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. With the annual FAIR Conference only a month away, now is the time to make the arrangements to come.
- FAIR CONFERENCE NEWS. Our annual FAIR Conference is only two months away. Be sure to check out the speaker list and to order your tickets soon.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. “Christ, The Firstfruits of Theosis.” In his 2002 FAIR Conference presentation, Roger Cook looks at the LDS view of theosis in light of ancient Jewish and Christian views.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. “Black Latter-day Saints: A Faith-FULL History.” In her 2003 FAIR Conference presentation, Margaret Blair Young shares stories of faithful black Latter-day Saints from the early days of the Church.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. “The ABCs of the Book of Abraham.” During the 2004 FAIR Conference, Michael Ash and Kevin Barney gave a session to help Latter-day Saints understand some of the issues and controversies related to the Book of Abraham.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. “The Message and the Messenger: Latter-day Saints and Freemasonry.” Greg Kearney discusses the relationship between Freemasonry and the LDS faith in his 2005 FAIR Conference talk.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. “A Joseph Smith Miscellany.” In his 2005 FAIR Conference presentation, Richard Bushman discusses portions of Joseph Smith’s life that have been traditionally difficult to understand and looks at how these can be understood better from the point of view of the Prophet.
- 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. Build your library by taking advantage of this month’s specials at the FAIR 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. All of the FAIR Journal issues since October 2001 are on the FAIR web site.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
No survey has been done, but I suspect that only a small percentage of those affiliated with FAIR are in any way “active apologists” who do research and respond to specific attacks on the restored Gospel. Most people who receive this Journal, who subscribe to the FAIR Apologetics list, or who attend the annual FAIR Conference seem to be those who are interested in learning and understanding issues that may be troubling to Latter-day Saints or those seriously investigating the Gospel.
The annual FAIR Conference is a wonderful time to meet with people who share an interest in faithfully examining the history and doctrines of the Church. You will find that the vast majority of attendees are not scholars or experts in any field relating to apologetics, but they are simply people who find these topics interesting and hope that a better understanding of criticisms and responses may help them help others who may someday be struggling with a difficult question. If you have never attended a FAIR Conference, this is the year to start. This year’s FAIR Conference has an exciting list of speakers and topics. We have more speakers and more topics than ever before. But, tickets are selling twice as fast as they have in years past, and there is some risk of selling out. If you want to ensure your seat at the FAIR conference, sign up now right away.
If you are interested in a poster to help advertise the conference, one can be downloaded from the FAIR web site.
No matter what your level of expertise and experience in apologetics may be, you are sure to not only learn a lot at the conference, but you will have a great time as well.
We look forward to seeing you in August!
–Scott Gordon President, FAIR
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.
Christ, The Firstfruits of Theosis
by Roger Cook
One of the charges made by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ is that the LDS belief that man may become god is so thoroughly contrary to traditional Christian belief as to place Latter-day Saints outside the family of Christian faiths. In his 2002 FAIR Conference presentation, Cook examines early Hebrew and Christian beliefs about the nature of God and man and notes that the ontological differences are not what developed in later Christian thought. “God, for Hebrews, Jews and early Christians, is not an absolute ontologically ‘other’ noetic entity who is existence itself.” Cook also states, “However the earliest Christians and Jews pictured God and man in a way that is strikingly similar to that of the Church of Jesus Christ.” This early belief in the nature of God and the relationship between God and man is strikingly similar to LDS beliefs. “Both the early and latter-day members of Christ’s Church share a core doctrine of theosis that most Christians have long since rejected.”
Read the article:
Christ, The Firstfruits of Theosis by Roger Cook
Black Latter-day Saints: A Faith-FULL History
by Margaret Blair Young
In her 2003 FAIR Conference presentation, Young shares many stories of faithful black Latter-day Saints who shared the trials and burdens of establishing the Church of Jesus Christ in this dispensation. From the time of the first black convert in 1832, through the Kirkland and Nauvoo eras, into the pioneer and Utah colonization period, and up to the present, black Latter-day Saints have displayed profound courage and faith in the restored Gospel. Knowing their stories of faith is critical to understanding the relationship of black Saints to their white brothers and sisters in the Gospel.
Read the article:
Black Latter-day Saints: A Faith-FULL History by Margaret Blair Young
The ABCs of the Book of Abraham
by Michael Ash and Kevin Barney
The Book of Abraham is one of the more prominent issues raised by critics of the Church. There are anti-Mormon books and films devoted entirely to attacking the Book of Abraham, and through it the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. The issue is a complicated one, however, and few Latter-day Saints are familiar enough with the arguments made on both sides to give a faithful and accurate response to those who are seeking to tear down the Church. At the 2004 FAIR Conference, Ash and Barney teamed up to make a special presentation summarizing the history of the Book of Abraham and the problems that critics find with the English text relative to the extant papyri.
