Firesides/28 November 2010 - Sweden/9

Table of Contents

Response to questions about sanitized Church history

1: BoM translation2: Polygamy and Polyandry3: Polygamy forced?4: Book of Abraham5: "Lying for Lord"6: Mark Hofmann7: Blood atonement8: First Vision9: Sanitized history10: "Not all truth is useful"11: Angelic affidavits12: Blacks and priesthood13: Temple concerns14: Evidence of Vikings15: Adam-God16: Kinderhook

The attendees of The "Swedish Rescue" fireside ask the following question:

*I discovered that the church as an organization had systematically deceived me by only telling a carefully selected, one-sided version of church history.
  • Do the leaders of the church really believe that they are actually inspired by God to act in such a way? Just to tell a selected, nice version of the church—the history of the church—in order to get more converts? Do they believe they are inspired to do this?

  • Question: Why does Church history sometimes differ from historical sources?
    Answer: It is a genuine problem that stories told over time don't always conform to history. The Church is working to correct this.
  • Let me just restate what you’re saying. You’re basically saying that the way the story is told, the way you’ve heard it traditionally, differs from what you see in the historical sources....That kind of thing does happen, and what we’re trying to do as a department—the Church’s department—is to bring the curriculum in conformity with the sources. Let me just give you an example, one that Elder Jensen mentioned. Last week or the week before...last week we went to the church leaders and we said to them, our historical research about the restoration of the priesthood and where it was restored is different from what our curriculum teaches. For example, the curriculum says that John the Baptist, if you look at the headnote to section 13 of the Doctrine and Covenants Section 13, the headnote at the beginning says, “Ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the Aaronic priesthood along the bank of the Susquehanna river.” Bank. Do you understand the meaning of the term “bank”? We went back to the original sources, and Joseph Smith says the restoration occurred in the woods, and Oliver Cowdery said it occurred in the bush, meaning, we think, a sugar maple grove. They used to call sugar maple groves the sugar bush. And if you look at the Susquehanna River, here, and Joseph Smith’s home here, the grove is probably up here, not here on the banks. So, our historical research shows that the restoration doesn’t occur here, it occurs here, so we’re going to change information to make it conform with the church history. So you’ve identified a genuine problem. Often the way stories have been told over time don’t conform with the history. And so our goal is to try to make them conform more closely.

    —Brother Turley's answer to this question at the Sweden fireside

    |extlink=https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1459&index=17 |extsubject=I Don't Have a Testimony of the History of the Church |extauthor=Davis Bitton |extpublication=The FARMS Review 16/2 (2004), Neal A. Maxwell Institute |extsummary="Let's get one thing clear. There is nothing in church history that leads inevitably to the conclusion that the church is false. There is nothing that requires the conclusion that Joseph Smith was a fraud. How can I say this with such confidence? For the simple reason that the Latter-day Saint historians who know the most about our church history have been and are faithful, committed members of the church. More precisely, there are faithful Latter-day Saint historians who know as much about this subject as any anti-Mormon or anyone who writes on the subject from an outside perspective. In fact, with few exceptions, they know much, much more. They have not been blown away. They have not gnashed their teeth and abandoned their faith. To repeat, they have found nothing that forces the extreme conclusion our enemies like to promote."