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. President Scott Gordon addresses the issue of whether Mormons are really honest about explaining what they believe.
- FAIR BLOG CREATED. FAIR has created a blog for its members to express their opinions about all things related to defending LDS beliefs, practices, and individuals.
- FAIR DEBUTS ON YOUTUBE. FAIR has created a series of short video clips to respond to various attacks by critics.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. The Church has released for downloading the “Myths & Reality” video used in the 2002 Winter Olympics to answer questions about LDS beliefs and culture.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. “Latter Day Relief.” Author Neylan McBaine gives her reaction to Mitt Romney’s speech on religion in politics and the growing awareness of LDS culture in two articles.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. “A Gift for Anti-Mormons.” Jeff Lindsay blogs a humorous “comparison of Mormonism and Christianity.”
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. “Does it Matter if the Book of Mormon Events Really Happened?” Meridian Magazine has published this FAIR article on the importance of belief in Book of Mormon historicity.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. “Finding Nephi’s Bountiful in the Real World.” Warren P. Aston gives his views for where Bountiful might be located.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. “Using New Media to Support the Work of the Church.” The full text of Elder M. Russell Ballard’s speech at BYU Hawaii is available on the Church’s website.
- 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. Links to many new and changed articles are included in this issue.
- FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE. The 2007 FAIR Conference MP3s are available now for downloading, as are some other great books for your library.
- 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 Mormon Problem with Honesty
In the various articles, blogs, and comments related to Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, the Mormon honesty problem has come up. “Why didn’t Mitt Romney talk about what Mormons really believe?” asked one writer. “Mormons feel it is ok to lie about their beliefs,” stated a radio caller.
So do Mormons lie about their beliefs?
All practicing Mormons must answer the question, “Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow man?” in the affirmative in order to be able to attend an LDS temple, so they are often puzzled by these statements and questions. But Mormon answers aren’t really the problem. The honesty problem has more to do with what Evangelical Christians are taught about Mormons than with Mormon belief itself.
In a survey done by FAIR, over 65% of responding pastors said that they had sponsored classes at their Church on Mormonism. Most people love their church and their pastors. They have seen their pastor spend countless hours in helping people and doing their best to teach their congregations. But in teaching about Mormonism, only 2% of those pastors actually invited Mormons to explain their beliefs. The rest relied on anti-Mormon ministries and publications for their information.
The goal of these professional anti-Mormon ministries is to keep people away from Mormonism. They want to protect the flock from any Mormon “sheep-stealing” missionaries. To accomplish their goal they sensationalize, distort, misunderstand, misread, and misrepresent LDS doctrine and scripture. It is from this group that we learn that Mormonism is a cult. It is this group that provides most of the information on Mormonism on the Internet. So when Evangelicals start conversations with their Mormon acquaintances, they already “know” Mormons belong to a cult, even if they can’t remember why.
On the other side of this equation, we have the Mormons. Mormons have a completely different way of looking at doctrine. They tend to classify doctrine into that which is important and that which is speculation. The important things are mostly reflected in the temple recommend questions and focus on core doctrines such as Jesus is our Savior, God is our Father, keep the commandments, God speaks to us today, and the Bible and The Book of Mormon are the word of God. Other important beliefs are that we lived with God before this life and after this life we will all be resurrected and enter one of the kingdoms of glory. These are all beliefs that define Mormonism.
Mormon speculation deals with doctrinal areas where there are hints in scripture, but no explanations. These areas are less sure, less defined, and frequently completely unknown. Questions in this area would include: what was it like in the pre-existence? Where did God come from? What exactly will it be like in the afterlife? Because these areas are unknown, a good practicing Mormon is free to believe and say anything he or she wants about them. We have a long history of commenting on these areas, yet most everyone understands that these are areas of personal opinion and speculation.
The honesty problem comes up when the Evangelical world and the Mormon world collide. The questions posed to Mormons come from a basis in anti-Mormonism meant to expose how the Mormons are weird and belong to a cult. Is Jesus Satan’s brother? Is there a God before God? Where does God live? Will you be creating your own planet? While you can find something written by a Mormon somewhere on all these items, these questions fall into the speculative area and are not core doctrines of Mormonism. This means if you ask several different Mormons, you will likely get several different answers. And Mormons have no problem with that.
When the religious issue came up for Mitt Romney, Mormon honesty became a factor. The real truth is that most of the discussions on Mormonism haven’t been about Mormonism at all, but a discussion of speculation, anti-Mormon issues, and bigotry. That is where we need a little more honesty.
