In April 2013 Jeremy T. Runnells published a pdf booklet entitled, “Letter to a CES Director.” This booklet, which is now typically referred to as the “CES Letter,” catalogues Runnells’ concerns and reasons why he left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Runnells has worked hard to make his booklet available to people everywhere (and in several languages) and has, unfortunately, been the agent for leading at least a few other believers out of Mormonism.
Sadly, most of those who have been bamboozled by the “CES Letter“ are Latter-day Saints who were blind-sided by scholarly-sounding interpretations of challenging data. In my opinion, however, the “CES Letter’s” caricature of Mormonism is fundamentally flawed and does not accurately represent either Mormonism or the only logical interpretations of the data.
Unfortunately, the reason the CES Letter has enjoyed any success is that most Latter-day Saints have never been exposed to some of the more complex matters in early Mormon history. On average, the typical Latter-day Saint has never needed to think outside of the box on Mormon-related philosophical, historical, or scholarly issues.
“Bamboozled by the ‘CES Letter'” explains, with a bit of humor, why these complex issues need not kill a testimony. Interpretation matters. A growing number of laymembers as well as educated Mormon scholars, are fully aware of the complex issues but continue strong in their faith because they recognize that there are logical interpretations which can be integrated with their belief in Mormonism.