Archive for December, 2010

Instinct, Faith, Routine

Posted: December 31, 2010 in Uncategorized
I will approach these words with the following presuppositions:
1. The Bible is historically accurate.
2. The Bible is internally consistent
3. The Bible is reliable as to what is observable in reality, with respects to both believers and unbelievers.
Since these things are empirically provable and have been demonstrated over and over again to be propositionally true; such presuppositions are safe and equitable over and above any other view founded in relativity.  In fact, all other views, at least partially rely on God’s identity as revealed in the Bible as a basis for their assertions.  Since this is off topic I will leave such a discussion for a later time, suffice to say that the Atheist, Agnostic, Hindu, Muslim, etc. relies on God’s identity, as described in the Bible, for the very existence of their argument, as they all appeal to morality, and principles of which God is the author.  
That being said, when I hereafter refer to God, I mean specifically God as He is described in the Bible.That God whose identity is not merely love, but more-so holiness, justice, and righteousness as those qualities which define the context of His love. I will also hereafter combine Agnostic and Atheist positions, since both represent a desire to equate self as God.  So, when I say Atheist, I also mean Agnostic.  Since I presume this to be the position of my audience, and to promote focus and specificity, I will not address other religions aside from those I have just mentioned (Atheism/Agnosticism).
Instinct
In Genesis we read the account of original sin.  Here first, and many times after, is demonstrated man’s innate sinfulness as Adam and Eve both follow the leading of the serpent to eat of the tree of the the knowledge of good and evil.  Why?  In Genesis 2:5 we see that Eve, and then Adam both ate of the forbidden tree for many reasons, the culmination of which was their desire to be “like God.”  Early in the Bible we come across the reality that people, when left to appeal to instinct, will seek to be God: absolutely free and autonomous.
The desire to be God transcends all of humanity as we observe atheists who deny even God’s existence and reality alike, yet appeal to morality in a construct of relativity where morality cannot exist except individually, and therefore not at all in the context Atheists use the term.  Since morality is then relative, the individual becomes God to self, determining what is right, wrong, just, unjust, etc.  After which, if the Atheist is being consistent in his/her view, no morality can be imposed unless approved by their God: self.  Since each one would then have their own morality, ultimate morality breaks down and ceases to exist.  As we have now uncovered, the Atheist’s appeal to morality is the very definition of inconsistency.  In their appeal to ultimate morality Atheists assert that each one holds their own morality
Does the Biblical position present a cure for such inconsistency?  Certainly!  Since, according to the Bible, it is the innate condition of man to be sinful to the last, ultimately seeking to be God if not influenced by an outside, more powerful force; we here have a sufficient explanation for “instinct,” or what I am treating as “what man does naturally.”
To explain further, God created each person with a knowledge that He at least exists.  Simply through observation of the world before us (Science) everyone has sufficient knowledge to know that God exists as a propositional truth (Psalm 19).  Because we all naturally seek to be autonomous and free as God, we suppress that truth through our desire for power.  Even going so far as to try to control God, which is an abject impossibility.  From the perspective of people being innately sinful and seeking to be God, the Bible presents God’s decree against that, His system of diagnosis, and His prescription treating it.
From the Bible we have the innate sinfulness of man and instinctual desire to be God.  God decrees that we “shall have no other God’s before me” (Exodus 20:3). God does not qualify this decree, and therefore applies it to all things which we could and/or would offer dedication and worship to, including ourselves.  Since we are at best sinful and seek to be that which God decrees (as sovereign creator) to be evil, we have all wronged Him and must therefore make amens.
The declaration of God’s Lordship (represented in the name Yahweh, I AM) is one of power over all creation and therefore bears itself upon believers and unbelievers alike.  Both believers and unbelievers share the same nature (instinct): sin.  Because the Bible teaches that Jesus is God (indeed the three of the trinity are one in essence), then we see that God has authored sin (as a means by which He may display his justice), provided recompense (payment for sin, making sinners righteous, thereby displaying his mercy) for those He has foreordained will believe (elected; showing his power and sovereignty to cleanse only those whom He wills).  Those whose pleasure it is to bask in sin, people whose great pleasure it is to submit to God’s election in their disbelief will ultimately believe and be the ultimate means by which God’s justice is demonstrated as He punishes evil.
Therefore salvation comes by God’s declaration of the depth of man’s sin (i.e. man’s instinctual nature to be content in depravity), the influence of God’s spirit upon that sinful one so much as to impress the gravity of that sin, and the power of God’s spirit to produce a change in that one towards greater purity over the course of a lifetime, so the sinful person more and more hates the sin they once loved and cherishes the God they once hated.  This is not evidenced by a prayer someone says on any given day (i.e. the sinner’s prayer) but is evidenced by the believer’s willful adherence to God’s standards as presented in the Bible.
So we see here a system based on God’s identity, which works to effectively address the consequences of instinct.  Are there consequences to instinct?  Surely!  Certainly one cannot assert that in our highly social world, that via the relative appeal to morality, one will surely not impose their own morality on others?  If one interprets the actions of another as against their morality, would it be wrong to seek an apology (i.e. recompense)?  If yes, then the consequences will come in the form of animosity between the two parties (the wronger, and the one wronged) or something similar.  If no, then the consequences will manifest in the “wronger” feeling poorly about his/her actions, or perhaps the “wronged” not receiving the apology and consequently feeling betrayed or taken advantage of.  Whatever the outcome, there are certainly consequences which speak to the inconsistency and absurdity of such relative standards.  Contrastively, God’s standard serves to address and relieve the ultimate consequences of man’s instinct, and gives cause for equitable treatment of others since each one is no different than the next: a sinner.  And since Christians don’t know who the elect are, and since they know of the depths of their own wickedness, they are commanded to tell everyone of Jesus’ work on the cross, and thereby be the means by which the elect are called to repentance.  The key is to think not in terms of what man is free to do, but what God is free to do.  For apart from God’s absolute sovereignty we are, can do, and will be, nothing.
