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.

Monday, October 29, 2018

'1,001 Facts About the Prophet Joseph Smith' shares little-know information about the Prophet

(by Alivia Whitaker 10-26-18)

Did you know that the gold plates were buried several feet below ground and Joseph Smith had to dig a fairly large hole to get to them? Or that the Angel Moroni required Joseph to obtain a chest with lock and key before he was allowed to take the plates? Interesting facts about the Prophet Joseph Smith such as these and many more can be found in Alexa Erekson’s new book “1,001 Facts About The Prophet Joseph Smith”
The book is presented as a list of narrative facts told in a mostly chronological fashion over the prophet’s life. The author guides the reader along with some familiar and some less familiar facts about Joseph Smith in sections such as “Joseph’s Youth,” “Angel Moroni Visitations” and “Joseph Smith’s Last Months.” Other chapters such as “Joseph Smith’s Personality” and “Miscellaneous” provide other eye-catching pieces of information outside of the traditional chronology of the Prophet’s life.

Erekson has released the book at an opportune time as other compatible publications such as “Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days” meet a growing interest and demand into the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in general and Joseph Smith in particular.

“1,001 Facts” is a unique publication that will prove compelling to anyone interested in Joseph Smith whether they are familiar with the Prophet’s life or know nothing about him. The book deals with historical subjects such as mob violence and plural marriage but not in a graphic way. Readers looking for a more narrative or traditional style of a book may find the list-of-facts format unfamiliar.

The author provides an extensive bibliography in the back of the book as the source of her materials and also often cites sources within the text.


'Bible Verses' reference guide is an excellent resource

(by Rachel Chipman 10-14-18)

Michael Grant, author of "Bible Verses Every Successful LDS Missionary Needs to Know," was considering becoming a Catholic priest when he met missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
At first, it seemed they would never find common religious ground. But when the missionaries brought a member of their ward to Grant's lessons, everything changed. The member had a thorough knowledge of the Bible, a religious text of which Grant already had a testimony. As the member taught Grant the principles of the restored gospel from the Bible, Grant's testimony of Jesus Christ and the Bible expanded to include a testimony of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Fifty years later, Grant began compiling a reference book for missionaries to teach investigators like him — those with a strong love for and knowledge of the Bible. "Bible Verses Every Successful LDS Missionary Needs to Know" is the result.

The book is organized into 51 chapters. Each chapter covers a specific topic or principle and includes the following sections: Scriptures used to substantiate a certain principle and scriptures that clarify this principle.

At the end of the book, three appendices provide extra context and advice for teaching the gospel.
While it isn't part of the missionary reference library, that does not preclude the book's use by teens and young adults preparing for missions and member missionaries. In either case, "Bible Verses" will be a valuable resource.


Grant was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1966. He has owned and started businesses in the fields of aviation, electronics and finance. He and his wife live in Murrieta, California.

Elder Rasband quote

Friday, October 26, 2018

Some 2018 FairMormon Conference Transcripts Now Available

We’re simply inferior, I guess

I haven’t been hearing much lately about Kate Kelly, the former leader (?) of Ordain Women.  Maybe I just haven’t been listening, or don’t move in the right circles.

I’m afraid that I also don’t think about her very much.

But, in looking for something else, I’ve just run across these two items, from blog entries that I posted back in February 2015, and I think that they’re worth remembering:

“Sadly, the Mormon faith has become a place that incentivizes the survival of the least fit. Since strict obedience is demanded and harshly enforced, only the least talented, least articulate, least nuanced thinkers, least likely to take a stand against abuse, and the least courageous people thrive in the Church today.” - Kate Kelly, founder of “Ordain Women,” in The Guardian (6 February 2015)

As I noted yesterday, Kate Kelly, the founder of “Ordain Women” has pronounced the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unfit, untalented, inarticulate, unnuanced, cowardly, morally acquiescent, and conformist.
 Now, it seems unlikely to me that the Saints suddenly became inferior and inadequate overnight, just when Ms. Kelley was excommunicated last summer.  Presumably, they were already low specimens of humanity even when she was still a member of the Church.

Moreover, her judgment of the Saints seems merely a superficially more civil variant of the description often given of Mormon believers on some apostate message boards, as “sheeple,” “Morgbots,” “Mor(m)ons,” and “Utards.”

So, I confess, I’ve been led to wonder why she was ever demanding to be ordained a leader among such a defective people.

Do successful corporate executives crave appointment as Boy Scout patrol leaders?

Do Nobel-laureate physicists aspire to take first prize at junior high school science fairs?

