New Gospel Topic articles were submitted to the “presiding Quorums of the Church and the First Presidency for approval”

I am already hearing of BYU professors mocking the new gospel topic articles as non-official.

Elder Steven E. Snow, LDS Church Historian and Executive Director of the Church History Department, explains that each of the articles was submitted to the “presiding Quorums of the Church and the First Presidency for approval”:

“How does the Church provide answers to historical questions?”

Most who study our history well understand the context of these matters as far as time and place. But some members of the Church — many, really — are surprised by some of the things they learn in our history. And we want them to be able to go to a place where they can read accurate information and be able to seek to understand those historical chapters in the context of time and place. And understand that those answers have been approved by the presiding brethren of the Church. I think that will give many of our members confidence that they can rely on these answers.

We have actually retained outside the Church History Department — we have retained scholars, for the most part outside the Church History Department — known LDS scholars to do some very extensive research. And this has been groundbreaking in a way. These issues have not always had academic attention. They haven’t really been researched carefully. So we are very pleased that these scholars would agree to do this research. They then submitted a draft of their paper to a committee of historians here in the Church History Department as well as General Authorities who have reviewed their work and adjusted some edits. Those edits are made with the permission of the original writer. And that’s then submitted to the presiding Quorums of the Church, the Twelve and the First Presidency for approval. And then it’s published in Gospel Topics under

Much of what’s written now, these arguments and these issues, have been around for decades — 150 years. And it’s the same material repackaged. And we understandably have not spent a lot of time in the past worrying about these issues because our mission is to promote faith and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. But as the information age is now upon us? We feel with all of this information out there, we owe it — particularly to the rising generation — to provide good, reliable information about these matters.

Of course, not even that will stop a BYU religion professor or history professor from ultimately dismissing these articles as “not official”, not binding, and just the opinions of some men who shouldn’t be held accountable for what they publicly teach.


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22 Responses to New Gospel Topic articles were submitted to the “presiding Quorums of the Church and the First Presidency for approval”

  1. MJP says:

    “We have actually retained outside the Church History Department — we have retained scholars, for the most part outside the Church History Department — known LDS scholars to do some very extensive research. ”

    Whoohoo! Scholars outside of the history department!

    Apparently, however, still very much LDS…

  2. falcon says:

    You know what the LDS church really needs? They need a prophet who will hear directly from the Mormon god and who will then transmit what the Mormon god says then to the people. Who needs a bunch of pointy head intellectual types who only give the wisdom of men?
    A real prophet could provide all of the answers and direction that the people need. Who cares about history anyway? It all happened a long time ago and has nothing to do with today. The LDS church could flip back to believing in the doctrine of God that Joseph Smith promoted when he first started the religion and that has been maintained by some Mormon sects.
    This is what our LDS readers need to do. Go to the Community of Christ website and read their declaration on the history of Mormonism.

    “Because of my exploration of various credible works, and probing discussions with historians, some of my previously held notions have been challenged and adjusted in the face of additional knowledge. The “apologetic” approach to church history—presenting our story in as favorable a light as possible—is not sufficient for the journey ahead. That approach does not evidence the integrity that must be fundamental to our witness and ministry.”

    Well I guess that’s one approach of trying to salvage something from the ruins of Mormonism and still maintain a sense of faith in God. Trying to be faithful to a bunch of failed leaders isn’t going to sustain an honest person in their faith in God.

  3. Mike R says:

    These articles should are reliable and accurate , that’s what the public deserves from Mormon
    leadership . The Mormon people have been hoodwinked by these men and accepted what
    they have said about certain issues in their history , but because so many Mormons leaving the
    church and together with the internet these issues have been increasingly publically . But the
    Mormon people are not dimwits , they see how their leadership chooses to answer these issues
    and the fact that these new articles have appeared shows that they have not been satisfied with
    past ” answers” . One day perhaps their hierarchy will stop stonewalling and just admit they
    taught doctrines that were man made , false . Until then these leaders will just keep acting more
    like seasoned politicians .
    The Mormon people deserve better .
    We’re here to point them to a better arrangement .

