Should historians tell the truth?

A little over two years ago Jerald Tanner left this life for his home in Heaven. Born and raised a Latter-day Saint, when a young man Jerald discovered that Mormonism could not bring him to Christ. When God granted Jerald the free gift of salvation, Jerald spent his life in grateful service to God, researching and publishing information he hoped would help Latter-day Saints recognize the tremendous problems within Mormonism – and help them turn instead to Jesus.

The ministry Jerald co-founded with his wife, Sandra, Utah Lighthouse Ministry, has published a three-part series of articles on the life and work of Jerald Tanner. Authored by Ronald V. Huggins, the last article in the series was published in the November 2008 issue of the Salt Lake City Messenger. It takes a look at the integrity that guided Jerald as he examined LDS history and published his conclusions. Wherever the evidence led, that is where Jerald went. And he went there with no regard for a conclusion’s popularity or degree to which it might–or might not–serve his cause. This, of course, is what any good historian would do. However, as Ron Huggins notes in his Salt Lake City Messenger article, scholars today are sometimes more comfortable pleasing their intended audience than telling the whole truth.

Dr. Huggins explains, “It is very much the current sensibility and temperament among historians to write sympathetically about historical religious figures, giving them the benefit of the doubt wherever possible.” After citing two examples of this tendency among modern historians, Dr. Huggins asks, Is there ever a time for the historian to say, ‘Look, what we have here is a religious charlatan, a liar, a manipulative scoundrel who uses his spiritual sway over people to get what he wants.'” Apparently, many modern historians are unwilling to go there.

Dr. Huggins wrote,

“The long and short of this is that current historians do feel the pressure at times to knowingly write what is false or misleading in order to flatter their readers or publishers. As a Christian historian, Jerald no doubt could feel this pressure as well, but he had another point of reference. The Bible both warns against man pleasing, and provides a category that modern historical study finds hard to get a handle on: the false prophets…

“Many Christians may feel the identification of particular individuals, especially leaders of large religious groups, as pseudoprophetai (false prophets), is overly harsh. But the category of religious figures is one presented to us in the Scriptures themselves, and if we wish to claim to be Biblical Christians we have no alternative but to take the Scriptural warnings about such figures seriously. So for us such questions as whether Joseph Smith should be regarded as a ‘religious genius,’ as, for example, Harold Bloom describes him, or whether he was ‘sincere’ in thinking his revelations came from God, are of very little significance for the Christian, whose starting point is the teaching of Scripture. The main thing is to begin by describing the situation accurately, and this is what Jerald did. A false prophet, be he brilliant or stupid, interesting or dull, sincere or hypocritical, is still first and foremost a false prophet, and therefore no safe guide to follow if our goal is seeking and finding the way of God.”

Jerald Tanner told it as it was; he employed no flattery, made no effort to please his audience, and scrupulously avoided fudging on the facts.

But some historians fit into another category, conforming their conclusions to something LDS apostle Boyd K. Packer would be happy with. Mr. Packer once said,

“Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer… There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not… Some things that are true are not very useful… That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith — particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith — places himself in great spiritual jeopardy. ” (“The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater Than The Intellect”)

Which sort of historian do you find more valuable – one who places courtesy and popularity ahead of truth? Or one who always tells the truth, even when it is uncomfortable?

For further reading see Historical Issues at the Mormonism Research Ministry web site.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Truth, Honesty, Prayer, and Inquiry and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

82 Responses to Should historians tell the truth?

  1. falcon says:

    I asked my friend Berean one time why Michael Quinn and Grant Palmer came under the wrath of the Mormon authorities and Richard Bushman got to skate. His comment was that it was the way Bushman wrote. I believe we were referencing “Rough Stone Rolling”. Berean told me that Bushman wouldn’t come right out and say what it was Joseph Smith was up to, but would talk about it in a “some would say….” manner. I guess that way Bushman could maintain his status in the Mormon program. Jerald Tanner, on the other hand, took his findings which eventually earned him the wrath of Mormons but let them lead him to the cross of Jesus Christ. It takes integrity to see the truth and lay it out. In his presentation entitled “Why People Leave the Mormon Church”, John P. Dehlin (a Mormon) lays out the information that many Mormons “discover” that leads them to drop out of Mormonism. He tries to make a case for being open and front loading these facts so Mormons won’t be broadsided by it resulting in the sinking of their good ship lollipop view of Mormonism. I don’t think his advice will go very far judging by the attitude of Boyd P. Packer whose approach seems to be “keep em dumb and happy”. One of our posters here, Jeffrey, has often talked about the fact that his wife had spent her life in Mormonism and was shocked to find out that Joseph Smith was a polygamist with at least 33 women he called wives; some of whom were married to other men and another couple who were basically kids. This is not faith producing information. In fact it hits real high on the creepometer. Then they find out Smith did the magic rock in the hat trick to “translate” the golden plates and it’s time to turn out the lights the party’s over. Facts are stubborn things. They tend to interfere with a Mormon’s “testimony”. Thankfully there are people like Jerald Tanner still around who are more interesting in finding the truth than in promoting a fairy tale.

    “Why Mormons Leave the LDS Church” can be heard at:

  2. Arthur Sido says:

    I recall the first time I went into Lighthouse Ministries little building in SLC. It was shortly after we had left mormonism, and their modest little shop looked nothing like what I expected. Imagine my surprise when I met Sandra Tanner and she didn’t have horns! You would be hard pressed to find a kinder, more modest person. Telling the truth about mormonism in SLC was not a way to make friends, but the truth is more important than being popular. Their work has been invaluable to me and countless others. I wish I could have met and spent time with Jerald Tanner in this life, but I am confident he and I will share eternity together with our Lord.

    What I have benefitted from the most in their ministry is seeing the way that history can be manipulated. The way that the modern mormon church portrays church history and the reality from that time are a stark reminder that history can and often is twisted.

  3. SteveH says:


    An interesting topic.

    My first comment would be that neither Jerald Tanner nor Boyd K. Packer would be considered to be bona fide historians by any professional body of historians.

    My second comment is that the role of the historian is to provide a dispassionate, rigorous, balanced analysis of his subject. Jerald Tanner’s opus magnum “Mormonism – Shadow or Reality” is clearly neither dispassionate nor balanced and thus fails miserably as a work of historical analysis. Rather, Jerald Tanner is nothing but a propagandist with an axe to grind against the LDS Church.

    My third comment is that contrary to Boyd K. Packer’s views, history should not be “sugar-coated” but rather presented in a balanced manner. A good example of which would be Dr. Richard Bushman’s book “Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling”. In Dr. Bushman’s words he presents the history of Joseph Smith “warts and all” and lets the reader draw their own conclusions. This is how history should be presented – in its simple truth and not pushing some agenda.

  4. GB says:

    Lets add some context, shall we. Who was Elder Packer speaking to?

    (“The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater Than The Intellect”) Elder Boyd K. Packer A talk given at the Fifth Annual Church Educational System Religious Educators’ Symposium, 22 August, 1981, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
    . . .
    “The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater Than The Intellect”
    . . .
    [GB, thank you for pointing Mormon Coffee readers to Mr. Packer’s entire speech. I have removed your lengthy but incomplete quote and replaced it with a link for interested parties to download a pdf file of the 19-page address.]

