Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism 101/Chapter 8

Table of Contents

Response to claims made in "Chapter 8: The Book of Mormon"

A FairMormon Analysis of: Mormonism 101, a work by author: Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson

Response to claims made in Mormonism 101, "Chapter 8: The Book of Mormon"

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Response to claim: 106 - Paintings of Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon plates by leaning over them in a prayerful position

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

Paintings of Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon plates by leaning over them in a prayerful position

FairMormon Response

Logical Fallacy: Strawman—The author sets up a weakened or caricatured version of the opponent's argument. The author then proceeds to demolish the weak version of the argument, and claim victory.

The authors construct a straw man of LDS deception by first noting the (unidentified) paintings of Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon plates by leaning over them in a prayerful position. They then proceed to destroy their straw man by claiming that "testimony from his contemporaries paints another picture."4 The authors then point to the evidence that Joseph Smith used a "seerstone" for at least part of the translation process. They present this information in a manner that implies that the LDS Church has been concealing this fact.

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

A study of early Mormon sources reveals that the LDS Church has discussed this issue for years.


Question: Does Church art always reflect reality?

All art, including Church art, simply reflects the views of the artist: It may not reflect reality

Samuel the Lamanite Prophecies from the City Wall by Arnold Friberg

It is claimed by some that the Church knowingly "lies" or distorts the historical record in its artwork in order to whitewash the past, or for propaganda purposes. [1] For example, some Church sanctioned artwork shows Joseph and Oliver sitting at a table while translating with the plate in the open between them. Daniel C. Peterson provides some examples of how Church art often does not reflect reality, and how this is not evidence of deliberate lying or distortion on the part of the Church:

Look at this famous picture....Now that’s Samuel the Lamanite on a Nephite wall. Are any walls like that described in the Book of Mormon? No. You have these simple things, and they’re considered quite a technical innovation at the time of Moroni, where he digs a trench, piles the mud up, puts a palisade of logs along the top. That’s it. They’re pretty low tech. There’s nothing like this. This is Cuzco or something. But this is hundreds of years after the Book of Mormon and probably nowhere near the Book of Mormon area, and, you know, and you’ve heard me say it before, after Samuel jumps off this Nephite wall you never hear about him again. The obvious reason is....he’s dead. He couldn’t survive that jump. But again, do you draw your understanding of the Book of Mormon from that image? Or, do you draw it from what the book actually says?[2]


Response to claim: 107-108 - Joseph Fielding Smith said, "there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors suggest misinformation by Latter-day Saint because of the aforementioned "paintings" as well as a comment by Joseph Fielding Smith who said, "there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation."[3] While President Smith claimed that he "personally" did "not believe that this stone was used for this purpose."[3] The authors claim that he "denie[d] that such a rock was used."

Author's sources:
  1. Exodus 28:30
  • Leviticus 8:8
  • Francis W. Kirkham, A New Witness for Christ in America, 2:417.
  • Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:225-226.

FairMormon Response

Logical Fallacy: Strawman—The author sets up a weakened or caricatured version of the opponent's argument. The author then proceeds to demolish the weak version of the argument, and claim victory.

Joseph Fielding Smith continued his comments by noting that although a seerstone "may have been"[3] used, he didn't believe that it was. Of course this portion of Joseph Fielding Smith's quote was omitted (which helps the authors' straw-man claim that Joseph Fielding Smith "denied" the use of a seerstone).

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The reason that some less-informed LDS seem to be unfamiliar with Joseph's use of a "seerstone" stems, in part, from a confusion in the historical record as to what is meant by the "Urim and Thummim." Generally, the Urim and Thummim referred to the Jaredite interpreters that Joseph Smith received with the plates. At other times, however, it referred to the seerstone.[4] The authors even seem to recognize this when they note that William Smith referred to the seerstones as a Urim and Thummim.


Question: Did Joseph Fielding Smith say that it was not reasonable for Joseph Smith to use a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon?

Joseph Fielding Smith said "It hardly seems reasonable to suppose that the Prophet would substitute something evidently inferior under these circumstances"

Joseph Fielding Smith said the following:

While the statement has been made by some writers that the Prophet Joseph Smith used a seer stone part of the time in his translating of the record, and information points to the fact that he did have in his possession such a stone, yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that this stone was used for this purpose. The reason I give for this conclusion is found in the statement of the Lord to the Brother of Jared as recorded in Ether 3:22–24. These stones, the Urim and Thummim which were given to the Brother of Jared, were preserved for this very purpose of translating the record, both of the Jaredites and the Nephites. Then again the Prophet was impressed by Moroni with the fact that these stones were given for that very purpose. It hardly seems reasonable to suppose that the Prophet would substitute something evidently inferior under these circumstances. It may have been so, but it is so easy for a story of this kind to be circulated due to the fact that the Prophet did possess a seer stone, which he may have used for some other purposes. [5]

One critical website makes the claim: "So apparently even the 10th president of the Church thinks that using a stone to translate the Book of Mormon with 'hardly seems reasonable.'" [6] This is incorrect.

Joseph Fielding Smith did not say that it was not reasonable to use a stone to translate the Book of Mormon. After all, the Nephite interpreters were themselves comprised of two seer stones. Joseph Fielding Smith had no issue with that. What Joseph Fielding Smith thought was unreasonable was that Joseph Smith would use his own "inferior" seer stone instead of the Nephite interpreters.

Joseph Smith considered the Nephite interpreters a more powerful version of his own seer stone

When Joseph Smith first obtained the Nephite interpreters, he considered them a more powerful version of the stone that he already possessed. Joseph Knight recalled that Joseph appeared to be more excited about receiving the "glasses" than the gold plates themselves.[7] After Joseph returned from retrieving the plates, Joseph Knight recalled,

After breakfast Joseph called me in to the other room and he set his foot on the bed and leaned his head on his hand and says, “Well, I am disappointed.” “Well,” say I, “I am sorry.” “Well,” says he, “I am greatly disappointed. It is ten times better than I expected.” Then he went on to tell the length and width and thickness of the plates, and, said he, they appear to be gold. But he seemed to think more of the glasses or the Urim and Thummim than he did of the plates for, says he, “I can see anything. They are marvelous. Now they are written in characters and I want them translated.” [8]

In the beginning, Joseph believed that the stone itself possessed some special quality

Joseph's belief that the stone or the Nephite interpreters possessed some quality that made them special was apparent:

The idea that the Nephite interpreters were a more powerful version of Joseph’s seer stone is interesting, since it implies that there was something special about the stones themselves. It is more likely, however, that it was Joseph’s own perception that the stones were superior because these stones had been consecrated by God for the purpose of seeing things.

Joseph Fielding Smith did not believe that Joseph Smith would substitute an inferior seer stone for the Nephite interpreters, which were themselves stones

However, the idea that the Nephite interpreters were superior to a common “seer stone” was accepted by twentieth-century apostle and Church historian Joseph Fielding Smith. In response to accounts that indicated that Joseph may have used his own seer stone during the translation of the Book of Mormon, Elder Smith flatly stated that he did not believe this to be true, since the stone was inferior to the Nephite interpreters.[7] </blockquote>

Joseph Fielding Smith was entitled to his opinion, and he clearly stated that it was his opinion. He based this on scripture from the Book of Ether which indicated that the interpreters had been preserved for the purpose of translation. This is certainly a reasonable conclusion. However, statements made by Joseph Smith's contemporaries clearly indicate that the seer stone was used in the translation, and that by 1833 the title "Urim and Thummim" was later applied to the seer stone in addition to the Nephite interpreters.


Response to claim: - (footnote) the authors claim that the Bible tells us that the Urim and Thummim was used to "receive revelation" from God not "for translation purposes" in contrast to Mormon claims

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

In an endnote to this chapter the authors claim that the Bible tells us that the Urim and Thummim was used to "receive revelation" from God not "for translation purposes" in contrast to Mormon claims.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Are the authors really arguing that Mormons believe that the Urim and Thummim was some sort of automatic language translator done by means that excluded "revelation?" Perhaps they need to re-read LDS history. In the History of the Church, for example, we read that God told the three witnesses: "These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God."[9]:54-55 It is telling that the claim was put in a footnote rather than the main body of text, where it would be less likely to be noticed.


Response to claim: 108-109 - all the witnesses were involved at one point or another in divining or the use of rods and/or seerstones

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors attempt to poison the well and disqualify the credibility of the Three Witnesses by quoting D. Michael Quinn's comments that all the witnesses were involved at one point or another in divining or the use of rods and/or seerstones.

Author's sources:
  1. D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, revised and enlarged edition, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1998), 194 ( Index of claims )

FairMormon Response

Logical Fallacy: Ad Hominem—The author attacks someone's personal characteristics in an attempt to undermine their argument or position.

While this might be true (and the issue is far from settled), it is not apparent how this relates to their credibility.

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Many people in the early nineteenth century were involved in divining rods and seer stones. If they had read Quinn's entire section on this topic, they would have seen many more examples of non-LDS clergy who were involved in the same thing.


