Criticism of Mormonism/Websites/MormonThink/25 items that would allegedly "make the Church true"

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    MormonThink's list of 25 items that would allegedly "make the Church true"


A FairMormon Analysis of: MormonThink
A work by author: Anonymous

According to MormonThink.com, if the Church actually contained God's truth and authority, "we would expect the following things to have happened in this way." The following is a list of issues presented by the website followed by FAIR's response. Most items on the list are standard anti-Mormon fare, issues FAIR believes have been "asked and answered" many times. Nearly all points appeal to some type of intellectual or religious fundamentalism.

Further, it seems odd, to say the least, that a site devoted to "Mormon thinking" would express a series of items that would "make the Church true." Is one to assume that if this list were not required, in the eyes of MormonThink authors, that the Church would somehow be true? Nowhere do the authors address the very simple concept that the best way to find out whether the Church is true is to do what God directs—to ask Him (see James 1:5). The MormonThink list does not represent what would make the Church true; it simply represents things which its authors feel make the Church false.

Note: All of the following questions in blue boxes come from the MormonThink web page.

MormonThink claims...

1. Joseph would have told the same version of the First Vision throughout his life. He would have gotten the details correct surrounding the most important, spectacular moment anyone could ever have in this life.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Readers ought to judge for themselves instead of letting unofficial apologists perform a Jedi mind-trick by suggesting, “You will see no contradictions or problems! The stories are flawless and complimentary!"
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • There are no "unofficial" apologists—the idea that there are "official" or "unofficial" apologists comes from Church critics. (FAIR's apologists, by the way, claim no ability to effectively utilize Jedi powers...) For a detailed response, see: Apologetics
  • One might expect a performer or con-man to tell the same story in exactly the same words to every audience. Indeed, stories that are "flawless" would make one suspicious of this very thing. Yet, Joseph's accounts of the First Vision are both stable and consistent through time. Some contain elements that are not mentioned in others, but the accounts fit together. The supposed "contradictions" are more in the minds of critics than in the texts themselves. For a detailed response, see: First Vision: accounts

MormonThink claims...

2. Joseph's five brothers (and probably the rest of the household) that were sleeping in his room on September 21, 1823 would have been awakened by the presence of Moroni. They would have testified of his visit as well.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

We ask FAIR a reasonable question. What is the official and authorized position of the church’s leaders describing the Moroni visit? Was it a dream, a vision in the mind of J Smith, or an actual, physical event? MT isn’t as interested in unofficial FAIR opinions as the official and authorized church view.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • The Church teaches that Moroni's visit was an actual physical event (which is also sometimes referred to as a vision), as described by Joseph Smith himself in the Pearl of Great Price: "While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air..." (JS History 1:30) off-site
  • The official Church website shows a painting in which one of Joseph's siblings is clearly shown asleep during Moroni's visit. Page 54 of the August 2009 Ensign displays a painting "He called me by name," by Liz Lemon Swindle. This painting shows Joseph sitting up in his bed listening to Moroni, with three of his siblings asleep alongside him. For a detailed response, see: Why didn't Joseph's siblings wake up when Moroni appeared?

MormonThink claims...

3. If the angel did indeed take back the gold plates and the urim and thummim from Joseph when Martin Harris lost the first 116 pages, he would have returned the urim and thummim to Joseph when he returned the gold plates to him, instead of having Joseph finish the translation using a common stone he found when digging a well.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

The responsibility to prove that J Smith was actually translating something is left with the church leaders. At this point, the accumulated evidence after 180 years indicates that there were no golden plates, that Smith translated nothing, and God did not put sentences in English on the rock in his hat.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • If Joseph was perpetuating a scam, why would he use a method—the seer stone in the hat—that would be open to ridicule and misrepresentation? If he could perform the impressive feat of producing the Book of Mormon in two months, why not do it with eyes closed in a solemn voice to impress everyone? The critics simply mock the idea that the translation process was also a spiritual growing experience for Joseph and instead focus only on the method of translation. For a detailed response, see: Joseph Smith: seer stones and Spiritual growth during translation process

MormonThink claims...

