LATIN – apologeticus GREEK – apologetikos Apologetics: “The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2009).
- FROM THE EDITOR. Update and feedback on our new FAIR Journal feature, A FAIR Perspective.
- A FAIR PERSPECTIVE: THE TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT–DNA STUDIES AND THE BOOK OF MORMON. The second article in our series covering the subject of Native American DNA research and it’s impact on the Book of Mormon. An oustanding assessment of DNA research. .
- FAIR JOURNAL FEATURE: RECONSIDERING PSALMS 82:6–JUDGES OR GODS? A PROPOSAL. An intricate analysis of modern scholarship. .
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: REVIEW OF ONE NATION UNDER GODS. Richard Abanes, anti-Mormon author of One Nation under Gods, challenged LDS apologists to scrutinize his source documentation. FAIR has accepted the challenge and has launched this new project. Take a peek at what has been found, so far. .
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: THE NATURE OF PROPHETS AND PROPHECY. Joseph Smith a Prophet? Modern Prophets? An analysis of the standards used to make judgment. .
- MORMONISM 201 PROJECT: JOSEPH SMITH–A CHAPTER REVIEW OF MORMONISM 101. Absolutely one of the best reviews in the Mormonism 201 project. This is a must-read. .
- ASK THE APOLOGIST: The question this month deals with when we celebrate the Lord’s Day. .
- FROM THE FAIR FILES: DNA and the Book of Mormon; streaming video of Dr. Scott Woodward’s presentation is now on the Website. .
- MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT, SCOTT GORDON. Dates for 2003 FAIR Conference announced! .
- BOOK STORE NEWS. New specials on hot titles. .
- ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS. Interested in writing for FAIR? Learn how you can have your apologetics work published. .
- PUBLISHING NOTES. Learn how you can become more involved in FAIR and how you can reuse the material we publish.
FROM THE EDITOR – A FAIR Perspective
We were pleasantly surprised this last month at the incredible response we received to our new feature, “A FAIR Perspective.” E-mails from all over the world poured in with positive (and a few not so positive) comments on the Tom Murphy paper and the Missionaries at the Vatican article. Here were a few of the comments:
“This is excellent. Both articles were great. Keep up the good work and Thank You.” A. Sandoval
“Thank you for a most insightful article on the actions of our missionaries at the Catholic’s most holy site in the world. That is what impressed me before I became a convert to the LDS Church was the policy of tolerance for the beliefs of others. You can tell a tree by it’s fruit Christ said and I have found that to be true, especially with Mormons.” D. Varner
“Thank you for the timely, relevant articles. It is frustrating to hear and read so much one sided reporting. It is about time someone presented the other side of these stories and gave realistic perspective.” M. Sommer
“Just read your article on Thomas Murphy on the FAIR website. I think you did a really good job at exposing Mr. Murphy’s motives. Keep up the great work.”
We hope to continue to produce material that is both informative and useful to you. This month, we continue along the story-line of Tom Murphy with “The Tempest in the Teapot,” by Brant Gardner. This paper addresses more of the content surrounding the DNA claims by Book of Mormon critics and their supposed impact on the Book of Mormon. We hope you enjoy it.
-J. Cooper Johnson Editor
A FAIR PERSPECTIVE: THE TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT: DNA STUDIES AND THE BOOK OF MORMON
by Brant Gardner
There has been a tremendous flurry of media attention over the scientific study of human genetic inheritance and the Book of Mormon. That attention has swirled around declarations made by Thomas W. Murphy, a doctoral candidate in anthropology, and current chair of the anthropology department at Edmonds Community College in Washington. The storm clouds can be seen in a news article in the Los Angeles Times that says of Mr. Murphy:
His conclusion is that “the Book of Mormon is a piece of 19th century fiction,” said Murphy, a lifelong Mormon who calls himself a Latter-day skeptic. “And that means that we have to acknowledge sometimes Joseph Smith lied.”
