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This podcast series features past FairMormon Conference presentations. Please join us for the 2019 FairMormon Conference coming up August 7-9! You can attend in person or purchase the video streaming.

Lynne Hilton Wilson, Peter and Paul’s Paradoxical Passages on Women

Transcript available here.

Dr. Lynne Hilton Wilson lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband Dow R. Wilson. She is mother to seven children—all with red hair. During her under-graduate years at BYU in 1982 she studied nursing and the cello. She received an MA in Religious Studies from Cardinal Stritch University. Her thesis explored Christ’s birth narratives in the New Testament. She received a PhD in Theology and American History at Marquette University where she focused her dissertation on Joseph Smith’s doctrine of the Spirit compared to his contemporaries. She has been an adjunct professor at BYU and iis now the Stake institute director and teacher in the Menlo Park, California Stake for the Stanford single wards. She has written three books and published several papers. She is a popular speaker at BYU Women’s Conference, Education week, the Society of Biblical Literature, the Mormon History Association, Sperry Symposiums, and many others.

Audio and Video Copyright © 2018 The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, Inc. Any reproduction or transcription of this material without prior express written permission is prohibited.

The post FairMormon Conference Podcast #32 – Lynne Hilton Wilson, “Peter and Paul’s Paradoxical Passages on Women” appeared first on FairMormon.

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This podcast series features past FairMormon Conference presentations. Please join us for the 2019 FairMormon Conference coming up August 7-9! You can attend in person or purchase the video streaming.

Wade Miller, The Presence of Pre-Columbian Horses in America

Transcript available here.

Wade E. Miller is a professor of geology and paleontology, retired from Brigham Young University. He earned his MS in geology from the University of Arizona and his Ph.D. in paleontology from UC Berkeley. Besides teaching at BYU, Wade has taught at Fullerton Junior College and at Santa Ana College. He has served, at various times, as paleontological advisor for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the State of Utah, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, the University of Mexico, and the University of Hidalgo (Mexico). During his career Wade published or co-published over 80 scientific articles or books. He is currently a research associate at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Wade has served in numerous callings, including as a teacher and a bishop. He is married to the former Patricia Haws and is the father of three children (all sons).

Audio Copyright © 2018 The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, Inc. Any reproduction or transcription of this material without prior express written permission is prohibited.

The post FairMormon Conference Podcast #31 – Wade Miller, “The Presence of Pre-Columbian Horses in America” appeared first on FairMormon.

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This podcast series features past FairMormon Conference presentations. Please join us for the 2019 FairMormon Conference coming up August 7-9! You can attend in person or purchase the video streaming.

Jenny Lund, “We all must be crazy”: The Plight of a 19th-Century Mormon Missionary Wife

Transcript available here.

Jennifer L. Lund is director of the Historic Sites Division in the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She received a BA in English from the University of Utah and a MA in American history from Brigham Young University. She has worked in the field of museums and historic sites for more than thirty years. The author of a number of articles and book reviews published in professional journals, she is currently editing a documentary edition of letters from the wife of a nineteenth-century Mormon missionary.

Audio Copyright © 2018 The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, Inc. Any reproduction or transcription of this material without prior express written permission is prohibited.

The post FairMormon Conference Podcast #30 – Jenny Lund, “‘We all must be crazy’: The Plight of a 19th-Century Mormon Missionary Wife” appeared first on FairMormon.

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This podcast series features past FairMormon Conference presentations. Please join us for the 2019 FairMormon Conference coming up August 7-9! You can attend in person or purchase the video streaming.

Steve Densley and Geret Giles, Barriers to Belief: Mental Distress and Disaffection from the Church

Transcript available here.

Steve Densley, Jr. is a Utah attorney (J.D., Brigham Young University). He graduated with University Honors from BYU with a combined B.A./M.A. in public policy and political science. He has published articles in the Utah Bar Journal, the Journal of Law and Family Studies, Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, and Meridian Magazine. He currently serves as an executive board member of The Interpreter Foundation. He was the Executive Vice President of FairMormon from 2013-15, a recipient of the John Taylor Defender of the Faith Award, and was a producer of FairMormon’s podcast when it twice won the People’s Choice Award for Best Podcast in the Religion & Spirituality category. He has served as an elders quorum president, high councilor, young men’s president, gospel doctrine teacher, and is currently the 1st counselor in his ward’s bishopric. He and his wife Heather have four children and a grandchild on the way.

