A Note to Visitors

July 21, 2013
By

In Laurie Goodstein’s very thoughtful and important recent article in the New York Times about Hans Mattsson, she described Mormon Stories Podcast as, “…a podcast of interviews with scholars and church members, many critical toward the church.” While I want to be clear that this statement is technically accurate, and that I feel as though Laurie’s article is groundbreaking in terms of the degree to which it sheds insightful light on a topic that is crucially important to Mormonism — I feel it important to add a few things:

  1. Mormon Stories has always tried (though not always succeeded) to be fair and balanced in its selection and treatment of interviews.  As an example, we have interviewed dozens of faithful Mormons over the years including Richard Bushman, Claudia Bushman, Terryl Givens, Grant and Heather Hardy, Daniel Peterson, Margaret Young, Ralph Hancock, and many, many others.  For a full list of pro-Faith Mormon Stories interviews, please click here.  For a list of apologetic interviews, click here. In short, Mormon Stories has always striven to be balanced towards faith and doubt, and continues to seek to be a constructive (not destructive) force within Mormonism.
  2. Mormon Stories has been a long-time supporter of (and continues to sponsor) several pro-faith podcasts and resources including:
    1. Mormon Matters Podcast
    2. The StayLDS Community
    3. A Thoughtful Faith Podcast
    4. Mormon Mental Health
    5. Mormon Sunday School
  3. I want it to be known (for the record) that I, John Dehlin, am a happily active and participatory LDS church member.  I believe in many (most?) of the church’s core teachings (e.g., love, charity, faith, forgiveness, kindness, repentance, sacrifice, love of truth, family).  Everything I do in my life with regard to the church…I do out of a desire to make the church better, and to alleviate unnecessary suffering.  However effective or flawed my approach may be….this is my sincere goal/objective, and pretty much always has been.

Finally, I want to take this moment to thank everyone (especially my wife and children) who have supported Mormon Stories over the years…through its ups and downs.   Your support has kept me going. Also, I want to again thank Laurie Goodstein for this wonderful piece of journalism that highlights and models a pressing need within Mormonism — the need to show greater understanding and empathy towards those who struggle with legitimate historical, doctrinal, and cultural issues.

In the end, our hope and prayer is that this article/interview/project together help to create a bigger (not smaller) tent within Mormonism — one that does not fear/punish doubt, but that embraces both doubt and faith as important aspects of belief/religiosity.

54 Responses to A Note to Visitors

  1. Stormin
    July 21, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Thank you for the job you are doing! Mormon Stories is a breath of fresh air to Mormonism! You have been fair and objective and your efforts have made a significant change (for good) in my life! Again, Thank you for your efforts!

  2. David E. Richardson
    July 21, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Hans Mattsson and others concerned about controversial Mormon issues should consider the following: (1) The golden plates were at his side while Joseph Smith translated using the Urim and Thummim (see the Bible), the seer stone (see Book of Revelations about a white stone), or pure revelation, whichever seemed most useful or convenient at the time. (2) Black men from Australia and the Pacific Islands have never been excluded from the priesthood in the LDS Church. Black men of African descent were excluded between the mid-1800s until 1978 for the same reasons the gentiles were excluded from both the priesthood and the gospel itself until after Christ’s resurrection. (3) Joseph Smith did not use a common funerary scroll for translation of the Book of Abraham. He modified that funerary scroll to represent or illustrate what the original Book of Abraham papyrus, especially the facsimiles, looked like. (4) The marriages of a young 14 year old women already married to other men, were “sealed” to Joseph Smith in an eternal dynastic, social, or fraternal sense. There is no evidence that those sealings to Joseph Smith involved sexual relations. (5) The Book of Mormon and other LDS scriptures are no more “rife with historical anomalies” than the Bible. There are logical, reasonable, and satisfactory explanations for each so-called anomaly in the LDS scriptures including the Bible and the Book of Mormon. David E. Richardson, PhD

    • July 21, 2013 at 11:56 am

      David – you make some good points, but I also feel like you are oversimplifying the problems/issues. I believe that the “truth” lies somewhere in the middle: critics of the church often overreach….this is certain. But I also know that there are legitimately disturbing issues with Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and polygamy/polyandry….and that these issues have not yet been adequately addressed or resolved by church leaders, or in the church curriculum. In short, we all have more work to do.

      • Bob
        July 29, 2013 at 11:50 pm

        John, I love your podcast and am constantly amazed by your boundless patience and love that you display in the course of your work. However, I always wince when you say the “truth lies somewhere in the middle.” Not to sound too black-and-white, but the story that the church presents — and it DOES present a certain story — is just plain wrong. That doesn’t mean that the church doesn’t do many great things or that there aren’t many wonderful members. But the BOM as a translated, historical text is simply not true. There may be some great truths and morals lessons within it, but that doesn’t make it 50-50 “true” with the historicity “somewhere in the middle.” It’s more like 60-40 true in a moral sense (in my opinion, there are some lessons contained inside it that aren’t very moral such as dark skin being a sign of wickedness) and 100% false as a historical text.