4. Joseph would likely have actually used the gold plates in the translation process, instead of putting an ordinary stone in a hat without even looking at the plates.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

The church leaders should offer official and authoritative proof or supporting evidence that J Smith could translate anything at all using the “noisy angel” as revelator, using golden spectacles attached to a breastplate, or by staring at his favorite rock in a hat, claiming that God put the sentences on the rock for him to read while the plates were in a remote location. The evidence to date forces the reasonable person to conclude legitimately that J Smith fabricated the story about translation of golden plates. FAIR or authorized apologists ought to provide reasonable evidence.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • There are no "authorized" apologists—the idea that there are "official" or "authorized" apologists comes from Church critics. For a detailed response, see: Apologetics
  • Having Joseph translate ancient characters with divine instruments and aid with the text in front of him would be perfectly acceptable, but being able to dictate revealed text without the text in front of him is too ridiculous to be believed? For a detailed response, see: Book of Mormon: translation method

MormonThink claims...

5. When the 116 pages were lost, Joseph would have simply retranslated the 'stolen' pages. If the pages were really stolen by evil men bent on foiling Joseph, the pages would have resurfaced in some form - either as a ransom attempt or foiled attempt to discredit Joseph. The stolen pages wouldn't have simply been destroyed by men who went to such trouble to obtain them.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Perhaps the most obvious question that official sources or unofficial activist apologists have not answered is this: If J Smith possessed a miraculous, revelatory seer stone, why did he not consult it, locate the manuscript pages and go get them? Where is the awesome “power of God” when you really need it?
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • All apologists are "unofficial"—there are no "official" apologists. We are not certain what an "activist" apologist might be. Engagement in apologetics, by its very nature, involves an active commitment. For a detailed response, see: Apologetics
  • This was an object lesson for Joseph Smith—he learned of the very real consequence of transgression. This incident is taught in Church to demonstrate the importance of heeding the Lord's commandments. For a detailed response, see: The lost 116 pages

MormonThink claims...

6. The translation of the facsimiles in the Book of Abraham would match what Egyptologists say they mean. The rediscovered papyri would also support the Book of Abraham as well.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Since Joseph did not translate the Egyptian symbols correctly according to Egyptologists, the unauthorized apologists attempt to find parallels to anything that may be in the BOA with ancient Egypt. One problem is that they use parallels from any time period in their grasping at straws attempt to prove Joseph right.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • There are no "authorized" or "unauthorized" apologists. For a detailed response, see: Apologetics
  • Since we are missing a portion of the papyri in Joseph's possession, if is typical for critics to insist that the fragments we do have must support the Book of Abraham. However, it is not explained why the small parts of the whole are expected to match. For a detailed response, see: Book of Abraham: amount of missing papyrus
  • The web site does not address the many textual elements in Joseph's translation which match the Abrahamic literature that has since become available. For a detailed response, see: Book of Abraham: hits
  • The web site does not account for the fact that Egyptological symbols and iconography may have been adapted when the papyri were produced, an assumption that does not deal with the relevant scholarship. For a detailed response, see: A Jewish redactor of Egyptian symbols?

MormonThink claims...

7. The Book of Mormon would not mention things that did not exist in the Americas during Book of Mormon times such as horses, elephants, cattle, goats, wheat, barley, silk, steel, etc. It would probably mention things that did exist such as corn, yams, beans, squash, llamas, sloths, jaguars, and monkeys.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Scholars with a background in history and archaeology, who regularly submit peer-reviewed articles to well-established and internationally-recognized academic journals, know that J Smith made fraudulent statements and perjured himself when he testified that the Book of Mormon was (1) translated by the gift and power of God, and (2) represents an accurate history of the American Indians (ancient inhabitants of the Americas). That is the state of the evidence at the present time.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • FAIR would be interested to see references for statements by non-LDS scholars who have published an article in a peer-reviewed academic journal in which they state that Joseph Smith "perjured himself" by claiming that the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and that Joseph "perjured himself" by claiming that the Book of Mormon was "an accurate history of the American Indians (ancient inhabitants of the Americas)."
  • Many things that used to be anachronisms to Joseph Smith's contemporaries have since turned out not to be anachronisms after all. More knowledge has made the Book of Mormon's construction more, not less, plausible. The claim about anachronisms does not take into account the nature of translated texts—even a true anachronism in a translated text is compelling evidence for the date of the text's translation, not its composition. For a detailed response, see: Supposed "anachronisms" in the Book of Mormon

MormonThink claims...

