Posted by: Jay | September 6, 2007

Are the apologists right? Help me find out.

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Listening to some apologists of the LDS Church it is plain to see that a good percentage of them have no sympathy for those members that discover messy LDS history on their own and claim the Church lied to them. They claim that the Church has discussed these issues (i.e. stone in hat, kinderhook plates, polygamy, etc.) openly in Church publications such as the Ensign, New Era, Church News and other forums. Being a lifetime member this suprised me because I have never heard about controversial LDS issues being published by the Church until recently.

I am interested in testing the hypothesis proposed by the LDS apologists, that these articles are easily available to all members. This is a call to anyone that cares to join in collecting articles from any official LDS Church sources that discuss some of the hard topics we have talked about on this blog (e.g. polyandry, blacks/priesthood, first vision accounts, Book of Mormon problems). Please email references (not the entire article) to mormonstalk at gmail.com. When enough articles have been collected I will post all the references here on the blog. If nothing is found then the articles must not be as easily available as suggested by many LDS apologists. This should be a fun experiment. Thanks in advance!

Jay

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Responses

  1. Brother,

    I admire your openness in discovering truth. I am not LDS but I live and work with 14 mormons and have heavily looked into the church. I asked the same questions you are in this blog and NEVER found a single LDS publication or response to anything other than the newly printed “Mountain Meadows Massacre” response which is out because of the new movie “September Dawn”. The one thing I truly found to be interesting is that Joseph Smith truly did join the methodist denomination 6 years after God himself told him not to join ANY denominations… If you look at methodist membership records from that time period they have info about it. Anyways, I will be checking up on your blog regularly! Check out mine if you are interested.

    http://uriahministries.wordpress.com

    tim kurek

    p.s. my friends here call me a “dry mormon” lol because I live the devout life but haven’t been baptised in the church… thought you might think that was funny. ttyl.

    • Os maiores desafios da vida é nos encontrarmos neste caminho chamado vida, quem dera se eu pudesse ser como Mómon, já li o livro de Mórmon e a única coisa que descobri neste livro é que qualquer pessoa que não le-lo mas estuda-lo aprendera a ser uma pessoa melhor; O livro de Mómon ensina que tudo o que é bom conduz a Cristo e tudo o que é mal não nos leva a Cristo, pelo pouco que conheço dos Mórmons e do próprio livro de Mórmon você deveria se Batizar sim;Após uma resposta do Senhor e não dos homens.

  2. Tim,
    Welcome! I hope that this “experiment” will help to settle the question of how open the LDS Church has been with its history in the past.

  3. Using the lds.org search tool for the words “problems first vision account,” the following was the first result:
    http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b12f9d18fae655bb69095bd3e44916a0/?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=67017cf34f40c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

    Why did Joseph Smith describe only one divine being in the 1832 record?
    The Prophet writes poignantly about seeking God and adds: “And the Lord opened the heavens upon me, and I saw the Lord.” Then follow the words of the Savior quoted earlier. Possibly the term Lord referred to the Father in the first instance, while afterward referring to the Son, who declared his atonement for the sins of all. 19 This is the most personalized of all the vision accounts, and Joseph Smith is preoccupied with Christ’s assurance, evidently only hinting at the presence of the Father. Yet in the Prophet’s 1838 public history, the Father introduced the Son and told Joseph to “Hear Him!” (JS—H 1:17). Joseph’s 1832 account verifies that the answer came from Christ himself; this account concentrates on the Savior’s words as the response to Joseph’s prayer. From the beginning, the resurrected Savior directed the reestablishment of his own church.

    Why did Joseph Smith stress forgiveness in 1832 but not in later publications? Joseph prepared his later histories for general distribution, and he stressed God’s message to the world—that no existing church was fully accepted by Him (see JS—H 1:19). Yet he added that he was told “many other things … which I cannot write at this time” (JS—H 1:20). One of these was Christ’s assurance that his sins were forgiven. Many have speculated on the reason for partial information in the full history. The simplest explanation is that personal details were more appropriate in his first, private record. Yet the Prophet did not censor Orson Pratt, who wrote in 1840 that the youth was told “that his sins were forgiven.” 20 In fact, this aspect of the glorious event was recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants as a manifestation prior to that of Moroni (1823) that assured “this first elder that he had received a remission of his sins” (D&C 20:5). But the Prophet circulated his histories primarily to make known his calling and Christ’s announcement that His church and gospel had disappeared from the earth (see JS—H 1:19).

    What are the main problems of interpreting so many accounts? The first problem is the interpreter. One person perceives harmony and interconnections while another overstates differences. Think of how you retell a vivid event in your life—marriage, first day on the job, or an automobile accident. A record of all your comments would include short and long versions, along with many bits and pieces. Only by blending these glimpses can an outsider reconstruct what originally happened. The biggest trap is comparing description in one report with silence in another. By assuming that what is not said is not known, some come up with arbitrary theories of an evolution in the Prophet’s story. Yet we often omit parts of an episode because of the chance of the moment, not having time to tell everything, or deliberately stressing only a part of the original event in a particular situation. This means that any First Vision account contains some fraction of the whole experience. Combining all reliable reports will recreate the basics of Joseph Smith’s quest and conversation with the Father and Son.

