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 some of the differences between the LDS and FLDS churches.
- FAIR CONFERENCE SPEAKERS. FAIR has announced some of the speakers and topics that will be part of this year’s FAIR Conference.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. “Will the Real Martin Luther Please Stand Up.” John Tvedtness examines several beliefs and teachings of Martin Luther that seem to be more compatible with LDS beliefs than traditional Protestant theology or doctrine.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. FAIR has additional videos posted on YouTube.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. A recent lecture by Daniel C. Peterson on the evidences of the Book of Mormon is now available on YouTube.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. Deseret News has create a series of graphs showing Church growth in a number of areas in the last eight years.
- RESOURCES ON THE WEB. Meridian Magazine has published a FAIR article responding to criticisms relating to Book of Mormon population sizes.
- FAIR RESOURCES. With the recent news reports about the FLDS in Texas, it is important to be able to succinctly explain differences between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other groups claiming ties to the teachings of Joseph Smith.
- 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. This month the FAIR Bookstore has three great books on sale, including the most recent FARMS Review.
- 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 recent raids on the FLDS church in Texas once again brought the attention of the public back to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at a time when things had begun to quiet down after Mitt Romney dropped out of the presidential race. The fact that journalists and other media figures have sometimes called the members of the FLDS church Mormon has led to confusion, and this in turn has led to many questions being asked about the differences between the LDS and FLDS churches.
It is understandable why many people outside of the Church would confuse the LDS and FLDS churches. Few people pay attention to the various splinter groups of any sect or denomination. For example, do you know the differences between the various Muslim, Baptist, and Lutheran faith traditions? Probably not. Some journalists have begun to make the attempt to clarify to their readers that the LDS and FLDS churches are two different groups. But many people still don’t understand that.
An example of this confusion can be seen in Jon Krakauers book, “Under the Banner of Heaven,” where the author argues that the LDS church should “do something” about the polygamy problem. I’m not exactly sure what Mr. Krakauer had in mind that the LDS church should do. Frankly, I am uncomfortable with the suggestion that any church should take action against someone other than terminating his or her membership in that church. But Krakauer seems to believe that we somehow have influence over a group that is not now and never has been a part of us. I’m sure that those who have left the Church would be very uncomfortable if the press started saying the LDS church should “do something” about the ex-Mormon Foundation or the ex-Mormon Internet message boards.
So where did the FLDS church come from and just how closely connected is it to the LDS church? The FLDS claim that their line of authority starts with Wilford Woodruff, but then their leadership continues as follows:
Lorin Wolley, excommunicated from the LDS church in 1924. Leslie Broadbent, excommunicated from the LDS church in 1929. John Barlow, excommunicated from the LDS church in 1923. Joseph Musser, excommunicated from the LDS church in 1929. Charles Zitting, excommunicated from the LDS church in 1928. Leroy Johnson, excommunicated from the LDS church in 1935. Rulon Jeffs, excommunicated from the LDS church 1941.
Warren Jeffs, son of Rulon Jeffs, was born in 1956 and has never been a member of the LDS church. Most members of the FLDS church have never been members of the LDS church but are the children or grandchildren of Latter-day Saints who were excommunicated in the 1920s and 1930s.
There are those who say that modern fundamentalists are a reflection of 19th-century Mormonism and that looking at this group is like looking into our past. I reject that claim because there are deep and significant differences between the two groups. Granted, both groups believe in the Book of Mormon and both groups either practice, or have practiced, plural marriage. I’m sure that upon investigation you can find other similarities as well. But the differences between the two groups, both past and present, are great.
We do not isolate ourselves from the communities where we live. Even when geographically isolated, we have always been known for actively engaging the rest of society through missionary travels and encouraging others to visit our communities. Latter-day Saints have always eagerly sought out magazines, newspapers, and books from other parts of the country and world and have strongly encouraged our members to be well-read and acquainted with the events of the world.
While keeping to our standards of modesty, we retain the dress and grooming standards of the cultures where we live.
