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
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MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
In August, FAIR launched a new Website titled “The Mormon Defense League.” While FAIRLDS.org and FAIRMormon.org provide responses to criticisms of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our target audience with FAIR is principally members of the Church. Members already have the background to understand our articles. But, with the new spotlight in the press, we felt that we needed more of a response to non-members. The message needed to be simpler, shorter, and targeted.
But, as we have worked through the process, we have decided that the name “Mormon Defense League,” didn’t work well for us. It didn’t accurately reflect our process. To better reflect our organizational focus and methods, we have now changed the name to “MormonVoices.” The two words, “Mormon” and “Voices” are brought together in one word, symbolizing the many members of the church, with our varying opinions coming together in this one unifying task of providing a positive response to misrepresentations of our faith. The new web site is MormonVoices.org.
There are so many articles now in the news and on the internet, it is impossible for one or two writers from an organization to keep up. This new name better reflects our hope that members become involved in online discussions where positive representation of the Church is needed to offset offensive stereotypes and misinformation.
As Elder Perry said in General Conference,
“The growing visibility and reputation of the Church presents some remarkable opportunities to us as its members. We can help ‘disabuse the public mind’ and correct misinformation when we are portrayed as something we are not. More important, though, we can share who we are.”
We are looking for volunteers to assist in that process. Please become a volunteer with MormonVoices. To do that, go to mormonvoices.org and click on the sign-up link, or go directly to:
A second announcement for this month is that our FAIR-Cast, located at fairblog.org, was honored last weekend with a People’s Choice Podcast Award for best podcast in the “Religion Inspiration” category. See more information on this below in the Podcast area of this newsletter.
The third thing I wanted to bring up is that Christmas is coming, which, in addition to celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, means Christmas shopping. If you need a gift for a loved one, I hope you will check out the FAIR Bookstore at bookstore.fairlds.org. You can see the specials below.
–Scott Gordon President of FAIR
DONATING TO FAIR
FAIR is labor of love. We are a group of volunteers who spend many hours trying to research and publish information to help members respond to critics. We try to price our conferences to be accessible to as many as possible. But, providing this information does cost money. In all of your charitable giving, please consider donating to FAIR. It is only through your donations that we are able to stay in operation.
If you can donate $10, or $10,000, every dollar helps us.
You can also mail a check to our address:
FAIR PO Box 491677 Redding, CA 96049-1677
We have put together a survey to get to know you better. Please take a minute and answer these16 questions. Your answers are completely anonymous. Please take the survey here:
Because we know how valuable your time is, after you take and submit that survey, you will receive a “thank you for taking this survey” message. In that message will be a URL to register for a drawing for a free copy of newly released volume of the The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 2 (December 1841-April 1843).
FAIR PODCASTS Wins Award!
The Mormon FAIR-Cast was honored last weekend with a People’s Choice Podcast Award for best podcast in the “Religion Inspiration” category. The annual awards are voted upon by listeners, with nearly 1.5 million listeners casting votes in this year’s awards. The Mormon FAIR-Cast is co-hosted by Blair Hodges and Steve Densley, Jr., and features interviews, FAIR conference addresses, and audio versions of FAIR articles on various LDS-related issues.
Mormon FAIR-Cast 60: Mormon Voices
In this KSL Radio broadcast of Religion Today, host Martin Tanner interviews John Lynch about the announcement of Mormon Voices. To better reflect its organizational focus and methods, The Mormon Defense League (MDL) announced today that it has changed its name to “MormonVoices.” (Posted with permission of KSL Radio.)
“FAIR Conversations,” Episode 12: Steven L. Peck on Evolution (part 1 of 2)
In this episode of “FAIR Conversations,” associate professor of biology Steven L. Peck discusses the relationship between science and religion. Latter-day Saints have long praised the blessings of science, including medical advances and various technological developments. But our relationship with various scientific theories hasn’t invariably been particularly cozy, particularly on the subject of evolution. A 2009 Pew Forum survey asking respondents if evolution is the best explanation for human life discovered that the general American public is evenly divided, with 48% saying it is the best explanation and 45% rejecting that position. Strikingly, only 22% of Mormons say it is the best explanation for human life, with three-in-four (75%) disagreeing. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses rank lower, at 90%.
