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
This has been a very active time for us at FAIR. The US
presidential campaign created a flurry of interest by reporters and
others who wanted to know the true beliefs of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. FAIR Board president, John Lynch, and I
were able to attend the Religion News Writers’ Conference in
Bethesda Maryland. It was a great event where spokespeople for
various religious traditions met with religion news journalists. The
journalists included representatives from the New York Times, CNN,
The Washington Post, the St. Louis Dispatch, the Chicago Tribune,
and many others. Note that these were the religion writers, and not
the political or the sports writers who also seem to write about our
faith from time to time.
As a group, we were able to visit a Jewish synagogue and listen to
the concerns of various rabbis, hear about a film that a Friends
congregation in Southern California is putting together trying to
combat human trafficking, listen to a Hindu scholar talking about
overcoming the caste system, hear concerns of church and state as
advanced by the Catholic bishops, visit the National Cathedral, hear
about self-identification of Evangelical Christians, and listen to
Mormons. The Mormons were from various political positions, and
represented us well.
My first impression was how accepting the various groups were of us,
as Mormons. Maybe they were simply trying to get along during the
political campaign, but I was struck by the warmth of the welcome
that we received. I was also struck by the similarities of the
concerns we have as Latter-day Saints with most of the other faith
It was clear that the reporters understood that polygamy was not
practiced by our LDS denomination and seemed to understand the
difference between our faith traditions and those of the
fundamentalist groups. We still got a few questions about our
underwear and temples, but by and large they seemed to have a good
professional understanding of our belief and practices. One
gentleman I had dinner with was very quiet, but then later stated he
had done a large positive article on his local Mormon congregation.
The area that seemed to create the most confusion was our
relationship with African Americans. Several reporters asked for
clarification on that. One panelist stated several times that Mormon
racism was the story that needed to be written, and it was contained
within the Book of Mormon. I foolishly tried to correct some of her
misunderstandings and brought up that the Book of Mormon wasn’t the
story of African Americans, but was immediately shouted down by her
charges of racism.
Luckily, one of the other Mormon scholars in attendance waited until
the panel was over and gently suggested she read some of the
scholarship on the matter. It turned out she wasn’t even familiar
with the writings or even the names of scholars within the LDS
community. He gave her some book titles. His was a better approach.
In the weeks after the trip, we received confirmation that the trip
was successful as I was called by a reporter who was doing a story
that he believed would portray Mormons in a negative light. He
wanted to talk with me to obtain balancing information. The result
was a balanced story that was accurate and fair. We also had contact
with several other reporters and were able to provide significant
input into other news stories.
I want to thank all of our supporters who provided donations to
FAIR. Your donations made that conference visit possible.
President of FAIR
Here are three articles that appeared recently where we were able to
provide input. There have been several others.
These first two were requested of us and done through MormonVoices.
The 10 Best Stories About the ‘Mormon Moment’
The Ten Worst Stories About the ‘Mormon Moment’
This was an excellent article done by the BBC:
Has the Mormon mystique been lifted?
I want to thank all of you who sent in donations this past month.
Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to make our recent contacts
with the press, and we wouldn’t have been able to advertise during
But, as a reminder, that doesn’t mean our financial needs have
stopped. I hope you will continue to donate to FAIR at
Consider signing up for a reoccurring donation. FAIR is a 501c(3)
corporation, so in the United States your contributions are tax
deductible. If you have questions, check with your tax advisor.
One of our FAIR volunteers, Trevor Holyoak, has created some
exceptional Android apps for your Android phone or tablet. You can
search for FAIRLDS in the Google Play store, or you can download
them using your Android device here:
We currently have three apps:
1. A full-featured FAIR app.
2. A standalone app for the FAIR Front Page Newsletter. This is
included in the first app, but some only wanted this feature
of daily press clippings.
3. An app we created for our friends over at the Interpreter.
If you have suggestions for the apps, please let us know. Our next
task is to get Trevor to design an app for iPhones, iPads, and
iPods. We will let you know when it is out. If he keeps doing this
good work, we may have to someday feed Trevor some thank-you
FAIR STUDY AIDS
New Verse-by-Verse Resource on the Book of Mormon
One of our objectives at FAIR is to provide access to quality
research on Latter-day Saint topics that is useful for the average
Saint in their everyday study of the scriptures. To that end, as a
new part of our FAIR Study Aids project, we have developed a
verse-by-verse research index on the Book of Mormon. This can be
accessed online, here:
What we have done is to go through hundreds of articles, essays, and
research papers and cataloged them under the chapter and verse for
which its contents are most relevant. (In many cases, articles can
be found under more than one scripture reference.) See the page on
Jacob, for example. There is also a page for research related to the
introduction, history of its coming forth, and general themes that
run throughout the book. In some cases, books and chapters also have
“overview” materials available.
In working with the press, the biggest misunderstanding we ran into
had to do with black history in The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints. To combat that, MormonVoices put together an
abbreviated history timeline.
Black Mormon History Timeline
Posted on Oct 20, 2012
As with many American institutions, the issue of race and the Mormon
Church is complicated and confusing with both positive and negative
experiences. This timeline is incomplete as it does not reflect
every priesthood ordination, or even every significant issue on this
topic. It is simply meant to give an overview of this complicated
subject. This timeline is an adaption from the timeline located at
1830 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized.
1832 Elijah Abel, an African American, is baptized and given the
priesthood in the church. He went on to serve three missions for the
1833 Jackson County Missouri locals issue a manifesto suggestion
they drive Mormons from the state. One of the given reasons is
Mormons are “inviting free Negroes and mulattoes from other states
to become Mormons, and remove and settle among us.” The Mormons are
expelled from Missouri.
1840 People of every color invited to worship at the Mormon Temple
in Nauvoo, Ill. “Persons of all languages, and of every tongue, and
of every color; who shall with us worship the Lord of Hosts in his
holy temple, and offer up their orisons in his sanctuary.”
1842 Church prophet Joseph Smith writes that slaves should be
“brought into a free county and set…free–educate them and give them
1842 Joseph Smith writes on the subject of American slavery, “…it
makes my blood boil within me to reflect upon the injustice,
cruelty, and oppression of the rulers of the people.”
1844 Joseph Ball, an African American, served as president of the
Boston LDS Branch.
1844 Walker Lewis, African American abolitionist and Underground
Railroad activist from Lowell, MA, is ordained a Mormon Elder.
1847 The Mormons are expelled from Illinois and settle in Utah
1849 Brigham Young states, “The Lord had cursed Cain’s seed with
blackness and prohibited them the Priesthood.” No explanation is
given. The “Curse of Cain” was associated with black skin and was
used by several American denominations to justify racial segregation
1852 Slavery made legal in Utah. In a speech to the Utah Territorial
Legislature Brigham Young reaffirms that blacks cannot hold the
priesthood. It is unknown when or why such a policy was put in
1857 Federal troops sent to occupy Utah to quell the non-existent
1861- 1865 American Civil War. Because of the known difficulties
with the Federal government, the Mormons are invited to join with
the Southern States but refuse.
1867 Territory constitution is amended to give suffrage to persons
of color. It was ratified by an almost unanimous vote.
1869 The explanation that black suffering and priesthood exclusion
comes from blacks being neutral in an angelic war in heaven is
denied by Mormon prophet Brigham Young. Nevertheless, this folk
doctrine continues to be taught by many members.