  4. A search on lds.org for the words “kinderhook plates” had one result:

    Stanley B. Kimball, “Kinderhook Plates Brought to Joseph Smith Appear to Be a Nineteenth-Century Hoax,” Ensign, Aug 1981, 66

    A recent electronic and chemical analysis of a metal plate (one of six original plates) brought in 1843 to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois, appears to solve a previously unanswered question in Church history, helping to further evidence that the plate is what its producers later said it was—a nineteenth-century attempt to lure Joseph Smith into making a translation of ancient-looking characters that had been etched into the plates.

    Joseph Smith did not make the hoped-for translation. In fact, no evidence exists that he manifested any further interest in the plates after early examination of them, although some members of the Church hoped that they would prove to be significant. But the plates never did.

    The complex yet fascinating story behind this little-known event in Church history follows:
    http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b12f9d18fae655bb69095bd3e44916a0/?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=b6a8aeca0ea6b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

  5. With the search words “blacks priesthood,” I found the following on the first page:
    http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.062a5ea6a5e8d8661b622015f1e543a0/?vgnextoid=84010fd41d93b010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&hideNav=1&pageNumber=1&maxResults=20&NARROW_BY=&query=blacks+priesthood&bucket=AllChurchContent&dateFrom=&dateTo=&AUTHOR_CATEGORY=&AUTHOR_NAME=&FORMAT=&submitSearch=Search&dateFromDisplay=&dateToDisplay=&findByAuthor=

    Church Response to Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven
    Some book reviewers and religion writers have asked The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its reaction to a new book by Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. Three responses from the Church are given below.
    http://www.lds.org/vgn-ext-templating/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=f5f411154963d010VgnVCM1000004e94610aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=61aa39628b88f010VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1

    Priesthood Ordination before 1978
    Ever since biblical times, the Lord has designated through His prophets who could receive the priesthood and other blessings of the gospel. Only after a revelation to the Apostle Peter were the gospel and priesthood extended to others (see Acts 10:1–33 ; 14:23 ; 15:6–8
    http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.3933737ad2ff28132eb22a86942826a0/?vgnextoid=bbd508f54922d010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=36f2ce9566a43110VgnVCM100000176f620a____

    Priesthood Restoration by Gordon B. Hinckley
    The question of extending the blessings of the priesthood to blacks had been on the minds of many of the Brethren over a period of years. And so, we celebrate not only the restoration of the priesthood of Aaron and the higher priesthood called Melchizedek.
    http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b12f9d18fae655bb69095bd3e44916a0/?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=6bb6d7630a27b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

  6. The main problem I see with The Church’s handling of these issues is related to your post about The Church speaking openly and honestly about its history, “a href=”http://mormonstalk.wordpress.com/2007/09/05/should-the-lds-church-deal-with-controversy”>Should The Church Deal with its Controversial History?” in that, The Church only addresses these problems when it comes under criticism in a large way by mainstream media.

    Sometimes it seems as though the official Church materials “spin” the truth to reflect more favorably on it than the honest facts suggest, rather than simply admitting that they were wrong, corrected the mistake, and learned from it.

  7. Let’s try that again — the previous post didn’t like my html…

    The main problem I see with The Church’s handling of these issues is related to your post about The Church speaking openly and honestly about its history, “Should The Church Deal with its Controversial History?” in that, The Church only addresses these problems when it comes under criticism in a large way by mainstream media.
    http://mormonstalk.wordpress.com/2007/09/05/should-the-lds-church-deal-with-controversy

    Sometimes it seems as though the official Church materials “spin” the truth to reflect more favorably on it than the honest facts suggest, rather than simply admitting that they were wrong, corrected the mistake, and learned from it.

  8. [...] 6th, 2007 at 10:32 pm (Mormonism) I found a blog tonight, Mormons Talk, in which the question was asked as to whether or not the LDS Church is open and honest about some [...]

  9. [...] 6th, 2007 at 10:45 pm (Mormonism) I found a blog tonight, Mormons Talk, in which a question was asked as to whether or not the LDS Church is open and honest about some of [...]

  10. Jay,

    You and I both know that the LDS church has not talked openly about these issues until recently. The occasional article prompted by mainstream criticism hardly fits this bill.

    Even if we find 1 article for every controversial subject within the church, that means nothing if it is not taught in the church mainstream.

  11. Just going back toTim Kuraks comment
    ‘Dry Mormon ‘

    This is what I’ve been called ! and by Mission Presidents wife ….
    hahah

    I bet this will disgust Steffielynn !! :)

    I’ll compromise for ‘nevermo’ though …

    I’ve spent two years in church and not once was anything controversial or important of church history ever brought up , despite me asking a few times naively in the beginning . I soon realised that it was a case of shut the mouth and Obey .Any mentioned of anything of a concern wasn’t welcome :(

    So I found out for myself from Ex Mormons , Inactive Mormons , Active Mormons on the Internet via the blogs and websites and the real truth helped me decide that there was no need for me to join.

  12. And the Apologetics sites ?

    FAIRS and FARMS .I found that there were too many articles on one subject with various excuses for problems and far too long and difficult to understand to the point where I felt my mind was frazzled …
    Then they say they don’t speak for the church , If BYU doesn’t speak for the church then who does ?

    Tapirs being suggested for Horses was my breaking point after the shock of a Hat and Stone Translation .