  5. Ralph says:


    What would you say if I told you about a 30 something year old man, I know about, who was a widower and who married a 12 yr old girl (ie second wife) because she was pregnant? Being as old as he was and previously married, he most likely had a few children of his own already.

  6. Ralph says:

    Yes, I believe that historians should tell the whole truth in an unbiased factual way, and it should be made available for all to find.

    BUT should it be taught that way? NO!

    People are on different spiritual levels and should be taught accordingly. I know some of you may disagree with that comment, but how many of you teach openly in your churches that Protestant Christianity actively promoted polygamy amongst its believers and allowed a man to have up to 10 wives at a time? What would happen to some of the spiritually weaker believers if they learnt about that? I would say some of them would decide to leave the church. I know because that happens in the LDS church, as we can see on this website with the comments from some of the ex-LDS. There are other things in the Christian historical closet that may have the same effect on weaker spiritual members.

    So there is a difference between history written by historians and what needs to be taught as history in a congregational, class and personal setting.

    One point that keeps coming up is JS and his wives. We are told as LDS to read our scriptures and to understand them. If someone sits down and truely reads the D&C they will know that JS did have more than one wife. This has been pointed out many times by people on this site that it is in the D&C. It may not be taught in classes or spoken about in meetings but it is in our scriptures. So some people in the LDS church have only themselves to blame because they did not follow the prophets’ advice to read and study the scriptures properly.

  7. GB says:

    Ah, that’s too bad.

    Hey! Why are no replies allowed on the Glenn Beck post?

  8. Arthur Sido says:

    Ralph the difference is that a church that teaches an error in Christianity can be rebuked for false teaching without causing Christianity to crumble. The converse is not true of mormonism, the whole church must be right, all the time, because it alleges to have Christ literally at it’s head and a restored “priesthood” with a living prophet. Your faith is inextricably linked to the mormon church organization. That is why although I love much of what John Calvin wrote, I am free to disagree with him on infant baptism but you must adhere to every teaching, no matter how goofy, of every prophet or the whole house of cards tumbles down. Your faith is in a church, my faith is in Christ.

  9. SteveH says:

    Arthur Sido,

    I am surprised that you ( an ex-mormon) would state:
    “you must adhere to every teaching, no matter how goofy, of every prophet or the whole house of cards tumbles down”

    Clearly this is a gross misrepresentation of LDS doctrine. The LDS Church does not prescribe to the Protestant doctrine of inerrancy. Prophets are humans just like you and me and therefore are not infallible. There is an abundance of evidence of the personal foibles and shortcomings of prophets and apostles recorded in the Bible (OT and NT).

    This is why the personal musings of Brigham Young (i.e. Adam/God theory etc.) do not perturb Latter-day Saints.

  10. spartacus007 says:

    The church I attend is never shy about pointing out false teachings that its historical leaders have preached.

  11. faithoffathers says:


    I think Quinn’s coming out of the closet as a homosexual had a little to do with the church’s handling of his case. I know this is never acknowledged by critics or the person being disciplined. But this needs to be pointed out.

    This glowing summary of Tanner’s writings is, like any historians work, biased. Nothing too amazing here. Those who agree with Tanner think he was objective. Those who disagree think he was partial and had an axe to grind. Wow!

    Much has been made of President Packers comments. He has a valid point. A good analogy can be found in critics of the United States who are loud and brash in pointing out every little thing the government and military do wrong. They completely ignore the huge sacrifices made by those parties and the good accomplished throughout the world by this nation. They are very willing to make the country look bad. The work of these critics creates a caricature of the real nation.

    Packer’s point is that not all truth has the same value. Knowing the metabolic pathways of the African jumping beetle does little to further the average person’s life or salvation. Similarly, knowing every little detail of Joseph’s or Brigham’s life is not necessary for salvation. You would argue this “truth” will lead a person away from the church, and is therefore a good thing. But for a person who knows the church is true and the source of truth in our day, the perspective is different.

    I like knowing all the details and background, and it strengthens my testimony. But not all people are as motivated or interested to pursue such things, and throwing a slanted, biased take of the negatives does not do any good.

    And by the way falcon- you frequently refer to Joseph putting his head in a hat to translate the book of mormon. You need to read the writings of Oliver Cowdery on the subject- he was the primary scribe for the bulk of the Book of Mormon. He would disagree with you. But I know you probably know better.

  12. Ralph says:


    If one was in a church teaching one or two things contrary to the Bible (We’ll put it in your perspective), would that mean that all who actively worship in that church and adhere to it and promote it and sustain it are in error or is it just the institution?

    My thoughts are the people that belong to it are also at fault as they are supporting something that is not from God. My example earlier about the Protestant churches promoting polygamy, they did that during a war period when there was a shortage of men and so they practiced polygamy to increase the population as well as support the women. If, as has been said many times, polygamy is against the Bible then all those who belonged to those parishes whether they practiced polygamy or not would not be ‘true believers’ as they promoted and worshiped in an incorrect environment.

    To pick something from these days – homosexual priests. The American Anglican church has ordained at least one if I remember correctly. Now if you wish you can seperate the parishes and say that it is not the whole church just those few parishes that are wrong and have apostasised, I can agree with that unless it came down from the head of the church in America, then it has to be the institution. But all who live in those parishes and still support the parish are supporting homosexuality. Thus they are supporting and believing in a non-Biblical idea and all are in apostacy. The same goes with the Uniting Church (Methodists and Presbyterians) here in Australia.

    Now if you say that my logic is flawed and no one in these parishes/churches are apostate, just the ones who are living in a homosexual lifestyle, because they all believe in the Trinity and they believe in grace – then according to your logic the only problems you have with the LDS church are that we do not believe in the Trinity and we believe in faith and works – nothing else. So that puts polygamy, tithing, WoW, etc as well as history aside.

  13. mrgermit says:

    Ralph: we share a desire to see weaker believers protected, that’s probably me for all I know,( or more accurately, for all I dont; practice). We disagree sharply on how that is done. I recommend NOT using physical age and family relationships as a good analogy: in other words, we protect young children from news too “adult” for them to bear, they have no way to put that information in context, it doesn’t make sense to them and is not useful (yet). There is very little, if anything , that I would spare a new believer, provided they brought it up and the simple fact is, GOD HAS ALREADY SPELLED OUT WHAT LEADERS ARE CAPABLE OF DOING THRU HIS HOLY WORD, THE BIBLE. Thank you GOD ,for telling us about ourselves in and thru the stories of Gideon (the big fat chicken), Moses the mumbling murderer, and we just don’t have the time or space for David or Abraham…… I’m not being cynical or negative: their stories, their UNVARNISHED stories, are there in the Bible, for ALL the believers, young and old, to see, for good reason: sinful man (including MOI) is way down HERE; CHRIST EXALTED is way up THERE. Seeing these true to life stories drives that home and is therefor FAITH PROMOTING. What is NOT faith promoting is some kind of gilded history, some kind of rosey-lensed PR stat sheet where serious sins become “youthful foibles” etc……

    let me add that the evangelical community has a TERRIBLE track record in regards to being straightforward and open about leaders’ problems, so it’s not like we have this all together. that’s one of the big reasons that the ev. “environment” helps PRODUCE the Ted Taggert’s of todays headlines: we still have our leaders up (foolishly) on a pedestal. little wonder the fall is great.