Faith
In the construct of God’s identity, the standards of living He has revealed in His word, and the power of His decree to preordain (elect) those who will be in heaven, faith ceases to be that thing we use to explain our doctrine, as if to say “I believe it because I have faith.”  NO!  I believe it because it’s true, which produces faith within me that the things I have no capacity to logically deduce (such as miracles), or that which I cannot see (such as heaven), will make sense, and I will see.  Hebrews 11:1  says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  What is hoped for?  What is not seen?  Does this possibly refer to the existence of God?  No, because we are told elsewhere in the Bible that all people have sufficient knowledge of God’s existence.  Why then, would this verse be saying that faith is exercised to produce belief in God’s existence?  The answer is that this verse does not say that.  Since the author of this book of the New Testament is speaking to Jewish people (Hebrews, and thus the name of the book) who believe in God anyways, and since the author never expressly argues for the existence of God but uses it as a presupposition, it would follow that this verse is talking of things (specifically the raising of the dead) which require faith to believe.  So the argument here is something to the effect of “because we know God exists, and because the scriptures are true, we have faith that only through Jesus may we enter into heaven.”  
Then the author goes on to explain how people like Abraham and Moses would be credited with saving faith.  Just as Christians today cannot explain the inner workings of how Jesus remained fully God and yet fully man, but accept such a conundrum by faith, Abraham and Moses accepted similar things by faith, which I have already demonstrated is based on the repeated support of empirical data.  The nature of that data would have been different for Moses than it would have for perhaps Paul, but the end result was the same because the data had the same cause and overwhelmingly pointed to the same verdict.
So faith is not how we believe, but the means by which we believe the more spectacular claims of the Bible, as we are supported in all other areas by hard evidence which imputes it’s truthfulness into those same spectacular areas in scripture.
The Atheist would do well to point out that truth cannot be imputed in such a way, yet we in America use the very same standard in court when determining the authenticity and reliability of a document.  I agree that this supposed imputation is logically flawed, but is that not synonymous with the definition of faith I presented to begin with?
Routine
If by routine you would join me in defining it as that which is normative for the Christian, I would have to turn to such books of the New Testament as 1 John where we are given the way by which one may observe regeneration (change in one’s desires from being content to continue in sin, to the desire to honor God by obeying His word) in the life of one who professes salvation has taken place.
Therefore routine for the Christian is such things as letting go of any ideas of success which are foreign to the Bible, not trusting in their ability to ear money for their sustenance but trusting God’s identity and promises, unreservedly loving other members of God’s elect no matter what, fighting against the urge to sin in the same ways and frequency as you once did, loving the God you once hated, etc.  Truly then, routine becomes almost anything that makes the “rest of the world” take notice, and most often say “you fool” or something equally abrasive.  For the world knows not the father, nor does it desire to.  In fact the Bible says that the one who loves the world and it’s ways is an enemy to God.  So that is routine to the Christian, hating the world and it’s principles and touting God’s above all, even unto death if needs be.
You notice that I did not say that sinlessness is routine for the Christian.  Indeed it is much to the contrary.  Sin is very much routine for the Christian, as it is for the unbeliever.  However the Christian has the motivation and the means to sin less and less, whereas the unbeliever is a slave to sin.  The unbeliever serves their sin, while the believer, through God’s influence and power, persecutes their sin.  And because of the perfection of God as displayed in the person of Jesus Christ credited to those whom God has chosen, believers will be forgiven of their sins as a demonstration of God’s mercy, while unbelievers (evil) are punished as a demonstration of God’s justice.  So the position of the believer is infinitely better than the unbeliever.  
This is not the same as pascals wager.  There is indeed a God.  He is the God of the Bible.  There is no two ways about it and therefore no wager.
Conclusion
What is the connection between all this?  It is the very essence of the gospel: the fact that Jesus died as a payment for sins we all commit, he arose from the dead as the fulfillment of a promise and as a display of God’s power over even death, and that He provides reconciliation to God for only those He intends to.
So the question is not about instinct, faith, or routine.  As Paul Washer tends to put it: The questions is, as you have been reading about the gospel, has God done such a work in you that you are ready to die to self, hate the sin you once loved and love the God you once hated?  If so, then go now and produce fruit in accordance with repentance!  (i.e. go read your Bible, pray to God, and obey His word).  If not, I encourage you to call out to God as if your life depended on it, because it does.  Ask him to save you.  If he doesn’t answer, ask again.  If he still doesn’t answer, ask again.  And again, and again, and again, until he either saves you, or you go to hell.  You’ll either be saved and absolutely know it, or you’ll ask for a lifetime and one day go to hell and then know.  Either way, God will be good, God will be righteous, and God will be holy, for he is the same yesterday, today, and always.  No matter what or whom anyone wishes Him to be, He will remain the God of the Bible.
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Peter & John Vs. Joseph Smith

