Here are some resources available from FAIR about the priesthood:
Those of us in Utah were treated, beginning near the end of 2007, to a TV series created by and aired on Larry H. Miller-owned KJZZ TV about the Joseph Smith Papers Project. It began with a pilot episode (“A Television Forward”), followed by a regular weekly schedule that started in early 2008, showing a new episode each Sunday night followed by a repeat of the previous week’s episode.
People outside of Utah, upon hearing about it, immediately began wondering when (or even if) they would have a chance to see the series. It was quickly ascertained that KJZZ would not be providing it for viewing on their web site as some hoped, but eventually BYUTV picked it up. Today, season 1 can be watched on BYUTV and Utah viewers can see season 2 (now in reruns) on KJZZ. And now (as of 2009), season 1 is available on a 7 disc DVD set from Deseret Book.
The set contains 52 episodes, numbered from 0 to 51, which are about one half hour each, except for number 0 which was the longer pilot that was aired ahead of time. A booklet is included that gives a brief summary of each episode and lists the contributing scholars, along with an index. Unfortunately, it does not state which DVDs contain which episodes, so I ended up noting that myself in my copy. Each DVD contains a message at the beginning apologizing that the sound and video quality are not always perfect, but the one big drawback of this set is a total lack of closed captions. Anyone that can’t hear will not be able to watch it, and even for those of us who are able to hear, it would have been nice to be able to read what is being said at times, particularly when trying to take notes.
Season 1 is filmed at historic sites as well as in a studio, using visual aids ranging from photographs, to paintings, to the actual writings of Joseph Smith and others. It includes interviews with scholars such as Ronald Barney, Richard Bushman, Steven Harper, Richard Turley, Richard Anderson, Larry Porter, Milton Backman, Robin Jensen, Jeffrey Walker, Jill Derr, Royal Skousen, Mark Staker, Dean Jessee, Carol Madsen, and many others.
In the pilot episode, Ronald Esplin (managing editor of The Joseph Smith Papers) said, “I think in today’s world, every Latter-day Saint will encounter things about Joseph Smith they didn’t know before. We have an informational overload – informational access – that has never been available before, and to the degree that Latter-day Saints are left only with what they learn at Pioneer Day, they are going to be vulnerable, because there is so much more to learn. And I think it’s very important that we come to a true understanding of our history, and of our people, that involves dealing with all the issues, and dealing with all the personalities, and doing it broadly so that we understand our own heritage, and then we will not be overturned by some new little fact that we didn’t have room for in our scheme, because we prepared ourselves to look at the whole picture.”
Many of the other episodes in the series are spent giving us this understanding, beginning with familiarizing us with early 19th century America and Joseph Smith’s heritage and local environment, and then going through many of the events in Joseph’s life and the history of the church, and then his death and the aftermath. A good job was done in many areas where the church has been accused by critics of hiding information. For example, the different versions of the First Vision are discussed, and there is a very good history and explanation given of the Book of Abraham and associated papyri.
However, one weakness that stuck out to me was that the discussion of plural marriage was not as thorough as it might have been. The host, Glenn Rawson, was kind enough to answer my question about that: “Our discussion of Plural marriage was limited of necessity. We could only say what we could prove by reliable documentation and only a small portion of that. It was the first in-depth broadcast statement on the subject of plural marriage that had been done under Church auspices. We tried to be careful and circumspect.” Indeed, it is significant that plural marriage was discussed to the depth that it was.
There are a couple of episodes devoted to a roundtable discussion featuring members of the Papers staff explaining what the project is all about, and the significance for members and nonmembers alike. There is an episode about the medical aspects of Joseph’s leg operation. Separate episodes are devoted to the revelations and sermons of Joseph Smith, respectively. There are also episodes covering Joseph’s encounters with the law.
To give an example of some interesting points covered in a typical episode, in episode 7 (“The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon”) we are told that in the early 20th century, a farmer filled in the depression on the hill where the plates had been stored, because he was tired of people coming on his land to see it. It is pointed out that those who knew Joseph best believed him the most. And we are told that Joseph said he could see anything through seer stones.
There is much to learn about the history of the Church up through the 1840s, and this DVD set does a good job of helping to provide a foundation for more in-depth learning, and “to look at the whole picture.” It also helps the viewer have a better understanding of some of what is being published as part of the Joseph Smith Papers. This set would be excellent for use in Family Home Evening, as well as for personal study. Season 2 will also be out on DVD shortly, which Rawson told me covers some of the potentially troubling issues more thoroughly, and he also mentioned that season 3, entitled “History of the Saints: Gathering to the West” will begin airing on KSL and KIDK (Idaho Falls) TV the weekend of General Conference in October.