    Kudos to R.Bushman and others who make an honest effort at accurate history, but my prediction is that the LDS institution will be in no big hurry to see a successor to Mr.Bushman……I’m predicting less and less of his brand of history in the decade to come. Hope I’m wrong about that. GERMIT

  14. Free says:

    Let us always treat each other with love and kindness.

    I’m sorry SteveH, but the LDS can’t have it both ways and expect to be taken seriously.

    When a prophet or apostle screws up, like Brigham Young and his ‘Adam/God theory”, or his statement of how we will have to stand before JS and give him tokens and signs and receive his permission to enter heaven (forgive the paraphrasing), or Dallin Oaks statement: “Church members shouldn’t criticize its leaders, even if the criticism is true. (PBS – The Mormons), lds love to say that “the leaders were just speaking as men at the time”. How convenient (?)

    However, I know it is taught in at least one lds seminary manual that I know of, that SWK (before he was a “prophet”) stated during a conference “that every word that proceeds out of the mouth of a prophet should be considered as coming from the mouth of the Lord.” Odd how SWK went on to say that BY’s Adam/God theory was not correct….

    What a tangled web they weave.

    Jesus Christ, the Messiah, said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me”. It’s so simple it’s hard isn’t it?

    Much love,


  15. mrgermit says:

    that should be Ted Haggard, not Taggert. Sorry ’bout that.

  16. Ralph says:


    True story about a man I know of, real question – I would like to know what you have to say about a man in his 30’s who is a widower and marries a 12 yr old girl who is pregnant. He claims that while he was sleeping he was told in a dream to marry her.

    Would you damn him to hell? Call him a paedophile? Try and get him put into gaol? Would you be fine with it and allow it? Would you praise him for what he has done? What would your response be? You seem to have much to say about JS and his young wives – this is the same but without the polygamy.

  17. Berean says:


    It’s time to come out of denial, my Mormon friend. Court is now in session and I call my first witness:

    ISAAC HALE (JS’s father-in-law): “The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods!” (Isaac Hale, Mormonism Unvailed, pp. 265-266, March 20, 1834)

    MICHAEL MORSE (JS’ brother-in-law): “The mode of procedure consisted in Joseph’s placing the Seer Stone in the crown of a hat, then putting his face into the hat, so as to entirely7 cover his face, resting his elbows upon his knees, and then dictating, word after word, while the scribe…wrote it down.” (Michael Morse, interview with William W. Blair, in Letter to the Editor, Saints Herald, June 15, 1879, 190-91)

    EMMA SMITH (JS’ 1st and legal wife): “In writing for your father, I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us…he had neither manuscript nor book to read from.” (The Saints Herald, Vol.26, No.19, October 1, 1879) [This was the testimony of Emma Smith as recorded by her son in February of the same year] Note: Emma Smith was JS’ scribe – See D&C 25:1, 6

    MARTIN HARRIS (one of the Three Witnesses): Martin describes to Edward Stevenson, an LDS Church member, who wrote: “By aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin…If correctly written that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place.” (The Gift of Seeing, page 50)

    DAVID WHITMER (one of the Three Witnesses): “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, 1887, page 12)

    RUSSELL NELSON, Mormon Apostle, Ensign, July 1993: “The details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights. David Whitmer wrote: ‘Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.'”

    We have quite a gathering of witnesses here all saying the same thing. I find it interesting that Whitmer included Oliver Cowdery in his quote as participating in this rock-in-the-hat translation. Modern-day Mormon Apostle Russell Nelson is in agreement with David Whitmer. Somehow Joseph Fielding Smith, former Mormon prophet, wasn’t informed about this or was in denial too:

    “While the statement has been made by some writers that the Prophet Joseph Smith uses a seer stone part of the time in his translating of the record, and information points to the fact that he did have in his possession such a stone, yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that this stone was used for this purpose.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, pp.225-226).

    Unfortunately for the Mormon brethren at the time that Joseph Fielding Smith said this we weren’t in an information age where LDS Church members could access the information that we can today. Russell Nelson today realized that we are and could not be in denial or keep the brethren there either.

    Oliver Cowdery knew all about it. His knowledge of this and especially of Joseph Smith’s fling with Fanny Alger got him excommunicated in 1838 when he “called out” the prophet for his “dirty, nasty, filthy affair” (as told by Oliver to his brother in a letter dated in 1838). Martin Harris and David Whitmer also got excommunicated the same year.

    The witnesses have given their statements. The jury has returned with it’s verdict and the jury chairman reads it aloud and hesays: “Guilty” – guilty of divination which is an abomination in Deuteronomy 18:10.

  18. Berean says:

    I find historians, and LDS historians at that, who will tell the truth no matter how uncomfortable it gets to be worth respect no matter what their personal belief. Richard Bushman is the first one that comes to mind. HIs book entitled “Rough Stone Rolling” was a classic read. I consider it THE biography of Joseph Smith. Richard Bushman is a beloved Mormon historian and his works are best sellers at Deseret Books. This book was no exception and stil is today. Unfortunately, I know of no Mormon personally that has bought the book and read it. Most of them don’t have time – that is what they tell me. They are too busy with ward obligations and callings almost every night of the week so they can’t read a book like this much less study their scriptures. That’s what they tell me.

    Richard Bushman made it clear when he said: “A believing historian like myself cannot hope to rise above these battles or pretend nothing personal is at stake. For a character as controversial as Smith, pure objectivity is impossible. What I can do is to look frankly at all sides of Joseph Smith, facing up to his mistakes and flaws. Covering up errors makes no sense in any case. Most readers do not believe in, nor are they interested in, perfection. Flawless characters are neither attractive nor useful.” (Rough Stone Rolling, preface)

    Bushman got away with being brutally open about Joseph Smith’s life because he approached the subject as a third person writing as a reporter of what he learned through research, interviews and investigations. He cited other people’s criticisms of Joseph Smith and said nothing of his own opinions on the matter. This is what separated him from people like Fawn Brodie, Grant Palmer, Michael Quinn and others. Bushman also didn’t criticize Joseph Smith’s teachings, the LDS standard works, etc. This got Bushman a free pass of sorts compared especially to Grant Palmer.

    When Todd Compton did his exhaustive work on the biographies of all of Joseph Smith’s polygamous and polyandrous wives entitled “In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith” he didn’t get excommunicated for it. Rather, he approaced the subject the same way as Bushman did – as a reporter and not outrightly criticizing Joseph Smith. (There were times in Todd’s book that he did come close!)