Geret Giles is a psychologist in private practice since 1995. He has a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University. He treats couples, families, individuals, adolescents, and children for issues such as depression, anxiety, and relationship issues. For the past 15 years Dr. Giles has also worked with Utah’s Division of Human Services to provide forensic evaluations when questions arise as to the competence and mental state of criminal defendants. He is married to the former Kelley Clements. Together they have four children—three of whom are married—and three grandchildren. Their youngest is currently serving an LDS mission in Brazil. Geret and his wife are getting used to being “empty nesters” and are finding the transition more delightful than they expected!

Audio and Video Copyright © 2018 The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, Inc. Any reproduction or transcription of this material without prior express written permission is prohibited.

The post FairMormon Conference Podcast #29 – Steve Densley and Geret Giles, “Barriers to Belief: Mental Distress and Disaffection from the Church” appeared first on FairMormon.

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This podcast series features past FairMormon Conference presentations. Please join us for the 2019 FairMormon Conference coming up August 7-9! You can attend in person or purchase the video streaming.

John Lynch, Strengthen Thy Brethren: Bolstering Those in Faith Crisis

Transcript available here.

John Lynch is a Silicon Valley sales and marketing executive specializing in high-tech startup ventures. He is a member of the Board of Directors of FAIR and serves as its Chairman. Having served in many missionary callings, including twice as a Stake Mission President, multiple times as a Ward Mission Leader, and having worked at the Provo Missionary Training Center as a teacher and trainer, John has seen the impact of both well-prepared and poorly prepared defenders of the faith.

Audio Copyright © 2018 The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, Inc. Any reproduction or transcription of this material without prior express written permission is prohibited.

The post FairMormon Conference Podcast #28 – John Lynch, “Strengthen Thy Brethren: Bolstering Those in Faith Crisis” appeared first on FairMormon.

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Available in the FairMormon Bookstore

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). We take this literally for the words “way” and “life,” but what if we also took it literally for the word “truth”? In their book Who What is Truth? Reframing Our Questions for a Richer Faith, that is exactly what authors Jeffrey L. Thayne and Edwin E. Gantt encourage us to do, changing our way of thinking from truth as an idea (this turns out to be rooted in Greek philosophy) to truth as a person (Hebrew thought).

The chapter headings give a good summary of what is covered: “What if truth is a person?,” “The ancient roots of person-truth,” “Faith in ideas, or faithfulness to a Person?,” “Knowing God vs. believing ideas about Him,” “Person-truth does not give us control,” “Knowing person-truth through covenant,” “Our on-and-off relationship with person-truth,” “What it means to be an authority on truth,” “The archnemesis of person-truth,” “What is sin, if truth is a person?,” “Rethinking the atonement of Christ,” and “Person-truth in a world of science and reason.” There is also a conclusion chapter, a list of further readings, and appendixes with more on Greek and Hebrew thought and questions and answers.

I was initially skeptical when offered this book to review. But it claimed to offer help for those having a faith crisis, and to strengthen faith in Jesus Christ and the Restoration, so I thought it would be worth a look. I was pleasantly surprised, and found myself agreeing with the conclusions (the good fruit being brought forth), even as I am still processing the explanations that led up to them. The authors anticipated skepticism, and they addressed all the potential red flags that came up in my mind as I read.

For instance, “God guides His children within their contexts. What was prudent for one generation may no longer be prudent for another. His instructions are not the sort of universal, unchangeable abstractions that we privilege in the modern world” (page 47). This is followed up with a warning that “Some Latter-day Saints have used these very ideas to rationalize a wholesale rejection of prophetic teaching and warning…. They rightly point out that prophets are fallible and can make mistakes; they wrongly assert that this means we should reject their current teachings” (page 49).

