430-434: Hans Mattsson — Former LDS Area Authority Seventy (Sweden)

July 22, 2013
By

24919_1258817347527_7561878_nHans H. Mattsson is a 3rd generation LDS church member from Sweden who served as a bishop and stake president in Sweden before serving in the LDS church 3rd Quorum of the Seventy from 2000-2005 in the Europe Central area under LDS Apostle L. Tom Perry.

In this 5-part interview, and accompanied by his beautiful wife Birgitta, Hans discusses the following:

  • Part 1: His early years in Sweden prior to becoming an Area Authority.
  • Part 2: His years as an Area Authority Seventy.
  • Part 3: His interactions with LDS Apostles and the 1st Presidency.
  • Part 4: His struggles with faith/testimony, specifically regarding LDS church history, after being released as an area authority.
  • Part 5: His thoughts and feelings about the church today.

Note:

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Thanks!  And we hope you enjoy the interview!!!!

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460 Responses to 430-434: Hans Mattsson — Former LDS Area Authority Seventy (Sweden)

  1. David
    July 20, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    Wow that document from Marlin Jensen is just awful. He starts out quoting Moroni about how everything either leads you to follow Christ or to follow the devil. So watch out doubters because the devil might be after you. What a way to begin a meeting with people who are doubting. Then later in the conversation he says they should spend more time on faith promoting websites instead of the anti-mormon ones and he knows the proprietors of many anti-mormon sites and they are apparently really bad people who you wouldn’t want to follow. When pushed by the attendees he admits that all the websites he recommends are not official church sites so their answers don’t really mean anything. I loved when one of the doubters tells throws his words back at him and tells him that his spirit screams it is wrong when he reads about Joseph Smith pressuring young girls to marry him and sending men on missions and then marrying their wives.

    • Chris
      August 1, 2013 at 6:23 am

      I find it amazing that anyone could be a third generation Mormon and not know about these matters. When I was a missionary we were required to tell investigators about early practice of polygamy and certainly we all knew that Joseph Smith had been a leading advocate of polygamy. We were also required disclose the then policy of priesthood denial to blacks. Brother Mattson coming to this realization this late in his life as a member of the chuch is astounding to me. Oh well…

      • Tom
        August 16, 2013 at 10:43 am

        Chris, really, you were required to tell new investigators that Joseph Smith was a polygamist and that the Blacks were denied the priesthood. Which lesson were you required to tell them, the first lesson? I find it extremely hard to believe that any missionary was required to even talk about either of these issues prior to baptism unless they were asked by the investigator.
        If these issues were discussed prior to baptism, LDS church membership would be way down.

        • Ritchie
          August 16, 2013 at 10:49 am

          I guess it depends where you serve but most people already associate Mormons with polygamy.

        • Duwayne Anderson
          August 16, 2013 at 12:56 pm

          Polygamy certainly wasn’t in any of the missionary lessons when I went on my mission. In fact, we were instructed to never volunteer any information on the subject (we were there to feed them milk, not meat and potatoes). If an *investigator* asked about plural marriage, we were coached to respond by saying we don’t practice it anymore, and then move the discussion someplace else. We would *never* have shown them D&C 132.

          Similarly, we were taught to never volunteer information about Blacks and the priesthood ban. If an investigator brought it up, we were coached to tell them that Blacks couldn’t hold the priesthood because they hadn’t been “valiant” in the pre-existence.

          It’s completely plausible that a person could join the LDS Church (particularly in Europe) and never know that Smith had multiple wives. Furthermore, the knowledge that he married children as young as 14, and that he married the wives of other men, is unknown to most Mormons no matter where they live. I’ve been accused of being a hate-mongering anti-Mormon for telling people that Smith married children and the wives of other men — all by faithful Mormons who have no idea, and are certain that their “beloved prophet” would never have done such things.

      • Bob L
        August 16, 2013 at 1:55 pm

        I find that hard to believe Chris. I’m wondering where you went on a mission to?

        I attended a Sunday School class just last Sunday since my children were in town. The class was on the Nauvoo years. There was no mention of anything in the lesson about anything “controversial”. There was no mention about Joseph’s practice of polygyny or polyandry. He’s always presented as being the family man with a loving, supportive wife in a solid traditional marriage. Pictures in the lesson manual showed Joseph Smith on the floor cheerfully playing with children and a scene of Joseph Smith, in Carthage Jail without his pistol because his being shot without a gun plays better than the fact that he killed two men. (The pepper-box pistol he used is in the Church’s possession) There was no mention of the Nauvoo Expositor or his ordering the destruction of the press, or how Mormon agitated the situation to precipitate the shooting. He’s the pure and innocent “lamb to the slaughter” which is absolute nonsense.

        As a convert myself, I didn’t discover anything about “the blacks and the priesthood” until I was on a mission. My companion was from Idaho and whispered “nxxxxr want a watermelon?” as we walked through the produce section of the local grocery store.

        No one asked any questions and I didn’t want to disrupt “the spirit” of the meeting because that would have blown up the whole facade so I sat in the back wincing every time the teacher said anything. It’s was disturbing to say the least.

        Oh well…

      • August 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm

        > When I was a missionary we were required to tell investigators
        > about early practice of polygamy and certainly we all knew
        > that Joseph Smith had been a leading advocate of polygamy

        Did you tell them about polyandry?

        • Jake
          August 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm

          I did not know about polyandry until later so I did not tell anyone. Along with other issues, I figure they would figure it all out later and most do. I don’t believe people are leaving the church in droves as some are making out.

          • Duwayne Anderson
            August 19, 2013 at 3:16 pm

            That’s interesting because the only verifiable and objective data on LDS Church membership comes from third-party surveys and polling data (since the LDS Church does not allow auditing of their membership records, or even complete transparency regarding who is/is not counted).

            The third-party surveys and polling data consistently show fewer (and in many cases *far* fewer) people who are self identifying as Mormons, as are claimed by the LDS Church. Additionally, if one examines membership data supplied by the LDS Church there are some serious inconsistencies.

            For example, if one takes the membership at the end of the previous year, and adds to that the number of converts and the number of children of record in the current year, and then subtracts the number of expected deaths, one should arrive at the number of members for the current year.

            However, when doing this we find that the church membership is consistently higher than those estimates. The only way this can happen is if only about half as many deaths occur as would be statistically expected, and if *nobody* resigned.

            Clearly, when it comes to the membership figures the LDS Church reports, “something is rotten in Denmark.”

          • Jake
            August 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm

            True. There is really no verifiable objective data. The only thing we have is church attendance. If people were leaving in droves then attendance would be down and they would be closing down church buildings. I live in an area far from Utah. At worst the growth has been stagnant in the Stake, while in my home Stake has split.

          • August 19, 2013 at 5:49 pm

            I live in the San Franciso Bay Area, where population growth has slowly increased over the past 30 years at an average of maybe 12%/decade.

            20 years ago when I was on the high council we had a big project to close stakes in the Bay area. Some people may know better than I, but if I remember the numbers it was on the order of 33% of stakes were closed. I attended the meeting where we closed the Santa Clara Stake and merged 3 of its wards into the Saratoga Stake and 3 into the Los Altos Stake. All wards in all three stakes had shrunk by 30ish percent over the previous two decades, so we also re-aligned ward boundaries to make each ward start at 800 members, thinking in time they would shrink down to 500 before we had to re-align again.

            California is commonly a leading indicator of where trends are going.

          • Jake
            August 19, 2013 at 7:31 pm

            I think what you experienced decades ago was unique to the area and is no indication of how the rest of the country or even how the world is is trending overall today. Where Wards may have been consolidated, other areas even in California have had units and Stakes added. An example was when the Oakland California Stake split in 2007.

  2. renewed
    July 21, 2013 at 1:33 am

    Just read the transcript of the meeting with Jensen and Turley. Ummmm. There will be a LOT more doubters if people bother to read that. Wow. Talk about non-answers.

    • Rob
      July 21, 2013 at 10:21 am

      I’m used to non-answers, but it’s especially frustrating to have a huge meeting designed specifically for answers, where high ranking leaders are sent specifically to answer things, and THEN get squat.
      It was also frustrating because MJ & RT really thought they were giving answers, and the text (in my opinion) showed them as supercilious.
      Disappointing.

  3. Dallin
    July 21, 2013 at 3:20 am

    I just finished reading that entire transcript and I loved it. I thought the official church leaders answered the questions the best they could with the time they had.

    What I now see with these comments is what I see everywhere else in trying to defend the LDS Church: People will see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. When one enters a discussion looking for evidence to match their personal belief, they will find it. I’m guilty of this as well. I have a pro-Mormon agenda,and what I read was some highly educated men defending the faith in a very tactful, intelligent manner. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone do a better job than that.

    On the other hand, those with anti-Mormon agendas will only see misguided (possibly deceitful) men failing miserably to answer the most basic questions. And some people surmise that a failure to adequately answer one’s questions to complete satisfaction equates falsehood. But this is a misguided notion. Just because I can’t answer every question about the Church doesn’t mean it’s not true. And even if I did have the perfect answer for every question, that wouldn’t make the Church true, either.

    We all are deeply invested in this debate and it’s very difficult to see things objectively. But if we keep things simple and understand that there are many things we cannot understand, then we might be able to discover the truth.

    • David
      July 21, 2013 at 11:28 am

      I thought some of the answers were better than others. They did okay talking about the Book of Mormon translation. I thought they totally failed when talking about polyandry and polygamy. They just said we don’t have time to go through wife by wife. Since several of the questions alluded to Orson Hyde and his wife I thought it would have been more convincing if they had zeroed in on that and addressed that story instead of just saying that we don’t have time to go through the story of each individual wife.

      • Dallin
        July 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm

        Of course more time and more information would have been great, but that was just not possible in this setting. They asked for eight questions, got double that, and then were met with two or three more questions for each of their answers. These are extremely complex topics and these men have written entire volumes on the subjects.

        But they did a good job setting a foundation of how to learn spiritual truth by study and faith, and they said that all the answers are (or will soon be) available online. But sincere doubters should not spend all their time with skewed anti-Mormon sites.

        • Scott Cisney
          July 22, 2013 at 7:57 am

          Dallin: The “devil” is in the details. The details that bother people are in the real stories of the real women who really experienced those things. What is left behind of them in written journals, letters, etc., good sources of information, unfortunately. Yes those people are dead and gone now, but at one time they lived and were real people with real feelings and those things happened. The church’s own websites confirm the marriages (at least they did at one time, because I saw it with my own eyes). For me it is not a close call. But I am perhaps different from many because all of this has led to some real truths, that are comforting, beautiful, and satisying. Our lives do have a purpose, we are eternal beings, and these types of struggles are part of a plan to help us grow and think for ourselves.

          • Sarah
            July 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm

            Absolutely brilliant response. The essence of the pure gospel of Jesus Christ are the principles taught on the sermon on the mount. Let us each strive to have an open relationship with God, where we are in constant communion with him about what is good and true and what is not. There is a fine line between sitting in a meeting and being scepticle and judgemental, and being questioning and open (and just thinking theyre doing their best so who am I to judge?)
            I believe on polygamy:
            Joseph made a mistake
            On the priesthood ban:
            Brigham Young et al made a mistake
            I believe God can work through me in healing just as can does my husband (he has)
            I believe in the priesthood, I believe Joseph Smith saw a vision, I believe the Book of Mormon leads me to Christ, I feel astonishing peace and tranquility when I attend the Temple. I believe we are led by men riddled by both imperfection and error, as well as inspiration. I love them for that because look at how hideous I am! I have no time or space to criticise them, this feels wrong and unhelpful for me. All I can think about is my own warts and imperfections that yes, also impact on others. I am not their judge and thankfully they are not mine. LDS have been at the forefront in health codes, alcohol use (a mess amongst English youth today) being self reliant is the new vogue- getting out of debt, families being the foundation of society. There are many pluses, lets leave what we don’t like, what God tells us is wrong, and try out the good stuff, and see if testimonies on those things don’t grow and flower in our sincere desire to discover the good and true.

          • Jen
            August 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm

            Thank you. I found it interesting that so much time was devoted to translation, and yet when it came to real human beings and their feelings and welfare, the women were just put on the back burner. Once again.

      • Duwayne Anderson
        July 25, 2013 at 7:22 am

        Translation? What translation?

        According to eye witnesses, Smith *read* the Book of Mormon. He’d put a magic rock into a hat and then he’d pull the hat over his face. In the hat he’d see a magic scroll with words on it. Smith would read the words to his scribe and the scribe would write them down and then read them back. If the scribe read them back correctly the words would go away. If the words the scribe read were incorrect, the words on the magic scroll would remain until the error was corrected.

        Calling that process a “translation” is just wrong. That’s not a “translation,” it’s a dictation. Furthermore, it’s a supernatural dictation that leaves no room for any human error. If the eye witnesses are correct, all the grammatical errors are directly from god.

        • Kent
          August 11, 2013 at 9:17 am

          Exactly. The “translation” of the BoM is sticky any way TBMs try to cut it.

    • beanie
      July 22, 2013 at 10:32 am

      When you say you think MJ & RT did a credible job “with the time they had” what do you mean by that?

      Does it seem to you that a large group of people struggling with faith issues that they had waited years to have addressed were rushing MJ & RT through their answers?

      Or is it your assumption that MJ & RT travelled all the way to Sweden because they thought the gravity of the situation warranted the trip but still imposed a time limit that prevented them from adequately exploring the issues? What would the point of that be?

      Didn’t those significant questions require complete and comprehensive answers wherever or however they were delivered? Particularly when they come from the First Quorum of the Seventy and are doubtless to be considered by the worldwide church?

      I don’t see that there is reason to qualify the answers in any way. They are adequate or they are not. They dispel or quell doubt or they do not. They are the best answers that can be provided or they did more damage than previously existed before the meeting.

      • Rob
        July 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

        Not answering due to time constraints is one thing, but several of the answers were that the church takes no stance but here are some unofficial apologetics that the church will never endorse.

        Either they need to stick to the policy of not giving answers & just encouraging people to pray their doubts away, or they need to actually provide answers. Sending general authorities to answer questions would only be helpful if their answers were in any way official (or at least their references were).

        Their non-answers and apocryphal apologetics were unhelpful & little more than an empty gesture, in my opinion.

        I look forward to the church’s official response to some of these issues (as they have announced), but this particular scenario was a lose-lose in my book.

      • Bob Lyons
        July 22, 2013 at 11:47 am

        I’m not sure that they succeeded at all. They admitted to the people that Joseph Smith did in fact practice polygamy and polyandry which causes anyone with any integrity to wonder “Why would Heavenly Father use a person of such questionable character to restore his Church?”
        Further, it shows that they don’t have any good answers and they put the people’s concerns off to the future. What is even more of a concern is the post of the threat of disciplinary action if people talk about what happened. It also has me concerned John’s post that you needed permission to put up the transcript of the event? I learned about this event on facebook so it’s out there already. I guess we better enjoy the audio interview while we can because that will be the next to go. I’m wondering what John’s going to do when the “leaders” tell him to shut down Mormon Stories or else.

        • July 22, 2013 at 12:01 pm

          Bob Lyons – I will not be shutting down Mormon Stories. Sorry if you can’t understand my decision about the transcript.

          • July 22, 2013 at 3:46 pm

            The thing about the Internet is that once something’s out there, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to get rid of all copies of it.

            I visited your site after reading the New York Times article. Didn’t know about any transcript until I read your post mentioning the one that you subsequently pulled down. Went to Google, searched for “transcript of the 2010 meeting between the disaffected Swedish saints and Elder Marlin Jensen and Richard Turley” and presto! I found a copy of the transcript.

          • Nelson Phillips
            July 23, 2013 at 11:40 am

            John, I think many can understand your decision about removing the transcript. But many more will see this action as further evidence of suppression and control of information by the church, which has a long and storied tradition, and is the reason many choose to leave in the first place.

          • Scotty
            July 26, 2013 at 7:25 pm

            John, First of all thank you for doing this podcast! The one concern I have is that you have chosen to be an active, temple recommend holder, member. Because of your membership status you are expected to be obedient to your priesthood leaders and could be subject to censoring or avoiding certain subjects like you did with the Tom Phillips interview.

        • Jean
          July 22, 2013 at 12:53 pm

          I just want to say that in Europe members don’t know the inner workings of the church and they DO do some things their own way, while trusting in the Church leaders to not lead them astray as promised.

          Bob, you raise the topic of polygamy and polyandry which was obviously a huge shock to the Mattsons as it was to me when I first discovered it. The cover up of this by the church goes against all that the Book of Mormon teaches.

          Jacob 2:27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;
          30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up aseed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

          This ^^^is the only clause for living one of the ‘twin relics of barbarism’ and it seems to me that enormous efforts have been made to determine if JS had sexual relations with his plural ‘wives’ and to show that there is no progeny from those ‘marriages’. Why not? If polygamy and polyandry were admitted to, it should have only been under the conditions in the Book of Mormon.

          All that people in Europe hear from the missionaries is the whitewashed version of the gospel – unless they go online. I did that; first with FARMS and FAIR as someone suggested it as a good source but I found it to be nothing but obfuscation. I imagine that the Mattsons did try FARMS and FAIR too – they are just not helpful. Ask Kerry Shirts about his years as an apologist.

          • Tristan
            August 18, 2013 at 11:24 am

            I think it is unfair to say that missionaries teach the “whitewashed” version of the gospel if they are only teaching what was taught to them. Some have even commented in this forum that didn’t know about the whole polyandry/polygamy issue.

            I don’t fully understand the polyandry/polygamy issue with Joseph Smith anymore than Brigham Young’s (well documented) endless stream of wives. Nor do I fully understand how Abraham slept with Hagar yet is highly venerated in the New Testament.

      • Rebecca
        July 29, 2013 at 3:51 pm

        I agree with you, Beanie. They open the meeting by saying, “We will go until we are tired.” I took that to mean they would pretty much take all the time needed and not be hurried. So, time was framed originally by MJ & RT as not an issue.

    • July 23, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      > People will see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.

      I think this is why this issue is so emotional. As an active Bishop who loved the church and the people in it, with 4 children married in the temple, the last thing I wanted to hear was that we had problems with our history.

      And I believe that’s what has been so hard on the Mattssons. Like my family, they loved the church and their callings. It was his worst nightmare to think that the things he told people on his mission and in his callings weren’t very truthful.

      So to have as strong a bias as I had to not want to believe the church’s critics, and then come to grips with how powerful their evidence was and how weak our defense was, it just made me sick.

      So I agree with you, we want to hear and see what we want to hear and see. And that’s what made the Mattsson’s journey so gut wrenching and took so much courage.

    • Pedro Ortega
      July 24, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Dallin,
      Do you have a copy of the transcript, I started reading it couple of nights ago, for whatever reason, I put it away thinking about coming back and finish it. Oh, surprise, I can’t find it anymore.

    • Duwayne Anderson
      July 25, 2013 at 7:32 am

      Dallin wrote: “We are all deeply invested in this debate….”

      The difference is that ex-Mormons and doubters are not so deeply invested that we’re unwilling to change our minds. When I’ve discussed evidence with ex-Mormon, they seem (as a group) to be very open to discussing the types of verifiable and objective evidence (VOE) that, if it existed, would be sufficient for them to re-join the LDS Church. I, for example, would be happy to give you a list, if you want.

      On the other hand, out of hundreds of conversations with true-believing Mormons, I’ve yet to find one who was willing to describe any VOE that, if it existed, would be sufficient for them to *leave* the Mormon Church. May I ask that question of you? Would you provide such a list?

      Dallin wrote: “And some people surmise that a failure to adequately answer one’s questions to complete satisfaction equates falsehood. But this is a misguided notion. Just because I can’t answer every question about the Church doesn’t mean it’s not true.”

      Here’s a fun exercise — see if the arguments that you use to defend Mormonism could also be used to defend belief in a known false entity.

      For example, it seems that every argument that Mormons use to defend problems in the church could just as easily be adapted to defend belief in the Easter Bunny. One could say that just because every question about the Easter Bunny cannot be answered doesn’t mean the Easter Bunny doesn’t exist. One could argue that just because a believer can’t answer every question about the Easter Bunny doesn’t mean the Easter Bunny isn’t true. One could argue that both believers and non-believers in the Easter Bunny are deeply invested. You could even say that if we keep things simple and understand that there are many things we cannot understand about the Easter Bunny, we might be able to discover the truth. One could make the case that just because we don’t have photographic evidence of the Easter Bunny today doesn’t mean we won’t have it tomorrow.

      But would you really find such arguments compelling? If apologetic arguments are so broad that they can be used to defend belief in *anything* (including the Easter Bunny) then the arguments have no practical ability to discern truth from falsehood. They are essentially worthless, existing only to give a faux sense of intellectual support where there is only vacuum.

  4. July 21, 2013 at 5:47 am

    FYI – Pot shots at the church have and will be deleted. This is not the place to trash the church. Regardless of how you feel or what you think, this is a place to be respectful of both belief and disbelief — I believe that both are valid, and that both deserve respect.

    Thx. John Dehlin

    • Duwayne Anderson
      July 25, 2013 at 7:46 am

      John, would you define what you mean by “pot shots?”

      For example, I know lots of Mormons who think it’s a “pot shot” to suggest that Mormonism isn’t true. I know lots of Mormons who think it’s a “pot shot” to suggest that the Book of Mormon was dictated by Smith while looking at “magic” rocks in a hat (they object to the word “magic” and want a more “respectful” term used, instead). I’m pretty sure that most Mormons would consider it a “pot shot” to describe Smith’s polygamy as adultery.

      My question is whether or not you are going to require wording that is “politically correct” by LDS standards and that forces critics to adopt (via word use) a false preposition from the start.

      For example, if critics are required to treat Smith’s polygamous relationships “respectfully,” then the proposition that they were adulterous relationships is not admissible in the debate (after all, there’s nothing respectful about adultery). I’ve found that Mormons often use this sort of thinking to limit debates — demanding “respectful” language that automatically precludes certain discussions and certain possibilities.

      Thus, my question about your methodology for censorship — it would be helpful to define the rules of censorship so that critics can be careful not to inadvertently offend with facts, suggestions, terminology that might be taken as “pot shots.”

      Thx. Duwayne Anderson

    • Jeralee
      July 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      Amen.

      • Jeralee
        July 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm

        “Amen”, to John Dehlin’s comment that is…

        • Duwayne Anderson
          July 29, 2013 at 7:43 am

          With all the praise for not taking “pot shots,” why won’t anyone (John, you there?) answer my simple question about what constitutes a “pot shot?”

          I think it’s a reasonable question. Isn’t it?

      • Jubilee
        July 29, 2013 at 2:42 am

        I’m glad word choice in this forum requires being politically correct and not taking pot shots. Just because Joseph married young girls having had their first blood, but yet reached the age of consent, does not mean he was a polygamist pedophile who was chased out of towns regularly for this practice. Joseph was a teacher and in the 21st century he would have been labeled an educator – a very noble profession.

  5. Jeff
    July 21, 2013 at 6:25 am

    Wow. I have not even listened to the podcast yet, but just read the transcript of the fireside. Let me first say that I am someone who rarely gets upset because of something I read online..but that was awful. Not only were the answers repetitive, but they were also standard apologetic, fact-bending responses. I cannot express how disappointed I am that two church historians would approach a Q&A session in the manner they did.

    I look forward to the interview part, as that should truly be enlightening.

    • Jeff
      July 21, 2013 at 6:26 am

      Sorry John, I read the transcript and then posted on my cell phone and misse your message. The fireside was just very upsetting.

      • Jeff
        July 21, 2013 at 6:28 am

        Personally, I actually enjoy some of what Richard Turley has written.

  6. Tim
    July 21, 2013 at 6:33 am

    C’mon, Dallin,

    It needn’t be that one have an anti-Mormon agenda to see them failing miserably, which they did. The truth is staring you in the face.

    My hat is off to Hans Mattson and his wife. Thank you for your thoughts that you were willing to share with eveyone.

    • Dallin
      July 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      The truth staring me in the face was that these men did the best possible job they could with the limitations they faced. They said we need to learn spiritual truths by study and by faith. They said the answers to these questions are available to anyone willing to do a little research, but sincere doubters should not spend their time with skewed anti-Mormon sites. They knew they couldn’t provide satisfactory answers to all the questions, but they laid the foundation and provided tools of how to find the answers.

      • beanie
        July 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

        What were the “limitations”? Couldn’t they arrange the circumstances to meet the significant needs a whole faith community had when they had every resource of the church at their disposal? And if MJ & RT — the historical resources of the church — were “limited” in some way couldn’t the First Presidency have supplied what was complete and up to the task?

        If a church has a living prophet what is the point if not to see what’s required to forestall the crisis that is only growing with the complete truth and light when it is sorely needed?

  7. Michael M.
    July 21, 2013 at 8:36 am

    John, thanks for all you do an do! I read the meeting transcript (thanks for posting it). I am an RM, with a typical active LDS family (five children). Applying reason, and Occum’s razor makes it harder and harder to stay true believing. Indeed, I find it impossible now. I teach primary, and the primary book I teach from (printed in the mid-90′s) is straight-up full of historical inaccuracies, and it has to be intentional. I hope the church does change what I see as a blatent attempt to conceal the truth, or at a minimum put out highly-biased faith promoting versions of church history. It is harder and harder to stay silent and involved when you feel deceived. I love my fellow LDS friends and their good intentions, and I do not want to sound condescending… but people are willfully blind, or just ignorant about true church history. For me, more knowledge about the church and church history makes it harder to believe. I think that alone is pretty telling. I have had a number of leadership callings in the church, and I anticipate I will be asked to do others. I think at this point, I plan to simply decline. I am sure there are a lot of people who feel this way. I am disappointed because I want to believe, and because the more I know, the more I am convinced of the knowing dishonesty or slight-of thought of those who create church curriculum. People like Marlin Jensen believe they are doing the right thing, but are really being sorta deceptive, nonetheless. As I told my wife once… even if I am wrong, would God punish a doubter like me? There is so much to doubt, objectively. Why would a loving God create a church with so many problems, and then punish me for having doubts about all the problems discussed in this meeting by European saints? Book of Abraham, polygamy and polyandry, DNA and historical evidence, etc. These are objectively real problems. Despite diligent prayer, I simply cannot overcome them.

    • Dallin
      July 21, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Why would God create a church with so many problems? Probably the same reason he allows bad things to happen. He doesn’t force everything to be good and perfect — he allows us to make choices and make mistakes. And the church is run by humans who make human mistakes. As time goes on, we learn to do things better and to adjust certain things to match the audience of the time. Could the Lord have ensured that every historical fact taught in the Church was 100% accurate? Absolutely. But does it matter? Probably not.

      Six times in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lords says, “it mattereth not to me,” while He was giving very specific directions to His servants. There are just a lot of details out there that don’t matter — that don’t affect our personal salvation one way or the other. The Lord has given us the essentials, and we should focus on them.

      Why should anybody need DNA evidence for their testimony? I have seen no scientific evidence that 2000 years ago a man was hung on a cross, died, then came back three days later. Yet I earnestly believe it is true, notwithstanding the lack of evidence.

      It’s OK to have questions. It’s normal to doubt. Those within the Church who imply otherwise are incorrect. For me, personally, I have found a rather simple approach to resolving my own doubts. Whenever I see something challenging my faith, I first question the source. Is this person credible? Does this person have an agenda? Can I trust this person? If I can answer yes to those questions, then I try to do whatever research I can on the topic, starting with official Church statements. When that doesn’t suffice, I look deeper into the works of notable LDS scholars from BYU or elsewhere.

      When all that fails, sometimes I have to take myself all the way back to the foundation of my faith. Do I believe in God? Do I believe in Jesus Christ? Do I believe the Bible is true? Do I believe the Book of Mormon is true? And I keep building and building on that. Then I take the question in hand and examine if it could challenge my already established faith if it remains unanswered. I ask, does this question affect my day-to-day quest to follow Christ? Is this matter essential to my personal salvation? If it isn’t, then I just have to set it aside and trust in the Lord that I will eventually receive an answer to that question, and countless others.

      I believe the Lord does want us to eventually know the truth of all things. But for now, we can’t handle it. We’re still struggling with the basics, in my opinion. Perhaps in the next life we will receive the opportunity to find all the answers to all the questions. In the meantime, we need to continue to work our way through this life by faith and study.

      • Bob L
        July 24, 2013 at 7:52 am

        No doubt you must get from the comments here that people who are questioning are agonizing over these issues. They’re not sinners. They’re students with integrity, some with decades of deep belief and devotion in the Church that now have access to information that before was taught to be “anti-Mormon”.

        Your comment, “Why would God create a Church with so many problems?” sounds so much like Elder Packer, the President of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, on national television made the same comment about gay people in General Conference. Before the Conference edition of the Ensign came out his remarks had been changed. In fact since then Church now recognizes gay people.

        I don’t need DNA evidence for a testimony, but I expect that some DNA evidence should support the Church’s claim that the Book of Mormon is authentic.

        I expect my leaders to be men of unquestionable character, and integrity, beyond reproach. I was taught that the “true test of a prophet” was that he had to speak to God, “face to face like a man speaks to his friend.”

        Given that Jensen and Turley admitted that Joseph Smith was sending faithful men on missions and marrying their wives while they were gone, and even keeping his polygamous relationships secret from Emma, how do you reconcile that?

        Given all of his spirit children, why would God pick a man of such unquestionable character to restore his Church?

        You do pose a very good question. “Why WOULD God create a Church with so many problems?”

  8. Bill
    July 21, 2013 at 9:05 am

    First off, I’m an active member of the LDS church. And I read the transcript attached to this article.

    I would agree with Dallin in that people will probably hear what they want to hear, and conclude whatever they had decided to conclude before they investigated these topics.

    From my reading of the transcript, there seemed to be a group of people who were demanding answers with either little or no context. I cannot imagine how anyone – Marlin Jensen, Richard Turley, President Hinckley or anyone else – could possibly have given satisfactory answers to these people. And some people reading this, and posting here, may have the same expectation.

    Reality is, any leaders launching an organization- especially a new way of life – will have to consider the foundational philosophy of the organization, and a few practicalities to help pragmatically push the organization along. These leaders will make some mistakes along the way.

    With the dearth of historical resources, we’re now left to making judgments based on our context of living in 2013, of people living in 1840.

    The Lord, I’m convinced, doesn’t just tell us what to do. I speak 3 different languages, and have spent a lot of my time in and out of the Church translating documents and interpreting conversations. Nobody translates anything word for word. We all translate frames to render the meaning as closely as we possibly can. But I can’t see the Lord showing Joseph Smith, word for word, exactly what the Book of Mormon or the Book of Abraham should say.

    Nor do I see the Lord telling Joseph Smith exactly who he should marry and who he shouldn’t. Did Joseph Smith practice polygamy? It’s hard to imagine that some long-term members of the Church didn’t know this. I’ve always known that he did. Did the Lord tell him exactly who to marry? I can imagine that He didn’t, and that Joseph Smith might have made some mistakes along the way.

    One interesting note on this: From what I understand, there have been countless people, both proponents and opponents of the Church, who have performed DNA studies on supposed descendants of Josesph Smith. There have been over 2,000 identified as coming from Joseph and Emma Smith. Not a single one, that I have seen, has been identified as coming from Joseph Smith and any other woman.

    In short, if the Lord were micromanaging every facet of the Church, no one would ever grow, and, in time, historians would, I promise you, find a way to apply THEIR contextual understanding in the future to take pot shots at how the Lord Himself ran things in the past.

    • Jeff
      July 21, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      Hi Bill,

      I, myself, am a semi-active, far from orthodox member. While I understand the difficulties Marlin Jensen and Richard Turley may have had with such limited time, a better effort could have been made, especially with regards to polygamy and the temple. There is one thing you said that I would like to comment on:

      “With the dearth of historical resources, we’re now left to making judgments based on our context of living in 2013, of people living in 1840.”

      I disagree with this statement to a certain extent. The beauty of LDS history is that we have an abundance of resources. History is about interpretations and I think we can recreate the early church setting very accurately. Where I do agree with you is that some people jump to radically negative interpretations by placing our context in the 1840s, while we should approach it from their viewpoint.

    • Jeff
      July 21, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Dallin, I don’t think you understand people who doubt. Myself and many others I know were all active, fully believing members. For me, I developed an epistemological hierarcy:

      1) Empirical Fact
      2) Reasonable Conclusions
      3) Faith

      DNA evidence, if available, is very important. Scrutinizing beliefs through science and historical inquiry should be encouraged and should play a large role in establishing one’s beliefs in my opinion.

      Historians questioning the past does not men they are taking pot shots.

      • Dallin
        July 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm

        I never meant to imply that we shouldn’t study and question the history. But I did mean to imply that one should not leave the Church simply because of a lack of conclusive DNA evidence. Such things are nice and wonderful, but ultimately not essential to learning the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

        • Jeff
          July 21, 2013 at 6:54 pm

          Dallin,

          When I read the Gospels and try to understand the message of Jesus, what sticks out to me as truths are the ethical aphorisms he so often states (except in John where he gives long speeches). So it is correct to say that DNA is not essential to the Gospel message.

          However in determining the historicity of the Book of Mormon, looking to genetic anthropology is certainly valuable. I do agree, however, that the decision to leave should not be predicated on DNA.

        • Lilli
          July 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm

          I left the Church because I don’t believe it preaches or practices the Gospel of Jesus Christ or the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, in fact, it does just the opposite.

          Small things like DNA questions are really inconsequential, for even if Joseph did fall for and live polygamy like so many others leaders of his day, it would only mean he was a fallen prophet, according to Christ and the ancient BoM Prophets.

          For Christ and the Book of Mormon are very clear that polygamy is always in every instance and age of time ‘against’ the laws of God and an abusive whoredom.

          I believe Joseph was a true prophet who told the truth his whole life and didn’t lie when he repeated declared he was innocent of polygamy and that all those who fell for it or for prophets who preach it ‘will be damned’. Thus I believe Joseph and that he never preached or practiced polygamy.

          Why is the real truth always so hard for most people to accept (that Joseph was innocent of polygamy), while vile hearsay sounds easier to believe for most people, probably because it makes us feel better to believe in weak and scandalous prophets, thus lowering the bar for ourselves.

          But the truth is we must all be near perfect prophets to make it. For it takes one to know one. Only those who don’t fall for false prophets will make it.

          • Paul B
            July 25, 2013 at 9:33 pm

            @ Lilli “I believe Joseph was a true prophet who told the truth his whole life and didn’t lie when he repeated declared he was innocent of polygamy….”

            You just go right ahead and continue to ‘believe,’ Lilli, if it makes you feel better about your religion. There are people who continue to believe all sorts of things in light of undeniable, well documented facts. There are people who continue to believe that astronauts didn’t land on the moon, but rather it was a fabrication of the US government done in a movie-like studio here on Earth. There are people who still believe that the Earth is flat (believe it or not — The Flat Earth Society). There are people who want to believe that the 9/11 Twin Towers terrorist attack was orchestrated by the US government in order to get the people to acquiesce to the ‘Homeland Security Act,’ and to get the approval necessary to go to war with Iraq. Need I go on?

            Out of curiosity, what would it take, Lilli, for you to ‘believe’ (not know) that JS did indeed practised various forms of polygamy instead of otherwise believing that he didn’t?

          • Mary
            July 26, 2013 at 10:57 am

            Even if you could dismiss the dozens of contemporary personal accounts (journals, letters, etc.) of women who claimed to be married to Joseph Smith, how could you dismiss Doctrine & Covenants 132? After God unequivocally commands Joseph to enter into plural marriage, he continues (verse 52): “And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph…” Joseph HIMSELF made clear he was practicing polygamy. It doesn’t get any more explicit than that.

          • Haykakan
            July 26, 2013 at 11:19 am

            Mary, in your post, you stated, “…how could you dismiss Doctrine & Covenants 132?”

            The answer to your question lies in researching the origins of D&C 132. An original copy of D&C 132 does not exist. It wasn’t made public until 8 years after it was supposedly received (7 years after Smith’s death). BY and others had been practicing polygamy openly for several years before section 132 was published, so why the delay? Also, when presented with the text of D&C 132, Emma Smith stated that she had never heard of it. Also instructive is the fact that the original D&C 101 plainly condemned polygamy but was removed later without explanation. I’ll let you connect the dots.

            I think the reason that D&C 132 was attributed to Smith rather than Young was because that would give the revelation more legitimacy in the eyes of the people.

            I don’t know for certain whether Smith actually practiced polygamy/polyandry or if the practice originated with Young. However, given the above information coupled with the fact that there are myriad examples of Smith unequivocally pubically condemning polygamy, I am inclined to believe the latter.

          • Rob
            July 26, 2013 at 11:40 am

            In the Fireside for the Swedish saints, the leaders admitted both Polygamy & Polyandry, and defined them so we know they weren’t just misusing words.
            So Smith definitely practiced both.
            The questions become:
            Why?
            Was God ok with that?
            How does the church view it today?
            Why has it been hidden & even denied so often & for so long?

          • Haykakan
            July 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm

            Rob – You can’t infer that Smith actually practiced polygamy and polyandry because 2 people in a leadership position in the church said they believed he did. I don’t know for sure either way whether he practiced polygamy/polyandry, though at the moment I’m inclined to think he didn’t. As far as I’m aware, of all the women who claimed to have been married to Smith, none of them said or wrote a word about it until the 1870s when some of Smith’s sons went to Salt Lake to try to prove Smith did not practice polygamy.

            Either possibility does not bode well. If Smith did practice polygamy, it was in direct contrast to the myriad speeches and published articles attributed to him condemning the practice (even in the weeks leading up to his death) and even disciplining/excommunicating several members who were discovered to have been practicing it. If Smith didn’t practice polygamy, then the whole thing must be attributed to Young or at least converted Cochranites, thus showing an origin for the practice that was other than divine. Pick your poison.

          • Nelson Phillips
            July 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm

            I’m literally dumbfounded that there are those out there who still refuse to believe the truth about Joseph Smith.

            IN THE CHURCH TEMPLE RECORDS IT PROVES BEYOND THE SHADOW OF A DOUBT THAT JOSEPH SMITH PRACTICED POLYGAMY. ITS THERE.

            EVERY SCHOLAR AND HISTORIAN, EVERY ONE, EVEN THOSE THAT WRITE FOR THE CHURCH, ADMIT BOTH POLYGAMY AND POLYGYNY.

            A refusal to admit that he practiced polygamy at this point is just sheer self delusion.

          • Haykakan
            July 26, 2013 at 12:43 pm

            You’ve registered about a 9 on the tension scale there, pal. Tone it down a notch.

            The fact that Smith’s polygamous marriages are on temple records only proves that they are on temple records, not that they actually happened.

            Not every scholar admit Smith’s polygamy, as you state. It’s always dangerous to speak in absolutes. (See what I did there?) This article is one of the more comprehensive looks at the opposing side of this issue that I’ve seen: http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-im-abandoning-polygamy.html
            It’s long, but worth it if you stick to the end.

            A refusal to evaluate new information as it comes along is “just sheer self delusion,” as you put it.

          • Nelson Phillips
            July 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm

            I wrote in caps in the hope that you would hear what I had to say.

            You read what I wrote, but you didn’t hear.

            Why would his polygamous marriages be on temple records if they didn’t happen?

            And name ONE single legitimate historian that says he wasn’t a polygamist. Just one.

            Cue crickets.

          • Haykakan
            July 26, 2013 at 1:26 pm

            Nelson – For future reference, writing in all caps is the tool of internet trolls. If you were speaking to someone in person, would you really scream in their face when they said something you disagreed with?

            “You read what I wrote, but you didn’t hear.” – I take it you didn’t read the article I linked then. The article actually addresses why those sealings are on temple records. (I’ll give you a hint, they were performed with a JS proxy in Salt Lake years after the saints had moved there.)

            It’s perfectly understandable why the vast majority of historians take the “Smith was a polygamist” route. If he wasn’t, then that implies to people against the church that Smith wasn’t as bad a guy as he claimed. It also implies to members within the church that it had been going against the will of God on that point of fact since at least Brigham Young, which is troubling, of course.

            Lastly, I would like to point out a statement given by Pres. Hinckley in an interview with Larry King a few years ago in which he said that “[polygamy] is not doctrinal.” That’s a pretty bold, straightforward statement considering the existence of D&C 132 and the myriad statements to the contrary made by every single prophet pre-manifesto except, you guessed it, Joseph Smith.

          • Bob L
            July 26, 2013 at 2:12 pm

            I’m getting a headache here.

            As a convert to the Church in 1974, all I wanted to do was whatever God wanted me to do.

            If I read the transcript of the meeting for the Swedish Rescue, or listen to the recording, by Elder Marlin Jensen and Richard Turley, both Church Historians called to represent the Church. They tell me that Joseph Smith did in fact practice plural marriage in various forms. They invited “the spirit” to be with them at the beginning and then after the meeting all of those who were present were contacted and told to choose to be a member or not.