Posted: December 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

It is the purpose of this paper to illustrate the differences between Peter and John’s unschooled state in the context of Acts 4:13, as compared to the Mormon assertion that Joseph Smith was unlearned as he endeavored to comment on all of scripture. Specifically, I will demonstrate how Peter and John were endowed by the Holy Spirit in such a way that it gave them the ability to communicate the truth of scripture so that the Jewish leaders could not disagree, though they were gentiles and had never even set foot in a temple school. In contrast, I will show why it is uncharacteristic of God and unsupported by Christian scripture, relative to the situation surrounding the nature of Joseph Smith’s knowledge, that God would uniquely endow one who had the means to study and understand that which God had already revealed in His word.

Mormon Scripture Exegesis
According to Doctrine and Covenants 21:4-5, those things a Mormon prophet says under influence of the Holy Spirit are recorded and held as scripture, in addition to The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, etc. Therefore it is no small task to search through the volumes of text to find pertinent information. However, it is all touted as scripture, considered by Mormons to be equal to, and in many cases greater than the testimony of the Bible. The following will be a fair and equitable analysis of these texts.

Historical Context
Joseph Smith testifies by his own words that his family experienced an increased level of religious excitement in the place where they lived. So intense was this excitement that many people were converted to various denominations, and Joseph Smith and His family found themselves wondering the same thing as most other people of the time: “which church should we join?” According to The Pearl of Great Price this question seems to have manifested more individually in the Smith family, and therefore found young Joseph Smith more-or-less on his own to determine his own mind on which church to join. Rightly so, this lead him to follow the advice of the book of James and enquire of the Lord.
Aside from what Joseph Smith did to settle this unrest in his mind, what was the nature of the excitement in mid-1800 northern New York State? A new preacher with a startling and controversial new style had begun preaching and managed to stir up such a frenzy that at one point his preaching style almost cost him his life. This new preacher was the former Lawyer Charles Grandison Finney. In 1824 Charles was ordained into the Presbyterian Church and began his ministry in the area that is today known as “the burnt over district”; this name is suggestive of the fact that people in this area were fed up with religious discussion due to the fervor experienced in a relatively short time.