8. The BOM would be supported by archeological and linguistic evidence. Perhaps not so much evidence that we still wouldn't need faith, but something to show that the ancient Jews could have been in America.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

[Mormon Think] believes that clear, accurate, compelling evidence is required for a reasonable person to exercise faith....FAIR, you state "Archaeology and related disciplines have provided progressively more support for the BOM." Would you please give the readers details of this evidence so they can examine it?
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • The site authors are attempting to define just how much evidence is required in order to have faith. This presumption gives no compelling argument for its reasoning, and also directly contradicts the scriptures themselves. Moroni states that confirmation follows the exercise of faith, rather than the other way around:

And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
Ether 12:6

  • Archaeology and related disciplines have provided progressively more support for the Book of Mormon, but this is not the basis for our faith. Even as the score improves, the critic hopes we will simply give up. For a detailed response, see: Book of Mormon archaeology

MormonThink claims...

9. There would be some remains of two large battles at the Hill Cumorah where over two million people fought and died.

Fax from the Office of the First Presidency to FARMS dated April 12, 1993. (Phone and numbers have been redacted from this scan; it is otherwise unaltered. The top of the First Presidency's fax had "Apr 23 '93 12:25 PM FIRST PRESIDENCY SLC P.1" in fainter letters applied by the receiving fax, which does not appear on the scan.) (Click to enlarge)

The site authors respond to FAIR...

The conclusion MT draws about Cumorah is the authorized one, while FAIR’s unofficial ad-hoc version contradicts the church’s official view. The LDS prophets are the only people authorized to offer the official views representing the Mormon Church doctrine and practice. For example, in 1990 a Mormon bishop asked the First Presidency about the location of the Hill Cumorah. In a letter dated Oct. 16, 1990, the Secretary to the First Presidency replied to his inquiry...
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • Even if there is a chance that the drumlin in New York State is the Hill Cumorah, no actual archaeological digs have been performed at the site to actually attempt to find artifacts. Dirt has been overturned when it has been farmed, and also by equipment when structures have been built. Nobody went through the dirt with a fine-toothed comb. Only unofficial site surveys by non-professional people have been done there in recent years. Historical accounts of artifacts found at the site by farmers and so forth are only unsubstantiated folklore accounts. Even if true, the accounts show that the artifacts that could be found were tampered with and carried away and sold. And if arrowheads were found there, does that really prove that it was Cumorah? Arrowheads found at any location in the United States is an unremarkable thing to begin with, as they can be found all over the country. So even if things were found, it still wouldn't prove much. The only identifications for this drumlin as Cumorah are from dated statements and Church tradition. New revelation would be required to establish it as the Ancient Cumorah, and the Lord has not seen fit to reveal where Cumorah really is.
  • The Church has no official position on the location of the Hill Cumorah described in the Book of Mormon, although a number of Church leaders have expressed the opinion that the hill in New York is the same hill described in the Book of Mormon. The citation of F. Michael Watson's letter is often used by critics in order to claim that an official position exists. Bro. Watson seems to have been speaking on his own understanding of the matter, and not as an official declaration of Church policy. The following fax was sent by Senior Executive Secretary for the Office of the First Presidency, Carla Ogden, to Brent Hall of FARMS in 1993. The cover letter accompanying the fax reads as follows:

I thought you would be interested in this FAX from Michael Watson, secretary to the First Presidency. We have been receiving a number of questions from the Oklahoma, Texas area where anti-Mormons are using a letter from Brother Watson to a Bishop where Brother Watson said that the Church supports only one location for Cumorah, and that is the New York location. I talked with him on the phone the other day and told him of the questions that were coming to us. He responded that the First Presidency would like to clear up that Issue and he would FAX me with that clarification.

