Mormon Fair-cast 330: #9 Is the Bible an authentic source of truth?

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i-believe-podcast-karen-239x300In the concluding podcast of this series Karen talks about the prophecies of Jesus. The scriptures consist of 66 books, with over 40 authors, [and] were recorded over a span of 1500 years; they contain heavy prophetic threads. If we just think about a few books—take Daniel, written 500 years before Christ, and the meticulous descriptions of the rise and fall of the empire of Alexander the Great. This just makes us marvel at the consistencies of those prophecies. How about Zachariah, who in advance truly describes the crucifixion of Christ; and Isaiah, of course, writes of how Christ would suffer. Through these miraculous and historical writings, we really come to see the perfect person of Jesus Christ. Dave, welcome. Let’s set the stage for reviewing and sorting through some of these prophecies.

You can find the complete transcript at

This series of podcasts were produced by the “I Believe” podcast group. They are used by permission of Karen Trifiletti the author of this work.

As always the view and opinions expressed in this podcast may not represent those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint or that of FairMormon


RiseUp Podcast – Israel’s Faith Crisis

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From time to time we may hear the term Faith Crisis. Some may even talk about it as if it a new thing. But, there have been others, good men and women, even in ancient scriptures, who have experienced and made it through challenges to their faith. Some stories come from all the way back in the Old Testament.

Israel of the Old Testament, also known as Jacob, was one that was keenly aware of the value and implications of a birthright. Having traded his brother Esau for the birthright, Jacob or Israel, would have been well acquainted with the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant that were attached to the patriarchal order and birthright concept of the time.

Part of the promised blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant is that one would receive a promised land, a place that is set apart from the world by the divine hand of God to be a place of protection, both spiritually and temporally. One LDS Scholar, LeGrand L. Baker, talks about another aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant that articulates the blessing of invulnerability or protection as found in Abraham 2:11 which reads.

11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal

There is a promise that one will be preserved, and that their righteous posterity will be preserved as well. From the time of Abrahamic, to Issac, down to Israel, this has been the case. Generations of righteous posterity had been preserved and protected. For Israel, circumstances were such, that he favored his 11th son, Joseph. Joseph was to inehrit the birthright after Ruben had forfeited it. Joseph was the first son of his second wife, and tradition called for him to be the heir of that birthright. Israel felt that perhaps that promised lineage of the protections and blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant would continue through Joseph.

In consideration of these factors, after Joseph’s brother’s sell him as a slave and bring a bloodied coat back to their father Israel implying that Joseph had been killed, we can see another layer to the suffering Israel must have faced.

It is a sad thing to experience the death of a child. The scripture in Genesis 37:34-35 states that Israel, upon the realization of his son Joseph’s death:

rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.

And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.”

Not only had his son died, but it would appear that by all that was in front of Jacob, that the Lord’s promises of protection and for a righteous posterity were broken. This child of promise had died. How else could Israel see what had taken place. In his old age, a son that showed promise had been taken from him. Israel may have even felt some sense of guilt as it was he who sent Joseph out to his brothers, some 45 miles away.

Israel may have lost his son, but to a certain extent, he probably experienced a loss of faith as a result of what he felt took place.

As the story continued, we find that even years later after Joseph had been preserved multiple times by the hand of the Lord while living in Egypt, Israel was still hurting from the loss of his son Joseph. In fact, it was something like 20 years later before Israel was told that Joseph was alive and was then reunited with his father.

How that must have felt to Israel to see his initial faith in the Lord’s promise sustained after all those years. After years of pain from what he perceived as a great and terrible loss, the Lord was able to show his Hand in the keeping of his covenants. To Israel it would appear to be as if his son had been risen from the dead, a miracle explainable by either extreme coincidence or improbable odds, or the divine hand of the Lord.

How then can we see more from Israel’s story of redemption and salvation?