  13. The point of this post is to see if the Church has talked about these things and if so when and how often. I sympathize with the idea that Church meetings may not be the place to discuss such an in depth history (although if it comes up I think it should be addressed).

    Church publications are a way that the subjects can be address without using valuable time on Sunday. My question is how often has the Church talked about them and are the articles known to the general membership. Not all members were members or of a mature age when the articles came out and are probably unaware of them.

    Whether you think official LDS Church publications are a legitimate place to present controverial history or not, these articles represent the official view of the Church. So many people want the Church to come out and say something official about these events, so we shouldn’t discount when they do just that.

    Wandren,
    Thanks for the references. I’ll add them to my list.

    Rick,
    The Ensign is the mainstream of the Church. I don’t know too many members that don’t have a subscription (It’s only $12 a year) and all the past issues are on the internet. I think the real problem is that although people get the Ensign each month they don’t read it. But perhaps a bigger problem is that the Church only has such articles infrequently. The articles should be frequent enough so that new and maturing members can be exposed to the issues as well.

    EJ,
    I think there are much better explanations of horses in the Book of Mormon out there. Before Tim’s comment I had never heard the term “Dry Mormon”, is it an insult or a term of endearment?

  14. Jay…

    I am pretty sure that DRY MORMON is not in any way intended as a compliment or a term of endearment…

    I accept the challenge to find any and all listing in church publications of note worth report.

    I have a question… does anyone know where I would find conference talks by Joseph Smith?.. on the net? I was told that in a conference talk Joseph Smith declaired that we live multiple lives… you know reincarnation, and I would like to investigate that claim for myself… any ideas?

  15. I went to Lds.org… Typed in is this order…

    Polyandry… Nothing 0 results

    Polygamy and joseph Smith

    On this I got 28 hits, all of which mentioned NOTHING to do with Joseph and him having any other wife than Emma.

    Not sure how I feel about that yet, seeing as there were a lot of articles claiming that we should avoid all of the ANITI’s… I will keep looking into it.

    Types in Josphes Smiths Wives… again nothing relating to him having more than one wife… disapointing.

  16. I think “Dry Mormon” is totally NOT an insult. I hear it all the time, And it (sorry EJ) does not disgust me. It’s just referring to a person who is not mormon as being ALMOST mormon. It’s cute and fun, nothing else.

  17. I rarely hear “Dry Mormon” in UT, but heard it all the time in Virgina. I agree with Steffie, that it is not meant as an insult. In my experience it described someone that attended ward meetings and lived LDS principles, though they had no plans/intentions of getting baptised.

  18. Look… regardless of what you would like to think, DRY MORMON is derogatory… he has not been baptised that is what it is refering to, that he does not have enough faith to take the plunge… it is the nice way of saying that he has all the evidence before him, he lives the life and he does not have enough self disipline to fully commit to the faith… there must be somthing wrong with him… it is the “NICE” way of saying that someone is not quite good enough to be ALL THE WAY MORMON.

  19. I disagree cherryn. Most people that are referred to by Mormons, as “dry mormons”, are usually not even investigating the church. They, like this Tim fellow, live the life of a mormon with out actually being Mormon. It’s definetly not referring to someone who is not good enough. As a Mormon, calling someone almost Mormon is indeed a compliment.

  20. 3.5 years ago when I first started my search into some of these issues it wasn’t long before my entire “orthodox” mormon belief structure of 30 years was changed.
    When you start doing research you will find that the church you thought you knew isn’t that at all as confirmed by FARMS and other apologists who do know the history. The truth and evidence can’t be ignored, thus some scholars must try to reconsile these issues changing the very foundations of the church in thier apologetics on many issues.
    When I came to that point after about a year of intense research my faith was not lost but my outlook became totally different. To me the church was became “metaphorically” rather than “lliterally” true I guess. I still couldn’t let go of something I held so dear.

    A few important things you quickly come across are:
    -First Vision stories, why so different and so many.
    -BOM translation was nothing like it is taught in sunday school
    -The 3, 8 witness story in the intro to the BOM (the accounts were written by JS, only sighned by these men) again the evidence we have paints a much different picture than what Sunday school teaches.
    -Temple ordinance was huge for me (JS becomes a 3rd degree mason, then 49 days later “reveals” the mordern day temple ceremony, which is a blatant ripoff of the 19th century masonic ceremony w/ the exact signs, tokens, and symbols)
    -Book of Abraham HUGE!! (we have a good portion of the original papari w/ facimili and writings that match JS’s “Grammer of Egyption”, the BOA is NOT written by the hand of Abraham as JS claimed nor is the “translated” text anything close to what it claims.
    -Polygamy, Polyadry (especially post-manifesto pologamy), that is just a dark depressing hole.
    -Krikland bank (NOT Bushmen’s toned down version, look up all the sources on this one to get a better and more unbiased picture).
    -Book of Mormon, DNA and the now accepted “limited geography theory” contradicting everything written in the BOM and statments made by every living prophet from JS up to Hinkley basically when DNA has finally disproved it.

    The list goes on and on, keep in mind though, these were imperfect men, rough times, so I focused my research on the “make-or-break” issues regarding the church. The rest is just interesting.

    As far as the apologists go, if all you read are their explinations without resarching a topic yourself, they will probably sound pretty intelligible and put your mind at ease, after all, they are “scholors” and “have researched the topic much more than you”.