Thanks

[signed] Brent [Hall]

The text of the fax is as follows:

The Church emphasizes the doctrinal and historical value of the Book of Mormon, not its geography. While some Latter-day Saints have looked for possible locations and explanations [for Book of Mormon geography] because the New York Hill Cumorah does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Cumorah, there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site.
—Fax from Carla Ogden to Brent Hall, the Office of the First Presidency, 23 April 1993.

The text of the fax matches exactly the text of a letter reported to have been sent by Watson as described in the FARMS Review. This letter is cited with commentary in William J. Hamblin, "Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 161–197. off-site wiki off-site GL direct link

For a detailed response, see: Did the First Presidency issue an official position on the location of the Book of Mormon "Hill Cumorah?"

  • The site assumes that the Hill in which the plates were buried was the site of the Nephites' last battle, even though the issue is very unsettled, and the majority of scholars believe that the the evidence from the Book of Mormon text clearly contradicts this assumption. Some have different views however.

For a detailed response, see: The Hill Cumorah

MormonThink claims...

10. DNA evidence would support that the American Indians and South American peoples descended from Israel.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Mormon authorities refuse to speak publicly on the matter as they are called and paid to do. FAIR and other unofficial and unauthorized organizations maintained by zealous, activist members, routinely produce hundreds of pages criticizing any who acknowledge that DNA evidence undercuts Book of Mormon claims.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • The General Authorities are not "called and paid" to respond to DNA claims. For a detailed response, see: No paid ministry
  • One of the primary critical works related to the DNA challenge is Dr. Simon G. Southerton's book Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church. For a detailed response, see: Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church
  • No LDS expert would expect that DNA evidence would provide any such support. LDS scholars and leaders have made remarks in this vein for over a century. For a detailed response, see: Book_of_Mormon_geography/Statements
  • In the Ensign in 1984, long before the advances in DNA science, LDS anthropologist John Sorenson warned that this type of assumption would provide fodder for critics, and he was right. However, attentive students of such matters were aware (well before the critics discovered DNA) that such matters could say little about the Book of Mormon.[1]

For a detailed response, see: Book of Mormon and DNA evidence and DNA and Geography

MormonThink claims...

11. Joseph would have either denounced the Kinderhook Plates as a fraud, or at least said he didn't know what they were.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Member and other investigators are frustrated because modern church presidents and apostles do not provide official responses on challenging historical matters, including the Kinderhook Plates. Past church leaders declared the Kinderhook Plates authentic, but now their “inspired counsel” is rejected by unofficial FAIR apologists.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • Actually, the Kinderhook plates, which for years were believed by Church leaders to have been authentic, were confirmed to be a hoax in the August 1981 Ensign. There is no previous "inspired counsel" regarding the Kinderhook Plates, as no translation was ever produced. The best argument against Joseph's attempt to translate the Kinderhook plates is simply the fact that no one said anything about it at the time. If they wanted to expose Joseph as a fraud, why did they wait for decades to do it? For a detailed response, see: Kinderhook Plates

MormonThink claims...

12. The witnesses would have said all objective statements testifying of the BOM's divinity. They would not have said things like "I did not see them as I do that pencil case, yet I saw them with the eyes of faith; I saw them just as distinctly as I see anything around me - though at the time, they were covered with a cloth", 'he never saw them only as he saw a city through a mountain', etc.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Publish Harris’s confessions and explain that the witnesses’ events were the result of an active imagination, wishful thinking and magic-world view. Most people on planet earth find this to be the most reasonable explanation in light of the evidence.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

MormonThink claims...

