007: Inside the Mind of a Mormon Apologist Pt. 1

In part 1 of a 3 part series, we interview John Lynch, Chairman of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR), a volunteer group dedicated to Mormon Apologetics. In this episode, John Lynch discusses his conversion to the church, his journey into apologetics, and some of the basics about FAIR.

To listen, click here.

Comments

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39 comments for “007: Inside the Mind of a Mormon Apologist Pt. 1

  1. October 23, 2005 at 7:14 am

    John, great podcast!! Thanks for having this loser John Lynch on your podcast to help show and expose to everyone what a pathetic organization FAIR is and that John Lynch is truly, hopelessly lost in Cognitive dissonance.

    I want to mention that he was indeed very dishonest with you, just like the Church is with it’s members. He was on the RFM board this entire week, trying to raise hell, lying about his true identity while obviously trying to prep for his show with you.

    He conveniently forgot to mention this during an hour long podcast and in my opinion, took advantage of your nice, congenial nature. I would not have him back on your show unless he agrees to answer questions about his behavior this past week on RFM and with Steve Benson in particular and why he omitted these facts.

    He used the same practice that the Mormon Church uses by revealing his name, but not who he really was or what his intentions really were. I guess those of us over on RFM, were not ready for the “meat”, so he just gave us the “milk’, his name that is.

    He lied to everyone and pretended to be somebody that he wasn’t. He never told us that he was on the board at FAIR. Tyson Dunn, a poster on RFM, did some homework and discovered who John Lynch was and then revealed it to all the world.

    Finally, John Lynch revealed himself for who he really was, but only after he was caught. He then claimed that he never lied or was dishonest because he gave his real name, etc. All a joke in my opinion, just like him and his bogus organization.

    They should be renamed the “CDFAIR.” He is a lying, dishonest guy that pretends to be an upright good guy. Remember, “beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes!!” This clearly applies to John and his so-called organization that supposedly has no affiliation whatsoever with the Mormon Church. HA HA HA!! GOOD ONE!!

    He also lied when he said that he had tried to talk to Steve Benson and didn’t even know where or how to find him. The “real truth” is that he did have direct contact with Steve Benson all week long and emailed him through his email at the Arizona Republic.

    They exchanged many Emails back and forth as John Lynch continued to lie and conceal his true identity. Everybody go on over to RFM and type “John Lynch” on the chat board search and you can read all about what I’m saying. It was like a soap opera over there this week with this clown, AKA John Lynch.

    RFM Board

    What’s amazing is that John Lynch wouldn’t leave Steve Benson alone, even after he had asked him, politely and nicely, 3-4 times, to please leave him alone!! He just couldn’t get the message. He kept writing more emails and more, again, as he lied about who he really was.

    He was like a typical Mormon Missionary and he wouldn’t leave him alone and kept coming back and back again. Steve shared the personal E-Mail correspondence with all of is and it is also over on RFM for those that want to read it all.

    Anyway, John D, this is the true character of your guest John Lynch. I just felt that everyone should know what his tactics are and how he functions in his private life. He is a lying, deceitful apologetic for the Mormon Church, period!! He’s one of their hacks, plain and simple!!

    He does their dirty work so that they don’t have to. His words indeed had no value once we all knew that he had been posting under false pretenses and LYING about who he really was.

    Besides, even if we knew who he was, his words had no value anyway. Most of us over there are cured of our Cognitive Dissonance while he is still deep in it and getting deeper everyday.

    He expected us to allow him on our board, asking probing questions, while at the same time, FAIR, his beloved organization where he sits on the board, would never and does not ever allow us EXMOS the same courtesy. Maybe I should sign up, say I’m Samuel the Utahnite, say that I’m an angry EXMO with a blog ripping the Church apart and see how long I last. Bets anyone? I’d be gone in a heartbeat. I may just do it for fun and report back. We’ll see how Mr. John Lynch treats us on his home turf.

    When we even try to do that over there, what he did on RFM, we are banned and our responses or posts are quickly deleted. John Lynch is a complete hypocrite as is his pathetic organization. John claimed to be an honest, active member of the Mormon Church but never disclosed who he represented. And people wonder why the Mormon Church has so many problems and why us EXMOS can’t leave it alone. It appears that in this case, he couldn’t leave us alone, doesn’t it?

    Here was the first post by Mr. John Lynch over on RFM:

    Subject: What are the rules?
    Date: Oct 11 19:53
    Author: John Lynch
    Mail Address:

    ——————————————————————————–
    My name is John Lynch. I understand that this is not a forum for the “defense of ‘the faith'”. However, I want to know under what circumstances I can participate. Am I allowed to ask questions? I have no desire to “lurk” or otherwise hide my motives. I sincerely desire to understand the experiences of those that leave the church. I am an active member, with no personal crisis of faith I am dealing with.

    Regards,

    John L.

    Did everyone catch that? He said, “I have no desire to “lurk” or otherwise hide my motives.” Well, if that’s the case, then maybe you should have told us who you were, John Lynch from the FAIR board, eh? I’m sorry John D, that this is so long but I felt that the truth needed to be told and exposed. This guy is a phony and a fraud and has no credibility whatsoever!!

    You, John, asked amazing, probing questions of this guy, that were dead on the money, but unfortunately, you only got long winded, worthless responses that amounted to not answering your questions.

    But, then again, that is what Apologists do for the Mormon Church. They just talk incessantly, saying nothing, going around in circles and are not really addressing or answering the questions. Welcome everybody to the world of Mormon Apologetics!! Their is only milk and no meat to be found.

