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. This month Scott Gordon focuses on how often LDS doctrine is misrepresented and how this came to light in letters to Newsweek following its recent story on the Church.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: “Anti-Mormon protesters at the October 2005 LDS General Conference.” See the most recent photo essay of anti-Mormon protesters at General Conference.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: “Archaeological Evidence and the Book of Mormon.” Michael Ash examines the anti-Mormon criticism about the availability of archaeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon.
- ASK THE APOLOGIST. Got a question you are dying to ask? Here’s how.
- FAIR TOPICAL GUIDE. The Topical Guide on the FAIR Web site is one of the most popular resources offered. Learn what is available and help us expand our references. Listed below are some new links in FAIR’s Topical Guide.
- FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE. The FAIR Bookstore is one of the best on-line resources for expanding your Gospel library. Check our specials for this month.
- 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
In the book “Innocents Abroad,” Mark Twain wrote “In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.”
In discussing Mormonism with some Church critics, I frequently have run across this same attitude. I am often left with the statement that I need to study my religion more, or I am not knowledgeable. In more than one instance, I was told I was not “high enough up” to know our doctrines. This struck me as strange in three ways.
- One, I have served as bishop and I have also held stake callings. I believe that is “high enough up” to know the doctrines of the Church.
- Two, why is it that only Church critics know our doctrine? (And how could the critics know our doctrines if only those “high enough up” can truly know them?)
- Three, if members don’t know the Church doctrine, and the Church doesn’t teach it to them because it is secret, at what point does that unknown doctrine stop being Church doctrine?
With this type of conversation, I cannot help the feeling that I am being called an idiot because I allegedly don’t know my own doctrine. Reality, however, is a harsh schoolmaster, and whereas the critic may have read a couple of books on Mormonism (most often written by fellow critics), I’ve attended church for forty-six years, seminary for four, BYU religion classes for four, and have lost count of the books–both pro and con–that I have read on subjects related to Mormonism.
During the Nauvoo Temple open house a few years ago, I made a visit to the Nauvoo Christian Visitor’s Center that is located in town. During my conversation with one of the young Christian missionaries that was serving there on a three week mission, I was asked if I lived the “celestial law.” When I inquired as to what that meant, I was read one sentence from Gospel Principles and told that if I didn’t keep each and every commandment for my entire life I would not go to the Celestial Kingdom. According to my questioner, the Atonement of the Savior had nothing to do with it; in the eyes of the Mormons I must be perfect on my own. When I disagreed with this characterization, I was told I didn’t know my own doctrine. I have often wondered what it would have taken to convince the young missionary that he didn’t know mine.
In the book “The Facts on the Mormon Church” by John Ankerberg and John Weldon, I read that I believe the Bible is “unreliable” (page 16), that God is “morally questionable” (page 16), and that Jesus is “common (one of many gods) and of minor importance in the larger Mormon cosmology” (page 24). I also learn that “salvation by grace is thoroughly rejected” (page 28). My reply to Mr. Ankerberg and Weldon is that they clearly know nothing about LDS beliefs.
There are some items where our critics insist we must have a certain belief, and yet we have none. For example, in some of the recent videos, books, and articles that discuss DNA and the Book of Mormon (from the likes of Tom Murphy, Simon Southerton, and Living Hope Ministries) I learn that Mormons believe that Panama is the narrow neck of land, North America is the land northward and South America is the land southward. This point of view is sometimes called the hemispheric model. I am told by the critics that this model is Church doctrine because it is believed and taught “by the prophets.” They typically include several quotes that indeed support this point of view. But they carefully leave out the quotes from prophets and apostles that don’t support their narrow point of view and often contradict it. Additionally, there is usually a comment that “Mormon apologists don’t believe this doctrine,” suggesting that apologists are clearly out of step. Again, there is no Church doctrine stating where the Book of Mormon took place.
But, even if I rely on popular LDS thought the critics seem to be missing the point, I am currently reading the most recent LDS novel in the popular Tennis Shoes among the Nephites series, written by Chris Heimerdinger. It clearly places the Nephites in Central America. I don’t mention the novel here as a definitive source of Mormon doctrine, but only to provide an indicator that it isn’t only the apologists who believe in such a setting for the Book of Mormon, but also those in common Church culture. We certainly don’t find LDS travel agents selling “Book of Mormon Lands” tours to upstate New York.
Newsweek Magazine recently did an excellent article on the Church. This week (October 31 issue) there were several letters criticizing the Newsweek journalist, who happens to be LDS. For example, Carrie from Fairbanks, Alaska wrote, “I have heard Mormons tell me on countless occasions that Jesus was not the son of God,” that “Jesus was an ordinary man who worked his way to the right hand of God through good works,” and that “praying in the name of Jesus was sacrilegious because he was not the son of God.” In another Newsweek letter, Ted and Bebe in Seattle, wrote “shunning” is still being practiced against those who leave the teachings and that LDS believe in the “low status” of women. I would count all of these comments as false characterizations of my beliefs and against what I have been taught in the LDS church.
Mormons are sometimes told they are not just ignorant, but they are lying about their beliefs and in their scholarship. With the claims of lying, I am left to wonder how much the critics are projecting their own behaviors onto the LDS. I know I have always been taught to study everything. I have always been taught to be honest. I have found LDS scholars to usually be honest and meticulous. They may get things wrong from time to time, but that is true with all scholars.