I suspect that the Lutheran theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer wanted to abolish the Hitler Youth, not to join the boys and become their leader.

But perhaps I’m failing to grasp the self-sacrificial and compassionate nobility of her offer to receive ordination and to help us.  I’m reminded of Rudyard Kipling’s famous 1899 poem “The White Man’s Burden”:

Take up the White Man’s burden—
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go send your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need
To wait in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child
Take up the White Man’s burden
In patience to abide
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit
And work another’s gain
Take up the White Man’s burden—
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah slowly) to the light:
“Why brought ye us from bondage,
“Our loved Egyptian night?”
Take up the White Man’s burden-
Have done with childish days-
The lightly proffered laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years,
Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

I grant that the concept of a “White Man’s Burden” is racist, and that Mr. Kipling’s poem and the Pear’s Soap ad are gender-exclusive.  Thank History that we’ve evolved beyond such sexism and ethnic bigotry.  But their unashamedly condescending statements of a felt mission to help lesser people, even at considerable cost to oneself, may be relevant here.


What Do the Witnesses to the Book of Mormon Prove?

(by Daniel Peterson 10-18-18)

Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that the declarations of the official witnesses to the Book of Mormon are true. (I’m happy to argue for their truth, but that’s not today’s topic.) What, if anything, would they establish? Some critics correctly observe that the testimonies of the witnesses don’t, by themselves, demonstrate that ancient Nephites existed or that the plates were ancient. The Eight Witnesses admittedly testify that the plates and the engravings that they had seen had “the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship.” But none of the witnesses was expert in ancient metallurgy, and, thus, their testimony on this point isn’t decisive.

However, we would be misguided if we were to conclude that the witnesses’ testimonies establish nothing of pivotal importance. The overall secular case for the Book of Mormon is a cumulative one. No single piece of evidence demonstrates everything, by itself, that believers in the Book of Mormon affirm. Many strands of data must be combined. In that cumulative case, though, the official witnesses —whose testimonies can and should be supplemented by the accounts of several unofficial but significant corroborating witnesses — are of fundamental importance. “We declare with words of soberness,” say the Three Witnesses, “that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon.” And the Eight Witnesses testify that Joseph Smith “has shown unto us the plates … which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands.” “We have seen and hefted,” they said, claiming thereby to “know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken.”

At a minimum, these declarations seem to establish that Joseph Smith had a thoroughly solid set of metal plates in his possession in the late 1820s. Moreover, the witness testimonies demonstrate that the plates had a real, tangible, objective, material existence beyond Joseph Smith’s subjective imagination. Accordingly, they challenge critics to provide a plausible explanation for the origin of those plates. Who made them? When? Where? Why? Additionally, they prove that Joseph wasn’t lying when he claimed to possess literal, physical plates. Lucy Mack Smith later recalled her son Joseph’s return, between 3 or 4 in the afternoon, after the experience of the Three Witnesses. He threw himself down and exclaimed,

“Father, mother, you do not know how happy I am; the Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself. They have seen an angel, who has testified to them, and they will have to bear witness to the truth of what I have said, for now they know for themselves, that I do not go about to deceive the people, and I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear, and it rejoices my soul, that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world.”

Furthermore, as we have already seen twice in this column alone, the Three Witnesses testified that an angel descended before their eyes and exhibited the plates to them. As such, that doesn’t demonstrate that there were ancient Nephites or that the plates were ancient. However, it does demonstrate something even more important. Visible angelic involvement in the recovery of the Book of Mormon far transcends merely antiquarian interest, as does their united testimony that God’s voice had “declared” to them that the account engraved on the plates had been “translated by the gift and power of God.”

These are not small things. If Joseph Smith had plates that appeared to be gold, they must have come from somewhere. If a glorious and seemingly angelic being displayed the plates to them, his existence demands explanation. If an apparently divine voice testified to the accuracy and truth of the English translation of the Book of Mormon, that fact must be very seriously considered. The witness statements enhance the plausibility of Joseph Smith and the book he dictated. Eyewitness testimony to the existence of angels and of God himself is scarcely of trivial importance. In this light, niggling criticisms that the testimonies of the Book of Mormon witnesses don’t prove the plates ancient and don’t rigorously demonstrate the existence of an ancient Nephite civilization plainly miss the point. The witness statements enhance the plausibility of Joseph Smith and the book he dictated. And eyewitness testimony to the existence of angels and of God himself is scarcely of trivial importance.


