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 the lack of honesty, accuracy, and completeness that are so prevalent in anti-Mormon publications and websites.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: “Polygamy, Prophets, and Prevarication: Frequently and Rarely Asked Questions about the Initiation, Practice, and Cessation of Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Gregory Smith takes a thorough look at many of the issues relating to polygamy that are used by anti-Mormon critics.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: “Education, Scholarship, and Mormonism.” Scott Gordon examines various statistics relating to how educational level relates to Church activity and belief.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: “The Children of Lehi: DNA and the Book of Mormon.” D. Jeffrey Meldrum addresses many of the issues relating to the recent DNA controversy about the Book of Mormon in this presentation at the 2003 FAIR Conference.
- 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.
- 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
During this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is always a good time to remember our blessings. We now live in the age where we are blessed by the Internet. Information is at our fingertips. But as we look at the information, we need to be aware of accuracy.
First, things that are written can be false. They can be purposefully written to deceive, or they could simply be the product of the passage of time and a faulty memory. But in either case, it is still false.
Second, the information written may be correct, but incomplete. Sometimes what is really important is what isn’t said. An example of this is the description Martin Harris, one of the Book of Mormon witnesses, gives of seeing the plates with his “spiritual eyes.” Much has been made of this in newly published anti-Mormon books and on Web sites. The claim is that Harris and the other witnesses never saw the plates. What this claim does is leave out the other statements that Harris and others made on the subject, thereby leading readers to certain false conclusions. Martin Harris was asked specifically about this quote and responded by saying:
“Gentlemen, do you see that hand? Are you sure you see it? Are your eyes playing a trick or something? No. Well, as sure as you see my hand so sure did I see the angel and the plates.” (Anderson , 116.)
Harris also claimed that prior to his witnessing the plates he held them “on his knee for an hour and a half” (Millennial Star September 15, 1853) and that they weighed approximately fifty pounds (Tiffany’s Monthly 5, no. 2 [New York: Published by Joel Tiffany, 1859], 166). The other witnesses also made similar statements confirming the physical nature of the plates. Leaving these statements out shows either a lack of research, or an attempt of deception.
This then brings up the questions, if the anti-Mormon argument is so strong, why do they need to deceive? Why is evidence to the contrary simply left out as if it doesn’t exist?
There are those who argue that the Church also leaves things out. While this may be true for Sunday School classes, it certainly isn’t true for the many books, CDs, and DVDs that are published on the topics and that can be purchased at most LDS bookstores. I know that much of what I do in researching anti-Mormonism is simply going back to the source material and see if it is in context, if it was written at the time it occurred, if it was written by someone who was actually there, and finally seeing if there are more occasions where the story is discussed. Where do I get the source material? Usually from either Deseret Book or from my local independent LDS bookstore. So much for “hiding the truth.”
So, while you are looking at things on the Internet, be cautious of accuracy. Don’t just look for things that are wrong, but look also for information that may be left out.
–Scott Gordon President, FAIR
Now is the time to make donations to FAIR so you can include it in this tax year. FAIR is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, so if you are in the United States, your donation is tax deductible. Without your donations, FAIR would cease to exist. Thank you for your support.
Polygamy, Prophets, and Prevarication: Frequently and Rarely Asked Questions about the Initiation, Practice, and Cessation of Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
by Gregory L. Smith
In his extensive article about polygamy, Smith identifies and discusses six areas where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is attacked by its critics over the issue of polygamy. The issues identified by Smith are:
- Irreligious – polygamy is inconsistent with Christianity
- Illegal – the Church and the Saints acted contrary to law
- Lying – the Church and its leaders lied about the practice
- Lascivious – polygamy stemmed from base motives of LDS leaders
- Implementation – polygamy as practiced was harmful
- Hiding history – the Church has tried to hide or rewrite history
Smith goes into great detail in each of these areas. The length of the paper is 65 pages, which includes a table of contents, three pages of additional reading resources, and 362 endnotes. Smith’s faithful, deep, and honest look into this complex subject led him to say, “I have come to see polygamy as a vital, even indispensable, part of the Restoration, practiced at the behest of the Lord and ultimately discontinued through proper priesthood authorization.”
Read the article:
Polygamy, Prophets, and Prevarication: Frequently and Rarely Asked Questions about the Initiation, Practice, and Cessation of Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (PDF) by Gregory L. Smith
Education, Scholarship, and Mormonism
by Scott Gordon
Critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often portray LDS belief as ridiculous and patently false. Such critics question how a truly educated and intelligent person could remain a believer in Mormonism, and they often imply that Mormons are either too stupid or too ignorant to see the obvious problems with their faith.
