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Jim Tackles DNA & Book of Mormon

We’re continuing our discussion with Jim Vun Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Jim gave his testimony of the Book of Mormon in part 2 of our conversation, and we touched on the Book of Mormon in our previous episode, and we talked about Remnant scriptures including the Doctrine & Covenants and Book of Mormon.  Today we will delve deeper into mysteries such as whether issues surrounding DNA & Book of Mormon are compatible.  I first asked Jim if he believes the Book of Mormon is a literal history or simply a foundational scripture as the Community of Christ believes?

GT:  Let’s talk about the Book of Mormon.   We’ve talked about that.  I know in the LDS Church, most people I think believe it’s a literal history.  It seems like in the Community of Christ, most probably don’t. {chuckles}

Jim:  I would say you’re probably right.

GT:  Where does the Remnant Church fit on that spectrum?

Jim:  We believe that it is an absolute literal history.  We believe that there were Lamanites and Nephites and Jacobites and Josephites and all the different –ites that were here upon the land.  Obviously there’s a good debate on where they really were exactly for North and South America and so forth, and where maybe in North America and so forth.  But yes we do believe that it was a literal people that were here.

DNA & Book of Mormon

I also asked him some of the questions of critics.

GT:  One of the big knocks against the Book of Mormon is DNA.  A guy by the name of Simon Southerton, an Australian researcher has said you don’t find any evidence of DNA.  I think the LDS—well I won’t say the LDS Church response, [because] the LDS Church I believe is neutral on the issue, but a lot of LDS researchers have said, well the population was probably a lot smaller, so you wouldn’t have any evidence of that.  What do you think?

Jim:  Well you know, first of all, I think that whole study—I feel there was a motive to putting together that research, first of all.  I don’t feel that was fair and scientific in the way that it was done.  Considering if you really want to look at the groups of people, you could argue that Ishmael, is that really the name of a good practicing Jew?  I don’t know, but I have a lot of questions.  Oh by the way, how many peoples actually came to the Americas?  I’ll just put it that way.  We’ll summarize.  How many different people came?

Well there were a lot of people, and they’re finding a lot of archaeological evidence of a lot of people, so to say that we know that all the Indians were Lamanites I think is really a fallacy.  I don’t think you can really say that.  They may or may not be.  We really don’t know which ones really are or aren’t.  For them to go forward and try to put together DNA evidence based on that, plus the other thing is you’re talking about many, many generations back.  Trying to argue that you’ve got somebody you can match DNA with from that time period to this time period, I don’t think that science is quite there yet for that.

I really think that it’s a, “ah, we got them!  We’re going to disprove the Book of Mormon in one fell swoop.” It’s just kind of like, ”no guys, I don’t think so.”  I just don’t think that from my background, being in engineering, I don’t really feel like all the boxes were checked.  I don’t really feel like it was an exhaustive study.  I felt like there was more of a motive for putting together the research instead of actually looking at it objectively.”

Do you agree with Jim.  Did Simon Southerton have an agenda to prove the Book of Mormon was false?  Check out our conversation…..

 

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18 Revelations to Gather to Missouri Now! Remnant Church Scriptures

We’re continuing our discussion (see part 3 here) with Jim Vun Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency of the Remnant Church.  In this episode, we’ll talk about Remnant Church Scriptures.  Some of these revelations tell people to gather to Missouri.  We’ll first talk about their version of the Doctrine & Covenants.

GT:  Have you had any revelations?  How many have you had since 1984?

Jim:  Considering our church started about 1999-2000, about 18.

GT:  About 18, wow.  That’s about one a year.

Jim:  Yeah, pretty much.

GT:  Can you about what are some of those revelations that you’ve had since 2000?

Jim:  A number of those revelations are directional.  As far as revealing doctrine, per se, so like when you look at Joseph Smith, Jr. and you look at his revelations, there’s a lot of doctrines that he’s revealing that we see there.

Gather to Missouri Now!

Some of these revelations tell the saints to gather to Missouri.

Jim:  Our revelations as we call them from the Remnant Church forward, you’ll see a lot of direction around building community, so we were to go and build community in eastern Jackson County and so we’re doing that again, and we have done that.

GT:  So you’re gathering to Missouri.

Jim:  More or less.  Yes, we are already in Missouri.  Those of us there are starting to build that because we believe that Zion is a literal place, and that it is the kingdom of heaven on earth where God the Father will dwell and so we are trying to do the best we can.

GT:  That’s an interesting idea.  It seems like in the LDS Church when I was growing up there was this talk about returning to Missouri but I’ll bet in the last 20 years you don’t hear that in the LDS Church anymore.  Nobody talks about going back to Missouri anymore.  We’re very happy in Salt Lake.  We’re building Zion where we are.  That’s interesting to me.  I do believe that’s something with the Community of Christ as well as the Remnant Church.  That’s a big piece of your doctrine and theology is gathering to Jackson County.  Is that correct?