            If I go to the Maxwell Institute, at the very top of the page it says this.

            “The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of the Maxwell Institute, Brigham Young University, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

            If I read a book written by any general authority, (Apostle Bruce McConkie comes to mind–”Mormon Doctrine”…there’s a similar disclaimer)

            If I read Terryl Givens, latest book about a weeping God, there’s a similar disclaimer.

            I used to listen to Paul Dunn’s tapes and wept through his “unbelievable” war story adventures…(which turned out to be only slightly embellished.)

            If I talk to Steve Bensen, I discover that his grandfather, Ezra Taft was “propped up like a store dummy for photo ops to make it seem like he was still leading the Church.”

            If I listen to Gordon B Hinckley saying in General conference that the Church hasn’t practiced polygamy in over a 100 years when I know that those who practiced it didn’t leave until the late 1920′s and that the 1890 Manifesto didn’t end the solemnizing more plural marriages I know he’s not being honest or forthright.

            Haykakan…who should I believe? What should I believe?

            You? Do you represent God?

            I don’t know where it’s gone from “I think it could be true” or “I believe it’s true” to “I know it’s true” and in fact our leaders can do whatever they want and still be true prophets. John Taylor gave a revelation in 1886 that said plural marriage would always be the law of God and never be taken from the earth. Then he goes into hiding. A few years later when the government passed laws to end polygamy the new prophet, Wilford Woodruff has a “revelation” (interesting timing) which publicly ended plural marriage. Later the Church revoked John Taylor’s revelation which the FLDS Church still hangs on to as proof the SLC Church as fallen away.

            Interestingly enough, the RLDS Church changes it’s name because they didn’t believe Joseph Smith had practiced plural marriage either.

            All I know for certain is I missed out on the weddings of several of my kids because some moron decided that weddings “have to be in a special building”. No one told me when I joined the Church any of this stuff.

            Hearing the honesty and love of the Mattssons was so incredibly refreshing.

            Frankly, I didn’t know doubt was a sin. And I have to believe that those who have perpetuated all these things will be judged accordingly.

            Hey Rob…wherever you are…hubris…I love that word!

          • Haykakan
            July 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm

            Bob – After seeing your and others’ responses to my posts, I think it’s best that I clarify my position so as to dispel any possible misunderstanding of my position.

            Concerning JS practicing polygamy, I don’t know either way. I grew up in the church thinking that polygamy started with Bro. Brigham. As a young adult, I discovered a good chunk of evidence that he had. More recently I’ve come across conflicting evidence as shown in my links above. I look forward to reading the material Rob has linked here as well and seeing if I find it worthwhile. All I care about is the truth. Honestly, either proposition concerning Smith’s polygamy doesn’t bode well for the church.

            I, too, have my doubts. I don’t know if they will be resolved in my lifetime. I agree with you that doubt is not a sin. At the moment, I am choosing to stay in the church but I feel that it certainly has no monopoly on spiritual truth.

            I have talked about my doubts with my wife, but literally no one else. I know it would devastate many of my other family members and validate the decisions of a few others. I really hope that the work at places like Mormon Stories and people like the Mattssons vocalizing their doubts will be a catalyst for change and transparency within the church. Whether or not I ultimately stay, I hope it continues to progress and that the people within it can have their lives improved rather than stunted by it. Bob, Rob, Mary, Jeff, and Nelson, Godspeed on your respective journeys through life.

          • Rob
            July 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm

            Your link was mostly anecdotes that highlighted inconsistencies of doctrine and public statements. While those are valuable, & should be weighed, they are dwarfed by a larger quantity of equivalently untrustworthy anecdotes saying the opposite.

            As far as Hinckley goes, his statement had nothing to do with Joseph, and was an abject lie because his own Apostles and many church members in good standing were currently polygamously married according to church doctrine (the doctrine of sealing), so saying it is not doctrinal is a lie, regardless of whether or not that “doctrine” originated from Smith or Young.

          • Rob
            July 26, 2013 at 12:29 pm

            I think your inclination is unfounded. If it was just Turely and Jenkins, that would be one thing… but there are many sources (not just anti ones either).

            http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith/Polygamy/Marriages_to_young_women

            http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=10&num=2&id=290

            http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/References.html

            http://www.mrm.org/joseph-smith-and-polygamy

          • Haykakan
            July 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm

            Rob – To be honest with you, I don’t really know either way if Smith practiced polygamy or not. I was merely pointing out to you the logical fallacy of thinking that simply because 2 church leaders said so in a fireside. Maybe I was just getting hung up on the semantics of your post.

            I know that there is pretty stong, though not universal, consensus concerning the JS polygamy issue. I myself was in that camp for my entire adult life until a few months ago. I ran across a very interesting article that looked at the known evidence from a different angle: http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-im-abandoning-polygamy.html
            It’s pretty long, but worth the read, IMO.

            I haven’t made my mind up either way concerning the issue, but the evidence presented in the link above was enough for me to re-think the issue.

          • Mary
            July 26, 2013 at 11:41 am

            Haykakan, I suppose your scenario is possible(that Brigham Young or one of his followers fabricated D&C 132 to justify polygamy after Joseph’s death). One could use a similar argument to dismiss the veracity of the First Vision: the text didn’t surface until much later, under suspiciously-convenient circumstances, so it’s authenticity is unrealiable.

          • Haykakan
            July 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm

            Mary, that’s an excellent point. I tend to believe something extraordinary happened to Smith in the grove. However, I think that it is at least a possibility that the “official” retelling of the first vision contains information retroactively inserted by Smith to better serve his narrative.

          • Jeff
            July 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

            Haykakan,

            With regards to D&C 132, it was actually common practice that revelations were not written in the hand of Joseph Smith, but one of his scribes. Many revelations were added several decades after his death. Also, concerning Emma Smith, Linda Newell and Valeen Avery cover this in “Mormon Enigma.” She clearly knew about the practice, however her telling her son, Joseph III, that it was not practiced (this occurred in the 1870s or 1880s) by Joseph Smith was similar to a mother not wanting to admit to a child that their father was an adulterer or criminal. Here is an essay which discusses it:

            http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V20N04_107.pdf

            Finally, the best discussion about polygamy occurred between George Miller and Rock Waterman (from Pure Mormonism) on the NOM board. Here it is:

            http://forum.newordermormon.org/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=23140

            Skip to the latter half of the thread. Basically, George shows how Joseph’s actions fit with him practicing polygamy.

            Finally, the overwhelming historical consensus is that Joseph Smith (and his inner circle) practiced polygamy and lied about it. He lied because if discovered 1) anti-Mormon violence would have increased and 2) there most likely would have been an apostasy greater than in Kirtland. Even C of C historians, who vigorously denied Joseph Smith’s polygamy now accept it. The Pure Mormonism blog accepts the work of the Richard and Pamela Price. They are members of the Josephite Restorationist sects which split from the C of C, and still deny Joseph Smith’s polygamy. They are a tiny fringe group that is not respected in the community (George provided a cursory review of their book in the thread).

          • Haykakan
            July 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm

            Jeff – Thanks for the links. I’ll definitely check them out.

          • Dale
            July 26, 2013 at 3:47 pm

            Haykakan,

            I’ve been following the posts that you and others have been focused on, namely polygamy. I read all of the Work and the Glory books. I was convinced that polygamy was something that was a non issue. However, in the past five years, I done a lot of research and this was not from an Anti-Mormon stash of literature. No, this was focused on Mormon historical documentation that comes from the Mormon Church. For example, I leaned that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by sticking his head in a hat and looking at his treasure seeking peep-stone. You don’t have to believe me, just read Elder Russell M. Nelson’s article, A Treasured Testament, in the Ensign, Jul 1993, 61. And likewise the history of Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy is well document by church document. I can only say that the practice of polygamy is sick and disgusting. Read the account about Lucy Walker below. This is what turned by views from, “No, it (Polygamy) is not a non issue to a very real disgusting issue.” If Joseph did today what he did in the 1840s, he would be in jail for child molestation.

            Lucy Walker turned 17 the day she become Joseph Smith 22nd Wife

            The Walker family had converted to Mormonism several years before moving to Nauvoo. In the summer of 1841 the mother, Lydia, contracted malaria due to the swampy conditions in Nauvoo and finally died on January 18, 1842. Lucy recalled, “When at length we were forced to believe she would not speak to us again we were in the depths of despair. Ten motherless children!” Compton, In Sacred Loneliness Joseph soon came up with a solution. The father was sent on a mission to the east, the younger children were sent to other families and older siblings, Lorin and Lucy, were taken in by the Smith’s. Shortly after this division of the family one of the younger children died.

            In the midst of all this sorrow and loneliness, Joseph approached sixteen-year-old Lucy Walker in late 1842 about plural marriage. Todd Compton outlines Lucy’s resistance: When Smith sensed resistance, as has been seen, he generally continued teaching—asking the prospective wife to pray about the principle, . . . So it happened here. “He said, ‘If you will pray sincerely for light and understanding in relation thereto, you Shall receive a testimony of the correctness of this principle.’ He asked me if I believed him to be a Prophet of God. ‘Most assuredly I do I replied.’… He fully explained to me the principle of plural or celestial marriage. Said this principle was again to be restored for the benefit of the human family. That it would prove an everlasting blessing to my father’s house. . . . ‘What do you have to Say?’ Joseph asked. “Nothing” Lucy replied, “How could I speak, or what would I say?” Joseph encouraged her to pray: “tempted and tortured beyond endurance until life was not desirable. Oh that the grave would kindly receive me that I might find rest on the bosom of my dear mother…Why – Why Should I be chosen from among thy daughters, Father I am only a child in years and experience. No mother to council; no father near to tell me what to do, in this trying hour. Oh let this bitter cup pass. And thus I prayed in the agony of my soul.” Compton, In Sacred Loneliness

            Joseph told Lucy that the marriage would have to be secret, but that he would acknowledge her as his wife, “beyond the Rocky Mountains”. He then gave Lucy an ultimatum, “It is a command of God to you. I will give you until to-morrow to decide this matter. If you reject this message the gate will be closed forever against you.” Lucy said, “This aroused every drop of scotch in my veins. I felt at this moment that I was called to place myself upon the altar a living Sacrifice, perhaps to brook the world in disgrace and incur the displeasure and contempt of my youthful companions; all my dreams of happiness blown to the four winds, this was too much, the thought was unbearable.”
            Lucy was horrified by polygamy and by his proposal and did not quickly gain the promised testimony. She prayed, she wrote, but not with faith. She was nearly suicidal. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness
            Then in the spring of 1843, while Lucy’s brother and Emma were in St. Louis, Joseph pressed the issue again. Lucy took the matter to God in prayer and finally felt she had received divine approval. Todd Compton relates: On May 1 [1843] Lucy, who had turned seventeen the day before, married Smith at his home, with William Clayton officiating and Eliza Partridge standing witness. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness

            Sexual predators operate in many different ways. But most all follow a course of advancement, namely:

            1. Find an unsuspecting soul that could be in the depths of misery or torment in some way
            2. Offer help to that unsuspecting soul
            3. Isolate that unsuspecting soul from any support system
            4. Give that unsuspecting soul an ultimatum and then take advantage

            One can only be left with the daunting question, “Did Joseph Smith practice this course of advancement as a sexual predator towards Lucy Walker?”

          • Lilli
            July 28, 2013 at 8:59 am

            Christ taught that marrying another spouse other than your original living spouse is ‘adultery’, whether it’s a 2nd or 50th remarriage, (something the Church today likes to ignore, among many other of Christ’s teachings they dont’ follow either).

            Joseph warned the Saints over and over that if they fall for polygamy or for even a ‘prophet’ who came preaching or practicing it, they would be damned. Joseph even taught and conditioned their minds to not follow him if he ever started teaching polygamy, and to thus consider him an imposter or fallen prophet if he ever did.

            Thus we know that Joseph did not lie or think the Saints would later have to accept polygamy. Many, if not most, Saints would not follow Brigham west, because they remembered Joseph’s warnings against polygamy or any leader or man who preached or lived it. Thus the only one’s who followed Brigham were those who refused to heed Christ & Joseph and his teachings & scriptures. They instead wanted to support and live vile things like polygamy.

            True prophets don’t lie, not to their wives and not to a whole church for their whole life and thus lead it astray. True prophets and righteous men don’t run around after other women, let alone teenagers, behind their wife’s back or even in front of her, and they don’t abuse or disrespect women with things like polygamy. Polygamy is repulsive to righteous men and true prophets, they would never live it or believe in it. And they know God could never command it or he would cease to be God, for his laws never change, they are the same yesterday, today & forever. Polygamy was wrong in the days of Adam and it was wrong in the days of Abraham, Joseph Smith and today. God has never commanded it, only men professing to be talking for God have commanded it. Many good men and even prophets have fallen for polygamy throughout history and lost their standing with God, because of their own weakness or the urging of their weak wives.

            But false prophets do lie, all the time, and they teach things contrary to Christ and the scriptures, like polygamy. The Adversary loves polygamy and how it degrades, abuses and controls women. The Adversary loves for his prophets to preach and practice it and try to persuade all men to do so and he has been very successful at getting men to either live it themselves or at least go along with supporting other men living it and gain it’s perks.

            But strong righteous self-respecting women with high self worth require their husbands to have true Christlike love for them and complete faithfulness and full respect and equality, and thus such women wouldn’t put up with things like polygamy, they believe in Christ, no matter what anyone else may come preaching.

            Christ and Joseph Smith & ancient prophets constantly taught that polygamy was a vile whoredom and abuse of women. And anyone with the Spirit of God and Charity and respect for women can see that, they don’t need prophets to tell them that.

            Polygamy doesn’t even stand up to the ‘Golden Rule Test’ (which is the basis for ‘all’ God’s laws) for men would not want done or even put up with, what they did or do to women in polygamy. Men would not want to sit home alone every night & day with the children & chores by himself while he hardly ever sees his wife cause she is usually out being pampered and loved by all her other husbands.

            I believe in Christ, 1st & foremost and Joseph Smith (because he taught Christ’s exact teachings). They both warned over and over, as did ancient prophets, that we must be constantly aware of not falling for ‘false’ prophets and ‘false doctrine’, for they will be all around us today (and in Joseph’s day), even and especially in the Church. Joseph taught that most people fall for false prophets cause they seem so wonderful and preach so similar to real prophets.

            Joseph and ancient prophets taught that the way to tell a false prophet or imposter is by their teaching of ‘contrary’ doctrine to what Christ and Joseph taught, things that go ‘against’ the scriptures he put out (like polygamy did) (and Joseph didn’t put out D&C 132, it was unknown to the Saints in Nauvoo). D&C 132 is completely contrary to the teachings of Christ, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, thus according to Joseph Smith test, it would and should be considered false doctrine.

            While there is a ton of hearsay and vile accusation against Joseph regarding polygamy, it nevertheless does not prove he really lived it. If Joseph was innocent of polygamy and it was Brigham Young who instigated polygamy then of course BY would spend his life saying Joseph lived it and getting as many claims from others, especially women he could persuade who were loyal to him, to say they married Joseph.

            If Joseph was a true prophet who loved and cherished his 1 wife Emma, of course there would be a mountain of vile hearsay against him to make him look unfaithful, but it doesn’t mean any of it is true.

            Joseph taught that is one of the great tests of this life to see who can be deceived by false prophets and false hearsay and false doctrines. I stand with Christ and Joseph himself on these issues, for Christ and true prophets would not deceive us.

            I have never found any actual ‘proof’ that shows Joseph really preached or practiced polygamy, but I have found lots ‘proven, published and documented proof’ that he preached against it and understood how evil and against the laws of God it was.

            Such stories like the ‘angel with a sword’ are ridiculous, when you understand who Joseph knew how to detect ‘bad’ angels preaching contrary doctrine that went against ‘previous revelation’ like polygamy does. He was far too smart to fall for such an angel and would have told such an angel “No” if the story actually happened, which I don’t believe it did, and was just another made up rumor to justify whoredoms.

            Even a court of law in the ‘Temple Lot Case’ (with the Church supposedly using it’s best evidence) could not find enough evidence to say Joseph really lived polygamy & thus the Church lost. Another court said that the RLDS Church (in it’s beginning) was the true continuation of Joseph’s Church, and that Brigham’s Church was not because of how different and changed it’s doctrines were to what Joseph had taught and established.

            I don’t believe in either Church, but I do believe in the teachings Christ & Joseph Smith, the one’s I can prove Joseph taught, which is that polygamy is always a whoredom and that God does not change his laws, ever, or he would cease to be God, for even God is bound by the eternal law that says polygamy is a whoredom, so even God cannot ever allow it.

            But Satan’s prophets do preach and practice polygamy if they can get away with it, that’s how you know them, by their acts & fruits which are contrary to Christ.

          • Nelson Phillips
            July 29, 2013 at 8:12 am

            Haykakan,

            Tapirs.

            I actually did read your link, but it was FAIR, and all it said was basically, Tapirs.

            I wish you luck, sorry if my caps offended you.

          • Haykakan
            July 29, 2013 at 3:16 pm

            Nelson. If you were directed to a FAIR website from my link, that was a mistake. I was trying to link you to another blog post. I, too, find most of FAIR’s “explanations” to be rather lacking.

          • lazlotlomax
            July 31, 2013 at 11:27 am

            Lilly,

            The Church has openly admitted that Joseph Smith Practiced polygamy and Polyandery.

        • Michael M
          July 25, 2013 at 10:48 pm

          I guess if it were just DNA you would have a point. But we all know the list of problems is vast. I don’t think anyone just leaves because of DNA. At some point the accumulation of problems compounds and it all becomes unbelievable. When I was a child my mother told me that the modern prophets were just like the prophets of old and could move mountains, split seas, and heal people just like Christ. I have grown up, and the old fables and tales, such as translation of papyrus, golden plates, caves full of record and the sword of Laban, men seeing Cain who was as tall as a horse, Eden in Jackson County, Zelph, Joseph Smith visiting with ancient prophets… They seem to me to be fantastical tales beyond belief. The list is so lengthy… Even the complicated plan of salvation is screwy if you think about it. Most of the human race will never hear of temples, endowments, sealings, or even Jesus for that matter. Yet this is God’s plan. It simply does not make sense. What a complicated ineffective plan for God. All of the doctrinal extensions necessary to make this seem reasonable, such as being taught by LDS missionaries in the afterlife, and the complicated process of doing ordinances for every person to live on earth don’t make it better if you really think about it. Such a complicated convoluted plan. Believe me, i am disappointed… Not in my disbelief, but because the tales i want to believe are not true. It is simplistic to state that people leave because of one issue, or because of sin, etc. No, people are leaving because the average person is more educated and rational than ever. They also have more access to education and explore and examine things. No, this falling away of people, or at least mine, is not because of one issue. If it were I would not be doubting.

          • Lance M.
            July 26, 2013 at 8:38 am

            Michael M. – Very well put! I read a great book by RC Evans who left the RLDS church back in 1920. In it he said something like (paraphrasing), “It’s not the single drop of water that drowns a person. It’s not the first straw that breaks the camel’s back. But drop after drop, it soon becomes a flood that overwhelms or straw after straw, the weight of truth soon becomes too heavy to bare.”

          • Brad
            July 28, 2013 at 3:38 pm

            Each inconvenient issue is put on a shelf until holding up the weight of that shelf is more uncomfortable to bare than to let the shelf fall.

          • Kent
            August 11, 2013 at 9:44 am

            Amen!

    • Ana
      July 24, 2013 at 11:26 pm

      ” Did the Lord tell him exactly who to marry? I can imagine that He didn’t, and that Joseph Smith might have made some mistakes along the way.”

      Joseph Smith told some of the women that he proposed to that they were “given to him,” by the Lord and therefore must marry him. He told (I believe it was) Zina Huntington that an angel would kill him if SHE did not marry him.

  9. Robert
    July 21, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I found this story originally at the New York Times and searched and found this article. I too have had doubts and have worked to reconcile them. All the doubts I’ve read about have had a lot of research done on them and I found that research at fairlds.org. It’s been a great resource for me. They don’t whitewash things, but they seem to dig a lot deeper than most sources I’ve seen. My testimony of the LDS church actually got stronger by seeing a more complete picture of each of these doubts. I wish more people knew about this resource and the positive effect it has had on many people – myself included, which is why I’m posting this comment. :-)

    • Ana
      July 24, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      “…I found that research at fairlds.org. It’s been a great resource for me. They don’t whitewash things…”

      fairlds.org DOES indeed whitewash some things. It was very disturbing to me when I discovered this. In some instances they have manipulated the truth to “prove” their point.

    • Lance M.
      July 25, 2013 at 12:21 am

      I totally agree About FAIR whitewashing the facts Ana. When I first started my “crisis of faith” search, I stuck almost exclusively to FAIR’s website. Then I started to venture out a little to mormonthink.com. I could not believe how much FAIR whitewashed or left out facts that didn’t tell the whole story. If you want coddling then go to FAIR or BYU type sites…if you want the unvarnished facts then go to mormonthink.com or utlm.org.

      I want to know the whole truth so I can make informed decisions…I mean, we’re only talking about our entire lives and family relationships, and to many, our eternal life with God. Or, we can simply live in nieve, blind ignorance and wonder why things don’t add up. Just “turn it off” as the broadway song goes or put it up on the shelf. ;)

  10. Christina Hanke
    July 21, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I attended the meeting 2010. In a way I feel like defending Jensen and Turley. What else could they do and say? We received credit that our questions were valid and not just anti-lies, but there are so answers and they could not fabricate any. In the meeting there were several bishops and SP:s that had never even heard of these questions, together with us dissidents. Some time later Jensen said that they were terrified what those leaders would think when they heard about all these issues for the first time. For me personally the aftermath of the meeting was that I was contaced and asked to resign volountary otherwise I would be excumunicated for apostasy. I resigned.

    • July 21, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Much love and respect to you, Christina Hanke. Thanks for your friendship and support over the years. So sorry the church had to lose a person like you. It is our loss. Wishing you well….

      • Jonathan Bautista
        July 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

        Hi, I am a friend of Hans Mattsson. He was the stake president that set me apart to become a full time missionary. Birgitta assisted on cooking the food that was served during the reception after I was married to my wife in the Stockholm Temple.

        Before and during my mission I developed doubts over some aspects of church practice, principles and history. It never felt good/true. After years of study I also attended the meeting with Elder Jensen and Bro. Turley. They both came across as very caring and genuine people. The big take away for me at this meeting was that the questions I was having were legit. The history that was troubling me were events that really happened.

        My conviction is that feelings of satisfaction are based on expectation and attitude. Depending on your expectations of the claims made by the LDS church-you will accept or find problems coming across the difficult LDS history.

        I too had meetings with stake presidents and bishops as well as stake representatives. . Overall however I was treated very well.

        One comment of the meeting with E. Jensen and Bro Turley was that in many instances we were told that there wasn’t enough time to fully answer the concerns. The paradox was that the Area general authority took almost an hour at the end, sharing the Korihor story telling us not to disturb our friends in the church-and make a decision to stay or leave.

        After the meeting I know that the leaders spent additional time in discussing on how to deal with the situation..so from a priority standpoint, providing additional light to some of the questions, wasn’t at the top of the list.

        Overall I still appreciate the efforts made by LDS and E. Jensen and Bro Turley for travelling to Sweden and taking the time to listen to us.

        For me it was valuable as it forced me to make a decision I haven’t regretted.

        Me and my wife have removed our names from the LDS records. We have also removed our children’s name from the records.

        After years of internal conflict, and sorrow I am finally at peace.

        At the end of the day my reasons for being a member of the church was because I was raised to believe that the claims the LDS church makes are literally true. If they are not, I in fact felt like I was supporting a lie by being a member.

        I still am very grateful for all the good the LDS church has brought to my life… But in order to have a credible claim to inner peace, I need to apply my life in harmony with my conscience and personal values-and for me the LDS history, practice and policy in to many aspects create inner conflict…

        Thx John for all that you do-and thx Hans and Birgitta for friendship and the example of integrity that you are!

        • July 22, 2013 at 11:47 am

          Great to hear from you, Jonathan. Thanks for sharing your story!

          • VillaBoy
            July 24, 2013 at 1:48 am

            Jonathan isn’t just any old member, he was a fantastic leader in my mission – Assistant to the Mission President. I assumed he would return to Sweden, be a Bishop, Stake President, etc… very quickly.

            The Church surely can’t survive if it is losing such fantastic people!

        • Marcus
          August 4, 2013 at 11:29 am

          Christina and Jonathan,

          Thank you for your courageous words regarding that terribly difficult meeting in Sweden. As one in the midst of similar suffering in not knowing what to do about learning the truth of “all these things,” I am grateful that you have at last found peace. It gives me some hope that I may find rest at some point. Coming from a family whose progenitors are named in the Doctrine and Covenants, that has a near relative in the current First Presidency, and my wife is a descendant of Parley Pratt, I have struggled mightily with the truth of these things. I have read and continue to study many sources. (Both official church, and others).

          Like some here, I thought, OK, I have to view all sides and sort it out. The FAIR site provided an article on mDNA that even I, as a non-scientist, found purely incredible and obfuscating of the problem. Yes, while DNA alone does not drive one from the church, the pattern of deception, and outright lying has brought all other claims into another light. In Tom Phillips’ records, (and I have communicated with him personally on several occasions) he talks about the Second Endowment. Apparently, and I have read this in church documents, those that receive this endowment have their callings and election made “sure” such that there is nothing short of taking innocent blood that can remove them from their exaltation. This would include blatant lying. So, with no eternal consequence whatever to lying, and if it is in the interest of the Church to hide things – Why not lie? Now, I have to condition this comment. I do not suspect that, for the most part, these General Authorities are dishonorable men. I do think they try to do what is right – but are in a horrible predicament with church history claims. I did witness Pres. Hinckley give less than forthright answers in a television interview regarding blacks, the priesthood, and the couplet about God once being a man. I was so disappointed – He has slept in my home, I had revered his every word – why did he not stand up at that point? Why did he not tell the full truth to that reporter? Why did Elder Holland fudge in a BBC interview on Mitt Romney and the temple covenant punishments (which the LDS church removed 4 years after the Masons removed it from their ceremonies)? It only served to discredit the church or at least cast suspicion where none should have been. (Elder Holland was forthright on other questions, but very disappointing in his contempt for those struggling with these issues).

          A fair amount of the research gleaned from early church period records and journals bring up legitimate concerns regarding the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Since it has been given a “black or white” declaration from President Hinckley, that if it is not the Word of God, that the whole thing (church) is a “sham,” then one is led to that conclusion when it is shown to have remarkable problems, and very legitimate concerns over its origins and originality – may be a sham. If there are concrete explanations – why wait for some distant publication – just answer the question directly! As Tom Phillips, Grant Palmer and others have pleaded – show us where these things are wrong. But they cannot, because they are true.

          I am surprised that the Swedish group did not also have as a concern (so far as I know) the Masonic relationship to temple ordinances. This is something that I am currently studying. It is recorded in the Church History that Joseph became a Mason of the Sublime order in 1842 (before the LDS endowment was created). In my research, so far, there are distinct similarities in parts of the LDS temple ceremony to those that exist(ed) in the Masonic order. My question is, if God were restoring to the earth ancient covenants, or even just establishing a new and everlasting covenant, why would he borrow so heavily from a medieval secular organization for key parts of that ordinance? Couldn’t God be more original than that? I was told as a boy that the reason there were similarities was that the Masons carried the ancient rites down from the time of Solomon’s temple. Well, I have found out the the Masons did not exist until the 15th century, and the rites did not exist until the 17th century (in part). So, what is one to think of that?

          Well, I think that Hans Mattsson has come to the correct conclusion. Thank you brave seekers of truth that have gone through such travails in this pursuit. I hope that I am delivered from these pains at some point. I hope not to lose my wife and family in the process as Tom Phillips did. It is not a fun place to be. Like Hans Mattsson, prayer has given no contradiction to these findings for me, and I hope to realize his state of peace at some point. Thank you, John, for providing a place that these kinds of things may be talked about without fear (though I suppose a church authority could trace me out through what I have already said here and push me out of the church. For truth, that is a risk I will take). I wish with all my heart that there would come a talk at General Conference that would simply own these problems truthfully, apologize, correct church dogma (dump the correlation committee), and move on – as Hans Mattsson suggests. In my experience, I think this highly improbable – but I would love to see it one day.

          • Jonathan Bautista
            August 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm

            Dear Marcus,

            I truly understand the pain and sorrow you are experiencing… I am the oldest of 9 children. My parents are first generation LDS in Sweden. The LDS church in many ways helped my family as my parents faced a lot of problems before joining the church- a lot of these problems were resolved thanks to some of the teachings within LDS. For this I am ever so grateful. Leaving the LDS church was never the EASY way out, rather the opposite. The impact on family and brothers and sisters haunted me… But at the end I found myself having no choice.. The inner conflict the membership within LDS church imposed on me made it unbearable at the end… It wasn’t so much the history as the fact that by being a member on record, I in fact felt that I was supporting the LDS historic views on black people. Since no excuse has been given in my mind the LDS church still support and is in favor of the old views.. The same goes with the issues around homosexuals, as well as the view on plural marriage and the status of the woman within these relationships. The LDS not being able to clearly take stand on these issues made it impossible for me to feel inner peace… The historical issues on the other hand leads to the question of what kind of God LDS believe in, I wish to believe in… And finally it made me question God…

            I tend to live by the words offered by the founder of Franklin quest (I think it was)…”If your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace.”.. This is true..Inner conflict is the opposite of inner peace… At the end of the day feelings of satisfaction is all based on expectation and attitude. If one take the claims made by the LDS church literarily, alongside the history taught in primary and sunday school, one is bound to be chocked, or upset when the balanced history is unfolded.

            Let me just assure you whatever you decide…Inner peace is possible no matter what you choose. If you stay within LDS you just need to come to terms with the facts and find a way to deal with these facts that works for you. (Amend your expectations or attitude). If you leave, peace is also possible as long as you define the values you want to live by and do your best to live in harmony with what your conscience dictates… We are a lot of people that have experienced crisis of faith in Sweden…Everyone that makes up their mind on how to deal with the issues are doing well/better today…Time is a great healer…It is the LIMBO situation that makes it difficult….

            I do hope that whatever you decide it will not affect your family situation… I am blessed to have been able to do my journey together with my wife… The option to split the family up because of religion is for me unthinkable… I wish you all the best!

    • Lynnette
      July 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      Good for you Christina, you have integrity. I read the transcript and was horrified by it. Congratulations for being your own person and demanding the right to make up your own mind!

  11. Erwin
    July 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    And John, thanks for the interview!

  12. David Dean
    July 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I was interested to read Hans Mattson’s concerns and delighted that he could have the strength of mind and determination to question his long held beliefs. I left the church in about 1990 having joined with my wife in 1978. I served as Branch President and then Bishop for 6 years or more and my 3 children were all “born in the covenant” and baptised. I was very, very lucky to have a very close friend in the church who convinced me he had discovered mistakes in the Book of Mormon. This was a book that was supposed to be perfect. I was taught in the church that the LDS church was perfect and that the true gospel had been restored to the earth by Joseph Smith. I was taught that all the other churches on the face of the earth were wrong and the LDS church was the only true church. I believed this and lived the gospel and obeyed the commandments. My eldest child was 11 when we left the church. That is why I was so lucky. Another year and I am convinced there would have been no turning back. Once my children had gained there own “testimonies” nothing on this earth would have opened my eyes and at 12 or 13 years old my daughter would have gained her “testimony” and we would still be in the church now.

    I would be very interested to help others who are interested in opening their eyes to the truth but very reluctant to destroy people’s happiness and well being. My own brother is still in the church. I was instrumental in his conversion. I married him and his wife as I was their Bishop. I would love him to leave the church but I am not convinced this would be for the best. It is a very complicated situation. I would be delighted to communicate via email with anyone to share my story and to answer any questions. In particular I would like to communicate with Hans Mattson. When I first read the article I was concerned that this must be a ploy because Hans says he has doubts, sounds like he still believes or wants to believe. For someone in such high office in the church to be engaged in meetings and interviews with the New York Times I find so very hard to understand. He sounds genuine and I do believe him, but I am naive and trusting, that is why I ended up being a member for 14 years. I don’t know how else to communicate apart from this posting. I can’t leave my email address for obvious reasons. I will follow other postings here and hope something develops. Maybe Hans will be able to get in touch. I really want to add my support and help to others who were like me that are still able to open there eyes.

  13. Chip
    July 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    What wonderful, sincere, brave, and sweet people. Thanks to the Mattssons for sharing their story and showing such love and concern – for each other, for those both in and outside the church, and for the truth.

  14. renewed
    July 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    So how’s that whole “not all truth is useful” approach working out now that some decades have past since it was affirmed as the required approach by Elder Packer? It seems hindsight is 20/20 while foresight maybe not so much, even if one is a “seer.” Jensen and Turley seemed entirely unwilling to admit the obvious–a rock in a hat freaks people out, so we use a less truthful image because the truthful one was not useful. Period. Admit it….you require people to confess the smallest details of their sins. Admit one of yours and quit continuing the nonsensical answers about “artist’s renditions” blah blah. Please. Or you will just confirm that the deceit continues, if softened by the compulsion of an internet era.

  15. Peter
    July 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    In the transcript of the Swedish meeting, it took a long time for Jensen and Turley to admit Mormons still believe in polygamy. Disappointing.

    I think they are sincere and did their best, but I don’t find their “answers” convincing either. I didnt see an answer about polyandry.

    The whole idea seems poorly conceived. Why did they think they could really deal with the questions in a satisfying way in the short amount of time they had allocated?

  16. July 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Wow, it’s Sunday afternoon. I no sooner got home from church, and I started listening and reading this, starting with the NYT article.

    Now, here it is four hours later, and I’m writing a comment, knowing it won’t make a hill of beans worth of difference to anyone, and knowing of no one from church, with whom I could share what I’ve just experienced, yet I’m going to spend more time writing about it anyway, writing to perfect strangers. Go figure.

    You see. That’s one big reason why I feel so compelled by this: The Swedes got to talk about it, TOGETHER! They got the attention of the leaders of the Church and actually were able to sound off about it. Here I am in Utah, within throwing distance of Church HQs, and I have to squelch the desire to talk about it, because nobody that I know would even know what to do with it. Do they even search the Internet?

    I feel like I want to run to the Stake President, to the Bishop, to my neighbors, and shake them and say LISTEN. JUST SIT DOWN and LISTEN, like John Dehlin’s Stake President did, darn it!

    Fat chance, though. I have to be content with what my own imaginary thoughts can conjur up of their possible reactions to that impossible act, and to what I, a 70 year HP and convert of 48 years, would say about these things, given the opportunity.

    I have a lot to say about it, even if I can’t say it to those whom I love and worship with and labor with, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and the establishment of Zion.

    Consequently, I hope Hans will read what I have to say and share it with the Swedes and all those who feel so down trodden and confused by this awful situation.

    I will start sharing my thoughts in a comment to follow. I hope that’s allowed.

    • Peter
      July 22, 2013 at 5:46 am

      Good point. If I had felt like I could discuss my doubts in a church setting, I may have stuck around a bit longer, but I have been out of the church for 17 years. The insistence that everything be “faith promoting” ultimately makes a lot of people feel dishonest because they oversimplify, gloss over, or contradict some tough historical realities.

  17. N
    July 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    We are taught, as members, if issues or concerns arise, we must go through “the chain of command” (home teacher, then quorum president, then bishop, then stake, and so forth and so forth). How can we ever expect to have any resolution or resolve to any issue when we are discouraged from seeking answers from the men who have those answers. Clearly, in some circumstances (I suspect the majority of circumstances) the men closest to us who are higher up on the chain who can help to answer questions and resolve issues are not informed or are discouraged from asking difficult questions of higher authorities on behalf of members. (Unwritten order, don’t ask-do) – this is very concerning to me. Additionally, if you write ANY correspondence to salt lake, a letter is sent automatically, as a matter of policy, for bishops to read in the letter writer’s congregation reminding the members about this chain of command policy. Additionally, your letter will be sent to your bishop – no privacy. There is quite a paradox here! Ask questions of the men – leaders around you who are probably not informed. Don’t ask the men behind the curtain – please pay no attention to them.

  18. Lance M.
    July 21, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    My wife and I just went through this same thing in February of this year. My loving wife and I were life-long, active, dedicated members who held many influential callings in our various wards and stakes. I’m a RM, temple married, current recommend holder with 3 killer kids.

    I started my journey on February 10th, 2013, while sitting in Gospel Doctrine class of all places. I came across D&C 49:16 where it said a man should have ONE WIFE. It pricked me that day for some reason. I began to research right in class (I had just gotten an iPad with the scriptures on it). I came across fairmormon.org, which I had never heard of before. I have never delved into anything other than the church magazines, scriptures and the church website.

    I WAS BLOWN AWAY!!! My one little question about polygamy turned into a mountain of doubt when I started looking at ALL the issues that FAIR was trying to downplay and explain.

    I went to my bishop and ask him about these troubling issues. He had been the bishop for 5 years and HE HAD NO CLUE about any of these problems!! He said it was all anti-Mormon crap. I just shook my head in dismay.

    Long story short…We went back to Utah to tell all our family (it was going to be a huge blow to everyone). While there, we had an opportunity to actually meet with Marlin K. Jensen since he’s an old family friend from the Ogden Valley where I grew up.

    This is what did it for us: In the meeting with Elder Jensen, we talked about several issues and we were completely validated about our concerns. One of the issues we discussed was Joseph’s peep stone and hat. I asked about the Urim & Thummin (spectacles and breastplate) and he said that was used until the 116 pages were lost. From then on, Joseph used his peep stone. Elder Jensen stated that Joseph Smith “GRADUATED” from using the U&T, to the peep stone, to finally just receiving the revelations in his head!

    So I presented this scenario him…We’re told the U&T are PHYSICAL instruments brought from Old Testament times to the Americas by the Jaredites. Handed down from generation to generation. Kept physically safe from all the wars and battles. Given to the Nephites. For another 1,000 years kept physically safe from falling into the wrong hands. They were so important that Moroni buried them with the gold plates so the plates could be translated at some future time. Again, God carefully watched over these physical items for another 1,400 years. Then, Joseph Smith receives them, says they’re the most amazing spectacles, and he can see anything by putting them on. He translates 116 pages which get lost and Moroni gets mad and takes them away. So Joseph Smith then decides to use his peep stone, previously found only a few years earlier in a well and used for treasure seeking, and by putting it in his hat, Joseph “translates” the ENTIRE Book of Mormon that we have today?!?! How is that “GRADUATING”?

    Elder Jensen said, “The spirit in this conversation is getting too secular”!!

    Well, that did it for my wife and I. We were done with our extreme Cognitive Dissonance. I felt duped, lied to, defrauded of $100,000+ in tithing, and like a dunce for having absolute blind faith for 40 years. We received our official name removal letter on May 22, 2013.

    Needless to say, the church has a REAL crisis on their hands. The history is the history and there’s nothing that can be changed about it. But, it’d be a nice start for the church to teach the REAL history and let members build their faith on accurate TRUTH! The history, coupled with the huge problems in the BoM (just read church historian B.H. Roberts book about that), and the absolute fraud of the Book of Abraham (along with all the continued racism and classism) and what is a reasonable person suppose to do?

    THANK YOU TO HANS MATTSSON FOR TAKING A PUBLIC STAND! Just because we have dissenting questions doesn’t mean we’re of the devil and should be shut up.

    • July 21, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      Lance – So sorry you had a rough experience. I support your decisions, and sincerely hope that you are finding joy in them. Thanks for stopping by.

    • David
      July 22, 2013 at 3:01 am

      That really made me laugh. “This spirit of this conversation is getting to secular.” His explanation made no sense but since you didn’t accept it you weren’t following the spirit. I wonder if that is really what the historical record says or if he was just making that up. I thought when Joseph talked about the Urim and Thummim that he was referring to his peep stones and that he used those peep stones from the beginning of the translation. That is why Martin Harris and the Whitmers believed so much in the Book of Mormon because they were all really into peep stones.

    • Howard
      July 22, 2013 at 8:01 am

      The progression from U&T or peep stone in a hat to In his head is what takes place with enlightened shaman. The U&T an peep stones possess no magical powers, they are simply an aid providing a fixed distance to focus his eyes when trying to see visions rather hunting for a focal point at some undefined distance. The hat is just a means to control the amount of light, it is easier to see visions in near darkness. This technique is used until practice makes it possible to see visions in one’s mind. We see dreams in our minds why not visions? After studying shamanism I have little doubt the Joseph was a shaman and that shamanism is the path of Great Prophets and it explains the vast difference between Great Prophets called and trained personally by God and care taking prophets called by the process of ordaining and sustaining. Great Prophets receive revelation, care taking prophets receive inspiration and call it revelation. Revelation is more God than man. Inspiration is more man than God. The Joseph Smith story when considered from the view point that he was being trained as a shaman to become a Prophet explains much if not all of the oddities and inconsistencies. The problem isn’t Joseph or his story, that can be explained, the problem is the church”s cover up of his story.

