Defending the restored church of Christ - I created this blog several years ago to provide an alternative to what I saw at the time as a lot of bad "Mormon blogs" that were floating around the web. Also, it was my goal to collect and share a plethora of positive and useful information about what I steadfastly believe to be Christ's restored church. It has been incredibly enjoyable and I hope you find the information worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Comment on Latter-day Saints and the Bible

(by Dan Peterson on his Sic et Non blog 9-16-18)

I’m one of the two Gospel Doctrine teachers in my ward, and today it was my privilege to teach Lesson 35, which treats the “minor” prophets Amos and Joel.  It gave me a chance to dust off a column that Bill Hamblin and I wrote for the Deseret News back in January 2013:

“Old Testament divine council called a ‘sod'”

(The Hebrew word sod is pronounced somewhere between the English words sod and sewed.)

For many years, the old Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) and its successor organization, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, sponsored a book display and booth at the massive annual joint meeting of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature.  We displayed our publications there and, often, answered scholars’ questions about the Restored Church.

Four or five times, though, people talking with us would note that our work was almost entirely about peculiarly Latter-day Saint scriptures and subjects, and would ask whether we had no interest in the Bible.

I didn’t like that part of the impression that we appeared to be giving.  We seemed, in that minor way at least, to be confirming the suspicion of some that we’re not really Christian.

But most of us (if not, indeed, all of us) are deeply interested in the Bible.

To use myself as an example:  I majored in Greek and dabbled in Hebrew as an undergraduate partly because of my biblical interests.  My interest in the Bible was a major reason for my spending nearly six months studying in Jerusalem just after graduation.  And the fact that I’ve led at least one tour to Israel annually for the past decade is intimately connected with my passion for learning and teaching about the Bible and biblical history.  (I certainly don’t do it for the money; I make none from accompanying such tours, beyond having my travel, food, and lodging covered, along with my wife’s expenses.)

The fact is, though, that Latter-day Saints have long tended to “outsource” our biblical scholarship.  (For years, we scarcely had any scholarship; we were mostly a relatively rural or small town community in the remote American West.)  We’ve focused on our own unique scriptures for the simple fact that nobody else was doing so.  Not, at least, from a faithful perspective.  And biblical studies is a major academic field, providing us with no shortage of commentaries and other studies on which we could draw.

That’s not to say, though, that Latter-day Saints haven’t contributed some interesting perspectives on biblical topics.  There is, for example, Jack Welch’s The Sermon on the Mount in the Light of the Temple, which grew out of his earlier Mormon-oriented Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple and Sermon on the Mount.  And there is his analysis of the parable of the Good Samaritan.  And there’s Bill Hamblin’s and Dave Seely’s book on Solomon’s Temple: Myth and History.  The very first volume of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture published Bill Hamblin’s “‘I Have Revealed Your Name’: The Hidden Temple in John 17”, and that’s very far from the last article that we’ve published on biblical subjects.  Heck, I might even mention my own “Ye Are Gods: Psalm 82 and John 10 as Witnesses to the Divine Nature of Humankind” — which can still be found under my name on the website of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, although, curiously, the link to it seems to be malfunctioning somewhat.  (Look under “Authors.”)

Now, though — and particularly in view of the fact that we’re approaching a Gospel Doctrine curriculum year that will be dedicated to the New Testament — I’m delighted that the creation and publication of a Brigham Young University New Testament Commentary is underway.

I hope that the Saints will make good use of this new resource.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Nearly 50,000 in attendance



Safeco Field expects 40K people to see 94-year-old speak from second base | Op-Ed

(by Boyd Matheson 9-13-18)

Boyd Matheson is the Opinion editor of the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, Utah. Deseret News is a for-profit company affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. KIRO Radio is owned by Bonneville International, also affiliated with The Church.  

This Saturday, the Seattle Mariners will be 1,000 miles away from Safeco Field playing a weekend series with the Los Angeles Angels. Yet the stadium will be bursting with an expected crowd of 40,000. That is strong attendance for any weekend event at Safeco, but Saturday’s event is of particular note as the crowd will consist primarily of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who will come to hear from their prophet and president Russell M. Nelson.

The stage and podium will appropriately be set up at second base for a nonagenarian who, like long-time Mariner Ichiro Suzuki, appears ageless while gaining speed rounding second in order to stretch a double into a triple, even in the twilight of a long life and career.

At age 94, Nelson is keeping a pace that would exhaust even a millennial having traveled the globe at break-neck speed in his first six months since being introduced as the Faith’s 17th president. His stops to check in on the church’s 16 million members worldwide, commonly known as Mormons, along with its vast humanitarian and educational efforts have him hopscotching the globe from Europe, Africa and Asia to most recently in Puerto Rico.

Washington ranks among the least religious states in the nation. As the Seattle Times noted in April, nearly half of the state’s residents (47 percent) do not identify with any religion and rarely attend church services, according to a 2017 Gallop poll. And yet this stadium will be filled by those eager to hear the strengthening message of Nelson, a former heart surgeon whose words serve as a counterpoint to divisive messages out of Washington, D.C. or elsewhere.

Nelson has challenged members of the church to live better and serve more. He recognizes that solutions to the great challenges facing the world from poverty, homelessness, violence and addiction to education, upward mobility and every form of intolerance, are not likely to come from marbled halls, legislative bodies or government agencies.