This week’s lesson on the Atonement takes what is the most important part of what was studied last week and goes into much greater detail. As such, many of the potential issues were covered in last week’s blog post. However, there are a couple of areas that may be helpful to go over this week.
Gerald N. Lund wrote an article for the Ensign in 1990 that explains in detail why the atonement was necessary and how it works, calling the Fall of Adam “one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted doctrines in all of Christianity”: Gerald N. Lund, “The Fall of Man and His Redemption,” Ensign, Jan. 1990, 22.
Most Christians (not just Latter-day Saints) believe that everyone will be resurrected. However, there are some critics that claim such beliefs are unbiblical, and that only those who are saved will be resurrected. While the Book of Mormon speaks plainly of the resurrection being universal (see, for example, Alma 11:40–45 and Mormon 9:12–14), the Bible also speaks of it. Here are some examples:
- 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 – “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
- John 5:28-29 – “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
- Acts 24:15 – “And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”
This doctrine was also clearly taught in the early Christian church:
- “If only a just judgment were the cause of the resurrection, it would of course follow that those who had done neither evil nor good, namely, very young children, would not rise again. However, we see that all persons are to rise again, including those who have died in infancy” (Athenagoras, 175 AD.)
- “By mentioning both the judgment seat and the distinction between good and bad works, he sets before us a judge who is to award both sentences. He has thereby affirmed that all will have to be present at the tribunal in their bodies.” (Tertullian, 207 AD.)
- “Since the entire man consists of the union of the two natures [body and soul], he must therefore appear in both natures. For it is right that a man should be judged in his entirety…Therefore, as he lived, he must also be judged.” (Tertullian, 210 AD.)
It is unfortunate but telling that our most important doctrines receive so much criticism from those who would have the world believe that we worship “a different Jesus.” Indeed, if our Jesus is different, it is because we believe in the uncorrupted concept of Jesus Christ found in the scriptures, and not in the creeds of man.
This week’s priesthood and Relief Society lesson is on The Life of Christ. Listed below are links to related issues from the FAIR web sites, organized according to the sections of the lesson.
He Organized the Only True Church
His Sacrifice Showed His Love for His Father and for Us
Grace and works
This week’s lesson is on the scriptures. As you can imagine, there are numerous articles available from FAIR that relate to this chapter. In most cases, rather than providing links to individual articles, I will simply make reference within each part to relevant pages from the FAIR Topical Guide on our main web site, as well as the Topical Guide on our wiki site. This week I will also take the opportunity to highlight presentations from past FAIR conferences that go along with each topic. (And if you enjoy reading the conference presentations, you are invited to join us this year on August 5 and 6.)
As a reminder, “If you have been called to teach a quorum or class using [the Gospel Principles] book, do not substitute outside materials, however interesting they may be. Stay true to the scriptures and the words in the book. As appropriate, use personal experiences and articles from Church magazines to supplement the lessons.” (“Introduction,” Gospel Principles, (2009), pg. 3.) The resources provided here are not meant to replace or supplement the prescribed lesson material, but are for use in personal study and to help provide background knowledge for answering any issues that may arise in class.
The Scriptures Are Available to Us Today
Open canon vs. closed canon
Supposed contradictions in the scriptures
The Mistakes of Men: Can the Scriptures be Error-Free?
The Corruption of Scripture in the Second Century
As Far as it is Translated Correctly: The Problem of Tampering with the Word of God in the Transmission and Translation of the New Testament
FAIR Topical Guide
The Book of Mormon
Joseph the Seer—or Why Did He Translate With a Rock in His Hat?
