Sunday, October 12, 2014

Parley Pratt on Mormonism unveiled and Zion´s watchman unmasked

In his pamphlet Mormonism unveiled : Zion's watchman unmasked from 1838, Parley Pratt attacks LaRoy Sunderland´s pamphlet (unfortunately incompletely available online) in no uncertain terms, calling him a liar and unfit for civilized society (pp.3-4).

The document is a good example of how the Biblical argumentation worked during that time, which was of course effective, because the other side claimed an inspired status for the OT and NT that they were trying to deny to the BoM.

In general, the pamphlet underscores how eminently reasonable Mormonism can seem to a person reading the scriptures in the way that Pratt does; as well as how well versed many of the early Mormon missionaries were in the Bible.

Pratt does trip up when claiming that the uninterested or distant are never witnesses
Who ever heard of God’s choosing a disinterested witness of his resurrection, or any other truth? (p.13)
since the centurion and his men under the cross (Mt 27:54) did not become believers, merely afraid, from witnessing the death on the Cross.

Furthermore, in his eagerness to find non-Biblical prophecies in the BoM, Pratt claims that the great destruction will validate the BoM within a decade.
This destruction includes an utter overthrow, and desolation of all our Cities, Forts, and Strong Holds—an entire annihilation of our race, except such as embrace the Covenant, and are numbered with Israel. (p.15) 
… and I will state as a prophesy, that there will not be an unbelieving Gentile upon this continent 50 years hence [~ 1888, RCK]; and if they are not greatly scourged, and in a great measure overthrown within five or ten years from this date [~ 1843-1848, RCK], then the Book of Mormon will have proved itself false. (p.15)
Well, there you have it ... (:P) ....

When discussion turns to the Book of Mormon, Pratt and Sunderland fret over Alma 7:10, which seems to talk about Jesus being born in Jerusalem, and Pratt interprets this as geographic inaccurate speak, a form of "thereabouts" (p.19).

Pratt underscores the important point that the Methodists (p.29) have to pay their preachers, while in the Mormon church, no one is paid for their religious services. Indeed, Pratt can brag:

I have preached the Gospel from Maine to Missouri, for near eight years, and all I ever received during my whole ministry, would not amount to the yearly salary of || one of the lazy, extravagant loungers, who under the name of Priests, are a nuisance to the whole country. (pp.29-30)
Then, in trying to establish that Mr La Roy Sunderland does not know his God, Pratt makes some surprising comments:
But we worship a God, who has both body and parts : who has eyes, mouth, and ears, and who speaks when he pleases — to whom he pleases, and sends them where he pleases. And he always did blaspheme other Gods, and hold them up to ridicule and contempt; and so did his followers : …. (p.31)
Now, Mr Sunderland, you … cannot believe the Bible one whit sooner than the “Book of Mormon”. And the “Book of Mormon” says, if we believe one we will believe the other. But he pleads an excuse for his unbelief, by saying, the passage referred to cannot be taken literally. (p32) 
Starting with (p.36), Pratt gives all of the arguments for the congruence of the Indians with the Lamanites that were then current, which gives an indication of the knowledge about the Indians that was coursing through popular culture at that time.

On (p.43) Pratt begins to enumerate the problems he has with Methodism, including the disembodiment of the Father in the face of all the scriptural passages that mention body parts and the creation of Adam in the likeness of God.

Pratt criticizes the Methodist ordinances (p.44), what German Lutherans would call Sakramente; Pratt takes them to have three kinds of water baptism, one of which is the Baptism of children(which is of course, as Alexander Campbell had already argued, not Biblical). They do not exercise the Spiritual charismata, e.g. healing through laying on of the hands; nor do they have the charismatic offices of Prophet or Apostles, and the gifts that go with them, such as revelations, miracles, etc.

Finally, Pratt repeats the point that the Mormon priests are not remunerated (p.44), chiding the Methodists for the elaborate amount of discussion that money takes up in their rules as a result of going a different route here.

Pratt thus shows that two can play at the game of finger pointing.

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