Jim:  Correct, yes.  If you want to look at what really, of all the different groups that are out there, that is a defining point.  How you define the kingdom changes a lot of things.  It really does.  As you look at it, some believe that there’s nothing you can do.  They look at it as Zion’s going to show up one day.  If you’re worthy then you get to go in.  If you’re not worthy, you’re not going to get to go in.

We believe that we can actually build Zion and it’s a process that we go through and that at some point we’ll become sanctified to where it will be the Zion that is spoken of.

Do you wish the LDS Church had more revelations, or is this simply the function of a new church to get more revelations than an established church?  Why do you think the LDS Church doesn’t emphasize gathering to Missouri anymore?

Pearl of Great Price?

I also asked Jim about the Pearl of Great Price.

Jim:  The Book of Moses you’re talking about, as best I understand that’s the same thing we have in our Genesis.  The Inspired Version is what we call it.  The Joseph Smith Translation what you have, that’s what we call the Inspired Version.

GT:  Oh so you actually include that as part of your Bible.

Jim:  It is actually—the scriptures for members actually have that in there.  The King James is really used just for those who are non-members.  We’re witnessing to them, we have a common point of reference, the King James.

GT:  Oh so you would have the six books of Moses then.

Jim:  Yeah, I guess that would be fair to say that, yeah.

We’ll also talk about chiasmus in the Book of Mormon.  Check out our conversation!  (Don’t forget parts 1, 2, and 3!)

 

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What’s the view of the RLDS Succession Crisis?

In the LDS Church we believe in an orderly succession from Joseph Smith to Brigham Young.  In the Reorganized Church of course they don’t accept Brigham as the prophet and instead accept Joseph Smith III.  What is the view of RLDS Succession Crisis? In this conversation with Jim Vun Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency of the Remnant Church, we’ll learn that 16 years after Joseph Smith was killed, the Reorganized Church was established.

GT:  One of the things I want to talk a little bit about is the Succession Crisis.  As you know Joseph Smith, for those of my listeners who aren’t super familiar with church history, Joseph Smith was killed in 1844 in the Carthage Jail.  As I understand it, and correct me if I’m wrong, I believe it was another 15 or so years before—Joseph Smith III was just a young boy.  He was probably about 14 or so?

Jim:  Yeah, that’s correct.  He was a young boy.

GT:  So it took about 15 years or so before Joseph Smith III felt called of God and then the Reorganized Church started in 1860.  I believe it was April 6, 1860?

Jim:  Actually that’s an interesting point.  It actually started in 1852.

GT:  Oh!

Jim:  We actually had met together, a number of people during the Succession Crisis had come together.  They organized at the apostle level, so the Second Presidency level if you will.  They had the church until the prophet came forth, and so when young Joseph came, he felt compelled to come.  That’s part of what he said, “I come by a power not of my own,” and he came to the church.  It was in April 6, 1860 and so forth.  Most people do look at that as the beginning, but honestly it was 1852, October of 1852 where they held the first general conference of the church at that point.

Similarly, following the 1984 revelation where women got the priesthood on the RLDS Church, 16 years later the Remnant Church was begun.  We’ll talk about similarities and differences between these two reorganizations, as well as talk about some priesthood differences between the LDS Church and the Remnant Church.

Jim:  We have quorums of seventy that are underneath the Twelve, so seven quorums of Seventy is what we have.  Now we don’t have seven quorums of Seventy, we only have one quorum.

GT:  We only had that for a long time but now we’ve got six or seven I think.  Yeah seven is the maximum.  We’ve got that.  I don’t believe all of our seven quorums have 70 in them.  They’re half that I believe.

Jim:  And if I understand correctly, your seventies are based on high priest, or are they based on elder?

GT:  They are based on High Priest.

Jim:  Ours are based on elder.

GT:  Oh really?

Jim:  Yes if you’re based on an elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood, well obviously because your priesthood is an elder, you’re set apart to be a seventy from the office of elder, not the office of high priest.

GT:  Oh interesting.  I know it does seem very hierarchal in our church, and I don’t believe that’s the case in the Community of Christ and I’m not sure in your church as well.  Do you have adult members that are either Aaronic Priesthood or Melchizedek Priesthood holders?  Is that pretty typical?

Jim:  Yes that is pretty typical.  We don’t look at it as a progression.  We look at it as a calling.  It may be for instance you have a calling as a deacon all your life.  It doesn’t mean you didn’t magnify your call, it just means that that was what the Lord called you to do.  We have literally men who are 80-90 years old who are deacons, and also vice-versa.  We might have very young men who are elders or high priests, so there’s no progression.  The way we look at it is wisdom and revelation is what’s in our scriptures for that.

Check out our conversation….  (Don’t forget to check out part 1 and part 2!)