In this episode of Mormon Stories, we interview Scott Turley and Carey Foushee who recently attended a Terryl and Fiona Givens Fireside in Arizona. We discuss the Givens’ new book, The Christ Who Heals, and the role of both the Givens’ and the Neo-Apologetic movement in modern Mormonism.




  1. John December 1, 2017 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Terryl has already given the story about why he’s writing these books. Here is a brief summary:

    Last year, Terryl, a literature and religion professor at the University of Richmond, publicly criticized the LDS publishing arm for abandoning theology in favor of more chatty, anecdote-laden descriptions of Mormon teachings.

    Deseret Book CEO Sheri Dew heard about it, he says, and offered to publish such a book and challenged him to write it.

    There’s no conspiracy, there’s no shadow-theology movement, he believed all along it was there, he believes it was well within the fold and the problem was that DB had stayed away from publishing it from an editorial decision (frankly a decision which was good for the business, write and publish to your base who buy books).

    • John Dehlin December 1, 2017 at 8:50 am - Reply

      Who has claimed a conspiracy, John?

    • Larry December 1, 2017 at 12:59 pm - Reply

      I listened to the whole interview carefully and got no sense that any of the participants advocated there is a “conspiracy.” In fact, I think they uniformly shot down that notion when it came up. Maybe you heard that different than me.

      • Douglas Smith December 1, 2017 at 4:01 pm - Reply

        Larry, I simply saw it mentioned in the first posting. This stuff makes me nuts anymore in our highly politicized, polarized culture. I wanted to debunk that, as I feel that this website sometimes tends toward the salacious and sensational aspects of Mormonism on the fringes. I came to this site 5 years ago for some spiritual enlightenment and uplift during a difficult time of life — post-Mormon. It seems that lately I’m not finding many nuggets of inspiration here, simply antagonism toward Mormonism. Personally, I’m finding no joy in putting down any Faith these days. I’ve moved beyond allowing nit wits in high places to take my personal power and right to happiness away. Perhaps this is why I found the Given’s messages thought provoking, hopeful and inclusive. It’s not only good news, it’s new news. Good stuff.

    • John December 3, 2017 at 2:06 pm - Reply

      Despite all the rage I’m just an other rat in a cage
      ( smashing pumpkins )

      • Craig S. December 4, 2017 at 3:40 pm - Reply

        Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
        (correct quote of smashing pumpkins)

    • Scott December 5, 2017 at 9:12 am - Reply

      >”Deseret Book CEO Sheri Dew heard about it, he says, and offered to publish such a book and challenged him to write it.”

      Sure, and the first book published by Givens **just happens** to be about managing a faith crisis (see Crucible of Doubt). And then Deseret Book **just happens** to follow that book up with Planted, by Mason. And then, not content to let others collect all the royalties, Dew herself got on the faith crisis train and had Deseret Book publish her own book about dealing with waning faith (see Worth the Wrestle).

      Of course there’s no “conspiracy,” but Terryl claiming that he was approached to write something about “theology” seems like a bit of a stretch. Maybe there’s a theological slant to it, but he was really being asked to help slow the exodus of members by appealing to the more intellectual-type members and the Church is so desperate (and so short of answers from the actual Q15) that they finally agreed to publish more of Givens’ stuff. The Christ Who Heals is nothing more than an extension of this effort (which is obviously also a good decision for the business since I’m certain that Dew is smart enough to recognize that preserving a dwindling customer base should be done by whatever means necessary–even if it results in new doctrinal nuance).

      • Douglas Smith December 5, 2017 at 9:51 am - Reply


        You might want to get your facts straight. The Givens signed a 3 book contract with Deseret Book centered around God and Christ. The first book was The God Who Weeps. The second book was The Crucible of Doubt. The third book is The Christ Who Heals. All of them are very good books, in fact the only ones I will read from Deseret. I am not a member and have no intentions of returning to the church.

        There is no conspiracy with the Givens, as much as some ex-mo malcontents would like everyone to believe.

        You may have issues with historical and policy issues of the LDS church, as many of us do. But a simple act of an author wanting to delve into the nature of God, His Son, and ancient Christian roots is not an act of conspiracy.

        Some of the nutty stuff I’ve seen on here in the comments section has made me realize why I rarely come to this site anymore.

  2. Doug Smith December 1, 2017 at 9:58 am - Reply

    I attended a Salt Lake City fireside ( Faith Again ) where Fiona lead a really wonderful discussion that was Christ centered, pointing out differences in beliefs about Christ dating back to the separation of eastern and western Christianity. It was an upbeat, loving discussion about the need that all men and women on earth have for “healing”. The discussion centered around man not being a sinful creature, but a co-creator with God and worthy of all of God’s choicest blessings. Many comments came up about current LDS policies and cultural issues that seem counter to Christ’s teachings and message. Most in attendance were LDS and some were struggling with faith issues in these current times. Fiona was open, honest and ever bearing the torch of “good news” and the message of a loving Father and Son. It ended up being a very touching and emotional evening for many who were there. I am not currently LDS or practicing. I found the evening to be a really great experience that has stayed with me for many days. It was honest. If there are any ill feelings out there about the Givens being apologists or that there is some conspiracy — put that to rest. This is not so. They are lovely individuals that myself and many of my non-LDS friends respect and enjoy being taught by. They teach so much that should be taught freely in LDS worship, which isn’t. They are honest and open, which is so appreciated. In the fireside, there was discussion about the false traditions and teachings of our current culture revolving around worthiness, guilt, sin and class stratification within the current church and some other sects. The evening ended with the good news that we all have a loving, kind advocate in Christ and an approachable, personal and loving Father who want to teach, love and accept each of us.