Response to claim: 109 -The credibility of the Three Witnesses

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The credibility of the Three Witnesses has been dealt with on numerous occasions by many competent authors, all of whom demonstrate that not one of these three men ever denied their testimony of the Book of Mormon even in spite of hardships, threats, excommunication, bad feelings, and persecution. The authors even note that "David Whitmer claimed that none of the three witnesses ever denied the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Logical Fallacy: Ad Hominem—The author attacks someone's personal characteristics in an attempt to undermine their argument or position.

To the authors' credit, they never attempt to show that they did deny their testimonies. However, instead, they try to impugn the integrity of the witnesses by questioning their character as reliable witnesses.

Response to claim: 109 - Smith did in fact have an affair with Fanny Alger

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

Oliver charged Joseph Smith with having an affair with Fanny Alger. In endnote 13 on page 295, the authors state,

Smith did in fact have an affair with Fanny Alger.

Author's sources:
  1. Richard Van Wagoner is cited in endnote 13, but the source is not specified.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The authors cite Van Wagoner, who cites another unnamed source about Emma seeing Joseph and Fanny "in the barn together alone."


Question: What do we know about Joseph Smith's first plural wife Fanny Alger?

There are no first-hand accounts of the relationship between Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger

One of the wives about whom we know relatively little is Fanny Alger, Joseph's first plural wife, whom he came to know in early 1833 when she stayed at the Smith home as a house-assistant of sorts to Emma (such work was common for young women at the time). There are no first-hand accounts of their relationship (from Joseph or Fanny), nor are there second-hand accounts (from Emma or Fanny's family). All that we do have is third hand accounts, most of them recorded many years after the events.

Unfortunately, this lack of reliable and extensive historical detail leaves much room for critics to claim that Joseph Smith had an affair with Fanny and then later invented plural marriage as way to justify his actions. The problem is we don't know the details of the relationship or exactly of what it consisted, and so are left to assume that Joseph acted honorably (as believers) or dishonorably (as critics).

There is some historical evidence that Joseph Smith knew as early as 1831 that plural marriage would be restored, so it is perfectly legitimate to argue that Joseph's relationship with Fanny Alger was such a case. Mosiah Hancock (a Mormon) reported a wedding ceremony; and apostate Mormons Ann Eliza Webb Young and her father Chauncery both referred to Fanny's relationship as a "sealing." Ann Eliza also reported that Fanny's family was very proud of Fanny's relationship with Joseph, which makes little sense if it was simply a tawdry affair. Those closest to them saw the marriage as exactly that—a marriage.


Question: Did Joseph Smith marry Fanny Alger as his first plural wife in 1833?

Joseph Smith met Fanny Alger in 1833 when she was a house-assistant to Emma

Joseph Smith came to know Fanny Alger in early 1833 when she stayed at the Smith home as a house-assistant to Emma. Neither Joseph nor Fanny ever left any first-hand accounts of their relationship. There are no second-hand accounts from Emma or Fanny's family. All that we do have is third hand accounts from people who did not directly observe the events associated with this first plural marriage, and most of them recorded many years after the events.

Joseph said that the "ancient order of plural marriage" was to again be practiced at the time that Fanny was living with his family

Benjamin F. Johnson stated that in 1835 he had "learned from my sister’s husband, Lyman R. Sherman, who was close to the Prophet, and received it from him, 'that the ancient order of Plural Marriage was again to be practiced by the Church.' This, at the time did not impress my mind deeply, although there lived then with his family (the Prophet’s) a neighbor’s daughter, Fannie Alger, a very nice and comely young woman about my own age, toward whom not only myself, but every one, seemed partial, for the amiability for her character; and it was whispered even then that Joseph loved her."[10]

Joseph asked the brother-in-law of Fanny's father to make the request of Fanny's father, after which a marriage ceremony was performed

Mosiah Hancock discusses the manner in which the proposal was extended to Fanny, and states that a marriage ceremony was performed. Joseph asked Levi Hancock, the brother-in-law of Samuel Alger, Fanny’s father, to request Fanny as his plural wife:

Samuel, the Prophet Joseph loves your daughter Fanny and wishes her for a wife. What say you?” Uncle Sam says, “Go and talk to the old woman [Fanny’s mother] about it. Twill be as she says.” Father goes to his sister and said, “Clarissy, Brother Joseph the Prophet of the most high God loves Fanny and wishes her for a wife. What say you?” Said she, “Go and talk to Fanny. It will be all right with me.” Father goes to Fanny and said, “Fanny, Brother Joseph the Prophet loves you and wishes you for a wife. Will you be his wife?” “I will Levi,” said she. Father takes Fanny to Joseph and said, “Brother Joseph I have been successful in my mission.” Father gave her to Joseph, repeating the ceremony as Joseph repeated to him.[11]


Question: How could Joseph and Fanny have been married in 1831 if the sealing power had not yet been restored?

There is historical evidence that Joseph Smith knew as early as 1831 that plural marriage would be restored

There is historical evidence that Joseph Smith knew as early as 1831 that plural marriage would be restored. Mosiah Hancock (a Mormon) reported a wedding ceremony in Kirtland, Ohio in 1833.

Apostate Mormons Ann Eliza Webb Young and her father Chauncery both referred to Fanny's relationship as a "sealing." Ann Eliza also reported that Fanny's family was very proud of Fanny's relationship with Joseph, which makes little sense if it was simply a tawdry affair. Those closest to them saw the marriage as exactly that—a marriage.

Joseph and Fanny's marriage was a plural marriage, not an eternal marriage

Some have wondered how the first plural marriages (such as the Alger marriage) could have occurred before the 1836 restoration of the sealing keys in the Kirtland temple (see DC 110:). This confusion occurs because we tend to conflate several ideas. They were not all initially wrapped together in one doctrine:

  1. plural marriage - the idea that one could be married (in mortality) to more than one woman: being taught by 1831.
  2. eternal marriage - the idea that a man and spouse could be sealed and remain together beyond the grave: being taught by 1835.
  3. "celestial" marriage - the combination of the above two ideas, in which all marriages—plural and monogamous—could last beyond the grave via the sealing powers: implemented by 1840-41.

Thus, the marriage to Fanny would have occurred under the understanding #1 above. The concept of sealing beyond the grave came later. Therefore, the marriage of Joseph and Fanny would have been a plural marriage, but it would not have been a marriage for eternity.


Question: Did some of Joseph Smith's associates believe that he had an affair with Fanny Alger?

Oliver Cowdery perceived the relationship between Joseph and Fanny as a "dirty, nasty, filthy affair"

Some of Joseph's associates, most notably Oliver Cowdery, perceived Joseph's association with Fanny as an affair rather than a plural marriage. Oliver, in a letter to his brother Warren, asserted that "in every instance I did not fail to affirm that which I had said was strictly true. A dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger's was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deserted from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself."[12]

Gary J. Bergera, an advocate of the "affair" theory, wrote:

I do not believe that Fanny Alger, whom [Todd] Compton counts as Smith’s first plural wife, satisfies the criteria to be considered a “wife.” Briefly, the sources for such a “marriage” are all retrospective and presented from a point of view favoring plural marriage, rather than, say, an extramarital liaison…Smith’s doctrine of eternal marriage was not formulated until after 1839–40. [13]

There are several problems with this analysis. While it is true that sources on Fanny are all retrospective, the same is true of many early plural marriages. Fanny's marriage has more evidence than some. Bergera says that all the sources about Fanny's marriage come "from a point of view favoring plural marriage," but this claim is clearly false.

Even hostile accounts of the relationship between Joseph and Fanny report a marriage or sealing

For example, Fanny's marriage was mentioned by Ann Eliza Webb Young, a later wife of Brigham Young's who divorced him, published an anti-Mormon book, and spent much of her time giving anti-Mormon, anti-polygamy lectures. Fanny stayed with Ann Eliza's family after leaving Joseph and Emma's house, and both Ann Eliza and her father Chauncey Webb [14] refer to Joseph's relationship to Fanny as a "sealing." [15] Eliza also noted that the Alger family "considered it the highest honor to have their daughter adopted into the prophet's family, and her mother has always claimed that she [Fanny] was sealed to Joseph at that time." [16] This would be a strange attitude to take if their relationship was a mere affair. And, the hostile Webbs had no reason to invent a "sealing" idea if they could have made Fanny into a mere case of adultery.


Question: Did Emma Smith discover her husband Joseph with Fanny Alger in a barn?

William McLellin claimed to have heard a story that Fanny and Joseph were in the barn and Emma had observed them

In 1872, William McLellin wrote a letter to Emma and Joseph's son, Joseph Smith III:

Now Joseph I will relate to you some history, and refer you to your own dear Mother for the truth. You will probably remember that I visited your Mother and family in 1847, and held a lengthy conversation with her, retired in the Mansion House in Nauvoo. I did not ask her to tell, but I told her some stories I had heard. And she told me whether I was properly informed. Dr. F. G. Williams practiced with me in Clay Co. Mo. during the latter part of 1838. And he told me that at your birth your father committed an act with a Miss Hill [sic]—a hired girl. Emma saw him, and spoke to him. He desisted, but Mrs. Smith refused to be satisfied. He called in Dr. Williams, O. Cowdery, and S. Rigdon to reconcile Emma. But she told them just as the circumstances took place. He found he was caught. He confessed humbly, and begged forgiveness. Emma and all forgave him. She told me this story was true!! Again I told her I heard that one night she missed Joseph and Fanny Alger. She went to the barn and saw him and Fanny in the barn together alone. She looked through a crack and saw the transaction!!! She told me this story too was verily true. [17]

Ann Eliza Webb, who was born 11 years after Joseph's marriage to Fanny, claimed that Emma threw Fanny out of the house

Ann Eliza Webb, who was born in 1844, was not even alive at the time of these events, could only only comment based upon what her father told her about Joseph and Fanny. Ann apostatized from the Church and wrote an "expose" called Wife No. 19, or The story of a Life in Bondage. She described Fanny as follows:

Mrs. Smith had an adopted daughter, a very pretty, pleasing young girl, about seventeen years old. She was extremely fond of her; no mother could be more devoted, and their affection for each other was a constant object of remark, so absorbing and genuine did it seem. Consequently is was with a shocked surprise that people heard that sister Emma had turned Fanny out of the house in the night.[18]


Question: Did Fanny Alger have a child by Joseph Smith?