Before closing, I would like to turn for a short time to another topic–the passing of President Hinckley. We all knew it was coming; we all knew this day would arrive. That doesn’t change the shock and surprise that comes with hearing the news of his passing, however.
President Hinckley was, to put it mildly, an inspiration for many people, LDS and not. His boundless energy and eternal optimism gave voice to the best to which we, as humans, aspire. He attempted to live his life in concert with the will of his Father, and he showed us how to be like Christ in our everyday lives.
President Hinckley will be dearly missed.
–Scott Gordon President
FAIR BLOG CREATED
FAIR has created a blog for its members to express themselves on issues relating to the mission of FAIR: defending Mormonism. The blog went online on January 8 and is averaging about one new entry per day. FAIR does not determine content and each entry represents the views of its author without necessarily representing the views of FAIR.
So far the diverse topics have included issues in the Book of Mormon, anti-Mormon activities, Mormonism in the political arena, LDS history, and many others.
Check out the blog:
FAIR DEBUTS ON YOUTUBE
For many months FAIR has been creating video responses to specific attacks against LDS beliefs. This month FAIR began putting some of those videos onto YouTube.com to make them immediately available to those needing responses in this medium. The clips range from about two minutes to about six minutes in length. These are all taken from a single, larger video that is being produced to respond to critics of the Church.
The videos that have been posted so far are:
- The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon, LDS Scholars comment
- Archaeology and the Bible
- Book of Mormon, Old World
- Book of Mormon Geography, New World
- The Book of Mormon and Temples
- Coins and the Book of Mormon
- Metals in the Book of Mormon
- Grains and the Book of Mormon
- Horses, Chariots, Elephants in the Book of Mormon
- LDS Scholars’ Testimonies
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: CHURCH RELEASES VIDEO CHALLENGING MYTHS
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on January 19, 2008, that the video produced for the 2002 Winter Olympics to explain LDS beliefs is now available for downloading. The 10-minute video was produced to help explain the Church, its culture, and its beliefs to journalist and others attending the games. The video can be downloaded to be used by members.
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: REFLECTIONS BY AN LDS WOMAN
Author Neylan McBaine, on the BustedHalo.com website, discusses issues surrounding being a Latter-day Saint in environments where the faith is little understood. Her response to Mitt Romney’s speech on religion was one of relief that his speech might help remove discussions of LDS doctrines from the political arena where they have been reduced to sound bites.
In another article McBaine discusses the growing awareness of LDS beliefs and practices by those in the professional world.
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: A GIFT FOR ANTI-MORMONS
Jeff Lindsay blogged a humorous article on Mormanity using the classic anti-Mormon style of “comparing Mormonism to Christianity.” In addition to being an interesting defense of the LDS position, Lindsay’s approach shows how such comparison charts, the staple of most ministries to Mormons, can be manipulated to misrepresent or oversimply a doctrinal position to achieve a particular outcome.
Read the article:
Jeff Lindsay, A Gift for Anti-Mormons, Mormanity, January 03, 2008
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: DOES IT MATTER IF THE BOOK OF MORMON EVENTS REALLY HAPPENED?
Anti-Mormons naturally reject the Book of Mormon as either authentic or historical. But can a believing Latter-day Saint accept the Book of Mormon while denying its historicity? In this article published online with Meridian Magazine, the argument is made that historicity is indeed an important, if not essential, foundational belief for Latter-day Saints.
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: FINDING NEPHI’S “BOUNTIFUL” IN THE REAL WORLD
In recent years many exciting finds have been made on the Arabian peninsula that support the Book of Mormon narrative. The location of Bountiful on the seashore of Arabia has been a primary focus for a number of individuals and groups seeking to find possible sites for locations identified within the Book of Mormon text. In this Meridian Magazine article, Warren P. Aston looks at a site he feels meets the requirements laid out in the ancient text and which could very well be the spot spoken of in Nephi’s record.
Read the article:
Warren P. Aston, “Finding Nephi’s “Bountiful” in the Real World”, Meridian Magazine
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: USING NEW MEDIA TO SUPPORT THE WORK OF THE CHURCH
In the December 2007 edition of the FAIR Journal, we highlighted parts of Elder Russel M. Ballard’s speech during the BYU-Hawaii graduation ceremony. The complete text for that speech is available on the Church’s website. Elder Ballard encouraged members to responsibly engage in online discussions of LDS beliefs, practices, and culture.
Elder Ballard said, “The Lord over the centuries has had a hand in inspiring people to invent tools that facilitate the spreading of the gospel. The Church has adopted and embraced those tools, including print, broadcast media, and now the Internet.”