        I get reminded of Dan Wotherspoon’s interview with Mr Deity when, in a moment of pure frustration, he exclaimed: “Why isn’t anybody ever just wrong?!”

        My question to you is: Why should it be that truth is always somewhere in the middle, or 50-50? It’s almost too reactionary to the black-and-whiteness of Mormonism. Yes, there are shades of grey. But sometimes the truth about something, while not black, is very very grey. You balanced the over-reaching statements of *some* ex-Mormons against legitimately disturbing issues with Joseph Smith, BoM, BoA, polygamy/polyandry. Those two things do NOT cancel each other out. You’re saying “Well, on the one hand the church has a 150-year history of fabrication, lying, discrimination, patriarchy, racism, covering up, etc but on the other hand some ex-Mormons use the F-word. So, you know, it’s about even.”

        Believe it or not, this critique really is coming from a place of admiration and love. Keep doing what you’re doing — just don’t be too black-and-white on the shades of grey thing, if you catch my drift :)

      • Ursula Schieferstein
        August 16, 2013 at 9:42 am

        I totally agree and I truly admire you for the work you are doing. Thank you so much.

    • Aaron
      July 21, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      “There are logical, reasonable, and satisfactory explanations for each so-called anomaly in the LDS scriptures including the Bible and the Book of Mormon.” While those explanations may be satisfactory to you, for a great (growing?) number of people, they are not. I agree with John — that the Church has much work to do if it wishes to really present these issues in a clear, upfront way.

    • 2close2call
      July 21, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      David, not only are you oversimplifying your are completely wrong on many of your assertions. in fact most of what you say goes completely against what was taught in the LDS church at the time of their occurence. These answers you came up with are simply rationalizations that you have to make to be able to still believe. 1. current LDS teachings are that Joseph Smith translated golden plates not had them in the same room and looked into a hat at a rock JS found. 2. This quote just makes it look even more racist because the LDS church only banned Africans from the priesthood. A perfect God would not do something so foolish that makes God himself look like a racist! 3. Your number 3 goes directy against over 100 years of Mormon teachings and was made up after facsimiles were proved to be funerary text.4. This is incorrect. There is evidence that the marriages were not simply dynastic. and In fact, there is 100% proof other prophets like Lorenzo Snow married a 15 year old girl when he was 57 years old and had 5 children with her. (this is not just about Joseph Smith but all the early LDS prophets). 5. This statement you made is completely false there are many things in the bible and BOM that do not have reasonable logical explanation.

      • David E. Richardson
        July 21, 2013 at 7:22 pm

        How do we know that what I listed was not also taught at the time of those occurrences? In any case, that list contains the most logical and reasonable explanations of each of those controversial issues whether people then or people now agree with them or not. They will help open-minded people remain true to the faith despite negative interpretations of the same events. In the minds of the faithful at least, they are the most positive interpretations and the most probable possibilities of what took place.

        Now to specifics. (1) Who said the plates were not in the same room with Joseph Smith, although it shouldn’t really matter where they were. References can be found showing that Joseph Smith used all three methods, even if some present-day leaders fail to mention the other two methods. (Critics and dissidents will howl at this, but speaking of the stone, Joseph Smith could have found a seer stone used by ancient Book of Mormon peoples. Or an ordinary stone found by Joseph became a seer stone when it was touched by the finger of the Lord as stones found by the brother of Jared were touched by the finger of the Lord to produce light for the tight Jaredite ships.) According to the Book of Revelations, you yourself will get a white stone yourself, if you live right. (If and when you receive it, be sure not to put it into a hat or you will be ridiculed like Joseph Smith was when he used the seer stone.)

        (2) Why did Jesus say when lived upon the Earth that he was sent only “to the lost sheep of the House of Israel?” Why only Israel? Why would Jesus do such a thing to make himself look like a culturist? By the way, the term “culturist” is the correct term, not the term “racist” when referring to the exclusion of only one black culture from the priesthood for a time. (3) How do you know that No. (3) was against LDS beliefs for 100 years? Have you read every journal or listened in on every discussion about that subject for the last 100 years? (4) What proof do you have that No. (4) is not correct in the cases mentioned (14 year old girl and J.S. married to other men’s wives)? Concerning Lorenzo Snow’s, marriage to girls of 15 was not uncommon in those days, especially if she looked and acted much older as in the case of the 14 year old sealed to Joseph Smith. (5) How about this reasonable explanation for No. (5): Some controversial scriptures were mistranslated. Other verses in scripture are and were misinterpreted.
        ________________________________________

