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 reviews some of the wiki resources that have become available at FAIR over the last year.
- CLAREMONT ANNOUNCES SEARCH FOR FIRST CHAIR IN MORMON STUDIES. Claremont Graduate University is conducting an academic search to fill the Howard W. Hunter Chair in Mormon Studies.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. “The Testimony of Eight.” Scott Gordon reviews the testimony of the Eight Witnesses.
- 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. The 2006 FAIR Conference proceedings are
- now available in CD, DVD, and MP3 formats.
- 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
The FAIR Wiki at www.fairwiki.org continues to grow and respond to a number of issues and challenges. We are especially proud of the new material that has been added on the First Vision accounts at
- Joseph’s accounts of the First Vision—Joseph Smith gave several accounts of the First Vision. Critics charge that differences in the accounts show that he changed and embellished his story over time, and that he therefore had no such vision. (Link)
It would be worth your while to read through these. Some critics hope that you won’t have the resources to recognize the underlying poor assumptions that are contained in some of their books and articles on this topic. With this new area of the FAIR Wiki, you now have at your computer keyboard access to some of the best information on the topic.
We have also started working on a German Version at
While it is only just starting to get off the ground, we have high hopes for it. We are looking forward to being able to announce FAIR wikis in other languages as well. Using the Wiki style format, we hope to be able to bring answers to questions raised by professional anti-Mormons to people of many different languages and cultures. Of course, the biggest problem is finding people who can translate into those languages.
In the past we have put out a call for people to translate, only to have our translators be disappointed that we didn’t have the infrastructure in place to support the various languages. We believe that Wiki software will allow us to support multiple languages, but we can only provide those languages for which we have volunteers to do the work.
If you have the time, we now have the resources.
–Scott Gordon President
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.
You can also contact FAIR via the U.S. Postal Service using the following address. (NOTE: This is a new mailing address for FAIR.)
FAIR P.O. Box 491677 Redding, CA 96049-1677
CLAREMONT ANNOUNCES SEARCH FOR FIRST CHAIR IN MORMON STUDIES
The Claremont Graduate University School of Religion is soliciting qualified applicants to fill the newly-created Howard W. Hunter Chair in Mormon Studies. The candidate should have competency in American religious history and be able to converse with scholars in as many of the following fields as possible within the School of Religion: ethics and society, historical studies, women’s studies, history of Christianity, scriptural studies, philosophy of religion, and theology. Review of applications begins on February 15, 2007, and will continue until the position is filled. For further information, please contact Lisa Maldonado, Administrative Assistant to the Dean, at:
You can read more about the Claremont Mormon Studies program and the
Howard W. Hunter Chair at the following website.
The Testimony of Eight
by Scott Gordon
The witnesses to the Book of Mormon have been a major obstacle for critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There was a group of men who claimed to see the plates and engravings, all of whom maintained their testimony throughout their lives despite many opportunities and ample motive to retract their words.
A recent trend in anti-Mormon activity has been to claim that the witnesses really didn’t see exactly what their testimony claims–they saw and “hefted” the metal plates, handled them with their hands, and observed the gravings on the plates. Instead, some critics now claim, the witnesses only saw the “plates” as a covered object, something that was not actually seen or actually felt.
In his article, Gordon reviews some of the testimonies given by the witnesses in later years that shows that the critics’ novel attempt to discredit the witnesses’ testimony is without merit.
Read the article:
The Testimony of Eight by Scott Gordon
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.
Robert A. Rees, “The Book of Mormon and Automatic Writing,” JBMS 15:1 (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2006)
Some critics claim that Joseph Smith created the fictional Book of Mormon in a manner known as “Automatic Writing.” Rees examines this claim.
Camille S. Williams, “Women in the Book of Mormon,” JBMS 11:1 (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2002)
Camille Williams explores the question of why so few women are mentioned in the Book of Mormon. She sets this matter against the wider backdrop of feminist studies on the Bible and, from a woman’s point of view, offers compelling observations why the
Book of Mormon can and does speak relevantly and spiritually to women.
Teryll Givens The Book of Mormon and Dialogic Revelation (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2001)
Givens explorers the Book of Mormon’s role in allowing believers personal opportunities to receive revelation from on High.
Kirk B. Henrichsen, “How Witnesses Described the “Gold Plates”,” JBMS 10:1 (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2001)
Henrichsen compiles all the known quotes and comments by witnesses who described the Book of Mormon plates.
Scott A. Partridge, “The Failure of the Kirtland Safety Society,” BYU Studies 12:2
The argument over the Kirtland Safety Society is typical of historical discussions in which much is made about the “facts” of a situation. It is as if the truth were somewhere “out there” and if we could somehow manage to separate fact from opinion, we would know what really happened. This idea neglects to consider the point that the facts of history seldom come to us in pure form, since they are always filtered through the mind of the historian who wrote them. There are no “facts” waiting in splendid isolation for discovery by the historian, but only the observations of earlier writers who had their own prejudices. Thus, the anti-Mormon writer who sees the “facts” as damning to the Church and the pro-Mormon writer who sees them as further proof of the validity of his own argument might be wise in working to obtain a broader perspective of the problem in order to reevaluate that which they have come to accept as fact. The purpose of this paper is to reexamine the story of the Kirtland Safety Society.
