Examining the claims of defenders of Mormonism

Many critics of Mormonism know how frustrating it can be to try to pin down the truth while talking with Latter-day Saints about Mormon doctrine and history. This video by ldsvideoencyclopedia demonstrates the sorts of difficulties critics encounter while trying to discuss troubling Mormon issues with LDS defenders. In this 36-minute video ldsvideoencyclopedia takes a look at a previously recorded interview with Mormon apologist Martin Tanner, pausing along the way to fact- and logic-check Dr. Tanner’s assertions.

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.
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25 Responses to Examining the claims of defenders of Mormonism

  1. falcon says:

    Right off the bat our LDS apologist tries the “everybody does it”, “all churches struggle with it” tactic when trying to justify the changes in LDS doctrine. He also tries a form of “everybody agrees that”.
    I love the “it’s not official doctrine” argument. This is why Mormonism is like trying to nail jello to the wall when it comes to finding out what exactly Mormons believe.
    “It’s all just opinion” form of an argument is a real favorite in Mormonism. They want the prophets to be hearing from the Mormon god but at the same time not having to stand behind it when it’s patently ridiculous.
    Being naive and cognitive dissonance are the stock and trade in Mormonism. I can’t decide if I should feel sorry for this guy, pity him or be angry that he appears so dishonest.

  2. falcon says:

    I must admit, these defenders of Mormonism can really be slick and I think they actually believe their own spin.
    On the topic of polygamy he responds to the interviewer by saying, “Your own church has struggled with this.” What I’m interested in is if the context of the polygamy is the same. In-other-words we know that polygamy in Mormonism was for the male to build his Celestial Kingdom by having as many women sealed to him as possible for the purpose of procreating spirit off spring who will then people the worlds the Mormon male-god(s) create. Are we talking about the same thing?
    If Christian missionaries go into a third world country where polygamy is part of the culture for reasons other than men becoming gods, it’s a whole other situation to deal with. Often times if the men are encouraged to have just one wife when they may have say three currently, the other two, along with the children are left without a means of support and the children have then, no father. I’d say that’s a little different scenario then 19th century Mormon polygamy. In Mormonism it’s an intricate part of the doctrine of the religion. In Christianity it is not. Actually, as is pointed out in the video, it was previously forbidden in the Mormon church and just like that, that prohibition disappeared.
    “Everybody does it”, “It all the same”, “Everyone agrees that…..” are all great lines that are used by the defenders of Mormonism to brush aside criticism and not answer the question.

  3. Kate says:

    It would appear to me that Martin isn’t aware, doesn’t know and is just flat out lying. Is this the best the LDS church has to offer? Why should anyone listen to him anyway? He’s not ” official “. The mental gymnastics these Mormons have to go through to make all of this right in their minds must be exhausting. Let’s hope that people will research these things before they get that knock on the door by LDS missionaries.

  4. Mike R says:

    I listened to most of the video . It was difficult to listen to Mr . Tanner , he embarrassed himself.

  5. Tom says:

    I think the most troubling thing for me, listening to Martin Tanner, is how much his approach and tone resembles that of any White House press secretary at a news briefing. They are very circumspect and careful in their answers. You know they know more than they are acknowledging, and you know they know you know. Nevertheless, they are so very careful. In world statecraft that is understandable to some degree. There is an art in sending just the right message to just the right audience, when expressing an American administration’s positions. But for an organization that claims to be the restoration of the pure ancient church such spin-doctoring and circumspection strikes me as very odd, indeed. I can’t even begin to imagine Peter or John or Paul behaving in such a way. Not that Mr. Tanner is a Peter, John or Paul. That’s not my point. It’s just that the early prophets and apostles were open and direct, sometimes not very careful. These guys, by contrast, including high church officials, are not open, clear and direct. They know it, we know it, and they know we know it. It is all so very sad. Mormonism is such a church of men, and I say that, having been a faithful, loyal member most of my 60+ years. Very sad, indeed.

  6. falcon says:

    Kate & Tom,
    I really like hearing from you former members especially on an issue like this. You’re not buying the spin and can see right through it. I imagine there may have been a time when you were in the program that you might have accepted such gibberish. But now you can spot it. It would be like a recovering alcoholic being able to see through the line given by someone who is still a drunk. Those who have been there, heard it all and know the consequences of the dishonesty can blow the whistle real fast.
    You’d think this guy was our LDS poster Ralph’s brother. It’s the same tactics, the same blah, blah, blah and it so totally disingenuous.
    Kate I remember you saying that going to the FARMS website for answers just made the whole LDS program look even worse than it is because the explanations were so lame.
    Thankfully you and Tom and all of the other former members who post here had the courage, tenacity and curiosity to go beyond the spin and find the truth.