A suggestion that Fanny was pregnant by Joseph surfaced in an 1886 anti-Mormon book with a claim that Emma "drove" Fanny out of the house

The first mention of a pregnancy for Fanny is in an 1886 anti-Mormon work, citing Chauncey Webb, with whom Fanny reportedly lived after leaving the Smith home.[19] Webb claimed that Emma "drove" Fanny from the house because she "was unable to conceal the consequences of her celestial relation with the prophet." If Fanny was pregnant, it is curious that no one else remarked upon it at the time, though it is possible that the close quarters of a nineteenth-century household provided Emma with clues. If Fanny was pregnant by Joseph, the child never went to term, died young, or was raised under a different name.

Fawn Brodie claimed that Fanny's son Orrison was the son of Joseph Smith, but this was disproven by DNA research

Fawn Brodie, in her critical work No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, claimed that “there is some evidence that Fannie Alger bore Joseph a child in Kirtland.”[20] However, DNA research in 2005 confirmed Fanny Alger’s son Orrison Smith is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.[21]


Response to claim: 109 - Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated after accusing Joseph of "adultery, lying, and teaching false doctrines"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

Oliver Cowdery, the authors charge, was excommunicated after accusing Joseph of "adultery, lying, and teaching false doctrines." They also claim that following Cowdery's excommunication he was accused of "'denying the faith,' 'persecuting the brethren,' 'urging on vexatious lawsuits,' 'falsely insinuating [Joseph Smith] was guilty of adultery,' and dishonesty."

Author's sources:
  1. Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia 1:246.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

You would think, that had Cowdery been a victim of fraud, he would have turned on Joseph and denounced his testimony, but he never did.


Response to claim: 109 - Oliver Cowdery later joined the Methodists

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors point out that Cowdery later joined the Methodists--a denomination, they claim, which "had been supposedly condemned by God."

Author's sources:
  1. Joseph Smith—History 1:19

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

What LDS source do they cite for such a view of Methodism?

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were corrupt; that "they draw near me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." (Joseph Smith History 1:19)

A serious look at the "creeds" of historic Christianity will reveal that they indeed are abominations (or "polluted" per Webster's 1828 dictionary)--that they are heavily influenced by Greek philosophy.[22]

Who were the "professors" which were "corrupt"? And what does it mean to be "corrupt?" The 1828 Webster's dictionary number one definition for professor is:

One who makes open declaration of his sentiments or opinions; particularly, one who makes a public avowal of his belief in the Scriptures and his faith in Christ, and thus unites himself to the visible church.

It's possible that the "professors" refers to those who formulated the "creeds" or perhaps to those who, in Joseph Smith's day, proclaimed these creeds. In either case, the "professors" seems to be tied to those who supported the "creeds." Of the many 1828 definitions for "corrupt," the ones which make the most sense based on "creeds" which were "abominations" are the following: "tainted; unsound; lose purity; infected with errors or mistakes; polluted." In other words, those who proclaimed the (polluted) "creeds" are themselves "infected with errors or mistakes" for proclaiming such creeds. The Lord's statement in Joseph Smith History 1:19 is a condemnation of the creeds and the teaching of such false doctrine--not an objurgation against any denomination.

Logical Fallacy: Strawman—The author sets up a weakened or caricatured version of the opponent's argument. The author then proceeds to demolish the weak version of the argument, and claim victory.

This is a straw man argument. Nowhere does this verse state that Methodism, or any other denomination, is "condemned of God." Anti-Mormons love to claim Mormons have somehow attacked "Christianity" (of course since Latter-day Saints are Christian, the charge is ludicrous); What the verse above refers to, quite clearly, is the "creeds" which are abominations, and (somewhat more ambiguously) "those professors were corrupt."

Question: Why did Oliver Cowdery join the Methodists if all other churches had been "condemned of God"?

Latter-day Saints do not believe that other churches are "condemned of God"

What do we understand about Oliver Cowdery joining the Methodists during his separation from the Mormons? As Richard L. Anderson has observed:

Since faith in Jesus Christ was the foundation of his religion, he logically affiliated himself with a Christian congregation for a time, the Methodist Protestant Church at Tiffin, Ohio. There is no more inconsistency in this than Paul's worshiping in the Jewish synagogue, or Joseph Smith's becoming a Mason in order to stem prejudice.[23]

The supposed relation between Oliver's temporary affiliation with the Methodists and his credibility as a witness to the Book of Mormon is a red herring, and an ironic one at that. While critics attempt to show that the Latter-day Saints believed that Methodism was "condemned of God," they also point out that Oliver Cowdery--a faithful witness to the Book of Mormon--had no problem joining this "condemned" denomination. Our critics want to have their cake and eat it too! There is a wealth of evidence that demonstrates that Oliver never denied his testimony of the Book of Mormon. For example, there is evidence that after leaving the Church and practicing law, Cowdery's integrity was once challenged in court because of his Book of Mormon testimony.

Oliver reaffirmed his testimony of the Book of Mormon even after he had joined the Methodists

The opposing counsel thought he would say something that would overwhelm Oliver Cowdery, and in reply to him in his argument he alluded to him as the man that had testified and had written that he had beheld an angel of God, and that angel had shown unto him the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. He supposed, of course, that it would cover him with confusion, because Oliver Cowdery then made no profession of being a "Mormon," or a Latter-day Saint; but instead of being affected by it in this manner, he arose in the court, and in his reply stated that, whatever his faults and weaknesses might be, the testimony which he had written, and which he had given to the world, was literally true.[24]

Oliver rejoined the Church and prepared to journey to Utah to unite with the main body of the Latter-day Saints when he suddenly became ill in Richmond Missouri. Oliver Cowdery had contracted tuberculosis. His dying breaths were spent testifying of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Lucy P. Young, his half-sister, was at his bedside and reported:

Oliver Cowdery just before breathing his last, asked his attendants to raise him up in bed that he might talk to the family and his friends, who were present. He then told them to live according to the teachings contained in the Book of Mormon, and promised them, if they would do this, that they would meet him in heaven. He then said, 'Lay me down and let me fall asleep.' A few moments later he died without a struggle.[25]


Response to claim: 109 - David Whitmer claimed that none of the three witnesses ever denied the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors acknowledge that David Whitmer claimed that none of the three witnesses ever denied the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event


Question: Did David Whitmer ever refute his testimony of the Book of Mormon after he left the Church?

David Whitmer bore witness of the Book of Mormon even when threatened with death

Whitmer's testimony to the Book of Mormon was put to the test on many occasions. In 1833 when Missouri vigilantes were harassing the Mormons, a mob of about five hundred men put David's testimony to the test. The mob drove David and several others to the public square, stripped, tarred, and feathered them, aimed their guns then threatened these men to deny the Book of Mormon and confess it to be a fraud, or die instantly. David Whitmer raised his hands and bore witness to these angry men that the Book of Mormon was the Word of God. The mob trembled with fear and let them go. Afterwards, an unbelieving doctor told David that his fearless testimony and the fear that gripped the mob had made him a believer in the Book of Mormon.29

David Whitmer left the LDS Church in 1838 but continued to proclaim and assert his testimony and the truthfulness of what he had seen and heard

David Whitmer left the LDS Church in 1838 but continued to proclaim and assert his testimony and the truthfulness of what he had seen and heard. Although he never returned to Mormonism, in the fifty years he lived outside of the Church he insisted that he knew the Book of Mormon was divinely revealed. Anyone seriously interested in Whitmer's testimony should read Lyndon W. Cook's, David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness.30 Cook documents seventy-two interviews with David Whitmer concerning his experience with the angel and plates--the experience upon which his Book of Mormon testimony is based. All seventy-two interviews took place after David Whitmer had left the Church. If he had lost his testimony following his excommunication, he would have had ample opportunity to deny his earlier proclamation. Instead, however, we find that Whitmer continued to assert its truthfulness.

David Whitmer was known as an honest and trustworthy citizen by the non-Mormons

Throughout Richmond, Missouri, David Whitmer was known as an honest and trustworthy citizen by the non-Mormons. When one anti-Mormon lectured in David's hometown, branding David as disreputable, the local (non-Mormon) paper responded with "a spirited front-page editorial unsympathetic with Mormonism but insistent on 'the forty six years of private citizenship on the part of David Whitmer, in Richmond, without stain or blemish.'"31

The following year the editor penned a tribute on the eightieth birthday of David Whitmer, who "with no regrets for the past" still "reiterates that he saw the glory of the angel."