We strongly encourage education and have a long history of sending LDS men and women to the best colleges and universities in the world, both as students and as educators, and today LDS members average a higher level of education than the general population of the United States and Canada.
The FLDS practice the “Law of placing,” or assignment of marriages, combined with a high level of control of the membership. This contrasts greatly with the LDS. We have no arranged marriages and the average age for LDS marriages is 23. Throughout LDS history, free agency has been a ruling principle. In 19th century LDS plural marriages women were freely allowed to marry, divorce, and leave the community. My own great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Clark Crouch, was in a plural marriage, and she divorced her husband and left the community with no ramifications. There was no danger of having her children reassigned to anyone else. It was more difficult for men to obtain a divorce, as it was believed that the men should provide economic and social support since there was no state welfare program and women had limited employment opportunities. Kathryn M. Daynes discusses the economic underpinnings of plural marriage in her book titled “More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910.”
Some critics try to draw parallels with the FLDS because in the 19th century some LDS women were getting married while still teenagers. While we are sometimes uncomfortable with these younger marriages, a study comparing marriage ages shows that the Latter-day Saints were in line with the general population. Looking at 1850 census data, we find that the national teenage marriage rate was higher than the teenage marriage rate in Utah. And while early Mormons were criticized for the practice of polygamy, there are no known attacks on the church based on the ages of the girls getting married. You can read more information about that here.
Polygamy book/Age of wives (FAIR Wiki)
We had no lost boys like the FLDS church does. Young men were not cast out to create an imbalance of men and women.
Another difference with the FLDS church is their idea that more wives equals a greater chance of exaltation. While our critics like to claim we believed that, Brigham Young stated quite clearly that not everyone would, or should, practice plural marriage. Several members of church leadership–including apostles–were not polygamists. Some of Brigham’s more controversial statements, when read in context, seem to use plural marriage as an example to focus on the idea of being willing to follow God rather than whether or not you actually practiced plural marriage. If plural marriage were required for heaven, why did some members of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles, our top leadership group, not practice it?
If you would like to read more about fundamentalist Mormonism, I recommend the book “Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto” by Brian C. Hales.
You can also find more information on the Internet about the FLDS church and other fundamentalist groups here, in Hales’ website:
There are many differences between the LDS and FLDS churches, and except in very superficial ways, the FLDS church does not look like either the current LDS church nor the LDS church of the 19th century. The LDS church has issued a press release and video highlighting some of the differences between the LDS and FLDS faiths. You can listen to Elder Quentin L. Cook speak on the subject here
Clarifying Polygamy Confusion, LDS Newsroom
I am both hopeful and confident that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will continue to become better known, better understood, and better appreciated for the dedication of its members to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
–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.
Order your tickets now. Last year, we filled to capacity. Make sure you reserve your spot here:
Will the Real Martin Luther Please Stand Up
by John A. Tvedtnes
Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, was a remarkable and complex man. John Tvedtness looks at some of the beliefs of Martin Luther and shows how they sometimes little resemble the beliefs that have developed within Protestantism over the following centuries. Tvedtnes briefly examines some of Luther’s statements about sola scriptura, sola fide, and deification to see how the Reformer’s view in some ways more closely resembles LDS beliefs than most people realize. In his discussion of polygamy, Tvedtnes shows that Luther’s views on marriage would be scandalous by modern Protestant standards.
Tvedtnes is not claiming that Luther was Mormon, or even almost so, in his teachings, but rather “were the real Martin Luther to stand up today, he would not recognize some of the dogmatic issues imposed on the Reformation by some later adherents of Protestantism.”
Read the article:
Will the Real Martin Luther Please Stand Up? by John Tvedtnes
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: FAIR YOUTUBE VIDEOS
FAIR continues to add videos and other features to the YouTube website. A series of playlists have been created for videos related to the same topic. Visitors will find many videos of older FAIR Conference talks along with videos responding to specific questions and particular anti-Mormon publications and videos.
