August 7, 2009

2009 FAIR Conference Notes

Here are my notes from the 2009 FAIR Conference which occurred August 6 and 7, 2009. I typed them live as the conference proceeded they likely contain mistakes, omissions and especially spelling errors.

Actual transcripts and recordings and videos are forthcoming from FAIR; many are already available here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wade Miller: Science and the Book of Mormon  

Vickey Taylor: The Sariah Dilemma- Finding Increased Faith When Our Children Misplace Their Own.  

John Gee: The Larger Issue.  

Ugo Perego: Haplogroup X in Light of Recent Book of Mormon Claims  

McKay White: The Kirtland Safety Society: The Myths, the Facts, and the Prophet's Good Name.  

Ron Barney: The Reliability of Mormon History Produced by the LDS Church.  

Robert White: On Being An Apologist: Imperatives, Predicaments, Perils, and Blessings.

Friday, August 7, 2009

John Lynch: "Uh, oh" to "Ah hah!" 20/20 Foresight for a Faithful Future in Defending the Church.

Brant Gardner: Joseph the Seer, or Why Joseph Translated with a Rock in His Hat.

Ron Hellings: Joseph Smith and Modern Cosmology.

Matthew Brown: Brigham Young’s Teachings on Adam.

Greg Smith: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Plural Marriage (But Were Afraid To Ask).

Richard Sherlock: Mormonism in the Public Square.

Daniel C. Peterson: The Temple as a Place of Ascent to God.

Daniel C. Peterson: The Temple as a Place of Ascent to God

The following are my personal notes of the presentations. They are incomplete and likely contain mistakes, omissions and especially spelling errors. FAIR is going to provide full transcripts and recordings, and I encourage checking them out. As we go you'll notice these notes get shorter as I slowly burn out. These notes are weak.   

Privilege to be here, etc. I hope everyone has enjoyed this as much as I have, maybe some of you are new here, but the quality has been increasing, a great thing, and I am proud of everyone involved with it. Conferences becoming first rate. Tell your friends, this can do a lot of good. Anyway.

I was struck by Br. White's comments yesterday about being Saints, disciples of Christ first and apologists second. I have known a few people who were apologists first, and I don't mean they were rude or whatever, but they were not attending church but defended it online. Priorities are a little mixed it seems.

I had a number of topics to choose from and typically I am still deciding at this point, but powerpoint presentations have made me be more precise.

Those who disagree with me are idiots chapter 4, my usual type of thing, is not going to be presented here.

So this isn;t going to be all that original or all that funny. This is a fireside I gave in connection with the temple open house a few weeks ago and I am not changing it, but I was asked to do this so I will.You can see commonalities of ascension all over the world, so you can call this parallelomania if you wish, but there are these common elements all over the place [names places, etc.]

[This Fireside was noted well by TempleStudy blog, so check it out here while I just listen and rest my fingers: click here.]

[Dan broke from the talk to related a story about Samarra he likes, I don't think it is on the TempleStudy notes:]

Arab folklore about a kindly master who sends servant to market in Baghdad, who comes racing back terrified. What's wrong? I went into marketplace and saw death there and he made a threatening gesture at me. Can I go to Samarra tonight? The master goes into marketplace and finds death, and says how dare you threaten him. And death says no, I wasn't threatening him. You see, I have an ppointment with him in Samarra tonight and was surprised to see him here"

I'm going to refer to Margaret Barker, who seems to have become sort of quasi-canonized (laughter). Have you heard of her? Well, I discovered a book of hers at a SBL conference. (Cost and space of books! Bane of my wife's existence.) Bought her book The Great Angel and didn't read it for a while. She discussed the Father and Son ideas. It is Jewish, older tradition of Father El, and Son, Yaweh. And God might have a consort or a wife. He was thinking this had to be a Latter-day Saint. She talked about priesthood and temple, etc. Discovered she is Methodist. Had her do presentation at BYU and she was going on about these things, sort of apologetic, "earliest God might have had a wife, I hope I am not offending you.." etc. We were kind of snickering and casting glances, she finally realized something was going on here. Anyway, she is very interesting....

[Continues with talk, quoting Barker, rest of talk.]

It is remarkable that JS was able to restore these forms and ordinances. I don't say that as an evidence, this isn't a matter of defending things, but of living things, it is far more than we deserve or merit, the blessings are beyond comprehension.


Q: Why would Muslim artwork depict Muhammed when Islam forbids it?

A: It doiesn't. Only the more radical Wahabi form which I don't partocularly like. They will tell you that, but that is their one perspective, etc. There are plenty of depictions etc. Particularly the Sunni minority hold that view.

Q: Response to critics who say King Tyre's desire to become a god as evidence against theosis?

A: Well, there are proper ways. The door is the way, by the way Lord outlined. Enter the sheepfold by the door, not some other way. There is a wrong kind of thinking we become deified without getting rid of sins and being granted gift of God, etc.

Q: Could the similarities in current temples be considered relics of ancient temples?

A: Absolutely, you can find survivals in Eastern Orthodox and in older churches elsewhere, etc.

Q: Considering Big Love rendition can the church hinestly claim it was taken out of context if the church fails to describe the context?

A: Well, in a sense it is out of context because of spiritual and doctrinal requirements; it will be to the greeks foolishness and the Jews a stumbling block as the gospel always has been. Try to prepare people to get prepared for it and some never get out of it what they should. In regards to HBO, the truths of it are to be communicated spiritually and probably won't be by Big Love.

Q: Mention Margaret Barker summary in next FARMS Review

A: The next FARMS Review, here's a commercial plug, will contain a few articles about Barker's recent work on the Temple, so place your orders now! She has endlessly interesting things to say to us.

Q: What about the Nephite experience?

A: We don't know much about hteir temple stuff, I suspect they kept them fairly quiet but I can't prove that because they kept them fairly quiet. There were some things from early Christendom that are similar. Baptism for the dead is mentioned in one bleak aside but we don;t see a lot about it though we know it was going on and that non-members were not to be there. Mass originally indicated that only members were to be there. They may have been more secretive then than we even are today.

Richard Sherlock et. al.- Mormonism in the Public Square

Richard's bio here. 
The following are my personal notes of the presentations. They are incomplete and likely contain mistakes, omissions and especially spelling errors. FAIR is going to provide full transcripts and recordings, and I encourage checking them out. As we go you'll notice these notes get shorter as I slowly burn out. These notes are weak.   

Valerie Hudson and Ralph Hancock are included in this presentation. They teach PolySci at BYU. They are involved with the new project called SquareTwo. Addressing how Mormon theology might shed light on more contentious issues for our day.

1991- Daniel Rector was head of Sunstone. They were really trying to do some great things. They have since gone off into other things I think are mindless. For a period they were trying to do some really great things. [I should note, I am presenting at Sunstone next week!-BHodges] Dan would ask who to bring in as outside thinkers. Mennonite theologian, other people. In 1991 he brought in a friend, an eminent Protestant theologian named Stan Harbermas [sp?]. He came to a session where there was a group of whiners who were beating up on a talk about the mantle being greater than the intellect. After this, Stan, who in this situation isn't going to shout, raised his hand. Called on him. He said "I'm not a mormon, and I don't know who this Packer is, but he's right." I knew that's what he would say, and you could have heard a pin drop. All of their intelligence in the room wouldn't equal Stan's and he called them out. Now if I'd done that they wouldn't have listened but he said youre wrong, faith is the foundation of knowledge.

My second story goes to the mission of SquareTwo. I have a student who is a philosophy major and wants to get a law degree. He is bright and good. He said he agreed with the Prop 8 thing, but that the opposition has the best arguments. Well, I told him I had an article coming out in SquareTow with the best reason I can muster. He liked the arguments and said he hadn't heard of these things. Well, we didn;t have a venue. Now we do. We want to expand our thinking and our answers and we want to nurture new lives[?] We want to argue that- we haven't published this yet- that the position of the senior senator from Utah on embryionic stem cell research is flat out incoherent. And it is! We want to see how Mormonism thinks about national security and national defense. Religious liberty. Abortion. A whole host of other issues. And that is our mission, to expand the reach. And we need you to help.

Ralph Hancock:
Why I got into it and why I think it is important. I am always ill at ease when I dont know my audience well, and I have followed FAIR a little though this is the first time I have been to a meeting. When I was at BYU I would be asked, why bother with that? We have the gospel we have the answers and philosiophy seems to be about these questions we still don't have answers for. Why study philosophy because the gospel gives us the answers. I came up with an answer that worked at the time, and that is: if we have the answers but we don't know the questions we will never appreciate the answers we have. So I prepare myself to better understand the answers we have. Rigorous reasoning is central, at least in my experience, to appreciating the answers we have in the gospel. Of course, almost on the other hand, any philosopher who does not at least once a day conceive of the possibility that what he is doing mey be entirely useless isn;t really a philosopher. It really teaches a sense of ones own limitations and the need for divine guidance.