1879 Status of African Americans debated in Church councils.
1880 African American Elijah Able denied entrance to Mormon Temple
even though he is holder of the Mormon priesthood.
1885 Mormon scholar B. H. Roberts speculates on origin of priesthood
ban by citing several scriptures. This speculative explanation is
quickly adopted by many Mormons.
1912 Mormon prophet Joseph F. Smith again denies blacks were neutral
in pre-mortal war in heaven and issues letter on that topic.
Nevertheless, this folk doctrine continues to be taught by many
1935 African American Elijah Abel, grandson of the first Elijah Abel
ordained in 1832, is ordained an Elder in Mormon Church.
1940 Issue is studied again in Church councils.
1947 Issue is studied again in Church Councils.
1949 Official statement from Church that African Americans may be
members, but “are not entitled to the priesthood at the present
1954 White members allowed perform proxy temple work for ancestors
of black members who are still not allowed to enter temples.
1955 Under the direction of Mormon prophet David O. McKay Melanesian
blacks are given priesthood.
1958 Black Fijians are given priesthood.
1958 Mormon church leader Joseph Fielding Smith clarifies Church’s
position on equality stating, “No church or other organization is
more insistent than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
that the Negroes should receive all the rights and privileges that
can possibly be given to any other in the true sense of equality as
declared in the Declaration of Independence.”
1963 Mormon Church leader Hugh B. Brown states “We would like it to
be known that there is in this Church no doctrine, belief, or
practice that is intended to deny the enjoyment of full civil rights
by any person regardless of race, color, or creed.”
1967 Sociologist Armand Mauss surveys Mormon attitudes about race.
Study shows that Mormons were no more likely to give “anti-Negro
responses than were the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, or
Baptists.” The survey also shows that the Orthodox Mormons were
“consistently less likely to express anti Negro attitudes” than the
doubters of key Church doctrines.
1969 Athletes from the University of Wyoming refuse to play Mormon
College BYU. Stanford University refuses to schedule events with
BYU. Church puts out statement, “We believe the Negro, as well as
those of other races, should have his full Constitutional privileges
as a member of society, and we hope that members of the Church
everywhere will do their part as citizens to see that these rights
are held inviolate.”
1969 The Church states, “We have no racially-segregated
1978 It is announced on June 8 that the priesthood should be given
to everyone regardless of race or linage. The ban is lifted.
1978 Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie states “Forget everything I
have said, or what … Brigham Young … or whomsoever has said … that
is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited
understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come
into the world.”
2006 Mormon Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley states, “I remind you that no
man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race
can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider
himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of
2012 Mormon Church issues official statement about race. “For a time
in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male
members of African descent. It is not known precisely why, how, or
when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that
it ended decades ago.”
“The Book of Mormon states, “black and white, bond and free, male
and female; … all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). This is the
Church’s official teaching.”
“The Church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all
past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church.”
Additional resources on this issue can be found at:
From the MormonVoices Website
From the Black LDS Website
From the FAIR Wiki Website
http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_racial_issues/Blacks_and_the_priesthood (There are a number of sub articles on this link.)
Sign up for MormonVoices
We continue to have our beliefs misrepresented in the press. There
also seems to be a piling on by some of the ex-Mormon critics, and
others in the comments sections. Join the MormonVoices email list to
get alerts on articles that need a response.
MORMON SCHOLARS TESTIFY
A new testimony has been added from Darin Ragozzine, Astrophysics,
University of Florida
There is an enormous amount that we all have in common. Whether you
are a strict atheist skeptic, a devout Muslim, an anti-science
protester, a lapsed Hindu, or a Mormon-basher, you and I have many
shared beliefs, ideas, knowledge, and experiences.
Check out more great testimonies on Mormon Scholars Testify.
Mormonscholarstestify.org If you are a scholar, please write your
testimony and send it in. You may send it to president(at
For those of you who wonder (at sign) looks like this @. You might
occasionally see it written as (at sign) so the automatic Web
crawlers don’t recognize it as an email address.
Boomerang Hits of the Book of Mormon #1
by John Lynch on October 3rd, 2012
Native Americans in California and Arizona and the aborigines of
Australia anciently used a particularly unique weapon in both
hunting and warfare known in today’s English as a boomerang.
Presumably adapted from the terms “wumerang” or “boomerit”, which
were used by New South Wales Australian native inhabitants to
describe a particularly useful throwing stick, the boomerang is a
unique tool used to wound or kill prey from a distance.
Designed with a slightly imbalanced hydrofoil design unique for the
direction in which it will be thrown, the boomerang has the distinct
characteristic of producing a modestly curved flight pattern. When
thrown by a master skilled in the properties of the flight of the
individual weapon, the potentially deadly tool need not be lost in
the distance when it fails to hit its prey. Rather, when skillfully
thrown with the proper force, the curved flight pattern will cause
the boomerang to circle back to the hunter or warrior who threw it,
allowing them to then re-use the weapon for future hunts or battles.
In the constant ideological struggles between LDS scholars and
critics, specific issues are often raised that are intended to
disprove the authenticity claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints and the Book of Mormon. These attacks, like those
from the sharp edges of a deadly throwing stick intended to weaken
or kill a target, are intended to weaken or kill the faith of
individuals in the Restoration. These attacks often take the form of
technical criticisms backed by scientific or scholarly studies. They
are aimed at discrediting both the plausibility and the probability
that the Church and Book of Mormon are precisely what they claim to
Notes on Apologetics
by Kevin Barney on October 17th, 2012
Over the last couple of days I’ve seen a number of comments around
the Bloggernacle and on Facebook that reflect some fundamental
misunderstandings of Mormon apologetics in general and FAIR in
particular. (Such as a confusion of material on the Mormon Dialogue
Board with FAIR, and such as attributing material from the FARMS
Review to FAIR.) I thought it might be worthwhile in light of this
kind of persistent misunderstanding to share my comments on
apologetics from this past summer’s Sunstone Symposium. Kaimi
organized a session on the topic, featuring him, me, Bridget Jack
Jeffries and John Charles-Duffy. Below I have attempted to produce a
rough transcript of my comments. At the end I have reproduced the
questions, followed only by my own comments (not those of the other
panelists). (To hear the entire session, you may order a download
from Sunstone for under $3.00.)
Hi. This is my vacation so I didn’t really prepare anything to say.
I plan to just talk off the cuff a little bit. First of all, let me
tell you a little bit about what apologetics is. As Kaimi said I’m
involved with FAIR, which stands for the Foundation for Apologetic
Information and Research. I was not involved in the formation of the
organization or the choice of the name, which name is somewhat
unfortunate. For years we have gotten e-mails asking us “Why are you
apologizing?” Because apologetics is a word that is not really
native to the Mormon tradition. It is well known in other
traditions, but not in ours. It comes from the Greek word apologia,
which means “defense,” and refers to that branch of theology that
has to do with defending religious faith by rational means. There
are Mormon apologists, Evangelical apologists, Catholic apologists,
Jewish apologists, and Muslim apologists. If you’re a religious
group that seeks to interact with the wider world, you need
apologists. So that’s the first thing.
Second, in Mormon discourse a lot of times the word apologist is
thrown around as a slur. I personally don’t perceive it that way.
Jack and I both have a background in classics at BYU, and I remember
reading Plato’s Apology, in the original sense, not the modern
English sense. So to me being an apologist is a perfectly honorable
thing, not something one has to ashamed of.
