can anyone accept the "truths" of Mormonism.  I mean, it just seems so far-fetched that anyone with any amount of education and especially if they have studied religious history at all would reject Mormonism completely.  Here we have a religion started by a man, Joseph Smith, who was allegedly visited by an angel named Moroni.  This angel provided him with special glasses through which he, and he alone, could read from golden tablets which were allegedly written by Moroni's father around the 4th century - the translation of these tablets is what they now call The Book of Mormon.  As the story goes, Jews fleeing persecution came to the Americas and formed two groups, the Lamanites and the Nephites and these two groups fought each other.  The Nephites (part of the "true religion") were defeated in about 428 AD and the Lamanites became what we now call the Native Americans (Indians).  The Book of Mormon is the alleged account of the Nephite leader, Mormon, who describes their culture, civilization and the appearance of Jesus to the Nephites in America.  The declared purpose of the appearance of Moroni to Joseph Smith is to restore the Nephite religion to the Americas.  

My thoughts then go to Islam...  The "Prophet Mohamed" is allegedly visited by the Archangel, Gabriel (who is mentioned in Christian Scripture).  Gabriel allegedly dictated the Word of God to Mohammed, who in turn put down those words into what we now call the Quran, (or Qu'ran or Koran).

The two cults have similar beginnings, which is a most significant comparison.  The founders of both were struggling to find the "true religion"  Both religions believe their "prophet" was visited by an angel whom delivered to them the truth of religion.  The founder of each writes a new book of "scripture" adhered to by his followers.  Both claim to be following the same God of the Judeo-Christian heritage, but both Judaism and Christianity are corruptions of the true religion.  Immediately after the death of their respective "prophets," each religion split into two cults, each claiming to be the true succession of the "prophet."  The Mormons split into a group lead by the son of Joseph Smith, they settled in Independence Missouri and are called the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" while the other main faction followed Brigham Young to Utah.  The Muslims split similarly, one group, the Sunnis, believed that after the death of Mohammed, the successor should be elected from among his followers.  Shias, however, believed that the successor should be a relative of Mohammed and they chose his cousin/son-in-law, Ali.  Shia is shortened from "Shai-t-Ali" (the Party of Ali).  So, both cults have one faction which believes in a blood successor while the other believes the successor is to be elected.

A list I found which presents similar and a few more comparisons:
- Visited by an angel.- Given visions.
- Told that no true religion existed on the earth.
- Was sent to restore the long lost faith as the one true religion.
- A book produced from their teachings claimed to be "inspired by God."
- Each claimed to be illiterate or uneducated and used this as proof the book was inspired.
- Each claimed the Bible was lost, altered, corrupted and unreliable.
- Each claimed his new holy book was the most correct and perfect book on earth.
- Each claimed to be a final prophet of God.
- Each claimed he was persecuted because of his pure faith.
- Was a polygamist who had many wives. 
- Immediately after his death a fight broke out from among the "faithful converts" as to who would succeed him.
- Both religions have those who follow the "original doctrine" of the founding leaders and like these founding leaders, have been violent, polygamists, and have revelations justifying their evil actions.
- Each has progressive revelation. ("New" revelation always replaces older revelation that became inconvenient to the prophet.)
Another list gleaned from a wiki article:
- A founding prophet who received visits from an angel, leading to revelation of a book of scripture;
- A founding prophet whose first wife was older than himself;
- A founding prophet who practiced and preached polygamy;
- A division of the religion into a minimum of two parties after the death of the founding prophet, with one party claiming that leadership should continue through the prophet's descendants, and the other party rejecting this idea;
- Special reverence for, though not worship of, their founding prophet;
- Belief that their faith represents the genuine, original religion of Adam, and of all true prophets thereafter;
- Belief that the text of the Bible, as presently constituted, has been adulterated from its original form;
- Assertions that modern Christianity does not conform to the original religion taught by Jesus Christ;
- Rejection of the Christian doctrines of Original Sin and the Trinity;
- A belief that theirs constitutes the one and only completely true religion on the earth today;
- A clergy drawn from the laity, without necessarily requiring collegiate or seminary training;
- Insistence that their religion is a complete way of life, meant to directly influence every facet of existence;
- Strong emphasis upon chastity, including modesty in dress;
- Prohibition of alcoholic beverages, gambling, and homosexual and bisexual practices;
- Strong emphasis upon education, both in the secular and religious arenas;
- Incorporation of a sacred ritual of ablution, though each religion's rite differs in form, frequency and purpose;
- Belief that one's marriage can potentially continue into the next life, if one is faithful to the religion; and
- Belief in varying degrees of reward and punishment in the hereafter, depending upon one's performance in this life.
Fundamentally speaking, both religions have serious flaws.  Let's start with the older one, Islam.  They consider themselves the People of the Promise, which was given to Abraham - which is true, to a point.  God does promise Abraham that the people of Ishmael will become a great nation - but His Covenant would be in the line of Isaac.  The Ishmaelites become the people who would eventually embrace Islam, but they corrupt the story, giving the Covenant promise to Ishmael.  Of course they would say it is the Judeo-Christian heritage which has corrupted the story, but where is their proof?  Where is their evidence?  The Old Testament passages which testify to Isaac predate any "scripture" from Islam by over 2000 years!

Here's a debate, which I don't agree with the scoring, but do agree with the outcome (the "pro" side should have received some points as some good points were made).

Perhaps the better argument, which was never raised by the "con" side of that debate, is that by the time Isaac was taken up to be the sacrifice, Ishmael was gone, exiled with is mother wandering the wilderness of Bersabee Genesis 21:14; the biggest "pro" argument was that God refers to Abraham's "only son" - which is made after Abraham had cast out Hagar and Ishmael, and that reference is in Genesis 22:2.  So, when the statement of "only son" is made, Isaac is Abraham's only son, and is the one whom he loved. 

According to "Islam 101" the reason Isaac's name is used was due to chauvinism and that the Jews had corrupted the Scripture here, but (they say) God left the word "only" in there to demonstrate it was rightly Ishmael, who was for a time Abraham's "only son."  However, as the "con" debater above raised, the "pro" side is arguing from English translations, especially the King James Version.  I would argue that "commas" are not part of the Hebrew text, those are purely part of the English interpretation/translation and the text could be (and likely should be) better translated "Take now, thine only son whom thou lovest, Isaac..." 

Either way, based upon facts - the "pro" side of that debate would need to present the older, non-corrupted text, or else the speculation on corruption is just that, and nothing more than speculation. 

A serious flaw both religions fail is in the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity.  Islam denies any deity to Jesus and Mormonism assents that Jesus is "a god" and just one among potentially millions or even billions of gods.  The Mormon "prophet," Joseph Smith taught "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!" (in the King Follet Discourse).  The implication being, we can all be gods.  The polytheism of Mormonism is rejected by Christianity, Judaism and Islam alike.  

Back to the point of this article.  I am not the first (and certainly won't be the last) to speculate on the similarities between Islam and Mormonism.

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