Me & Mormons — Part 8

After my first discussion with the LDS missionaries I got a true introduction to anti-Mormon literature. But I didn’t get it from Anti-Mormons. In a quest to find better answers to my questions I started doing Internet searches. That’s how I came across FAIR, The Foundation for Apologetics Information and Research. FAIR is a Mormon apologetics organization that runs a website with answers to tough questions and used to run an internet message board (which is now independently run by the same people).

It was through FAIR that I found much more sophisticated and accurate arguments against the historicity of the Book of Mormon and the prophetic status of Joseph Smith. To be fair to FAIR (no pun intended) there are plenty of bad anti-Mormon arguments and some of the more popular ones are the bad ones. So I give them props for effectively dismissing the bad arguments. But the good arguments were only strengthened in my mind by the mediocre responses to them. It seemed the best FAIR could offer were arguments for people who already believed in Mormonism that either were distractions from the main point or appeals to why it didn’t matter. The other technique they employed quite a bit was to deny what Mormons have traditionally believe and claim that a new position is what the church/Book of Mormon/Joseph Smith had always taught.

The missionaries didn’t come around for a couple of weeks. I think they were discouraged and wrote me off of their prospect list.

They did tell me that one of the reasons no one seemed all that interested in President Hinckley’s talk at the temple dedication was that they hear him twice a year during General Conference. So it wasn’t all that novel to the average Mormon. General Conference happened to roll around in this time, so I decided to tune in for a little bit. I think I caught the tail end of the first day. President Hinckley implored the listening audience to encourage their friends and neighbors to tune in for the next day’s session. Within 30 minutes of hearing those words I got a call from one of the missionaries.

In our conversation I asked if I could visit a Sunday service with them. I also asked if they would be interested in visiting my church in return. (we have a Saturday night service so I knew that they wouldn’t have to miss their own service to attend mine). The missionaries agreed and we began to make plans. . .

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30 thoughts on “Me & Mormons — Part 8

  1. “…deny what Mormons have traditionally believed and claim that a new position is what the church/Book of Mormon/Joseph Smith had always taught.”

    That frustrates me too.

    And I’m still surprised by the reception of Hinckley that you witnessed.

  2. I think it’s interesting that the church doesn’t seam content anymore to let FAIR do it’s talking online as it has for years. (Not that FAIR is technically affiliated with the church, I don’t believe). The LDS church is heavily involved in projects such as lds.net to try to facilitate interaction between members and those of other/no faith on a more personal level.

    So if you only you had done this a year later, you probably would have encountered moving testimonies instead of the FAIR site, in which case you’d no doubt be converted.:)

    When I was a missionary I was always concerned about how investigators would react to general conference (especially since they had to view it through translation), so I’ll be interested to read your reaction and I’ll save any further commentary on that for later.

  3. Oh, I don’t think I had much more to comment on General Conference except that there clearly is a dry monotonous pattern of delivery that everyone is compelled to copy. From an outsiders perspective you wonder why they’re all talking like that.

    And I’m still surprised by the reception of Hinckley that you witnessed.

    Yeah, I’ve gone back to my memories several times to confirm my experience just to make sure. There was an excitement about being there, but when he actually started to talk everyone around us appeared quite bored.

  4. Wow, I went on lds.net for the first and only time. What a steaming pile of smug, arrogant Mormon crap.

  5. Kullervo,

    Disclaimer at the bottom of LDS.net homepage:

    “LDS.Net is not owned by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon Church or LDS Church). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. The views expressed by individual users are the responsibility of those users and do not necessarily represent the position of the More Good Foundation. For the official Church websites, please visit LDS.org and Mormon.org.”

    At least the address is being occupied by something pro-Mormon rather than some anti site or a cheap porn website.

  6. BJH, If you were responding to me, I didn’t mean to imply that there was an official affiliation between FAIR and LDS. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

    Tim, I agree that the delivery is dry. The strange thing is that, in my experience, most of the time when general authorities of the church visit local wards, it is generally pretty interesting and they are generally pretty good speakers (contrary to your experience with President Hinckley). But for some reason for General Conference they must give a class on how how to speak like that.

    Kullervo, I just came across lds.net yesterday, so I don’t know much about it, but I do know that it was started by an organization called “The More Good Foundation” which I believe is affiliated with BYU. So if that’s the case then it’s affiliated to the Church via two indirections. But even if the church isn’t directly involved, statements by church leaders recently have encouraged members to getting involved in blogging and online communities as a means of sharing their faith. That’s why I was refering to in my statement in #3 (and re-reading my comment, “heavily involved” probably isn’t technically accurate).