  3. Eric December 1, 2017 at 10:08 am - Reply

    How do the Givens not see that they are teaching their own gospel. The philosophies of “Givens mingled with scripture.

    • Douglas Smith December 1, 2017 at 6:40 pm - Reply


      You’d need to attend a discussion with them. They go way back to ancient christianity and follow it through the eastern orthodox church to modern day beliefs. They fully support Joseph Smith’s teachings. There is nothing in what they write or say that contradicts what God has said. It’s not your normal sunday school lesson stuff. Take a deeper look at it. Best!

      • Jefferson December 2, 2017 at 10:04 am - Reply

        And that’s fine, but what they are teaching is not in conformity with SLC and the Q15. Until it is, I’m no longer interested in trying to be a liberal, cutting edge Mormon.

        • Doug Smith December 2, 2017 at 9:38 pm - Reply

          what the Givens teach is in conformity with Christ and His teachings. And frankly, nothing in their books or lectures is in discordance with LDS church doctrines. If you took the time to dig deeper, you would see this. I hope you can. Just because something is outside the correlation program, does not mean it is wrong or heretical. The Givens truly believe and practice the 13th Article of Faith regarding seeking truth from wherever it comes — this includes ancient writings. Too bad modern day LDS people are too afraid to do some digging on their own outside of the Mormon scriptures. If they did, they’d be encouraged and enlightened greatly.


      • eric December 6, 2017 at 2:40 pm - Reply

        Douglas, the LDS church contradicts what God has said both through the Bible and Book of Mormon. The LDS church has contradicted prophets of the latter days if not thrown them under the bus completely. I only have a problem with the Givens for profit method of helping supposed prophets and apostles of Jesus Christ bring clarity to the body of his church. Book sales and firesides promoting what is clearly not taught by the bretheren themselves. I should mention that I do not single out the Givens, Deseret book is filled with books on this same topic as well as thousand of topics that are eaten up as if they adding to or enhancing the gospel of Jesus Christ. There was a time when Christ was our way back to heaven, not this book or that book, or this philosophy or that! All was supposedly done through Christ, yet all I see around me parts of him being repackaged and sold as a path to salvation. Lest you think I am raise my self up as a self-righteous follower of Jesus, I no believe in him nor can muster a seed of faith for him. I only have a fading hope that if he is the son of god then it truly is finished in and through him.

  4. Celeste December 1, 2017 at 11:55 am - Reply

    This episode was thought provoking for me, as are many. What is and isn’t doctrine? Who is a hardliner and who isn’t? Its all so frequently in flux.

    One time I called my Dad while I was at college and I was talking to him about this idea that we only had this life to try to do better and then we would be assigned to the kingdom our actions put us in. He started talking to me about line upon line and how that is what attracted him to the religion. I found what he was talking about in a Packard talk (yes I just said Packard) and I can not remember if my dad directed me to it or I just found it after we spoke.

    I was going nuts during this episode wanting to find that talk, I believe I wrote it down in a journal so I am going to find it. But here is the basic story-God still progresses and so will we…FOR ETERNITY.

    It is this flavor, that Joseph Smith’s teaching had, that did not assign children to hell because they did not get baptized/christened before dying. It is the belief that there was nothing so bad that you could not try again and that you, yourself could talk to God and work it out.

    There are many conflicting talks and doctrines written in manuals, but are not many of the figures in history a ball of contradictions: Jesus, Moses, Thomas Jefferson, Muhammad, both of the President Roosevelt’s, Mother Teresa… to name a very few. Do we not all contradict ourselves, from one context to the next? Don’t we grow and learn more and experiment and screw up? ISN’T THAT THE POINT? Isn’t science always seemly contradicting itself as something is discovered that changes everything else?

    I really do not see myself as ever being a believer in the one true church again. Yet there are a few things that still just speak to me, and produce a transcendent response in my mind and body that is just as strong as my shear misery as I heard the November 2015 letter from the church. How could some people be rejected? How could children being rejected possibly be from God? What human frailty had messed this up so bad? What was I missing? What was everyone missing?

    My Bishop asked me to give the prayer to close that meeting and I literally cried to the Lord to help us all see better and not leave ANYONE out, and for people to have a desire to turn this around and all end up in a much better place. There is no way that was not a central message at the beginning of the church that Joseph Smith helped create. WE can “commune with Jehovah”. We can become something better. You can believe this whether you think the First Vision was really one all inclusive vision or whether is was a series of enlightenment that tapped into the human need for a new way to interact with God, or a more personal transcendence to something better that you were before. It is a extremely useful mode of acting whether there is a God involved or just a human mind that can shape and change and interact with the world around it.

    I do not pretend to know all the Given’s motives, but I will say the “Crucible of Doubt” stopped a destructive free fall I was on. I actually was directed to their interview on Mormon Stories before I read the book.
    It started a series of painful workouts that surely tore some spiritual muscles. In the end I rejected some things as just lipstick on pigs, but I was the better for reading it and experimenting on some new ways of thinking about things.

    • Douglas Smith December 1, 2017 at 3:48 pm - Reply

      The God Who Weeps actually was what stop me in free fall from some tough circumstances that I was in with the death of a child and other family dynamics. The Givens stopped me dead in my tracks on dark, wet, winter evening, as I listened to them on a radio rebroadcast from KUER. They talked about it being okay to have a simple faith and belief that wasn’t rigid , as I’d been conditioned with in the Church. They talked about a loving, personal and vulnerable God. I sat in my car in the garage and wept as I listened. The things they were saying were things I’d always believed in, but had not been taught in church or at home. It was like a new breath of life.

