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).
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MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
False Expectations and False Assumptions
As part of the mission of FAIR, I have been able to talk with many people, and I have read many of the stories of people who have struggled with anti-Mormonism or even left the LDS Church.
What strikes me the most from these conversations is the underlying assumptions that have led to their disbelief.
The first assumption that I have seen is the belief that only people who sin are affected by anti-Mormonism, so they aren’t at risk. While it is true that there are those who are not keeping the commandments and are looking for an excuse to leave, I have seen good, believing members infected with the seeds of doubt. Just as seeds of faith can be planted–as described in Alma 32–so can one plant and nourish seeds of doubt. Perhaps the thought “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” is applicable here. All of us are sinners, so we need to work hard to repent and keep the Spirit with us so that we can continue to discern truth from error.
Another assumption is that we as members of the Church know all that there is to know about Church history. So if we hear something we haven’t heard before, we assume it is false. Then if we discover that there is a legitimate foundation for the claim, we sometimes doubt what we have been taught in the Church.
The reality is that Church Sunday School class is not a history class. It is a class that sometimes uses history to teach the gospel. So there are things in Church history that are not discussed in class since they don’t help teach the gospel. In that regard they aren’t important to our salvation.
One example of this is the fact that there are multiple recitals of the First Vision, with variations. There are people who have left the Church because there is more than one account of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. Even though there is a little variation between the recitals–with some simply including more information than the others–if a member has not heard that before, they may believe that the Church ‘withheld’ that information from them. What this really shows is that the member is not keeping up in reading their Church magazines, as the subject has been discussed there. There are also a multitude of books and articles that discuss First Vision issues from a believing LDS point of view.
Another assumption is that our Church leadership, including Bishops, Stake Presidents, and even the Prophet have all of the answers all of the time. While our leadership is inspired of God, they often simply don’t have the time to investigate every issue that comes up. There seems to be a false assumption that God will speak through these men to answer every personal question that we might have. We make the same mistake that Oliver Cowdery made when he tried to translate the plates. He wanted the answers to just come. But, the Lord said, “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me” (D&C 9:7).
We also have to remember that there are some things that God may not ever reveal. Part of our experience here on the earth is designed so that we live by faith. In order for us to do that, there must always be some things that we don’t know. In speaking about prophecy and revelation, Joseph Smith said, “I…visited with a brother and sister…who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet;’ but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such” (TPJS, 278).
Brigham Young said something that is related to the faith-based mortal experience and its inherent limitations when it comes to interaction with the divine world. He stated, “I do not…believe that there is a single revelation, among the many God has given to the Church, that is perfect in its fullness…. He has to speak to us in a manner to meet the extent of our capacities” (JD, 2:314).
A famous story is told regarding the LDS view of Church leadership by Elder Boyd K. Packer. He wrote about Karl G. Maeser saying, “On one occasion he was going with a group of young missionaries across the Alps. They were crossing a high mountain pass on foot. There were long sticks stuck into the snow of the glacier to mark the path so that travelers could find their way safely across the glacier and down the mountain on the other side. When they reached the summit, Brother Maeser wanted to teach the young elders a lesson. He stopped at the pinnacle of the mountain and pointed to those sticks that they had followed. And he said, ‘Brethren, behold the priesthood of God. They are just common old sticks, but it’s the position that counts. Follow them and you will surely be safe. Stray from them and you will surely be lost'” (New Era, June 1977).
Whatever assumptions we may have about the Church and how it should be run, or how Joseph Smith should have done something (or “must” have done something), we have to remember that this really isn’t our Church, it is the Lord’s Church. So from time to time our expectations need to be modified and changed. Change is sometimes hard, but if we focus on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and maintaining our relationship with God through prayer, we can keep those natural seeds of doubt from growing and instead receive the blessings of remaining strong in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
–Scott Gordon President of FAIR
A Haiti response widget has been added to the front page of FAIR’s website and also to the front page of the FAIR Wiki–left navigation bar, near the top. This widget provides opportunities to GIVE donations (through the LDS Church’s Humanitarian Services department), to SHARE information (via social networks, etc.), and to SERVE (by volunteering for relief effort projects).
