1 Nephi: An Arabian Testament

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In 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith went to his grave testifying of the Book of Mormon. By that point in his life, he had lived in the forests of Vermont and New York, the plains of Ohio and Missouri, and the swampy river bottoms of Nauvoo, Illinois. Yet the publication that defined his life began in a totally different world. The opening chapters of the Book of Mormon have a distinctly Arabian flavor, garnished with some Israelite and Egyptian dressings.

Growing up in the late-7th century BC, Nephi wrote in “the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians” (1 Nephi 1:2). Critics in the 1830s scoffed at the idea of Jews writing in Egyptian, and for decades this particular phrase was difficult even for believers to understand. Now, archaeological finds have uncovered over 200 texts in Israel dating to the 8th–7th centuries BC that use Egyptian script in a distinctive way. The peculiar phrasing of 1 Nephi 1:2 proves to be an apt description of what some scholars are calling “Palestinian hieratic.”

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Book Review: “The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals: Volume 3: May 1843 – June 1844”

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Available from the FairMormon Bookstore at 15% off

In 1992, the second volume of Dean C. Jesse’s “The Papers of Joseph Smith” was published, containing the journal entries of 1832-1842. Many of us waited for years for the third volume, which would cover the remainder of Joseph’s life, before finally finding out that Jesse’s work was being expanded into the Joseph Smith Papers Project. Finally, with the recent release of volume 3 of the Journals series, the journals have all been published.

The volume begins with a timeline of Joseph Smith’s life, maps, an introduction that outlines the events of the last year of a very busy life, and the usual explanation of the editorial method being used for the Joseph Smith Papers Project. It then contains the text of the journals followed by three appendixes which are relevant excerpts from journals kept by Willard Richards and William Clayton detailing Joseph Smith’s activities during this time period. There is also a section of reference materials containing things like a chronology, pedigree chart, glossary, and organizational charts of the church and Nauvoo. There is a full index of all three volumes in the Journals series. (Previous volumes didn’t contain an index due to this planned combined index, but individual indexes can be found online and were provided in print on request.) There are also photos scattered throughout of things like the actual journals, the Kinderhook plates, the first issue of the Nuavoo Neighbor, a list of marriages and sealings that was added at the end of one of the journals later, and the guns in the possession of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage Jail.

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Book Review: “The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon: A Marvelous Work and a Wonder”

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The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon: A Marvelous Work and a Wonder

Available from the FairMormon Bookstore at 15% off

This book contains the papers from the 44th Annual Brigham Young University Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, held in October, 2015. The Sperry Symposium is held annually, and draws most of its speakers from the Church Educational System. Each year’s theme is usually based on the book of scripture that will be studied by LDS adults in the coming year, and this volume fits right in with this year’s Gospel Doctrine study of the Book of Mormon.

The first paper in the book is by Elder Merrill J. Bateman. He gave the keynote speech on “The Coming Forth of Plain and Precious Truths.” He describes many aspects of the gospel that may be only vaguely mentioned in the Bible, but for which we learn much more from the Book of Mormon. Some examples are the plan of salvation, the premortal life, the fall of Adam, the atonement and resurrection, and specific doctrines taught by Christ.

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What did President Kimball think about pressure regarding the pre-1978 priesthood ban?

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There is a school of thought among some who believe that the united voice of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve is mistaken on some point or other (e.g., gay marriage, the sinfulness of homosexual sexual acts, etc.) They then conclude that fixing this problem requires “advocacy”—i.e., public appeals, clamor, protests, or public arguments in favor of altering policy or doctrine. Or, they insist that we need to publicly discuss what “should be done” in these matters, and that such activity is both proper and helpful. (They even, as I discussed yesterday, sometimes claim that God has told them by revelation that the apostles are mistaken, and that God sanctions their public disagreement and advocacy.)

Those who make this argument generally appeal to the change made with the reversal of the pre-1978 priesthood ban. They believe that such behavior was appropriate then, and that it helped President Kimball seek and receive the revelation of 1978.

