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).
- MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT. FAIR’s Sixth Annual Mormon Apologetics Conference was a great success. The presentations are being made available in multiple formats. People interested in supporting FAIR financially are invited to donate either for the general fund or for specific projects.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church. Historian Davis Bitton discusses the anti-Mormon use of LDS historical “facts” to attack testimonies, and he points out the importance of basing one’s testimony on the Gospel rather than Church history.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: How to Debunk a Fake News Story. Greg Kearney describes the process he used to determine that a recently circulating news release targetted at Latter-day Saints is really a hoax.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: Born That Way? Facts and Fiction about Homosexuality. Dr. A. Dean Byrd reviews the status of current research on homosexuality and separates the facts from the politically correct fiction.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: Negative Questions in the Book of Mormon. Ben Spackman looks at the presence of a specific Hebraism, negative rhetorical questions, in the Book of Mormon.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: Adding Up the Book of Mormon Peoples. Steven Danderson responds to the common anti-Mormon attack that argues that the population sizes reported in the Book of Mormon are unrealistic given the size of the Lehi’s family and the chronology of the Book of Mormon.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: ASK THE APOLOGIST. Michael Fordham responds to a website visitor’s questions about the roles of grace, faith, and works in salvation. Greg Kearney responds to a questions about an anti-Mormon website comparing the LDS temple endowment to Masonic ceremonies.
- FAIR ONLINE BOOKSTORE. Check out the latest FAIR Bookstore specials. Some specials offered at the 2004 FAIR Conference are being made available on the website for those who were not able to attend.
- 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.
- FAIR JOURNAL ARCHIVES.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
We had another successful conference in Sandy Utah. The speakers were great and we had fun talking with others. Speakers answered questions and signed books at the FAIR bookstore, and there was drama and competition for the used books at the FAIR auction table. Those that came seemed to have a good time.
We received quite a bit of press from the conference including Fox13 (KSTU), The Deseret News, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Ogden Examiner, and the Church News. Many Utah papers carried an article by the Associated Press. If you missed the conference or would just like to see the speaker list again, you can get the information at
I am looking forward to next year. We are currently scheduled for the first Thursday and Friday in August, so mark your calendars now!
We know that not everyone can come to these conferences so we are working hard to bring the conference talks to you. Two of the talks have been posted up on the Web site already. The others will take more time.
But the talks are available in other formats. I have really enjoyed driving to work and listening to the audio CDs of the FAIR conference. I have been inspired as I have listened to Dr. Richard Anderson on the Book of Mormon witnesses, to Dr. Andrea Radke on Mormon “feminism,” and to all of the other talks. I could list the other excellent talks, but then I would just be listing all of them. As I listen to them again, I have been impressed with the research and knowledge of the speakers. These talks are being made available in three formats:
Audio CD Downloadable MP3 Windows Media Video (WMV) on CD
The CDs will be available this week (allow 10 to 15 days for delivery). The MP3 and the WMV versions will be available shortly. We will send you a notice when they become available.
I suggest you order the talks and share them with your friends. My High Priests Quorum has greatly enjoyed them as well.
For you conference junkies, the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum is sponsoring a conference in the Salt Lake area on the Book of Mormon. You can get more information about it at their website:
Finally, I’d like once again to ask our readers to consider helping FAIR financially. We are a non profit organization with no paid employees and we survive on donations. All of the donations go toward running the organization. There are many things we would like to do with adequate funding. We would like to provide firesides and conferences in areas outside of Utah. We would like to publish some additional books. We would like to run ads for FAIR on Google. If you believe we are providing a service, please consider donating to FAIR.
Whether you would like to sponsor specific activities or whether you would simply like to help generally, you can do so at
or you can contact me at the FAIR Contact Page.
I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church
by Davis Bitton
Davis Bitton gave a fascinating presentation at the 2004 Conference on the topic of testimony and LDS history. Bitton began by pointing out that many anti-Mormons and critics contend that a knowledge of Church history is inevitably damaging to one’s testimony of the restored Gospel. But this is contrary to the facts: many of the scholars and historians best informed about LDS history are and have been faithful Latter-day Saints. Our enemies insist on portraying faithful believers as either being ignorant or intentionally dishonest about Mormon history, while at the same time portraying disenters as sincere seekers of truth.