In The Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith testifies to religious excitement being stirred up around his fifteenth year, which would place the activities in the year 1820, and perhaps extending into 1821. Compared to the disturbance Charles Finney instigated as he began preaching in 1824, and the somewhat local vicinity of Finney to Smith, it would be safe to assume that these two men are recalling the same events, from the same area of the country, around the same time. The language in The Pearl of Great Price, as communicated by Joseph Smith himself, is rather vague and could feasibly account for the discrepancy if one were inclined to believe that statements such as “during this time” actually represent a number of years. Suffice to say that the record of this book of Mormon scripture (The Pearl of Great Price) is not in agreement with established historical records which place this religious excitement closer to Finney’s first use of an alter call.

If we proceed with the understanding that the religious excitement was most likely caused by a number of factors, the largest of which, given the Smith family’s vicinity, was Charles G. Finney. Such a deduction is safe when considering the time-frame, locality, and the claim that parts of Joseph’s family joined the Presbyterian Church during this time; the very denomination of which Charles Finney was an ordained minister.

What we should gather from this deduction is that the Smith’s were at least aware of, and/or familiar with Finney’s doctrine and the emotional responses he seemed to effortlessly generate. Such a time would be volatile, confusing and troubling even for one whose faith was firmly decided, let alone one as undecided and unguided as young Joseph Smith. Who amongst us at age fifteen is prepared to tackle such deep and profound thoughts as those of eternity?

Literary Context
When considering the many statements made regarding Joseph Smith’s knowledge, we are afforded the luxury of having the Mormon scriptures originally written in English. While this would be debated by a faithful Mormon, who would undoubtably bring up the point that the gold plates were written in something called Reformed Egyptian (though there is no record of any such language or writing) and later translated by Joseph Smith under guidance of the Holy Spirit, we do not have the plates to verify the accuracy of their translation (as we can do with the Christian Bible [Gen.-Rev.]) because they have supposedly been taken back to heaven. I will therefore consider the English language as the original form of these texts and derive meaning from its usage by Joseph Smith in the context of typical mid-1800 usage, which has conveniently not changed much. This will be an equitable treatment of the text because Joseph Smith’s translation is considered by Mormons to be perfect due to the translation act’s divine nature.

Joseph’s own mother (Lucy) states of his academic practices, “[Joseph] seemed much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of our children, but far more given to meditation and deep study.” This statement seems contradictory at first glance, unless the reader consider’s that Lucy was using the word “study” to mean contemplation, instead of the accepted modern usage relating to the work of a student. So the statement here is that young Joseph was given to deep thought. This is supported by the noun “meditation” which precedes “study” and lends the idea of prolonged thought. Thought on what, we are not told. However, if we consider that according to his mother’s account, Joseph was not overly compelled toward the “perusal of books” we can safely gather that the content of books was not uppermost in his mind.

Does this ambivalence toward reading extend to the Christian Bible? It is hard to say. Immediately before the aforementioned quote, we read that Joseph likely received religious instruction at home, one would assume from his parents. There is no commentary on whether or not Joseph enjoyed this instruction, was a good student of the Bible; truly there is no qualifying statement which would lend itself to the assertion that he was instructed properly, or effectively, or that he actually heeded the lessons. Would it be presumptuous to think an 8 year-old boy could hear a lesson, and yet not grasp it? Of course not. The testimony of the reality of even our own schooling corroborates that much. None the less, the context of this passage communicates that Joseph had nothing more than a common knowledge of the Bible, typical of most children of the time. There certainly is no language in the cited passage to suggest some sort of great knowledge beyond that which was common place. Moreover, the language of the passage is meant to communicate Joseph’s average and humble beginnings.

Also commenting on Joseph Smith as unlearned is Marion G. Romney, cited from page 37 of the April 1946 General Conference Report, “Some people have said that Joseph Smith was an unlearned man . . . in the things of the world, but the day he came out of the grove, following the first vision, he was the most learned person in the world in the things that count.” The context of this statement is difficult to determine since I was unable to find anything more than this quote from this General Conference Report, but if we allow it to speak for itself we can asses some things in a fair fashion. First, the translation of the plates reportedly didn’t take place for quite some time after the first vision, so Smith couldn’t have been given the knowledge required to translate the plates at the first vision. If he was, this is not indicated in any Mormon scripture. Second, in the first vision it was revealed to Smith that none of the denominations he was considering joining were true, and that he should not join any of them. This is hardly all-encompassing knowledge of “the things that count.” In verse 20 we read “and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.” Perhaps this is where the knowledge of “the things that count” is accounted for in the context of the first vision? Whatever was said and classified as “many other things,” we’ll never know, and neither did Marion G. Romney know.