Well, in SquareTwo we want to help LDS engage life of the mind making no apology for religious committments, but instead drawing upon them to engage the public world. We must be actively engaged in good causes and make friends with those who are on our side on the main issues of the day. The first 2 issues of SquareTwo were focused on marriage and countering arguments for homosexual marriage. Why should LDS take this up? So we can bring what good we can into the public square. We want to engage are address ideologies that come into the mainstream, etc. It's not enough to say I am going with the prophet without any good argument. The prophet says it's true but reason tells me otherwise, we are putting our souls at peril. So I think we address issues to do a lot for the public to better understand the treaures the gospel gives us and avoid buying into species of spurious rationalism.

Valerie Hudson:
I am not a philosopher but a professor of international relations. Founded 2 years ago. Square one is the restored gospel, the bedrock upon which we build our worldview, etc. With that bedrock in place, what then? We don't believe there has to be unanimity there. Always from a faithful perspective. If the world is our university (and I believe it is) then what do we learn from it in light of the gospel? How would a believing LDS person approach the important events of today? Second we want to engage the public square with these worldviews. I too have, at BYU, come across bright talented students who told me they did not believe prop 8 was correct, etc. I was stunned because they all have firm testimonies. They could not articulate why the Church would get involved. It was stunning. There is some grave deficiency at being able to talk about it in the public square, where we become speechless and mute. I believe it is possible to be able to address issues there intelligently. Finally, we want to gaze out. Plenty of navel gazing in the Mormon community. We want to take what we have and gaze outward on the important issues facing us today. Now it doesn't mean LDS thought has only one possible answer, but we want to see how LDS thought engages various issues. An upcoming article by Richard advances info on stemcell research.

Our editorial board has 4 men, 4 women. 4 older people, and 4 younger 20s. We aren't gearing toward one particular subgroup. Every article is reviewed, and they must be different on one of the dimensions. We had a recent paper contest of sorts for essays that do not appeal to scripture or general authorities as evidence. Thus it could be placed in the public square without being dismissed because of religion.

The only comments we accept on our blog must be 300 words and these comments are reviewed before posting it. No anonymity. There are guideline submissions for comment responses on our site, we usually get turnaround in 3-4 weeks. You can read the essays at our homepage and also receive email alerts to updates.

We have articles from us panel members and others like Richard Bushman, etc.

Questions and Answers. 

Q: How are you going to ensure submitters are Mormon, etc.?

A: We ask when people submit. We also publish things from non-Mormons we believe are in line with our view.

Q: You say you wanted to be in the public square, but are you too restrictive? How do you know if you are successful?

A: (Valerie) We are not the public square, we engage the square. So the articles can be passed around, etc. and the info can be used even by those who are not LDS. The info can be used in the public square as is.

Q: I hope you aspire to win the arguments

A: Valerie: the people on this stand win the arguments. Even when we disagree we are sure we won.

Q: Will previous journals be available online?

A: All archived online.

Greg Smith: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Plural Marriage (But Were Afraid To Ask)

The following are my personal notes of the presentations. They are incomplete and likely contain mistakes, omissions and especially spelling errors. As we go you'll notice these notes get shorter as I slowly burn out. These notes are weak. Check the transcript, now available from FAIR here.  

Greg Smith bio here.

This is a vast topic and there is simply not time to address everything. In the first 15 minutes I'll examine a common charge against him, that he was lecherous and that this is the pathologic background to plural marriage. Look at primary evidence for and against that claim. It is a worthwhile question. Also it is a template to give a framework to appreciate what we are dealing with on this topic. Even a somewhat straighforward question in plural marriage still takes time and is difficult to work out. You can't always trust what you read. Cautionary tale. What you're in for. Then question session. Replies somewhat off the cuff. Also can post some answers on the FAIR website with references and sources, etc.

Secondary sources:

Brodie, No Man Knows My History
Richard Van Wagoner Mormon Polygamy: A History
George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy

Claim #1: Nancy Miranda Johnson "allegations in Hiram, Ohio" caused problems in 1832, a mob attacked Smith tarred and feathered, screaming for Joseph's castration. Only source for Van Wagoner's claim is Fawn Brodie which should send your attanea twitching.

Critical sources repeatedly quote each other.

Check footnotes to VW's work: that "an incident between smith and nancy precipitated the mobbing is unlikely..." more admissions including that from the mob members on why they did it. Not included in main text?  Gave evidence the account is spurious. So why didn't this make the narrative?

Brodie's source is a late secondhand source from Clark Braden Church of Christ Disciples minister in 1884. Why mention it at all, VW?

George D. Smith did a similar tactic. "rumors may have been circukating already by 1832..." tar and feather. No contemporary evidence corroborates, but this explanation was later given.

Well, notice the "weasel words" used here. Smith's footnote notes VW and Todd Compton's mention of financial motives. GDSmith misrepresents the footnotes and claims of VW and Compton.

Marinda Hyde was the girl in question, and in 1877 she witnessed that she never saw "aught" in JS's life that made her question his prohetic mission, and she was no fan of plural marriage.

-If a former critic used it you can too.
-If story doesn't help image you're trying to portray, so put in a footnote because only nerds read those...


Also discussed Winchester as a witness.

Claim 3: Polly Beswick "colorful two hundred pound Smith domestic." No citation, "Mrs. Alexander," domestic gossip, etc. description doesn't match emma, etc.

To GDSmith's credit he does not use this source.

Source 4, Martin Harris recalls charge of plural marriage in Kirtland. But he wasn't in Kirtland at the time. Interview said to be given in 1873, published after harris died. And Harris was back in church by 1870. Made public only after death of witness?

Claim 5- Eliza Winters [See transcript when available]

Q: Are there known percentages of early marriages that were not sexual?

A: Seems it was minority stance when sex as not involved, etc.

Q: Is there a hierarchy for wives in heaven, if you are sealed to someone second?

A: This is revealing because it shows the worries, etc. Culturally in plural marriage the first wife was usually seen as more prestigious, or so forth, there were occasional hierarchies? Yes. Was that doctrinal? No. All have same glory etc.

Q: Will all CK be required to live law of plural marriage?

A: Some back then did believe that, but I don't. Essentially, we need to obey God and what he commands. So for those commanded, likely. etc.

Q: Will polygamy be returning etc.

A: Nothing would astonish me more., etc.

Q: Marriages to younger women?

A: Beware presentism. Census data on marriages, chapter forthcoming. Nationwide in 1850s and in Mormon community.

Q: Polyandry?

A: Kathryn Daynes "sealings to women already married, evidence supports conflicting interpretations."

Women having more than one husband. Term is used here for convenience. Todd Compton identified polyanrous marriages. See Brian Hales's paper on Sylvia Sessions, who is questionable and appears to have been sealed in 43 not 42, etc.

Why did they do it? Zina Huntington prayed and searched scriptures and found that God required it. There were spiritual components that critics do not acknowledge often.

-Women less likely to accept since married already.
-Husband involved, risk of anger, exposure, violence.
-Even "stranger" than the Bible record, harder to persuade.

All presumes that polyandrous had sexual aspects. Wonder if polyandy wasn't almost exclusively for the sealing issue. Thought it might just be my own attempt to reconsile this easily. But the data seems to support it. Some early Mormons believed a faithful spoiuse could help exalt a non-member or wayward spouse, etc. [Refers to his own family history record of an early member of the church]

Q:  Why are leaders, etc. so reticent to discuss it?

A: It is a difficult complex issue and requires a lot of time and research to understand. Also, we don't have all the answers. Finally, leaders do not want to give any indication that they support plural marriage, because there are still other groups that practice it, etc.

Q: I am a woman and NOT a fan of polygamy although I and my husbands are both descendants of it. Was it revealed in 1841?

A: It occurred earlier, around 1831.

Q: Practiced only by those who received special calling to do so?

A: In a way. D&C 132 said only one person would hold the keys but not that only he and a few would do it. Also later leaders expanded it.

Q: Did it mushroom beyond expectations and get out of control? FLDS show how evil it can be. Is it possible JS made a mistake in revealing it? Richard Bushman said he believes a "faulty" revelation. [according to this questioner]

A: Firstm be careful trying to draw analogies between FLDS people and the rest of fundamentalists or even the early saints. I will elaborate on that on the website. Was this a mistake? Well, anything is possible, and some members of the church take that stance. Todd Compton said it was a mistake because of overenthusiasm, tragic error. etc. I don't think it matters what a member believes about it unless it leads you to believe that JS isn't a prohet, Jesus isn't the Christ, and the keys are not with the Church today. So we can adopt Brother Compton's view if we wish, but should be clear about the full implications of that view before we pick up one end of the stick, because that picks up the other end.