It is no wonder that with such conclusions it would appear that dark clouds are forming on the horizon of the Book of Mormon. The clouds appear especially dark when Murphy asserts that his conclusions are supported by modern science. Could it really be that science is proving the Book of Mormon wrong? This is Murphy’s conclusion, but it is a conclusion that does not flow from the evidence examined. Critics of the Book of Mormon have come to the same conclusion as Murphy since the book was first published. The difference is that Murphy is claiming a new basis for his conclusion.
It is important to remember that Mr. Murphy is not citing his own original research in genetics, but rather library research into the work of others. He is synthesizing conclusions from his reading. This is a critical difference, for it will help us understand why the researchers can be right, but Murphy can be mistaken in his reading of those researchers. It will help us explain why Dr. Michael Whiting, an Evolutionary Biology Professor at Brigham Young University and “an authority on DNA” does not believe that Mr. Murphy has his science right. This is not a statement of fault in scientific method, because Murphy is not doing this type of work. It is rather a statement that his conclusions are not consonant with the science. When we examine the nature of the data available, we will find that Murphy’s particular conclusion does not flow from those data. He has asked the wrong questions of his data, and by asking the wrong questions, returns the wrong answers.
Read full article:
The Tempest in a Teapot: DNA Studies and the Book of Mormon by Brant Gardner
RECONSIDERING PSALMS 82:6: JUDGES OR GODS? A PROPOSAL
by Benjamin McGuire
Bill McKeever, a critic of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wrote:
The gods of Psalm 82 are nothing more than men who, by God’s sovereign design, are chosen to rule over other men. In fact, the word “Elohim,” used in verse six, is often translated “judges” in the Old Testament. An example of this can be found in Exodus 21:6 where it reads, “Then his master shall bring him unto the judges [Elohim] …” Another example is Exodus 22:8 which reads, “If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges …” Again, the Hebrew Elohim is used.
No doubt many Latter-day Saints will look upon this interpretation with suspicion. Should that be the case, one of Mormonism’s most respected scholars, Apostle James Talmage, should be quoted. In his book “Jesus The Christ,” Talmage agreed that Jesus was referring to divinely appointed judges when he wrote, “Divinely Appointed Judges Called ‘gods.’ In Psalm 82:6, judges invested by divine appointment are called ‘gods.’ To this the Savior referred in His reply to the Jews in Solomon’s Porch. Judges so authorized officiated as the representatives of God and are honored by the exalted title ‘gods'” (pg. 501).
This essay is written to deal specifically with this criticism, as well as to provide some general insight into the relevant scriptures. It consists of three parts. First, I will present an interpretation of the Old Testament text of Psalm 82 in light of current scholarship. Then, I will discuss the interpretation of the Psalm given in John 10. Then, I return to the criticism and show how it is disproved through an analysis of the text. Finally, I will conclude with a few observations relevant to LDS theology in general, and our use of these texts to defend the doctrine of the deification of man.
Read the article:
Reconsidering Psalms 82:6 Judges or Gods? A Proposal by Ben McGuire
NEW ON THE WEBSITE: A REVIEW OF RICHARD ABANES’ ONE NATION UNDER GODS
In early 2002 a new book entitled One Nation under Gods (ONUG) appeared on bookshelves, promising to tell the “real” history of the Mormon Church. In the words of its author, Richard Abanes,
It is beyond legitimate dispute that the Mormon church has for decades been painting for the general public a decidedly biased picture of the Latter-day Saint faith, especially with regard to the origins of the Book of Mormon. Fortunately, a more objective sketch of Mormonism’s earliest years can be drawn using non-LDS witnesses, secular media articles, and private journals (Mormon and non-Mormon).
All of these sources will be used in this book to discover how Mormonism’s founder–Joseph Smith–formed, controlled, and expanded his church, which today is one of the wealthiest and most influential religions in the world. [ONUG, xvi]
With his thesis stated and his purpose laid bare, Richard Abanes attempts to pull disparate sources together to paint a picture that, when compared to objective reality, more closely resembles a Picasso than a Rembrandt, skewed and distorted, as it is, only to nourish the over-arching ego of the work’s creator, while obscuring and maligning the actual doctrines and beliefs as understood and practiced by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more than 150 years.