    Bushman laid it all out and his openly honest and forthright documentation of the factual history at times had me shocked especially chapter 3 of the book where he tells of Joseph Smith’s use of the seer stone in the hat and Joseph Smith’s involvement with magic. Other chapters of the book he joins hands with Todd Compton on agreement with Joseph Smith’s polygamous and polyandrous wives and Bushman stops short in some sentences of going further. One gets the impression that he is dumbfounded, at a loss for words, or thinking about what could happen if he goes any further. Bushman goes into detail about the events of Carthage jail and tells the truth about Joseph Smith’s use of the handgun in shooting three people and then attempting to give the Masonic sign of distress before falling out the window. When Joseph Smith hits the ground that is the end of the book because that is the end of Joseph Smith’s life.

    On Saturday, April 20, 1974, at the Mormon History Association Annual Meeting held at Nauvoo, Illinois, Dr. Reed C. Durham gave a shocking talk entitled “Is There No Help For the Widow’s Son” detailing Joseph Smith’s involvement with Freemasonry and how that came to be blended in with Mormonism. He also goes into detail about Joseph Smith’s involvement with the occult and the Jupiter Talisman that Joseph Smith carried on his person at all times and that was supposedly found on his body at the base of Carthage Jail. Reed ended his speech by saying:

    “But if we, as Mormon historians, respond to these questions and myriads like them relative to Masonry in an ostrich-like fashion, with our heads buried in the traditional sand, then I submit: there never will be ‘any help for the widow’s son’.”

    This speech opened up a firestorm of criticism from among the brethren and Reed got “called on the mat” for it and was silenced. David John Buerger wrote to Reed and requested more information from the lecture given at Nauvoo. Reed wrote back and said:

    “I am sorry, but because of the nature of the subject matter, the Brethren have requested that I do no more with the subject again – I am not to release info. I will be obedient to my Brethren and be still. I am sorry I can’t help you – Sincerely Reed C. Durham, Jr.”

    Finally, if one wants to see what great depths the Mormon Church will go to in re-writing, filtering, fluffing, fabricating and outright lying about its history, then go no further than the new Church History 3 DVD box set that has 8 hours of church history. It’s really unbelievable, laughable and disgusting on how the Mormon Church deliberately has re-written its history to clean itself up to the modern day Mormons today. I wrote some about the contents of these DVD’s in the blog thread entitled “Usurping Christmas” if one wants to read more about it.

  19. falcon says:

    See, we have several problems when it comes to the “truth” and the Mormon church. Like the character in the movie “A Few Good Men”, we could respond to Mormons by saying, “The truth?, You can’t handle the truth.” And the fact is, Mormonism can’t survive its own history. Coupled to this and compounding the problem (for Mormons) is the fact that Mormonism lives off of “divine revelation”. But Mormons can’t seem to decide what counts and what doesn’t count when the prophet reveals things. Even when providing us with a definition of what counts, numerous examples can be found that don’t meet the “counts, doesn’t count” criteria. So Mormons come out either looking totally flakey or like liars.
    Also, there are two things Mormons are really poor at, Biblical interpretation and historical accuracy and conclusion drawing. Again, to make Mormonism work, the faithful must come up with all sorts of nefarious goings on and conspiracy theories to explain away the obvious. For example, Mormonism isn’t found in the Bible. Well that’s because some plotters and schemers left all the Mormonism out. This is beyond childish. The evidence construction by Mormons to make the BoM a true historical document makes them objects, not of ridicule, but of pity. So all Mormons have to stand on is unprovable, unreliable and inconsistent prophetic devine revelation and the subjective personal testimony as the measure of truth within Mormonism. All I can say is the buzz Mormons get off of reading the BoM must be some real dope to get them to ignore the available facts and evidence. It wouldn’t be all that big of a deal except for the fact that this self delusion will have a bad ending.

  20. mrgermit says:

    To FoF and others:

    Joseph Fielding Smith was quoted :

    yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that this stone was used for this purpose.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, pp.225-226).

    very simple question regarding the “no authentic staement in the history…….”
    WHY NOT?? the people that Berean quotes are not fringe characters, certainly there words and testimony would have been well known by many, so please, any kind of “we didn’t have the internet back then” kind of line will wear thin….. Give us a plausible reason why the church ITSELF could not, or would not, come up with what your OWN historian(s) came up with: see R.BUSHMAN>

    I’ve said it before: the cover up is much worse than the crime….in fact the cover up sometimes IS the crime, ask Mr.Nixon, if you get the chance. ‘

    at the risk of stating the obvious (my strong suit)

  21. mrgermit says:

    FoF; you wrote:

    This glowing summary of Tanner’s writings is, like any historians work, biased. Nothing too amazing here. Those who agree with Tanner think he was objective. Those who disagree think he was partial and had an axe to grind. Wow!

    Well of course he was biased. He was, in fact , VERY biased. But the question that should be asked is : WAS HE ACCURATE ?? the assumption that many make is that anyone “with an axe to grind” just could not , categoricallly CANNOT be accurate in what they report. I disagree. Granted, his kind of bias does not sell well with the higher echelons of academia. Ask the Tanners if they care. OR ask any of the scholars at FAIR or FARMS if THEY care. Probably not, and I can appreciate why.
    I think the common, and sensible response to the red herring of “you’re so biased” card is to ask ” please, sir, show me where I’ve stated something not true, and tell my why you say so……..” I think I’ve even heard that a time or two here at Mormon Coffee.
    This cannot be said for every christian apologist I’ve run across, but I’ve found the Tanners to be VERY careful in all theyve written, much as I’d say the same for R.Bushman. And they BOTH had some kind of agenda. Big Deal.
    Keep in mind what’s the gnat, and what’s the camel here people……..


  22. mrgermit says:


    you also forgot the threats and religious extortion that went with some of those proposals…….unless your bible has Joseph (step-dad of Jesus) doing some of that…..mine does not.


  23. Rick B says:

    Speaking Of LDS leaving the Church. I go to a board to share with LDS, It is the Reach out trust Board. On that Board their is an LDS poster who goes by Duartexas, He was a mormon for some where close to 20 years.

    He claims he was a bishop, a Missionary and a teacher in the Church. For all the LDS here that will or might say, How can we know if this guy is for real, You can read his former replies before posting about how it looks as if he is leaving the Church.

    He found out the Church is not as Honest and truthful as it claims, and the BoM is not as accurate as he once thought. And in his past replies before he decide to leave, Me and him would go at it and he defended the LDS church with great passion and to some degree, knowladge of his church and the BoM.

    So it seems another Mormons comes to the truth and Light. Rick b

  24. faithoffathers says:

    There is this guy who lives not far from me- he grew up protestant. For a while, he was a junior minister. He felt for a long time he was missing something in his life- he felt God was calling him to do something. Then he met the missionaries and began taking the discussions. I have had the opportunity of meeting with him several times. Well, he was baptized last month and is so happy and filled with joy. He explains the new light in his life and the overwhelming blessings God has given to him and his family. It is wonderful to see somebody come to understand the truth and receive the gospel!

    So it seems another nonLDS Christian comes to the truth and light!


  25. faithoffathers says:


    You misunderstand my point, or I was not clear enough. My point was that falcon and others will always pick out those elements of the translation story that make it seem most spooky or weird.

    My point was also that Oliver Cowdery, as the primary scribe for the translation, would be the person on whose statements I would place the most weight. His descriptions mention the Urim and Thummim.