This is the critical issue of the life of David Whitmer. During fifty years in non-Mormon society, he insisted with the fervor of his youth that he knew that the Book of Mormon was divinely revealed. Relatively few people in Richmond could wholly accept such testimony, but none doubted his intelligence or complete honesty.32

Whitmer actively refuted attempts by others to imply that he had recanted his testimony

When another anti-Mormon published an article claiming that David had denied his testimony, David printed a "proclamation" testifying to the truth of the Book of Mormon and reiterating the fact that he had never denied that testimony. He wrote:

It is recorded in the American Cyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have denied my testimony as one of the Three Witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon: and that the two other witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, denied their testimony to that book.

I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world, that neither Oliver Cowdery nor Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. They both died affirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.33

Whitmer testified of the Book of Mormon until the day he died

Attached to Whitmer's proclamation was an accompanying statement signed by twenty-two of Richmond's political, business, and professional leaders who certified that they had been "long and intimately acquainted" with Whitmer and knew him to be "a man of the highest integrity and of undoubted truth and veracity."34 A few days before he died an article in the Chicago Tribune recorded:

David Whitmer, the last one of the three witnesses to the truth of the Book of Mormon, is now in a dying condition at his home in Richmond. Last evening he called the family and friends to his bedside, and bore his testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon and the Bible.35

Following his death the Richmond Conservator wrote:

On Sunday evening before his death he called the family and his attending physician, Dr. George W. Buchanan, to his bedside and said, "Doctor do you consider that I am in my right mind?" to which the Doctor replied, "Yes, you are in your right mind, I have just had a conversation with you." He then addressed himself to all present and said: "I want to give my dying testimony. You must be faithful in Christ. I want to say to you all that the Bible and the record of the Nephites, (The Book of Mormon) are true, so you can say that you have heard me bear my testimony on my death bed....

On Monday morning he again called those present to his bedside, and told them that he had seen another vision which reconfirmed the divinity of the "Book of Mormon," and said that he had seen Christ in the fullness of his glory and majesty, sitting upon his great white throne in heaven waiting to receive his children.36

The Richmond Democrat also added this comment:

Skeptics may laugh and scoff if they will, but no man can listen to Mr. Whitmer as he talks of his interview with the Angel of the Lord, without being most forcibly convinced that he has heard an honest man tell what he honestly believes to be true.37

Whitmer bore testimony of his encounter with the angel

Like Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, David Whitmer bore the testimony to the truthfulness of reality of his encounter with the angel and the authenticity of the Book of Mormon until the day he died. Book of Mormon critics have not been able to impugn their testimonies but have instead resorted to character assassination. As history demonstrates, however, the honesty, integrity and reliability of these witnesses confound the critics every bit as much as the testimony of the three witnesses confounds those who refuse to accept the revealed word of God.


Response to claim: 110 - David Whitmer was excommunicated from the Church

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

Whitmer, like Cowdery, was excommunicated from the Church, and Whitmer (unlike Cowdery and Harris) never returned. Whitmer, these critics correctly point out, believed that Joseph Smith was once a true prophet who had fallen. The authors attempt to besmirch Whitmer's credibility by quoting something he had written in his An Address to All Believers in Christ:

If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to 'separate myself from among the Latter-day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, so should it be done unto them.' In the spring of 1838, the heads of the church and many of the members had gone deep into error and blindness. I had been striving with them for a long time to show them the errors into which they were drifting, and for my labors I received only persecutions. (p. 27)

Author's sources:
  1. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, 56-62.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Is Whitmer's testimony of the Book of Mormon suspect because he later claimed that God told him to separate himself from the Mormons?


Question: Did God tell David Whitmer to leave the Church and repudiate Mormonism?

God told David Whitmer to leave Far West one month after he had already been excommunicated from the Church

David Whitmer, one of the Book of Mormon's Three Witnesses, said:

If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to "separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, should it be done unto them."[26]

and

In June, 1838, at Far West, Mo., a secret organization was formed, Doctor Avard being put in as the leader of the band; a certain oath was to be administered to all the brethren to bind them to support the heads of the church in everything they should teach. All who refused to take this oath were considered dissenters from the church, and certain things were to be done concerning these dissenters, by Dr. Avard's secret band. I make no farther statements now; but suffice it to say that my persecutions, for trying to show them their errors, became of such a nature that I had to leave the Latter Day Saints; and, as I rode on horseback out of Far West, in June, 1838, the voice of God from heaven spake to me as I have stated above.[27]

God did not tell Whitmer to repudiate Mormonism

The quotations cited by the critics are taken from a pamphlet written by David Whitmer near the end of his life. In this pamphlet, called An Address to All Believers in Christ, Whitmer strongly reiterates his testimony of the Book of Mormon and his experience seeing the angel as one of the three witnesses. He then goes on to outline in detail his disagreements with the church and with Joseph Smith, Jr. It was because of these disagreements that Whitmer was ultimately excommunicated. When God told him to leave Far West, he had not been a member of the Church for weeks. God did not tell Whitmer to repudiate Mormonism.

Whitmer's safety in Far West may have been at risk after his excommunication

However, since he remained among the Saints during the month after he was excommunicated, he was at potential risk of harm. Whitmer announced that "the voice of God" told him to "separate [him]self from among the Latter Day Saints" in June 1838, after the formation of Sampson Avard's secret vigilante group. David Whitmer had been excommunicated from the Church more than a month earlier, and his only continued association with the Saints was the fact that he was still living among them in Far West.

Whitmer was not instructed to leave the Church or "repudiate Mormonism," he was instructed (by God) to leave Far West after he was already excommunicated. This was arguably a very prudent course, both for Whitmer's safety and the integrity of the Restoration witnesses. Whitmer's witness of the Book of Mormon and seeing the angel is much more powerful since he forcefully maintained it even after he left the Church and disagreed with Joseph Smith.


Response to claim: 110 - Joseph drank too much liquor when he was translating the Book of Mormon

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors claim that Joseph became upset with Harris when he declared that (quoting from History of the Church), "'Joseph drank too much liquor when he was translating the Book of Mormon,' and that he knew more than Smith did."

Author's sources:
  1. History of the Church 2:26

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The next paragraph in the History of the Church, however, states:

Brother Harris did not tell Esq. Russell that Brother Joseph drank too much liquor while translating the Book of Mormon, but this thing occurred previous to the translating of the Book; he confessed that his mind was darkened, and that he had said many things inadvertently, calculated to wound the feelings of his brethren, and promised to do better. The council forgave him, with much good advice.[9]:26

The authors omit this information. Did they really not read past the paragraph that suited their argument, or did they purposefully fail to inform their audience as to the rest of the story?


Response to claim: 111 - the witnesses testimony of having seen the plates is suspicious

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors claim that the witnesses testimony of having "'seen the plates' is suspicious."

Author's sources:
  1. Marvin S. Hill, "Brodie Revisited: A Reappraisal," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 7, no. 4 (Winter 1972) 83-84.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

It should be noted that the authors' quote from former BYU instructor, Marvin Hill, on this topic appears to be direct "cut and paste" from the Tanners' The Changing World of Mormonism—ellipses and all.[28]

The authors base this charge on a statement by Martin Harris who claimed to have seen the plates with his "spiritual eye" rather than his "naked eyes." Does the belief that the experience had visionary qualities contradict the claim that the plates were real?

Consider this: On separate occasions Harris also claimed that prior to his witnessing the plates he held them (while covered) "on his knee for an hour and a half"[29] and that they weighed approximately fifty pounds.[30] It seems unlikely--from his physical descriptions as well as his other testimonies and the testimonies of the other two witnesses--that the entire experience was merely in his mind. For example, on one occasion, critics charged that Martin (and the other two witnesses) had merely imagined he saw an angel--that he was deluded. Martin responded by extending his right hand:

Gentlemen, do you see that hand? Are you sure you see it? Are your eyes playing a trick or something? No. Well, as sure as you see my hand so sure did I see the angel and the plates.[31]


Question: Did Martin Harris tell people that he did not see the plates with his natural eyes, but rather the "eye of faith"?

A former pastor, John A. Clark, said that a "gentleman in Palmyra" told him that Harris said that he saw the plates with the "eye of faith"

John A. Clark, a former pastor who considered Joseph Smith a fraud and the Book of Mormon “an imposture,” states,

To know how much this testimony [of three witnesses] is worth I will state one fact. A gentleman in Palmyra, bred to the law, a professor of religion, and of undoubted veracity told me that on one occasion, he appealed to Harris and asked him directly,-”Did you see those plates?” Harris replied, he did. “Did you see the plates, and the engraving on them with your bodily eyes?” Harris replied, “Yes, I saw them with my eyes,-they were shown unto me by the power of God and not of man.” “But did you see them with your natural,-your bodily eyes, just as you see this pencil-case in my hand? Now say no or yes to this.” Harris replied,-”Why I did not see them as I do that pencil-case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith; I saw them just as distinctly as I see any thing around me,-though at the time they were covered over with a cloth.[32]

John A. Clark did not interview Martin Harris - he was repeating what someone else told him

The source cited is “Martin Harris interviews with John A. Clark, 1827 & 1828,” Early Mormon Documents 2:270. However, rather than being an interview between Clark and Harris, as implied by the title of reference work using in the citation, Clark’s actual statement clearly says that he received his information from a “gentleman in Palmyra…a professor of religion,” who said that he had talked with Harris. This is not an interview between Clark and Harris.

