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Faith

Mormons navigate faith and doubt in the digital age

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  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    July 26, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    Plenty of reliable resources are available in the digital age. Not all of them are flattering, but they can't be discounted.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2013 9:30 a.m.

    The Internet is a great tool that is brining a lot of knowledge to many people, including LDS church members.

    20 years ago it was harder to find answers for those with questions.

    Answers and facts are literally at our fingertips now.

    People's doubts are now being confirmed daily about what they'd long been told by their parents and church leaders.

    Knowledge is a great thing.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    July 26, 2013 9:57 a.m.

    @ Hutterite -

    Between "digital" sources that are "reliable" and "God", I choose "God".

    You?

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    July 26, 2013 10:00 a.m.

    I applaud this conference. However...

    For those who know, no physical evidence is needed.

    For those who honestly don't want to know (key word being "honestly"), no amount of physical evidence will ever be enough.

    I'm glad I know.

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    July 26, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    Sometimes the problem isn't the historical record but the reaction from the church. The editing of the chapter headings and explanatory notes can do more harm than good.
    You cannot simply erase the common understanding of the members.
    For example, the notion that blacks were banned from the priesthood by custom or practice alone is implied in the current rewrite. If we accept that explanation we must also discount everything the leaders say at conference unless it is declared a revelation.
    Calling the family proclamation less than a revelation is a political expediency, but if it is not from God to his prophets, seers and revelators (my poster bears the signature of all 15) it becomes easy to dismiss just about every message from the Brethren with few exceptions.
    Our faith is indeed shifting these days.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2013 10:13 a.m.

    Caravan,

    There is a difference between "demanding physical proof" and "denying the physical proof that exists"

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    July 26, 2013 10:13 a.m.

    I never understood why people have such a need to "know" where religion is concerned. What is wrong with saying "this is what I believe to be true, however, I wont KNOW until I die"

    There are lots who claim to know. I am fairly sure that those who flew planes into buildings on 911 KNEW.

    I am fairly sure that the Heavens Gate followers KNEW also.
    Same with the Jim Jones followers.

    Whatever I believe, I am quite sure that I dont KNOW.

    And I'm OK with that.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    July 26, 2013 10:39 a.m.

    The Caravan Moves On

    So you take god over facts? That is disturbing to me. Isn't god the one that created all of the 'facts' in this world? You can deny facts all you want, but if facts come out that go against the church, why would you dismiss them? Why not take all of the information in, evaluate it, and then make your decision. Just as sure as you know it is true, I know it isn't true. God works in mysterious ways, doesn't he?

  • GiuseppeG Murray, Utah
    July 26, 2013 10:53 a.m.

    Uh, faith is not perfect knowledge. So faith and some level of doubt MUST exist together. You can still act on a belief (exercise faith) while doubting if it will produce the result you hope it will. Do that enough times and your faith (or willingness to act on that belief) will increase, but doubt can still exist in some degree.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2013 10:57 a.m.

    @The Caravan Moves On
    "For those who know, no physical evidence is needed."

    "For those who honestly don't want to know (key word being "honestly"), no amount of physical evidence will ever be enough."

    This goes both ways... some of those that "know that don't need evidence" could be those that "know" but don't want to know and no amount of physical evidence to the contrary will ever be enough.

  • grj Bountiful, ut
    July 26, 2013 11:00 a.m.

    Do any of you who claim to "know" the truth see any inconsistency between that stance and the statement by your Elder Holland, quoted in the article, where he says "And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith.”

  • Mark from Montana Aurora, CO
    July 26, 2013 11:05 a.m.

    Two thoughts.

    1. There is a great deal of 'information' available to read on the internet. However, as with all things on the internet, you must assess the validity of what is being presented. What is the motivation of the author? How has he slanted the material, what is being left out, and are there blatant lies? Truth is tough to find and to discern.

