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 discusses how LDS beliefs are misrepresented by critics, some of whom may be acting with good intentions.
- FAIR CONFERENCE SPEAKERS. FAIR has announced some of the speakers and topics that will be part of this year’s FAIR Conference.
- CHANGES TO THE BLACK MORMON WEBSITE. Several changes have been made to blacklds.org that make the website an even better resources for members.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. Blake Ostler’s 2007 FAIR Conference presentation on “Spiritual Experiences as the Basis for Belief and Commitment” is now online.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. FAIR has continued to extend its video library on YouTube.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. Meridian Magazine has a collection of FAIR responses to critics’ questions.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced a new website and Elder Russel M. Nelson has a YouTube video introducing and explaining this new resource.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. The Deseret Morning News has announced a new website that includes a FAIR-sponsored question and answer section.
- 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.
- 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
Spreading Bigotry with Good Intentions
Let me start by saying that not everyone who doesn’t believe in the teachings of the Mormon faith is anti-Mormon. When we discuss anti-Mormon bigotry, we are really talking about those who actively proclaim false teachings and promote religious bigotry. Typically they are easily recognizable as they make no attempt to try to understand our beliefs, but instead try to impose on us what our belief system is supposed to be. They sometimes take our sacred and divine teachings and paint them using language that is only marginally recognizable by the practicing member. We hear about the extra-terrestrial humanoid God, the God who is only a man, the pantheon of Mormon Gods, the Jesus who is only “a god” and not “God,” how we wear “magic underwear,” as well as how Mormons believe we are saved by our works and not by Jesus Christ.
Of course, this is akin to describing the Holy Communion as “ritualistic cannibalism,” or even as one person recently posted on an Internet message board, describing brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste as rubbing toxic waste in your mouth and forcing your children to do the same. Clearly these over-the-top communications should be rejected out of hand, but unfortunately they often are not.
I was listening to a class on Mormonism taught by Pastor John Krieger of South Carolina, and I learned that we believe that “Bible doctrine is corrupt.” I learned that we also believe “the deity of Jesus Christ, the blood atonement of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith is wrong. In fact it is an abomination.” I can understand why Pastor Krieger would be upset by those teachings. I would be too if I actually believed them. The problem is that I don’t, and I am a practicing Mormon.
The anticipated response to this is that I am either “not high enough up in the Mormon Church,” as one writer claimed of me, or I am not really knowledgeable about Mormon doctrine. This fits the only-non- Mormons-and-ex-Mormons-are-knowledgeable model. Nobody who is actually a believer knows about his beliefs. If one thinks about that idea for 30 seconds or more, he or she will quickly realize the silliness of that position.
As Latter-day Saints have become more vocal in trying to refute these false claims, there are some like Pastor Krieger who are saying that, “For the past few years there has been a drive going on in the Mormon Church that they are Christian.” And that we are now trying to “be accepted as a mainline Christian denomination.”
First, let me assure Pastor Krieger and others that we don’t want to be a mainline Protestant-like Christian denomination. But, let me also state unequivocally that we are Christian. If you have doubts on this, try reading the Book of Mormon Title page
or 2 Nephi chapter 2, especially verses 6 through 9
and 2 Nephi Chapter 25, especially verses 19 through 29
There are many more scriptures I could cite, but those would be a good start. These are what we believe and what we have always believed.
I’m not suggesting that Pastor Krieger is anything but a good and well-intentioned man. But he has chosen the wrong sources to learn about Mormonism. He suggests that if we want to learn more we should check out “Kingdom of the Cults” and “The Godmakers,” both books which distort, malign, an inaccurately portray my faith. Whether he intends to or not, he is spreading religious bigotry.
I hope that we at FAIR, and others like us, can provide good solid resources to people who have serious questions about Mormonism. But we can only do that with the support and help of many volunteers as well as financial donors. Maybe one day when people talk about Mormonism they will be able to accept or reject it based on accurate information instead of misinformation, distortion, and bigotry, however well intentioned it may be.
–Scott Gordon President
Fair Conference Speakers
We are excited to invite you to our upcoming FAIR conference. We have a lineup that combines some of our favorite speakers from past conferences as well as some newcomers. Some of our speakers and topics this year include:
- Mike Ash: Author of the new book “Shaken Faith Syndrome.”
- Brian Birch: Director, Religious Studies Program and Associate Professor of Philosophy at UVSC.
- Matthew Brown: Author of “Symbols in Stone” and many other books. He will speak on Temple Worship among the Ancient Hebrews and Early Christians.
- Brant Gardner: Author of the new, very popular “Second Witness, Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon.”
- Darius Gray and Margaret Young: Producers of the just released documentary “Nobody Knows” examining the struggles, trials, and joys of black Latter-day Saints.
- Brian Hauglid: Addressing issues related to the Book of Abraham.