The FAIR Wiki project has been available for a number of years in the English language, with portions of it available in German and Spanish. A part of the FAIR Wiki can now also be accessed in Bulgarian. Click on the link below to be taken to this new wiki website.
A new entry has been posted on the FAIR Wiki which examines the content of the Wikipedia article about the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon.
There is also a new, detailed analysis on the FAIR Wiki of a book published a decade ago called Mormonism 101.
Come to the FAIR Bookstore to find the Internet’s best selection of materials for LDS apologetics. Whether you are looking for books, study aids, DVDs, or audio products, the FAIR Bookstore has what you need. You can begin your browsing by going to our main site.
Be sure to check out the Clearance Section. We have many older books and some new books with slightly damaged covers that offer great deals to buyers.
We are running the following Specials for February:
In God’s Image and Likeness: Ancient and Modern Perspectives on the Book of Moses
Jeffrey M . Bradshaw. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2009. Hardbound, 11.25 x 8.75 inches, 1140 pages.
Special Price of $39.99 (20% off Retail Price of $49.99)
The stories of the Grand Councils in Heaven, the Creation, the Fall, and the revelation of the Plan of Salvation to mankind are foundational to LDS doctrine. As it turns out, they are also the focus of a vast ancient literature by Jewish commentators, Islamic scholars, and early Christians, as well as the nexus of perennial controversies about science and religion.
This volume contains the most comprehensive commentary ever published on the beautiful and doctrinally rich early chapters of the book of Moses, combining prophetic insights, excerpts from ancient texts, current scientific perspectives, and up-to-date biblical scholarship–all presented from a perspective of faith.
Each section of the book is prefaced by an overview illuminating major themes and issues. This is followed by the text of each chapter of scripture, accompanied by a detailed phrase-by-phrase commentary designed to give the modern reader both an understanding of the plain sense of the words as well as their significance in context. Based on the first complete transcriptions of the original manuscripts of the Joseph Smith Translation, significant textual variants are identified and discussed.
Of special interest to LDS readers is the light that the book of Moses sheds on temple worship. A detailed study of this book of scripture in conjunction with ancient and modern sources suggests striking parallels with temple themes. Insights on these topics from LDS scripture and prophets, as well as relevant extracts from the works of Hugh Nibley and other religious scholars, historians, philosophers, scientists, literary specialists, playwrights, musicians, and artists are found on nearly every page of the book.
The book also features an extensive annotated bibliography on ancient sources–including Near Eastern texts, early Old Testament manuscripts and translations, the Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish and early Christian texts, Nag Hammadi and Gnostic writings, and primary documents from the Zoroastrian, Mandaean, Manichaean, and Islamic religious traditions. An additional highlight is the collection of more than a hundred carefully chosen color and black-and-white figures and illustrations relating to the text–themselves also the subject of detailed commentary.
The central message of the Book of Moses is not revealed in its stories of the Creation and the Fall, as essential as these accounts may be, but rather in its invitation to join the divine pattern whereby we may come to fully reflect God’s image and likeness. This wondrous work of scripture has been expressly written to “call [us] out of darkness into [God’s] marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Donald W. Parry, Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research & Mormon Studies (FARMS), 2001. Softbound, 6×9 inches, 296 pages.
Special Price of $7.46 (25% off Retail Price of $9.95)
Under “Editor’s Picks,” this titled was rated as “Recommended” in The FARMS Review, volume 15, number 1, 2003.
The discovery of the Great Isaiah Scroll among the Dead Sea Scrolls shed new light on the traditional text of Isaiah. In “Harmonizing Isaiah,” Dead Sea Scrolls scholar and Brigham Young University Professor Donald W. Parry (the coauthor of “Understanding Isaiah” and “The Great Isaiah Scroll: A New Edition,” and the author of “Visualizing Isaiah”) provides his translation of the Isaiah scroll combined with readings of other versions of Isaiah preserved in the Masoretic Text, the Book of Mormon, and the Joseph Smith Translation. Rendered in modern English and formatted into parallel lines of poetry, “Harmonizing Isaiah” will be helpful to teachers and students of the book of Isaiah.