      As I read the book, it completely changed my views on who God is. So different from the Mormon God that I’d been raised with. It has reframed life for me and how I view my place at the table of life. I’m deeply grateful to the Givens for their willingness and passion to reveal nuggets of truth that have come down through ancient writers, philosophers, seers and mystics.

      I’ve since become friends with the Givens and have found them to be kind, generous, average people who struggle with the same issues of life and family that all of us do. They humbly confess in a very human and real way, that they don’t have the answers to everything in life. They have a realistic view on life, that allows doubt, pain, suffering and being honest. Yet, they offer a view that we are not alone in this world. We have attending angels and fellow travelers, who walk with us. They remind us that the good news is a beacon when we are downtrodden. While they are apologists for the restored gospel, they preach that the restoration is still continuing. That we are all part of it. Their message is hopeful. And in our times today, I welcome it.

      • John December 6, 2017 at 12:04 pm - Reply

        And yet, they continue to support a church that continues to preach a different message. It continues to claim to ultimately be the one and only solution to the human condition, that at the end of the day, the highest reward will only be meted out to those who are in good standing with the LDS Church of Wilford Woodruff.

        You talk about the “Mormon God” you had been raised with. You talk about having your life reframed. That’s great. But isn’t it a little strange that the men who claim authority from God weren’t the ones who were able to help you move beyond the Mormon God of your youth. Isn’t it rather telling that they were not the ones to “reframe your life?”

        If the restoration is still continuing, then there is nothing stable upon which to build our testimonies. All we have to believe in is the men who claim the exclusive authority to move the goalposts of the restoration to the next level. It was one of these men who told you the restoration is ongoing (Uchtdorf). Doesn’t that tell you something?

        The Givens may only be a half-step away from Mormon Orthodoxy, but even they, unfortunately, are incapable of making the logical next half-step. They are trapped, too. Usefully trapped by the Church, I might add.

  5. Larry December 1, 2017 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    MUST LISTEN! for TBM, ExMos and General Authorities. This is a glimpse into humans trying to rationalize the irrational. Synopsis: John interviews two active Mormon men who just got back from a Givens fireside and are pumped about Terryl and Fiona’s mental gymnastic approach to messy Mormon doctrine. They seem to be adopting a similar approach to help them tamp down their own cognitive dissonance. Pro Tip for Exmos: Keep tissues handy because you will be biting through your lip during this 95 minute cringe. Stay to the end when they award the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to the current state of Mormon patriarchy.

    • Scott Turley December 8, 2017 at 9:59 am - Reply

      Larry, just for the record, I may have miscommunicated my position on patriarchy, but I do find it a disturbing aspect of Mormonism. I probably soft-pedaled my position on that more than I should have in the interview.

      I’m trying to walk a fine line. I do get angry and frustrated with the church, but I also feel the institution as a whole is trying to do good in the world. I want to be loving, patient and forgiving, but I don’t want to tolerate it’s bad parts.

      Sorry if you got the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for me, I regret portraying that in a public way. (I have 3 young daughters growing up in the church and this is by far one of my biggest fears for them).

  6. Bob December 1, 2017 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    I’ve just made it an hour into this episode. With all due respect, nearly every response from these guests was a word salad. As an exercise, listen to one of John’s questions and then listen to the response, then try to summarize it in plain English.

    John: What do you think about X?

    Guests: Well that part didn’t really resonate with me and it’s not what I focus on. I’m really optimistic about things and we should all remember that God heals us. You know, there are lot of different aspects to things so we should be articulate and thoughtful more often. There are lots of ways to find what you’re looking for.

    Um…. what? Most of the time the guests didn’t even address the content of John’s questions.

    • Eric December 1, 2017 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      It sound like they are both trying to make the church work and really did not want to make waves on a Podcast.

    • Scott Turley December 8, 2017 at 9:53 am - Reply


      I’ll take that criticism, but can you give me a specific example and I’ll be happy to address that here? I waffle a lot on my spiritual journey – it’s a long, complicated road. Mormonism for me is almost entirely about relationships and for better or for worse most of my family network is tied into the church.

      I’m still on a journey of research and discovery, but digging through all of the messy aspects of church history and theology is one priority among many.

      But having said that, I’m more than happy to get into one of the questions with you now.

  7. LindaE December 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    All theology aside, I find the Givens’ poetry, intellectualism and emphasis on a softer God a welcome relief from the usual Jell-O Belt brand of Mormonism. I hope that they are the harbingers of a new way of being for my friends and family in the Church.

    • Douglas Smith December 1, 2017 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      I am a gay man and completely fed up with the policy crap from the official institution of the church; which is based in fear, prejudice, and out of step with social norms . Most members have been great neighbors, friends and colleagues otherwise. Many don’t fully understand the doctrines and the roots thereof of their own faith. They choose to live a simpler existence, which is fine.

      I have chosen to continue to believe in a loving Father and in a loving brother Jesus, but choose not to practice religiously. Week-to-week Mormonism as seen in worship services ( ala the correlation program) are indeed a Jello brand of religion. I have no current intentions of returning to organized faith. But somehow out of the seeds of discontent that are rife among members at present, there seems to be a new brand of Mormon who is becoming more aware of global social issues and more educated in their place in it. Also in the ancient roots of their faith and the promises of God to all men and women, not just the LDS. Somehow I find hope in this, in spite of a Faith that has caused much hurt and suffering to some.