On the LDS Church’s website, is found the statement under the topic of Abrahamic Covenant:

A person can receive all the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant—even if he or she is not a literal descendant of Abraham—by obeying the laws and ordinances of the gospel

As one completes the ordinances of the gospel, including and up to being sealed in the temple, families become under the abrahamic covenant. These are individuals taught by faithful leaders to come to love the Lord and his promises. While there is nothing in the covenant that says that trials and hard times will be kept at bay, some will see these hard times as a sign that God has forgotten them, or is punishing them, or is breaking his word.

Much like Israel, there might seem to be overwhelming evidence that God’s promise was of no value or was broken. But, like Israel, we can see that God’s hand is watching over all his Children. The ways in which God answers our prayers or keeps his promises may seem allusive, or impossible. Even if we see how God’s promises may be fulfilled, it may not be the way He has chosen to fulfill his promises. However, similar to Israel and his son Joseph, the Lord does keep his promises. Sometimes it may take 20 years, sometimes it may take a week; but the Lord will keep his promises.


Fair Issues 75: How did Noah’s ark and Jaredite barges get light and air?

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MAThe story of Noah, or some equivalent figure, is found in a wide array of ancient non-biblical literature and could have easily have been known to the ancient Jaredites.  Some of these traditions about the Ark – or “deluge boat” – contain details and oddities not found in the Bible.

In this podcast brother Ash talks about how the Jaredite barges along with Noah’s ark may have been built to not only withstand the strong winds of sea travel but to also allow proper ventilation and light during their voyages.

The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.

Brother Ash is author of the book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, as well as the book, of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both books are available for purchase online through the FairMormon Bookstore. Tell your friends about the Mormon Fair-Cast. Share a link on your Facebook page and help increase the popularity of the Mormon Fair-Cast by subscribing to this podcast in iTunes, and by rating it and writing a review.

The views and opinions expressed in the podcast may not reflect those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or that of FairMormon



RiseUp Podcast: Small and Simple Truths Blog Interview

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In this episode of the RiseUp podcast, Blake sits down with some young adults who are called as digital missionaries in their stake. As digital missionaries they share articles and testimony on a blog called

These youth talk about being called as digital missionaries, and what it means to defend your beliefs online, as well as sharing your testimony with strangers. They talk about how they were able to overcome the fears they had and how this calling has blessed their lives and the lieves of their readers.


Faith and Reason 32: Raw Meat in the Book of Mormon

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

by Michael R. Ash

After turning east at Nahom and continuing their journey to Bountiful, we read that the Lehites suffered many afflictions and had to live on “raw meat” because they were not to make fire frequently (1 Nephi 17:12). Early critics found this strange because little was known about ancient Arabia when they made this charge. According the Near Eastern archaeologist Dr. Jeffery Chadwick, the Lehites probably didn’t make much fire because of the lack of firewood and kindling and because they probably travelled in the cool of the night and rested during the day when no fires for visibility were needed. Dr. Hugh Nibley wrote that many desert travelers ate goat and sheep kidney raw –with a bit of salt. Others ate entire slices of flesh raw, or scorched it quickly over a small fire. In either Nibley or Chadwick’s scenario, the actions of the Lehites and their eating of “raw meat” are consistent with what we now know about ancient Arabian travelers.

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 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  is a broadcast journalist living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Radio and Television Host, 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.

Articles of Faith: Samuel M. Brown – First Principles and Ordinances (Book)

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headshot-MikeStack-2014-09-24-art-background-croppedSAMUEL M. BROWN is Assistant Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Medical Ethics and Humanities at the University of Utah and an intensive care physician in the Shock Trauma ICU at Intermountain Medical Center. His award-winning book In Heaven as It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early  Mormon Conquest of Death was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. He is also translator of Aleksandr Men’s Son of Man: The Story of Christ and Christianity. Here is here today to talk about his book First Principles and Ordinances: The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple being published by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.

Questions addressed in this interview:

Your book addresses, among other things, the topic of faith, but your journey through your own faith crisis becomes an important backdrop for your perspective as a writer. Perhaps you could give the cliff notes version of that to set the stage.