In his article, Gordon looks at studies done on the educational levels attained by LDS and members of other religious denominations, as well as examining how educational level correlates to church attendance and religious belief. Not only do LDS show higher levels of academic achievement overall, but surprisingly, higher levels of education among LDS correlate positively with higher rates of church activity and affirmation of faith.
Read the article:
Education, Scholarship, and Mormonism by Scott Gordon
The Children of Lehi: DNA and the Book of Mormon
by D. Jeffrey Meldrum
Over the last several years there has been a flurry of articles and reports about how DNA studies have refuted the claimed historicity of the Book of Mormon. In his 2003 FAIR Conference presentation, Meldrum addressed a number of the arguments being raised by anti-Mormon critics related to DNA and the Book of Mormon.
Meldrum points out that the internal claims of the Book of Mormon text cannot be refuted using current DNA studies, despite the desire of critics to press such studies into service. The Book of Mormon text deals with the ideas of a covenant people being a blessing to genetically unrelated peoples and cultures, and allows for a genetic impact by the immigrant Israelites that would not be detectable today. Meldrum concludes by asserting, “Ultimately we are impressed by the realization that the fundamental question of the veracity of the claims of the Book of Mormon lies beyond the ken of modern DNA research.”
Read the article:
The Children of Lehi: DNA and the Book of Mormon by Jeffrey Meldrum
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.
- Neal A. Maxwell, “Discipleship and Scholarship,” BYU Studies (1992)
- Boyd K. Packer, “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect,” BYU Studies (1991)
- Kevin L. Barney, “Examining Six Key Concepts in Joseph Smith’s Understanding of Genesis 1:1,” BYU Studies (2000)
- Van Hale, “The Doctrinal Impact of King Follett Discourse,” BYU Studies (1978)
- James R. Harris, “Eternal Progression and the Foreknowledge of God,” BYU Studies (1967)
- Richard A. Heiner, “The Necessity of a Sinless Messiah,” BYU Studies (1982)
- Kent P. Jackson, “The Eternal Ministry of Christ,” Ensign, January 1991, 7
- Stan Larson, “The King Follett Discourse: A Newly Amalgamated Text,” BYU Studies (1978)
- W. Reid Litchfield, “The Search for the Physical Cause of Jesus Christ’s Death,” BYU Studies (1997-8)
- Truman G. Madsen, “Are Christians Mormon?,” BYU Studies (1974)
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
This month the FAIR LDS Bookstore is offering a number of study aids and references that will make a great addition to any library. If you are looking for a Christmas gift that will be appreciated and valued, check out these sale items and other offerings in the FAIR Bookstore.
The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Edition (Softbound)
This new reader-friendly version reformats the complete, unchanged 1920 text in the manner of modern translations of the Bible, with paragraphs, quotations marks, poetic forms, topical headings, multichapter headings, indention of quoted documents, italicized reworkings of biblical prophecies, and minimized verse numbers. The sale price is $18.70, a 25% discount.
A Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the New Testament Side-By-Side Comparison with the King James Version
In the late 1990s, a team of BYU scholars worked with the Community of Christ (formally RLDS) Church to gain access to the complete Joseph Smith Translation manuscripts. This book utilizes that research to provide a concise, at-a-glance reference book that teachers and students of the scriptures can use to quickly find any and every change the Prophet made to the New Testament- compared side-by-side with the corresponding verse of the King James Version. This is being offered for $16.10, a 15% discount.
Helping and Healing Our Families:Principles and Practices Inspired by “The Family: A Proclamation to the World
In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the release of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more than 125 authors have combined efforts to create a resource providing hope, principles and eternal perspectives to address many of the daunting challenges facing families today. This book is on sale for $1.95, a 20% discount.
Pearl of Great Price: A Verse by Verse Commentary
Three authors who are experts in ancient cultures bring you this verse-by-verse, even word-by-word commentary, the most thorough and reader-friendly treatment available. This book has is on sale for $22.35, a 20% discount.
Why I Believe
This collection of over 50 short essays by individuals about “Why I Believe” shows how faith and testimony are wholly compatible with education, achievement, and intelligence. This book is on sale for $11.95, a 40% discount.
– 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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