Lasting, sustainable solutions come from family, from neighborhood and from community. In facing these significant issues, Dr. Marin Luther King’s question seems to resonate with Nelson, “Where do we go from here, chaos or community?”

Recently, Nelson hosted the leadership of the NAACP at the church’s headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. The NAACP has been striving to bring social justice and promote civil rights for more than a half a century. The church has done significant work to lift members in the black community in the U.S. and around the world through education, humanitarian efforts and self-reliance programs.

With a shared history of community-driven action the NAACP and the church have announced a partnership to bring self-reliance and entrepreneurial training to people across the country.
Two weeks ago in Puerto Rico, Nelson encouraged the storm-ravaged church members to look inward to help build a brighter future.

“As you individually grow to become more of the person God wants you to be, you can know for yourself that better days are ahead for the people of Puerto Rico,” he said.
In Seattle, Nelson is expected to carry the message that strengthening individuals strengthens communities. He will meet at a reception with local business, religious and community leaders prior to the Safeco Field event.

Ultimately, the best solutions flow when people are not seen as problems to be managed but as people with unlimited, even divine, potential. Finding ways to partner, support and encourage collaboration in the Northwest through volunteer and monetary resources is likely to be on Nelson’s agenda in Seattle.

Indeed, Nelson has challenged church members, including the 300,000 in the Northwest, to minister to individuals in their communities, not just their congregations. While he will deliver his remarks from second base, his eyes will clearly be on home – the place where faith, family and community create a better place for all people who call Washington home.

Boyd Matheson is the Opinion editor of the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, Utah. Deseret News is a for-profit company affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. KIRO Radio is owned by Bonneville International, also affiliated with The Church. 


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Forgotten Witness of the Book of Mormon Who Refused to Deny His Faith Even Under Threat of Death

(by Daniel Peterson 9-7-18)

When modern Latter-day Saints think of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, it’s likely that the men whose names most commonly come to mind are Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer — the “Three Witnesses.” And, because seven of the “Eight Witnesses” were surnamed either “Whitmer” or “Smith,” we tend to hear a little bit about them, as well. But also included on the list of the eight men who bore testimony that they had both “seen” and “handled” the gold plates and who affirmed that they had been shown “the engravings thereon” is the name of Hiram Page, an early member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who has been largely forgotten today. Even his burial place, located near Excelsior Springs, Missouri, is obscure and difficult to find; in fact, it was altogether lost until its relocation in 2000.

To the extent that Hiram Page is still remembered and discussed, he tends to be mentioned in connection with his brief August-September 1830 experience of using a “seer stone” in order to seek guidance on behalf of the newly organized church. This led to the important revelation known today as Doctrine and Covenants 28, which not only condemned the messages received by Page as satanic but, perhaps still more significantly, established the principle (vital to the unity and order of the kingdom) that only one person at any given time is authorized to obtain revelation on behalf of the Church as a whole. However, there is much more to Hiram Page’s story than that. Born around 1800 in Vermont, he was roughly five years older than the Prophet Joseph Smith. He earned his living mostly by farming, but he had also studied a bit of medicine and, with that background, occasionally practiced as a frontier physician. In November 1825, he married Catherine Whitmer, the daughter of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman Whitmer, a relationship that would shortly bring him into contact with Joseph Smith and the early Restoration. (Mary Whitmer herself eventually became an unofficial witness to the Book of Mormon: see this previous column "Mary Whitmer, 12th witness to the Book of Mormon" on Thus, by marriage, Hiram Page was also a member of the Whitmer family.

In June 1829, in company with three members of the Smith family and four of his Whitmer in-laws, Hiram had the experience with the gold plates that made him one of the official Book of Mormon witnesses.

 Life was far from easy, however, for many early members of the Church. Hiram Page and his family moved from New York to Ohio, and then from Ohio to Missouri. On Oct. 31, 1833, a mob of approximately 40 anti-Mormon vigilantes beat him so badly that his wife and children, forced at gunpoint to watch the violence, feared that he would die before it ended. (At least one historian has suggested that his injuries may, in fact, have contributed to his relatively early death.) One account says that Hiram’s attackers stopped beating him only when some of them refused to continue, realizing that he would plainly give up his life rather than deny his faith. (A severe thrashing was one thing, but, for at least a few of them, murder was another.)

Violent persecution, however, wasn’t the only stress to which Hiram Page and other church members were subjected. And when, amidst the financial and other controversies that engulfed the Saints after 1837, members of the Whitmer family were excommunicated, Hiram Page, too, left the Church with his large family. Although he does not seem to have been excommunicated himself, there is no record of his participation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after 1838. He and his family relocated to a farm near Excelsior Springs, where he died on Aug. 12, 1852. Still, although Hiram Page left the Church, he never abandoned his testimony of the Book of Mormon. Clear evidence of this appears in his continued involvement, with William E. McLellin and his Whitmer in-laws, in movements based upon the book. In 1888, nearly four decades after Hiram Page’s death, his son Philander, unaffiliated with any branch of Mormonism, was interviewed regarding his father: "I knew my father,” he said, “to be true and faithful to his testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon until the very last. Whenever he had an opportunity to bear his testimony to this effect, he would always do so, and seemed to rejoice exceedingly in having been privileged to see the plates and thus become one of the Eight Witnesses" (see "Historical Record, Vol. 7," by Andrew Jenson, published in 1888, p. 614).