  4. falcon says:

    First of all, it’s not really that difficult to obtain the history of Mormonism. The problem that a Mormon gets into is where are they going to go to access that history? They can go to some sanitized website with the official version from the LDS church which will ready nothing like the actual history. It will be faith promoting but there won’t be anything there that actually expands an understanding of what went on in Mormonism.
    What the LDS church hopes is that the members will stay away from anything that is not totally flattering to Mormonism. For a Mormon, if it’s not flattering or faith promoting than it can’t be true. It’s a way of controlling the membership.
    Can you imagine a member not knowing that Joseph Smith had thirty three “wives” some married to other men and a couple, at least, who were adolescent girls? And then when finding this out, accepting the preposterous explanations put out by the church or its apologists?
    The bottom line for me gets back to can the LDS people really trust Joseph Smith as being a prophet? It doesn’t take long when examining that guy’s history to understand that it’s taken a lot of rewriting to try and prop him up.

  5. MJP says:

    “For a Mormon, if it’s not flattering or faith promoting than it can’t be true. It’s a way of controlling the membership.”

    In recent weeks, this aspect has really shown through to me concerning Mormons. The faith promotion is a form of mind control. When you are told to ignore the man behind the curtain, something is wrong. Its one thing to be told the truth about him and his relevance, and why that should or should not matter. But it is a completely different matter to lie about that man, sanitize him, or ignore him altogether.

    Its amazing to me the shock you hear about far too many Mormons experience when they learn about some of these things in Mormon history. Their past, though, is their past. I would respect them far more if they were up front about it and did not sweep it under the rug.

    But they sweep it under the rug. And in so doing, they manipulate the faithful by lauding their faith. It makes the reward following an idea rather than tangible truth. Its mind control.

  6. Rick B says:

    The article says

    Most who study our history well understand the context of these matters as far as time and place. But some members of the Church — many, really — are surprised by some of the things they learn in our history. And we want them to be able to go to a place where they can read accurate information and be able to seek to understand those historical chapters in the context of time and place.

    So when it says Members are surprised by some of the things they learn in our history, that tells me they are reading Offical Books and teachings. But since this seems to bother them, and they need to go to a place where they can read accurate information, are LDS “Officals” claiming their books are not “offical” or accurate, and so they need to make up stories that are written to combate their history?

  7. MJP says:

    Rick– I’d further add to this that they want to provide controlled sources from which members can get access to this information.

    I see this as another example of thought control.

  8. johnsepistle says:

    Say, Aaron, could you provide a couple examples of the comments being made by BYU professors? That would help to make clearer the strong contrast between their stance and Elder Snow’s remarks.

  9. johnnyboy says:


    I just had dinner the other night with a young couple who left the church the same time last year as I and my wife did. We were basically “coming out” to each other as we had both been tip toeing around our circumstances for the past few months. It was a very wonderful dinner and was a relief to finally get everything out.

    Anyhoo, my friends wife explained that her father who has worked at BYU for 40 years and writes for sunstone says that they all know about the essays. Her father was the one who told her about them. He is pretty famous in the Mormon world and is friends with the 15. I don’t want to say much more other than he is a known author. He is also fairly liberal (obviously since he writes for sunstone). I never got a real gauge on what his take was on the essays themselves other than that what his daughter told me. But, they were both annoyed by how “buried” the essays were within the website. I do sense that most educators and professors find the essays to be a total joke as far as truthfulness goes.

    One final note. The Internet is making serious waves. My friends first seeds of doubt came from the blog article written by the bishop in Australia who was complaining about the essays. Someone posted a link to it on Facebook and my buddy and his wife read it. The ESSAYS led them to question and eventually leave!! I was laughing inside. I then told them about the CES letter and forwarded that for them to read. I can’t wait to hear what they think after reading it!

    I will return and report when I find out more 😉

  10. luvinlife says:

    What I find amazing is the spiritual blindness that I experienced when my eyes were finally opened. I see this with friends and family when I am sharing truth from the Bible. For instance in an email recently, I laid out to my brother in law the difference between salvation in the Bible verses what we had been taught by the LDS Church. I read the email like ten times. It was so clear, beautiful really. I expounded on scripture and even used the parable in Luke to have him compare his life too.

    He replied back a few days later and said he couldn’t see the difference between what the Church taught and what I was saying. I told him that I was shocked, but I understood. It took me a while to get it as well. For me the hardest thing to get through to my family is that just because a doctrine or theology feels good to you or makes sense doesn’t make it true.

    I am slowly educating them on how the Bible we have today came to be and why it is trust worthy. I think anyone who does an honest amount of research on the textual support for the Bible will be amazed. No other book in antiquity even comes close. It takes time though. The spiritual blindness isn’t easy to pierce. I haven’t even removed my name from the Church yet, because I am trying not to make huge waves that would cause my family to stop listening to me. However at the rate I am going, I will be excommunicated soon :).