  7. Kate says:

    Yep, FARMS and FAIR we’re a joke for me. I wasn’t buying any of it. Maybe I’m a little too black and white but for me, truth is either truth or it isn’t . I often wonder where is the honesty and integrity of Mormons who know? Why the need to ” lie for The Lord” and why not shout the restored gospel from the rooftops? I guess it’s much easier to just baptize the dead into Mormonism than to actually tell people the whole truth while they’re alive. I’d have more respect for Mormons if they would own their religion and all that comes with it including its history and crazy uncle prophets. I guess this is what happens when you claim to be the one and only true church. Protect the lie at all costs. Christianity is all laid out for me to study and ponder. Not one person has tried to hide anything or deceive me with ” lying for The Lord” are there troubling things in Christianity’s history, sure, but nothing is hidden. No one has lied to me about it and I’m free to ask questions, even the deep ones! How refreshing.

  8. Rick B says:

    IMO, one of the reasons why LDS teach and believe the Bible is corpput and missing parts, is becasue they want to believe Hell is not real, judgment is not real and they will not be held accountable for all the lies they teach and believe.

    Their are plenty of verese but here are two

    2Thessalonians 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

    Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

    I dont know what flaming vengeance is or how bad it will be, but it cannot be fun.

    Also the Bible in Acts 17:11 tells us to search the scriptures. So these people will be held accountable for not looking into these things and just blindly believeing everything.

  9. falcon says:

    Very good thought. The best converts for the LDS church are the dead!

    Interestingly enough, not all of the major sects of Mormonism are into this, nor are they into men becoming gods, god was once a man, polygamy. The Utah bunch still believe in polygamy, they just don’t practice it. Process that!

  10. Mike R says:

    I think Mr Tanner makes rank and file LDS look like gullible or naive people . Like the joke of
    someone being so smooth a salesman that they could sell sand to a Arab , etc . The Mormon
    people deserve better . Listening to the alibi’s offered by Mr Tanner should cause Mormons to
    stop and ponder why he has to resort to such lame excuses to justify their leaders teaching
    record . The majority of Mormon people can see through his behavior .

    He’s like a car salesman who claims his product is reliable and dependable . Yet when you
    discover internal documents detailing mechanical malfunctions requiring changing parts
    numerous times and bring this to his attention he simply responds by saying that it’s ok now
    and besides all the other car companies have had the same problem .
    That’s an answer ? Sorry but that is only a response , a flimsy one . His claim of the car
    being reliable should be held in suspect by you — if you’re concerned about safety !

    Mormon leaders have claimed to be the answer for the malady that infects the churches of
    “Christendom” , namely inconsistent , unstable in their gospel preaching . They don’t have the
    priesthood so they are only relying on their human reason to teach from the scriptures .
    In short , they are not the source for pure doctrine , doctrine that affects one’s salvation.
    Mormon leaders have from their beginning offered the remedy to this problem by claiming that their prophet can be trusted for doctrinal stability / clarity — the source for pure doctrine
    because he will never teach or condone doctrine that is not sound / accurate .
    However, what does their track record reveal ?

    May conscientious Mormons look into this and then do the right thing : test their prophets —
    1 Jn 4:1 . Because truth matters .

  11. MJP says:

    I watched the video, and am not surprised one little bit. Perhaps that is a negative view of Mormons, but I have come to expect it. I, like Kate, would respect them much more if they would simply accept and hold dear to their beliefs and history. They don’t. They sweep it under the rug and explain it away.

  12. MJP says:

    Its interesting to note the silence of Mormons on posts like this. Again, not surprising, but nonetheless interesting. One wonders what they can in say with a straight face.

  13. falcon says:

    …………………….and do these guys believe their explanations or are they just evading the questions? Their tactics and explanations are so incredibly weak that you’d think they’d be embarrassed by them. But remember, it’s all meant to protect the testimony. Some of these folks honestly believe that they’ve had some spiritual experiences. So, therefore, any type of explanation regarding the evidence revealing that Mormonism is false is automatically covered by the emotional response of what they believe was a real spiritual experience.
    My testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ is not dependent on any spiritual experiences I feel I’ve had. My faith is linked to the person and work of Jesus and God’s revealed truth in the Holy Bible. God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, did enough for me at the cross. Through faith in Jesus and the acceptance of His sacrifice I’ve been declared righteous. There’s nothing for me to earn. I do what I do not because of any set of rules or regulations, but as a response to God’s love and mercy.
    The Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Jesus sacrifice didn’t make it possible for me to have eternal life if I was good enough or if I would do enough. It’s a gift received through faith.
    It doesn’t depend on my works or my feelings. Salvation comes through faith, period!