Larry E. Morris notes that the “claim that ‘Harris told John A. Clark’ is not accurate. This is not secondhand testimony but thirdhand—’he said that he said that he said.’….As if that weren’t enough, Clark does not name his source—making it impossible to judge that person’s honesty or reliability. What we have is a thirdhand, anonymous account of what Martin Harris supposedly said.” (Larry E. Morris, FARMS Review, Vol. 15, Issue 1.)

Clark's account mixes elements from both before and after Harris viewed the plates as one of the Three Witnesses and portrays Harris as contradicting himself

The two elements that are mixed together in Clark's account are the following:

  1. Martin Harris said that he only saw the plates through the "eye of faith" when they were covered with a cloth prior to his experience as a witness.
  2. Martin Harris saw the plates uncovered as one of the three witnesses.

Note also that the date assigned to these comments places them prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon, yet Clark’s statement appears to include elements from both before and after Harris viewed the plates as a witness. Harris “saw them” with his eyes when he acted as one of the Three Witnesses, but he only saw them through the “eye of faith” when they were covered with a cloth prior to his being a witness. Clark’s third-hand hostile relation of another hostile source, makes no distinction between these events, and instead portrays Harris as contradicting himself.

When Martin Harris said that he had seen the angel and the plates with his "spiritual eyes" or with an "eye of faith" he may have simply been employing some scriptural language that he was familiar with. Such statements do not mean that the angel and the plates were imaginary, hallucinatory, or just an inner mental image—the earliest accounts of Martin Harris' testimony makes the literal nature of the experience unmistakable.

Rather than being hallucinatory or "merely" spiritual, Martin claimed that the plates and angel were seen by physical eyes that had been enhanced by the power of God to view more objects than a mortal could normally see (cf. DC 76:12; DC 67:10-13).


Response to claim: 112 -the LDS Church has no tangible evidence that virtually millions of Jaredites, Nephites, and Lamanites existed during the Book of Mormon era

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors assure us that "while Mormon leaders have insisted that virtually millions of Jaredites, Nephites, and Lamanites existed during the Book of Mormon era, the LDS Church has no tangible evidence to support this claim."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

In a pre-emptive strike to diffuse the evidence that might be mustered for the Saints, that authors attack Book of Mormon geography by pitting contrasting statements of LDS authorities against each other. While precise locations for Book of Mormon cities are debated, nearly all informed Book of Mormon scholars agree that Book of Mormon events would have taken place in Mesoamerica. The authors try to poison the well of information that might be gleaned from this territory by citing earlier LDS views on Book of Mormon geography. For example, they point out that James Talmage and Ezra Taft Benson believed that Book of Mormon peoples occupied North and South America (known as the "hemispheric model" of Book of Mormon geography). In their quote of Benson, they claim:

President Ezra Taft Benson insisted that not only did the alleged Nephites live in the area of the United States, but that Adam and the "Jaredites" lived there as well.

The source they use for this claim is a quote from The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. The astute reader will find that Benson made this claim in 1978 seven years before Benson became President. There is no argument that Benson presented such an opinion, and it's possible that he continued to believe it even after he became President, but for the authors to imply that Benson made this claim while he was President demonstrates at best shoddy scholarship or an appeal to authority--the President said so, so it must be official LDS doctrine.


Response to claim: 112-113 - Joseph Fielding Smith disagreed with the early proposals suggesting that Mesoamerica was the land of Book of Mormon activity

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors also quote from Joseph Fielding Smith (who was not President at the time he recorded his views), who disagreed with the early proposals suggesting that Mesoamerica was the land of Book of Mormon activity. To further bolster their claim that the LDS should accept the early LDS views of Book of Mormon geography in North America, the authors quote a 1930 First Presidency statement wherein the Presidency quoted (in part) 3 Nephi 20:21-22 while adding some parenthetical comments. The portion in question reads:

And behold, this people (the Nephites) will I establish in this land, (America) and it shall be a new Jerusalem.[33]

Author's sources:
  1. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 3:232, 239-240, 233-234.
  • James Talmage, The Vitality of Mormonism, 199.
  • Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 587-588.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The authors imply that since the First Presidency signed the statement, that it must represent the official position of the Church. Clever. However, the First Presidency's statement was not a doctrinal exposition on the location of the Nephites and Book of Mormon geography, but rather it was an address on the Church's Centennial Conference--they were celebrating one hundred years of LDS conferences. The quote from 3 Nephi was included to recall the Lord's promise of the gathering of Israel and the establishment of His Kingdom in the last days. The parenthetical reference to America is secondary to their point and was simply included for explanatory purposes based on their early understanding of Book of Mormon geography.


Response to claim: 114 - modern LDS scholars "have since abandoned the idea that the Book of Mormon lands include areas of North America"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors claim that modern LDS scholars "have since abandoned the idea that the Book of Mormon lands include areas of North America," and that previous Church leaders were "misinformed."

Author's sources:
  1. Personal letter to Bill McKeever dated 11 June 1992. The author claims that Dr. John Sorenson stated that Joseph Fielding Smith "misread relevant historical documents."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

This claim is nonsense. The Church takes no official position regarding where the Book of Mormon events occurred.


Response to claim: 115-116 - Michael Coe states that nothing has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest that the Book of Mormon is a historical document

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors quote from Michael Coe, a Yale professor (emeritus) and a specialist in Mesoamerican history who wrote:

The bare facts of the matter are that nothing, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon, as claimed by Joseph Smith, is a historical document relating to the history of the early migrants to our hemisphere.

Author's sources:
  1. Michael D. Coe, "Mormons and Archaeology: An Outside View," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 8 (Summer 1973); 41, 42, 46, 48.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

While Coe is a respected expert in New World studies it is possible that his scholarly views on the Book of Mormon are based on assumptions that might inaccurately reflect what the Book of Mormon actually says. If, for instance, Coe rejects the historicity of the Book of Mormon based on the previously popular LDS assumption that the Book of Mormon was a record of the Hebrew origins of the American Indians, he would be correct in doing so. This is simply another instance of a straw man--and perhaps an unconscious one at that. It is guaranteed that Coe has not paid as close attention to what the text of the Book of Mormon actually says as someone like Brant Gardner or Dr. John Sorenson who are also respected New World researchers and believers in the historical claims of the Book of Mormon. Without knowing what assumptions influenced Coe's comments it is impossible to judge the accuracy of his claims.


Response to claim: 115 - The authors reference the supposed Nephite altar north of Gallatin, Missouri

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors reference the supposed Nephite altar north of Gallatin, Missouri.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Had the authors done a little homework, they would have found that some LDS scholars suggest that Joseph Smith never claimed that the location in question was the site of a Nephite altar.[34]


Response to claim: 116 - Coe is not basing his conclusion on the spiritual significance of the Book of Mormon but on the lack of historical significance

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

In 1993, L. Ara Norwood made the following observation of James White's use of the same quote from Coe in his Letters to a Mormon Elder:

So we have a non-Latter-day Saint archaeologist who does not believe in the supernatural claims of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon due to the lack of "scientific evidence"? Is that significant? If a non-Latter-day Saint individual were to come to believe in the supernatural/spiritual claims of the Book of Mormon, would not that person then in all likelihood join the Latter-day Saint church? And if that were to occur, would not that same individual lose credibility with the likes of Mr. White? It seems that Mr. White operates with standards that are impossible to satisfy: the only credible persons, in his view, are non-Latter-day Saints, who are, by definition, nonbelievers. As soon as any of the several hundred thousand non-Latter-day Saints become believers (which happens each and every year), he feels they now lack the balance and perspective that only a non-Mormon can have.[35]:329

The authors criticize Norwood's explanation thus:

Norwood seems to miss the point. Coe is not basing his conclusion on the spiritual significance of the Book of Mormon but on the lack of historical significance.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

What the authors (and actually Coe as well) fail to understand is that it is the spiritual nature that verifies the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Can the truth of the Book of Mormon be tested spiritually? Yes. Can the historicity of the Book of Mormon be tested by empirical means? Technically, yes. Is there enough information available today, with which to test the Book of Mormon by empirical means? No.


Response to claim: 117 - The authors claim that scholars "have been disciplined for exposing information that can be damaging" to the Church's image

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors claim that scholars "have been disciplined for exposing information that can be damaging" to the Church's image.

Author's sources:
  1. Stephen Thompson, "'Critical' Book of Mormon Scholarship," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 205.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Scholars have not been disciplined for "exposing" information damaging to the Church's image.


Question: Who are the "September Six"?

