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).
- MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT. Scott Gordon looks at why it it important to look at anti-Mormon accounts of LDS history with a critical eye, and why LDS Church history doesn’t have to be a stumbling block to Latter-day Saints or investigators of the Restored Gospel.
- PRESIDENT’S APPEAL FOR SPECIAL FUNDING. FAIR is continuing to work on some high-profile projects that need to be funded outside of FAIR’s operating budget.
- FAIR CONFERENCE NEWS. Our annual FAIR Conference is only two months away. Be sure to check out the speaker list and to order your tickets soon.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. “Polygamy.” Kathryn Daynes deals with some myths and realities of the 19th century LDS practice of plural marriage in her 2002 FAIR Conference presentation.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE. “Changes in the Book of Mormon.” In his 2002 FAIR Conference presentation, Royal Skousen relates some fascinating discoveries coming out of the Book of Mormon critical text project.
- ASK THE APOLOGIST. Got a question you are dying to ask? Here’s how.
- FAIR TOPICAL GUIDE. The Topical Guide on the FAIR Web site is one of the most popular resources offered. Learn what is available and help us expand our references.
- FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE. Build your library by taking advantage of this month’s specials at the FAIR Bookstore.
- ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS. Interested in writing for FAIR? Learn how you can have your apologetics work published.
- PUBLISHING NOTES. Learn how you can become more involved in FAIR and how you can reuse the material we publish.
- FAIR JOURNAL ARCHIVES. All of the FAIR Journal issues since October 2001 are on the FAIR web site.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
We receive many emails here at FAIR from people commenting on our work. The vast majority are complimentary, often saying how FAIR’s information has helped answer questions and influenced the writer or the writer’s family in regaining and strengthening a personal testimony of the Restored Gospel.
Occasionally, however, we hear from someone who shares an experience where a friend or family member decided to leave the Church. I understand the frustration that a person can feel when he or she has no place to turn to talk about concerns relating to the Church, such as events in Church history.
One of the unique things about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is its use of narrative and history to teach gospel principles. This emphasis on history (pioneer stories and such) leaves some people with the mistaken impression that they are knowledgeable on the subject. Most people realize, however, that it takes much more research and reading to be truly knowledgeable about Church history than a simple familiarity with a collection of faith-promoting stories, however true and inspiring those stories may be.
A significant factor in the development of an understanding of Church history is the choice of sources and a willingness to dig beneath what is presented. Two people can read the same sources and yet come away with a very different impression of what is important and what is not. In every historical analysis, one has to pick and choose which “witnesses” should be emphasized and which ones should not. It is through the writings of those witnesses we interpret what we believe happened.
Unfortunately there are some Web sites and books which uncritically accept as fact writings from forty years after the fact, while rejecting writings from the period when the event occurred. Other times the sources only accept statements and writings from individuals who are critical of the Church and reject writings of those who are favorable to the Church. One must be willing to take the time to acquire, analyze, and balance all of the evidence.
People sometimes ask how a faithful Latter-day Saint can maintain a testimony in light of the things written against the Church. The main thing I have done is to follow the footnotes. This means if someone was quoted, I actually go back and read the source of the quote. They usually are very easy to find on the Internet or on one of the many CDs available at a Church bookstore. In many cases, I find the quote is pulled from its context.
The second thing I do is remember the cultural context of the quote. We had a group of new converts who brought much of their cultural baggage into the Church and had no lesson manuals to go by. I believe it was a miracle that the doctrine preached was as accurate as it was. The Lord gives us line upon line and he gives us what we are ready to receive.
The third thing is that I remember that history involves people. All people say and do things they shouldn’t. All people have faulty memories. And all people interpret the words that are said in different ways, based on their own backgrounds and perceptions.
