THE FAIR JOURNAL
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
- Donating to FAIR
- FAIR Konferenz
- FAIR Articles
- FAIR Blog
- FAIR YouTube
- FAIR Wiki
- FAIR Facebook
- Mormon Scholars Testify
- FAIR Bookstore
- FAIR’s ‘Front Page’
- Ask the Apologist
- Copyright Notice and Disclaimer
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
In last month’s President’s message I highlighted the fact that many, if not most, of the things written on the Internet about Mormonism may sound convincing, but often are simply not true.
I said, “The truth is that many of the allegations are taken out of context, are presented with a negative spin, come from a less reliable source, or are simply false. While some feel they ‘should’ know about it, there really should be no expectation for the Church to teach things about Joseph Smith that aren’t true, simply so people are familiar with those claims. False allegations remain false, even if they are from a long time ago.”
This month I want to bring up another aspect of anti-Mormonism that we also read on the Internet: those things that sound bad to us today, but are true.
These fall into three categories:
- New religious concepts the early saints were learning line upon line.
- Beliefs and values culturally unfamiliar to us.
- Human weaknesses.
In 1830, there was no Church Handbook of Instructions. Neither was there a Sunday School manual. New converts were coming into the Church and bringing many of their existing beliefs and values from their previous churches with them. Some of them didn’t own a Bible, nor did they have a Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants had not yet gone to press. At that time, they were trying to understand the concepts of priesthood, of sealing power, and of church hierarchy. In some early Church meetings, there are aspects of Pentecostalism and other Protestant thought that sometimes seem to be reflected. So speculation by members at that time might not reflect a full understanding of the gospel. But, as the members learned more, the Church matured and became more like the organization you see today.
Category two, beliefs and values that are culturally unfamiliar to us, is the area we seem to have the most problems with. We like to engage in something called “presentism,” which is to judge items from history using modern values or values from another culture. To illustrate this point, let me use some non-LDS examples.
We tend to be horrified when we discover that George Washington owned slaves or we read the early writings of Abraham Lincoln where he expresses his views on blacks. How do you feel about the 37-year-old William Clark (from the famed Lewis and Clark expeditions) being interested in Julia Hancock since she was 12, but waiting until her 15th birthday to finally marry her? Or how do you feel when you learn that Gandhi was betrothed by his family to be married at age 8, but waited until he was 13 to marry his then 14-year-old bride? He had his first child at age 15.
It is easy to see that there may cultural differences in looking at these examples. Today, we wouldn’t dream of supporting these practices, but they were culturally acceptable at that time.
In our Church history there are things that are a product of nineteenth-century American frontier culture and not a product of our religion. They often make us uncomfortable, but it is unfair to judge the people of that time by modern sensibilities.
The third area, human weakness, is often falsely blamed for areas of cultural misunderstanding or presentism. But, it is still a reality. The early members of the Church did have human weaknesses and made mistakes, just as we do. President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote, “My plea is that as we continue our search for truth, particularly we of the Church, that we look for strength and goodness rather than weakness and failings in those who did so great a work in their time. We recognize that our forefathers were human. They doubtless made mistakes. Some of them acknowledged making mistakes. But the mistakes were minor when compared with the marvelous work which they accomplished.”
The question we must ask ourselves is if concerns in any of these three areas justify us in turning away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am reminded of the scripture in John 6:68; after the Lord preached some “hard things” the people turned away from him. He then asked the twelve, “will ye also go away?” Peter answered “to whom, Lord, shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
That is the basis of my testimony. Jesus Christ has the words of eternal life. And I find Him in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
–Scott Gordon President of FAIR
DONATING TO FAIR
FAIR is labor of love. We are a group of volunteers who spend many hours trying to research and publish information to help members respond to critics. We try to price our conferences to be accessible to as many as possible. But, providing this information does cost money. In all of your charitable giving, please consider donating to FAIR. It is only through your donations that we are able to stay in operation.
If you can donate $10, or $10,000, every dollar helps us.