The "September Six" were six individuals who were disciplined by the Church in September 1993

Six individuals were disciplined by the Church in September 1993. Supporters of those disciplined and critics of the Church have dubbed them "the September Six." The six individuals were:

  • Lavina Fielding Anderson (excommunicated)
  • Avraham Gileadi (excommunicated—now back in full fellowship)
  • Maxine Hanks (excommunicated—now back in full fellowship as of 2012)
  • D. Michael Quinn (excommunicated)
  • Paul Toscano (excommunicated)
  • Lynne Kanavel Whitesides (disfellowshipped)

Avraham Gileadi has never spoken publicly about the reasons for his excommunication, was never asked to retract any publications or statements, and has returned to full fellowship. Maxine Hanks returned to the Church as of 2012.

What are the criticisms related to the "September Six"?

  • It is sometimes claimed that the Church excommunicates or disfellowships scholars who publish historical information that is embarrassing to Church leaders.
  • It is often claimed, despite the fact that these disciplinary actions are carried out by local leaders, that they are in reality instigated by general authorities.
  • Some claim that the Church is silencing honest people for telling the truth.
  • The Church is claimed to take a "dim view" of intellectuals.
  • It is claimed that the LDS Church penalizes members for "merely criticizing officialdom or for publishing truthful—if uncomfortable—information," and "shroud their procedures with secrecy."
  • The LDS Church prosecutes "many more of its members" than other religious groups.


Question: Are the reasons for discipline ever made public?

Church leaders and officials rarely make the reasons or evidences presented at disciplinary councils public

Church leaders and officials rarely make the reasons or evidences presented at disciplinary councils public. Thus, former members are able to claim whatever they like about excommunication without contradiction from the Church.

D. Michael Quinn claims that his excommunication was the direct result of his historical research on the origins of Mormonism. He refused to attend his own disciplinary council, telling his stake president that it was "a process which was designed to punish me for being the messenger of unwanted historical evidence and to intimidate me from further work in Mormon history." [36]

Despite Quinn's belief that his Church discipline was all about his history, his stake president wrote back on 11 May 1993, saying "There are other matters that I need to talk with you about that are not related to your historical writings. These are very sensitive and highly confidential and this is why I have not mentioned them before in writing." [37]


Statement by The Council of the First Presidency and The Quorum of the Twelve on Church Discipline

January 1994:

Statement by The Council of the First Presidency and The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
In light of extensive publicity given to six recent Church disciplinary councils in Utah, we believe it helpful to reaffirm the position of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We deeply regret the loss of Church membership on the part of anyone. The attendant consequences felt over time by the individuals and their families are very real.

In their leadership responsibilities, local Church officers may seek clarification and other guidance from General Authorities of the Church. General Authorities have an obligation to teach principles and policies and to provide information that may be helpful in counseling members for whom local leaders are responsible. In matters of Church discipline, the General Authorities do not direct the decisions of local disciplinary councils. Furthermore, the right of appeal is open to anyone who feels he or she has been unfairly treated by a disciplinary council.

It is difficult to explain Church disciplinary action to representatives of the media. Considerations of confidentiality restrain public comment by Church leaders in such private matters. We have the responsibility to preserve the doctrinal purity of the Church. We are united in this objective. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught an eternal principle when he explained: "That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy."[38]:156 Citations in this letter were within the text; FairMormon has moved them to endnotes to improve readability.</ref> In instructing His Twelve Disciples in the new world about those who would not repent, the Savior said, "But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people. . . ." (3 Nephi 18:31, see also Mosiah 26:36, and Alma 5:59.) The Prophet also remarked that "from apostates the faithful have received the severest persecutions."[38]:67 This continues to be the case today.

The long standing policy of Church discipline is outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants: "We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members . . . according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; . . . They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship." (D&C 134:10.)

Faithful members of the Church can distinguish between mere differences of opinion and those activities formally defined as apostasy. Apostasy refers to Church members who " repeatedly act in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders; or persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority; or continue to follow the teachings of apostate cults (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority."[39]

The general and local officers of the Church will continue to do their duty, and faithful Church members will understand.

As leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we reach out in love to all and constantly pray that the Lord, whose Church this is, will bless those who love and seek divine truth.

Signed:

The Council of the First Presidency and

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles [40]


Response to claim: 117 - Archaeological support for the Bible

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors over-exaggerate the archaeological support for the Bible.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

  • For instance, William Dever--a leading authority on Biblical archaeology--has written:

After a century of modern research neither Biblical scholars nor archaeologists have been able to document as historical any of the events, much less the personalities, of the patriarchal or Mosaic era.[41]

  • Likewise, Mesoamerican researcher Brant Gardner points out:
    • Why is there no archaeological or textual information placing Israelites in Israel during the time period the Bible says they should be there in large numbers?
    • Why is there no evidence for the Exodus, when science suggests that such a large migration over that period of time would leave some discernable trace?
    • Why is there no evidence for a military conquest of Canaan? All indications from archaeology are for a peaceful and gradual immigration rather than the Biblical story of invasion.
    • Why is there nothing in the archaeology of Jericho that suggests fallen walls during the appropriate time period?
    • Why are the stories of the patriarchs in the Bible full of camels when the camel is now known to have been introduced well after 1000 BCE, 67 or 1000 years too late for the Biblical stories?
    • Why is it that virtually nothing prior to the reign of Josiah can be seen to have any archaeological corroboration?
  • You may check the validity of the questions in Finkelstein and Silberman's The Bible Unearthed, which is a recently published account of the current state of Biblical archaeology. Older accounts that have been found to be wrong may not be cited as evidence. There are a number of non-Bible-believing scholars who reject the Bible, in part, because of lack of evidence to support the historical claims made by the Bible. Yet the authors find fault with the Saints for not rejecting the Book of Mormon because non-Book-of-Mormon-believing scholars do not accept the historicity of the Book of Mormon for the same reasons. Such criticisms apply a double set of standards.


Response to claim: 118 - Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon is "the most correct book on earth"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon is "the most correct book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book."

Author's sources:
  1. Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 194.
  • Joseph Smith—History 1:34

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources


Question: Why did Joseph Smith say that the Book of Mormon was the "most correct book"?

Joseph Smith: "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth"

In the History of the Church, the following entry is recorded as having been made by Joseph Smith on November 28, 1841.[42]

Sunday, 28.--I spent the day in the council with the Twelve Apostles at the house of President Young, conversing with them upon a variety of subjects. Brother Joseph Fielding was present, having been absent four years on a mission to England. I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.

Critics of the Church assert that the phrase "the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth" means that the Prophet Joseph Smith was declaring the Book of Mormon to be without error of any kind. Since each edition of the printed Book of Mormon since 1829 (including editions published during the life of Joseph Smith) has included changes of wording, spelling, or punctuation, critics declare Joseph Smith's statement to have been demonstrably false, thus proving that he was a false prophet.

Joseph Smith referred to the Book of Mormon as the "most correct book" because of the principles it teaches

When Joseph Smith referred to the Book of Mormon as the "most correct book" on earth, he was referring to the principles that it teaches, not the accuracy of its textual structure. Critics of the Book of Mormon have mistakenly interpreted "correct" to be synonymous with "perfect," and therefore expect the Book of Mormon to be without any errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, clarity of phrasing, and other such ways.

But when Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon was the "most correct of any book," he was referring to more than just wording, a fact made clear by the remainder of his statement: He said "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." When read in context, the Prophet's statement refers to the correctness of the principles it teaches. The Book of Mormon is the "most correct of any book" in that it contains the fulness of the gospel and presents it in a manner that is "plain and precious" (1 Nephi 13:35,40).


Response to claim: 119 - "the Book of Mormon should contain everything Latter-day Saints need to guide them into the presence of God," yet it does not include the temple endowment, eternal marriage, tithing, the Word of Wisdom, and baptism for the dead

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors claim that "the Book of Mormon should contain everything Latter-day Saints need to guide them into the presence of God," yet it does not include the temple endowment, eternal marriage, tithing, the Word of Wisdom, and baptism for the dead. Unbelievably, After citing Ezra Taft Benson's comments on the witness provided by the Book of Mormon, the authors write, "In other words, whatever is necessary in order to achieve complete salvation should be found in the pages of the Book of Mormon." If these critics had stopped here, there would not have been a problem. They don't stop with the general understanding of the relationship between salvation and the teachings of the Book of Mormon, however. Instead, they try to create a new straw man by quoting Matthias F. Cowley in the April 1902 conference.

As we live near to God in all aspects, so shall we be entitled to the companionship, and according to our faithfulness, a greater measure of the Holy Spirit, that will give us a better understanding of the things of God, qualify us to live nearer unto God, and consequently too secure unto ourselves a greater exaltation in His presence.[43]

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The authors read into Cowley's quote that, "getting nearer to God is the same as exaltation." They also quote Joseph Smith's statement that "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its [Book of Mormon] precepts, than by any other book."[44] By juxtapositioning different truths, the authors are able to construct a straw man that, although unrecognizable as actually LDS theology, meets the requirements of their claim. Based on this straw man they can charge that "the Book of Mormon should contain everything Latter-day Saints need to guide them into the presence of God." Ironically, this last sentence is correct. The Book of Mormon does "contain everything Latter-day Saints need to guide them into the presence of God [the Celestial Kingdom]." The authors are unable to make a coherent argument because they either don't know enough about their subject matter or because they are simply grasping as straws (or in this case, a "straw man").