The Farms Review, volume 21, number 2, 2009
Daniel C. Peterson (Editor), Provo, Utah: The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), 2009. Softbound, 6×9 inches, 289 pgs.
Special Price of $10.36 (20% off the Retail Price of $12.95)
- Editor’s Introduction: The Wedding of Athens and Jerusalem: An Evangelical Perplexity and a Latter-day Saint Answer by Louis Midgley
- Probing the Lives of Christ and Joseph Smith by Richard Lloyd Anderson
- Christmas: The Original Story, Margaret Barker; Reviewed by John W. Welch
- god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens; Reviewed by William J. Hamblin
- I Was a Born-Again Mormon: Moving Toward Christian Authenticity, Shawn McCraney; Reviewed by Blair D. Hodges
- The Reader’s Book of Mormon, ed. Robert A. Rees and Eugene England; The Book of Mormon. Translated by Joseph Smith. Introduction by Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp; Reviewed by Grant Hardy
- Mesoamerica and The Book of Mormon: Is This the Place?, John Lund; Reviewed by Brant A. Gardner
- Journey of Faith: Jerusalem to the Promised Land, ed. S. Kent Brown and Peter Johnson; Reviewed by Stephen D. Ricks
- Myth, Memory and Manuscript Found by Matthew Roper
- Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith, Michael R. Ash; Reviewed by Steven O. Smoot
Thank you for using the FAIR bookstore!
This section of the FAIR Journal is designed to focus attention on the wealth of information available in past FAIR Conference addresses. Here are some talks well worth remembering.
- David L. Paulsen, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph Smith: Defending the Faith”
- John Gee, “The Corruption of Scripture in the Second Century”
- Brant Gardner, “A Real People, Time, and Place: Contextualizing the Book of Mormon”
Lecture Series The Work of Hugh W. Nibley 4 February 2010 – Daniel C. Peterson, “Nibley as Apologist” 7:00 PM, Harold B. Lee Library Auditorium
Symposium Mormon Media Studies: Across Time, Space, and Disciplines Brigham Young University Department of Communications 11-12 November 2010
APOLOGETICS ON THE INTERNET
- Michael Ash on Standing Firm
- “Local Billboards Target Mormon Doctrine”
- “Anti-Mormon Behavior Addressed at San Diego State”
Occasionally there are publications and presentations that may be of interest to those who are involved in the LDS apologetics arena. Here are a few examples:
- Matthew P. Roper, “Myth, Memory, and ‘Manuscript Found,'” FARMS Review, vol. 21, no. 2, 2009, 179-223.
- Steven C. Harper, “Memory and the First Vision” Lecture given at the University of Utah on 28 January 2010
- Matthew B. Brown, A Pillar of Light: The History and Message of the First Vision (American Fork, UT: Covenant, 2009).
- Book note by George L. Mitton on Frederick M. Huchel, The Cosmic Ring Dance of the Angels: An Early Christian Rite of the Temple (FARMS Review, vol. 21, no. 2, 2009).
- Joshua Wheatley, “The Prophet-Editor: Joseph Smith’s Revisions to Two Revelations,” Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, Fall 2009, 66-85.
- John L. Sorenson, “A Whole Bunch of Reasons Why Book of Mormon Geography Could Not Have Included North America”
FAIR’S ‘FRONT PAGE’
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ASK THE APOLOGIST
The public is invited to submit questions related to LDS apologetic issues to “Ask the Apologist.” This feature can be accessed by clicking on the following link:
Mark the box labeled “Questions (for the FAIR apologists).” Then fill in accurate information in the five white boxes and push the “Send Comments” button. All inquiries will be shared with members of the FAIR List and the questioner may receive multiple responses from FAIR volunteers. These responses reflect the opinions of the respondents only and not the official position of FAIR or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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