Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism: Shadow or Reality/Index

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FAIR Answers Wiki Table of Contents

Index to claims made in Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?

A FairMormon Analysis of: Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism: Shadow or Reality, a work by author: Jerald and Sandra Tanner

This article is a draft. FairMormon editors are currently editing it. We welcome your suggestions on improving the content.
This is an index of claims made in this work with links to corresponding responses within FairMormon Answers.

Page Claim Response Author's sources


  • According to the authors, Lucy Mack Smith's account indicates that Joseph was only making up amusing stories about ancient Americans which he then told to his family prior to obtaining the plates and translating the Book of Mormon. The Tanners support this claim by quoting from Lucy Mack Smith, but their quote leaves out a large and very relevant section of the paragraph. They remove Lucy's report that Joseph spoke primarily of spiritual tutoring and his increasing understanding of the forthcoming restoration, and leave in the "amusing recitals" that, taking Lucy's account as a whole, were clearly only an occasional feature of Joseph's conversations with his family.
  • History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 1954 Edition, pages 82-83.


  • The authors provide the following quote from Heber C. Kimball as one of "a few examples which show the confusion concerning the First Vision which existed after Joseph Smith's death"

"Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; But God did not come himself and call..."

  • The authors continue by stating that "Heber C. Kimball went on to explain that rather than God coming Himself, He sent messengers to Joseph Smith. He went on to state:

Why did he not come along? Because he has agents to attend to his business, and he sits upon his throne and is established at head-quarters and tells this man, 'Go and do this,' and it is behind the vail just as it is here. You have got to learn that." (Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 6:29.).

  • The authors try to prove that Joseph changed his story about whether God and Christ appeared in the First Vision, or whether it was an 'angel.' They here completely omit the material that demonstrates that Heber was speaking of delegation of authority and mentioned Moroni bringing the Book of Mormon and Peter, James, and John restoring the Melchizedek priesthood. This passage has nothing to do with the First Vision.
  • Here is the quote in context:

Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates. Did God come himself? No: he sent Moroni and told him there was a record, and says he, "That record is matter that pertains to the. Lamanites, and it tells when their fathers came out of Jerusalem, and how they came, and all about it; and, says he, "If you will do as I tell you, I will confer a gift upon you." Well, he conferred it upon him, because Joseph said he would do as he told him. "I want you to go to work and take the Urim and Thummim, and translate this book, and have it published, that this nation may read it." Do you not see, by Joseph receiving the gift that was conferred upon him, you and I have that record?

Well, when this took place, Peter came along to him and gave power and authority, and, says he, "You go and baptise Oliver Cowdery, and then ordain him a Priest." He did it, and do you not see his works were in exercise? Then Oliver, having authority, baptised Joseph and ordained him a Priest. Do you not see the works, how they manifest themselves? Well, then Peter comes along. Why did not God come? He sent Peter, do you not see? Why did he not come along? Because he has agents to attend to his business, and he sits upon his throne and is established at head-quarters, and tells this man, "Go and do this;" and it is behind the vail just as it is here. You have got to learn that. (emphasis added)


  • The authors state the following:

All others, who are not classed as sons of perdition, will be "redeemed in the due time of the Lord"; that is, they will all be saved. The MEANEST SINNER will find some place in the heavenly realm...

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, THERE IS NO HELL. ALL will find a measure of salvation, ... The gospel of Jesus Christ has NO HELL in the old proverbial sense. (Joseph Smith--Seeker After Truth, Salt Lake City, 1951, pp. 177-178).

The Apostle John A. Widtsoe seemed to be teaching the very thing that the Book of Mormon condemned!

  • (Capitalization as in original; the bold material was underlined in the Tanner's work for emphasis.)
  • Note how Elder Widtsoe is trying to explain the differences between the sectarian vision of hell and the LDS one. He nowhere claims that sinners get a 'free ride' into heaven, and even opines that LDS understanding of punishment may be worse, in some ways. Note too the author's tendency to distort and obscure meaning through ALL CAPS and emphasis.
  • The quotes in context:

To illustrate the definite break with the Christianity of the day, [consider a doctrine] foreign to the truth of the gospel but taught almost vehemently over centuries by the priests of an apostate Christianity...that sinners will be sent to hell, there to remain in torture throughout eternity....In Joseph's day preachers still taught the proverbial hell of everlasting torture. In the text books of his day, in many nations, were pictures of devils with pitchforks pushing sinners into the flames of hells, there to suffer the agony of being burned, but never consumed. With one hand the preacher offered a fragment of God's love, and with the other, the torment of an unutterable never-ending hell provided by an angry, unforgiving God. Under such a cruel doctrine men would be frightened, so it was hoped, into a righteous manner of living. How men could devise so horrible a future for any one of God's children is a striking evidence of the apostasy from the simple loving gospel of Jesus Christ...the breaking of any law brings punishment which however may be paid for through repentance. If repentance does not follow sin, full punishment inevitably follows......In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is no hell. All will find a measure of salvation; all must pay for any infringement of the law; but the payment will be as the Lord may decide. There is graded salvation. This may be a more terrible punishment: to feel that because of sin a man is here, when by a correct life, he might be higher. The gospel of Jesus Christ has no hell in the old proverbial sense.

  • John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith: Seeker after Truth, Prophet of God (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1951), 173-178. GL direct link