        • 2close2call
          July 21, 2013 at 9:35 pm

          I hesitate to reply to your answer of my comment because I know you are attempting to come up with reasons to still believe in the LDS church, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that if that makes you happy. However, I will say that I disagree with most of your rationalizations. 1. I simply disagree with you on this that JS used 3 methods to translate the golden plates. I think the LDS church has not been honest about the one and only method Joseph Smith used. Not much more for me to say on that. 2. I don’t know why Jesus would only visit Jerusalem but the reason is probably the same reason and answer to why did Jesus not visit any humans in China or other Asian countries or people that lived before bible times as we know humans were here thousands of years before the 7000 year span of the bible? 3. My accounts are only from general conference talks or church publications, are you saying that they were keeping some truths secret? 4. It is just simply not true that it was somehow normal at anytime in the last 150 years for a 57 year old grandpa to marry a 15 year old ninth wife. Not sure what else to say. 5. This is a good explanation except that Mormons should then say in their articles of faith that they believe in the standard works as long as they are translated correctly(not just the bible). This would make more sense to me because of the section 101 that was removed from the doctrine and covenants circa 1875 that said paraphrasing that Mormons do not practice polygamy, which was a lie. At any rate, I am not trying to take anyones testimony so believe whatever will make you happy.

      • Maureen
        August 10, 2013 at 10:18 pm

        2close2call, I agree with most of what you’ve written except for the information regarding Lorenzo Snow’s marriage. If you are referring to Minnie Jensen Snow, then the truth is this. The year of her birth on her headstone is incorrect. She was born the year before in 1854. She was 16 yrs old (4 months before her 17th birthday) when she married Lorenzo. She stay in her Father’s house for 2 years and didn’t move into Lorenzo’s house until she was 19. All this information is taken from a eulogy written about Minnie after her death in 1908. I will add a link, it’s a pdf file so I’m not sure it will work. (And it was not the norm for girls to marry at 14 or 15 in the 19th century)

        http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/utils/getfile/collection/YWJ/id/15635/filename/1311814.pdf#toolbar=1&navpanes=1

    • Mary
      July 22, 2013 at 4:12 am

      “Black men of African descent were excluded between the mid-1800s until 1978 for the same reasons the gentiles were excluded from both the priesthood and the gospel itself until after Christ’s resurrection.” That doesn’t make any sense. “Gentiles” didn’t have the Gospel or Gospel priesthood because neither of those things existed before Christ. And after Christ came and established his church, it took some time for it to reach the parts of the world where gentiles had access to it, at which point it was an extraordinarily inclusive religion. In fact, Ethiopia was one of the very first areas in the world where early Christianity took root and thrived. So what does that have to do with the modern LDS Church’s denying priesthood ordination and temple worship to black people, including those in its own culture and community? It wasn’t a question of temporal or geographical access, or even of culture. It was an official policy of exclusion based on race/ethnicity. Your thoughts, David E. Richardson, PhD?

      • David E. Richardson
        July 23, 2013 at 7:25 pm

        The church of Jesus Christ and its priesthood were on the Earth for about three years before Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, but the gospel and the priesthood were not taken to the gentiles until after the revelation to Peter to do so. (The revelation to Pres. Kimball is analogous to that revelation to Peter.) The revelation given to Peter occurred after Christ’s resurrection. Before that, Jesus had said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24). It was only after Christ’s resurrection that the gospel was taken to the “whole world” through missionaries, especially Paul who was, perhaps, the greatest missionary ever.

        It is even questionable whether the gospel and its priesthood were ever taken to the non-Israelites during Old Testament times. It is true that Jonah called Nineveh to repentance, but since he and the other Israelites hated those people so much, it is doubtful they were welcomed, embraced, and treated as fully as the Israelites treated each other.

        Another case of priesthood “discrimination” in the Bible is the fact that the Levites were given the priesthood but not the other tribes of Israel.

        In all of these cases one of the major reasons for the “discrimination” was waiting for the people who already had the gospel and its priesthood to become willing to accept people of other cultures in full fellowship and sustain them as leaders in the gospel. Of course God could have taken away free agency and forced the Israelites and the church of Jesus Christ before his resurrection to stop discriminating and accept all gentiles into full fellowship whether black or white. Surely God allowed that discriminatory exercise of free agency because, in the long run, it would accomplish the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Otherwise, some people would accuse him of being racist or discriminatory.

