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 how we can best work with to get an accurate portrayal of the LDS faith in the media.
- PRESIDENT’S APPEAL FOR SPECIAL FUNDING. FAIR is working on some high-profile projects that need to be funded outside of FAIR’s operating budget.
- FAIR CONFERENCE NEWS. Check out the speakers list for this year’s FAIR Conference and be sure to order your tickets early.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. “The John D. Lee Lead Scroll.” Steve Mayfield looks at the lead scroll discovered in 2001 and gives his reasons for considering it a fake.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. “Agency vs. Predestination.” John A. Tvedtnes responds to the TULIP formula and related beliefs by giving an LDS response based on teachings in the Bible and in latter-day scripture.
- 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.
- FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE. Check out this month’s specials on four great classic books.
- 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. All of the FAIR Journal issues since October 2001 are on the FAIR web site.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
As the church grows, we are receiving more media coverage. This means we are being more accepted as a part of life. We now have members in professional sports, in entertainment, and in politics. We should be proud that members of our faith are leaders in government; one may even be a presidential candidate. Our faith is being brought up more in newspapers, in books, by comedians, in the movies, and on television. Some aspects of our faith are even beamed into many homes in America on a weekly basis on HBO.
As this happens, we may find that the press will sometimes criticize us and sometimes get things wrong. Headlines may malign and false accusations may be made. There may even be articles that embarrass us. The question comes as to how we should react to this. We could write hate mail, we could protest, or we could call for boycotts. All three of these things have happened in the past few months in response to various articles and movies. But I would like to suggest that this isn’t the best approach.
One of our FAIR members recently had a discussion with a reporter who was rather miffed at the hate mail he received about a recent article he wrote. He stated he has written many positive articles about the Church, but a recent article was perceived to be negative. He was surprised at the unkind e-mails he received from some members of the Church.
A recent movie was released that did not fairly characterize our beliefs or practices, and a boycott was called for against one of the video outlets that carried the DVD. This is the same video outlet that carries many films produced by LDS filmmakers.
True, it is somewhat disconcerting to read false statements in the newspaper, or to see “The Work and the Glory” on the shelf right next to a less favorable film. But instead of criticizing or protesting, perhaps we ought to thank them for the story they get right, praise them for covering a tough topic, and gently correct the things that may not be correct.
Put yourself in a reporter’s place if you were trying to cover an LDS topic. You want to do more research, so you type “Mormonism” into Google and find the first four links are to anti-Mormon Web sites. If you type in “Mormon” you do better, but you still find a mixed bag of Web sites. You want to be fair, but don’t know who you should believe. Who would you believe? Who would you trust for your information? We are making great strides in increasing the LDS presence on the Internet, and time and all of our efforts on the Internet will eventually expose those anti-Mormons who intentionally misrepresent LDS belief and practice.
Let’s not be critical of reporters and media outlets; instead let’s be supportive of the things they get right. Remember the words of Joseph Smith in March of 1842:
The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.
–Scott Gordon President, FAIR
PRESIDENT’S APPEAL FOR SPECIAL FUNDING
As videos become more popular, we are finding they are being used more by counter-cult ministries to try to influence people to either leave the Church or stay away from investigating the Church. One of these counter-cult ministries even has the funding to pass out thousands of these anti-Mormon DVDs free of charge and has flooded some markets. With this in mind, FAIR has partnered with an LDS filmmaker and is currently creating a video response. Many interviews have already been filmed as a direct response to one of the anti-Mormon films.
This does create a problem for us. FAIR is a non-profit organization that relies on small donors to survive. Most donations we receive are under $100. But for us to make a film, we need a lot more than that. We really need about $25,000 to even complete production of the film. We may need more for distribution. If you are able to make a tax deductible donation of all or part of that $25,000, please send a check to:
FAIR PO Box 491677 Redding, CA 96049
You can donate units of $1,000 via credit card here:
As always, thank you for your support.
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.