    If however you feel it important to look at both sides of an issue, trying to find out if thier apologetics hold any water, you may be dissapointed in what you find.

    I quickly learned the following regarding the majority of apologists:
    -They use Ad hominem attacks whenever possible, at the same time DON’T address the issue:
    “Well historian X was gay, therefore we can’t rely on anything he researched and produced.”
    -The always beg the question:
    First and foremost, JS was a prophet, the church IS ture, therefore anything found to the contrary is suspect, if it proves to be fairly concrete (DNA vs. BOM) if that happens then we will just make up a totally illogical and improbpable story that “could” have happened.
    “Well we now know JS and all the prophets WERE speaking as men and NOT as prophets when talking about the Native Americans because we now have the DNA to prove it. So here is the limited geography theory that works better with our current understanding of the native americas”
    I guess that is not a problem for them to usurp what so many prophets have said. At the same time they will tell you to always listen to the prophet and obey his council and NEVER question him or the brethren.
    The list of argumental falicies goes on.

    For the most part, these are simply true believing scholars trying to reconsile their own faith and do what they think is right, because the ends always justify the means. After all they “KNOW” the church is true.

    The truth is that bad arguments are found on both sides and the same falicies used, I did find the non-church sources to much more honest and unbiased though.

    After 3 years of research and looking for anyway out of the evidence I uncovered I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. As much as I wanted the church to be true, it can’t escape its history, if those early events didn’t happen, the church is just another christian church. Not that that is a bad thing, I just don’t believe it to be what it claims.

    Basically think for yourself and try to be objective. The typical arrogant “I know because god told me” argument doesn’t last too long unless you simply stick your head in the sand.

    There are however many that have read everything I have and more, and can still somehow continue to belive. I couldn’t, and am very happy no longer being an active part of the church.

  21. Just_Browsing,

    I really appreciate your comments about thinking for yourself and trying to be objective. I have worried about all the subjects you talked about above. I think you made a nice outline of the complex issues of the LDS Church. My own research, while only in its first two years, has not lead me to totally disavow church teachings.

    I understand having to be true to yourself and what you believe it right. No one should be force to live what they feel is a lie. I’m glad that you and your wife where able to find peace.

  22. I also would like to say that just because I am happy outside of the church doesn’t mean everyone else is or will be. I have seen several friends who have left and although they believe they have found truth, leaving the church has led to major conflicts within their immediate and extended family, or they are just depressed because now they have this “there is no point to life” attitude which can be very depressing.

    Even though I think the whole celestial marriage and plan of salvation are BS made up buy some guy named JS, members truely believe this and it is reality to them and gives life meaning and purpose and as long as they don’t hurt others I don’t have a problem with what anyone belives.

    One of my favorite quotes, this isn’t exact but it goes something like this: “There are good people and bad people in this world but to make a good person do bad things, you need religon.”

    When god or your prophet/leader/president is the ultimate authority (in any religion, sect, or government), they can do no wrong, even if it overides all logical thinking. Again, the ends (no matter how bad) always justify the means.

    As far as me, I find purpose in my wife and children and the beautiful things and experiences this world offers.

    Be good to others and be happy!

  23. Also, back to the topic a bit, and reinforcing my point above.

    Here is a quote by Brother Oaks from the PBS “The Mormons” video, he says with a wry smile: “Its wrong to criticize the leaders of the church, even if the criticizm is true”.

    The falicy goes something like this:
    Person X is a prophet of God,
    Prophets of God don’t do “________”(fill in the blank with whatevery you want)
    Therefore person X didn’t do “________”.

    My problem with most of the apologetics that I have read follow that basic formula. They already have their conclusion before doing the research. When the evidence is so strong, they will somehow fit it into their preconcieved notion no matter how unpropable.

    This wouldn’t be such a big problem if they were consistent with this approach, but it only applies to defending what they have already concluded.

    Here is a good outline that helped me decide for myself when resesraching and reading apologec works:
    1. Thoroughly researching the controversial topic finding as much information and sources you can.
    2. Read the apologists’ works related to the controversial issue.
    3. Be honest with yourself and ask yourself if their rebuttals or excuses as to why it was OK for something to happen would hold up in a court of law today when presented side by side with the evidence today.
    4. Count how many times you concede that it probably wouldn’t hold up in a court of law but feel that is still OK since these are “spiritual matters” that others (especially a jury today) would understand. Therefore it is OK that the apologic piece doesn’t really hold its weight against the evidence.
    5. Finally, pretend what you are reading is describing the actions of a small cult leader today and the apologectic piece is written to clear up the confusion as to what this leader is doing and is supposed to explain why it is ok.

    As Bushmen said in his book it is almost impossible to be objective when you are a believing member evaluating the actions of the early leaders, this is not a flaw with mormons but is human nature, everyone does it in religion, politics, even consumer spending.

    It took me 2.5 years before I realized I had a totally different standard of what was acceptable for Joseph Smith vs another church or sect leader today.

  24. Just_Browsing

    You said

    I have seen several friends who have left and although they believe they have found truth, leaving the church has led to major conflicts within their immediate and extended family, or they are just depressed because now they have this “there is no point to life” attitude which can be very depressing.