        • Mary
          July 24, 2013 at 2:52 am

          It’s true that the Levites were the designated priestly class of the House of Israel. But racial descrimination as a matter policy was never applied to the Christan priesthood until Brigham Young introduced it. Joseph Smith ordained black men to the priesthood. Yet none of his successors did until 1978. That means either Joseph Smith was wrong or his successors were. Your use and defense of the phrase “cultural descrimination” in speaking of modern priesthood is disingenuous because American black men were denied the priesthood pre-1978 while white (or yellow or red) men of ANY nationality, culture, or ethnicity were freely ordained. Remember the “one drop” rule? If a man was suspected of having any African ancestry, even generations back, he was ineligible for the priesthood. So can we agree that it really wasn’t about “cultural” differences? Furthermore, your apologist claim that the church “wasn’t ready” for black priesthood ordination is speculation, not doctrine, and simply doesn’t ring true. Did God wait until the church was ready for polygamy to command members to practice it? Does God wait for members to be econonomically comfortable with an expendable income to ask them to pay tithing? Claiming that God was waiting until mormons were “ready” for the idea of black people being their racial equal is basically saying that what’s really leading the church is popular opinion, not divine will. How often are we told that we must cast off the opinions and values of the world in order to follow a higher law? What’s right is right, not just when it’s convenient. We either believe that or we don’t. In mid-20th century America the Mormon Church was virtually the only church that barred blacks from priesthood ordination. Somehow everybody else was ready (and had been for some time) to accept blacks as spiritual equals. But not the mormons. Can you please explain to me what “greater good” that was accomplishing?

        • Mary
          July 24, 2013 at 12:53 pm

          What it all comes down to is that the church–both its leaders and rank-and-file members–are imperfect. They make mistakes. And the church needs to be more honest about that. I think it would do a world of good and healing if today’s church leaders would make an official public apology for the way it treated black people for 150 years. Instead, what we get is feigned mystification (“Gosh, we just don’t KNOW why blacks couldn’t have the priesthood, but ain’t that a shame!”) or apologetic arguments like yours, Mr Richardson (PhD), that have no basis in history, plausability, or reason and that rankle those who are looking for a reason to stay but have difficulty going along with the lack of candor and authenticity. The reason I’m harping on the priesthood ban issue is because it’s just symptomatic of a larger problem.

          • AlternatePossibilities
            July 26, 2013 at 11:58 am

            How would the Church dare make an official public apology for its priesthood policy toward black males of African ancestry for 150 years when it is possible that that policy was approved or even inspired by God for reasons only God can explain to our satisfaction? Such a policy of denial of blessings for certain intervals of time is not without precedent in the Bible—the gospel and the priesthood were temporarily withheld from gentiles, pagan countries, and from even other tribes of Israel. It doesn’t matter if you think that policy is not plausible or reasonable and that it rankles other people that God might have been behind such a thing. As long as it is even remotely possible that God ordained or approved that temporary exclusionary policy about the priesthood (but not about membership in his church), surely no apology can dare be made–unless God himself clearly declares that an apology should be made from the Church and from God himself for not nipping that policy in the bud to begin with.

          • Mary
            July 26, 2013 at 1:40 pm

            You’ve chosen to ignore the fact that Joseph Smith ordained black men to the priesthood. I can only assume therefore that you believe Joseph was either defying God’s will or simply didn’t know what he was doing. But let’s set that problem aside for a moment. When I refer to how the church treated black people for 150 years, I’m not just talking about the priesthood ban. I’m also talking about the shocking and divisive public racist statements made by church leaders during those years (Ezra Taft Benson being the most notorious recent example). What do you think? Can the church “dare” make an apology for that? Or do you think God wanted his prophets and apostles to teach those things and represent his church in that light?

    • Paul McIntyre
      August 8, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      Er, Of Abraham, American DNA. If you are going to dismiss all the church members journals how about scientific fact? I hope you attain your wish to become a general authority, but it will be a whole different “truthful” church by then God willing.

    • CanuckAussie
      August 28, 2013 at 11:55 pm

      David – your points are pure apologetic nonsense and not worth arguing. But how dare you defend Brigham Young’s racist policies that have hurt so many and continue to hurt people today. I don’t know how old you are, but I was a teenager in the 70s before the 1978 so-called revelation. I was taught all kind of racist filth justifying Brigham Young’s racist policy. If you weren’t too lazy to research the reality of this policy you wouldn’t have stated this. Unless of course, you simply are a racist bigot, the kind that taught me in the 70s.

  3. Bettie Herren
    July 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    I was amazed to find this site on this day. I just e-mailed a LDS friend who was introducing me to the church. I had investigated as deeply as I knew how, because I am truly looking for a spiritual family. I have participated in some home meetings and truly love the members I met. I know they have a strong relationship with the same God and Jesus and Holy Spirit that I know. But, there were things in the doctrines and ordinances and history I just couldn’t believe. I didn’t want to send my reply, because I loved the people. There are things about the organization of the church that I admire. And now I find there are members who have the same questions I have. It doesn’t help the situation, but I don’t feel so alone.

    • Rebecca
      July 29, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      There are plenty of places and/or churches you can go to find a place to not be lonely. I wouldn;t recommend the Mormon church. It looks to be one thing from the beginning, but unless you are raised in it, the duties and culture are multi-layered and daunting for a new comer as an adult. I found the Mormon God to be more like the Old Testament god and less like the one I grew up with. Be careful. Its easy to get in and hard to get out.