I believe it is a mistake to leave the Church, especially over an account of some action or comment by a past Church leader. I find much evidence to support the truthfulness of the Church and little real evidence to support claims that it is not. But one of the things we value highly in our faith and in our country is the freedom to believe as we choose. I wish the best to all those whose journey has taken them outside of the Church and I hope they ultimately find what they are looking for.
–Scott Gordon President, FAIR
PRESIDENT’S APPEAL FOR SPECIAL FUNDING
Many heartfelt thanks to those who contributed to our special film project. We had several people write checks for $250 to help defray the costs of the film. But we still need more. Please write your donation checks (of any size) to:
FAIR P.O. Box 491677 Redding, CA 96049
For those of you who missed last month’s announcement:
As videos become more popular, we are finding they are being used more by counter-cult ministries to try to influence people to either leave the Church or stay away from investigating the Church. One of these counter-cult ministries even has the funding to pass out thousands of these anti-Mormon DVDs free of charge and has flooded some markets. With this in mind, FAIR has partnered with an LDS filmmaker and is currently creating a video response. Many interviews have already been filmed as a direct response to one of the anti-Mormon films.
This does create a problem for us. FAIR is a non-profit organization that relies on small donors to survive. Most donations we receive are under $100. But for us to make a film, we need a lot more than that. We really need about $25,000 to even complete production of the film. We may need more for distribution.
As always, thank you for your support.
FAIR is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, so if you are in the United States, your donation is tax deductible. Without your donations, FAIR would cease to exist. Thank you for your support.
FAIR Conference News
Once again, we have a FAIR conference line up that you don’t want to miss. We have speakers discussing many interesting topics. If you come, you can:
- Meet the man who helped uncover the Hofmann forgeries and hear what he has to say about it.
- Learn about DNA evidence and the Book of Mormon.
- Find out if there is any linguistic trace of the Nephites.
- Discover how many times Joseph Smith was sued and how he dealt with it.
- Learn the truth about the first vision stories.
- Finally, become knowledgeable about the Book of Abraham controversy.
- Learn more about the race issue in Mormonism.
- Hear a faithful side of the story on one controversial plural marriage.
- Explore dealing with anti Mormonism.
You really won’t want to miss this opportunity. Find out more here (scroll to the bottom to order the tickets.):
You can order the two day ticket directly here:
And students can attend at a reduced price here:
Changes in the Book of Mormon
by Royal Skousen
People are often surprised to hear that about one quarter of the original Book of Mormon manuscript, those pages written by the various scribes while Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Mormon, still exists and can be studied. In addition, nearly the entire printer’s manuscript is available, which as a copy made from the original manuscript and given to the printer to use to create the first printed and bound editions of the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon Critical Text Project is attempting to capture in complete detail all of the extant texts of the Book of Mormon and to compare and contrast them. This word-by-word and phrase-by-phrase analysis has resulted in a better understanding of what was likely translated by Joseph Smith than what can be found in any single text alone. In his 2002 FAIR Conference presentation, Skousen looks at a number of the findings that have come out of the project to date, some of which may appear in future editions of the Book of Mormon and all of which help us appreciate the tremendous effort that went into translating and publishing the sacred volume of scripture.
Read the article:
Changes in the Book of Mormon by Royal Skousen
ASK THE APOLOGIST
FAIR invites the public to submit questions relating to LDS beliefs, practices, and history. Some questions are asked sincerely by members and investigators, others are clearly hostile questions challenging the veracity of the Church and its teachings. Many of these responses may end up on the Web site as a FAIR paper or brochure. If you have a question, simply mail it to [email protected]. Email sent to this address will be shared with members of FAIR, so it is not uncommon to receive several responses that approach the issue from different angles.
FAIR TOPICAL GUIDE
The Topical Guide is one of the most important LDS apologetic resources available. If you aren’t familiar with this part of FAIR’s Web site, check it out at
The following are the Topical Guide updates for the month.
