Episode 33: An Interview with Jeff Lindsay

Noted Mormon internet apologist Jeff Lindsay talks with the panel.

Mormanity Blog: Cutting a Little Slack for Ex-Mormons.
Jeff Lindsay’s Website: jefflindsay.com

Episode 33

95 comments on “Episode 33: An Interview with Jeff Lindsay”

  1. DuzTruthMatter Reply

    “When the prophet speaks, the debate is over!” We’ve all heard it countless times. This guy says he has no problem with J.S or B.Y or G.B.H saying things which later proved false because they are just “men” after all. He has no problem with errors in the B.O.M or bible if we find out later that things can be interpreted to fit our modern thinking. He has no problem with the B.O.A and its declaration of the inferiority of the black race. Oh yeah, modern “prophets” have revised that idea, and hopefully not when they were speaking as “men”.

    The American continents were saved as a land “choice above all others” which the Lord kept for Lehi & Co. Oh! Wait a minute, J.S never said that. He never said there weren’t other migrations to these continents. Why did we teach as missionaries that the Lamanites included all peoples from Canada to Chile and the islands of the Pacific? Because we were taught that continuously growing up in the church. But that doesn’t matter, science has proven otherwise.

    If science shows us that what we have been taught or are thinking is in error, let’s just change how we view it. Isn’t this Universalist Unitarian?

    This guy is happy attending a church that makes him feel good and would spin that the earth is the center of the universe if that is what the “Church” taught.

  2. DuzTruthMatter Reply

    “When the prophet speaks, the debate is over!” We’ve all heard it countless times. This guy says he has no problem with J.S or B.Y or G.B.H saying things which later proved false because they are just “men” after all. He has no problem with errors in the B.O.M or bible if we find out later that things can be interpreted to fit our modern thinking. He has no problem with the B.O.A and its declaration of the inferiority of the black race. Oh yeah, modern “prophets” have revised that idea, and hopefully not when they were speaking as “men”.

    The American continents were saved as a land “choice above all others” which the Lord kept for Lehi & Co. Oh! Wait a minute, J.S never said that. He never said there weren’t other migrations to these continents. Why did we teach as missionaries that the Lamanites included all peoples from Canada to Chile and the islands of the Pacific? Because we were taught that continuously growing up in the church. But that doesn’t matter, science has proven otherwise.

    If science shows us that what we have been taught or are thinking is in error, let’s just change how we view it. Isn’t this Universalist Unitarian?

    This guy is happy attending a church that makes him feel good and would spin that the earth is the center of the universe if that is what the “Church” taught.

  3. John Dehlin Reply

    Thanks to Jeff for coming on the show. And thanks to John and the panel for making the interview happen. My only regret is that the interview wasn’t twice as long.

    Jeff — I have a question for you. Given your acknowledgement that both the brethren and apologists have felt the need (at various times) to retreat from long-standing positions on various gospel topics (like age of the earth, the practice of polygamy, valiance of blacks in the pre-existence, Book of Abraham, deciding who are and aren’t considered Lamanites, etc.) — how do you feel about sites or “movements” like “New Order Mormons”, “Reform Mormonism”, and “Stay LDS” which seek to help members find a way to stay in the church even if they don’t believe some or maybe even most of what is currently accepted as church doctrine (given that things might someday again change….like the church’s position on homosexuality, let’s say)?

    In other words…Judaism has an Orthodox wing, a moderate wing (Conservative Judaism) and a liberal/progressive wing (Reform Judaism) — do you feel like the church currently has, or might someday soon come to have, a similar spectrum?

    If so, would you see this as a good thing, or as a bad thing?

    Just curious. Thanks again for coming on the show!!!

  4. John Dehlin Reply

    Thanks to Jeff for coming on the show. And thanks to John and the panel for making the interview happen. My only regret is that the interview wasn’t twice as long.

    Jeff — I have a question for you. Given your acknowledgement that both the brethren and apologists have felt the need (at various times) to retreat from long-standing positions on various gospel topics (like age of the earth, the practice of polygamy, valiance of blacks in the pre-existence, Book of Abraham, deciding who are and aren’t considered Lamanites, etc.) — how do you feel about sites or “movements” like “New Order Mormons”, “Reform Mormonism”, and “Stay LDS” which seek to help members find a way to stay in the church even if they don’t believe some or maybe even most of what is currently accepted as church doctrine (given that things might someday again change….like the church’s position on homosexuality, let’s say)?

    In other words…Judaism has an Orthodox wing, a moderate wing (Conservative Judaism) and a liberal/progressive wing (Reform Judaism) — do you feel like the church currently has, or might someday soon come to have, a similar spectrum?

    If so, would you see this as a good thing, or as a bad thing?

    Just curious. Thanks again for coming on the show!!!

  5. D. Reply

    Jeff started by speaking of distortion, which he has mastered, and he answered your questions in his usual convoluted doublespeak.
    At my recommendation, my son-in-law went to Jeff’s site in an effort to refute my evidence, and after hours of reading, he said, “Oh shit, are those the best answers the apologists have?” Jeff’s nonsense helped my son-in-law see reality, and he resigned from the LDS church, along with my daughter and their son. He’s going to write a thank you to Jeff for getting them out.
    Contrary to Jeff, I don’t think it is healthy to believe in fairy tales at the expense of reality. It is healthy to free ourselves and our descendants from this absurd rubbish.
    Jeff, on behalf of getting the rest of my family out, please carry on your work. Thanks for helping my family to resign!

  6. D. Reply

    Jeff started by speaking of distortion, which he has mastered, and he answered your questions in his usual convoluted doublespeak.
    At my recommendation, my son-in-law went to Jeff’s site in an effort to refute my evidence, and after hours of reading, he said, “Oh shit, are those the best answers the apologists have?” Jeff’s nonsense helped my son-in-law see reality, and he resigned from the LDS church, along with my daughter and their son. He’s going to write a thank you to Jeff for getting them out.
    Contrary to Jeff, I don’t think it is healthy to believe in fairy tales at the expense of reality. It is healthy to free ourselves and our descendants from this absurd rubbish.
    Jeff, on behalf of getting the rest of my family out, please carry on your work. Thanks for helping my family to resign!

  7. Me_MyZelph_And_I Reply

    Jeff Lindsay from episode 33 and De Lynn “Doc” Hansen from episode 30 have a lot in common. I bet these two could converse for hours with one another…..

    • matt mosteller Reply

      Jesus never existed it at all . It is all allegory. (Hidden Meanings).

  8. Me_MyZelph_And_I Reply

    Jeff Lindsay from episode 33 and De Lynn “Doc” Hansen from episode 30 have a lot in common. I bet these two could converse for hours with one another…..

  9. Eric Comstock Reply

    I enjoyed listening to this interview with Jeff Lindsay. My conclusion: the church better get a better defense to deal with all the issues that lead people out of the church.

    Keep up the good work with these podcasts.

  10. Eric Comstock Reply

    I enjoyed listening to this interview with Jeff Lindsay. My conclusion: the church better get a better defense to deal with all the issues that lead people out of the church.

    Keep up the good work with these podcasts.

  11. Eric Comstock Reply

    I wanted to make one more comment… If prophets sometimes misinterpret revelation from God then what are members of the church to think when new revelation comes out. If I lived during the 1800’s and felt that by the spirit that polygamy was wrong and I told my church leaders how I felt I would have been considered apostate. How can we know if we are being told God’s will if our leaders can’t always know what God wants because they misinterpret His will?

  12. Eric Comstock Reply

    I wanted to make one more comment… If prophets sometimes misinterpret revelation from God then what are members of the church to think when new revelation comes out. If I lived during the 1800’s and felt that by the spirit that polygamy was wrong and I told my church leaders how I felt I would have been considered apostate. How can we know if we are being told God’s will if our leaders can’t always know what God wants because they misinterpret His will?

  13. badseed Reply

    Interesting podcast all. Thanks.

    Hearing Jeff make his case I have more respect for him and those who occupy a similar space. I don’t agree with most of his conclusions but I think his fuzzier view of the world is a good thing.

    Jeff, how exactly does your fuzzy view work within the Church. From my experience it is a pretty black and white place. One where people “know” truth and subsequently have little motivation to consider anything other than what they hear in Sunday School. And when leaders speak obedience is expected because— as is taught— they’re speaking for God. Doesn’t your acceptance of error in the Mormon Hierarchy eliminate your ability to have unquestioning faith? Doesn’t it make it harder to follow the prophet? Or do you just obey it all knowing that at least some of it is wrong?

    My experience is that not only are members not prepared to consider that LDS leaders are human and fallible but they don’t really want to hear it. IMO they prefer miraculous infallibility— it makes belief easier. From what I can see the leadership doesn’t really want it taught that they are fallible either. It undermines their authority and deference towards the Brethren and unquestioning obedience are to important to the Church. From my experience it (considering leader fallibility) is only a consideration when all other options have been exhausted with no success.

    Lastly, does your openness to fuzziness or other “options” allow you to consider the Church not being what it claims to be— or do you only consider alternative explanations in an effort to maintain faith?

    My .02.

    Thanks again to Jeff and the panel.

  14. badseed Reply

    Interesting podcast all. Thanks.

    Hearing Jeff make his case I have more respect for him and those who occupy a similar space. I don’t agree with most of his conclusions but I think his fuzzier view of the world is a good thing.

    Jeff, how exactly does your fuzzy view work within the Church. From my experience it is a pretty black and white place. One where people “know” truth and subsequently have little motivation to consider anything other than what they hear in Sunday School. And when leaders speak obedience is expected because— as is taught— they’re speaking for God. Doesn’t your acceptance of error in the Mormon Hierarchy eliminate your ability to have unquestioning faith? Doesn’t it make it harder to follow the prophet? Or do you just obey it all knowing that at least some of it is wrong?

    My experience is that not only are members not prepared to consider that LDS leaders are human and fallible but they don’t really want to hear it. IMO they prefer miraculous infallibility— it makes belief easier. From what I can see the leadership doesn’t really want it taught that they are fallible either. It undermines their authority and deference towards the Brethren and unquestioning obedience are to important to the Church. From my experience it (considering leader fallibility) is only a consideration when all other options have been exhausted with no success.

    Lastly, does your openness to fuzziness or other “options” allow you to consider the Church not being what it claims to be— or do you only consider alternative explanations in an effort to maintain faith?

    My .02.

    Thanks again to Jeff and the panel.

  15. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    Looks like I touched a few nerves! Sorry about that.

    It’s a fundamental doctrine of the Church that prophets and apostles are not infallible. This is not a new idea. Peter, the great chief Apostle, denied Christ three times, rashly attacked someone with a sword and cut off an ear, and made other mistakes. The great prophet Joshua was fooled by the Gibeonites (Josh. 9). Joseph Smith explicitly taught of the limitations of prophets and even gave us a whole section in the Doctrine & Covenants chewing him out for a tragic and foolish blunder that cost us 116 pages of scripture. So anyone exploring the LDS faith or any Judeo-Christian faith has to recognize that all mortals make mistakes. Is this truly so shocking?? No, of course not. That position bothers some critics because they can’t blow away someone’s faith by showing that a mortal in the Church made a mistake. Hurl all the insults you want about how stupid that is, but there is no basis for demanding infallibility in our faith.

    We have a hierarchy and someone has to speak and make final decisions (for the moment, anyway), and we do recognize the President of the Church as a prophet of God who can give revelation, but the “debate is over” statement is NOT one I hear countless times. The main place you hear it is from critics, as far as I can tell. Out here in Wisconsin, discussion and even debate continues on many interesting topics among the faithful.

    The scientific method demands that we update our understanding periodically and face changes in how we understand the world. Intelligent religion is the same. Mortals have long interpreted the 6 days of the revealed Creation story to mean 24 hour periods. But when we find that the earth is older and look at the text again, it is intelligent, not stupid, to finally notice that the text does not demand 24-hour periods. I know some of you want us to just say, “Ouch. Guess God does not exist now” and fold under the weight of your vitriol, but that’s a lame expectation. It is a step toward better religion and better reading of the sacred text to understand that the Hebrew word “yom” can mean era or epoch, not just a day as we measure it now. Indeed, the paradigm shift required for that was already hinted at for our benefit in the Book of Abraham, where the evening and the morning are the first “time”, not the first day. Updating our understanding of what God has revealed in light of new information is progress, not spinning and backpedaling. Why does it make some of you so angry to hear that people can update their religius belief and still have faith?

    As for everyone in the ancient Americas being Lamanites, even that old and natural assumption is nothing we have to completely back away from, for the primary definition of Lamanites by the close of the Book of Mormon is someone who not a Nephite. It became a social and political definition, not a description based on ancestry per se. See the discussion at http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/DNA.shtml. Further, in spite of Book of Mormon lands being a geographically small area based on a careful reading of the text, there can be little doubt that genes introduced in 600 B.C. into a continent already inhabited by “others” are likely–if they have survived at all–to now be widely distributed across the continent. A little gene flow over the centuries spreads surviving genes around qite well, so it is probably accurate to say that virtually all Native Americans have some Lamanite ancestry. Some areas will have more, others less, but there’s no reasonn to guffaw in calling native Americans Lamanites in terms of the sociopolitical definition of the word, or descendants of Lehi in terms of genetics, though I don’t expect to find more than a trace of Lehi’s genes, whatever they were, among an individual. If anyone called, say, the Sioux Indians “pure descendants of Lehi”, I would assume that inaccurate language had been used, but that kind of mistake in understanding does not require me to leave the Church. The Book of Mormon is an amazing and powerful authentic ancient text that comes from God, in spite of errors modern men make in understanding it, and even in spite of the possibility of rare errors that Mormon or Moroni or Joseph may have made in preserving and transmitting the text. Mortals = mistakes, even in scripture, but I’m not going to fall to pieces over that. Sorry!

    Question for D.: You have to know that it’s almost a cliche among some of the RFM group that they or their friends or whoever left because of or with the help of the pathetic efforts of apologists. That may be the case, but it raises some questions. What was the topic that couldn’t be refuted? What was the reason for leaving? Are you sure his mind wasn’t already made up? And why on earth would he think that my pages are the best that the apologists have? Tsk tsk – could someone have given him misleading expectations about my incomplete and highly amateurish site? 😉

  16. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    Looks like I touched a few nerves! Sorry about that.