    My wife and I got a new home teacher the other day. He is the first counselor in the Stake presidency. This happened a few months after a long conversation I had with the Bishop. I think they are worried about the impact my research might have on other members who know me.

  11. MJP says:


    Thanks for the insight. I’ve seen the ‘blindness’ on several issues discussing various topics here. What you write makes perfect sense given my observations. For example, we constantly read how the LDS Jesus is substantially the same Jesus that we worship. Its clear to me they downplay rather strongly the differences.

    I don’t know. I don’t want to speculate too much, but it seems convenient and easy to uplift that which makes you feel better, not to mention that which you base your faith on.

    I know we discussed together how aggressive to be in witnessing to Mormons, but I think its important to remember all we can do is water the plant, and let God grow it. There’s not much we can do if they willingly close their eyes, but we can lovingly present our side.

  12. grindael says:


    Is the counselor in the Stake President a member of your Ward?

  13. luvinlife says:

    I totally agree. I loved the recent evangelism article on MRM. I try to use questions to plant seeds with my family.

    Yes the counselor in the stake Presidency is in my ward. It’s just funny that I haven’t had home teachers for ever and now suddenly I have a home teaching companionship with a member from the stake Presidency and the Bishopric.

  14. luvinlife says:

    I guess the fact that I was the previous Elders Quorum President doesn’t help much. I had a good relationship with the other brethren and I guess they are worried I might influence them.

  15. falcon says:

    Please keep posting here. It’s really an encouragement to me personally.
    What you said about spiritual blindness is so true. I have to keep reminding myself, as was written above, that the Spirit of God waters the seed. At some point the seed will grow to maturity and then be harvested by the same Spirit.
    Sandra Tanner discusses the amount of patience that is needed when ministering to Mormons. The fact that someone would read what you wrote regarding Christian salvation and conclude it’s pretty close to that taught by the LDS church is mind blowing.
    Does the Christian faith have two levels of salvation? Do Christians perform “works” that will result in them becoming gods?
    Keep at it. God has drawn you to what you are doing and having begun a good work in you He will complete it in the Day of Christ Jesus.

  16. Mike R says:

    I second what Falcon just said .

  17. johnnyboy says:


    Glad to see you posting. I wish more lurkers out there would join in as well

  18. luvinlife says:

    In the conversation I had with my Bishop, he defended the statements made by Church leaders in regards to the Seed of Cain doctrine as not being racist because the doctrine came from God. He refused to acknowledge the essay on Race and the Priesthood because he said it wasn’t authoritative. It didn’t carry signatures of the first Presidency. I think this is an intended loop whole left by the writers of the essays.

    Another thing that I face often is that my friends and family are not really knowledgable about what the Church actually teaches or has taught in the past. Thanks to the watered down corelated manuals it is actually quite easy to remain in this condition. Many times I will show them something and they will say that’s not what I believe. I will then have to explain that it doesn’t matter what you believe, it matters what the supposed one true church teaches.
    Here is a prime example. One of my favorite Christian apologists is Dr. James White. I don’t aggree with all of his theology, but I love listening to and reading his work in regards to the document evidence for the New Testemant. In the video linked below Dr. White gives an explination of the Mormon plan of Salvation to an intended audience of people who don’t know anything about it. Everything he says is accurate. There is nothing in the video that he says that I cannot back up with quotes from official manuals or church publications. Yet there are countless members who commented on the video saying that he was wrong about what he said. It just goes to illustrate the exact problem we face when trying to share the truth with Mormons.

    My wife is the same way. Finally after weeks of frustration I just felt impressed that God was telling me to stop trying to convince her and let Him talk to her. In other words get her to start reading the Bible with me every night and let his revealed word reach out and speak understanding to her spirit. It’s slowly, but surely working. She still doesn’t believe everything that I am telling her, but she has seen an undeniable change in me that she cannot ignore.

