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 FAIR president Scott Gordon looks at how two entirely different interpretations of LDS history can be based on the same basic facts and why it is so important to start with a proper foundation. He also points out the growing need for help in translating FAIR resources into other languages.
- FAIR TRANSLATION ACTIVITES. FAIR has begun translating its material into other languages, but much more help is needed.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. “Uncovering a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing? A Brief Review of Statements of the LDS First Presidency: A Topical Compendium.” A. Dean Byrd and Daniel C. Peterson review the recently published “Statements of the LDS First Presidency: A Topical Compendium.”
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. The Church’s Public Affairs organization has put up a series of video clips on YouTube.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. Laurie Maffly-Kipp, a non-LDS scholar, recently published an article about the LDS faith and its relationship to other Christian groups and American society.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. Dave’s Mormon Inquiry blogs on “How To Be a Good Anti-Mormon.”
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. Tanya Spackman posts a brief summary of the 2007 FAIR Conference talks.
- 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 WIKI. The FAIR Wiki is an excellent resource for someone looking for a summary of an issue and for pointers to more detailed information.
- FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE. Expand your libary with this month’s specials in 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
As I prepared for a fireside presentation last month, I came across several pictures drawn so that they appear as one picture to some people and an entirely different picture to others. One of the more common of these has both an old woman and a young woman contained in the same picture. http://dragon.uml.edu/psych/woman.html If you show it to a group of people, some members of the group see only the old woman but others will see a young woman. When shown one of these kinds of pictures, it is sometimes very difficult to find the second picture, but if someone points out a distinguishing characteristic, suddenly the second picture seems obvious and you wonder how you could have missed it. This led me to think about our relationship with the Church. As I read some of the exit stories of people who have left the Church, I am often left scratching my head and wondering if I attend the same church they did. I am left wondering why the picture I am looking at is so different than theirs. There was a recent article in Arizona where a brother was excommunicated from the church for apostasy. He told the newspapers about losing his belief when he discovered that Joseph Smith had more than one wife. Again, I am puzzled. His misunderstanding is that it is ok to know that Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff had more than one wife and to believe they were prophets, but it means Joseph Smith wasn’t a prophet if he did. Recently on a former-Mormons’ website, a poll was taken asking the question “Why did you leave?” 67 percent said, “I found out about Mormon history.” 10 percent said, “I never thought it was true.” 10 percent said, “Mormon culture made me uncomfortable.” 8 percent said they “disagreed with leaders’ ethics.” I don’t know how scientific the poll was or if it represented 10 people or 100 people. But it did puzzle me that many claimed they left the church when they “found out about Mormon history.” This is odd, since there are many good, solid, believing historians within the LDS church who probably know a lot more about Mormon history than those responding to this poll. The LDS historians know about Mormon history–warts and all–and don’t leave. I don’t mean to say that we should only be reading whitewashed histories that leave out the mistakes and faults of men. But it makes me ask what history these people are reading.
- Does the history they read include the lives, histories, and testimonies of the witnesses who said over and over again that they had seen the plates and they had seen an angel?
- Does it include the story of Martin Harris complaining how heavy the plates were as he held them on his lap for an hour and a half?
- Does it include Martin Harris saying, “Well as sure as you see my hand so sure did I see the angel and the plates”?
- Does it include Oliver Cowdery speaking of the Book of Mormon translation from his deathbed and saying, “I know that whereof I testified is true. It was no dream, no vain imagination of the mind–it was real”?
- Does it include the story of Katharine, Joseph Smith’s sister hiding the plates in her bed under her legs?
- Does it include the quote from John Whitmer as he says, “I handled those plates; there were fine engravings on both sides”?
- Does the history include the many reports from others who also saw angels?
- Does the history include the 121 independent eyewitness accounts of the mantel of Joseph Smith being passed on to Brigham Young on August 8, 1844, such as the one from nine-year-old William Van Orden who suddenly said, “The Prophet [is] not dead, for I [see] him on the stand”?