    Oliver Cowdery gave the following description to Samuel W. Richards:

    “He represented Joseph as sitting at a table with the plates before him, translating them by means of the Urim and Thummim, while he (Oliver) sat beside him writing every word as Joseph spoke them to him. This was done by holding the “translators” over the hieroglyphics, the translation appearing distinctly on the instrument, which had been touched by the finger of God and dedicated and consecrated for the express purpose of translating languages. Every word was distinctly visible even to every letter; and if Oliver omitted a word or failed to spell a word correctly, the translation remained on the “interpreter” until it was copied correctly.” (Personal statement of Samuel W. Richards, 25 May 1907, in Harold B. Lee Library, BYU, Special Collections).

    “These were days never to be forgotten – to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated, with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, ‘Interpreters,’ the history, or record, called ‘The book of Mormon.” Oliver Cowdery

    A little research on the Urim and Thummim and seerstone from ancient sources actually shows Joseph was not off base.

  26. Rick B says:

    It seems to me the Bible is true,
    The so-called Christin that Left the Lord for a false Gospel Fits the Bible where it says, Those that left the flock were never really of us, And the verse that says, Some people just what their itching ears tickled. And he never followed Acts 17:11 and searched to know if these things were true. Rick b

  27. faithoffathers says:


    My friend, such is circular logic at its finest!


  28. Rick B says:

    How do you figure my logic is circular? The Bible teaches and and it seems it happened. I suspect you think it is circular because you do not trust the Bible to be Accurate.

    Paul in Gal even said, Who has bewiched you to turn from the Gospel unto another, that really is not a gospel? It happened with this guy, He turned from the truth to a false gospel. Rick b

  29. mrgermit says:

    Well, it seems we have quite the MMA thing (mixed-missionary anecdotes) going here.
    stick around and see who taps out first……..

    LOL Germit

    PS to FoF: you seem MUCH more comfortable about the seer stone thing (as is R.Bushman) than your church in general. YOU INDIVIDUALLY may not be at all dishonest about it, but I can’t characterize SLC IN GENERAL in the same light, and for that reason the “dishonesty” thing has (for me) some relevance. You need to take your show on the road to SLC………..and for heaven’s sake, take Ralph with you……

  30. faithoffathers says:


    It is circular because we both are basing our arguments on the assumption that we have THE TRUE GOSPEL. We both can therefore claim the scripture applies to the other guy. Get me?

    The often used claim that we don’t trust the Bible doesn’t work. I love the bible and esteem it very highly as the word of God.



  31. GB says:


    With church membership increasing by nearly 30,000 a month, I suspect that there are many more joining for every 1 leaving.

    The fact that there are those that leave the church doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Even Jesus and the Apostles of old lost converts.

    John 6: 66 his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
    Acts 20: 29 shall grievous wolves enter in among you.
    1 Cor. 11: 18 there be divisions among you.
    Gal. 1: 6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him.
    Gal. 3: 1 who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey.
    1 Tim. 1: 6 some having swerved have turned aside.
    1 Tim. 4: 1 giving heed to seducing spirits.
    2 Tim. 1: 15 all they which are in Asia be turned away from me.
    2 Tim. 2: 18 Who concerning the truth have erred.
    2 Tim. 3: 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power.
    2 Tim. 4: 4 turn away their ears from the truth . . . unto fables.
    James 4: 1 From whence came wars and fightings among you.
    2 Pet. 3: 17 being led away with the error of the wicked.
    1 Jn. 4: 1 many false prophets are gone out into the world.
    Jude 1: 4 certain men crept in . . . denying the only Lord God.
    Rev. 2: 2 which say they are apostles, and are not.

    And so the Church/Kingdom of God continues to progress. There is no stopping it!

  32. Ralph says:

    OK Germit,

    you got it – I was talking about Joseph, the step father of Jesus. One small thing I will say is that Mary was most likely (from the sources I have found) between 12 and 14 yrs, not 12 as I said, I was just going for shock factor to make a point. I also know of some people that think she was older at the time and have their evedeinces for that belief (I have placed this statement in to give an unbiased view).

    My point for Falcon, since we are talking about history, is that if we judged Joseph (from NT) by our standards these days he would have had the book thrown at him, locked up and the key thrown away.

    When it comes to JS, can anyone show me where he did someting against the law marrying a 14 yr old? Can anyone show me where he did something against the Bible marrying a 14 yr old? This has been discussed quite indepth on another post on MC a while ago but Falcon still makes comments like “…another couple who were basically kids.” as stated above. To truely represent this in a historical setting and be unbiased all the other information needs to be added like it was not illegal in those days, it was not against the teachings of the Bible, etc. Or to be truely unbiased because of these points, age/youth should not be mentioned (including the words kids or child to describe them) just that JS had more than one wife (which even then was neither illegal nor against Biblical practices). Mentioning ages or using words like child to describe them and nothing else (ie ignoring historical setting, etc) is just an emotional argument that is used to support ones agendum, not to show the truth.

    Yes I am getting stuck into this again, but I thought it was buried last time this topic was discussed, apparently it wasn’t.

  33. faithoffathers says:


    Hope you found my reply to your post. It turned up down below a little.

    I wanted to add one question- have you read the Book of Mormon in its entirety? How many times? How long ago?

    90% of the criticisms of the Book of Mormon attack the means of translation or the translator himself. Much less time is spent looking at the text itself. This is because most critics have not read it. I personally find this absolutely crazy. But such critics will cite some biblical passage and claim that it disproves the Book of Mormon out of hand, so they have no need to deeply examine the primary proof- the book itself.

    Reminds me of Moroni’s words before closing his account:

    “the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?”

    Everybody on this site has been given Moroni’s words- I assume all have a copy of the BOM, maybe not. Each will answer for himself as to how he responds to the book. I doubt it will suffice to say “oh- I read a bunch of arguments that insisted the record came about through a seerstone, and the translator did X,Y,Z…” Well, did you read and study the book yourself? Well, um, not really.

    If the book is not true, you don’t have to worry. But what if it is true? Every claim from the beginning says that the only way to know of its truth is by studying it, considering it without prejudice or grudge, and pray. (I know you know all that).

    (An aside- I find it amusing that so many BOM critics who are religious claim that God answered their prayers and told them it is not true. Then they turn around and mock Mormons for trusting in their answers to prayer).

    I know I am going way off topic, but just a few thoughts.

  34. SteveH says:


    In your rush to judgment in your kangaroo court you omitted to call forth a primary eye-witness Oliver Cowdery (see FOF’s post below for a more complete discussion of Oliver Cowdery’s description of the translation process). Oliver Cowdery’s testimony states clearly that a number of methods were used by Joseph Smith in translating the golden plates. In a court of law Oliver Cowdery’s statement would hold much more weight as evidence than that of second-hand conjecture based upon hearsay. In other words the statements of Issac Hale, Michael Morse and David Witmer would all be dismissed by a court of law as being hearsay.