Mockery, Missing Manners, and Miscellanous Matters

(by Dan Peterson - sic et non blog - 10-25-18)

I’ve been interested to see the very negative response, in certain regions of the web where everything about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is mocked and disdained by bitter apostates, to President Russell M. Nelson’s periodic whirlwinds of national and international “ministry tours.”
 Rather than marveling at a 94-year-old man’s remarkable vigor and at his strong desire to be out among his fellow Latter-day Saints, encouraging and comforting and strengthening them — which, even if one considers him and his followers deluded, remains impressive — they deride him as motivated by an obscene craving for the adulation of mindless cultists, by a laughable dream of imitating the pope, by a greedy desire to maintain his allegedly lavish lifestyle by fleecing his gullible flock of their money, and even, weirdly, by a love for round-the-world sightseeing and Caribbean beach vacations.  (Plainly, they haven’t paid much attention to his actual schedule on these trips, which is crammed full of meetings and speeches.)

Wouldn’t it be better if he gave to the poor the money that is being spent on his travel and on his (supposed) large retinue of accompanying servants?  (See John 12:3-6.)

Well, I’m willing to bet that very few, if indeed any at all, of the Latter-day Saints who have been able to greet President Nelson in such places as Bangkok, Bengalaru, ConcepciĆ³n, Harare, Hong Kong, La Paz, Lima, Nairobi, Santo Domingo, and Winnipeg have resented his visit.

This sort of mockery and complaining says much more about his critics than it does about President Nelson.  Very eloquently, in my judgment.

But wouldn’t it be better if they were to devote the time they spend on sneering at the Latter-day Saints to doing good somewhere?  Perhaps they should sell their computers and give the money to the poor?


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

President Oaks’ much-needed Conference address

(by Geoff B. 10-10-18)

A friend of mine pointed out after General Conference that the title of President Oaks’ talk could have been: “No, our position hasn’t changed, why do you ask?”

Left-wing Latter-day Saints, questioning Latter-day Saints and former Latter-day Saints keep on asking, so I guess we will keep on getting the occasional talk at General Conference reaffirming what the vast majority of active Latter-day Saints already know, to wit: “no, the Church’s position on social issues hasn’t changed.”

But President Oaks’ talk is much deeper — and much more important — than I think some people realize. Now that the transcript is up and available, let’s go through the entire talk, which is titled “Truth and the Plan.”

President Oaks starts out by pointing out we should be careful about our sources of information:
We live in a time of greatly expanded and disseminated information. But not all of this information is true. We need to be cautious as we seek truth and choose sources for that search. We should not consider secular prominence or authority as qualified sources of truth. We should be cautious about relying on information or advice offered by entertainment stars, prominent athletes, or anonymous internet sources. Expertise in one field should not be taken as expertise on truth in other subjects…Our personal decisions should be based on information from sources that are qualified on the subject and free from selfish motivations.
President Oaks then discusses the problem of only relying on “scientific or secular” sources for information, and sums it up:
We find true and enduring joy by coming to know and acting upon the truth about who we are, the meaning of mortal life, and where we are going when we die. Those truths cannot be learned by scientific or secular methods.

President Oaks does not say it directly, but he appears to me to be warning about the dangers of “scientism,” the practice of worshipping far-fetched ideas about science, rather than understanding that science has limits in what it can tell us about the world. Let me illustrate by telling a quick story: I was discussing religion with an atheist friend recently, and he said he believes in “science, not fairy tales about religion.” I told him that I also believed in science, and one of the great things about true science is that it tells us things about the world that are provable through the scientific method. True scientists also know that there are many limits to what science can tell us. I asked him, “what if Heavenly Father and angels take place on a plane of existence that science has not yet discovered yet?” I am sad to report that he had never even considered that idea. This person was worshipping “scientism” without even realizing it.