John Taylor also comments on Smiths learnedness in a Deseret News entry on July 30, 1884; an article which seems to be missing from the Deseret News’ online historical archive. Taylor says, “Joseph Smith was . . . uneducated when he was a boy. . . . The Lord took him into His school, and He taught him things that I have seen puzzle many of the wisest scientists, profoundest thinkers, and the most learned men” (The abbreviation indicated by “…” in this case is not my own but from the cited source). This quote at least accounts for the passage of time and does not limit itself to the context of the first vision, thereby allowing for the context of subsequent divine visits. Since I was unable to find the original article I cannot determine the context of how Taylor uses “uneducated” except to say that it would appear he is using it in a general sense. If that is the case then he would be discrediting Joseph Smith in the sense that Smith attended school and could hardly be considered uneducated in the general sense of the term.
What all this evidence gathers to show is that the claim to be unlearned has absolutely no bearing on whatever subject to which the Mormon user is attempting to relate. Since there is no other explanation for this term to be used over and over again, it would seem to the Biblical Christian that the Mormon is attempting to present Joseph Smith as equal to the Apostles (who are described as unlearned in Acts 4:13) in order to lend credit to their system as being Christian. Can this connection be made accurately? No matter the answer, how can one tell? The answer is in the same treatment I have given the Mormon scriptures, brought to bear on the Bible.

Bible Exegesis on Acts 4:13
We enter the book of Acts after reading of Jesus’ death and resurrection. As a second book written by Luke, Acts serves almost as a continuation of his gospel. Jesus ascends into heaven, Matthias is chosen to replace Judas who dies in a most gruesome fashion in the middle of the field he bought with the money eared from his betrayal of Jesus. From this point there is a promise of a helper that is to soon come, which is the Holy Spirit. We read of the Spirits coming and endowment of the disciples on the day of Pentecost and the conversion of 5,000. Peter heals a beggar, and then he and John are arrested for preaching Jesus to the people. They are brought before the Sanhedrin to be questioned regarding the healed beggar and Jesus.

Historical Context
The sole source of spiritual learning in the times described in the book of Acts was the Jewish temple. There, a boy of verifiable Hebrew birth would be schooled in the scriptures and proper doctrine from the Torah, the Prophets, and Writings. Also, one would be taught to adhere to the law carried down by Moses in order to be Holy. Only a boy of proper birth could participate; others were called gentiles and were bared from attending. By this context we can see why the religious authorities of the time would have been surprised to hear Peter and John quote Psalm 118:22. These were gentiles who had never been to the temple schools, and yet they displayed a proper knowledge of the Jews’ most beloved devotional book. In this way the apostles were unlearned, yet endowed by the Holy Spirit, through faith in Christ, to speak the truth of scripture.

And, lest we forget, these were the very ones who put Jesus to death, and indeed held the power to demand Peter and John’s lives, and yet they were courageous in the face of such authority. Two poor fisherman were now before the Sanhedrin in almost a teaching capacity.

Literary Context & Semantic Analysis
In verse 13, the pronoun “they” is referent to the “rulers, elders and teachers of the law” from back in verse 5. “They” saw Peter and John’s courage. Another condition “they” observed was that Peter and John were “unschooled”. These two conditions (courageous, and unschooled) instigate an action in the members of the Sanhedrin (“they”). The verbs “astonished”, and “took” describe the actions of “they”. Given the context of the cultural norms in the temple, “they” were astonished that Peter and John were so courageous and knowledgable, for unschooled gentiles being questioned by those who could legally kill them. “They” were astonished and took [note]. Of what? They took note that Peter and John were with Jesus. Why is this stated? Why does this have anything to do with Peter or John’s knowledge and/or courage? The last phrase of the verse gives us the only explanation for the courage and knowledge Peter and John displayed. They had been with Jesus, under his tutelage; he who stood before the Sanhedrin in the same way, who suffered death and yet conquered it by raising again to life, therefore they had no fear of death for they knew its master, and they had learned at the feet of the author of all things.