    This is what happens with any cult when you leave , they are engineered to cause family divisions hence evryone is pressured to stay …

    A cult splits the family to start with on conversion of one member . Then it splits the family inside the cult if one decides to leave and claim its bogus .

    I don’t think their is much point to life in Mormonism as every member I’ve spoken to fears they are not good enough to enter CK .It can make life depressing for them to be constantly pressured spiritually to obey and toe the line ..

    I wonder sometimes if they have really learnt anything more than any normal decent person outside of the church ….

    The reason I liked the church to start with was becasue the values were just like I’ve been brought up as a catholic …However I soon realised that they were actually no better really than the community I had been brought up with ….

    I have friends and great family so their is no real appeal in Mormonism as I’m not vulnerable … and I certainly don’t believe they have the licence to say who is going to be with theuir family together in the afterlife .They have assumed themselves mediators between Jesus Christ and mankind in this respect .. and its totally bogus in my opinion …

  25. I agree with you that mormons are no better off than any other decent person who helps serve his fellow men and is generally a good person.

    The cult mentality is that life outside in the real world is “dark and dreary” and you don’t want to be a part of that, you need to seclude yourself into this insular society and that is the only way to make it through life and into heaven.

    Also in typical cult fashon (weither intended by the leaders or not), the emphasis by the members often gets put on the stupid meaningless things of life (ie, did you do your home teaching, I saw you at that rated R movie, is that coffee on your breath, etc.) and things like that are how a person is measured.

    My buddy who was in the bishoprick about 5 years ago (now an apostate like me) said that when he was a counselor he really didn’t have any sympathay for members in need, he said that he honestly believed they had problems because they were sinning or lacking faith and that is why the Lord hasn’t been blessing them. Reflecting back on that time, he is appalled at his behavior but felt totally justified in doing so.

    Leaving the church has allowed me to look at life so differently and I am a better person because of it. Also my wife and I have more of a “Celestial” marriage now than we ever did in the church.

  26. Most of you seem to forget that science and research is ever changing. To base any of believes off of an ongoing debate will take you away from the knowledge of God and towards the knowledge of man. I’m not saying don’t study the matter, but in the end if we want to know what’s right and true, then we have to use the gift God gave us to know truth. Perhaps James said it best “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God” –James 1:5

    One more thing-evil men made Jesus look like a criminal and condemned him to die. If people can do that to a perfect man, how much easier would it be to do that to an in perfect person?

  27. Dmar,
    I agree that science is changing, but that is only one piece to the puzzle. For me, science is just icing on the cake for everything else….My moral compass is in shock!! Would God really want Joseph to sneek around on his wife, hurt her so bad, lie to her about the other women, send men on missions and marry their wives? Have you ever read some of the sermons by Brigham Young? Have you ever read about how he reacted to the bishop Snow who castrated a man for not letting him marry his fiance (not to mention the bishop had several other wives)?

    There are many things that are disturbing and all of the evidence just adds to this.

    I am really having a hard time relying on “the feeling of the spirt” for pure truth. As I have researched I have found that people of other faiths claim similar ‘feelings of the spirit’. The mand who started the methodist claimed a warm feeling and he know it was right.

    Joseph Smiths own son (Joseph III) did not want anything to do with carrying on a church but he was later convinced by an overwhelming spiritual experience that he was supposed to lead the reorganized church and not follow Brigham Young….What does this say? Well it tells me that ‘the warm fuzzies’ are not too reliable since people all over the world have them and they mean different things. Even The Mormons that were part of the early church all had different ‘feelings’. Some felt they needed to follow Brigham and thousands of others felt ‘the spirit’ that they should follow James Strang, David Whitmer or the reorganized church……They could not get the same answers either and they were part of the same church.

    Because of this, I am afraid I have to use ‘common sense’ along with the spirit as it has shown to not be too accurate.

  28. Most of you seem to forget that science and research is ever changing.

    Critics would say so is LDS doctrine.

    Josephine,
    You make many good points. There are many unsettling things in our history, among our leadership. Are these examples of how our leaders are human or do they “prove” the Church is false? I’m not sure. I’ve really had to struggle with the idea of holding prophets and other leaders at a higher standard than myself. Is that really fair to expect they are somehow above the human frailties that I find myself subject too? Logically I have to say no, but my spiritual self wants to say yes, they should be better than me that’s why God chose them and not me. I still struggle with this, I’m not sure which side of me to believe, the logical or the spiritual.

    As for feelings of the Spirit, I have found the same problem. I used to think that people in other Churches don’t feel the same thing as me. It must just be adrenaline or something else they are feeling and I’m the one that feels the real Spirit because I’m in the real Church. However, I’ve come to realize that they are motivated by the same spiritual feelings I am. I’ve also had occasion to see when people get the opposite answer about the same thing. Both can’t be right but both claim the Spirit told them. This is in the LDS Church. So it seems that the Spirit is a lot more subjective than members like to admit and I tend to believe that our personal feelings on a matter can have a heavy influence on how strong the Spirit manifests itself to us.

    Have you ever read about how he reacted to the bishop Snow who castrated a man for not letting him marry his fiance (not to mention the bishop had several other wives)?

    I haven’t heard this one before. If it’s true, it is an extreme, disturbing example of fanaticism.