JS claimed it was a revelation from God, that an angel commanded him to practice. Early polygamists reported similar dramatic experiences. So the suggestion Compton offers has a potential fatal weakness: if JS could be mistaken about 132, what about D&C 1, and 2 and 3 and 4 and temples, and so forth. And if he mistook or lied about an angel commanding him from practicing plural marriage, what's to stop him from lying about angels bringing priesthood keys or gold plates etc. Now Compton does not take those conclusions, but critics know what can happen because of the implications and that is why critics have embraced his book so happily. I am not convinced he made a mistake, I am confident he did not, and I will tell you why, and apologize for the personal nature of this. It becameclear on the drive here that I should say this. I was always aware of the practice but I began studying the details with the Van Wagoner book and womanizing claims. I stopped at that point because I hadn't done the leg work. The author dumped it on me and moved on and I had to decide what to do with it. Plural marriage is such a useful tool that  way. I thought about it a lot. I knew I didn;t know enough to answer the questions it brings. I knew a lot of time and work was required to know. I knew I might not be intellectually or spiritually up to the task. I knew answers might not exist. So I detemined to take it to the Lord and it was one of the most interesting aspects of my life. I ended up praying differently than what I planned. I found myself telling God what bothered me and instead of insisting on answers, I found myself telling him I would not forsake him or our relationship. That I would not abandon my covenants but do what he wanted me to do. Would it be spiritually dangerous to take the time and effort for this project. I thought it would be the first of many struggling prayers. God told me clearly it would all work out, I had nothing to worry about, and I could devote time and go for it. Be careful what you ask for. I didn't set out to be the person people ask about plural marriage.

Even the idea of plural marriage is deeply hurtful for some people especially women, and its more than some sort of cultural revulsion. It brings up memories of abuse, inconsiderate spouses, easily seen as abuse of reliigon for power. I sympathize with all thoise reactions. Perhaps because of them, we become very uneasy that we dont see in other apologetic issues. A pressure to solve this one above others once and for all, the harder we look the harder it becomes, the sources do little to help,

Paul Simon on his most underrated album hearts and bones called think too much b.

They say the left side of the brain
Dominates the right
And the right side has to labor
Through the long and speechless night
And in the night
My father came to me
And held me to his chest
He said there’s not much more that you can do
Go on and get some rest
And I said yeah
Maybe I think too much
Maybe I think too much

Now I am not suggesting we stop thinking. I would think all my notes and presentation and wiki suggest I like thinking and it's ok. But my spiritual life did not have 4 or 5 years to sit in the church archives and could not be put on hold. How long could I halt between two opinions? Jesus didn;t have his apostles spend years with the primary sources before coming to follow him.

The key issue actually was do I trust Father? I see now I actually expressed that trust at the outset and I chose to consecrate my brain. I value my brain, we all do. None of us like to be thought of as duped or cognitively disonant etc. I love science, I am a rationalist, I think of myself that way. I could have demanded answers, I want answers now, ultimatums. I would quit if it didn;t work out. I chose instead to sacrifice my self-image, years of learning, etc. because I trusted Father. It's the funny thing about consecration, you always get back more than you gave. I got more answers, trying to drink from a hose and I threw bread on the water and an aircraft carrier with a baker on top came back.

I fear this seems I am offering a pat answer, I am not. It is not simple. Abrajam put his son on the alter and got him back. We know he got him back but Abraj=ham didn;t. You can;t ask for a sign, but I bear witness that signs follow them that believe, in this and everything.

My question for you is, Do you trust Father? If you do I have no worries. If you cannot answer, you must start there because no answer I can give will help. Settle it up with Father and we can talk.


[see recording for the remainder.]

Matthew Brown: Brigham Young’s Teachings on Adam

Matthew B. Brown holds a B.A. degree in history from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He is the author of nine books (with one more forthcoming), has had articles published in the FARMS Review and the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Matthew has lectured at a number of seminars, symposiums, and firesides and has been featured on several radio and TV programs. He has done some writing for FAIR projects and has been a speaker at three previous FAIR conferences.

The following are my personal notes of the presentations. They are incomplete and likely contain mistakes, omissions and especially spelling errors. FAIR is going to provide full transcripts and recordings, and I encourage checking them out.  

April 9, 1852 in the old tabernacle Brigham Young was going to straighten out an issue of debate. Who was the father of Jesus Christ in the flesh; Elohim or the Holy Ghost. He announced it was neaither.

 Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken—He is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom WE have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later. They came here, organized the raw material, and arranged in their order the herbs of the field, the trees, the apple, the peach, the plum, the pear, and every other fruit that is desirable and good for man; the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth. The thistle, the thorn, the brier, and the obnoxious weed did not appear until after the earth was cursed. When Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their bodies became mortal from its effects, and therefore their offspring were mortal. (Journal of Discourses 1:50-51).

He talked about these things publicly about 30 times throughout the rest of his life. People have referred to this as Doctrine, theory, paradox, heresy, speculation, mysteries. I label them as "teachings," and want to explain why. 

LDS Mythology in Response: 
1. 1852 sermon wrongly transcribed
2. Was referring to Heavenly Father not Adam
3. There was no error of doctrine, we misunderstand him.
4. Charles C. Rich said he was there and corrected it.
5. Only taught it a few times
6. Never explained it fully. 

They believed God the Father took on the role of Adam? Did all Mormons believe it? Was it official doctrine? 

Take a close look between 1852-1877. 

In 1852, it needs to be acknowledged that various elements of these teachings were circulating even in the Nauvoo era. He mentioned in the talk that he had a lot more to say than he said, but the elements don't come from SLC in 1852. Stretch back into Kirtland period and Nauvoo. 

Brown mapped out the Adam-God teachings and highlighted aspects Young changed over time. [Brown used Brigham Young quotes to map out the following plan or understanding:]

Adam born n another earth, died, became exalted, then After the resurrection of Adam he was crowned with glory, with thrones, and it was said it was his right to organize the elements and to his posterity there would be no end. 

Creation of Spirit Children. 
After resurrection had the ability to create spirits and organize a world. Begoitten, born, educated in spirit world. Adam and Eve natural father and mother of all spirits that come to this planet. Each person crowned in Celestial Kingdom becomes a Father and a God. Adam is Father of all living and Eve mother of all living, so Adam is their God. 

Pre-Mortal Council
Adam called for volunteers etc. for a Savior, organize new earth, the one son becomes creater and redeemer, but "Grandfather" remains the chief commander. 

It was said to Adam or Michael by Eloheim, go and make the earth, he gathered the materials and with help of Brother brought earth into existence. An adam and eve are necessary for every earth. 

Garden and Fall:
Let us lay aside celestial glory for a season, become earthly, offspring will be mortal. We will begat mortal bodies for spirit children. We have power to lay celestial glory by and power to take it up again. They will follow the pattern and may become like us. When Adam came, he knew he would forget the past and commence anew. Bodies were pure until partook of fruit. 

Create Physical Bodies:
Tabernacles organized from course materials of this earth, etc. 

-Now first point of contradiction. BY had taught death and burial ended the Adam-God cycle. Mentioned it in Conference 8, Oct. 1854. This would mean that Adam would have to be resurrected again in order to regain celestial glory that he lost through "reduction." This contradicts that people can die no longer. So by 7 Feb 1877, BY taught when Adam and Eve finished work on earth they did not lie bodies down to the dust, but experienced some kind of translation and went back to heaven to begin cycle again. 

Closer look at terms and definitions, how BY and associates applied them

-Typically an exalted being of celestial order, a pre-mortal spirit (like Christ,) or a resurrected person. They held to an expanded view, and a god could include someone who organizes elements and someone mortal or otherwise who is the leader of a group. Such as Moses, who had "god-like" ability, he was a "God" to the people Israel. Waters obey command as if he was God, etc. Exodus 1, made thee a God to Pharoah. Title of God on mortal leader with granting of godlike power. 

8 April 1844 Joseph Smith, said God will make me the god to you in his stead. 

BY and Heber C. Kimball understood it. HCK said "Brother Brigham was my god, etc." all the way up to Jesus Christ being God. He was God before and after his mortal life. 

Brigham said "And in this manner, you may go right back to Father Adam." 

