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 considers the impact of Latter-day Saints running for public office.
- 2007 FAIR CONFERENCE. The 2007 FAIR Conference has been announced and the speaker list has been finalized.
- ASK THE APOLOGIST. Got a question you are dying to ask? Here’s how.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. Ken Jennings recently blogged about gratuitous pot-shots taken at LDS beliefs and practices. In addition, the Church has pre-published an interesting article about the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
- 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 WIKI. The FAIR Wiki is an excellent resource for someone looking for a summary of an issue and for pointers to more detailed information. Check out the highlighted FAIR Wiki entry of the month.
- FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE. Getting ready for the upcoming FAIR Conference is hard work, but well worth it. Check out offerings from previous FAIR Conferences available at the 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 Politics and Mormonism
With Mitt Romney running for president of the United States, and with Harry Reid as the leader in the US Senate, Mormonism is coming more and more into the public eye. We even see it coming into the popular culture with television, movies, theater, books, and magazines focusing on what Mormons do and don’t believe. Questions are being asked, such as
- Are Mormons trustworthy?
- Are Mormons secretive?
- Do Mormons take their marching orders from Salt Lake?
- Are Mormons willing to be suicide bombers or drink poison-laced Kool-Aid?
- And what is it about that Mormon underwear?
Usually, I find my faith very distorted in these various articles and events. But I welcome the articles since it invites discussion and often increases understanding. I have a hard time blaming the journalists and writers for inaccuracies because their source information is so polarized it is difficult to separate out the good from the bad. I feel bad for many journalists. Often what they write gets jumped on immediately by well-meaning Latter-day Saints who are sure the journalists have an agenda to attack the Church, even though that is seldom true.
With that in mind, I wanted to point out two excellent articles that help us deal with Mormonism in the public square. The first one is an interview on The Pew Forum with LDS historian Richard Bushman and a number of Journalists. It is well worth reading. It is titled Mormonism and Democratic Politics: Are They Compatible? and can be found at
Mormonism and Politics: Are They Compatible? EVENT TRANSCRIPT May 14, 2007
The second article is an extremely important statement put out by the Church concerning Mormon doctrine.
I especially liked the following three comments:
“Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine.”
“Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core doctrines.”
“The mistake that public commentators often make is taking an obscure teaching that is peripheral to the Church’s purpose and placing it at the very center. This is especially common among reporters or researchers who rely on how other Christians interpret Latter-day Saint doctrine.”
It has been my observation that we all interpret data through the lenses of our own belief and experience. This is true if we are talking about political, scientific, historical, or religious issues. So, for example, while LDS view the Bible as a sacred text, the idea that it isn’t perfect is seen as an attack on the Bible by those individuals who hold it as the inerrant word of God. As we talk about following modern prophets, others think about so-called prophets such as Jim Jones who demand absolute compliance. This lens of belief makes it very difficult for journalists, authors, and screenwriters to see us as anything but a distorted reflection of their own beliefs, or if they don’t see immediate similarities, a completely alien faith. We must work hard to build bridges and reflect our faith accurately.
Finally, as a reminder, the Church has made many statements on political neutrality.
Hopefully the political discussions on Romney and Reid don’t become a referendum on Mormonism in the press, or a firestorm of contention in our own pews. In any case, it looks like politics may be bringing Mormonism out of obscurity.
–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
2007 FAIR Conference
Now is the time to sign up for the FAIR conference!
We always have a great time at the conference. You can meet the various scholars and have them sign their books for you. Of course, we conveniently sell the speakers’ books at the conference. It is Thursday, August 2, and Friday August 3 from 8-5. Lunch is included.
Due to some conflicts we do have one change in our speaker lineup. Brian Hauglid won’t be able to make it to the conference this year, but we have already agreed to schedule him for next year’s conference. In his place we will have the eminently qualified Egyptologist Dr. John Gee. He will be talking about the Book of Abraham with a presentation titled “Papyri and Puzzles.”
Sign up for the FAIR conference here:
Please help us promote the FAIR conference. We are a non-profit organization which relies on the donations and good will of others. We work hard to make the conference affordable, but what we charge doesn’t fully cover the costs. So we hope that others will help us to promote the event. You can download a poster of the conference here.