  8. Doubting Thomas December 2, 2017 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    The Given’s are bittersweet taste… First, you are moved by their words. They suggest a more open excepting version of Mormonism. It feels REFRESHING and perhaps the answer to your personal struggles with the church. Their voices are amazing. Clear. Inviting. You know they are speaking the truth at times.

    Then, it hits you. It hits you hard. Almost everything they say would never be spoken in General Conference by today’s leaders.

    Like Adam Miller, I love many of the positions the Given’s take. It’s a more accepting version of Christianity which many of us are looking for. Unfortunately, it’s just not Mormonism.

    • Celeste Kennard December 3, 2017 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      The hard part, switching to something else after decades of thinking and acting in a certain way. All the time I think something and respond to someone like the Givens, so relieved. But then the next night I have a nightmare that I am in a church setting and I am seeing people be hurt. In the nightmare I get up and scream “stop” and walk out. I it helps me learn another thing that I do not accept any longer. I think I will stop going, but I have 4 kids all on different pages with the church. I have a husband, that is on his own journey.. We are the guardians for his sister who has a mind of a young child. One of those 4 kids is married. Its not just my self that I have to figure out, and I do not know if mentally I can handle a clean break. Do I want a clean break?

      Doug, Emma, Todd, and anyone else interested it seems like a process. It is hard to change so many thoughts at once. Especially when you realize how many things are much deeper a part of your automatic response than you thought. And how there are somethings that just resonate and always will. And some of those things that resonate are really good things.

      Sorry newbie.

  9. Emma December 3, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply


    I’m so disappointed I could hardly wait for this interview to end more of the apologetic attitude flowery words running in circles never talking about the facts very disturbing facts about about history and origin of all that we believe
    Apologetics and the Givens are trying to create a different church it’s not the Mormon Church that Joseph Smith says came from God
    If they know the true disturbing facts about the church its origin and Joseph Smith then they are in effect ignoring it or accepting it— or even hiding it

    I am just so tired of people ignoring the simple basic very disturbing facts about what Joseph Smith said and did and what our church is based on

    If they want a new church then let them leave the Mormon church and create a new church but they’re not even talking about what the true doctrine of the Mormon church is— and imagine the fame and money and esteem they might lose if they talked about the truth and left the church . they would have to find a whole new career and whole new life

    i’m sorry but to me people like that are very shallow and they are more interested in what they can get than acknowledging the truth and turning from evil— they say what the people want to hear instead of the truth about the religion

    To me it’s disgusting because the Givens are famous for for what?? They ignore the most basic doctrine Joseph Smith taughtwhich makes the Mormon church different than others—And it’s the smiths new ideas and the differences that make the Mormon church different and unique from other Christian churches

    Talking about Jesus Christ —the good that inspires and fills us with love is fine but it’s not unique to the Mormon church and it isn’t the basis of our docttine

    The Givens love what they’re doing because they’re famous ——people love them The leaders love them
    They are-making lots of money for basically just saying love one another they’re not dealing with the cold hard facts of who and what the Mormon church has been and is today

    When they give the impression that this is the basis of the doctrine of the Mormon church they are misleading and ignoring the facts and in that sense I think it’s dishonest

    Listening to them makes it even harder to be motivated to go and search for the real facts and truth about the origin of our doctrine and Joseph Smith

    It’s like mommy at night pulling up the covers over you and telling you there’s no monsters—- but in this case there’s many monsters

    It’s very difficult to listen to your guests because they won’t admit that the facts about Joseph Smith —what he said and did and the origin of the church —-are bad and disturbing and make it very doubtful that he was a prophet or that what he did came from God

    If they admit those facts how could they say this is the true church or even a Church that teaches good doctrine

    I really wish you could have somebody in your conversation who was informed about the Givens and could have really challenged this conversation which seem to be very one sided about all the givens are great and that’s it

    It’s disgusting how they keep people from searching out the truth of the Mormon church by distracting them about universal ideas of love and Jesus

    The bottom line is if Jesus were here he would not support all the very disturbing and bad things the church has done and taught and is continuing to do so today
    Jesus was willing to stand up and say that the religion he was in was wrong in many ways The Givens may say they are following Jesus and yet they don’t have the courage to stand up like Jesus and say something is evil when it is even at the peril of his life and eventually crucifixion he had the courage to speak The truth
    against what he saw as evil
    If the Givens Really wanted to be like Christ they would not be afraid to speak about the evil disturbing truth about the church and it’s doctrine and by doing that they release people from the chains of the Mormon church just like Jesus released his followers from the chains of the Jewish church