President Oaks then laid out a brilliant summary of the truths of the restored gospel:
I will now speak of restored gospel truths that are fundamental to the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Please consider these truths carefully. They explain much about our doctrine and practices, perhaps including some things not yet understood. 
There is a God, who is the loving Father of the spirits of all who have ever lived or will live. 
Gender is eternal. Before we were born on this earth, we all lived as male or female spirits in the presence of God. 
We have just heard the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square sing “I Will Follow God’s Plan.”3 That is the plan God established so that all of His spirit children could progress eternally. That plan is vital to each of us. 
Under that plan, God created this earth as a place where His beloved spirit children could be born into mortality to receive a physical body and to have the opportunity for eternal progress by making righteous choices. 
To be meaningful, mortal choices had to be made between contesting forces of good and evil. There had to be opposition and, therefore, an adversary, who was cast out because of rebellion and was allowed to tempt God’s children to act contrary to God’s plan. 
The purpose of God’s plan was to give His children the opportunity to choose eternal life. This could be accomplished only by experience in mortality and, after death, by postmortal growth in the spirit world. 
In the course of mortal life, we would all be soiled by sin as we yielded to the evil temptations of the adversary, and we would eventually die. We accepted those challenges in reliance upon the plan’s assurance that God our Father would provide a Savior, His Only Begotten Son, who would rescue us by a universal resurrection to an embodied life after death. The Savior would also provide an atonement to pay the price for all to be cleansed from sin on the conditions He prescribed. Those conditions included faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and other ordinances performed by priesthood authority. 
God’s great plan of happiness provides a perfect balance between eternal justice and the mercy we can obtain through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It also enables us to be transformed into new creatures in Christ. 
A loving God reaches out to each of us. We know that through His love and because of the Atonement of His Only Begotten Son, “all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of [His] Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3; emphasis added). 
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is properly known as a family-centered Church. But what is not well understood is that our family-centeredness is focused on more than mortal relationships. Eternal relationships are also fundamental to our theology. “The family is ordained of God.”4 Under the great plan of our loving Creator, the mission of His restored Church is to help the children of God achieve the supernal blessing of exaltation in the celestial kingdom, which can be attained only through an eternal marriage between a man and a woman (see Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–3). We affirm the Lord’s teachings that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” and that “marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.”5 
Finally, God’s love is so great that, except for the few who deliberately become sons of perdition, He has provided a destiny of glory for all of His children. “All of His children” includes all who are dead. We perform ordinances for them by proxy in our temples. The purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ is to qualify His children for the highest degree of glory, which is exaltation or eternal life. For those who do not desire or qualify for that, God has provided other, though lesser, kingdoms of glory. 
Anyone who understands these eternal truths can understand why we members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints think as we do and do as we do.
I quote this entire section of his talk because it is one of the best and most convincing summaries of what our church is all about that I have ever heard.
What are the applications of these truths?
First, we honor individual agency. Most are aware of the restored Church’s great efforts to promote religious freedom in the United States and across the world. These efforts do not promote just our own interests but, according to His plan, seek to help all of God’s children enjoy freedom to choose. 
Second, we are a missionary people. We are sometimes asked why we send missionaries to so many nations, even among Christian populations. We receive the same question about why we give many millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to persons who are not members of our Church and why we do not link this aid to our missionary efforts. We do this because we esteem all mortals as children of God—our brothers and sisters—and we want to share our spiritual and temporal abundance with everyone.
Third, mortal life is sacred to us. Our commitment to God’s plan requires us to oppose abortion and euthanasia.
Fourth, some are troubled by some of our Church’s positions on marriage and children. Our knowledge of God’s revealed plan of salvation requires us to oppose current social and legal pressures to retreat from traditional marriage and to make changes that confuse or alter gender or homogenize the differences between men and women. We know that the relationships, identities, and functions of men and women are essential to accomplish God’s great plan.
Fifth, we also have a distinctive perspective on children. We look on the bearing and nurturing of children as part of God’s plan and a joyful and sacred duty of those given the power to participate in it. In our view, the ultimate treasures on earth and in heaven are our children and our posterity. Therefore, we must teach and contend for principles and practices that provide the best conditions for the development and happiness of children—all children. 
Finally, we are beloved children of a Heavenly Father, who has taught us that maleness and femaleness, marriage between a man and a woman, and the bearing and nurturing of children are all essential to His great plan of happiness. Our positions on these fundamentals frequently provoke opposition to the Church. We consider that inevitable. Opposition is part of the plan, and Satan’s most strenuous opposition is directed at whatever is most important to God’s plan. He seeks to destroy God’s work. His prime methods are to discredit the Savior and His divine authority, to erase the effects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to discourage repentance, to counterfeit revelation, and to contradict individual accountability. He also seeks to confuse gender, to distort marriage, and to discourage childbearing—especially by parents who will raise children in truth.
I would ask all readers to re-read the paragraph in bold above. President Oaks is pointing out the truth of what is happening in the world today. God will reveal his will to the prophets, of whom President Oaks is one. Satan will oppose the will of the Father. Today that is manifested clearly in those who want to “confuse gender, to distort marriage, and to discourage childbearing.”

I was struck by the acknowledgement that Church leaders are aware of those opposed to the Church and that they consider this opposition “inevitable.” Note to people opposed to the Church: the leadership understands where you are coming from. They understand that “opposition is part of the plan.” But note that the leadership believes that such opposition comes from Satan. So, good luck with that.