Also, I think apologists often wear different hats at different
times. I know I certainly do. I sometimes act in the role of an
apologist and wear that hat. Sometimes I wear the hat of a scholar.
(I’ve published some 30-odd articles in Mormon studies, some with an
apologetic slant and some without.) I wear the hat of a regular
member as well; I teach Sunday School in my home ward. I sometimes
wear the hat of a social critic. Some of you are aware that I blog
at By Common Consent, and in that forum I often have occasion to
critique the Church and its policies. Among apologists there is a
spectrum, and I think it’s fair to say that I’m very liberal in the
world of apologetics; probably about as liberal as one can be and
still wear that particular hat. Kaimi mentioned LGBT rights. I’m
there with Joanna; Ralph Hancock is not, if you read his post on
Times and Seasons. So there is a wide spectrum of belief and
practice within the apologetic universe.
What I’d like to do now, in the wake of what happened at the Maxwell
Institute, my friend Russell Arben Fox sent around an e-mail to
about 15 of us, asking for our thoughts on apologetics. And I want
to use my response to him as a framework for this address.
I think of apologetics as operating within three different spheres.
First is what I call (these labels are just my own) “engagement
apologetics.” What I mean by that is when you engage directly with
the critic. That’s like debate, the aggressive style people think
of. Rhetorical combat in the octagon; two people enter, one leaves,
that kind of mentality. Today a lot of that takes place on message
boards; that is the venue for this style of apologetics. Personally
that’s not my style and I don’t do it. That is partly because I know
myself well enough to know I wouldn’t be any good at it. A lot of
that is just a personality issue; I’m a very empathetic person.
Kaimi mentioned Dan Peterson and Lou Midgley; I know those guys, I’m
friends with those guys, and I don’t view them as the Anti-Christ.
But I know and am friends with everyone else, too. I really don’t
want to roll around wrestling in the mud with someone; it’s just not
my style. I don’t care much for message boards; I’m much more of a
blog person. I’m a live and let live kind of guy.
There is also what I call scholarly apologetics. John Charles-Duffy
in his lengthy Sunstone article was not only insightful but perhaps
prescient in a way we wouldn’t have known in 2004. He talks about a
number of tensions. There is an anti-contention tradition in the
Church, and that style butts heads with that. There is also an
anti-intellectual tradition in the Church, and apologetics by its
nature uses scholarship, in a way that traditional Mormonism hasn’t,
so in many ways apologetics has been a progressive influence in the
Church. I agree with his conclusion there. I mention this article
because he talks about “orthodox scholarship,” which is a good
label, but I’m going to include this under the rubric of
What I mean by scholarly apologetics is sort of classic FARMS. FARMS
stands for the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, a
foundation established by John Welch in 1979. It was eventually
absorbed into BYU in the 90s at the request of GBH (hard to say no
to him!). I’m not part of FARMS but I know those people, and I know
there was a lot of concern at the time with going into BYU, and
there was concern that what has happened would happen. Scholarly
apologetics is applying the tools of scholarship assuming Mormon
faith claims. It involves things like peer review and cite checking
and footnotes and linguistic tools and dead tree publication. So
FARMS would put on a conference on the Allegory of the Olive Tree, a
two-day conference, and they would invite scholars and then publish
a book with the proceedings. That was not directly engaging anyone
but providing a scholarly apparatus around Mormon faith claims.
The third kind of apologetics is what I call educative apologetics.
And that is what I see as the role of FAIR today. Now FAIR
originated almost exclusively as an engagement apologetics
organization. FAIR originated as an internet-based group in the late
90s (I wasn’t around then). What happened was that there were
religious discussions on the old AOL message boards, and the Mormons
were getting pushed around. They were the 98 pound weaklings because
they didn’t control the venue. The people that did limited their
access and things like that. So FAIR originated as a group of people
banding together electronically for self defense. And so FAIR
created its own message board. And in those early days it was very
much this engagement style, let’s arm wrestle over this stuff. Then
after a few years it changed its focus and gave up its message
board. Some people still refer to that board as the “FAIR boards,”
but FAIR has had no control over those boards for about a decade
now. FAIR’s mission became one of educative apologetics. Its focus
is inward, on members of the Church.
So a Primary teacher goes to prepare a talk, opens up Google and
enters some innocuous search term. Somehow she goes down a rabbit
hole and she finds out some weird thing about the church she’s never
heard before and is freaked out. So what does she do? Well in the
Mormon tradition you go talk to the bishop. But the bishop has a
degree in engineering from BYU; he’s never heard of this thing and
is of no help. Probably no one in her ward knows anything about it.
So where does she turn? That’s where FAIR tries to help. FAIR has a
wiki it has developed over time, using wiki software and
collaborative editing, crowd sourcing, that sort of thing. It has
become a repository of every anti-Mormon argument there is. Some
people think that’s a bad thing, because we’ve cataloged all of
these arguments against the Church, and it is in effect a
smorgasbord of anti-Mormonism. But you gotta do it, because people
are going to find this stuff. We live in the internet age. When I
was a missionary you would only encounter these things if you
specifically went looking for them or if your crazy Aunt Sally sent
you a tract in the mail. That’s not the case anymore; you’ve got the
internet, baby. You’re one search away from finding this stuff. And
we’ve got a lot of skeletons in the closet, a lot of bodies buried
in the backyard. And we haven’t been very forthcoming as a Church
about all that stuff. The Church kind of hopes people won’t find it
and we won’t have to talk about it. That doesn’t work anymore;
someone has to be able to talk about it
FAIR also has a feature called Ask the Apologist. If you can’t find
what you want on the wiki, you can write in and it will go to a
private e-mail list with over 100 volunteers, and someone on that
list will respond to your question. I’ve probably answered over a
thousand of those questions over the years. I love doing that,
helping someone who is troubled by something. A lot of times it’s
just a matter of putting something in context. People come to these
things with fundamentalist, black and white thinking, very
presentist, so sometimes you just need to inculcate a little
historical consciousness in them. And when you practice that kind of
apologetics it’s a virtue to be conversant with the literature. I’ve
been reading Dialogue and Sunstone and JMH and everything else for
decades. So I’ll remember that there was an article about that, and
I’ll suggest they read that.
So those are the kinds of apologetics as I conceive of them. I do
think there is a role for engagement apologetics. Whether it has to
be under the umbrella of a university, I don’t know; I’m a little
ambivalent about that. I can understand NAMI wanting to go a
different direction. If this takes place I imagine that FARMS will
reform under a different name and continue doing what it did before.
[Since then the appearance of The Interpreter has confirmed this.] I
don’t know, that’s just a guess.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject, so I’ll sit down.
To what extent does the Church countenance FARM or FAIR? I want to
add something on the FAIR aspect of that. FAIR has always been clear
it is completely independent of the Church. We have to be. For some
people that’s a problem; they won’t listen to us without an explicit
endorsement. If so, so be it. Some of the brethren are more
supportive of apologetics than others.
Lutheran pastor; doesn’t understand the controversy. As Kaimi
mentioned, Dan Peterson was the long time editor of the FARMS Review
(the name has changed over time). That organ is the most explicitly
apologetic of NAMI. He was on a lengthy trip to Europe, and received
an e-mail from Gerald Bradford that he was being removed as editor.
