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
From time to time we may receive emails about faith-promoting stories or inspirational events. It is important to acknowledge that God does exist and still works in people’s lives today. But, in many cases, the messages that get forwarded to us are not precisely accurate or even factually correct. In the new digital age of blogs, YouTube, and viral emails, many of these stories become very well-known. Because of the public nature of the Internet, however, these faith-promoting emails can actually do damage to the Church and its relationship with others.
Examples of some of these types of emails include that Church members were diverted away from the World Trade Center and weren’t killed on September 11th; the Mormon Tabernacle Choir changed its schedule to England which kept them from a disaster; and new evidence from the Michigan Relics shows the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. These stories sound great, but not one of them is true.
While some of these emails may seem to be harmless, others may actually cause problems for the Church. For a time there were emails going around about Elders being secretly called to do missionary work in China. Stories like this can damage the trust and relationship the Church is trying to establish with the Chinese government.
There have also been emails about temple projects in progress with one miracle or another helping it pass through city permitting. While that sounds good–and may even be true–most government officials don’t want to be part of a faith-promoting story that gets posted on the Internet. Sensitive negotiations or future building opportunities could be damaged.
There is currently one email being circulated about how the Church’s influence in passing Proposition 8 has had a positive impact on the building of the Rome Temple. This is also an untrue rumor. Please don’t forward it. The Church’s European legal counsel has said the following on this matter: “keep in mind that our efforts to obtain the necessary building permissions within the Rome City Administration have not come to full fruition and remain at a delicate stage. Consequently, we need to be cautious and judicious when we discuss what is happening there and take care not to spread incorrect information.” You can read more about this situation here:
Rome, Italy Temple Story, SHIELDS
Whenever we get emails of this nature, we should be cautious about forwarding them. A few years ago, I received a wonderful story about sister missionaries singing at Temple Square and was asked if I had seen that story before. I replied that I had seen it – since the story came from FAIR. I should have been happy, but instead I was a bit perturbed that information identifying where the story came from had been stripped from the email. The academic term for this behavior is plagiarism. A more common term would be stealing. In this particular case there was no real harm done, but it gets into questions of personal honesty and integrity. You can see the story about this incident here:
Without the Walls of Temple Square by Tiffany Wilde
It is, of course, exciting to read faith-promoting stories. Whenever we read something exciting, our first inclination is to share it. But, unless you personally know the people involved, and you have their permission to do so, please don’t forward the email. And please don’t share the story in Priesthood or Relief Society. You are probably passing on false information. In your effort to do something good, you may actually be doing some damage. Better to tell a good faith-promoting story from the scriptures. And by the way, the story that the Salt Lake Temple will soon be closing . . . is completely unfounded.
–Scott Gordon President of FAIR
The FAIR wiki project began in 2006 as a way to provide more flexible and searchable resources on LDS apologetic issues. FAIR wiki articles are created, expanded and edited on a continual basis by various FAIR volunteers. The FAIR wiki can be accessed at:
Mormonism and Wikipedia
Mormonism and Wikipedia. FAIR regularly receives queries about specific LDS-themed Wikipedia articles with requests that we somehow “fix” them. Although some individual members of FAIR may choose to edit Wikipedia articles, FAIR as an organization does not. Controversial Wikipedia articles require constant maintenance and a significant amount of time. FAIR prefers to respond to claims in the FAIR Wiki rather than fight the ongoing battle that LDS Wikipedia articles sometimes invite. From FAIR’s perspective, assertions made in LDS-themed Wikipedia articles are therefore treated just like any other critical (or, if one prefers, “anti-Mormon”) work. FAIR examines and responds to three LDS-related Wikipedia articles in detail:
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 browsing by going to our main web site. Just click on the following link:
We offer free shipping for orders of $100.00 or more.
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 January 2010:
When Souls Had Wings: Pre-Mortal Existence in Western Thought
Terryl L. Givens. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2010, hardbound, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4; 400 pages.
Special price of $23.96 (20% off the retail price of $29.95)
The idea of the pre-existence of the soul has been extremely important, widespread, and persistent throughout Western history–from even before the philosophy of Plato to the poetry of Robert Frost. When Souls Had Wings offers the first systematic history of this little explored feature of Western culture.