Read the article:
The ABCs of the Book of Abraham by Michael Ash and Kevin Barney
The Message and the Messenger: Latter-day Saints and Freemasonry
by Greg Kearney
A frequent attack against the Church by anti-Mormons involves the LDS temple ceremonies. Noting similarities between the mechanics of the endowment and rituals of Freemasonry, critics declare that the LDS endowment is nothing more than a corrupted Masonic ceremony and cannot be an inspired or holy sacrament. At the 2004 FAIR Conference, Kearney, who is both an active Latter-day Saint and an active Mason, discussed how he views the relationship between the temple endowment and masonry.
Read the article:
The Message and the Messenger: Latter-day Saints and Freemasonry by Greg Kearney
A Joseph Smith Miscellany
by Richard Bushman
Joseph Smith, as the first prophet of this dispensation, is given an honored position in the history of the Latter-day Saints. Their respect and gratitude for his role in God’s plan is frequently attacked and ridiculed by detractors. In his 2005 FAIR Conference presentation, Bushman discusses how anti-Mormon (and LDS) approaches to Joseph Smith are often shallow and misguided. Joseph Smith was complex, he lived in a different cultural environment than we do today, and it is easy to find fault with some things we have record of him doing and saying when we compare him to what we think he should have done or said.
“So we shouldn’t be troubled if Joseph Smith is not a perfect gentleman, and is even offensive to us in some way. I think it’s the nature of prophets that they are idiosyncratic, a little wild, a little odd even. He was not a gentle self-effacing Saint which we have some come to believe is the ideal Christian. He was, if I may quote a phrase, a “rough stone rolling” and frankly I think it is wonderful that the Lord should work through people like him.”
Read the article:
A Joseph Smith Miscellany by Richard Bushman
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, you may submit it through the FAIR web site.
Questions sent to FAIR 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. In addition
to these new references, about 75 links have been added to the Topical Guide pointing to completed articles in the FAIR Wiki.
Kent P. Jackson, “Joseph Smith’s Cooperstown Bible: The Historical Context of the Bible Used in the Joseph Smith Translation,” BYU Studies(2001), 41-70
In October 1829, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery obtained the Bible that was later used in the preparation of Joseph Smiths new translation of the Holy Scriptures. It was a quarto-size King James translation published in 1828 by the H. and E. Phinney company of Cooperstown, New York. In this article we will examine Joseph Smith’s Phinney Bible, the history of the Bible in the English language and in America, the roots from which the Phinney Bible descended, and the way it was used in the creation of the Joseph Smith Translation.
Richard L. Anderson, “Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reappraised,” BYU Studies (1970)
The biographer of Joseph Smith’s early life will know his subject when he relies on sources that know their subject. This truism is more obvious in statement than application, for non-Mormon biography has not faced the severe limitations of the uniformly hostile affidavits taken by a sworn enemy of the Mormon Prophet. The image thus obtained is sharply discordant from the Joseph Smith documented in the 1830s: a leader of physical prowess and vigorous manhood, a profound idealist with spontaneous humor and warmth, who displayed personal courage under tremendous odds. A similar youth in the 1820s is discovered, not by editing out non-Mormon sources, but finding those non-Mormon sources that reflect definite contact with Joseph Smith. Such a study shows that collecting informed statements about the Prophet will produce a substantial favorable judgment.
Although initial collection of statements against Joseph Smith is an oft-told story, its outline is a necessary background for the affidavits to be analyzed. D. P. Hurlbut, excommunicated twice by LDS tribunals for immorality; became so personally vindictive that he was put under a court order restraining him from doing harm to the person or property of Joseph Smith. He was next “employed” by an anti-Mormon public committee to gather evidence to “completely divest Joseph Smith of all claims to the character of an honest man.” To achieve this goal he traveled to New York and procured statements at Palmyra Village, the largest business center adjacent to the Smith farm and also at Manchester, the rural district that included “Stafford Street.” Cornelius Stafford, then twenty, later remembered that Hurlbut arrived at “our school house and took statements about the bad character of the Mormon Smith family, and saw them swear to them.”
The Painesville, Ohio, editor, E. D. Howe, replaced Hurlbut as a respectable author, and published the affidavits in Mormonism Unvailed(1834), laying the cornerstone of anti-Mormon historiography. Howe lived to see the solidity of the edifice, observing forty-four years afterward in his memoirs that the book “has been the basis of all the histories which have appeared from time to time since that period touching that people.” More accurately, Howe’s writing was insignificant, but the Palmyra-Manchester affidavits published by him have introduced Joseph Smith in every major non-Mormon study from 1834 to the present. Yet even supposedly definitive studies display no investigation of the individuals behind the Hurlbut statements, nor much insight into their community.