The book is full of gems that address topics related to a crisis of faith, such as “some Latter-day Saints argue that faith cannot exist without doubt. They reject the certainty with which many Latter-day Saints express their testimonies of the restored gospel…. Some Latter-day thinkers have begun to use similar logic to valorize doubt and skepticism as a prerequisite to genuine faith…. In contrast, the person view of truth shifts our understanding of doubt. If we use marriage as our example, spouses are always and ever knowing each other better every day. But it would make little sense to say that each must question or doubt the existence or faithfulness of the other in order to have faith in him or her or to be truly faithful…. Similarly, our fidelity to God is not justified by rational inference or empirical evidence either” (page 56). It also covers topics such as so-called “bishop roulette,” how it’s OK that prophets sometimes seem to contradict each other or even themselves, why bad things happen even though we live the gospel but we should trust God anyway, and what is wrong with the idea of “being on the wrong side of history.”

There is a chapter on the temple that reframes the question, “If the sacred truths of the Holy Temple are really so important, why do we keep them a secret, rather than sharing them with everyone?” into “What must I do to prepare myself for the ritual communion with God that takes place in the Holy Temple, and how can I invite others to do the same.” It further explains, “The first question assumes that all truth should be verified in light of public scrutiny, whereas the second question assumes that our relationship with God can involve levels of familiarity and intimacy that are guarded by covenants” (page 77).

One observation I have made with those that lose their faith is that early in the process they can be helped, but they eventually reach a point where they have lost their trust and nothing can be said to help them. At this point, it seems that only God can turn them around, in His own time. This is explained: “[T]here may really be intellectual snares and traps that, once sprung, we cannot think our way out of. It is possible, from this view to be held captive by a lie or possessed by a false view of the world…. From a person view of truth, rational arguments may be insufficient. Divine rescue is often needed” (page 102). The question, “How can we convince someone who has been led astray by false ideas of the error of their beliefs and doctrinal understandings?” becomes “How can we invite someone who has been (or is being) led astray to obtain spiritual and intellectual confirmations through personal experiences with God?” (page 105).

At 185 pages, this would be a quick read, except that much of it is a completely different way of looking at things, which I am still digesting. I did enjoy reading it – it was actually hard to put down. I plan to read it again, and refer to it in the future as I discuss matters of faith with others and try to help those that are struggling. As the authors point out in a note in the beginning, others have written about these ideas, but Thayne and Gantt did a great job expressing them in a way that makes them accessible to the general reader.

The post Book Review – Who is Truth? Reframing Our Questions for a Richer Faith appeared first on FairMormon.

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Quincy D. Newell’s new book Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, A Nineteenth-Century Black Mormon is a unique and valuable addition to the fields of both Mormon Studies and nineteenth-century American History.

As Newell points out in her introduction, Jane Manning James’s story is “important because it troubles the waters” and “expands our understanding of nineteenth-century African American history beyond the standard narratives.”[1] That story is not as well-known as it should have been, and has been neglected by many scholars, perhaps, as Newell speculates, because Jane’s “membership in the LDS Church leads many scholars to see her as a dupe or a victim.”[2] Her narrative seems to move in a separate direction than many of the others. Instead of moving from “slavery to freedom”, Jane goes from being born free into a church that “treats her as a second-class citizen.”[3]

Using the documentary trail available, readers begin with Jane’s genealogy as a survivor, beginning from when her ancestors were first enslaved and brought over to America via the Middle Passage.[4] Because of gradual emancipation laws in her Connecticut birthplace, when she was born in about 1820, Jane Manning would be free, and she dwelt there until shortly after conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1842.

Her subsequent migration to Nauvoo would lead Jane Manning into the orbit of the prophet Joseph Smith and his wife Emma, and the short relationship that she formed with them would impact the rest of her life. Newell makes the point of noting that in Jane’s autobiography, the eight months that she spent working with Joseph and his family comprised nearly 40 percent of it.[5]

As with many events in Jane’s life, because of a paucity of records, Newell is forced to speculate on her thoughts and motivations. At first glance, these speculations could seem to predominantly lean towards the negative.[6] While potentially frustrating to some readers, they represent the full spectrum of possibilities and are true to the lived experience of many African Americans of that era.