    It’s a fundamental doctrine of the Church that prophets and apostles are not infallible. This is not a new idea. Peter, the great chief Apostle, denied Christ three times, rashly attacked someone with a sword and cut off an ear, and made other mistakes. The great prophet Joshua was fooled by the Gibeonites (Josh. 9). Joseph Smith explicitly taught of the limitations of prophets and even gave us a whole section in the Doctrine & Covenants chewing him out for a tragic and foolish blunder that cost us 116 pages of scripture. So anyone exploring the LDS faith or any Judeo-Christian faith has to recognize that all mortals make mistakes. Is this truly so shocking?? No, of course not. That position bothers some critics because they can’t blow away someone’s faith by showing that a mortal in the Church made a mistake. Hurl all the insults you want about how stupid that is, but there is no basis for demanding infallibility in our faith.

    We have a hierarchy and someone has to speak and make final decisions (for the moment, anyway), and we do recognize the President of the Church as a prophet of God who can give revelation, but the “debate is over” statement is NOT one I hear countless times. The main place you hear it is from critics, as far as I can tell. Out here in Wisconsin, discussion and even debate continues on many interesting topics among the faithful.

    The scientific method demands that we update our understanding periodically and face changes in how we understand the world. Intelligent religion is the same. Mortals have long interpreted the 6 days of the revealed Creation story to mean 24 hour periods. But when we find that the earth is older and look at the text again, it is intelligent, not stupid, to finally notice that the text does not demand 24-hour periods. I know some of you want us to just say, “Ouch. Guess God does not exist now” and fold under the weight of your vitriol, but that’s a lame expectation. It is a step toward better religion and better reading of the sacred text to understand that the Hebrew word “yom” can mean era or epoch, not just a day as we measure it now. Indeed, the paradigm shift required for that was already hinted at for our benefit in the Book of Abraham, where the evening and the morning are the first “time”, not the first day. Updating our understanding of what God has revealed in light of new information is progress, not spinning and backpedaling. Why does it make some of you so angry to hear that people can update their religius belief and still have faith?

    As for everyone in the ancient Americas being Lamanites, even that old and natural assumption is nothing we have to completely back away from, for the primary definition of Lamanites by the close of the Book of Mormon is someone who not a Nephite. It became a social and political definition, not a description based on ancestry per se. See the discussion at http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/DNA.shtml. Further, in spite of Book of Mormon lands being a geographically small area based on a careful reading of the text, there can be little doubt that genes introduced in 600 B.C. into a continent already inhabited by “others” are likely–if they have survived at all–to now be widely distributed across the continent. A little gene flow over the centuries spreads surviving genes around qite well, so it is probably accurate to say that virtually all Native Americans have some Lamanite ancestry. Some areas will have more, others less, but there’s no reasonn to guffaw in calling native Americans Lamanites in terms of the sociopolitical definition of the word, or descendants of Lehi in terms of genetics, though I don’t expect to find more than a trace of Lehi’s genes, whatever they were, among an individual. If anyone called, say, the Sioux Indians “pure descendants of Lehi”, I would assume that inaccurate language had been used, but that kind of mistake in understanding does not require me to leave the Church. The Book of Mormon is an amazing and powerful authentic ancient text that comes from God, in spite of errors modern men make in understanding it, and even in spite of the possibility of rare errors that Mormon or Moroni or Joseph may have made in preserving and transmitting the text. Mortals = mistakes, even in scripture, but I’m not going to fall to pieces over that. Sorry!

    Question for D.: You have to know that it’s almost a cliche among some of the RFM group that they or their friends or whoever left because of or with the help of the pathetic efforts of apologists. That may be the case, but it raises some questions. What was the topic that couldn’t be refuted? What was the reason for leaving? Are you sure his mind wasn’t already made up? And why on earth would he think that my pages are the best that the apologists have? Tsk tsk – could someone have given him misleading expectations about my incomplete and highly amateurish site? 😉

  17. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    John, yes, we clearly have a spectrum of people tied to the LDS tradition, ranging from fundamentalists to overly reformed (IMO). If it truly were a man-made religion, as many claim, then the diversity would be something to welcome. But when we consider the issue of divine authority in the Church, per the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Bible, then I have to take the “is Christ divided?” approach of Paul and question the offshoots. It’s my personal belief that the Church does have divine origins and restored Priesthood authority. That does not mean a monopoly on truth, but it does mean that it’s the place people should look to for the ordinances of baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the blessings of the Temple. Sorry if that’s too simplistic an answer for another intriguing topic.

  18. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    John, yes, we clearly have a spectrum of people tied to the LDS tradition, ranging from fundamentalists to overly reformed (IMO). If it truly were a man-made religion, as many claim, then the diversity would be something to welcome. But when we consider the issue of divine authority in the Church, per the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Bible, then I have to take the “is Christ divided?” approach of Paul and question the offshoots. It’s my personal belief that the Church does have divine origins and restored Priesthood authority. That does not mean a monopoly on truth, but it does mean that it’s the place people should look to for the ordinances of baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the blessings of the Temple. Sorry if that’s too simplistic an answer for another intriguing topic.

  19. Eric Comstock Reply

    Hi Jeff. I love your example of Peter denying Christ 3 times or Peter cutting off the soldiers ear. But did God tell Peter to to do those things by revelation. No of course not. Peter did these things because he was weak, he was human. Did Joseph marry a 14 year old and take other men’s wives because of revelation or because he was weak. Joseph said it was revelation from God. Peter mourned his weakness but Joseph defended his.

  20. Eric Comstock Reply

    Hi Jeff. I love your example of Peter denying Christ 3 times or Peter cutting off the soldiers ear. But did God tell Peter to to do those things by revelation. No of course not. Peter did these things because he was weak, he was human. Did Joseph marry a 14 year old and take other men’s wives because of revelation or because he was weak. Joseph said it was revelation from God. Peter mourned his weakness but Joseph defended his.

  21. Randall Reply

    Hey Jeff,

    Enjoyed the podcast and appreciated you being willing to be interviewed by 3 ex-mormons, and one liberal mormon.

    A few thoughts. Zilpha made a point that all the little things can add up. I think that is really what it boiled down to for me. Sure, apologists can come up with “plausible” explanations for most of the troubling issues out there (I still have yet to hear anything plausible justifying Joseph marrying 9 women already married) but when you take a step back and look at the whole tapestry, you are forced to swallow remote plausibility after remote plausibility and after staring at it for a while, it becomes clear that the tapestry is more holes than it is fabric.

    Fact: The Book of Abraham mentions Chaldeans and they found a good portion of the original scroll. Apologist: Well, it is possible that there was more to the scroll than was found and maybe Joseph just used the scrolls as inspiration, even though he did say it was written by Abraham’s own hand. Fact: DNA evidence shows that native americans are of asiatic descent (I served my mission on a reservation and one of our tactics was to use the BoM as a source of pride for the people). Apologist: Well, I know ALL the brethren taught us for over a century that all native americans were Lamanites, and many of them speaking from pulpits in the name of Jesus Christ, but they are just men. And even then, it is possible that the DNA of the Lamanites was passed to the surrounding hosts of asiatic descended people not mentioned in the BoM, but has become so diluted, it is undetectable. Fact: Joseph Smith took verbatim the penalties of the masonic lodge ceremony and put them into the endowment. Apologist: Isn’t is possible that Joseph just borrowed the context of the masonic way of teaching and just applied it to the temple ceremonies because he saw it was a good way of teaching them? Fact: Joseph married at least 33 women, 9 of which were already married and one of which was only the age of a mia maid, all the while lying constantly to the public about his behavior. Apologist: Well, Joseph was just a man. Could he have handled polygamy a little better? Maybe. But it was a new principle and, again, he is just a man (nevermind that if I was to make the same “mistake” my ass would be out of the church so fast…).

    I could go on and on but do you see how plausible, but somewhat weak justifications of issue after issue can look like a house of cards that falls down immediately upon closer inspection?

  22. Randall Reply

    Hey Jeff,

    Enjoyed the podcast and appreciated you being willing to be interviewed by 3 ex-mormons, and one liberal mormon.

    A few thoughts. Zilpha made a point that all the little things can add up. I think that is really what it boiled down to for me. Sure, apologists can come up with “plausible” explanations for most of the troubling issues out there (I still have yet to hear anything plausible justifying Joseph marrying 9 women already married) but when you take a step back and look at the whole tapestry, you are forced to swallow remote plausibility after remote plausibility and after staring at it for a while, it becomes clear that the tapestry is more holes than it is fabric.

    Fact: The Book of Abraham mentions Chaldeans and they found a good portion of the original scroll. Apologist: Well, it is possible that there was more to the scroll than was found and maybe Joseph just used the scrolls as inspiration, even though he did say it was written by Abraham’s own hand. Fact: DNA evidence shows that native americans are of asiatic descent (I served my mission on a reservation and one of our tactics was to use the BoM as a source of pride for the people). Apologist: Well, I know ALL the brethren taught us for over a century that all native americans were Lamanites, and many of them speaking from pulpits in the name of Jesus Christ, but they are just men. And even then, it is possible that the DNA of the Lamanites was passed to the surrounding hosts of asiatic descended people not mentioned in the BoM, but has become so diluted, it is undetectable. Fact: Joseph Smith took verbatim the penalties of the masonic lodge ceremony and put them into the endowment. Apologist: Isn’t is possible that Joseph just borrowed the context of the masonic way of teaching and just applied it to the temple ceremonies because he saw it was a good way of teaching them? Fact: Joseph married at least 33 women, 9 of which were already married and one of which was only the age of a mia maid, all the while lying constantly to the public about his behavior. Apologist: Well, Joseph was just a man. Could he have handled polygamy a little better? Maybe. But it was a new principle and, again, he is just a man (nevermind that if I was to make the same “mistake” my ass would be out of the church so fast…).

    I could go on and on but do you see how plausible, but somewhat weak justifications of issue after issue can look like a house of cards that falls down immediately upon closer inspection?

  23. Randall Reply

    One correction. I reread my post and I said that “ALL the brethren” stated that all native americans were descendants of Lehi. I admit, there was a very small minority (I’m thinking B.H. Roberts in particular) may have not believed that but these men were a tiny portion of all the general authorities over the decades.

  24. Randall Reply

    One correction. I reread my post and I said that “ALL the brethren” stated that all native americans were descendants of Lehi. I admit, there was a very small minority (I’m thinking B.H. Roberts in particular) may have not believed that but these men were a tiny portion of all the general authorities over the decades.

  25. D. Reply

    Jeff,
    “What was the reason for leaving?”
    The church isn’t true. The church is losing its best and brightest.
    No, he wasn’t offended (except by Church lies), no sinning, no other stereotypical reasons with which TBMs reassure themselves. He was Elder’s Quorum President and Ward Mission leader at the time, and had brought people into the church, and activated others. My daughter was Young Women’s President. They drove other people’s kids without transportation to Early Morning Seminary, carting along their infant. The church was their lives. They were the backbone of their branch, and were totally immersed and believing. Learning the church wasn’t true was earthshaking for them, but they adjusted and now are very happy outside the church, and are glad to have their eyes opened while they are still young before wasting their entire lives and tithing on The Fraud.

    “Are you sure his mind wasn’t already made up?”
    On the contrary. He was a True Believer, and knew nothing about the issues. As he stated, he knew the church was true, and went online to prove me wrong. He started with FAIR.

    “Tsk tsk – could someone have given him misleading expectations about my incomplete and highly amateurish site?”
    Tsk tsk yourself. Nope, wrong guess. He called to ask me if I was aware of FAIR. I stated yes, that I was aware of FAIR, FARMS, JeffLindsay.com (which he didn’t know of), and I’d been all over the internet, in addition to the hundreds of books I’d read, and then we hung up. That was it; extremely short 30-second conversation, as I didn’t want to fight with my TBM son-in-law. I didn’t express any opinions.

    It wasn’t until months later that he told me about his journey out, and that he was going to thank you. They live across the country, and I wasn’t aware of, nor did I influence his journey nor his opinion of your site. Refuting me was only the catalyst that got him started. If he had any preconceived ideas of your site, they would have been favorable, in defense of the church. The convoluted and weak apologetics changed his mind.

    “And why on earth would he think that my pages are the best that the apologists have?”
    He didn’t. He also scoured FAIR and FARMS. Yours was just the last straw. He warned my other TBM son that if he wanted to keep his testimony, he should stay away from apologists.

    “What was the topic that couldn’t be refuted?”
    Not just one topic, all of them. You are fighting a losing battle among the rational minded.

    As I said previously, please continue your work, because it makes my job easier. Thank you!

  26. D. Reply

    Jeff,
    “What was the reason for leaving?”
    The church isn’t true. The church is losing its best and brightest.
    No, he wasn’t offended (except by Church lies), no sinning, no other stereotypical reasons with which TBMs reassure themselves. He was Elder’s Quorum President and Ward Mission leader at the time, and had brought people into the church, and activated others. My daughter was Young Women’s President. They drove other people’s kids without transportation to Early Morning Seminary, carting along their infant. The church was their lives. They were the backbone of their branch, and were totally immersed and believing. Learning the church wasn’t true was earthshaking for them, but they adjusted and now are very happy outside the church, and are glad to have their eyes opened while they are still young before wasting their entire lives and tithing on The Fraud.

    “Are you sure his mind wasn’t already made up?”
    On the contrary. He was a True Believer, and knew nothing about the issues. As he stated, he knew the church was true, and went online to prove me wrong. He started with FAIR.

    “Tsk tsk – could someone have given him misleading expectations about my incomplete and highly amateurish site?”
    Tsk tsk yourself. Nope, wrong guess. He called to ask me if I was aware of FAIR. I stated yes, that I was aware of FAIR, FARMS, JeffLindsay.com (which he didn’t know of), and I’d been all over the internet, in addition to the hundreds of books I’d read, and then we hung up. That was it; extremely short 30-second conversation, as I didn’t want to fight with my TBM son-in-law. I didn’t express any opinions.

    It wasn’t until months later that he told me about his journey out, and that he was going to thank you. They live across the country, and I wasn’t aware of, nor did I influence his journey nor his opinion of your site. Refuting me was only the catalyst that got him started. If he had any preconceived ideas of your site, they would have been favorable, in defense of the church. The convoluted and weak apologetics changed his mind.