    And after looking around for a while I found it uninteresting and confusing. But then again I find facebook like that too (which lds.net likes to compare itself to in some ways) so maybe I just don’t “get it”.

  7. Mike L., I was mostly responding to the “I don’t believe” part of your comment, because for anyone to think that FAIR is officially affiliated with the Church could be destructive on many levels. Those who write for FAIR speak about as officially as I do (that is, not at all).

    Growing up I thought that everyone at General Conference sounded alike, but since I have picked up on the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) nuances of the different speakers. In fact, this reveals a lot about me, once when listening to General Conference on the radio and not knowing who was speaking next I could tell that it was Elder Holland from the way he drew his breath before starting to speak.

    But that’s just me, and I’m probably pretty unique (to say the very least).

  8. Some people point to how boring church as evidence of its truthfulness. . . . if the church wasn’t true the boring meetings would have driven the members away long ago. 🙂

  9. More Good Foundation = FAIR. They are different organizations, but it’s the same people funding and driving both of them.

    About 3 years ago when you typed “Mormonism” into a search engine, you would have to scroll down to actually find the official LDS site. More Good was started as a way to combat the fact that most of the stuff going up on the internet contained information that was actually detrimental to the church.

  10. BJH, OK, thanks for the clarification on FAIR. And I would consider Elder Holland to be an exception to what I said previously. But I take your point.

    Tim, while I’m sure there is some overlap in the funding sources for FAIR and MGF, I think it’s a leap to say that they are the same. The differ at least in their strategy. FAIR is more of a defense of Mormonism, while MGF appears to be more of an offense to get the Mormon viewpoint out on the Internet more. Sure, they can be viewed as part of the same team, but certainly they are different parts. Maybe we just disagree on semantics.

    Also, as for lds.net, I understand that their is no official affliation, but there is evidence that they are cooperating at least unofficially.

  11. Those link buttons don’t mean anything. I can make up 20 graphic buttons myself and have them point at my church’s website. They don’t mean my church endorses what I do, just that I endorse what they do.

  12. I have never been a member of the “Mormon” church, but I have rented from them since January of 1987. I have thanked God many times for that church. Something that I have not done for any other church. I write the following because I care enough about its members, and others, to do so.

    There is no valid priesthood authorized by God in that church. Its prophet/president is false. Many have been, and are being deceived. Church history and scripture has been distorted by the authorities of that church. Its founders were excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and went on to form another church without a valid priesthood, calling it the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:

    “Nine days before his martyrdom, Joseph received and wrote a revelation containing this calling, and put it in the confidential archives of the Church. At the same time he sent the appointment to James in a letter. At the very moment of Joseph’s death he was ordained according to the Law of God, and has from that time filled the office. Only two of the Twelve, John E. Page, and William Smith, acknowledged his calling, and the others being tried and condemned, their places were filled.” (Extracted from the 1856 edition of the Book of the Law of the Lord p. 224)

    People have been beaten up and possibly even killed getting this information out:

    “We learn that on Monday last a very serious row occurred in Nauvoo, between the followers of the Twelve and those of the Wisconsin Prophet.
    As our readers are already informed, the new Prophet has made considerable inroads into the Church at Nauvoo. Lately he obtained a new Revelation in relation to the succession, and sent some Messengers to the Holy City to read it to the people. This they attempted on Monday last, but were surrounded by a mob who attempted to drive them from the city–Whereupon a row ensued, in which clubs were used freely. The Twelveites gained the victory and drove their opponents from the ground.” (Burlington Hawkeye Burlington, Ia. Feb. 12, 1846.)

    FAIR, and other moderated websites have prevented a fair debate of this information. Most un-moderated websites have been taken over by anti-Mormons, who play into the hands of the “Mormon” church.

  13. Rick, the problem with your position is this:

    1. Non-Mormons like me don;t belive Joseph Smith was a prophet at all, so we certainly don’t think James Strang was one. We reject the whole bag, regardless of whether Young or Strang was Joseph Smith’s successor. We don’t belive in the existence of “the priesthood” as you’re talking about it, so we don’t care which splinter group claims to have it.

    2. Mormons, for all kinds of reasons, don’t even believe that it would have been possible for Strang to be the real successor of Smith. Yeah, it’s kind of a case of the tail wagging the dog, but the general consensus is that the prophet can;t lead the Church away, and that the majority of the Twelve is always reliable in case of an argument.

  14. Tim, ok you win.:)

    I guess I assumed that lds.net didn’t come up with those images themselves. They all look pretty familiar to me so I assumed they must have gotten them from the church (in which case they must have gotten permission, which implies cooperation), but I can’t prove that so it’s all speculation on my part.