He went on to urge members to be active in using the tools the Lord has made available to us. “Now, to you who are graduating today and all other faithful members of the Church, as you graduate from this wonderful university, may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet, particularly the New Media, to share the gospel and to explain in simple, clear terms the message of the Restoration. Most of you already know that if you have access to the Internet you can start a blog in minutes and begin sharing what you know to be true. You can download videos from Church and other appropriate sites, including Newsroom at LDS.org, and send them to your friends. You can write to media sites on the Internet that report on the Church, and voice your views as to the accuracy of the reports. This, of course, requires that you, all members of the Church, understand the basic, fundamental principles of the gospel.”
Read the full text:
“Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet,” M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, July 2008
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.
Susan Easton Black and Larry C. Porter, “”For the Sum of Three Thousand Dollars”,” JBMS (City Unknown: FARMS), 4-11
Black and Porter examine the details surrounding Martin Harris’s financial contribution to publish the Book of Mormon.
Richard N. Williams, “The Book of Mormon as Automatic Writing: Beware the Virtus Dormitiva,” FARMS Review (City Unknown: FARMS), 23-29
Williams reviews the claim that the Book of Mormon was produced by “automatic writing”.
William J. Hamblin, “Reformed Egyptian,” FARMS Review (City Unknown: FARMS), 31-35
Hamblin demonstrates that the term “reformed Egyptian” is an accurate description of an altered Egyptian script, and he provides plently of examples of Semitic languages that have been written in a modified, or reformed, Egyptian script.
William J. Hamblin, “Sacred Writing on Metal Plates in the Ancient Mediterranean,” FARMS Review (City Unknown: FARMS), 37-54
Hamblin provides several old world examples of sacred writings on metal plates– just as we find for the Book of Mormon.
M. Gerald Bradford, “The Study of Mormonism: A Growing Interest in Academia,” FARMS Review (City Unknown: FARMS), 119-174
Bradford looks at the growing body of academic literature that attempts to understand Mormonism.
Louis Midgley, “Knowing Brother Joseph Again,” FARMS Review (City Unknown: FARMS), xi-lxxiv
Midgley looks at LDS restoration stories and how critics attempt to rewrite and reinterpret the foundation events.
Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Lyman Bushman. Reviewed by Louis Midgley
The FAIR wiki project was started in 2006 to provide a more flexible and searchable resource for Latter-day Saints and allow 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 wiki focuses attention on wiki articles that have been updated. Each month hundreds of changes are made in the wiki as new information is incorporated, errors are found and corrected, and new topics are added. The following are only a few of the scores of wiki entries that have been modified this month.
“Marriage not needed for exaltation.” This article discusses the statements by Paul and Jesus relative to marriage.
As a requirement for exaltation—Critics attack the LDS view of marriage as essential on the following grounds: 1)If marriage is essential to achieve exaltation, why did Paul say that it is good for a man not to marry? (1 Corinthians 7:1), 2)Why does the Mormon Church teach that we can be married in heaven when Jesus said in Matthew 22:30 that there is no marriage in the resurrection? 3) Since not all members of the Church are married, doesn’t this mean there will be many otherwise good Mormons who will not be exalted? (Link)
“Reports of Drunken Behavior at the Kirtland Temple Dedication.” This deals with the anti-Mormon and apostate accusations of drunkenness in Kirtland.
Reports of Drunken Behavior at the Kirtland Temple Dedication—Were there really spiritual manifestations attending the dedication of the Kirtland temple? I have heard allegations that it was in fact a drunken orgy. (Link)
“Mountain Meadows Massacre: September Dawn film.” This entry has been updated to report that September Dawn was voted the worst film of the year by the Orlando Sentinel.
September Dawn—”When an independent film company produced a grossly distorted version of the Mountain Meadows Massacre two years ago, the Church ignored it. Perhaps partly as a result of that refusal to engender the controversy that the producers hoped for, the movie flopped at the box office and lost millions.” (The Publicity Dilemma, LDS Newsroom, March 9, 2009.) (Link)
“Downplaying the King Follett Discourse.” This article addresses the complaint that President Hinckley and others have been backing away from support for well-known statements in the King Follett Discourse. It has been updated with some additional statements made by President Hinckley in General Conference.