    • Matt
      July 30, 2013 at 11:51 am

      I think that it is wonderful that you have been learning about Christ’s doctrines and His church. Knock, and He will open the door. Follow the Spirit, and you will find peace and happiness. Life is still complex, and probably none of us ever resolve all our questions entirely to our satisfaction, but I think God planned it that way. Discipleship is and always has been an act of faith. Alma 32.

    • Pacumeni
      July 30, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      Bettie,

      The set of things one has to believe to be a Mormon in good standng are pretty limited. If you want to know what one has to believe, ask the missionaries or the local bishop to share with you the temple recommend interview questions. If you are comfortable answering those few questions as prescribed, you are a Mormon in good standing, even if you don’t believe lots of ancilary things that some other Mormons believe.

  4. Kevin
    July 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Thank you for your investment in us, John. From the very first Mormon Stories interview I’ve resonated to your honest desire to let folks speak their minds and let us draw our own conclusions. While I haven’t always agreed with the opinions of your guests I continue to embrace your belief in dialog and exploration. Do persevere as long as it makes sense to do so.

    • July 21, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks, Kevin! Thanks for your friendship and support over the years.

  5. Paul
    July 21, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Thank you very much, John and the rest of the Mormon Stories crew, for the wonderful mix of viewpoints presented on this site. I am a Mormon by birth and grew up in Utah Valley but left the church in my late teens. I have recently been following a desire to explore my Mormon roots and clarify my spiritual values. I have made a few trips back to church and have been praying and reading scripture, but still feel I am a long way from being able to make a faith commitment. It is very comforting to know that many others share this struggle with doubt/faith. There are many things I truly love and admire about the LDS Church but some issues I tend to stumble on. You have my gratitude!

  6. brian
    July 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    John, you do a tremendous job & you are way too nice! :) I am a disaffected former believer with a PhD who loves your podcasts with people like Grant Willis. You are so good – I wish we all could be like you. the ol’ trope “he who doubts is wise, he who has faith is happy” fails with you, b/c you have, faith, doubt, wisdom, & happiness (so you have it all:) thank you for the nice work you do.

    • brian
      July 21, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      sorry – i meant Grant Palmer – I’ve clearly been led astray! :)

  7. 2close2call
    July 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I hesitate to reply to your answer of my comment because I know you are attempting to come up with reasons to still believe in the LDS church, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that if that makes you happy. However, I will say that I disagree with most of your rationalizations. 1. I simply disagree with you on this that JS used 3 methods to translate the golden plates. I think the LDS church has not been honest about the one and only method Joseph Smith used. Not much more for me to say on that. 2. I don’t know why Jesus would only visit Jerusalem but the reason is probably the same reason and answer to why did Jesus not visit any humans in China or other Asian countries or people that lived before bible times as we know humans were here thousands of years before the 7000 year span of the bible? 3. My accounts are only from general conference talks or church publications, are you saying that they were keeping some truths secret? 4. It is just simply not true that it was somehow normal at anytime in the last 150 years for a 57 year old grandpa to marry a 15 year old ninth wife. Not sure what else to say. 5. This is a good explanation except that Mormons should then say in their articles of faith that they believe in the standard works as long as they are translated correctly(not just the bible). This would make more sense to me because of the section 101 that was removed from the doctrine and covenants circa 1875 that said paraphrasing that Mormons do not practice polygamy, which was a lie. At any rate, I am not trying to take anyones testimony so believe whatever will make you happy.

    • 2close2call
      July 21, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      This was in response to David E. Richardson, PhD. July 21, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    • David E. Richardson
      July 23, 2013 at 9:22 pm

      To 2close2call: Learning about positive interpretations of controversial words and events of the Bible, Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s history, and LDS Church history does indeed bring happiness and/or contentment to sincere people when they are confronted with negative interpretations of controversial words and events of the Bible, Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s history, and LDS Church history

      (1) Why would the Urim and Thummim have been given to Joseph if he was never going to use it? Evidently Joseph Smith used the Urim and Thummim to translate at least the 116 pages that were later lost (Martin Harris incident). It has been said that, as punishment, the Urim and Thummim was taken away from Joseph at the time the 116 pages were lost and that he used the seer stone after that. I would think that Joseph would have preferred the seer stone method because it had to be easier to handle than having to adjust and look through two seer stones mounted to a breastplate. Eventually, why would he need either the Urim and Thummim or the seer stone when the Lord could directly reveal the information on the plates, especially after Joseph’s faith and closeness to the Lord had been increased by the use of those instruments?

      (2) Jesus may have visited those other peoples you mentioned because he said, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold. Them also must I visit…”

      (3) Those sources you mention are excellent. In addition, there are journals, diaries, and other books. Plus we are counseled to “ponder” and “Come, let us reason together.”

      (4) It was not normal for old men to marry young girls (young girls would not normally want to marry an old man), but it was not unheard of.