You can also mail a check to our address:
FAIR PO Box 491677 Redding, CA 96049-1677
No, we didn’t spell “conference” wrong. We are having a FAIR Konferenz in Frankfurt Germany on March 26 in the Offenbach building. So, if you are in the area, you are welcome to come. But we would appreciate it if you register first so we know you are coming.
If you have friends or relatives in Germany, Switzerland, or Austria, please forward the information on to them. We are late in getting this information out, and could use your help in passing the word. You can find out more about the conference:
Or you can register directly for the conference:
We will have information on the August Conference in Sandy Utah in the next FAIR Journal.
We often have one or two talks that we highlight each month in our FAIR Journal. But, this month we have made 33 additions to our FAIR Website. The best way to access this would probably go to www.fairlds.org and scroll down to check out the “What’s New” section. But, here is a complete list. I’m sure this will give you lots to talk about on message boards, blogs, and on Facebook. For those who use book readers, you will be pleased that all but one of these articles is in PDF format.
- Joseph Smith and the Question of Book of Mormon Geography (PDF). Matthew Roper.
- The Christian Doctrine of Deification (PFD). Edward T. Jones.
- “Dead Men Tell No Tales!”: The Blood Atonement Balance Sheet. McKay V. Jones demonstrates how much critics who seek to use “blood atonement” to undermine confidence in Church leaders have ignorantly or knowingly failed to address or account for. Compared to the limited and long-known standard anti-Mormon “blood atonement” proof-texts, this mountain of material, often contemporaneous with the standard proof-texts, shows that “blood atonement” statements and conditions are not as critics have advertised over the years. “Blood atonement” is a blatant case of the bearing of false witness.
Thirty talks from past FAIR conferences (2001-2010)
- Egyptian Influence in Ancient Israel by John Gee
- Christ, The Firstfruits of Theosis by Roger Cook
- The ABCs of the Book of Abraham by Michael Ash & Kevin Barney
- How to Reach African-Americans by Marvin Perkins
- Authentic Ancient Names and Words in the Book of Abraham and Related Kirtland Egyptian Papers by John Tvedtnes
- Defenders of the Book: Surveying the New World Evidence for Book of Mormon Historicity by Brant Gardner
- Investigating the Kirtland Egyptian Papers by Brian Hauglid
- Salamander Letters by Steve Mayfield and George Throckmorton
- Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced by Daniel Peterson
- A Few Hundred Hints of Egyptian and Northwest Semitic in Uto-Aztecan by Brian Stubbs
- Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri by John Gee
- Solomon’s Temple: Myth and History by William Hamblin and David Seely
- The Cowdery Controversies by Larry Morris
- God and Mr. Hitchens by Daniel Peterson
- The Trajectory of Book of Mormon Studies by John Sorenson
- Reflections on Mountain Meadows by Richard Turley
- Seeing Our Blindness: The Impact of Personal History on Our Understanding of God by Wendy Ulrich
- A Change of Venue: Joseph Smith’s Escape from Liberty Jail by Jeff Walker
- Shaken Faith Syndrome by Michael Ash
- The Joseph Smith Papers by Ronald Esplin
- Book of Mormon Geography by Lawrence Poulsen
- Deification: Divine Inheritance and the Glorious Afterlife in the Book of Mormon and Ancient Mesoamerica by Mark Wright
- The Apocalypse of Abraham: An Ancient Witness for the Book of Moses by Jeffrey Bradshaw
- Like Two Crazy Aunts in the Attic: Latter-day Saints and Popular Polygamy Stereotypes by Craig Foster
- Marginal Characters in the Book of Abraham Manuscripts by John Gee
- Origin of Book of Mormon Names by Stephen Ricks
- A Mormon in the White House by Peter Watkins
More conference talks are available here:
This month the FAIR blog contains thoughts on the Hopewell culture.
The YouTube site now can have full-length videos and no longer is limited to 10 minute clips. We have since uploaded several videos to the site, some of which include the following:
The full-length rebuttal to Living Hope Ministries anti-Mormon video “Bible vs The Book of Mormon”. This is a FAIR production that discusses some of the flaws found in this flawed video.
We have also posted Mesoamerican scholar Mark A. Wrights 2008 FAIR conference lecture on The Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica, which he discusses several of evidences of The Book of Mormon and parallels between Mesoamerica and The Book of Mormon.
