Most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have probably never thought of the Pearl of Great Price as controversial. The Book of Mormon, yes—it has been under attack practically since the night Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith. Yet, Givens and Hauglid  use this book to argue that the Pearl of Great Price is even more so. Unfortunately, the majority of the effort goes into attempting to prove the point, and it leaves the book less than faith-promoting. It does have some bright spots, however.
The book begins with the assertion that “without the Book of Mormon, the Church of Jesus Christ would lose its principal evangelizing tool and its most conspicuous sign of Smith’s prophetic vocation but relatively little of its doctrine.… With the Doctrine and Covenants, the church would lose a good bit of its ecclesiology—organization templates and guidelines for church government and its offices—but would not suffer a devastating loss of the deeper theological underpinnings of its faith.”  I found these statements to be very surprising. The Book of Mormon has enough unique doctrine in it for Tad Callister to devote an entire chapter of his recent book to it, and in several places Givens admits that doctrine found in places like the Book of Moses was first taught in the Book of Mormon. In addition, the Doctrine and Covenants contains a great deal of unique doctrine, in spite of the removal of the Lectures on Faith (which the book points out is commonly thought to have been the Doctrine of the Doctrine and Covenants). A comparison of our edition with that of the Community of Christ shows some of what would be missing without it.
The book goes on to make its point: “Mormonism, in other words, is absolutely inconceivable apart from this collection of scriptural texts that provided the faith’s theological core from the beginning but only received canonical recognition in 1880. At the present moment, controversies regarding multiple accounts of Smith’s ‘First Vision,’ as well as the origins of the text of the Book of Abraham, have brought unprecedented attention to this hitherto largely neglected work. The consequence is that the Pearl of Great Price represents at one and the same time the greatest vulnerabilities and the greatest strengths of the Church of Jesus Christ.”  As I argue below, this is quite an overstatement. [Read more…] about Book Review: The Pearl of Greatest Price: Mormonism’s Most Controversial Scripture
by Dennis B. Horne
Some months ago I noticed the comments of a critic of the Church posted on a (highly critical) chat-site forum. This person wanted to engage with me in a debate about Church history and doctrine in hopes of causing doubt or loss of faith. His opening catch-phrase was clever, something like, “I assume he is a truth-seeker” (meaning me). This was meant to sound innocent; after all, for goodness sake, shouldn’t we all be truth-seekers?; especially Latter-day Saints?
At first glance I knew sophistry was in play. I realized that this question “are you/is he a truth-seeker,” was a wolf-question in sheep-question disguise. It was a way to ensnare, to set a trap. Something like “beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes.”
But it also gave me further occasion to ponder whether or not I am a truth-seeker, and if so, what kind of truth-seeker I am, and this caused me to engage in some introspection. Sometimes the deceptions of the enemy (Satan’s mortal servants and spokespeople who often don’t know they are) can prod thoughtful people into adjusting or refining their thinking and views, and such was the case for me. While I made no direct response to the subtle crafty critic then, I now offer some broader thoughts on the subject. [Read more…] about Seeking Truth
by Delisa Hargrove, cross-posted from LDS Blogs
In much of the northern hemisphere, September begins a season where many transformations occur. Leaves change colors and fall from the trees. Many plants and flowers lose their vibrant leaves and petals and become dormant. The morning chatter of birds gives way to wind’s blustery chatter. Warm weather turns to chill. These transformations are an important natural part of the seasonal cycle.
During the Halloween season, playful, temporary transformations occur, too, as children and adults transform into superheroes, or witches, or dinosaurs, or a host of other individuals or things. “Who do you want to be?” Costume and makeup complete the transformation. And for a season, we expect to see people transformed into something they’re really not.
Transforming Themselves into the Apostles of Christ
I thought about various kinds of transformations as I read Paul’s warning voice in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14.
For such are , deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for himself is transformed into an of light.
This podcast series features past FairMormon Conference presentations. This presentation is from our 2019 conference held last month. If you would like to watch the presentations from our 2019 conference, you can still purchase the video streaming.
Tad R. Callister, A Case for the Book of Mormon
Transcript available here.
Tad R. Callister was serving in the Presidency of the Seventy and as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy when he was called as Sunday School general president. He has served in a number of Church callings including full-time missionary in the Eastern Atlantic States Mission, bishop, stake president, regional representative, mission president, and Area Seventy.
Brother Callister received a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Brigham Young University, a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California–Los Angeles, and a master’s degree in tax law from New York University Law School. He spent most of his professional career practicing tax law. He and his wife Kathryn Louise Saporiti are the parents of six children.
Audio Copyright © 2019 The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, Inc. Any reproduction or transcription of this material without prior express written permission is prohibited.
This podcast series features past FairMormon Conference presentations. This presentation is from our 2019 conference that was held last week. You can still purchase the video streaming if you would like to watch all the presentations.
Elder Craig C. Christensen, Foundations of Our Faith
Elder Craig C. Christensen was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on October 5, 2002. At the time of his call he was serving as a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy in the Utah South Area.
As a General Authority, Elder Christensen served as President of the Mexico South Area from 2003 to 2007 while living in Mexico City. He has also served in various departments and assignments at Church headquarters, such as Executive Director of the Priesthood and Family Department. He is currently serving in the Missionary Department.