    “And why on earth would he think that my pages are the best that the apologists have?”
    He didn’t. He also scoured FAIR and FARMS. Yours was just the last straw. He warned my other TBM son that if he wanted to keep his testimony, he should stay away from apologists.

    “What was the topic that couldn’t be refuted?”
    Not just one topic, all of them. You are fighting a losing battle among the rational minded.

    As I said previously, please continue your work, because it makes my job easier. Thank you!

  27. James Reply

    “It’s a fundamental doctrine of the Church that prophets and apostles are not infallible.”

    I don’t think anyone disputes the fact that Mormon or even Biblical prophets are human and not infallible. The question is, how fallible can they be and still receive revelation from God? Joseph Smith made “mistakes” with polygamy that look a lot like adultery. Brigham Young (and other LDS leaders) held racists views. At what point do you question if someone is qualified to speak for God? How far can a prophet go and still be “in charge”?

  28. James Reply

    “It’s a fundamental doctrine of the Church that prophets and apostles are not infallible.”

    I don’t think anyone disputes the fact that Mormon or even Biblical prophets are human and not infallible. The question is, how fallible can they be and still receive revelation from God? Joseph Smith made “mistakes” with polygamy that look a lot like adultery. Brigham Young (and other LDS leaders) held racists views. At what point do you question if someone is qualified to speak for God? How far can a prophet go and still be “in charge”?

  29. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    Let me ask this question: If you accept the Bible as true, how much apparently bad behavior on the part of Abraham would it take to reject him as a prophet? How much would it take to reject the Old Testament? How much would it take to reject someone who taught as official doctrine that Abraham was a great prophet who should be considered the “fiend of God” (which is what Christ called him)?

    The record from the pro-Abraham writers in the Old Testament – those loony Abrahamic apologists – admits that he was guilty of plural marriage and shacking up with concubines. It admits that he sent one of his women and his unwanted son out into the desert where they would have died were it not for miraculous help. It admits that he tried to kill his own son in a pagan human sacrifice. It admits that he was a bloody man of war and a greedy profiteer rolling in wealth and seeking more. Now what if we dug up additional evidence from his critics and victims? Can you imagine what a tapestry we’d have then? So at what point do you reject Abraham, the Old Testament, and even Christ because of the vast tapestry one can create by picking out the uglyiest threads and discarding everything else?

    One can seek to understand the big picture or one can seek to craft objections and weave a tapestry to tell an ugly story from a flawed but, at many times, divinely inspired life.

    For me, the tapestry that needs to be considered has a rich and repeating pattern of a divine gift, the Book of Mormon, with power and rich internal and external evidences for authenticity. It has repeating patterns in many other areas indicating divine authority and majesty in the revealed and restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are rich experiences, intellectually stimulating and fulfulling journeys involving the Temple, the scriptures, the Priesthood, the relation to ancient Christianity, and many other elements, that together form a joyous tapestry – with some ugly threads in there as well. When examined, they do not destroy the value of the whole, though they do raise some problems and require examination of assumptions and, most often, more careful readings of texts and interpretations of events.

    So let me ask one illustrative question along these lines. If you know, really know, that the Book of Mormon is simply too powerful, beautiful, and authentic as an ancient text for Joseph Smith to have fabricated or any scholar in his day to have concocted, at what point does your touble with polygamy or the Kirtland bank disaster or Brigham Young’s views on minorities lead you to conclude that the Book of Mormon is a fraud and all the witnesses who went to their graves affirming the reality of the gold plates must have been pathological liars? If the Book of Mormon is true, if the First Vision really happened, would that make a difference in how you approach a puzzling issue like polygamy or other problems later on?

  30. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    Let me ask this question: If you accept the Bible as true, how much apparently bad behavior on the part of Abraham would it take to reject him as a prophet? How much would it take to reject the Old Testament? How much would it take to reject someone who taught as official doctrine that Abraham was a great prophet who should be considered the “fiend of God” (which is what Christ called him)?

    The record from the pro-Abraham writers in the Old Testament – those loony Abrahamic apologists – admits that he was guilty of plural marriage and shacking up with concubines. It admits that he sent one of his women and his unwanted son out into the desert where they would have died were it not for miraculous help. It admits that he tried to kill his own son in a pagan human sacrifice. It admits that he was a bloody man of war and a greedy profiteer rolling in wealth and seeking more. Now what if we dug up additional evidence from his critics and victims? Can you imagine what a tapestry we’d have then? So at what point do you reject Abraham, the Old Testament, and even Christ because of the vast tapestry one can create by picking out the uglyiest threads and discarding everything else?

    One can seek to understand the big picture or one can seek to craft objections and weave a tapestry to tell an ugly story from a flawed but, at many times, divinely inspired life.

    For me, the tapestry that needs to be considered has a rich and repeating pattern of a divine gift, the Book of Mormon, with power and rich internal and external evidences for authenticity. It has repeating patterns in many other areas indicating divine authority and majesty in the revealed and restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are rich experiences, intellectually stimulating and fulfulling journeys involving the Temple, the scriptures, the Priesthood, the relation to ancient Christianity, and many other elements, that together form a joyous tapestry – with some ugly threads in there as well. When examined, they do not destroy the value of the whole, though they do raise some problems and require examination of assumptions and, most often, more careful readings of texts and interpretations of events.

    So let me ask one illustrative question along these lines. If you know, really know, that the Book of Mormon is simply too powerful, beautiful, and authentic as an ancient text for Joseph Smith to have fabricated or any scholar in his day to have concocted, at what point does your touble with polygamy or the Kirtland bank disaster or Brigham Young’s views on minorities lead you to conclude that the Book of Mormon is a fraud and all the witnesses who went to their graves affirming the reality of the gold plates must have been pathological liars? If the Book of Mormon is true, if the First Vision really happened, would that make a difference in how you approach a puzzling issue like polygamy or other problems later on?

  31. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    Revision of the typo-ridden response above:

    James, you ask a fair question, but one that might be missing some important considerations. In response, let me ask this question: If you currently accept the Bible as true, how much apparently bad behavior on the part of Abraham would it take to reject him as a prophet? How much would it take to reject the Old Testament? How much would it take to reject someone who taught as official doctrine that Abraham was a great prophet who should be considered the “friend of God” (which is what Christ called him)?

    The record from the pro-Abraham writers in the Old Testament – those loony Abrahamic apologists – admits (warning: anti-Abrahamic spin follows) that he was guilty of polygamy and shacking up with concubines. It admits that he sent one of his women and his unwanted son out into the desert where they would have died were it not for miraculous help. It admits that he tried to kill his own son in a pagan human sacrifice. It admits that he was a bloody man of war and a greedy profiteer rolling in wealth and seeking more. Now what if we dug up additional evidence from his critics and victims? Can you imagine what a tapestry we’d have then? So at what point do you reject Abraham, the Old Testament, and even Christ because of the vast tapestry one can create by picking out the ugliest threads and discarding everything else?

    One can seek to understand the big picture, the real tapestry, or one can seek to craft objections and weave their own new tapestry to tell an ugly story from a flawed but, at many times, divinely inspired life.

    For me, the tapestry that needs to be considered has a rich and repeating pattern of a divine gift, the Book of Mormon, with power and rich internal and external evidences for authenticity. It has repeating patterns in many other areas indicating divine authority and majesty in the revealed and restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are rich experiences, intellectually stimulating and fulfilling journeys involving the Temple, the scriptures, the Priesthood, the relation to ancient Christianity, and many other elements, that together form a joyous tapestry – with some ugly threads in there as well that come from mortal fallibility. When examined, the ugly threads do not destroy the value of the whole, though they do raise some problems and require examination of assumptions and, most often, more careful readings of texts and more complex interpretations of events.

    So let me ask one illustrative question along these lines. If you know, really know, as I do, that the Book of Mormon is simply too powerful, beautiful, and authentic as an ancient text for Joseph Smith to have fabricated or any scholar in his day to have concocted, at what point does your trouble with polygamy or the Kirtland bank disaster or Brigham Young’s views on minorities lead you to conclude that the Book of Mormon is a fraud and all the witnesses who went to their graves affirming the reality of the gold plates must have been pathological liars? If the Book of Mormon is true, if the First Vision really happened, would that make a difference in how you approach a puzzling issue like polygamy or other problems later on?

  32. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    Revision of the typo-ridden response above:

    James, you ask a fair question, but one that might be missing some important considerations. In response, let me ask this question: If you currently accept the Bible as true, how much apparently bad behavior on the part of Abraham would it take to reject him as a prophet? How much would it take to reject the Old Testament? How much would it take to reject someone who taught as official doctrine that Abraham was a great prophet who should be considered the “friend of God” (which is what Christ called him)?

    The record from the pro-Abraham writers in the Old Testament – those loony Abrahamic apologists – admits (warning: anti-Abrahamic spin follows) that he was guilty of polygamy and shacking up with concubines. It admits that he sent one of his women and his unwanted son out into the desert where they would have died were it not for miraculous help. It admits that he tried to kill his own son in a pagan human sacrifice. It admits that he was a bloody man of war and a greedy profiteer rolling in wealth and seeking more. Now what if we dug up additional evidence from his critics and victims? Can you imagine what a tapestry we’d have then? So at what point do you reject Abraham, the Old Testament, and even Christ because of the vast tapestry one can create by picking out the ugliest threads and discarding everything else?

    One can seek to understand the big picture, the real tapestry, or one can seek to craft objections and weave their own new tapestry to tell an ugly story from a flawed but, at many times, divinely inspired life.

    For me, the tapestry that needs to be considered has a rich and repeating pattern of a divine gift, the Book of Mormon, with power and rich internal and external evidences for authenticity. It has repeating patterns in many other areas indicating divine authority and majesty in the revealed and restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are rich experiences, intellectually stimulating and fulfilling journeys involving the Temple, the scriptures, the Priesthood, the relation to ancient Christianity, and many other elements, that together form a joyous tapestry – with some ugly threads in there as well that come from mortal fallibility. When examined, the ugly threads do not destroy the value of the whole, though they do raise some problems and require examination of assumptions and, most often, more careful readings of texts and more complex interpretations of events.

    So let me ask one illustrative question along these lines. If you know, really know, as I do, that the Book of Mormon is simply too powerful, beautiful, and authentic as an ancient text for Joseph Smith to have fabricated or any scholar in his day to have concocted, at what point does your trouble with polygamy or the Kirtland bank disaster or Brigham Young’s views on minorities lead you to conclude that the Book of Mormon is a fraud and all the witnesses who went to their graves affirming the reality of the gold plates must have been pathological liars? If the Book of Mormon is true, if the First Vision really happened, would that make a difference in how you approach a puzzling issue like polygamy or other problems later on?

    • Sam Andy Reply

      Further to John D.’s point, here is a hypothetical situation:

      In 1960 a white woman falls in love with a worthy black man, a member of the Church, and desires to marry him. However, after much struggle she does not do so because she will not have a priesthood-holder husband that can take her to the temple, and because of various things she has heard or read about black people from certain LDS leaders, including apostles and prophets. Instead, she marries a white man, a worthy priesthood holder, whom she loves but never like she did the black man.

      In 1978 the priesthood ban is lifted and all worthy males are given the priesthood. The woman is heartsick that her decision of many years ago was influenced by the former doctrine, in which she trusted, and that she missed out on a promising life of love and happiness with the black man.

      And now a real one:

      In the mid-nineties a young man takes his own life after struggling with same-gender attraction and counseling with LDS Social Services. He believes something is wrong with him and that he never can be happy in this life because of his feelings and their conflict with current LDS views (which he perceives as doctrine) on that condition.

      In 2007 the Church softens its stance on same-gender attraction, acknowledging that the condition is real (see the pamphlet “God Loveth His Children”). Relatives of the young man are absolutely devastated at the thought that this counsel most likely would have prevented their loved one’s death. Their view of the Church and its doctrines is irreversibly affected by this tragedy.

      Conclusion: the human cost of faulty doctrine is just too great.

  33. John Dehlin Reply

    Jeff,

    I’m not really questioning or taking issue with divine origins, restored Priesthood authority, ordinances, etc.

    Here’s where I struggle. Yes we may have prophets, but what we’ve learned from the past 150 years is that we can’t always trust that what they teach us is correct, or official. The majority can tell us for over 150 years that Native American are Lamanites…..then in an instant it’s no longer so. They can tell us that polygamy is required for exaltation, then they can tell us that polygamy is “not doctrinal.” They can tell us to participate in dynastic sealings, where men get sealed to other men in the temple…then they tell us to stop doing that. They can tell us that blacks were black because they were less valiant in the pre-existence….then they tell us that they “were wrong.” They can tell us that birth control, face cards, and psychology are bad/evil, then stop telling us those things (making them ok again?). They tell us that Zion will be in Missouri and that we should congregate there….then they tell us that Zion is wherever the saints are gathered, and that we should no longer gather in Missouri.

    Now they’re telling us that gays should not be allowed to be married.

    So….is this something that’s going to be “un-done” again in 50 years? How do we know? If it is going to be un-done, shouldn’t we follow our consciences now?

    If someone was opposed to the Church’s teachings about the blacks, or polygamy, or the Lamanites, or Zion 100 years ago, were they wrong to oppose or disbelieve those things back then?

    We may technically have scriptures and revelation — but scriptures and revelation often contradict each other. And thus we seem to be left today not really knowing what is official church doctrine, and what is speculation. The recent press release on LDS Church Doctrine basically says, “Jesus is the only reliable doctrine…” and seems to infer that everything else is peripheral. That means that these days, the Q12 and First Presidency seem to restrict their teachings to things that most Evangelicals believe (faith, repentance, baptism)…..along with common-sense advice like “Stay out of debt” and “Avoid Porn” — and the only real difference between us and the rest of Christianity is our organizational structure (which is awesome, I’ll admit), and our claims to authority (which begins to feel somewhat arbitrary after a while…as if God is a franchiser or something).

    So yes — ideally we would all know what the doctrine is, and what is official — and we would all believe it in a unified way. But because in reality there seems to be so much uncertainty (at least to me, and to so many I talk to)…..then we’re left with a wide spectrum of beliefs regarding doctrine and theology….not knowing exactly what to believe/trust any more (other than the common-sense basic stuff, which is in no way unique to Mormonism).