    One amazing comment that John Lynch had to say, that I agreed with, is that the brethren answer to nobody on this earth. Everybody get that?!! They answer to NOBODY on this planet and can say and do whatever they want. “They answer to Jesus and Heavenly Father IF they were called by them”, as John Lynch said. So, there you go!!

    They don’t have to answer to the Members of the Church, EXMOS, nobody. John Lynch clearly states this. That my friends is the very problem at the core of the Mormon Church. The top hierarchy of the Mormon Church, have absolutely no culpability or responsibility to anybody, namely, the members that they are supposed to be leading and receiving Revelations for.

    I think that your beginning questions John were awesome but you did indeed let him off the hook on his responses and with the follow ups. I know that you are a nice, respectful guy, that is your nature. Considering your goals and who you were dealing with, you did a pretty good job though.

    You were as decent to John as you were to Hyrum which I do find admirable but frustrating when a guy like this isn’t really answering the “meat” of the question. I also understand that you are trying to straddle the line in dealing with the Mormon History problems, while defending the Church.

    At times I’m confused because you have great, pointed questions that have no real answer but the obvious one, that us EXMOS know and understand perfectly. You may need to take a look at exactly why things are the way they are and the fact that there is no resolution to these problems.

    We, John, as you very eloquently stated in this very podcast, should not have to be defending the Mormon hierarchy when they are the supposed Prophets, Seers and Revelators, not us. They should be embarrassed and ashamed that such organizations as FAIR even have to exist with all of their supposed revelation and inspiration.

    They could shut fair down by publicly condemning them if they wanted to, but they don’t for obvious reasons. Of course, the Mormon Church can shut down peoples individual study groups in private homes but they allow FAIR to live on, as if they don’t even know that it exists.

    I say that the Mormon Church’s new saying should be, that when a Mormon Prophet speaks, the thinking at FAIR begins. They are so obviously joined at the hip. Give us all a break!! Thanks John D. for pointing out FAIRS connections to FARMS, etc. To say that FAIR and the Mormon church have no connections is very disingenuous but coming from Lynch, that should come as no surprise.

    As you basically said, John D, “they, the Church hierarchy, should be handling their own business” or create some type of “official church approved place” where people with doubts could go to and try to get resolutions.

    It will never happen John because as John Lynch stated over and over, the Mormon Hierarchy doesn’t answer to anybody and doesn’t need to explain any problems in Church History to anyone and shouldn’t have to. The purpose of the Mormon Church is to bring people to Christ, so screw honesty, truth and anything to do with integrity, right? Who cares what the right thing to do is, just throw it out the window, along with all truth and focus on bringing people to Christ.

    Is it just me or does anyone else find this ironic, to state that the mission is to bring people to Jesus Christ but without revealing the truth? That’s absolutely ridiculous and absurd!!

    Who needs truth or honesty if your purpose is to bring people to Christ? right? That’s insane!! If the Mormon Church had nothing to hide, they simply wouldn’t be hiding it, right?!!

    I do have to politely disagree with you John on one point though. The Mormon Church should make all information available to everyone, including future converts, missionaries, etc. People should be able to know and have all the truth so that they can make an educated, honest decision on whether they should join or stay in the Mormon Church or not.

    I can’t believe anyone that actually believes that whole BS statement about the milk before the meat. It’s purely ridiculous!! Here’s the bottom line for me; getting baptized into any Church, especially the Mormon Church, is a life altering decision. If they remain active, it affects every single aspect of their life. As it is often said, “Mormonism is not a religion, rather a way of life.”

    With that being said, how can you or anybody say that people shouldn’t have or know all of the truth before making their decision of joining and getting baptized. It’s a big deal to give your life to the Mormon Church.

    Case in point, Before 1990, we promised to slit our throats, among other things, before revealing the temple secrets. It is dishonest and wrong to hide that controversial information in the name of God and “milk before meat.”

    It is truly the classic sin of omission that the Mormon Church is committing and guilty of. If we, as members, were allowed that freedom with confessing our sins, there certainly wouldn’t be many more confessions.

    The real reason that the Mormon Church doesn’t do this, reveal everything to everyone, specifically the “soon-to-be-converts” is two fold; first of all, they are all about speed and getting them into the water ASAP instead of having people studying 3 months, 6 months, etc, which would just take too long.

    It would screw up their “number hungry, lets get more tithe payers strategy.” Secondly and the most obvious, is who in their right mind would ever join the Mormon Church, especially anyone that was black or felt any gay tendencies or had gay loved ones in their life or family. The simple answer is that they wouldn’t!!

    I predict with a great deal of certainty, that baptisms would plummet worldwide to 100’s or 1000’s a year instead of 200,000 plus. It would be devastating and that impact would in turn devastate the current Church as well as the long term viability of Mormonism. Eventually, they would have to start liquidating buildings all over the world, including temples due to lack of membership and activity.

    It would directly and devastatingly affect the current members that hang their hat on “the fastest growing Church” mantra and “the stone or rock is filling the earth, etc. Within probably 20-30 years, the Mormon Church would be merely a shell of what it once was. It would be nothing!!

    Maybe that is why they are buying up malls, land in Hawaii, building luxury resorts, buying cattle ranches in Nebraska, buying gaming preserves, why they want to build the Utah world trade center, etc.

    Maybe that is why they are invested in alcohol and tobacco companies, cable and satellite companies that peddle hard-core porn which is worse than cocaine according to Dallin H. Oaks.

    Maybe they foresee this day coming with just the way things are now and can see a day when tithing will be millions instead of billions? They preach being prepared, so that is what they are doing.