    2. I have been through a tough five years with my faith being tested and frankly at times I thought broken. The struggle is the most important part of life and as much as we, I, dislike the struggle (and enjoy the easy times), it is the struggle and how we react to it and eventually overcome it, that defines who we are in the end.

  • dustman Gallup, NM
    July 26, 2013 11:06 a.m.

    For me the result was realizing that LDS leaders can be wrong. Now its sorting out what they got right and what was wrong. To this day I ask myself if what is being said in Conference is right or wrong. Its between me and God I guess.

    The idea that we are all imperfect is both comforting and scary. The result of an imperfect man being called of God and making a bunch of mistakes along the way is scary to me. Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young said and did some things that I'm trying to understand.

  • md Cache, UT
    July 26, 2013 11:22 a.m.

    Faith is more than belief.

    Faith is a term of action. It means to be firm and reliable. I think it means more about our nature than our belief.

  • tll Ogden, UT
    July 26, 2013 11:45 a.m.

    Information is easy to obtain. We have the choice to believe or not; it's a personal decision. Faith is an integral part of the process. Use when reading/listening/learning.

  • Ghost Writer GILBERT, AZ
    July 26, 2013 11:54 a.m.

    A lot of the criticisms of the church I see online from disaffected members displays what therapists call "victim syndrome"; people have problems with whatever in their lives, they have to find someone or something to blame, and the church becomes their #1 target.

  • Res Novae Ashburn, VA
    July 26, 2013 12:06 p.m.

    @Mark from Montana,

    I agree 100% with your statement that the struggle is what matters. That's hard to explain to anyone who hasn't experienced the "long, dark night of the soul". What I believed when I said "I know" has been rebuilt - the components of my faith remain the same, but they have been completely rearranged in that process.

    The Church has been playing it "safe" in its curriculum for decades, in part because of an understandable concern that it will lose souls to challenging issues. But that's not possible now and the blowback is that when members encounter some of these issues for the first time, it combines the challenging issue with a sense of betrayal and anger that the Church has been 'whitewashing' things. I feel that this is far more harmful in the long run than it would be to address certain things head-on.

    Doubt is natural. It can be good. It has made me stronger. I wish we could make more room for the doubter instead of convicting him for lacking faith. Knowing that there were others navigating the path of doubt/faith made an enormous difference for me.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 26, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    Faith is a challenge in all religions, not just Mormonism. The subject might be golden plates, the Holy Grail, the Red Sea parting, or Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. Do you need to believe in every teaching you ever heard taught? Is it sinful to doubt? Is a rational basis for faith even possible?

    A greater question is, what is your faith in? I don’t need to take incredible claims at face value to believe in human decency and respect for others. On Brigham Young’s teachings about blood atonement or the Adam/God theory, I don’t even want to go there.

    Jesus said that the greatest commandments were to love God and to love your neighbor. That’s a place to start. It’s large enough to include a multitude of diverse opinions.

  • Candide Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2013 12:30 p.m.

    To me 'faith' is a dirty word. Why would you want to take anything on faith? Most people do more research on buying a house or choosing a mechanic than they do with figuring out why they believe as they do. The majority of people just accept what they are inculcated with by their parents. Faith is belief without evidence and not something to be admired.

    “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge -- even to ourselves -- that we've been so credulous. (So the old bamboozles tend
    to persist as the new bamboozles rise.)”
    ― Carl Sagan, Cosmos

  • Bloodhound Provo, UT
    July 26, 2013 12:31 p.m.

    I've heard it said, "The Catholic Church teaches infallibility and no Catholic believes it. The Mormon Church doesn't teach infallibility, but no Mormon believes it." Although I don't completely agree with this statement, I certainly understand it. Many LDS, especially those who grew up in the faith, are taught a white washed history of their religion where the bad guys always lie and the good guys always tell the truth and where Church leaders never teach or say anything suspect. The problem is, it's hard to square that with the historical record. The study of Mormon history is getting better and the LDS people will adjust to hearing a more balanced approach to their history. My knowledge of LDS history hasn't destroyed my faith.