    • Todd December 3, 2017 at 11:23 am - Reply

      The monsters are all in your head. All of this is in your head. In fact, everything on this website and others like it is just a discussion/argument about what is going on in your heads. All of this garbage in your heads has become your false reality. But really nothing here has anything to do with reality. When all those “monsters”, or the church, or whatever you all are afraid of, come to you in the physical world and start hurting you in the physical world then we might have something to talk about. Then you might have a legitimate case. When God actually shows up and hits you with a hammer that really exists then we might be able to discuss whether or not he is angry with you. Until then, you’re just drafting up the boogeyman. Forgive the choice of words, but you’re all just a bunch of babies. Too weak, too childlike, too easily offended, too insecure to stand up and figure out what you are. And what the hell you’re going to believe. Constantly letting others define your worth. Constantly seeking for someone else “with authority” to tell you you’re good and your enemies really were the children of Satan. Constantly worked up over the imperfections of others, even those of people who lived decades, centuries ago in different cultures. Constantly viewing yourselves as the defenders and definers of morality and truth. No one but you has it figured out and if you could just go back to Joseph Smith’s days, you’d straighten things out, by God. If the Green Lantern really existed (it does in your fantacies) you actually believe it would come to you. This goes for everyone in your mentally ill church (not religion) and society. THIS is one of the most damaging beliefs you’ve happily let your church teach you. Namely, that you are special, chosen, and have some sort of mission to fulfill. You ate the “doctrine” up with great glee. You don’t see that gem debated on this site. It justifies the activist you are. But only activists of your false reality, your fantasy, where you are the chosen, you save everyone else with your clarity on truth and justice, and the evilness of everyone else who doesn’t see the world you’ve constructed, which only exists in your head. And the way you save them? Sitting at a desk writing a website, a newslettter, a blog, a comment to a post, doing an interview. Pathetic, embarrassing, weak, false. All the byproduct of a people who really lack for nothing in the physical world. The byproduct of an unbelievably affluent society full of self-appointed chosen people here on a mission to rescue all those people who just don’t get it. The best you could all do for humanty is get over yourselves.
      But you’ll keep on. You need that dopamin kick. You’ll keep on “standing up”. You’ll keep on “making your voice heard”. “Everyone will hear me roar”. …as if that gives you power.

      • Jay December 3, 2017 at 1:34 pm - Reply

        Todd, one of the more interesting comments I’ve read in a long, long time. I don’t mean here on mormon stories – just the internet in general.

        I’d love to hear you vamp on this a bit more. If you don’t have anywhere to direct me, I’ll just digest this nugget for a while.

        Seriously, thanks for unloading your thoughts. I dig it.

        • Todd December 7, 2017 at 8:20 pm - Reply

          I do have something you might be interested in, but we’d need to connect in a different forum. It will change your life. No, it’s not a doctrine, or a philosophy, and I haven’t seen Jesus.

      • EET December 4, 2017 at 7:40 pm - Reply


        What great projects are you involved in helping to advance humanity in this wonderful world of “reality”? You gave quite a rant of throwing a large diverse group of people with different ideas “all in their heads” into the same monolithic group, when that isn’t close to the truth of the “reality” of their personal lives. Your frustration with the church and over-zealous members is understandable, but a broad-stroke judgement of all, is, in the words of Christopher Hitchens, “enough to make a cat laugh”!

        • Douglas Smith December 5, 2017 at 10:03 am - Reply

          I had a neighbor who famously used to say, “whoa be unto the neighbor of the man who is unhappy with himself”……..

        • Todd December 7, 2017 at 6:16 pm - Reply

          Hi EET,

          Today a story came out about a woman that committed suicide because of online bullying. With that context in mind, reread my rant above.

      • Eric December 7, 2017 at 3:07 pm - Reply

        Todd, I was just like you not to long ago. A believer who could not see any vulnerability within the one true church. So, I understand your belief that the monsters are a creation of our minds. I now see that it was Joseph Smith that created a God and the monsters. I am thankful to be rid of both.

        • Todd December 7, 2017 at 5:41 pm - Reply

          Hey Eric,
          I’m often not a good communicator, so I’ll take the blame. But I’m not sure what it was in my comment that indicated I cannot see any vulnerability within the LDS church. Are you sure we’re really that alike?
          What is it you mean by “church”? And by vulnerability do you mean weakness and/or falsehood? If so, what are the vulnerabilities you’re talking about?
          What do you mean you now see that Joseph Smith created a God and the monsters? What do you see? I’m looking around right now and I don’t see anything like that. Are you following my point?
          I don’t believe any human can create a God or a monster. A human can certainly behave like a monster, if we mean trying to hurt someone. And none of these questions were asked with an argumentative tone.

          • Eric December 7, 2017 at 8:07 pm

            It is my belief that the entire foundation of the LDS church is based on a false narrative. It is my belief that JS created a Mormon god that contradicts himself regularly. The monster are the enemy’s of the church who will always trying to tear it down when the only real enemy is the truth. I apologize for assuming any common ground and fear that you are the one who assumed that there was any attempt on my part to be argumentative.

        • EET December 8, 2017 at 8:52 pm - Reply


          You need to reread your own words again, and ask yourself if your characterization of all those listening and commenting, is your real target audience. Most of the good people that are participating on this site, are already either out of the church or transitioning out. Some have to deal with keeping peace in families while they help expose them to new ideas rather than just bullying them out of the church. It is often better to help them figure things out on their own with helpful input and a little empathy for each special case. This site is very helpful in helping with this goal and giving perspective with other’s experiences.

          Perhaps you may still think that this approach makes us as you say, ” a bunch of babies. Too weak, too childlike, too easily offended, too insecure to stand up and figure out what you are. And what the hell you’re going to believe. ” ….and you go on and on with your proclamation that may be appropriate for as I mentioned in my email, the “over-zealous” members and leaders, but it misses the mark for this audience.

          Also, by the way, you never answered my question for you in my first comment, that has to do with solutions to problems and making the world a better place.

          • Todd December 8, 2017 at 10:13 pm

            As for your question, I wasn’t interested in answering it because I knew it was rhetorical and asked to imply I’m not doing anything positive. It wasn’t a genuine inquiry.

            I’m departing this conversation. Good luck!

    • Scott Turley December 8, 2017 at 4:24 pm - Reply


      I think you can spend an entire podcast on all of the ways Joseph Smith got stuff wrong and all the ways the Mormon church has caused harm and suffering. I have felt it personally. I don’t agree with certain aspects of the modern church. I don’t in any way believe Joseph Smith’s polygamy was inspired, rather a huge mistake.