    Anyway, that is the real reason why the Mormon Church wants nothing to do with sharing the “real truth” with the world. I had to laugh as you guys discussed the fact that the Mormon Church doesn’t hide their dark past, because the print things in the Ensign, JOD, etc.

    By the way, The JOD, along with “Sacred Loneliness” has been “out of stock” online and at every Deseret Bookstore that I’ve called for the last 4 months. Thankfully, I can go to my local bookstore and read it all there.

    Too bad they don’t carry Grant Palmer’s book anymore, it is very informative but too “non-faith promoting.” Good thing they disfellowshipped this “dangerous” man after selling and profiting from his book for over 2 years. No hypocrisy there, right? Just curious, did they return their profits to Grant Palmer after determining that he and his book were so “dangerous?”

    So, anyway, when is the last time that the Mormon Hierarchy “officially” addressed controversial things in a conference address? When is the last time that Hinckley or any modern day Apostle or Prophet got up and talked about Joseph Smith’s polygamous wives in conference?

    When did they get up in conference and discuss how he married a 14 year old girl, lied to Emma about it, married other mens wives and in some cases, pregnant wives, etc? How about not once!!
    For that matter, when have they ever discussed these highly controversial things in an Ensign? NEVER!!

    When was the last time that anybody saw something “official” from the Church, telling everyone to go check out Joseph Smith’s polygamous genealogy over on FamilySearch.org and included the link? NEVER!!

    It may be there but they certainly don’t advertise it now, do they? Of course they don’t because they operate in complete and total deception by big time omissions. That is their protocol.

    Here’s the problem John D. and why so many of us EXMOS try to find “official” sources to prove to TBMS that what we are saying is true; if we don’t, they don’t believe us and it must be anti-Mormon doctrine. The Mormon Hierarchy have brainwashed their flock to never even look at anything controversial to do with the Church because it’s from the devil and anti-Mormon. They literally put the fear of God into these people!!

    So, we are left with searching for things within the Church to validate our claims to be able to share it with TBMS and thankfully, there is just enough to do so. It certainly isn’t all the truth, but at least it opens the door, so that we can then expound further with other sources and drive a truck right on through. In other words, it’s a beginning which is better than nothing.

    I still have TBMS in my life that won’t even look at the “official” Church proof because they have so much fear and they still say that I’m lying. These are people that have known me my whole life, have trusted me, my opinions, etc. Now these people think I’ve lost my mind, I’m possessed, Satan has grabbed my soul, etc.

    If only everyone could teach Sunday School like you do John, this world and the Mormon Church would be a different place for sure.

    Even though you used Church sources, I’m shocked that it was allowed, because there is a reason why they so heavily edit the Church instruction manuals and remove any mention of polygamy, etc.

    You, by doing what you did, went 100% against the wishes of the brethren and the entire purpose of Hinckley and the other members of Mormon Hierarchy. You went against them and ruined their true intentions. In many wards, you would have been immediately released, if not punished further for not sticking to the manual and official lesson plan. Those stories are not uncommon.

    Personally, while I respect what you do John, I think you should come join us over at RFM and not have to twist your brain into a pretzel anymore….LOL. You know that we await you with open arms if this whole “Mormon History and many facts are bad but there must be a perfectly good explanation” thing doesn’t work out for you. What you are doing is 1000 times harder than any apologist.

    You do what they will never do and what the Mormon Hierarchy will never do; that is simply to admit that there are big problems in the Mormon Church today and in the history. I guess that’s a good start and you are much further along then they will ever be.

    Anyway John D, I really apologize for writing such a long sermon but this guy John Lynch got me fired up man and I felt that the truth needed to be told. I should have gone to bed hours ago but I had to respond.

    At some point in the near future, I will also have a podcast and I promise everyone out there, that “John Lynch” will be my first “official” invited guest.

    I’m also pretty sure that he won’t have the courage to come on my show where I will grill him alive. He will show his true colors and be the coward that he really is. He is a coward in FAIR clothing!! He hides over at FAIR and won’t be seen anywhere that he doesn’t deem to be “FAIR.”

    He seemed to even wonder about your show John but felt that you would be “FAIR” with him. I would also be “FAIR” with him but not in the way he would like. I would hold his feet to the fire and pepper him with questions that would make his head spin. I wouldn’t go onto the next question until he answered the current one appropriately.

    I think I’d start with Joseph Smith marrying a 14 year old girl and go from there. My guess is that the entire show would be that one question since he could never answer that question satisfactorily for me, without admitting to me and the audience, that it wasn’t from God and that it was wrong and immoral.

    Therefore, he will never come on my podcast, but I will “officially” invite him, as I said, as my first guest and then let everybody know what his response is. I’ll let him take a walk through my blog, check me out, like he did you John and then his cowardly answer will most likely be, NO WAY!!

    Anyway, that’s all for me, gotta run!! Take care John and keep up the great work and thanks again for having this guy on your show to expose who he really is, to all the world, or at least however many people will listen to your show.

    Samuel the Utahnite

    MORMON TRUTH

  2. October 23, 2005 at 7:30 am

    Sorry, one more thing I forgot to include; here’s a wonderful quote from John Taylor, right out of Church History volume 7.

    I only felt it appropriate considering John Lynch must have mentioned 5 times how great John Taylor was and that he was a great example and defender of the faith. I think this quote is fantastic and shows that even Joseph and the future Prophet, didn’t follow the word of wisdom at all. They were disobedient hypocrites:

    “Sometime after dinner we sent for some WINE. It has been reported by some that this was taken as a sacrament. It was NO SUCH THING; our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent for to revive us…. I believe we all drank of the WINE, and gave some to one or two of the prison guards.”
    (John Taylor, in History of the Church, Vol. 7, page 101)

    Also, for John or whoever wants to read it, I created a great page with classic quotes from Mormon Prophets and Apostles. I appropriately refer to it as “Famous Mormon Prophet’s/Apostle’s Quotes–The Mormon Hall Of Shame-Volume 1!!” Enjoy!! Imagine asking Mr. Lynch about this stuff!!