I suspect that the histories they are reading aren’t complete. I suspect this incompleteness because I have read many of those histories. In reading them I find there are things often left out, there are things included that aren’t relevant, and there are things included of suspect authenticity. To be fair, all histories leave things out and get some things wrong. There simply isn’t enough room for all of history in any one book, and research is always expanding and subject to human error. But it is interesting to observe what is strategically left in or taken out. Some histories use facts and quotes to paint a picture that shows Joseph Smith as a flawed man and therefore not a prophet; however, they leave out facts and quotes that show that he was a prophet. Yet, when you see all of the facts and quotes and their textual and historical contexts, you see both pictures and come to understand that Joseph Smith was flawed man who was also a prophet of God. It is sometimes argued that Church history books and lesson manuals leave out pertinent facts. They tend to leave out the flaws of early Church leaders. But, these facts aren’t pertinent to the question of whether these men were called of God because the Church teaches that all men have flaws including prophets. And yet, God uses those flawed men to bring about His work. If one is going to make a life changing decision such as leaving a church, it should be based on more than one disturbing fact, or on reading one disturbing book, or worse, a few articles from an Internet web site. More research is always necessary to understand the historical and textual context of the history you have read. The following are four books that can help to clarify the historical context of Church History.
- “Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses” by Richard Lloyd Anderson
- “By the Hand of Mormon” by Terryl Givens http://store.fairlds.org/prod/p0195168887.html
- “Opening the Heavens” edited by John Welch and Erick Carlson http://store.fairlds.org/prod/p0842526072.html
- “Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon” edited by Donald Parry, Daniel Peterson and John Welch http://store.fairlds.org/prod/p0934893721.html
If you are struggling and seeing only the negative picture of the Church and Church history, these books might help you see the other picture and understand that both pictures can peacefully coexist, providing a richness to our history. Good and bad often coexist as humans make both good and bad decisions. Additionally, sometimes what we call bad is simply our misunderstanding of God and how He works. The true miracle is that God uses us as flawed human beings to carry out His flawless work. –Scott Gordon President
FAIR Translation Activities
FAIR continues to work on our international Website and we need help. If you are interested in staring a FAIR translating group in your language, please contact Scott Gordon through the FAIR web site contact page.
FAIR has just started a FAIR list in Spanish. There are currently 28 members so far that range from Stake Presidents to Bishops to missionaries, to average members. They are located in Venezuela, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Argentina. There is an increase in anti Mormon proselytizing in South America right now, and FAIR is needed now more than ever. This group will help to strengthen each other in apologetics and translate FAIR into Spanish. They will receive their own “Ask the Apologist” questions to answer for those in need. Anyone who is interested in joining, or know someone who would be interested in joining, please let FAIR know so we can get them added to the list. There is a wealth of information in FAIR but little has been translated. As one poster on the Internet message boards posted:
“I usually participate in an Spanish speaking message board. Unfortunately for the Spanish speaking or any other people who don’t speak English … we don’t have the apologetic information that becomes a great tool to set the record straight in many doctrinal issues in our own language and it has become an inconvenience when a lot of anti-Mormon propaganda has come in our way…. Hopefully all this kind of information would be in our own language. It is amazing how the anti-Mormon propaganda has already been translated in multiple languages but, especially in Spanish.”
The anti-Mormons are one step ahead of us when it comes to translating. So again, if you know of anyone whom this would help, or who could help out, please let us know. FAIR needs to be translated to help those out who don’t have answers for critical questions. Our German group is active and making progress. You can see some of their work here: http://de.fairmormon.org/Hauptseite If you have a German language Website, please link to them. You can also sign up for the German language newsletter here: http://deutsch.fairlds.org/newsletter.php 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
Uncovering a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing? A Brief Review of “Statements of the LDS First Presidency: A Topical Compendium”