Universities remove editors all the time; it didn’t have to be this
controversial. I don’t know Bradford personally, but I respect his
scholarship. I suspect he thought it would be easier to do this way.
Dan Peterson is a very controversial figure. I talked about
different styles of apologetics, but they bleed into each other at
the margins, and Dan has been active on the message boards, and that
style has bled into the Review to some extent.
Can a career be made in apologetics? To what extent should an
organization maintain its original mandate v. adapting to changing
times? I’m going to answer your first question: “No.” Although some
of the people involved are university professors and use those skill
sets tangentially in apologetics.
Different parties are asserting institutional support or not. How do
we define apologetics when there is no specific institutional
backing? Mentioned Joanna Brooks. I think I see where you’re going
with this now. I love Joanna, and in many ways what she does is
apologetics. She’s making the case that you don’t have to check your
brain at the door to be a Mormon. A lot of people would say that
some of what Richard did in RSR is a kind of apologetic. Much of the
Bloggernacle is apologetic in some sense. Apologetics is much
broader than what people usually think of under that rubric.
[More on the controversy.] I don’t know that there was any GA
impetus behind this move. Someone wrote a paper critiquing John
Dehlin’s work, he got wind of it, and contacted a GA about that.
That may have given Gerald an opening to do something. There has
long been an anti-apologetic wing of FARMS, which sounds weird to
people, because they assume FARMS is monolithic. There is academic
politics involved. I’m not convinced this was a GA driven thing, but
rather a matter of academic politics. Attitude of GAs towards
apologetics remains a mixed bag; some favor it, others don’t.
Questioner talked about an independent objective reality. How does
apologetics cope with that? Don’t you have to throw up your hands
and say it’s ridiculous to defend a God who drowns all those people?
I don’t know that there is an objective reality. We think we see
things as they are, but instead we see things as we are. This is
actually a big issue in apologetic discourse and involves
postmodernism. (From audience member to questioner: “Study
This entry was cross-posted from By Common Consent
Keeping the Faith During the Mormon Moment
by John Lynch on October 17th, 2012
I want to take a brief break from the present focus on critical
evidences of the restoration, and turn momentarily to another topic.
I recently attended a conference for religion news writers in
Bethesda, Maryland, and it left me with some pointed thoughts. For 3
days at the Religion Newswriters Association annual conference,
religion and politics were discussed amongst strangers (sshhh! some
of us became friends). Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Buddists,
Islamists and secularists met and discussed a variety of topics in
the news – all relating to religion. Except for a single panelist
who singled out a solitary religion for criticism (guess which?),
all religions were treated with respect and deference.
During the conference, we were told we live in the “Mormon Moment” –
a time when there is an extraordinary amount of attention being
placed on the Church. Culturally, we are highlighted in popular
programs, stage plays, and political arenas. Our sacred beliefs are
introduced to others through secular channels, and the world around
us is beginning to notice us and, in some ways, to accept us.
Some of this attention is welcome. More people who are familiar with
us are recognizing the positive traits developed from faithful
living within a gospel context. They highlight these in articles,
blogs, commentaries, documentaries and editorials. Some of the
attention is less welcome. We are harpooned and satirized on stage,
stereotyped on film, and misrepresented on the internet. We are
sometimes mocked by comedians, patronized by secularists, and put
down by critics. Such less-welcome attention is not new to us, and
in fact may have felt like the norm since the days of Joseph Smith
when he said:
D&C 127:2 And as for the perils which I am called to pass through,
they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have
been my common lot all the days of my life; . . . nevertheless, deep
water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second
nature to me;
Like Joseph, we may feel that dealing with the secular mocking of
sacred things, or that polemic preaching against us, is the deep
water we are wont to swim in. We accustom ourselves to a constant
expectation of clarifying, educating, explaining, correcting, and
testifying. For some of us, I am sure there is a hope that the
“Mormon Moment” will prove to be a tidal wave of positive pressure
within society to accept us on our own terms; to recognize our good,
to overlook our shortcomings, and to accept us as one of their own.
The Challenges of a Public Church
It may be true that we are turning a corner of sorts. We may be
finding that, at least in certain circles, we are finding less
resistance and more acceptance. Some of it may be because we are
feeling more comfortable in our own societal skin, as is evidenced
by the very deft treatment by the Church of the popularity of the
Broadway play “The Book of Mormon.” Rather than criticize or
complain about the crass content of the musical, the Church took
advantage of the attention the Tony award-winning presentation
placed on the Church. They put up posters in New York and in the
playbills in Denver, inviting those who have seen the play to now
“read the book.” In fact, the Church’s only comment regarding the
play was a single sentence reply that read:
“The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening,
but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s
lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”
Of course, if acceptance comes about because the world is indeed
receiving us on our terms, then we should feel grateful for the
change in sentiment. If it is because we are turning more to be like
the world, then a caution is perhaps in order.
There are efforts afoot in some circles to reshape the Church more
into an identity than a faith. Individuals who welcome what they
feel are the positive aspects of participation and identity want to
separate these elements from what they perceive as negative aspects.
Many of these individuals want freedom to criticize and even decry
the Church while maintaining their cultural identities as Mormons.
They want to be able to maintain their friendly associations even
while disassociating themselves from that which makes us unique.
Indeed, rather than be “in the world, but not of the world” they
want to be “of the Church but not in the Church”. Perhaps they
desire to simultaneously be accepted by the world and their LDS
friends and family while they side with the world against much of
what the Church holds sacred.
This is a dichotomy that is not easy to maintain. It places
tremendous pressure on the individual and their associations. Too
often they are unable to restrain their critical views, and they
find that Church members whom they associate with become
uncomfortable having one close to them trying to draw them away from
the Church. The result, not surprisingly, is that once close
associations sometimes become weak or even broken.
For the believing member, this is a great challenge! On one level,
they love the person who is critical, and want desperately to help
them maintain whatever association they can with the Church. They
are their friend, and want to continue to associate with them, and
enjoy their company.
Keeping the Faith
On another level, they are appropriately cautious of the need to
safeguard the witness they have personally obtained of the
truthfulness of the gospel. They are mindful that constant criticism
and negative influences can debilitate their own efforts to maintain
the spirit and to live a gospel centered life.
Some of these people often reach out to FAIR, desperately seeking
help and assistance as they struggle through their crisis. They ask
for information, help, and perspectives to enable them to manage
such situations. It is deeply unsettling for me to witness their
hearts torn by the inability of someone they love to “keep the
faith.” I recognize in their written “voices” a hopeful longing that
the Lord would give their loved one a “light and voice” on their
personal road to Damascus, which would turn them in a single
experience away from their meandered path to the straight and narrow
one we all try to maintain.
In my own efforts to counsel such individuals, I have sought to
emphasize three critical points. First, our primary concern must be
towards building upon the things we know to be true as we work
through the questions that we have not answered, such as might be
raised by our close acquaintance critics. Second, if we are to ever
help our loved ones return to faith, we simply must maintain our
relationship, which might mean an armistice on religion where we
both agree to leave the subject alone. Third, we must be faithful in
our own lives!
I could write a lengthy treatise on the first two points, but what
do I mean by this last one? What does it mean to be faithful? Is it
possible that we might prove ourselves worthy to convey a single
spiritual experience that would turn back the progressive hands of
degenerated faith and restore in an instant that which has likely
been lost over a lengthy period of time? Perhaps, but in my
experience, it is seldom that easy.
