Monthly Archives: September 2009

“What of it?”

Posted on by

Obviously, President Bill Clinton wasn’t the first US president to be involved in sexual shenanigans. Roughly 100 years previous to the start of President Clinton’s term, another Democrat President was involved in a sex scandal: Grover Cleveland. Unlike Clinton’s false “I did not have sex with that woman,” Cleveland instructed his staff to “Tell the truth.”

Cleveland’s supporters, like Clinton’s a century later, took a “What of it?” approach–and, like Clinton, Cleveland was elected to two terms.

During the mid-1980′s, when I was living in the Middle East, I was being worked on by a dentist who was an Evangelical Christian. After detailing to me several of Joseph Smith’s alleged sexual sins–no doubt, gleaned from anti-Mormon sources, he concluded, “How can you accept as a Prophet such a wicked man as Joseph Smith?”

My answer: “So Joseph Smith was wicked. What of it?” Continue reading

Liberals and Conservatives

Posted on by

A recent article of Time magazine, “Mad Man: Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?” has brought to the surface a tension between liberal and conservative Latter-day Saints.  The reason:  Brother Beck is not only militantly conservative, he is also blatantly LDS.

Liberal Latter-day Saints are up in arms about the fact that Beck opposes President Obama’s signature policies: the stimulus, the federal takeover of General Motors, and “Universal Health Care.” What’s more, Beck takes issue with Obama’s supporters calling the opposition liars and racists. Beck has turned the tables on them, though, labelling their gratuitous use of the word, “racist” as racist, too. Continue reading

Gospel Doctrine apologetics: D&C lesson 35

Posted on by

This week: Lesson 35, “A Mission of Saving.”

Subjects covered: The rescue of the Martin and Willie handcart companies.

Potential issues:

There are no FAIR articles that deal directly with the Martin and Willie handcart rescue, but there others that cover issues that took place during the same time period, including:

If you can think of any other issues from this week’s lesson, please comment below so we can add more links.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is a preparatory resource for gospel doctrine teachers to help them formulate answers to questions that might arise during their class. It is not in any way a substitute for the Gospel Doctrine manual, nor should instructors make these topics the focus of class instruction. This information is provided with the understanding that it is an additional resource only.

Equity: The Proverbial Achilles Heel

Posted on by

In an excellent tome, which has been criticized far too much for an inaccurate quotation of Irenaeus, LDS scholar Stephen E. Robinson wrote:

It is not my purpose in these pages to prove, or even to argue, that the LDS church is true or that its doctrines are correct, even though I believe both of those propositions. Rather, I will attempt to show why the arguments used to exclude Latter-day Saints from the “Christian” world are flawed. The operating principle behind most of my arguments will not be rectitude but equity—what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. That is, if Augustine or Luther or John Paul II can express opinions or insist on beliefs that differ from the Christian mainstream and yet still be considered Christians, then Joseph Smith and Brigham Young cannot be disqualified from bearing that title when they express the same or similar opinions. If theological or ecclesiastical diversity can be tolerated among mainstream Christian churches without charges of their being “non-Christian,” then diversity of a similar kind, or to a similar degree, ought to be tolerated in the Latter-day Saints. This is simply an issue of playing on a level field. (Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1991), p. viii.)

In my conversations with those critical of LDS beliefs I have come to the realization that Professor Robinson’s approach is really the Achilles heel of most detractors. Philosophically it is quite sound, for it is logically fallacious to accept an idea or criticism when applied to an opponent’s argument but reject it when applied to one’s own argument. Yet more to the point the clear demonstration of a double-standard demonstrates a fundamental weakness within arguments meant to undermine the faith of the Saints. Continue reading

Gospel Doctrine apologetics: D&C lesson 34

Posted on by

This week: Lesson 34, “Faith in Every Footstep” (D&C 136).

Subjects covered: The pioneer trek across the Great Plains to the Salt Lake Valley.

Potential issues:

If you can think of any other issues from this week’s lesson, please comment below so we can add more links.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is a preparatory resource for gospel doctrine teachers to help them formulate answers to questions that might arise during their class. It is not in any way a substitute for the Gospel Doctrine manual, nor should instructors make these topics the focus of class instruction. This information is provided with the understanding that it is an additional resource only.

Notice of Discretionary Authority

Posted on by

I recall while on my mission in southern California being told at one door “You don’t know what you believe; let me tell you what you believe.” Stephen E. Robinson wrote in 1997:

I am very happy to discuss my beliefs with anyone, but it is absurd—and a sure sign of bad faith—to argue with me that I do not really believe what I think I believe! Any religious group, whether Jewish, Mormon, Baptist or whatever, ought to be able to define itself rather than be defined by its antagonists. (Stephen E. Robinson, How Wide the Divide?[Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997], p. 12)

I believe one can extend this principle to not merely include a “religious group” but the members of that religious group as well. Every individual Jew, Mormon, Baptist, etc. “ought to be able to define” his/her beliefs rather than have such defined by antagonists. Continue reading

“The Earliest Text” Versus the 1981 Edition

Posted on by

I have received several questions from friends and associates in relation to the recent release of Royal Skousen’s The Book of Mormon : The Earliest Text (New Haven, CT: Yale, 2009). This volume is the culmination of the Critical Text Project, an effort to reproduce through textual criticism, inasmuch as it is possible, the original text of the Book of Mormon as dictated. Most of the questions tend to revolve around what relationship this text might eventually have to the official edition (1981) presently in use. Will such a text usurp the present official edition? Will the selections made by Skousen ever find there way into a future official edition? Etc.
Continue reading