Your book is part of the Living Faith Book Series that is being put out by the Maxwell Institute at BYU. As I understand the series as a whole, and therefore part of the feel and function of your book, is the reconciliation of faith and knowledge which is particularly notable challenge some are having in discourse about Mormonism. How do you seek to approach the challenge of reconciling faith and knowledge with your book?

There is a statement that opens the promotional one-sheet that I received on your book that was quite gripping and thought provoking. I don’t know if you wrote it or if it was someone with the publishing side of this effort, but I want to share it and give you a chance to expound upon that in context of your book: “Familiarity can lead to a kind of blindness in life and in religion. The first principles and ordinances of the Latter-day Saint gospel are particularly at risk for misunderstanding through such familiar neglect.”

While not set up in such a way that it addresses critical questions that some may have about the church, there is a sort of positive apologetic angle, almost devotional feel to your book. Is that a fair assessment?

Your book addresses active faith initially. This is something that I have been studying and feeling for years now so it was nice to see some confirmation in your writings to that idea. You speak of two main models of faith at least the way Latter-day Saints talk about Faith, what are those two models?

RiseUp Podcast: Helping People in Faith Crisis

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Faith Crisis is a term describing a period of time or event where someone has serious doubts about their belief’s. You may have even experienced a faith crisis yourself. But how are we to approach those who are experiencing or have experienced this “faith crisis?” We have a few ideas….

There is a website called Millennial Mormon’s. It is a blog site that posts some decent articles but does so from a perspective and understanding shared by the rising generation, those of you who are in seminary or institute programs. The tag line of the site is “your grandpa’s gospel, now with #hashtags.

On that site was posted an article by Tanner Gilliland on November 4th, 2014. The article is entitled, “4 “DO NOTs” for Treating People in a Faith Crisis.” I actually found the article to be a pretty good opening reference that addresses some of the things that we may find ourselves doing or thinking with respect to people that experience a faith crisis. While I don’t agree with all the assertions they are minor and I trust that you will be smart enough and in tune enough to take in the correct spirit of the article, and not haggle over a couple of words.

4 “DO NOTs” for Treating People in a Faith Crisis


With more and more information becoming available on the internet, more and more people are asking important questions about the church and its history. Sometimes these questions lead to serious doubts. Many of these doubts and concerns are not easily solved and require much prayerful effort, patience, and study.

Some people feel that they can’t find adequate answers to their questions so they leave the church. This usually is not an easy decision for them. Some lose friends or family, and others even lose their employment.

It is imperative that faithful members of the church, particularly millennials, learn how to appropriately interact with those who wrestle with doubt. To that end, I have created this list of things NOT to do when someone you know raises serious questions about religion:

1) Do NOT assume they are sinning

While sin is certainly darkens our minds, it is not always the cause of doubt. We must eliminate the stigma that those who doubt have some lurking evil, and that those who leave the church were just looking for a way out. This unrighteous judgment can be both harmful to us (it is a sin) and detrimental to the person we are judging.

2) Do NOT pretend that you know all the facts

Our religion is very complex. There are aspects of our doctrine and history that are very difficult to understand and we don’t claim to know all the answers. People who are deeply concerned with these issues have often given them many hours of study and consideration, so the “seminary answers” often don’t quite cut it. Rather than throwing out platitudes, try to understand their perspective. Share what you know and understand, and acknowledge that you don’t know everything. Always be honest.

3) Do NOT belittle their concerns

As one who ventures “down the rabbit hole” so to speak, I can testify of the frustration that comes when someone tells you not to worry so much. If we believe that our religious convictions will affect the our eternal destiny then of course we should worry about getting it right! What seems like a minuscule molehill to you may be a monstrous mountain for another. We can’t solve problems by ignoring them. Remember that our religion started with a boy who had some serious religious questions. Instead of disregarding the question, listen to the concerns and help find the answers.