      I didn’t go there in this podcast because the interview was on the fireside and on this one fairly narrow idea brought up by the Given’s.

      I grant you this view of Christ is not centrally part of the current Mormon teaching, though some of it is. But the interview was mostly just focused on this idea. And the idea resonated.

      For me religion can (and largely is) be something highly individual and personal. I can live my religion in ways that are personal to me and I try to – pulling from everywhere I can.

      My personal feeling is that rather than blow it all up and start again, we have these existing institutions. I think they are worth saving. I believe I expressed that in the interview in fact.

  10. Better every day December 3, 2017 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    Definitely interesting, but I find that the interviewees are very characteristic of active LDS today. Few read. Instead of taking for granted what an apologist says about the beginnings of Christianity at a given time, a member needs to research those areas himself. There is a large amount of study in those areas by heads of divinity schools in major U.S. Universities.

    Yesterday, I talked to an active LDS who, when asked if she had read the essays, gave the familiar answer, “Never heard of them.” Asking the member if she would go to the Church website and read them, the answer was, “I don’t have time. I’m busy doing the Lord’s work.” I had the wife of a bishop tell me, in our home as my wife and I were struggling with historical issues, “I will not go there because that is anti-Mormon stuff put there by Satan.” I have talked to many that are just plain afraid to read them. Weren’t these essays approved by the Brethren?

    And whenever I ask someone, whether mainstream Protestant or Mormon, if they have read and studied the Bible, they say yes. But upon my asking simple questions they haven’t a clue. For my over 40 years of activity in the Church, I never read and studied either the Old or the New Testaments.

    But since my non-attending, I have studied a lot, and have really been surprised at the facts. One glaring fact seems to be that there is no evidence that Christ ever existed. And even the Bible talks of having witnesses (That is why witnesses are so important in Mormonism.) to verify things. But Joseph Smith had no witnesses, nor did Paul on the Road to Damascus. And Joseph must have read the Bible before he had one of his many “First Visions”. Could he have been influenced by Paul, who was the founder of Christianity?

    I have since taken a course on comparative world religions and found that there are billions of people out there who have spiritual experiences with their god (s). And many of the Abrahamic religions, of which there are three, believe that the Holy Spirit has told them that they are correct in their belief. I even checked out a Qu’oran from our public library and found that Jesus was mentioned there more than anyone except Allah. We need to read and understand the feelings and understanding of all God’s children.

    Even though I am no longer a believer in a deity, I can still see the need that people in all religions have for helping them to deal with their own immortality. The rituals that they use with exotic clothing (I even found a large religion that utilizes what Mormons use in temples.) The only complaint I have is when religions use their political influence in countries to try to force a change in belief and we have a lot of that in this country, though so far our Constitution is putting on the brakes.

    Regarding John’s mention of Denver Snuffer, Two weeks ago I talked to a young man, very active LDS although a bit on the edge, who tried hard to convince me of the need to study Snuffer’s new Christian Reformation. He didn’t get anywhere, but from my reading of several of Denver’s books, I began my faith journey. Had I now continued, I would probably be a follower of that movement today. Had I still been a believer in the existence of Jesus and his divinity, I would have followed the admonition in his one book on how to converse with the Lord, because it did make sense.

    Those two men seem to be very trusting in what they have been taught, but most Mormons are. I sure was and that trust has a lot to do with why most of this country’s ‘natural’ disease cures are made in Utah and why many believe Utah to be the scam capital of America.

    Thanks, John, for all you do. After non-attending I used to go to many sites, but now I just go to one and it is by far the best one. I sure want to recommend to your guests that they go into the Mormon Stories archives and enjoy. And Thanks John, for having stories that have taken me out of the anger stage to greater acceptance of all religions and all peoples.

    • Scott Turley December 8, 2017 at 4:32 pm - Reply

      I do read, a lot. I’m not a theologian and Mormonism is one interest and priority among many. I have listened to much of Mormon Stories (and I donate)! I love John Dehlin’s work. I can’t speak to how accurate Given’s claims are. I just found them to resonate personally. To me that matters more than whether or not they are historically aligned to Christianity at its root.

      And when I say they resonate, I don’t mean, necessarily, they have to be an accurate reflection of historical teaching or represent literal truth. The idea of love, healing, being self aware, continual growth. Those ideas ring true and resonate. That’s all.

  11. John December 3, 2017 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Despite all the rage I’m just an other rat in a cage
    ( smashing pumpkins )

  12. Emma December 3, 2017 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t even understand what you were trying to say
    Many words but not clear thoughts
    Are you saying you support the apologist and that you don’t care about the history or origin of the church ?
    If you do care about the history and origin of the church have you studied in-depth what Joseph Smith said and did?
    If you have learned the many disturbing facts Does it disturb you or not ?

  13. Rico_ December 6, 2017 at 12:01 am - Reply

    Even the agnostic Bart Ehrman would cringe at the thought that some agnostics/ atheists are still spewing out the nonsense that Jesus never existed. That was the latest fad in the 19th century. These days, it’s an embarrassing sign of one’s backwardness and naivete.

    It is also the majority consensus of scholars who have done extensive research on the question of the Resurrection of Jesus that this event is a HISTORICAL FACT based on all available evidence. The problem is, many of their research are found in university libraries and other scholarly archives. They are never popularized for the masses unlike Ehrman’s books.

    Many of the loudmouths who bear their silly and nauseating testimonies that Jesus never existed or that his resurrection never happened are those who have never ever evaluated the evidences.