Gods Many? Expressing a few biblical scriptures in his own way. 1 Cor 8:5-16 "many gods" and Heb 4:13 speaks of "him with whom we have to do." John 17:3, ;ife eternal to know only true god. No man could have eternal life without that knowledge, they must become acquainted with out father and god. 

How did BY come to conclusion that Adam was the "only god with whom we have to do?" 

He relied upon Sec 107 D&C 53-55. Lord appointed Adam to be at the head of a multitude of nations, who would be his posterity. He would be prince over them forever. 

18 June 1873, "Father Adam is man who stands at gate and holds the keys of salvation all his children," D&C 78:16 mentions Adam having keys, and appointed as prince. BY seems to be referring to canonical texts. 

Adam: At head, holds salvific keys, called a prince (a ruler, a king, or governmental sovereign)

Some claim he was teaching that God the Father Elohim was Adam, but this is not the case. This is important distinction to remember. 

Emphasized to BY on 4 May 1842 in Red Brick Store, received temple endownment rites. Separate identities of Elohim and Adam is clear, and he, along with HCK, learned about the order of the Ancient of Days (Adam). Late 1845 BY and HCK became temple workers in Nauvoo, playing dramatic roles, knowing that Eolim and Adam were not the same person, etc. Orson Pratt was also a participant in the endowment presentation. Keep it in mind for later. 

shed light on why BY justified its formulation, etc. 

Points of focus in April 1852 was on how Jesus's physical body was created. Did not believe there was any other way to do it than what we know. Thus, both Jesus and Eve were procreated. "Adam was not an adobe." Didn;t believe it was literal a dust creation from the earth. From the dust a "baby story." 

29 Jan 1860 1st Pres (BY, HCK and Daniel H. Wells) issued formal statement against dome of Elder Orson Pratt's teachings. "With regard to him being formed out of dust of ground, etc. it is wise to leave it without further explanation at present." Thus, 1st presidency did NOT encase the adam god info in an official capacity here though had the chance. 

1. males personify Adam. > 
2. [not understood] Kingship initiation rituals, king personified Adam. > 
3. There is an Adam on every earth. > 
4. [Reckoned] each God became Adam on his earths. 

I think BY put item 1 and 3 together to come up with item 4. 

Claims of revelation from BY? How did BY compare himself as revelator with his predecessor? Didn;t receive revelations through the UandT, also said he professes to be an apostle, didn;t receive revelations in same way or capacity as JS. 

"Well, brother Brigham, have you had visions?" Yes, I have. "Have you had revelations?" Yes, I have them all the time, I live constantly by the principle of revelation. I never received one iota of intelligence, from the letter A to what I now know, I mean that, from the very start of my life to this time, I have never received one particle of intelligence only by revelation, no matter whether father or mother revealed it, or my sister, or neighbor. No person receives knowledge only upon the principle of revelation, that is, by having something revealed to them. "Do you have the revelations of the Lord Jesus Christ?" I will leave that for others to judge. If the Lord requires anything of this people, and speaks through me, I will tell them of it; but if He does not, still we all live by the principle of revelation. Who reveals? Every body around us; we learn of each other. I have something which you have not, and you have something which I have not; I reveal what I have to you, and you reveal what you have to me. I believe that we are revelators to each other. (JD 3:209)

Bother Heber C. Kimball is known to have claimed to be the originator of the Adam-God theory, according to TBH Stenhouse. (he was an apostate at the time so some might counter his assertion.) But Orson Pratt said also that the Adam God thing was advanced by Kimball from pulpit and afterwards approved by BY. [Matt theorizes that HCK was the originator of Adam God]

I have never looked into the Bible, Book of Mormon, or the Doctrine and Covenants, or any of our church works to see whether they agreed with them or not. When I have spoken by THE POWER OF GOD AND THE HOLY GHOST, it is truth, it is SCRIPTURE, and I have no fears that it will agree with all that has been revealed in every particular Brigham Young, Deseret News Weekly, June 6, 1877).

1 March 1832, Luke Johnson? [Here I got sidelined for a moment and missed the argument. The whole paper will set this straight, basically about JS teaching about Adam receiving authority, subordinate to Savior, but appointed as prince. D&C calls him the "prince of all," and the "father of all," has been given "keys of salvation for us under Christ's direction."

21January 1836, vision at Kirtland Temple, 137 section of D&C but not all components have been put into the canon, yet some of the staements have relevance. Describes the gate leading to kingdon, a father and son seated on throne, and Adam residing as king seperate from that Kingdom. Heber C. Kimball reported other things, that Joseph saw until the 12 apostles had accomplished work and apporached gate, Adam waited at gate and embraced them one by one, led them to throne of God, where they embrced Jesus, etc. This vision included HCK and BY, and seems to have elements incorporated into later comments. BY said people will "embrace Adam" when arriving at the CK. People would see the hair of father adam. Adam stands at the gate, etc.

Did JS teach Adam-God concepts?

8 August 1839, 5 October 1840, 7 April 1844. All three of these sermons are in the ball park, but off in left field of the ballpark of Adam-God so to speak. [Brown has compared all of this forthcoming]

Helen Mar Kimball claimed that JS originated the idea in the 1880s, but her dad is HCK. Did HCK rely on sermons being put together for HC stuff? [need more info, this is when adam-god stuff is emerging]

Book of Moses, Lectures on Faith, Articles of Faith, Book of Abraham. Other writings of JS to consider. Adam teachings here, especially Moses, are relevant when talking about the AG theory.

After BY ended his 1852 sermon. A range of response.
Millennial Star "Adam, the Father and God of the Human Family." People interpreted it as official truth because BY said it. Other saints were disturbed; feelings of fear and anxiety. Some even thought it was blasphemous. Others sniped. Some believing saints accused unbelievers of weakness ignorance folly and lack of faith. Some Ecclesiastical officers did not meet in council because of what was being taught. Some investigators refused to join, etc.

Orson Pratt strongly opposed. Also Amasa Lyman possibly. Anti-Adam-God cause was headed up by Pratt, who pointed to the revelations from God to Smith. 1860 enlisted the Book of Moses vin his defense, but only had 1851 version of Pearl of Great Proice which did not have the full text of Book of Moses. It came through the RLDS folks, worried about tampering. Full version would have discounted several elements. The year after BY died John Taylor directed Pratt to out the full version of PoGP together, canonized two years later.

[showed a chart of opposition to BY's theory] How did BY react to reactions? Became more precise.

When BY first introduced the ideas he said they would prove ones salvation or damnation. 2 and a half years later this assurance changed dramatically. He said "I propse to speak upon a dsubject that does not immediately concern our welfare...they are not neccessary for us to know, etc." He specified they were his views, and said "I reckon" so to speak, 13 times. Admitted he was guessing about the elemets of AG theory that were most problematic.
"I reckon"

7 Feb 1877, summary lecture to patrons in St. George temple at the veil, they were interpretive, but this material is prefaced in Nuttal's diary by a reminiscience in Nauvoo. "Pres. Young was there in Nauvoo etc." given a charge to arrange and systematize what he had learned. He did just that for Nauvoo temple and gave explanatory lectures there, but nothing like what he taught and explained in the St. George Temple. 

Why did he do it? Not clear at all.

The Lord Steadies the Ark:

George Q. Cannon explained that some people since the death of BY have admitted they did not approve of BY's approach because they felt it would be no use to oppose him. He took liberties beyond the authority he legitimately held. Not immune from mistakes and weaknesses, was not infallible. etc. 

Charles Penrose said no prophet is infallible, but truth is. No president has claimed infallibility. 

7 January 1897, letter written by Joseph F. Smith stating Pres. Woodruff helped with leter, in accord on subject, mentioned 1852 sermon as not official, not approved, not a revelation, not accepted. Therefore, in no sense binding, etc. 

Geroge Q. Cannon 28 November 1898, it is not wise to advocate those matters, etc. was never consensus among the leaders until then. Consensus rejected. 


BY was legitimate successor of JS but was not infallible. Learned some things about Adam from written and unwritten JS, he and HCK used these things to make assumptions about Adam and about Saints who achieve godhood, etc. Made mistakes because not aware of how Adam material functioned in the ancient context. Some assumptions are not compatible with canonized scripture and are not binding on any LDS.

Conclude with BY last word:

The First Presidency have a right of great influence over this people; and if we should get out of the way and lead this people to destruction, what a pity it would be! How can you know whether we lead you correctly or not? Can you know by any other power than that of the Holy Ghost? I have uniformly exhorted the people to obtain this living witness, each for themselves; then no man on earth can lead them astray.

Q: Sources?

A: see the footnotes, a lot of material! 

Q: O Pratt censured for not backing AG doctrine?