Charles Harrell, “The Development of the Doctrine of Preexistence, 1830-1844,” BYU Studies 28:2
Perhaps no doctrine has had greater impact on Latter-day Saint theology than the doctrine of preexistence, or the belief in the existence of the human spirit before its mortal birth. Fundamental concepts such as the nature of man as an eternal being, his singular relationship as the offspring of Deity and concomitant brotherhood with all mankind, the talents and privileges with which he is born into the world, and his potential godhood are all inextricably connected to the doctrine of preexistence. This distinctive LDS doctrine was not immediately comprehended by the early Saints in the more fully developed form in which it is understood today. Like many of the other teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, it was revealed line upon line and adapted to the Saints’ understanding. Moreover, there was a natural tendency to view initial teachings on preexistence in light of previously held beliefs until greater clarity was given to the doctrine. This study traces the early development of the doctrine by examining chronologically the revelations and recorded sermons and writings on preexistence by the Prophet Joseph Smith in light of contemporary commentary by his associates. Seeing how early Saints perceived preexistence enhances our own understanding of the doctrine and leads to a greater appreciation of our theological heritage.
Jan Shipps, “Is Mormonism Christian?”: Reflections on a Complicated Question, BYU Studies 33:3
Since I, a staunch member of the First United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Indiana, have been studying the Latter-day Saints for more than thirty years, it is perhaps not surprising that I am frequently asked whether Mormons are Christians and whether Mormonism is Christian. Put to me by journalists, academics, denominational bureaucrats, participants in adult forums in various local Protestant and Catholic churches, active Latter-day Saints, bona fide anti-Mormons, my students, and a variety of other interested persons, the query comes in both forms. But whatever the form, a forthright yes or no answer seems to be expected. Because many people think the two questions are one and the same, inquirers are often startled when I respond by asking if they wish to know whether Mormons are Christians or whether Mormonism is Christian. Moreover, since their question, whatever its form, seems so straightforward to so many, inquirers are also surprised–and sometimes impatient–when I attempt to determine the framework within which the question is being asked. Yet before I can formulate a response, I must know both the substance of the question and its context.
Russell Rich, “Where Were the Moroni Visits?,” BYU Studies 10:3
Rich examines the likely geographical scenarios wherein Moroni visited Joseph Smith.
The good news is that Mormons and Evangelicals aren’t as far apart in their theology as some had supposed. The bad news is that Mormons and Evangelicals aren’t as far apart in their theology as some had supposed. “How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation” is a unique book and an excellent model for future religious dialogue between Mormons and other faiths and among Mormons themselves. It takes on one of the most notorious divides in Christianity, one fraught with stereotypes, acrimony, misinformation, and, in a word, much un-Christian behavior. The book provides clarity, insight, and, I hope, some healing of wounds. The authors are well-trained biblical scholars and experienced, able writers. In this book, they reveal themselves as devout believers in their respective Christian faiths and as thoughtful, gracious men.
The structure of HWD, carefully planned and worked through, is key to the book’s success, since it requires genuine listening to each other’s positions. The four chapters, each on a crucial, historically divisive issue, begin with a statement by one or the other author on the subject and a review of the usual uninformed “misconceptions” by others of their views. Each author then includes a quite critical section of “misgivings” about what they understand the other group believes and ends with “A More Positive Conclusion” that points toward a “Joint Conclusion” written together after the other has gone through the same process for their half of the chapter.
Matthew R. Connelly, Sizing Up the Divide: Reviews and Replies
In August 1997, Stephen E. Robinson and Craig L. Blomberg published through InterVarsity Press a book that broke important ground in LDS and Evangelical circles. The award-winning book–How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation–is a bold attempt to conduct an ongoing, civil dialogue between Mormons and Evangelicals.
As the title suggests, HWD asks a significant question. At issue is the degree of difference and similarity between Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals. By addressing these in an insightful, scholarly, and informative manner, the book intends to elicit individual responses to the question the title poses. It does not attempt to impose authoritative answers to the question. That burden is left to the individual readers who, based on the material in the book and careful thinking, must decide for themselves the breadth of the divide. The appearance of HWD is distinctive because it presents, for the first time in LDS circles since the B.H. Roberts-C. Van der Donckt debate of 1902, a well-informed and respectful public dialogue between two scholars who seek to define, explain, and openly discuss their respective beliefs on their own terms, without surrendering to reckless polemics. In this book, the question of who is ultimately right or wrong is temporarily set aside. Because HWD attempts to navigate the sensitive, unfamiliar waters of real religious understanding, it is expected the book will be subject to intense scrutiny for some time to come.
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
The FAIR Bookstore is excited to announce that we finally have available the 2006 FAIR Conference proceedings. All sessions are now available on audio CDs, DVDs, and downloadable MP3s.
The specials are:
2006 FAIR Conference Proceedings (15) CDs, only $74.25 * 2006 FAIR Conference Proceedings (15) DVDs, only $74.25
They are also available for $6.95 each, or you can download an MP3 of any session for only $3.95. You can find information on the conference proceedings here:
We’re also pleased to announce that the new FARMS Review of Books (Volume 18, No. 2) is now available at the bookstore. We are offering the volume for only $8.75. This book normally retails for $12.95. You can find further information here:
To see all of our specials in one place, visit this special page:
Remember that when you order your books through the FAIR Bookstore you will be supporting FAIR.
– 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.