4) Do NOT ostracize them

Though this is the last item, it is probably the most important. Nobody should feel like they aren’t able to express their concerns for fear of losing friends or family. Our love cannot be conditional upon someone’s level of belief. Christlike love is unconditional.To individuals with spouses whose beliefs are different, remember the counsel of Paul: “And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband.” (1 Cor 7:13-14)People need your love, not your diagnosis. Expressing doubt or even leaving the church does not equate to being a bad person. In the end, even the acts of good by atheists will be accounted to them as righteousness. God’s love does not have a membership number or require a temple recommend. Neither should ours.From the Joseph Smith Papers project to the video about temple clothing, the church is taking progressive steps toward transparency and more open dialogue about controversial issues. I believe that our generation will be instrumental in continuing that trend. Let us always be quick to lend a listening ear, a supportive shoulder, and most importantly, an open heart.”

– End Article –

Wether you know someone right now experiencing some challenges to their faith or not, you will likely encounter someone in the not so distant future. So it is best to have this information and resource at the ready should this come up.

Should you be experiencing a faith crisis right now yourself, and someone is not following these 4 basic principles, try to do your best to also extend the same level of understanding you want others to have with you. Take these 4 things and reverse them…with a slight adjustment.

1) Don’t assume that people are judging you harshly.

2) Don’t assume that people know nothing about faith challenges – many go through them, and many come through them with even stronger faith than when they entered the faith crisis.

3) Do not belittle people who are trying to show concern but may not be the best at being crisis counselors.

4) Do not ostracize yourself. I once heard the analogy that the worst time to leave the storm shelter is when the hurricane is passing over you. In other words, if you are having a faith crisis and you are scared or upset and don’t know where to turn for help or answers, it is best to not leave the church, the source of strength that you need to help you through this time, especially when you are in the middle of the trial.

We don’t always know how to respond to people when they encounter difficulties in life, wether they be faith related or not. So, remember to be patient with others, as you would want them to be patient with you.

In conclusion I want to share with you a thought that was kind of sneaky from the October 2014 General Conference. Elder Anderson gave a talk and in the foot note of that talk was a quote from President Eyring that says this about how to approach those in faith crisis:

“In your love for them you may decide to try to give them what they ask. You may be tempted to go with them through their doubts, with the hope that you can find proof or reasoning to dispel their doubts. Persons with doubts often want to talk about what they think are the facts or the arguments that have caused their doubts, and about how much it hurts… You and I can do better if we do not stay long with what our students see as the source of their doubts… Their problem does not lie in what they think they see; it lies in what they cannot yet see… We do best if we turn the conversation soon to the things of the heart, those changes of heart that open spiritual eyes.”

(“‘And Thus We See’: Helping a Student in a Moment of Doubt” [address to Church Educational System religious educators, Feb. 5, 1993], 3, 4


Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Vol. 3: Review

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JSP Docs V3_CoverThe Joseph Smith Papers Project has recently released volume 3 of the Documents series, as announced on its newly designed and updated website. This new volume covers the years 1833–34 of Joseph Smith’s life and ministry, and is a rich collection of important primary source materials related to the Church in Kirtland, Ohio and Jackson County, Missouri during this time.

The new volume is edited by Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, Brent M. Rogers, Grant Underwood, Robert J. Woodford, and William G. Hartley. Alison Palmer is the leader editor on the editorial staff for this volume.

As the manager of the FairMormon blog, I was invited along with other bloggers to an event highlighting the release of the new volume and was graciously granted a review copy for this blog post.

According to Dirkmaat, there is “a great diversity of the types of documents in this volume.” Types of documents included in the new volume include letters, minutes, deeds, revelations, notes, and, for the first time in any volume of the Joseph Smith Papers, a transcription of architectural drawings for such things as the plat of the city of Zion and the Kirtland House of the Lord designs. Color images of the documents included in the new volume will be available on the Joseph Smith Papers website in the future.

Dirkmaat also discussed exciting documents in the new volume like the March 18, 1833 minutes of “an assembly of the high Priests” in Kirtland that collectively saw a “heavenly vision of the saviour and concourses of angels and many othe[r] thing[s].” The new volume also contains important documents relating to the violence inflicted against the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, during the summer of 1833. This includes the July 29, 1833, letter of John Whitmer to Church leaders in Kirtland describing the violence in Jackson County and Joseph Smith’s reply written on August 18, 1833, entirely in his own hand. Brent Rogers described the significance of these texts. “The documents series is great because you see a chronological unfolding of Joseph Smith’s life,” Rogers explained. “You also learn about his contemporaries, including some lesser-known members and individuals.”