    The reason why I point this out is that your methodology of omitting vital evidence that is contrary to your prejudged conclusion typifies Jerald Tanner’s approach to discussing LDS history which relies heavily upon citing unsubstantiated gossip. The consequence of this deliberate omission of contrary evidence is to suppress the truth in order to support a prejudged position. This methodology employed by Jerald Tanner is unethical and blatantly dishonest. For this reason alone Jerald Tanner can not be considered to be a competent or honest historian.

  35. Free says:

    Oh no GB ! You didn’t ! Did you just “go there” with the new member numbers? ; )

    GB … (sigh)…If I were you, I would not put much creedence into the new or existing membership numbers. They’re meant to sound impressive, and they are not accurate.

    Based on personal experiences (First Counselor to MP and Ward Mission Leader, etc…) only two to three out of 10 new members remain active after just half a year. I have seen the missionaries baptize retarded people, and some with some other questionable concerns, so the numbers are a poor litmus test to the church’s one and only “true-ness”.

    Let me give you one more personal example: When I learned the true history of the church (from lds books i.e. JOD, Church History, Church Geneological Website) I submitted my resigation letter (which was over a year ago). Guess what? It never was and never will be forwarded to Headquarters. So I don’t think there’s an accurate headcount out there.

    That’s OK. We’re all still good friends. And who couldn’t use as many friends as he can get? ; )

    Much love to all in the name of Jesus Christ

  36. mobaby says:


    Sorry to jump in here, but your post reminded me of an anecdote from Sandra Tanner that she told about her and Jerald Tanner’s coming out of Mormonism. I am paraphrasing here, but basically she said the last thing they gave up was the Book of Mormon. As evidence mounted that Joseph Smith was not a true prophet and that the LDS Church was not what it claimed, they accepted this, yet they clung to the Book of Mormon. They rationalized that perhaps Joseph had fallen away and the Church as well, but the Book of Mormon had many great truths. Until she and Jerald really examined the evidence concerning the Book of Mormon, then even that fell by the wayside. No doubt that the Book of Mormon is a powerful book – much of it is taken from the King James Bible – and God’s word is a wonderful thing. And the idea of Christ visiting the “new world” is an interesting and intriguing idea, however, the Book of Mormon ends up coming up short in a number of ways with the complete lack of any historical or archeological evidence, incredible time lines, strange theological ideas that contradict the Bible (such as a temple in the new world sanctioned by God, when the Bible make clear that GOD’s temple is in Jerusalem ONLY), anachronistic text about Christ, etc. When Jerald and Sandra Tanner really began to examine all the evidence they concluded that even this had been a falsehood perpetrated by Joseph Smith.

  37. DaveyMike says:

    I have probably read the Book of Mormon 20 times in my life. This includes, of course, Sunday School lessons on the Book of Mormon every four years. As a Gospel Doctrine teacher, I have taught a part or a full year of the course three different times. I even took the Book of Mormon class twice at BYU (by choice not because I had to retake it).

    In fact I continue to read it today. (I am just starting on the book of Alma and look forward to reviewing that book’s discussion of being born again (“this mighty change in your hearts“) and compare it with my experience since coming to Christ through grace not works.

    I must admit that the Book of Mormon is an enigma. I know that many non-Mormons who have read it find it difficult to stay awake but I thought it was a good read. The book contains good stories and some good counsel and a sincere attempt at expounding truth. Sometime I will have to relate my experience with the Book of Mormon on the night of September 11th.

    But the Book of Mormon is not what it purports to be.

    * There is no archaeological evidence of “the ancient inhabitants of the Americas” described in the Book of Mormon.

    * The Book of Mormon is not “the most correct of any book on earth” given the revisions with doctrinal significance and the anachronisms.

    * The Book of Mormon does not contain “the fulness of the everlasting gospel” . Other essential doctrines of salvation needed to be included in other books in the LDS cannon. The Book of Mormon does not include important salvidic ordinances such as modern temple ordinances and does not endorse the practice of plural marriage which was taught in early Church history to be required for exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom.

    There are other reasons and I know that Mormons will dismiss these as the “same old tired” attacks. I know the defenses against these critiques of the Book of Mormon. I used them often as a Mormon including a two-year mission in France. But once I learned to trust the Bible rather than discount it, I could not square the Book of Mormon with what the Bible said.

    The bottom line for me: The Bible is the Word of God; the Book of Mormon is a book that talks about God.

    Moroni’s promise says to ask “if these things are not true.” I believe the Holy Spirit tells me it is not. That is, not the Word of God.

    I hope that I am never guilty of criticizing or “mocking” LDS people for their sincerity nor the experiences which lead them to their faith. But so many people of different religions claim personal revelation to support their view (in fact, I just did and I hope you find my testimony just as sincere).

    But I must put everything to the test (1 Jn 4;1; 1 Thes 5:21) for the sake of my own salvation and preach the true gospel for the salvation of others (Romans 10:10).

  38. Rick B says:

    I am glad you say you trust and use the Bible, But what About Joseph Smith and your Church? Joseph Smith said many Plain and Precious parts were missing. How can it be trusted if parts are missing? Also How did JS know parts were missing, but yet not put the missing parts back in?

    How can the AoF say, the Bible is the Word of God, In so far as it is translated correctly? Your Churchs teachings said that, not me. Then JS and Sidney R, Were COMMANDED by God to Re-translate the Bible, but yet you guys rarely if ever use It. I own a copy, yet MM’s blow it off. So I am glad you use it, but The LDS church seems to differ from what you said. Also The BoM has over 4,000 changes and that does not bother LDS, But yet the Bible is supposdly missing things and so LDS cannot fully trust it. Rick b

  39. Berean says:

    Yes, FoF, you are way off topic, but I will give you an answer to your leading question. Yes, I have read the LDS standard works – all of them. My last read-through was the most extensive that I have done to date and it took a solid three months to accomplish it studying and reading literally every free minute that I had. That is the major reason why I was not here from October thru December of last year. I did an exhaustive study and read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price. I used the institue manuals as I went through them and made extensive notes with a personal index by category and topic including a synopsis of every chapter in all three works. Upon concluding that I then read the 1830 Book of Mormon and did the same and was shocked to see the changes that had been made between the 1830 and the 1981 Book of Mormon. I look forward to discussing this more in a future blog that is focused on this subject.

    No, I didn’t follow the Moroni prayer request and pray about the BoM. I also did not pray about any of the other LDS standard works either. My reasons for not doing so are numerous and I will be happy to list them in a future blog thread that is appropriate. I will say that I am not going to follow a mandate about a “holy book” that I don’t apply to the Bible. I didn’t pray and ask God if the Bible were true because we are not instructed to and we don’t have to (please don’t quote James 1 – LDS scholarship is laughable on how they have taken this out of context).

    Upon concluding my three month research and study of the LDS standard works, reading the institute manuals, etc., I decided to read “The Satanic Bible”. Should I have prayed about that after reading it? If not, why not? I was surprised at many of the connections in this diabolical work that had Mormon “ring tones”. I noted 16 connections/similarities and look forward to bringing those forth when the appropriate blog thread presents itself.

  40. GRCluff says:

    The problem with history is that it is relative. Relative to what you may ask? Well, the quality and integrity of your sources.