I would argue that the faith we need to develop or maintain is not
some singular powerful influence with an undeniable force to change
others, but a quiet constancy of behavior that exemplifies the inner
assurance that we have that our path and purpose is correct.
Many years ago, I was thinking about the term “faithful,” as in the
dog that proverbially retrieves slippers or newspapers, or the
geyser that spouts an impressive display on a regular interval. As I
thought about the constant, unwavering nature of the behavior
associated with the term, I realized that such constancy of the
“faithful” is what makes the same reflective of one who is “full of
faith.” I realized that great faith is not so much manifest in
singular events that move mountains, but in the constant, unwavering
loyalty to a pattern of behavior borne of deeply held beliefs. I was
so impressed with such a realization that I wrote the following.
Faith as a Seed
Two on a journey were stopped at a hill.
The Lord said “remove it”. They each said “I will!”.
Then one set to praying, whose faith he thought strong –
Who said in himself “This shouldn’t take long!
I know in my heart, if I merely have faith
That I can move mountains like this from their place.”
Thus all the day long and into the night
This man knelt in prayer, and prayed with all might.
But begging with fervor the mound remained still,
‘Till slowly it weakened, then broke the man’s will.
So, soon discontented and fearing the task
This man left the mountain – returned on his path.
The other man humble, with faith no less strong –
Who heard the Lord’s will but thought the task long –
Delayed not a moment but did as God asked.
Thus grabbing a handful he set to the task.
So, trusting in God, though hard it might be,
He carried by handfuls the earth to the sea.
Yes, daily he labored, though weak in his skill
To move the great mountain and do the Lord’s will.
‘Till days turned to weeks, and weeks became years.
But still the man labored despite all his fears.
So slowly the mountain by handfuls did flee
From one of great faith ’till it entered the sea.
And thus came the saying, of faith and the seed –
That man can move mountains, if he but believes!
John Lynch, 1995
This is perhaps a bit too lyrical for some, but for me at least it
illustrates what I believe a profound truth. Greatness lies not so
much in the singular events that rise above all others, such as a
mountain moving en masse to the open ocean, but in the constant,
often unnoticed daily decisions that form our character and
reinforces our personal faithfulness to gospel truths.
In this poem the daily simple efforts of small progress, persisting
over a lifetime, resulted in the remarkable accomplishment of a
mighty mountain being subdued by a humble, obedient servant. In the
monumental efforts some of us might face in helping those we love
struggle through the seemingly insurmountable task of helping them
regain a lost testimony, we would do well to take such an example to
heart. We should not expect that some singular event will turn the
tide of disbelief and convert the Sauls in our lives into Pauls,
although this might happen. Rather, we should expect that our own
constancy in behavior and dedication to gospel teachings and our own
fidelity in seeking and obeying prophetic counsel, will serve as a
template of example that will work by “handfuls” to remove the
mountain of disbelief from the hearts of those we love.
We should remember that the “Mormon Moment” that seems to be upon us
in an instant has been over 182 years in the making! The prejudice
and criticism we have experienced in the past is not likely to
disappear any time soon despite improvements we see in some
quarters. Progress we make in one arena is likely to be offset by a
rise in opposition in another. Like the man moving the mountain, we
need to constantly and consistently deliver handfuls of positive
examples from the mountain of opposition and place it into the sea
of understanding and acceptance.
In our personal relationships, and in our Church-wide relationship
with society, we need to maintain our own fidelity to gospel
principles. Constant in our conduct, bold in our beliefs and humble
in our service, we can move mountains! Those we love personally, but
who struggle, may yet be moved by a handful of doubt we cast into
the ocean some many days hence by some small faithful act we
perform. Some group in society who looks critically upon us today
may yet convert criticism to acceptance if we but remain unwavering
in our collective personal lives and public comportment.
In the end, however, how much faith we personally have is not
reflected in how big of a mountain we can move in a single prayer,
but in the daily devotion we give in simple tasks given us by God.
Indeed, through simple and small means, great things can be brought
to pass by the “faith-full”!
The Mormon Moment: A Religion News Service Guide – Review
by Stephen Smoot on November 4th, 2012
Much has been said in popular media about the so-called “Mormon
Moment”. The accuracy and fairness of recent media coverage of
Mormonism has been a mixed bag, to say the least. It is sad to admit
that there are plenty of media personalities who know next to
nothing about Mormonism, and yet feel unconstrained to opine on this
or that subject relating to Mormon doctrine or history.
Unsurprisingly, those who are the most ignorant of Mormonism usually
choose to write about the most complex and controversial aspects of
Mormonism, such as polygamy, Mormon racial history, and esoteric
aspects of Mormon belief and practice best left untouched by
non-Mormon novices of Mormon history and doctrine. (Andrew Sullivan,
I’m looking at you.)
KEEPING THE FAITH PODCASTS
We have a number of exceptional Podcasts in this edition of the
Journal. We have a new series titled Keeping the Faith. I think you
may be very interested in listening to these podcasts. Please share
them with your friends
Keeping the Faith 1: Letter to a Doubter
by SteveDensleyJr on October 31st, 2012
Often, doubt and uncertainty arise not from facts and evidence that
actually undermine what we thought was true, but rather from
assumptions we might be making about those facts. Our confidence in
the gospel can be strengthened as we adopt more sound assumptions.
However, we do not necessarily need to be alarmed in the face of
uncertainty and doubt.
In this fireside presentation written by Terryl Givens, we find that
in order for us to experience growth in this life, and to engage in
an authentic test of our true desires, there must be grounds for
doubt as well as belief.
This is the first episode in the Keeping the Faith series of
podcasts. This series explores ways in which our faith can be
challenged, and ways in which we can overcome those challenges.
Keeping the Faith 2: Michael Ash and Shaken Faith Syndrome, pt 1
by SteveDensleyJr on November 7th, 2012
As a young, faithful member of the Church, Mike Ash found his faith
to be shaken by the anti-Mormon book The Kingdom of Cults. He worked
through that experience and later found his faith to be challenged
once more by the movie the God Makers, and later by Church
historical documents that were being “discovered” by a man named
Mark Hoffman. In this interview, Brother Ash discusses how he was
able to overcome doubts that were created by his encounters with
anti-Mormon material and the Hoffman forgeries. He talks about the
role apologetics played in strengthening his faith, how he became
involved in FAIR, and he offers advice for family members and
friends of those who are struggling with their faith.
Keeping the Faith 2: Michael Ash and Shaken Faith Syndrome, pt 2
by SteveDensleyJr on November 7th, 2012
This is the second part of the two-part interview with Michael R.
Keeping the Faith 3: Cody Anderson-Cultivating the seeds of faith,
by SteveDensleyJr on November 14th, 2012
Cody Anderson was an exemplary young member of the Church. As a
teen, he was an Eagle Scout, a quorum president, and had experienced
a spiritual conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. But as he
began to encounter opposition and sin, he became discouraged and
developed a sense of shame and unworthiness. He began to attend
church less frequently and he gradually stopped reading the
scriptures and praying. Eventually, he encountered anti-Mormon
literature and found a rational justification for his disaffection
from the Church. For a number of years, he pursued a lifestyle that
was simply guided by his base desires. While some people like Cody
never return to the Church, he instead returned to full activity,
became sealed in the temple, and now volunteers for FAIR. In this
interview, he explains what it was that brought him back into the
Church and provides some insight into why some people leave the
Church, and what friends and family members can do to help them
Keeping the Faith 3: Cody Anderson-Cultivating the seeds of faith,
by SteveDensleyJr on November 14th, 2012
This is the second part of a two-part interview.