    Famous Quotes

    Samuel

  3. angrybert
    October 23, 2005 at 9:51 am

    Samuel, I’m sure you had some good points in your post, but starting off labeling someone a loser somewhat undermines any arguments you make. He (Lynch) had some good points, although I am not in agreement with most of them.

  4. October 23, 2005 at 10:13 am

    “Angrybert”, if you actually read my post, which you obviously didn’t and saw what John Lynch was up to all week, by lying about who he was on the RFM boards, you’d be in agreement that he is a loser, plain and simple. He is also dishonest, deceitful and doesn’t have a shred of integrity.

    Read my post and then get back to me with a real response and what you think of his actions. Better yet, head over to RFM and read for yourself, all of the posts that I have read regarding John Lynch from this past week and then form an opinion on whether he is a loser or not.

    That might indeed help you out a little bit or maybe a whole lot. My statement came from a great deal of knowledge about John Lynch that you are obviously lacking. Hope this will help you out.

  5. October 23, 2005 at 12:49 pm

    Please let the discussion flow…but please don’t resort to name calling. I think your logic and thoughts will stand on their own…..

    Thanks all.

    John

  6. October 23, 2005 at 1:34 pm

    John (Dehlin), thanks for this interview. I thought it was really enjoyable and interesting. I’m glad that you asked John Lynch about the major gap between what it taught in church to most members and what apologetic discourse comes to emphasize. While his response to that question was obviously sincere and apparently works for him, it was unsatisfactory to me. After all, the church tries to bring people to Christ via a heavily doctrinal and historical message. We spend a lot of time talking about the first vision and the restoration, but we only talk about these events and themes in a narrowly defined way. So it’s really not enough to say that we should look forward — because the message of the church is inherently backward looking.

    The anti-Mormon Dr. Shades has proposed a distinction between what he has unfortunately titled “internet Mormonism” (but should really be called conservative intellectual Mormonism) and “chapel Mormonism.” The average chapel Mormon, in my experience, considers claims about limited Book of Mormon geographies and prophetic statements as personal opinions to be blasphemy. Yet these kinds of ideas are the bread and butter of conservative intellectual Mormonism. In effect, it often seems to me that FAIR is defending a different religion from that practiced and believed by many of the on-the-ground members of the church…

  7. Ben
    October 23, 2005 at 1:42 pm

    In response to Samuel’s last “comment” on John Taylor being a hypocrite, FAIR addressed this classic charge by the Tanners a good while ago in relation to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
    http://www.fairlds.org/pubs/conf/2000AshM.html

    Also, in my experience on RFM, posting by your first and last name is an invitation to be googled. If he’d really wanted to hide something, he would have used a pseudonym like 90% of the other posters there.

  8. October 23, 2005 at 2:20 pm

    Ben, you’ve linked to an interesting text, which presents an example of what I take to be a frequent apologetic strategy: claiming that the critics are correct on the substance but that it doesn’t matter. In this instance, the article acknowledges the historical evidence that early Saints took the Word of Wisdom far less seriously than we do today. This raises important questions: Were they correct in their attitude about these instructions, or are we correct? Or has the world changed in such a way that these instructions have become more important? Or should we accept them simply as a substitute identity marker in the post-polygamy and post-gathering world? But, instead of worrying about these theological issues, the article simply minimizes the importance of the information.

    The same strategy was used by John Dehlin’s previous FAIR guest, Bro. Kearney, to discuss Masonry in the temple. Bro. Kearney openly agrees that the temple ritual is in significant part borrowed from Masonry (which is exactly what critics charge), but explains that it’s irrelevant because of the distinctive spiritual message of the ritual. Not addressed is the theological question of which parts of the ritual we should, in fact, take seriously — and which are simply irrelevant remnants of Masonic influence and a more general 19th-century worldview. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we could assign the gender attitudes taught in the ritual to the second camp?

    I think this apologetic strategy has an important positive benefit: it gets everyone (critics and apologists alike) on the same page with respect to the historical evidence. I’m concerned, however, that it distracts us from learning the theological lessons that we can actually draw from the historical information.

  9. Ben
    October 23, 2005 at 2:51 pm

    RT, you touch on something relevant. Many Saints naively tend towards an assumption of timelessness of all aspects of the Gospel. It’s presentism- “the things are today is the way they always have been and the way they always will be.” Many critics (former LDS and non-LDS) have this view, and we tend to uncritically accept that assumption in spite of explicit Church teachings to the contrary.

    This assumption usually can only exist in a vacuum of historical knowledge. It contradicts many basic statements about the non-static nature of the Church made by Joseph Smith and others.

    David Whitmer is a prime example of this. He thought the Church should be static, and the scriptures were an instruction book written by God. We should do things the way they were done in the New Testament and the BoM, end of story.

    Early interpretations of the WoW is only troublesome if we impose our view today on their behavior then, to assume that we way we live it today is that way it always has been done and always should be done. Thus, I’d challenge the idea that there is one eternally “correct” interpretation of the WoW. The binding interpretation is that given by the authorities of the church as based on context, revelation, and history.

    I don’t think this is as much a “strategy” as it is a return to the right mindset, how we are supposed to view Church doctrine.