Terryl Givens describes the tradition of pre-existence as “pre-heaven”–the place where unborn souls wait until they descend to earth to be born. And typically it is seen as a descent–a falling away from a happier and untroubled state into the turbulent and sinful world we know. The title of the book refers to the idea put forward in antiquity that our souls begin with wings, and that only after shedding those wings do we fall to earth. The book not only traces the history of the idea of pre-existence, but also captures its meaning for those who have embraced it. Givens describes how pre-existence has been invoked to explain “the better angels of our nature,” including the human yearning for transcendence and the sublime. Pre-existence has been said to account for why we know what we should not know, whether in the form of a Greek slave’s grasp of mathematics, the moral sense common to humanity, or the human ability to recognize universals. The belief has explained human bonds that seem to have their own mysterious prehistory, salved the wounded sensibility of a host of thinkers who could not otherwise account for the unevenly distributed pain and suffering that are humanity’s common lot, and has been posited by philosophers and theologians alike to salvage the principle of human freedom and accountability.
When Souls had Wings underscores how durable (and controversial) this idea has been throughout the history of Western thought, the theological dangers it has represented, and how prominently it has featured in poetry, literature, and art.
Solomon’s Temple: Myth and History
William J. Hamlin and David Rolph Seely, London: Thames & Hudson, 2007, hardbound, 228 pages.
Special price of $30.00 (25% off the retail price of $40.00)
The Temple of Solomon has been the focus of profound spiritual reverence for over three thousand years. From its Bronze Age antecedents in the portable shrines of nomadic tribes, through countless permutations in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the idea of the Temple of Solomon–a place of communion between God and man–has proven endlessly alluring.
The sacred building itself was destroyed more than once, on the last occasion by the Romans in AD 70, yet the great church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the headquarters of the Templars, and numerous medieval cathedrals were all conceived as symbolic re-creations of Solomon’s original. Medieval magicians practiced magic to harness the demons who were believed to have constructed the Temple, and mystics of all faiths had visions of a celestial Temple, mirroring that on earth, where divine secrets would be revealed.
Solomon’s Temple draws on holy texts and mystic writings, works of art and architecture, modern reconstructions, and photographs to reveal the myriad ways in which the Temple and the sacred ground on which it stood have inspired mankind through the ages.
William Hamblin is Associate Professor of History at Brigham Young University. His most recent book is Warfare in the Ancient Near East. David Seely is Professor of Religion at Brigham Young University. He is a member of the international team of editors that published the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Your Study of the Old Testament Made Easier
Special Price of $18.74 (25% off the Retail Price of $24.99)
- Volume 1: [Books of Moses, Abraham, Genesis] David J. Ridges. Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, 2005. Softbound, 6×9″, 428 pgs.
- Volume 2: [Selections from Exodus through Proverbs] David J. Ridges. Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, 2006. Softbound, 6×9″, 382 pgs.
- Volume 3: [Selections from Ecclesiastes through Malachi] David J. Ridges. Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, 2006. Softbound, 6×9″, 468 pgs.
Noted teacher and gospel scholar David J. Ridges brings the Old Testament to life with his well-known teaching skills. As with his other books in the Gospel Studies Series, the full text of the scripture is included. In-the-verse notes provide a highly effective, unique teaching tool. Notes between the verses provide additional insights and teach principles and doctrines. Join the tens of thousands of readers who have experienced spiritual growth from reading and pondering the books in this series.
Thank you for using the FAIR bookstore!
FAIR YouTube would like to draw attention to several videos that have recently been posted on our YouTube website.
National Geographic produced a video a few years ago called “Dawn of the Maya.” The link below leads to one clip from this video, which shows how the Maya covered their buildings with a form of cement, at the cost of thousands of acres of trees. This is similar to the story in Helaman 3:5-7, which speaks of the land being “stripped of timber” in relation to buildings of cement.
CNN recently reported that portions of the Popul Vuh have been found engraved in the Mayan city El Mirador. While portions of this text have been found elsewhere, this has been the most publicized discovery. It is important because of the content of the Popul Vuh, which has been compared to the Christian Bible. The report can be seen here:
Mesoamerican scholar Mark Wright has discovered a Mayan ritual drama that contains the name of an ancient city with possible Book of Mormon connections:
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.