- Vicky Pahnky Taylor: A favorite EFY speaker.
- Ugo A. Perego: The Director of Operations and Study Research Coordinator for the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. He will be speaking on “Joseph Smith’s DNA Revealed: New clues from the Prophet’s genes.”
- Dan Peterson: Professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic, co-author of “Offenders for a Word” and an annual speaker at the conference.
- Larry Poulson: Researcher on Book of Mormon geography.
- Mark Wright: Mark will take a break from leading his MesoAmerican tours with Liahona Tours and fly up to speak at our conference. We want to thank Liahona tours for letting us steal Mark for a couple of days.
- Blake Ostler: LDS philosopher will be participating in a roundtable about LDS philosophy.
- David Paulsen: LDS philosopher will participating in the roundtable with Blake Ostler.
We will also have a speaker on the new Joseph Smith Papers. And there will be more. We will announce them as soon as we have their travel plans firmed up.
Order your tickets now. Last year, we filled to capacity. Make sure you reserve your spot here:
Changes to the Black Mormon Website
The Black Mormon Website at www.blacklds.org has put together a new management team. We are working hard to update the Website and make it a resource for news and events that may be of interest. If you have an upcoming event, or if you have had news or an event, or if you have pictures of interest, please submit them to the Website at
To make the Website more interactive and community focused, we have also added a place for comments to the news events. Additionally, one of the most actively visited areas of the Website is the testimony page. If you are black and LDS, please send us your photo plus a copy of your testimony. We will post it up on the Website so other members can be strengthened by your testimony.
Spiritual Experiences as the Basis for Belief and Commitment
by Blake T. Ostler
In his 2007 FAIR Conference presentation, Blake Ostler dealt with the critical topic of the role of experience in our search for truth. This presentation is not an overview of epistemology, nor does Ostler address all the philosophical issues that surround this topic. But this is important for Latter-day Saints not only for their personal spiritual growth and an understanding of how spiritual experiences can and should form the basis of our knowledge of the truth, but also for answering the criticisms commonly raised by anti-Mormons who reject all experiential evidence for truth in favor biblical exegesis.
Ostler argues that experience is fundamental to and a partner with reason when it comes to finding truth and understanding God. Emotional and spiritual experiences can be analyzed and compared with other experiences to test for validity and there is no need to dismiss such experiences as faulty or wholly naturallistic even if there are biological manifestations that directly correspond to them.
Ostler reminds us that this approach to truth is truely biblical. “Why is it that for the Hebrews the heart is the place where thinking occurs, it’s the place where human decisions are made, and for us it’s all up here in the head? It’s because they were in touch with something that we’ve lost in our culture.”
Read the article:
Spiritual Experiences as the Basis for Belief and Commitment by Blake Ostler
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: FAIR VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE
FAIR has continued to post videos on YouTube that explain and defend the beliefs and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As of this final editing of this issue of the FAIR Journal there were 111 videos posted on YouTube by FAIR. Some of these videos are entire presentations from FAIR Conferences and are a great opportunity for those who attended the past conferences to review what they have seen and for those who missed a conference to see these great presentations for the first time.
Check out the available videos:
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: MERIDIAN MAGAZINE “ANSWERING THE CRITICS”
FAIR has been working with Meridian Magazine to provide condensed responses to common criticisms of the Church. These articles provide an overview of the responses that can be given with the issues are raised. For readers who want a more in-depth response, including references and pointers to source material, the Meridian articles include links to the appropriate articles in the FAIR Wiki or on the FAIR website.
Some of the articles to date include:
- Was it Nephi or Moroni who Appeared to Joseph Smith?
- Joseph Smith and Polygamy
- Are all Amerindians Descendants of Lehi?
- Does the Bible Say that No Man has Seen God?
- How Should We React?
- Using the Articles of Faith to Respond to Anti-Mormon Criticisms
- Was David Patton’s Call to Serve a Mission a Failed Prophecy?
- Did Joseph Smith Admit to being the Author of the Book of Mormon?
- Why are there Different Versions of the Articles of Faith?
- Does it Matter if the Book of Mormon Events Really Happened?
- Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions
Visit the index page:
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: NEW CHURCH WEBSITE
The Church of Jesus Christ has announced a new website devoted entirely to the Savior.
See the Church’s new website on Jesus Christ:
The Church has also released a 3-minute video on YouTube in which Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve explains the purpose and benefits of this new website. In his remarks, Elder Nelson speaks of the importance of the Internet as a medium to spread the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. He also indirectly addresses the “other Jesus” anti-Mormon attack by saying, “There is only one Jesus Christ and our understanding of Him is very rich.”