    • August 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      For Lance, his family, and all who read this I would like to pass on a few observations distilled from nearly 50 years of church activity. In addition, I have been surfing the internet since July 2007 reading and learning. I’ve gone to all the sites I could find to gain understanding about why members like Hans Mattsson and Lance leave the church (in their heart or having their name removed) in short order after learning of the uncorrelated history of the church.

      I first became aware of the uncorrelated history of the church in 1972-73. I was shocked and upset. I felt betrayed and experienced all of the feelings Lance and Hans relate. However, I never considered leaving the church. I never questioned my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I never had to talk with a church leader.

      Why, because of the depth and breadth of the manifestations of the Spirit I enjoyed: ministering of angels (unseen, but heard), dreams, visions, and other sacred experiences that made it impossible for me deny what I knew to be true.

      I’m blown away when I hear of members like Lance and Hans losing faith. How is it that they can be so dedicated and active but apparently never received the kind of testimony that comes with conversion?

      I’ve read many such accounts in the last 7 years and one common theme is present in nearly all of them: in their crisis of faith they never turned to the Lord with broken hearts, fasting and praying, seeking His help and blessings.

      The reason I was given the kind of testimony I have is because as a young man I learned to pray and wrestle with the Lord in a manner like Enos. I learned for myself what it means to obtain a remission of sins—conversion—baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.

      I hope that Hans, Lance, and others who are troubled by the uncorrelated history of the church will turn to the Lord in their challenges and will pound on the door of heaven until they obtain a manifestation in answer to their prayer.

      • Duwayne Anderson
        August 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm

        Jared wrote: “I’ve read many such accounts…in their crisis of faith they never turned to the Lord with broken hearts, fasting and praying, seeking His help and blessings. The reason I was given the kind of testimony I have is because as a young man I learned to pray and wrestle with the Lord in a manner like Enos. I learned for myself what it means to obtain a remission of sins—conversion—baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.”

        Wow, Jared. It sounds like nobody else wrestles with the Lord as effectively as you. You’re like Enos — a mighty warrior of righteousness, having received a remission of yours sins. You are truly a worthy son of God; those who question Mormonism just aren’t quite as spiritual, I guess.

        Okay. That’s one possible explanation. Another (and, frankly, more reasonable explanation) is that you are the victim of self delusion. It’s possible that you’re just a regular guy who has decided that verifiable and objective evidence simply isn’t as important to you as your “feelings.” In that case you simply join the ranks of similar people from other religions all over the world — each convinced of his/her own personal righteousness, each having devoutly made up their mind, and each determined not to be confused by facts that are inconsistent with their faith.

        • August 14, 2013 at 6:31 pm

          Duwayne-

          Wow, you’re a one man commenting machine. I count over 20 comments with your name on this post. I didn’t take the time to read them all, but it appears you’re bitter.

          Regarding my experience, there are many people like myself who have turned to the Lord and found Him. You suggest that anyone who has a higher manifestation of the Spirit is deluded. Your welcome to your opinion, but apparently you don’t know anything about the workings of the Spirit. I hope one day you might actually have a Spiritual experience you can’t deny.

          In my youth I strayed a long ways from the Lord. However, the Lord left the ninety and nine and found me. I’m grateful to Him, and for as long as I live I will stand up for the Lord and those He calls.

          I invite you to read My Experience with the Savior. Click my name if you’re interested.

          • Rob
            August 14, 2013 at 6:37 pm

            Jared,
            Do you not hear the narcissism in both your posts?
            I prayed my butt off for over a decade, and I never felt the spirit. I was righteous and worthy, but felt nothing.
            You want us to accept your word on your spiritual experiences, while simultaneously discounting equivalently opposite experiences of others.
            If you want others to accept your subjective anecdotes, you have to be willing to accept theirs.

          • Duwayne Anderson
            August 15, 2013 at 7:13 am

            Jared wrote: “I didn’t take the time to read them all, but it appears you’re bitter.”

            Fascinating. You admit you didn’t take time to read all the posts, yet you claim the capacity (and the brass) to perform an in-depth psychoanalysis over the internet. And (no surprise) your psychoanalysis confirms the teachings about anti-Mormons with which you have been indoctrinated by the LDS Church. Within that context, it’s hardly surprising that you’d dip to calling me “bitter.” In fact, I’d be surprised if you hadn’t.

            Jared wrote: “You suggest that anyone who has a higher manifestation of the Spirit is deluded.”

            Well, how do you know that your spiritual experiences are not delusion? Since you hang everything on the assumption that your “spiritual experiences” are real, and not delusional, it seems the question is pretty important. It’s also a *fair* question. Care to answer it?

          • August 15, 2013 at 8:03 am

            Let’s please keep the conversation at least somewhat connected to the podcast. Thanks.

          • Duwayne Anderson
            August 15, 2013 at 8:59 am

            I agree, John.

            I think that one of the major themes of the podcast is that some Mormons (like Hans Mattson and others) actually apply limits to what the church and its leaders can do, and if those limits are broken they are capable of changing their mind with regard to the church, and leaving.

            With true believing Mormons, it seems just the opposite is true. For TBMs, it seems there is no line that the church can cross, and no historical/scientific fact that might materialize, that would be sufficient for them to denounce Mormonism and leave.

            That was the motivation behind my question yesterday. The question is eminently fair and balanced. It reads, simply (the “You” in the question is the royal “you”):

            “What verifiable and objective evidence, if it existed, would be sufficient for you to denounce Mormonism?

            A similar/related question is:

            What actionable behavior, if committed by the church’s General Authorities, would be sufficient for you to withhold your sustaining vote?

            The silence that has greeted this question is deafening.

  19. Interesting
    July 21, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    It seems that Mormons want their believers to ignore logic. If his experience with the temple left him feeling “sad”, I do not understand why he would take his daughter there. Then he says she was crying , yet he kept going. It seems the left brain is ignored here.

    • July 21, 2013 at 5:54 pm

      Interesting — I know plenty of Mormons who love/value logic/truth. I fear that you are over-simplifying things (at least for my own experiences…I’m not speaking for you of course).

      For me, life has been complicated…if it has been anything. I, too, love/value simplicity…but for me things have never been as easy as “oh….I was sad once…..I better give up on it!” Some of the most beautiful things in my life (marriage, fatherhood, school, Mormon Stories) have caused me deep sadness at times….but then (after working through things) I found incredible joy on the other side.

      I completely support people who decide that for them, happiness lies beyond Mormonism. But I think we should be careful to not be too reductionist. For some, Mormonism brings incredible joy (with accompanying sadness at times).

      • Jeff
        July 21, 2013 at 6:59 pm

        Of course, John D. puts it into terms of poetic simplicity better than any of us!

      • Duwayne Anderson
        August 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

        John Dehlin wrote: ” I know plenty of Mormons who love/value logic/truth.”

        It seems to me that a fundamental characteristic of logic/reason is that one’s position must be conceptually changeable if presented with sufficient verifiable and objective evidence (VOE).

        That being the case, Mormons who love/value logic should be willing (at least conceptually) to leave the church if sufficient VOE were to exist. This has prompted me to ask the following question of hundreds of “faithful” Mormons:

        Question: What objective and verifiable evidence, if it existed, would be sufficient for you to denounce Mormonism?

        When I ask this question it’s usually ignored. But when Mormons do reply they inevitably respond with anecdotes that are neither verifiable nor objective. But, since you know plenty of Mormons who love logic, perhaps you can help me out? Perhaps you’d even answer the question for yourself?

        It would be really interesting to know the sort of verifiable and objective evidence that believing Mormons would need, in order to denounce/leave the Mormon Church.

        • Jay
          August 14, 2013 at 6:23 pm

          Phenomenal question Duwayne and I don’t think you could have asked it any better. I get the feeling you will hear crickets chirping on this one though. I, like you, would love a reasonable answer.

        • MG
          August 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm

          In my experience with dealing with my own doubts and distancing myself from the church, it is clear that people do not stay in the church because of evidence of its truthfulness or are willing to leave base upon evidence to the contrary. The social ties to the church either through family or friends are extremely strong and matter much more than the “VOE”.

          The strong members that I have been willing to “come out” to just do not care about the troubling history at all. Their lives are good. They have lots of friends in the ward. Why bother?

          The answer is that, generally speaking, there is no piece of evidence that would make most strong Mormons denounce the church. The believers and non-believers will be arguing this till the end of time…. and I hope they do, because it can be fun to read on a lazy afternoon.

          • August 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm

            > do not care about the troubling history

            When I went emeritus, it was a big deal among my wonderful friends in the church, because they had sacrificed so much to be mission presidents & all the rest, and they loved the church.

            Some of them would come to my house and ask what troubled me. And when I told them, the reaction was often, “I haven’t heard of that but if it were true, that would trouble me too. But I would know if it were true because when I served as Mission President. My friends are institute directors and BYU scholars. I’ll get answers and we’ll talk more. Just remember, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.”

            And they did come back and we had many more warm conversations but you could see their faces fall as they learned about troubling issues, even in recent years, that they didn’t know about. One conversation will stick with me forever: “If I ever hear from a reliable source that Joseph Smith had sexual relations with his wives, that would really bother me.”

            But respected Joseph Smith scholar Brian Hales told him, “Sexual relations were present in some of the Prophet’s plural marriages, but probably in much fewer than half and they were not a common occurrence. It appears that only two or perhaps three children were born through those unions.”

            He, along with the others I spoke to, were so troubled by statements like that, that they just fell back on how good they feel when reading the Book of Mormon, and they stopped talking.

        • August 16, 2013 at 5:21 pm

          Duwayne, Rob, Et al-

          It isn’t my intent to have a snarky exchange. I’m not sure why the two of you took issue with my original comment, but you did.

          I wondered how Hans Mattsson could be so deeply troubled with issues in church history when he has served so devotedly. There is nothing snarky about that.

          I also shared why I wasn’t blown away when I first learned about issues in church history. There is nothing narcissistic about my explanation, unless the reader jumps to that conclusion.

          Having said that, I would like to better understand why some church members leave the church when they learn about issues in church history (while many, maybe most do not). Some even become anti-mormons.

          Here are a few thoughts, and questions I am thinking about.

          First of all, I can understand a church member losing faith when exposed to issues in church history. But I have difficulty understanding Hans Mattsson. I’m puzzled how someone can serve in all the positions he has, and somehow never had significant enough Spiritual growth/experiences to trumph the challenges of uncorrelated church history.

          It makes me think that there may be more to the idea that it is possible to be active in the church but be inactive in the gospel.

          The consequence of that kind of activity is not having the companionship of the Holy Ghost and missing out on the gifts of the Spirit. Without the gifts of the Spirit we are subject to being deceived (D&C 46:8).

          A complete study of church history reveals an extraordinary amount of material testifying to the fact that church members have the Holy Ghost and the gifts of the Spirit.

          They acquired these blessings by following the revelations and teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith and those who have followed him.

          I think church members are guilty of putting their leaders on pedestals and now that we see their fallibility some are blown away.

          A few thoughts about those who have sincerely tried to obtain answers through prayer about challenging issues and so far haven’t received help.

          That has to be difficult to deal with. I can understand that difficulty because I’ve had to deal with it too. My experience has taught me to persist.

          On a few occasions, I have to wait on the Lord for many years before help came. One example, it took me a little over five years to find adequate employment to provide for my family. But when the help came, the Lord parted the veil and I experienced the ministering of an angel.

          He spoke to me. I could hear him as though he was standing next to me. What he told me came to pass a few days later. I didn’t see him, I didn’t need to. I’ve had this kind of answer to prayer on other occasions.

          Based on my experiences, I encourage you to bury your anger like the Lamanities buried their weapons of war and turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart. If you do, I believe you will find the Lord’s help.

          I’ve never been called to significant positions in the church, yet, I’ve been blessed with significant experiences with the Spirit. Repentance and diligently seeking the Lord opens the way for blessings to flow.

          • Bob L
            August 17, 2013 at 5:04 pm

            I can’t tell you Jared how much I struggle with this.

            How much time I’ve studied and pondered and wished it could be other than it is.

            I do believe that as Alma said, “that this is the time for men to prepare to meet God.”

            I do believe “That by works ye shall know them.”

            And that’s my problem. There’s a real disconnect for me when people I’m suppose to trust completely, who claim to have direct revelation from the Almighty, in fact person to person appearances (the true test of a prophet according to Moses) and are doing what they’re doing.

            You can’t possibly tell me that Joseph Smith was being led to marry the wives of other men by Christ! This alone would disqualify him and anyone from the spirit, to do any of the things you claim he did.

            Men of God don’t misrepresent the truth.

            In fact, that’s probably what challenges me the most about all this.
            It’s like leaders of the Church are playing both sides of the net of integrity.

            Either you’re honest or not.

            If Joseph Smith were accused once or twice…perhaps that could be explained.

            His accusers were by the dozens and dozens.

            What you can’t seem to see is how this reflects on your character and your integrity. That you accept all of this so completely is disturbing.

            You said,

            “A complete study of church history reveals an extraordinary amount of material testifying to the fact that church members have the Holy Ghost and the gifts of the Spirit.”

            I have a problem with the condescending and arrogant nature of this comment. This is to imply that those of us who have studied “Church history” extensively, because we don’t see things your way, that we must be off the mark. We’re listening to the “wrong spirit”. If only we would pray some more, read more scripture, doubt less, put our problems on the proverbial “later shelf” that our questions will be answered.

            That’s generally the issue here. But we have. We have studied and read and questioned and debated. We keep studying from every source we can get our hands on. We have been willing to consider both sides and it’s because of our willingness to consider all of the evidence we have our reservations about the Gospel according to Joseph Smith.

            I don’t know about others here, but when the Church says it’s trying to become “more transparent” and “accessible”, I don’t believe the Church is doing that or will do that. It’s all about their image and they only share what promotes the “slicked up image” of the Church. In another post, I mentioned having attended Church this past Sunday and the lesson about the Nauvoo years. There was nothing ever shared…no one knows what questions to ask. Certain the material from the lesson book isn’t sharing anything substantial or critical.

            My experience with devoted members of the Church is that if they by chance discover any of the real history of the Church that causes any discomfort at all, that by putting all of the “controversial” stuff on the shelf, that it’s simply a way of avoiding the obvious.

            Further what it does is it gives leadership the chance to never have to come clean and to be honest almost like the old serials or comic strips that kept people buying each installment wondering how things were going to turn out. The answer never comes.

            Just notice what you’re defending.

            Murder…polygamy…polyandry…destroying public property in terms of the Nauvoo Expositor… racism…Kinderhook plates…Egyptian funerary texts that were posed as scripture because at the time no one had the ability to translate the original scrolls…the Danites which included assassinations and attempts… blood oaths…deceit in the Manifesto publicly promised to end sanctioning plural marriages and which didn’t…fraud in terms of the Kirkland banking scandal…killing of native indians…the use of electronic shock therapy to “help” cure gay men from being gay…I could go on and on.

            And then when good people like the Mattssons struggle with this you have the arrogance to say “try harder”?

            We,again with all due respect, I’m sure would like to say to you and other members “grow up” and “wake up”!

            This may be “your truth” but not necessarily “the truth”.

            I appreciate the opinions here and John’s willingness to let this “debate” go on.

            And I still think there are a lot of good things about the Church.

            Talk about mind-numbing.

          • August 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm

            Bob L-

            You’ve made your choice. I’ve made mine. It appears the main difference between us is the manifestations of the Spirit. If I hadn’t been fortunate enough to have been so blessed I would most likely be somewhere in the same ball park you are.

            You and others discount this part of the discussion. Some even accuse those who testify of the things of the Spirit to be deluded. For me, it is everything.

            Richard Bushman in Rough Stone Rolling said it well:

            “Was he (Joseph Smith) a blackguard covering his lusts with religious pretensions, or a prophet doggedly adhering to instructions from heaven…”

            I’ve followed Joseph Smith’s teachings and it has resulted in the heavens being opened to me in similar ways as the prophets in the Book of Mormon. Therefore, I choose to see Joseph Smith as a prophet.

            That doesn’t mean I don’t have questions and concerns about the troubling matters in church history. But because of Joseph Smith, I have been able to make friends of God.

            In closing, I’ll repeat what I said earlier. I can understand your plight. The only way out of is to obtain your own answer from Heavenly Father. The ordinances and the Book of Mormon hold the keys to open the heavens for yourself.

          • Jay
            August 17, 2013 at 9:52 pm

            I don’t think anyone is discounting your spiritual experience. Some find that manifestation in Mormonism others find it in the Watchtower, Islam, FLDS etc. One groups experience is as true as the others.

          • August 18, 2013 at 9:57 pm

            Jay said:

            I don’t think anyone is discounting your spiritual experience. Some find that manifestation in Mormonism others find it in the Watchtower, Islam, FLDS etc. One groups experience is as true as the others.

            Jay-your words and reasoning are not unlike that of the lawyers, scribes, and pharisees in Christ day.

          • August 19, 2013 at 11:56 am

            Duwayne-

            I politely suggest that you don’t know much about Spiritual experiences.

            If you lived at the time of Christ and where bind and He healed you, I suppose you would argue that your healing wasn’t necessarily a result of His intervention, but could have occurred because of a new herb you starting taking the week before.

  20. Jean
    July 21, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    What a wonderful afternoon I have just spent with Hans and Birgitta Mattsson. I cried several times because in so many instances I understood what they went through in discovering facts about church history that were really disturbing. I cannot possibly relate (being a lowly woman) how it would feel to be a ‘high up’ leader of the church who could find no answers for his doubts.

    I’m so happy that they put their marriage before the church – this is exactly what my husband did for me – because he should. Not that when we married, we heard the words, ‘What God has joined together let no man put asunder’ but we live by it.

    I, like Birgitta was not born to Mormon parents and have often remarked how much easier it is for me to let go than it is for for my husband who has an ancestry that dates back to the beginnings of the church. Despite it being ‘easier’ that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t awful and that people remained friendly; most didn’t. I was kicked to the curb like so much refuse and this is what Hans talks about – the human collateral that occurs when someone merely questions. Is that really what ‘a Christ’ would have done? Are people so afraid of hearing the truth that they prefer listening to obfuscation and deception rather than love their family members no matter what?

    I’m sorry to say that in most of the cases I have listened to in the past 6.5 years, this is the case – marriage and family break ups over who believes what. If someone thinks that they have the only truth, this is bound to happen.

    I wish Hans, Birgitta and their fellow Swedes, love and joy for the rest of their lives.

  21. Tom
    July 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I was a lifelong member of the LDS organization and began to question things in my teens. In my thirties, I became vocal and started doing substantial research. What surprised me was that so may other family members, friends and church members would whisper to me that they also had doubts. Even though there were dozen upon dozen of findings that convinced me that Joseph Smith was a fraud, it was painful to leave. I was accused of all kinds of things and even shunned by some church members and neighbors. However, it was truly the best thing that I ever did. I now go to a church to learn about Jesus, where questioning is encouaged (it is still hard to me to believe at times) and viewed as part of the journey to strengthen one’s faith. It doesn’t hurt tht the music is great and uplifting, that the congregation is diverse both racially and economically and that I can contribute as much as I want (or not at all) – I can give money to help the poor (and not help build a mall). No more pretending and I am now so happy and truly, truly blest! Also, I have been able to help several others to find the truth. Thank you for allowing me to post my story and thoughts. God bless you!

  22. Garrett
    July 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    I hope that what ultimately comes from this is a little more compassion and understanding towards those who have doubt. Not judgement, not punishment, not belittling and over-simplifying of their issues. Just love and understanding. Not being Mormon is ok. A friend or family member losing their faith is ok. It doesn’t need to sting so badly, it doesn’t need to be cause for tears and sadness. This man is still a loving father, husband, grandfather, etc. His wife is just as loving of a mother, wife, grandmother, etc. None of that should ever change as result of losing one’s faith.

  23. Paul B
    July 21, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    When I was growing up in the church there was a great emphasis on journal writing. And now to hear that our exemplars (the GAs) are told NOT to keep a journal, is just beyond rational. Joseph Smith even taught that our journals may some day be regarded as scripture to future generations!

    There is so much that I could comment on about this particular series, but out of respect for JD’s request with regard to not “taking pot shots at the church,” I’ll refrain because my comments and observations may be interpreted as such.

    I will say, though, that I think this ‘coming out’ of the Mattsson’s may end up becoming historically significant — something like the ‘September Six,’ but only more so, or in a different way. At the very least, I think it will be pivotal for many people.

    And with regard to Christina Hanke’s comment here about being threatened with the stain of excommunication forcing her to resign her membership is just beyond despicable. “Know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Christ said this Christina, so be at peace; He knows what’s going on and He will be there for you at the final hour. I am most confident about that.

    Kudos to JD for this tremendous initiative. And I take my hat off to the Mattssons. They are made of the stuff which embodies the true sense of the ‘good news’ — the *true* Gospel, i.e.. THE TRUTH!

  24. Bob Lyons
    July 22, 2013 at 12:25 am

    I’m glad to hear them do this interview so I know more specifically what’s going on.

    Most of all I’m glad to hear that they put their marriage before the Church. I had my “crisis of faith” and ended up losing my wife and my children mostly because at the time I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile all of the awful things that I was discovering about the Church with my own personal sense of integrity.

    I discovered and disheartened to discover that another leader who left the Church also cost him his long time marriage and a relationship with his children.

    So now I’ve missed out on being a father to my 3 youngest children and am middle aged and alone wishing I could figure out how to put my family back together. Without the anchor of secure parents my children and grandchildren are moving away all over the continent and world. It’s been so incredibly painful I still struggle to make sense of any of it or how to fix it.

    It occurred to me in the interview why it is that Hans and his wife would stay active. He grew up in the Church and it’s all he knows. His entire support system…all his friends and associates…family are all members of the Church. At his age it would be too difficult to start again. That’s where he feels most comfortable but as he said, he doesn’t have the same faith or sense of devotion he once had. He admitted that he no longer believes in the Book of Mormon which is the foundation of Mormonism. Once you see the man behind the curtain you can’t pretend to believe in it any longer.

    A challenge is that once you start to doubt, you start discovering more troublesome information about the Church.

    It’s all so unfortunate. I was much more successful in life and happier when I was a devoted believer and had the stability of my wife and children.

  25. Brian
    July 22, 2013 at 6:04 am

    “When Joseph used the word “translate” he meant revelation.”

    The church itself has portrayed the event as a translation for 180 years. To recast it as revelation in only certain settings is quite frankly ridiculous.

  26. Tom
    July 22, 2013 at 8:25 am

    The answers were surface answers because they don’t have the answers. They haven’t been written yet. This is a stall tactic to give the academics the chance to come up with something. To the posters who are active members of “The Church”, it is not about “not being able to handle the truth right now in our life. That is a coined church phrase. It is “about the truth” something we haven’t received for 183 years.This about the changes in scripture without it being voted on. Writing things in scripture as a JS revelation, after he was dead. Historical changes. Completely made up scripture from docs that weren’t real.
    What is the difference between Warren Jeffs marrying and having sex with 12 and 14 years old girls and Joseph Smith doing it, because Joseph was a true prophet? Really! Everyone needs to step back and look at the facts as they are NOW. The Book of Abraham was my biggest problem and I believe many GA’s if not all do not believe JS was a prophet since the discovery of the BOA. They couldn’t possibly and still be honest men.

  27. July 22, 2013 at 8:40 am

    FWIW, I’d love for the conversation to largely focus on Hans/Birgitta (and the interview) if possible. Thanks much.

    • DP
      July 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      FWIW John,

      Because the Mattson’s story is one of questioning, seeking, and the Church’s unfulfilling response to their questions, I believe any comment here that is either someone else’s story of questioning, or even an assessment of judgment on the way the Church responded to their concerns is a valid response. Even if they are disappointed and have made rather harsh judgments of the Church, they ought to be allowed. At least, those are the comments you seem to be opposed to. I for one appreciate hearing everyone’s story, emotion included.

  28. Corey
    July 22, 2013 at 10:50 am

    This podcast was my first introduction to Mormon Stories. I listened to the last two hours of it and found the Mattsson’s to be wonderful, sweet, humble people with no sense of bitterness or an axe to grind. Their beautiful, warm Swedish accents reminded me so much of my own family.

    I was amazed, however, how someone at a GA level could be unfamiliar with some of these issues (the use of the seer stone in translating part of the B of M, the Book of Abraham controversies, polygamy, polyandry, etc.). In 2005/2006, when it seems Mattsson’s doubts arose, these issues had been around for 30-40 years and even discussed in church periodicals. I can imagine that an “average” member might be unaware of them. But a GA? Perhaps they were less widely known in Europe?

    It seems that in his study of the church, Mattsson generally used scholarly, as opposed to anti-mormon, resources. What struck me, however, is that I never heard Mattsson refer to the work of Fair/Farms. I can’t imagine he is unaware of them or hasn’t used them. I just find it odd that they were not mentioned, because I think they generally do a good job in dealing with these issues.

    I was also left with the impression that Matttsson seems to believe perhaps more than he seems to at first glance. After all, if the church isn’t what it claims to be, why worry about giving women the priesthood or same-sex celestial marriage? Why call on the 15 seers and revelators to act like seers and revelators? If the church isn’t true, it has neither the priesthood nor revelation; and the temple ceremonies are all meaningless.

    In the end, Mattsson’s prescription for the church seems to be that it should become more like main street Protestantism: a socially-liberal organization where everyone is welcomed and everyone can believe whatever they want. For better or for worse that has been tried in many, many main stream denominations (including the C of C and the Church of Sweden) and the results are clear: the people in the pews vote with their feet.

    • Jeff
      July 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Hi Corey,

      While I respect your traditional views about churches, I think the C of C example you alluded to was cherry-picked out of a large basket. Mainline Protestantism accounts for over 18% of the American population based on the most recent Pew Research data. Only Evangelicals and Catholics are ahead. Although the struggle between orthodoxy and a more liberal organization caused strife in Protestantism, since (essentially) dividing into two separate factions, Mainlines’ have been in a comfortable position population wise. The C of C split is still relatively recent, and occurred in a church that was small to begin with, so it will take some more time for membership to be made up. Also, anytime major changes take place, the older generations will always be more apt to resist.

      I understand why you might be critical of liberal churches, however implying that such change is untenable is inaccurate.

    • Wayne
      July 23, 2013 at 12:01 am

      ” In 2005/2006, when it seems Mattsson’s doubts arose, these issues had been around for 30-40 years and even discussed in church periodicals.”

      In Swedish? I don’t know, but I doubt it.

  29. Dale
    July 22, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I realize Hans and Birgitta did not focus on the Lamanites and the fact that ethnic groups such as Latinos, Native Americans and Hispanics are refereed to as Lamanites. Hans and Birgitta are such wonderful and sweet people. I am so grateful that they let the world know their story. ‘My wonderful wife is Swedish, so I have had many opportunities to be come acquainted with the Swedes. They are truly beautiful people. Wit regard to the Lamanites, this is very personal to me.

    What would the people of the world think if the Mormon Churche’s Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, Thomas S. Monson, proclaimed to the world that he received a revelation by placing his face in a hat and reading from a stone in the hat? And what if that revelation that Thomas S. Monson got from the stone in the hat was:

    2 Nephi 5: 21
    ‘And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.’
    Alma 3: 6
    ‘And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.’

    Well this in not farfetched. The Mormon Churche’s first Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, Joseph Smith, put his face in a hat with a stone in it and came up with this exact revelation.

    This is very personal to me. My eldest son is 100% Latino. He was raised in the church, but has left the church. One of the major issues my son has was being Labeled a “Lamanite” by the Mormon Church. My son would ask, “What gives the Mormon Church the right to Label an entire ethnic group of people? . . . To many Latino’s it is extremely offensive to be labeled a Lamanite.

  30. July 22, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Hey all – For the record, I spoke with someone at church headquarters (a friend) who expressed concern about my sharing the Jensen/Turley transcript without permission (from the standpoint of Mormon Stories and my own relationship to the church), so I decided to take it down.

    Sorry for the change. This is a tough line/balance to walk for me, but I feel like this is the best decision after talking w/ my friend.

    • Lowell Burton
      July 22, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Mr Dehlin,

      I’m writing to tell you of how absolutely disappointed I am by your sudden removal of, what in my mind, is an important piece of recorded documentation.

      The removal seriously undermines your credibility as a person who is willing to talk about difficult issues, while simultaneously reinforcing the ex-mormon narrative about the abuses of church authority.

      I urge you to put it back up and regain your integrity.

      • July 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm

        Lowell – I understand your disappointment. My guess is that others will choose to publish the transcript and/or the audio, but I’ve decided that I’m not comfortable sharing the audio/transcript of a meeting wherein the people involved didn’t provide consent. I think these are difficult ethical issues…but this is the decision I’ve made. If others decide to share, that will be their decision. Sorry if this disappoints you.

        • Lowell Burton
          July 25, 2013 at 4:36 pm

          Thanks for the reply John.

          I strongly disagree, but it is your right and choice.

          Posting the explanation in your initial post, rather than leaving it in the comments, is a big deal. The information is, of course, available at http://www.mormonthink.com at this point – my comment was not about the removal of the information from the web, but about the fact that you were asked to do it.

          I don’t believe there’s any expectation of privacy, or of non-recording in the context of being a public speaker, so the fact that you were asked to remove it because someone didn’t give consent strikes me as more of an authoritarian cover-up than an ethical quandary. Obviously, your interpretation of the situation is different.

      • Dan
        July 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm

        Lowell,

        There is no point for John to leave the transcript posted. As every politician, celebrity, teen, and organization should know by now; nothing is ever deleted from the Internet.

        Just check your Internet browser history.

      • Rollo Tomasi
        July 22, 2013 at 1:07 pm

        No worries, Lowell. It’s already been put up at Reddit.

      • ST
        July 22, 2013 at 3:59 pm

        Lowell,
        Maybe when you put your own ass on the line by publishing a podcast and sensitive materials you’ll be in a position to demand someone live up to your definition of integrity. Until then, pipe down and give John the respect he deserves for providing such a valuable service to believing and non-believing members alike. He gets so much crap from each side of the aisle. We should stand and applaud his efforts in my opinion.

    • beanie
      July 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      Why is information that was once appropriate for discussion with one group of saints now inappropriate for general discussion? Why is permission required to read answers to questions that saints around the globe and, most certainly, in this country have? Why are only some entitled to have their concerns addressed? Why do both the questions and the answers, such as they were, treated as troublesome and not avenues to greater illumination?

      • Wayne
        July 23, 2013 at 12:15 am

        Beanie, I understand and sympathize with your logic, but the transcript/recording is from a meeting where 2 church authorities were speaking as representatives of the church, and were being recorded without their permission…seems to be standard church policy. John took a risk putting it up, but then heeded some friendly advice and took it down. As someone said…his podcast, so his rules.

        Besides, it was up long enough for multiple people to download it and now it’s available from several sources and John’s situation is protected…everybody wins.

    • Di
      July 22, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      That’s your call to make, but I think it would be nice if you explained it in the text of the post rather than a comment. I didn’t have time to look at it yesterday, so went to go click the link today and was confused to find it gone.

      • July 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm

        Done. Thanks, Di!

  31. John Smith
    July 22, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I respect John’s decision to remove the document from his site, however I have downloaded the PDF and am willing to share it with whomever requests a copy. Feel free to email me at quotejohnnysmith@gmail.com with subject/topic “Swedish” to receive a copy.

  32. David M.
    July 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I have never responded to anything presented on Mormon Stories. I want to express my concern about the concern of your friend from Church headquarters. This is the very reason why people are skeptical about information on official church web sites, church publications, church history, or anything else coming from official church sources.

    I like the freedom to explore, study, and listen to all viewpoints and reach my own conclusions. Removing the Jensen/Turley transcript doesn’t help.

    • John Smith
      July 23, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      I have acquired the audio files from the Fireside, and would also be happy to share. E-mail quotejohnnysmith@gmail.com with “Swedish Audio” in the topic/subject line and I will send you a link for download.

  33. Brian
    July 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    I look at this as John’s backyard. John’s house, John’s rules. I don’t frequent here as often as I used to because the rules have changed. I am never going to beat John up, though. He has had toys in his backyard that I never could have played with if he hadn’t invited me over in the first place.

    Seriously, John has access to things most of us never will. Whatever crumbs come my way, I am thankful for.

    • July 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks so much, Brian. I appreciate the kind words of support.

      • Bob Lyons
        July 22, 2013 at 2:26 pm

        In response to your comment to mine about your removing the transcript, I have so much respect and honour for you John. You have created a forum for open discussion about some troubling issues. I don’t doubt that you’re walking the tightrope of your life. I think at times you aren’t sure what to do with it because it’s grown bigger and more influential than you had imagined. The only reason for the pain in your life is because of your sense of personal integrity otherwise you wouldn’t care the way you do. I learned that about you just listening to that first podcast about your missionary experience. That’s why people respect you is because of your honesty.

        I’m also certain that it troubles you to your soul to see all of the pain that this is creating. I think you love the Church and the good that it does for you and your family but it troubles you as much as anyone for the leaders to not be honest and open because men of real integrity don’t misrepresent the truth. If the Church were true, why would the Lord stoop to such silly things?

        You do what works for John Dehlin and put your family and marriage first before everything including Mormon Stories.

        • July 22, 2013 at 2:29 pm

          Thanks so much, Bob!!!

    • Joan
      July 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      Agree re. John D’s generosity. I also understand the church’s desire to have it removed. I read it before it was gone, though, and the only thing I wrote down was Elder Jensen’s remark: “Where will you go, those of you who have doubts?” That IS the question. Many of us want to stay, but have to figure out how.

      • Simon Southerton
        July 22, 2013 at 6:48 pm

        And many more just want to know the truth and then make their own decision whether or not to leave.

        • Bob L
          July 22, 2013 at 7:25 pm

          That is the question isn’t it?

          I loved the culture of the church. The people. Roadshows. Scouting activities. Being able to call people who were basically decent human beings. I like being around people who don’t swear all the time or smoke. Speaking in Church was a blast. And being around people who tried to be good parents and husbands and wives. Daddy-daughter dates. Father and son outings. Being around other men. Stake performances. Firesides. etc. etc.

          As for journals, I have been faithfully keeping a journal since 1975 and now you’re saying they don’t want anyone in authority to keep a journal for fear of what might be found in their private moments?

          I’m wondering your opinion John of the person who was threatened with excommunication if they they didn’t resign?

          And after Hans has been pretty public about his experience will he be confronted with the same situation?

          What a mess eh? This has been like finding out there’s no Santa Claus. Oops…

  34. Haykakan
    July 22, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    After reading the transcript, I thought there were a few things that they actually addressed pretty well (the DNA response being the best one). However, there was a fair amount of evasive maneuvering and side stepping. With some issues regarding church history, there really are only two responses an defender of the faith can make. 1) Side step the issue. 2) Address the issue head-on and say that a really questionable practice/point of doctrine was a mistake.

    I imagine a lot of people would have been comforted if Jensen and Turley had simply admitted the fallibility of individuals, especially presidents of the church, in the past.

    • Rob
      July 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      I do hope you are joking about the DNA.
      That was a terrible response with egregious inaccuracy.
      I don’t expect the general authorities to be scientists, but I do expect them to not wildly (and incorrectly) conjecture about how DNA works.
      Their entire point was that 1 marriage from a different culture invalidates the DNA tracking, which is just wrong. There are a few key trackers (like mitochondrial DNA or the Y chromosome) that are passed solely from the mother or the father, but the DNA itself is composed of pairs of chromosomes passed from both parents. Fairly simplistic string matching allows you to track with a high degree of accuracy the heritage of an individual, and even the number of generations between that individual and an ancestor of a very specific time (as calculated by the genetic mutation rate).
      This is possible because of the copious strings of information encoded in your DNA. So while chromosomes essentially splice together over time, there are still vast quantities of in-tact/unchanged strings, identifying people quite accurately.

      • Haykakan
        July 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm

        @Rob: Point well taken about the DNA. I know pretty much nothing about genetics beyond the fruit fly tables you learn about in high school (I’m a poly-sci/econ guy). Thanks for the clarifications!

        • Simon Southerton
          July 22, 2013 at 7:01 pm

          I will be responding directly to Turley’s DNA remarks on my blog in a day or two.

          Briefly for now.

          1. Lineage extinction through marriage
          Y-chromsome and mitochondrial DNA has very effectively told us that between 99.6% and 100% of the DNA of Native Americans is derived from Asia. LDS scholars have conceded this. The claim of lineage extinction through marriage is misleading. We also now have nuclear DNA studies that support the Y and MtDNA studies. Native American nuclear DNA is derived from Asia.

          2. We don’t have Lehi’s DNA
          We do not need Lehi’s DNA to be able to tell if Native American DNA came from Israel. LDS apologists have accepted the Asian origin of Native American DNA in the absence of any 3,000 year old Asian DNA. Lehi’s DNA would have been Middle Eastern in appearance and we do not see Middle Eastern DNA in Native Americans.

          • Rollo Tomasi
            July 23, 2013 at 7:09 am

            I look forward to your response, Simon. I thought Turley’s DNA answer was very weak, but I’m no expert, so I’ll wait for you to explain why his response was wrong. Thanks in advance.

    • Bob Lyons
      July 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      While I appreciate that Jensen and Turley made the effort to go “all the way to Sweden”, it seems to me that if I were genuinely concerned about the jugular issues confronting such a large group of people and particularly the area leader of my organization, I’d pick a Saturday morning, serve lunch or refreshments every few hours and stay as long as it took to address their issues even if it meant staying late into the evening or wee hours of the morning. And at the end I’d ask, “Now is there anything else?” If I didn’t know, I’d say so and set a time for another meeting to answer those specific questions. This is “7 Habits 101″, Seek First to Understand…then to be Understood. I don’t think either Jensen or Turley have the answers. It would have been worse if an apostle would have been there because they generally only speak on prepared and scripted topics or boilerplate information.

      • Haykakan
        July 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm

        @ Bob – I completely agree with you that a lot of their responses smacked of being ill-prepared, which is strange given Turley’s decades-long studys of church history. It did seem like they were trying to get that meeting over with as fast as possible. It seems like a lot of top church leaders are finally recognizing the need to address these issues, but haven’t yet been able to figure out how to do so.

        • Susan
          August 13, 2013 at 5:55 pm

          The problem is that Church leaders are treating these incidents as if they’re isolated fires that are rare and can be taken care of if they flare up too much (like in Sweden), but what they don’t realize is that the entire forest is smoking.

    • Lilli
      July 25, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      The problem is that if the leaders admit that polygamy and other things ‘preached & practiced’, today & yesterday, were wrong, then the church and it’s leaders lose all their credibility, for prophets can’t commit or support whoredoms and lead the church astray and retain any authority, keys or Priesthood power or God’s blessings, nor can those people who are deceived to support such false prophets and false doctrines retain God’s spirit and blessings.

      So the Church can’t admit they were wrong, all they can do is remain quiet and hope most members never find out the truth. The more they try to answer questions the more they reveal their true selves.

      For there are no real answers or excuses for them to give, only admittance of evil doing and repentance, which I don’t believe they will ever do, for that would reveal that the Church is no more true than any other church on the planet.

      The true Church and authority was lost and went into apostasy when Joseph died and thus it broke up into many different groups. Brigham’s was just one of the groups. Those who followed him are the one’s who liked the idea of polygamy and who refused to heed Joseph Smith’s & Christ’s dire warnings and scriptures against polygamy and polygamous prophets.

      And today we see what a tangled web his group has weaved because of that choice to not listen to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

  35. July 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I was really struck by two things in particular from this incredibly important interview (I am only on part 4), and neither of them really have to do with historical issues.
    First, I felt the love in the Mattson’s relationship. What a truly great couple. I could learn a lot from them in this regard.
    Second, I am very concerned that general authorities are being told now to not keep journals. Imagine how much history we will miss as part of this decision. Just think if Lester Bush did not have the sources available to him that opened the way for Blacks to receive the priesthood. How many things will go unknown in the future of the Church because of this? In how many ways will we be “doomed to repeat” our imperfect past because there will be no record of these imperfections. Did anybody else find this as a great cause of concern?

    • July 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      Dave – The journal part really troubled me too….though I know that Elder Holland has told people the same thing.

      • July 22, 2013 at 3:01 pm

        John,
        I wonder how this sits with people like Elder Scott who see writing down spiritual impressions are pretty much a part of the process of revelation. If this idea holds sway with the bulk of Church leaders, I fear it could be incredibly damaging for the Church in the long run.

