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. Scott Gordon reminds us that the birth, atonement, and resurrection of Christ is what is most important.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: “Rejection of Priesthood Leaders as a Cause of the Great Apostasy.” John A. Tvedtnes argues that the primary cause of the Great Apostasy was not the Hellenization of doctrine or the introduction of corrupt practices, but rather the rejection of authorized Church leaders.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: “Is God Only a Spirit?” John A. Tvedtnes looks at the scriptural and extra-canonical evidences that support the LDS interpretation of John 4:24.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB: “Grant Palmer: An ‘Insider’s’ Obscured View.” FAIR’s Justin Hart gives some insight into the recent events surrounding Grant Palmer.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB: “Excommunication in Judaism and Christianity.” Daniel C. Peterson and William J. Hamblin explain the long-standing tradition of excommunication in Jewish and Christian religious life.
- ASK THE APOLOGIST. Got a question you are dying to ask? Here’s how.
- FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE. With Christmas right around the corner, there is still time to get an online gift. It is also time to prepare for your next year’s Gospel studies.
- 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
At this time of the year, we at FAIR want to wish everyone a merry Christmas.
One of my students questioned why we should celebrate Christmas, as it is clear Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25. I told my student that he was right, Jesus probably wasn’t born on December 25. And though it was an interesting question, it ultimately didn’t really matter because what is most important is to remember what Christmas is all about. I’m happy to spend time with my family, and I am happy to celebrate the birth of Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Whatever the scholarly research says about the actual date of the birth of Christ, the important point is that Jesus came to earth, atoned for our sins, died for us, and was resurrected.
The question about the actual date of the birth of Christ is an example of the type of question addressed in apologetics. When historical events are discussed, evidence is often open to interpretation or even contradictory, and sometimes there are heated debates over issues. For most historical events we can at best point out various possibilities and suggest what is most likely to have happened. In our study and discussions, we need to always remember the underlying Gospel truths that really matter.
During this time of giving and receiving, I hope we can spend some time and think about giving joy to others and about receiving the atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives.
– Scott Gordon President, FAIR
FAIR relies on your kind donations to remain in business. Now is the time to make a donation. FAIR is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, so if you are in the United States, your donation is tax deductible. Get it in before the end of the year!
Rejection of Priesthood Leaders as a Cause of the Great Apostasy
by John A. Tvedtnes
One of the key messages delivered through the prophet Joseph Smith was that the ancient Church of Jesus Christ had fallen away and needed to be restored. Since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored, Latter-day Saints have studied the scriptures and secular sources to better understand the early church and the causes of what has come to be called the “Great Apostasy.”
Tvedtnes points out that LDS commentary about the Great Apostasy has generally taken two approaches: studying early (presumably pre-apostasy) Christian doctrine and finding evidences of apostasy in the post-apostasy churches. In his paper, Tvedtnes claims that these evidences for the Great Apostasy do not describe its root cause. Tvedtnes argues that it was the loss of inspired and authorized leaders that caused the doctrinal corruption and the introduction of wicked practices.
By examining scriptural and extra-canonical writings, Tvedtnes shows how early Christians recognized the increasing influence of corrupt teachers and leaders. The seeds of the Great Apostasy had begun to germinate during the earliest days of the New Testament churches, and many apostles, bishops, and other priesthood leaders expressed growing concern about the corrupt practices and doctrines that were being adopted by the churches.
Tvedtnes concludes that “the general apostasy in the early Church was the result of individual apostasy by dissident Christians who not only rejected the Lord’s chosen servants, but sometimes set themselves up in their place.”
Read the article:
Rejection of Priesthood Leaders as a Cause of the Great Apostasy by John Tvedtnes
Is God Only a Spirit?
by John A. Tvedtnes
A frequent argument used against the LDS belief in the corporeal nature of God is the statement in John 4:24 that reads “God is a Spirit.” The line of reasoning that appears in virtually every anti-Mormon publication is that since God is “a Spirit” He cannot have a physical body. Latter-day Saint commentators frequently point out that 1) since Greek has no indefinite article the passage would be better read as “God is Spirit”, and 2) God’s having or being a Spirit doesn’t preclude Him from also having a corporeal nature as well.