Louis C. Midgley, “The Brodie Connection: Thomas Jefferson and Joseph Smith,” BYU Studies (1980)
Those outside the Church often think they have the objective explanation for Joseph Smith in Fawn McKay Brodie’s “No Man Knows My History.” Mormons’ complaints about her treatment of the Joseph Smith story are either unknown or brushed aside as biased special pleading. But recently something has happened that has called into question Ms. Brodie’s previously towering reputation as a scholar: she has written another book which has turned into an academic scandal.
Margaret C. Robertson, “The Campaign and the Kingdom: The Activities of the Electioneers in Joseph Smith’s Presidential Campaign,” BYU Studies (2000), 147-176
Despite all that has been written on the Prophet’s candidacy, the electioneers themselves have been almost completely ignored. Some historians have seen the sheer number of electioneers as prima facie evidence that Joseph seriously believed he could become president. In this essay, Robertson does not attempted to prove whether the electioneers deemed their prophet’s campaign viable, rather, to examine the available journals and autobiographies of the campaigners in an attempt to illuminate some of the possible reasons for and effects of the campaign. While many of the electioneers gave political addresses and distributed copies of Joseph Smith’s platform, in the main, their activities did more to strengthen the Church than to present the Prophet to the nation as a presidential candidate.
Richard L. Anderson, “Joseph Smith and the Millennarian Time Table,” BYU Studies, 55-66
“Of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matt. 24:36), though claims to date the millennial coming are no historical rarity. In the past year newspapers carried stories of more than one group which separated itself to await the appointed day. Failures become miscalculation or misdefinition to persistent believers–and illusion to others. Joseph Smith joins the ranks of discredited visionaries in current publications reaching various intellectual levels. But the image is not a true one. Corrective historical analysis is not only in order, but also a word to those accustomed to dismiss him under the rubric of millennialism.
A recent article of widely influential protestant distribution does essentially this: “Like leaders of other groups in the early nineteenth century, Smith believed that Christ’s coming was imminent, ‘even 56 years should wind up the scene.'” This statement of Joseph Smith, made on the occasion of choosing the Twelve on February 14, 1835, has been given more direct treatment. Most elaborate is a curious expose`, Harrison’s Mormons Are Peculiar People, in which no less than fifty-seven false prophecies of Joseph Smith are formally listed. With minor exceptions this parade of instances is a redundant application of three techniques: making ultimate promises immediate, precluding human agency by affixing total responsibility on the author of the revelation, and giving relative statements of time absolute value.
The last method well matches the lack of sophistication claimed by the author for Mormons. Promises that “the hour is nigh” and “I come quickly” are now discredited in Harrison’s perspective of history, despite Joseph Smith’s express words that Millennial events “are now nigh at hand”–“speaking after the manner of the Lord.” Distortion is carried further; in spite of citation of correct explanatory sources, “even fifty-six years should wind up the scene” becomes number seven in the list of “false prophecies”: “According to Joseph Smith, Christ’s second coming should have taken place no later than February 14, 1891.”
FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE
As always, the FAIR LDS Bookstore has some great values, but for the month of June we have some *exceptionalvalues. By supporting the FAIR Bookstore you are also supporting FAIR. Come and see what great books are here for you. We also have three marvelous books at a wonderful price. (You can find these great buys this month when you click “specials” in the FAIR Bookstore.)
This first book is a particularly GREAT deal, since it is FREE!
“The Covenant Concept,” by Martin J. Palmer, Bill Shemen Publications, 1998, 384 pages, ISBN 0-9665076-0-6.
This hardbound book poses the question, “What is a covenant?” Ask anyone and the answer is sure to come quickly, almost automatically, “A covenant is a two-way promise.” Such an answer is certainly true as far as it goes, but does not go very far. What is the nature of a covenant? Are there different types of covenants? Who makes covenants, and under what terms and conditions? What happens if it is broken? Can a broken covenant be renewed and if so, under what conditions? Above all are covenants relevant to us today, and in what way? These and similar questions are considered in this volume.