    I have some disagreements with Greg’s presentation, but we have different areas of expertise. My arguments are such that I can’t present them publicly.

    Too many LDS are rooted in tradition instead of personl revelation to confirm prophetic change and adaption. Soem citations supporting the non-static, contextual but revelational church.

    We believe… that [God] will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

    When God speaks to the people, he does it in a manner to suit their circumstances and capacities. He spoke to the children of Jacob through Moses, as a blind, stiff-necked people, and when Jesus and his Apostles came they talked with the Jews as a benighted, wicked, selfish people. They would not receive the Gospel, though presented to them by the Son of God in all its righteousness, beauty and glory. Should the Lord Almighty send an angel to re-write the Bible, it would in many places be very different from what it now is. And I will even venture to say that if the Book of Mormon were now to be re-written, in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation. According as people are willing to receive the things of God, so the heavens send forth their blessings. If the people are stiff-necked, the Lord can tell them but little.
    -Brigham Young Journal of Discourses 9:311

    …we believe, from the Scriptures of truth, that to every church in the past ages, which the Lord recognized to be his, he gave revelations wisely calculated to govern them in the peculiar situation and circumstances under which they were placed, and to enable them by authority to do the peculiar work which they were to perform. The Bible contains revelations given at different times to different people, under different circumstances, as will be seen by editorial articles in this paper. The old world was destroyed for rejecting the revelations of God, given to them through Noah. The Israelites were destroyed in the wilderness for despising the revelations given to them through Moses; and Christ said that the world, in the days of the apostles, should be condemned for not receiving the word of god through them: thus we see that the judgments of God in the past ages have come upon the people, not so much for neglecting the revelations given to their forefathers, as for rejecting those given immediately to themselves. Of the blessings of heaven it may be said, they have always rested upon the heads of those to whom they were promised: Therefore, seeing that it not only was, but as long as God remains the same, always will be the privilege of the true church to receive revelations, containing blessings and cursings, peculiarly adapted to itself as a church.
    -The Evening and the Morning Star- July 1832, 13.

    God said, “Thou shalt not kill;” at another time He said, “Thou shalt utterly destroy.” This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted-by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed.Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.
    -TPJS, 256.

    Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: “There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day.” “And now,” said he, “when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.” That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation, “Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.”
    Wilford Woodruff, CR, October 1897, pp. 22-23.

    The Latter-day Saints do not do things because they happen to be printed in a book. They do not do things because God told the Jews to do them; nor do they do or leave undone anything because of the instructions that Christ gave to the Nephites. Whatever is done by this Church is because God, speaking from heaven in our day, has commanded this Church to do it. No book presides over this Church, and no book lies at its foundation. You cannot pile up books enough to take the place of God’s priesthood, inspired by the power of the Holy Ghost. That is the constitution of the Church of Christ. … Divine revelation adapts itself to the circumstances and conditions of men, and change upon change ensues as God’s progressive work goes on to its destiny. There is no book big enough or good enough to preside over this Church.
    -Elder Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, October 1916, p. 55. Quoted by Loren C. Dunn, in General conference, Ensign May 1976, p.65-66

    With regard to the Bible we frequently say, we believe the Bible, but circumstances alter cases, for what is now required for the people may not be required of a people that may live a hundred years hence…. There are many duties, and callings spoken of in the scriptures, and there are many not written, those for instance which are handed out to you by your President as circumstances require. Those imposed by the President of the Church of God, or by the president of any portion of it, are duties as necessary to be observed as though they were written in the Bible; but these requirements, duties, callings etc. change with the circumstances that surround the people of God.

    -Brigham Young, The Essential Brigham Young, p.89

    I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen. TPJS, 331.

    In short, to expect the Church, its doctrines, practices, or policies to be static is to expect based on incorrect assumptions.

    “it distracts us from learning the theological lessons that we can actually draw from the historical information.”

    Could you give me an example? I’m not sure what you mean.

  10. Ben
    October 23, 2005 at 2:52 pm

    Apologies. All my spaces and paragraphs disappeared.

    John, can you clean it up at all? At least between the quotes?

  11. October 23, 2005 at 3:05 pm

    I had the same problem. There were paragraph breaks in my comment above, but they vanished.

    Ben, first, a quick note: when I say that this is a “strategy,” I don’t mean that in any negative sense. Whether it’s true or false or moral or deceptive or whatever, it’s at least a rhetorical strategy; I mean this as a value-neutral way of describing an approach to debate. On the substance of your last comment, I appreciate your thoughts, but I think there’s a real problem here. A lot of what, I think, appeals to people about the Mormon message is its occasional emphasis on what you call presentism. People like the idea that the gospel doesn’t ever change. And the leadership is happy to market this notion. For evidence, see Elder Nelson’s 1993 conference talk, Constancy amid Change or President Hinckley’s frequent PR statements about the unchanging truth offered by the church. While these statements may or may not specify what, exactly, is unchanging, the effect is an endorsement of presentism. In other words, people don’t develop this attitude in a vacuum. Moreover, I think it’s a lot of what they often want from the church, such that their decision to leave when it proves to be false is in a way rational.

  12. Ben
    October 23, 2005 at 3:28 pm

    Ah, thanks for that on strategy.

    You have a good point. It’s not much of a jump, but it’s those statements aren’t inconsistant with these statements I’ve cited. I think people who make these assumptions are taking those GA statements about constancy over-broadly. After all, the GA’s who make those statements certainly know about changes. For example, Elder Holland wrote his BYU MA on changes in the BoM and has mentioned changes in church policy etc. before in talks. The fuller context of teh BY statment above is in the necessity of baptism and temple ordinances in all time periods, regardless of what else may be required.