Through the use of questionable scholarship and misuse of sources, author Richard Abanes has set about to prove the very thesis and accomplish the very purpose he laid out in his preface. Of course, authors such as Abanes are convinced that the sheer volume of endnotes will awe the average reader and convince him or her that the conclusions being presented are indeed factual. Fortunately, his sources can be checked.
Some of the members of FAIR, seeking to shed the light of day on how authors like Abanes do their work, have researched many of his sources and looked up his quotes. If you want to see the type of “scholarly” use to which Abanes has put his quotes, feel free to click on any of the links below. Each of them examine a single use of a fact or a single citation improperly used by Abanes. Each of them explains the reality behind the quote and the truth behind the fact. As you explore this information, we are sure that you will begin to recognize Abanes as a “surrealist” writer, who is bent on doing with words exactly what Picasso did with pigments–present a twisted and surreal view of reality.
[Note: This is the beginning of a work-in-progress. There will be much more to come.]
Read the review:
THE NATURE OF PROPHETS AND PROPHECY
by John Tvedtnes
The message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that God continues to speak to mankind through prophets. It is the same message delivered anciently. But many have challenged this belief. Numerous anti-Mormon pamphlets have been published with the aim of proving that Joseph Smith is a false prophet. Several critics have compiled lists of dozens of supposed “false prophecies” uttered by Joseph Smith.
The typical critic makes light of the admonition of LDS missionaries that people should pray to know from God whether Joseph Smith was a true prophet. This, they insist, is not the “biblical” method of determining the truth. If this were true, however, the promise of James 1:5 is false, along with Jesus’ promise that those who ask will receive (Matthew 7:7) and that “all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22). Ironically, those who preach against praying for divine confirmation of truth often believe that one must pray and confess the name of Jesus in order to receive a witness that one has been “saved.”
Read the full essay:
The Nature of Prophets and Prophecy by John Tvedtnes
MORMONISM 201 PROJECT JOSEPH SMITH: A CHAPTER REVIEW OF MORMONISM 101
by Samuel Katich
This review of Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson’s book, Mormonism 101, is limited to an examination of Chapter Seventeen–“Joseph Smith.” It is seemingly McKeever and Johnson’s most important chapter, as the first sentence in their introduction repeats the quote that “Mormonism…must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith.”
The authors’ approach is typical of writings hypercritical of Mormonism. The chapter generally consists of contextually lacking quotes from the writings of others, with no consideration given to enlighten the reader as to the original authors’ intentions, biases, or interpretations. The challenge in reviewing this chapter rests in the fact that the review is not so much that of McKeever and Johnson’s work, but rather a review of the fragments that McKeever and Johnson selectively pieced together from other works. The fact that so many of the issues dealt with in Mormonism 101 are already addressed elsewhere in various sources, both pro and con, is an indicator that the “fresh” material the authors present is, in reality, nothing more than an outdated and stale recompilation designed to provide fresh income.
The authors attempt to add the illusion of validity to their work by calling upon an odd mix of several names that bear the label of “Mormon” or “LDS.” For example, the authors readily cite:
- “former Mormon historian D. Michael Quinn”
- “LDS historian Richard Van Wagoner”
- “LDS historian Todd Compton”
- “Historian Reed C. Durham”
- “Mormon Church historian Andrew Jenson”
- “LDS historian Stephen C. LeSueur”
- “LDS historians James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard”
Such a sampling would certainly lend itself to a balanced approach from an ill-informed reader’s viewpoint. Yet while McKeever and Johnson elude to Smith’s “high morals” and “impeccable integrity,” as described by “Mormon historians,” one is left to wonder why, of the seven Latter-day historians they cite, not one of the selected quotes presents a “high moral” view.” While there are volumes of accounts and testimonies of the prophet’s good character, the authors did not consider or mention a single one.