THIS BOOK IS FREE (you only pay shipping) for all those who purchase a full two-day FAIR Conference ticket between now and the end of June. A conference ticket is $59.95, and you receive this $14.95 book at no extra cost, except a nominal shipping fee.
“The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, Second Edition,” ) by Hugh Nibley, Deseret Book and Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2005, 609 pages, ISBN 1-59038-539-X.
What do the Joseph Smith Papyri actually say? Joseph Smith’s pronouncements on things Egyptian touched off a debate that for 170 years has flared up at intervals. It now promises to reach new dimensions as the result of a pronounced shift of attitude among eminent Egyptologists–not toward what the Prophet said about the papyri (which they have ignored), but to closely related matters of interpretation and reconstruction. In the second edition of this milestone publication, Dr. Nibley places the Book of Breathings text beside a number of other Egyptian ritual writings as well as beside several early Christian and Jewish documents. On the basis of these, the reader–particularly the concerned Latter-day Saint–may decide for himself just how closely certain rites and ordinances of initiation from the early Egyptians to the early Christians follow a single pattern, and how close to these are present-day temple ordinances.
You can purchase this book for $33.71, 25% off its retail price. (It is regularly $44.95.)
“Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament,” by Ellis T. Rasmussen, Desert Book Company, 1993, 718 pages, ISBN 1-57008-7881.
Encountering a certain Ethiopian who was reading from the scroll of Isaiah, Philip asked, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” The man replied, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” (Acts 8:30-31).
Who hasn’t yearned for a reliable guide while exploring the scriptures–especially when lost in the bewildering landscape of the Old Testament, where there is much to wonder about? In this classic commentary, now available in this paperback edition, Ellis T. Rasmussen ably guides us through a reading of the Old Testament. His explanations will be welcomed by those taking a tentative first step into the ancient writings. But they will also be welcomed by more seasoned travelers–those already familiar with the terrain–who seek added meaning, deeper insights, and broader applications in their study of the Old Testament.
You can purchase this book for $16.46, 25% off its retail price. (It is regularly $21.95.)
To see all of our specials in one place, visit this special page:
Thanks for your continued support of the FAIR Bookstore.
– The FAIR Bookstore Staff
We welcome article submissions for the FAIR Web site. If you would like to submit an article, please review the editing guidelines at:
Submit your article to the FAIR Journal Editor. An appropriate article would be one that affirms the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While LDS apologetics (in the broadest sense) deals with refuting critics of the Church, articles don’t necessarily have to deal with anti-Mormonism, but may deal with some new evidence of the Book of Mormon, some interesting scripture interpretation, a viewpoint or quote from the early Christian Fathers or other historical figure, an interesting lesson idea, an inspiring missionary story, Church history, or your view on a current event related to the Church or a piece from a historical journal.
We may also accept articles from people who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that may not necessarily meet the guidelines of supporting the church if it is a topic of general interest to people involved in apologetics.
A submission may range in length from several pages to a single paragraph.
FAIR is not owned, controlled by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All research and opinions provided in the FAIR Journal and on the FAIR Web site (http://www.fairlds.org) are the sole responsibility of FAIR, and should not be interpreted as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief or practice.
If someone has forwarded this e-journal to you and you would like to join you should go to www.fairlds.org and click on the FAIR Publications link.
If you are very interested in apologetics and would like to actively participate in FAIR you should consider joining our apologetics e-mail list. Visit www.fairlds.org and click on the Join FAIR link to join this list.
If you manage your own e-mail list, and wish to include some of these thoughts or articles on your list, contact us through our Web site, at this page: www.fairlds.org/contact.psp. We have a fairly liberal policy of using our material so long as you contact us first to gain permission and clearly identify that your source was FAIR and by adding a link to the FAIR Web site (www.fairlds.org).
If you would like to sign up to receive the FAIR Journal automatically, click here.
To return to the index of past FAIR Journal issues, click here.