AWARD WINNING FAIR PODCASTS
Mormon FAIR-Cast 109: Response to criticisms of the Book of Mormon
by SteveDensleyJr on October 3rd, 2012
In a movie entitled “The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon,” the Living
Hope Ministries levels a set of common attacks against the Book of
Mormon. In this episode of Religion Today that originally aired on
May 29, 2011, Martin Tanner discusses various arguments against the
Book of Mormon and provides responses to these criticisms.
Mormon FAIR-Cast 110: John Sorenson Takes Questions
by SteveDensleyJr on October 10th, 2012
Dr. John Sorenson takes questions in this live radio interview that
took place on July 30, 2012 on Drive Time Live with Mills Crenshaw
on KTKK Radio. Dr. Sorenson first explains how he became in involved
in MesoAmerican studies. He then responds to a variety of questions,
including: Is there archeological evidence for the truthfulness of
the Book of Mormon? What of the Native American settlements and
Hebrew DNA among Native Americans in North America? What are we to
make of the mention of elephants, horses, cows, oxen, etc. in the
Book of Mormon? And, is there any evidence of a form of “Reformed
Egyptian” writing in MesoAmerica?
Mormon FAIR-Cast 111: More on DNA Evidence and the Book of Mormon
by SteveDensleyJr on October 17th, 2012
How much Native American DNA has actually been tested? Has any of
the testing revealed a connection to the Middle East? If so, what
conclusions can we draw from this? In this episode of Religion
Today, which originally aired on KSL Radio on August 12, 2012,
Martin Tanner follows up on his interview with Dr. Ugo A. Perego
regarding DNA research.
Mormon FAIR-Cast 112: Dead Sea Scrolls
by SteveDensleyJr on October 24th, 2012
How were the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered? How many scrolls have been
found? Has there been an attempt to prevent scholars from
translating them? Have some of the scolls been withheld from the
public? Who were the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls? Were they
Christians? Did the Dead Sea Scrolls authors believe in a pre-earth
life? What value should Latter-day Saints place in the Dead Sea
In honor of the late Matthew Brown, the Temple on Mount Zion
symposium was held last Saturday with scholars from many fields
discussing the Temple. We appreciate the Mormon Interpreter for
giving us permission to post their videos.
Stephen Ricks, On Covenant and Temple in Psalm 105
Mark Wright, Axes Mundi Nephite and Mesoamerican Temple
David Bokovoy, Holiness to the Lord, Biblical Temple Imagery in the
Sermons of Jacob the Priest
William Hamblin, Jacob’s Sermon and the Day of Atonement
David Calabro, The Divine Handclasp in the Hebrew Bible and in
Ancient Near East Iconography
David Larsen, From the Dust to Exalted Crown: Temple in the Psalms
and the Dead Sea Scrolls
David and Jo Ann Seely, Creation and the Temple
Jeffrey Bradshaw, The Ark and the Tent: Temple Symbolism in the
Story of Noah
John Gee, Edfu and Exodus
Mack Stirling, Job: An LDS Reading
Andrew Ehat, A Torah Harmony
Richard Cowan, Latter day Houses of the Lord: Developments in Their
Design and Function
Matthew Roper, In Memory of Matthew Brown
INTERPRETER: A JOURNAL OF MORMON SCRIPTURE
“Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture” at
www.mormoninterpreter.com is not affiliated with FAIR. It is a new
independent, peer reviewed, educational journal focused on the
scriptures. We at FAIR are supportive of this new venture, as we
believe it will bring important scholarship to the study of the
scriptures. To show our support, we are giving you several links to
various articles on that Website in the FAIR Journal.
Attacking Rather Than Explaining
Cassandra S. Hedelius
Abstract: In his book on Mormonism, the Reverend Andrew Jackson
claims to explain “the teaching and practices of the LDS Church,”
with an intended audience of non-Mormon Christians but also
“interested Mormons.” He doesn’t succeed well. Although his
presentation of Mormon history is mostly fair, his discussion of the
faith of Latter-day Saints devolves into the usual anti-Mormon
tropes, to which he adds a celebration of a simplified evangelical
theology. What might have been a useful, straightforward account of
The Church of Jesus Christ and its history ended up, instead, as a
clumsy attack. Reverend Jackson eventually re-released his book
under a different title as a warning against what he considers Mitt
Romney’s reticence to publicly explain his faith to the Reverend’s
specifications. The later iteration of Reverend Jackson’s opinions
was not even revised beyond a new introduction, making plain his
basic antagonistic agenda.
Review of Andrew Jackson, What Latter-day Saints Teach and Practice:
Mormonism Explained, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books [a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers], 2008. 208 pp., with four
appendixes, name index, and scripture index. $29.64 (paperback).
Evaluating Three Arguments Against Joseph Smith’s First Vision
Steven C. Harper
Abstract: Historically there have been just three basic arguments
against the authenticity of Joseph Smith’s first vision. They all
begin with the a priori premise that such a vision simply could not
have happened. The arguments originated with the Methodist minister
to whom Joseph related his vision, author Fawn Brodie, and the
Reverend Wesley Walters. The minister’s critique is explained by
Methodism’s shift away from ecstatic religious experience. Fawn
Brodie is shown to have made innovative yet flawed arguments within
the narrow scope allowed by her conclusion that Joseph was a
charlatan–a conclusion that did not allow for alternative
interpretations of new evidence. Walters is shown to make fallacious
arguments of irrelevant proof and negative proof in his
understandably determined effort to undermine Joseph Smith’s
credibility. Close-minded believers in Joseph’s vision are similarly
likely to make unfounded assumptions unless they become open to the
rich historical record Joseph created. Belief in the vision should
correspond to Christian empathy for and civility toward critics.
Christian Faith in Contemporary China
Louis C. Midgley
Review of Lian Xi. Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular
Christianity in Modern China. New Haven: Yale University, 2010. 352
pp., with glossary, bibliography and index. $45.00 (hardcover).
On 30 August 2010 leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints announced that “a series of high-level meetings”
had taken place in Salt Lake City between representatives of the
Church “and an official from the People’s Republic of China” that
are eventually “expected to lead to ‘regularized’ operations of the
Church in China.”? For me this announcement was news that rivaled
those unanticipated and providentially dramatic events allowing the
building of an LDS temple in what was then East Germany, and later
the preaching of the gospel in Eastern Europe and Russia, and the
series of events promoting the stunning growth of the Church in
sub-Saharan Africa. For those curious, as I am, about Christianity
in China, Redeemed by Fire is a fine resource, though it is not,
however, the only solid account of the stunning growth in Christian
religiosity following the dramatic events that changed the face of
China after World War II.