In the appendix, Newell provides readers an incredibly valuable resource with the inclusion of five primary sources documents from Jane Manning James’s life. By permission of Jane’s descendants, the first two documents are her patriarchal blessings – given over fifty years apart by Hyrum Smith and John Smith respectively – which have never been publicly available before.[7] She also includes the three “most extensive narratives” of Jane’s life.

While it is surprising that this is the first biography of Jane Manning James to be published –especially with her increasing prominence over the past few decades – Quincy Newell has produced an extensively researched and highly readable biography,[8] one which it is hoped will lead to increased scholarly publications on this remarkable woman for years to come.

[1] Quincy D. Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, A Nineteenth-Century Black Mormon (New York City: Oxford University Press, 2019), 2.

[2] Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 2.

[3] Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 2.

[4] Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 7.

[5] Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 124. As the author points out, the autobiography comprises approximately 2,800 words, and nearly 1,100 of them are focused on that time period.

[6] For examples, see the discussion about Mr. Fitch on pgs. 13-14, or the discussion about the American Civil War on pg. 83. Newell here does excellent work presenting possible scenarios and Jane’s potential thoughts regarding very difficult situations.

[7] Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 5.

[8] An unfortunate omission, in my opinion, that I noticed during my examination of the excellent bibliography, was the work of Russell W. Stevenson. While Newell and Stevenson differ in some of their interpretations, the reviewer recommends reading the work of both authors. See Russell W. Stevenson, For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013 (Draper, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2014).

Jared Riddick is a graduate student at the University of North Texas, pursuing a Masters in Library Science. He previously graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a Bachelor of Arts in History Education. He is currently the archivist for Book of Mormon Central, based in Springville, UT. His areas of academic interest include the Book of Mormon and the American Civil War.

The post Book Review – Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, A Nineteenth-Century Black Mormon appeared first on FairMormon.

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[A review of the book can be found here.]

Tad R. Callister is author of the book “A Case For The Book of Mormon. Tad Callister received a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Brigham Young University, a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California–Los Angeles, and a master’s degree in tax law from New York University Law School. He spent most of his professional career practicing tax law. He and his wife Kathryn Saporiti are the parents of six children.

Brother Callister was serving in the Presidency of the Seventy and as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy when he was called as the 21st Sunday School general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has served in a number of Church callings including full-time missionary in the Eastern Atlantic States Mission, bishop, stake president, regional representative, mission president, and Area Seventy.

Brother Callister was released as Sunday School General President in the April 2019 General Conference where he gave his 6th and possibly last General Conference talk. 1/3 of his General Conference talks were about our subject on this podcast episode, The Book of Mormon. He is the author of the book “A Case For The Book of Mormon”, published by Deseret Book. He is scheduled to speak at the 2019 FairMormon Conference in August. This Podcast Episode is published from the Latter-day Saint MissionCast podcast with Nick Galieti.

The post Tad Callister Interview – A Case For The Book of Mormon appeared first on FairMormon.

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Tad Callister is an emeritus member of the Seventy and was the Sunday School General President until his release in the recent April General Conference. He has previously written books on the atonement and the apostasy. He has degrees in accounting and tax law and was a lawyer professionally. He is scheduled to speak at the 2019 FairMormon Conference in August.

This book presents both a spiritual and intellectual case for the Book of Mormon, drawing on previously published and unpublished books and talks by the author. In fact, the last chapter (which is a summary of the book) is a slightly modified version of his October, 2017 General Conference talk, “God’s Compelling Witness: The Book of Mormon,” and chapter two is from a talk he gave at a BYU Devotional on November 1, 2016, “The Book of Mormon: Man-Made or God-Given?” Much of the research cited is from FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, and FARMS (now the Neal A. Maxwell Institute), along with classic scholarship from B. H. Roberts, Richard Lloyd Anderson, and Hugh Nibley.

The book has five parts, starting with an introduction stating that the Book of Mormon must be either true or false, a divine work or a fraud, and explaining why. And we are reminded why all this is important, with a quote from Anglican theologian, Austin Farrer: “Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish” (page 9).