13. Some of the witnesses should have been critics or skeptics and not related to each other. Each witness should have written their own testimony instead of merely signing a pre-prepared statement.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Until the LDS Church leaders support Book of Mormon claims and provide sufficient evidence that it is what it claims to be, it is silly to quote from its preface and ask reasonable people to accept statements by Smith as evidence.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • Despite the availability of "unlimited numbers of non-relatives who are not enemies that could have served as impartial witnesses," the Lord only granted that privilege to those who humbled themselves and were honestly seeking the truth, not to those who lacked belief. From the time that the Book of Mormon was first published, the testimonies of the Three and Eight Witnesses were printed over their names as part of the book. At no time throughout their lives did any of these 11 men dispute what was printed in the thousands of copies of the book that went throughout the world. It is also inaccurate to claim that none of the witnesses were skeptical—for example, Martin Harris took repeated steps to test Joseph's story by visiting Charles Anthon and swapping Joseph's seer stone for another which matched it. The witnesses used their critical faculties—but they were not unremittingly hostile. For a detailed response, see: The character of the Book of Mormon witnesses

MormonThink claims...

14. God's true church would likely have been one of the first churches to proclaim equality for blacks instead of the last major religion in America to accept blacks as equals.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Contrary to what FAIR claims, it's clear that the LDS leadership, from the time of the restoration through the 1960s, was not more progressive than the rest of America in their racial attitudes and in some cases was far less progressive as other churches had allowed blacks the rights to the priesthood long before the LDS Church did.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • In some ways, the Church was actually quite progressive with regard to its attitude towards blacks during a time when slavery was an accepted part of American society. In fact, the troubles in Independence, Missouri began when the local residents thought that the Church was encouraging freed slaves to gather there as members of the Church. For a detailed response, see: Blacks and the priesthood
  • This does not mean that Church leaders and members did not have attitudes towards blacks which we now know to be racist—some of them did. The authors employ a 21st-century term "equality for blacks" without any regard for the social fabric of the 19th-century or even 20th-century society in which this would have occurred. For a detailed response, see: Racist statements by Church leaders

MormonThink claims...

15. There would never have been teachings such as blacks received the curse from Cain for being less valiant in the pre-existence, or that they are destined to be servants only in the next life.

The site authors response to FAIR...

Church members cannot find anything official from the church as to whether or not the ban on blacks having the priesthood, and the reasons for it, was divinely inspired or a mistake made by the leaders of the church. FAIR's response stated that the prophets are not perfect which implies that they made a mistake here. FAIR do you believe the prophets erred when they denied blacks the priesthood?
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • The concept of the "Curse of Cain" was a Protestant invention, and existed long before the Church was organized in 1830 as a way to morally and biblically justify slavery. Early Latter-day Saint leaders who converted from Protestantism brought along many of their previous beliefs regarding the "Curse of Cain." Latter-day Saints do not see prophets as perfect men removed from their environment, or without the weakness or perspectives of their host culture. For a detailed response, see: The "curse of Cain" and "curse of Ham"

MormonThink claims...

16. Polygamy would have never been practiced. If it was really commanded by God, then it would have been done differently. It would have been practiced openly, honestly and with dignity, with no marriages to women already married or to underage girls. Joseph's wife would have full knowledge of the marriages and would have had to give her permission for each one. And probably one additional wife would have been sufficient instead of at least 33 wives for Joseph.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

MT does not assume that polygamy could have been ordained by God the way Smith introduced it.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • The critic ignores that most 19th century members felt at least as strongly about these matters as he/she does—yet, many reported powerful spiritual experiences which convinced them of the rightness of Joseph's course of action. Such a witness is equally available to modern members who are troubled as it was to those of Joseph's day. For a detailed response, see: Joseph Smith and polygamy and Divine manifestations to plural wives and families

MormonThink claims...

17. Joseph would not have proclaimed that a Greek Psalter was really a dictionary of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. He would have either said what it really was, or that he just didn't know.

The site authors response to FAIR...