Richard L. Anderson, “The Mature Joseph Smith and Treasure Digging,” BYU Studies (1984), 489-560
The past year intensified the study of the Prophet’s early life because of the release of two “treasure letters” seeming to illuminate the pre-Book of Mormon period. The questionable letter of Joseph Smith to Josiah Stowell in 1825 has a “clever spirit” guarding a treasure hoard. The questionable 1830 letter from Martin Harris to William W. Phelps claims that Joseph spoke of a salamander and “old spirit” at the hill in 1827, though Joseph’s real experience could be obscured by such a singular secondhand report. Publicity on these documents has stimulated research and reevaluation, some of it asserting a lifelong interest of the Prophet in paranormal discovery of riches. This paper examines the basis of such claims after 1827 and finds them wanting.
Milton V. Backman and James B. Allen, ” Membership of Certain of Joseph Smith’s Family in the Western Presbyterian Church of Palmyra,”BYU Studies (1970)
When Joseph Smith wrote his personal history in 1838, he said that about the time of his first vision, in 1820, four members of his family had joined the Presbyterian faith: his mother, Lucy; his brothers, Hyrum and Samuel; and his sister Sophronia. Until recently Mormon historians have presented little corroborating evidence, but an examination of the Presbyterian Church records in Palmyra has shown that at least three of the Smiths were part of that congregation in 1828, although by that time they had become inactive.
Marvin S. Hill, “Money-Digging Folklore and the Beginnings of Mormonism: An Interpretive Suggestion,” BYU Stuides (1984), 473-488
Over the years, LDS church historians have responded to claims that the Mormon movement because as a money-digging speculation with accounts that minimize or deny any such connections. It has been seemingly assumed until very recently that if Joseph Smith believed in and practiced magic to find buried treasure then his story of the inspired discovery of the plates of the Book of Mormon may be suspect. Needless to say, the recent appearance of two letters with gold digging implications gave new life to the discussion of Mormon origins in these terms. The first is purportedly written by Joseph Smith in 1825 to Josiah Stowell. The second is attributed to Martin Harris, written in 1830 to W. W. Phelps.
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
The FAIR LDS Bookstore is celebrating the hot days of summer with some really hot prices. The Bookstore has chosen four great books for the hot deals of summer. 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.
“The Savior and the Serpent,” by Alonzo L. Gaskill (Deseret Book, 2005, hardbound, 239 pages, ISBN 1-59038-521-7)
The Fall of Adam and Eve–one of the “three pillars of eternity”–is essential to the plan of salvation. And yet, how many of us really understand it? In “The Savior and the Serpent,” Alonzo L. Gaskill explains the purpose of the Fall and its meaning for our lives, for in a very real sense, their Fall is the story of our fall.
You can purchase this book for $13.27, 30% off its retail price. It is regularly priced $18.95.)
“Investigating the Book of Mormon Witness,” by Richard Lloyd Anderson (Deseret Book, 1981, paperbook, 206 pages, ISBN: 0-87579-242-1)
Published in every edition of the Book of Mormon are testimonies of eight witnesses who saw the metal plates from which the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the ancient scriptural account and of three witnesses who not only say the plates but who were shown them by an angel. Who were these witnesses? Can we take their testimonies seriously?
You can purchase this must-have classic book for $9.77, 30% off its retail price. (It is regularly $13.95.)
“Organize My Kingdom: A History of Restored Priesthood,” by John A. Tvedtnes (Cornerstone Publishing, 2000, paperbook, 320 pages, ISBN 1-929281-08-0)
A detailed examination of the government of God–the priesthood organization of the Church–from the very beginning of the Restoration to the present day.
You can purchase this book for $11.87, 30% off its retail price. (It is regularly priced at $16.95.)
“A Latter-Day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament,” by Ellis T. Rasmussen (Deseret Book, 1993, paperbook, 718 pages, ISBN 1-57008-788-1)
Who hasn’t yearned for a reliable guide while exploring the scriptures–especially when lost in the bewildering landscape of the Old Testament, where there is much to wonder about?
In this commentary Ellis T. Rasmussen ably guides us through a reading of the Old Testament. His explanations will be welcomed by those taking a tentative first step into the ancient writings. They will also be welcomed by more seasoned travelers.
You can purchase this book for $15.37, 30% off its retail price. (It is regularly priced at $21.95.)
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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