    • Melanie
      July 23, 2013 at 9:23 am

      I was saddened by this too and why the fear, we should not be afraid of truth and peoples experiences. They are so many lessons to be learned and accoring to our own scripture we would have no scriptures had earier people chosen no to do so.

  36. ST
    July 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Denver Snuffer has published about journals previously. But he stated something to the effect of having someone assigned when a GA passes away to go and collect their journals. Whether they discouraged from keeping a journal or someone comes to “collect” them, it is not good either way.

    • Ana
      July 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      I have a friend who told me that there are people (service missionaries, church employees???) assigned to collect the journals of past mission presidents. They drive to the city/state where the past mission president lives, or his survivors if he is deceased. It was communicated to my friend’s family that it is part of a church history project. This journal discussion makes me wonder if it may also have another purpose – collecting the mission history just in case it has embarrassing information.

      I am also under the impression that when people have the second anointing experience, they may be asked to turn in their journals. Does anyone have information about this?

  37. Greg
    July 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    John, I just finished listening to the interview this afternoon. I was really impressed by how sensitive and respectful you were as the interviewer. Thank you for your professionalism.

  38. Dan
    July 22, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    This is an incredible development, but why, after 3 years of semi-activity am I so scared to post the NYT article to facebook? I think it’s the fear of being labeled a doubter / heretic / apostated / possessed of the devil / deceived etc etc. It really isn’t a secret anymore to my family and friends and ward friends, but why am I so afraid? My reaction only serves to highlight Hans’ great courage in speaking up. Thank you Hans!

    • Alison
      July 25, 2013 at 9:07 am

      I share your fear. I decided to post just the link to the video on Facebook and it blew up! I had a painful exchange with extended family that resulted in being told I was insensitive, this was crap that they didn’t want to see on Facebook, I should be ashamed cuz the grandparents would be so sad to see me posting this, etc, etc, etc. It was pretty awful. And all I had said when I posted it was “I like that he’s opening up the discussion and saying it’s OK to doubt and that members need to be able to do this and get answers.”

      • Tom
        July 25, 2013 at 9:12 am

        Alison, I feel your pain. I cannot say or post anything that my children will have a chance of seeing because whatever I post is anti-mormon and it is longer that I can’t see my family. They do this to hurt me and to protect their own week testimony. I am a threat to their family, them, etc.

      • Rob
        July 25, 2013 at 10:00 am

        My family posts religious content constantly, & I am very rarely critical of it (I usually just don’t respond).
        Yet, when I post anything that can even be interpreted as critical of the church (including this podcast), you’d think I’d declared holy war judging from my family’s responses.
        So I totally get where your coming from.
        Sorry. That sucks.

        • Alison
          July 25, 2013 at 10:12 am

          That’s what I found so interesting… they regularly post church talks/articles/quotes/personal testimonies about the church many of which include references to those who no longer believe in negative ways (not holding on to the rod, being deceived, not enduring, etc). When I responded that those posts made me uncomfortable as well but I don’t say anything I was told tough… you are the one that has changed. They were completely unable to even listen to my discomfort and weren’t willing to adapt what they were posting to the family page but I was told I had to stop or not participate.

          • Rob
            July 25, 2013 at 10:19 am

            Hans Mattsson hit the nail on the head when he drew a parallel between the questioning saints and an inquisitive and questioning Joseph Smith.
            It might be a parallel that your family can relate to.
            Why should they revile you for seeking truth when the foundation of mormonism was Joseph seeking truth (and being reviled for it)? Are their actions consistent with truth? Or are they more akin to the persecutors of the saints who refused to tolerate a drastic difference of religious opinion?

    • Kent
      August 11, 2013 at 11:21 am

      Even after posting other Mormon Stories interviews and various articles I’m still apprehensive about posting stuff like this. Friends and family get offended or start hammering away with bad apologetics.

  39. Seasickyetstilldocked
    July 22, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I broke down a little when Birgitta spoke of choosing to stay home with her husband rather than go to church alone. She is a hero and a great example of how you have just got to put your spouse before the church, let the consequence follow.

    There were several very poignant moments in each segment. It seems that the nicest and most sincere people suffer the most pain in these situations. You would think the visiting church historians would have done some quick math on their audience and decided to skip the spin and address these issues from the heart and at face value.

    • Peter
      July 23, 2013 at 10:12 am

      I had the same response. I was impressed with Hans and very sympathetic, having gone down the same path, but what I will remember most about this podcast is Birgitta’s conviction and commitment to her marriage. Bravo.

    • Bill Kilpatrick
      July 24, 2013 at 12:58 am

      I was surprised and disappointed that the Church historians didn’t really try any harder. If someone were to ask me about “Lying for the Lord,” I’d not have obfuscated by talking, in general, about how lying is wrong, and then come back with vague admissions that maybe there are times when lying is okay. I’d have pointed out that “lying for the lord” is a term invented by critics of the Church, not a Church policy or program. I’d also point out that, in times past, Mormons did feel the need to maintain a low profile, much as first-century Christians did when they invented esoteric ways of finding one another, such as the drawing of ichthus, the “fish” symbol, rather than wearing crosses – which came later.

      What is sometimes described as “lying for the Lord” is the Mormon practice of choosing how to answer questions, in a faith that can be maze-like to outsiders. This bit of diplomacy, which some fault as a lack of candor, echoes Jesus’s warning not to “cast pearls before swine.” Of course, there have been times – in Church history – when Mormons were being shot at, reviled, sued, prosecuted or threatened by state or federal forces. Under such circumstances, people lie – as Abraham did when he referred to Sarah as his “sister,” a tactic repeated by his son, Isaac in referring to Rebecca. When Peter was accused of being an associate of Jesus’s, he lied – not once but three times. That wasn’t “lying for the Lord.” That was simply lying – if anything, to save his own skin.

      More often than not, members of the Church try to present the Church in the best possible light. In a church that puts so much emphasis on sharing the faith – and to a world that is anything but homogeneous – you can’t fault someone for not turning an introduction into a data dump. That’s not “lying for the Lord.” That’s using a certain amount of common sense.

      That, in a nutshell, is what I would have tried to say, had I flown halfway around the world to meet a group of people who were painfully concerned about such issues. I wouldn’t have danced around, like the Music Man, pretending to give answers and only leaving non-answers and vague promises on my way toward the door.

      • beanie
        July 24, 2013 at 9:37 pm

        Sometimes it may seem advisable or diplomatic to shape the truth to make it more palatable but it seems to me that misrepresentations of omission and putting a polish on things is how we got to this very point.

        There are people faulting Mr. Mattsson for not already knowing some of these uncomfortable vulnerabilities but the fact remains that there are legions of young Mormons in this country who think they know the only temple experience there’s ever been. Their parents don’t bring up things they swore to unless asked directly. I suspect their are few indeed who know of oaths taken early in the 1900s and most would vehemently deny what’s been dropped.

        One day these will be the issues that begin the unraveling of someone’s faith. And someone else will say “This is old news. How could they not have known all along?”

  40. Adam
    July 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    While I have ABSOLUTE faith that Joseph Smith was a letch, Brigham Young a racist tyrant, Howard B. Lee in love with money and Ezra Taft Benson a Fascist, I have not asked that my name be taken off of the roles because of people like Brother Hans Mattsson, and the truly Christian leaders who have come before, like Hugh B. Brown.

    The likelihood is that NOBODY has it all figured out and ANY church can be as equally true, or equally false as the quality of those therein allow. With existential uncertainty comes limitless possibilities. With questions, come solutions and with love, hope and charity, comes salvation, or at least as close to it as we really ought to be striving for.

    John, this is EASILY one of the best podcasts yet.

  41. Melanie
    July 23, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Wow John how are you going to top this interview??? This man was so sincere and thoughtful as well as brave. I thought when he mentioned Martin Luther and others that was a very touching comparison. My most sincere gratitude to you John and especially to Hans and his beautiful wife for thier sincerity and humility and true seeking hearts. I found it expecially touching because I related to so much that he said and I too am staying acitve in the church. I love the church and want to see it transform into what God wants it to be. I love how he talked about staying open to all things including new revelation from the church to clarify these issues. Thanks again to all of you!!!

    • Melanie
      July 23, 2013 at 9:19 am

      One more thing I wanted to add was to Brigitta when she told her story of choosing her marriage and her husband. I was so touched by this and had a similar experience in my own life. My husband and I could not agree on the issue of tithing and we were in a somewhat heated discussion about the issue I had a calm feeling come over me and the thought came to my mind was that this issue was not as important as important as the fact that my husband knew that I loved and supported him. It changed everything for us. Thanks Brigitta!

  42. Robert
    July 23, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Thank you John for letting us get to know these wonderful, sincere people. They will truly help not just my wife and I as we tread these tricky waters of doubt but I think their example will be helpful to so many who are hurting. Their commitment to each other and to truth is so inspiring. I believe this interview will really help those who are hurting on both sides of these issues.

    • Bob L
      July 23, 2013 at 11:20 am

      I’ve been listening to these podcasts and feeling the torment that exists for everyone here which is why I think we feel for the Mattssons the way we do and why their story touches us. The Mattssons come across as sincere, honest people who are so full of integrity that nothing gets in the way of their character or their marriage. They’re beyond reproach. That’s why the Church sent Jensen and Turley to the rescue. Notice that as sweet a guy as Jensen seems to be, how can you breeze over that Joseph Smith practice polyandry and still believe in the Church? Turley talks about situational ethics, that some situations require deceit. The question that comes to mind now is, “If we really believed in Jesus Christ, and had no fear of the repercussions of our choices, would we choose between honesty, integrity and character or the sordid stories of those who claimed to be led by the Spirit?” It almost seems appropriate here to use the expression, “What would Jesus do?” That’s why we admire the Mattssons.

      • Howard
        July 23, 2013 at 12:33 pm

        I don’t have much faith in the church itself given their history of deception and their desire for malls over saving third world lives, but I can breeze over Joseph’s practice polyandry and still believe he’s a great Prophet. I believe one of the main reasons polygamy and the Law of Consecration was given is to refine us beyond our selfishness to become more Christlike. Successfully living a theocratic law that required you to share your mate would in a few generations refine out much jealously, possessiveness and selfishness making that people more Christlike. Joseph lived polygyny before announcing plural marriage perhaps he was living polyandry before announcing it as well offering both genders the opportunity to become more Christlike.

        • ST
          July 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm

          Howard,
          As Moses said, “Would to God that all men were prophets.” I am a prophet. I just had a revelation. You are have your wife and 14 year old daughter report to my home this Friday and they will be sealed to me. It will be a great blessing to all of you. This will help you all refine out much jealousy, possessiveness, and selfishness and make you more Christlike.

          Doesn’t sound so appealing when it applies to you personally does it?

          • Bob L
            July 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm

            How is it that if the news of today reports about the FLDS Church and Warren Jeffs taking on additional wives we look at that with such absurdity and moral condemnation. The guy is deceptive. He deserves to be in jail. Joseph Smith does the same thing and we give him a pass on every thing he did. Then when we teach others about “the prophet” we’re sure not to include any of this stuff and tell ourselves that it’s “the meat” that those we teach aren’t ready for? Is there any wonder the Church has painted itself into such a corner as it has and there are so many people leaving and struggling with it?

          • Howard
            July 23, 2013 at 1:02 pm

            Well no I haven’t lived it in quite that way but twice I’ve lived for several years in poly relationships while outside the church and it is my conclusion that is the eventual downstream lesson. 14 year old girls? Sure there’s a big question there but imagine you really were commanded to start a church and to live polygamy. You’re a young man with a healthy sex drive and healthy curiosity and the prohibitions against young women were not what they’ve become today.

          • Paul B
            July 23, 2013 at 1:08 pm

            “Sure there’s a big question there but imagine…”

            At age sixty-five, that’s pretty much all I can do now. But I do have a great imagination!

          • ST
            July 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm

            Howard, did you read your post before you posted it? Maybe you should take a step back and realize what you are saying and how absolutely screwed up that thinking is.

          • Howard
            July 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm

            Thanks for clearing that up ST.

        • Bill Kilpatrick
          July 24, 2013 at 12:10 am

          Howard, we can set aside the polygamy issue (yes – OT, no – BoM, yes – D&C 132, no – Official Manifesto). Next to polyandry, polygamy comes off as the easy stuff. With polygamy, we’re simply asking, “Do we or don’t we?” but polyandry and marriage, itself, are incompatible. Either marriage is sacred or your wife is a book that your neighbor can borrow, in the name of being “beyond possessions.”

          I would have liked to have heard the Church historian and assistant Church historian come in with better answers than “Yes, he did,” and “We don’t know why.”

          • Howard
            July 24, 2013 at 9:38 am

            Well it may not be very comforting but “Yes he did” and “we don’t know why” is at least refreshingly honest for a change!

          • Howard
            July 24, 2013 at 11:30 am

            Bill K.
            I’ve been thinking about your comment. Why do you say polyandry and marriage are incompatible while implying that polygyny and marriage aren’t?

          • Bob L
            July 24, 2013 at 7:02 pm

            Actually Bill, we can’t set aside the polygamy issue quite yet. It’s true, the 1890 Manifesto from all initial appearances “ended polgamy” publically. Church leaders continued to solemnize plural marriages for another 14 years which was the reason for the “Second Manifesto” and the Smoot hearings. The people of the United States, nor the Congress or Senate had any faith in the leaders of the LDS Church. There was genuine mistrust and for good reason. Further, there was an 80+ year relationship between the LDS Church and those who practiced polygamy that didn’t end until around 1928-29. when the polygamists decided to break away from their association with the SLC side of the LDS Church. Those in the FLDS faith still believe that they’re the one’s who were closest to following what Joseph Smith taught, isn’t that right? But even President Hinckley said in General Conferance that polygamy had ended “more than a century ago” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJCwV2UaDi8) which just isn’t historically accurate is it? And if that’s not enough, there’s still the question of D&C 132 which clearly says that plural marriage is a part of LDS scripture and doctrine. That’s the challenge that we struggle with isn’t it, because it seems that the Church doesn’t do anything until they’re forced to by either government pressure, public outcry or bad press? Is it too much to ask that the leaders just tell the truth? The gospel of Jesus Christ should not be sharing the same stage with all of this nonsense. What would Christ tell people to do that were lying or being sinful? He’d tell them to repent and to be honourable men. I somehow remember something taught to me about who is the author of mixing a bit of truth with dishonesty?
            Which is why I have the respect I do for the Mattssons and John here.

          • Lilli
            July 26, 2013 at 12:13 am

            While I don’t believe in either, I think polyandry is at least better than polygamy, at least women can have the same privileges as the men and have multiple husbands and not be so lonely and neglected. While polygamy is much more abusive, unequal and unfair to women.

            But the Golden Rule reveals that neither is from God, for men would not like the tables turned if they had to live polygamy the other way around and sit home alone with all the kids & chores & sleep alone most nights while their 1 wife was off with all her other husbands being pampered and loved.

          • Mary
            July 26, 2013 at 11:23 am

            Bill, wait a second. If a married woman who is shared with another man is like a book that’s casually borrowed, what is a married man who is shared with another woman? Maybe you didn’t put a lot of thought into your comment before you wrote it, but consider how it perpetuates the notion that it’s justifiable to treat women–but not men–like property.

  43. Bill J
    July 23, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Thanks for another great interview! I was expecting bitterness and anger but all I heard was sincere love. Like so many of us, The Mattssons have arrived at a point where your beliefs have to change to meet the circumstances. Life will never be the same. On one level you wish for simpler times but you would not change things if you had the chance. After that, you realize that you will never be in a position of leadership in the church and enjoy your time teaching sunday school!

  44. Di
    July 23, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I’m on my second listen through and have really enjoyed listening to this interview. Thanks John and the Mattssons for doing it.

    (I’m sorry for asking, John, since you’d prefer less focus on the transcript but I wasn’t finding anything with a search) Does anyone know what this research about the Book of Abraham out of BYU MJ and RT kept referring to is? By their timeline it should have come out in 2011/2012, but I didn’t see anything.

    • Brian
      July 23, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      Having been down this road before, my sense is that it is the same painting, only using different colors. The substance of the BoA “translation” will never change. The only thing that changes is how it gets presented. With the new scripture headings, it will no doubt focus on expanding and explaining what an “inspired translation” is.

    • Bill Kilpatrick
      July 24, 2013 at 12:02 am

      I wondered about that myself. While I’ve seen some awfully resourceful and creative ways to reconcile Joseph Smith’s translation of the facsimiles with the translations of qualified Egyptologists, we’re three years after the promise of late-breaking info that would resolve these Book of Abraham issues – but I haven’t seen anything come out that fits such a description.

  45. Robert
    July 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Am I hearing/reading this right? After the meeting with Elder Jensen, the local church leaders contacted those who attended and asked them to either resign or remain silent? I feel very sad.

    • Bill Kilpatrick
      July 23, 2013 at 11:58 pm

      Yes, that’s what Mattson said on Episode 4. The Stake President contacted the bishops of all 25 persons in attendance and they were called in by their bishops and asked, “Are you in or out?” Mattson said he’d been contacted by a number of these people, that something like four of them decided to leave the Church over it, and that he thought it was unfortunate that this tactic was employed. He questioned whether Jesus – who spoke of leaving the ninety-and-nine to seek out that lost sheep – would act in such a fashion. I didn’t see anything in the transcript to support this, but according to Mattsen, everyone was told to keep their issues to themselves. I don’t know if that’s his impression, or something said later, or if it was an echoing of what he, himself, was told by his Stake President. Mattson did say that he was directed not to speak about these issues with any church members or his family.

  46. Bob L
    July 23, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I have listened to the first half of the audio version of the meeting along with the accompanying text and so far it matches word for word excepting where someone says something in Swedish.

    Also, I went to http://www.lds.org/search?q=Hans+Mattsson&lang=eng&domains=

    There’s no mention of Hans and Brigitta Mattson beyond old faith promoting articles from Ensign articles. There’s no mention of the New York Times interview and the news feed is shut down.

    Hmmm.

    Also discovered a new word. supercilious which means “hubris”. From wikipedia “Hubris /ˈhjuːbrɪs/, also hybris, from ancient Greek ὕβρις, means extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power. Hubris is usually associated with the “simple-minded”. The adjectival form of the noun hubris is “hubristic”. Thanks Rob.

    • Rob
      July 23, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      Haha, glad to be of service.
      If you liked that word, you’ll probably like a fun new word I learned ast week: aporia.
      It’s a wonderful word for an irreconcilable internal contradictions in an argument or document (though it can just mean an expression of doubt, which is less cool)

      • Bill Kilpatrick
        July 23, 2013 at 11:52 pm

        It’s the title of the periodic publication of BYU’s Philosophy Department.

    • July 25, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      I listened to the first half as well and I have to say, they came across totally different to me in voice than in text. They came off as really nice guys who were trying to do their best but didn’t have answers. In text they came off to me as evasive and a little dishonest.

  47. Andrew Hunter
    July 23, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    John, I truly appreciate your amazing podcasts, especially this illuminating interview with the Mattssons. What amazing courage and refreshing honesty from both of these thoroughly decent individuals.
    In stark contrast, something clearly has to be done to address the LDS church’s questionable interpretation of divine Truth and of its history, that many of us have been exposed to and spoon fed for so many years.
    Those of us who have totally believed and invested in the LDS church 100% for so long, cannot possibly be expected to accept these lame and, to be perfectly frank, insulting responses from church representatives, or, and more alarmingly, the ongoing stupor and evasive tactics employed by the very Lord’s anointed themselves.
    Complete honesty, accountability and transparency from the Brethren, as so honourably displayed by the Mattssons, is so desperately needed, if the church is to continue in its exclusive claim as the Lord’s one and only official conduit to heaven.
    As Apostolic witnesses of the Lord himself, total honesty and integrity is paramount and should be expected of each of them and in all circumstances.
    Without such, the church can relinquish all claims of divine authority, but can continue to exist as a rather compelling social and cultural entity only, for those who wish to remain.

  48. Bill Kilpatrick
    July 23, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    I read through the transcript and did not see much in the way of answers. It has been argued that Jensen and Turley lacked the time to adequately cover all these topics, but they certainly had the time to give the answers they gave – many of which were, “We don’t know,” or “I have a book coming out” or “Next year, there’s some great stuff coming out that will answer that question.”

    I don’t know how those in attendance couldn’t have felt hustled by these non-answers. “We don’t know” is a poor answer to a question like, “Why did Joseph Smith marry women who were already married, some of them to brethren in the Church?” D&C 132 doesn’t create a theological justification for this. There is no revelation that carves out an exception to Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery. If you “don’t know,” and you’re the Church’s historian and assistant historian, who would know? And if nobody knows, one might wonder why no “revelation” has been given in more than a century of revelations and prophets. Maybe there isn’t a justification just waiting to descend like a Tetris piece.

    But even “We don’t know” or “It’s complicated” are so much better than “I’ve got a book coming out” or “Next year, there will be information coming out about this.” These people had honest, earnest, reasonable questions. The Book of Abraham, for example, is highly problematic. With the Book of Mormon, there are no golden plates available for inspection, but with the Book of Abraham, any Egyptologist could look at the papyri, as well as Joseph Smith’s translations of the facsimiles and his attempted Egyptian glossary. The Egyptologists have weighed in, and their findings have been brutal. If the best response is to argue that we don’t have the rest of the papyri, or to tell people that better info will be out later, that’s not a very satisfying response.

    I don’t feel that Jensen and Turley answered more than two of these questions – why Joseph Smith is presented as “translating” what was really more of a “revelation” (needing no props, because it wasn’t about the characters) and what to say about DNA and the Book of Mormon. Even then, their answers give the impression that Joseph Smith could have just made it all up. Their discussion about DNA also sounded fuzzy, one that didn’t seem particularly convincing.

    Their approach seems long on style and short on facts. That’s unfortunate, given their role as the Church’s most definitive pair of historians. I can only imagine that this meeting must have been deeply disappointing to the faithful who had attended in the hopes of getting decent answers to some very compelling questions.

  49. Bob L
    July 24, 2013 at 2:01 am

    I just finished listening to part 4 of the interview.
    Hans, I love your simple honesty and your integrity. When someone is so tormented like this, it means he is sensitive to spiritual things.
    Brigitta, when I listened to you supporting your husband and feeling angst over his pain, and putting your marriage before the Church I wanted to cheer. After 27 years of marriage I discovered my wife was more committed to the Church than me.
    Hans made a comment, “It’s a great community” and “there are some wonderful people”. Then he made a comment “That it’s wonderful as long as you don’t try to make sense of it.” I wonder how he’ll feel about not being able to qualify for a temple recommend and or being able to see his children getting married should they decide to marry in the temple. I’ll be surprised if the Church leaves him alone after this interview or after the interview with the NY Times. I laughed when he said, “I can’t believe Jesus the Christ would say I think we should build a mall.” What genuinely good people. Also John, as someone else has mentioned, a very thoughtful interview. The story of the Mattssons isn’t anywhere near over.

  50. Rolf
    July 24, 2013 at 4:26 am

    I’m an active member – that might not fit the standard model. I really love history and the church – I love the fact that we come from many different cultures, backgrounds and histories. I really appreciated Mormon Stories for exposing me to many different views and individual stories of very interesting people. I’m also very thankful for the scriptures, good books, and testimonies from all kinds of people. When I say good books, I mean all kinds of books from members and non members on history and other topics. I can enjoy books from FARMS and Signature books – I simple love to hear the other side of the story. Even though I love the church – I’m very critical to some of its programs. We should teach our true history with all the “glory and warts” in primary, Sunday school, Relief society, Priesthood, Seminary and Institute. I would like to see lesson manuals like the 1957 Priesthood manual, “An Approach to the BoM” by Hugh Nibley. We should have no problems with asking the primary children to bring a hat and a nice stone to class next Sunday when we talk about how JS translated the BoM.
    The programs define what the leaders feel/believe are the best way of moving the gospel forward. These programs are part of their stewardship and they will have to give an account of the effectiveness of these programs to achieve the objective they were created for. It’s like taking a drivers license – we could create a program to help you get your license, but if 80% of the people fail the test after following the program something is wrong with the program. If I compare this to the missionary program – we have the requirements for a convert in the scriptures (see D&C 20:37), yet up to 80% of convert baptisms end in inactivity. We have to fix the program – perhaps the ward council should accept a baptismal candidate – to make sure that they are properly taught and integrated in the congregation, and that the Bishop should conduct the baptismal interview – will that improve the retention rate?
    The some can be said about church history, if 80% of the members would be shock to find out about the “true” history – we have a problem, and it’s totally unnecessary. Tell it as it is – either we are talking about teaching investigators or teaching church history or both – at the end it’s between the individual person and God. But we do not want them saying, that we conceal something from them – then we have a problem. Christ taught a large group of people after he had fed them that he was the bread of life (John 6) – they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life – and in the scriptures it said that many did not understand him and “walked no more with him” (John 6:66) – I have often thought, why didn’t Christ make it easier for them to understand, since so many left him. He just told them how it is – and let the consequences follow. We don’t need to “white wash” the history.
    My heart goes out to everyone that has lost faith in the restored gospel – I feel confident that everything will work out for the best in the end – God loves all His children, the restored gospel teaches me that – life is not an easy journey. I do not judge you – I only have good feeling for you!

  51. Rolf
    July 24, 2013 at 4:28 am

    Just a little observation – I was watching the end of a basketball game on TV many years ago when my brother came into the room – just then the “blue” team scored 6 points in a row, the score was then around 80 to 40 and the game was over. He said to me; boy the “blue” team really beat the other team up badly. I said, you might think so from what you saw, but the fact was that the “blue” team lost to the “red” team – the “red” team was by far the best team.
    Sometimes members in the church are exposed to problems (points by the other team) or sometime even the church scores points for the other team (not being open about church history) and it looks really bad – but please count all the points before deciding which “team” won the game. There are so many wonderful and beautiful points scored by the restore gospel (you can read about this in many good books).
    This game is not won by 100 to 0 as some member believe – we know from the D&C that the Lord is not always pleased with His prophets, they make mistakes as we all do. Due to the internet and some of our faulty programs – the other team has scored some points – but they are still far behind. We as a church should reorganize our defense (change/modify our programs and teach our history with the Glory and warts), in order to get the offence going.

    • Jeff
      July 24, 2013 at 5:09 am

      Hi Rolf,

      As a sports fan, I appreciate the analogy. However, I disagree with the score. As I stated earlier in the comments, I still attend but only as a semi-active, unorthodox member. When I first began researching, it was actually by accident, and I tried to put away the negative/contradictory stuff in order to focus on FARMS/FAIR. I, like so many other members who struggle, was once extremely devoted. I read my scriptures, read books like “Jesus the Christ” by James Talmage, I prayed (especially when the first doubts came), etc. As great as it would be if the score was 80-40, it isn’t; that was the sad reality I had to discover.

      I hope the church makes reforms like updating the manuals with more accurate history, getting rid of the exclusivity claim, and making an overall move away from strict orthodoxy. If they made the necessary changes, then they could emphasize the wonderful points of the gospel. I doubt it will happen, though.

    • j
      July 24, 2013 at 8:14 am

      I am sorry you view this as an us verses them situation. We are all in this together.

  52. square peg
    July 24, 2013 at 6:52 am

    I so much admire Brigitta’s devotion to her husband and her sweet compassion for him. I wish all marriages that faced this crisis could experience the same levels of support for each other. Very touching.

    Thanks so very much John for this interview. I wish I dared share it with my loved ones.

  53. j
    July 24, 2013 at 8:19 am

    I forwarded the new York times article to my TBM mother (I’m an active member my self). She said she would not watch the video or read the article and that this person is deceived by the devil. She doesn’t even know the issues being talked about and thinks they are unfounded lies. Any one have some suggestions on how to get threw to some one who puts their head in the sand.

    • Rob
      July 24, 2013 at 9:19 am

      My suggestion is to stop trying.
      As much as information is important, it cannot be thrust onto people.
      The only caveat is if she needs the information to overcome real damage in her life (mental, emotional, financial, etc…), in which case you sometimes have to push harder.

      But, assuming that she is happy where she is at, my advise is to let her stay in her comfort zone.
      I was a very happy mormon, but when I saw flaws I had to leave.
      I know others who are convinced it isn’t true, but they stay because it’s easier for them.
      Who am I to say that their choice is wrong?
      I value integrity very highly, but maybe they value peace more, or some other thing they get from staying in the church.

      Point is that everyone derives validation from something. As much as I dislike the church, it can be a very validating source for people.

      That doesn’t mean you need to tolerate double standards (i.e. she gets to send you ludicrous stories [be it religion or health or tabloids or whatever] and you don’t get to send her anything she doesn’t already 100% agree with) but the double standard can be ended either by her not sharing, or her allowing you to share: both are viable.

  54. Randy
    July 24, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I very much enjoyed listening to Hans talk about his experiences. It is so good to hear from people who have gone through something similar to what I have recently. Thank you John for all you do for those of us who have had our world turned upside down.

    For those defending the church, it is unfair and condescending to say that historical issues or character flaws in the leaders are not good reasons to leave the church or to lose your testimony. Or to say that modern members have no excuse for not knowing about some of the historical issues. We all go to the same lessons in church and we all hear the historical fables that are told there, the Thomas Marsh milk strippings story being the most recent lie taught from a sunday school lesson manual. We were taught a story about the beginnings of the church and we loved it, we embraced it, we went on missions to tell people about it, we shared it with our friends and families. We were told to never look anywhere else to learn the history except from church approved books. We hear about friends and ward members who have questions and we think ‘I am going to study this out and find answers to their questions.’ Then we find out that the story we were told and taught is not true, or only partially true. That there are blatant lies and misdirections being taught from the correlated church manuals. We feel very betrayed and upset with the church and its leaders when we learn this. We put so much trust in them and we have made many sacrifices for the church and they were not telling us the whole truth. This is why we leave, there is a lack of trust, and we begin to see the way the church treats its members sometimes and it begins to look less helpful as an organization and more suspicious.

  55. Scott Lambson
    July 24, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I had a member of my sunday school class ask me about some of these issues. Then I read the article in the New York Times. Then I did some research on the internet and then I decided to hear a little of this podcast. I was alarmed at first at what I read on the internet and how nicely it was packaged without any room for doubt. But then when I read the other sides position, I learned there was room for much doubt regarding the skeptics of the church. Bottom line. It gets down to your faith. If you are going to believe..then you will believe…you will put the i don’t knows..i don’t understands on the back burner until such time as you understand them…if you are not going to believe..then it is easy to believe all the positions of the non-believer. As for me, I am still a believer and I will still stand on the side of those who believe.
    .

    • Rob
      July 24, 2013 at 11:43 am

      While there is room for debate in most issues, there are also issues that are clear.
      The Book of Abraham was talked about by the group in Sweden, but there is becomes a debate about what translation means and how much of the papyri we have.
      But if you look at the Facsimiles, we have canonized scripture mistranslated.
      There’s no “speaking as a man” wiggle room.
      There’s no “that’s not doctrine, but advice/parable”
      And there’s not “we only have a portion of the papyri”
      It there. It’s mistranslated.

      Now, you can say that faith comes in and tells you that it doesn’t matter for some reason, but the facts of it being wrong are indisputable.

  56. Dale
    July 24, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Rolf,

    What would you think if the current Prophet, Seer and Revelator said he just got a revelation by putting his head in a hat and that revelation said that the Latinos, Hispanics, and Native Americans were cured with a dark skin because of their forefathers’ filthiness? Well, the first Prophet, Seer and Revelator did and said exactly that. Well, from a personal point of view, my son is 100% Latino and was raised in the church. He, like many Latinos, Hispanics and Native Americans find this revolting and disgusting. And being labeled a “Lamanite” by the Mormon Church is so very offensive to many of our dear brown skinned brothers and sisters. Living in a fantasy environment that all is well in Pleasantville seems to be the problem with many devout church members, like myself, that has gone through literal Hell when we found the truth. I think Tom said it best earlier in his post of July 22, 2013 at 8:25 am, “The answers were surface answers because they don’t have the answers. They haven’t been written yet. This is a stall tactic to give the academics the chance to come up with something. To the posters who are active members of “The Church”, it is not about “not being able to handle the truth right now in our life. That is a coined church phrase. It is “about the truth” something we haven’t received for 183 years. This about the changes in scripture without it being voted on. Writing things in scripture as a JS revelation, after he was dead. Historical changes. Completely made up scripture from docs that weren’t real. What is the difference between Warren Jeffs marrying and having sex with 12 and 14 years old girls and Joseph Smith doing it, because Joseph was a true prophet? Really! Everyone needs to step back and look at the facts as they are NOW. The Book of Abraham was my biggest problem and I believe many GA’s if not all do not believe JS was a prophet since the discovery of the BOA. They couldn’t possibly and still be honest men.”

    I know that John Dehlin July 22, 2013 at 8:40 am wants to keep this focused on Hans/Birgitta. “FWIW, I’d love for the conversation to largely focus on Hans/Birgitta (and the interview) if possible. Thanks much.” I feel this is a much bigger issue. Families, Marriages, and Lives have been destroyed as a result of the Church’s inaction! I would like the Church to help these people, like Hans/Birgitta and all of us who have given so much and now feel abandoned.

    • Rolf
      July 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Hi Dale,
      I’m sorry for what the church has done in your life, your hurt feelings and the time you feel you have wasted all these years. I wish I could help you, I really do. I believe Christ can – he has helped me, and I’m only a simple Norwegian. I only wrote my comments because I worked two years in Sweden and felt I knew many of the people that Hans and Birgitta knew from my year in Gothenburg and my year in Stockholm. It can be very difficult living in a country where English is not your main language – most books on church history are written in English. This makes it even more difficult to gain a correct picture of our history. I have also lived 11 years in Utah and know some of the challenges we face both in Utah and in the mission field related to church history (I actual went to the same high school as Mark Hoffman) I have had many calling in church, but most members know me as the strange Sunday school teacher.
      I can tell my class that I don’t particularly like Nephi – because I can’t relate to him – he is perhaps to full of himself? I would like to hear Laman and Lemuel’s story – the only thing that saves Nephi is 2 Nephi 4:17.
      I might also ask my class what an average member is like – when they answer; they go to church, have callings, keep the Word of Wisdom, pay tithing … I tell them, sorry – the average member does not go to church, does not pay tithing and most likely does not keep the WofW. Of the 14 mill members perhaps only 35% are active and in some counties only 10-15% are active.
      I can ask them, who will have an eternal marriage? Some say only those that have been married in the Temple – I remind them that all will be married in the Temple, your wonderful Lutheran neighbors, your wonderful atheist neighbors, what counts is how we treat our families – that’s the “good news” of the restored gospel. The Plan of Salvation is for all of Gods children. Christ atonement was not only for the very few active members in the church, but for all mankind.
      We have some wonderful discussions – which you will not necessarily find in the manual.
      I share this with you because I don’t always fit into this church either, but I do believe despite all its faults, that it is the Lords Church. I’m sure Christ understands your feelings and he will dry your tears and comfort you and your family. Your feelings are real. Even if you do not believe in the church, I hope you still believe in Christ. I wish you all the best. If you are ever in Norway, look me up.

  57. Thomas
    July 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    John,

    Thank you so much for another great interview. I found one of the topics discussed particularly interesting. At one point, you discuss the Swedish members’ perceptions of Americans, and their thoughts on being part of an American church. You also talked about how American foreign policy has caused Europe to lose some of its affection toward the U.S.

    I get the impression that Europeans are struggling with the church more than we Americans, as a whole. I wonder if belonging to an American institution has become a liability for the church in Europe. To put it another way, does American foreign policy cause European members to question their affiliation with the church and start them on a path to doubting their beliefs? I served my mission in Germany in 2000-2002, and I often wondered why we couldn’t find people to convert, when it seemed that missionaries had so much success in past decades. I think Europe’s disaffection with the United States could be a factor. I would love to ask the Mattssons their thoughts on this.

  58. July 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    My question is to you John Dehlin. I have listened to mormon stories for about a year or so now. Great stuff. You seem to be in a more peaceful and content place now after you have met with your stake president recently. What has helped you reconcile the troubling issues and history with your testimony of the restored gospel recently?

    • July 24, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      Chad – Did you hear my interview from earlier this year?

      http://mormonstories.org/john-dehlin-and-faith-reconstruction/

      • July 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm

        I think I did. I will have to listen to it again though.

        This current podcast was very interesting to me. When you have former 70′s and current 70′s (according to Grant Palmer) doubting the history of the church there are some serious issues that need to be addressed. it seems as though NO ONE has the answers to any of the troubling history issues or doctrines. Everyone is thirsty for satisfying answers but we cannot find any satisfactory answers to quench the thirst. What really resonated with me with this podcast was when Hans spoke about how he wrote down 3 pages of spiritual experiences from his life but those experiences don’t match what he understands in his mind from his church history studies for the last several years. I can just feel that he is like how do I reconcile these great spiritual experiences I felt with what I now know in my mind. I feel the exact same way as he does. In my opinion I believe that the leaders that we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators need to start adding some more sections to the doctrine and covenants regarding these issues so we have some direction from the Lord himself.

        Concerning the Grant Palmer quote above is there anymore information coming forth that you know of concerning his meeting with the 70 and Mission President?

        • July 24, 2013 at 5:45 pm

          I feel exactly the same as you, Chad.

          • Seasickyetstilldocked
            July 25, 2013 at 8:53 am

            Spiritual experiences can be real, they just don’t have to mean what the church tells you they mean. You can give whatever meaning to your spiritual experiences you want. Spiritual experiences don’t have to mean the church is true. Intact, they can ean any number of thing that frankly, make way more sense.

  59. Wyoming
    July 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    For me, the cognitive dissonance comes from reconciling troubling actions by early church members and the personal revelations I have received specific to the existence of God, the Book of Mormon, LDS missionary work, and the power of the Priesthood to overcome very real dark forces. I have chosen to trust my own experience over a flawed and often foggy history.

    • Linda from Maryland
      July 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks you so much for your comment. I feel exactly the same way. There are so many questionable things to point to in church history and policy, but what do you do with a lifetime of spiritual witness and even miraculous answers to prayer? Is a real dilemma, but I choose to stay.

  60. Tom
    July 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Dale, well said ” I feel this is a much bigger issue. Families, Marriages, and Lives have been destroyed as a result of the Church’s inaction! I would like the Church to help these people, like Hans/Birgitta and all of us who have given so much and now feel abandoned.”
    The reason what I and you said is important because it all intertwines with each other. Everything. You can’t separate Hans/Birgitta because we are them. Our lives have been devastated with lies. Because of the lies and non answers I have lost my 3 TBM Mormon children, because I left the club. Banished from Children and grandchildren. It is all very important that the truth comes out.There will be TBM’s that no matter what is proven, said, defined, etc., will never doubt because they can’t handle their world being shaken. I am just waiting for the next GA to come out. It will start adding up.

    • July 24, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      I am going through this now. The pain is unimaginable. You are right, Tom. Families are destroyed. Children are being taught how evil and “offensive to the Spirit” I am. If I bring up ANYTHING, they use gestapo techniques like the PDF which was linked above. No answers at all, just really anger in reaction to legitimate criticism, then total and complete angry alienation.

      • Dale
        July 24, 2013 at 6:45 pm

        Crystal,

        My heart goes out to you. My journey for the past five years has been a “Journey Through Hell!’ There must be tens of thousands who are going through this. Families being destroy by the church that spends countless millions on radio and TV ads portraying that families are the central principle of the gospel seems to be a contradiction. Life experiences of those devout members who have found the real truth in many cases turns into a nightmare trip. We who have lost faith in a flawed doctrine are labeled. NO ONE LIKES TO BE LABLED! ─ This stigma of “Wearing a Label” in part arises from the church labeling those who have found the truth, and I quote from an LDS publication, “When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel, they are in a state of apostasy, (LDS or Mormon Publication, “TRUE TO THE FAITH.”) And it is not just being ‘Labeled an Apostate,’ but also being shunned as one who has drifted from the true church and is in a “State of Misery” unless he or she returns and again repents and joins the “Throng of True Believers who have not Lost their Faith.”

        • July 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm

          This is the one thing in all of this that defies me. I can understand some people believing the gospel and some not, but I can’t understand a parent turning away from a child when they give up on the church.

          I have known and admired many good men and women in the church for 30 years, and I simply can’t believe what they are willing to say to their grown children who have a faith crisis. These are former Bishops, Mission Presidents, Stake Presidents and Relief Society Presidents–great friends all–who are willing to say things like “It’s not that we love the Church more than you; it’s that we love the Lord more than you.”

          “I forbid you to talk about any of this to your brothers and sisters.” “We will not permit your poison at our family reunion.”