Although the survey’s phrasing may skew the stats a little, Peck feels that many Latter-day Saints do reject evolution without knowing that Mormons need not do so. In part one of this episode, Peck gives a basic overview of the idea of “science” and how it helps us better understand the world. He also outlines the theory of evolution and describes some of its yet-to-be-solved puzzles. He tackles a few common questions like: “Science has been so wrong in the past, how can we rely on it in the present with any confidence?” and “If evolution is true, why don’t we see half monkey-men walking around today?”
Incidentally, Peck also recently published a great fictional book called “The Scholar of Moab.” It can be purchased at Amazon.com.
“FAIR Conversations,” Episode 13: Steven L. Peck on Evolution (part 2 of 2)
Here’s part two of the Steven L. Peck interview on “FAIR Conversations”. Peck is associate professor of biology at Brigham Young University. Peck has interacted with many students who begin to experience difficulties in reconciling their faith with what they learn in biology classes about the origins of human life. Various LDS Church leaders have expressed a variety of opinions on the topic of organic evolution. In part two, Peck discusses the historical situation in which early LDS debates on evolution took place. He also talks about multiple live options Latter-day Saints can embrace in good faith without doing away with belief in God or the scriptures. We also discuss the problem of natural evil, suffering, and a loving God’s involvement in the world.
Best of FAIR 13: “Uh oh!” to “Ah ha!” in Apologetics: 20/20 Foresight for a Faithful Future in Defending the Church
In this address from the 2009 FAIR Conference, John Lynch provides practical advice on how to help those who are struggling with their faith. “What we’re about at FAIR is the idea of tending the gardens of the heart. . . . Our real objective is the preservation of faith and not the presentation of definitive answers. To that end, it’s not enough to answer the arguments of the critics any more than it is enough to weed the flowers in our garden. We must also nourish them and water them and give them ongoing light to reach towards. This means several things need to occur.
Answers need to include not only refutation of false ideas, but affirmations of true concepts.
We need to not only respond with evidences against the arguments of our critics but arguments in favor of the hope that is in us.
We need to help members interpret their religious world in the light of true principles including those that allow for mistakes.”
The text of Brother Lynch’s talk can be found here:
FAIR Issues 29: Some Mormons may not understand Joseph’s translation process
by Mike Ash on November 9th, 2011
In reviewing the history of the Book of Mormon translation, some members may be troubled that the process doesn’t match their conceptions of how they thought the process worked. For members who were unaware of the seer stone in the hat, at least two questions or concerns may arise:
- Is it strange that Joseph used a stone in a hat?
- Why have we have always been told that Joseph used the Urim and Thummim?
- Why isn’t the seer stone used today? Mike Ash addresses these questions in this episode.
The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.
Brother Ash is author of the book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, as well as the book, of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both books are available for purchase online through the FAIR Bookstore.
FAIR Issues 28: How a seer stone helped in the Book of Mormon translation by Mike Ash on November 2nd, 2011
Before starting the translation of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was familiar with the concept of using stones to “see” things. Like some others of his time, he actually engaged in the practice of using stones in an effort to find things. His familiarity with seer stones may have prepared him for the concept of using the Nephite interpreters to translate once he received them along with the golden plates from the angel Moroni. After the Nephite interpreters were taken from him, he was able to continue the translation process with a seer stone that he owned. Some of the history surrounding these events is discussed in this article.
The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.
FAIR Issues 27: Mormons not Christian? That’s a fallacy of equivocation
The claim that Mormons are not Christian often rests upon the classic logical fallacy known as “equivocation.” Dr. Daniel C. Peterson explains this fallacy and further explains how, while Mormons do not claim to be traditional Christians, it would be quite misleading to claim that they are not Christians at all.
Best of FAIR 12: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Plural Marriage* (*but were afraid to ask)
Greg Smith examines the anti-Mormon charge raised against Joseph Smith that he was lecherous from an early age and that this is somehow the psychological or psychiatric or pathological background to plural marriage.
The text of Dr. Smith’s address can be found at Fairlds.org. The listener should be aware that there are helpful notes in the written version that help provide clarifications and corrections to some comments that appear in the oral presentation. For example, a question from the audience stated that Richard Bushman believes polygamy was a faulty revelation. However, FAIR contacted Dr. Bushman and he clarified that, while he believes that section 132 is complex and difficult to interpret in our time, he has never said that it was a faulty revelation. Similarly, Todd Compton denied that he would have used the word “mistake” to describe the practice of polygamy.