    You can ignore the carefully journaled experiences of a faithful Mormon as biased, then take the bold faced lies of a published author because they “appear” more credible.

    Truth is absolute, and using relative sources will never work when dealing with religion. You are forced to accept truth on faith, instead. That is by design. God’s design.

  41. Berean says:


    You didn’t like my “kangaroo court”? Ah shucks, I was hoping that one of our LDS contributors would enjoy it. I sure did. No, there was no rush to judgement. The judgement and verdict have been out there for many, many years. I know there were other methods used in the translation instead of the rock-in-the-hat. There was the plagiarism of the King James Bible for starters that was obviously sitting close by. Maybe it was that one that is pictured on the back cover of the January 2009 issue of the Ensign that Lucy Smith is reading to Joseph.

    David Whitmer made it clear in his statement that Oliver was there when the rock-in-the-hat trick was going on. You don’t like David Whitmer? Too bad, he’s still listed as one of the three witnesses. What’s the beef? Is it because he was excommunicated like Harris and Cowdery? I guess it’s because he didn’t come back to the LDS Church before his death. Oh well, like I said, his name is still in the front of the book as one of the three. That makes him pretty credible (maybe more than you on how the translation went down).

    Why didn’t I call on Oliver Cowdery personally? I’ll let Joseph Smith tell you one reason:

    “Such characters as David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them.” (History of the Church, Vol.3, p. 232).

    I’m sure if Joseph Smith could be asked he would probably not want anyone giving Oliver Cowdery the time of day after Cowdery publicly embarrassed Smith for his affair with Fanny Alger.

    Cowdery’s statement holds more weight than the others? You’re kidding, right? Why, because he is the only one who doesn’t directly state the rock-in-the-hat and it’s softer and more pleasing to the Mormon brethren’s ears today? I see that you left out Emma Smith in your list. Her statements are hearsay? So the woman that was married to Joseph Smith, slept with him, bore his children and was his scribe (D&C 25:1, 6) is not credible and her words are hearsay? You’re violating Articles of Faith #13 in not being honest.

    Let’s look at the roll call stated above. We have many people saying the same thing – credible witnesses and sources that had personal contact with JS. Let’s take a vote: 6 saying rock-in-the-hat; 1 (Cowdery) being vague on the subject. I’d say that Cowdery is overruled.

    You mentioned “competent…honest historian”. Would Richard Bushman fit that bill? If so, he said the same thing that the others in my list said. Cowdery is outnumbered again. Let’s get back to Whitmer. I have something I’d like for you to do and then report back to us on what happens: go to the April 2009 Conference and look up Mormon Apostle Russell Nelson and tell him what you said here about Whitmer and that you don’t agree with his conclusions that he stated in the July 1993 issue of the Ensign. If you aren’t excommunicated before you get home I’ll be surprised.

  42. mrgermit says:

    Cluff: you’ve probably noticed, but the historian who is getting very high marks for accuracy and honesty here in MC, from the ev. christian posters, happens to be a Mormon in good standing (last I checked): that would be Richard Bushman. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you don’t consider him a liar. Seems ONE of the problems we have in this arena is not only getting accurate historical information, and that is hard enough, though maybe not impossible, but INTERPRETING the meaning and importance of that iformation.

    I think that is when the fur starts to fly. And of course, that kind of interpretation will always have some kind of subjectivity to it. I don’t think that means it’s a waste of time, but I happen to like history.

    I don’t think the posters here discount the journal accounts that you’ve referenced before, but you’ve shown yourself not that eager to accept OTHER first hand accounts from non-Mormon sources (MO> history thread, etc) That makes your presentation seem lop sided , the only “good” accounts are Mormon accounts……I don’t think that goes very far, why not consider all available historical accounts, granted sometimes the Mormon ones are the very best (see “In Sacred Loneliness”).

    Thanks for your posts. GERMIT

    PS to FREE: yeah, the church growth thing could make a thread all by itself, could it not ?? the problem, or one of them, is accurately accounting for EXIT people……seems they don’t want to let go. And granted , that’s kind of hard to track, I’d imagine.

    FoF: love to talk to your “junior minister” guy and get his take on the “before and after” of his conversion; thanks for sharing that .

  43. Rick B says:

    GRLuff said

    The problem with history is that it is relative. Relative to what you may ask? Well, the quality and integrity of your sources.

    Along with what mrgemit said, Here is 2 more problems. The Tanners put a book togther, is showed thousands of problems, or should I say changes, between the old History of the Church and the newer printing, The Hard cover verses the soft cover, Who made these changes? Why the LDS did.

    Then take the JoD, In some ways it is History since non of us were alive when the orinigal was printed. Yet LDS claim the Adam God Doctrine was written down wrong and incorrect. That was maybe two pages long. Yet the LDS believe the King Follet Discourse is correct and they even use it as evidence that this shows doctrine of their church today. Same Journals, roughly same time frame, set apart by only a few years between volume 1 and volume 6, were not talking Hundreds of years.

    And the Follet discourse is 11 pages long, It says and teaches what LDS want to hear and believe verses the Adam God teaching and saying what you dont want to hear. Seems Mormon History Changes and you pick and choose what you want. Rick b

  44. MDavis says:

    I am sorry, but I completely disagree with this blog post. The Tanner’s are as far from integrity and into the realm of deception. Where the evidence led? Give me a break. They spun a wonderful web of half truths and half the evidence. All it takes is a few “…”, and a few omissions from text and Presto! you have a whole new quote saying something completely different.

    I also think the comment by Dr. Huggins is interesting. He uses the term “Biblical Christians.” He also states that the starting point for a Christian is the teaching of the scriptures. Thus, in his mind, it does not matter if Joseph Smith was a religious genius because it does not, in his view, adhere to Biblical teachings. Au contraire!

    First, to define a Christian as one who follows the Bible is to kick out all the “Christians” who followed Christ well before the Bible was ever put together. The set of scriptures during the time of Christ and even a bit after Him were quite different than the Bible a few hundred years after. So to be a “Biblical Christian” is basically saying they adhere to the teachings of men who put the Bible together as we know it.

    Second, the Bible itself gives no reference or support that the Bible, as we now have it, is the ultimate authority, code, supreme reference of God, etc. At most, the Bible mentions that “scripture” is important for us. The assumption goes that since the Bible has been around for so many centuries, it therefore must be 1) the only true book, and 2) the only authoritative reference about God. Any deviation from these principles and you bring mainstream Christianity to its knees.

    Contrary to what Dr. Huggins thinks, the ultimate starting point is God Himself. The Bible is clear about that considering each Prophet and Apostle spoke and received direction from God first before writing down anything as scripture.

    Third, the Bible is clear who is in authority to speak God’s word, Prophets and Apostles. It gives no authorization for how people organized the Church after the Apostle’s martyrdoms. Thus, if people truly followed the Bible, there would be Apostles, Prophets, etc. in modern Churches today and all throughout the Dark Ages. There is absolutely NO support for the organization for any of these “modern churches” today biblically.

    The Bible, as we have it, is a valuable asset in our lives, but must be put in its proper context. God is the ultimate authority here, not a book. Any other thinking is idol worship. “Mainstream” Christianity first looks to a book, then to God. The right way is to look to God, and then scripture. The Bible follows the later.