  13. October 23, 2005 at 3:39 pm

    John, I apologize to you personally for resorting to name calling which is usually a trick of the Apologists. I allowed my anger to get the best of me in a week moment due to Mr. Lynch’s dishonest behavior this past week. It would have been better if I just described him instead of labeling him.

    I suppose dishonest, lack of integrity and deceitful would have stood on their own and been powerful enough without having to use the term “loser.” So, let me say this, based on his activities this past week over at RFM and with Steve Benson, John Lynch proved to many to be dishonest, lack integrity and was very deceitful.

    I hope that helps anyone that took issue with my using the term “loser.” Again, I do apologize and like I suggested, John D, maybe you should have him back and do a podcast where you can address these exact issues with him and many of us would love to know, more in detail, from the horses mouth, why he actually did what he did and how he justifies it. That’s all I have to say on the subject so everyone can now relax.

    Sorry again John D, for any discomfort that I may have caused you and like I said, I felt that you handled things as well as you could, considering who you were interviewing. You obviously did not know what he had been up to this past week over on RFM and he certainly didn’t volunteer that information. I guess that I also too offense to how he deceived you as well. Thanks John D, for allowing me to participate in your forum, on your blog. Take care John!!

    Samuel

  14. October 23, 2005 at 4:13 pm

    RT, it seems to me that “Shades” dichotomy between “chapel Mormons” and “internet Mormons” is horribly misleading and unhelpful. It is, if anything, even worse than the previous popular false dichotomy of iron rod vs. liahona.

    I’d also make a distinction between change and consistency. To have to pick one or the other seems misleading. There can be something common to us, without needing everything to be the same. Which is obviously known not to be true by anyone who’s been a member for long and witnesses the frequent changes in the church. I’d also add that, at least here in Utah, there is that strong sense of expectation that some “new practice” or change might accompany any given General Conference. It seems to me that this sense of change is rather expected by the membership and is taken as a kind of sign of the truth of the church, for better or worse.

    That doesn’t mean there isn’t some consistency in the church. Indeed I think it quite appropriate to speak of essential truths. But I think we sometimes erroneously assume certain trappings are essential when they aren’t. The Samuel guy who brought up differing views of the Word of Wisdom is an obvious example. I’ve certainly heard taught in church the changes to the Word of Wisdom. Heavens, I’ve even taught about it in Priesthood when we covered it.

  15. October 23, 2005 at 5:13 pm

    Clark, what is it that you find unhelpful about the distinction? I’d love to hear your perspective on this. I think it’s true that a lot of people (and probably a majority of members) don’t know anything about limited geographies and assume the prophets to be infallible. By contrast, conservative Mormon intellectuals routinely accept both limited geographies and fallible prophets. So I’m not sure I understand why this isn’t a helpful distinction–but I’d love to see your point of view. (Of course, I also find the iron rod vs. liahona idea a helpful heuristic…)

  16. October 23, 2005 at 5:14 pm

    Clark, a P.S.: there are obviously a lot of members who don’t accept change, though. These are the folks who become upset if changes are pointed out.

  17. October 23, 2005 at 7:14 pm

    My biggest qualm with the distinction is it lumps too many differences under the two categories and it ignores the whole issue of vagueness and commitment. For instance there may be someone very committed to a naive view and someone else who holds the naive view, but in a very tentative fashion. Yet the distinction treats them the same.

    There are some members who don’t accept change. Indeed there are some people who just don’t like change of any sort. The question is how significant this population is. To lump those who perhaps don’t know a lot of Mormon history in with those who don’t like change and treat them equivalently is, I think, very distorting.

    But as they say, there are two kinds of people. Those who like to divide the world into two groups and those who don’t.

  18. October 23, 2005 at 7:20 pm

    I was going to write something over at M*, but noticed that I had already a few months back. I touched on it here as well.

  19. October 23, 2005 at 7:31 pm
  20. October 23, 2005 at 8:01 pm

    2 things for Samuel….

    Thanks for understanding….and I should note that in our coversation before the interview, John Lynch did tell me about the RFM thing, but his version was a tad bit different. He told me that he identified himself by name, but didn’t offer up that he was from FAIR…..if I recall, out of fear that he would be attacked for his affiliation.

    But he definitely told me that his intent in engaging on RFM was to understand the position of the people there better…..not to decieve anyone….

    Anyway, that’s what he told me.

    Thanks again, Samuel

    John

  21. October 23, 2005 at 9:05 pm

    Clark, in response to your comments, I think I’d agree that anyone who claims to be able to capture everything in the world within the bounds of a dichotomy is out to lunch. But that’s just not an intelligent use of a dichotomy, or any other conceptual scheme, for that matter. The valuable question isn’t whether a particular concept captures everything, it’s whether it captures something. The iron rod/liahona distinction does capture something, I think, as does the chapel/internet Mormon distinction. I’m not interested in the idea that we should all adopt chapel Mormonism, or the idea that argument built on more sophisticated theologies are somehow invalid. But I do think it’s helpful to have some kind of concept that directs our attention to the substantial theological divergences between the view of the gospel in Sunday School manuals and the view at FAIR or FARMS.

  22. Ben
    October 23, 2005 at 9:07 pm

    Samuel, I just made it all the way through your long “comment”- I think you’re over your quota of exclamation points 🙂

  23. October 23, 2005 at 9:48 pm

    How do we know what the majority of the members of the Church believe? The more wards that I live in, the more I think that that many of the beliefs that I have about what “the average Mormon in the pews” thinks are based on rather narrow samples (a couple of conversations) of my own limited and idiosyncratic experiences.