We support professor Caswall's response to Joseph's error: "Whether he spoke as a prophet or as a mere man, he has committed himself, for he has said what is not true. If he spoke as a prophet, therefore, he is a false prophet. If he spoke as a mere man, he cannot be trusted, for he spoke positively and like an oracle respecting that which he knew nothing."
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • This claim stems from a single hostile source: Henry Caswall. There is no other evidence of Henry Caswall's claim save his own overtly anti-Mormon work. Furthermore, Joseph was familiar enough with Greek to recognize Greek characters, and so is unlikely to have mistaken them for an unknown language. John Taylor noted that Caswall "came for the purpose of looking for evil" and that he "was a wicked man, and associated with reprobates, mobocrats, and murderers."
    (THREE NIGHTS PUBLIC DISCUSSION BETWEEN THE REVDS. C. W. CLEEVE, JAMES ROBERTSON, AND PHILIP CATER, AND ELDER JOHN TAYLOR, OF THE Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, AT BOULOGNE-SUR-MER, FRANCE., Liverpool: John Taylor, 1850, 5. off-site) For a detailed response, see: Joseph Smith and the Greek psalter

MormonThink claims...

18. The prophets since Joseph, including the current one, would have the same prophetic abilities Joseph had. They would finish the translation of the Bible that Joseph started, and they would get answers from God for the many troubling issues members have about the history and doctrine of the Church like blacks and the priesthood or the Book of Abraham papyri translation problems.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

In other words, [Joseph's] imagination or his guesswork is the engine that drove his revelations. Most Mormons on any given Fast Sunday claim fervently (often in tears) that God does answer all the tough questions.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • MormonThink's response, in this case, is to mock the idea that revelation even occurs. It is unclear why the authors assume that all prophets should be identical in approach. The authors appear to believe that a prophet should be able to direct God to answer all of the tough questions in life, presupposing that it is the prophet who "picks and chooses" what is revealed of the mind of God and not God determining what He wants to reveal to man.

MormonThink claims...

19. The temple endowment ceremony would not have come from the Masonry rituals that began in the middle ages.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

FAIR provides no evidence that the ancient Israelites and Christians practiced these ceremonies other than “because-we-say-so”. FAIR did not provide any specific parallels on their website that we could examine. But even so, as noted above in our answer for Question #6, the use of parallels by the apologists (instead of just providing direct evidence for their claims) is a double-edged sword that works against the apologists in many circumstances, but FAIR does not recognize this, as they selectively pick and choose what parallels are meaningful and what parallels are coincidence.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

FAIR has a strict policy about not describing temple ceremonies and so details are not provided on FAIR's websites.
  • Joseph Smith's critics want to label him as an intellectual thief by claiming that he stole some of the ritual elements of Freemasonry in order to create the Nauvoo-era temple endowment ceremony. The greatest obstacles to this theory include the following facts:
  1. Joseph Smith claimed direct revelation from God regarding the Nauvoo-era endowment.
  2. Joseph Smith knew a great deal about the Nauvoo-era endowment ceremony long before the Nauvoo period—and thus long before his entry into the Masonic fraternity.
  3. Although Masonry did not derive directly from the ancient Israelite temple, the Nauvoo-era temple endowment ceremony has numerous exacting parallels to the initiation ceremonies of ancient Israelite and early Christian kings and priests—parallels which cannot be found among Freemasons. For a detailed response, see: Temple endowment and Freemasonry

MormonThink claims...

20. The temple endowment ceremony would be a spiritual, uplifting experience for everyone that went through it, and it probably would not be so secretive.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

If one believes that the temple ceremony was revealed from God, even if it is not what we mere mortals would like, most reasonable people do not expect this divine ceremony to be changing significantly over the years. It begs the question: Who is really the author of temple ceremonies, mortals or God?
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • The endowment is a spiritual, uplifting experience for many of the Saints who experience it. Critics often ridicule that endowment ceremony, yet continue to criticize when the Church changes the ceremony over the years to keep in line with modern attitudes. For a detailed response, see: Temple endowment changes
  • We consider temple ordinances to be very sacred in nature—we do not invite or encourage the public to make it a spectacle. Consider that the text of the endowment in its various forms has been published by critical sources for many years. Why, then, are members supposed to refrain from discussing it outside the temple? Because these things, whether or not the public mocks them openly, are sacred to Latter-day Saints. Church members make covenants in the temple with God, not with the general public. They honor those covenants even in the face of any mockery or criticism that they are attempting to keep "secrets."