Greg Smith studied physiology and English at the University of Alberta, but escaped into medical school before earning his degree. He then did his medical residency in Montréal, Québec, learning all the medical vocabulary and all the French Canadian slang that he didn’t learn during his LDS mission to Paris, France. He is now an old-style country doctor in rural Alberta with interests in internal medicine and psychiatry. A clinical preceptor for residents and medical students, he has been repeatedly honored for excellence in clinical teaching.
The text of his talk can be found here:
FAIR Issues 25: What exactly were the Nephite interpreters?
When Joseph Smith received the golden plates, he also received interpreters that are sometimes referred to as “the Urim and Thummim.” Where did the interpreters come from? Is this the only Urim and Thummim, or are there others? And what about that curtain we hear about? Was there actually a curtain between Joseph Smith and Martin Harris as the translation took place? In this episode, Michael Ash begins a discussion of the way in which the Book of Mormon translation occurred and the role played by the Urim and Thummim.
The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.
FAIR Issues 26: Seer stone, Nephite interpreters are religion, not magic
by Mike Ash on October 12th, 2011
In Joseph Smith’s day, the term Urim and Thummim applied to two different translating tools: the Nephite interpreters, as well as what is called a “seer stone.” In order to understand what a seer stone is and why Joseph Smith would use it to translate the Book of Mormon, it is important first to understand the cultural context of Joseph Smith’s time, and practices in which people were engaged that today we may refer to as “magic.”
The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.
FAIR BLOG POSTS
“Harold Bloom on the Mormon Breakthrough”
by Stephen Smoot on November 14th, 2011
Harold Bloom, the celebrated Yale literary critic, has offered a recent opinion piece with the New York Times. The topic: Mitt Romney, 19th century vs. 21st century Mormonism, and the “crucial precedent” that has been set by Romney’s progress thus far in the upcoming presidential election. As he usually is with his writings, Bloom is very thoughtful and captivatingly eloquent with this article. This is a refreshing relief, considering the questionable remarks of other recent popular social commentators.
By way of introduction, Harold Bloom has previously written on Mormonism, to which he gives the crowning title “the American religion”. Bloom is positively enamored with Joseph Smith, whom he cordially refers to as an “authentic religious genius”, and is amazed at the power of Joseph Smith’s revelations. Granted, it appears that Bloom’s admiration for Joseph Smith and his revelations is on a sort of quasi-literary level; I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to say that Bloom would place Joseph’s revelations on the same level as great poetry or literature, but nothing more. Notwithstanding, Bloom is a first-rate intellectual who has given us some probing, albeit somewhat flawed, writings to explore.
“The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and the Archaeology Question”
by Stephen Smoot on November 2nd, 2011
The authenticity of the Book of Mormon has been repeatedly assailed by critics of the LDS Church on the grounds that is lacks any confirmatory archaeological evidence that supports its claimed historicity as an ancient record. Countless books, articles, DVDs and internet websites have ceaselessly repeated the following cacophonous refrain:
There is not a single piece of archaeological evidence that confirms the ancient authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
“The Weird and Sinister Beliefs of Mormonism”
by Stephen Smoot on October 18th, 2011
Christopher Hitchens, the belligerent and loquacious atheist author and social commentator, doesn’t like Mormonism very much. Granted, he doesn’t care much for religion at all, as is evidenced by his exceptionally distasteful book god is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. But Mr. Hitchens seems to have a special place in his heart for disliking Mormonism. In his aforementioned 2007 screed, Hitchens devoted several error-riddled pages towards exposing Joseph Smith as a con man and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a racist, sexist, anti-intellectualist Orwellian hell of a cult. Shortly thereafter, Hitchens turned his aim towards Mitt Romney, the Mormon presidential candidate who has faced considerable opposition on account of his faith. Unsurprisingly, Hitchens had next to nothing complimentary to say about Mormonism. And most recently in his 2011 anthology of essays, Hitchens further makes several gratuitous cheap-shots at Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. It seems as though it is impossible for Mr. Hitchens to say or write the words “Mormon” or “Joseph Smith” without adding a plethora of pithy insults and disdainful remarks. His efforts are entertaining to observe, as Hitchens presses on in his anti-religious crusade and rails against the poor, benighted Mormons with a Quixotic gusto and indomitable zeal.