Part two discusses common criticisms of the Book of Mormon and responds to them. There is a chapter that talks about different authorship theories (including plagiarism) and knocks them all down. Then Hugh Nibley’s challenge to write a comparable book is outlined to show that no mortal man could have done such a feat.

The next chapter is on anachronisms, comparing them to the striking clocks in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar that did not yet exist in that context. These include large populations, the existence of writing on metal plates, cement, barley, Alma as a male name, Jesus being born “at Jerusalem,” and the phrase “and it came to pass,” all of which have been vindicated since being pointed out by critics. He then goes on to talk about chiasmus and advances being made in archaeology, and then reminds us that even with all the physical evidences it is the spirit that will give us a sure witness.

The following chapter focuses on half-truths that are meant to deceive. Some examples used are comparisons of View of the Hebrews and The Late War with the Book of Mormon. The way parallels between them are presented by the critics, it appears at first glance that there are striking similarities that may not be coincidental. On close comparison, however, they just don’t hold up. Other topics covered where critics distort the facts are coinage and DNA.

In part three, Callister explains that he is transitioning “from defense to offense” (page 91) and begins giving evidences for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. He devotes a chapter to the unique doctrines that are taught, which do not appear in the Bible. Another chapter lists many of life’s questions and how they are answered by the Book of Mormon. For example:

How can I know if I have truly repented?

“And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.

“And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:13-14). (page 126)

Chapter seven talks about the Three Witnesses. Much has been said by critics to discount their testimonies, but the evidence shows that they literally saw the plates and were true to the end. “The question was occasionally asked if the plates were real or an intangible object comprising part of a ‘spiritual vision.’ Critics point to a statement by Martin Harris that he saw the plates with ‘the eyes of faith and not with the natural eyes’ and similar statements suggesting the plates were not a real and tangible object. That has never seemed like much of an argument to me. Of course Martin Harris needed faith to see the angel and the plates, and no doubt he was spiritually transfigured in some way to behold the divine messenger who showed him the plates (see Moses 1:14). Thus, he saw the angel and the plates, both as real as can be, with an eye of faith. David Whitmer…wrote: ‘Of course we were in the spirit when we had the view, for no man can behold the face of an angel, except in a spiritual view, but we were in the body also, and everything was as natural to us, as it is at any time.’ …Martin Harris declared: ‘Well, just as plain as you see that chopping block, I saw the plates; and sooner than I would deny it I would lay my head upon that chopping block and let you chop it off’” (pages 148-149). Callister continues with several other quotes from Martin Harris affirming his testimony.

The next chapter continues in this vein with testimonies from each of the eight witnesses. Then to summarize, Richard Lloyd Anderson, whose life work was on the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, is quoted: “I’ve got about two hundred times [documented statements] when one of the witnesses said, ‘I did sign the statement.’ ‘The statement means what it says.’ ‘I saw the angel.’ ‘I saw the plates.’ Or in the case of the eight witnesses, ‘I handled the plates.’ So, two hundred very positive and specific statements in many cases and I’m dealing today with about eight or ten documents [with negative comments allegedly from or about the Book of Mormon witnesses], in other words, five percent. And the question is ‘Do you believe the 95 percent or do you believe the five?’” (pages 161-162) Callister points out that in a court of law, a judge would ignore the aberrant testimony.

The following chapter discusses the Book of Mormon’s teachings about Christ, focusing on the atonement and resurrection, and that the purpose of the book is to bring us to Christ. “I believe that individuals who honestly read the Book of Mormon can learn by the Spirit ‘that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations,’ exactly as declared on the book’s title page. The book is indeed a witness, a divine witness, even the crowning witness of Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and His divinity” (page 184).

The tenth chapter goes through the Bible in search of prophecies of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. They are found in the Old Testament, which describes the inheritance that would be received by the descendants of Joseph. Isaiah alludes to some Book of Mormon events and about the book itself. Ezekiel talks about the sticks of Judah and Joseph. And, of course, Jesus himself referred to his other sheep.