  29. Jay,

    Thanks for your comments. I actually do not have a problem holding prophets to the same standard as everyone else. When Joseph Smith beat up the tax collector, that is something your ‘average man’ would do, and no, I don’t hold it against him (he is human). However my problem is I do feel that Joseph and Brigham Young went far beyond what even the ‘average man’ would do or sin….that is what really makes me start to question.

    I have always liked the high morals of the church and that is something I admire. I have also been taught that I will know a prophet by what he says and does “By their fruits ye shall know them”. So why would God have the founder of His church do so many things that are morally wrong?…..actually breaking His own commandments (under his direction)? It makes no sense to me. Joseph had some good qualities, but it seems the more power he got, the more his revelations started to benefit him and hurt everyone else (his poor wife, then men whose wives he took for eternity). He also seemed very interested in gaining more and more power (Having missionaries campaign for his Presidency of the US instead of teach, Name himself “Ruler and King over all Earth” in the council of the 50, and destroy a printing press because it published his polygamy and was not favorable of him (Which is against the law).

    I would not expect my husband to lie to me and have relationships with other women, so why should a prophet get a ‘free card’. He can do anything he wants and we still believe in Him because God told him to? I think we really need to evaluate this and think about it……..I think we know a prophet is who he says by his character and what he does (not in spite of them).

    Some of the acts committed by both Brigham Young and Joseph Smith would have put them in jail by today’s standards……..

    I am also having difficulty because I think of this. The 2 men who really either had to have ‘made things up’ or told the truth were Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith. Both of these men have quite a rap sheet by ‘normal’ standards. Oliver cheated on his wife early on before mormonism and Joseph also excommunicated Oliver after the Kirtland Bank fiasco and accused him of counterfieting money. Then you have Joseph with all of this treasure seeking and folk magic, the lying to his wife and in public about polygamy, destruction of public property and several other things….and then Brigham Young with his blood atonement doctorine, theories on blacks and the priesthood, a lot of evidence of approving of violence, The danites etc. And if you are not familiar with Brigham Youngs ‘Emasculation’ doctorine you should read up on that. Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal that BY said that “Thousands of men will need to be emasculated to enter the kingdom of God” (this was in line with his blood atonement doctorine).

    Michael Quinn found a letter in the archives about the emasculation I mentioned earlier and Brigham Young kept the bishop in and not only that he said, “I feel to sustain Him” and basically told people to hush up about it and it would be forgotten. When he visited the mountain Meadows massacre sight years later his words were “Vengence is mine sayith the Lord, and I have taken a little”. I would expect a man of the Lord to get on his knees and weep because of the tradgedy….Not feel like the 140 men, women and children deserved it.

    I do not hold the prophets to any standard higher than your ‘average’ man, but I do not know many men who could do the things mentioned above.

    I just don’t understand how God would appoint men that could do things that are so morally wrong. He would choose men with integrity and compassion and men that would be examples to follow.. How could he expect us to follow them or know they were telling the truth under these circumstances?

    What do you think would happen if President Hinckley or Monson did the same things? How would people react? What if Monson married a 19 year old woman (without his wife knowing) and when caught told us the Lord told him he needed to have her and he had to lie to his wife because it was necessary?

    I really think we have great leaders today but the contrast is huge…..It is hard for me to really know what to think anymore.

  30. Jay

    You said

    “I’ve really had to struggle with the idea of holding prophets and other leaders at a higher standard than myself.”

    Jay those leaders you talk about don’t come anywhere near your standards let alone higher ?

    In fact the early prophets and apostles were seemingly totally destitute of moral standard as rightly pointed out by Josephine .

    I too can’t accept that Jesus told Joseph Smith to marry other mens wives , lie to his wife , marry teens and even marry a 14 year old , lie about it all and deny it even to ordinary church members .It doesn’t make sense .

    The only obvious sense of it all is that he was bogus , just like all the others of that time :

    Charles Taze Russel – founder of JW’s who sold ‘Miracle Wheat’ at a huge premium to ordinary wheat claiming it would yield more – The scientific result and observation at the time was it yielded no different to ordinary wheat and he was found guilty of fraud in court. So then he started the JW’s instead .

    Ellen G. White – Founding Prophet(ess) of the Seventh Day Adventists who plageurised ideas of her time and claimed it was revelation …. ( sound familiar ? )

    John Thomas – Founder of Christadelphians who after nearly dying on a sinking ship and praying to God to spare his life and in return he would find the Truth …. The ship miraculously stayed afloat . So he kept his end of the bargain as God had answered his prayer and spared his life and he gave us the correct understanding of what the Bible teaches through his books … a famous one called Elpis Israel .

    The Christadelphians believe that he effectively had restored the Truth through their movement and that only Baptism at their hands is valid…. Their history though is impeccable and really good, I really do like my local Christadelphian Community .

    Back to the original question of are the LDS apologists right ?

    NO they are not.

    There are more excuses for each problem than there are legitimate answers. I once read a Hugh Nibley book a missionary lent me .I got a big headache from it .

    If a Horse can be a Tapir and swords wooden in a supposed Steel age? Then the words of the Book Of Mormon are in effect totally meaningless to me ….

    and what are ‘flocks of herds’ ?( Enos 1:21)

  31. Forgot to mention

    Ron Hubbard – Scientologists

    This is from the Scientology website : sound familiar ?