  14. Rico December 6, 2017 at 11:57 am - Reply

    The Givens promote a “God who heals” who they think is closer to the concept of the God whom the Eastern Orthodox churches worship than the God of the Calvinists and Puritans.

    But is their version of God the same as the “evolving Gods” of Joseph Smith in his King Follett sermon or those who live in the other planets of his “Book of Abraham”?

    Somebody should tell the Givens that the Eastern Orthodox have faithfully clung to the teachings on the nature of God by the Council of Nicea since 325 AD. That great council of Christian bishops condemned the heretic Arius who taught that “there was a time when the Son of God was not God.”

    As a counter-balance to the Givens, may I suggest that ex-Mormons who have converted to Eastern Orthodoxy be given the chance to comment on the Givens’ claims? I’m not Eastern Orthodox myelf, but they have an active presence in reddit as “exmo_christianity.” I think they would be glad to shed more light on this controversial claim and the Eastern concepts of theosis and divinization.

  15. Emma December 7, 2017 at 12:56 am - Reply

    Todd are you going to answe
    Have you done in-depth research about what Joseph Smith said and did??
    If so do you still feel that Joseph Smith did what God wanted him to do ????

    • Todd December 7, 2017 at 1:41 pm - Reply

      I’ll answer.

      • Rico December 7, 2017 at 5:00 pm - Reply


        Ideas have consequences. And monstrous ideas have monstrous consequences. Mormon polygamy is a fine example of such monstrosity.

        Todd Compton wrote “In Sacred Loneliness” to related the tragic lives of the women who married Joseph Smith. If men and women were created “to have joy” according to Mormon doctrine, then that joy was mostly absent for women in polygamy.

        Those thoughts in our heads need to be scrutinized and criticized as far as possible before they become actions. Humans are capable of deliberation. That’s what makes us different from animals. Merely dismissing those ideas as nothing but monsters in your head is to grossly misunderstand their nature.

        • Todd December 7, 2017 at 8:17 pm - Reply

          It might be true about ideas having consequences. I’ve had lots of ideas but nothing changed. Seems to me there might need to be just a little something more added to an idea before it has consequences. Just sayin…

          The Compton quote: “that joy was mostly absent for women in polygamy”. mostly… what does he mean by “mostly”? Do I see subjective-ness sneaking through?
          But absolutely some people were unhappy in polygamy. Some people are unhappy in monogamy. In that case, down with monogamy! For all intents and purposes there are polygamous relationships all around us. They just don’t have a government marriage certificate. Plus, the women unhappy in polygamy are the ones who, “evolutionary-ly” speaking, are the abnormal. Regardless, polygamy was then. What does that have to do with you now? Were you manipulated into polygamy?

          I know, I know. I know what you’re saying. “How could Joseph Smith be a prophet if he said and did all those things?” How could he not be a prophet if he said and did all those things? Is there a list of qualifications and skills for prophet being passed around the Internet?

          Why I used the word “monster”. From above:
          “Listening to them makes it even harder to be motivated to go and search for the real facts and truth about the origin of our doctrine and Joseph Smith
          “It’s like mommy at night pulling up the covers over you and telling you there’s no monsters—- but in this case there’s many monsters.”

          If anyone here has the guts to see what you call a monster, there are places you can find them, places where they thrive. And they ain’t the deceased Joseph Smith, they ain’t livin in Salt Lake City, and they ain’t in your ward.

    • Todd December 7, 2017 at 7:20 pm - Reply

      Hello Emma,
      I’ve done in-depth research into what has been written regarding what Joseph Smith said and did. But let’s be honest, my comment of doing “in-depth research” doesn’t really mean anything and has zero bearing on anything here.

      I’m not prepared to answer your questions regarding “facts” because I don’t know which ones you’re referring to. If I were to answer I must emphasize that I was not an eye-witness. And I must also strongly emphasize that I am not a victim of Joseph Smith. He has never laid a finger on me, never said anything to me. There is no justification for me to hold a grudge against him. I do not know what he really thought, how his mind worked. I do not know what meanings he placed on vocabulary words.

      My guess is I’m not the person you’re going to want to hear from.

      • Rico December 9, 2017 at 9:04 pm - Reply


        Nothing may have changed much in your situation in spite of you having many ideas. Well, only you can probably explain why that is. But Smith’s case is pretty revealing. He married some 40 women for which he could not possibly have normal relationships. That is why it was tragic for the women who could have been married to someone else rather than being deceived into accepting a false marriage.

        Smith’s monstrous ideas on polygamy turned out to have monstrous consequences not only for him and the women he married, but for the Mormon church as well. You don’t have to be victimized by him directly. You only have to be convinced that he is worth trusting, spend your life and resources promoting the idea that he can be trusted, and then find out he is not the real thing.

        You can see how transparent his church is when it comes to discussing his polygamous activities. You can see how eager the highest leaders of his church to answer when people ask questions about it. And you can see now in-depth their knowledge is on the subject, they don’t even need Mormon apologists.


        PS: There are many criteria for detecting false prophets in the Bible. This was long before there was any internet out there. But for those who have been fooled by Smith, and still trust him deeply, citing the Bible does not always convince them that they have been fooled.

        PPS: Should monogamy be abolished because some marriages turned out to be tragic? Nope. But polygamy should be abolished because it is ADULTERY.

        • Todd December 10, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

          You’ll read what I write, make a lot of assumptions, put words in my mouth, and feel you’ve got it all right. I’ll read what you write, make a lot of assumptions, put words in your mouth, and feel I’ve go it all right. Eventually we read what we want to read, make a lot of assumptions, find validation, and continue to believe we have it all right.