Revisiting the Forgotten Voices of Weeping in Moses 7: A Comparison
with Ancient Texts
Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Jacob A. Rennaker and David J. Larsen
Abstract: The LDS Book of Moses is remarkable in its depiction of
the suffering of the wicked at the time of the Flood. According to
this text, there are three parties directly involved in the weeping:
God (Moses 7:28; cf. v. 29), the heavens (Moses 7:28, 37), and Enoch
(Moses 7:41, 49). In addition, a fourth party, the earth,
mourns–though does not weep–for her children (Moses 7:48-49). The
passages that speak of the weeping God and the mourning earth have
received the greatest share of attention by scholars. The purpose of
this article is to round out the previous discussion so as to
include new insights and ancient parallels to the two voices of
weeping that have been largely forgotten–that of Enoch and that of
Variants in the Stories of the First Vision of Joseph Smith and the
John A. Tvedtnes
Abstract: Some critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints have noted that the different accounts of Joseph Smith’s
first vision, though written by the prophet himself, vary in some
details. They see this as evidence that the event did not take place
and was merely invented to establish divine authority for his work.
They fail to realize that the versions of Paul’s vision on the road
to Damascus, in which the risen Christ appeared to him, also differ
from one another. Indeed, they vary more than Joseph Smith’s
accounts of his experience. This article examines those variants.
Rethinking the Apostle Peter’s Role in the Early Church
Noel B. Reynolds
Review of Martin Hengel, Saint Peter: The Underestimated Apostle.
English translation by Thomas H. Trapp. Grand Rapids: William B.
Eerdmans, 2010. 161 pp., with indices. $18.00.
This posthumously published translation of Martin Hengel’s last work
brings together his pet project on the apostle Peter and a study of
the role apostles’ families played in providing homes for the
establishment and growth of the early Christian movement.
Why was one sixth of the 1830 Book of Mormon set from the original
Abstract: Evidence from the manuscripts of the Book of Mormon (as
well as internal evidence within the Book of Mormon itself) shows
that for one sixth of the text, from Helaman 13:17 to the end of
Mormon, the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon was set from the
original (dictated) manuscript rather than from the printer’s
manuscript. For five-sixths of the text, the 1830 edition was set
from the printer’s manuscript, the copy prepared specifically for
the 1830 typesetter to use as his copytext. In 1990, when the use of
the original manuscript as copytext was first discovered, it was
assumed that the scribes for the printer’s manuscript had fallen
behind in their copywork, which had then forced them to take in the
original manuscript to the 1830 typesetter. Historical evidence now
argues, to the contrary, that the reason for the switch was the need
to take the printer’s manuscript to Canada in February 1830 in order
to secure the copyright of the Book of Mormon within the British
realm. During the month or so that Oliver Cowdery and others were on
their trip to nearby Canada with the printer’s manuscript, the 1830
typesetter used the original manuscript to set the type, although he
himself was unaware that there had been a temporary switch in the
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
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.
>>> Fragments of Experience
(Limited to stock on hand)
Heber City, Utah: Archive Publishers, 2003. Softbound, 5 1/8 x 8
1/8″, 113 pages.
(Volume 6) As other books of the FAITH-PROMOTING SERIES, this book
uses vignettes and short histories to leave a spiritual impression
upon its youth readers. Included in this book are the narratives of
Lorenzo Dow Young (Brigham Young’s Brother) and his experiences
before joing the Church (visions, dreams, and preaching “Bible
religion;”) the second mission of William W. Cluff to the Sandwich
Islands (Hawaii) telling of the death and bringing back to life of
Lorenzo Snow; the unfortunate success of Walter Murray Gibson and
the necessity of removal of the Saints from Lanai and the founding
of Laie as a gathering place; the mission of Benjamin F. Johnson to
Hawaii and the political impact of the elders on the Hawaiian
monarchy and kingdom; and several other accounts of historical and
Retail Price: $9.95
Special FAIR Price: $6.47 (35% Discount)
>>> The Missouri Persecutions
(Limited to stock on hand)
Brigham H. Roberts, Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons, 1900.
Reprint by Archive Publishers, Grantsville, Utah, 5.25×8″ softbound,
The Missouri Period of the LDS Church spans the entrance of the
Saints into the state in 1830 with the first Lamanite Mission,
through the release of Joseph Smith from the Liberty Jail in 1839.
Elder B.H. Roberts, with his characteristic detail, probes the most
tumultuous history of the Latter-day Saints through the march of
Zion’s Camp; the settlement of the Saints in Jackson County; the
election at Gallatin; the slaughter at Haun’s Mill; the seige at Far
West; and the inhumane treatment given to Church leaders in the
Selected as the Center Stake of Zion and destined to become a
millennial world capitol, the State of Missouri has always held
fascination for Latter-day Saints. This classic history, coupled
with its companion volume, The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo, comprise one
of the most sought-after expositions of the doctrinal and historical
development of the Church.
Preface Excerpt: “My chief purpose in publishing this book, and the
one which will immediately follow-The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo-is to
place in the hands of the youth of the Latter-day Saints a full
statement of the persecutions endured by the early members of The
Church in this last dispensation, in the States of Missouri and
Illinois, that they may be made acquainted with the sacrifices which
their fathers have made for the word of God and the testimony of
Jesus Christ. And I indulge the hope that by becoming acquainted
with the story of the suffering of the early saints, the faith of
the Gospel will become all the more dear to the hearts of their
immediate posterity and all the youth of Zion for many generations
I think without depreciating at all any other narrative of these
events in our Church literature, I may claim that the story of the
Missouri Persecutions in these pages is told more thoroughly than in
any other of our present publications. This arises from the fact
that this book deals with but a brief period in the history of The
Church-from 1830 to 1838-and therefore admits of such a
consideration of details as could not possibly be given to that
period in any general history of The Church. This detailed treatment
of the subject, in the opinion of the author, is justified because
of the very important events which the treatise covers, and also for
the reason that it is a period of our history which has been very
much misrepresented, upon which misrepresentations false accusations
are made against The Church and its leaders to this day. Those who
have thought themselves called upon to oppose, if not to persecute,
The Church in later years, frequently attempt to justify their
present opposition by insinuating that The Church was driven from
Missouri and Illinois for other reasons than adherence to an
unpopular religion. The impression is sought to be created that it
was for some overt acts against the State or National government, or
for some offense against the spirit of American institutions, or
because The Church leaders “were determined to be a law unto
themselves,” in disregard of the rights of others.
It is, in part, to correct these false statements, and guard our
youth against the influence of such calumnious insinuations, that I
tell this story of the Missouri Persecutions; not that the history
in these pages is written for the purpose of glozing over the
defects in the character of the early members of The Church, or to
claim for them absolute freedom from errors in judgment, or actual
sinfulness in conduct. I have not written what may be called
“argumentative history,” only so far as a statement of the truth may
be considered an argument. After these pages are read I feel sure
that no one will be able to accuse me of failing to point out the
errors of the early members of The Church; indeed, I have been
careful to call attention to the complaints which the Lord made
against their conduct; the reproofs of his inspired servants; and
the repeated warnings sent to them by the Prophet Joseph Smith
concerning the results of their conduct if there was not a speedy
Retail Price: $17.95
Special FAIR Price: $11.67 (35% Discount)
>>> Mountain Meadows Massacre
(Limited to stock on hand)
Edited by Richard E. Turley Jr. and Ronald W. Walker. Provo, Utah:
Brigham Young University, 2009. Hardbound, 11×8.75″, 341 pages.