    “The churches of Scientology and their members are committed to social betterment — in the local neighborhood, the nation or in the world as a whole. The tools employed are those acquired from study of L. Ron Hubbard’s works, including his drug rehabilitation technology, his effective study methods, his essays on safeguarding the environment and, perhaps most important, the immense compassion for others that pervades everything he wrote.”

    and what about Sun Myung Moon , leader of the moonies who claims to be the returned saviour ?

    Mormonsim is really no different in its claims to these other sects. They all have a charasmatic leader/founder.

  32. Josephine

    If you what to use common sense with the spirit, stick to understanding the doctrines of the church. Study the scriptures, and the words of the prophets. The Bible and the Book of Mormon both testify that to understand if doctrine is of God that he must live it and then he will know if it is. (John 17:3, Alma 32). I suggest that you begin by studying Book of Mormon. If you won’t then read the History of the Church and read the prophet’s words. Much that is said about Joseph Smith is false, distorted, and used to poison the faith of those who believe. Which leads me to say again-evil men made Jesus look like a criminal and condemned him to die. If people can do that to a perfect man, how much easier would it be to do that to an imperfect person?

    Don’t Forget that Christ told us that many of the elect will be deceived. mark 13:20-21. Your best action that you can take is to rid yourself of Anti Mormon literature. It is Satan’s tactic to poison the saints, and discourage honest seekers of the truth. And doubt if there is going be a time (before Christ coming) that these things are going to be rid of. It is proof that the church is true. Satan would never let God’s true church stand unchallenged! Besides Half of it doesn’t matter, and the other half is recycled garbage that has already been answered and dealt with! It has nothing to do with our salvation if we know the names of all of Joseph Smith’s wifes, how old they are, and what color hair they have. The gospel is simple, don’t make it harder by taking it upon yourself to understand all the mysteries of God. If you want to understand God’s eternal plan start reading some of these books

    “Articles of Faith” “Jesus the Christ”
    -James Talmage
    “The Infinent Atonement” “The Inevitable Apostasy”
    -Tad Callister
    And the entire collection of Hugh Nibley, Neal Maxwell, and these previous authors

    Reading the works of the apologists is fun and ok to do every once in a while, but you must remember that most of it is speculation (as well as the attacks) and like most arguments most completely rid the chance that divine intervention could ever take place. Why would anyone think like that when dealing with God. God even says My ways are not your ways neither are your thoughts my thoughts.

    If you start working and building your faith, then you will begin to notice that there are many witness before you that Joseph Smith is a Prophet and that Book of Mormon it true. the word of wisdom and the discovery of Nahum for example. Don’t get caught up on the ignorance of the unbeliever it will only slow down your eternal progression. one scripture to remember is

    Ether 12:6

    And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

    Go to the Lord, he will show you your weakness and then comes to excitement of overcoming them. One of the reasons we came to earth was to learn how to use faith, because by faith are the works of God accomplished.

    I wish you luck on your search for truth. Just know that what I say I do know, and I have the honor of testifying to in the name of Jesus Christ. Talk to your bishop if you still have doubts he is there to specifically help you in your time of needs.

  33. Elder Joseph

    I wouldn’t be so quick to judge the archeology of the book of Mormon. In many ways it has much more support then the Bible does. And we all know that the bible is the word of God, don’t we?

  34. Dmar,

    I agree that there are many good things that Joseph Smith said and did and Brigham Young (earlier on in his life). However, that does not mean the things I meantioned above are false…..trust me I wish they were more than anything!! I want to make it clear that I am not focusing on anti-Mormon literature. Point blank, there are a lot of true things that are extremely disturbing….I have spent 3 years reading and studying works from valid historians and checking sources….Everything I wrote above happened and can be verified.

    I realize I have invested my life in the church and it would be MUCH easier for me if I could believe…..trust me! However, I will not only read the good and ignore the bad….that is not being truthful. I am not going to plug my ears, close my eyes and sing lalalalala I won’t listen……Truth is important no matter how painful it is.

    Almost any man can sound wonderful if you only read the good things he did and not EVERYTHING that happened. The edited version of history we hear at church is very inspiring….but it is only part of the story.

    I have read “In Sacred Lonliness” and countless journal entries of women who were married to Joseph Smith. The polyandry and polygamy issues are real…not anti-Mormon literature. Any credible historian will tell you that. They even have a letter (in RSR Bushmans book) where Joseph told the young woman to burn it so Emma didn’t find out….this is in his handwriting! Brigham Youngs letters are in his handwriting….they are not anti-mormon literature, just facts.

    I was having such a hard time dealing with the castration issue that I personally emailed Jeff Lindsay and also Barney from fAIR. I told them what I had found out and asked them to PLEASE let me know if these things were not true because I was having a hard time…..Barney told me he would look into it, I never heard from Lindsay or Barney….neither of them could ever get back to me to tell me it was untruthful because the proof is there. I have given the apologetics plenty of chances to explain things, but most of their explanations dance around the issues.

    Losing faith has made me suffer as bad as dealing with a death of a close family member…..I have gone through the whole grief process. However I just don’t see how anything can make me feel better about these things…….I know the issues with the Book of Abraham and the apologists can’t logically explain it away…..they have the documents- we know what they are. Mormons have kept excellent records in the past so it is simple to find out what happened (we are great at journal keeping). I don’t think you can say I am reading anti mormon literature if you don’t know what I have been reading…..
    Some people know the horrible facts, and they can find a way to believe. I wish I could do the same but I can’t force myself to believe something when everything within myself says it seems wrong.