How is "nearer to God" used in LDS discussion? It is used in much the same way that the phrase is used in non-LDS discourse. It usually means that someone is becoming more spiritual, more Christ-like, and perhaps more in-tune with the will of the Lord. Ezra Taft Benson, for instance said: "I have a vision of the whole church getting nearer to God by abiding the precepts of the Book of Mormon."[45]

Bishop C.A. Madsen wrote in the Improvement Era (the official LDS periodical of the day) that the beauty of God's creations (such as the flowers) "bring you nearer to God" as a witness to God's "wonderful workmanship."[46]

The editors of the Improvement Era tell their LDS readers that prayer, offered in unselfish, and humble inquiry to the Lord "brings man nearer to God and helps him to conquer his baser self, by creating in his heart love for others."[47] According to the authors such prayers must mean sudden exaltation! And using the authors' definition of "nearer to God," the highest level of the celestial kingdom must be full of musicians, for J. Reuben Clark said, "A man can get nearer to God by music than any other method except prayer."[48]


Question: How can the Book of Mormon contain the "fulness of the Gospel" if it does not speak of ordinances such as baptism for the dead or celestial marriage?

The Book of Mormon does not contain detailed descriptions of many religious topics and ordinances, such as eternal marriage or baptism for the dead

Is it possible that the Book of Mormon cannot contain "the fulness of the gospel" because it doesn't teach certain unique LDS doctrines, such as baptism for the dead, the Word of Wisdom, the three degrees of glory, celestial marriage, vicarious work for the dead, and the corporeal nature of God the Father?

There are many religious topics and doctrines which The Book of Mormon does not discuss in detail (e.g., the premortal existence—see Alma 13:), and some which are not even mentioned (e.g., the ordinance of baptism for the dead).

This is unsurprising, since the Book of Mormon's goal is to teach the "fulness of the gospel"—the doctrine of Christ.

Harold B. Lee: "our scoffers say, 'How can you say that the Book of Mormon has the fulness of the gospel when it doesn't speak of baptism for the dead?'"

Of this criticism, Harold B. Lee said:

Now, our scoffers say, "How can you say that the Book of Mormon has the fulness of the gospel when it doesn't speak of baptism for the dead?" Some of you may have asked that question.

What is the gospel as it is defined? Let me give you how the Lord defines the gospel, in these words: "And verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me. And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom." (DC 39:5-6.)

Wherever you have a restoration of the gospel, where those fundamental ordinances and the power of the Holy Ghost are among men, there you have the power by which the Lord can reveal all things that pertain to the kingdom in detail, don't you see, including baptism for the dead, which He has done in our day. That is what the Prophet Joseph Smith meant when he was questioned, "How does your church differ from all the other churches?" and his answer was simple, "We are different from all the other churches because we have the Holy Ghost." (See History of the Church 4:42.) Therein we have the teachings of the fulness of those essentials in the Book of Mormon upon the foundations of which the kingdom of God is established.[49]

BYU professor Noel Reynolds wrote:

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not synonymous with the plan of salvation (or plan of redemption), but is a key part thereof. Brigham Young stated that the 'Gospel of the Son of God that has been revealed is a plan or system of laws and ordinances, by strict obedience to which the people who inhabit this earth are assured that they may return again into the presence of the Father and the Son.' While the plan of salvation is what God and Christ have done for mortals in the creation, the fall, the atonement, the final judgment, and the salvation of the world, the gospel contains the instructions--the laws and ordinances--that enable human beings to make the atonement effective in their lives and thereby gain salvation.[50]


Question: Why is baptism for the dead not mentioned in the Book of Mormon?

The Church has no official answer to this question

The Church has, of course, no official answer to this question. There are several factors which should be considered. There are textual and editorial reasons to suspect that Mormon would not include vicarious ordinances: most of the history predates Christ, and little about Nephite worship after Christ is discussed.

On a more basic level, however, baptism for the dead is not discussed because it is not germane to the Book of Mormon's purpose: to teach the fulness of the gospel, which involves the basics of faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endurance to the end. The readers of the Book of Mormon are promised that they will learn more once they have passed these first steps.

There are additional factors, however, which lead us to suspect that vicarious baptism would not be included in the Nephite record.

#1: Baptism for the dead may not have been preached before Christ

This ordinance of baptism for the dead would perhaps not be practicable prior to the atonement of Christ, for Christ is the one who broke the bands of death and hell and inaugurated the preaching of the Gospel to the Spirit World (see 1 Peter 3:18-20, 1 Peter 4:5-6, DC 138:). Since most of the Book of Mormon account precedes the resurrection of Christ, we should perhaps not expect vicarious ordinances to be mentioned prior to 3rd Nephi. Third Nephi is concerned with the teachings of Christ, and Mormon specifically tells us that only the lesser portion of Christ's teachings are recorded (see 3 Nephi 26:8-12). The Book of Ether likewise predates Jesus' resurrection, and so the performance of vicarious ordinances might be premature.

#2: Mormon's abridgement does not tell us much about Nephite worship after Jesus' departure

This leaves only the books of 4th Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni as potential sources for baptism for the dead among the Nephites. It is clear, however, that during this time that Mormon and Moroni were both heavily engaged with an apostate people. Both Mormon and Moroni were teaching repentance to their people, rather than temple ordinances.

This leaves us with only 4th Nephi, about which very little is written other than to say that the people enjoyed almost 200 years of peace. The text tells us nothing about the practices and worship of this period—partly because the record has been created retrospectively. Mormon's goal as editor in 4th Nephi is clearly to illustrate the collapse and ruin of the Nephites because of worldliness and pride. He makes it clear, however, that there were many other things revealed to the Nephites (Mormon 5:16-17).

#3: Some preparatory scripture is included

Though we have no record of Jesus teaching baptism for the dead in 3 Nephi, He did command the inclusion of material from Malachi about the coming of Elijah and hearts turning from the children to the fathers (see 3 Nephi 25:1-6). This is a classic text for the doctrines of temple work and vicarious ordinances, so this may be a hint that further teachings were given about these matters of which we do not have record, as discussed in point #2 above.[51]


Response to claim: 121 - The Book of Mormon does not contain the fulness of the Gospel

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors are not the first critics who have claimed that the Book of Mormon does not contain the fulness of the Gospel. They quote, in fact, Dr. Daniel Peterson who has responded to this charge from other Mormon critics. Dr. Peterson pointed out that "in its most basic sense" the word gospel "represents a six-point formula including repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, faith, endurance to the end, and eternal life."[52] The authors respond by claiming that contrary to Peterson's "opinion," Bruce McConkie taught that the gospel "embraces all of the laws, principals, doctrines, rites, ordinances, acts, powers, authorities, and keys necessary to save and exalt men in the highest heaven hereafter."[53]

Author's sources:

  • Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, vol. 5 (1993), 57-58.
  • McConkie, The Promised Messiah, 52.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

It's amazing as to what lengths our critics will go in redefining LDS theology in order to suit their arguments. Peterson and McConkie are both correct. There is no conflict. As Dr. Peterson had written (which was quoted by the authors), the Book of Mormon uses the term "gospel" in "its most basic sense." McConkie, on the other hand, is speaking of the gospel in its more complete sense.


Question: What does it mean when it is said that the Book of Mormon contains the "fulness of the gospel?"

The Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the Gospel, for the purpose of convincing Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ

The Lord declared that he had given Joseph Smith "power from on high...to translate the Book of Mormon; which contains a record of a fallen people, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also" (D&C 20:8-9; cf. D&C 27:5; D&C 42:12; D&C 135:3).

The Book of Mormon is correct in the doctrines and principles it teaches, but it does not claim to contain all truth. Its own self-described purpose is to "the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations" (title page), and that these teachings are "plain and precious" (1 Nephi 13:35,40; 1 Nephi 19:3). For the most part, the Book of Mormon does not concern itself with the deeper mysteries of God.

The book itself admits that it does not contain all the doctrines the Lord wants us to know. The prophet Mormon explained that he only recorded "the lesser part of the things which [Jesus] taught the people," for the intent that "when [the Book of Mormon reader] shall have received this...if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them" (3 Nephi 26:8-9; compare Alma 26:22).

What is the gospel?

In the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ gave a specific definition of "the gospel":

Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.

And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.

And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

(3 Nephi 27:13-19, italics added.)

In this passage, Jesus defines "the gospel" as:

  1. Christ came into the world to do the Father's will.
  2. The Father sent Christ to be crucified.
  3. Because of Christ's atonement, all men will be judged by him according to their works (as opposed to not receiving a judgment at all and being cast out of God's presence by default; 2 Nephi 9:8-9).
  4. Those who repent and are baptized shall be filled (with the Holy Ghost, see 3 Nephi 12:6), and
  5. if they continue in faith by enduring to the end they will be justified (declared "not guilty") by Christ before the Father, but
  6. if they don't endure they will be subject to the justice of God and cast out of his presence.
  7. The Father's words will all be fulfilled.
  8. Because no unclean thing can enter the Father's heavenly kingdom, only those who rely in faith on the atonement of Christ, repent, and are faithful to the end can be saved.

This is "the gospel." The Book of Mormon teaches these concepts with a plainness and clarity unequaled by any other book. It has therefore been declared by the Lord to contain "the fulness of the gospel." The primary message of the gospel, the "good news" of Jesus Christ, is that he has atoned for our sins and prepared a way for us to come back into the presence of the Father. This is the message of the Book of Mormon, and it contains it in its fulness.