Elder Christensen graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He went on to earn a master of business administration from the University of Washington. Over the years, he has been a visiting instructor of business and religion courses at several universities, including Brigham Young University.
At the time of his call as a General Authority, Elder Christensen was a self-employed businessman in the retail automotive, insurance, and real estate development industries. He previously worked as an executive with several privately owned companies and with an international accounting and consulting firm based in San Francisco, California.
Elder Craig C. Christensen was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 18, 1956. He married Debbie Jones in March 1978. They are the parents of four children.
Audio and Video Copyright © 2019 The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, Inc. Any reproduction or transcription of this material without prior express written permission is prohibited.
George B. Handley is a humanities professor at Brigham Young University. He has a BA from Stanford University and an MA and PhD from UC Berkely. This book, part of the Maxwell Institute’s “Living Faith” series, is a collection of personal essays he has written about “the seamlessness of humanities and belief, intellect and faith” (page XI).
Handley explains in the preface that “What keeps me in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint and what keeps me working at living according to its principles is the fundamental fact that I accept the tenets of my faith as plausible, compelling, and deeply moving. They make sense to me intellectually. More importantly, they have taken root in my very being as a result of acts of faith that brought personal witnesses of the gospel’s spiritual truths” (page XII).
There are several essays that I particularly enjoyed. In “Why I Am a Christian,” he says “We talk of sin as a deliberate rejection of God, but sin often feels to me more like being a slave to myself, unable to escape my own psychology, genes, upbringing, habits, or personality even and especially when I am aware that life calls me to better habits and deeper commitments” (page 3). He further explains, “nothing has given me more confidence in the living reality of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer and resurrected Son of God than the way that my trust in him has converted my awareness of my insufficiencies into hope, into a palpable increase of love for myself, for others, and for life itself that is beyond my natural instincts…. A willingness to repent and then to declare my faith has opened me to deeper appreciation for the meaning and power of Christ’s atonement” (pages 4-5). He also makes the important distinction that “Christ’s pure love is not the same thing as blanket tolerance for all human behavior or belief” (page 7). [Read more…] about Book Review: If Truth Were a Child: Essays
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). We take this literally for the words “way” and “life,” but what if we also took it literally for the word “truth”? In their book Who
What is Truth? Reframing Our Questions for a Richer Faith, that is exactly what authors Jeffrey L. Thayne and Edwin E. Gantt encourage us to do, changing our way of thinking from truth as an idea (this turns out to be rooted in Greek philosophy) to truth as a person (Hebrew thought).
The chapter headings give a good summary of what is covered: “What if truth is a person?,” “The ancient roots of person-truth,” “Faith in ideas, or faithfulness to a Person?,” “Knowing God vs. believing ideas about Him,” “Person-truth does not give us control,” “Knowing person-truth through covenant,” “Our on-and-off relationship with person-truth,” “What it means to be an authority on truth,” “The archnemesis of person-truth,” “What is sin, if truth is a person?,” “Rethinking the atonement of Christ,” and “Person-truth in a world of science and reason.” There is also a conclusion chapter, a list of further readings, and appendixes with more on Greek and Hebrew thought and questions and answers.
I was initially skeptical when offered this book to review. But it claimed to offer help for those having a faith crisis, and to strengthen faith in Jesus Christ and the Restoration, so I thought it would be worth a look. I was pleasantly surprised, and found myself agreeing with the conclusions (the good fruit being brought forth), even as I am still processing the explanations that led up to them. The authors anticipated skepticism, and they addressed all the potential red flags that came up in my mind as I read. [Read more…] about Book Review – Who is Truth? Reframing Our Questions for a Richer Faith
William Wines Phelps (usually known as W. W. Phelps) is probably most often thought of in conjunction with some of the most beloved hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Praise to the Man,” “The Spirit of God,” “Gently Raise the Sacred Strain,” and “If You Could Hie to Kolob” are just a few of the fifteen hymns that he wrote that appear in the current hymnal. But there was so much more to his life, and Bruce Van Orden, an emeritus professor of church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University, has been researching it for decades. This research was recently given a boost by the Joseph Smith Papers Project, which gave greater access to materials that Phelps was involved with.
There is little known about Phelps’s early life, or where and how he was educated, but he grew into a very intelligent and articulate man. He joined the Church in 1831 at age 39, and his talents were immediately put to use. He served in church leadership councils, including the Council of Fifty (it was he that coined the term “theodemocracy”); he was a writer, poet, and printer, and actually did more ghostwriting for Joseph Smith than was previously realized. He was also very much a family man, as well as a close friend of Joseph (again, moreso than has previously been understood). This book concentrates on these facets of his life.
Our volunteers have been very busy transcribing the presentations from the conference held in August. The following transcripts are now available:
- Taunalyn Rutherford, “For We Shall See Him as He Is”: Understanding Mormon Women in India
- Brad Wilcox, “Have You Been Saved By Grace?” How Do We Respond?
- Randall Spackman, Chronological Structure and Symbolism in the Small Plates of Nephi (a handout is also available)
- Elder Kevin W. Pearson, A Sacred and Imperative Duty
- Daniel Peterson, Apologetics: What, Why and How?
The transcripts for the remaining presentations will be posted here when they are available.
You can also still order the video streaming so you can watch the presentations on your computer, mobile device, or Roku.