          These wonderful kids say things like, “I don’t think I can even go home for Christmas.” And I tell them what Carol Lynn Pearson said in an interview with John Dehlin: “You go. You go home for Christmas and you be the best, most positive, most loving and supportive example you have ever been.”

          Isn’t that what Christ would do?

    • Dale
      July 24, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      Thanks, Tom.

    • Dale
      July 24, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      Tom,

      I think we’ve hit upon the central issue at large here, and that is the devastation and destruction of families when the institution of a church comes before and between our families. Those of us with integrity and principles are repulsed and revolt when we discover the truth of the Mormon Church engaging in lies, deceit, changing doctrine, and the cover up of disgusting practices such as sexual behaviors by the founder of the church, Joseph Smith, that would constitute a crime under our current laws protecting young girls and boys from predators. And because of our stance against an institution of lies, we find ourselves being ostracized by the very institution we gave our time, talents and money. And you are so right when you say, “You can’t separate Hans/Birgitta because we are them. Our lives have been devastated with lies.” My hope is that more people will see the devastation that is taking place and the tide will turn. What is in our favor is that the church can’t destroy the source of knowledge, such as the case of the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor newspaper by the church in 1844.

  61. Dale
    July 24, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Hi Rolf,

    I guess with the name of “Dale” I must be Norwegian also. My grandmother was a full Norwegian and she married a German from Germany. That leaves me to be, I guess, a “Mutt!’ At any rate, that is what I use to call my mixed bread dogs. I, like you, have held many callings, including 12 years teaching primary children, 12 years teaching Sunday school children, 8 years as a first councilor in a Bishopric, and 4 years on a Stake High Council. They were wonderful years and I enjoyed the journey. I love Mormon people. They are the “Salt of the Earth!” I have a Doctorate Degree in Science and am a “Fact Based Guy.” Over my career as a Senior Scientist for the U.S. Navy I made a lot of decisions that affected our country’s National Security. I would never have come to my superiors and told them my decision was based on Fantasy, as opposed to Facts. This is where I have problems with Joseph Smith. Science has proven he failed on his so-called translation of the Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri and likewise science has proven him wrong on his so-called translation of the Kinderhook plates. The church has admitted that the Kinderhook Plates hoax was a fraud. I don’t think any credible academic in the church believes that Abraham had anything to do with the Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri, which are “The Breathing Permit of Hor,” “The Book of the Dead of Ta-Sherit-Min,” “The Book of the Dead Chapter 125 of Nefer-ir-nebu,” “The Book of the Dead of Amenhotep,” and “The Hypocephalus of Sheshonq,” as well as some loose fragments and patches.. So finally, since science has proven, without a doubt, that Joseph Smith failed to translate the Egyptian Papyri and the Kinderhook Plates, we are now left to believe that he translated the Book of Mormon with a peepstone in a hat? As a scientist I have a real hard time connecting the dots, ie, calling Joseph Smith a Prophet. But most seriously are the irrefutable data and evidence that labels Joseph as a Sex Predator from the mouth of one of his victims, a young innocent girl, Lucy Walker, ─ This is Revolting. Rolf, I just can’t get past these issues. My family has undergone devastation beyond comprehension because of the church. A church that is supposed to build families is actually destroying them. This is serious. Having warm fuzzes about failed science and sexual predators is beyond me. As I said, my callings and experiences teaching in primary and Sunday school will be treasured memories for the rest of my life. Thanks for you warm comments.

    • Rolf
      July 25, 2013 at 1:01 am

      Hi Dale, my fellow Norwegian.

      Have you heard the saying?

      Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater (it’s a German saying – I think)

      Organizations are tricky – it seems whenever you try to gather a group of people together and organize them – no matter how high and elevated the purpose of this group is, you will find a lot of dirt, and I mean a lot of dirt. It seems like it’s human nature (see D&C 121:39). This is why you will find support groups on the internet for all religions, large cooperation’s, we also have “whistleblower” in government, military and in all walks of life. I for one support this effort – we should get to the truth. I tell my friends if you are looking for the perfect(or a little bit perfect) organization, that be – religious, cooperate, government or institutions, you won’t find it – sorry.
      I work in a company that is the world leader in an application segment. I have many co-workers that have PhDs in different scientific fields that I work with – most people would be very surprised to hear how often they disagree among themselves on scientific matters, and some of them express their lack of respect for other co-workers in private conversations with me. Some have left, some have come back, some settle in and try to focus on what works and with “long suffering” hope things will change. That’s why I wrote about keeping score – like Hans did with his 3 pages of spiritual experiences. We should count points(spiritual/intellectual/physical) for and against – and see what we end up with. I’m glad you wrote: “As I said, my callings and experiences teaching in primary and Sunday school will be treasured memories for the rest of my life”.
      I pray God will bless you and your family – with peace of mind.
      We are probably distant cousins – your grandmother being Norwegian.

      About your questions on the BofA – have you read the book by Hugh Nibley: One Eternal Round – or his parable about the boy that finds a diamond in a field? Great reading!

      • Jeff
        July 25, 2013 at 6:25 am

        Hi Rolf,

        If you don’t mind this Italian-American jumping in again, haha…

        I think you are on the right track in terms of considering spiritual experience along with rational, empirical thought. For me, I have come to the conclusion that there are many major tenets of the church that I cannot believe and, to paraphrase Thomas Paine, I need to remain mentally faithful to myself. I love my friends at church, and I credit the church with providing me a solid moral base, but as I get older, I realize I want something that I can wholeheartedly believe in. Although I want them to with all my heart, the writings of men like Hugh Nibley just did not and do not suffice for me.

        • Rolf
          July 25, 2013 at 1:02 pm

          Hi Jeff,

          I don’t mind at all, I spent 6 beautiful months in Milano, Italy – I love Italians. I think your comments are fair – we do need to “remain mentally faithful” to ourselves – thanks!

      • Dale
        July 25, 2013 at 8:37 am

        Rolf,

        Yes, my fellow Norweigian . . . although I’m only part, but I guess that counts?

        OK, I would like to comment on the Joseph Smith Papyri with respect to Nibley and the scholars who have studied it. But first just a little about me. I grew up in poverty in a coal camp. My father was a coal miner as was my grand father and great grand father. I guess I was fortunate to not end up 2000 feet below the ground digging coal. Thanks to my mother that did not happen. I crawled out of that pit of misery and earned a Ph.D. in science and engineering and had a fabulous career with the U.S. Navy as a senior scientist. One of my scientific acoustic investigations saved the Navy “Billions of Dollars!” I did not view science as a fantasy, but based decisions on fact. I was honored as one of the top-ten engineers in the U.S. by the National Society of Professional Engineers and was ultimately inducted into the Hall of Fame at my Alma mater. OK enough on me. I and Reed Nibley, Hugh’s younger brother, were close friends. He and I were home teachers. I loved and respected Reed. I have treasured pictures of Reed and me in homes alongside with the families we taught. He has gone to the great beyond and I’m sure is carrying on in great stride as he did on earth. He was truly a wonderful man. As far as Hugh goes . . . well that is a different story. Here is how he is viewed in the academic world by Dr. Ritner who is one of the world foremost Egyptologist. If you have not read Robert K. Ritner’s works, you may want to. He is extremely respected and honored as a man of integrity and honor.

        “Nibley 1968-70 (January 1968), p. 23. Within this and continuing installments, Nibley undercuts this “appeal to authority” by a series of personal attacks: Mercer, “a hustling young clergyman” (ibid., p. 21), is extensively attacked in May 1968, pp. 55-57, and June 1968, 18-22, not “primarily to discredit the authority” of the scholar, but to illustrate “the limitations and pitfalls of Egyptology in general” (June 1968, p. 22). Presumably for the same reason, Nibley notes that Sayce was a “spoiled dilettante” (July 1968, p. 50), that Petrie “never went to a theatre” (ibid.), that Meyer “lacked aesthetic sense” (ibid, p. 51) but had a rationalistic bent that “ineffectively (!!) disqualifies himself from the jury” (p. 52), that Breasted was “pro-German” (p. 54), and that von Bissing had “an uncompromising loyalty to a feudal society and feudal religion — hardly the man to look with a kindly eye on the supernaturalism … of a Joseph Smith” (p. 54, emphasis added). European “feudal religion,” of course, presupposed the reality of supernatural intervention, but Nibley’s logic is peculiar in these tracts circulated only among the faithful. The Egyptologists are stigmatized as being idiosyncratic and aloof, which should make their unified assessment even more compelling. In any case, Nibley wanted a sympathetic audience, not Egyptological fact. The August 1968 continuation derides the careers of T. Devéria, J. Peters, A. C. Mace, A. M. Lythgoe, G. Barton, E. Banks and E. A. W. Budge. Nibley’s tactic has been adopted by his followers. In 2002, however, the New Yorker signaled exhaustion with the topic: “Today, even Nibley seems weary of the effort to authenticate the Book of Abraham” (Lawrence Wright 2002, p. 53). Nibley’s zealous involvement with the Smith papyri would later be blamed in a family tragedy; see Scott Gordon‘s LDS review (2005) of Martha Nibley Beck’s 2005 biography, Leaving the Saints: “Beck accuses her father of putting on an Egyptian costume and ritually abusing her, something all seven of her siblings deny… Martha claims (p. 147) that her father dressed up as the Egyptian god Amut the Destroyer by putting on a costume with an alligator head and a lion’s body and molesting her between the ages of 5 and 7… Martha blames the whole incident on the stress of having to defend the Book of Abraham when Nibley knew it was a fraud.”

        Rolf, Hugh Nibey carried out personal attacks on those he wanted to demonize. I would not want this as a legacy!

        • Rolf
          July 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm

          Hi Dale,

          Sorry – you lost me there. I think you already know that Martha is not a credible witness. This has been well documented by the family – as I’m sure you already know.

          This is an important point – when we use the internet and comment as we do here – we really don’t know the people behind the comments – I might be an insecure, bitter, feel sorry for myself, know-it-all that has no friends, guy. I know many people in and out of the church – that when you get to know them – they simple have no credibility – this takes time to find out, and you have to spend time with them to see how they live their lives – how they function with other people – do they always see themselves as a victim, it’s never their fault – they always have someone else to blame. That’s why we value some people’s opinion more than others.

          A good deal, if not most of the people that know the most about Church history and its sources – are active LDS. Why is that? People like; Richard Bushman, Juanita Brooks, Leonard Arrington, Royal Skousen, Terryl Givens, Hugh Nibley, Grant Hardy, Richard Anderson, and many more. These are credible witnesses of church history. They are also not afraid of informing us of the “difficult topics” in Church history, and yet they are active. I’m sure you are aware of the article by Carl Mosser and Paul Owen, “Mormon Scholarship, Apologetics, and Evangelical Neglect: Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?” Trinity Journal 19, 2 (Fall 1998).

          I think when someone goes through a faith crisis he or she should evaluate the fruits of their membership in the church. If it has truly benefited them and their families – please stay. If not – you and your family have nothing to lose – and you can more on.

          Just to make it clear, as I’ve said before – the Church should teach the “difficult topics” in Church history. Then everyone can make up their own minds.

          The reason I asked if you had read Nibley’s parable about the boy that finds a diamond in a field, is because sometimes we talk around things – while we should be reading the text. Is the text credible? What did JS know about cultures in the Middle East/New world or the times of Abraham …

          • Dale
            July 25, 2013 at 6:10 pm

            Rolf,

            You can read my mind! . . . Wow! . . “I think you already know that Martha is not a credible witness. This has been well documented by the family – as I’m sure you already know.”

            Have you read any credible critiques of how Hugh Nibley missed the mark on the Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri? If not, maybe you should. Here are Hugh Nibley’s words, “”I refuse to be held responsible for anything I wrote more than three years ago. For heaven’s sake, I hope we are moving forward here.”

            Hugh Nibley’s credibility, after all his attacks on peers and associates, is not very credible with me. I stand by what I said earlier, Hugh Nibley carried out personal attacks on those he wanted to demonize. He failed to defend the church’s position that the Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri were indeed the basis for the Book of Abraham. I would not want this as a legacy! . . . “Oh these webs we weave” seems very appropriate for the legacy of Mr. Hugh Nibley.

            Do you know “without a shadow of a doubt” that Hugh Nibley did not molest his daughter? Maybe so, you seem to be able to read my mind

      • July 25, 2013 at 3:21 pm

        Hi Rolf,

        I think it’s tough to lump us with all religions when we’ve spent so much effort for so long saying we’re the only true one, we’re not like the others, our founder spoke face-to-face with God The Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

        Then to come back and say all religions have their forums and doubters, we’re just like them, is a tough sell. They really don’t have a story like ours that they’ve told so emphatically, and we’ve always made a big point of that. Jesus visited the Americas. Lamanites are the descendants of Lehi. We got a papyrus written in the hand of Abraham himself. It’s as bold and different as can be.

        Imagine if one of the twelve does as Hans has done and goes to 60 Minutes… What makes this a big story is not the story itself, but the cover-up, if it turns out there is one. How did they get away with it all those years? How did relatively normal people like you and I come to believe it with all our hearts? How do we keep believing in the face of all this?

        And if it turns out that Lance really was taking drugs all this time, and we were covering up our history all this time, it’s a very big story.

        • Rolf
          July 26, 2013 at 11:44 am

          Hi Chris,

          “Imagine if one of the twelve does as Hans has done and goes to 60 Minutes… What makes this a big story is not the story itself, but the cover-up, if it turns out there is one.”

          I agree that most members don’t know some of these difficult topics of church history. I truly regret that – this part of our history should be incorporated into our church lessons. But I have a hard time calling it a “cover-up” since this information has been available for a long time – it just hasn’t been taught in Church. I feel it is more serious with regards to people like Hans and Birgitta, since English is not their first language – and these topics are for the most part only available in English.

          I’m glad I love history and was exposed to these difficult topics before my mission over 30 years ago.

          Let’s hope for a change soon.

          • Bob L
            July 26, 2013 at 12:03 pm

            I’ve been exchanging emails with a history professor in Utah about how much the leaders of the Church know about this history you’ve said is so widely available. He says that most Church leaders,stake presidents, area authorities, general authorities are not from the internet age and know very little about these issues. If you listen to some of the other podcasts here, John admitted himself that he didn’t learn about a lot of things until he was on his mission. I’ve been a member since 1974, driving through Utah past Cedar City, to St. George and never knew about the Mountain Meadows Massacre until just a few years ago. There’s no sign or billboard promoting the site of “the most horrific massacre in American history!” Just this morning I discovered in the Salt Lake visitors center there’s a painting of Joseph and Oliver sitting across from each other translating the golden plates by oil lamp light…which if I understand correctly, just didn’t happen. They apparently have the pepperbox pistol Joseph used to defend himself in Carthage jail on display because that adds to the story of how “innocent” Joseph was against his enemies, but not the seer stone Joseph used to translate the Book of Mormon which apparently the Church has possession of.

          • July 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm

            Thanks, Rolf. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated with this, but I just can’t stop wondering how much the First Presidency and Twelve know about these issues. It seems clear that Hans and Birgitta didn’t know while he was serving. I didn’t know when I was Bishop and my friends in our stake who are returned mission presidents, stake presidents, a couple of counselors in the Oakland temple presidency, they had no idea.

            Most of them don’t want to know because they like the church and the good they feel it does now, and don’t want to have to un-remember unfortunate things.

            A couple of us remembered a statement a visiting authority made in answer to a member’s question, maybe 15 years ago that stuck with us. When asked why the church doesn’t open up it’s archives more, he responded by saying, “Because most members’ faith is not yet strong enough.” I remember thinking at that time, “Yikes, I wonder what’s in there. I don’t want to know.” I had heard so many talks about not entertaining thoughts or reading materials that would make your faith less than perfect.

  62. Robert
    July 24, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I’m really not trying to make light of this very important development, but the exchange between Jenson and Turley and Hans Mattsson and others can’t help but remind me of a few lines from one of my favorite movies–

    You want answers?
    I think I’m entitled to them.
    You want answers?
    I want the truth!
    You can’t handle the truth, son!

  63. Tim
    July 25, 2013 at 3:34 am

    John Dehlin, This is not intended to be a post (I just didn’t see anywhere else to “contact” you) What are the chances of getting contact info for Hans Mattson? Slim ?? I do understand privacy issues …Is there a way you could forward any correspondence to him or ask his permission to be contacted? I was very moved by his story and have some things I would like to share with him if at all possible.

    Thanks!!!
    Tim

  64. Alison
    July 25, 2013 at 10:04 am

    John thanks for doing this podcast. So enjoyed listening to their story and experiences. Having someone in the church like them open up and share this experience is huge for others that are going through it. When you realize the narrative you’ve been taught you’re entire life through the official sources (that you were told to rely on) is not completely accurate in some things… it brings a hosts of emotions. Despair, disillusionment, discouragement, surprise, disappointment, fear, anger, sadness, frustration, shock. You often can’t discuss it with those that are closest to you because the church itself has cautioned against reading/listening to things that contradict the official narrative. You feel guilty for doing it and others feel guilty if they ask you questions or want to know what’s going on. So you are basically silenced. You have to struggle through it yourself realizing that this new information has completely altered some of the basic framework that the claims of the church are built on. It’s not just “little insignificant historical details”. When you realize that the church has not been willing to correct/alter/expand the official narrative that is in the manuals for all church auxiliaries and what the missionaries continue to teach you can’t help but wonder why? There is no way they don’t know about this… so why in the world are they not correcting the pictures,stories,narratives? The conclusion many come to is that they realize they might damage their claims and might cause members to doubt. Not sharing it also causes doubt! The reality is it’s a pretty tough situation for a church that has been pretty literal about it’s claims and authority/truth. This is building up to erupt and gaining momentum and it’s going to erupt at some point. They are going to have to figure out what they are willing to do. Either they can continue to try to avoid/dodge/give vague answers to these issues or they can come out and explain. I’m not talking about letting BYU Studies publish things or FAIR/FARMS or Mormon historians/intellectuals…. I mean the actual official church leaders! We need to have the official church leaders address these issues themselves. They are the leaders/apostles/prophets of the church… why are they not stepping up and actually leading in this area? Why do they give vague references to the dangers of the internet, not hyperventilating when you come across certain issues… and yet not even talk about the issues? Their reaction/actions to this for the past several years has been pretty wimpy for supposed leaders who are directed/guided by God. The members need help. They need support to understand what they are learning. They don’t need to be brought into a room and asked if they are in/out? They need to be given the information in official publications/manuals and they need answers and if there are no good answers they need to know that as well. They need to know “we don’t know or we think this was a mistake or we aren’t sure why …… did/said that”. It’s a mess but one that are continue to stick their head in the sand about and hope/rely on others to give enough “answers” that might pacify the members need. It’s not working.

  65. Trent
    July 25, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I, like many of you have questioned Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and all of the same issues Mr. Mattsson has questioned. I do agree that there seems to be a large gap in what is sometimes taught and what the reality is. For some reason, I have not gotten “hung up” on most of the issues. I do think that for the most part there are reasonable explanations. I also believe that as time goes on, the Church will address these issues and as with everything, it will be up to each individual to accept or reject whatever explanations may come.

    I think that just about any issue can be manipulated and twisted to fit the philosophy or agenda of any individual or group. However, when it comes to claims that the Book of Mormon is a fraud, the question that I keep coming back to is, “Where then did it come from?” I have yet to hear any reasonable opinion as to alternative ways the document was written. If it were indeed a fraud, I would think that by now, someone could give a logical explanation as to it’s origins. Until this happens, I can’t help but believe that the Book of Mormon is exactly what it claims to be and that it was translated by Joseph Smith. To me, the hows and the whys are merely distractions that have been designed to instill little shadows of doubt that eventually grow and grow and result in disbelief.

    • Duwayne Anderson
      July 25, 2013 at 10:28 am

      The Book of Mormon came, obviously, from a 19th century author. Seems like a pretty simple explanation. No need to bring up the supernatural. No need for angels, visitations, etc. It’s quite clear it’s a fabricated history. The anachronisms make that pretty obvious,as do things like the non-statistically-distributed month dates in the Book of Mormon. The fact that the Book of Mormon fails to accurately describe any non-trivial aspects of ancient America are another indication that this “ancient American” document is no such thing.

      Here’s a simple exercise that might put the situation into perspective. Take a book that you don’t believe is a literal history. Try “Lord of the Rings,” for example. Now consider all the evidences that you’d require, in order to believe in the literal historicity of the book. Next, look at the sorts of arguments that are used to support the Book of Mormon, and consider how many of those types of arguments could be used to “prove” that “Lord of the Rings” is a literal history, too.

      I think you’ll find that apologetic arguments for the Book of Mormon could be adapted quite easily to “prove” the historicity of the Lord of the Rings. And I think you’ll find that the type of information that you’d require before believing in the Lord of the Rings is entirely missing for The Book of Mormon.

      If you look deeply, I think you’ll find that your opinion that you’ve “yet to hear any reasonable opinion as to alternative ways the document was written” is actually the result of years of indoctrination, and that an objective review of the Book of Mormon would be completely unconvincing as to its origins in ancient America.

      Take, for example, Michael Coe, who is the Charles J. MacCurdy professor emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University and curator emeritus of the Division of Anthropology at the school’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. He is an expert on the Maya, who inhabited the same part of Mexico and Central American where Mormon “scholars” say the events of the Book of Mormon took place.

      Professor Coe is one of the few non-Mormon scientific experts who have studied archaeology and the Book of Mormon to see if there is any archaeology in MesoAmerica that supports the Book of Mormon.
      He was asked to write his first article on Mormon archaeology in 1973 by Dialogue Magazine. In the article he states:

      “The bare facts of the matter are that nothing, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon, as claimed by Joseph Smith, is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere.” [Reference: 1972 Dialogue Magazine]

    • Rob
      July 25, 2013 at 10:33 am

      And if someone gave you a credible explanation, would you actually reconsider?
      While I cannot guess what your answer would be, most members would say no.
      So why does any of this matter? Why are the general authorities bent on explaining away the problems? If a testimony is just based on faith, why care about the evidence at all?

      I’m fine with someone choosing to believing something despite evidence.
      What I’m not ok with is what Hans experienced, and what I experienced.
      We are ostracized by former friends & church leaders. In many cases we are even villainized merely for voicing our concerns.

      A church that evangelizes cannot be angry at people voicing concerns or even actively promoting evidence against their organization without copious hypocrisy.

    • Jeff
      July 25, 2013 at 10:41 am

      Trent,

      If the church leaders (not apologists) have aswers that will settle the debate, I would like norhing more than to see them. Why wait this long to give the answers? I don’t think they have any; that and the fact that the leader want to stay away from the issues. Your other comment about issues being twisted is just false. There are historical problems (with any religion, actually), and just because they challenge orthodoxy does not make them contrived in order to satisfy an agenda.

      The Book of Mormon used to be the strongest portion of my testimony for the same reasons as you. But then I realized that the naturalistic interpretations were much more logical than the supernatural one. Why? His motives were pure but he was a pious fraud. How? The lack of education arument is misleading. He had sources available which are reflected in the book: Bible, Evangelical Protestantism, Social/Political/Religious Debates, Autobiographical Material…

    • Dale
      July 25, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Trent, your comments, are valid,” I think that just about any issue can be manipulated and twisted to fit the philosophy or agenda of any individual or group. However, when it comes to claims that the Book of Mormon is a fraud, the question that I keep coming back to is, “Where then did it come from?” However, have you studied B. H. Roberts?

      B. H. Roberts, an intellectual giant among the early leaders of the Mormon Church questioned the firmness of the very cornerstone of the Mormon Church, The Book of Mormon. B. H. Roberts was a Mormon Missionary in Tennessee; his six-volume Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could well be the best detailed history of the Church for the nineteenth century; his scholarly activity in behalf of his church and his outstanding proselytizing brought him early prominence and in 1888 he was sustained a member of the First Council of Seventy at the age of thirty-one.

      B. H. Roberts was, as far as I know, the first GA to question the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Here is just a sample of that he said, “Did Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews furnish structural material for Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon? It has been pointed out in these pages that there are many things in the former book that might well have suggested many major things in the other. Not a few things merely, one or two, or half dozen, but many; and it is this fact of many things of similarity and the cumulative force of them that makes them so serious a menace to Joseph Smith’s story of the Book of Mormon’s origin. . . The material in Ethan Smith’s book is of a character and quantity to make a ground plan for the Book of Mormon.” (Studies, p. 240)

    • Howard
      July 25, 2013 at 11:03 am

      Clearly there is little or no evidence to support BoM historicity. The Book simply cannot be what the church and the faithful claim it is. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that it’s Joseph’s fraud. It maybe inspired or revealed fiction. The bible certainly contains large portions that must be fiction why can’t the BoM?

    • Bob L
      July 25, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Trent, with all due respect, that may be “your truth” but not “the truth”. The tone that you give your opinion is drenching with “hubris” and the very condescension others have referred to here.

      You said, “I have yet to hear any reasonable opinion as to alternative ways the document was written.”

      So you’re wondering “Where did a book complete with quoting the exact same errors of the 18th century King James version of the bible come from?” Seems like if Joseph was being inspired directly by God he would have gotten all the errors patched up.

      People often cite how Joseph Smith could be able to write a book in such a short time. They’ll say when they write a book, there are multiple drafts and research but if you’re copying complete chapters of an existing book(s) I’m sure that would make the job easier.

      Joseph was not exactly Mr. Ethical so apparently there must have been a logical way since the book does exist. Based on LDS theology, given Joseph’s polygyny without Emma’s awareness or permission (first wives were suppose to give their permission for a man to take additional wives. Wouldn’t that apply to Joseph too?) Also he practiced polyandry where he married the wives of other men, so how could he have been “qualified” to receive the spirit to lead the Church at all?

      As an amateur magician myself, I know that there’s a logical explanation as to how he did it but The Great Houdini said that in the 25 years he had spent in magic there was not one thing he could not give a rational explanation to.

      To me and many other people, these are certainly “reasonable” and “logical” explanations, but what you really mean, again with due respect Trent, is reasonable and logical to Trent and given your devotion to the faith, that ain’t gonna happen no matter how reasonable or logical it is.

      When you’ve already decided that your position is right, no amount of proof, even if valid will be considered, but that’s just my point of view….with all due respect.

      In fact, I’m betting you think that Hans and Brigitta and anyone else who doesn’t believe it all have been led away by the spirit of the devil right? That their questioning the faith is a direct fulfillment of the prophecy that in the last days even the “very elect would be deceived” right?

      • Howard
        July 25, 2013 at 11:12 am

        Sorry, but exactly how does the practice of polyandry disqualify Joseph from receiving the Spirit and leading the church???

        • Duwayne Anderson
          July 25, 2013 at 11:32 am

          Howard wrote: “Sorry, but exactly how does the practice of polyandry disqualify Joseph from receiving the Spirit and leading the church???”

          That’s a really interesting question, Howard. For me, I wouldn’t accept an adulterer as a prophet, and I definitely think Smith’s polyandry and polygamy were acts of adultery.

          But your question raises a counter one — a question that I’ve yet to see Mormons directly answer. The question is really simple, and goes like this:

          Question: “What verifiable actions/activities might a man engage in, that would disqualify him as a prophet of god?”

          The reason this is such a cool question is that, when I ask it, my dear Mormon friends are left speechless. Some of them will start, then stop. Then think about it. Scratch their heads, etc. But in the end, nobody comes up with a list.

          I think the reason is pretty obvious, there’s literally *nothing* that the prophet might do that would result in true-believing members considering him unqualified to be “the prophet.” Apparently, the prophet could commit adultery, murder, genocide, mail fraud, speeding tickets…. you name it, and he could still count on that famous display of universal acceptance during the sustaining vote in General Conference.

          But I don’t want to spoil any answer that you might have. Seriously — is there any observable/verifiable action that a man might engage in, that would disqualify him (in your mind) as a prophet?

        • Howard
          July 25, 2013 at 11:46 am

          Duwayne,
          The Bible tells us if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. I believe Joseph was led of the Spirit and was prolific in receiving revelation and so did those around him including some of my ancestors or how did this church ever begin? By sleight of hand? To me the practice of polyandry is not self evident of any wrong doing anymore than Abraham following God in preparing to sacrifice Issac. Why is polyandry somehow worse than polygyny? I don’t get it, please see my July 23, 2013 at 12:33 pm coment.

          • Duwayne Anderson
            July 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm

            Howard asked: “Why is polyandry somehow worse than polygyny?”

            I don’t think I said it was.

            Anyway, Joseph was married to Emma, and I think when he was having sex with someone other than Emma he was committing adultery.

          • Howard
            July 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm

            So Abraham committed adultery with Hagar?

          • Duwayne Anderson
            July 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm

            Sure. And he was also guilt of child abuse for taking Issac up that mountain to sacrifice him, too.

          • Howard
            July 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm

            Thanks for clearing that up!

          • Duwayne Anderson
            July 25, 2013 at 12:24 pm

            You’re very welcome. By the way, with regard to my earlier question, may I assume that there’s no verifiable action that a man could take that would disqualify him (in your mind)as a prophet? It seems that is your answer, but I just want to make sure I understand you correctly.

          • Howard
            July 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm

            …may I assume that there’s no verifiable action that a man could take that would disqualify him (in your mind)as a prophet? No! Because you would be wrong. “Prophets, seers and revelators” who do none of those things are not prophets, seers or revelators. Are they?

          • Howard
            July 25, 2013 at 2:37 pm

            John why is my comment in moderation? Would you mind explaining by email?

          • Howard
            July 25, 2013 at 2:45 pm

            Duwayne, my answer must be stuck in the spam filter but basically I said; No because “prophets, seers and revelators” who do none of those things are not prophets, seers or revelators are they?

          • Jeff
            July 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm

            Howard,

            I apologize if I misread your statement as it came off as you assuming polygamy to be divine without question, rather than you conducting a social experiment.

            Nonetheless, I encourage you to read the link I posted if you haven’t already.

          • Pat
            July 26, 2013 at 6:40 pm

            What makes you think the Bible is anything but a lot of stories written down, without inspiration? For example many Biblical scholars and linguists know that the five books of Moses were written by 4 people, Moses not being one of them, and a man named Ezra redacted them some two hundred years after they were written. After having read “Noah’s Flood”, by two American geologists, I realize where the idea of a “world” flood came from. Th Bible cannot be used as a truth to justify Joseph’s actions. And when someone wonders how Joseph could have written the BOM, it would be pretty easy if one had “View of the Hebrews” to copy from.

            I, too, had a strong testimony of the BOM, but of course that was before I studied and prayed about it. B.H. Robert’s writings on the book helped cement my doubts. If people are happy to believe falsehoods, they should continue in the Church.

            I talked to several active members in our ward, asking them about the quote, “That which can be destroyed by truth should be”, by Hodgell. Each time I was told that if truth destroyed a testimony, we should avoid it (truth). For those members who believe in Jesus, they should remember that he was purported to have said, “The truth shall make you free.

          • Duwayne Anderson
            July 29, 2013 at 7:34 am

            Howard, I’m not sure you fully grasp my question. I’m not asking for an explanation. I’m simply asking for a list.

            Specifically, I’m asking for a list of actions/behaviors that a man might do, that would disqualify him (in your eyes) as a prophet.

            It seems to me that the answer is “the empty set.” But I don’t want to answer the question for you. If you can think of any actions/behaviors that would (in your eyes) disqualify a man as a prophet, then please describe them.

            Thanks.

        • Bob L
          July 25, 2013 at 3:08 pm

          I’m sincerely trying to understand you.

          Polyandry is taking the wives of other men.

          Polygyny is the taking on additional wives.

          Joseph Smith used his position to coerce young women to do that and without Emma’s knowledge or consent.

          So if Joseph is chosen and so loved by God does that mean he’s above keeping the commandments that apply to everyone else?

          And you don’t see a problem with that do you? Apparently not.

          Is there anything that Joseph Smith could have done to fall from grace in your eyes?

          I must be missing something here because somewhere I read “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery” and that “shall not covet your neighbor’s house. Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

          So if I understand you correctly, you believe that a prophet is above the law.

          Well at least now I understand your point of view.

          • Howard
            July 25, 2013 at 9:20 pm

            Polyandry is taking the wives of other men. Polygyny is the taking on additional wives. Bob L. that is totally a possive male view of things. To use you phraseology isn’t polygyny taking the husband of other women? Joseph didn’t invent polygyny or polygyny. Let’s assume you’re God and you want Joseph start polygamy but Emma is opposed. What would you do? Suppose you were Joseph, would you refuse God? I’m not defending how all of it was done but that assignment wouldn’t be easy to pull off. How would you gain you wife’s cooperation?

          • Jeff
            July 26, 2013 at 5:47 am

            Howard,

            A case can be made for polygamy being just about sexor about eternal life. Brian Hales is an advocate of the latter. Regardless, I think you missing the ccontextual influences which led to this “revelation.” In fact, many of Joseph’s revelations were contextually-based. During this era, many communal societies (which the “Mormons” were) tried different sexual experiments. The Shakers practiced celibacy while the Oneida commune practiced free love. Additionally, there was actually a significant amount of pro-polygamy literature floating around, advocating the “blessing of Jacob.” Another thing about Joseph was his tendency to latch on to certain Biblical scriptures and proof-text doctrines. Based on the secretive nature of polygamy, he clearly knew that its being made public would lead to increased anti-Mormon violence and could result in an apostasy greater than in Kirtland. While it may have started as being about eternal life, I think lust probably played a part when he promised salvation to woman, said an angel with a drawn sword was threatening him, and/or sent husbands off on missions. Joseph Smith’s own son, Joseph Smith III, denied his whole life that his father practiced polygamy because the doctrine was so disgusting to him. Look at the legacy of polygamy: Brigham Young had men castrated, his wife Ann Eliza Young divorced him, was essentially shunned, and spent the rest of her life criticizing the practice; finally, thousands of fundamentalists now practice it in closed off communities where men who leave live in fear of being sons of perdition.

            I think you are far to willing to defend Joseph without critically examining his actions. Howard, there is an easy answer: he made it up.

          • Jeff
            July 26, 2013 at 6:18 am

            Howard, I forgot to mention two things in my previous post:

            1) Just in case you were under the impression that polygamy was for the purpose of caring for women that is incorrect. Nauvoo censuses consistently show slightly more men than women in the community.

            2) Also, here is a concise article which discusses the historiography of polygamy. The historian who wrote it is very much respected in the Mormon history community.

            http://launiusr.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/fawn-brodie-and-the-origins-of-mormon-polyamy/

          • Howard
            July 26, 2013 at 7:36 am

            Jeff,
            I’m not deying the problems of polygamy. I am the decendant of polygamy so I have long pondered and prayed over the reason for it. Beginning with the assumption God commanded it, what could that reason be? While outside the church I experimented in poly relationships and came to the conclusion that to successfully and happily live polygamy one must become selfless giving up jealousy and possiveness. Clearly this would probably after several generations refine a believing group of people to be more Christlike. Polygamy involves sex and therefore invites lust and abuse but aren’t those to be over come too? How else can we be refined? Can you think of a better faster way? I haven’t. Yes there are strat up costs associated with poloygamy. God’s ways are not our ways.

          • Bob L
            July 26, 2013 at 11:47 am

            I keep reading about your messages concerning polygamy…polyandry…polygyny…and making such comments like your last one, “how else can we be refined?”

            As an adult, if you want to go up into the wild and live in a commune and can persuade a dozen intelligent women to be your husband…that’s great. More power to you.

            The problem is that your misguided sexual deviant behaviour could produce children and that’s where I take issue.

            A few years ago I was in Thailand on a tour and one of the parts of the tour was to see a tribe known as the “hill people” above Chiang Mai who had a tradition of banding their necks with brass rings to elongate their necks. They looked like a human beer bottle. I can’t remember what the original purpose of doing this. I think it’s something like how the Japanese women used to bind their feet to make them look smaller. if you’ve never seen them, here’s a link.
            http://funguerilla.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Padaung-1.jpg

            At first I thought of it as “how interesting” until I discovered that they’re doing the same thing to their children to create the next generation of “circus freaks” and that’s plain wrong.

            If single adults want to do stupid things, that’s their choice.

            But innocent children who are looking for direction from their parents do stupid things, their children learn from their parents.

            We can see what a disastrous affect this is having with the children of polygamist communities where we end up with all kinds of abuse and those young boys who are kicked out of the community with no education or experience to survive in today’s modern world.

            That’s why I struggle with many of the comments attributed made by people like Brigham Young who in one breath say “When a prophet speaks it’s as if God is speaking” and is suppose to be in direct contact with the God of this world, and then makes a stupid comment like “they’re uncouth and loathsome creatures”.

            I wonder about active members of the Church who are aware of all the major issues and aren’t troubled by them. There’s a disconnect there. To say “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent and virtuous…” and not be bothered by the violation of those who claim to be in touch with God is troubling to me.

            Here’s a link to the history of the “Articles of Faith” which were originally written by Oliver Cowdrey in the Messenger and Advocate in 1834. Personally I think there’s nothing virtuous or chaste about Joseph Smith. Seems like if he were being visited by God the Father, Jesus Christ and a whole host of messengers, someone would have told them to knock it off. I thought from the bible that even to look on a woman with a lustful heart was sin or did I misunderstand that part.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Articles_of_Faith_(Latter_Day_Saints)

            And that’s why Hans and Brigitta’s interview, their honesty and devotion to each other touches me so much.

          • Jeff
            July 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm

            Howard,

            You committed a serious logical fallacy by beginning with the assumption that God commanded polygamy. It is abundantly clear to me and most historians I know and have read that polygamy was derived more from a 19th century context of sexual experimentation, than from God. If you are going to just say “God’s ways are not our ways” then you have given up any chance of engaging in a scholarly discussion of the matter, considering that perhaps Joseph Smith made something up. Of course, a case can be made that polygamy can work in certain instances. However, that does not mean it was divinely inspired in the beginning. Joseph Smith used deceit to hide the full extent of it from his wife and most of the people in Nauvoo except his inner circle. He used coercion tactics on many women, and slandered the few who said no. Look me in the eye (figuratively) and tell me explicitly that, that was ordained by God.

          • Howard
            July 26, 2013 at 3:27 pm

            Jeff,
            Sorry, but there’s no logical fallacy in starting with a hypothesis and conducting a social experiment around it.

            Bob L,
            I’m not selling polygamy nor defending it’s abuses.

      • Trent
        July 25, 2013 at 11:35 am

        Actually, I think Mr. Mattsson and his wife were very sincere and I enjoyed listening to their story. I think they are much like all of us, they just want to have questions answered. I also applaud them for asking the tough questions. For me to suggest that they are simply being deceived would seem pretty self righteous and it just isn’t my style.

        I can’t help but wonder however, why, when there have been thousands of “high up” church leaders that only a very few have realized the great fraud being perpetrated against them? I don’t think anyone can argue that the administrative leaders are intelligent men and have been very successful in their private lives. I don’t think they gained their success by being “sheep” and just following the crowd. I don’t believe that they need their positions in the church for financial reasons or for power. Most of them already have those things. So I am wondering how it is that so many of them can be fooled or why are they being so quiet???

        • Rob
          July 25, 2013 at 11:47 am

          Trent, for the sake of argument let’s say we found a journal of an apostle expressing severe doubts. Would that be enough to have you reconsider? What about 10 or even 100 General Authorities, would that be enough?

          I’m guessing no. I’m guessing you would find another reason to believe. While it’s fine to think that way, those who do should own it, rather than playing the apologist.

          Turely and Jenkins are examples of people I believe would find any reason to believe. So why do they feel compelled to explain it away? That view seems inconsistent to me.

          If you want to believe, great. But, don’t pretend it’s evidenced based.

          • Trent
            July 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm

            Rob,

            I am not trying to win an argument with you. I just want someone to answer the questions I have. A lot of people are critical because the church isn’t giving direct answers to some very tough questions. I am experiencing the same thing in reverse. No one seems to be able to give very direct answers to the tough questions I have.

          • Jeff
            July 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm

            For those who are interested, here is a post I wrote about Joseph Smith’s education in relation to the Book of Mormon:

            http://forum.newordermormon.org/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=31844

            Also, with regards to the term pious fraud, as someone else pointed out, most of the Bible falls into that category. The Book of Mormon still has some interesting philosophical points and ethical truths (minus being cursed with black skin), but that does not make it historical or directly inspired.

          • Rob
            July 25, 2013 at 12:37 pm

            Trent, that’s fair enough, but I think you’d find most doubters or unbelievers willing to answer your questions with great detail (the venue has me holding my tongue a bit with regard to answers).

            Can you see why I view that at backward though? If I said I saw god, your default position would be skepticism. It would be disingenuous for me to retort, “Well prove I didn’t see him” or even “are you saying you think I’m a liar?” I made the assertion, I need to provide evidence or at least give you a compelling reason to trust my word.