FAIR Conference News
Come to the FAIR Conference on August 3 & 4 in Sandy Utah. Topics covered will include a discussion of the Hoffman forgeries, the Book of Abraham, Hints of Egyptian and Northwest Semitic in America, Joseph Smith’s foundational stories, DNA, the story of a polyandrous wife, and many others.
For speakers we have a great group with:
- Wayne Arnett
- Mike Ash
- Joseph Bentley
- Matthew Brown
- Claudia Bushman
- Brant Gardner
- Marcus Martins
- Kim Osterman
- Dan Peterson
- David Stewart
- Brian Stubbs
- George Throckmorton
- Allen Wyatt
This will be a conference that you won’t want to miss. Sign up here:
Scroll to the bottom of the page for the sign up link or go directly to the ticket purchase page here:
The John D. Lee Lead Scroll
by Steve Mayfield
In January 2001 a lead scroll was discovered under the flooring of an old fort by a National Park Service worker. The scroll claims to be written by John D. Lee, infamous for his part in the horrific events at Mountain Meadows. Some of Lee’s comments just prior to his execution have been used by anti-Mormons to construct a conspiracy theory implicating Brigham Young and other Church leaders. The scroll has been controversial since the day it was announced, and there is strong circumstantial evidence linking this to Mark Hoffman and his other document forgeries relating to Mormon history.
Steve Mayfield has given permission for FAIR to publish a transcription of a letter he wrote to FAIR President Scott Gordon. In his letter, Mayfield corrects some misunderstandings that had been posted on the FAIR message board several months ago, and adds his reasons for considering the scroll to be a Hoffman forgery.
Read the letter:
The John D. Lee Lead Scroll by Steve Mayfield
Agency vs. Predestination
by John A. Tvedtnes
One of the theological systems that emerged from the Protestant Reformation was called Calvinism, or Reformed Theology. A principal component of this belief consists of five points of belief, often referred to as TULIP. TULIP stands for Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints. This system of beliefs emphasizes the complete sovereignty and foreknowledge of God and thus the predestined salvation or damnation of all of mankind.
In his article, John Tvedtnes looks at the foundational doctrines of Calvinism in light of latter-day understanding of the Bible proof-texts used to support Calvinism, along with additional information on the topics of predestination, free will, “calling and election.” Tvedtnes shows how the scriptures are best interpretted as understood by Latter-day Saints–that God is not responsible for evil, that mankind has the agency and power to choose good or evil, and that each person is ultimately free to choose eternal salvation or to reject that greatest of all God’s gifts.
Read the article:
Agency vs. Predestination by John Tvedtnes
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
The following are the Topical Guide updates for the month.
Milton V. Backman, Jr., “Awakenings in the Burned-over District: New Light on the Historical Settings of the First Vision,” BYU Studies (1969), 1-15
The six decades preceding the Civil War were years of intense religious activity in many sections of the United States. During this second great awakening, sporadic spiritual quickenings erupted throughout the new nation; and many Americans living in the rugged frontier communities, in the rapidly growing urban areas, and in the villages and towns of northern and southern United States turned their attention to organized religion. One of the regions in the new nation that was in an almost constant state of revivalism was western New York. During the first half of the nineteenth century, revivals were so habitual and powerful in the area west of the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains that historians have labeled this ecclesiastical storm center the “Burned-over District.”
Richard L. Anderson, “Circumstantial Confirmation of the First Vision through Reminiscences,” BYU Studies, Vol. 9:3 (1969), 1-27
The bread and butter work of the historian is less the divining of bias than a careful reading of his documents to determine just what is said, whether his source is in a position to know the information related, and to what extent each one tells a partial or complete story. Because it is claimed that Joseph Smith’s account of the events surrounding his First Vision are not factual, the foregoing procedures must be applied to his own statements and to all other accounts that claim to relate first-hand information about his earliest activities.