MormonThink claims...

21. The temple endowment ceremony would never have had...uncomfortable penalties, oath of vengeance, etc. would never have been in there either. If any of these things were really from God, then they'd still be in the ceremony now.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Until the LDS Church, in an official capacity, explains why these things were changed in the temple ceremony over the years, FAIR’s explanation is only unofficial, unauthorized conjecture. It is perhaps more likely that people were very disturbed by these parts of the ceremony, and the church changed them to appease the members (or prevent lawsuits), and not from revelation or changes in culture.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • The Church does not owe anyone an explanation for modifications made to the endowment ceremony over the years. The site also claims that FAIR is avoiding the issue because "there is no good defense," and concludes that it "appears to reasonable people that the LDS leaders are not any more inspired than average humans." In other words, if one does not agree with MormonThink's negative conclusion, then one is not a "reasonable" person. Quite frankly, it does not matter to us in what context the endowment is presented or how it has evolved over time—what matters to us is that we made covenants with the Lord, and it is to Him and Him alone that we are responsible for the manner in which we keep those covenants. We do not engage is a discussion of these specifics simply because a website does not consider them to be "religious" in nature—despite the fact that some non-LDS scholars of the Bible would disagree. For a detailed response, see: Temple endowment changes
  • FAIR inserted the ellipsis in the quote above to avoid displaying temple content that was removed from the ceremony in the early 1990s, and we are quite well aware that it is discussed in other venues. It is a FAIR Wiki policy not to write about or discuss specific temple content, either past or present. Although this particular content is no longer part of the temple ceremony, it was at the time many of us went through the temple. The site owners at MormonThink consider this approach "silly," since such content can be found outside the FAIR Wiki.

For a detailed response, see: Temple endowment changes and Penalties in the endowment

MormonThink claims...

22. The Church would have always had the same, correct name since it was formed in 1830 and not changed four years later to a name that didn't even include Christ in the name. It would not have to change it again another four years later to yet another name.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Since the name change took four years before they were ‘inspired’ to correct, it is also very troubling for these men to be called prophets, seers and revelators. It appears that the church is run by mortals with whatever administrative ability they happen to possess, just like most other institutions, organizations or corporations.
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • The only name for the Church established by revelation was the one mentioned in DC 115:3. This is not to suggest that the members did not consider it the "Church of Christ," before and after the name change. Latter-day Saints have never held such ideas—they believe that God gives a fair amount of leeway to His children as they seek to learn and do His will. And, they remain confident that God will speak by revelation when necessary to ensure that His Church will not stray from His intentions.
To learn more see: Name of the Church

MormonThink claims...

23. Testimonies wouldn't have to override facts and conflict with science.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Even if a member realizes the problems encountered by science with the church, they will often listen to the gospel doctrine teacher (using the church issued manual), who merely dismisses all problems with a wave of a hand by giving some ludicrous explanation such as how the dinosaur bones really came from another planet and not from life that existed here millions of years ago. True believers may also cite research by some rogue scientist that supports the church, or worse still, be told that all they need to do is follow the prophet, even if he’s wrong (Ensign, July 1972, p. 98).
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • Most informed members do not regard their testimonies in conflict with the "facts" or "science." Indeed, Church belief and activity has been shown to increase with the amount of secular education which someone receives—this pattern bucks the trend in most faiths, suggesting that there is something intellectually compelling and satisfying about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For a detailed response, see: Mormonism and science and Does education threaten belief?

MormonThink claims...