Davis Bitton, “I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church”
I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church by Davis Bitton
Ron Barney, “The Reliability of Mormon History Produced by the LDS Church”
Steven L. Olsen, “Is the Church Archives Closed?”
Is the Church Archives Closed? by Steven L. Olsen
The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship has announced that beginning on 14 January 2010, and continuing throughout BYU’s winter semester, the Willes Center and FARMS will host a weekly lecture series on the work of renowned LDS scholar Hugh W. Nibley. These lectures will be held in conjunction with the Religious Education department and the Harold B. Lee Library. The first lecturer will be distinguished historian Richard L. Bushman.
APOLOGETICS ON THE INTERNET
Mormon Scholars Testify is the name of a new internet site that offers “messages of faith from scholars who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Testimonies are expressed by a wide range of academics including John L. Sorenson, Shirley Ricks, Marcus H. Martins, Jennifer C. Lane, Royal Skousen, Clayton M. Christensen, Daniel C. Peterson, Paul Y. Hoskisson, Cynthia L. Hallen, Grant Hardy, Hollis R. Johnson, Kent P.Jackson, James M. McLachlan and many more.
FAIR volunteer Michael R. Ash continues a column on the Mormon Times website (which is produced by the Deseret News) called “Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith.” In his latest article he examines “The Tight Control Theory in the Book of Mormon.”
Michael Ash, Four evidences of a ‘tight control’ Book of Mormon translation, Deseret News, Jan. 4, 2010
Michael’s past columns can be read by clicking on the following link:
The White Horse ‘Prophecy’
The President of FAIR has been quoted in Idaho’s Standard Journal newspaper regarding the so-called White Horse ‘Prophecy’–which is attributed by some individuals to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
A response to this issue from an LDS Church spokeswoman can be found at the following link:
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 items for this category.
- John L. Sorenson, “A Complex of Ritual and Ideology Shared by Mesoamerica and the Ancient Near East,” Sino-Platonic Papers, #195, December 2009, University of Pennsylvania, 134 pages (PDF format).
- Frederick M. Huchel, “Antecedents of the Restoration in the Ancient Temple,” FARMS Review, vol. 21, no. 1, 2009, 10-25.
- Gregory L. Smith, “George D. Smith’s Nauvoo Polygamy,” FARMS Review, vol. 20, no. 2, 2008, 37-123.
- Exploring the Connection between Mormons and Masons, DVD – companion to a book, Mirror Films and Covenant Communications. Interviews with Richard E. Bennett, Matthew B. Brown, Glen A. Cook (Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Utah), Steven C. Harper and Daniel C. Peterson, December 2009.
- Kerry Muhlestein, “Encircling Astronomy and the Egyptians: An Approach to Abraham 3,” The Religious Educator, vol. 10, no. 1, 2009, 33-50.
- Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, In God’s Image and Likeness: Ancient and Modern Perspectives on the Book of Moses (Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2009), 1101 pages.
- John W. Welch, “Defender of the Faith” [Oliver Cowdery / section of an article], in Alexander L. Baugh, ed., Days Never to be Forgotten: Oliver Cowdery (Provo and Salt Lake City: BYU Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, 2009), 267-70.
Thomas A. Wayment, “Quest for Origins: The Joseph Smith Translation and Latin Version of the New Testament,” in Kent P. Jackson and Andrew C. Skinner, eds., A Witness for the Restoration: Essays in Honor of Robert J. Matthews (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2007), 61-91.
FAIR’S ‘FRONT PAGE’
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It should be noted that 1,000 FFP subscribers signed up for FAIR’s Front Page between late August (inception) and 30 December 2009.
ASK THE APOLOGIST
The public is invited to submit questions related to LDS *apologetic* issues to “Ask the Apologist.” This feature can be accessed by clicking on the following link:
Mark the box labeled “Questions (for the FAIR apologists).” Then fill in accurate information in the five white boxes and push the “Send Comments” button. All inquiries will be shared with members of the FAIR List and the questioner may receive multiple responses from FAIR volunteers. All responses reflect the opinions of the respondents only and not the official position of FAIR or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.