Hinckley downplaying the King Follett Discourse—Critics claim that, in an effort to appear more “mainline” Christian, the Church is downplaying the importance of some doctrines taught late in Joseph Smith’s lifetime. Prominent among these is the doctrine of human deification. To bolster their argument, critics usually quote from a 1997 Time magazine interview with President Gordon B. Hinckley: “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it … I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don’t know a lot about it, and I don’t think others know a lot about it.” Critics have claimed that this means that President Hinckley has admitted to altering LDS doctrine, or discarding a teaching from the past. (Link)
“Book of Mormon witnesses: Hypnotism.” This is a response to the claim that the Book of Mormon witnesses were victims of hynotism. It has been updated with additional testimony from Joseph Smith III and David Whitmer.
Did Joseph hypnotize the Book of Mormon witnesses?—Critics claim that the Book of Mormon witnesses may have been sincere in their testimony, but were actually the victims of ‘hallucination’ or ‘hypnosis’ induced in them by Joseph Smith. The accusation that Joseph Smith was somehow able to hypnotize the witnesses—not individually, but en mass—is simply too preposterous to be true. This accusation vastly overstates the nature of hypnotism and the abilities of those able to practice it. (Link)
“MormonFAQ.” This page was added to provide a quick reference for journalists and others who have basic questions about the Church and LDS beliefs. It deals with everything from myths to style issues to comparisons with other groups.
“Book of Mormon and automatic writing.” This article responds to an appeal to automatic writing or “spirit writing” as the source of the Book of Mormon.
“Church art and historical accuracy.” This is a response to the argument that the Church intentionally depicts historical events in artwork to deceive people about events in Church history.
Accuracy of Church art—Critics charge that the Church knowingly “lies” or distorts the historical record in its artwork in order to whitewash the past, or for propaganda purposes. A commonly used example is the inaccuracy of any Church art representing the translation process of the Book of Mormon. (Link)
“Why preach to other Christians.” This wiki article addresses the common question of why Latter-day Saints proselyte among Christians.
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
Come to the FAIR Bookstore to find the Internet’s best selection of materials for LDS apologetics. Whether you are looking for books, study aids, videos, or audio products, the FAIR Bookstore has what you need. You can begin your browsing by going to our main site.
We now have available 14 MP3s for the 2007 FAIR Conference. Whether you were unable to attend or simply want to review the great presentations you heard last summer, these audio files are something you’ll want to add to your personal library of resources. Each MP3 is only $3.95!
In addition, we have some great books available at special prices:
“Oliver Cowdery Scribe, Elder, Witness,” edited by John W. Welch and Larry E. Morris (Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2006, paperbook, 436 pages, ISBN: 978-0-8425-2661-6)
Oliver Cowdery’s life stands as a testimony of the restored gospel of Christ. This volume, which includes an award-winning article on the return of the Second Elder, helps readers understand and appreciate the remarkable Oliver Cowdery, renowned as Book of Mormon scribe, recipient with Joseph of restored priesthood power, witness with David Whitmer and Martin Harris of the visit of Moroni, and cofounder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
You can purchase this book for $13.99, 30% off its retail price. It is regularly $19.95.
“Mormon Beliefs and Doctrines Made Easier,” David J. Ridges (Cedar Fort, 2007, hardback, 354 pages, ISBN: 978-1-59955-105-0)
In this quick reference volumne, noted teacher and gospel scholar David J. Ridges uses years of research to provide concise information on hundreds of beliefs and doctrines taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
You can purchase this book for $19.59, 30% off its retail price. It is regularly $27.99.
“Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon,” Brant A. Gardner (Greg Kofford Books, 2007)
This is actually a series of books, covering the entire Book of Mormon in an exemplary, readable, and understandable manner. Taking the Book of Mormon “seriously but not inerrantly,” the series employs a dazzling range of systematic approaches to propose plausible answers to tough “why” questions, present paallels and models from both the Old World and the New and, perhaps most significantly, reveal glimpses of Mesoamerican culture, religions, and lifestyles through this Nephite record.
There will be a total of six volumes in the series. The first four volumes (First Nephi, Second Nephi–Jacob, Enos–Mosiah, and Alma) are now available in stock. The first three volumes retail for $39.95 each and the fourth volume retails for $49.95. You can get them right now through the FAIR Bookstore for 20% off their regular retail price.
These volumes will make an amazing reference for anyone studying the Book of Mormon this year. They are a must-have for any serious scholar or student of the scriptures.
- Vol. 1: http://store.fairlds.org/prod/p1589580419.html
- Vol. 2: http://store.fairlds.org/prod/p1589580427.html
- Vol. 3: http://store.fairlds.org/prod/p1589580435.html
- Vol. 4: http://store.fairlds.org/prod/p1589580443.html
Let us know how we can help you.
–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.