Notes

  1. Accusations of the Church lying because of inaccurate artwork are offered by the following critical sources: Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), Chapter 8. ( Index of claims ); MormonThink.com website (as of 8 May 2012). Page: http://mormonthink.com/moroniweb.htm; MormonThink.com website (as of 28 April 2012). Page: http://mormonthink.com/transbomweb.htm; Grant H. Palmer, An Insider's View of Mormon Origins (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002) 1. ( Index of claims )
  2. Daniel C. Peterson, "Some Reflections on That Letter to a CES Director," 2014 FairMormon Conference.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 225-226. cited in McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 108.
  4. D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, revised and enlarged edition, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1998), 57; 174-175 ( Index of claims )
  5. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:225–26.
  6. "Translation of the Book of Mormon," MormonThink.com.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Roger Nicholson, "The Spectacles, the Stone, the Hat and the Book: A Twenty-first Century Believer's View of the Book of Mormon Translation," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 5 (2013) 121-190.
  8. “Joseph Knight Sr., Reminiscence, Circa 1835-1847,” in Early Mormon Documents, 4:15. Spelling has been modernized and formatted for readability. Original spelling and formatting is as follows: “After Brackfist Joseph Cald me in to the other Room and he set his foot on the Bed and leaned his head on his hand and says well I am Dissop[o]inted. well, say I[,] I am sorrey[.] Well, says he[,] I am grateley Dissop[o]inted, it is ten times Better then I expected. Then he went on to tell the length and width and thickness of the plates[,] and[,] said he[,] they appear to be Gold But he seamed to think more of the glasses or the urim and thummem then [than] he Did of the Plates for[,] says he[,] I can see any thing[.] They are Marvelus[.] Now they are written in Caracters and I want them translated[.]" Cited in Note 40 of Nicholson, "The Spectacles, the Stone".
  9. 9.0 9.1 Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957). Volume 1 link Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "hc1" defined multiple times with different content
  10. Dean Zimmerman, I Knew the Prophets: An Analysis of the Letter of Benjamin F. Johnson to George F. Gibbs, Reporting Doctrinal Views of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon, 1976), 38; punctuation and spelling standardized. Cited in Brian Hales, "Fanny Alger," josephsmithspolygamy.org. off-site
  11. Levi Ward Hancock, “Autobiography with Additions in 1896 by Mosiah Hancock,” 63, MS 570, LDS Church History Library, punctuation and spelling standardized; cited portion written by Mosiah. Cited in Brian Hales, "Fanny Alger," josephsmithspolygamy.org. off-site
  12. Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 323–25, 347–49.
  13. Gary James Bergera, "Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–44," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38 no. 3 (Fall 2005), 30n75.
  14. Wilhelm Wyl, [Wilhelm Ritter von Wymetal], Mormon Portraits Volume First: Joseph Smith the Prophet, His Family and Friends (Salt Lake City, Utah: Tribune Printing and Publishing Company, 1886), 57; Ann Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, or the Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford, Conn.: Custin, Gilman & Company, 1876), 66–67; discussed in Danel W. Bachman, "A Study of the Mormon Practice of Polygamy before the Death of Joseph Smith" (Purdue University, 1975), 140 and Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 34–35.
  15. Ann Eliza would have observed none of the Fanny marriage at first hand, since she was not born until 1840. The Webbs’ accounts are perhaps best seen as two versions of the same perspective.
  16. Young, Wife No. 19, 66–67; discussed by Bachman, "Mormon Practice of Polygamy", 83n102; see also Ann Eliza Webb Young to Mary Bond, 24 April 1876 and 4 May 1876, Myron H. Bond collection, P21, f11, RLDS Archives cited by Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 34 and commentary in Todd Compton, "A Trajectory of Plurality: An Overview of Joseph Smith's Thirty-Three Plural Wives," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 29/2 (Summer 1996): 30.
  17. William McLellin, Letter to Joseph Smith III, July 1872, Community of Christ Archives
  18. Ann Eliza Webb Young, Wife No. 19, or The story of a Life in Bondage, 66.
  19. Wilhelm Wyl, Mormon Portraits Volume First: Joseph Smith the Prophet, His Family and Friends (Salt Lake City: Tribune Printing and Publishing Co., 1886), 57. Ann Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, or the Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford, Conn.: Custin, Gilman & Company, 1876), 66–67. Discussed in Bachman, "Mormon Practice of Polygamy," 140. Also in Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 34–35.
  20. Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History.
  21. Ugo A. Perego, Natalie M. Myers, and Scott R. Woodward, “Reconstructing the Y-Chromosome of Joseph Smith Jr.: Genealogical Applications, Journal of Mormon History Vol. 32, No. 2 (Summer 2005) 70-88.
  22. See for example: Barry R. Bickmore, Restoring the Ancient Church: Joseph Smith and Early Christianity (Redding, CA: Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 1999).
  23. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 57. ISBN 0877478465.
  24. George Q. Cannon, "The Abundant Testimonies to the Work of God, Etc.," Journal of Discourses 22:254.
  25. Eldin Ricks, The Case of The Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1971), 11.
  26. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ by a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon (David Whitmer: Richmond, Virginia, 1887).
  27. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ by a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon (David Whitmer: Richmond, Virginia, 1887).
  28. See McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 111. and Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 108.( Index of claims ) With the exception of one deleted sentence, McKeever and Johnson appear to copy the Hill quote, ellipses and all, directly from the Tanners. Thanks to Kevin Graham for pointing this out.
  29. The Contributor 1879-1892, Vol. 5 (August 1884) No. 11, 406 and George Reynolds, "Myth of the Manuscript Found," Juvenile Instructor, 1883, as cited in Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Case Against Mormonism, 2 vols., (Salt Lake City, 1967), 40. George Reynolds and Janne Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1959), 4:435-436. AISN B000ESAPTO. GL direct link
  30. Tiffany's Monthly 5, no. 2 (New York: Published by Joel Tiffany, 1859), 166.
  31. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 116. ISBN 0877478465.
  32. “Martin Harris interviews with John A. Clark, 1827 & 1828,” Early Mormon Documents 2:270.
  33. Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 6:572. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  34. See for example, Leland H. Gentry, "Adam-Ondi-Ahman: a Brief Historical Survey," Brigham Young University Studies 13 no. 4 (Summer 1973), 564.
  35. L. Ara Norwood, "Ignoratio Elenchi: The Dialogue That Never Was (Review of Letters to a Mormon Elder by James R. White)," FARMS Review of Books 5/1 (1993): 317–354. off-site
  36. D. Michael Quinn, Letter to Paul A. Hanks, 7 February 1993; cited in Lavina Fielding Anderson, "DNA Mormon: D. Michael Quinn," in Mormon Mavericks: Essays on Dissenters, edited by John Sillito and Susan Staker (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 2002), 329-364.
  37. Paul A. Hanks to D. Michael Quinn, 11 May 1993; cited in Anderson, "DNA Mormon."
  38. 38.0 38.1 Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976). off-site
  39. General Handbook of Instructions, 10-3.
  40. "News of the Church," Ensign (January 1994) 75.
  41. William G. Dever, Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Biblical Research (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1990), 24.
  42. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 4:461. Volume 4 link
  43. Matthias F. Cowley, Conference Report (April 1902), 28.; as quoted in McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 119.
  44. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 94, (italics added)
  45. Ezra Taft Benson, "Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon," Ensign (November 1988), 4.. off-site
  46. Bishop C.A. Madsen, "Beauty and Harmony in Organic Creations," Improvement Era 4 no. 2 (December 1900).
  47. "Editors Table," Improvement Era 26 no. 9 (July 1923).
  48. "Cemetery Dedication a Fulfillment of Dreams," LDS Church News (10 August 1991).
  49. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 156. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  50. Noel B. Reynolds, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ as Taught by the Nephite Prophets," Brigham Young University Studies 31 no. 3 (Summer 1991), 33.
  51. Sidney B. Sperry, "Third Nephi (Continued)," in Book of Mormon Compendium (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1968), 427–430. GospeLink (requires subscrip.) GL direct link
  52. McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 121. cited Daniel C. Peterson, "Chattanooga Cheapshot, or The Gall of Bitterness (Review of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Mormonism by John Ankerberg and John Weldon)," FARMS Review of Books 5/1 (1993): 1–86. off-site (p. 57). McKeever and Johnson would have benefited greatly from reading Noel B. Reynolds, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ as Taught by the Nephite Prophets," Brigham Young University Studies 31 no. 3 (Summer 1991), 31-47. In this paper, Reynolds explains that, "the gospel of Jesus Christ is not synonymous with the plan of salvation (or plan of redemption), but is a key part thereof. Brigham Young stated that the 'Gospel of the Son of God that has been revealed is a plan or system of laws and ordinances, by strict obedience to which the people who inhabit this earth are assured that they may return again into the presence of the Father and the Son.' While the plan of salvation is what God and Christ have done for mortals in the creation, the fall, the atonement, the final judgment, and the salvation of the world, the gospel contains the instructions--the laws and ordinances--that enable human beings to make the atonement effective in their lives and thereby gain salvation (p. 33; italics added).
  53. Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1978), 52. Quoted by McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 121.