Visit the website:
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: DR. PETERSON LECTURES ON THE BOOK OF MORMON
In April, 2008, Dr. Daniel Peterson spoke at the Olivewood bookstore on evidences of The Book of Mormon. He spoke for about an hour and a half. The topics of the lecture included the translation of the Book of Mormon and how both the testimony of witnesses and evidences of the Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon corroborate the traditional LDS narrative. Other topics in the lecture were the Book of Mormon witnesses, Hebraisms, intratextual references, geography, cultural references, and warfare. Those familiar with Peterson’s lecture style know that he is always engaging and entertaining as well as informative.
Note: The sound quality of the recording is excellent, however this was filmed without a tripod and there are some parts where the video is a bit shaky.
- Part 1 of the lecture
- Part 2 of the lecture
- Part 3 of the lecture
- Part 4 of the lecture
- Part 5 of the lecture
- Part 6 of the lecture
- Part 7 of the lecture
- Part 8 of the lecture
- Part 9 of the lecture
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: DESERET NEWS 2007 ANNUAL REPORT
Desertet News has published a series of graphs showing the Church statistics announced in General Conferences in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007.
See the article:
A look at the LDS Church’s 2007 annual statistical report, Deseret News, April 19, 2008
RESOURCES ON THE WEB: WHERE DID ALL THOSE PEOPLE COME FROM?
Meridian Magazine has published another FAIR article in their “Answering the Critics” section. In this article, “Where Did All Those People Come From?”, the issue of population size and growth in the Book of Mormon is examined. Even a superficial reading of the Book of Mormon is sufficient to realize that within the lifetime of the children of Lehi and Sariah the number of Lamanites and Nephites had increased far beyond what could reasonably be explained by natural population growth.
Critics have often used the population growth issue as a way to attack the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, but Book of Mormon scholars have come away with a consistent picture of the Lehite colony that was established not in an empty land but in a land where other people already lived.
This article summarizes some of the evidence that shows that the Lehites were not alone and then explains how this fits into the overall pattern found within the Book of Mormon text itself.
See the FAIR Wiki article:
Demographics—Critics charge that the initial Lehite colony is too small to produce the population sizes indicated, and that Lehi’s group was sent to a land which was kept from the knowledge of other nations, therefore, according to the Book of Mormon, there could not have been “others” present. A superficial reading of the Book of Mormon leads some to conclude that the named members of Lehi’s group were the only members of Nephite/Lamanite society. However, the Book of Mormon contains many mentions of “others” that made up part of both societies; indeed, many Book of Mormon passages make little sense unless we understand this. (Link)
Two FAIR Brochures are available that discuss these issues. These are in PDF format and will be downloaded to your computer.
Download the PDF of “Were the Lehites Alone in the Americas?”
Were the Lehites Alone in the Americas? (PDF) by Michael Ash
Download the PDF of “Who Are the Lamanites?”
Who Are the Lamanites? (PDF) by Michael Ash
FAIR RESOURCES: FLDS AND OTHER DENOMINATIONS AND GROUPS
Since the time of Joseph Smith there have been over a hundred groups outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have claimed authority and through the restoration accomplished through Joseph Smith. Some of these have involved the continued practice of plural marriage after the manifesto and others have rejected or added doctrines and practices not accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ.
FAIR has several wiki pages designed to help readers and journalists understand the distinctions between these groups and the Church of Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saints are accutely aware of the problem of non-LDS writers declaring and defining what they believe to be the “real” LDS doctrines. For this reason FAIR is sensitive to the importance of allowing all religious groups to define themselves in their own terms. With this in mind, the wiki pages are designed to give only the bare minimum needed to see the major differences between these groups and the Church of Jesus Christ, and where possible links have been provided to the official websites for these groups.
- MormonFAQ: Who are they? A brief overview of the Church.
- MormonFAQ: Other Groups. A brief overview of a few other groups.
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.
