Category Archives: Lesson Aids

FairMormon Frameworks 15: Jim McConkie on Preserving and Nurturing Faith

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Jim McConkiewbookBRM






Jim McConkie, author of Looking at the Doctrine and Covenants Again for the Very First Time, and nephew of Bruce R. McConkie, talks about how he has maintained his own faith and how he helped prepare his own children to face difficult issues that can challenge our faith.

The opinions expressed in this interview do not necessarily reflect the views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of FairMormon.


New Doctrine and Covenants resources available from and Interpreter

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At FAIR, we like to keep abreast of various resources which become available for studying, understanding, and teaching the gospel. With the current Sunday School year focusing on the Doctrine and Covenants, there are two new resources to which we would particularly like to call your attention, as well as some old favorites. The first is found here:

and contains articles written by historians discussing with balance and grace some of the key characters and events associated with the restoration. A particular focus is the context in which the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were received. These historical papers provide a golden opportunity for teachers and students to better understand the context and process through which Joseph received many of the early canonized revelations so that they can better apply the process in obtaining divine guidance in their own lives. They also provide an excellent opportunity to better understand the historical unfolding of the restoration.

The Scripture Roundtables, hosted by Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture provide a second useful resource in the study of the Doctrine and Covenants. Each Roundtable involves a rotating collection of scholars discussing the gospel doctrine lessons. The discussions are roughly forty minutes each and may be found here:

The guests have included a number of BYU professors, scholars associated with FAIR, students at Claremont Graduate University and other specialists who each bring unique insights and perspective to the study of the scripture. Interpreter’s multimedia platform makes it especially ideal for those who like to learn on the go. Their roundtable discussions are available as an itunes podcast as well as in the youtube format linked above.

A few other notable resources bear mention. This site: provides teachers notes, slide shows, and class handouts for the Doctrine and Covenants.

Another resource, located at, provides references for each time a scripture has been used in, for example, General Conference, and allows a teacher or student to get an idea how a particular scripture is typically employed in teaching.

Used wisely, these various (ultimately explanatory) resources help us fulfil our divinely mandated duty to “seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith” (D&C 109:7) and also to “Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;” (D&C 88:78)

New Verse-by-Verse Resource on the Book of Mormon

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One of our objectives at FAIR is to provide access to quality research on Latter-day Saint topics that is useful for the average Saint in their everyday study of the scriptures. To that end, as a new part of our FAIR Study Aids project, we have developed a verse-by-verse research index on the Book of Mormon. This can be accessed online, here:

Here, what we have done is we have gone through hundreds of articles, essays, and research papers and cataloged them under the chapter and verse for which its contents are most relevant (in many cases, articles can be found under more than one scripture reference). See the page on Jacob, for example. There is also a page for research related to the introduction, history of its coming forth, and general themes that run throughout the book. In some cases, books and chapters also have “overview” materials available.

Our aim is make it easy for someone going through the scriptures to find research on what they are reading now. For example, if you are currently reading in Helaman 3, you can come to that section of the index and find several articles that are relevant to things going on in that chapter. In breaking things down by verse, we hope that someone who has a question while reading, say, Mosiah 17:13 will be able to find resources which help answer their questions quickly and easily.

It is far from complete or comprehensive at this point. It is a work in progress,  but you can help! If you know any articles that are not there, please send them our way along what passage(s) you think it would best be cataloged under and we will add it to the index. Or, if you read an article that is on there and felt it applied to a different verse that it is not listed under, let us know and we will make the change.

We hope that this will prove a valuable resource in both your regular gospel study and in finding answers to concerns and criticisms raised against the Book of Mormon. With time, we may expand this to the other Standard Works.

FAIR Study Aids for the Book of Mormon

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With the upcoming year of Book of Mormon study in Gospel Doctrine classes, FAIR has decided to put together a new study resource. We are calling it “FAIR Study Aids,” and it can be accessed on our wiki at

Similar efforts have been made in the past, and the fruits of those labors have also been collected on that page for easy access. This information is a resource for class members and also a preparatory resource for gospel doctrine teachers to help them formulate answers to questions that might arise during their class. It is, of course, 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.

Each week, FAIR volunteers will look at the Sunday School lesson and identify relevant apologetic issues and other related insights, and then compile them into a single, easy to use quick-reference guide with links to additional information. Organization will follow the same structure found in Gospel Doctrine manual, with main headings that correspond with the main sections on the lesson. This should make it easy to identify how any particular item relates to the lesson material. Additional information related to the chapters in the Book of Mormon being covered by the lesson, but which do not fit neatly into the lesson’s structure, will be placed at the bottom of the page. Main sections will be broken down into three sub-sections:

  • Helpful Insights: These include various tidbits of information that might be helpful or interesting to discuss as a part of your lesson. They will come from scholarly studies and other sources.
  • Potential Criticisms and Faithful Information: These include potential criticisms that may arise during the lesson, or that are relevant to the topics and themes being discussed, along with information on how to respond with faith supporting information. These are made available so that teachers and students can gain some familiarity with these issues and be prepared should these or similar concerns arise in class.
  • Faith Affirmations: Here we will make note of various items of evidence for the Book of Mormon along with other information that supports the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and promotes faith in its teachings.  

The first lesson is already available, and serves as an example. It can be found here:

Dan Peterson has, in the past, discussed the need for both positive and negative apologetics, and we hope that by providing information in each of these categories we will successfully balance between the necessary task of responding to criticism (“negative apologetics”) with the more enjoyable and uplifting endeavor of building faith (“positive apologetics”).