  • Opinionated Sandy, UT
    July 26, 2013 12:39 p.m.

    RE: drj
    There is no inconsistency. There are many points of truth. We can know the truth about one point while still working to know the truth about another point. Few will ever understand ALL truth in this life. So, it is possible to know some points of truth and to have faith regarding other points. Faith is sort of where knowledge begins--a desire to know but accepting something on faith until knowledge arrives.

  • Kralon HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA
    July 26, 2013 1:01 p.m.

    "To me 'faith' is a dirty word. Why would you want to take anything on faith?"

    Faith is belief plus action and everyone shows faith every day regardless of religious belief. You get up in the morning and put your clothes on to go to work or school which is faith that your work or school will be there and you don't really KNOW, you are just acting on faith that today will be like preceding days and it isn't always true.

    Faith is more powerful than knowledge because knowledge or facts are constantly being revised and faith can be a stronger foundation. My grandfather, a forest ranger, led a group of scientists to the top of a mesa in the Grand Canyon in the 1930's where the scientists were sure that ancient life forms would still exist having been cut off from the rest of the world. My grandfather had already been there by following an old deer trail.

    Faith being more powerful/stable doesn't mean we shouldn't use what abilities we have to seek knowledge. We should never stop learning. If faith and knowledge conflict I file it away until I know more.

  • KellyWSmith Sparks, NV
    July 26, 2013 1:10 p.m.

    On my mission I had a profound experience that taught me the importance of not relying on the intellectual side of things too much. I don't have space to share it here but the answer is that we must live by faith as not everything has been revealed. If so, there would be no need for developing faith and we would just develop our intellect.

    Most members do not understand the need to develop faith and think it is something we are to live by in mortality. Yet faith is the means by which God created the worlds, so it is vital that we develop faith in order to become like him.

    All of these things that are written against the Church in any form are Satan's attempt to destroy that faith. Our faith is to be nurtured and encouraged and the intellectual side of things can get in the way of things if we let it. We just need to remember exercise our faith and move forward.

    That is what Joseph Smith did. That is what the Pioneers did. That is what we are to do today.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    July 26, 2013 1:11 p.m.

    Interesting comments. Here's mine:

    1) "The past is a foreign country." They "Ugly American" judges foreign cultures because they do not behave as we do. Likewise, modernists pass judgment on those in the past based on modern perceptions. Let it go. Judge the past based on the context of the past.

    2) "The LDS church is not a literalist belief system." Although many LDS people are literalists, making an entire sacrament talk over a single word or phrase, that is not the way it really is. D&C 70 set up a "committee on style" to prepare revelations for publication. Isaiah's writings differ greatly from Paul's who differ greatly from Nephi's. Each prophet receives revelation and then announces it to the world in his own voice.

    3) We are dual beings, physical and spiritual. The things we learn in the physical environment are interpreted and understood through the five senses. But there is also an ability to interpret and understand through our spiritual nature. If we choose to ignore it, we only get part of the truth. Most non-believers are only partially in existence because they refuse to acknowledge or learn from their spiritual natures.

  • alpinecoach kearns, UT
    July 26, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    "we are seeing a growing problem" in the LDS Church — a problem that has to do with the ready availability of vast resources of information of both the faithful and doubtful varieties
    -----------
    That whole "FACT' Vs. "FICTION" thing gets a little sticky, doesn't it?

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 26, 2013 1:24 p.m.

    Mark from Montana & Joe5

    I could not agree more. Thanks to you both.

  • craigwg Herriman, UT
    July 26, 2013 1:24 p.m.

    My favorite quote from the article is, "we should not hold him [Joseph Smith] to a higher standard than he held himself". I find that fascinating because in History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 408-409 Joseph says, "I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I."