A: No, he was censured for his published things in the Seer. Get to the nitty gritty where they are duking it out and AG is a side issue. They deal specifically with OP's doctrinal problems. So does Amasa Lyman. These two stood against the doctrinal problems but had their own, so you get a stalemate. It was a war of ideas. 

Q: is it not possible that he backed off because people not ready for it. 

A: No. I don't see it that way myself. As far as I am concerned, BY admitted they were his ideas. Also backed off their importance. Clarified himself. Footnotes will have list of contradictions to get the big picture. Dealing with history is complex and if you see a piece of that history and see a few pieces, you need to remember there are many more things that need to be considered. Read everything that you can get your hands on. You really need to know how this works. When I prepared this paper, I spent about a full month just reading this stuff. Study a long time and see all you can.

Q: What are your views of Free Masonry and Temple

A: Book should be forthcoming, history of free masons etc. and the Nauvoo period, and restoration.

Ron Hellings: Joseph Smith and Modern Cosmology

The following are my personal notes of the presentations. They are incomplete and likely contain mistakes, omissions and especially spelling errors. FAIR plans to provide full transcripts and recordings, and I encourage checking them out. This one was too complex to live-blog, as you will see. 

Ron Hellings bio here

This is an exciting time to be doing cosmology, we are mystified and profoundly confused. We know less than 5% of the universe. Also, 20% is dark matter which we know a little about, but the remaining 75%, dark energy, whatever it is, will require a revolution in our understanding of physics when we figure it out. We have some models and some information but we are trying to figure it out. Some suggest that Einstein's entire theory will be overturned at some point. Ideas that ten years ago were considered crackpot are now being published in prestigious journals.

This is no time for anyone to be criticizing anyone's beliefs based on what cosmologists know.

Lord Kelvin: (1900)
"There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement." 

-Well there were some things he didn't know, and he didn't know he didn;t know them. Like special, general relatively, quantum mechanics, black holes, elementary particles, etc. So he was wrong though remarkably bright. Humility is needed.

Joseph Fielding Smith (1961)
"It is doubtful that man will ever be permitted to make any instrument or ship to travel through space and visit the moon or any distant planet."
-Well, this is not correct. How can he be wrong like this? Well, he didn't understand, and didn't understand what he didn't understand.

If you ever see what appears to be a conflict between science and religion, can you think of at least TWO places where the problem might lie? [laughter]

Say something worthwhile, and keep nonsense to a minimum.

“Thy mind, oh man, if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss and the broad expanses of eternity. None but fools will trifle with the souls of man. Thou must commune with God"- Joseph Smith

Joseph knew some things about the cosmos and tried to explain it to the saints in a way they could understand. For example: Joseph said: "There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter but it is more fine or pure. NOT: "There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter. But it coupleth to a different metric." In other words, he had to express his understanding in the language he had available at his command.

D&C 88:
7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.

  8 As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;

  9 As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made;

  10 And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand.

  11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;

  12 Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space— 
Well, the light here does';t seem to fit into my understanding of electromagnetic radiation. So I will not proof-text, I will try to address things on the correct terms. 

[My notes were erased for this part, JS talking about matter always exists, can be organized and reorganized, but that's it.] It seems JS was talking about what we might call energy today, which wasn;t understood at that time as we understand now.

Intelligences exist one above another, there is no end. Intelligence or spirit had no beginning nor end. No such thing as immaterial matter.

Cosmological principles we glean from these statements:

Matter energy is conserved.
Everything is matter-energy
The universe is infinite and eternal.

Of course, JS could have picked this sort of thing up from Lavoisier's Conservation Law.

However, perhaps from Newtonian Cosmology (all massive objects attract all other massive objects with a force. Universe is static) According to this, the universe must be infinite and homogenous. However, we discover the universe is unstable. No way that JS was just reproducing Newtonian cosmology.

Mormon cosmology from 1840-1930, Mormons were more accurate than other religions generally
-Matter-energy is conserved. By this time, heat, fields, etc. became realized as part of this. Everything was matter-energy, and universe is infinite and eternal.

What happened in 1930 that changed all that? Enter the era of modern cosmology.

The Hubble Relation. Learned to see distances in megaparsecs, discover velocity of other galaxy in relation to us.
Where did universe come from? Scientific atheists? Not an exact answer, but they do agree that JS was wrong [laughter].

He referred to the New Mormon Challenge book from Copan and Craig who argue that the big bang are like creatio ex nihilo. etc. and critiqued that view. He noted their views were about 20 years out of date regarding big bang cosmology. Discussed cosmic evolution, etc. He talked about temperature problem and a flatness problem to explain how the Big Bang is being reevaluated using concepts of curved space.

OK, well I am giving up on this one and refer the reader to the full paper, which I am thoroughly enjoying!

Brant Gardner: Joseph the Seer, or Why Joseph Translated with a Rock in His Hat.

Update: August 21, 2009- Transcript is now available from FAIR here

The following are my personal notes of the presentations. They are incomplete and likely contain mistakes, omissions and especially spelling errors. FAIR is going to provide full transcripts and recordings, and I encourage checking them out. Especially with Brant's paper, you will want to see the quotes, scholars, and sources he made use of. 

Brant opened with Truman Coe's description of the translation:

Then Oliver Cowdery's wife, Elizabeth Ann's, description:

These paint a radically different picture of the same event. The rock in that hat feels foreign, but is the better attested description. Why do we have both these pictures if that latter fits descriptions better.

First, why would anyone think of translating with a rock in a hat.

Second, why are we so surprised at that?

The adventurers and farmers, cunning men and wise women embarked in the wilderness in pre-industrial villages. Folk magic has a history. Contemporary medicine drove men and women to village specialists with herbs, etc. who were considered to be taught by God or angels.

Exhibited their cunning in many ways. Joseph belonged to a class of people who did scrying. A long practiced method. [He described some interesting methods] Stones became the most used m ethod to see future, or to see the location of lost items. These traditions were found in Palmyra in 1820s still performing these functions. Young Joseph Smith was the member of a sub-community with ties to these old practices, increasingly marginalized. Others had same abilities. D. Michael Quinn noted that Sally Chase was Palmyra's most known seer, and there were others. Richard Bushman adds a few other names of people who had stones to find lost objects.

Some reminisciences tell us how such things occurred. [Gardner quoted people who recounted their experiences with Sally Chase.] Basically, when things were lost you went to the seer who would tell you where to find things. Finding lost wallet, lost cattle, etc.

Joseph Smith, long before the plates complicated his position, appears to have functioned similarly to JS. Some reports describe JS looking for and discovering a stolen mare.  Sally Chase's clients consulted her for things lost, JS had at least on client who did the same.

Henry Harris described JS pretending to tell fortunes with a stone in a hat. JS is described as turning someone else down in an instance.

Local seers became involved in the digging for lost treasure. This practice, like scrying, also traced back to England. The idea was when the wealthy buried their treasures. I nthe New World it was Spanish or Pirate treasures burying. A lot of stories of striking it rich circulated, though not likely many of them were true.

A conjurer was frequently used in the search. Mosaiacal rods were used, etc. Money digging didn't require a seer, it was just something some used. Ronald W. Walker described various digging attempts with seers. A context is provided for JS's assistance of Josiah Stoal and money digging. JS was hired to help. In 1826 Stoal's wife's nephew took JS to court for fraud. Peter Bainbridge believed the seer stone was defrauding. This would not be the last time he would be accused of fraud based on this. Dan Vogel picks up on that theme, a recent biographer. Vogel allows us to see better historical view of what that "confidence man" means. It was a transient who went about with a peep stone to lead credulous to remote spot where he previously hid coins, then would "discover them." He would then establish a company and collect money, and then bolt. Or he would offer magical explanations for why treasure was lost.

The implication is that because such scammers existed, JS must have been one. JS was acquited, though of those old charges. Should he be acquited of the continuing charges?

Of course there were people who were tricking others. But there seems to be real people who had confidence in the possibility. The fact that there are dishonest people in a given profession does not mean the entire profession is fraudulent.

2 critical differences between conmen and village seers:

Village seers were residential, remained in through successes and failures.
Village seers were consulted, the conmen sought it out and asked for money, then bolted.

The plates were accompanied by Nephite interpreters. He bagan translation with them, but record indicates he then used his own seer stone. Why put it in a hat? That is how the stone was used. It wasn;t unusual.

Why translate with a stone? So he could see "that which was hidden," so to speak, but this wasn;t a simple transition from seer to translator. His talent for the mundane, gift for the holy. Joseph understood the difference. It was different from village seers. Different from "learned men." He didn;t negin to understand how to be God's seer until Moroni came, and the Nephite interpreters assisted him. Having learn to see that which was holy he never returned to the mundane village seer acts.