    The limited geography theory is an example of this. I don’t think that I know anyone personally other than Kaimi who takes the hemispheric theory seriously. On the other hand, the number of Mormons that I have talked to about Book of Mormon geography is very small, so I suspect that all of my generalizations tell you much more about my sample selection and personal beliefs than they do about “what Mormons think.”

    I tend to think that this is probably the same for everyone else. (Although in an argument, I will — of course — argue that my generalizations are more accurate than your generalizations.)

  24. October 23, 2005 at 9:56 pm

    Nate, I haven’t done a sample survey or anything. But I have lived in a lot of wards throughout the world. I’ve had quite a few Sunday School lessons in which the hemispheric theory is taught as church doctrine, and I’ve once seen a John Sorenson book brought into church as an example of anti-Mormon literature because it taught against the hemispheric theory. I’m extrapolating, of course, to conclude that a majority of Mormons think this way — but it seems a reasonable guess to me, nonetheless. And that’s all we’ve got to go on.

    But whether it’s a majority or not isn’t really the point. What is important is that a large number of Mormons think this way. This is pretty much not a guess or an extrapolation; it’s fairly clear.

  25. October 23, 2005 at 11:22 pm

    RT: I don’t deny that lots of Mormons think this way. However, I don’t know that this adds up to most Mormons. My own sense is that frankly, the vast majority of Mormons have not thought about BofM geography one way or another. There is some small subset of Mormons who have a definite opinion on the subject. Among that small subset, the majority may indeed subscribe to the hemispheric model. Who knows? On the other hand, it is not clear to me that this is really the massive issue that folks make it out to be. I’ve blogged about this before at T&S, but I think that we unavoidably create models of the world based on our own experiences (and frequently only a small subset of salient experiences), and then extrapolate globally. John H. provided a very nice example of this at T&S a while back in this comment

  26. October 24, 2005 at 8:05 am

    Thanks, John, for your work in putting these interesting podcasts together.

  27. October 24, 2005 at 9:44 am

    Nate, for a few years, the pervasiveness of limited-geography theories has been a kind of hobby interest of mine, so (unlike John H. in the example you mention) I’ve spoken with dozens of people in wards throughout the Americas on this issue. Of those dozens of people, the only ones who have ever even heard of the limited-geography idea are Mormon intellectuals. Not a single run-of-the-mill member had heard of the concept, and most reacted with horror. My guess that this attitude is a (perhaps overwhelming) majority position within Mormonism isn’t based on systematic evidence, and I would gladly, and quickly, revise it if presented with compelling counterevidence. However, it is based on some evidence.

  28. October 24, 2005 at 9:45 am

    P.S. Let me echo Justin in thanking John for the interesting podcasts. My wife, Serenity Valley, has especially enjoyed the interviews with Greg Prince.

  29. October 24, 2005 at 10:05 am

    I’m very glad you are all enjoying them. More to come!!! 🙂

  30. October 24, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    Interesting RT, I confess that in all the wards I’ve been in I’ve never heard to hemispheric model taught. Everyone taught LGT. That’s understandable here in Utah where perhaps church books are more widely available and more people have gone to BYU where LGT is ubiquitous. But it doesn’t explain all the wards on my mission in Louisiana nor growing up in Nova Scotia.
    .
    That’s not to say I’ve not encountered people who believe the hemispheric model. I’ve encountered people with some pretty weird beliefs at times. But I’ve just never found them to be particularly common. As Nate said, the most common position is one of ignorance one way or an other.
    .
    I’m very, very uneasy when people extrapolate from their personal experiences to the whole church.
    .
    Getting back to the dichotomy issue, I think the problem with dichotomies isn’t whether that illustrate something, but rather what else they *erroneously* communicate along with it. And both the common false dichotomies tend to communicate a lot more falsehood than truth, in my opinion. Further I remain convinced that they are primarily used to express a kind of power or valuation on others. Something typically not healthy.

  31. Kittywaymo
    October 25, 2005 at 4:27 am

    Hey, sammy the lame-in-et-al(rfm) why so cross with Mr. John Lynch? Seriously, Xanax or Zoloft is an option, and should only be prescribed by your PC Doc.

    The Mormon Church doesnt have your house wired bro…life is too short to have that much hate!

    Oh, by the way, I’m a retired CNN Headline news journalist convert from NY, at age 12~

    The Church doesn’t run Google or FAIR despite the rumours.

    You mention Steve B. like you guys are best buddies~but somehow my brief encounter with Steve tell me that he probably has more respect for John L. then you think…and I can’t imagine a bright man like Benson being anything more than acqaintences with you. Sorry for the harshness but I happen to like and admire John and I think you are the one suffering from true cognitive dissonance-my sis. in NY is a pyschologist at Columbia U. and she at least thinks so from your email.

    Sincerely,

    Kittywaymo

    I

  32. October 25, 2005 at 8:47 pm

    John,

    I’ve enjoyed the interview thus far. What are you waiting for? Put part 2 up.

    Your interviews helped to crystalize something in my mind. Back in the Prince interview (and in his book, which I haven’t read), we learn that Pres. McKay asked about changing the priesthood ban and was told no. I have lots of respect for that. I think it would have been helpful, at the time, if he had made that known.

    When Church leadership says “we don’t know,” I guess my question is, “Well has anybody asked?” I realize that the Brethren have more pressing issues to deal with than the popular questions of the moment, but if they are engaging any of them, it would be nice to know the results, even if they are negative.