It is true that many Latter-day Saints do not know their history in depth, and it is also true that sometimes faithful Latter-day Saints come across information that appears to contradict their assumptions of how the Church, its members, or its leaders should have spoken or acted. When such a contradiction appears, it is generally either because the “problem” has been presented as an isolated nugget, with no attempt made to provide the research needed to place it in context or to provide alternate interpretations, or else the “problem” exists because the member has an expectation of Church history that is not realistic.
Bitton states that the “real history of real people” in the Church involves behavior that was not always perfectly pious, but it also “never comes close” to the worst case scenario that could be imagined and that our enemies tend to paint. Bitton noted, “As I read about the Latter-day Saints and their activities, in the past as well as the present, I can be inspired, amused, bewildered, surprised, proud–and sometimes a little ashamed. More often than not, I am amazed at the perseverance, the tenacity, the determination to stay the course through good times and bad.”
But Bitton’s main point is that it really doesn’t matter to his testimony what flaws various people may have had, or what they said or did that was inconsistent with Gospel principles. As a historian he looks to do the best he can at examining the sources and analyzing the evidence, and Bitton believes that we need more historians who can write good history using good scholarship. If in the process of doing good history a person finds evidence that his understanding of Church history has been unrealistic, that understanding can and should change without necessarily impacting his testimony of the Gospel. A Latter-day Saint’s testimony needs to be based the Gospel and those principles that are core to the restoration. As Bitton said, “I don’t have a testimony of Church history.”
Faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are able to have both a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the restored Gospel and a realistic and scholarly understanding of Mormon history.
Read the article:
I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church by Davis Bitton
How to Debunk a Fake News Story
by Greg Kearney
In August 2004 an article was disseminated on the Internet that purported to be a news release about an archaeological find in California. The article described a steel knife that was found imbedded in a tree and which was over 2,000 years old. The knife was reported to be unlike anything used by more recent Native Americans and resembled Middle East knives of the 6th century B.C. It was also claimed to be marked with Egyptian symbols. If you think this sounds too good to be true, you’re right.
Greg Kearney analyzes this rumor and shows what steps he took to determine that the news release and the reported knife were nothing more than a hoax. Kearney documented his step-by-step procedure for checking this out, and suggests that all Latter-day Saints should be skeptical about these types of rumors that periodically appear on the Internet.
Read the article:
How to Debunk a Fake News Story by Greg Kearney
Born That Way? Facts and Fiction about Homosexuality
by Dr. A. Dean Byrd
Dr. Byrd presented a paper at the 2004 FAIR Conference on the status of research on homosexuality. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is often attacked because of its position on homosexuality. The topic is politically charged, and often research and the interpretation of research is skewed by the assumptions and agendas of those looking at the issue.
For example, Byrd points out that current research does not support the claims made by many that there is a clear-cut, genetic basis for homosexuality. Claims that research has provided strong evidences of physical differences in the brains of homosexuals and heterosexuals has been overstated. He also notes that some of the research has resulted in findings that are apparently indisputable but simply are not politically correct in today’s environment.
Byrd states, “In my view, homosexuality is an issue of ethics and morality. Science–good science–can add a dimension to the discussion.” Byrd argues that individuals should have the right to seek treatment aimed at diminishing homosexual attractions.
Byrd concludes with the following. “Being supportive of the basic civil rights of self-identified gays and lesbians does not require a belief in the false notion that homosexuality is invariably fixed in all people. It is not. As a final note, I personally repudiate any uncivility, religious or otherwise, toward self-identified gays or lesbians. At the same time, suppression of research and the intimidation of scientists must not be tolerated. Under no circumstances should science be pre-empted by activism. No one benefits when that occurs.”
Read the article:
Born That Way? Facts and Fiction about Homosexuality by Dr. A. Dean Byrd
Negative Questions in the Book of Mormon
by Ben Spackman
One of the evidences of the divine translation of the Book of Mormon is the presence of ancient Hebrew literary forms and structures that Joseph Smith could not be expected to have recognized and used. Most Latter-day Saints are familiar with chaiastic structures found in the Book of Mormon, but many are not aware of many other literary and grammatical structures that evidence its ancient origin. Spackman examines the Book of Mormon’s use of a Hebraism where a negative rhetorical question is used to indicate a positive meaning. Spackman illustrates this form from both the Book of Mormon and the Old Testament.
