I will soon be interviewing John Lynch, the Chairman of FAIR (https://www.fairlds.org) on Mormon Stories.  He is interested and willing to entertain questions on multiple subjects (with a bit of advanced notice) regarding LDS history, doctrine, and culture…..so if you have any ones you’d like me to ask, please do send!

And please keep them respectful and courteous, of course.  :)



  1. harpingheather September 22, 2005 at 6:55 am

    Can you recommend any books about polygamy as practiced in the church? I’m looking for books (preferably written by women who were sister-wives) that address their lives, why they chose to be part of a polygamous family and how it affected them.

  2. pjj September 22, 2005 at 9:31 am

    I’d like to know how much connection FAIR has with church leaders. Any at all? Informal discussions among friends, or relatives? Financial support?

    And the second issue– I’d like him to comment on Ad hominem arguments. Does he understand the term? What does he think about using ad hominem attacks? Does he think that any of FAIR’s publications might use this rhetorical device? (And does he think that Christ would do this?) For example, see the review on the FAIR site of the book “In Quiet Desperation”, where FAIR even attacks Deseret Book for publishing the book.

  3. Reed Smoot September 22, 2005 at 9:34 pm

    What concessions is FAIR as an organization willing to make to the critics? For example, many possible explanations have been offered to explain polyandry, the Book of Abraham, Book of Mormon anachronisms, racially based priesthood policies, blood atonement, historical whitewashing and other tough topics. However, apologists seldom if ever offer the possible explanation that an LDS prophet erred ethically or morally to any significant extent.

  4. Reed Smoot September 22, 2005 at 9:35 pm

    How does FAIR view its relationship to FARMS and other apologetic organizations.

  5. Reed Smoot September 22, 2005 at 9:36 pm

    Would FAIR be willing to publish thoughtful and carefully researched papers that defend some aspects of the church while criticizing others?

  6. Reed Smoot September 22, 2005 at 9:37 pm

    What online communities is FAIR most concerned about?

  7. Reed Smoot September 22, 2005 at 9:38 pm

    Does FAIR have podcast plans?

  8. Scott September 22, 2005 at 10:47 pm

    A few interrelated questions:

    Which arguments against Mormonism do you feel have the most merit?

    Is a loss of faith in the LDS church–or its foundational doctrines–ever justifable due to historical, doctrinal, or other non- “sin related” issues?

    What do you tell someone when Moroni’s promise simply doesn’t work, despite years or decades of living a faithful Mormon lifestyle and sincerely seeking a testimony?

    Is Mormonism falsifable, at least hypothetically? If so, what would you consider to be reasonably conclusive evidence that the LDS church is not “true”?

  9. Ken September 23, 2005 at 4:07 pm

    Why has the Church buried information relating to the fact that it is in possession of the papyri that were the source for the Book of Abraham?

    What is FAIR’s position regarding the fact that the translation of the papyri does not match that of the Book of Abraham?

  10. Steve EM September 23, 2005 at 6:26 pm

    I have a few questions:

    Doesn’t being an apologist comprise one’s intellectual honesty, objectivity, candor, etc?

    Are you an apologist for everything about the church? Is there anything about the church you would reform?

    Do you see the apostles ever starting a retirement tradition for apostles/church presidents to yield authority to younger more energetic people?

    Do you see the apostles ever being representative of the church in terms of race and nationality? Who long do you think it will take? Are you embarrassed by the apparent all white clique?

    Do you think Pres. Hinckley’s distancing himself from “The Prophet” cult personality phenomenon of his predecessors was a positive move? Has a new tradition been set?

    Bike riding in a suit was common in the 1920’s, but only practiced by Mormon missionaries today. Have we fallen into the period clothing trap that seems to effect many religions (Amish, Hassidic Jews, etc)? Do you see us moving to friendlier missionary uniforms periodically revised for the times and local considerations?

  11. jordanandmeg September 26, 2005 at 12:39 am

    Do you believe that the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon can be verified empirically, without a witness of the spirit?

  12. jordanandmeg September 26, 2005 at 12:43 am

    What is at the root of your testimony?