      (5) The early Church leaders were technically correct to say the Church did not practice polygamy because at first, the Church as a whole did not practice polygamy. It is true that they did not reveal that it was practiced by a chosen few. Still today, the Church sometimes uses the approach of “pilot programs.” An analogy with Abraham can be made here: Some will say Abraham lied when he told pharaoh that Sarah was his sister but did not confess that she as also his wife. Sarah was the daughter of Abraham’s father but not of his mother (Genesis 20:1-14), so she was indeed his sister.

      • 2close2call
        July 23, 2013 at 11:01 pm

        Sorry my friend none of your answers sufficiently answer the difficult questions for me. Maybe you helped someone else, though. 1. we have proof of the seer stone the church still has it today, but no proof of UT. 2. And I MAY have been dinosaur in my previous life to. 3. I suppose you agree with what I stated then that it was taught that the Book of Abraham was translated from the papyri until it was proven to be a funerary text then. 4. Of course it was not unheard of men performed sinful acts in that day. One of those sinful acts would be a 57 year old taking a 15 year old 9th wife! 5. You mean the early church leaders were technically INCORRECT as they were not telling the whole truth!

  8. David E. Richardson
    July 21, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    It sounds like Stormin is upset to find out that there are difficult-to-disprove counter-arguments to the standard objections critics and dissidents commonly raise against Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the LDS Church. (1) There were indeed golden plates as witnessed with their own eyes by at least 13 people including Joseph Smith and Mary Whitmer. Eight of the witnesses testified that they “hefted” the plates and handled with their hands “the leaves” of the plates. (2) Stormin says there was no priesthood for the gentiles—that’s the point: why such blatant discrimination? Again, why couldn’t the gentiles have the priesthood and the gospel itself until Christ left the Earth? (3) This may come as a shock to some, but “experts” have been known to be wrong once in a while. However, experts have rightly said that the papyri containing the modified (by Joseph Smith) facsimiles were Egyptian funerary scrolls. But the funerary scrolls were not used for the translation of the Book of Abraham. The actual Book of Abraham papyri written by the hand of Abraham himself was translated by Joseph Smith before it was delivered to a heavenly messenger, perhaps Abraham himself.

    (4) You can’t be serious asking for proof that Joseph Smith did not have sexual relations with the young woman sealed to him. Where is your proof that he did? Even if he and she said specifically that he did not, you still would not believe it. (5) You ask for proof. Where is the proof that Abraham, Moses, or Joseph were ever in Egypt as the Bible claims? We should not expect much that can be proven to be of Nephite or Jaredite origin because both those groups were annihilated. The Jews had a tough time during their history as recorded in the Bible, but they were not annihilated, so of course evidence of their existence during Bible times can be expected. The Lamanites and succeeding pagan dynasties would have erased any evidence of the hated Nephites like the Taliban tore down the statues of Buddha in Afghanistan. Also, later pharaohs erased all evidence of Moses and Joseph and their people in Egypt. There are several candidate cities in Mesoamerica which could originally have belonged to the Nephites or were built upon Nephite ruins. Tantalizing evidence does exist about animals, grains, and DNA. See 500 evidences for the Book of Mormon in Part 2 “Voice from the Dust” of “1000 EVIDENCES for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Allen H. Richardson (primary author and researcher), M.Ed, David E. Richardson, PhD, Artisan Enterprises, 10787 S. Coral Dune Dr. (3970West), South Jordan, Utah, 84095, 801-446-2392, allenartisan.richardson@gmail.com

    • absentminded
      July 22, 2013 at 11:41 pm

      Responding from a mobile device, so pardon the typos. I highly recommend that those concerned with Joseph’s marriages read Compton’s book, In Sacred Loneliness. Mr. Richardson is correct that there is no direct evidence that Joseph had a sexual relationship with Helen Mar Kimball. I think some interpret her shame and depression following the wedding as evidence of a sexual relationship, but that is interpretation only. It is unknowable. It appears to have been dynastic, but it is impossible to be certain either way. An absence of evidence is not the same as negative evidence. I can’t find anything written by either party that said that they did or did not have sex. It is unknowable.
      That said, there is positive evidence that some of the marriages were indeed sexual. Compton’s book has some pretty good references while remaining mostly objective.

      Some of the other statements irked me a bit since they took a tone of complete disregard for critical viewpoints by using absolutes and the phrase “so-called.” There is credible evidence that Joseph did not always have the plates at his side; that Joseph did not properly identify the characters nor correctly translate the hieroglyphs on the facsimiles themselves; that second hand evidence suggests the witnesses did not see the plates with their natural eyes; and that not all of the errors in the BoM can be simply brushed off as having an otherworldly explanation.

      This is directed at everyone. I think that one of the greatest needs in Mormonism is to have open dialogue between critics and apologists. This is something that John has worked toward as well. Rather than dismiss each other, we should debate…fairly. Sometimes I feel like apologists just throw down a smoke pellet and move like a ninja. They can obfuscate their way out of a corner. Why not admit that it is a tough question with no good answer? The same goes for the rabid critics who pull out the blade to hack at the obfuscatory smoke or simply take a viewpoint without understanding the weakness of certain evidence. I am a big critic myself, but I try to be nice….well, most of the time.

