Jonathan Green posted a fantastic discussion in Times and Seasons on one’s view of the historicity of the Book of Mormon as compared to one’s expectations, and that relationship compared to the basis of one’s testimony.
The higher one’s estimation of historicity rises above one’s minimal expectations, the more that institutional allegiance is reinforced, but when the estimation drops and the minimal demand rises above it, a history-driven crisis may result. (ref.)
For years and years I’ve heard all the major BOM critics: horses, steel, elephants, honey bees, Biblical language, wheat, barley, goats, archaeology, genetics, population claims, etc. (ref.). It does make you wonder, as the author points out, how much you value what was said versus what mankind currently knows. And that balance determines if you’ll have a historical faith crisis.
I’ve read apologists of varying kind explain how you can reconcile these differences, but frankly, one man’s opinion does not really do the trick, unless, of course, that man starts off his sentence by saying, “Thus saith the Lord.” Then my ears perk up. But even then, it would depend mostly on the rest of the phrase than the authoritative introduction.
The BOM isn’t the first scripture to have historical/scientific crisis issues. If you believe the Bible to be scripture, at least of argument’s sake, then you can come up with a few other times:
–God has the strength of a unicorn. (Numbers 23:22)
–The king of the giants bed measured 9 by 4 cubits (13.5 feet long and 6 feet wide). (Deuteronomy 3:11)
Green has a final reconciliation statement essentially accepting the fallibility of the authors of scripture to account for historical and scientific errors, and he uses that to allow himself to believe the text as scripture. My question, then, is what does it mean for a text to be scripture? By the Green’s definition it is: something that may or may not be historically accurate but inspired from a paranormal source that can lead one to greater spirituality.
What does “scripture” mean to you? Something said/dictated by a prophet? Why is Psalms in the Bible if it was dictated by a King? Why is Mark in the Bible if he was Peter’s secretary? Why is Luke in the Bible if he was Paul’s traveling companion? Why do we need scriptures if we have a prophet? Too many questions.