  13. jordanandmeg September 26, 2005 at 12:48 am

    How do you counter a learned and sincere Jew’s argument that Jesus was not the awaited Messiah?

  14. jordanandmeg September 26, 2005 at 12:53 am

    Could you elaborate on why so many prominet saints decided to follow James Strang after the Prophet’s death?

  15. jordanandmeg September 26, 2005 at 1:00 am

    Sorry. It’s ‘prominent.’
    This is fun. One more:
    Would you share your personal reaction to Wendy Ulrich’s talk presented at this year’s FAIR conference?

  16. Ben S. September 26, 2005 at 9:39 am

    Some of these are fairly silly questions…

  17. pjj September 26, 2005 at 2:18 pm

    I just read an article from FAIR’s site, “Does the COJCLDS teach that God had SEX with Mary?” in which the claim is made that there is no official doctrine that Jesus was conceived through actual sexual intercourse between Mary and God the Father. But I remember very clearly that my seminary teacher told us we were old enough to discuss such things, and that Jesus was conceived through sexual intercourse. I am sure that was taught as doctrine to others in the time that I was in seminary, the mid-70s. Also there are several quotations by church leaders in the 19th century that seem to teach this unambiguously. I’ll paste some in below. So what does this say about FAIR’s position on the teachings of church leaders in the previous century?

    (And I think that many of the questions listed here are pretty good.)
    Here are the quotes:
    Brigham Young, JD v.1 pp.50-51

    “When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he (Christ) took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in Heaven, AFTER THE SAME MANNER as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven.”

    Brigham Young, JD v.8, p.115

    “The birth of our Savior was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of NATURAL ACTION. He partook of FLESH AND BLOOD–was begotten of his father, as we were of our fathers.”

    Discourses of Brigham Young, p.77

    “When the time came that His first-born, the Saviour, should come into the world and take a tabernacle, the Father came himself and favored that Spirit with a tabernacle instead of letting any other man do it. The Saviour was begotten by the Father of His spirit, by the same being who is the Father of our spirits, AND THAT IS ALL THE ORGANIC DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JESUS CHRIST AND YOU AND ME.”

    Brigham Young, Deseret News, Oct. 10, 1866
    “The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husband.”

    Orson Pratt, “The Seer,” p.158

    “The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father. Therefore, the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated in the capacity of husband and wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father: we use the term lawful wife, because it would be blasphemous in the highest degree to say that He overshadowed her or begat the Savior unlawfully……..He had a lawful right to overshadow the Virgin Mary IN THE CAPACITY OF A HUSBAND, and beget a Son…….Whether God the Father gave Mary to Joseph for time only, or for time and eternity, we are not informed. It may be that He only gave her to be the wife of Joseph while in this mortal state, and that He intended after the resurrection to again take her as one of his own wives to raise up immortal spirits in eternity.”

    Joseph F. Smith, interview in the Box Elder Times, Sep. 22, 1914

    “We are told in the scriptures that Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God in the flesh….how are children begotten? I answer, just as Jesus was begotten of his Father. The Christian denominations believe that Christ was begotten not of God, but of the spirit that overshadowed his mother. THIS IS NONSENSE. Why will they not believe the Father when He says that Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son? Why will they try to EXPLAIN THIS TRUTH AWAY and make mystery of it?”

    Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, v.5, p.128

    “Luke 1:35 says, speaking of Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Some Mormon leaders have interpreted this verse to mean that for Mary, a human, to be able to ‘withstand the presence of God,’ that the Holy Ghost had to come upon her:
    “The Holy Ghost is the messenger of the Father and the Son. Mortal beings could not endure the presence of the Father without the Spirit overshadowing them, and that was the mission of the Holy Ghost, but not to beget the Son of God, THAT WAS THE BUSINESS OF THE FATHER. Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God the Father in the flesh, and in holding to this doctrine President Brigham Young is in perfect accord with the teachings in the Bible.”

    James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 466

    “Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the bodyin which Jesus Christ performed his mission in the flesh…”

    Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 6 (Published in 1988, while Benson was President)

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father.

  18. Clark September 26, 2005 at 4:47 pm

    PJJ, I think FAIR’s position is pretty straightforward on statements by GAs. There’s a process statements have to go through to be official statements. Merely being stated at General Conference isn’t enough.