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: MORMONTIMES.COM AND FAIR
On March 6, 2008, the Deseret Morning News announced a new website: mormontimes.com. This website includes news, feature articles, and other resources for Latter-day Saints. One item on the site is a “Mormon Q&A” section where visitors can read common answers to questions about the Church and where people can submit questions to be answered. Observant readers will note that the structure and articles being offered are the structure and articles available from the FAIR Topical Guide. FAIR is pleased to be able to help provide answers to members and investigators who may have difficult questions about the doctrine, historical events, or practices of Latter-day Saints.
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.
The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon (video), by Joel P. Kramer and Scott R. Johnson (and Living Hope Ministries).
Reviewed by David E. Bokovoy.
Richard Sherlock, “Mormonism and Intelligent Design,” FARMS Review (City Unknown: FARMS), 45-81
Richard Sherlock examines the evidence in favor of Intelligent Design in an LDS context.
Mark Ashhurst-McGee, “Moroni as Angel and as Treasure Guardian,” FARMS Review (City Unknown: FARMS, 2006), 35-100
Mark Ashurst-McGee the sources and context in which Joseph Smith would have understood the Angel Moroni as a treasure guardian while still maintaining a belief that Moroni was an angel from God sent to bring forth new scripture.
Matthew Roper, “The Mythical “Manuscript Found”,” FARMS Review (City Unknown: FARMS, 2005), 7-140
Matthew Brown methodically debunks the anti-Mormon claim that the Book of Mormon borrowed material from Solomon Spalding.
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 many wiki entries that have been modified this month.
Book of Mormon geography:New World:Great Lakes geography
One of the most discussed aspects of the Book of Mormon is the lack of a specific New World setting for its narrative. Critics frequently use this as evidence for the work being a 19th century fiction. Believers point to the fact that the Book of Mormon’s miraculous restoration predictably divorces it from its natural setting and that difficulties in positioning Book of Mormon landmarks in the Western Hemisphere is to be expected. Over the years a number of geographic models have been suggested, including the idea that the Book of Mormon events took place in the Great Lakes region of the United States. This model is favored by some Latter-day Saints, though most LDS scholars see a limited, Central American location as the most likely.
Proponents of the Great Lakes geography model have used the presence of haplotype X2a as evidence that Near East settlers populated the Great Lakes region. Problems with this view are discussed in the Wiki article.
Book of Mormon geography:New World:LGT:Plates to New York
One criticism of the Limited Geography Theory with a Mesoaamerican location involves the presence of the plates in the hill near Joseph Smith’s home in New York. Some members and critics have misread the Book of Mormon as describing the plates being buried in the Hill Cumorah near to where the final Book of Mormon battle took place. This Wiki article explains how the plates could reasonably have been transported from the location of the Mesoamerican battle to the hill in New York.
How did the gold plates get to New York from Mesoamerica?—If Book of Mormon events took place in Mesoamerica, how did the plates end up in New York for Joseph Smith to find and translate? (Link)
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
This past month the bookstore has been extremely busy. We thank all those who support the FAIR LDS Bookstore. We are very excited about this month’s specials and feel that these books will be a great addition to your personal library.
“Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon,” by Brant A. Gardner (Greg Kofford Books, 2007-2008, hardback, six volumes, ISBN: 1-5895-8047-8)
We finally have all six volumes of this amazing commentary available, so we are offering a special on the entire set. This commentary, compiling the latest in scholarship and Mormon thought, brings to bear the insights of multiple disciplines and multiple scholars into a single location where the concentration of information at the point of the text may assist us in understanding a particular passage, and from the individual passages, the greater message of the Book of Mormon. The volumes make the Book of Mormon come alive, as the product of real people in a real place. This set deserves a place on the shelf of any serious scriptural student.
The regular retail price of all six volumes totals $249.70, but you can get the full set for 20% off this price: only $199.76.
“Exploring Mormon Thought: Of God and Gods,” by Blake T. Ostler (Greg Kofford Books, 2008, hardback, ISBN: 978-1-58958-107-4)
The third in the acclaimed “Exploring Mormon Thought” series, this volume has been eagerly awaited by fans of Ostler’s clear, concise, and thorough examination of LDS theology. The wait is over; the volume is now available!
You can purchase this book for $27.96, 20% off its retail price. It is regularly $34.95.
“Critiquing the Critics of Joseph Smith,” by Hartt Wixom (Cedar Fort, 2005, paperback, 223 pages, ISBN: 1-555-17834-0)
This book is exactly what it purports to be: an answer to those who challenge the authenticity of Joseph’s prophetic call. Wixom closely examines the claims of anti-Mormon writers, with special attention to the claims of Fawn Brodie. He scrutinizes the historical validity of the critics’ arguments by measuring their assertions against internal and external cohesiveness, common sense, and intellectual inquiry. Readers will see for themselves that the critics have often been strangers to the truth.
You can purchase this book for $11.99, 25% off its retail price. It is regularly $15.99.
Thank you for your support of 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).
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