    So should we all just leave then…those of us who are confused, or who even disagree? Or do we still have a place in the kingdom? If we do have a place…what is that place, give our doubts and confusion (and even disobedience at times)?

    Here’s another way to simplify my questions:

    1) Where is a list of doctrine that we can all agree upon?
    2) How do we know which things are eternal, and which things will change within 100 years?
    3) If someone doesn’t believe in something that has traditionally been taught by prophets/apostles…should they just leave the church?

    So I guess I feel a bit like your answer sort of avoids the reality of where we are, by hiding behind the “ideal”.

    Would you be willing to try again…grounding your answers more in the reality of our present day situation?

  34. John Dehlin Reply

    Jeff,

    I’m not really questioning or taking issue with divine origins, restored Priesthood authority, ordinances, etc.

    Here’s where I struggle. Yes we may have prophets, but what we’ve learned from the past 150 years is that we can’t always trust that what they teach us is correct, or official. The majority can tell us for over 150 years that Native American are Lamanites…..then in an instant it’s no longer so. They can tell us that polygamy is required for exaltation, then they can tell us that polygamy is “not doctrinal.” They can tell us to participate in dynastic sealings, where men get sealed to other men in the temple…then they tell us to stop doing that. They can tell us that blacks were black because they were less valiant in the pre-existence….then they tell us that they “were wrong.” They can tell us that birth control, face cards, and psychology are bad/evil, then stop telling us those things (making them ok again?). They tell us that Zion will be in Missouri and that we should congregate there….then they tell us that Zion is wherever the saints are gathered, and that we should no longer gather in Missouri.

    Now they’re telling us that gays should not be allowed to be married.

    So….is this something that’s going to be “un-done” again in 50 years? How do we know? If it is going to be un-done, shouldn’t we follow our consciences now?

    If someone was opposed to the Church’s teachings about the blacks, or polygamy, or the Lamanites, or Zion 100 years ago, were they wrong to oppose or disbelieve those things back then?

    We may technically have scriptures and revelation — but scriptures and revelation often contradict each other. And thus we seem to be left today not really knowing what is official church doctrine, and what is speculation. The recent press release on LDS Church Doctrine basically says, “Jesus is the only reliable doctrine…” and seems to infer that everything else is peripheral. That means that these days, the Q12 and First Presidency seem to restrict their teachings to things that most Evangelicals believe (faith, repentance, baptism)…..along with common-sense advice like “Stay out of debt” and “Avoid Porn” — and the only real difference between us and the rest of Christianity is our organizational structure (which is awesome, I’ll admit), and our claims to authority (which begins to feel somewhat arbitrary after a while…as if God is a franchiser or something).

    So yes — ideally we would all know what the doctrine is, and what is official — and we would all believe it in a unified way. But because in reality there seems to be so much uncertainty (at least to me, and to so many I talk to)…..then we’re left with a wide spectrum of beliefs regarding doctrine and theology….not knowing exactly what to believe/trust any more (other than the common-sense basic stuff, which is in no way unique to Mormonism).

    So should we all just leave then…those of us who are confused, or who even disagree? Or do we still have a place in the kingdom? If we do have a place…what is that place, give our doubts and confusion (and even disobedience at times)?

    Here’s another way to simplify my questions:

    1) Where is a list of doctrine that we can all agree upon?
    2) How do we know which things are eternal, and which things will change within 100 years?
    3) If someone doesn’t believe in something that has traditionally been taught by prophets/apostles…should they just leave the church?

    So I guess I feel a bit like your answer sort of avoids the reality of where we are, by hiding behind the “ideal”.

    Would you be willing to try again…grounding your answers more in the reality of our present day situation?

  35. Randall Reply

    Jeff,

    You sound like my dad. He clings to the BoM so tight, when I bring up my doubts, I can see his knuckles getting white. He, like you, has concluded that the BoM cannot be plausibly explained in any other way than being divine. That creates a mindset that operates under the absolute assumption that the church is True. I do not operate under that assumption so that when I come across all the troubling issues, I have to deal with them. My dad does not. He can simply deflect them and, as he says, put them in a box because he “knows” the BoM is True.

    Using the problems with the Bible prophets, etc as an example doesn’t resonate with me because the same skeptical eye I put on Mormonism, I put on the Bible and Christianity. Therefore, it broke down for me as well. It added to the large tapestry filled with holes that I now conclude is mythology.

    As for the BoM, I will defer to Insider’s View of Mormon Origins as most of my arguments against the BoM’s authenticity can be found in there so I won’t get into a BoM pissing contest on this message board. I have others that Palmer didn’t cover, but again, not going to get into it.

    Again, I respect your position and admire your willingness to put yourself in the crosshairs of shadow, disaffected, and ex-Mormons.

  36. Randall Reply

    Jeff,

    You sound like my dad. He clings to the BoM so tight, when I bring up my doubts, I can see his knuckles getting white. He, like you, has concluded that the BoM cannot be plausibly explained in any other way than being divine. That creates a mindset that operates under the absolute assumption that the church is True. I do not operate under that assumption so that when I come across all the troubling issues, I have to deal with them. My dad does not. He can simply deflect them and, as he says, put them in a box because he “knows” the BoM is True.

    Using the problems with the Bible prophets, etc as an example doesn’t resonate with me because the same skeptical eye I put on Mormonism, I put on the Bible and Christianity. Therefore, it broke down for me as well. It added to the large tapestry filled with holes that I now conclude is mythology.

    As for the BoM, I will defer to Insider’s View of Mormon Origins as most of my arguments against the BoM’s authenticity can be found in there so I won’t get into a BoM pissing contest on this message board. I have others that Palmer didn’t cover, but again, not going to get into it.

    Again, I respect your position and admire your willingness to put yourself in the crosshairs of shadow, disaffected, and ex-Mormons.

  37. James Reply

    “How much would it take to reject the Old Testament?”

    Israelites killing women and children, daughters drugging their father and sleeping with him and fathers offering daughters to be raped by mobs pretty much did it for me, though I know see many things that could easily be added to that list. I look at the Bible as one big allegory now. Some good stories and lessons mixed in with a bunch of really bad ones.

    I’m curious, I hear apologists say that Joseph Smith made mistakes with polygamy, exactly what mistakes do you think he made? Either God told him to marry someone or He didn’t. If he disobeyed God isn’t that what we call adultery, even if you accept the practice of polygamy when commanded by God? Again what mistakes do you believe he made?

  38. James Reply

    “How much would it take to reject the Old Testament?”

    Israelites killing women and children, daughters drugging their father and sleeping with him and fathers offering daughters to be raped by mobs pretty much did it for me, though I know see many things that could easily be added to that list. I look at the Bible as one big allegory now. Some good stories and lessons mixed in with a bunch of really bad ones.

    I’m curious, I hear apologists say that Joseph Smith made mistakes with polygamy, exactly what mistakes do you think he made? Either God told him to marry someone or He didn’t. If he disobeyed God isn’t that what we call adultery, even if you accept the practice of polygamy when commanded by God? Again what mistakes do you believe he made?

  39. Chris Justice Reply

    I think John Dehlin brings up some wonderful questions. I think the basic answer to these questions is that the prophets are not to be looked at as completely reliable. They seem to be good people, who may or may not have our best interest at heart. They bring their own agenda to the table and are subject to their own bias. I do not know any of them personally, but I believe their main purpose is to defend the church, sometimes at the expense of some of the members. It really is too bad. They seem to have dug their feet in reguarding some of the ‘sticky’ issues. They are not completly forthright regarding these issues, and by so doing, they will continue to lose people. Yet they are worshiped by many of the chapel mormons who hang on their every word. I’m sure they enjoy the celebrity status, so why would they set the record straight so to say?

  40. Chris Justice Reply

    I think John Dehlin brings up some wonderful questions. I think the basic answer to these questions is that the prophets are not to be looked at as completely reliable. They seem to be good people, who may or may not have our best interest at heart. They bring their own agenda to the table and are subject to their own bias. I do not know any of them personally, but I believe their main purpose is to defend the church, sometimes at the expense of some of the members. It really is too bad. They seem to have dug their feet in reguarding some of the ‘sticky’ issues. They are not completly forthright regarding these issues, and by so doing, they will continue to lose people. Yet they are worshiped by many of the chapel mormons who hang on their every word. I’m sure they enjoy the celebrity status, so why would they set the record straight so to say?

  41. Sam Andy Reply

    Further to John D.’s point, here is a hypothetical situation:

    In 1960 a white woman falls in love with a worthy black man, a member of the Church, and desires to marry him. However, after much struggle she does not do so because she will not have a priesthood-holder husband that can take her to the temple, and because of various things she has heard or read about black people from certain LDS leaders, including apostles and prophets. Instead, she marries a white man, a worthy priesthood holder, whom she loves but never like she did the black man.

    In 1978 the priesthood ban is lifted and all worthy males are given the priesthood. The woman is heartsick that her decision of many years ago was influenced by the former doctrine, in which she trusted, and that she missed out on a promising life of love and happiness with the black man.

    And now a real one:

    In the mid-nineties a young man takes his own life after struggling with same-gender attraction and counseling with LDS Social Services. He believes something is wrong with him and that he never can be happy in this life because of his feelings and their conflict with current LDS views (which he perceives as doctrine) on that condition.

    In 2007 the Church softens its stance on same-gender attraction, acknowledging that the condition is real (see the pamphlet “God Loveth His Children”). Relatives of the young man are absolutely devastated at the thought that this counsel most likely would have prevented their loved one’s death. Their view of the Church and its doctrines is irreversibly affected by this tragedy.

    Conclusion: the human cost of faulty doctrine is just too great.

  42. James Reply

    Jeff, thank you for talking with us for the podcast. I appreciate you taking the time to do so. Reading over the comments left so far I have to say that I am still perplexed with the apologetic tendency to deny revelation and in its place accept that the prophets were wrong. Unfortunately for the apologists this is done in a half hearted way in which they attempt to diffuse the glaring problems and claim that belief in revelation can be modified if the revelation is not true. That breaks the definition of revelation.

    The BOM is a revelation provided by smith and company. It makes specific claims that are incorrect. One cannot redefine who the ancestors of the american Indians are after repeated claims that they are all lamanites. I taught this, you taught this and almost every missionary has at some point taught this.

    As to your statement that Joseph Smith never taught that the American Indians are all descended from lamanites, I am perplexed as to why you do so.

    in the PoGP, the Angel moroni supposedly declared that the BOM is “an account of the former inhabitants of this continent.”

    The definite article was used. If your assertions that there were other peoples in America were true the angel would have stated it somehting along these lines: “an account of ONE OF the former inhabitants of this continent.”

    In the Wentworth letter we see the definite article once again:
    “concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country and shown who they were and from whence they came…”

    Furthermore, he continues to peg the Jaredites/Lamanites as the sole inhabitants:

    “In this … book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its FIRST SETTLEMENT by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel… American in ancient times has been inhabited by TWO distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites… The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem about six hundred years before Christ. They were PRINCIPALLY Israelites…”

    So I am sorry, but your claim that Joseph Smith never taught that there was a possibility of (I am paraphrasing your argument here) unmentioned peoples diluting jewish DNA is false.

  43. James Reply

    Jeff, thank you for talking with us for the podcast. I appreciate you taking the time to do so. Reading over the comments left so far I have to say that I am still perplexed with the apologetic tendency to deny revelation and in its place accept that the prophets were wrong. Unfortunately for the apologists this is done in a half hearted way in which they attempt to diffuse the glaring problems and claim that belief in revelation can be modified if the revelation is not true. That breaks the definition of revelation.

    The BOM is a revelation provided by smith and company. It makes specific claims that are incorrect. One cannot redefine who the ancestors of the american Indians are after repeated claims that they are all lamanites. I taught this, you taught this and almost every missionary has at some point taught this.

    As to your statement that Joseph Smith never taught that the American Indians are all descended from lamanites, I am perplexed as to why you do so.

    in the PoGP, the Angel moroni supposedly declared that the BOM is “an account of the former inhabitants of this continent.”

    The definite article was used. If your assertions that there were other peoples in America were true the angel would have stated it somehting along these lines: “an account of ONE OF the former inhabitants of this continent.”

    In the Wentworth letter we see the definite article once again:
    “concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country and shown who they were and from whence they came…”

    Furthermore, he continues to peg the Jaredites/Lamanites as the sole inhabitants:

    “In this … book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its FIRST SETTLEMENT by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel… American in ancient times has been inhabited by TWO distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites… The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem about six hundred years before Christ. They were PRINCIPALLY Israelites…”

    So I am sorry, but your claim that Joseph Smith never taught that there was a possibility of (I am paraphrasing your argument here) unmentioned peoples diluting jewish DNA is false.

  44. James Reply

    Jeff, its not just JS who claimed that the lamanites were the ancestors of the Amerindinans. SWK has this tidbit:

    “The term Lamanite includes all Indians and Indian mixtures, such as the Polynesians, the Guatemalans, the Peruvians, as well as the Sioux, the Apache, the Mohawk, the Navajo, and others. It is a large group of great people.” (“Of Royal Blood,” Ensign, July 1971, p. 7).

  45. James Reply

    Jeff, its not just JS who claimed that the lamanites were the ancestors of the Amerindinans. SWK has this tidbit:

    “The term Lamanite includes all Indians and Indian mixtures, such as the Polynesians, the Guatemalans, the Peruvians, as well as the Sioux, the Apache, the Mohawk, the Navajo, and others. It is a large group of great people.” (“Of Royal Blood,” Ensign, July 1971, p. 7).

  46. DuzTruthMatter Reply

    Way to go John Dehlin!! You put in words what I was thinking and the things that have made me question. Apparently, Jeff has not taken the time to research all of the evidence refuting the authenticity, divinity, historicity, etc. of the BoM. I really enjoyed your approach with Mormon Stories in bringing up these types of questions and seeking answers without “blind faith”.

  47. DuzTruthMatter Reply

    Way to go John Dehlin!! You put in words what I was thinking and the things that have made me question. Apparently, Jeff has not taken the time to research all of the evidence refuting the authenticity, divinity, historicity, etc. of the BoM. I really enjoyed your approach with Mormon Stories in bringing up these types of questions and seeking answers without “blind faith”.