    Joseph Smith Jr. held a VERY high opinion of himself and directly calls himself better than Jesus. I suggest that we hold him to his opinions. Watching the LDS modern "prophets" manage a PR campaign about their church is comical. The fact that anyone is still entranced by the LDS church baffles me. It is transparently a lie with nice warm fuzzies on the surface. Peel back one layer and the whole thing falls apart like a balloon.

  • dlswingle salt lake, UT
    July 26, 2013 1:31 p.m.

    I too lost my faith years ago, but I was not a member of the LDS Church. I was raised as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. The descriptions in this article of the turmoil one goes through when losing their faith are very similar to my experience. I applaud the LDS Church for approaching the matter of shakey or lost faith in the way they do... my religion was/is comletely intolerant of those who lose their faith. Everything changes.

    I respect those who have faith and understand how people can lose it overnight. Unless there is some acceptance and the potential for dialogue, the schism between faith and doubt will only grow wider.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 26, 2013 1:31 p.m.

    “It is true that more information has been the cause of the current controversies, but more information is also the answer,” Bushman said.
    ______________________________

    I wholeheartedly concur with Richard Bushman on that. Back in the days when the Church historian's office restricted access to its archive material to a select inner circle whom it thought could be trusted, it created the perception that the Church must have something to hide from the world. But in this age of information, the more it makes available to the curious reading public, the more they will see how fair the world will be in its judgments of early Mormon documents.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 26, 2013 1:33 p.m.

    Kudos to the DN for even broaching this topic. However I wonder if the "moderators" will let us discuss any of the specific facts that are causing heartburn for so many members?

    Also, if you are older than primary age and still using the words "I know..." when discussing your faith, you need to grow up and learn what faith is.

  • LDS_Pioneer New York, NY
    July 26, 2013 1:50 p.m.

    I agree with Red Corvette. Read the Hans Mattsson New York Times article and decide for yourself which newspaper account is more reliable.

  • Manzanita Las Vegas, NV
    July 26, 2013 1:55 p.m.

    I can appreciate that Elder Holland has asked that we realize church leaders are fallible, and we should not hold them to too high a standard. However, I think the church would do well by leading the way on that point. For example, a couple of general conferences ago, Elder Boyd K. Packer suggsted that homosexuals are not born that way. In the printed version of his talk, that teaching had been deleted. The church never addressed why it was delted. That was it. The church could have led the way by stating that Elder Packer was wrong by stating that and that the statement was his personal view only. That would have been a great opportunity for the church to demonstrate that it does not believe in the infallibility of its leaders. Same for the Church's doctrine on blacks and the priesthood. Own it and move on. Instead, they are now calling it Mormon "folklore" that was never taught in the church, instead of recognizing the fallibility (i.e. racism) harbored by some leaders of the church in another era. Instead, the church stretches credulity because it does not want to admit the fallibility of its leaders.

  • nosaerfoecioveht NSL, UT
    July 26, 2013 1:57 p.m.

    @craigwg

    In the quote you offered from the Prophet, he neither called himself infallible or said he was better than Jesus, as you claim. This quote was written not by JS, but by someone else after he died. However if we assume it is accurate, word for word, it has to be taken within at least this brief context:

    1) Joseph was applying a scripture from Paul at the time. "Boasting" was Paul's idea.

    2) In the same work, one volume earlier, the Prophet says "I do not think there have been many good men on the earth since the days of Adam; but there was one good man and his name was Jesus. Many persons think a prophet must be a great deal better than anybody else....I do not want you to think that I am very righteous, for I am not." (History of the Church 5:401

    It therefore seems appropriate to say "we should not hold him to a higher standard than he held himself."

  • sigmund5 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2013 1:58 p.m.

    But if people are allowed to choose what the prophet says is true and not true or pick and choose then what about tithing? Then you start having a problem.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    July 26, 2013 1:59 p.m.