Leland H. Gentry, “The Danite Band of 1838,” BYU Studies, Vol. 14:4 (1974), 1-26
The Danites made their appearance during a very troubled period in Mormon history. For this and other reasons, one finds much difficulty in isolating the many threads in order to lay bare the facts. One major purpose of this paper is to examine the Danite Band in terms of its origin, purpose, and organizational structure. A second objective is to show who was responsible for the formation and perpetuation of the movement and why.
Massimo Introvigne, “Old Wine in New Bottles: The Story Behind Fundamentalist Anti-Mormonism,” BYU Studies, Vol. 35:3 (1995-6), 45-73
Anti-Mormonism, a strange shadow of Mormonism, is itself a social phenomenon. In 1992 the Encyclopedia of Mormonism noted that no comprehensive history of anti-Mormonism has yet been published. Even if such a history had been published, it would need considerable periodic updating because of the changing activity of anti-Mormons.
I have argued elsewhere that the 1982 film The God Makers marked the emergence of a new anti-Mormonism that I have called “postrationalist.” While “rationalist” anti-Mormonism–mostly represented by the “career apostates” Jerald and Sandra Tanner–denied anything supernatural in Joseph Smith’s experiences and regarded him as a mere fraud, postrationalist anti-Mormonism advances the theory “that Joseph Smith was in touch with a superhuman source of revelation and power.” However, according to the postrationalist theory, the superhuman source was not God, but Satan.
While the postrational theory may seem new, this article will show that it is merely an example of old wine in new bottles, being part of a tradition that dates back to the nineteenth century. Although this tradition became somewhat disreputable in the first decades of the twentieth century, it continued to exist in the fundamentalist subculture.
Larry E. Morris, “Oliver Cowdery’s Vermont Years and the Origins of Mormonism,” BYU Studies, Vol. 39:1 (200), 105-129
Cowdery biographers have generally repeated a few brief facts before darting to Oliver’s initial meeting with Joseph Smith in April 1829. A close look at the record, however, reveals a rich family history–a history that includes the death of Oliver’s mother, the blending of three families, four moves between two states, and a plague that took a dear aunt and uncle. All of these details in turn shed light on two controversial theories bearing on the origins of Mormonism.
The first alleges that Joseph Smith Sr. and William Cowdery participated in a divining-rod incident known as the “Wood Scrape,” forming associations that impacted their sons’ founding of the Church a quarter of a century later. The second purports that young Oliver knew minister Ethan Smith, read his work View of the Hebrews, and passed on knowledge of the book–or a copy of the book itself–to Joseph, who borrowed freely from it in producing the Book of Mormon. Both theories have spawned considerable discussion and research. The well-documented history of the William Cowdery family in Vermont, however, shows that both theories are long on speculation and short on fact.
Klaus Hansen, “The Political Kingdom of God as a Cause for Mormon-Gentile Conflict,” BYU Studies (1960), 1-16
The afternoon of October 30, 1838, saw one of the most brutal butcheries of men and children ever to occur in the annals of the state of Missouri. At about four o’clock, relates Joseph Young, one of the eyewitnesses, “a large company of armed men, on horses” advanced towards a mill on Shoal Creek, where about thirty Mormon families had gathered for refuge. Defenseless, the Saints scattered, some into the woods, others into a blacksmith shop. Overtaken by the mob, nineteen men and boys were killed, a dozen wounded. One nine-year-old boy had found refuge under the bellows. Discovered by a mobster, the child was killed by a gun-blast in the head. Boasted the butcher afterwards, “Nits will make lice, and if he had lived he would have become a Mormon.”