    Just for illustration, take the issues of embryonic stem cell research or abortion. I am not equating the two, I just put them in the same sentence because they both involve the question of when the spirit enters the body. To that question, all I have ever seen is that we don’t have direct revelation on when that occurs, and then a quotation from Brigham Young that touches on the question, but doesn’t really answer it.

    Well, has anybody asked? If the Brethren said, “We asked but were given no answer,” I would be fine with that. I just want to know that behind the “we don’t know,” is a question that was asked.

  33. October 28, 2005 at 7:16 pm

    I have to say I really like this site. I also LOVE the fact that the Internet is bringing out into the wide open field, all of the tough “issues” surrounding Joseph Smith and the early church. It’s obvious from this interview that when those tough questions are answered in a calm sensible manner there is really nothing to fear.

    The answers may work for some and not work at all for others – but at least the questions and answers are getting out there.

    Just as the hysterics of Samuel got mostly ignored the same will eventually happen to the anti message in general – it will run its course and the Internet instead of weakening some members will be a strength and a foundation for those seeking the truth. It may take 10 years or 20 but the tide will turn and eventually we’ll have a stronger base of LDS members that don’t mind at all that Joseph had 30 wives and wasn’t perfect.

    Why? Because the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. It’s really that simple. – To the exmos: let all the anger, hatred and bitterness go and just pick up that book and read it with a clear mind and you have to come away admitting that yes it does indeed testify of Christ – and that is really what matters.

    John D. – thanks so much for such a great site
    John L. – thanks for a great interview
    Samuel – I hope you didn’t hurt yourself

  34. Coriamtumr
    November 11, 2005 at 11:34 am

    First and foremost, let me sincerely congratulate you in your podcast. It is conducted in a very fair and open manner. I followed Mr. Lynch answers with interest. I believe that the Church leadership’s time is, of course, better spent dealing with the business of bringing people to Christ. However, I’m sure the membership does require that a GA will clarify some of the issues that seem to be problematic since the early 80’s. As a convert of a country outside the US, I know that some of the issues mentioned in the podcast are present there. Nonetheless, outside of perhaps Utah, and the United States, Church education is very conservative. As a teenager and young adult I went to several Seminars and they were all very conservative. Although I personally have not attended church since the mid 80’s, my children do attend in a regular basis. Through their eyes I still see the same conservatism, which I still respect but at the same time worry about, for my children’s sake. Point in case is the hemispheric and or limited geography issue. Eventually young person will be confronted with this issue, here in the US and abroad. I would certainly encourage a young person, as part of their education [and incidentally, as an exercise in critical judgment] to review a secular but related issue of the Pre-Clovis and Clovis First chasm in the field of archaeology. In both cases, as Mr. Lynch mentioned, the work of the discipline of Linguistics has come to bear in the matter. In a field where Joanna Nichols and others have brought much light into the theory of American migration and occupation in ancient times, the Meadowcroft and Mesa Verde sites [Pre-Clovis] archeological studies have been under criticism from scholars in the Clovis First school of thought. For the most part, current Linguistic studies seem to indicate that migration may have occurred much earlier than the Clovis school of thought would indicate, even if one was to dismiss the Mesa Verde and Meadowcroft sites [which I personally would not]. Of relevance is the work of Christy Turner in dental classification. This work was unavailable in the early 1970’s and was barely out of scholarly circles in the mid 80’s. I assume that FAIR has people that are within scholarly circles, in Lynch’s own words. It would be interesting for a young person to see whom in FAIR shares an opinion in this issue, and others. The question would be: why? Many criticisms leveled against the church are not only of the polygamy type, [which is a dead issue in Church Dogma] or whether Joseph Smith used a seer stone or something else, but also of a more fundamental nature. Was the Church, whose mission is to bring ALL people to Christ, associated with the early American philosophy of assigning the origin of relevant archaeological remains to Non-Native American origins? Is it still, in spite of its international success, an inclusive Church? These issues are more in line with the future of the Church, not its past. Does it leave room for the admission of failure, not by intent but because of human nature? My daughter will be entering the age where a mission may be in the horizon. Depending of where she goes, and to whom she tenders the word, these issues will be heard. I look forward to listen with interest to your podcast.

  35. November 11, 2005 at 4:30 pm

    Wow. Thanks for the input and feedback, Coriamtumr.

    Glad you stopped by, and do come again!!!

    John

  36. Richard Kalk
    December 10, 2005 at 9:21 pm

    I believe you are one of the most honest persons about the problems in the history of the church. Since you are an honest person, I would like to ask you a question that bothers me:
    My question would be about Deut 18:20-22, which says “20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. 21And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?
    22When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”
    I found a site that shows seven prophesies that never came true: http://www.irr.org/mit/jsfalpro.html
    How do we justify Joseph Smith as being a true prophet? A prayer about whether the book of Mormon being true, or about Joseph Smith being true, whatever answer we think we got, cannot undue the fact from Deuteronomny that Joseph Smith qualifies as a false prophet. So what can a person do with that reality?

  37. Ben S.
    December 11, 2005 at 10:44 am

    If we strictly apply that, Richard, there are also several biblical prophets who fail the test.

  38. Ben S.
    December 11, 2005 at 10:48 am

    Clicked too soon.
    There are some resources on this question here and here

  39. Jennifer
    June 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Very interesting podcast. I am a non-believer, but I do commend Mr. Lynch for defending his beliefs. Nothing wrong with that. I find it interesting, however, that what drew him to Mormonism is the belief in eternal families, considering that according to Church doctrine, non-believers can’t be with their believing family members. What of those who, like myself, no longer believe? I find it extremely difficult to worship, or even want to worship, a god that would split up families based on belief.

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