Most of us are familiar with Joseph Smith’s well-documented stay in Liberty Jail, and the later criminal charges at Carthage that led to his murder. Many of us also know about the different lawsuits for debt collection, particularly concerning the Kirtland Safety Society. Church history geeks will be familiar with two back-to-back sham trials in 1830 while Joseph was still in New York, in which his enemies scoured the countryside for anyone willing to testify against him with any ridiculous story they could invent. After he was acquitted at the first trial, he was immediately handcuffed and re-arrested for the second trial. It lasted well into the early hours of the morning before he was acquitted a second time. [Read more…] about Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 7: The Early Church – The Translation [C]
Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 6: The Early Church – The Translation [B]
Two topics that are often misunderstood in Latter-day Saint circles are those of folklore and what is sometimes termed “folk magic.” When we hear those words, as a people we tend to think of something negative or spiritually dangerous. We might think of examples such as Ouija boards or tarot cards. But the actual definitions are a lot more benign than that.
Folklore, for instance, is simply pieces of knowledge or stories that are passed down from one person to the next over the generations. Santa Claus; the Tooth Fairy; the Easter Bunny; vampires and werewolves; George Washington and the cherry tree; the seagulls eating the crickets in the Salt Lake Valley; the family stories you tell over and over again about how your brother microwaved a fork and fried the appliance or how your sister used to eat a single bite out of the center of a piece of bologna and discard the rest; or perhaps the oft-told story of how your friend once bit into an apple and found half a worm; these are all examples of folklore. [Read more…] about Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 6: The Early Church – The Translation [B]
Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 5: The Early Church – The Translation [A]
This week, we’re moving on to the Book of Mormon translation method. Faulk opens this section with a banner of several paintings showing Joseph apparently reading from the plates without the Urim and Thummim anywhere in sight. These exact same paintings were part of the collage featured on the similar section of the CES Letter. Since we’re talking about Book of Mormon artwork, I’m sure you can guess where this is going.
The Church has always taught that the translation process of the Book of Mormon looked like this: Joseph Smith read the golden plates like a book, translating the text out loud to Oliver Cowdery, who served as scribe.
This is a claim Faulk makes without any supporting evidence. He doesn’t link to a single source from any Church leader, manual, or website to back his allegation. That’s because, as far as I’m aware, there aren’t any. I looked, but I couldn’t find a single instance of anyone with any degree of authority saying what Faulk claims “the Church has always taught.” [Read more…] about Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 5: The Early Church – The Translation [A]
Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 4: The Early Church – The First Vision [C]
As we wind down on the First Vision discussion, I want to take a moment to say again how important this topic is. This event truly was the foundation for everything that came afterward. As such, this is also a pillar that we need supporting the firm foundation of our personal testimonies. There’s been a lot of conversation online recently over Kevin Hamilton’s excellent BYU devotional, “Why a Church?” In that talk, Hamilton pointed out that you can’t separate Jesus Christ from His church or His chosen representatives. Christ Himself endorsed these men to lead His earthly church. That means that He also endorsed Joseph Smith. Therefore, when you stand in opposition to the Church or to the prophets, you are also standing in opposition to Christ. When you criticize the Church or the prophets, you are also criticizing Him for giving them His stamp of approval. And when you dismiss Joseph Smith as a fraud, you are also dismissing The One who called Him to help restore His Priesthood to the Earth. [Read more…] about Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 4: The Early Church – The First Vision [C]
Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 3: The Early Church – The First Vision [B]
There are different accounts of the First Vision. That surprises some people, which always surprises me in turn. Who tells a momentous, notable story only one time in their life? Additionally, some people are troubled that the different accounts don’t match up exactly, word for word, each time they’re told. But when someone tells the same stories and same jokes in exactly the same way every single time, what does that tell you? That they’re rehearsed. And that can often have a negative connotation. Even the Department of Justice website advises not to memorize your testimony for court because it sounds unconvincing and insincere. [Read more…] about Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 3: The Early Church – The First Vision [B]
Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 2: The Early Church – The First Vision [A]
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about the First Vision. Faulk goes on about this issue for the next 9 pages of the LFMW, so we’re all going to get very familiar with the various accounts.
I have a deep fondness for the First Vision. When I was a young child in Primary, learning the words to “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” was one of the very first times I can ever remember feeling the Spirit. I was so young at the time I didn’t understand what the feeling was or what it meant. I remembered it, though. It became one of the central pillars of my testimony from the day I was old enough to understand what the Spirit had been teaching me. My dad grew up inactive in the Church, and it was the account in the Pearl of Great Price that gave him his testimony. And when I was a teenager, it was the First Vision that I felt prompted to share with my good friend that led her to investigate the Church and eventually get baptized. So, when I say that the First Vision is important to me on a personal level, I do mean that.
This section begins with even more quotes. The first is from President Hinckley: [Read more…] about Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 2: The Early Church – The First Vision [A]
Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 1: Preface/Introduction
In the wake of the CES Letter, several other similar “letters” began making the rounds online. None of them have the reach and influence of the CES Letter, but the distant second-most popular letter appears to be the Letter For My Wife by Thomas Faulk. Because of its second-place status, there are virtually no rebuttals to it. The only one I’ve been able to find is the one at FAIR.
This particular letter is favored by two groups. The first is the group who were themselves turned off by the hostility of the CES Letter. They wanted something similar but much more neutral in tone to help explain their faith struggles with their loved ones. That’s a position I can fully respect. The second group, however, is the group who discovers that many believers are put off by the CES Letter’s tone. They prefer something more neutral in order to rope their loved ones into reading it so they start questioning their own testimonies. I don’t have any respect for this position. It’s manipulative, and that’s gross to do to someone you claim to love. [Read more…] about Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 1: Preface/Introduction