  48. AP Reply

    Thank you so much Jeff for being willing to come and discuss these issues. I admire and respect your belief and faith tremendously. I am in the midst of my own crisis and disillusionment. You are a great example to me.

    Note to D.,

    Why be so condescending and such a jerk? Your complete lack or respect and dignity is repulsive. In the midst of my crisis you might be the best apologist that I have encountered. All I have to do is read your posts, understand your attitude and realize that I would believe anything if it kept me from ending up like you.

    • Baurak Ale Reply

      [quote]Why be so condescending and such a jerk? Your complete lack or respect and dignity is repulsive. In the midst of my crisis you might be the best apologist that I have encountered. All I have to do is read your posts, understand your attitude and realize that I would believe anything if it kept me from ending up like you.[/quote]

      *APPLAUSE*

  49. AP Reply

    Thank you so much Jeff for being willing to come and discuss these issues. I admire and respect your belief and faith tremendously. I am in the midst of my own crisis and disillusionment. You are a great example to me.

    Note to D.,

    Why be so condescending and such a jerk? Your complete lack or respect and dignity is repulsive. In the midst of my crisis you might be the best apologist that I have encountered. All I have to do is read your posts, understand your attitude and realize that I would believe anything if it kept me from ending up like you.

    • Baurak Ale Reply

      [quote]Why be so condescending and such a jerk? Your complete lack or respect and dignity is repulsive. In the midst of my crisis you might be the best apologist that I have encountered. All I have to do is read your posts, understand your attitude and realize that I would believe anything if it kept me from ending up like you.[/quote]

      *APPLAUSE*

  50. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    AP, I think you are reacting too strongly to D. If the failures of apologetics help propel a doubter over the edge, it’s a point worth considering. If someone leaves the Church because they felt lied to and became shattered over the disappointments they faced, I can understand being a bit edgy toward people like me who defend what they see as vile. Yes, some of the comments I found unnecessarily offensive and not a good display of tolerance for the religious beliefs of others, But I’m fair game for showing up here.

    John, you did express your point nicely, and my quick reply was inadequate. Personally, I expect change, paradigm shifts, and disappointment are part of our journey and a natural consequence of having both limited understanding and limited mortal leaders. It might be wise to contemplate the disappointments and paradigm shifts that faithful Jews faced as they confronted the Messiah and followed Him and participated in early Christianity. They grew up being taught and even explicitly reading in their sacred texts, that their rituals of sacrifice would continue “for all generations.” They were taught that the Sabbath would always be on the 7th day. They were taught that God would protect Israel and that the Messiah would come to bring them political freedom and victory – not be a humble man of peace who would be killed by the Romans and fail to deliver them from their oppressors. Reconciling the new revelations of the Messiah required massive adjustments in their assumptions and careful new reading of the text, which was actually accurate after all, but now had to be understood differently. Things they had been taught for years, based on logical interpretations of the text by well-meaning and perhaps even inspired leaders had to be revised.

    Remember what a shocker it was for Peter to get the revelation that the Gospel was to be preached to Gentiles, the unclean people. For the faithful Jews, it wasn’t just the priesthood that was exclusive to only a tiny fraction of one particular race, it was the Gospel itself that was supposed to be limited, and now Jews and Gentiles were suddenly alike and all equal. Now you could end up with a bishop who was one of those unclean Romans. Big changes, radically shaken paradigms, and a need to rethink just what was meant by the scriptures of old. It could be parsed and understood, but required recognition that old assumptions were incomplete.

    There were dozens of arguments that one could craft to belittle Christianity and show that it violated all the teachings people had grown up with. Indeed, religious and scriptural arguments against Christ were persuasive to many. Add to that the impact of false witnesses and the wonders of clever spinning (see Celsus on Jesus the con-man magician) and just lots of bad press and awful rumors, and you can imagine that there was plenty of room for doubt, plenty of overwhelming. It really required first obtaining a spiritual testimony, seeing the Divine in spite of all the flaws of bickering apostles (or the shocking betrayal of Judas) and all the weight of logic and the pain of paradigm shifts. Only with that foundation, the knowledge that there was something divine in this despised off-shoot (scripturally refuted blasphemy to Jews, a monstrous laughinstock defying reason to the Greeks), could the Jewish Christian revisit old scriptures and see that they were still true, but needed to be understood more carefully, explored again for meaning as assumptions and paradigms were updated. Yes, Jesus was the Messiah, but the glorious deliverance of political Israel would occur much later, and now He was indeed meant to be killed and the Jewish temple, that invincible symbol of God’s glory, could be destroyed without shaking one’s faith in God and the teachings of old prophets.

    Today we find a need to revise our understanding on some issues. Who the Lamanites are is a minor issue that only became important recently. Opinions on it, however frequently intoned, were not meant as revealed doctrine pertinent to our salvation. Now that critics have made it a more important point, it is fair to recognize that “Lamanites” in BOM lore can refer to non-Nephites, or even Nephites who join the enemy, and thus can refer to a broad array of peoples. It’s also fair to note that any surviving genes from 600 BC are probably all over the continent by now. And it’s fair to note that overly broad teachings by Church leaders based on a sloppy reading of the text should not be given more weight than the text.

    The Book of Mormon is smarter than Joseph Smith. This is a topic for another discussion, but it’s an interesting point. It’s smarter in geography of the Arabian Peninsula, in knowledge of Jerusalem and its walls, in consistency regarding people and places (the story of the Amlicites/Amalekites illustrates this point – future discussion), and in many other things.

    Regarding Joseph’s comments on the Lamanites, he expressed that he was open to the Toltecs being from a non-Book-of-Mormon source from the Old World. Here’s something to consider:

    Back in 1952, still long before the DNA controversy arose, Hugh Nibley wrote about Joseph Smith’s apparent endorsement of migrations to the New World other than those of the Book of Mormon:
    “Long after the Book of Mormon appeared Joseph Smith quoted with approval from the pulpit reports of certain Toltec legends which would make it appear that those people had come originally from the Near East in the time of Moses [see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 267]; whether such a migration ever took place or not, it is significant that the Prophet was not reluctant to recognize the possibility of other migrations than those mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
    “The argument of silence bears some weight in considering the possibility of ‘other sheep.’ When the Jaredites journey into a land ‘where there never had man been,’ [Ether 2:5, referring to a portion of their journey in the Old World] our history finds the fact worthy of note, even though the part was only passing through. Now there is a great deal said in the Book of Mormon about the past and future of the promised land, but never is it described as an empty land. The descendents of Lehi were never the only people on the continent, and the Jaredites never claimed to be.”
    (Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, originally published 1952, in The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.5 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), p. 250.)
    The above passage was also printed in an article by Hugh Nibley, “The World of the Jaredites,” in the May 1952 issue of the official Church periodical, The Improvement Era.

    There are a variety of subtle hints about others in the land throughout the Book of Mormon, though it clearly is focused on the Nephite people and ignores whatever others may have been encountered, just as the others they must have encountered in the journey across Arabia are unmentioned. But population growth, wild numbers of Lamanites (non-Nephites, including but not exclusively descendants of Laman and Lemuel), the rapid corruption of the Mulekite’s language, the persistence of ancient Jaredite names, and other factors point to the influence of others besides offspring of Lehi. That possibility has been discussed by some scholars for about a century now in the Church, including Nibely over 50 years ago, and is not a new position to avert DNA evidence. But even if it were completely new, whatever sweeping statements have been made in the past can withstand examination and be shown to rely on sloppy readings of the text or casual assumptions from very limited knowledge.

    Did Joseph convey what Moroni meant with such accuracy that we can build sweeping inferences from an article? I suggest that from the perspective of Biblical writers, the Israelites were the principal inhabitants of the Middle East, and perhaps from the perspective of the work of the Gospel, the Nephites were the “principal” inhabitants of the ancient Americas. They were certainly “among the principal inhabitants” as we now have it. Again, I don’t demand perfection from Church materials, and am willing to live with correction.

    John, back to your point – and I’m out of time for a while here – I feel the right approach is to seek to follow God as best we can with the knowledge we have, humbly taking counsel from Him and His authorized servants, imperfect and incomplete as they may be. At the same time, we must recognize that some things we take as sacrosanct and eternal now may not be so in the end. The Word of Wisdom, seen by some LDS folks as a truly identify and vital part of the Gospel (“we are the people that don’t touch unclean substances like tobacco, alcohol, tea, coffee, and Dr. Pepper”) was actually revealed to us as a healthy guideline. Tea and coffee came from later interpretation. Dr. Pepper came from speculation and hearsay regarding caffeine, which was never mentioned in the revelation (still waiting for the heavenly MSDS sheets). If I could look into the Millennium and saw true followers of Christ sipping coffee and tea, I would not fall to pieces. I might even hope I make it to the Millennium alive. For now, though, I feel that we should go along with it and respect that ruling, even if it has some mortal taint to it.

    Things get much more difficult when it comes to issues of marriage or other big topics. There are times when faith and patience are required. And yes, I must say it, mortal error or weakness in leaders can have negative effects on people’s lives. Some mistakes I made when I was a bishop caused pain or harm to others. If I judged too harshly or unwisely, if I failed to help when help was needed, when I gave someone a calling that they should never have had, if I taught doctrine improperly or got too deep or off on tangents instead of following the Spirit, and so on, all these things could hurt others. Being a Church leader and affecting people’s lives in many ways is a terrifying thing. I rejoice for the good that came out of it and the chance to help, but regret my mortal failings and recognize that I deeply offended some. One man told me years later how something I did while bishop nearly wrecked his life, and I still have no idea what it could have been or how that could have happened, and was just horrified to learn that. He was surprised at how surprised I was and was able to forgive me when he realized that it must not have been intentional. How horrifying. Still gives me – some big mystery sin of mine. His only clue was that it involved something in a parking lot, perhaps something I said or did, I guess. WIsh I knew.

    Leadership has the potential to bless and the potential to offend, and mistakes can be pretty serious since many are affected. And mistakes happen. We each have to turn to the Lord and figure out how to deal with all these issues. Best I can say is follow God, seek Him earnestly in prayer and the scriptures, and in the restored covenants and blessings of the Gospel. But, with patience and faith, don’t assume that everything we think and hear must be 100% exactly so. We all see through a glass darkly now, with just fragments of the whole having been revealed. If big changes occur in the future, as they will, don’t fall to pieces. The early Jewish Christians were able to cope with huge paradigm shifts in the process of following God, in spite of a myriad of arguments against their true course, and I hope that we call will be able to flexible enough to preserve our faith or, in some cases, regain it through the routes ahead.

  51. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    AP, I think you are reacting too strongly to D. If the failures of apologetics help propel a doubter over the edge, it’s a point worth considering. If someone leaves the Church because they felt lied to and became shattered over the disappointments they faced, I can understand being a bit edgy toward people like me who defend what they see as vile. Yes, some of the comments I found unnecessarily offensive and not a good display of tolerance for the religious beliefs of others, But I’m fair game for showing up here.

    John, you did express your point nicely, and my quick reply was inadequate. Personally, I expect change, paradigm shifts, and disappointment are part of our journey and a natural consequence of having both limited understanding and limited mortal leaders. It might be wise to contemplate the disappointments and paradigm shifts that faithful Jews faced as they confronted the Messiah and followed Him and participated in early Christianity. They grew up being taught and even explicitly reading in their sacred texts, that their rituals of sacrifice would continue “for all generations.” They were taught that the Sabbath would always be on the 7th day. They were taught that God would protect Israel and that the Messiah would come to bring them political freedom and victory – not be a humble man of peace who would be killed by the Romans and fail to deliver them from their oppressors. Reconciling the new revelations of the Messiah required massive adjustments in their assumptions and careful new reading of the text, which was actually accurate after all, but now had to be understood differently. Things they had been taught for years, based on logical interpretations of the text by well-meaning and perhaps even inspired leaders had to be revised.

    Remember what a shocker it was for Peter to get the revelation that the Gospel was to be preached to Gentiles, the unclean people. For the faithful Jews, it wasn’t just the priesthood that was exclusive to only a tiny fraction of one particular race, it was the Gospel itself that was supposed to be limited, and now Jews and Gentiles were suddenly alike and all equal. Now you could end up with a bishop who was one of those unclean Romans. Big changes, radically shaken paradigms, and a need to rethink just what was meant by the scriptures of old. It could be parsed and understood, but required recognition that old assumptions were incomplete.

    There were dozens of arguments that one could craft to belittle Christianity and show that it violated all the teachings people had grown up with. Indeed, religious and scriptural arguments against Christ were persuasive to many. Add to that the impact of false witnesses and the wonders of clever spinning (see Celsus on Jesus the con-man magician) and just lots of bad press and awful rumors, and you can imagine that there was plenty of room for doubt, plenty of overwhelming. It really required first obtaining a spiritual testimony, seeing the Divine in spite of all the flaws of bickering apostles (or the shocking betrayal of Judas) and all the weight of logic and the pain of paradigm shifts. Only with that foundation, the knowledge that there was something divine in this despised off-shoot (scripturally refuted blasphemy to Jews, a monstrous laughinstock defying reason to the Greeks), could the Jewish Christian revisit old scriptures and see that they were still true, but needed to be understood more carefully, explored again for meaning as assumptions and paradigms were updated. Yes, Jesus was the Messiah, but the glorious deliverance of political Israel would occur much later, and now He was indeed meant to be killed and the Jewish temple, that invincible symbol of God’s glory, could be destroyed without shaking one’s faith in God and the teachings of old prophets.

    Today we find a need to revise our understanding on some issues. Who the Lamanites are is a minor issue that only became important recently. Opinions on it, however frequently intoned, were not meant as revealed doctrine pertinent to our salvation. Now that critics have made it a more important point, it is fair to recognize that “Lamanites” in BOM lore can refer to non-Nephites, or even Nephites who join the enemy, and thus can refer to a broad array of peoples. It’s also fair to note that any surviving genes from 600 BC are probably all over the continent by now. And it’s fair to note that overly broad teachings by Church leaders based on a sloppy reading of the text should not be given more weight than the text.

    The Book of Mormon is smarter than Joseph Smith. This is a topic for another discussion, but it’s an interesting point. It’s smarter in geography of the Arabian Peninsula, in knowledge of Jerusalem and its walls, in consistency regarding people and places (the story of the Amlicites/Amalekites illustrates this point – future discussion), and in many other things.