Some might wonder if I think all seers saw things in the stones. I believe many of them believed they did.

Did it allow him to translate?

Only insofar as it helped him understand the role and have faith in the ability. He knew no other village seer could do it, he alone could not do it, it was beyond realm of village seer, and was in the realm of God's seer.

Find a context in which the stone hat method makes sense, why don;t we understand it? We must delve into historybetween history of religion and magic.

Judeo-Christian history intertwines with magic and religion. The dichotomy between the two was not evident back then. It was a gradual development of social complexity. Many Old Testament stories actually have magical practices in them, so to speak.

[Brant made use of some quotes from magic and religion scholars on the nature of the two]

In antiquity, magic, almost always refers to someone else's religious practice to distance them from the "norm" or one's own practice.

Simply put: what I do is religion, what you do is magic.

The OT is antagonistic to certain "magic" such as in Exodus 22, dont suffer which to live. Other scriptures against enchanter, consulter with familiar spirits, etc. abomination.

In spite of these prohibitions, it isn;t the magic that is the problem. In the hands of priests and prophets it is considered legal. Also, the terms of magic are socially constructed and play a role in marginalizing some and not others, etc.

As West emerged from middle ages, the Catholic church had become the place for answers. It had also incorporated local concepts of sacred space and ritual even when once considered pagan. The protestant reformation made the change in what would be considered magic. Catholic had accepted many types but Protestant rejected much of it. The Enlightenment drained Christianity of its belief in the miraculous- except for bible miracles. Everything else was credulity.

In the 18th century the rise of science, evangelical christianity, protestants, rise in literacy, economic and political maturation, simply destroyed the previous magic beliefs. Yet significant evidence suggests that America had some magic in places, confined to poorer more marginal aspects of American society. This folklorization created the dichotomy between the magic and religion we see today.

[Brant discussed the smaller tradition that persists along the greater tradition, competing explanations of reality.The "little" and the "great" tradition.]

The great tradition makes the little tradition an embarrassment. [Brant described a few instances where the great tradition met the little tradition with some conflict.]

[Brant then discussed the status of Martin Harris in his community, how he was marginalized by a new self-conscious middle-class. Superior rationality, saw others as ignorant obstructors, etc. Cultural imperialism challenging folk beliefs. Material prosperity comparable, but limited education he shared more with hard-scabble families like the Smith's.]

Martin was something of a cautious believer. He believed it was a possibility, but knew there were deceivers, etc. to beware. He wanted to differentiate JS from deceivers. To find out if he should support Joseph he tested him. Had JS use seer stone to find a lost pin, bolstering his confidence. Nature of test was to find lost object. But to believe in him as true prophet and true prophet stradled the little and great tradition. The practices were not religious, (though not seen as non-Christian) so Martin was a little leery as well. Richard Bushman has explained how growing rationality affected reminiscient accounts where people would scorn money-diggers etc. The Hurlbut affidavits show this mentality. Some who made excuses for going along with money-diggers, etc.

There becomes a shift from little to great traditions. When little becomes a great it adjusts its views as well. This occured in earliest forms of Christianity which had similarities with "magic" like turning water to wine and healing. Some of the evidences of Jesus as a "magician" were minimized or downplayed. They minimize the things that ancient experience and outlook would have welcomed as evidence because they are no longer seen as credible. Similar to this transition, the Latter-day Saints have transitioned into formal tradition who sees themselves within the great traditions. Thus the stories they tell distance selves from the old lesser tradition history. This is what occured with the BoM translation.

The BoM does not mention the Urim and Thummim, it mentions the "interpreters." JS completed the translation with a seer stone. The UandT became part of the story when it was intoriduced as a generic label to refer to seer stone, etc. The UT were biblically acceptable divinatory rocks, thus their presence in the Bible made them more legitimate. The "interpreters" were then labeled with UandT because calling them "rocks" seems to demean them, whereas calling them UT makes them seem more sacred.

This recasting of history was something they told themselves. I doubt any conscious attempt at deception, it was a natural response to themselves as a religion rather than a folk belief, appropriate to a great tradition religion. Didn;t deny the past but recolored them with new vocab.

So we do not feel as comfy with the little tradition, and the stone in hat is a part of that.

The more accurate, uncomfortable image is a little tradition image, the less accurate one is a greater tradition view.

Either way, the basic fact of translation is unchanged. The only true answer is by the gift and powers of God.

Q: Relation between astrology and seer stones?

A: It was part of the same line of thought, their science of the time, what they had evidence for, so it was part of the overall way of seeing things.

Q: Any research on native american vision stones?

A: Not specifically, only to see that this context of seers seems to be more worldwide. Mesoamericans used obsidian mirrors and incense smoke to induce vision, etc.

Q: A seer stone in the 1st pres. vault? I think there used to be a seer stone in the history museum. Any documented account of its use in last 100 years?

A: No, I doubt it will be. How they work I'll discuss some other day, but we have other means now.

Q: Seer stone translation elsewhere, ever heard of such a thing?

A: No, this is a miracle, folks, we can't say to Lord that we would prefer our miracle to be more miraculous, etc. We have the miracle of the fact of the text. Anything we do to avoid dealing with the book is focusing on the wrong things. The tangible result of the method is the text, so test it.

Q:When Hyrum asked JS about rev. on polygamy, it implies he still used UT device to receive revelation.

A: there is a brand name Levi and then regular jeans are called Levis. We get labels that come from somewhere else. The UT is similar to this. At one point he realized he didn't need them. The stones didn't translate, JS did. They may hve helped him understand, they may have been his conduit, his place for faith, to help him finish the project. He believed because there was something he could hold onto. He later learned to do it without that.

Q: Why we never hear about treasure digging in general conference or church approved books.

A: It isnlt that we never hear about it, but it is that we talk about it differently according to our tradition now. Joseph Campbell's Hero of a Thousand Faces. He never said the model everyone had in the back of their mind was that Christ was an exemplar and these people were a patterned after him. So there was a folklorist who looked at a bio of Lincoln and found he was a better hero than Christ according to Campbell's analysis. Now how did Lincoln do that, how did things happen that could be narrated that way? Well, we expect our stories to be told a certain ways. The purpose of GC is not to teach us the history aside from sturcturing life according to the gospel. I'm not sure where and when it becomes appropriate. What helps us live a certain way? It is interesting and fascinating and keeps peoplel ike me talking though [laughter]

Q: Were the breastplate too cumbersome, etc.?

A: I don't know, it seems he just used the stone and hat because that is how he was used to doing things.

John Lynch: "Uh, oh" to "Ah hah!" 20/20 Foresight for a Faithful Future in Defending the Church

These notes contain some comments from John Lynch in regards to, etc. I urge anyone who wishes to comment on this presentation to email FAIR directly at 

The following are my personal notes of the presentations. They are incomplete and likely contain mistakes, omissions and especially spelling errors. A full transcript is now available from FAIR here.

 We try to translate an "uh, oh" moment into an "ah hah" moment where are confidence in what we already know remains intact.

We are Heavenly Father's children, and he loves us. Of all the titles he would have us address him by, he has chosen the title of father. I think that reflects the precious view he has for each of us whether we are fithful or doubting. He grieves at attacks on his children.

We are here to sustain our covenenat made in the temple to sustain and defend the kingdom. To accomplish our goal, of neccessity we must walk our own careful lines. We are decidedly partisans in defending the Church. We want to maintain confidence in the highest levels in allowing for the broader path needed by some while following the narrow path.

The battleground is in the hearts of individuals to allow them to rediscover faith. People who come to us arrive with a wide difference in background, so the tent must be cast somewhat wide. So what is it that we are defending. This is my thought, you might differ.

We are defending:
-Foundational claims of the restoration of the gospel.
-The canonized teachings.
-The priesthood authority, including ongoing revelation.
-Good names and reputations of General Authorities and Church.

What are we not obligated to defend?
-personal writings of memmbers and general authorities.
-changeable interpretation of doctrines.
-manuals published by committees.
(Dan Peterson had helped writing a particular manual and at one point he snuck in an inside joke for the review people. He wrote three questions. "Have you ever killed anyone with a sacrament meeting talk?" etc. The worst part is, it made it through correlation somehow and he had to call their attention to it.)
-Behavior of local leaders.
-Conventional wisdom or "folk doctrine."
(Curse of Cain, pre-ordained families, 3 Nephite stories)

We are really tyring to "Tend the Gardens of the Heart."
-Alma 32:28:
"Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me."

Alma 32:38: "
But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out."