Jeffrey Bradshaw discusses the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible in detail in his 2008 FAIR conference address.
Visit the Youtube site with over 600 videos on topics ranging from polygamy, early Christian prayer circles at
The FAIR Wiki addresses a number of criticisms that deal with the subject of Mormonism and its relationship with history.
FAIR and Wikipedia A recent article published in the Deseret News (January 30, 2011) and the Mormon Times (January 31, 2011) highlights FAIR’s efforts to respond negative bias in LDS-themed Wikipedia articles:
- “Wiki Wars: In battle to define beliefs, Mormons and foes wage battle on Wikipedia”, Michael De Groote, Deseret News, January 30, 2011.
- “Wiki Wars: In battle to define beliefs, Mormons and foes wage battle on Wikipedia”, Michael De Groote, Mormon Times, January 31, 2011.
Mormonism and Wikipedia – FAIR’s detailed responses to LDS-themed Wikipedia articles.
- Mormonism and Wikipedia
- A FAIR Analysis of Wikipedia article “Martin Harris”
- A FAIR Analysis of Wikipedia article “Oliver Cowdery”
- A FAIR Analysis of Wikipedia article “First Vision”
- A FAIR Analysis of Wikipedia article “Joseph Smith, Jr.”
- A FAIR Analysis of Wikipedia article “Golden plates”
- A FAIR Analysis of Wikipedia article “Three Witnesses”
We hope you will check out the FAIR Facebook page and click “Like.” The more that click “Like” the better we do.
MORMON SCHOLARS TESTIFY
There are several new interesting testimonies that have been recently posted.
Here is John Welch:
Here is Brant Gardner:
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.
Saints on the Seas (Limited to stock on hand)
Conway B. Sonne. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1983. Softbound, 6×9″, 212 pages.
The maritime tradition is particularly important to the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although fewer than 700 Mormon missionaries traveled to foreign lands to proselytize during the nineteenth century, their energetic activities garnered some 85,000 converts, most of whom emigrated to America. In this fascinating narrative Sonne details the long and often dangerous voyages required of the migrants to reach American soil, where they began their overland trek to help build the “Kingdom of Zion” in the West.
- Retail Price: $24.95
- Special FAIR Price: $12.47 (50% Discount)
Presidents of the Church, Biographical Essays (Limited to stock on hand)
Leonard J. Arrington (editor), Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1986, 6×9″ softbound, 478 pages.
Since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized on April 6, 1830, thirteen men have been sustained by the Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator, and president of the Church. From the Prophet Joseph Smith to Ezra Taft Benson, each man has been uniquely qualified for his particular period of service, and each has made unique contributions to the kingdom of God on earth.
The Presidents of the Church is a collection of biographical essays on these spiritual leaders, written by eleven authors who have studied the presidents’ lives and writings and who themselves have deep commitment to and testimonies of the Church and its mission. Leonard J. Arrington, a former director of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History at Brigham Young University and the former Church Historian, served as general editor and also authored three of the chapters.
In his preface, Dr. Arrington explains the intent of the book: “This book is intended for general Latter-day Saint readers, young and old, who wish an introduction to each of the presidents of their church. . . . The writers have enormous respect and admiration for the men they have written about, and we have not attempted to submerge that feeling. I am sure that the reading of these lives will be as faith-promoting for those who read it as it has been for those of us who have written it.”
The Presidents of the Church presents a panorama of over 160 years of Church history, told through the lives and experiences of the men who have had such direct and lasting influence on it. From the glorious visions of the young Joseph Smith to the building of a new civilization in the Rocky Mountains, the explosive growth in membership and activity is chronicled as the Church becomes a widely respected international force. Each chapter tells a story of devotion to duty, of testimony, of courage, of conviction, of love and honor, of faith in pursuit of righteousness and truth.
- Retail Price: $11.95
- Special FAIR Price: $5.97 (50% Discount)
Who Shall Lead Them? The Future of Ministry in America (Limited to stock on hand)
Larry A. Witham. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Hardcover, 6-1/2 x 9 1/2″, 256 pages.