The fifth part of the book is about gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon, with a chapter on the need for a spiritual witness in spite of the physical evidence available. When relying solely on the evidence, “that testimony will be prone to crack or collapse with every tremor of intellectual concern…. One cannot discover a spiritual truth by intellectual means alone” (page 198). We can gain our own spiritual witness by accepting Moroni’s invitation, but this is often hard won. When we have paid the price, “it will become our personal iron rod…to keep us on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life” (page 206). This is then followed by a chapter about recognizing the spirit.

The final part consists of a single chapter, which is a summary of the book. As mentioned earlier, it is basically the author’s talk from the October 2017 General Conference. It contains this powerful paragraph near the end: “This book focuses on a case for the Book of Mormon, but in one sense the Book of Mormon does not need a case presented on its behalf. It is its own best witness – its own best evidence. It is the unmitigated word of God from beginning to end; it teaches the doctrine of Christ in purity; it bears witness of the Savior with precision and power; and it invites the Spirit in unrestrained proportions. Every aspect of the Book of Mormon bears witness of its divine origin because, in fact, it is divinely inspired” (page 237).

This is a great book for anyone that wants to learn more about evidences for the Book of Mormon, or defenses against common criticisms used today (particularly those in the so-called “CES Letter”). It contains in one place the accumulated scholarship in support of the book, as well as material focusing on the spiritual aspects. It is a little repetitious in places, but that is because each chapter could be self-contained (and at least some originally were), which can actually be advantageous to the casual reader who might be interested in one particular aspect at a time. The information contained in it could be helpful to those wanting to gain or regain a testimony, or to familiarize oneself with the critical arguments and defenses in a faith-promoting context.

The post Book Review: A Case for the Book of Mormon appeared first on FairMormon.

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This volume consists of 544 pages (including the usual introductions, reference material, and index) but covers only ten months of 1841. My first impression from reading the volume introduction was that a lot of things happened during that time, and yet this volume is being said to cover a relatively quiet period, before things really get busy. Indeed there are seven more volumes to come in the Documents series, which will presumably cover the rest of 1841 through mid 1844.

During this time, Nauvoo was growing, with revelations having just been received about building the temple and the Nauvoo House, and the Saints were being gathered. Some of the important documents included relate to the Nauvoo City Council and Nauvoo Legion, land and financial transactions, Orson Hyde’s trip to Jerusalem, three revelations, and fifteen sermons given by Joseph Smith. The following are some examples.

There were weekly educational meetings held, referred to as the Nauvoo lyceum, where Joseph Smith and others spoke, with two to three speakers and debate during each meeting. William P. McIntire took notes at some of these, including a talk given by Joseph Smith on February 9:

Joseph said in answer to <​Mr.​> [Hosea] stout [p. [10]] that adam Did Not Comit sin in [e]ating the fruit, for God had Dec[r]eed that he should Eat & fall— But in complyance with the Decree he should Die— only he should Die was the saying of the Lord therefore the Lord apointed us to fall & also Redeemed us— for where sin abounded Grace did Much More abound— for Paul says Rom.— 5— 10 for if— when were Enemys we were Reconciled to God by <​the Death of​> his Son, much more, being Reconciled, we shall be saved by his Life— (page 30).

The Nauvoo City Council, based on the bad experiences they had in Missouri, passed a religious freedom ordinance on March 1 declaring:

Be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Nauvoo, That the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Latter-Day-Saints, Quakers, Episcopalians Universalits Unitarians, Mahommedans, and all other religious sects and denominations whatever, shall have free toleration and equal Privilieges in this City, and should any person be guilty of ridiculing abusing,  or otherwise depreciating another in consequence of his religion or of disturbing, or interrupting any religious meeting, within the Limits of this City, he shall on conviction thereof, before the Mayor or Municipal Court be considered a disturber of the public peace, and fined in any Sum not exceeding five hundred Dollars, or imprisoned not exceeding six months, or both at the discretion of said Mayor, or Court (page 52).