  14. MJP says:

    Sincere question: is this gentleman, Mr. Tanner, the best defender of Mormonism, or are there others who do a better job? Is he the, or at least ‘a’, go-to-guy in Mormon apologetics?

  15. Mike R says:


    He’s certainly not the best apologist . I wish Mormons could understand why we try to not waste
    our time with these guys , they’re worth ignoring because they are not General Authorities . The
    right thing to do in evaluating Mormonism is seeing what it’s General Authorities have taught ,
    people need to remember that priority . We put up with Mormon apologists but can’t take much
    much of what they say to the bank etc . Heck, they sometimes don’t even agree with what their
    General Authorities have taught .

  16. falcon says:

    That’s one of the most infuriating things about dealing with Mormons, especially those who like to play amateur LDS apologist. I often quote a BYU professor who said, “In Mormonism you can believe whatever you want. You just can’t teach it.” Now whether he was being facetious or not I don’t know but there’s a large kernel of truth in that statement.
    How many times do we who post here, especially rick and I, get Mormons telling us we don’t know what we’re talking about even when we provide detailed documentation? The problem is that Mormons have those in leadership, past and present, who are suppose to be speaking for the church and are all over the map.
    A perfect example of a Mormon who spoke with authority and confidence and who is now ignored was Bruce McConkie.
    “Although I rarely agree with his theological positions, I cannot fault him for writing what he truly believed. One thing that always impressed me about McConkie was that he did not shy away from expressing what he thought to be true. Compared to the spin and vagueness coming from today’s Mormon leadership, McConkie’s propensity to be blunt is something that I truly miss.”
    Here’s a very good article and video.


  17. falcon says:

    Mormons like to talk about the great apostasy that took place in the early Christian church and a falling away from the “true” gospel thus it was necessary for God to “restore” the gospel through Joseph Smith who claimed to be a prophet.
    Without this premise for the great apostasy, there’s really no need for any type of restoration. The apostasy is critical to the Mormon narrative.
    I’ve yet to have a Mormon provide any evidence that what the LDS church believes and practices today is the same as that practiced by the first century church.
    The problem that Mormons face besides a well documented Christian history and tradition that includes no Mormonism, is that they’re still trying to figure out just exactly this “restored” gospel is. They’ve been at it since the early 1830s and what we see is a lot of religious experimentation and changes in everything from doctrine to the BoM itself.
    This hardly sounds like a restoration. What it sounds like is a bunch of amateurs playing religion.

  18. falcon says:

    When you stop to think about it, the LDS church has a lot of “fronts” to defend. There’s a reason why LDS folks like our guy in the video use the tactic of attempting to put the questioner on the defensive. By attempting to do that, the LDS apologist really doesn’t have to get down to the real nitty gritty of the issues. It’s also why the Mormon fall back position is the personal testimony with the self-assured of the “I know” tag line.
    For the LDS member who is seriously questioning the Mormon narrative, the throw-away pat line “I know” LDS defense won’t cut it. It’s also very difficult for the average LDS apologist to get much beyond the first level of questioning before the whole structure of their arguments fall apart.
    Women especially are very offended when they find out that not only was Joseph Smith “marrying” other men’s wives but he was also “marrying” adolescent girls. The idea that these marriages were only “spiritual” in nature doesn’t stand up to the clear evidence to the contrary. It all has a real sleazy predator creep factor attached to it. It shows that Smith was not just a misogynist but met the criteria for a pedophile. This makes it all the worst today given the visual image of Warren Jeffs, a modern day Smith, albeit without Smith’s talents.
    There comes a point where a Mormon’s “spiritual” experiences will no longer support a denial of the truth about Smith, the BoM, the LDS church and the veracity of the modern day prophet. When folks discover that the “Jesus” and the “God” that the Mormon church proclaims is not the same as the Bible and that the Mormon god is just one of a million gods who all were previously men on other planets……….Well lets just say that having a personal relationship with the God of the Bible and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, is more than sufficient reason to boot the LDS church to the curb.

  19. Mike R says:


    What Mormons have stated about the alleged apostasy is very clever , and so is how they
    call their church the ” restored” church of Jesus Christ . Fact of the matter is it’s not the
    ” restored church “, but rather the ” substituted church ” . Mormon leaders like Joseph
    Smith substituted a imitation in place of the true authentic church we find that Jesus
    established 2000 years ago through His apostles . Mormons can take the New Testament
    and compare . Many are doing just that and are discovering they’ve been detoured by their
    leaders into joining the man made organization they have built .