    Well let us see what we have here starting with the Old Testament. Abraham lied to the Egyptians and told them his wife was his sister. Jacob stole his brother’s birthright and his mother assisted him. Jacob’s father-in law swindled Jacob by switching his daughters. Instead of Rachael he gave him Leah and then he cons Jacob into working for him seven more years for Rachael. Joseph’s brothers sold him to the Egyptians and covered up their crime telling their father he was killed by wild beasts using his coat stained with blood to convince him. Moses killed an Egyptian and buried his body in the sand. David conspired to have Uriah killed so he could take his wife. But despite David’s horrific sins Christ descended from David’s blood line.

    From the New Testament: Judas betrayed Christ. Peter denied him three times. The apostles argued among themselves who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Paul and Peter were at odds with each other.

    God moved his work of salvation forward using fallible men. If the LDS have a questionable history they are in familiar company.

  • Joe1 YUMA, AZ
    July 26, 2013 2:06 p.m.

    @cragwg- in History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 408-409 Joseph says, "I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I."

    The Joseph Smith I know would never have said anything like this. It's ridiculous. I don't know where you get your information, but this is just another example of people looking on the internet for negative things about the church and finding it from anti-mormons. I have to wonder why anyone decides to start looking for information about the church outside of approved church materials. That alone shows a lack of faith in our leaders. The brethren have counseled us to only read church approved materials, and this is why. The adversary and his minions are actively monitoring and posting online. It is not a safe place for the faithful.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2013 2:06 p.m.

    1aggie,

    No, the moderators will not allow you to point out specific points in LDS doctrine that can then be refuted by facts. Many of us have tried. They pretend to be open for discussion, but remember this article in and of itself is "on the edge" for them. Truly allowing an open discussion of their faith would only lead to more memebers questioning, and they don't want that.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    July 26, 2013 2:06 p.m.

    1aggie: I disagree completely.

    First: There are facts you can know. You know 2+2=4. You know gravity makes things fall. If you can know things with your physical senses, why can't you know things with your spiritual senses?

    Second: Most LDS misunderstand knowledge. Instead of viewing it as the capstone to faith, let's consider it as a precursor to faith. If you plant crops expecting a harvest, you might lack faith. But if you attend USU and take agricultural classes on soils, irrigation, seeds, fertilizers, and whatever else (I'm not a farmer), would your faith increase because of your new knowledge. When investigators lacked faith, we taught them. The D&C says if you lack faith to study. It seems the key to faith is to gain knowledge.

    Finally: If you don't know in the sense you were talking about, you have either never had a spiritual experience or you have convinced yourself that the source of that experience is suspect in some way (self-generated; emotional response; delusion; misinterpretation; imperfect god;etc). A purely divine experience, if acknowledged, accepted, and acted upon, creates knowledge.

  • dlswingle salt lake, UT
    July 26, 2013 2:11 p.m.

    "Truth" is truth. There is no "my truth" or "your truth." Faith is simply the belief in that which cannot be proven. MOST of what we believe to be truth cannot be proven in the real sense of the idea of truth. To say "I know this to be true" when speaking of spiritual matters is usually a gross misunderstanding of the idea of truth.

    5 + 4 = 9 is such a truth. No reasonable man would doubt that... it's not a matter of faith, but a mathematical fact.

    To even say "I know there is a God" cannot be considered truth either. It is a statement of faith... the two ideas of truth and faith are completely different; if we can prove that something is the truth, there is no need to have faith. I think religious ideas are closer to matters of "taste" or "preference."

    HOWEVER, we cannot derive something to be true unless we test it somehow... and that is an endeavor I wholeheartedly support... even in spiritual matters.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    July 26, 2013 2:37 p.m.

    dlswingle

    The LDS church may try to look like they are not hostile towards those with doubts, but I would say a bigger percentage are hostile then are not. This is especially true within families. I have friends, and have experienced it myself, where family members or the whole family won't talk to the person who has expressed doubt. And it gets worse with time. It is that way with many faiths, and it is disappointing. Acting like they have done something wrong and alienating them from you as a family member just because they don't share the same beliefs as you is borderline insanity. That to me is just like shunning them for voting for another person, or being a member of a different political party. Kind of meaningless when you look at it for what it is: difference of opinion or belief.