            I view it equally backward in regard to the General Authorities, because they refuse to subject themselves to questioning or financial investigation, making it impossible to gather any meaningful information about what they know or if they have doubts or anything.
            But, this concern seems illegitimate to me because of its obvious parallels to leaders of other religious institutions. Why do Popes and Cardinals stay in the great and abominable whore of all the earth? Are they bad men? Are they deceived? What gives?

            With regard to the Book of Mormon, there is tons of research out there, but B.H. Roberts would probably be the most accessible/least-worrisome on the issue.

            P.S. I do know a General Authority, and he and I have talked, and I do believe that he believes the church is true, and is in no way disingenuous. But when I voiced my doubts, his only answers were “I don’t know” & “we don’t always understand how God works.”
            While I respect the honesty, it is disconcerting that a leader in the church could just not know the answers to so many disturbing things & just be ok with that.
            However, I view that as logically more consistent than Turely & Jenkins trying to make history & facts align on their side, but unbendingly believing regardless of those facts.

            P.P.S. I also know an Apostle, and he told me that he “knows Christ personally & physically, just as I know you personally & physically.” While he never comes out and saws that he saw Christ, he has alluded to it multiple times in public.
            In my opinion, there are only 2 viable scenarios here:
            1) he saw Jesus, but Jesus told him not to tell, so he decided to just be somewhat disobedient by alluding to it strongly
            2) he is actively being deceitful.
            Based on how I read the situation & the words he said, I believe he is lying and knows that he is part of a fraud. I don’t know why he choses to stay.
            Others can come to their own conclusion.

          • Lilli
            July 26, 2013 at 12:25 am

            Rob, the apostle could really believe he has met the real Christ yet be deceived by a ‘false’ Christ, which I’m hearing is happening a lot today to many people who think they are getting an easy visitation to the real Christ, yet their lives are not in harmony with receiving such blessings and they don’t live or even believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, before or even after claimed visitations. They preach and practice completely contrary to what Christ taught, but yet they say they know Christ and have had their calling and election made sure, etc.

            The scriptures warn us that there will be many false Christs appear in these last days, which will deceive many.

        • Dale
          July 25, 2013 at 12:17 pm

          Trent, sometimes there is validity is doing a little research and weighing the evidence, rather than dismissing it under the guise of the “Truthfulness of the Gospel,” which has been the “Standard Words” from church leaders for forever, . . . well at least as long as I can remember.

          For example, In a three day meeting with general authorities of the Church in January of 1922 he, B. H. Roberts, was allowed to present his “Difficulties” paper to them with a full discussion of the problems he had encountered with the historicity of the Book of Mormon. In response to B. H. Roberts questioning the validity of the Book of Mormon with undeniable facts, the General Authorities merely one by one stood up and bore their testimonies of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and without cause, dismissed any and all of what the Official Church Historian, B. H. Roberts, presented to them over this three-day report of findings.

          The problem the General Authorities have today is the internet. They just can’t sit back in a closed room and after hearing evidence such as the fact that the Book of Mormon is a conglomerate of many disjointed pieces of a fabric (the King James Bible, with the 1600s translation errors, the new testament and numerous verbatim elements of Ethan Smith’s book, View of the Hebrews, which was published 7 years prior to the Book of Mormon) and just simply dismiss the evidence without cause. Thank goodness we do not live in the 19th or 20th century when if the church officials did not like the information source, ie., Nauvoo Expositor newspaper., they simply destroy it in 1844. No, we live in the 21st century where Church officials have to deal with the reality of the truth they’ve lied about, deceived, and covered up and they can no longer control the flow of information.

          • Trent
            July 25, 2013 at 12:43 pm

            One thing I do agree with you on is the Internet. Because of the internet I think the church leaders are starting to see the need to address problems/issues that are being brought up. I think, like many, that whatever explanations may be given, they probably won’t change too many minds now matter what side of the fence you are on.

            I will again say that it is easy for people to be critical of the church for not providing direct answers but the only answers I seem to be getting to my questions are merely opinion and have been less than compelling.

          • Haykakan
            July 25, 2013 at 1:03 pm

            Trent – I’ll have a quick go at your above mentioned question. You asked: “why, when there have been thousands of “high up” church leaders that only a very few have realized the great fraud being perpetrated against them?” and “So I am wondering how it is that so many of them can be fooled or why are they being so quiet???

            Most of these church leaders (70s, etc.) come from a pre-internet generation and are probably only in the last few years starting to face a lot of these issues, if only because of the sheer magnitude of the situation. Prior to the internet age, it was much much much easier to stay boxed into your own chosen echo chamber. It was easier to dismiss a Fawn Brodie (for example) as an anti-mormon demagogue and be done with it. It was easier to disregard conflicting scientific evidence because you had to laboriously comb through scientific journals, etc. to even find that information in the first place.

            Another poster mentioned how easy it was for church leaders to dismiss BH Robert’s findings on the Book of Mormon way back in 1922. Rather than face their cognitive dissonance and deal with the issues as they came up, they chose to ignore it. That culture of ignoring these things seems to have perpetuated within the church, including the leadership.

            No one is “fooling” church leadership. Once someone gets deeply entrenched enough in a particular belief, it is very difficult to get them to re-evaluate the status quo no matter how much conflicting factual evidence they are presented with. For every Mormon who has faith in the Restoration and the Gospel (I count myself among that group), I can find you just as many Muslims, Hindus, Bhuddists, Jews, and other Christians who can say the exact same thing about their respective faiths and have the personal spiritual experiences to back those convictions up.

          • Haykakan
            July 25, 2013 at 1:05 pm

            PS – Sorry for the run-on sentences and stream of consciousness style in which I wrote that post. It was a little rushed.

    • Pat
      July 26, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      Which version of the Book of Mormon are you referring to–the 1981 edition or the 1830? And why are there so many changes that have been made? Why don’t we study the original version?

  66. Wayne
    July 25, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I shared this with my Open Mormon FB group…As I’ve been reflecting on this fireside/meeting, I’ve been struck with the difference in the paradigms of believers and doubters. It’s not that the doubters don’t also believe, or at least want to believe, but they have crossed over that line that now allows the possibility that something is wrong. Believers, it seems to me, can’t allow that something is wrong. The things they “put on the shelf,” have no potentiality for being wrong, because of their belief. The believers’ position is that they just don’t understand those issues…yet. Just as they believe in the gospel, JS, the BoM, etc., they also believe, just as assuredly, that those things “on the shelf” have perfectly reasonable explanations. They have no doubts…only questions. This position is encoded on the believer’s DNA, so to speak. It is threaded all throughout the LDS culture. “Though hard to you this journey may appear, Grace shall be as your day. ‘Tis better far for us to strive, Our useless cares (doubts) from us to drive; Do this (whatever the church says you should do), and joy your hearts will swell—All is well! All is well!”

    The doubters may still have and profess faith, but because their previously perfect paradigm (accidental alliteration) has been compromised by finding out things they have believed are not what they had been told, the trust between these believers and their beliefs has also been compromised. The possibility of error has been introduced. As they seek to “understand,” the possibility of error, for many of them (us), shifts closer and closer to reality.

    This helps explain why intelligent, honest, well-meaning people like J/T conducted themselves as they did in the meeting. J/T are themselves satisfied, albeit maybe not happy, with the explanations they proffered in the meeting. As self proclaimed believers, J/T do not allow the possibility of error in the church…only in their understanding of it. So the answers they presented were what give them enough understanding or comfort to maintain their belief, and because they cannot relate to the paradigm of the doubters, J/T can’t understand why those same answers don’t satisfy them.

    • July 25, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      I think you have it correct Wayne. I totally agree with what you wrote. It is a total mindset shift once you learn the issues. For me it has really see things so differently now. I no longer think everything has to fit into this little box. I am still a believer and know there is much good in the church but I also believe that all I have learned has enlightened me a lot.

    • Bob L
      August 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      My experience is that they put things “on the shelf” that are disturbing and not faith promoting as a way of not confronting the truth. They they deflect those facts completely by not studying any controversial items. They’re told that all these items are “of the devil” and the works of “the enemies of the Church”. By so doing they bury their heads in the sand, block their ears and say “LA LA LA-I can’t hear you”! People have so much access to information that just wasn’t available before.

      The worst of it is that they are so sure of their faith that they hurt good people with their certainty. I have a former wife who’s taken my children away thinking by depriving my sons of a father that she’s doing the right thing. Further she has the support of her ward in doing it. I was seeing my sons once every other week if I was lucky. The Church had the boys busy all the time…meetings on Sunday…hometeaching with some other father as a companion…a fireside…family night…mutual…seminary 5 days a week…a church dance on Saturday nights. Even when I had them, they were upset because they were missing a Church activity. Sometimes my activity had to be a father and son outing or Scout over-night camp-out that was full of Church doctrines and lessons. If I complained about it, my wife would point to the 3 hours I got though I had to drive a 1/2 hour each way just to see them.
      It was brutal. I’ve missed out on the childhoods of my sons for doubting the Church.

  67. Steve
    July 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    The intelligent, successful General Authority argument is one that’s always perplexed me. One might argue that their obedience and faithfulness caused their personal success. People who believe this believe in a concept called gospel of prosperity, i.e. if you are faithful you will prosper. The flip side of this belief system is that one’s sins cause personal failure and misery. There is, however, an alternate viewpoint — that their personal success has allowed them to pursue a spiritual journey rather than living hand to mouth. I agree they don’t need their positions for financial reasons or power, but many rich people engage in any number of good, moral, worthy endeavors simply because their circumstances allow. The GA’s choose to believe, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. The Mattsson’s are now choosing not to believe.

  68. Jeff
    July 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Trent,

    Click the link I posted. All of the information about Joseph Smith and education is history, not opinion. The comments about KJV errors (and the KJV in general) throughout the Book of Mormon is fact. There are many brilliant historians (most outside of the Utah church) who agree that the Book of Mormon is 19th century literature. Could he write it? I (and BH Roberts) have illustrated that? Does it reflect 19th century concepts more than ancient ones? Certainly. Is it more probable that it was written by Joseph Smith? Most definitely.

    Here is another BH Roberts quote for you (I recommend you purchase “Studies of the Book of Mormon”):

    “One other subject remains to be considered in this division… viz. – was Joseph Smith possessed of a sufficiently vivid and creative imagination as to produce such a work as the Book of Mormon from such materials as have been indicated in the proceeding chapters… That such power of imagination would have to be of a high order is conceded; that Joseph Smith possessed such a gift of mind there can be no question….
    In light of this evidence, there can be no doubt as to the possession of a vividly strong, creative imagination by Joseph Smith, the Prophet, an imagination, it could with reason be urged, which, given the suggestions that are found in the ‘common knowledge’ of accepted American antiquities of the times, supplemented by such a work as Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews [published in Palmyra in 1825], it would make it possible for him to create a book such as the Book of Mormon is.”

    • Lance M.
      July 25, 2013 at 7:17 pm

      I totally agree!! Everyone should read the B.H. Robert’s book “Studies of the Book of Mormon.” I just finished it and it is FREAKING incredible! I’m a very humble, uneducated person who always just read the Book of Mormon and never paid attention to all the errors and funny (dumb) things it talks about. When he brings up things like (paraphrasing), “all the people gathered together after a battle, except those that died”! And, “they brought all their possessions, save their land”!! Haha…I guess earth is just too heavy to pack. He goes on and on about dozens and dozens of problems and parallels. It’s a real eye-opener.

      Anyway, we’ve really got to hand it to B.H. Roberts for being so bold! He knew how serious all these problems were and he didn’t just discount them as useless non-sense. He wanted answers but NEVER received them. That was over 90 years ago and the church is still putting its head in the sand.

      Does it really make sense that Lehi and Nephi would be so enlightened, WHILE THEY’RE IN JERUSALEM, they have a COMPLETE knowledge of Christ, yet no other Old Testament prophet had this same knowledge? Nephi said they lived the Law of Moses but it was a DEAD law to them. That they were alive in Christ. So, we’ve got Christians, who have Christ’s priesthood, practicing the Law of Moses 600 years before Christ actually comes. When you start studying religious history and the Bible, you start to see how much Joseph Smith didn’t understand about the Old Testament when he wrote the Book of Mormon.

      Again, to all TBM’s, get the book about B.H. Robert’s studies. He was a faithful member of the church, yet he knew there was REAL problems with the Book of Mormon.

      Gotta go, my domesticated Tapir just broke out of it’s stall so I’ve got to saddle up my Curelom and catch it. :)

      • Jeff
        July 26, 2013 at 11:53 am

        Lance,

        This article by William Russell (C of C historian) discusses the Christian nature of the Book of Mormon:

        https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/035-20-27.pdf

        • Lance M.
          July 26, 2013 at 2:02 pm

          Wow, Jeff! Thanks a bunch for the article! That was a great read. I’ve got it saved for future reference.

  69. Paul B
    July 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Like the Everyready battery bunny, it just goes ‘on and on’ without any ‘facing up to the truth of our Mormon Heritage’ rather than “Facing Down the Doubters of Our Mormon Heritage”.

    I have already read one response — http://rationalfaiths.com/south-park-vs-the-church/ — to a Meridian magazine article headed under the above noted title — http://ldsmag.com/article/1/13017 — with regard to this whole affair. Before reading South Park’s response article, though, I had already submitted my own response as a commentator to the Meridian article, which, of course, I rather doubt will be be posted (“This comment will be displayed when approved.”).

    In any event, if anyone is interested, this was my ne’er-to-be published comment, which further emphasizes (IMHO) that so many believing and active members of the LDS church just don’t get it. I am sure that many of you have your own ideas, as well:

    ***

    “This academic and accusatory approach to our history is quite frankly off the mark. It shows a serious lack of understanding of who we are as a people, what our ancestors endured, and what we still endure daily to remain faithful.”

    And this statement speaks volumes. It speak volumes about a particular ‘people,’ and their current descendents. It speaks volumes of the continuation of an ‘us against the world,’ ‘circle the wagons,’ ‘fill our homes full of straw and get ready to torch them’ etc, etc, persecution mind-set. But what does this have to do with Jesus Christ if indeed the presence or ‘story’ imbedded within Mormonism’s founding with regard to Jesus Christ is fraught with inaccuracies, contradictions and a continual amendment of the ‘facts’ of what is adamantly declared to be the one and only true and living church of Jesus Christ, led by His one and only true spokespersons (the official prophets, seers and revelators)?

    But Juli Caldwell continues with this type of obfuscation and slight-of-hand rhetoric by then stating, “We simply choose not to focus on the grave injustices we have suffered because we live the New Testament teachings and believe turning the other cheek, as the Savior suggests, is better.” To which I respond: You’re joking, right? Do you not know about the documented account of the bishop during Brigham Young’s ‘reign’ when he and other ‘priesthood bearers’ held down a young man and castrated him because he would not consent to giving up the “buxom” woman to whom he was betrothed so as instead that bishop could have her for another one of his plural wives? And after learning of this, Brigham Young did not release the bishop, let alone have him charged and incarcerated. Do you know about these hardly ‘what-would-Jesus-do’ accounts that are replete in Mormonism’s history? And yet you and your ilk continually choose to bury your heads in the sand, or stick your fingers in your ears and shout “La, la, la, la, la. I can’t hear you,” whenever someone tries to broach, not just atrocities, but any reasonable issues that seem to go contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ of the New Testament, or raises issue with anything that would otherwise threaten the truth claims of the LDS church.

    Well, I hate to break it to you, Juli, but the vast majority of intelligent people who are not vested in Mormonism, and those who are, but are seekers of truth and not afraid of it, don’t conduct themselves in that manner. Cultist do, as do also bigoted ignoramuses, or those who are just too fragile or dogmatically set in their ways and will do anything to derail or shun what would otherwise take them out of their long established traditions and comfort zones, but most people who hold THE TRUTH preeminent, think and act in a totally different way.

    When one of your commentators “Nancy” states, “My great grandfather was Joseph Smith’s bodyguard and performed some of his marriages to teenagers. I don’t know why-it doesn’t shake my testimony,” typifies what I am attempting to explain.

    Or how about commentator Bob Powelson who states, “The time for a weak knee approach to our critics is long past. Personally, when anyone attacks my church and my beliefs to I respond without consideration of “a soft word turneth away wrath”. I respond in a very in your face, confrontational way. It works. I am 73 and it works.” Yee-yup, Bob, you jist go git ‘em and tell ‘em what fer! By golly, when commentator Rob S. says, “I agree hole (sic) heartedly. It isn’t our falt (sic) that our ancesters (sic) were polygynist (sic). Lots of people were, and we should respect the dead and there (sic) choices. What we need now is to focus on the present and the future, and how to live are (sic) lives like Chris (sic),” we just know that commentator Duane Laws got it right by saying, “Good to read some intelligent comments about Mormon history.”

    So, Juli, maybe you should re-think, “It shows a serious lack of understanding of who we are as a people,” Or maybe it doesn’t! To be sure, one person’s comment with regard to your article posted on another site may make even more of a point in far fewer words than what I have written. He or she stated, “I read the article earlier and I must admit, it has helped rebuild my faith. I was just dwelling on the negative truths rather than the positive and optimistic side of racism, murder, and adultery that builds belief and faith. So glad they could help me.”

    • Brian
      July 25, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Paul B—glad you posted that here because, yeah, that one is not getting in at Meridian. Too full of truth and effort to not be posted somewhere.

      • Paul B
        July 25, 2013 at 7:42 pm

        Thank you for the comment. I was wondering if perhaps I was the one who is a bit ‘off base’.

        And oh, I didn’t start off too well, did I? It’s Eveready battery not Everyready!

    • Lance M.
      July 25, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      Paul B – “I was just dwelling on the negative truths rather than the positive and optimistic side of racism, murder, and adultery that builds belief and faith. So glad they could help me.”

      Holy heck!! That had me rolling on the floor!! :)

  70. Justin
    July 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Hans,

    Thanks for having the courage to share your story. Your story made me think of a quote I heard on a PBS documentary called “God in America” (I think). It was relating to the bible but I think it has relavence to our current dilemma in Mormonism. Anyways I thought I would share it here:

    “The Bible has been treated as though it were a baby. To be wrapped in swaddling clothes, nursed, and carefully guarded, lest it should be injured by heretics and skeptics…”
    “Men cannot shut their eyes to truth and fact. Let the light shine higher and higher; the bright, clear light of day. Truth fears no light. LIght chases error away.”
    “True orthodoxy seeks the full blaze of the new tide sun. In the light of such a day the unity of Christendom will be gained.”

    –Quote by Charles Briggs, a Presbyterian minister

  71. Jay
    July 25, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    You can tell from the podcast what honorable people the Mattssons are. I have great admiration for their intergrity, and want to personally say thank you both for putting truth above everything. This, in spite of what I know will be significant cost.

  72. Roger
    July 26, 2013 at 1:32 am

    So I just spent the last 3 hours…Holy Crap where did the time go…Reading these posts. We have heard people trying to defend their faith, people who have lost all faith and want to help others see why, historians who can disprove the BOM and the story told by Joseph Smith. We know Joseph practiced polygmy and unacceptable sexual acts. We have discussed how it was impossible for the Book of Abraham to have really been translated from papyrus. How false you can make Mormonism seem……

    However, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Find me a better organization in the entire world despite the history. What do Mormons do right now that is so wrong? Most of you still believe in our Heavenly Father and in his son Jesus Christ “as I feel the Mattssons still do”. The Plan we have been taught and teach has the answers to the age old questions that no other religion has answered. We teach people how to live respectable, God fearing lives with Jesus Christ and his example as the centerpiece. Do I like the fact that there are flaws in what I have always considered to be absolute truths. It sucks that the ‘Church and it’s people’ as I knew it isn’t exactly as I want it to be. I don’t know why, maybe it’s a test for all of us to decide how we will take this challenge or maybe just maybe it’s all a hoax. Back to my answer ‘by your fruits ye shall know them’ The gospel of Jesus Christ is restored and those fruits come from Joseph. No doubt it sucks that he wasn’t perfect and that what we consider gross acts happened. I don’t discount them and can sympathize with those who cannot ‘live’ with it. The fact is that probably did and guess what “they still do!”

    It doesn’t change that through him the our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ restored the gospel in our day. Where do the feelings of the spirit come from that I have no doubt you have all felt numerous times. Where you just being duped when you felt the spirit when you actually used the atonement in your life and repented of a sin? Was it a hoax when you bore your testimony of the plan of happiness and you felt the spirit enough to shed a tear?” How about the time when you served your neighbor instead of yourself? Think about the church right now, find me place that teaches me who I am and what I can become. Teach my children how to be selfless, kind, gentile people in world full of filth. I guess we all have to decide how to take the history but in my life I plan to follow Christ as there is no other ‘Church’ teaching me how to do so.

    Peace

    • Rob
      July 26, 2013 at 10:12 am

      I personally believe that most people don’t have a good grasp on their emotions.
      I am a very analytical person, and as such I was never able to feel the spirit.

      At age 15 I was challenged to gain a testimony, so I locked myself in my room and knelt for 4 hours praying. I couldn’t feel anything.
      Finally I said, “God, if the church is false, I will leave my family & seek thee.”
      Suddenly I felt something. It was anomalous. I’d never felt it before, so I took it to mean that the church was true.

      Fast forward 11 years (of constant and faithful service, sacrifice, obedience & dedication) and I felt it a 2nd time at a Temple Dedication. Someone had asked me to translate for them, I asked my Stake Pres if that was alright, and he said they’d been instructed not to provide unofficial translation. I felt the same feeling, but about the fact he was lying.
      I was irate.
      A week or 2 later, I verified that he was NOT lying. So my spiritual experience was demonstrably false.
      It had been my own bias that generated the emotion.

      That called my first experience into question: was it my own bias? Was it because I said I’d leave my family, so I was scared and felt something?

      I dove into the scriptures. I reread the entire standard works, fasting both food and water for stretches of 2 and 3 days at a time.
      Without the auto-justification of a testimony, I concluded that the scriptures were mostly meaningless, some good poetry, and a decent amount of evil bigotry.

      Conclusion: I think that spiritual experiences are manifestations of your own emotions. The only other possibility would be that I’m incapable of feeling the spirit, or somehow (despite 11 years of incredible dedication) I didn’t merit feeling the spirit. Those both seem highly unlikely to me.

      • Roger
        July 26, 2013 at 4:09 pm

        Hello Rob,

        I am not a going to say it is easy to feel the spirit or profess to explain why you weren’t able to do so more than two times in your life. It sucks that you were not able to do so as that is one of the best parts of living a spiritually centered life. I do know each individual is different (luckily).

        Personally I can’t buy the idea that spiritual experiences are manifestations of your own emotions. Sure emotional experiences can be spiritual (the birth of a child for example) However, reading 3 Nephi and the account of Christ’s visit to the Nephites is not an emotional setting, countless other experiences where the Lord has confirmed to me the truth of a lesson or validity of living a Christlike life are not emotional settings. Try going back and reading the first 5 chapters of Mosiah. Pray about it and let us know how you can consider it ‘mostly meaningless, some good poetry a and decent amount of evil bigotry’ Again not to be a diss as it is not my intention and if you don’t feel it is a worthwhile proposition please don’t take offense.

        Good luck!

        • Rob
          July 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm

          I don’t take any offense at your suggestion.

          I’ve read the Book of Mormon in its entirety dozens of times (I was incredibly faithful, as I dedicated myself to the church after my experience at 15).
          I have now reread Mosiah 1-5 as requested. As an atheist I’m not going to pray about it (as I have no one to pray to).

          From the cited passage, it is clear that the atonement and god’s judgements are centric for you. While I believe that the content & poetry could appeal to a Christian audience, as an atheist I view the Atonement as a detrimental belief (I think it is immoral to expect another to pay for your mistakes, to tell others they cannot overcome their mistakes without a scapegoat, to use a carrot/stick paradigm for morality, and to set arbitrary lines for those “sins” that neither follow the concession of society nor remain consistent within the creed)

          While I’m sure you would disagree, it might be a useful exercise to see how an atheist views the text you suggested.
          (I wont denote each emptyish verse, but there are decent number [less than in Alma])

          Chapter 1:
          1 continual peace cool
          5-7 importance of scripture
          12-14,17 veiled threat

          Chapter 2:
          1-4 sacrifice (as an atheist I view this as bad)
          9-20 good / poetic
          21-25 carrot, stick, & abasement (all bad imho)
          26-30 not a double standard = good, but a continued threat
          31-41 unveiled threat (plus some carrot) [again, bad imho]

          Chapter 3:
          5-9 talks about Jesus’s life
          10-27 threat leveraging atonement/guilt

          Chapter 4:
          1-2 evidence of threat
          3 Joy because of mass spiritual manifestation
          5-11 abasement & threat
          12 carrot
          13-17 charity
          18-26 more threats
          26-28 good / poetic
          29-30 threats

          Chapter 5:
          1-5 evidence of either faith or effective threats (depending on your viewpoint)
          6-15 Control asserted/desired by Ben, plus additional threats

          While there were portions that talk about the caring for all members of society (which I think is a positive thing) the vast majority of the speech was something I would classify as negative.
          Because I do not have any faith in an afterlife, this life is paramount to me. As such, I think there is a dearth of focus in religion about bettering this world. Contribution & innovation are almost completely ignored, and often discouraged. I do appreciate the focus on charity and social contributions, I just think that alone is incomplete and not greatly affected by god’s endorsement.

          • Lance M.
            July 26, 2013 at 7:55 pm

            Amen Rob! Wait, can I say amen to an Atheist? ;)

            You say, “Because I do not have any faith in an afterlife, this life is paramount to me. As such, I think there is a dearth of focus in religion about bettering this world.”

            As my wife and I exited the church, my TBM family was crying about our so called eternal salvation and eternal marriage/family (or lack thereof). My brother commented on why even go on living if you don’t believe in the Mormon heavenly structure.

            Through this process of enlightenment, my wife and I have come to realize just how important this life is! If this is truly our one chance (an Atheist view of not living again in spirit), then we should live this life to its fullest! Traditional Mormonism states that we’ll be damned (stopped) forever if we don’t obey everything just right according to the “modern day” prophets. I believe the LDS church has taken a much more liberal stance in the part 20 years as far as eternal progression goes. It seems we’re not damned at all anymore and we’ll slowly workout our progression in the eternities (Denying what’s in the BoM).

            Since I don’t have definite knowledge about what’s going to happen to me in the afterlife, I’m going to live my life to the fullest…according to the dictates of my own heart (and what my wife tells me to do. ;) ).

            TBM’s will scream, “That’s what we’re suppose to be doing” but you just don’t understand the true feeling of independent thought and real free agency when you’re being controlled by an organization/corporation.

          • Pat
            July 27, 2013 at 8:50 pm

            Rob,

            Just a thought about your atheism. When I finally found the lack of truth in the Church, I leaned strongly towards atheism, but then I discovered the faith of the Founding Fathers of our great country. Most (Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, Monroe)had no religion, just a faith. I am reading for the second time, “Age of Reason”, by Thomas Paine, and it describes the faith that those men and many others of that day, and increasingly many in this day have–Deism. I would urge you to read the noted book. After learning from PEW research that nearly 20% of Americans say they have no religion, I can count myself as one of those, but I still have faith in the creator of the universe, but it is like faith I have had before.

    • J
      July 26, 2013 at 10:17 am

      Lets see… There are the Muslims, Jews, Catholics, non denominational Christians, baptist, Hindu, and the community of Christ. Not to mention atheist humanist who don’t believe in god. Just to name a few. They all do what you propose.

      • Roger
        July 26, 2013 at 4:18 pm

        Hello J,

        All the mentioned do have good about them. However, my proposition was:

        “Think about the church right now, find me place that teaches me who I am and what I can become. Teach my children how to be selfless, kind, gentile people in world full of filth. I guess we all have to decide how to take the history but in my life I plan to follow Christ as there is no other ‘Church’ teaching me how to do so.” I should have finished with do so ‘Completely’ also I mentioned Christ so that will have to limit your reply down to Catholics, non-denominational Christians, Baptists and the Community of Christ as the others do not recognize Christ as the Savior.

        The 4 I just mentioned all fall short of giving me a complete path of happiness in this life and the next.

        • Tom
          July 26, 2013 at 4:41 pm

          Roger, I was LDS for 42 years and yes I felt the spirit at certain times because God allows that in all of our lived, LDS or not. No one has a corner on the spirit of God. After leaving the LDS churcj though I realized my real relationship was more with doctrine instead of God and his son Jesus Christ and the truth of Christ in the NT. When I discovered that through study, faitg, prayer and yes conmon sense. It all came together like never before. The understanding of what I should only have been studying all along, the real gospel of the Bible.
          So the reason you say other churches, faiths etc. have not made you feel this wsy is you probably haven’t given it a chance. You just hold on to what gou know because it feels comfortable. You cann’t say you have all the truth because you haven’t looked elsewhere. I have and no man made church has all the truth. There is only God. His church has no man made name. I don’t belong to the club. The elite of all churches that has all the truth even though we don’t undwrstand it all I belong to God and I just go to hear the word of God where ever I choose. I am so much closer to God today then ever before. I am so much happier with my faith than ever. No doubts, no questions. It is in the Bible.

          • Roger
            July 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm

            Hello Tom,

            Good to here from you,

            I am truly glad you are “so much closer to God today then ever before” Of course this is what is most important….However, If you believe in God and the New Testament, then you obviously have read that Jesus Christ is also an important part of ‘truth’ as apposed to your statement “There is only God” No Doubt God is mysterious and wouldn’t it be nice not to have to have faith. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be told what we should do and how we should live……Oh wait that was the other guy’s plan. We all have our agency, if you truly have no doubts and no questions then life must be pretty good. However, Jesus Christ did establish his church while he was here on the earth.

            In an another reply, I made note that I do not speak ill of any other church. I only simply stated that the complete gospel is right in front of us. The complete plan with answers to the important questions that I have. I believe there is a plan and I am going to try an follow it the best I can. Thankfully I will have the atonement of Jesus Christ to help me as I fall, have doubts, questions and problems.

            By the way are your sure I haven’t “looked elsewhere?”

            I am on this post aren’t I?

            Peace

    • Jeff
      July 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      Roger,

      As I stated above, I am currently a cultural Mormon (not sure what my future path will be, though). I love the people of the church and I credit it with providing a solid ethical foundation for me. But I also know many other wonderful people from various organizations. Even in my own family, I have an atheist grandfather, several Jewish relatives, Catholics on the paternal side, etc. All of them well-rounded, intelligent, morally sound people. I tend to be more pluralistic/semi-Universalistic in my views regarding religions so I see good fruits in each one.

      Regarding your third paragraph, I don’t deny having spiritual experiences in my life (from when I was Catholic, and now while being a Latter-day Saint). However, I do not think that such experiences are limited to the church. In fact, I know they aren’t. Some of my closest friends have told me of experiences far more profound than I may ever experience. When I bore my testimony, I was doing so with a limited knowledge. It is easy to feel good about something when everything falls into place. However, as soon as I began digging deeper (accidentally, by the way), and praying more fervently than ever, I ceased having the same feelings of comfort and peace concerning the church. I realized that I had prevented my rational and analytical mind from scrutinizing my beliefs. Since I have acquired more of a Christian Deist outlook, I have felt personal comfort again.

      I encourage you not to close your mind to the goodness in the teachings of other religions. Whether based on the teachings of Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, etc, many religions provide peace, solace, and a moral compass to billions.

      • Roger
        July 26, 2013 at 4:34 pm

        Hello Jeff,

        Being a cultural Mormon does say a lot about someone. I think it is good that you can still bring yourself to associate with the church even if you aren’t able to ‘live’ with the history of the church. It does suck to find out that the history of the church isn’t what we would like it to be. There were some major bumps in the road. However, there are and always will be bumps in everything. Bottom line the gospel is still true. Hang in there……

        Anyway,
        Of course there are AWESOME people in all religions, I strongly believe that the majority of people are great people just looking to survive, thrive and do some good in this world.

        I never spoke any evil of any religion as I am grateful for the good they that bring into the world. There is so much crap out there it is good to know that our religion is not the only one trying to make a difference.

        In regards to your feeling of comfort an peace concerning the church, I would say try and remember what the basic principles are: we have a Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ is the perfect example and following his gospel of Faith and repentance will lead us to happiness in this life as well as the next. The rest of the ‘fluff’ can be debated and personalized in a million ways.

        • Jeff
          July 26, 2013 at 6:30 pm

          Hi Roger,

          Thank you for a thoughtful reply. I should probably define how I view cultural Mormonism (at least in my case). My current association with the church is strictly because of friends and a couple of family members; I really do not think the Book of Mormon is more than a 19th century document, or that Joseph Smith restored ancient texts. With regards to God and Jesus, as I said I am more Deistic; therefore, I view Jesus as more of a great ethical teacher and leader like the Buddha or Confucius than a figure equivalent to God.

          While there are many books which discuss psychology and emotions, I recommend Baruch Spinoza’s “Ethics.” He discusses God, the emotions, etc; though I warn you, it is a tough read. The interesting thing about Spinoza is that Albert Einstein actually favored his philosophy. After examining the lives of others I know, and doing a lot of personal reflection, I have come to the conclusion that many of our spiritual experiences are directly related to 1) context/setting, 2) upbringing, and 3) a desire which prevents us from receiving an answer contrary to what we want. That does not account for every experience, but I just cannot accept a feeling as an indicator of truth; I am too much of a rationalist.

          Thanks again for a kind response and peace to you as well.

    • Dale
      July 26, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      Roger, you say, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Very True. We have over 60,000 polygamist living in Utah, Arizona, and a few other Southern states, as well small groups scattered across the United States. This is the “Fruits” of Joseph Smith. Welcome to the world and the “Fruits” that are all around us because of the first so called modern Prophet, Seer and Revelator. Warren Jeffs is in jail because he molested children, some as young as 12 years old. If Joseph Smith would have done today what he did, preyed upon helpless teenagers as a sex predator (read Lucy Walkers story), some as young as 14 years old, all in the name of Christ in a cloud of secrecy in the 1840s, he would occupy the cell next to Warren Jeffs. I HAVE NOT READ ONE ACCOUNT OF CHRIST involved in sexual predator behavior. If as Joseph Smith Claimed this (Polygamy) is a Devine principle, maybe I missed something in the New Testament.

      • Roger
        July 26, 2013 at 6:18 pm

        Hello Dale,

        I am not going to defend or condone the acts. However 60,000 as apposed to millions of people currently living and having lived the gospel is a big difference. The good we do and the service we provide and the Christ like lives we live are the fruit that I am obviously speaking about. Again, tell me what is wrong with the church today? It sucks that we have a past! I have a past and you have a past, dwell on what we are teaching today and let the past deal with itself and those who actually lived it.

        Focus on what we are teaching instead of what ‘people’ did in the. Fact of the matter is no one is perfect except one and that was Jesus Christ and He established a gospel. One that if we live and follow will bring peace and joy both on this earth and the next.

        Again I say If you believe in a Heavenly Father and If you believe in Jesus Christ you have to deal with the fact that the gospel of Jesus Christ is here and that is what we are living as members of the Church regardless of what happened after it was restored in our day. Unexplainable events happened and guess what…..That still will.

        Thanks for reading if you did….

        • Dale
          July 26, 2013 at 7:00 pm

          Roger,

          I have a deep respect for you and your faith. I wish I could share all of my faith stories with you. They span almost 40 years. Probably the most memorable parts of the journey of my life are when I taught primary children (for 12 Years) and Sunday school children (also for 12 Years). I also was a first councilor in a Bishopric for nearly 8 years as well as being on the Stake High Council for many years. I have to admit I enjoyed teaching much better than leadership positions. My wife is very strong in her faith and I fully support her. It is not that I don’t love and respect wonderful LDS people, I just have a problem with the . . . well I won’t go into it. It upsets me. I have been deeply hurt.

        • Dale
          July 26, 2013 at 7:27 pm

          Hi Roger,

          I just was wondering if you had read my post in reply to Haykakan? It was posted in reply to Lilli, July 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm. In it I relay the story of Lucy Walker. You say, “It sucks that we have a past!” You also ask, “Again, tell me what is wrong with the church today?” If you seriously read and study what Lucy Walker said about Joseph Smith and what she went through, there would be no question as to what is wrong with the church today. It is founded on a false prophet who was a sex predator. Warren Jeffs’ followers could ask what is wrong with the FLDS religion. The answer is “Warren Jeffs.” This has nothing to do with Christ. I believe in Christ, not Joseph Smith.

          • Roger
            July 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm

            Hello Dale

            So the question is whether or not we are going to let the story of Lucy Walker destroy everything we know and believe. There are various scenarios here. One, her the account is 100% accurate and Joseph Smith is a sex predator, lying, make believer who started a church to gain dominance over young girls and get personal gain by making up a religion that has brought true joy and happiness to millions of people. (Not buying it) Another possible scenario is Joseph Did see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and through him they did restore the true and everlasting gospel. (the one I am buying) Now a third and possible scenario is that the gospel was restored and Joseph made mistakes which lead to other people wanted to destroy him (oh wait we know that Joseph has/had enemies) maybe he did things that hard to deal with now. In this scenario he was a Prophet of God and made mistakes. THE GOSPEL WAS STILL RESTORED! Regardless of the mistakes and inconsistencies that are historical accounts from long ago from people who may or may not have had ulterior motives. The religious differences between Warren Jeffs and Joseph Smith are significant (as you know) Warren Jeffs has not even come close to the religious level and teachings that the prophet of the restoration received. Honestly, can you argue with the good that the church is and does because of what Joseph has done in work of the restoration? Focusing on the good instead of a ‘historical’, ‘scientific’ proofs may just be the answer.

            One last thought: Absolute truth and perfection….If the history of the church and in turn its people (all of us) were perfect and there was no opposition then wouldn’t everything we know about God and Jesus be pointless. We wouldn’t need to have any faith in anything! Perhaps that is why so many are so happy they don’t have the ‘burden’ of living a Christ-like life they get when they leave the church. Guess what you can’t leave the truth….Heavenly Father is still your Heavenly Father…Jesus Christ is still our Savior he still has set the perfect example and only through his atonement can we become clean from our sins. That is the gospel we preach and that my friend is what I would say is where we should be focusing and why the church is important.

            Joseph Smith was a prophet and the priesthood is real and church is true and alive today. Sorry that you have lost that belief but it is still alive and well in many.

            Peace

        • Lance M.
          July 26, 2013 at 8:30 pm

          Roger, the truth claims are why my wife and I left the church after 40 years of very active membership. There are two aspects to the church: 1) The “trueness” or divinity and 2) the social side.

          Those two aspects are inseparably intertwined. How do you believe it’s the ONLY TRUE church and yet not ever hold callings or go to sacrament or participate in the programs? On the other hand, how can you associate yourself with the wonderful social side (the items just mentioned) and yet, not believe in the literal divinity of everything the church claims to hold?

          As sad as we were about leaving all our wonderful friendships that we had made in the church (the social side), we could not be associated with what we believe to be an outright fraud. The LDS church does have some great social aspects (very debatable) but open your eyes a little and you’ll see that many organizations, both religious and secular, have wonderful Christ-like attributes.

          When we moved away from the bubble of Utah and into the dark and dreary Gentile world of Oregon, my wife and I were blown away by how many incredible moral, good people there were living here that weren’t Mormons. How is this when they don’t have the “truth”? Shouldn’t they be filthy and loathsome like the Lamanites?

          The LDS organization is a church of classes, especially in Utah. I am so grateful to finally have my eyes opened to the fact that I’m just a humble human like 7 billion others and we’re all just trying to get along on this little planet. I no longer believe I’m better then 99.8% of the population because I was born into a white Mormon family in Utah (I must have been really good in the pre-existence).

          Please check out the Mormonstories interview with John Hamer from the Community of Christ (RLDS). I’m done with all things Joseph Smith, but if I wanted the social aspects of Mormonism then I’d definitely check out their church. Their fruits seem much more flavorful and varied than the old 19th century bitter taste of Mormonism.

          • Jeff
            July 27, 2013 at 4:23 pm

            I agree, the John Hamer podcasts are some of the best on Mormon Stories. Allow me to address your scenarios:

            1. I do not think polygamy was all about sex but falls into the context of 19th century sexual experimentation. Your first scenario does not consider the gray, but is too black and white. Another option is Joseph was a pious fraud living in an era of political/social/religious tumult plus familial problems and he created a book for good reasons in order to provide stability. It is what LDS historian Marvin Hill calls the flight from American pluralism.

            2. Any scenario involving angels and visions is much less likely. In fact, visions from the early 19th century were so frequent that I find them very unimpressive. It’s like inflation-if you have too much it loses value. I am glad the LDS church in all its glory brings you happinesss-that is your choice and you deserve to be where you are most comfortable. It is harder for someone like me who goes only for family considerations.