Journal of Discourses. The complete Journal of Discourses on-line.
PDF scans of the original printed editions of the Journal of Discourses and PDF and HTML updated versions of the Journal of Discourses are now accessible online. The updated sets include modernized spellings and punctuation corrections.
This is a web site that lists many of the key texts discussing the last days before the second coming.
Sterling Adams, “The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam” BYU Studies (2005)
Sterling Adams, “Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery” BYU Studies (2005)
Sterling Adams reviews two books on the justification of slavery among religions from the Abrahamic tradition. The reviews include Stephen R. Haynes, “Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery,” and David Goldenberg’s “The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.”
Kevin Barney, “On Nephi’s Steel Bow,” ByCommonConsent.com (2006)
Kevin Barney examines the Book of Mormon account wherein Nephi broke his “steel” bow. Was Nephi’s bow constructed of “steel” as we know it today? How could the Book of Mormon contain the word “steel” if such a metal was unknown to Nephi? Barney offers some insightful answers.
Richard Van Wagner and Steven Walker, “Joseph Smith: “The Gift of Seeing”,” Dialogue (1982), 48-68
Van Wagner and Walker examine the details surrounding Joseph’s use of a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon.
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.
“No Paid Ministry.” One criticism occasionally raised involves the living allowances available for some mission presidents and some general Church leaders. The complaint usually is either that Church leadership is doing what they do for financial gain or else that Latter-day Saints are not hones when they claim the Church has a lay ministry.
No paid ministry—Critics claim that Mormonism prides itself in having unpaid clergy as one proof of the Church’s truthfulness. They then point to the fact that some General Authorities, mission presidents, and others do, in fact, receive a living stipend while serving the Church, and point to this as evidence of the “hypocrisy” of the Church. (Link)
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
This past month at the bookstore we have been especially busy. We want to thank you for your continued support with the orders placed with us. Last month’s specials were so popular that we have had to reorder the books. We are still waiting for some of the books to come in from the publisher, but trust they will be here soon. Thank you for your patience; orders will be sent out as soon as the books arrive.
This month we are bringing to you on special:
“FARMS Review, Volume 19 Number 2 (2007),” edited by Daniel C. Peterson (Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2007, paperbook, 328 pages)
This is the newest issue of the FARMS Review. Don’t let the 2007 date fool you; the volume was not released until this month. The purpose of the FARMS Review is to help serious readers make informed choices and judgments about books published on the Book of Mormon and associated topics, as well as to publish substantial free-standing essays on related matters.
You can purchase this volume of the FARMS Review for only $8.75, 32% off its retail price. It is regularly $12.95.
“Who Are the Children of Lehi? DNA and the Book of Mormon,” by D. Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens (Kofford Books, 2007, hardback, 176 pages, ISBN: 1-58958-048-6)
The Book of Mormon stands as the keystone of the LDS faith. Millions regard it as a book of scripture, another testament of Christ, produced in the New World by the descendants of a small party of Israelite immigrants who are among the ancestors of the American Indians. Yet DNA sequencing of modern natives of both North and South America clearly imply that their ancestors came from Asia, not the biblical lands of the Middle East. How serious is this challenge to long-held assumptions about the identity of Book of Mormon peoples? Does the DNA evidence undermine the historicity of the Book of Mormon? This book helps to answer some of these questions.
You can purchase this book for $23.95, 30% off its retail price. It is regularly $29.95.
“Apocryphal Writings and the Latter-day Saints,” edited by C. Wilfred Griggs (Kofford Books, 2008, hardback, 333 pages, ISBN: 1-58958-089-3)
This sought-after volume of essays takes an in-depth look at the apocrypha and how Latter-day Saints should approach it in their gospel study. With notable LDS authors such as Stephen E. Robinson, Joseph F. McConkie, and Robert L. Millet, this volume is an essential addition to any well-rounded Mormon studies Library.
You can purchase this book for $19.96, 20% off its retail price. It is regularly $24.95.
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).
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