    Being able to deal with the information is more than I can handle and I just don’t see how I can get past it….trust me, I have tried! I do plan on trying to read the scriptures through again but I just don’t see how I can get past these things.

    Josephine

  35. dmar,

    I did want to mention a few more things. You said that some of the things just don’t matter (the eye color of the polygamous wives etc.). You are missing the point here. Honestly, I don’t like polygamy but it is not that it was practiced that is so troublesome, it is HOW it was practiced. If lying and deceit and unfairness did not play into it, it would look so much better. I do find it important that Joseph committed adultery. The definition of adultery is having relationships with other women behind your spouses back…..this is a huge sin that we would be exd for today. So why does it not matter? Why does Joseph get a “get out of jail free card?”

    You did mention that The Word of Wisdom is a big ‘proof’ for the church. Although I think it is a good thing, if you do your research (and even read Bushman’s book Rough Stone Rolling) you find out that the word of wisdom was not unique to Joseph Smith’s day. Actually there were groups who were promoting and pubishing the exact same Word of Wisdom…………….this is like many other things as well that is a product of the times. I also find it very interesting that “The View of The Hebrews” was written by Oliver Cowdery’s family preacher (Ethan Smith) which was published way before the BOM and had very similar ideas. This was something noticed by BH Roberts himself and he had difficulties with it too.

    I guess my point is I have a hard time when the more I learn, the worse I feel. I just hoped and felt like if you have the truth the more you know about it things just fit together…..not fall apart!
    I have considered going to my bishop for help (as you suggested) but the problem I have found is most bishops don’t know what happened. My last bishop didn’t even know Joseph Smith was a polygamist! Discussing troubles with someone who doesn’t understand or know what you are talking about won’t work and the church has no resources for people who have done a lot of research and want answers….I wish they did.

    I do however see a lot of good in the church today and feel if it makes you happy you should continue with that. However, I also believe that you should be able to know everything that happened and then make that choice.

  36. dmar

    I’ve read Talmage ….Articles of Faith .

    On page 266-267 he says that 230,000 Nephites died on Hill Cumorah in New York and that prior to that 2 million Jaredites died .

    Non of this is true ..

    On page 273 he says that the Transaltion of the BofM was done by a Breastplate and Urim and Thummim and says beyond that the details of the work have not been authentically recorded ?

    Thats not true either ..

    There are many eye witness statements ( including Emma Smith , David Whitmer ) which say Joseph Smith stuck a rock in a hat and put his face in it !

    I’ve read lots of mistakes in his ‘Jesus The Christ’ book also .

    He simply didn’;t know what he was talking about and I wouldn’t waste my time again on any LDS Authors.They have a track record of utter nonsenses .

    And your comment that the Book Of Mormon has more support (archeological evidence ? ) than the bible is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard since FAIRS/FARMS said Horses may be Tapirs and reminds me of why I shouldn’t bother with Mormonism ever again.

  37. Discussing troubles with someone who doesn’t understand or know what you are talking about won’t work and the church has no resources for people who have done a lot of research and want answers….I wish they did.

    Amen Josephine, Amen! It would be nice if the Church did have resources for people like us, but I think the best policy would be to just be upfront about our history. Talk about it in Sunday School when appropriate. By not having those conversations the Church is setting people up for “apostasy”.

  38. Here you go “Elder Joseph”:

    http://mormonandmoroni.com/

    The Cumorah mentioned in the Book of Mormon isn’t in New York. He’s right, there is evidence. Evidence like, say, gold plates with reformed egyptian writing on them found in ancient tombs in Mexico.

    Nope, no evidence at all…

  39. That website is a joke. A very amateurish advertisement for a book. The arguments do not even qualify as weak.

  40. David

    You said

    ” Evidence like, say, gold plates with reformed egyptian writing on them found in ancient tombs in Mexico.”

    Where are these Gold Plates found in ancient tombs in Mexico with reformed Egyptian on them?

    Which Museum ?

    I am under the impressiion that there is no such thing as reformed egyptian .

    Is that website link some kind of antimormon prank ? I couldn’t take it seriously.

    I have considered joining the mormon church as a career move , to write a similar type of book which should sell well to a ready made market of approx 4 million members.

  41. Any time I have ever had a question about the church it has been answered. Any time I have had a problem or was confused it was cleared. What all of this comes down to is what you believe in your heart and what you believe to be true. I have been a member all of my life and I continue to learn. I have been to Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, and Presbyterian. None of these churches make me feel more at home or closer to the saviour than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I believe in Jesus, I believe in modern revelation, I believe in the bible and book of mormon as long as it is translated correctly. This is what I believe and I’m tired of poeple talking about my church. If any of you studied and asked questions or went to church you would find out the truth. If you have questions go to mormon.org and you can chat live with a missionary who would answer all of your questions.

  42. The Mountain Meadows Massacre has never once been mentioned by a mormon leader as long as I was a practicing member for 7 years. But to my surprise it is on lds.org. Here is the link:
    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=1c234dc029133110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&locale=0


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