There's an interesting post at Nine Moons
from Annie, a Southern Baptist, that includes this paragraph:
So the question I'm posing is: what would it take for me, a strong Southern Baptist, to be converted into the LDS church? And what would it take for you, a strong Mormon to be converted into the Southern Baptist church?
For herself, she answers that "...I think the first step (in my conversion process at least) would be to believe the big JS was an actual prophet of God, revealing revelations to the world that came directly from the Father Himself." Most of the comments agree. I do too--kinda. But not really. Let me explain:
For those who have just joined us, I'm not a member of the church. Never have been. So I've given lots (and lots and lots and lots) of thought to this question. For me, the question of why even consider the church is ... the Book of Mormon.
I could write quite a few posts on exactly why, but allow me to skip to my conclusion of it: If the Book of Mormon isn't
divinely inspired, then it is a very remarkable book. There's enough evidence that I can't dismiss BoM truth claims, but not enough to accept them either. But that's not what this post is about.
Let's say we assume that "The Book of Mormon is True" (with a capital "T"). What does that mean? What conclusions can be drawn from that? It seems to me that we can deduce that "the Lord worked in some way through Joseph Smith to bring the BoM to Earth at that time." Here's where things start to get interesting.
Does this imply that Joseph Smith was a prophet? It seems that it might, but it's not a given. (Part of it, I believe, depends on how we define "Prophet.") However, I'm willing to accept this jump, because the next one is even more interesting: If Smith was a prophet of God (whatever that means) when he translated the Book of Mormon, was Smith always
a Prophet? (Or, at least between 1827 and 1844.)
This isn't just idle speculation--I think we have good reason to at least consider the question. In doing so, consider all the high-ranking members of the church that left, especially the Witnesses
. Some point out, and rightfully so, that the Book of Mormon witnesses who left never denied their testimony of the Book. This brings up another interesting, related question: why would a man who held/saw/helped scribe/etc. the Book of Mormon plates leave (or give warrant to excommunication) the Church that had the plates as the foundation? Sure, it may have been personal problems that the Witnesses had, but I think it's enough that it should give us pause. I admit ignorance on the finer points of Church history, but it seems to me that, if we need to propose a date between Joesph-as-Prophet and Joesph-as-not-Prophet, 12 July 1843
(or earlier) might be a good candidate.
And then there's the question of succession-- why Brigham Young? Why not Joseph Smith III, Sidney Rigdon, James Strang, Granville Hedrick
, etc.? If we assume that the Book of Mormon is true and that Smith was a prophet, must we believe that Young was as well? (I must admit that I am relatively ignorant on Church history, so, perhaps, there's a good and clear answer here.)
Now, I believe it's likely that, if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph was a Prophet; and if that's true, then it's likely that he was a Prophet to his death; and if that's true, then it's likely (though less so) that Young was as well. However, I do not believe that this is given or necessary, as I (hopefully) have shown above. Other than having the Spirit tell you all this, why should you/I make all these jumps of authority? Or, am I crazy, and there really are no jumps?