I think, however, that this fundamentally misunderstands both the history of the priesthood ban and how Church government works. I say this partly out of conviction of how such things are said to work in theory, and partly out of observation for how I’ve seen them work in practice.

President Kimball: the clear expert

But, to me the most compelling argument for that position is what President Kimball himself said about it. If anyone is situated to tell us what would promote or trigger that kind of revelation in these instances, I take it to be him.

What were his views on those who sought to push the matter through advocacy, public dialogue, or such tactics? Were these efforts helpful? Proper?

He did not think so.

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“What Should I Do If I Think I’ve Received Revelation Different from Apostles and Prophets?”

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What ought we to do if we believe we have received revelation that differs with the united voice of the First Presidency and Twelve apostles?

One of the great strengths–and arguably one of the defining features–of LDS doctrine as a belief in on-going revelation, both to Church leaders and individuals members. Members understand that the revelation they receive is only for their areas of stewardship and responsibility.

What should we do, then, in the case where we sincerely believe we have received revelation that tells us that the highest councils of united Church leaders are mistaken?

I here suggest five important principles drawn from apostles and prophets about such situations, which have blessed my life.
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Faith and Reason 64: Four Hundred Year Baktun

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Mayan-Calendar-01

From the book: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith

by Michael R. Ash

The time obsessed Maya measured time by a four hundred year interval known as a baktun. The baktun was made up of the extremely important twenty year sub-interval known as the katun. Not only do we find the four hundred year baktun in the Book of Mormon, but Moroni bids us farewell “Four hundred and twenty years” –or one katun after the final baktun following the sign that was given of the coming of Jesus Christ.

Bamboozled by the CES Letter” can be found here:

http://www.shakenfaithsyndrome.com/bamboozle/bamboozled.pdf

Michael R. Ash is the author of: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting The Prophet Joseph Smith. He is the owner and operator of MormonFortress.com and is on the management team for FairMormon. He has been published in Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the Maxwell Institute’s FARMS Review, and is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt.  He and his wife live in Ogden, Utah, and have three daughters.

Julianne Dehlin Hatton  has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Television Host, News Anchor, and Airborne Traffic Reporter. She graduated with an MSSc from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2008. Julianne and her husband Thomas are the parents of four children.

Music for Faith and Reason is provided by Arthur Hatton.

Gospel Hobbies and the Danger of “All-Consuming Patriotism”

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Recent developments in rural Oregon have prompted Church leaders to respond to the claims of some Latter-day Saints who have taken up arms to protest the actions of the United States federal government.

For over one hundred years, Church presidents and apostles have warned against “religious hobbies” or “gospel hobbies,” which President Joseph F. Smith described as “dangerous because they give undue prominence to certain [gospel] principles or ideas to the detriment and dwarfing of others just as important, just as binding, just as saving” as the doctrines an individual may personally favor (Gospel Doctrine, p. 143).

In 2003 Elder Quentin L. Cook, then a member of the Seventy, explained:

The Lord said regarding important doctrine, “Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me” (D&C 10:68) and “That which is more or less than this cometh of evil” (D&C 124:120). We are looking beyond the mark when we elevate any one principle, no matter how worthwhile it may be, to a prominence that lessens our commitment to other equally important principles or when we take a position that is contrary to the teachings of the Brethren.

(“Looking beyond the Mark,” Ensign, March 2003.)

Warning specifically against the gospel hobby of “all-consuming patriotism,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught in 1992:

Love of country is surely a strength, but carried to excess it can become the cause of spiritual downfall. There are some citizens whose patriotism is so intense and so all-consuming that it seems to override every other responsibility, including family and Church. I caution those patriots who are participating in or provisioning private armies and making private preparations for armed conflict. Their excessive zeal for one aspect of patriotism is causing them to risk spiritual downfall as they withdraw from the society of the Church and from the governance of those civil authorities to whom our twelfth article of faith makes all of us subject.