Thomas Cooke Sharp was the editor of the Warsaw Signal. He had been friendly (or at least neutral) to Joseph Smith and the church in his writing, and had even been invited to the laying of the Nauvoo temple cornerstone. But then he became very critical, going as far as to start an anti-Mormon political party. Joseph responded with this letter:

Mr. [Thomas] Sharp, Editor of the Warsaw Signal:

Sir—You will discontinue my paper—its contents are calculated to pollute me, and to patronize the filthy sheet—that tissue of lies—that sink of iniquity—is disgraceful to any moral man.

Yours, with utter contempt,

JOSEPH SMITH.

P.S. Please publish the above in your contemptible paper.

J.S.

In October 2, the Nauvoo House cornerstone was placed. Many items were sealed in it, including the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, which Joseph apparently thought of including at the last minute, and ran home to get it. It was thought that it would be kept safe, but unfortunately it was close enough to the Mississippi River that later flooding caused significant damage.

Some observers later noted the significance of including that manuscript. Frederick Kesler wrote that he saw “the prophet Joseph Smith Hide up the manuscript of the Book of Mormon I stood nearby heard and saw what was done on that important occation.” Warren Foote later wrote, “I was standing very near the corner stone, when Joseph Smith came up with the manuscrip of the Book of Mormon, and said that he wanted to put that in there, as he had had trouble enough with it.” Another observer, John Brown, wrote that JS said the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon had been “a great deal of trouble to preserve” and that he stated, “I now deliver it up to the Lord and will not have the care of it any longer” (page 298, footnote 85).

John Laws was a nonmember politician in Philadelphia that apparently had friends and family members that had joined the church. He had written letters to newspapers defending against criticism of the church, and wrote a letter to Joseph Smith on October 18 to get more information about some allegations:

It is possible that one or more communications published in the public Ledger and Daily Chronicle of this City over the signature of J L in refutation of the aspersions cast upon the “Latter Day Saints” has met your eye if this shall have been the Case you can more readily estimate the motives of the writer in seeking for information from the only source that will be relied on. The authors of the communications refered to was prompted to the task by feelings of indignation at what he believed to be a conspiracy of News Paper Editors and others to overthrow Mormonism by the summary process of exterminating its proselytes by sanguinary means and not by reason and argument It is very evident that the unexpected and unwished for oppositions to their schemes has had a salutary effect in causing a cessation of hostilities for the present but whether to be revived again time will make manifest.

On November 16, Joseph Smith wrote a letter to John M. Bernhisel. Bernhisel was a recent convert that had asked Joseph to pick out a plot for him in Nauvoo for him to come to. He had sent a letter with money for the purchase and a book by John Lloyd Stephens called Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan. “The work recounted ‘a journey of nearly three thousand miles in the interior of Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, including visits to eight ruined cities, with full illustrations from drawings taken on the spot by Mr. [Frederick] Catherwood,’ an English artist. Stephens’s book was mentioned in a June 1841 article in the Times and Seasons, which declared that accounts like Stephens’s ‘prove beyond controversy that, on this vast continent, once flourished a mighty people’ and gave ‘more proofs of the Book of Mormon’” (page 367, footnote 447). In the letter thanking him, Joseph said, “I received your kind present by the hand of Er. [Wilford] Woodruff & feel myself under many obligations for this mark of your esteem & friendship which to me is the more interesting as it unfolds & developes many things that are of great importance to this generation & corresponds with & supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon; I have read the volumnes with the greatest interest & pleasure & must say that of all histories that have been written pertaining to the antiquities of this country it is the most correct luminous & comprihensive” (page 367).

This volume shows how things were in Nauvoo in 1841 and Joseph’s leadership of both Nauvoo and the church. The actual documents are available online at the Joseph Smith Papers website, but, as always, the annotations and other helpful information in the book make it a worthwhile purchase for those interested in the history of the church and the life of Joseph Smith.

Additional resources:

Religious Freedom in Nauvoo, Illinois (video)

Joseph Smith’s Sermons at the Nauvoo Lyceum (video)

The post Book Review: The Joseph Smith Papers Documents, Volume 8: February-November 1841 appeared first on FairMormon.

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