If you are able, please put it on your bulletin board at church or in another place where it may be seen by people who may be interested in attending. Please only post the poster where it is lawful.
If you like the presentations and conferences that we sponsor, you can make a donation to FAIR here:
Mark your calendars now!
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.
RESOURCES ON THE WEB
Anyone who pays attention to references by traditional and online media to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knows that the Church is frequently treated as fair game for all kinds of ridicule and attacks, often in ways that would be considered socially unacceptable if carried out against other religions or ethnic groups. In his blog, Ken Jennings comments on this unfortunate phenomenon and gives examples where this kind of treatment has occurred.
The Church has added a new article written by Richard Turley on their Web site with a clear explanation of the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the events leading up to it. You can find that article here:
The Mountain Meadows Massacre by Richard Turley, Ensign, September 2007.
Brother Turley will be one the featured speakers at our FAIR Conference in August. Sign up now to learn more.
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.
John Gee, “Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence of the Joseph Smith Papyri,” The Disciple as a Witness (City Unknown: FARMS), 175-217
Egyptologist Dr. John Gee examines what we know about the translation of the Joseph Smith Papyri.
Daniel C. Peterson, “”Ye Are Gods”: Psalm 82 and John 10 as Witnesses to the Divine Nature of Humankind,” The Disciple as a Scholar (City Unknown: FARMS), 471-594
Dr. Daniel Peterson shows how the LDS belief in a divine council is as home in the Bible.
Neal A. Maxwell, “By the Gift and Power of God,” Ensign, January 1997, 36
Elder Maxwell discusses the translation of the Book of Mormon.
John Gee, William J. Hamblin and Daniel C. Peterson; “”And I Saw the Stars”: The Book of Abraham and Ancient Geocentric Astronomy,”Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant (City Unknown: FARMS), 1-15
Drs. Gee, Hamblin, and Peterson make a compelling argument that the Book of Abraham’s view of astronomy fits neatly into way seen by the ancient world and is contrary to how Joseph Smith would have understood the cosmos in his day.
Kevin L. Barney, “The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources,” Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant (City Unknown: FARMS), 107-130
While there seems to be a disconnect between Egyptological interpretations of the Book of Abraham facsimilies and what Joseph Smith gave us, Kevin Barney argues that we need, instead, to understand how early Jews would have understood the facsimiles during the period when the Joseph Smith Papyri was produced.
Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, Dan Vogel.
Reviewed by Alan Goff (Other Resource), Andrew H. Hedges and Dawson W. Hedges (Other Resource), Larry E. Morris (Other Resource), and Kyle Walker (Other Resource).
Under the Banner of Heaven, John Krakauer.
Reviewed by Craig L. Foster (Other Resource), Richard E. Turley, Jr.
The FAIR Wiki project was started in 2006 to provide a more flexible and searchable resource for Latter-day Saints and others to get answers to Gospel questions. The Wiki is by design always a “work in progress,” with many editors at FAIR contributing to articles on a daily basis. You can access the FAIR Wiki at:
This month we would like to highlight the wiki entries on the First Vision.
The First Vision has become a favorite issue for critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph Smith recounted his experiences a number of times over the decades following this vision, and he did not use the same words in each retelling. Critics have spent a great deal of effort contrasting every known version of the First Vision story and have argued against its authenticity because of discrepancies that they claim prove that Joseph had made up the experience.
The FAIR Wiki entry responds to almost every known argument against the First Vision. This is an excellent resource for someone who needs to know more about the First Vision accounts and who needs to defend this foundational event in LDS history.
Thank you for all of the positive comments about our review of the Search for the Truth DVD. We have received several requests to put the review into one file for downloading or for printing. We have taken your suggestion and created a PDF version of the review here
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
The volunteers at the FAIR Bookstore are busy getting things ready for the upcoming FAIR Conference. In preparation for the conference, you may want to take a look at some of the audios and videos available from conferences in previous years. We have a full selection available here:
You’ll find presentations available from a wide variety of people, including Richard Bushman, Matthew Brown, Davis Bitton, Dan Petersen, Brant Gardner, John Clark, Roger Keller, and a host of others. Check out what is available; it is a great way to get ready for this year’s conference!
– 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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