With this volume, the authors fulfill admirably their commitment to
provide the unpublished, unexploited primary source material to
support their earlier narrative history, Massacre at Mountain
Meadows. In the process, they open partially the door to that
fabled cupboard of documentary treasures and conspiracy grist–the
LDS First Presidency’s vault. What here emerges is a set of
participant accounts loaded with the gospel truth leavened by
prevarication, mendacity, and finger-pointing. Turley and Walker
perform a wonderful service in helping us negotiate the complexities
of this homicidal thicket, sometimes at a cost to their own
equanimity. Their book is best approached as an adjunct to Massacre
at Mountain Meadows rather than as a stand-alone work; it can best
be evaluated when read in tandem with another account of
post-tragedy truth-seeking by an attorney-historian grappling with
obfuscation–Henry C. Clausen’s Pearl Harbor: Final Judgment.
William P. MacKinnon, an independent historian, honorary life member
of the Utah State Historical Society, and president-elect of the
Mormon History Association, is author of At Sword’s Point, Part 1: A
Documentary History of the Utah War to 1858.
These recollections, affidavits, and statements of Mountain Meadows
Massacre participants and informed bystanders are valuable additions
to the documentation of the 1857 tragedy. The editorial standards
employed here are cutting-edge. The editors’ acknowledgement of the
limitations inherent in some of the documents enhances respect for
the integrity of the project. This volume is an essential
contribution to an understanding of one of the most horrendous
crimes in Mormon and western American history.
Klaus J. Hansen, Professor emeritus, Queen’s University, Kingston,
Canada, is author of Mormonism and the American Experience
Retail Price: $44.95
Special FAIR Price: $29.22 (35% Discount)
>>> Joseph Smith Papers, Histories: Vol. 2 1831-1847
Volume Editors: Karen Lynn Davidson, David J. Whittaker, Richard L.
Jensen. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church Historian’s Press, 2012.
Hardbound, 7×10″, 479 pgs.
The Joseph Smith Papers Project is a collection of primary Joseph
Smith documents that is invaluable to American history scholars,
Mormon history scholars, and of importance to members of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Histories, Volume 2: Assigned
Historical Writings, 1831-1847 is the latest volume in the series
and covers histories assigned, but not overseen, by Joseph Smith.
While Volume 1 contains histories written, dictated, or supervised
by Joseph Smith, he also assigned several associates, including John
Whitmer, William W. Phelps, John Corrill, and Edward Partridge, to
write church histories. Their writings–vivid, personal, and
sometimes surprising–are found in this second volume of the
Histories series, which provides a rich, multifaceted view of the
early years of the Latter-day Saint movement, particularly the
“Missouri Mormon War” of 1838.
Two of the histories found in Histories, Volume 2 were originally
published in Latter-day Saint newspapers: William W. Phelps’s “Rise
and Progress of the Church of Christ” and the Times and Seasons
series “A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus
Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri.”
Whitmer and Corrill both left the church before finishing their
histories. Most of Whitmer’s history was composed in the words of a
faithful Latter-day Saint, but Whitmer wrote the final three
chapters of his history after his 1838 excommunication, and the
manuscript closes in a critical tone.
After Whitmer declined to turn over his history in 1838, Joseph
Smith assigned Corrill as a church historian. Within a few months,
Corrill also distanced himself from the Saints. The history he
published became personal as well as institutional, laying out “the
reasons of the author for leaving the church.”
Like Whitmer’s history, Corrill’s gives readers a better
understanding of the anxieties and difficulties experienced by some
early converts to the faith. It also offers a detailed look into the
conflicts and dilemmas confronting Joseph Smith and other leaders as
they worked to create a unified community of Saints.
The publication of The Joseph Smith Papers two centuries after the
birth of the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints opens a window on a life filled with what he called
“marvelous experience.” Despite having received little formal
schooling, Joseph Smith left an extensive legacy of letters and
other written records which is now being made widely available.
The Joseph Smith Papers series is expected to span about twenty
volumes in total. Histories, Volume 2 is the seventh published
volume in the project. Visit JosephSmithPapers.org for more
information about Histories, Volume 2 and other Joseph Smith Papers
Project publications. The website also includes several documents
that directly supplement the material in Volume 2.
Retail Price: $54.95
Special FAIR Price: $43.96 (20% Discount)
>>> Mapping Mormonism
Plewe, Brandon S.; Brown, S. Kent; Cannon, Donald Q.; Jackson,
Richard H. Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 2012. Hardbound, 9.5×12.5″,
In this state-of-the-art atlas, readers can take in the epic sweep
of the Mormon movement in a new, immersive way. Never has so much
geographical data about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints been presented in one volume so attractively and
This book brings together contributions from sixty experts in the
fields of geography, history, Mormon history, and economics to
produce the most monumental work of its kind.
Retail Price: $33.95
Special FAIR Price: $27.16 (20% Discount)
>>> Act in Doctrine
David A. Bednar. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 2012.
Hardbound book with DVD, 7.25×9.25″, 175 pages.
What do we do with the truths we know?
Knowledge is important — but it is only part of the equation in our
spiritual development. Our happiness in mortality and our progress
throughout eternity depend on our learning to “act in doctrine,” to
live as we know we should live.
In Act in Doctrine, Elder David A. Bednar shares key insights to
help close the gap between what we know and how we act. “The
essential first step in reducing the disparity between gospel
knowledge and righteous behavior is learning about and emulating the
character of Christ,” he writes.
As we turn from self to to the Savior, we become better able to
understand respond to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Obedience
becomes “the sweet fruit of honoring covenant responsibilities —
not merely a chore or an option to be performed based upon
circumstances or convenience.” This is a stirring invitation to all
of us to learn, ponder, and Act in Doctrine.
Retail Price: $23.99
Special FAIR Price: $19.19 (20% Discount)
>>> 400 Questions and Answers about the Doctrine and Covenants
Susan Easton Black. American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications,
Inc., 2011. Softbound, 6×9″ 267 pages.
Based on meticulous research from authoritative sources, this
fascinating guide illuminates the origin, teachings, and
significance of the Doctrine and Covenants in a unique
question-and-answer format. Ideal for scripture study at home and at
church, this resource explores the historical background of each
section of the D&C and provides fresh insight into the who, what,
when, where, and why of the sacred text. With clarity and rich
detail, its pages enrich understanding and enhance appreciation of
the book of scripture that Joseph Smith designated as the foundation
of the Church in the latter days.
Retail Price: $17.99
Special FAIR Price: $14.39 (20% Discount)
>>> A Prophet’s Voice: Messages from Thomas S. Monson
Thomas S. Monson. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 2012.
Hardbound, 6×9.5″ 528 pages.
Much of President Monson’s time has been spent at pulpits and in
meetings around the world, and this collection contains many of his
speeches that are difficult to find elsewhere.
Throughout his nearly fifty years as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus
Christ, President Thomas S. Monson has presented countless messages
of wisdom, inspiration, and doctrinal insight. He is perhaps best
known for his gift of weaving true accounts into his addresses,
bringing gospel principles to life through the enlightening
experiences of individuals he has met or heard of in his ministry.
A Prophet’s Voice brings together more than fifty of these classic
addresses, including all the major general conference sermons
President Monson has given since becoming the sixteenth President of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Filled with warmth
and reflection, these messages demonstrate the worth of every soul
and the power of personal examples in our lives.
President Monson finds lessons in all kinds of everyday experiences,
and he is known and loved for sharing those lessons in a way that
reaches the hearts of his listeners. This landmark collection of his
greatest messages will be a treasured addition to any gospel
Retail Price: $32.99
Special FAIR Price: $26.39 (20% Discount)
Thank you for shopping in our FAIR bookstore!
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