    Regarding Joseph’s comments on the Lamanites, he expressed that he was open to the Toltecs being from a non-Book-of-Mormon source from the Old World. Here’s something to consider:

    Back in 1952, still long before the DNA controversy arose, Hugh Nibley wrote about Joseph Smith’s apparent endorsement of migrations to the New World other than those of the Book of Mormon:
    “Long after the Book of Mormon appeared Joseph Smith quoted with approval from the pulpit reports of certain Toltec legends which would make it appear that those people had come originally from the Near East in the time of Moses [see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 267]; whether such a migration ever took place or not, it is significant that the Prophet was not reluctant to recognize the possibility of other migrations than those mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
    “The argument of silence bears some weight in considering the possibility of ‘other sheep.’ When the Jaredites journey into a land ‘where there never had man been,’ [Ether 2:5, referring to a portion of their journey in the Old World] our history finds the fact worthy of note, even though the part was only passing through. Now there is a great deal said in the Book of Mormon about the past and future of the promised land, but never is it described as an empty land. The descendents of Lehi were never the only people on the continent, and the Jaredites never claimed to be.”
    (Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, originally published 1952, in The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.5 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), p. 250.)
    The above passage was also printed in an article by Hugh Nibley, “The World of the Jaredites,” in the May 1952 issue of the official Church periodical, The Improvement Era.

    There are a variety of subtle hints about others in the land throughout the Book of Mormon, though it clearly is focused on the Nephite people and ignores whatever others may have been encountered, just as the others they must have encountered in the journey across Arabia are unmentioned. But population growth, wild numbers of Lamanites (non-Nephites, including but not exclusively descendants of Laman and Lemuel), the rapid corruption of the Mulekite’s language, the persistence of ancient Jaredite names, and other factors point to the influence of others besides offspring of Lehi. That possibility has been discussed by some scholars for about a century now in the Church, including Nibely over 50 years ago, and is not a new position to avert DNA evidence. But even if it were completely new, whatever sweeping statements have been made in the past can withstand examination and be shown to rely on sloppy readings of the text or casual assumptions from very limited knowledge.

    Did Joseph convey what Moroni meant with such accuracy that we can build sweeping inferences from an article? I suggest that from the perspective of Biblical writers, the Israelites were the principal inhabitants of the Middle East, and perhaps from the perspective of the work of the Gospel, the Nephites were the “principal” inhabitants of the ancient Americas. They were certainly “among the principal inhabitants” as we now have it. Again, I don’t demand perfection from Church materials, and am willing to live with correction.

    John, back to your point – and I’m out of time for a while here – I feel the right approach is to seek to follow God as best we can with the knowledge we have, humbly taking counsel from Him and His authorized servants, imperfect and incomplete as they may be. At the same time, we must recognize that some things we take as sacrosanct and eternal now may not be so in the end. The Word of Wisdom, seen by some LDS folks as a truly identify and vital part of the Gospel (“we are the people that don’t touch unclean substances like tobacco, alcohol, tea, coffee, and Dr. Pepper”) was actually revealed to us as a healthy guideline. Tea and coffee came from later interpretation. Dr. Pepper came from speculation and hearsay regarding caffeine, which was never mentioned in the revelation (still waiting for the heavenly MSDS sheets). If I could look into the Millennium and saw true followers of Christ sipping coffee and tea, I would not fall to pieces. I might even hope I make it to the Millennium alive. For now, though, I feel that we should go along with it and respect that ruling, even if it has some mortal taint to it.

    Things get much more difficult when it comes to issues of marriage or other big topics. There are times when faith and patience are required. And yes, I must say it, mortal error or weakness in leaders can have negative effects on people’s lives. Some mistakes I made when I was a bishop caused pain or harm to others. If I judged too harshly or unwisely, if I failed to help when help was needed, when I gave someone a calling that they should never have had, if I taught doctrine improperly or got too deep or off on tangents instead of following the Spirit, and so on, all these things could hurt others. Being a Church leader and affecting people’s lives in many ways is a terrifying thing. I rejoice for the good that came out of it and the chance to help, but regret my mortal failings and recognize that I deeply offended some. One man told me years later how something I did while bishop nearly wrecked his life, and I still have no idea what it could have been or how that could have happened, and was just horrified to learn that. He was surprised at how surprised I was and was able to forgive me when he realized that it must not have been intentional. How horrifying. Still gives me – some big mystery sin of mine. His only clue was that it involved something in a parking lot, perhaps something I said or did, I guess. WIsh I knew.

    Leadership has the potential to bless and the potential to offend, and mistakes can be pretty serious since many are affected. And mistakes happen. We each have to turn to the Lord and figure out how to deal with all these issues. Best I can say is follow God, seek Him earnestly in prayer and the scriptures, and in the restored covenants and blessings of the Gospel. But, with patience and faith, don’t assume that everything we think and hear must be 100% exactly so. We all see through a glass darkly now, with just fragments of the whole having been revealed. If big changes occur in the future, as they will, don’t fall to pieces. The early Jewish Christians were able to cope with huge paradigm shifts in the process of following God, in spite of a myriad of arguments against their true course, and I hope that we call will be able to flexible enough to preserve our faith or, in some cases, regain it through the routes ahead.

  52. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    Randall, when someone believes in the authenticity and divine origin of the Book of Mormon, it need not “create a mindset that operates under the absolute assumption that the church is True.” Our RLDS friends and several other groups derived from Mormonism, as well as the occasional non-LDS minister, have concluded that the Book of Mormon is true without recognizing the LDS Church is necessarily true. But a world in which a real Angel Moroni and real gold plates were translated miraculously by the power of God offers quite a different lens for interoreting the subsequent actions of Joseph Smith and the later journey of the Church than does a world in which Joseph was a con-man collaborating with other remarkably loyal con-men who were prepared to go to their graves loyal to their scheme. That would be my point – not the Church nust be true, but that it may be, and that a divine Book of Mormon opens the possibility that those who interpret apparent errors and obvious shortcomings of Joseph Smith with the assumption that he was a fraud may be making an mistake and missing the possibility of other more gentle interpretations of events, witnesses, and records.

  53. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    Randall, when someone believes in the authenticity and divine origin of the Book of Mormon, it need not “create a mindset that operates under the absolute assumption that the church is True.” Our RLDS friends and several other groups derived from Mormonism, as well as the occasional non-LDS minister, have concluded that the Book of Mormon is true without recognizing the LDS Church is necessarily true. But a world in which a real Angel Moroni and real gold plates were translated miraculously by the power of God offers quite a different lens for interoreting the subsequent actions of Joseph Smith and the later journey of the Church than does a world in which Joseph was a con-man collaborating with other remarkably loyal con-men who were prepared to go to their graves loyal to their scheme. That would be my point – not the Church nust be true, but that it may be, and that a divine Book of Mormon opens the possibility that those who interpret apparent errors and obvious shortcomings of Joseph Smith with the assumption that he was a fraud may be making an mistake and missing the possibility of other more gentle interpretations of events, witnesses, and records.

  54. Jon Reply

    Wow! Jeff, I have newfound respect for you.

    I just wanted to respond to what you said towards the end of the podcast.

    Paraphrasing, you said that whenever there is a human element involved, there is a risk for error or mistakes, and that this extends to the prophets and even to scripture.

    Going unstated (perhaps unintentionally) is the idea that there is always a risk for making a mistake… except for whatever prayers you believe were answered. Your experiences are the one thing you’re certain isn’t a mistake?

    You said that if you want to be a faithful latter-day saint and you want to explore the intellectual issues and church history, you need to be ready for a world that has a lot of fuzzy elements in it.

    I submit that this fuzziness comes from attempting to mix two mutually contradictory worlds. A Creationist similarly must learn to live with a world of fuzzy elements if they want to hold to a literal Bible in the face of contradictory science. You recommend updating the religion to better coincide with what we know about the world, but what if the ultimate result of that updating is that the religion was simply wrong? As an analogy, the world will always be fuzzy to a geocentrist living in a heliocentric world. He could keep updating his geocentrism with explanations that keep his beliefs plausible, but this only goes so far. For example:

    What is the difference between a fallible prophet and a fallible man who only claims to be a prophet?

    By providing a plausible explanation to problems, (prophets aren’t perfect and do make mistakes) apologists point the church in a direction that looks more like a church that is guided only by men. If it looks like a church guided by men, what reason is there to believe that there is something “more” there? (Other than the personal experiences you’re certain you are interpreting correctly?)

    I accepted the possibility that I was wrong about what I believed (even wrong about profound personal experiences I believed were spiritual) and the instant that I did so, all that fuzziness disappeared and the world snapped into sharp focus. The possibility that I was wrong about what I believed and how I was interpreting what I experienced seemed far more likely than all of the attempts at keeping the religion “plausible.”

  55. Jon Reply

    Wow! Jeff, I have newfound respect for you.

    I just wanted to respond to what you said towards the end of the podcast.

    Paraphrasing, you said that whenever there is a human element involved, there is a risk for error or mistakes, and that this extends to the prophets and even to scripture.

    Going unstated (perhaps unintentionally) is the idea that there is always a risk for making a mistake… except for whatever prayers you believe were answered. Your experiences are the one thing you’re certain isn’t a mistake?

    You said that if you want to be a faithful latter-day saint and you want to explore the intellectual issues and church history, you need to be ready for a world that has a lot of fuzzy elements in it.

    I submit that this fuzziness comes from attempting to mix two mutually contradictory worlds. A Creationist similarly must learn to live with a world of fuzzy elements if they want to hold to a literal Bible in the face of contradictory science. You recommend updating the religion to better coincide with what we know about the world, but what if the ultimate result of that updating is that the religion was simply wrong? As an analogy, the world will always be fuzzy to a geocentrist living in a heliocentric world. He could keep updating his geocentrism with explanations that keep his beliefs plausible, but this only goes so far. For example:

    What is the difference between a fallible prophet and a fallible man who only claims to be a prophet?

    By providing a plausible explanation to problems, (prophets aren’t perfect and do make mistakes) apologists point the church in a direction that looks more like a church that is guided only by men. If it looks like a church guided by men, what reason is there to believe that there is something “more” there? (Other than the personal experiences you’re certain you are interpreting correctly?)

    I accepted the possibility that I was wrong about what I believed (even wrong about profound personal experiences I believed were spiritual) and the instant that I did so, all that fuzziness disappeared and the world snapped into sharp focus. The possibility that I was wrong about what I believed and how I was interpreting what I experienced seemed far more likely than all of the attempts at keeping the religion “plausible.”

  56. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    Jon – great question. Good analogy with the heliocentric/geocentric model. One must recognize from the beginning that there are competiting models and that the task is to find truth, not to defend whatever you are stuck with. So does the earth move or not? This is the big issue. There are many peripheral issues and both models, at least initially, have conflicting data for the observer. Some data may require complex explanations, other data may be irrelevant or red herrings. Both sides had their arguments. So how does one find truth?

    In the case of the Restoration of the Gospel, the mistakes of mortals, unfortunate as they are, should not be the focal point for evaluating the big picture. The most critical points for finding truth are determining if Jesus Christ worked to bring about a Restoration on the earth. Was there a First Vision? That’s hard to say since there were no witnesses. But a closely related question is did an angel named Moroni give Joseph Smith gold plates with an ancient record that was a key part of the Restoration. For that, there were witnesses, reliable and credible witnesses with powerful stories that defy explanations of fraud and deception. Every witness of the Book of Mormon, including 3 who saw the angel, 8 other official witnesses of the plates, and a handful of others who intereacted or provided supplementary witnesses of the reality of the plates, all remained true to their witness to their dying day, even those who fell away from the Church and grew bitter at Joseph Smith. Serious scholarshipo has explored their stories and their lives, with compelling evidence for the credibility of their accounts.

    But then we have the record itself. This is the touchstone, the foundation, the tangible, accessible, wide-open document that porovides miles of unnecessary rope for Joseph to hang himself if he were a fraud, yet miles of a tangible iron rod to guide seekers of truth with powerful witnesses of divine origin and power. This is the core topic that needs to be confronted in evaluating the claims of the Restoration, not Brigham Young’s problems or the mortal failures of any prophet. Is the Book of Mormon a diviine witness of Jesus Christ? Does it bring us closer to God? Is it an authentic ancient text? Faith and experimentation is demanded, but there are fascinating intellectually stimualting evidences for plausibility that can strengthen faith.

    While critics uniformly chortle about “not a scrap of evidence,” the rich evidences from the Arabian Peninsula are difficult to explain by any plausible means except that whoever wrote First Nephi knew much more about the Arabian Peninsula than Joseph and his peers could have known. The River Laman, the Valley Lemuel, the place called Shazer, the south-southeast direction to a burial place (for Ishmael’s burial) called Nahom, corresponding precisely with an ancient burial place Nehem now attested with 7th century BC altars in that region with the tribal name Nihm (NHM), and then the nearly due east direction from that point which does indeed offer a plausible path, threading the needle between two parts of the vast Empty Quarter, a path that can indeed lead to a very plausible and interesting candidate for the ancient place called Bountiful, a place that was laughable to learned anit-Mormons until field work revealed excellent candidates (I prefer Wadi Sayq, but there are strong points for two others, all in the same general region on the eastern coast of Oman). This is not the stuff of a 19th century romance or a hideous fabrication to make a quick buck.

    Add to that the amazing internal evidences of semitic poetry (chiasmus, many Hebraisms, possibly paired tricola), the evidence from ancient volcanism, and other topics (some briefly mentioned at at http://mormonevidence.com), and we have a situation where I can at least say that there is room to wonder IF this book might be more than a fraud. Plenty of tough issues remain, certainly. But with a touch of open-mindedness, sometimes assisted by the bits of evidence the Lord has kept in place while still requiring faith, one can then turn to the most important evidence of all by applying the teachings of the book, experimenting with the word, and turning to the Lord in prayer to understand in our hearts AND minds the things of God, to understand the big picture and see if there is anything to the foundation of the Restored Gospel. At that point, with that foundation, we still have to confront what it means when we see things we don’t like, whether it’s a mall in Salt Lake City, a prophet who was interested in some documents that turned out to be fake, a banking disaster in Kirtland, or a marriage practice from Old Testament times that runs completely contrary to my perception of how things should be. One can choose to conclude that these things make it impossible for LDS prophets to be real prophets, but in the quest for truth, I believe the place to begin is with the most apporpriate and fundamental topic.