  20. Mike R says:


    What Mormons have stated about the alleged apostasy is very clever , and so is how they
    call their church the ” restored” church of Jesus Christ . Fact of the matter is it’s not the
    ” restored church “, but rather the ” substituted church ” . Mormon leaders like Joseph
    Smith substituted a imitation in place of the true authentic church we find that Jesus
    established 2000 years ago through His apostles . Mormons can take the New Testament
    and compare . Many are doing just that and are discovering they’ve been detoured by their
    leaders into joining the man made organization they have built .

  21. cattyjane says:

    They don’t like to answer questions. They don’t like the mirrors being held up that show them all of the mistakes in their doctrine. When I was trying to decide if I wanted to return to the church I was meeting with the missionaries 2-3 times a week for about 4 months (in fact you guys were a witness to that process). I would ask them questions about information I had discovered on here or on my own about doctrine and I would be immediately shut down. I was told that it was not their job to answer those “deep” questions but that it was their job to help me to have a stronger testimony about the church. How does that behavior line up with scripture.
    Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings to search out a matter.
    Another thing, if the LDS church says that you cannot question the prophets than they are not following the scriptures in that matter either.
    Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to THIS word it is because there is no light in them.
    God does not want anyone choosing to follow him blindly. There have been many false shepherds that have come even from the very beginning, but scripture states back in Genesis 49 that God is our shepherd. Ezekiel states that God and the Messiah would be the Shepherd of the people. Psalm 23:1 states “The Lord is my shepherd….Shepherd of Israel”. Ezekiel 34 is an amazing chapter that shows who our true shepherd is. John 27 states that if God is our shepherd than we will hear his voice, he will know us, and we will follow him.
    My point is that when I was at sacrament service last year I was told that the current LDS prophet, Thomas Monson, was our “good shepherd” today. That is NOT what scripture tells me! Scripture tells me that the LORD is my shepherd and HE will gather me and HE will know me. If the LDS church says that Thomas Monson is the shepherd we are to follow than they are in for a rude awakening because sheep will, and can ONLY follow ONE shepherd. So where is the LDS shepherd leading its people?

  22. cattyjane says:

    Sorry the scripture in John was John 10:27. I forgot to put the chapter.

  23. MJP says:

    Great points, catty.

    I ask if this guy is a good LDS apologist because clearly he evades and denies when it is implausible to do so, but is he one of the more respected LDS apologists?

    Who would be a good one if he is not? Who are we to believe when it comes to understanding precisely what Mormonism stands for? The official leadership offers little that I have seen is trustworthy, and have not heard of someone like a Ravi Zacharias/Lee Strobel type of figure in Mormonism. Perhaps this is because I am not Mormon. A bing search reveals no names, only organizations. Perhaps it is also because there are none.

    I’d like to know how seriously to take people like Tanner and who, specifically, would be able to speak to Mormon apologetics, that is to say to defend Mormon ideas and the Mormon fiath.

  24. falcon says:

    I read your post and wonder, “Is that the same person who use to come here and argue with us?” All I can say is you have come an incredible distance in both knowledge and wisdom in a short period of time. I find it rather extraordinary. It makes me wonder how many other Mormons are out there at about the same point you were previously?
    Don’t take this wrong, but it reminds me of in the Bible when Jesus casts the Legion out of the Demonic and it’s reported about him that, “They found him clothed and in his right mind.”
    Your journey is instructive.
    I praise God regarding the work He has done and is doing in you. I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the Day of Christ Jesus!

  25. cattyjane says:

    Not trying to stray off topic on this but I wanted to respond to you.
    Thanks for the encouragement. I of course still have questions I am seeking answers to and at times have doubt. One thing that has kept me going is something someone said to me. It is God who finds us and holds us in his hands. I know that when its time God will provide understanding to the things I am still seeking answers to. When I look back on the last year and a half I can see how God was bringing me to the place I am now. Like how I found this site, thinking it was a legit LDS site.
    I think many LDS are where I was at in the beginning. I think my first step in being open to hearing truth was being willing to let go of the “extras” in the lds faith if I found out it wasnt true. I loved the community in the lds church and thats why I wanted to hang on but when I allowed one truth to sink in then it became more obvious when a lie was being told to me. Now when I listen to these lds company spokesman all I hear is a snake telling lies.

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