      • Stewart
        July 23, 2013 at 8:07 am

        well said, absentminded!

        :)

      • p
        July 28, 2013 at 1:42 pm

        In discussing polygamy and especially polyandry, we’re neglecting an important principle we’ve all be taught over the years, that we are to “avoid even the very appearance of evil.”

        I would submit that marrying another man’s wife, esp. after he’s been shipped out on a mission, is the poster child for all we’re counseled to “avoid.”

        Very frustrating discussion. None are so blind as those who will not see.

  9. Friend
    July 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    The origins of Mormonism parallel the origins of almost every other religion, with one major exception. Here is a most intelligent analysis:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEg_Oys4NkA

    Good luck and God bless.

    • Kent
      August 22, 2013 at 6:48 am

      if there were 3,000,000 accounts of god speaking to the 3,000,000 isrealites at sinai all dating back to 1300 bce kelemen would have an argument. but that’s not what we have. we have one account that doesn’t even come close to 1300 bce. we also know that the books of moses were likely written by at least 4 different people and not just one fellow named moses. this video isn’t worth 5 minutes of anyone’s time. sorry, friend.

  10. Harper
    July 21, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    I remember in the an article I read about marlin Jensen they mentioned that a “rescue packet” was being developed to be given out by bishops. I have thought about asking my bishop about it but then he would know that I need rescuing. Has anyone seen it? Does it exist or is it in development?

  11. Rolf
    July 22, 2013 at 1:42 am

    I’m an active believing LDS – in my opinion church history is more than good enough to be presented to the church members. The problem is when for different reasons we try to rewrite the history to make it more acceptable – this only creates problems. We don’t want members to find out that what they were taught in church is incorrect. Let’s just tell it as it is – with all the glory and warts. Prophets are not super heroes – they have been called, because God has an assignment for them. They will have to report on their assignment/stewardship, and we know from the D&C that the Lord is not always pleased with His prophets.
    I teach my children that – JS translated the BoM by looking into a hat with a stone in it – that JS ordained black men of African descent, and for some reason the prophets after JS stopped ordaining them – and this they will have to account for. That God inspired JS to produce the Book of Abraham – even though we do not fully know which text was used – the text is beautiful and inspiring. That JS practiced polygamy – right or wrong – he practiced it. That we do not know for sure where the BoM geography happened – but by reading the BoM we will come closer to Christ and that they should pray about it (which they have). They are also taught that these things are sadly not taught in church at the moment – but hopefully soon will be. I also tell them that many of the programs we have in church have come through the rank and file – therefore we should all be looking for way to improve the church in its mission to bless all mankind. I also teach them, that doubt is often necessary for growth and further enlightenment. I tell them that the “glory” of the gospel, far out weights the warts, but the warts are a part of the picture and we should own it.
    In my opinion – we are and will pay a high price in the church for not being open about our history, but I’m confident this will change soon.

  12. Tug R.
    July 22, 2013 at 4:19 am

    I truly appreciate Mormon Stories, because it’s helping to find my own way of reconciling my faith with issues that have bothered me for years. At first I felt entirely alone and isolated, because this is stuff you’re simply not supposed to talk about. So having this kind of forum, where everything is on the table has been priceless. To everyone who is involved, thank you.

  13. Vanka
    July 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    John, you state that “Mormon Stories has always tried (though not always succeeded) to be fair and balanced in its selection and treatment of interviews.”

    Then you give examples of interviews with “dozens of faithful Mormons over the years”.

    You fail, however, to give an equal (balanced) list of interviews with NON-faithful (former) Mormons.

    That is hardly “balanced”, and there is reason to believe that your desire to stay in good graces with the Mormon authorities may be one reason why you err on the side of trying to make your site appear more “faithful”. To do otherwise would cost you your membership, as well as many social relationships, and to throw your site into the general class of “anti-Mormon” sites.

    That is a tough position to maintain. Good luck with it.

  14. j
    July 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    It is a tricky balance to know some of these things about the church and still stay active. Thanks John for the stay LDS site. I’m not hyperventilating. ;)

  15. Dave
    July 23, 2013 at 3:14 am

    Mormon stories has been a very valuable part of my life for the last few years. It helped me to maintain my sanity when the world I had grown up in was starting to crumble. It has been an excellent way to learn about some of the issues concerning church history and LGBT issues and I thank John and all the others for opening themselves up and sharing your stories. There have been some learning on all parts and things have been rocky at times but that is how life is and I am just grateful that MS continues to provide open and honest discussions about Mormonism. I see no malice on MS part to the believer or the non believer. Keep up the good work and I will keep up my donations.

  16. Craig
    July 24, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    There will always be things that we do not understand and even prophets make mistakes. What is clear from my experience is that Joseph Smith was right when he said that a man could get closer too Christ through the Book of Mormon than any other book. If people would spend more time studying and living the precepts of the BOM they would gain the same results. The Book of Mormon is inspired by God and when your faith is challenge it is the tool to keep your faith strong.