24. If testimonies are real, then everyone that prays about the Church or the Book of Mormon should get the same confirming answers.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

[T]he contributors to the MT site have all prayed about whether or not the church is true, and none of us received any sort of confirming answer.
MormonThink's response to FAIR.
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FAIR's opinion

  • The LDS doctrine of seeking truth is not a simple, one-step process of praying and waiting for the answer to come. Note the conditions that Moroni placed on his promise:
  • Moroni 10:4

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

  • Prayer is only one part of the process. If an individual prays without having a sincere heart, or without real intent, or lacking faith in Christ, then they will get the answer that they are seeking—nothing. In other words, those who pray and expect not to receive an answer, will not receive an answer. Truth is not discovered or declared by "majority rules."
To learn more see: Burning in the bosom
  • We understand God to respect the agency of His children and trust his promise not to force them to do what is right. That was proposed as a different plan for humanity (see Moses 4:3). Instead, this life was given for us to be tested to see if we will do what is God's will in a state of forgetfulness (see Abraham 3:25). If it were to be as simple as every person repeating a formula (without individual will as a factor determining the result), everyone would reasonably be expected to get the exact same result regardless of intent, negating the purpose for a test, and making the question of finding the truth and living by faith unnecessary.

MormonThink claims...

25. The true church would be the most honest of organizations. It would never publish artwork or articles in its official magazines that mislead readers as to how the Book of Mormon was translated, or that Joseph was alone when Moroni visited him. It wouldn't sugarcoat its history. The true church would be totally open and disclose what the leaders get paid (even public corporations do that). They would publish their financial statements and budgets as do many other churches. The true church would teach everything honestly and lead by example. It would not change the wording in its lesson manuals to act as if Joseph Smith and Brigham Young only had one wife each. You should never have to worry that there is another side of its history not taught by the church itself.

The site authors respond to FAIR...

Of course it is a little disconcerting to think that the FAIR apologists know more about the true nature of the church than the prophet and apostles...
MormonThink's response to FAIR
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FAIR's opinion

  • Artists, whether they be members of the Church or not, do not set out to mislead those who view their work. Art is the interpretation of the individual artist. For a detailed response, see: Church art and historical accuracy
  • Public corporations are required to provide such information to their stockholders—private organizations are not.
  • The constant accusations of dishonesty lead us to ask the question: Where do the critics think that this dishonesty is introduced? At the bishopric level? At the stake level? At the regional level? In the Quorum of the Twelve? It is difficult to imagine how a church which is operated primarily through lay leadership could institutionalize dishonesty in the manner in which the website claims.For a detailed response, see: Hiding the facts in Church history and No Paid Ministry
  • It is claimed that the Church's manual, The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, attempts to "hide history" by portraying Brigham Young (a well-known polygamist) as having only one wife. For a detailed response, see: Brigham Young and polygamy/Hiding history
  • Polygamy is rarely mentioned in modern Church manuals, however, the 2008-2009 lesson manual Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007), pages vii–xiii does briefly discuss it:

Teachings for Our Day

This book deals with teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith that have application to our day. For example, this book does not discuss such topics as the Prophet’s teachings regarding the law of consecration as applied to stewardship of property. The Lord withdrew this law from the Church because the Saints were not prepared to live it (see D&C 119, section heading). This book also does not discuss plural marriage. The doctrines and principles relating to plural marriage were revealed to Joseph Smith as early as 1831. The Prophet taught the doctrine of plural marriage, and a number of such marriages were performed during his lifetime. Over the next several decades, under the direction of the Church Presidents who succeeded Joseph Smith, a significant number of Church members entered into plural marriages. In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto, which discontinued plural marriage in the Church (see Official Declaration 1). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints no longer practices plural marriage.

Endnotes

  1. [note]  Stephen E. Robinson, "Review of The Word of God: Essays on Mormon Scripture by Dan Vogel," FARMS Review of Books 3/1 (1991): 312–318. off-site
  2. [note]  John L. Sorenson, "Digging into the Book of Mormon: Our Changing Understanding of Ancient America and Its Scripture, Part 1," Ensign (September 1984). off-site For second part of the article, see off-site
  3. [note]  Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), xxi. citing Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, September 15, 1843, Papers of Joseph Smith 1:443.
  4. [note]  John A. Widtsoe, "Temple Worship," Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine (April 1921): 62.

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