    My belief in the Restoration and the Book of Mormon is rooted in far more than fuzzy feelings or the inertia of tradition.

    In addition to the Book of Mormon, we have compelling evidence for ancient apostasy and for fascinating relationships between the Restored flavor of the Gospel and the knowledge and practices of ancient Christianity. We have restored truths that answer so many of the big mysteries and philosophical issues that are unansnwered or poorly answered elsewhere in Christianity, issues like human free agency versus the sovereignty of God, the relationship between God and man, the purpose of our mortal journeys here, the role of families and the endurance of relationshiops, and other basic issues like the nature of the Godhead. The intellectual excitement and fulfilment, the joy and majesty of the restored Gospel and its ordiances and teachings, truly point to a divine restoration of ancient truths. It’s hard to see why all that and the Book of Mormon and all my personal experiences and witnesses of the power and truthh of the Restoration should be abandoned in favor of much more problematic and limited understanding, just because there is a list of mistakes that mortal men have made, when there is no claim of infallibility. That doesn’t mean I’m not upset and disappointed that things have happened that I really object to, but with the foundation on the big issues, with the understanding that gives, it makes much more sense to say, “Well, that was a mistake, darn it” than to say, “Well, I guess those gold plates never existed. Guess those witnesses were all lying. Guess Joseph Smith just got lucky in Arabian geography and in fudging Semitic poetry. Guess all the profound insights about modern events I have obtained from the Book of Mormon don’t count. Guess the miracles and blessings and joy and changed lives were all imagined. Guess all the profound philosophical insights into life, free will, man, God, familyies, matter, the eternities, etc., are all garbage. Guess the most Christ-centric book of all time, with the most powerful and life-changing insights in to Atonement, is cheap fiction.” I’m not saying this to put anyone down, recognizing that there are plenty of good reasons for others to leave the Church, and yes, it is possible that I’ve made a series of mistakes in interpreting the events and witnesses and data over my life, but I am trying to explain that the paradigm I have is buttressed by much more than a warm feeling I got from a tear-jerking story in Sacrament meeting or some good violin music, and that many of the attacks that are made on my faith don’t really strike at why I believe. It’s a mortal world, a church with mortal leaders, but there is enough of a touch of the Divine throughout to keep me very excited about the privilege of being a member.

  57. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    Jon – great question. Good analogy with the heliocentric/geocentric model. One must recognize from the beginning that there are competiting models and that the task is to find truth, not to defend whatever you are stuck with. So does the earth move or not? This is the big issue. There are many peripheral issues and both models, at least initially, have conflicting data for the observer. Some data may require complex explanations, other data may be irrelevant or red herrings. Both sides had their arguments. So how does one find truth?

    In the case of the Restoration of the Gospel, the mistakes of mortals, unfortunate as they are, should not be the focal point for evaluating the big picture. The most critical points for finding truth are determining if Jesus Christ worked to bring about a Restoration on the earth. Was there a First Vision? That’s hard to say since there were no witnesses. But a closely related question is did an angel named Moroni give Joseph Smith gold plates with an ancient record that was a key part of the Restoration. For that, there were witnesses, reliable and credible witnesses with powerful stories that defy explanations of fraud and deception. Every witness of the Book of Mormon, including 3 who saw the angel, 8 other official witnesses of the plates, and a handful of others who intereacted or provided supplementary witnesses of the reality of the plates, all remained true to their witness to their dying day, even those who fell away from the Church and grew bitter at Joseph Smith. Serious scholarshipo has explored their stories and their lives, with compelling evidence for the credibility of their accounts.

    But then we have the record itself. This is the touchstone, the foundation, the tangible, accessible, wide-open document that porovides miles of unnecessary rope for Joseph to hang himself if he were a fraud, yet miles of a tangible iron rod to guide seekers of truth with powerful witnesses of divine origin and power. This is the core topic that needs to be confronted in evaluating the claims of the Restoration, not Brigham Young’s problems or the mortal failures of any prophet. Is the Book of Mormon a diviine witness of Jesus Christ? Does it bring us closer to God? Is it an authentic ancient text? Faith and experimentation is demanded, but there are fascinating intellectually stimualting evidences for plausibility that can strengthen faith.

    While critics uniformly chortle about “not a scrap of evidence,” the rich evidences from the Arabian Peninsula are difficult to explain by any plausible means except that whoever wrote First Nephi knew much more about the Arabian Peninsula than Joseph and his peers could have known. The River Laman, the Valley Lemuel, the place called Shazer, the south-southeast direction to a burial place (for Ishmael’s burial) called Nahom, corresponding precisely with an ancient burial place Nehem now attested with 7th century BC altars in that region with the tribal name Nihm (NHM), and then the nearly due east direction from that point which does indeed offer a plausible path, threading the needle between two parts of the vast Empty Quarter, a path that can indeed lead to a very plausible and interesting candidate for the ancient place called Bountiful, a place that was laughable to learned anit-Mormons until field work revealed excellent candidates (I prefer Wadi Sayq, but there are strong points for two others, all in the same general region on the eastern coast of Oman). This is not the stuff of a 19th century romance or a hideous fabrication to make a quick buck.

    Add to that the amazing internal evidences of semitic poetry (chiasmus, many Hebraisms, possibly paired tricola), the evidence from ancient volcanism, and other topics (some briefly mentioned at at http://mormonevidence.com), and we have a situation where I can at least say that there is room to wonder IF this book might be more than a fraud. Plenty of tough issues remain, certainly. But with a touch of open-mindedness, sometimes assisted by the bits of evidence the Lord has kept in place while still requiring faith, one can then turn to the most important evidence of all by applying the teachings of the book, experimenting with the word, and turning to the Lord in prayer to understand in our hearts AND minds the things of God, to understand the big picture and see if there is anything to the foundation of the Restored Gospel. At that point, with that foundation, we still have to confront what it means when we see things we don’t like, whether it’s a mall in Salt Lake City, a prophet who was interested in some documents that turned out to be fake, a banking disaster in Kirtland, or a marriage practice from Old Testament times that runs completely contrary to my perception of how things should be. One can choose to conclude that these things make it impossible for LDS prophets to be real prophets, but in the quest for truth, I believe the place to begin is with the most apporpriate and fundamental topic.

    My belief in the Restoration and the Book of Mormon is rooted in far more than fuzzy feelings or the inertia of tradition.

    In addition to the Book of Mormon, we have compelling evidence for ancient apostasy and for fascinating relationships between the Restored flavor of the Gospel and the knowledge and practices of ancient Christianity. We have restored truths that answer so many of the big mysteries and philosophical issues that are unansnwered or poorly answered elsewhere in Christianity, issues like human free agency versus the sovereignty of God, the relationship between God and man, the purpose of our mortal journeys here, the role of families and the endurance of relationshiops, and other basic issues like the nature of the Godhead. The intellectual excitement and fulfilment, the joy and majesty of the restored Gospel and its ordiances and teachings, truly point to a divine restoration of ancient truths. It’s hard to see why all that and the Book of Mormon and all my personal experiences and witnesses of the power and truthh of the Restoration should be abandoned in favor of much more problematic and limited understanding, just because there is a list of mistakes that mortal men have made, when there is no claim of infallibility. That doesn’t mean I’m not upset and disappointed that things have happened that I really object to, but with the foundation on the big issues, with the understanding that gives, it makes much more sense to say, “Well, that was a mistake, darn it” than to say, “Well, I guess those gold plates never existed. Guess those witnesses were all lying. Guess Joseph Smith just got lucky in Arabian geography and in fudging Semitic poetry. Guess all the profound insights about modern events I have obtained from the Book of Mormon don’t count. Guess the miracles and blessings and joy and changed lives were all imagined. Guess all the profound philosophical insights into life, free will, man, God, familyies, matter, the eternities, etc., are all garbage. Guess the most Christ-centric book of all time, with the most powerful and life-changing insights in to Atonement, is cheap fiction.” I’m not saying this to put anyone down, recognizing that there are plenty of good reasons for others to leave the Church, and yes, it is possible that I’ve made a series of mistakes in interpreting the events and witnesses and data over my life, but I am trying to explain that the paradigm I have is buttressed by much more than a warm feeling I got from a tear-jerking story in Sacrament meeting or some good violin music, and that many of the attacks that are made on my faith don’t really strike at why I believe. It’s a mortal world, a church with mortal leaders, but there is enough of a touch of the Divine throughout to keep me very excited about the privilege of being a member.

  58. John Dehlin Reply

    Jeff,

    I see things differently than you do on a few things, but I’m very glad that you are around. You are a credit to apologists, in my view.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  59. John Dehlin Reply

    Jeff,

    I see things differently than you do on a few things, but I’m very glad that you are around. You are a credit to apologists, in my view.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  60. Jon Reply

    Yes, thanks for responding, Jeff. I’ve carefully considered the witnesses, the Arabian evidence, etc. and came to a different conclusion about them. But it helps to understand where you’re coming from. I meant it when I said that I’ve gained much respect for you after listening to the interview.

  61. Jon Reply

    Yes, thanks for responding, Jeff. I’ve carefully considered the witnesses, the Arabian evidence, etc. and came to a different conclusion about them. But it helps to understand where you’re coming from. I meant it when I said that I’ve gained much respect for you after listening to the interview.

  62. Jason Reply

    Jeff,

    You are a remarkable defender of the LDS Faith. Your writing and thinking skills are quite refined and persuasive. I think this comes down to what Richard Bushman said to John Dehlin in Mormonstories. What kind of world do you want to live in? Do you want to live in a world with or without modern day prophets? There is significant evidence that could lead reasonable people in either direction. In the end, I just cannot see how a just and merciful god could hold anyone accountable for rejecting Mormonism based on the many faults that you identified. Nor can I imagine how god could blame someone for doubting a “warm fuzzy” that apparently had confirmed truth after discovering these less than savory tidbits in LDS history.

  63. Jason Reply

    Jeff,

    You are a remarkable defender of the LDS Faith. Your writing and thinking skills are quite refined and persuasive. I think this comes down to what Richard Bushman said to John Dehlin in Mormonstories. What kind of world do you want to live in? Do you want to live in a world with or without modern day prophets? There is significant evidence that could lead reasonable people in either direction. In the end, I just cannot see how a just and merciful god could hold anyone accountable for rejecting Mormonism based on the many faults that you identified. Nor can I imagine how god could blame someone for doubting a “warm fuzzy” that apparently had confirmed truth after discovering these less than savory tidbits in LDS history.

  64. Sam Andy Reply

    Jeff, your “cutting exmos some slack” post and the other one about your analogy of the bad experience in the airport with the frozen yogurt (maybe they were one in the same post) are two (or one) that I showed to my ultra-mormon wife to help show her where I’m coming from. Your credibility on other issues made her willing to read the other post and (hallelujah), we gained some understanding between us. You’ve proven yourself to be above the sarcastic MADB fray that is so unappealing to me, and for that I thank you. Thanks again for coming on the podcast.

  65. Sam Andy Reply

    Jeff, your “cutting exmos some slack” post and the other one about your analogy of the bad experience in the airport with the frozen yogurt (maybe they were one in the same post) are two (or one) that I showed to my ultra-mormon wife to help show her where I’m coming from. Your credibility on other issues made her willing to read the other post and (hallelujah), we gained some understanding between us. You’ve proven yourself to be above the sarcastic MADB fray that is so unappealing to me, and for that I thank you. Thanks again for coming on the podcast.

  66. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    Thanks for some refreshingly kind words – don’t get that too often. Jason, you make a good point. I think we need to be very careful about judging people who have trouble with the faith because there are good reasons why intelligent people would struggle with it. Dealing with those who choose to leave is a great opportunity for us to practice the Christian values we espouse, no matter how much we may disagree with the reasons. Sam Andy, I’m very glad that you and your wife were able to find some understanding. I hope you will have joy in your journey forward.

    Again, many thanks to MormonExpressions for the chance to chat. Would be more than happy to try it again sometime.

  67. Jeff Lindsay Reply

    Thanks for some refreshingly kind words – don’t get that too often. Jason, you make a good point. I think we need to be very careful about judging people who have trouble with the faith because there are good reasons why intelligent people would struggle with it. Dealing with those who choose to leave is a great opportunity for us to practice the Christian values we espouse, no matter how much we may disagree with the reasons. Sam Andy, I’m very glad that you and your wife were able to find some understanding. I hope you will have joy in your journey forward.

    Again, many thanks to MormonExpressions for the chance to chat. Would be more than happy to try it again sometime.

  68. Peggy Reply

    Jeff, you seem to be a genuinely nice person. It is refreshing to hear and see a courteous discussion of the church between warring parties.

    However, as you have openly admitted, “…there are good reasons why intelligent people would struggle with it.” (the faith) My question will always be…In a collection of Truth, should there be struggles? Evidence that that is so unclear that is needs to be explained by many, many words is often not reliable evidence.

    Truth, real truth, should be able to stand without the crutches of an apologist.

  69. Peggy Reply

    Jeff, you seem to be a genuinely nice person. It is refreshing to hear and see a courteous discussion of the church between warring parties.

    However, as you have openly admitted, “…there are good reasons why intelligent people would struggle with it.” (the faith) My question will always be…In a collection of Truth, should there be struggles? Evidence that that is so unclear that is needs to be explained by many, many words is often not reliable evidence.

    Truth, real truth, should be able to stand without the crutches of an apologist.

  70. Noel Reply

    It was interesting listening to Jeff L. He comes accross as a reasonable man. I, however cannot buy his argument regarding the BOA. It was the first issue that started me off in my exit and having read all the arguments since, still remain convinced it was an invention of Smith. Also the new wordprint analaysis of the BOM showing it may be been written by both spalding and rigdon is exciting.Finally all the work of Uncle Dale might be vindicated

  71. Noel Reply

    It was interesting listening to Jeff L. He comes accross as a reasonable man. I, however cannot buy his argument regarding the BOA. It was the first issue that started me off in my exit and having read all the arguments since, still remain convinced it was an invention of Smith. Also the new wordprint analaysis of the BOM showing it may be been written by both spalding and rigdon is exciting.Finally all the work of Uncle Dale might be vindicated

  72. Luigi Reply

    I enjoyed the interview and felt like Jeff was very fair and considerate in his responses. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts Jeff and as always to the Mormon Expression team for making this available.