    • Pat
      July 25, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      I had asked a few questions over 40 years as an active and was told that I should never ask questions, but should wait until I died and HF would answer them all for me. Our bishop then challenged everyone to read the BOM. My wife and I had accepted that challenge before, but this time I decided to read and study and pray and follow the Spirit rather than reading and attempting to understand by reading old institute manuals and misc. words of BYU professors and general authorities. Boy, did that make a difference! I really had questions and doubts then! Studying this same way, I only got about 2/3 through the D & C, when I realized there were more inaccuracies I could no longer ignore.

      I then researched and found that the LDS Church was not what it was purported to be.

      I then used that same method of study and read the New Testament. I researched and found similar inaccuracies. Then on to the Old Testament. I found I could believe religious books as long as I didn’t read, study, and pray about them.

      I was in a state of frustration until I read the religious and spiritual thoughts of the Founding Fathers of our great country, especially those of Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. Now I believe in God and am at ease. Quoting from Thomas Paine (writer of “Common Sense”)in his book, “Age of Reason”, “I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow creatures happy.
      All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”

      Thomas Paine wrote this book near the end of his life, after he had been imprisoned in France by the Catholic Church. He was later released by his friend and fellow Deist, James Monroe.

      For more than 40 years I read what I knew was preferred LDS reading, but finally I used reasoning to find the truth. An online quote by P,C Hodgell, sums it up for me, “That which can be destroyed by truth, should be.”

      • Friend
        July 25, 2013 at 9:29 pm

        “All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”

        Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEg_Oys4NkA and then see if you still believe that.

        • j
          July 26, 2013 at 12:48 am

          I should also point out that in this guys video he didn’t know Mormon history very well. he said joseph smith destroyed the gold plates but he actually sais he gave the plates back to the angel.
          Also, with in the Mormon faith there are accounts of multiple people seeing and sharing the same vision at the same time. so that just blows this Jews theory out of the water.
          dang, I was so hoping for some kind of good information from that video. You really let me down friend.

          • Friend
            August 12, 2013 at 10:50 pm

            Try watching the video again. It doesn’t sound like you got his main point.

            He isn’t denying the possibility of a shared vision. He is only pointing out that Mormonism like most other religions and cults was FOUNDED on the unverifiable testimony of a single individual.

            Whether Smith gave the plates back to the angel or destroyed them may be an important detail to a believer, but in either case the bottom line is that he made them unavailable for anyone else – in his day or in the future. No one would ever be able to have any objective evidence of his prophecy, requiring followers to take a leap of faith.

  17. Don
    July 26, 2013 at 6:15 am

    “I believe in many (most?) of the church’s core teachings (e.g., love, charity, faith, forgiveness, kindness, repentance, sacrifice, love of truth, family).”

    I think that for most members of the church that sounds nice, but if you don’t include Joseph Smith’s vision, the restoration, priesthood authority, etc. you’re not a real believer, or even not a believer at all.

    • July 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      Perhaps one doesn’t need to define one’s belief based on what “most members of the church” think.

  18. JAH
    July 27, 2013 at 2:55 am

    One just wonders when reading many posts, will the Church or anyone that finds any clarity still be satisfactory. I have found that when answers come, good or bad, the answer is not the issue since the issue is to expose the “plot” and when a reasonable (for both sides) answer is given one is still not satified in heart. One can always find strange things in any way of life society and practices.

    In search for that inner peace one must realize that we probarbly wont find all the answers in our time. I can rest with that and any extra knowledge is a bonus on my way. I still feel at peace and I really don’t need to prove anything for anyone since I have received proof of the most inportant central questions for me. Why I write here is just to say that one can really be in peace with the gospel although one does not understand why of some matters, and there you are, you do not know whom I am and what I have done or said, the good and misstakes.

    when I exploring how the Lord is using imperfect man and woman the more I see the beaty of our Saviors role and our Fathers love. I know it’s contrary but that’s my facts.

  19. MIke
    July 29, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    John,

    I love this podcast. My favorite thing about it is that you really ask the tough questions to the apologists and believing scholars and you don’t let them side step the questions. However, when I listen to your Micheal Quinn or Grant Palmer interviews or other interviews with former members of the church, the thing I love most about your podcast seems to be largely lacking. I don’t hear as many of the tough questions, and the digging for better explanations in those interviews. Perhaps though that is just my bias as a believer coming through.

    Is there any chance you would have Grant Palmer on again to really grill him on the claims that he made that Brian Hales found so many holes in?

    Also, I would love to see you host a discussion between proponants of the heartland and Mesoamerican geography models for the BoM. Proponents of both of those views would benefit from your ability to push for deeper better answers.
    Thanks for your work, it has been a significant part of my faith journey over the past year or two.

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