The clergy today faces mounting challenges in an increasingly secular world, where declining prestige makes it more difficult to attract the best and the brightest young Americans to the ministry. As Christian churches dramatically adapt to modern changes, some are asking whether there is a clergy crisis as well. Whatever the future of the clergy, the fate of millions of churchgoers also will be at stake.
In “Who Shall Lead Them?”, prizewinning journalist Larry Witham takes the pulse of both the Protestant and Catholic ministry in America and provides a mixed diagnosis of the calling’s health. Drawing on dozens of interviews with clergy, seminarians and laity, and using newly available survey data including the 2000 Census, Witham reveals the trends in a variety of traditions. While evangelicals are finding innovative paths to ministry, the Catholic priesthood faces a severe shortage. In mainline Protestantism, ministry as a second career has become a prominent feature. Ordination ages in the Episcopal and United Methodist churches average in the 40s today. The quest by female clergy to lead from the pulpit, meanwhile, has hit a “stained glass ceiling” as churches still prefer a man as the principal minister. While deeply motivated by the mystery of their “call” to ministry, America’s priests, pastors, and ministers are reassessing their roles in a world of new debates on leadership, morality, and the powers of the mass media.
“Who Shall Lead Them?” offers a valuable snapshot of this contemporary clergy drama. It will be required reading for everyone concerned about the rapidly shifting ground of our churches and the health of religion in America.
- Retail Price: $26.00
- Special FAIR Price: $13.00 (50% Discount)
Faith, Philosophy, Scripture
James E. Faulconer. Provo, Utah: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Brigham Young University, 2010. Softbound, 6×9″, 263 pages.
Faith, Philosophy, Scripture is a collection of ten essays that result from James E. Faulconer’s work as a philosopher and his faith as a Latter-day Saint.
Faith is the starting point, and philosophy its supplement, rather than a competitor. Faulconer says, “The confidence of my faith, a confidence that came by revelation, has allowed me to hear the questions of philosophy without fear, and philosophy has never asked me to give up my faith, though it has asked questions about it.”
These essays ask what it means to remember (as our faith often calls us to do), how faith and reason are related to one another, what the place of theology is in revealed religion, and how we should think about scripture.
- Retail Price: $19.95
- Special FAIR Price: $16.36 (18% Discount)
Studies in the Book of Abraham: Traditions About the Early Life of Abraham
John A. Tvedtnes, Brian M. Hauglid, and John Gee, Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research & Mormon Studies (FARMS), 2001, Volume 1, Abraham Series, 8.5×11.25″ hardbound, 608 pages.
The first book in the FARMS Studies in the book of Abraham series, “Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham” brings together a wide array of ancient accounts touching on the early life of the great patriarch Abraham.
The Book of Abraham, like the book of Mormon, has often come under fire by skeptics and critics who discount its claims to be an ancient text. Traditions assembles under one cover for the first time more than 100 ancient and medieval Abraham stories that are translated into English from Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Persian, Coptic, and Egyptian texts.
Although the number of accounts in Traditions is impressive, the compilers chose to include only those portions of stories that relate to the early life of Abraham up through events covered by the book of Abraham but not found in the Bible.
“This project has been five or six years in the making, and as far as I know, no one, including FARMS, has published anything quite like it before,” says Brian Hauglid.
- Retail Price: $49.95
- Special FAIR Price: $39.96 (20% Discount)
Hor Book of Breathings, A Translation and Commentary
Michael D. Rhodes, Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research & Mormon Studies (FARMS), 2002, 8.5 x 11.25″, hardbound, 112 pages.
This second volume in the Studies in the Book of Abraham series provides a transcription, translation, and commentary on one of the remaining fragments of the Joseph Smith Papyri. The book also contains hieroglyphs that were custom-designed for this publication by FARMS designers.
- Retail Price: $39.95
- Special FAIR Price: $31.96 (20% Discount)
Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant
John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid (Editors), Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), 2005. Hardbound, 8.5 x 11.25″, 186 pages.
Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant covers several fascinating topics related to the biblical patriarch Abraham, a key figure in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions. The third title in the series Studies in the Book of Abraham, this volume concentrates on Abraham as an astronomer, the background of the Joseph Smith Papyri, and the nature of the Abrahamic covenant.
In the course of treating these subjects, various papers discuss such topics as recent research on the facsimiles, the role of women in the Abrahamic covenant, views of Abraham in Joseph Smith’s day, and a number of other interesting issues.
Fifteen different scholars, including astronomers, Egyptologists, and historians, have contributed to this volume.
Previous titles in this series were Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham, 2001, edited by John A. Tvedtnes, Brian M. Hauglid, and John Gee, and The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary, 2002, by Michael D. Rhodes.
- Retail Price: $49.95
- Special FAIR Price: $39.96 (20% Discount)
Books of the Dead Belonging to Tshemmin and Neferirnub: A Translation and Commentary
Michael D. Rhodes. Studies in the Book of Abraham, Book 4: John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid, Series Editors. Provo, Utah: Neal A Maxwell Institute of Religious Scholarship, Brigham Young University, 2010. Hardbound, 8.5 x 11.25″, 155 pages.
This book is the second of two volumes that deal with the surviving Joseph Smith papyri fragments.
The subject of the first volume was The Hor Book of Breathings. This second volume deals with the remaining fragments that consist of Books of the Dead belonging to two women-Tshemmin and Neferirnub.
This volume contains a detailed description of the papyri as well as a transcription, translation, and commentary of all the surviving text. The appendices include color plates with hieroglyphic transcriptions of the hieratic text, a glossary of gods, place names, etc., and a complete glossary of all Egyptian words found in the surviving text.
The editor of this volume, Michael D. Rhodes, is an associate research professor in the Department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University. He is a coauthor of One Eternal Round, the last volume in the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley series.
- Retail: $89.95
- Special FAIR Price: $71.96 (20% Discount)
Textual History of the Book of Abraham: Manuscripts and Editions
Brian M. Hauglid. Studies in the Book of Abraham, Book 5: John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid, Series Editors. Provo, Utah: Neal A. Maxwell Institute of Religious Scholarship, Brigham Young University, 2010. Hardbound, 8.5 x 11.25″, 306 pages.
In July 1835 at Kirtland Ohio, a traveling antiquities dealer brought to Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, four Egyptian mummies and several rolls of papyri. Upon inspection Smith determined that one of the rolls contained a lost record of the patriarch Abraham.
After purchasing these artifacts for $2400 Smith generated through translation five chapters that appeared during March 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois in the Times and Seasons, a Mormon periodical, under the title “The Book of Abraham”. This book has since become a canonized text of scripture for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Textual History of the Book of Abraham: Manuscripts and Editions” serves as a source book for interested researchers and scholars. It includes a brief introduction to the Book of Abraham and a detailed record of textual variants from the time it first appeared in the Times and Seasons until its latest edition (1981).
This volume also produces for the first time typographic transcriptions with facing grayscale images of the surviving handwritten manuscripts of the Book of Abraham. Several appendices offer additional helpful resources such as contemporary accounts related to the translation of the Book of Abraham and a full set of color high-res images of the surviving Abraham manuscripts.
This book will be a valuable reference tool for scholars interested in researching the textual history of the Book of Abraham.
- Retail: $79.95
- Special FAIR Price: $63.96 per volume (20% Discount)
Thank you for shopping in our FAIR bookstore!
FAIR’S ‘FRONT PAGE’
FAIR’s ‘Front Page’ is a free news clipping service and the recipient can unsubscribe at any time. It is not sent in any official Church or other capacity. It is for those who are interested in keeping abreast with what is being said around the world about the LDS Church and its members. Sometimes media portrayal of the LDS Church, its members and of other religions is not positive or accurate. The responsibility for the interpretation and use of this information lies with the reader. As all information comes from other news sources and has not been independently verified, FAIR cannot guarantee or be responsible for the security of links in the clipping service. FAIR will attempt to exclude news articles containing strongly offensive language but cannot guarantee that some will not slip through. Some links may also lead to offensive images. To receive this service click on the link below, enter your email address in the white box, and push the “Sign-Up” button.
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.