  19. jordanandmeg September 26, 2005 at 10:52 pm

    About Hugh Nibley: can you sum up a personal review of his achievements, both those that are still valid and those that have been refuted?

  20. gunner September 27, 2005 at 6:47 am

    Three issues.
    1 When people discuss the history of the church from a negative viewpoint they use the Journal of Discources a lot because it is problematic . “Good” Mormons return with the line that it is not scriptures and second hand reports of what was said. Yet I hear of the JoD being used in conference talks when it suits the church. That seems rather two faced to me. You can’t have it both ways

    2 The next BIG issue for me is one I posted on my blog about.
    This one is one that pretty much says that I will never be a true member again.

    3 Moroni’s promise is bothersome. No other ancient document says at the end that you should pray to know it is true. They simply ARE. The promise that so many members look at as the truth of the document points me in the other direction. Can you point to a couple of other ANCIENT documents that ask you to pray to know it is true.

  21. Ben S. September 27, 2005 at 7:47 am

    Many of these questions seem to be asking the question of what the church teaches and whether something is doctrine or not. Perhaps they are also expressing the view that everything any leader says in sermon or meeting is binding doctrine. I don’t believe this is the case.

    What words of our leaders are binding? Certainly the JD represents speeches, sermons, and teachings of those sustained as prophets seers and revelators. That doesn’t make it formal church doctrine. Something can be true without being doctrinal. When Elder Holland speaks in conference, that doesn’t automatically make it formal church doctrine either. Someone’s volunteer seminary teacher also is not the fount of binding doctrine :)

    You may have read them or you may disagree with them. But I suggest the following papers.

    Robert Millet, “What is our Doctrine” (Given in several places- Religious Educator, SMTP conference, LDS.org, and my copy that he emailed me.)

    “What is ‘official’ LDS Doctrine?” FAIR paper. (Actually, this page has several links on the topic.

    Elder Reuben J. Clark “When Are Church Leader’s Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?” Church News, July, 1954.

    Gunner: “No other ancient document says at the end that you should pray to know it is true.”

    I would disagree with this. First of all, the BoM is not like other ancient documents in many ways- Length, genre, etc. The most important way it differs is that the editor’s audience was not contemporary with him, but he was writing for them.

    Second, this raises the question of parallels and anomolies. The assumption that it can’t be true unless it matches other ancient documents is not sustainable, or at least highly debateable. See my post here

  22. Ben S. September 27, 2005 at 10:45 am

    Saw this elsewhere this morning…

    If we hear any principle taught from the stand that we do not understand, let us seek to comprehend it by the Spirit of God. If it be not of God, we have the privilege of knowing it. We are not required to receive for doctrine everything that we hear. We may say, “I do not know whether this is true or not; I will not fight it, neither will I endorse it, but I will seek knowledge from God, for that is my privilege, and I will never rest satisfied until I have obtained the light I require.”
    If you hear a doctrine that does not agree with your feelings or that you do not believe, take this course; do not reject nor endorse hastily without knowing or understanding. By taking this course you will develop the principle that God designs we should possess, and we will thus become a wise and understanding people, for we will be based on the rock of revelation. (Apr. 21, 1867, JD 12:46)
    -George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, 270

  23. clark September 27, 2005 at 2:44 pm

    “Yet I hear of the JoD being used in conference talks when it suits the church. That seems rather two faced to me. You can’t have it both ways”

    I don’t see the problem. You hear poetry quoted in conference as well. The fact something is quoted in conference (which is what most of the JoD is) doesn’t entail it being somehow authoritative in the fashion you take it to be.

    Each member has the spirit and is able to discern for themselves. Since Mormons don’t accept scriptural innerancy the way Evangelical fundamentalists do, we even apply that principle to scripture. In the absence of revelation you have to make a best guess. Generally for that one ought put the scriptures first, then perhaps official First Presidency statements, then recent conference addresses, and last other writings. Yet even there one has to use common sense and not divorce one text from the whole.

  24. JIMMY October 7, 2005 at 4:03 pm

    Who is the music by that opens your podcasts…

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