(“Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, October 1994.)

Faith and Reason 63: Earthquakes and Volcanoes

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sam_lam

In approximately 6 BC, Samuel, the Lamanite prophet, prophesied of Christ’s birth and death and revealed that when the Savior died there would be three days of darkness, great upheavals, and destruction. About forty years later, at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, the Nephites saw the fulfillment of this prophecy (see Helaman 14). From a scientific point of view, the calamities which would fit the description of destruction recorded in the Book of Mormon  would have to be an earthquake followed by a volcanic eruption –which we now know can be triggered by earthquakes. Since the Book of Mormon likely took place in ancient Mesoamerica, it is of interest to note that Mesoamerica lies in an active earthquake zone –a fact that would have been unknown to Joseph Smith.

Michael R. Ash is the author of: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting The Prophet Joseph Smith. He is the owner and operator of MormonFortress.com and is on the management team for FairMormon. He has been published in Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the Maxwell Institute’s FARMS Review, and is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt.  He and his wife live in Ogden, Utah, and have three daughters.

Julianne Dehlin Hatton  has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Television Host, News Anchor, and Airborne Traffic Reporter. She graduated with an MSSc from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2008. Julianne and her husband Thomas are the parents of four children.

Music for Faith and Reason is provided by Arthur Hatton.

The Purpose and Mission of FairMormon

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LynchDo FairMormon volunteers lack empathy? Where does the organization get its money, and who is really pulling the strings behind FairMormon? Julianne Dehlin Hatton proposes these and other questions to Chairman of the Board John Lynch on the Mormon FAIR-Cast.

Lynch is a Silicon Valley executive and convert to the church, who has served as Elders Quorum President, Ward Mission Leader, Stake Mission President and Young Men’s President. He is currently a counselor to the Bishop of his congregation. Hatton is a media personality and event manager from Kentucky. She has been a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Broadcast Journalist, and Airborne Traffic Reporter.

Music for this edition of the Mormon FAIR-Cast is provided by Arthur Hatton.

FairMormon’s Content and Update Policy

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FairMormon stands as a witness of Jesus Christ and His restored Church. Our mission is to answer charges leveled against the Church, its leaders, teachings and practices.

We are an all-volunteer organization. We seek volunteers who agree with our mission and want to help. These individuals contribute with a full understanding of our mission, and know their work may be used or modified as needed in order to achieve our mission. They further understand that the purpose of volunteering is to defend the Church and not to pursue a personal agenda.

Because our priority is our mission and not ourselves, much of FairMormon’s content is generated collaboratively and not attributed to individuals. Some blogs, podcasts, and other content do have attributed authors. Because our volunteer resources are limited, not all content in blogs and podcasts can be carefully reviewed in advance. Therefore, sometimes it is necessary to edit, refine, or even remove already-published content in order to keep it consistent with our mission.

Many of our volunteers contribute content in other venues, such as on personal blogs, in scholarly publications, and in podcasts. When a current or former FairMormon volunteer publishes views that contradict the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or accuses Church leaders of wrongdoing, malicious intent, and so forth, it may become confusing or harmful to FairMormon’s audience, and contrary to FairMormon’s mission, to maintain that volunteer’s content on our website. Because FairMormon is a trusted entity for many Latter-day Saints and sincere investigators, FairMormon must avoid endorsing external content that opposes our mission and the Church’s values.

FairMormon reserves the right to edit or remove content produced by attributed authors in order to ensure that we maintain integrity in our mission. When content is not attributed, there is generally no change to the content we make available to the public.

Our volunteers are never guaranteed their content will never be removed or edited. We try to make sure our volunteers understand that FairMormon’s mission is a higher priority than any individual’s wishes or feeling of pride in his or her contributions. We at FairMormon are not here for ourselves, but to serve the interests of the Lord and His restored Church. We defend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unapologetically in the hopes that our efforts will help sustain the faith of those who visit our site.