    The Tanner’s “research” is nothing but altered history carefully crafted to present something different than what it would have been had they left the “evidence” alone. Their books should fit right next to the tabloid sections because that’s exactly what they are.

  45. mrgermit says:

    MDavis: your post jogged a question into my mind:

    how many “ordinary” LDS are up to speed with the kind of complete historical reporting that R.Bushman offers?? Do they, in general, see that as something worth doing, as a good use of time and effort? I’m asking because I can’t get out of my mind the picture of dozens (hundreds ???) of LDS and inquiring of the ladies that did the “Wives of Joseph Smith ” re-enactment, asking them the basics of that history……my point being that THEY DIDN”T KNOW> This SEEMS to be somewhat common place….but I’m asking the question….

    the point being : if you think the Tanner’s version is so terrible, are you giving the LDS faithful SOMETHING BETTER, and I mean something better IN TERMS OF HISTORICAL SCHOLARSHIP, not something better as in “don’t waste your time with that faith destroying junk….”. It’s been suggested that the History of the Church should just about do it, or words to that effect…. what do you think, is there a place for legitamate, well done history, and who is an example of that for you ??

    This is addressed to MDavis, but jump in LDS listeners, and take a shot if you want.


  46. Rick B says:

    You really do not have a clue do you? Let me give you a real life example using me. You say the tanners are frauds and Mis-quote things. About 12 years ago or so When I Heard God speak to me and tell me to Start sharing the gospel with the LDS, I had no clue where to start or what to say.

    I went to a local library and looked up mormonism, I found a book by the tanners and read it cover to, then I found Bill Mc website.

    I used the info I found and talked with LDS, Sadly they said the same things you did, they said these are all mis-quotes and taken out of context. The sad thing was, How can you say they are mis-quoted or taken out of context if you do not have the books to compare them with.

    So can you guess what I did next? I spent thousands of my own Money, I bought books like the Oringial 1958 Book of Mormon Doctrine, the Entire set of the Journal of Discourses, the Oringial 1888 Pearl of great price and many other books.

    I then compared what the tanners said was in these books, to what was really in these books, and you will never guess what I found? I found the tanners were telling the truth. So guess what I did next, I invited LDS over to my house to show them this stuff and they REFUSED to look at it, Even saying the LDS books were frauds.

    I guess some LDS can claim they want the truth, but once they refuse to see and compare the facts for them selves, they have no leg to stand on. Then I went to the (UN)-Fairlds website, the LDS accused me of Lying about owning these books because they did not want to hear the truth. So some LDS who claimed they owned these books “Tested” me by saying, Rick, pull out the JoD Volume 13 and tell me what is says on page 94, I would and that shut them up.

    Then after I started my blog, I had many LDS tell me I was lying or purposly mis-quoting things. So I scanned the actual books onto my Blog for all LDS to view and show me where I was wrong. I also got tired of being Accused of Lying, So I did a post just for the LDS, I allowed LDS to tell me exactly how I lied, or where I purposly Mis-quoted something, I even scanned added pages before and after what I was pointing out and told the LDS, Point out exactly where I lied or Misquoted anything.

    Guess what? Not One LDS could tell me where I lied or Mis-quoted anything, So I suspect you are clueless and never read the actual books, if you have, I am open as I am sure others are to where were lying or mis-quoting things. Rick b

  47. GB says:


    So all of those new Chapels being built and dedicated are all empty on Sunday? And all of those new wards and stakes being created are all peopled with nobody?


  48. faithoffathers says:

    Thanks for the note.

    On the Bible- yes, I believe the Bible is not the complete word of God. This should not come as a surprise. Joseph said that as does the Book of Mormon. What is missing? Don’t really know- you don’t know what you don’t know. Know what I mean? Could there be books missing? My guess is lots of books. Or just sections? Don’t know. But I suppose there would be enough writings from ancient prophets to fill rooms.

    But I still love and trust in the Bible. It is a beautiful testiment of Christ.

    As for the Joseph Smith Translation- there are copyright issues with the reorganized church. I would love if we were able to use it more.

    As for the 4,000 BOM changes- I have Royal Skoussen’s immense work on the subject- he went through every letter of what we have of the original manuscripts and analyzed EVERY change-certainly the definitive work on the subject. Included are pictures of the original manuscripts. Suffice it to say that much has been made of these changes- the vast majority of times simply becaues there were changes. Very few if any had any doctrinal or meaningful consequence. It is well worth reading. This card is very much overplayed by critics. Bottom line, the translation and publication process involved mere mortals who, yes, made mistakes which have been corrected as they have been discovered.



  49. MDavis says:

    There is no “version,” just history. I think it goes both ways and I by no means am defending certain LDS writers. My criticism is about the Tanners and anyone else, right now, is out of scope.

    My point is that if there is evidence to something, that evidence should be presented to the audience as whole as possible.

    The Tanner’s have blatently cut corners to reconstruct entire quotes to alter meaning or have unsuccessfully correlated events as being cause and effect without considering other possibilities.

    It’s like coming to the crime scene and messing up all the evidence and then saying the killer was so and so!

  50. MDavis says:

    Here is one example of altering a quote on page 81 of Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?:

    Tanner’s quote:

    The fact that Joseph Smith had a great interest in the ancient inhabitants of the land prior to his “translation” of the Book of Mormon is no secret to those who have read the History of Joseph Smith by his Mother. Mrs. Smith said: “I presume our family presented an aspect as singular as any that ever lived upon the face of the earth–all seated in a circle, father, mother, sons and daughters, and giving the most profound attention to a boy, eighteen years of age, …During our evening conversations, JOSEPH would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ANCIENT INHABITANTS of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with EASE, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 1954 Edition, pages 82-83).

    Notice the nice little “…” breaking up the quote. The way this quote is presented makes it sound like Joseph Smith was dreaming these things up and telling them these fascinating stories. Let’s look at the unedited version:

    “From this time forth, Joseph continued to receive instructions from the Lord, and we continued to get the children together every evening, for the purpose of listening while he gave us a relation of the same. I presume our family presented an aspect as singular as any that ever lived upon the face of the earth, all seated in a circle, father, mother, sons, and daughters, and giving the most profound attention to a boy, eighteen years of age, who had never read the Bible through in his life: he seemed much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of our children, but far more given to meditation and deep study. We were now confirmed in the opinion that God was about to bring to light something upon which we could stay our minds, or that would give us a more perfect knowledge of the plan of salvation and the redemption of the human family. This caused us greatly to rejoice, the sweetest union and happiness pervaded our house, and tranquillity reigned in our midst. During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of travelling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them.”

    Integrity…I’m sure. Chop off the first sentence which states Joseph Smith received instructions from the Lord. Erase the mention of Joseph Smith’s lack of reading the Bible through as well as how “confirmed in the opinion” they were that what Joseph Smith was telling them came from God.

    First quote presents a child with fascinating stories that the family is entertained by. The second quote presents a child telling his family revelation from God, in which his Mother acknowledges as true. BIG difference.

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