There are 14 thoughts on “Image is Everything: Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain”.

  1. Great essay. I know I’m a little late to the game, but a friend of mine shared this article and I followed the string to your first response to the CES Letter (which I’ve already read at this point) and read your first response, Johnny’s response, and then your second response.
    I have to say that I feel like yours was the moist cogent and fair, although I hold one or two minor objections.

  2. Skeptic:
    First, the internet is not something that has an opinion. Trying to speak for it involves a category mistake. It is like insisting that oceans have hopes and fears. Put bluntly, you do no speak for the internet, but merely opine on it.
    Second, you are, however, wise in giving up on Runnells.
    Third, Professor Jenkins is a “real scholar.” But there are a huge number such scholars with which other scholars disagree, especially about historical matters. If he is a conservative Protestant, then his own faith is open to the same kinds of objections he has recently launched against the faith of Latter-day Saints.
    As a sceptic, you must already know this, and you must also see that Professor Jenkins must address the same kinds of issues that Kevin Christiansen has identified as flaws in the arguments of Mr. Runnels. Merely because Professor Jenkins is a real scholar, does not entail that he has engaged and resolved the kinds of objections that are set out by Kevin Christianson that can be raised against his own faith and its historical grounding and contents, whatever that might be. Will you, I wonder, cease being a sceptic, if and when someone demonstrates that this is the case? If not, then you seem to have merely latched onto a convenient peg upon which to hang your own unfaith, given that Runnells endeavor, as you admit, has been shown to be seriously flawed.

  3. Mr. Christensen:
    I think you and your colleagues are wasting your time with Mr. Runnells. He is just an average person who has some questions that apparently are difficult to answer for the Mormons. The real threat is with Christianity itself and not whether Joseph Smith communicated to God or Jesus through rocks. For instance, why should we believe that God cannot forgive without Jesus? Doesn’t this doctrine seem implausible? Could you give an explanation for it based on actual evidence and not merely what you would call faith?

    • Actually, I don’t think that the questions that Runnells asks are difficult to answer. It’s a simple matter of seeking, where the effort expended and the sources used also turn out to be a good measure of desire and intent on the part of the seeker.
      But regarding the more significant matter of believe and Jesus and what makes a particular view of his significance seem either implausible to one person, or life-changing to another, that is a matter of perspective, and self-awareness regarding that perspective.
      Perspective on anything including the atonement includes both theory and personal practice. I notice that the people involved in the search for the Higgs boson relied on theory and faith to get there. Without faith and hope, how could the supercollider at CERN have been built? Would it spectacularly and admirably rational to say, “First show me proof of the existence and significance and utility of the particle and then, we’ll see about funding the project that would be capable of detecting them?”
      There are a range of theories regarding the atonement, and the role of Jesus. Some I find personally persuasive and enlightening, while others based on economic of punishment metaphors, not so much. I like, for example, Nibley’s “The Meaning of the Atonment,” Eugene England’s “Shakepeare and the At-One-ment of Christ”, Margaret Barker’s “Atonment: The Rite of Healing” and Loren Hansen’s “The Moral Atonement as a Mormon Interpretation”, Rene Girard’s I See Satan Fall as Lightening” and various other things, which add up to my atonement supercollider facility and research staff.
      Beyond Atonement theory, comes practical understanding, and that necessarily involves personal experiment. My own experiments have been soul enlarging, mind-expanding, enlightening, fruitful, and promising.
      Kevin Christensen
      Bethel Park, PA

  4. Thank you. In the end we are either going to be like Nephi or not: When asked if he understood the condescension of God, Nephi replied “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” 1 Nephi 11:17. I certainly do not understand it all, but I do believe in a God who loves me and in His son whose church has been restored. That is enough. For me, to have further understanding and insight as this article provides, is just more blessing.

  5. The internet thanks you for engaging Mr. Runnels. Now could you or someone at this site engage Professor Jenkins, a real scholar.

  6. Great thoughts, Kevin. I have always been fascinated by how reasonable individuals can examine the same sets of facts and come to polar opposite conclusions. I’ve long since passed the point where I’m surprised that the Jeremy Runnels of the world reach conclusions entirely different from mine.
    What continues to surprise me is that they labor under the illusion that their path—and their conclusions—is the “one true path and one true result” of intelligently analyzing information, and that anyone who sees things different is either deceived or a deceiver. In their insistence they say more about their uncharitable view of the world and those with whom they share the world.
    In addition, I’ve become even more firmly entrenched in the belief that faith is an active, living, growing choice on our part, it is not a result that naturally flows from any set of facts that one may encounter. While such facts may bolster, degrade, or modify that faith, the facts are only tangential to the choice that is at the root of exercising said faith.

    • “While such facts may bolster, degrade, or modify that faith, the facts are only tangential to the choice that is at the root of exercising said faith.”
      I wish more people could come to this realization. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

    • May I point out the irony in Allen’s comment? “they labor under the illusion that their path—and their conclusions—is the ‘one true path and one true result’ of intelligently analyzing information, and that anyone who sees things different is either deceived or a deceiver.”
      Isn’t this a fundamental belief within the Church? That the Church is the “one true path” to God and that anyone that sees things differently must be deceived?

      • May I point out that the posts on your site has that same strain of thought…. While I can’t be for sure of all the articles and comments on the site, I do know that I have not seen anyone on this site or church leaders state that non-believers are being intellectually deceived.
        The only time I see being deceived being used is by church leaders in relation to those who have received a spiritual confirmation and reject it by being deceived by different philosophies of man.
        Do I doubt that you used the word to deceive to make believers look like crazies? No I don’t because your whole mo is to make it seem like Mormon’s worship God who is a deceiver

      • Among the earliest principles I remember being taught in the LDS Church were these: “9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
        “13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
        That was my personal beginning point, and the opinions of men have not obscured my observation that truth is found in the hands of many good men and within many religions and traditions. The occasional narrow view expressed by an LDS leader did not persuade me that my earliest teachings were not correct.
        So my answer to your question is, “No.”

        • Cliff’s remarks, much like some others who have posted comments, as if this were a blog, do not address the arguments set out by Kevin Christensen, who has published an essay in which he assess the efforts of Jeremy Runnells to trash the faith of Latter-day Saints. Kevin also responds to efforts to salvage something from what has turned into the continued effort of Mr. Runnells to prop up or salvage his attacks on the faith of the Saints. Kevin has, I believed, identified much of the intellectual confusion in the the Runnells agenda. This should be what is addressed in comments.

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