You can check out all of the videos at the FAIR YouTube Channel. Go to Youtube and search for fairldsorg
- A video review of the Jesus Christ vs. Joseph Smith DVD
- Hugh Nibley–Time Vindicates the Prophets – A World Without Prophets
- Cube, Gate, and Measuring Tools: A Biblical Pattern (Matthew Brown’s last public lecture)
- Mormon’s Editorial Method and Meta-Message (Brant Gardner’s 2008 FAIR conference presentation)
- The Message of the Joseph Smith Translation: A Walk in the Garden (Jeffrery Bradshaw’s 2008 FAIR conference presentation)
- The Book of Mormon Witnesses: Evidence for The Book of Mormon (Richard Lloyd Anderson’s 2004 FAIR Conference presentation)
- What is the ‘Chariot’ in Ezekiel 1?(William Hamblin’s 2008 SANE Symposium lecture)
- The Tabernacle as Cosmos in Josephus’s Antiquities (David Seely’s 2008 SANE Symposium lecture)
- The Role of Scent in the Rituals of Ancient Israel (Dan Belnap’s 2008 SANE Symposium lecture)
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.
Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon (Limited to stock on hand)
John W. Welch and Melvin J. Thorne (Editors). Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research & Mormon Studies (FARMS), 1999.
The FARMS Research Updates of the 1990s, plus some similar short notes from the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, in a new collection.
Aimed at a general audience, these Updates are brief, easy-to-understand reports of new research on the Book of Mormon. They tell of intriguing ideas and developments that have emerged from exploring the Book of Mormon from many perspectives. Pressing Forward will interest all people who want to know what’s new in Book of Mormon research.
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the father: Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Nephi 31:20)
Most people who work with the Book of Mormon feel that they have barely scratched the surface. The richness and complexity of that book offer an inexhaustible wealth of understanding.
The ultimate goal of this effort is to help all the students of the scriptures to “press forward. Feasting upon the words of Christ.”
- Retail Price: $14.95
- Special FAIR Price: $10.47 (30% Discount)
Organize my Kingdom: A History of the Restored Priesthood (Limited to stock on hand)
John A. Tvedtnes, Bountiful, Utah: Cornerstone Publishing, 2000, 6×9″ softbound, 258 pages.
The introduction of each office of the priesthood is discussed here along with the developmental of that office into its present-day position in the Church. Every period of Church history is covered, Joseph Smith’s first vision, the restoration and organization of the Church, the Kirtland period, Missouri, the Nauvoo era, early growth in Utah and the present worldwide expansion.
The author illustrates how the Lord has modified and added to the organization and government of the Church as it grew from six members to a worldwide body with widely diversified membership. The questions of critics are answered with a clear testimony that God truly has and will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Extensively documented from numerous sources, including the original source material for the Doctrine & Covenants, and many previously unpublished manuscripts available only through the Church Historian’s office. This is the definitive answer to “Mormons, Inc.” and other similar works. (Note: “Mormons, Inc.” was a 1997 cover story for Time magazine written by Richard Ostling who also coauthored Mormon America.
- Retail Price: $19.95
- Special FAIR Price: $11.87 (30% Discount)
Mormonism: The Faith of the Twenty-First Century, Vol. 1 (Limited to stock on hand)
Edward K. Watson, Burnaby, B.C. Canada: Liahona Publications, 1998, 6.5×9.5″ hardbound, 622 pages. ISBN: 1894161009
Edward Watson uses forty Bible versions and more than sixty Bible Dictionaries, Hebrew-English and Greek English Lexicons all of which are from the leading non-Mormon scholars in examining the usage and interpretation of pertinent biblical words and passages. He also draws from Kabbalistic writings, Rabbinical literature, the Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha, the Church Fathers, Philo, Josephus, Dead Sea Scrolls, Targums and even theoretical physics and modern cosmology in presenting Mormon thought in a logical and biblical manner.
- Retail Price: $39.95
- Special FAIR Price: $4.00 (90% Discount)
Mormons Believe….What?!: Fact and Fiction About a Rising Religion
Gary C. Lawrence. Orange County, California: The Parameter Foundation, 2011. Hardbound, 6×9″, 243 pages.
A lively analysis of the facts and fictions surrounding Mormonism – a religion mysterious to some, misunderstood by many, and maligned by more than a few. Sprinkling each chapter with results from his national polls, Lawrence produces the go-to guidebook for the person who wants to understand “just enough” about this increasingly visible religion.
- Retail Price: $24.95
- Special FAIR Price: $19.96. (20% Discount)
The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals – Vol. 2 December 1841-April 1843
General Editors: Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, Richard Lyman Bushman. Volume Editors: Andrew H. Hodges, Alex D. Smith, Richard Lloyd Anderson. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church Historian’s Press, 2011. Hardbound, 7-1/4 x 10-1/4″, 528 pgs.
