February THE FAIR JOURNAL 2010
The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research
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).
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MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
False Expectations and False Assumptions
As part of the mission of FAIR, I have been able to talk with many
people, and I have read many of the stories of people who have
struggled with anti-Mormonism or even left the LDS Church.
What strikes me the most from these conversations is the underlying
assumptions that have led to their disbelief.
The first assumption that I have seen is the belief that only people
who sin are affected by anti-Mormonism, so they aren’t at risk.
While it is true that there are those who are not keeping the
commandments and are looking for an excuse to leave, I have seen
good, believing members infected with the seeds of doubt. Just as
seeds of faith can be planted–as described in Alma 32–so can one
plant and nourish seeds of doubt. Perhaps the thought “Let he who is
without sin cast the first stone” is applicable here. All of us are
sinners, so we need to work hard to repent and keep the Spirit with
us so that we can continue to discern truth from error.
Another assumption is that we as members of the Church know all that
there is to know about Church history. So if we hear something we
haven’t heard before, we assume it is false. Then if we discover
that there is a legitimate foundation for the claim, we sometimes
doubt what we have been taught in the Church.
The reality is that Church Sunday School class is not a history
class. It is a class that sometimes uses history to teach the
gospel. So there are things in Church history that are not discussed
in class since they don’t help teach the gospel. In that regard they
aren’t important to our salvation.
One example of this is the fact that there are multiple recitals of
the First Vision, with variations. There are people who have left
the Church because there is more than one account of Joseph Smith’s
First Vision. Even though there is a little variation between the
recitals–with some simply including more information than the
others–if a member has not heard that before, they may believe that
the Church ‘withheld’ that information from them. What this really
shows is that the member is not keeping up in reading their Church
magazines, as the subject has been discussed there. There are also a
multitude of books and articles that discuss First Vision issues
from a believing LDS point of view.
Another assumption is that our Church leadership, including Bishops,
Stake Presidents, and even the Prophet have all of the answers all
of the time. While our leadership is inspired of God, they often
simply don’t have the time to investigate every issue that comes up.
There seems to be a false assumption that God will speak through
these men to answer every personal question that we might have. We
make the same mistake that Oliver Cowdery made when he tried to
translate the plates. He wanted the answers to just come. But, the
Lord said, “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that
I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to
ask me” (D&C 9:7).
We also have to remember that there are some things that God may not
ever reveal. Part of our experience here on the earth is designed so
that we live by faith. In order for us to do that, there must always
be some things that we don’t know. In speaking about prophecy and
revelation, Joseph Smith said, “I…visited with a brother and
sister…who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet;’ but I
told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as
such” (TPJS, 278).
Brigham Young said something that is related to the faith-based
mortal experience and its inherent limitations when it comes to
interaction with the divine world. He stated, “I do not…believe
that there is a single revelation, among the many God has given to
the Church, that is perfect in its fullness…. He has to speak to
us in a manner to meet the extent of our capacities” (JD, 2:314).
A famous story is told regarding the LDS view of Church leadership
by Elder Boyd K. Packer. He wrote about Karl G. Maeser saying, “On
one occasion he was going with a group of young missionaries across
the Alps. They were crossing a high mountain pass on foot. There
were long sticks stuck into the snow of the glacier to mark the path
so that travelers could find their way safely across the glacier and
down the mountain on the other side. When they reached the summit,
Brother Maeser wanted to teach the young elders a lesson. He stopped
at the pinnacle of the mountain and pointed to those sticks that
they had followed. And he said, ‘Brethren, behold the priesthood of
God. They are just common old sticks, but it’s the position that
counts. Follow them and you will surely be safe. Stray from them and
you will surely be lost'” (New Era, June 1977).