Hugh W. Nibley, “What is “The Book of Breathings”?,” BYU Studies, Vol. 11:2 (1971), 1-25
Upon their publication in 1967, the Joseph Smith Papyri Nos. X and XI were quickly and easily identified as pages from the Egyptian “Book of Breathings.” The frequent occurrence of the word snsn provided a conspicuous clue, and, though the last page of the book (the one that usually contains the title) was missing, its contents closely matched that of other Egyptian writings bearing the title “sh’ (sh’i, sh’.t) n snsn,” commonly translated “Book of Breathing(s).” A most welcome guide to the student was ready at hand in J. de Horrack’s text, translation, and commentary on a longer and fuller version of the same work (Pap. Louvre 3284) which he published in 1878 along with another version of the text (Louvre No. 3291) and variant readings from a half dozen other Paris manuscripts. Thanks to de Horrack, the experts found their work already done for them, and they showed their gratitude by consistently following the readings of the de Horrack’s text and translation instead of the Joseph Smith text whenever the latter proved recalcitrant.
The following are additions to the Reviews section of the Topical Guide.
“Early Mormonism and the Magic World View” by D. Michael Quinn Reviewed by Stephen E. Robinson, William A. Wilson and Benson Whittle
“The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844” by John L. Brooke Reviewed by Davis Bitton
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
The FAIR LDS Bookstore always has some great values, and this month we are putting four of the classics on sale. These are books that every LDS apologist should have on their bookshelf; great books at great prices. Remember that when you support the FAIR LDS Bookstore you are also supporting FAIR. You can find these great buys this month when you click “specials” in the FAIR Bookstore.
“Hard Questions, Prophetic Answers: Doctrinal Perspectives on Difficult Contemporary Issues,” by Daniel K. Judd, Deseret Book Company, 2004, 245 pages, ISBN 1-59038-225-0.
Author Daniel K. Judd writes: “The issues I have selected for inclusion in this book are representative of the difficult questions I have grappled with over the last several years in my work as a professor, a therapist, a bishop, a stake president, and a father.” The author shows that the most meaningful answers to all our questions lie in the counsel of prophets and the miracles of the Atonement.
You can purchase this book for $11.17, 30% off its retail price. (It is regularly $15.95.)
“How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation,” by Criag L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson, InterVarsity Press, 1997, 228 pages, ISBN: 0-83081-991-6.
Craig Blomberg, a committed Evangelical scholar, and Stephen Robinson, a committed Mormon scholar, set out to listen to one another and to ferret out the genuine agreements between them. In the conversation that develops, you will read what each believes about key theological issues: (1) the nature and bounds of scripture, (2) the nature of God and deification, (3) the person of Christ and the Trinity, and (4) the essentials of salvation. See how they interact with one another; what they agree on may surprise you. In the end, however, you can judge for yourself just how wide the divide between them is.
You can purchase this book for $8.37, 30% off its retail price. (It is regularly $11.95.)
“Mormonism In Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930,” by Thomas G. Alexander, University of Illinois Press, 1996, 440 pages, ISBN: 0-25206-578-6.
Winner of the Mormon History Association’s Best Book Award. A new bibliography and foreword expand this volume and reinforce its importance. This book has received uniformly positive reviews:
“By far the most important book on this crucial period in LDS history.” (Jan Shipps, author of “Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition.”)
“Thoughtful….An objective examination of the church’s changing position on political involvement, plural marriage, business relations, administrative reorganization, doctrinal redefinition, missionary work, and education.” (Choice)
“Will be required reading for all historians of Mormonism for some time to come.” (William D. Russell, “Journal of American History.”)
“A splendid example of Mormon historical scholarship at its best.” (B. Carmon Hardy, “Utah Historical Quarterly”)
You can purchase this book for $7.95, 30% off its retail price. (It is regularly $11.35.)
“Isaiah Made Easier,” by David J. Ridges, Cedar Fort, 2002, 188 pages, ISBN: 1-55517-615-1.
Isaiah’s teachings and literary symbolism come alive through this teacher’s careful explanations and comments. Never before has every verse of Isaiah been clarified in such a way and made easy to understand. David J. Ridges has spent 35 years teaching the scriptures and researching the material in this book.
You can purchase this book for $9.77, 30% off its retail price. (It is regularly $13.95.)
To see all of our specials in one place, visit this special page:
Thanks for your continued support of the FAIR Bookstore.
– 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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