            3. Here’s some food for thought regarding Joseph Smith being a fallen prophet. David Whitmer said that God told him in 1838 to leave the Mormon church. Now with regards to fallibility, I am fine with cutting “prophets” some slack, but eventually the rope runs out. I just cannot reconcile what Joseph Smith did in Nauvoo (ie polygamy, theocratic ethics, etc), among other things and view him as a prophet (or perhaps not more than a fallen prophet.

            Now concerning the rest of your essay, it is naïve to assume that people who leave don’t feel the need to live ethical, Christ like lives. You shoulder check out John Dehlin’s presentation on why people leave; 95% of the time it is not to sin.

            Now concerning the good of the church, this sounds like the Bushman-Babies-Bathwater argument. Yes, a lot of people in the church are good and a lot of the ethical teachings are good. However, a moral compass and wonderful people can be found in just about any religion (or the non-religious). But there are negatives as well. For one thing, if the historical claims are not true (or entirely true) that is an issue. But beyond history, there is an environment which does not foster proper intellectual inquiry. In reality, the church encourages something like 95% faith+5% reason/scholarship. That is not a healthy balance. Additionally, far too many people are way too trusting of what leaders say. Those are just a couple of key things.

            Regarding Jesus, certainly the Gospels provide good moral guides. But your attempted argumentum ad verecundiam is without a good foundation. God (ie the Father), in my opinion is farther removed from society than we like to think (I favor Spinoza’s philosophy as well as determinism). I think Jesus was a great teacher (ie Rabbi) but the theology surrounding his divine nature developed decades, even centuries later. I remain agnostic towards his true nature, though I tend to think of him as more of a human teacher. Where I do agree with you is that his example is worthy to live by; just as the examples set by men like Buddha and Confucius can also provide meaning and solace.

            Finally, there is your mini sermon at the end of your post to consider. The priesthood part is lovely and all but you won’t convince to many other theologians and/or historians. You should also consider the fact that the ordination by John the Baptist, and later the apostles was added in later. David Whitmer and William McClellin both made that clear. Dan Vogel made a video on Youtube which offers a great summary of the problems. He also briefly touches on the nature of apparitions/visions. The bottom line is that visions of all natures are purely psychological
            manifestations, not literal events. They are subjective, not objective.

            Belief is alive and well in many (well, less than one percent of the global population), but many people are leaving or struggling (activity rates between 35-40%). Many billions of people find happiness and comfort elsewhere.

        • Dale
          July 27, 2013 at 3:27 pm

          Hi Roger,
          In reply to your comments to me in your post of July 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm:

          I respect your beliefs. You have a right to them. I had the same beliefs for almost 40 years. What I most definitely do not need is your pity when you say, “Sorry that you have lost that belief but it is still alive and well in many.”

          Whoa! Then you say to me, “THE GOSPEL WAS STILL RESTORED!” Do you think that if you shout at me, I will rejoice and believe singing Halleluiah all the way?

          Quite honestly you miss the boat when you say you know what is in my mind, “The religious differences between Warren Jeffs and Joseph Smith are significant (as you know) Warren Jeffs has not even come close to the religious level and teachings that the prophet of the restoration received.” So again, whoa! How did you get into my mind to think that you know that I know the Joseph Smith was no different than Warren Jeffs? According to our laws, the simple truth is that Joseph Smith and Warren Jeffs are both sexual predators. If Joseph Smith were around to day and did what he did to Lucy Walker, his defense of being a Prophet, Seer and Revelator would have had the same weight in a court of justice that Warren Jeffs had. . . . None! The bottom line is that Joseph Smith would be occupying a cell for his crimes against children, and who knows, maybe his cell would be right next to Warren Jeffs so they could talk through the bars about their so-called “Spiritual Marriage Theories,” to commit sexual crimes against innocent teenagers.

          I hold no animosity towards or against you for your faith. That is your right and privilege living in the U.S. under our nations’ Constitution. Many of us believe and many of us don’t. Thank goodness for the Constitution, for it covers us all.

          Cheers!

          • Roger
            July 28, 2013 at 12:26 am

            Hello Dale,

            Sorry to have missed the boat with your Warren Jeffs comment. Funny how simple truths can be so different to each of us. I am still convinced that whatever happened with Joseph after the gospel was restored will have to be reconciled in due time. It doesn’t change the way I feel about what I have learned and believe to be true about the complete plan our Heavenly father has for us and how my personal salvation will depend on my own acts. When you taught primary for 12 years those basic simple truths are what matter most. Regardless of the history those simple truths are what the gospel teaches us. Of course you know that the main difference is that we believe that all the truths were restored and we have the fullness of the gospel. I am sure someone else will read this and try to say I am bashing other religions again. Of course i am not. Most religions have parts of the the gospel truths, for these truths we can be grateful. However the fullness of the gospel was restored through Joseph Smith, regardless of what happened next…..

            Thanks for the correspondence.

          • Jeff
            July 28, 2013 at 6:18 am

            Dale,

            While I tend to agree with you about the history of the church in general, I think you need to be careful about touting the sexual predator line, and understand context. The Lucy Walker case is certainly heartbreaking and I am confident that it probably happened like that. However, 1) there is debate regarding the age of brides in that era (see “Persistence of Polygamy”), and 2) there are three aspects to determine the morality of an action: object, intent, and circumstances. I briefly touched on circumstances in the first point, but I should add too that the man held a lot of power in that day. The object (ie the action itself) is not good. That leaves intent. A strong case can be made that Joseph was seriously doing what he did for the purpose of salvation. As strange as it seems, his intent may have been pure. However, he made the mistake of trying to have the ends justify the means.

            Anyways, the pedophilia argument is certainly debatable.

            Roger,

            I am happy that you have peace and solace in your life. Cherish that hope so long as you can. I, personally, am uncomfortable wight the one true church, dimness of Gospel restored tenet of the religion. I think each belief system, or philosophy contains essential truths and none hold a monopoly.

    • Pat
      July 26, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      I guess if we had testimonies of the truthfulness of the LDS Church, then it must be true. And since I attended a Seventh-Day Adventist Church about a year ago and heard members say in their quarterly testimony meeting that God had borne witness to them that their Church is true, then their Church must be true, also. I recently asked a JW friend of mine about her testimony and she told me that she studied with Mormon missionaries, prayed and found the church to not be true. She then found the JW’s, prayed, and God bore witness that that Church was God’s church. Do testimonies tell us what the true church is, or do only Mormons get confirmation from God?

    • Lilli
      July 28, 2013 at 9:20 am

      I believe there are alot of other Churches today that teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ far better then the LDS Church does, and they don’t teach things like polygamy and abuse of women, which are contrary to Christ and his scriptures.

      If the missionaries preached the real true about Brigham Young’s & other leader’s polygamy, I believe very few people would join. They have to keep that part quiet to get people to accept the Church.

      Then the Church acts all surprised when people later find out the whole truth about church history and they have problems with it all, like any good person would.

  73. mat
    July 26, 2013 at 2:33 am

    What grabbed my attention the most, in the script of the meeting with the authorities from the church, was when one of the speakers spoke about other issues that had been brought up before; but weren’t brought up at this meeting. This, to me, is a prime example of one of the main problems the church is having with itself right now: Saying they are open, and promising to be more open; and yet only scratching the surface of only topics that are brought up. Why would you even promise to be an open book, when clearly you have no intention of becoming so? I truly think this approach to reconciliation is the main reason people increase their doubt. People know when they are being hustled, and they don’t like it. No matter the subject, it is reflexive to back away from a hustler. The church has not, nor will they, open all their historical libraries to the public. They can’t. The church will not give direct answers to direct questions. They just can’t. And when people get to the point in their investigation when they are at a cross road of ‘this way or that’, and they look for the answers from the ‘gps’ they have always gone to; and instead of saying this is the way and this is how you get there, they say ‘apples are red because purple was an elephant 7′. Well, they may as well say that, because that is what people hear at that point…and its time to go shopping for a new ‘gps’.

    For a brief example: Brigham Young said that any time a prophet speaks, it is as if God is speaking; as good as scripture. Brigham Young said that Blacks are uncouth and loathsome creatures, and that people live on the moon. The members reason this by saying that prophets are fallible. But which part is fallible? The prophets speaking for God, or the things BY said? Or that moon dwellers just haven’t been found yet? Or all the above? The church’s stance on it is: Hey look at that over there!!

    • Lilli
      July 28, 2013 at 9:25 am

      You have to decide who you are going to believe, Joseph or Brigham, for they taught completely opposite doctrines and religions then each other.

      Joseph taught that if a prophet teaches things contrary to the scriptures, or to what Christ taught, then you know it’s false and they are not speaking for God but are a fallen or false prophet.

      Thus we can know for sure that polygamy is a false doctrine, no matter how many other so-called ‘prophets’ preached it after Joseph died. It was completely contrary to Joseph & Christ & ancient prophets teachings.

  74. Rolf
    July 26, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Hi Dale,

    Sorry, it’s true – I cannot read your mind, and I do not want to offend you in anyway. I just feel repeating these very terrible offences – when it’s been so clearly disputed by so many people that know both Hugh Nibley and Martha. You put in your comments a reference to Scott Gordon‘s LDS review (2005) “something all seven of her siblings deny”. You seemed to be so informed on Hugh Nibley, I was sure you also had read what his family and Martha’s former husband had said about her credibility,– I’m sorry, but I felt that was rather unkind of you. I should not have assumed you had read this – and for that I’m truly sorry. Here are just a few lines from one of the statements:

    SALT LAKE CITY ( February 22, 2005 ) – In response to the allegations in our sister Martha Beck’s book “Leaving the Saints,” we – all seven of Martha’s siblings – release the following statement:

    Knowing our sister and the circumstances of our home, we agree that Martha Beck’s portrayal of our family in “Leaving the Saints” is false. We are saddened by the book’s countless errors, falsehoods, contradictions, and gross distortions. She misrepresents our family history, the basic facts of our lives, our family culture, the works of our father Hugh Nibley, and the basic principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She also omits critical facts including her own previous writings, her and her husband’s search for their sexual identities, and the tortuous process — including self-hypnosis — by which she achieved her “recovered memories.”

    • j
      July 26, 2013 at 11:40 am

      hi Rolf
      Your right. false memories are a possible factor.
      Here is an article in cnn on it.
      http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/25/health/mouse-brain-memory/index.html?iref=allsearch

    • Dale
      July 26, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      Rolf,

      And if I offend you, please accept my apology. My point in my comment had noting to do with Martha. As a Scientist, I was focused on Hugh Nibley’s relentless attacks on his peer colleague Egyptologists, including Mormon Egyptologists, in his defense of the Book of Abraham. The Mormon Church has moved away from the defense that that Hugh Nibley originally established in the late 60s, 70s and 80s. You can go to this link, https://www.lds.org/ensign/1988/07/i-have-a-question?lang=eng, and see the question asked by an individual, “Why doesn’t the translation of the Egyptian papyri found in 1967 match the text of the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price?” The response from the Church’s representative, Michael D. Rhodes, is, “As with all aspects of the restored gospel, “by the power of the Holy Ghost [we] may know the truth of all things.” (Moro. 10:5.) I have studied the Book of Abraham, and the truth of it has been made known to me in a way I can’t deny.” Michael Rhodes has backed away from his original paper he wrote on the Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri. But more disturbing is Michael Rhodes’ Plagiarization of his fellow Egyptologists works.

      This is very disturbing to me. Michael Rhodes is an Egyptologist that has plagiarized Dr. Ritner’s work. This is an excerpt of an interview with Ritner:

      (Interviewer) You suggest some academics may have used your work inappropriately. How so?

      (Ritner) I note several examples of uncredited “borrowing,” particularly in the apologetic editions of P. JS I, done after my article in Dialogue. The evidence for this includes hasty and incomplete changes made in Rhodes’ published text in which the text (paralleling mine) does not match the same passage in the index (following Nibley, the original model for Rhodes). A most striking example appears in the vignette (Facsimile No. 3) of the court of Osiris, where Rhodes has adopted my description of the signs accompanying the figure of Anubis, but he failed to remove his earlier version so that he has two columns of hieroglyphs where only one exists in the Facsimile. Since my reading was based on a very obscure title that I found on a fragmentary, generally unknown papyrus, the similarity and the “extra” column with my reading are serious evidence. I should point out that Rhodes also identifies the figure as the jackal god Anubis, although Smith’s printed identification calls the black figure a “slave.” Rhodes, then, agrees that Smith could not interpret the Egyptian text of the BoA.

      Rolf, I cannot hold my integrity and principles with out “Doing What is Right and Let the Consequences Follow,” when I see the injustice of church leader’s lies, deceit, changing doctrine to fit the times and the cover ups that seem to go on and on.

  75. Charlie
    July 26, 2013 at 11:18 am

    After listening to it all I just have to conclude that this is simply the 21st century’s way of losing ones testimony. The man no longer knows the truth.

    But I love how he speaks, that innate humbleness and humour, especially his ‘Birrrrlen’…very funny. They seem genuine and good people.

    And sure, welcome doubt as a way to find the truth but he hasn’t actually found truth; he only found what the Tanners and the like think the truth is. Hopefully he will find those answers soon i.e. before it is too late and he ends up in that second level of the CK.

    Where I do cringe is when I hear that overly repeated phrase ‘the church has to not hide its “true” history. Man, where do they think people found this “history”, from the CIA? from baptists pastors? or from LDS church sources like LDS journals and LDS conference notes and LDS church members books?

    • j
      July 26, 2013 at 11:45 am

      Hi Charlie,
      You say “the man no longer knows the truth”. the truth according to who? you?

      The church in some cases does not come out directly in full force sharing the full story of the history. ie Sunday school lessons, Church literature, canonized scripture and so forth. That is why people have to go and search it out them selves in peoples personal journals and church members books.

      • charlie
        July 26, 2013 at 2:03 pm

        Dear J,

        The truth according to God, not me. Truth, that is what comes from the Holy Ghost as all truth does.

        The church probably wont ever cover these things in sunday school because the objectives there are different. But you should search out more things once you covered the basics of mormonism in your sunday school. No problems there. Problem is in thinking that all journals, letters from past members or critis is all true and always true. Sometimes people have other agendas, like W McLellan had in his day -although he never denied his testimony of the book of mormon by the way.

        • J
          July 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm

          Charlie
          The truth according to you. The truth you say you recieved from the Holy Ghost or a feeling.

          You say that the Holy Ghost is what denotes truth. That’s what you have been tought. It’s said the Holy Ghost speaks to us threw our thoughts and our feelings. But both of these things can be compromised and are not an absolute. Just because you or I have a good feeling does not denote truth. The feelings you have are a product of neurons and chemicals with in the brain. Not a ghost. Do you also watch the show ghost hunters on the tv? I know some one does or it wouldn’t be on tv.

    • Jeff
      July 26, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      Charlie,

      Bringing up eternal consequences is really uncalled for in this environment. The loving God I know would not condemn someone for not believing that which becomes unbelievable. We all have the ability to reason and myself, as well as many others, have reasoned that either staying in the church (or, in my case, staying fully active) is not an option based on our knowledge of history.

      Your last paragraph is a bit confusing, but it sounds like you are saying that the church has not hid its history since much of the historical information comes from LDS sources. Unfortunately, Sunday School teachers do not teach from those sources, but from whitewashed manuals and artwork. Add to that the fact that members are discouraged from searching non-church historical sources. Also, it is only recently that the Joseph Smith Papers project began, and the archives have become more open. Many members only listen to what they hear on Sunday and don’t dig further.

      • charlie
        July 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm

        “The loving God I know would not condemn someone for not believing”

        True, I totally agree. Although one day one has to find out and start believing because we can{t be saved in ignorance.

        “that which becomes unbelievable” hmmm….why add this in? Is it really unbelievable? I don’t think so. But you should t leave because of history since history is as writeable as Wikipedia is but the testimony of the Holy Ghost is an indelible mark on the soul and so that is what one should search for.

        Yeah, the church hasn’t hid its historical information even though it did and still does discourage members from reading so called anti mormon text and sure sunday school and priesthood are watered down a lot. But once you do have that indelible mark from the HG, one can search for what others say and try to start answering. Hinckley did so when evangelicals made a fuss about the God is Spirit line in John. Although we may not be Hinckley we should still be able to answer most of these questions and not fall away or lose our testimony as Hans seems to have.

        By the way I did write that I hope he finds it again before it is eternally too late and he ends up in that second level or lower because a loving God is above all a just God. He cant be unjust and loving at the same time, that is spoiling not loving. But one should still be civil and friendly about all this off course. I don’t see why Hans and Birgitta couldn’t be my neighbours or come over for dinner off course.

        • Jeff
          July 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm

          It seems as though you would rather ignore historical inquiry by using the fallacious argument that we cannot really know what happened. Yes, historians can establish probabilities based on evidence. When I made the comment about it being unbelievable, I meant that for me and many other NOMs, there are tenets that we simply cannot believe and, as I stated in any earlier post, be faithful to ourselves. It is offensive to suggest that just because someone reaches different conclusions than you do, they are relegated to a lower level of heaven (btw I could discuss the contextual influences of D&C 76 all day). It is also offensive to suggest that by not believing due to history they are living in ignorance.

          The Holy Ghost argument is fundamentally flawed. Would you like to tell me that all of my friends who are Catholics, Jewish, etc who have had more powerful spiritual experiences than myself that they are wrong and being misguided? Myopic vision can be a real hindrance, Charlie. I have had spiritual moments and feelings of peace both when I was a Catholic and now as a cultural Latter-day Saint. However, in terms of interpreting those as guides to truth, I don’t think so, in fact I know they aren’t.

          I will almost always accept rationalism and empiricism before spiritualism.

          • Charlie
            July 26, 2013 at 7:42 pm

            Jeff, you are getting offended way too quickly. Essy off a bit there….

            On those catholics and others…well they may have experiences with the HG everytime they touch the truth. BoM story on Columbus proves that. But there is a lot more that comes from the “gift of the Holy Ghost”. It is more than just a feeling of peace or spiritual experience. But I see you reject that and prefer rationalism, even though one can provide a rational explanation for all of these issues Hans raised, and apologist do that all the time. Shame people wont accept that because these apologists aren’t apostles.

            However I fully agree with you that if you don’t believe then you shouldn’t say you do. We all need to be faithful and true to ourselves first and above all. Hypocrisy only reaps more problems.

          • Jeff
            July 26, 2013 at 9:50 pm

            Charlie, you are misinterpreting people who doubt. The vast majority of us want(ed) the apologetic responses to be satisfactory. The problem is, apologists are either amateurs or scholars with an agenda and it affects the quality of their work. If you are happy with their answers, fine. But myself and many others I know have spent days devouring material written by FAIR/FARMS and it usually does not cut it. They tend to dismiss anything unorthodox as anti-Mormon then obfuscate facts. Take, for example, the limited geography theory. It completely contradicts the Book of Mormon text and prophetic statements yet it is convenient for them (though it still has many anthropological holes). Brent Metcalfe and Earl Wunderli have written extensively on it (see Wunderli’s book entitled, “An Imperfect Book”). Obviously, so many people would not be leaving (Jensen admitted apostasy rates were high) or be inactive (church activity is between 35-40%), if the apologists gave reasonable answers.

            The issue regarding apostles is separate. The fact is, church leaders rarely take a stand on issues, forcing apologists to qualify responses by saying it is just their opinion. That tells me and many others that church leaders just don’t have good answers and don’t want to commit to anything.

            Now concerning the Holy Ghost, you will not convince of anything by referencing the Book of Mormon since I think it was written by Joseph Smith as a 19th century allegorical story. I don’t reject spiritual experiences, but have just come to see them as unreliable for discerning truth. Whether or not you want to concede to it, the fact is that a person of any religious affiliation can claim confirming religious feelings. It is easy to feel the Spirit when all of the “facts” seem to fall into place and the whole story is not discussed by missionaries or Sunday School teachers. But if you are so confident in your experiences, you can tell my Catholic friend that he was being misguided when he a) felt Jesus save him after feeling death climb through his body, b) healed a person, c) had a dream-vision, d) felt compelled to join the seminary after being taken in by a priest, etc. Our life experiences play a major role in how we interpret our spiritual selves, Charlie.

        • Lance M.
          July 26, 2013 at 4:23 pm

          charlie-”…but the testimony of the Holy Ghost is an indelible mark on the soul and so that is what one should search for…”

          Is this the same “Holy Ghost” that helps testify of the Book of Mormon as being a “familiar spirit?” ;)

          If the Holy Ghost has the power as you represent, why are only .2% of the world population Mormon? And, why are SO MANY people leaving the religion? And why did SO MANY original founders leave the church for other similar religions?

          When I was realizing the truth, I felt the “Holy Ghost” bearing witness to me that the church was false. Are you saying that was Satan? If so, why can Satan so easily mimic the Holy Ghost? Why do Mormon’s give Satan so much power and leave God almost impotent? Could it be that God doesn’t actually work the way traditional Mormons believe?

          Millions of religious people have incredible spiritual experiences. Some so incredible they’re willing to take other people’s lives for their conviction of truth. So when is this spiritual feeling of God vs. Satan? I’m sure you wouldn’t say it was the Holy Ghost that made the terrorists “feel right” about smashing into the WTC? If it’s just a feeling then how can we tell if it’s really from the right God?

          You say, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” The church absolutely abhorred blacks for 150 years and completely treated them as second class citizens in the NAME OF GOD. I guarantee MANY apostles and prophets felt the “Holy Ghost” saying it was right to discriminate against the blacks.

          When Brigham Young was teaching the FALSE DOCTRINE of the Adam/God theory for TWENTY-EIGHT years in the TEMPLE tell me…was he speaking for God or for the Devil? Would you deny he felt the “Holy Ghost”? And, why wouldn’t the Holy Ghost give him a “stupor of thought” for being so blasphemous against God?

          My wife and I just resigned from the church and we received our official letter on May 22. According to Mormon tradition, we’re now evil apostates that are helping Satan destroy the church. Tell me this then…three weeks ago I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I was presented with a tremendous (personal-business) challenge that needed to be worked out very quickly. It could have easily been devastating to our family life. Out of nowhere, everything came together in a process like I have never seen before. I was totally blown away. I told my wife, if this had happened while we were members of the church, it would’ve been one of my all-time spiritual experiences.

          I’m grateful for a God that still blesses me even though I no longer believe in the fallacies of Mormonism. Or wait…maybe He’s blessing me BECAUSE I no longer believe? Or wait…is that just Satan toying with my emotions?? Now I’m befuddled. ;)

          I’ll leave you with a few Bible references:

          John 4:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

          Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

          Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

          1 Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”

          So you see, the Bible teaches that “feelings” are fallible and to beware of them. So, how do we really test truth? Well, here’s one way:

          Deuteronomy 18:20-22 “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: THOU SHALT NOT BE AFRAID OF HIM.”

          Since we have so much of Joseph’s Smith’s history, it’s pretty simple to see he gave many false prophecies and sent millions of people to “go after other gods” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).

          • Jeff
            July 26, 2013 at 5:07 pm

            Lance,

            Great points!

            I have two more things to add:

            1) Mormon theology has developed a lot since the early church (see “This is My Doctrine: The Evolution of Mormon Theology”). People in 1832 had the same testimony as people in 1844, who had the same as people in 1875. But the church wasn’t the same. In fact, the major reasons for schismatic churches during the succession crisis were 1) purification (ie return to New York or Kirtland era), 2) preservation (ie maintain as is), and 3) keep developing.

            2) David Whitmer said that in 1838, God told him to leave the LDS church due to false revelations, making up the Priesthood restoration, changing revelations, etc. He equated this experience with his seeing the plates in vision. He was either mistaken both times or God actually told him to leave the church.

          • Charlie
            July 26, 2013 at 7:58 pm

            “If the Holy Ghost has the power as you represent, why are only .2% of the world population Mormon?”

            Petty argument! since you quoted John:

            “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” John 14:17

            the ‘world’ above being that 99.8% you refer too.

            Plus remember these words from Jesus:

            “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

            That Jesus speaking in John 15: 19

            The adam god issue with young is well covered in mormon matters. I suggest you listen to it.

            I’d answer more but I really want to relisten to Hans talking about the apostles and other GA…I love that kind of g.. I mean talk…

          • Bob L
            July 26, 2013 at 9:28 pm

            I think you need to redo your math.

            If you give the Church the benefit of the doubt at 14,000,000 members in a world population of 7,500,000,000 that comes out to .00186

            If you’re going for accuracy here, there are some where around 4,900,000 somewhat active members of the Church, that would bring the percentage to .000653.

            In either case, there isn’t 2% of the world that are members of the Church.

          • Dale
            July 26, 2013 at 8:06 pm

            Lance,

            Wonderful comments. You hit the nail on the head. From my personal viewpoint I’ll add a comment or two. If the current Prophet, Seer and Revelator stuck his head in a hat with a treasure seeking peepstone in it and received a revelation that the Latinos, Hispanics and Native Americans were loathsome and filthy people. Wow, the entire world would consider that Mormon Church leaders had gone mad. Well, this is precisely what Joseph Smith did, the first Prophet, Seer and Revelator when revealed 2 Nephi 5: 21, 1 Nephi 12 :23 and Alma 3: 6 just to name a few. How can this be defended? My eldest son is 100% Latino and is offended by the Mormon Label of Lamanite. Who in their right mind wouldn’t be offended?

          • Lance M.
            July 26, 2013 at 8:52 pm

            Dale – You have my sympathies. I actually served my mission mainly to the Navajo Indian tribe for 20 months. At the time, I had no clue how racist I was being toward them. “Hey all you filthy people with cursed skin…Come check out this cool book I have. It’ll teach you how to join the true gospel so you can get white skin again like your ancestors and like I have!” yay!

            I was so young and naive. The Navajo’s were the best people on earth! They taught me a lot of humility. I wish I could go back and tell them I’m sorry. :(

          • Lance M.
            July 26, 2013 at 11:22 pm

            Bob L – I think you missed the point…literally! haha!

            I stated it was .2%, that’s 2% :)

            I took the benefit of the doubt of 14 million members and 7 billion people (I hadn’t heard we hit 7.5b yet).

            I didn’t even want to get into the realities of “active” members or even further “temple worthy” members. My calculator doesn’t have enough zeros. ;)

          • Lance M.
            July 26, 2013 at 11:25 pm

            Oh jeez, I put the word ‘point’ in greater/less than signs. It looks like the blog code doesn’t like that. It’s suppose to read…

            I stated it was .2%, that’s (point)2%

            By now I think you get the….wait for it…..point! :)

  76. Trent
    July 26, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    After reading all these comments I have concluded one thing. People are going to find just what they want to find, whether they are for or against the church.

    For me, the church has provided nothing but good things and a lot of meaning in life, as a result, I will always be a defender.

    For those who haven’t had such a good experience, I am truly sorry. I would like to think that I could be friends with anyone who has posted a comment, regardless of our differing views. I wonder if that would really be possible?

    Anyway, good luck to all in your search for truth and happiness!

    • J
      July 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      Trent, Oh man. I have wanted so badly to find the church compleatly true with out fault. But that’s not exactly what I’m finding.
      I would be your friend. We are all in this together.

  77. Sarah
    July 26, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    A brilliant Italian area president recently visited our stake. He said
    Lets stop worrying about whether it is true or not, and start concentrating on:
    WE ARE HERE TO LOVE
    He said that he has doubts, and it is OK to have doubts. Don’t worry about it! Just LOVE!

    • July 26, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Good message but truth does matter a bit according to section 1.

    • Tate_T
      July 26, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      Not sure that alone qualifies as ‘brilliant’, but I think he could have been more convincing if he added something like ‘let’s also stop worrying about whether we’re full tithe payers or not; it is no longer a measure of your Christian values and actions, it is no longer a requirement to serve The Lord, enter the house of The Lord, or to live with The Lord and your eternal family’. Putting a monetary requirement to LOVE makes no sense to me.

  78. JAH
    July 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    I been growing up in the church and I has been working with brother Mattsson in times. We also shared some spiritual moments that I still consider special.
    I think some information is not advertized out in public for some reasons. But I really find it surprising to hear that people are chocked by some historical facts about plural marriage etc. I can testify that it was not at common topic of discussion although it was clear to me in my teens in the 1980s that Joseph and others was practicing this. Thus my own surprises when I hear one of my friends say “I didn’t know this”. But I can even remember that we sometimes joked about it, probably since we felt it weird.
    I have come to the conclusion that one can see things very differently even with the same facts and same knowledge. And when some from for or against cry out that it obvious that this is the facts and logic and one must clearly see this or that is something wrong in your brain. Congratulations, both sides are right, we probably can’t take our brain for granted to be in full capacity… So what’s your excuse?
    It really comes down to I believe, or I disbelieve. I have heard so many for some chocking truths and with quite a few special experiences I cannot deny that the gospel practiced as thought does really work. I do not need to rely on Joseph’s testimony or someone else’s, I have my own experience and I am not a blind follower, but I follow with faith. I see there are parts of interest that maybe I will happy find out “why did you… or how come this and that” but that does not change my core testimony of my savior and that I can trust him in that I will be blessed thru the ordinances and covenants done. I give you any right to not believe but I have the same right to believe without anyone being unchristian or patronizing my faith. Often cries for justice is shouted out, but in all fairness justice needs to be practiced not only when it supports your standpoint.
    You hear reports that this is really shaking the Church, as with many surveys statistics is not always unbiased. (That’s for all statistics, even the church) But when looked at in the proper light there is not the start of the end of the Church.
    It also not what you don’t know that determine why one has come to being a believer. It’s what you have experienced and understand so far in the walking path of your life.

    • Charlie
      July 26, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      Yeah, good comment.

      I also remember the ’80s and we also joked about polygamy but now, all of a sudden, its the reason why people leave the church. Strange.

      “I have come to the conclusion that one can see things very differently even with the same facts and same knowledge”

      Very true. Even happened when Jesus walked the earth. Some concluded that he was the son of God, had eternal life in him…others wanted to kill him for blasphemy.

      • Jeff
        July 26, 2013 at 9:31 pm

        Regarding Jesus, the quest for his historical person is more complicated than just reading the Gospels. The consensus among scholars is that he was a Jewish apocalyptic prophet who preached the arrival of a judge called the “Son of Man.” He taught that in the coming kingdom of God that he and his apostles would be the chief rulers under God. The idea of Jesus being equal to God (ie divine incarnation) came much later as Christian theologians debated who Jesus really was. The reason he was killed by the Romans and despised by the Jewish was because he was a threat to the Pharisees’ power, and the Romans thought Jesus believed himself to be an earthly king, while he was actually professing to be a leader in the coming kingdom of God, which was supposed to come in the same generation as the apostles.

        • Lance M.
          July 26, 2013 at 11:29 pm

          That kind of sounds like the Council of Ytfif in a little more modern times.

        • JAH
          July 27, 2013 at 2:25 am

          My relation to Christ is based on more than a consensus of some scholars. There are more logic to it than wiseguys of today choose to sort out as facts. Wise men of old, before the birth of Christ and after and even today, LDS or not can see the signs the plan and history that the Son of God is whom he said he was.

          But since the beginning it still has to do with your belief and how you inerpret the knowledge you find.

          To say that the facts are clear and prof is… is plain stupid since you don’t have enough facts either side to say this is it. Even scientists needs to have faith in their work.

          I cannot with that waste of information deny the love a kind Heavenly Father has for me and it is personal.

          • Jeff
            July 27, 2013 at 5:53 am

            JAH,

            If you want to ignore scholarship and reason and base your faith on what is, in reality, a flimsy foundation, go right ahead. Whether or not you want to admit it, scholarship and objective research is always more valuable than the subjective nature of faith without reason. And there was nothing stupid about what I said; faithful intransigence prevents you from reinterpreting your views, unlike myself and millions of others. While I am not atheist (I stated above that I am more Christian Deist), there are reasons that the last couple of decades have seen a secularization of society (ie to atheism, agnosticism, spiritual but not religious, liberal Christianity). It is a rising trend.

          • JAH
            July 27, 2013 at 7:25 am

            No Jeff, scholarship and reason is my sources too, I just come to another conclusion that you wont agree to.

            Dont call me flimsy just becouse of what my findings are, that is just ignorant to my intelligence. And I am logic, intelligent and very logical. You just have a strong belief on your own.

          • Duwayne Anderson
            July 29, 2013 at 7:18 am

            JAH wrote: “And I am logic, intelligent and very logical.”

            Nice to hear that! If that’s the case, then would you mind listing the verifiable and objective evidences that, if they existed, would be sufficient for you to denounce Mormonism?

            I’ve yet to find any true believing Mormons who are willing to do that.

          • Jeff
            July 27, 2013 at 8:05 am

            JAH,

            I apologize for coming off too abrasive in my response. You are right to say that I have strong opinions that are different than yours. I do not disrespect your opinions, but I do disagree with how you form them. I simply cannot rely on feelings to guide me. Once more, I meant no disrespect to your intelligence; I wanted to demonstrate how I think rational thought trumps feelings.

        • Charlie
          July 27, 2013 at 9:19 am

          Jeff,

          No wonder you have trouble believing the basics on jose smith et al, seeing you don’t even believe that jesus is the christ or in the apostles. I think you ought to start there, with jesus and his mission/sacredness/godhood and then we can continue our discussions

          • Jeff
            July 27, 2013 at 9:38 am

            I think Jesus was a great moral and ethical teacher who taught essential truths in that regard. I also view him in the context of Jewish apocalypticism, and understand that his divine nature was a theological tenet which developed over decades and centuries. Jesus was a great man with wonderful teachings, but I remain agnostic towards his divinity.

    • Sunshine
      July 26, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      Jah
      I grew up in the church. I knew about Brigham Youngs polygamy as a youth but I’m not sure if I was familiar with Joseph Smiths polygamy and certainly didn’t know about his polyandry.

      Thanks for your testimony. You are right. it comes down to belief. Some people believe in some things based on reasoning, facts and logic while others belief come to them threw mysticism, alchemy, spiritualism and incantation.

  79. JT
    July 26, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    “In this respect fundamentalism has demonic traits. It destroys the humble honesty of the search for truth, it splits the conscience of its thoughtful adherents, and it makes them fanatical because they are forced to suppress elements of truth of which they are dimly aware” Paul Tillich

    This seems to be what Hans and Birgitta quickly recognized they could not tolerate happening to them, but what Mormon history and the LDS Church hierarcy’s orthodoxy is forcing on its innocent and faithful members..

    • Dale
      July 26, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      JT,

      I have my own quote. “I refuse to be immersed in the fantasy of the hermetically sealed bubble when facts prevail.”

    • Charlie
      July 26, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      I am one of the church’s innocent and faithful members. Or maybe not so innocent now after years of mormon matters and mormon stories reading!

      But the church has never stopped me listening to them, or reading all the same books that Hans has read. I enjoyed most of them (I didn’t like rough stone rolling too much). I’ve accepted that past leaders do have skeletons in their closed like todays one do and like to say today that, as with the saying about missionaries, the church must be true otherwise the general authorities (or missionaries) would have destroyed it by now :)

      But its wrong to say that we are so fanatical that we suppress elements of truth. We may water down some things to fit everyday sunday school rooms around the world but its a practical matter, not about fundamentalism. If you want fundamentalism try the FLDS where books are burnt and people forced to leave. They are fundamentalist, not us..

  80. Paul B
    July 26, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    “Peanuts, popcorn! It’s a long show. Get your peanuts, popcorn before the last dispensation is over.”

    “Hey, mister, you got any hotdogs?”

    “No, sir. No ‘hotdogs’ allowed. That’s what is making this a great show.”

    • Lance M.
      July 26, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Holy cow! That was freakin’ hilarious! :) :) :)

  81. Sunshine
    July 26, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Charlie

    You should read this months Ensign. In there is an article called In his own time in his own way. It clearly states that the Holy Ghost or the way to receive revelation is threw feelings. see page 26 of the Aug 2013 Ensign. A feeling. Feelings are fallible and do not denote truth.
    It also sais not to expect any grandiose revelations but rather a still small voice or a small feeling. I wish they would talk more about logic, reasoning and maybe even the scientific method. I don’t want to discredit the use of feelings but I think it should be used in connection with all other forms of measuring and finding truth. No method is perfect but they are all we have at the moment. We should use them all.

    I don’t think it wise to put all of ones eggs in one basket. There is to much evidence showing that feelings and even the mind are susceptible to error.

    • Jeff
      July 27, 2013 at 8:01 am

      Sunshine,

      Thank you for a nice, all-encompassing contribution. I think you certainly have a healthier perspective.

    • Charlie
      July 27, 2013 at 10:02 am

      When I say, or what I wrote above, is that it is more than just a ‘feeling’ its because of what Oaks quotes in his article. The still small voice can’t be just a warm feeling because its a voice, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart in your heart it could be a feeling but in your mind? , the spirit of revelation as “pure intelligence which may give you sudden strokes of ideas ideas are just that and not feelings and I did enlighten thy mind again can’t be a feeling. However all of these situations would be coupled with that feeling that produces warmth in the heart etc (not caloric heat as Oaks points out) because which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy

      His heading ‘Revelation is a Feeling’ is somewhat misleading since his own text talks about a lot more than just a feeling. I agree more with what is in the text than that one of heading.

      The best description though of what the holy ghost can do is, i believe, in 3 nephi 11, which speaks about that tender voice which penetrates to the very soul and move us in an unique way:

      “the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn” much, much more than than a simple ‘feeling’.

      That same small voice which pierces one to the very soul is what testifies of the book of mormon and of joseph smith as a true prophet. the rest relies on those two foundations i believe….

      • Sunshine
        July 27, 2013 at 1:38 pm

        Charlie
        And you believe these things you described (a voice in your head, feelings, warmness in the heart, an enlightening in the mind )are infallible? Threw personal experience I know this not to be true.

        • Roger
          July 27, 2013 at 11:41 pm

          HI Sunshine,

          I just wanted to throw something out there. I haven’t read all you posts so i am not sure where you stand completely so don’t take this the wrong way.

          There is a very important and basic principle that our Father in Heaven wants us to learn. As you probably know Faith is crucial to the Christian way of life. If we could scientifically prove or disprove everything related to God and his plan then we would no longer need to have any Faith. The gospel of Jesus Christ is centered around having faith that what he has taught us is true and that if we believe in him we will have the promised blessing of eternal life.

          I am truly sorry that your personal experience with holy ghost isn’t what you expected (obviously there is a story there) However to discount the Holy Ghost as a member of the Godhead and the way our Heavenly Father speaks to us and confirms a truth is contrary to all that our Father and Heaven and Jesus Christ have taught. (whether you are a Mormon or and other Christian)

          Now if you have left Christianity as a whole then you would be justified in your stance. Not that we would agree with you but would understand where you are coming from. As part of the plan each of us is different (luckily) and our experience with the gospel will be different.

          I trust your situation has been difficult and as such the personal experience has led to you feel that the holy ghost must not be real. WE all have our challenges……..

          • Sunshine
            July 28, 2013 at 12:11 am

            Hi Roger
            Thanks for your reply.
            I am not saying the Holy Ghost is entirely real or not. But I am saying that the ways we receive these messages are fallible. (Their is a story there but I would be high jacking this thread to tell it all.) Why God would insists to communicate using feelings that can be miss leading I do not know.
            I am an active member of the Church and a Christian. I do have doubts but I live by faith. Once you know something you are no longer living by faith. The doubts do not come because of church history or issues with the church but rather how we perceive truth. I do not go about stating “I know” like so many people do on fast and testimony day. They know according to their perception. The perception of their reality. I prefer to say “I believe”. And just because some one sais I believe does not make it true or not. But yes, I am a believing active later day saint.
            Thank you for your respectful reply. And be glad you don’t have my challenges. =)

          • Roger
            July 28, 2013 at 12:46 am

            Back at ya sister :). Challenges are interesting sometimes we see other’s challenges and think there is no way I could deal with that. So many on this thread have had a load dropped on them and have lost their beliefs (some after 40+ years!) I am glad for my own challenges (which you wouldn’t want either :)) long as they don’t kill me to soon I am hopeful they will make me stronger. To hear you are living on faith brings comfort, life can be pretty crappy sometimes. I strongly believe one of the biggest tests in this life is to become spiritually centered and think as He thinks, feel as He feels and do as He would do.

            Continue Believing!

        • Pat
          August 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm

          Sunshine,

          I agree with you that feelings are not dependable. After 41 years of following feelings, I researched the answers to my questions over the years, through Church history, and found the truth. I no longer believe in the HG or the divinity of Jesus Christ. I have discovered by reasoning, what I determine to be the truth. I class my religion as nearly the same as was many of the founding fathers and other great thinkers of this world. I now have a much clearer understanding of God.

      • Brian
        July 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm

        And it’s that same still, small voice that tells Evangelicals, JWs and SDAs that the LDS church is Satan’s. They are as sure of that as you are sure of the fact you are right. You’ll excuse me if I others means to figure out my life path.