  15. I know that I am not the best of writer, but on December, 29 2007 I wrote:

    “I believe that the Book of Mormon is true, and that James J. Strang was Joseph Smith’s legal successor. I do not believe that there is any valid priesthood on the earth at this time, or rather, I don’t know of any valid priesthood.” (see https://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2007/05/30/the-strange-case-of-james-strang/#comment-3211)

    I am not trying to promote a church.

    D&C 107:27
    27. And every decision made by either of these quorums must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions, in order to make their decisions of the same power or validity one with the other–

    After the death of Joseph Smith Jr. the Apostles William Smith, Lyman Wight, and John E. Page all objected to the leadership of Brigham Young. Lyman Wight went to Texas, and John E. Page and William Smith joined with James J. Strang. Therefor, there was not an “unanimous voice of the same.”

    The “Mormons” don’t have any reasons to have followed Brigham Young. They just didn’t know any better. Until recently, this information has been suppressed. The Internet has changed all that. Now, those who seek for Truth have a much better chance of finding it.

    If you are comfortable with the ism that you are apart of–be it atheism, mormonism or any other ism that you can think of–great, I wish you all the luck. I am trying to reach those who are interested in Truth, not fables; those who believe that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith Jr. was a true prophet of God; those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Not those who have rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  16. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints– I think it is really sad that there is so much anti-literature out there about my faith. So many people dedicate their lives to tearing down my beliefs. But in a strange way I find that to be a testimony to it, of course satan would work against the true church. There is opposition in all things.

    A lot of the anti-mormon literature comes from misinterpretations, and mostly from quoting people who are not necessarily authorities.

    If you look at who puts out the anti-mormon pamphlets and who makes the websites many of them are excommunicated members who broke commandments and are bitter about losing their church status.

  17. lucy23 wrote: “…of course satan would work against the true church.”

    By writing what she did, lucy23 is fulfilling Book of Mormon prophecy:

    “For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord.” (2 Nephi 28:3.)

  18. Lucy,

    Your comments are naive. Do you really think that everyone who leaves the church does it because of sin? And do you realize how offensive that is, and how judgmental?

    I respect your beliefs that the LDS church is the true church. I don’t think it is a testimony of the truthfulness of the church that people don’t think it’s true… that’s like saying that because a lot of people think that the Moonies are a cult, that must be the true church.

  19. I did not say that everyone who leaves the church does so because of sin. Neither did I say that all those who oppose the church were once members. I merely said that many of the people who do produce the anti-mormon literature are excommunicated members. I know several of them, they have told me they are upset for being kicked out and want to get as many people to leave as possible.

    I didn’t mean to imply that this was a universal thing, just something that I find peculiar.

    And as for Rick’s comments– I don’t see how I’m fulfilling that prophecy. I wasn’t arguing that I was right and someone else was wrong, I just said that the anti-mormon sentiment expressed by many people doesn’t destroy my faith, it strengthens it– because there is opposition in all things.

    sorry for my misinterpreted comments

  20. I was raised Catholic, and was taught from as far back as I can remember that the Catholic church was/is the “true church.”

    lucy23 wrote: “…of course satan would work against the true church.”

    Now can you see that the following prophecy is being fulfilled:?

    “For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord.” (2 Nephi 28:3.)

    It is much easer to prove that the Utah based “Mormon” church is an apostate church than it is to prove that the Catholic church is an apostate church.

    Through revelation, Joseph Smith Jr. appointed James J. Strang.

    “The President of the church, who is also the President of the council, is appointed by revelation.” (D&C 102:9.)

    Like Joseph Smith Jr., James J. Strang was a seer, revelator, a translator and a prophet.

    “And again, the duty of the President of the office of the high priesthood is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses. Behold here is wisdom–yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator and a prophet –having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church.” (D&C 107:91-92.)

    Through revelation, the oracles were given through Joseph Smith Jr. to James J. Strang.

    “Verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you while thou art in this world, neither in the world to come; nevertheless through you shall the oracles be given to another, even unto the church.” (D&C 90:3-4.)

    This is just a sampling, but should be enough information for those searching for Truth to dig deeper into the subject of successorship.

  21. Reading Rick’s posts is interesting if for no other reason than according to Wikipedia there are only 300 Strangites left.

  22. That wasn’t meant to be snarky. I just find religious history interesting. I recently found out that there are a lot more denominations which trace their history to Joseph Smith than I had thought.

  23. following the stream that runs through the “Temple Lot” is fascinating. They continued to have all kinds of spiritual manifestations that drove a wedge through them.

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