I hope the critics can stop telling the LDS what they believe and start asking the LDS what they believe. I hope that we can all listen to each other and dialogue. Maybe both sides can eventually learn something good.
–Scott Gordon President, FAIR
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Anti-Mormon Protesters at the October 2005 LDS General Conference
by Allen L. Wyatt
At each General Conference, LDS visitors and worshipers are greeted by flocks of anti-Mormon protesters. Some merely hold up signs, others shout or jeer or mock. The October 2005 Conference brought out the typical collection of anti-Mormon critics.
In this collection of photographs, you will see a few of the anti-Mormon protesters and their messages to the Latter-day Saints. Underneath each picture is a link to an article that answers the anti-Mormon charge.
Read the article:
Archaeological Evidence and the Book of Mormon
by Michael R. Ash
A frequent attack against the Book of Mormon is the charge that the lack of confirming archaeological evidence is itself evidence against the Book of Mormon’s historicity. The argument usually is given by comparing Book of Mormon support with archaeological support for biblical people, places, or events.
In his article, Ash explores the issues associated with Book of Mormon archaeology. Compared to Old World archaeology, New World archaeology is still in its infancy. Additionally, climate and cultural discontinuity are key factors that negatively impact the ability of New World archaeologist to uncover and reconstruct lost civilizations and cultures. Ash concludes that it is shortsighted to dismiss the Book of Mormon on archaeological grounds given that new discoveries are increasingly consistent with the Book of Mormon text.
Read the article:
Archaeological Evidence and the Book of Mormon by Michael Ash
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 Web site as a FAIR paper or brochure. If you have a question, simply mail it to our Questions address. Email sent to this address will be shared with members of FAIR, so it is not uncommon to receive several responses that approach the issue from different angles.
FAIR TOPICAL GUIDE
The Topical Guide is one of the most important LDS apologetic resources available. If you aren’t familiar with this part of FAIR’s Web site, check it out at
A number of new links have been added to the Topical Guide this month. Shown below are the authors and titles of new articles that have been linked into the Topical Guide. For each item, the Topical Guide menu selections are shown, along with the link to the Topical Guide section where these have been added. The link will show you the new addition in the context of other resources on the same topic.
Here are the Topical Guide updates for this month.
- Leonard J. Arrington, “An Economic Interpretation of the Word of Wisdom,” BYU Studies (1959)
- David J. Whittaker, “Substituted Names in the Published Revelations of Joseph Smith,” BYU Studies (1983), 1-9
- John W. Welch and Claire Foley, “Gammadia on Early Jewish and Christian Garments,” BYU Studies (1996-7), 251-8
- Wilfred C. Griggs, “Rediscovering Ancient Christianity,” BYU Studies (1999), 73-90
- Hugh W. Nibley, “The Early Christian Prayer Circle,” BYU Studies (1979), 1-37
- Keith Norman, “Ex Nihilo: The Doctrines of God and Creation in Early Christianity,” BYU Studies (1977), 1-26
- Blake Ostler, “Clothed Upon: A Unique Aspect of Christian Antiquity,” BYU Studies (1981), 1-15
- John W. Welch, “The Narrative of Zosimus and the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies (1982), 1-21
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
Our FAIR LDS Bookstore contains many great deals for those interested in apologetic topics, such as LDS history, doctrinal reference, and religious scholarship. It isn’t too early to be thinking about a Christmas present for the Gospel scholar in your life, and you may want to give a gentle hint to someone who may be struggling to think of a perfect gift for you.
Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling
While many “experts” continue to view Joseph Smith as a controversial figure, renowned scholar (and Latter-day Saint) Richard L. Bushman locates Joseph in his historical and cultural context, fleshing out the many nuances of nineteenth-century American life that produced such a fertile ground for emerging religions. You can purchase this book for $27.95, 20% off its retail price.
Receiving the Gifts of the Spirit
Interesting and illuminating, this book by Matthew B. Brown offers historical and scriptural information on spiritual gifts, identifies and explains the different gifts available to us, provides inspiring, real-life examples, and encourages readers to begin claiming their own divinely appointed gifts that our Heavenly Father has lovingly provided to make our earthly and spiritual lives more complete. This month this item has been discounted 20% to $15.95.
The Book of Mormon (3 DVD Videos)
For the first time on convenient DVD, you can listen to the word-for-word narration of the Book of Mormon while you follow along with the highlighted text on your television screen. This item has been discounted 25% this month to $18.70.
If you are looking to complete your collection of timeless LDS films, or if you simply want to share these classics with your friends and family, this is your chance to get DVD versions at a substantial discount. This month, each of the following four “LDS Classics” is being offered at $12.95, a 35% discount!
Fourth Witness, Eliza and I, and Woman: The Pioneer (DVD)
The Touch, The Good Samaritan, Akedah, Elijah & the Widow of Zaraphath, and The Sisters of Bethany (DVD)
Johnny Lingo, The Mailbox, Uncle Ben, and Christmas Snows, Christmas Winds (DVD)
The Cipher in the Snow, The Gift, The Emmett Smith Story, John Baker’s Last Race, and The Phone Call (DVD)
– 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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