Tvedtnes responds to the “God is only a spirit” argument by pointing to both New Testament theology and early Christian writers to show that not only is the physical nature of God consistent with scripture, but a belief in a corporeal deity was common among early Christians. As Tvedtnes says, “It is clear that there is no valid reason to conclude that God does not have a physical body anymore than we must conclude that those born of God no longer have a body.”
Read the article:
Is God Only a Spirit? by John Tvedtnes
Other FAIR resources that deal with this issue include:
- “Does God Have a Body in Human Form” Barry R. Bickmore
- The God of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph Smith: Defending the Faith David L. Paulsen
- The Doctrine of God and the Nature of Man Barry Robert Bickmore
- Breaking Down Barriers with Wrecking Balls of Fallacy Kevin C.Hill
- Mormonism in the Early Jewish Christian Milieu Barry R. Bickmore
Grant Palmer: An “Insider’s” Obscured View
by Justin Hart
In December we experienced a flurry of media attention focused on Grant Palmer, author and former CES employee. Palmer’s “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins” claims to present LDS history as it really happened, without the myths and omissions that characterize “official” Church accounts. Palmer’s book, published by Signature Books, has been frequently used by anti-Mormon critics.
In his Meridian review, Hart summarizes the objections to Palmer’s approach and conclusions. The review also points to online reviews of Palmer’s book for those who wish to look at a more in-depth analysis of the book.
Excommunication in Judaism and Christianity
by Daniel C. Peterson and William J. Hamblin
Anti-Mormon critics frequently attempt to excite negative feelings about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by pointing to Church disciplinary councils as evidence of oppressive and unchristian control exerted by Church leaders. This charge is particularly raised when a member is disciplined for apostasy. If the member so disciplined is a “scholar” or vocal opponent of LDS belief or practice, anti-Mormons will attempt to get the media to pick up the story and present it in as negative a light as possible for the Church of Jesus Christ.
What is often conveniently forgotten, however, is that excommunication by a religious group is a not only an ancient practice, but is wholly reasonable for any organization that requires some standard of belief or practice as a prerequisite for membership. For instance, what possible meaning could membership in professional organizations have if membership was open to any and could never be revoked? Are we surprised or dismayed to find that the American Bar Association or the American Medical Association has revoked someone’s membership for failing to meet the association’s criteria for membership?
Any organization has the right to determine the criteria for membership and to deny membership to, or remove membership from, those failing to meet the criteria. When anti-Mormons attack the Church for exercising its right to define its own membership criteria, they unwittingly attack the fundamental right of people to freely associate. Though the term “excommunication” may have negative connotations for some people, “it is an ancient practice, deeply rooted in both the Old and New Testaments and in the disciplinary rules of the earliest Christian disciples, that attempts to maintain at least minimal purity among the saints.”
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 LDS BOOKSTORE
Have you been so caught up in your apologetics studies that you’ve put off finishing your Christmas shopping? Can’t decide what to get for someone? Get them a gift certificate redeemable at the FAIR Bookstore!
You can buy certificates for $10, $25, $50, or $100 — and you can buy more than one. And since purchases are tax-free, you get even more value than with other gift certificates.
When you purchase a gift certificate, you will receive an email with the gift certificate code and helpful information on how to redeem it at the FAIR Bookstore. Simply forward the email to the person you want to give it to, or print it out and wrap it!
Gift certificates are valid for one year from date of purchase.
2005 Doctrine and Covenants Study
The 2005 course of study will be on the Doctrine and Covenants. The FAIR Bookstore has an entire collection of books that are available to help you study this important part of the standard works.
David O. McKay: Beloved Prophet (Book and CD)
This year’s Priesthood and Relief Society lessons will be taken from the writings and sermons of President David O. McKay. President McKay served as a general authority for 63 years, longer than any other person in this dispensation. Learn more about this beloved prophet who had such a profound effect on the post WWII Church.
You can now get “David O. McKay: Beloved Prophet” by Mary Jane Woodger for only $13.55, a 20% savings.
This item is also available in audio as a 5 CD set for $17.55, a 20% savings.
The FAIR Bookstore has other items that will help you appreciate the life and teachings of President McKay. The CD “A Dramatized History of David O. McKay” is now available for $9.55, a 20% savings.
We wish all of you a merry Christmas and look forward to helping you with your Gospel studies in 2005!
– 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).
If you would like to sign up to receive the FAIR Journal automatically, click here.
To return to the index of past FAIR Journal issues, click here.