Whatever assumptions we may have about the Church and how it should
be run, or how Joseph Smith should have done something (or “must”
have done something), we have to remember that this really isn’t our
Church, it is the Lord’s Church. So from time to time our
expectations need to be modified and changed. Change is sometimes
hard, but if we focus on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and
maintaining our relationship with God through prayer, we can keep
those natural seeds of doubt from growing and instead receive the
blessings of remaining strong in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
President of FAIR
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The FAIR Wiki project has been available for a number of years in
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Spanish. A part of the FAIR Wiki can now also be accessed in
Bulgarian. Click on the link below to be taken to this
new wiki website.
A new entry has been posted on the FAIR Wiki which examines the
content of the Wikipedia article about the Three Witnesses of the
Book of Mormon.
There is also a new, detailed analysis on the FAIR Wiki of a book
published a decade ago called Mormonism 101.
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, DVDs, or audio products, the FAIR Bookstore has what you
need. You can begin your browsing by going to our main site.
Be sure to check out the Clearance Section. We have many older books
and some new books with slightly damaged covers that offer great
deals to buyers.
We are running the following Specials for February:
*** In God’s Image and Likeness: Ancient and Modern Perspectives on
the Book of Moses ***
Jeffrey M . Bradshaw. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2009.
Hardbound, 11.25 x 8.75 inches, 1140 pages.
Special Price of $39.99 (20% off Retail Price of $49.99)
The stories of the Grand Councils in Heaven, the Creation, the Fall,
and the revelation of the Plan of Salvation to mankind are
foundational to LDS doctrine. As it turns out, they are also the
focus of a vast ancient literature by Jewish commentators, Islamic
scholars, and early Christians, as well as the nexus of perennial
controversies about science and religion.
This volume contains the most comprehensive commentary ever
published on the beautiful and doctrinally rich early chapters of
the book of Moses, combining prophetic insights, excerpts from
ancient texts, current scientific perspectives, and up-to-date
biblical scholarship–all presented from a perspective of faith.
Each section of the book is prefaced by an overview illuminating
major themes and issues. This is followed by the text of each
chapter of scripture, accompanied by a detailed phrase-by-phrase
commentary designed to give the modern reader both an understanding
of the plain sense of the words as well as their significance in
context. Based on the first complete transcriptions of the original
manuscripts of the Joseph Smith Translation, significant textual
variants are identified and discussed.
Of special interest to LDS readers is the light that the book of
Moses sheds on temple worship. A detailed study of this book of
scripture in conjunction with ancient and modern sources suggests
striking parallels with temple themes. Insights on these topics from
LDS scripture and prophets, as well as relevant extracts from the
works of Hugh Nibley and other religious scholars, historians,
philosophers, scientists, literary specialists, playwrights,
musicians, and artists are found on nearly every page of the book.
The book also features an extensive annotated bibliography on
ancient sources–including Near Eastern texts, early Old Testament
manuscripts and translations, the Old Testament Apocrypha and
Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish and early Christian
texts, Nag Hammadi and Gnostic writings, and primary documents from
the Zoroastrian, Mandaean, Manichaean, and Islamic religious
traditions. An additional highlight is the collection of more than
a hundred carefully chosen color and black-and-white figures and
illustrations relating to the text–themselves also the subject of
The central message of the Book of Moses is not revealed in its
stories of the Creation and the Fall, as essential as these accounts
may be, but rather in its invitation to join the divine pattern
whereby we may come to fully reflect God’s image and likeness. This
wondrous work of scripture has been expressly written to “call [us]
out of darkness into [God’s] marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
*** Harmonizing Isaiah ***
Donald W. Parry, Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research &
Mormon Studies (FARMS), 2001. Softbound, 6×9 inches, 296 pages.
Special Price of $7.46 (25% off Retail Price of $9.95)
Under “Editor’s Picks,” this titled was rated as “Recommended” in
The FARMS Review, volume 15, number 1, 2003.