          My original post stands. All these monsters are in your head. All that is going on here in this venue is a form of mental illness. It leads to bad thinking and poor problem solving. It’s the same story on thousands of other websites like it on all sorts of subjects. It’s the same story in the media and social media, same story in politics. Humans did not evolve to find solutions to real-world issues in this forum. We can’t even hear the tone in voices, for crying out loud. We might find some satisfaction, but no solutions. And I’m not criticizing websites with data about the real world, like medicine, engineering, aviation, etc. For the one piece of satisfaction we might find, we are misled by ten others. This sudden emergence of communication, opinion sharing, information, social media isn’t solving any problems. Our brains cannot handle this environment in a healthy way. If it isn’t already, time will bear this out.

          If a person has not been physically touched in any way they are not a victim unless they choose to be. We have volumes of laws backing this up. The only exception is a child or a person with a severe mental disorder. With the exception of physical contact, if you’re a victim of Joseph Smith, you are choosing to be. If you’re a victim of a leader of a church, you are choosing to be. If you are a victim of a god, you are choosing to be. Whatever it is you are worried about in polygamy and the modern church is a phantom. Something in your head. If the early women were manipulated into polygamy and felt it was wrong they have no one to blame but themselves. They allowed someone else “with authority” to tell them what to do. If you were a believer in a church that physically harmed you, take it to court. If you were not physically harmed you only have yourself to blame for continuing be a victim mentally and emotionally. I promise you, any clear-headed judge will back this up.

          At the end of the day, none of this is going to help you. It’s all vanity. Have you noticed that nothing in the natural world is noticing all this commotion? Trees just sit there, birds just fly around, clouds float on by, cows just eat grass, flies still annoy. If you walk off a ledge you still fall, and all of nature will not even notice. That is reality and the only place to find real solutions. All this other stuff is a figment of your imaginations. This planet enables humans to be bad believers. Mormons in particular are bad believers. But ex-mormons are even worse nonbelievers. You’re still under the same umbrella. Just different sides of the same coin. Thinking the same way, talking the same way, bearing testimony the same way, just in the opposite direction. Nothing original. It is embarrassing and pathetic.

          And for the life of me I don’t know why I posted in the first place. You are incapable of seeing any value in what I had to say. You are too deeply invested in the narrative that you and others are victims. This is a byproduct of the modern day, and it is a byproduct of your Mormon background. You have been trained to look to others to tell you what’s next. And that’s why you’re here. But if someone comes along and tells you something that doesn’t jive with the victim narrative you will outright reject it. What I had to say would have helped free you. But you don’t want that because then you’d be responsible.

          Use more than once dictionary and look closely at the definition of adultery and polygamy. You’ll find that your declarative statement that polygamy is adultery might not actually be true. But the good thing is that I’m sure you’ll be able to find a dictionary that defines it as you would like. So your narrative is still intact, thank God.

          This post, like my original, is to everyone who reads it.

          • Rico_ December 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm


            When discussing ideas with other people, I only stick to one principle: if a claim or assertion is made, then back it up with evidence.

            You say that ideas are just “monsters in our head” but I say no, ideas have consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences. You don’t agree? Well, then what is your evidence that ideas have no consequences? Your personal life? Your evidence is that nothing much happened to you even though you have full of ideas.

            But I know nothing about you, so what is there for me to comment on? Nothing. Only you can explain why your life turned out that way. I can’t judge your evidence.

            But with Joseph Smith’s teachings on polygamy, there is plenty of room to judge. Here we see actual monsters in action. The effects on the lives of the women he married attest to this.

            But instead of grappling with the evidence of Mormon polygamy, you now argue that a person has to be directly victimized by Joseph Smith in order to a victim. Well, that’s one big assumption that I think is not self-evident. The lack of evidence does not oblige me to buy this.

            I was once a Mormon missionary who had to explain why Mormons practiced polygamy. And the standard answer I gave was what was passed on to me by my missionary leaders: Mormon men married several women simultaneously because many of the women lost their husbands and sons during the persecutions. No one would take care of them and their children. As a 20-something young man, that sounded reasonable to me.

            Years later, I discovered it was all a lie.

            Not only that one about polygamy, but the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, Plan of Salvation, etc, etc. These were all demonstrable lies. By demonstrable, I mean evidence that cannot be refuted.

            Now had I known from the start that these were all fraudulent claims, I would not have gone on a mission and wasted time and money there teaching false doctrines. And unwittingly help recruit useful idiots for the Mormon church.

            I almost got killed in my mission. I’ve seen other missionaries who have been traumatized by it. Was all that suffering in the field worth the falsehoods of Mormonism? What do you think?

            I don’t have to be a direct victim of Smith’s polygamous teachings, but I am a victim of his falsehoods. And so is every Mormon up to the General Authorities who seem to be all clueless of the many things being discussed in this forum.

            Now to you, these are all nothing but meaningless talk, since according to your silly assumptions, nothing out there notices this. Not the birds, bees, cows, clouds, etc.

            But if truth really means nothing to the cosmos around us according to you, then why do you even come here to unload your what you clearly believe to be true? Apparently, the truth means something to you.

            So what you’re really saying about everything else out there not paying attention to the truth is really FALSE. Birds, bees, cows, and clouds may not bother with the truth, but it is obvious that you do.

          • Todd December 13, 2017 at 4:31 pm

            You’ve made some good points I need to take into consideration.

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