by A. Dean Byrd and Daniel C. PetersonReference books, particularly those providing access to source documents, are always of interest to historians and apologists. In the recent Signature Books publication “Statements of the LDS First Presidency: A Topical Compendium,” Gary Bergera purports to have collected and published a representative selection of statements by the First Presidency about a number of topics. In response to a number of positive, even glowing, reviews of the book, Byrd and Peterson decided to look into Bergera’s work for themselves. Bryd and Peterson immediately acknowledge that a review of a compendium is problematic, but their approach is to see if the selection of material seems to be skewed to support a bias or agenda rather then to provide a balanced and truly representative summary of the source material from which the compendium is drawn. The reviewers also consider whether the author or publisher is known to have a bias that should make a reader cautious about accepting the source selections as an agendaless collection. In this case, Byrd and Peterson conclude the two topics they examined did indeed reflect a biased selection from the source material that supported a long-advocated agenda by the publisher. Given their findings, the reviewers reason that the author misleads readers by giving a false impression of what the First Presidency has or has not said about certain topics. Read the article:
Uncovering a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing? A Brief Review of ‘Statements of the LDS First Presidency: A Topical Compendium’ by A. Dean Byrd and Daniel C. Peterson
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: CHURCH PUBLIC AFFAIRS ON YOUTUBE
YouTube has become a primary source of information for many people. The Church’s Public Affairs organization recently put seven video clips on YouTube in which Elder Ballard responds to common misconceptions about the Church. See the videos:
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: A SCHOLAR’S VIEW ON MORMONISM
Laurie Maffly-Kipp, a religion professor at the University of North Carolina, recently published an article about Mormonism in “The Christian Century.” The article, “A Mormon president? The LDS difference,” addresses a number of issues and concerns raised by Evangelicals about Mormonism in light of Mitt Romney’s campaign for the presidency. The non-LDS view of the LDS faith and its relation to other Christian groups is interesting and instructive. Read the article:
Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, A Mormon president? The LDS difference, The Christian Century, Aug 21, 2007
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: HOW TO BE A GOOD ANTI-MORMON
On Dave’s Mormon Inquiry he addresses how anti-Mormons should change. He points out their need for a more Christian attitude, a better approach, and some self-criticism. His comments point out the serious problems with the traditional anti-Mormon approach to “ministering to Mormons.” Read the article:
How To Be A Good Anti-Mormon, Dave’s Mormon Inquiry, Sep 28, 2007.
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: TANYA SPACKMAN’S FAIR CONFERENCE REVIEW
Tanya Spackman attended the 2007 FAIR Conference and posted a brief summary of the presentations. If you were unable to attend (or would like a reminder of what you heard), this will give you an idea of what is available at the annual FAIR conferences. We will let you know when these presentations become available through the FAIR Bookstore. Read the article:
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. http://www.fairlds.org/contact.php 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 http://www.fairlds.org/apol The following are the Topical Guide updates for the month.
Benjamin R. Jordan, “Volcanic Destruction in the Book of Mormon: Possible Evidence from Ice Cores,” JBMS (City Unknown: FARMS, 2003), 78-87
The destruction in 3 Nephi suggests that Book of Mormon lands experience volcanic activity around the time of the Savior’s death. Jordan examines evidence that indicates that the likely Mesoamerican lands in which the Nephites lived did, in fact, experience volcanic activity in about 3-40 AD.
Richard H. Cracroft, “”Had for Good and Evil”: 19th-Century Literary Treatments of the Book of Mormon,” JBMS (City Unknown: FARMS, 2003), 4-19
Not long after the Book of Mormon was published, negative reviews began appearing. According to 19th-century critics, the Book of Mormon was clumsy and unsophisticated. Cracroft examines the earliest reviews and some of the common complaints they had about the Book of Mormon. Critics
Jeffrey R. Chadwick, “Has the Seal of Mulek Been Found,” JBMS (City Unknown: FARMS, 2003), 72-83
In the Book of Mormon we learn that Mulek was a surviving son of the Bible’s King Zedekiah. A recently discovered Judean stamp seal appears to confirm the existance of the Book of Mormon, Mulek.
Lynn M. Hilton, “In Search of Lehi’s Trail- 30 Years Later,” JBMS (City Unknown: FARMS, 2006), 3-7, 110
Lynn Hilton looks at the scholarship from the last few decades regarding the likely path of Lehi’s sojourn through the wilderness. Book of Mormon > Old World Context http://www.fairlds.org/apol/ai280.html
Warren P. Aston, “Across Arabia with Lehi and Sariah: “Truth Shall Spring out of the Earth”,” JBMS (City Unknown: FARMS, 2003), 8-25, 110-13
Aston examines the many parallels between what the Book of Mormon records during the Lehi trek through the wilderness, and what we currently know of the ancient Arabian landscape.
Richard Wellington and George Potter, “Lehi’s Trail: From the Valley of Lemuel to Nephi’s Harbor,” JBMS (City Unknown: FARMS, 2003), 26-43, 113-16
Having traveled through Arabia in search of features that could match Lehi’s route through Arabia, Potter and Wellington offer their views and intepretations of their findings.
S. Kent Brown, “Refining the Spotlight on Leh and Sariah,” JBMS, 15:2 (City Unknown: FARMS, 2006), 44-120
Dr. S. Kent Brown examines the possible route and likely stops made by the Lehites and they made their way through Arabia.