There is a duel need here, we need to give room for the seed but it also needs to be nourished. Our real objective is the preservation of faith. It is not enough to answer criticism any more than all a gardner needs to do is weed.

1. Answers need to include not only refutation of wrong claims, but additionally affirmation of our faith in order to share testimony. We also need to encourage people to take responsibility for their faith, but we can be helpful on that path.

We need to find non-sensational needs to help testimony and faith grow. We all have received faith-promoting stories from so-and-so who heard someone else say something about someone's friend etc. and it becomes a rumor. We don;t need these sort of things to boost faith. There is enough good to help. But as people navigate their life journeys, it is important they can make clear and concise choices. So the ability to discern is crucial.

*Without discernment agency does not exist.
-How do we draw the line between right and wrong? Light and darkness? When we can't discern which side, we don't have strong agency, we have "uh, oh" moments.

Moroni 7:
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

  14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

  15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

  16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. 
With clarity, we have choice. [John then dissected Luke 11:34, as the slide shows.]
Again, the more clearly we can dileneate the lines, the more we can restore the agency they deserve. 
Examples: What if your 16 or 17 yr old pulled up in a brand new Porche? You might worry about the tickets, fast driving, etc. [He showed a picture of a car, then the full picture showed it was just a sports car painted on the side of a minivan. So things are not always what they seem.]
He showed this gif, showing that people can look at the same thing and see it differently. The woman spins one way or the other depending on how you are looking at it. 
Critics can simply change how we look at the same material. 
Was the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor a suppression of something that threatened safety, or was it a totalitarian regime bent on opposing truth?
[He then showed an optical illusion of lines that seemed to be straight or square. Then superimposed other lines on top of it giving better perspective. ]

 So how can we get better perspective and adjust our thinking appropriately?

*We need to engender trust in those we work with.
Anything we do that violates trust will diminish our influence. Oftentimes how we react will be more important than what we say when we react (2 reasons)

1.  Because the person needs to know we are safe
2. Because there are other people on the sidelines watching.

*Faith is the focus, not the erasing of doubts.
When you try to find help, use trustworthy resources. There are wolves in sheeps clothing. 2 specifically.

1. Presents itself as open environment to discuss gospel from open perspective where the truth is discovered. I will tell you right now there is an agenda behind that website. They would like to make the line more fuzzy, to raise doubts.

2. This is run by John Dehlin, a sincere individual who wants to help. I think he is off the mark. They say we want you to stay LDS even though you don't believe. Why would you want to do that? Why have someone remain complacent in a state of doubt?

Find trustworthy resources that stand firm. Let them be partisan. Balanced information is fine. But make sure you find those who stand up for what the Church believes.

*Become a peacemaking presence.

What to do when someone I love has serious doubts?

1. Empathize
-the person hasn't just doubted all of a sudden, they have likely been struggling with pain for a time. So acknowledge the feelings. Assure it is natural and that they are not bad or wrong for their feelings.
-thank them for trusting you with their doubts and concerns
-assure them it is natural to feel how they do

2. Reassure them that an answer exists
-whether you know it or not, and whether it is the one we want, we'll find it.

3. Set realistic expectations.
-answers won't come all at once and easily
-it requires study and effort
-must persist and own their search for truth

[John then shared some comments from people who responded to a blog post he wrote a few weeks ago:]

"Thank you for writing this post. I went through my own period of disaffection, and your summary fits my experience as well. Your July 15, 11:48 post is as insightful as your original post.
To the commenters who are insisting that people ought to be able to ignore the behavior of people they trust, I would just say that people who are questioning are hurting a lot. Hurt leads to anger, and most see the anger and forget that there’s a lot of hurt under there. Quite plainly, I wasn’t strong enough to ignore hurtful behavior. You’ve got to have a fair amount of emotional and spiritual strength to ignore a violation of trust. Just scolding us for being weak doesn’t make anyone strong. Reaching out with patience and charity builds strength.

Incidentally, the online Mormon community is where I turned after people in real life ostracized me for having questions. There is a lot of kindness and patience in the Bloggernacle (yes, I know there are spats and arguments too). It made all the difference for me. I hung around the FAIR message boards a lot during that period. Just the kind tone of the faithful Mormons did more for me than all the clever arguments did."

4. Capture their concerns in full

5. Consolodate issues into larger concerns
-JS married 14 yr. old, BY made racist comments, BoM anachronisms, etc.

6. Reveal tacitics critics use to confuse, distort, overwhelm.
-So they can feel and recognize them.

7. Focus responses on larger concerns - 2 examples
-JS was a prophet
     (yes he married a 14 year old. What do we know about that and how did it affect his calling? What other evidences do we have about his calling? What spiritual confirmations have we received?)
-Book of Abraham as scripture
     (what do we know about it? what teachings do we have from the book itself that help us? do we cast out baby with bathwater?)

8. With focus on larger concerns it is emotionally OK to introduce any evidence on the larger subject so you can look at evidences that affirm truthfulness.

9. Once faith begins to return encourage practices that fortify spiritual strength
-continued study
 (humility will help us gain perspective)

10. Engender trust by answering the questions. As faith returns, doing this will be much easier as they will be more prone to find the faith than the fear.

11. If you don't know the answer, don't pretend, admit it. Go find answer.
-Ask the Apologist
-FAIR Wiki, etc.

12. Pray! Power of faith can perform miracles.

Another comment from a web user on that blog mentioned above:

"I was inactive from the Church from my late teens until the age of 31. When I finally returned my righteous mother told me that she always knew that I would come back. I asked her how she could have known that. Her reply was, “I never once went to bed without asking the Lord to watch over you and bring you back.” When she said that I had flashbacks of several situations that I had been in during that time that should have totally destroyed me ether physically or spiritually. The Spirit told me that I was preserved and guided back because of the faithful prayers of my righteous, loving, mother. The faithful prayers of a loving parent, relative or friend has great power."

How Do I Stay Strong?

-Balance faith-affirming influences, scriptures, prayer, etc.
-Get support
-Never let what you DON'T know obscure what you DO know.
-Focus on your relationship with God, not the daily ups and downs of what we do or don't have answers to.
-Having a "Questions" shelf.
-Spiritual renewal - do those things that provide spiritual experiences.
-Avoid "fundamentalism" and "skepticism" [as guiding principle]. Believing Too much vs. Too little. Don't prescribe for others what they must believe and have flexibility.


1. Providing Transfusion Materials
-addressing potentially troubling aspects within faithful context

2. Local Chapters
-people throughout the church on local level helping to spread resources.

3. International Firesides and Conferences

4. Segmented Attention
-FAIR's Rising Generation, youth group.
-Language sites (German, Spanish, etc.)

5. Current Technology
-twitter, facebook, blogs, youtube, podcasts

6. Publishing and Production
-News alerts
-FAIR Journal

Close with 2 examples of people who wrote to FAIR to thank FAIR for help. This is our only reward. Noone at FAIR is paid aside from a book store manager.

One from a 19 year old who is preparing for a mission. This individual ran into anti-Mormon claims and struggled. He almost rejected his mission call and hardended against thew Spirit. He had real stumbling blocks but found help at FAIR. He spent months reading and had more info from both sides, realized the church MAY be true, humbled self, asked God again and God reaffirmed his faith.

The second was a 32 year old person who felt FAIR helped him in his conversion process.

It all comes down to the Spirit helping the doubt dissipate. The Holy Ghost is the key. 

Q: I think you may misunderstand the purpose of

A: I might, you might be right. My main concern is that I do want people to remain in the church. I am simply leery about encouraging people to stay despite not believing in any of the claims, etc. [incomplete typing]

Q: Curriculum is approved by First Pres. and 12, can't we call it official?

A: Sure, of course. But they are not definitive, the yare not perfect. They are here to help lead people to Christ. In that process some of the things in our history will be subject to correction. Consider McConkie's Mormon Doctrine, it had mistakes. If he can make mistakes, I guess even Dan Peterson can!

August 6, 2009

Robert White: On Being an Apologist- Imperatives, Predicaments, Perils, and Blessings

As my public ministry came to an end and I wondered what I would do with my time, I was very fortunate to be introduced to FAIR. And to encounter faithful LDS who are working without formal calling, but with a divine mandate, to defend the truth of the restored gospel. It has been a miracle to watch, and to feel the presence of the Spirit when people have spoken of things which can save souls. There is no place I would rather have been.

I apologize I am not wearning a tie, but I have waited 40 years to be able to speak to Saints without wearing one, and this country of yours is hot! [Applause]

[Talked a little about Canada/US relations, a few funny stories.]

