Monthly Archives: December 2012

Mormon FAIR-Cast 122: Changes in the Bible

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Is the Bible the complete, inerrant, inspired, infallible word of God? Is it a book that has errors in it now, but that did not have errors in the original? Have changes in the Bible been made? If so, why and what were some of those changes? These questions and others are discussed in this episode of Religion Today, with Martin Tanner, which originally aired on KSL Radio on June 3, 2012.

This recording was used by permission of KSL Radio and does not necessarily represent the views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of FAIR.

Note that the first part of this recording has been lost.

Trusting Imperfect Prophets

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An important part of the mission of FAIR, as part of defending the faith, is to promote and defend the credibility of the Brethren in the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, authorized to lead and guide the Church in the Latter-days. For some, the notion that the prophets or apostles might at times be wrong is just too earth shattering. “They speak with God,” so the thinking goes, “and therefore cannot be wrong.” This leads them to the conclusion that since they are sometimes mistaken, they must not be prophets. Others may perhaps come away with a distorted view of prophets, with an inordinate focus on their imperfections that erodes their faith and confidence in them as men of God. Our hearts go out to those who have had, or do have, similar concerns and struggles.

With that in mind, I would like to offer a few suggestions that have helped me maintain faith in the prophets and apostles and other leaders despite my awareness of their imperfect and fallible status.

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Mormon FAIR-Cast 121a: Mark Wright and Mayan Mysteries

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Did the Mayans prophesy that the world would end in 2012? What is the probability that the Mayans are direct descendants of Lehi? Were the Lamanites and Nephites located in North America? What did Joseph Smith say about the location of Zarahemla? What about Zelph? Where there horses in the Americas before Columbus? Were there two hills Cumorah? Is there archeological evidence that proves the Book of Mormon is true?

Mark Alan Wright earned his BA in Anthropology at UCLA and his MA and PhD in Anthropology (with a subfield of specialization in Mesoamerican Archaeology) from UC Riverside. His dissertation is entitled “A Study of Classic Maya Rulership.” He regularly conducts research in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. Dr. Wright is Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University

This is the first of a two-part episode. This recording is posted here by permission of K-Talk Radio. The opinions expressed in this interview do not necessarily represent the views of FAIR or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Keeping the Faith 7a: The Reel Story

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Bill Reel talks about how he became converted to the Church, became a bishop and then nearly resigned his membership in the Church. He discusses the role the internet, on-line chat groups and podcasts played in both weakening his testimony as well as strengthening it. He also talks about how bad apologetics contributed to undermining his faith, how good apologetics reinforced his faith, and the central role the spirit plays in establishing a foundation for our testimonies.

The Gospel is for Everyone

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I always look forward to the time that General Conference rolls around. Listening to the inspiring words of our leaders lift my spirit and renew my commitment to follow my Savior. My favorite talks are the ones that call me to action. They help me see doctrine in a new light and inspire me to change my life to more fully honor my covenants.

Such was the case with President Monson’s address in the priesthood session. He challenged us to look beyond the stereotype and “see others as they may become”. He shared a story of a successful missionary in a difficult area, who imagined everyone that he met dressed in white, entering the waters of baptism. He talked about a prison warden, who spent his time rehabilitating prisoners, even though many critics argued that such prisoners could not change. He spoke of his own experiences challenging less-active members to step up to leadership roles.

These stories caused me to stop and consider the way I viewed my brothers and sisters. There have been things that I have done in the past that I haven’t been proud of, so why do I limit others by their mistakes? It takes great humility and charity to view everyone according to their potential, and not by their mistakes. I think this is the way God sees us, which makes it so that “his hand is stretched out still.” (Isaiah 5:25)

There are those who say such a hope is futile, that some people were born to do certain things and have no choice in the matter. They may argue that the gospel plan is too hard and too demanding for some people to follow. We know better. We know that Christ came with healing in his wings, powerful enough to save all that would come unto him. Even though we know this, our hope and expectations for our fellow man is all too often dimmed by the negativity of those around us.

We need to revaluate our stereotypes and prejudices and root out any negativity that may have crept in. What is the first image that pops in your mind when you think of a gay person or a same-sex couple? Do you think of half-naked marchers in a gay pride parade? What about suicidal teenagers? How many of us have the image of a son or daughter of God, dressed in white, ready to enter the waters of baptism? How many of us have an image of gay people who are already members as potential bishops and Relief Society presidents?

Granted, a prospective baptism is not the first thing that pops into my mind when I see a same-sex couple either, but perhaps that is why I was so inspired President Monson’s talk. It is an area that I need to improve. Our current culture makes it difficult to have such hope and charity for our brothers and sisters with same-sex attraction. Critics argue that our church is anti-gay, that our doctrine is damaging towards those with SSA, and that joy and happiness for people with SSA is mutually exclusive with participation in the restored Church. Recently, one group even took out a billboard claiming that gay people cannot be members of our church. This spirit of negativity is enough to make many members of the church wonder if the church is broad enough to welcome all to come unto Christ. Many may doubt if the doctrines and teachings of the church offer any benefit to our gay brothers and sisters. Some may even question Christ’s ability to bring all people to him.

So how do we gain this hope that Christ can save all mankind? How do we revive our testimonies that the gospel has the power to bring peace and joy through faith and repentance to even those who are currently in same-sex relationships? One of the most effective ways is through personal stories. The claims that gay people cannot join the Church and the doctrine cannot bring happiness quickly unravel as we listen to the stories of men and women with SSA who have found peace and joy through living the gospel of Jesus Christ, including those who were in same-sex relationships.

The Church has recently released a web site dealing specifically with homosexuality, called Mormons and Gays. It includes resources, the loving words of our leaders, and testimonies of valiant son and daughters of God with same-sex attraction, who have found the peace that only the gospel brings.  An unofficial web site, Voices of Hope, will soon be launched, bringing even more voices to the chorus of people with SSA who testify of the truthfulness of the gospel.

Through browsing these web sites, you will hear the miracles that happen on a daily basis in the lives of our brothers and sisters who deal with homosexuality. You will read stories of how the gospel has broken the chains of addiction and self-destructive behavior, and given people the strength to leave same-sex relationships. You will hear stories of how the gospel has saved marriages or helped people find fulfillment in celibacy. You will see how gospel has raised people out of depression and increased their confidence and self-esteem. You will also learn that there is still work to be done, that many people with same-sex attraction are hungry for the gospel truths and the fellowship of the saints.

Our gospel is a universal gospel. Christ calls all to come unto him, black and white, bond and free, and even gay and straight. He is full of grace, mercy and truth, and has the power to save us, not in our sins, but from our sins. The question of whether gay people can find joy in the church is not a theoretical question, to be debated through media and parlor conversations. It is a reality that manifests itself in the lives of members of the Church. May we remember the infinite grace of Christ and always have hope and charity for all of our brothers and sisters.



Keeping the Faith 6a: A Household of Partial Faith, pt 1

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How can we help activate less-active family members and friends? What happens when we can’t? What does a person do when a spouse leaves the Church? How can we maintain our faith when those closest to us are losing theirs? In this interview, we hear from a woman who grew up with a less-active father. After she was married in the temple, her husband too became less-active, and eventually had his name removed from the records of the Church. She discusses her experience with these family members and what she has done to retain her faith in the gospel.