        • Charlie
          July 29, 2013 at 10:24 am

          Brian,

          you are fully entitled to find your own way and means to figure out life. God’s first gift to us was agency or freedom of thought after all.

          But let me point out that I have very close evangelical relatives now and also know well their pastor, of a smallish church, and they never pray at night and day nor never bother asking ‘is the book of mormon true’; actually when i did manage to give one to the young 18 mom she instead went and asked the pastor if it was ok to read it! He said no off course and she didn’t instead of reading and doing moroni’s challenge. So, although the HG is the same for all, although that still small voice may be the same to a evangelical and JW and SDA, many times the problem is the person and their desires, needs and what they actually seek out from God. Remember that if you are a good person, you will both hear the HG and get to know Jesus personally but end up in the terrestrial kingdom! the Celestial Kingdom is another matter off course.

          • O boy
            July 30, 2013 at 8:32 am

            And you think we in our church are any different? “Bishop, should I read this book about Joseph smith? It’s written by fan broady.” What you think he says?

  82. Kelly Sperry
    July 27, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Dear Birgitta and Hans,

    Thank you for your courage to share your faith transition journey. It is obvious you are both loving people with integrity. Thank you John, for your courage and integrity as well. What you are doing here has helped me immensely. I’m tearing up just writing that. When I went through my own transition, I chose to leave the church. The emotional and mental pain, as well as being ostracized from family, was/is so difficult. I can imagine it was even more difficult for someone as faithful as the Matttsons.

    I wish you all much love and happiness. Sincerely, Kelly Sperry

  83. PJ
    July 27, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    A wonderful podcast!! Thanks for sharing! For some staying is best and others cannot when full history is known. Such great help for us all.

  84. Dave
    July 28, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Hi Roger,

    A convert friend recently lost her testimony over the question of historicity, and worked with her branch president who said the same thing as you, that in the end, it takes faith. She kept praying, attending services, fasted and finally regained her belief in Elohim. Yes, once again, she believes that El Cantare has descended to earth in the form of Master Ryuho Okawa, the Living Buddha, as he had previously in the form of Elohim. Hey, it’s their religion, I didn’t make it up.
    Other than tribalism, where our god is our god because we are we and they are they, how exactly does it work that a god requires a belief in one particular deity in order to be saved?
    My friend does a lot of service to her church, giving contribution of time and money. Studies, prays and once again hears the still small voice confirming that she is following the path of righteousness.
    So again, other than tribalism, how is one to know that having faith in one particular god out of many is the right answer?

  85. Lilli
    July 28, 2013 at 9:35 am

    There is nothing wrong with having doubts, in fact I believe all righteous people in the Church do.

    We must all, especially those born in the Church, eventually become ‘investigators’ and find out on our own if what the Church preaches and practices is true or not. We must find out if it’s leaders are all true prophets or not, or which one’s aren’t. For we have been warned about false prophets among us today, even in the Church.

    We must ‘prove all things’ and not just accept whatever any leader says, or even accept that they were called of God. We must use the test that Joseph Smith and true prophets taught us to use, to prove al men and their doctrine. We must compare their teachings and practices to what the scriptures say, the Book of Mormon and the original D&C (before 132 was added), which teach that polygamy is against the laws of God and will be forever and ever.

    We cannot just live by faith that the Church is true, for we must ‘prove’ it is true before we put faith in it. For faith is only right if it’s in ‘true’ things.

    Those who just follow church leaders blindly and don’t want the responsibility to ‘prove all things or persons’ will be easily deceived by the craftiness of men and could lose their Celestial standing.

    It takes both the Spirit AND the scriptures to prove all things and discern whether the Church or any doctrine or leader is of God or not.

    • Victoria Lore
      July 28, 2013 at 10:40 am

      I really appreciate your comment. However, I know that when I questioned Prop. 8, I was told by my Home Teachers that “When the prophet speaks, the debate is over.” This obviously flies in the face of wrestling with the Lord to find your own faith. I think it is very unfortunate that this type of rhetoric has been coming out of SLC recently.

      • Lilli
        August 4, 2013 at 9:52 am

        Victoria,

        The teaching that ‘when the prophet speaks the debate is over’ is just a lie. For even ‘true’ prophets like Joseph Smith can teach, do and say things that are wrong. It doesn’t mean Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet, but that he’s human, and learning line upon line just like the rest of us. Though prophets do get things ‘right’ more often then most of us because they live such a high level of righteousness, and thus have the constant guidance and instruction from the Holy Spirit to teach them the truth of all things, gradually. They also usually catch themselves before too long if they are in error about something.

        So when the ‘prophet speaks’ it is actually the time to ‘start the debate’ and study and prove and pray if what he says is right or not and according to the teachings of Christ.

        Joseph Smith taught that prophets can be wrong and if they do teach anything contrary to previous ‘true’ revelation or contrary to Christ’s teachings and the scriptures (like polygamy was when BY taught it) then we know for sure that what they teach is wrong and they may even be an imposter or false prophet if what they teach is evil and sin.

        • Duwayne Anderson
          August 5, 2013 at 7:18 am

          Lilli wrote: “Though prophets do get things ‘right’ more often then most of us because they live such a high level of righteousness…”

          I’ve asked Mormons a question that’s relevant to your comment. So far I’ve not been able to get an answer. I wonder if you might answer this question for me:

          Question: What actions might a man perform that would be sufficient for you to reject him as a prophet?

          Given your insistence that Mormon prophets “live such a high level of righteousness” it seems you should be able to come up with a list of actions that, if the “prophet” engaged in them, would disqualify him as a prophet.

          • Duwayne Anderson
            August 19, 2013 at 11:33 am

            Thanks for the list, Lilli!

    • Bob L
      July 28, 2013 at 11:18 am

      That’s the problem though.

      When you grow up in the Church, for most people the thought of leaving doesn’t occur to you particularly if you grow up in Utah because your entire family is involved and it’s terrifying to consider anything else. Like the “Lost Boys” of the FLDS Church who get kicked out. And then they use such expressions as there are “smarter people than me who know” or “all of the information that doesn’t promote the message of the gospel is from ‘anti-mormons’ or ‘enemies of the Church’ or ‘you weren’t there to know for sure’. After a while people lose their capacity to even feel any sense of right and wrong. I can’t tell you the number of members I meet who look at the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the cover-up as a justifiable event.

      Most active members that I ask about Hans and Brigitta think that they’re just an example of “the very elect being deceived in the last days” and that “the Church is true” regardless of what the members and leaders of the Church do not realizing that their behaviour is an example of what they actually believe and what’s really in your hearts. There’s seldom a time when active members will allow themselves to see the members leaving as feedback to consider that there’s anything wrong at all. When I listened to John’s remarks about “Why I stay”, I have to think that he’s gone through some absolutely heart wrenching, painful, lonely moments. You can hear the same struggle in the voices of Hans and Brigitta. That level of insensitivity showed itself to me when I was sitting outside the temple weddings of 3 (so far) of my children while “worthy” members who had nothing whatsoever to do with the rearing of my children walked passed me to attend a wedding their faithful and devoted father was deemed “unworthy” to attend. Members are so completely oblivious to the pain they cause with their “version” of faith in a Christ that the rest of the world doesn’t believe in.

    • Paul B
      July 28, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      Hey, Lilli, you didn’t respond to my last question. In any evert, about polygamy and false prophets — do you think Abraham was a false prophet? He practiced polygamy.

      • Nelson Phillips
        July 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm

        Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but it wasn’t God’s idea for Abraham to take Hagar. As a matter of record that action was taken by Abraham as a result of Sarah’s faithlessness in God’s promise of a child. It was an act of faithlessness and disobedience.

        So just how do you think this justifies Mormon polygamy?

        • Bob L
          July 28, 2013 at 8:19 pm

          I want to thank everyone for your comments here. To listen to the ridiculous comments, pro and con. In my mind, aside from Hans and Brigitta showing their character and integrity by acknowledging the facts, more importantly, they showed us all where their priorities stand. Not allowing the behaviour or “alleged” behaviour to affect their marriage. Good for them. That we, either believer or unbeliever, would allow any organization to so control our thinking and our lives to give up or to be given up by our wives or husbands or childeren over what we think somebody long dead, did or didn’t do, or might have said. Or to allow an organization to con us out of our lives in the hopes that something special might happen after we’re dead is just as ridiculous. To allow any belief to think that we would change our integrity or prevent us from considering other facts, or feel the need to hide the truth so that we can gain disciples. Like that’s going to work. The most precious thing we have is our time on this planet and I’ve have spent more than enough time here, wasting it splitting hairs and debating any more about the Church. Thanks Brigitta, Hans for your character and honesty. Thanks John for having a forum for exchanging ideas. The exchange has really given me some clarity. I’ve got so many goals to accomplish and so many things to catch up that I missed out on because I was a devout Mormon. To quote Mad Mardigan, from the movie “Willow” when he’s finally let out of the cage by Willow,…”I FEEL BETTER!”

          • Jay
            July 28, 2013 at 8:37 pm

            Wow!! Amazing comment Bob L. I could sense your sincerity. Good luck to you, and I hope the best in your new journey ahead!!

        • Wos
          July 31, 2013 at 6:56 am

          Abraham had more wives than Sarah and Hagar.

      • Lilli
        July 29, 2013 at 12:15 am

        Paul,

        Sorry, I guess I didn’t understand your question earlier, thanks for asking it twice.

        Assuming that the Bible story about Abraham is all translated and written down correctly, which is a huge ‘IF’, and likely not, as it reads it appears Abraham was highly favored of the Lord and a true prophet in his younger days, but then it appears became a fallen prophet later on because of polygamy. Immorality so often eventually got the best of many great men & prophets throughout history who were once highly favored of God.

        As Abraham got close to 100 it appears that he, and especially Sarah, lost faith in God’s promise for a child and thus Abraham weakened and went along with Sarah’s insistence that he take Hagar to wife, instead of refusing to live polygamy and instead reassure her that God would keep his promise. (Jacob also only lived polygamy because he weakened and gave into a wicked father in law and weak wives)

        It’s important to realize that Abraham didn’t start living polygamy by any command of God, in fact it appears he knew polygamy was wrong, for he went almost 100 years before living it, even though he was very concerned about having posterity. If he had thought polygamy was ok with God, I believe he would have lived it far earlier.

        Sarah & Abraham learned the hard way about how wrong polygamy was and when Sarah had had enough of it she asked Abraham to send Hagar away, which God confirmed was the right thing to do, so he did.

        It appears that Abraham didn’t completely repent from polygamy and regain the Spirit, for the Bible says he practiced it to even greater lengths (taking concubines) in his last years.

        And he didn’t have true love for Sarah, for he remarried after she died, which shows he had lost his standing as a prophet, for true prophets don’t date or remarry after their wife dies, they remain completely true to their wife for the rest of their days (like Elder Scott appears to be doing, I will give him that), as their wife is remaining true to him in heaven.

        I believe ‘true exclusive unconditional lifelong love’, for your spouse, even if they die (or divorce and abandon you), is a prerequisite to have in order to obtain prophet status with God. For I don’t believe there is any polygamy in heaven and remarrying after the death of a spouse just brings heartbreak to the spouse in heaven and eventually to the two that remarried who will have to part at death, for they can’t be together for he already had a wife waiting in heaven, though he lost his chance to be with her because he remarried and didn’t stay faithful to her. But if his wife in heaven is righteous enough, she can save him even so, and after he repents for his remarriage in Spirit Prison she can bring him into the Celestial Kingdom to be married to her for eternity. Her ‘true love’ for him earns her that power to save him, otherwise he would have had to go to a lower kingdom and be alone and single and have deep regret and remorse for eternity because he didn’t maintain his true love for his wife.

        Christ’s disciples taught this higher ‘Celestial law’, that it is best to not remarry when a spouse dies, but if a person can’t contain themselves, it’s better to live a Terrestrial level and remarry, even though the person loses their Celestial standing, rather then commit adultery and fall to a Telestial level.

  86. Jay
    July 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I just listened to the Sweden audio…I was ROFL..That was some of the worst apologetics I had ever heard.

    Any “defense” that requires a half hour of indoctrination before they even start the question/answer should tip off any reasonable person that you are about to be fed a plate slam full of horsecrap!!

    I love the fact that they prefaced before hand that if you accept what we say you are of God and if not, you are of the Devil. You really have to check your brain at the door to beleive this stuff don’t you? I couldn’t do it!!

  87. LukeAir2013
    July 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Im just amazed that Bro Mattsson claims that he didn’t know that Joseph practiced polygamy. Really? Has he never read the D&C? How about Section 132 for starters. The Lord approved of plural marriage. Official Declaration 1. We stopped practicing plural marriage because the US government were going to destroy us. Im sorry but Luke Air aint buying this. Again, he didn’t know that Joseph used a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon? Really? Where was he when Elder Russell M Nelson in 1993 explained in an Ensign talk that Joseph put his face into a hat and used the seer stone to translate? Where has this man been? 3rd generation Mormon? DNA tracing? Has he not read up on the Icelandic study where recorded ancestors only 2 to 3 generations previous were deemed to have never existed according to DNA tracing? DNA cannot be used to trace ancestry. It wipes out too many people. I’m sorry. Maybe this nice man is just a little bit dense?

    • Clinton
      July 31, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      LukeAir2013,

      I have recently started reading Todd Compton’s book on the plural wives of Joseph Smith. I am on the chapter about the life of Zina Huntington–it is heartbreaking. If Compton gets it right, Smith and Young sequentially married Zina and systematically took steps to push Henry, Zina’s first husband, out of the church. Henry always loved Zina and wrote letters longing to see her and his children–letters that were never delivered to Zina. He also expressed bewilderment about why he had been disfellowshipped, believing that he had been ever faithful to the church. Since Zina was the third president of the Relief Society (after Emma and Elisa R. Snow–also wives of Joseph Smith), I thought it would be interesting to see how her life was profiled as RS president with the other past presidents. Here is what you will find (www.lds.org/callings/relief-society/relief-society-history) regarding her marriage and family:

      “Zina married Henry Bailey Jacobs on March 7, 1841. They had two sons but did not remain together. As a plural wife of Brigham Young, Zina had one daughter, and she raised four other children as her own after their mother died. Blessed with the gift of healing and limited medical training, Zina helped the sick and delivered countless babies. She died August 28, 1901, in Salt Lake City.”

      It is interesting that the church mentions that Eliza R. Snow was sealed to Joseph but they do not mention that Zina was–the only conclusion I can come to for omitting this is becuase Zina’s marriage to Joseph Smith was polyandrous. Also, it is pretty clear from Zina’s writing that she understood she was giving healing blessings to the sick–a priesthood which has a different connotation from the “gift of healing” mentioned in the paragraph above.

      My questions for you are: How smart would you have to be to understand all these things about Zina’s life if you only had the description mentioned above? I do not think that Hans was dense when he did not know about these things–he was rather obedient! As I understand him, he did not go searching for dirt on the church–it was members coming to him for answers and his priesthood leaders left him on his own to answer them. Where would you go to answer the saints’ questions if you were their leader?

    • Jay
      July 31, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      Ad Hominem attacks are logical fallacies that people resort to when they can’t defend the issues through any other means. Having to resort to this type of immaturity is common among LDS apologist. It seems you have learned allot from them and show more than you realize who is actually the dense one.

    • oh boy
      August 1, 2013 at 10:21 am

      @LukeAir
      I have to agree with the other comment. Your argument is not a very good one.

    • Pat
      August 2, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      LukeAir:
      I never knew that Joseph translated with his head in a hat either. I guess I just stupidly assumed that what I taught my primary students from the manual was the truth. I didn’t even know that the witness of the plates saw them with their spiritual rather than their physical eyes.

      And you say that the Lord approved of plural marriage in Sec. 132. Maybe he changed his mind for the 1981 scriptures because in the 1835 edition he called polygamy and fornication crimes. And I used to think God was unchangeable. I guess if Joseph decided he wanted to take extra wives, he must have told God to change the plans.

  88. p
    July 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    How fantastically faith-restoring it would be if one of the senior apostles finally stood in front of the church, admitted that the institution has been obfuscating and lying about history since the beginning, and asked – begged, as any sinner might beg – to be allowed to reboot the entire organization: full & complete truth about the past, so far as it is known (still LOTS in those archives very few are allowed to see); and full equality for women. You’d actually see a reverse migration BACK into the church.

  89. Maddy
    July 28, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Hans, Birgitta, Thank you for sharing the story of your journey through these very difficult issues. Your goodness, kindness and great spirits are evident. My own journey began quite accidentally and innocently, when I found the book “Mormon Enigma” at our local library, making sure it wasn’t written by “anti-Mormons,” I took it home and read it, leading to more discoveries and more questions. Seven years later, I’m still in “flux,” and it is a lonely place, but hearing your story and other’s stories make me feel a little less alone. We have not shared what we know with our adult children, but I am grateful my youngest, by his own choosing, is immersed in studies and not going on a mission. I just think it is terribly wrong for young people to sacrifice their time when they don’t have accurate or truthful information. I hope this changes. It must.

    Thanks John, for another excellent podcast.

  90. Ryan
    July 29, 2013 at 1:47 am

    I have followed Mormon Stories for a couple of years now, which has helped me a great deal at times as I work through my religious struggles. Like for many I imagine who who listen in, the issues expressed in this particular episode are very heavy for me and regrettably, unignorable. This has got to be one of the most relatable and fascinating podcasts yet. As an active and card-carrying LDS, I have struggled to know where to turn for constructive help with difficult issues when I feel that they cannot be discussed openly. I really have no interest in engaging in unhelpful negativity, and want to stay in the Church. I feel I am finding much of the guidance and ideas I need here, for with I am sincerely grateful.. Hats off to Birgitta, Hans, and many others John has worked with for their courage and support.

    Because of this, I am including Mormon Stories among my monetary charitable contributions for 2013. I have not done so in the past, but I probably should have. I have read other comments expressing gratitude for the high quality and valuable efforts being produced by Mormon Stories. I hope that John is also finding the financial support he needs among the listening community. For my part I am pleased to make that commitment.

  91. August 1, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    I like Mattsson’s idea that gays and lesbians can make it to the celestial kingdom. In fact, I have been thinking about this for the last several months, and I had come to a very similar conclusion as Brother and Sister Mattsson before listening to this interview.

    • Bob L
      August 2, 2013 at 12:15 am

      The most wonderful part of this whole story for me is that the Mattssons put their relationship above everything. I can imagine in my mind Hans was really tormented by this. Struggling like crazy because he has ethics and convictions. He is not going to allow anything to be more important than his character and honesty.

      Then his dear companion, Brigitta supports him because she’s been with her husband through thick and thin for a long time. He’s stood by her when she had her challenges. In times of challenge, their marriage shows that it’s their priority and more important than any belief.

      What would Christ want? His servants to be honest and to value their marriages even if it means leaving the organization.

      I have some friends who just had their first baby Tuesday. A little girl…perfect and wonderful. The mom is 43 and the dad is 48. They got married last year and got pregnant right away. Her dad, after at least 20 years that I’ve known him have been dreaming of this day. Now he’s a grandpa for the first time. He didn’t think it would ever happen.

      Marriage and children and family. I think there are some great things to do while we’re here on the planet, but these 3 things are the most important things we can do as human beings.

      To have this experience with someone, all the work of raising a family and then to give it up over a religious belief???
      I think there’d be hell to pay for those who would do that.

      • square peg
        August 2, 2013 at 7:17 am

        Bob,
        That was right on!

      • Duwayne Anderson
        August 2, 2013 at 7:36 am

        Bob L wrote: “To have this experience with someone, all the work of raising a family and then to give it up over a religious belief???”

        I agree completely, Bob. I can’t imagine any affection more “unnatural” than to love one’s church/religion more than one’s family. Yet many do, and it leaves a shattered legacy of broken homes.

    • Duwayne Anderson
      August 2, 2013 at 7:34 am

      Frank Staheli wrote: “I like Mattsson’s idea that gays and lesbians can make it to the celestial kingdom…”

      Frank, this statement seems dysfunctional to me. Let me explain why.

      1) the “celestial kingdom” is a distinctly LDS concept, so it would seem that you’re saying that you believe that Gays can have what the LDS would call “exaltation.”

      2) I’m assuming (because of your use of the phrase “celestial kingdom”) that you are LDS.

      3) I’m assuming that you have thought this out in your mind, and that you feel (on a personal level) “inspired” in your decision. In other words, I’m assuming that you feel that your decision was based on inspiration from the Holy Ghost. I further assume that, as a confirmed member of the LDS church, you believe that you have the gift of the Holy Ghost, meaning that the Holy Ghost will be your “constant” companion, as long as you are “worthy.”

      4) I assume that (like all good Mormons) you “sustain” your “prophets, seers, and revelators.”

      5) I assume that you believe your “prophets, seers, and revelators” are at least as “worthy” as you, and that they, like you, have the “gift of the Holy Ghost,” which is to say that the Holy Ghost is their “constant companion” as much as he is yours.

      That being the case, are you aware that many (not just a few) Mormon “prophets, seers, and revelators” have spoken forcefully about homosexuality being a sin — both in thought and in action?

      There seems to be cognitive dissonance in sustaining men as “prophets, seers, and revelators” under such circumstances. After all, if you are right, then they are wrong. And if they are wrong, then they don’t (or didn’t) have the Holy Ghost. And if they don’t (or didn’t) have the Holy Ghost it’s because they were (or are) living unworthily. And if they were/are living unworthily, how can you sustain them as “prophets, seers, and revelators?”

      For me, it seems the most logical conclusion is simply this. Sexual orientation is primarily genetic — it’s no more a “sin” than having blond hair or being Black. Men who claim to have the Holy Ghost, yet speak ill of people because of their sexual orientation and/or skin color are clearly *not* inspired by any god. Such men clearly *don’t* deserve a sustaining vote by any logical/ethical person.

      Unfortunately for Mormons, failure to sustain these men can lead to the loss of their temple recommend and the consequent institutional shunning that results from the loss of temple privileges. Could such institutional pressure be the reason they sustain these men, when these men are so undeserving?

  92. 3GrandKeys
    August 3, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    “They spent a billion dollars on a mall while the whole world is crying for help.” Hans FTW.

    The NY Times article featuring Hans surprisingly came up during my lunch break with coworkers (in CA).
    “Did you guys hear about what’s happening to the Mormons?” I was like, wow, sh** is finally getting real.

  93. Bob L
    August 5, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Lilli, I have personally had an about face about the LDS Church as a community of people and learning to appreciate the opportunities there are for personal growth and support there is.

    Last night, I had a “google hangout” with 6/8 of my children. (I can’t get my former wife to recognize the value of what we created together at this point). It was amazing. I’ve got kids all over the place and we got to see each other…the laughter was really fun.
    I have 8 children that all like each other.

    I know for sure that would never have happened had I not joined the Church and been encouraged to have a family. Just seeing my non-LDS brothers and sisters and what they accomplished in life (not that I’m any better than they are) but I have an incredible legacy.

    My problem is that I was taught that these “leaders” were “especial” witnesses to the Saviour. These were “suppose” to be “righteous” men who held the “priesthood” of God. That’s “suppose” to be the authority to act in God’s name which differentiated the LDS Church from all the other churches on the planet.

    By saying “one cannot criticize the brethren” gives them license to do whatever they want without reproach. In my mind no one get’s a pass. Honesty and character come before everything or am I expecting too much from people who claim to speak for the Almighty?

    It also suggests that they are “above the law” which can’t be. God is bound by his own laws. He’s the “perfect example”, or so I’ve been told.

    Men (and women) of high moral conscience don’t do things like what we’ve been talking about. It doesn’t even occur to them to take other men’s wives.

    To suggest otherwise and to be so accepting of their errant behaviour without protest shows a lot about who you are and your character.

    If anyone ought to be an example of “living the gospel” and it’s benefits, don’t you think we ought to be looking up to “the prophets”? Frankly it embarrasses me to suggest someone like Joseph Smith or Brigham Young are founders of the church.

    When I hear that Hans has some questions and a general authority tells him that he shouldn’t bother the brethren with such questions that tells me “the brethren” don’t know. When they send out historians and apologists to answer the questions and who can’t answer a direct question, they’re part of the cover-up.

    If you’ve been listening to John’s personal stories you can tell that this dissonance has been the source of tremendous heartache. We want to believe in the Church. It’s hard not to have a disconnect here when people we thought we could trust and lying to us. We know it and they know it. Our honesty and integrity are blaring in our souls.

    • Lilli
      August 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      I agree with you. But I think many people in other churches like the FLDS & RLDS, etc., could claim their lives are better for having joined ‘their’ church, because they have to many children, Priesthood, etc.

      The Church does teach some true principles that can enhance our lives, but that doesn’t make it a true church, any more than any other Church in the world. It’s all the wrong things they preach & practice that destroy marriages & families that I have a problem with, that I believe far outweigh any good they may teach.

      I don’t believe in the present LDS Church anymore, since I learned the truth about Joseph Smith and his innocence in polygamy and how strongly he preached & warned against it. I also don’t believe in the Church based on what the leadership has preached and practiced since Brigham Young to today, that is completely contrary to the teachings of Christ.

      Until we accept that Joseph was a true prophet who didn’t live polygamy, and that it was Brigham & co. who made up that doctrine for selfish & immoral purposes, and that the Church went into complete apostasy after Joseph died, and thus the current LDS Church is only one of the many false branches of that apostasy, we will have such dissonance.

      • August 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm

        There’s quite a few mentions of FLDS in this thread and I feel badly that they’re not here to give their perspective. My in-laws live near them and I’ve gotten to interact a little bit. The members I’ve met seem to be wonderful people.

        Many of them would say they have a firm testimony that they have a true and living prophet on earth today, manifested to them by the power of the Holy Ghost. And that we are led by false prophets who, although they believe in polygamy, only practice it when their wives die, thereby preventing them from achieving celestial glory.

  94. Frank
    August 6, 2013 at 3:41 am

    I joined the LDS Church over twenty-five years ago after a long period of seeking for truth. The reason I was baptized because of the influence of the Holy Spirit — the reason I have remained in the Church is because of that same spiritual witness. My testimony is rooted firmly in the fact that I know the Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer.

    I have felt his sanctifying influence in my life through many experiences — especially my weekly participation in sacrament meetings. I have felt the influence of his Spirit as I have searched the scriptures, listened to the teachings of church leaders, and the testimonies of my fellow church members, and through personal communications with my Heavenly Father.

    I remain fully committed to the gospel, having studied the issues that people are discussing here.

    The Spirit of the Lord has witnessed to me on many occasions that Joseph Smith was called of God to be the instrument through whom the Church of Jesus Christ was restored to earth — and that the Church continues to be guided and directed by the Lord Jesus Christ through his servants.

    My faith is based on what I have learned from God through the power of the Holy Ghost.

    May God bless us all.

    • Jay
      August 13, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      Frank,

      You will probably be surprised to know that you don’t need Mormonism to have those spiritual manifestations. They are had in various different religious world views and believe it or not even among the fundamentalist LDS sects. These groups claim to have had the same spiritual manifestations that you have had. Thing is you can still have this without having to believe the foolishness that comes along with LDS belief.

    • Bob L
      August 13, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Give my a break!

      With all due respect to “feelings” and the “spirit of the Holy Ghost”, I’m betting if those who had prior knowledge of what Joseph Smith had been doing while “restoring” the Church to the earth, I’m betting that they would not have had the same feeling.

      This last Sunday, I attended LDS Church services since a couple of my kids are in town. I sat through a “Sunday School” lesson about the Nauvoo period. I borrowed the current lesson book from the guy sitting in front of me. There’s a picture of Joseph and Hyrum in Carthage jail…It’s very dramatic for sure…but he’s standing with no pistol (a pepperbox the Church has in it’s possession). There’s also a picture of Joseph playing with the kids…(an artist’s rendition full of artistic license)…establishing a city…building a temple…Joseph got very wealth by selling building lots to incoming members…no mention of where the money came to buy the property Nauvoo was built on. The teacher hi-lighted the “extermination order” by Gov Boggs…but nothing about how Joseph ordered Porter Rockwell to assassinate Boggs (who almost succeeded but Boggs survived)…lots about the “enemies of the Church”…nothing about ordering the destruction of a private printing company. One would wonder, if Joseph were innocent of the charges in the Nauvoo Expositor, the owners could be sued for libel. William Law was no low life, but Smith’s counselor in the Church presiding presidency who had years of service and was a man of good character. He and his wife were completely shocked by the discovery of the practice.

      Here’s a copy of the Expositor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nauvoo_Expositor and it clearly shows where William and Jane Law had testified of their being approached by Oliver Cowdrey.

      The Church has a history of covering up their mistakes, lots of secrecy and excommunicating members who won’t go along with a leader’s stupid orders and then besmirching the reputations of those who blow the whistle on the “leaders” who aren’t quite living up to the standards they preach. Then they shift the blame to the members “not living righteously enough.”

      After years of lying about it, then Brigham Young finally admits it and determines plural marriage to be a requirement of Celestial glory.

      And we all know where we’ve been taught liar’s go.

      When, after the lesson, I pulled the “leader” aside and asked him, “what about”…some of the things I mentioned, he disregarded all of it and said “that the most important thing was relationship with Christ”. There was almost no mention of Christ in both Sacrament meeting talks…in the Sunday School lesson about the Nauvoo years or the bit about Lorenzo Snow.

      Talking to a devout member is like talking to the wall. The Church is much more important than the truth or honesty or integrity is my experience.

      I understand it because telling about the deeds of these men are hardly selling points when you’re trying to convert someone to the church.

      • Dale
        August 13, 2013 at 8:51 pm

        Bob, When you read what happened to William and Jane Law, you cannot help but wonder what kind of a man Joseph Smith really was.

        In essence, what was going on that upset William Law was personal and an atrocity. Not only did Joseph Smith wage a battle with the Laws to get William Law to be a sexual substitute for Joseph Smith and have a relationship with Emma, but also, Joseph Smith made a play for Williams Laws wife, Jane law to become one of Joseph Smiths’ wives. Since the Laws refused to go along with any of this illicit behavior, they were excommunicated from the church. They felt an obligation to exercise their first amendment rights and publically tell the world of what was going on in secrecy at the high levels of leadership in the Mormon Church. The Laws, along with others, published the Nauvoo Expositor. All of this is documented in these references: [(D&C 132: 51); (Joseph H. Jackson A Narrative of the Adventures and Experience of Joseph H. Jackson in Nauvoo (Warsaw [IL]: n.p., 1844), 6.); (D&C 132, on July 12, 1843. Verses 51-52, 54, now instruct Emma); (William Law correspondence of July 17, 1885 with Charles A. Shook, in Cook, William Law: Biographical Essay, Nauvoo Diary, Correspondence, Interview, 99); (Interview of William Law, March 30, 1887, Salt Lake Daily Tribune (July 31, 1887))]

        Summarizing the Nauvoo Expositor:

         Innocent girls, most from Europe who are extremely poor and are seeking the American Dream of a better life are brought to Nauvoo

         They are told the Prophet will reveal the mysteries of Heaven to them.

         They are taken to a remote location

         They have no idea what awaits them

         They are sworn to secrecy with penalty of death if they reveal what they are exposed to

         They are told that God has instructed Joseph to take them as his “Spiritual Wife.”

         If they reject, the Prophet damns them

        This summary is obtained as a direct quote from the Nauvoo Expositor:

        “They are also notified that Brother Joseph will see them soon, and reveal the mysteries of Heaven to their full understanding, which seldom fails to inspire them with new confidence in the Prophet, as well as a great anxiety to know what God has laid up in store for them, in return for the great sacrifice of father of mother, of gold and silver, which they gladly left far behind, that they might be gathered into the fold, and numbered among the chosen of God. They are visited again, and what is the result? They are requested to meet brother Joseph, or some of the Twelve, at some insulated point, or at some particularly described palce [place] on the bank of the Mississippi, or at some room , which wears upon its front–Positively NO Admittance. The harmless, inoffensive, and unsuspecting creatures, are so devoted to the Prophet, and the cause of Jesus Christ, that they do not dream of the deep laid and fatal scheme which prostrates happiness, and renders death itself desireable [desirable]; but they meet him, expecting to receive through him a blessing, and learn the will of the Lord concerning them, and what awaits the faithful follower of Joseph, the Apostle and Prophet of God, When in the stead thereof, they are told, after having been sworn in one of the most solemn manners, to never divulge what is revealed to them, with a penalty of death attached that God Almighty has revealed it to him, that she should be his (Joseph’ s) Spiritual wife; for it was right anciently, and God w ill tolerate it again: but we must keep those pleasures and blessings form the world , for until there is a change in the government, we will endanger ourselves by practicing it-but we can enjoy the blessings of Jacob, David, and other s, as well as to be deprived o f them , if we do not expose ourselves to the law of the land. She is thunder-struck, faints recovers, and refuses. The Prophet damns her if she rejects.”

    • Duwayne Anderson
      August 14, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      When Mormons start bearing their testimonies I’m reminded that their faith is a manifestation of the epistemology of the infallible mind; namely the belief that one’s mind is infallible, incapable of being deluded, and that all emotions and “spiritual” experiences (and the meanings ascribed to them) are sufficiently trustworthy to invalidate an arbitrarily large collection of verifiable and objective evidence (VOE).

      This epistemology is, of course, completely irrational as it can (and does) lead to belief in virtually anything, including logically contradicting points of view.

  95. Ritchie
    August 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    I believe that if everything in the gospel fit perfectly and that if everything was explained to the curious or concerned mind then there would be no need for faith.

    I also find it interesting that people have to dig really deep often back to the 19th century to find an inconsistency in the Church. Even back then before the Church had time to get a history, people still had issues. Clearly that won’t change.

    • Rob
      August 13, 2013 at 6:20 pm

      There were some major changes (inconsistencies) in the 60s with what the church was going to focus on, as well as in the 70s with racial views & the ERA, as well as in the 80s with political views, and the 90s with temple changes, and in the 2000s with Hinckley abandoning former teachings, as well as now with homosexuality.

      Secondly, why is faith a good thing. You essentially say that the confusion is good because it lets us exercise faith, but that only makes sense with your presupposition that faith is good. Why is believing in something counter-intuitive or even outright illogical a positive thing?

      • Ritchie
        August 18, 2013 at 10:58 pm

        It is debatable whether these changes were “major” and what the Church is focusing on. The Church focuses on a lot of issues (to many to list here) but I guess some people what to focus on those that are controversial and that is perfectly fine. The core of the gospel is Jesus Christ and the Atonement. And to my knowledge that has remained unchanged.

        Secondly, it does not necessarily presuppose that faith is good. But in any religion there is an element of faith and belief that extends beyond logic and reason. This is par for the course when embracing any religion. I would imagine that people in the Church don’t necessarily believe for the sake of believing even when they are confronted with issues they may not fully understand.

        It is a common pattern however for those who are tested that over time some of that confusion makes more sense through the Holy Spirit and some issues they may not receive an answer at all. Faith and testimony was not designed to be stagnant. Still people will stick with it because things are opened up to them over time and the blessings and benefits of remaining faithful far outweigh what they do not know or understand.

        I am in no way denigrating your opinion and personal experience with the Church or even trying to convince you of anything. I am just offering a different perspective for the sake of discussion.

    • Jay
      August 13, 2013 at 6:23 pm

      Jared,

      People don’t realize but there are two types of faith. The first is blind faith. This is comparable to what the Greeks manifest when talking of Zeus, Apollo, Athena etc. It is faith without any reasonable evidence. There is also rationale faith. This is faith that comes out of past experiences. If I sat down in a folding chair yesterday I have reasonable and rationale faith it will hold me up today as well. Mormonism ask that you follow in blind faith. If you wish to do that you might as well have blind faith in the branch Davidians, Scientologist, Jehovah’s Witnesses etc. Anyone who follows through blind faith will believe anything

    • Dale
      August 13, 2013 at 8:59 pm

      For many who have lost their faith in the Mormon Church, it is because of the discovery of the papyrus that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham from.

      It was many thousands of years ago. A man had died and was being buried. His name was “Osiris Hôr.” According to the religious beliefs at that time, he needed a “Breathing Permit” in order to exist in the after life for which he was headed. His funeral was done in proper order and the mummified body of Osiris Hôr was given a papyrus scroll, which included his Breathing Permit. He was placed to rest in a catacomb in Egypt. In 1871, a French explorer, Antonio Sebolo, entered the catacomb where Osiris Hôr was laid to rest and discovered the mummies and papyrus. That papyrus eventually ends up in Joseph Smith’s possession and he [Smith] translates it into LDS scripture, the Book of Abraham.

      Robert Ritner is not an ex-Mormon or anti-Mormon. He is a noted, respected Egyptologist that was simply asked to give his scholarly analysis of the Egyptian papyri. For the first time since the Papyri were made known to the world, a complete translation has been put forth. Ritner utterly rejects Smith’s assertion that Facsimile No. 1 depicted “Abraham” being sacrificed by a wicked Egyptian priest. Ritner says, “Smith’s hopeless translation also turns the goddess Maat into a male prince, the papyrus owner into a waiter, and the black jackal Anubis into a Negro slave.”

      When a curious observer asked the Mormon Church the question, “Why doesn’t the translation of the Egyptian papyri found in 1967 match the text of the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price?” . . . The Church does not directly answer this question, but uses Apologists on the Churches official web site to cover as a non official answer. Even though the Egyptian papyri found in 1967 does not match the text of the Book of Abraham their answer has evolved into, “Just have faith.”

      So there you have it. Osiris Hôr’s breathing permit ends up being translated into LDS scripture by Joseph Smith and we just need faith to accept it.

      • August 14, 2013 at 11:46 am

        Typo: 1831 in place of 1871.

        • Dale
          August 14, 2013 at 2:00 pm

          Yep, 1831 –my “fat fingers” are not so great on the keyboard. Thanks, Chris, for pointing that out.

    • Duwayne Anderson
      August 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      The age of reason has seen a virtual explosion of knowledge that is based on science, logic, and reason. Given the observed success of this epistemology in understanding the universe we live in, it seems rational to conclude that if there is a god, that god must be the ultimate scientist or, at the very least, have a great deal of regard for science, logic, and reason.

      That said, it seems this god would prefer not to be surrounded by people who ignore verifiable and objective evidence in favor of irrationality and superstition.

      Thus it seems prudent to conclude that, if there is a god, and if he’s testing humanity, those who fail will be those who exercise the sort of irrational faith that is the bedrock of a testimony of Mormonism.

      • Lilli
        August 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm

        After all, God did command us to ‘prove all things’ before we hold fast to them. We should only put faith in things we can ‘prove’ are good and right.

      • Lilli
        August 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm

        All Church leaders and Prophets must ‘prove’ to us they are extremely righteous, right and ‘true’, before we should ever believe, trust or follow them.

        • Jake
          August 17, 2013 at 6:37 pm

          I think its easier to dismiss modern prophets for their faults as opposed to prophets who lived anciently. Could we consider that a double standard?

          • Duwayne Anderson
            August 19, 2013 at 7:40 am

            I agree with you Jake. I do think there’s a tendency to apply a double standard.

            It’s that tendency that leaves many Mormons scratching their heads when I explain the issue that began my personal exit from Mormonism. It began when I began reading the Old Testament again, when I was a young man in my mid 30′s.

            The train derailed when I read of the atrocities committed by Moses and the Israelites. In particular, I was struck by the way Moses and the Israelites committed genocide, and by the cold blooded murders described in Numbers 31.

            I decided that no man could do that stuff and still be a “prophet” of god. I spoke with my Stake President about the problem, but he figured that Moses’ genocide was okay because Moses lived in an earlier time (the double standard) and, besides, he was only committing genocide for god.

            Of course, when one attains an open/critical mind, and starts questioning, it’s like pulling on a loose thread. Eventually the whole thing collapses in a jumble of thread on the floor. It begins in different ways for different people — but for me, it began with the application of certain time-invariant principles, such as “thou shalt not commit genocide and cold-blooded murder.”

    • Lilli
      August 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      I don’t have to dig down deep into church history to find inconsistency, I just have to look at what present church leadership is doing and saying today that is completely contrary to the Gospel & teachings of Christ.

      Also, God has commanded us to ‘prove all things’ before we put faith in something or someone. Righteous faith is based on proven knowledge that something or someone is right & true & good.

      Faith in false or unproven things only leads one quickly astray.

  96. Dave M
    August 13, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Random comment. It keeps stating Rick Turley is a General Authority. Is this due to confusion with his father or did Richard Turley Jr become a General Authority without my knowledge… Anyone??? Last I checked Rick Turley was the managing director but not a general authority?

  97. Paul B
    August 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Technical Question: Why don’t some posts have a ‘reply’ button? Most do, but some do not.

    • Manuel Villalobos
      August 15, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      I think the format of the blog is to provide reply buttons only to the first four or five levels of replying. Perhaps to keep participants from creating an endless tangent.

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