Gospel Principles Chapter 16: The Church of Jesus Christ in Former Times

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Chapter 16 discusses the church set up by Jesus both in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, and the apostasy that followed. Here are some related resources:

17 Points of the True Church

How does one respond to the statement: “Churches don’t save; Jesus saves”?

What does the Bible teach about priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ?

Christians don’t need a mediating priesthood?

Is there a “Priesthood of All Believers”?

When the Bible talks about being “born again,” what does this mean? How did the first Christians understand this concept?

Baptism for the dead

The Bible predicts an apostasy from the church founded by Jesus Christ. Is there any Biblical evidence that this apostasy began?

Since members of the Church believe that divine authority was lost during the apostasy, wouldn’t some Christian author or members have noted this problem?

Biblical Evidences of an Apostasy

Gospel Principles Chapter 15: The Lord’s Covenant People

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The only attacks I could think of that we receive from anti-Mormons on the material covered by chapter 15 have to do with the temple.

Important note: Members of FAIR take their temple covenants seriously. We consider the temple teachings to be sacred, and will not discuss their specifics in a public forum.

Here are the resources available from FAIR that I thought were most relevant:

Feel free to leave a comment about anything else that might come up that is related to this chapter.

Gospel Principles Chapter 14: Priesthood Organization

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Once again, this week’s lesson on Priesthood Organization is basically another look at last week’s topic in more detail. Since links have already been given to the resources FAIR has on the priesthood, I thought it might be helpful to provide links to a couple of items from sources other than FAIR.

At the priesthood session of the most recent General Conference, Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a very practical talk on Healing the Sick that I believe is worth reading by everyone.

And in 1996, the Journal of Mormon History published an interesting article by William G. Hartley about the historical development of the duties of the Aaronic priesthood: From Men to Boys: LDS Aaronic Priesthood Offices, 1829-1996.

Gospel Principles Chapter 13: The Priesthood

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Here are some resources available from FAIR about the priesthood:

Blacks and the Priesthood

Mormonism and racial issues/Blacks and the priesthood

The Place of Mormon Women: Perceptions, Prozac, Polygamy, Priesthood, Patriarchy, and Peace

Christians don’t need a mediating priesthood


Is there a “Priesthood of All Believers”?


Hebrews 7 and the Aaronic priesthood

Date of the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood

Priesthood/What does the Bible teach?

Gospel Principles Chapter 12: The Atonement

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This week’s lesson on the Atonement takes what is the most important part of what was studied last week and goes into much greater detail. As such, many of the potential issues were covered in last week’s blog post. However, there are a couple of areas that may be helpful to go over this week.

Gerald N. Lund wrote an article for the Ensign in 1990 that explains in detail why the atonement was necessary and how it works, calling the Fall of Adam “one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted doctrines in all of Christianity”: Gerald N. Lund, “The Fall of Man and His Redemption,” Ensign, Jan. 1990, 22.

Most Christians (not just Latter-day Saints) believe that everyone will be resurrected. However, there are some critics that claim such beliefs are unbiblical, and that only those who are saved will be resurrected. While the Book of Mormon speaks plainly of the resurrection being universal (see, for example, Alma 11:40–45 and Mormon 9:12–14), the Bible also speaks of it. Here are some examples:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 – “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
  • John 5:28-29 – “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
  • Acts 24:15 – “And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”

This doctrine was also clearly taught in the early Christian church:

  • “If only a just judgment were the cause of the resurrection, it would of course follow that those who had done neither evil nor good, namely, very young children, would not rise again. However, we see that all persons are to rise again, including those who have died in infancy” (Athenagoras, 175 AD.)
  • “By mentioning both the judgment seat and the distinction between good and bad works, he sets before us a judge who is to award both sentences. He has thereby affirmed that all will have to be present at the tribunal in their bodies.” (Tertullian, 207 AD.)
  • “Since the entire man consists of the union of the two natures [body and soul], he must therefore appear in both natures. For it is right that a man should be judged in his entirety…Therefore, as he lived, he must also be judged.” (Tertullian, 210 AD.)

It is unfortunate but telling that our most important doctrines receive so much criticism from those who would have the world believe that we worship “a different Jesus.” Indeed, if our Jesus is different, it is because we believe in the uncorrupted concept of Jesus Christ found in the scriptures, and not in the creeds of man.

Gospel Principles Chapter 11: The Life of Christ

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This week’s priesthood and Relief Society lesson is on The Life of Christ. Listed below are links to related issues from the FAIR web sites, organized according to the sections of the lesson.

The Life of Christ Was Predicted Long before His Birth
Book of Mormon/Textual changes/”the Son of”
Alma 7:10 – Jerusalem vs Bethlehem

He Was the Only Begotten of the Father
The “Mormon” vs. the “Christian” Jesus
Worship different Jesus
Jesus Christ/Brother of Satan
Jesus Christ/Conception

He Led a Perfect Life
Gordon B. Hinckley states that Latter-day Saints don’t believe in the “traditional” Christ
Baptism essential

He Organized the Only True Church

He Redeemed Us from Our Sins and Saved Us from Death
Jesus Christ/Atonement
Jesus Christ/Crucified on a cross
Sweat and skin pores

His Sacrifice Showed His Love for His Father and for Us
Grace and works