    Since the middle of last year I have spent every moment of free time that I have reaserching. The fist few months were spent researching LDS Church history. I was begining to let the anger and frustration over take me. Luckily I ran across the testimony of Micah Wilder on Youtube
    ( ) which changed my direction totally. I stopped researching history and just started studying the Bible. It turns out all the proof I ever needed was right there in the standard works of the Church. From that point on I have studied the Bible almost every day. I have spent alot of time looking at the textual history and support for the Bible. It is amazing. Not only did I want to be able to give family and friends answers from the Bible on the spot when they asked questions, I also wanted to be able to give them explinations that were understandble in our everyday conversations. I couldn’t do that if I didn’t know the Bible well. Once you see the textual support for the Bible that comes from all over the world, some manuscripts as early as 100 A.D., you are forced to realize that in no way could an orginazation or government have corrupted all of these manusctripts. Yet they are all nearly doctrinally adentical. You are forced to conceed that the myth of a great apostasy that corrupted the Bible is impossible to support. In Joseph’s day it was a little easier to pass off, but in our day it is easy to prove that the Bible has not been corrupted by a great apostasy. Heck even the Book of Mormon testifies to how reliable the Bible is. You will have no more luck finding Mormonism in the Book of Mormon than you will in the Bible. I think one of my eye opening moments was searching the Book of Mormon for the teachings of Christ. In 3 Nephi Ch 11 Christ makes His first appearance to the Nephites. He talks about disputes that have been going on about what His doctrine is, and then goes on to specifically state what His doctrine is. He also gives a very powerful warning in verse 40 to those who would add to this doctrine. How can so many things that are esential to recieving Eternal Life in modern Mormon theology be missing from the doctrine that Christ specifically declared in the Book of Mormon? Unfortunately for the Church, they really can’t go back and add “first principles and ordinances” like they did to the fourth article of faith without it looking really suspecious. I just really don’t see any wiggle room with what Christ declared was his doctrine in the Book of Mormon.

  19. MJP says:

    This is not entirely on point with this discussion, but it is not irrelevant, either. It has to do with the document evidence concerning the truth claims of Christianity. It turns out the Jesus-had-a-wife claim based on a supposed historical document has been shown to be false, at least the document has been shown to be false. (

    Why does this matter? Because time and again the document evidence of historic Christianity stands against critics. We don’t need to worry about seekers concerning reliable information. Its out there, and its reliable. Certainly, there are those who would deceive, as people tried with the Jesus-Wife document, but the truth is there for all to see and we don’t need to make a concerted effort to put together a story to show it is true.

    We don’t have to worry about surprises in our history, because its all there in the open. We don’t need to worry about coming in and providing context, because its all there.

  20. spartacus says:

    Anyone remember a movie or other story where the main character is part of a group or team of less-than-completely ethical people: con-men, politicians, crooked cops, lawyers, that scam other people and then the main character gets betrayed by his own people by the same kind of scam? I can only think of one and for Spoiler Alert purposes I’ve buried my one example in parentheses at the end of this.

    I wonder if, when they learn of their church’s technique and policy of “Milk before Meat” for the first time, members of Mormon churches think and wonder at the possibility of the church doing the same still to them. Then, they brush it off with a mental “nah”.

    I wonder if former Mormons ever realize that, besides just being duped or bringing others into the fold, they have been victimized by the very technique and policy that they, as members, agreed with?

    “Milk before Meat”! If it’s good enough for investigators, its good enough for the members!

    Spoiler alert
    If any of you can think of others please post it, discreetly and with warning. No need to ruin any movie for others.

  21. johnnyboy says:


    I have had the exact same experiences with my family members about what the church actually teaches vs what they personally believe.

    One conversation with my younger sister just went round and round and round till I had to stop because I was getting stupider as it went on. She has just decided to return to the church after 20 years of not going (she stopped in her teens). She has no concept of the doctrine or any knowledge of church history. She basically left because she wanted to party. Her life was pretty messed up in drugs and serious physical abuse from her boyfriends for many years. She was always made to feel guilty about not being active by my parents and siblings (not by me oddly enough). She was even told by my mother that her inactivity contributed to her not being able to have children (turned out she had ovarian cysts that burst).

    Well, now that she has turned her life around and is having her first child, she is returning to the church. She thinks she can continue to do whatever she feels like and be totally active in the church and that its “all good” cus it doesn’t matter really as long as she believes in Jesus or something. I tried to explain thats not how it works in mormonism. She has no understanding of the temple or the covenants made there or how the church really operates. I shared with her the CES letter but she hasn’t read it. There was more to the conversation, but it was like talking to a 12 year old about mormonism 101.

    It was really, REALLY frustrating.

  22. spartacus says:

    Sorry, somehow my post got in thus thread instead of the latest Mormon Missionaries thread

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