Science and the Book of Mormon
Mormon’s Editorial Method and Meta-Message
A Real People, Time, and Place: Contextualizing the Book of Mormon
A Social History of the Early Nephites
The Gadianton Robbers in Mormon’s Theological History: Their Structural Role and Plausible Identification
Changes in the Book of Mormon
Nephi’s Neighbors: Book of Mormon Peoples and Pre-Columbian Populations
The Children of Lehi: DNA and the Book of Mormon
DNA and the Book of Mormon
Monotheism, Messiah, and Mormon’s Book
The Case for Historicity: Discerning the Book of Mormon’s Production Culture
Explaining Away the Book of Mormon Witnesses
Debating the Foundations of Mormonism: The Book of Mormon and Archaeology
The Protean Joseph Smith
Arabia and the Book of Mormon
FAIR Topical Guide
The Doctrine and Covenants
I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church
Dispelling the Black Myth
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Plural Marriage* (*but were afraid to ask)
The Reliability of Mormon History Produced by the LDS Church
FAIR Topical Guide – Blacks and the Priesthood
FAIR wiki – Blacks and the Priesthood
FAIR wiki – Polygamy
FAIR Topical Guide – Polygamy
FAIR wiki – Doctrine and Covenants
FAIR Topical Guide – Doctrine and Covenants
The Pearl of Great Price
Revised or Unaltered? Joseph Smith’s Foundational Stories
Book of Abraham 201: Papyri, Revelation, and Modern Egyptology
The Larger Issue
The Message of the Joseph Smith Translation: A Walk in the Garden
Adam in Ancient Texts and the Restoration
FAIR wiki – First Vision
FAIR Topical Guide – First Vision
FAIR wiki – Pearl of Great Price
FAIR Topical Guide – Pearl of Great Price
Studying the Scriptures
The Impact of Mormon Critics on LDS Scholarship
The Fallacy of Fundamentalist Assumptions
“Uh oh!” to “Ah ha!” in Apologetics: 20/20 Foresight for a Faithful Future in Defending the Church
Spiritual Experiences as the Basis for Belief and Commitment
“Believest thou…?”: Faith, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Psychology of Religious Experience
What I Learned about Life, the Church, and the Cosmos from Hugh Nibley
This week’s lesson is Chapter 9: Prophets of God. There are several different potential apologetic themes. As always, please note that by providing these resources we are not suggesting that they be included in any lessons taught. Rather, they are intended to be used as helps by the instructor or participating class members in case the issues do come up during class or personal study.
Title: Joseph Smith, The Prophet (Illustrated Edition)
Author: Truman G. Madsen
Publisher: Deseret Book
Year Published: 2010
Number of Pages: 248
Reviewed by Trevor Holyoak
As a youth, I got to know Joseph Smith a little through reading things such as Joseph Smith History in The Pearl of Great Price, Truth Restored, and parts of the Documentary History of the Church. I then got to know the prophet better as a missionary by listening to bootleg tapes of Joseph Smith the Prophet by Truman Madsen that were passed around the mission. I enjoyed them so much that when I returned home, I bought a legitimate set of the tapes.
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This week’s lesson is on prayer. Below is a list of links taken from the main FAIR web site and the FAIR Wiki, which may help in discussing possible questions or issues that could potentially come up while studying this topic. Again, please note that by providing these resources we are not suggesting that they be included in any lessons taught. Rather, they are intended to be used as helps by the instructor or participating class members in case the issues do come up during class or personal study.
Due to the number of questions that have been submitted through FAIR’s “Ask the Apologist” feature that have coincided with the lessons taught in Relief Society and priesthood quorums from the Gospel Principles manual so far this year, we are starting a series of blog posts that will address potential issues in each lesson. Please note that by providing these resources we are not suggesting that they be included in any lessons taught. Rather, they are intended to be used as helps by the instructor or participating class members in case the issues do come up during class.
The Holy Ghost Came to Adam and Eve
Depending on how far you get into Moses 5 (the entire chapter is listed under “Additional Scriptures”), several different issues could come up:
Attributes of the Holy Ghost
The Mission of the Holy Ghost
Please feel free to comment about any other potential issues I may have missed.
Title: A Pillar of Light: The History and Message of the First Vision
Author: Matthew B. Brown
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Year Published: 2009
Number of Pages: 268
Reviewed by Trevor Holyoak
In the October 1998 General Conference, Gordon B. Hinckley said that “our entire case as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rests on the validity of this glorious First Vision….Nothing on which we base our doctrine, nothing we teach, nothing we live by is of greater importance than this initial declaration.” (Page ix.) In April 1984, James E. Faust pointed out that “since no one was with Joseph when this great vision took place in the wooded grove near Palmyra, a testimony concerning its reality can come only by believing the truthfulness of Joseph Smith’s own account or by the witness of the Holy Ghost, or both.” (Page x.) With these statements in mind, it is not surprising that the First Vision has been one of the favorite things for critics of Joseph Smith to attack. In this book, Matthew Brown lays out the historical facts from which one can be helped to gain a testimony of the event, strengthen existing convictions, and help answer any doubts or confusion arising from critics’ claims.
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