The discovery of the Great Isaiah Scroll among the Dead Sea Scrolls
shed new light on the traditional text of Isaiah. In “Harmonizing
Isaiah,” Dead Sea Scrolls scholar and Brigham Young University
Professor Donald W. Parry (the coauthor of “Understanding Isaiah”
and “The Great Isaiah Scroll: A New Edition,” and the author of
“Visualizing Isaiah”) provides his translation of the Isaiah scroll
combined with readings of other versions of Isaiah preserved in the
Masoretic Text, the Book of Mormon, and the Joseph Smith
Translation. Rendered in modern English and formatted into parallel
lines of poetry, “Harmonizing Isaiah” will be helpful to teachers
and students of the book of Isaiah.
*** The Farms Review, volume 21, number 2, 2009 ***
Daniel C. Peterson (Editor), Provo, Utah: The Foundation for Ancient
Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), 2009. Softbound, 6×9 inches,
Special Price of $10.36 (20% off the Retail Price of $12.95)
1. Editor’s Introduction: The Wedding of Athens and Jerusalem: An
Evangelical Perplexity and a Latter-day Saint Answer by Louis
2. Probing the Lives of Christ and Joseph Smith by Richard Lloyd
3. Christmas: The Original Story, Margaret Barker; Reviewed by John
4. god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher
Hitchens; Reviewed by William J. Hamblin
5. I Was a Born-Again Mormon: Moving Toward Christian Authenticity,
Shawn McCraney; Reviewed by Blair D. Hodges
6. The Reader’s Book of Mormon, ed. Robert A. Rees and Eugene
England; The Book of Mormon. Translated by Joseph Smith.
Introduction by Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp; Reviewed by Grant Hardy
7. Mesoamerica and The Book of Mormon: Is This the Place?, John
Lund; Reviewed by Brant A. Gardner
8. Journey of Faith: Jerusalem to the Promised Land, ed. S. Kent
Brown and Peter Johnson; Reviewed by Stephen D. Ricks
9. Myth, Memory and Manuscript Found by Matthew Roper
10. Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph
Smith, Michael R. Ash; Reviewed by Steven O. Smoot
Thank you for using the FAIR bookstore!
This section of the FAIR Journal is designed to focus attention on
the wealth of information available in past FAIR Conference
addresses. Here are some talks well worth remembering.
David L. Paulsen, “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph Smith:
Defending the Faith”
John Gee, “The Corruption of Scripture in the Second Century”
Brant Gardner, “A Real People, Time, and Place: Contextualizing the
Book of Mormon”
The Work of Hugh W. Nibley
4 February 2010 – Daniel C. Peterson, “Nibley as Apologist”
7:00 PM, Harold B. Lee Library Auditorium
Mormon Media Studies: Across Time, Space, and Disciplines
Brigham Young University Department of Communications
11-12 November 2010
APOLOGETICS ON THE INTERNET
Michael Ash on Standing Firm
“Local Billboards Target Mormon Doctrine”
“Anti-Mormon Behavior Addressed at San Diego State”
Occasionally there are publications and presentations that may be of
interest to those who are involved in the LDS apologetics arena.
Here are a few examples:
Matthew P. Roper, “Myth, Memory, and ‘Manuscript Found,'” FARMS
Review, vol. 21, no. 2, 2009, 179-223.
Steven C. Harper, “Memory and the First Vision”
Lecture given at the University of Utah on 28 January 2010
Matthew B. Brown, A Pillar of Light: The History and Message of the
First Vision (American Fork, UT: Covenant, 2009).
Book note by George L. Mitton on Frederick M. Huchel, The Cosmic
Ring Dance of the Angels: An Early Christian Rite of the Temple
(FARMS Review, vol. 21, no. 2, 2009).
Joshua Wheatley, “The Prophet-Editor: Joseph Smith’s Revisions to
Two Revelations,” Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies,
vol. 1, no. 1, Fall 2009, 66-85.
John L. Sorenson, “A Whole Bunch of Reasons Why Book of Mormon
Geography Could Not Have Included North America”
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