A few thoiughts of mine serve only as seeds to greater thoughts of your own as you search further. We have been educated and touched by people who know what they have to say and that what they say is right. We can be certain, by what is apparent to the bretheren, that still, on the earth, among all nations, sects, parties and denominations, thousands and thousands are only kept from the truth because they do not know where to find it, and we know there is another bunch doing their utmost to stop them from finding it.

My family was part of the 1st Presbytyrian Church. That's where I heard of God. We were Scottish Presbyterians. I thank God for the Reverend J. MacBeth Miller, Who showed me that God is real, and that He loves me.

I asked him when the wings will grow on our backs and how will we get our clothes on. He said "Aye, Laddie, that's a mystery of God!"

I am aware as a LDS who does apologetics thatt here are very fine people who are not of our faith, and so I am not at all ashamed about being a LDS apologist. But how in the world did we ever get into this, what were we thinking? it is sometimes maligned even by members of the Church. Some want to know why we are even apologizing. Others think we should be forever apologizing to them. We know our conspiracy to take over the world is probably something to apologize. Well, we ought to apologize when we make mistakes. [Shows picture of Bill Maher flipping the bird. For reals.]

I believe we are mandated by heaven to be apologists. I believe there are 3 references in revelations that seem to address something only FAIR can do, and does.

1. "Confound thine enemies. Inasmuch as ye are faithful their shame shall be made manifest. Wherefore let them bring their strong reasons, no weapon formed against thee shall prosper..." (See D&C 71:7-11.)

Revelation from when JS went from Kirtland to Hiram about 60kms. (Or 35 miles since you don;t know the distances in the mother country). Many revelations and translation of the Bible was done in John Johnson home. They were told to do some apologetic work. Ezra Booth, joined church because of a miracle, and then quit because there weren't enough miracles, has the distinction of making the first anti-Mormon blog. He published in the Ohio Star. He was soon joined by Simonds Ryder, though I can't quite remember how to spell it. By the way there's a spelling error on his tombstone, I think that was inspired!) The church doesn't engage institutionally in confounding enemies but we can do it. We don't seek debates and fights, we provide answers. Let them bring their strong reasons. Their new book on the Spalding manuscript, (God help us...) George Smith's thing about polygamy, DNA that was supposed to be the end of the Church, Hofmann's salamander letter. I was bishop of student ward when it happened, some poor man and his wife said they were leaving the church at the time, and one of my counselors asked what we would do. I said it is very simple. If the letter is genuine the church isn;t true. He said that is bold. I said, well, the church is true, so we can consider the letter a fake.

The true defense is in ensuring people receive a testimony.

We are the line in the sand. We don't promulgate or declare doctrine, we are not officially assigned by the Church, we do not seek fights, but we are Latter-day Saints, true to the truth that our parents have cherished and true to the truth that for martyrs have perished. We put up a barrier that says this far, no further. And so in Elder Maxwell's memorable statement, we protect those fragile souls whose faith may falter.

2. "And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith." (D&C 88:118-119)

Second Mandate, after dedication of Kirtland Temple. This verse shows what we are learning for. "As all have not faith." These people have not brought their knowledge to show off, but to help those who have not faith, who can get to the point where they can have faith, because to some it is given to know and to some it is given to believe on their words.

I hope that you feel the Holy Spirit bear witness to you that you have been divinely mandated to do what you do and may God bless you in it.

3. "Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will and bring to pass much righteousness. For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good, they shall in no wise lose their reward. (D&C 58:27-28).

Third mandate, and all of us know what it is. Joseph in August of 1831 determined where Zion should be. The placement of a cornerstone of a temple there. People questioning him about everything so he went to the Lord and he received a revelation. No apologies for that.

As I made the transition from General Authority to try to pitch in however I can, I saw very quickly that the adversary knows he has to destroy you or lose the war, and that you stand between him and many of his objectives. That won't go to your heads because you wouldnb't be here if it did. But apologetics is extremely dangerous work. We can't do it just like CS Lewis did, and we love Lewis, "We quote him often, and even occasionally in context." Here'ssomething he said:

"I have found that nothing is more dangerous to one's own faith than the work of an apologist. No doctrine of that Faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended in a public debate. For a moment, you see, it has seemed to rest on oneself: as a result, when you go away from that debate, it seems no stronger than that weak pillar. That is why we apologists take our lives in our hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments, as from our intellectual counters, into the Reality-- from Christian apologetics into Christ Himself. That also is why we need one another's continual help--oremus pro invincem." -CSL (The Joyful Christian: 127 Readings by C. S. Lewis, Simon & Schuster, pp. 184-185.)

We must not let apologestics become our faith, we must not let it stop us. We are first and foremost Latter-day Saints.

"For behold, God has said, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent, it profiteth him nothing."

The Lord wants us to test the fruit, taste and see. As good as it looks, if you taste it, you'll know. Be so very careful with where you go to learn. Some groups like to sit around at certain places and ridicule. How can they sit around and laugh about a talk about boys and factories and sit around and laugh, and theyve never had to counsel the boys and try to save souls. Instead we look for a club to sit around and complain about things all the time.

We must be courageous enough to enunciate our doubts and resolve them, as Brother Barney says.

I saw a blog talking about a mistake in one of the manuals. A dear young brother, who knows a lot, whipped out his phone and confirmed there was a mistake in the manual, so he texted his friend, and he texted another person, etc. And I worriede that all they took home was a mistake in the teachers manual. There's more to it, of course, referring to the Marsh story (maybe it makes him look better than it should!) but is that all they took home? 

Sometimes the intentions are good but the results arenot the best. So I wonder about this inoculation concept. How are we going to know what viruses we should inoculate against, and for whom? An inoculation that may be good for the first chap in line may not be good for the next fellow.

We need to appreciate the fact that our people begin to think that every expectation they have will be met. To think that we deserve to know the answers to all questions or that we do know them is dangerous ground. So I wonder, do the Latter-day Saints need inoculating? Or do they need transfusions?

The announcement has been made that Gospel Principles will be the next manual and I know there have been complaints. But we need to understand that what is happening is not inoculate, but to transfuse the basics back into the Saints.

When Saints see JS translated using a hat they wonder what the deal is. For one person it becomes a doubt, for another it becomes a question. What makes the difference? As thinking Laytter-day Saints they will want to settle the question, but it will not deprive them of their testimony of the truth.

Now I know some of you may be worried that I have fallen into the trap of the warm fuzzies. You know on the message boards we try to get people to join the church by warm fuzzies. Nothing could be further from the truth, because one must first hear the word from one who is truly sent and then act upon it. That leads to faith in Jesus Christ, not to an explanation to how the Book of Mormon was dictated, or why section 5 has two verses with the wording changed, or why the rod of nature became the rod of Aaron, or all the rest of it. It leads  them to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And experience shows if they have that faith they can get out of a boat in the middle of a storm and walk on water. Now of course there is some sinking, why didst thou doubt, but emeber the Lord reached out and grabbed his hand and brought him back.

FAIR stands as an example that we know these things and that we know there are answers or that it is ok./ And that is how FAIR is saving souls. Hopefully it leads to rependtance, to increased faith, to baptism, then the Holy Ghost, which most often settles gently, but does sometimes come with such a communitive joy that it feels as though our hearts are bruning, and sometimes it is a voice so stil and small.

Well, that's the process that appears to be the Lord's plan. And as we have confidence in the Church making available the things we heard of from Brother Barney, making research available to all, keep in mind the 3 mandates. It is another testimony to me that this organization has come together as by the hand of the Lord. It is spoken of with unreserved praise by the bretheren.

Well,I guess we do have warm fuzzy feelings. But it is so supernal that if one hasn;t experienced it, one can;t explain it.

Well, these are just some things to think about.

"The gift of the Holy Ghost comes after one repents and becomes worthy. The Holy Ghost bears witness of the truth and impresses upon the soul the reality of God and Christ so deeply that no earthly power or authority can separate him from that knowledge.e" -Pres. Faust, a little paraphrased, Ensign April 1996 p. 4.

Learn line upon line, and express gratitude for the men and women of FAIR who have learned and taught because all of us have not faith, and may we maintain a firm determination to help each other. Now I sit next to you as a brother in sacrament meeting. But when the end of my public ministry came the Lord did not erase from my mind that which had changed from a testimony to a witness. My beloved friends, I know that the Lord Jesus Christ lives and is our Savior. And that Joseph was his prohet and that Thomas S. Monson is. I know that. I bear witness of it in the name of the God of Israel, Amen.

Q: What do you think of academic works such as Brother Bushman's book?

A: What I think of it is altogether irrelevant. What is important is faith in the Lord, an abiding testimony.