The authors state that the descriptions of the prophet they present may seem “unfathomable by many faithful Latter-day Saints.” What the reader may find surprising is that such a respected faith and devoted people could be the product of the unscrupulous, drunk, lying, womanizing deceiver that the authors present. Joseph’s character is found as the ultimate target of doubt as the authors rely upon contextually lacking personal interpretations of historical detail. In the end, the reader will likely be shocked by the rapid succession of emotionally charged wording. In all, there are nearly 100 such instances, many of which are repeats, in thirteen pages of reproduced speculations and misrepresentations ranging from sexual issues to the occult. This review reflects a small, representative sampling of Chapter 17 in an attempt to disabuse the public mind of the images McKeever and Johnson have portrayed of the prophet.
Read the full review:
ASK THE APOLOGIST
– FAIR Journal Feature
This month’s questions:
Why don’t Latter-day Saints celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday like they did in the Bible?
Read the answer:
FROM THE FAIR FILES: DNA AND THE BOOK OF MORMON
Dr. Scott Woodward’s FAIR Conference Presentation from 2001 is now available in streaming video at the FAIR website…FREE!
View the video:
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
We are please to announce our fifth annual FAIR conference, to be held in Orem, Utah. The conference will take place on August 7th and August 8th (Thursday and Friday) at Utah Valley State College (UVSC). We had a wonderful time at last year’s conference and look forward to seeing you there.
Sign up for the conference in our FAIR online bookstore here:
Once at the store, look for the link at the left side that says “Conference Tickets – 2003”.
Some people would say that the Book of Abraham “controversy”, the Mountain Meadows massacre, and DNA and the Book Mormon are not topics for the faint of heart. But, these are the topics selected for our upcoming conference in August. Now is your chance to learn the truth behind these controversies and feel confident when discussing them with others.
-Scott Gordon FAIR President
BOOK STORE NEWS – FAIR Online Bookstore Monthly Special
Beginning January 20th, purchase two great new books at substantial savings. The brand new biography of one of the best known and best-loved LDS scholars and apologists, Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life, is offered at $23.95 (retail $32.95–27% savings).
Plus begin this year’s New Testament study off right by adding to your library Charting the New Testament from FARMS. An excellent resource for teaching and personal study, FAIR is offering this book at $16.95 (retail $24.95–over 30% discounted).
Check out these and our other competively priced products at:
We’re interested in any suggestions you may have to improve our service as well. Let us know what you need and what you want.
-The FAIR Bookstore Staff
We welcome article submissions for the FAIR Web site. If you would like to submit an article, please review the editing guidelines at:
Submit your article to the FAIR Journal Editor. An appropriate article would be one that affirms the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While LDS apologetics (in the broadest sense) deals with refuting critics of the Church, articles don’t necessarily have to deal with anti-Mormonism, but may deal with some new evidence of the Book of Mormon, some interesting scripture interpretation, a viewpoint or quote from the early Christian Fathers or other historical figure, an interesting lesson idea, an inspiring missionary story, Church history, or your view on a current event related to the Church or a piece from a historical journal.
We may also accept articles from people who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that may not necessarily meet the guidelines of supporting the church if it is a topic of general interest to people involved in apologetics.
A submission may range in length from several pages to a single paragraph.
FAIR is not owned, controlled by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All research and opinions provided in the FAIR Journal and on the FAIR Web site (http://www.fairlds.org) are the sole responsibility of FAIR, and should not be interpreted as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief or practice.
If someone has forwarded this e-journal to you and you would like to join you should go to www.fairlds.org and click on the FAIR Publications link.
If you are very interested in apologetics and would like to actively participate in FAIR you should consider joining our apologetics e-mail list. Visit www.fairlds.org and click on the Join FAIR link to join this list.
If you manage your own e-mail list, and wish to include some of these thoughts or articles on your list, contact us through our Web site, at this page: www.fairlds.org/contact.psp. We have a fairly liberal policy of using our material so long as you contact us first to gain permission and clearly identify that your source was FAIR and by adding a link to the FAIR Web site (www.fairlds.org).
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