  73. Luigi Reply

    I enjoyed the interview and felt like Jeff was very fair and considerate in his responses. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts Jeff and as always to the Mormon Expression team for making this available.

  74. Ray Reply

    I just finished listening to this podcast. At one point, John asks Jeff if he had ever researched a topic that he (Jeff) considered to be a potentially faith shaking issue. Jeff responded that yes, some of his research into the BoA was initally potentially problematic. Jeff indicated that when he had questions about BoA, the first thing he did was pray and say somethining like “HF, I know that the BOM is true, and I know that JS is a prophet, so what happened with the BoA” Answer “Be paitent”. My thought is that if Jeff always starts from the point of view/perspective that it’s all true (because BoM is true), then personal confirmation bias will emotionally allow him overlook any evidences to the contrary.

    Also, at one point Jeff says something else like “In 5 years I may look back and say that this or that evidence wasn’t valid, or that new evidence may make come to support, etc.” Unless and until Jeff is willing to say that in 5 years he may say “I was wrong, and it’s not true” there is no way he can be completely honest in how he presents his argument. He would need to sart from a neutral position and consider all evidences. If he has and the good out weighs the negative, great.

  75. Ray Reply

    I just finished listening to this podcast. At one point, John asks Jeff if he had ever researched a topic that he (Jeff) considered to be a potentially faith shaking issue. Jeff responded that yes, some of his research into the BoA was initally potentially problematic. Jeff indicated that when he had questions about BoA, the first thing he did was pray and say somethining like “HF, I know that the BOM is true, and I know that JS is a prophet, so what happened with the BoA” Answer “Be paitent”. My thought is that if Jeff always starts from the point of view/perspective that it’s all true (because BoM is true), then personal confirmation bias will emotionally allow him overlook any evidences to the contrary.

    Also, at one point Jeff says something else like “In 5 years I may look back and say that this or that evidence wasn’t valid, or that new evidence may make come to support, etc.” Unless and until Jeff is willing to say that in 5 years he may say “I was wrong, and it’s not true” there is no way he can be completely honest in how he presents his argument. He would need to sart from a neutral position and consider all evidences. If he has and the good out weighs the negative, great.

  76. InvisibleChurch Reply

    Jeff – That was a great podcast. You are refreshing in the world of LDS apologists (and leadership for that matter) in that you have a good ecumenical attitude toward ex-Mormons – in other words, you don’t seem to have the condescension (do the words “frankly pathetic” ring a bell?) that so often characterizes LDS attitudes toward those with skepticism, questions and doubts. Thanks for that.

  77. InvisibleChurch Reply

    Jeff – That was a great podcast. You are refreshing in the world of LDS apologists (and leadership for that matter) in that you have a good ecumenical attitude toward ex-Mormons – in other words, you don’t seem to have the condescension (do the words “frankly pathetic” ring a bell?) that so often characterizes LDS attitudes toward those with skepticism, questions and doubts. Thanks for that.

  78. Gunnar R. Reply

    Great interview. I greatly appreciate Jeff Lindsay’s tolerant and even loving attitude towards Ex-Mormons and Post-Mormons who honestly concluded that much of what the Church expects us to believe is simply nonsense. The vital importance of dealing honestly and lovingly with our fellow men is the one principle taught by the Church that I wholeheartedly endorse. Virtually everything else in Mormon doctrine, by comparison, is mere chaff that sometimes actually obscures and interferes with that vital principle and its full implementation.

    I wish, though, that someone had asked Jeff his take on the excellent analysis of Jaredite ship-building written by Dr. Kent Ponder (see http://packham.n4m.org/ships.htm). It might have been interesting and even humorous to hear him try to rationalize away the extreme ludicrousness of that portion of the Book of Ether.

  79. Gunnar R. Reply

    Great interview. I greatly appreciate Jeff Lindsay’s tolerant and even loving attitude towards Ex-Mormons and Post-Mormons who honestly concluded that much of what the Church expects us to believe is simply nonsense. The vital importance of dealing honestly and lovingly with our fellow men is the one principle taught by the Church that I wholeheartedly endorse. Virtually everything else in Mormon doctrine, by comparison, is mere chaff that sometimes actually obscures and interferes with that vital principle and its full implementation.

    I wish, though, that someone had asked Jeff his take on the excellent analysis of Jaredite ship-building written by Dr. Kent Ponder (see http://packham.n4m.org/ships.htm). It might have been interesting and even humorous to hear him try to rationalize away the extreme ludicrousness of that portion of the Book of Ether.

  80. Christopher Smith Reply

    This was a great interview. I appreciate Jeff’s sympathy for critics and his willingness to admit the apologists sometimes go to extremes. I also appreciate his willingness to listen, and his openness to changing his mind.

    Just a couple thoughts.

    First of all, it seems that Jeff has uncritically accepted the arguments of Gee and Nibley to the effect that the source of the Book of Abraham is missing. These arguments have led Jeff to believe that the critics’ argument against the BoA is fundamentally “deceptive”. Actually, if he looks more deeply into the missing papyrus issue, I think he’d find that the arguments for a missing Book of Abraham source are the ones that are “deceptive” (although hopefully not knowingly, deliberately so). Jeff, I’d be happy to send you a couple essays on the subject, if you’re interested. You can email me at chriscarrollsmith at gmail.

    As for the argument about the Toltecs, I think Jeff makes too much of that. Because JS approvingly quoted a Toltec legend that seemed to make the Toltecs come from the Near East, Jeff concludes that JS was open to the idea of “others” in the New World. Really? Actually, this tradition is cited as evidence of the Book of Mormon narrative. In other words, it is assumed that the tradition refers to the Lehite migration, not to an “other” migration. The article says that the Toltec tradition comes “near the real fact”– i.e., the fact related in the Book of Mormon. (It should also be noted that the passage in question isn’t really a sermon of Joseph Smith, but rather a Times and Seasons article, probably written by John Taylor rather than Joseph.)

    Anyway, I wish Jeff all the best in his continued apologetic endeavors!

  81. Christopher Smith Reply

    This was a great interview. I appreciate Jeff’s sympathy for critics and his willingness to admit the apologists sometimes go to extremes. I also appreciate his willingness to listen, and his openness to changing his mind.

    Just a couple thoughts.

    First of all, it seems that Jeff has uncritically accepted the arguments of Gee and Nibley to the effect that the source of the Book of Abraham is missing. These arguments have led Jeff to believe that the critics’ argument against the BoA is fundamentally “deceptive”. Actually, if he looks more deeply into the missing papyrus issue, I think he’d find that the arguments for a missing Book of Abraham source are the ones that are “deceptive” (although hopefully not knowingly, deliberately so). Jeff, I’d be happy to send you a couple essays on the subject, if you’re interested. You can email me at chriscarrollsmith at gmail.

    As for the argument about the Toltecs, I think Jeff makes too much of that. Because JS approvingly quoted a Toltec legend that seemed to make the Toltecs come from the Near East, Jeff concludes that JS was open to the idea of “others” in the New World. Really? Actually, this tradition is cited as evidence of the Book of Mormon narrative. In other words, it is assumed that the tradition refers to the Lehite migration, not to an “other” migration. The article says that the Toltec tradition comes “near the real fact”– i.e., the fact related in the Book of Mormon. (It should also be noted that the passage in question isn’t really a sermon of Joseph Smith, but rather a Times and Seasons article, probably written by John Taylor rather than Joseph.)

    Anyway, I wish Jeff all the best in his continued apologetic endeavors!

  82. Mister IT Reply

    Oh great I have to follow John Dehlin and Christopher Smith – who are both about 100-times the Mormon Studies Scholar I am! Oy vey!

    Oh well here goes nothin’. . .
    (you guys can laugh at the quality my work compared to theirs at your leisure – I’ll understand)

    >it seems that Jeff has uncritically accepted the arguments of Gee and Nibley to the effect that the source of the Book of Abraham is missing<

    I agree.

    Cutting through White Papers and opinions is the physical evidence that clearly shows that the papyri match the 19th Century descriptions point-by-point.

    For example this hand-appended papyrus matches BoA facsmilie 1:
    http://www.irr.org/mit/images/pjs1.JPG

    And this papyrus contains the red ink that LdS Apologists claim is "nowhere to be found":
    http://www.irr.org/mit/images/Pjs11.GIF

    And this papyrus matches page 3 of the Smith translation, character-by-character.
    http://www.irr.org/mit/images/BOAMSS1.JPG

    One doesn't need Mormon Critics to "spin" this evidence it's readily apparent by just examining the physical evidence for yourself that the papyri that we have are indeed the originals that Smith translated from.

    To summarize:
    "Both LDS and non-LDS scholars agree that these pieces of papyrus scroll we have today were those possessed by Joseph Smith and used by him to produce the Book of Abraham. A positive identification is possible because one of the rediscovered scroll pieces, now called Papyrus Joseph Smith 1 (PJS 1), matches the picture in the BOA called Facsimile No. 1. According to the Book of Abraham chapter 1, verses 12-14, this picture or "representation" came at the beginning of the "record" [papyrus scroll]."
    (http://www.irr.org/mit/boa-papyrus-scroll.html)

    And, BTW, I found it interesting to hear Charles Larson disclose the source of these infamous and wide spread photographs of the Joseph Smith papyri recently: The BYU special collection archives.

    Larson also mentioned that after the publication of his book on the BoA BYU moved the photographs into another collection requiring elevated access privileges.

    So the LdS Apologists can spin, spin, spin on the BoA but the physical evidence leads to quite another conclusion.

  83. Mister IT Reply

    Oh great I have to follow John Dehlin and Christopher Smith – who are both about 100-times the Mormon Studies Scholar I am! Oy vey!

    Oh well here goes nothin’. . .
    (you guys can laugh at the quality my work compared to theirs at your leisure – I’ll understand)

    >it seems that Jeff has uncritically accepted the arguments of Gee and Nibley to the effect that the source of the Book of Abraham is missing<

    I agree.

    Cutting through White Papers and opinions is the physical evidence that clearly shows that the papyri match the 19th Century descriptions point-by-point.

    For example this hand-appended papyrus matches BoA facsmilie 1:
    http://www.irr.org/mit/images/pjs1.JPG

    And this papyrus contains the red ink that LdS Apologists claim is "nowhere to be found":
    http://www.irr.org/mit/images/Pjs11.GIF

    And this papyrus matches page 3 of the Smith translation, character-by-character.
    http://www.irr.org/mit/images/BOAMSS1.JPG

    One doesn't need Mormon Critics to "spin" this evidence it's readily apparent by just examining the physical evidence for yourself that the papyri that we have are indeed the originals that Smith translated from.

    To summarize:
    "Both LDS and non-LDS scholars agree that these pieces of papyrus scroll we have today were those possessed by Joseph Smith and used by him to produce the Book of Abraham. A positive identification is possible because one of the rediscovered scroll pieces, now called Papyrus Joseph Smith 1 (PJS 1), matches the picture in the BOA called Facsimile No. 1. According to the Book of Abraham chapter 1, verses 12-14, this picture or "representation" came at the beginning of the "record" [papyrus scroll]."
    (http://www.irr.org/mit/boa-papyrus-scroll.html)

    And, BTW, I found it interesting to hear Charles Larson disclose the source of these infamous and wide spread photographs of the Joseph Smith papyri recently: The BYU special collection archives.

    Larson also mentioned that after the publication of his book on the BoA BYU moved the photographs into another collection requiring elevated access privileges.

    So the LdS Apologists can spin, spin, spin on the BoA but the physical evidence leads to quite another conclusion.

  84. Christopher Smith Reply

    Hi Mister IT,

    For a slightly more complete presentation of the argument as it relates to the characters in the margins of the translation manuscripts, see here: http://www.bookofabraham.com/boamathie/BOA_5.html.

    Andrew Cook and I recently did a mathematical analysis of the physical dimensions of the Hor scroll, and concluded that what is missing from the interior of the scroll is about 60 centimeters of papyrus– just enough to accommodate the end of the Book of Breathings. Hopefully these findings will be published in Dialogue. They are consistent with the eyewitness report of Gustavus Seyffarth, who viewed the missing portion of the scroll in 1856 and reported seeing only an invocation of Osiris-Hor (i.e. the Book of Breathings), followed by Facsimile 3.

    Peace,

    -Chris

  85. Christopher Smith Reply

    Hi Mister IT,

    For a slightly more complete presentation of the argument as it relates to the characters in the margins of the translation manuscripts, see here: http://www.bookofabraham.com/boamathie/BOA_5.html.

    Andrew Cook and I recently did a mathematical analysis of the physical dimensions of the Hor scroll, and concluded that what is missing from the interior of the scroll is about 60 centimeters of papyrus– just enough to accommodate the end of the Book of Breathings. Hopefully these findings will be published in Dialogue. They are consistent with the eyewitness report of Gustavus Seyffarth, who viewed the missing portion of the scroll in 1856 and reported seeing only an invocation of Osiris-Hor (i.e. the Book of Breathings), followed by Facsimile 3.

    Peace,

    -Chris

  86. Conrad Lenk Reply

    Finding the right location to have a unique wedding, it means much more than it is given credit. Therefore, the choice of location should not be just any part in organizing a wedding, but the key to a day to remember.

  87. Conrad Lenk Reply

    Finding the right location to have a unique wedding, it means much more than it is given credit. Therefore, the choice of location should not be just any part in organizing a wedding, but the key to a day to remember.

  88. Elisabeth Oppelt Reply

    This has nothing to do with anything; but my dad is a church employee and they used to give out turkeys. My parents were really bummed when they switched to books because we’re not really into church books and the turkey was awesome! Apparently right after Christmas there are a lot of the fancy leather-bound books for sale on ebay.

  89. Richard of Norway Reply

    Dan sounds like a really nice Utah-guy, even though he didn’t grow up there. Pretty weird. I guess Mormonism breeds the same type of person regardless of where in the U.S. they grow up? Anyways, a somewhat refreshing change to the mix, this was. This episode’s post photo should have included Dan with his Justin Beiber hair, and one of his cubicle with the Star Wars stuff. Would have been a nice variation, rather than churchy-style all the way. (Though the photos are very good quality, kudos to the photographer!)

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