David A. LeFevre, “”We Did Again Take Our Journey”,” JBMS, 15:2 (City Unknown: FARMS, 2006), 58-122
LeFevre review and responsd the varying details in the Lehite travel theories presented by Aston, Wellington and Potter, and Brown.
Jeffrey R. Chadwick, “An Archaeologist’s View,” JBMS, 15:2 (City Unknown: FARMS, 2006), 68-124
Chadwick, a professional archaeologist, reviews and responds to the Lehite travel theories presented by Aston, Wellington and Potter, and Brown.
Daniel McKinlay, “The Brightening Light on the Journey of Lehi and Sariah,” JBMS, 15:2 (City Unknown: FARMS, 2006), 78-125
McKinlay presents an overview and timeline of the theories and discoveries that LDS scholars have developed regarding the Lehite journey through Arabia.
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 the FAIR Journal focuses attention on the issues surrounding the Kirtland Safety Society. FAIR has received several questions about this event in Church history, and the FAIR wiki article answers the questions raised. The Kirtland Safety Society was financial institution or organization created by Joseph Smith and other Church leaders to help the saints in Kirtland. The KSS failed during the 1837 banking collapse in Ohio and much of the rest of the country. Because of Joseph Smith’s involvement, critics had attempted to use this historical event as evidence that Joseph Smith wasn’t a prophet and that he attempted to enrich himself illegally and at the expense of the members of the Church. The FAIR wiki article provides a basic understanding the early 19th-century, U.S. view of banks and financial institutions, and it shows how the KSS was like many other institutions set up around the country at the time to meet the need in the absence of a strong and liquid banking system. It also shows that the KSS was not based on any claims of prophetic guidance or divine command and that Joseph Smith not only did not gain by this business attempt but that he continued over the next fifteen years to honestly address and repay the debt that he had incurred. Read the article:
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
Thank you all for supporting the FAIR LDS Bookstore. It is because of your support that we are able to offer the lower prices that we do. This month we have three specials.
By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion
Dr. Terryl Givens, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003, 6×9″ softbound, 336 pages. This book received the highest rating (four stars) in the FARMS Review which indicates it is: “Outstanding, a seminal work of the kind that appears only rarely.” Terryl Givens offers a full-length treatment of the Book of Mormon, illuminating many facets of this uniquely American scripture. He examines its role as a divine testament of the Last Days and as a sacred sign of Joseph Smith’s status as a modern-day prophet. He assesses its claim to be a history of the pre-Columbian peopling of the Western Hemisphere. He explores how it has been defined as a cultural product. He also investigates its status as a new American Bible or Fifth Gospel. Givens also probes the book’s shifting relationship to Mormon doctrine and its changing reputation among theologians and scholars. Finally, Givens highlights the book’s role as the engine behind what may become the next world religion. You can purchase this book for $15.95, 20% off its retail price. (It is regularly $19.95.)
Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations 1820-1844
BYU Press, 2005, hardbound, 500 pages. “Opening the Heavens” records hundreds of accounts of divine manifestations relating to the Restoration–events that strengthen our faith and expand our knowledge of Church History. This volume brings together, for the first time, all of the known documents from Joseph Smith’s lifetime relating directly to key events of the Restoration that were accompanied by divine manifestations. These first-hand accounts uniquely convey the spirit of these important occasions and provide precious details that help modern readers construct a vivid image of what transpired. You can purchase this book for $24.71, 25% off its retail price. (It is regularly $32.95.)
Early Christians in Disarray: Contemporary LDS Perspectives on the Christian Apostasy
Edited by Noel B. Reynolds, Provo, Utah: FARMS and BYU Press, 2005, hardbound. This book takes a fresh look at the apostasy of the early Christian church. The strength of the book lies in its use of recent research on manuscripts written during the first few centuries of Christianity. According to Noel Reynolds, the editor, most LDS scholars and leaders previously understood the Christian apostasy based on the findings of Protestant scholars who provided a seemingly endless array of evidences of apostasy in Christian history. The reliance on Protestant writers produced a heavy emphasis in LDS accounts of the apostasy on the late medieval corruption of the Catholic Church–describing it as a time of severe spiritual darkness and intellectual backwardness. You can purchase this book for $23.95, 20% off its retail price. (It is regularly $29.95.) We want to help you find what you need in the FAIR Bookstore! –FAIR Bookstore Volunteers
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.