Read the article:
Negative Questions in the Book of Mormon by Ben Spackman
Adding Up the Book of Mormon Peoples
by Steven J. Danderson
One frequent attack against the Book of Mormon is the argument that the size of the population mention in the text cannot be accounted for given the small size of Lehi’s family and the number of generations described in the Book of Mormon text itself. Danderson responds to this by examining the assumptions used by such critics, and shows that similar population growth has been seen by other cultures in ancient and modern times. Various factors can have significant impact on population growth, such as economic prosperity, longevity, family size, immigration, etc. Given a different set of underlying assumptions than what is assumed by the critics, the Book of Mormon population figures are completely believable.
Read the article:
Adding Up the Book of Mormon Peoples by Steven J. Danderson
ASK THE APOLOGIST
FAIR invites the public to submit questions relating to LDS beliefs, practices, and history. Some questions are asked sincerely by members and investigators, others are clearly hostile questions challenging the veracity of the Church and its teachings. Many of these responses may end up on the website as a FAIR paper or brochure. If you have a question, simply mail it to our Questions address.
FAIR recently received a question involving the LDS view of salvation by graced and works. The questioner asked, “What is the LDS view on grace, works and salvation? If LDS really believe that salvation requires works, how can one explain verses in the Bible that state that salvation only comes by grace and not by works? How can one explain Moroni 10:32? Many claim that this is wrong as the grace of Christ is sufficient for us and we can not do anything to merit salvation ourselves, etc.”
Michael Fordham responded by looking at a number of New Testament scriptures that clearly indicate that works are an essential component, along with faith and grace, in a person’s salvation. Fordham points to scriptures that link salvation with baptism, knowledge, prayer, confession, and enduring. Fordham also looks at the scriptures typically used by those propounding the doctrines of salvation by grace alone or by faith alone.
Read the article:
A person contacted FAIR with the question: “I visited an anti-Mormon Web site that has an article about the similarities between Masonic rites and the temple rites. How does one explain these similarities?”
Greg Kearney responded by examining the claims of the anti-Mormon website and shows that many of the claimed similiarities are common symbols used by multiple groups. Kearney also examines the history of the endowment from the Kirtland era through the Utah period, and shows that the endowment contains elements not found in Freemasonry.
Read the article:
FAIR ONLINE BOOKSTORE
There is an unusual selection of books this month from FAIR online bookstore. Those of you who couldn’t attend our August conference can still take advantage of the great buys that were offered through the bookstore with our offerings below.
First up, one from an always popular FAIR conference speaker, Dr. Roger Keller. His book, “Reformed Christians and Mormon Christians: Let’s Talk,” is a scholarly look at two Christian traditions often presented as irreconcilable, but shown here to share commitment to a Christian way of life as well as shared doctrine and understandings. The book was written when the Dr. Keller was a Presbyterian Minister, he and his family have since joined the LDS faith. He is now the Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding and Professor of Church History and Doctrine at BYU.
- At over 25% off retail, this book is a find at only $7.95.
Our second selection is a recent book from Intervarsity Press by Dr. Timothy Johnson, “Finding God in the Questions: A Personal Journey,” a NY Times Hardcover Advice Bestseller. Dr. Johnson is best known for his work on ABC’s Good Morning America medical reporter. This book focuses on both his personal faith and an insightful examination of the evidence for belief. It asks the core questions we all face: Is God really there? What is faith and is it for me? This is an excellent chance to observe how others look for and find their answers, a journey that we all share in one form or another.
- It is 20% off retail at $15.20, and reviews are available at
“Evangelicalism & the Stone-Campbell Movement” is a collection of articles on the Restoration Movement that started in the early nineteenth-century American frontier. This book combines essays from Stone-Campbell scholars exploring Restorationist through and Evangelical theology of conversion and ecclesiology with responses from noted Evangelicals examining the similarities and differences between the two movements. It is normally $23 (retail), but the FAIR online store offers it at $19.55. For a list of contributors and other information, see
And last for this month’s offerings, a ‘must have’ for apologetic buffs, Van Hale has collected a wide range of resources from Bible translation variations, Book of Mormon changes, expectations of prophetic infallibility, variation in Biblical answers to questions, a First Presidency Official Statement and AP interview from 1889 dealing with issues of the day, information on polygamy both modern and ancient and references dealing with Mosaic law and the chronology of LDS scripture canonization.
- The first in a series, Mormon Miscellaneous Apologetic Resources, No. 1, is available for $9.00.
Watch for further additions to this excellent apologetic resource.
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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