So the literary context bears forth two key words of which we would do well to rightly explore the meaning and semantic domain: unschooled, and courage.

Looking at the term “unschooled”, we see that this is the one and only time this term is used in the entire Bible. That, in itself has no bearing on the task at hand except to say that the meaning and semantic usage will be extremely limited. Truly, the usage of the greek word agrammatos carries the sense of not having a formal education. Given the historical context, the only formal education available at the time was in the temple schools. So the meaning of the citation of agrammatos is rightly translated as unschooled, although the translator could communicate slightly more effectively if “formally” were added, bearing out “formally unschooled.”

If the term unschooled (agrammatos) is a laser, then courage (parresia) is a flood light. Throughout the New Testament, this term is used to express the confidence, courage, assurance, boldness, and fearlessness of those who rely on Christ as their Holiness; sometimes even being used to describe the manner by which we are to approach God’s very throne, as those who are clean and therefore parresia. Likewise, those who exhibit such parressia communicate openly, clearly, and publicly. All this is true of Peter and John as they spoke before the Sanhedrin and the “they” took note of it, crediting it to them being with Jesus.

Conclusion
All of the aforementioned points, considered together, show how the attribution of unschooled regarding Peter and John is a statement of fact, not opinion. It is a fact that Peter and John had not been to the temple school. Indeed they were not allowed! What’s more, is that this has immediate influence on the content of the communication in this verse. And what’s still more, is that the truth would still remain and be weighty in the meaning of this verse, even if this had not been stated. Peter and John were unschooled, whether or not the verse said so, because they were gentiles and were not allowed into the temple schools. This is significant because they were being questioned by the equivalent of Supreme Court Judges. It would be similar to entering into your own defense in the Supreme Court against a team of not just great lawyers, but the judges themselves, and yet mastering their profession, with no training what so ever, so thoroughly as to force an acquittal.

By comparison, the attribution of unschooled,or uneducated, or unlearned to Joseph Smith has, by the very same method of analysis, been shown to be very much opinion. Not only has it been shown to be opinion, but also very subjective and relative to the one making the statement. Furthermore, in no way does it further the intent of the communication in any meaningful fashion what so ever.

In the case of Joseph Smith, this information is merely to relate a similarity between Smith, and every other person of that era. A great many people were farm raised, poor, with an average education, at which they managed average grades, and set about afterwards to average means. While Joseph Smith in no way set about to average means, it was not in any way due to some association with his humble start. Neither was his supposed selection as the seer of this vision based in any way on his background, or humility, or claimed unlearned nature. The information that Joseph Smith was supposedly unlearned is superlative at best, and malicious at worst in that it would seek to connect a wholly un-Christian system to Christ’s very namesake.

While this Mormon claim of Smith as unlearned communicates similarity, the Christian citation of the same unlearned state in Acts 4:13 seeks to point out differences. Truly to accentuate them. The point of Peter and John being unschooled is to point out the difference between them and the members of the Sanhedrin; to make an example of and condemn those who are learned and confident of their own works, compared to those who are confident not of themselves, but of Christ and who He is.
The two passages could not be more different. One seeks to unify, the other to cleave toward Christ. One is meaningless, and the other indispensably meaningful. One compliments nothing (not even itself), while the other compliments the whole of scripture.

Not much more can be said, except: the evidence speaks for itself.

Bibliography
Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.

Christianhistory.net. “Charles Finney: Father of Americal Revivalism.” p.1.
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/131christians/evangelistsandapologists/finney.html

Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints – Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. “Church History in the Fulness of Times Institute Student Manual.” Ch. 2 – Joseph Smith’s New England Heritage.
http://institute.lds.org/manuals/church-history-institute-student-manual/chft-01-05-2.asp

Doctrine and Covenants. Sections 21 & 135.
http://lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament?lang=eng

Goodrick, Edward W. and, John R. Kohlenberger III. The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999.

Joseph Smith Resource Center. “Witnesses/Apostasy.”
http://lds.org/josephsmith/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=4061001cfb340010VgnVCM1000001f5e340aRCRD&topic=%2FResource+Center%2FApostasy

Pearl of Great Price: Joseph Smith – History. “Extracts From the History of Joseph Smith the Prophet.” History of the Church Vol. 1, Ch. 1-5.
http://scriptures.lds.org/en/js_h/1