President Oaks’ talk reminds us that truth comes from spiritual activity and following Church leadership. He reminds us of the limits of what the world will teach us. And he reminds us that the Adversary will always be opposed to the truth. This is a much-needed reminder in today’s very confused world.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Was Joseph Smith dictating from a (perhaps concealed) manuscript?

(by Dan Peterson sic et non blog 10-10-18)

Yet another item from an unfinished essay of mine:

Not long after speaking with his mother, Emma Smith, Joseph Smith III wrote a letter in which he summarized some of her responses to his questions.

She wrote for Joseph Smith during the work of translation, as did also Reuben Hale, her brother, and O. Cowdery; that the larger part of this labor ws done in her presence, and where she could see and know what was being done; that during no part of it did Joseph Smith have any mss. [manuscripts] or book of any kind from which to read, or dictate, except the metallic plates, which she knew he had.[1]

A correspondent from the Chicago Times interviewed David Whitmer on 14 October 1881, and got the same story:
Mr. Whitmer emphatically asserts as did Harris and Cowdery, that while Smith was dictating the translation he had no manuscript notes or other means of knowledge save the seer stone and the characters as shown on the plates, he being present and cognizant how it was done.[2]
Similarly, the St. Louis Republican, based upon an interview in mid-July of 1884, reported that
Father Whitmer, who was present very frequently during the writing of this manuscript [i.e., of the Book of Mormon] affirms that Joseph Smith had no book or manuscript, before him from which he could have read as is asserted by some that he did, he (Whitmer) having every opportunity to know whether Smith had Solomon Spaulding’s or any other person’s romance to read from.[3]

David Whitmer repeatedly insisted that the translation process occurred in full view of Joseph Smith’s family and associates.[4]  Emma Smith’s testimony agrees.  “In writing for your father,” she told her son Joseph III, “I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he . . . dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.”[5]  (The common image of a curtain hanging between the Prophet and his scribes, sometimes seen in illustrations of the story of the Book of Mormon, is based on a misunderstanding.  At least in the latter stages of the translation process, the curtain was suspended near the front door of the Peter Whitmer home to prevent idle passersby and gawkers from interfering with the work.)

[1] Letter of Joseph Smith III to James T. Cobb, dated 14 February 1879.  Cited in Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, 29.

[2] Chicago Times (17 October 1881), as given in Cook, David Whitmer Interviews, 76. Compare Whitmer’s reply to J. W. Chatburn, as reported in The Saints’ Herald 29 (15 June 1882), and reproduced in Cook, David Whitmer Interviews, 92.

[3] St. Louis Republican (16 July 1884), as given in Cook, David Whitmer Interviews, 139-140.

[4] See his comments to the Chicago Tribune (17 December 1885), as also the summary of an interview with him given in a February 1870 letter from William E. McLellin to some unidentified “dear friends” and the report published in the Chicago Times (24 January 1888). The relevant passages are conveniently available in Cook, David Whitmer Interviews, 173, 233-234, 249.
[5] Saints’ Herald 26 (1 October 1879): 289-290.  [See original.]


Friday, October 5, 2018

Mormon Tabernacle Choir changing its name but not its tune

(by Adelle M. Banks 10-5-18)

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a singing phenomenon for more than 150 years, is changing its name.

The choir announced Friday (Oct. 5) that it is following the request of its sponsor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The religious body, popularly known as the Mormons, asked in August that its full name be used instead of the long-known abbreviated moniker.
Thus, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will now be called “The Tabernacle Choir at Tem
ple Square.”
“The Choir’s new name preserves the heritage of the Choir’s home in the Tabernacle and its location on Temple Square, a place of reverence and worship,” the choir announced.

Less than two months ago, President Russell M. Nelson of the LDS church said, “The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church.”

Mormons believe the original name was given to founder Joseph Smith in a divine revelation in 1838. The choir was founded in 1847.

Temple Square in Salt Lake City is the location of a vast complex of headquarters for the worldwide church with 16 million members. It includes Salt Lake Temple, which is used by Mormons for special ordinances, including marriages they believe last for eternity. It also is the site of the 2,900-seat Salt Lake Tabernacle, which hosts religious and community events, including rehearsals of the famous choir that uses the space to record its music.

“A new name for the Tabernacle Choir will represent a change after so many years,” stated choir president Ron Jarrett. “But we have always been a forward-looking people, and we are focused on what is not changing: the world-class musicianship, the inspiring arrangements and programming, and our weekly ‘Music and the Spoken Word’ broadcast.”


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

John Ford on Wyatt Earp

Did Wyatt Earp's common law wife Josephine (who was Jewish her entire life) like to attend General Conference?

According to this interview with Hollywood director John Ford, it sounds like she did.