The first volume of the Joseph Smith Papers series, Journals, Volume 1, became an overnight bestseller. The much-anticipated Journals, Volume 2, covers the Nauvoo period from December 1841 to April 30, 1843. Two major documents are featured in this volume:
- The journal portion of the Book of the Law of the Lord, which served as a combination journal and temple record book. It includes journal entries on revelations received during this time period, letters written and received, and temple donations.
- The first two of four small books titled “President Joseph Smith’s Journal,” kept by Willard Richards during the last years of the Prophet Joseph’s life (the final two books will be published in the forthcoming third and final volume of the Journals series).
The journals provide background information about Joseph’s life and early Church history and form the foundation for the official history of the Church. Among the key events described in this volume are the creation of the Relief Society; the building of the Nauvoo Temple; and revelations on the nature of God, and baptism for the dead. Three letters from Emma are also included. These journals provide insights about the Prophet Joseph’s personality, including accounts of him functioning as mayor of Nauvoo, store operator, and general in the Nauvoo legion.
- Retail Price: $54.95
- Special FAIR Price: $43.96 (20% Discount)
Teachings of Thomas S. Monson
Thomas S. Monson. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 2011. Hardbound, 6×9″, 384 pages.
A lifetime of teachings from President Thomas S. Monson. Teachings of Thomas S. Monson is the ideal companion volume to the prophet’s bestselling biography, “To the Rescue.” This comprehensive collection:
- Gives quick, easy access to key teachings on scores of gospel topics representing nearly half a century of teaching
- Provides President Monson’s teachings topically in alphabetical order
- Includes a scripture index so readers can find what President Monson taught about specific scriptural passages
- An invaluable resource for all who are involved in teaching the gospel or learning more from President Thomas S. Monson.
In February 2008, Thomas S. Monson was set apart as the sixteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Recognized as leader and prophet by millions of Church members worldwide, he has traveled the globe in his service as a General Authority, a ministry that spans nearly five decades, beginning with his call into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in October 1963.
Whether you’re preparing a lesson, planning a talk, teaching your family, or just seeking to be uplifted and motivated to live the gospel more fully, you’ll appreciate Teachings of Thomas S. Monson.
- Retail Price: $29.99
- Special FAIR Price: $23.99 (20% Discount)
No Weapon Shall Prosper: New Light on Sensitive Issues
Robert L. Millet, Editor. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University in cooperation with Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2011. Hardbound, 6.5×9.5″, 439 pages.
From the time Joseph Smith walked out of the grove of trees having experienced a vision and having spoken with God and Jesus Christ, his words have opened the door to persecution. As disciples of Christ, we ought to be serious students of the gospel who are able to provide a defense of our faith. In this book, LDS scholars discuss criticisms of the Church on a variety of issues, including the question of whether Mormons are Christian, the various accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, and LDS beliefs about becoming like God, continuing revelation, and plural marriage. The book also includes chapters about DNA research and the Book of Mormon, along with the role of evidence and the need for honesty in religious discussion. This volume does not address every point of opposition, but it does provide thoughtful and reliable answers to several hard questions.
- Retail Price: $27.99
- Special FAIR Price: $22.39 (20% Discount)
Jesus the Christ, Softbound
James E. Talmage, American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 2006, 6×9″ softbound, 768 pages.
Considered one of the all-time great classics of LDS literature, Jesus the Christ is a comprehensive look into the life and ministry of the Savior. Written at the request of the First Presidency by the Apostle James E. Talmage, and penned from an office inside the Salt Lake Temple, this volume is more than a simple outline of the Savior’s life. It presents a far-reaching view of the Savior–including His life in the flesh, His antemortal existence, and His activities across time as the world’s Redeemer. Allow this unparalleled work to enhance your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as it magnifies your understanding of the scriptures.
- Retail Price: $14.95
- Special FAIR Price: $10.99 (26% Discount)
Thank you for shopping in our FAIR bookstore!
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MORMON SCHOLARS TESTIFY
Mormon Scholars Testify now has 325 testimonies, representing 142 schools or organizations. There are new testimonies added every week. Many of them have very interesting stories that are uplifting and testimony building. Check out the Website and read the testimonies here:
If you like the testimonies, link to them from your Facebook or other social network.
Please don’t forget to link to our Website at Mormontemples.net
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. All 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.