In addition to the new volume, the Joseph Smith Papers today launched a newly designed web site (linked above). With web traffic having tripled since the earlier website’s launch and a social media presence that includes over 50,000 followers on Facebook, the Joseph Smith Papers is gaining a significant presence online. The new website, besides having a refined search engine, features new photographs, both historic and modern, videos, chronologies, and other features. The new website has also been formatted for optimal tablet and phone usage.

Forthcoming volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers include the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon (forthcoming Summer 2015) and the 3rd and final volume in the Journals series (forthcoming Fall 2015). The highly anticipated Council of Fifty minutes are planned to be released in Fall of 2016.

Faith and Reason 31: Nahom

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Image of Nahom from The New Era

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

by Michael R. Ash

 In 1 Nephi chapter 7, not long after their departure into the wilderness, Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem to bring Ishmael and his daughters (which later become the wives of Lehi’s sons). In chapter 16 Ishmael died during their journey through the Arabian Peninsula and in verse 34 we read that Ishmael was buried “in the place that was called Nahom.” Ancient Hebrew did not use vowels, so NHM could have been translated with the use of various vowel sounds including Nahom as found in the Book of Mormon.

In the late twentieth century, a non-LDS German archaeological team was excavating an ancient temple in southern Arabia when they discovered the inscription of a man belonging to the tribe of NHM. A few years later, two more altars from the same excavation were also found to contain the tribal inscription of NHM. Since this area had been utilized for more than 2500 years (and was actively used during the days of Lehi,) non-LDS scholars have suggested that—in typical Near Eastern Fashion—NHM was not only a tribal name, but the name of a territory in which this tribe lived. This becomes even more interesting when we recognize that NHM was the largest burial site in all of ancient Arabia, and starting in around 600 BC (the same time that the Lehites fled Jerusalem,) anyone could be buried there.

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 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  is a broadcast journalist living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Radio and Television Host, 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.

Praise to the Man Even with 40 Wives and Teenage Brides

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mob-700x5581[This post was originally written by David Grant at and is reposted here with permission.]

It makes for compelling headlines, “Mormon Church Admits For First Time That Founder Joseph Smith Had A 14-Year-Old Bride,” and “Mormon Church Finally Admits Founder Joseph Smith was Polygamist with 40 Wives.”

These headlines and the accompanying articles were written in response to the “polygamy” essays published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo and Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah.

Most who engaged with and shared the stories in the Huffington Post, theTelegraph and many other outlets gave no thought to significant linguistic nuances that make the headline factually problematic.

Mormon History Was Never Hidden

For instance, the word, “admits,” is charged with accusation that there had been a previous denial of some kind. On the contrary. Off the top of my head I can think of three definitive declarations that attest to the practice of polygamy early in church history: Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants, a 1905 Improvement Era article by Prophet Joseph F. Smith, and a 1992 Ensign article.

In fact, being a student of Joseph Smith and history, I learned of these 14-year-old “brides” (another baggage-laden word) and 30-40 wives in my early twenties as a student at Brigham Young University, as I combed through journals and other documents in a quest to get to know and understand Joseph Smith better.

The events and history of Joseph Smith’s marriage to teenage and other brides have been well known and documented within available resources since there were accounts written of the event way back in history. All anyone had to do was look… and some did.

The information has been readily available for anyone to read. For example, Richard Bushman, in his book, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, has attempted to write more objective historical accounts of Joseph Smith and has included more difficult events in his history. Thanks to Bushman, the names of Joseph’s wives have rested on thousands of Mormon bookshelves since its publication in 2005.

Internet reach and information ease fluidity resulting in the availability and sharability of history have put the Church in the new and sometimes uncomfortable position of having to clarify interpretations of events, statements and doctrines when it would rather testify. Continue reading