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    July 26, 2013 2:42 p.m.

    @ the caravan moves on,

    You said, "For those who know, no physical evidence is needed."

    That works out well since there is no physical evidence. Physical evidence to the contrary, well, there are reams of that.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    July 26, 2013 3:17 p.m.

    Actually doubt is a sin.
    Many, many doubters have been ostracized due to their doubt. And it will continue. Doubters may not be excommunicated but they'll never be fully accepted.
    The truth is out there. Unless they own up to the mistakes many more people will keep doubting.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    July 26, 2013 3:51 p.m.

    A few points:
    1-"Knowing" is not the same as "believing". They need to stop co-opting the meaning of those two words. Nobody "knows" a philosophy is true. It is a belief and nothing more.
    2-"truth" and "wisdom" are two different things. There are teachings that are wise, but that doesn't mean they are "true".
    A philosophy can't be true. Truth is found in physical and scientific laws, things that can be tested and the results are the same each time.

  • KellyWSmith Sparks, NV
    July 26, 2013 3:53 p.m.

    @craigwg The LDS Church does not "fall apart like a balloon after peeling back one layer". If that happened it would not be where it is today. It would not continue to grow and eventually fill the whole earth. Joseph Smith was not perfect as he clearly states about himself, but the Lord also needed someone who had high self-esteem to handle all that he did. Otherwise he could never have dealt with the amazing things he did, and the opposition that he faced and continues to face even today, long after his death.

    Joseph Smith is one of the most misunderstood people in all of history and it won't be until after Jesus comes again that we will know all the details about him. There will be a lot of shocked looks on peoples faces when they realize who they opposed. After Christ, he is one of the first people that I want to meet who have ever lived on this earth.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 26, 2013 4:17 p.m.

    Glad to see this article in DN. It is way past due.

    There shouldn't be courses called "Church History" unless an accurate, factual history is taught. I would say most members of the Church know next to nothing about the full history of the Church.

    Is the Church going to start incorporating a more accurate history in the curriculum?

    I think the Church and its members have a lot of "maturing" to do. It is wrong to portray those who leave the church due to faith issues as "following Satan."

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    July 26, 2013 4:19 p.m.

    There's been a lot of good comments on here and I appreciate the fact most of them have been civil. As an active Latter-day Saint I have looked at many websites which both defend the LDS Church and oppose the LDS Church.

    As the article pointed out there have been critics of the LDS Church since the beginning of its existence. For anyone to suggest the LDS Church has never faced criticism of its history or doctrine until the Internet appeared is totally ridiculous.

  • cane2477 Clearfield, UT
    July 26, 2013 4:26 p.m.

    Jesus died once and for all to cover the sin of every person on this earth. All you have to do is trust him, believe he died and rose again, and that's it. That simple. There are no need for temples or "religion". It's all about your relationship with Christ. The veil was torn in the temple for a reason when Christ died. There is no more separation between man and God. You can't work your way into heaven. If you could, there would be no reason for Jesus to have died in the first place. Good works are a result of our faith, not a key to build it. It's really that simple. Don't complicate it with religion. Find a relationship with Jesus, and you will see him in heaven. God Bless you all.

  • dlswingle salt lake, UT
    July 26, 2013 4:30 p.m.

    @ BrammaBull, Yes, I understand that is the way it is... individuals sometimes take things much further than official Church policy. Still, I admire the LDS "official" policy. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (AKA Jehovah's Witnesses) have gone so far to say that their members should treat such a one as "an idolater, a fornicator, a drunkard or a murderer" telling their members in the "Watchtower Magazine" that such people have "diseased minds" and are to be avoided, "not even saying a greeting" to them should they run into them on the street.

    It's Old Testament mentality at its finest. The Israelites were commanded to put to death such people.

    I sympathize with your status in the LDS Church. Shunning is psychological brutality.

  • J.D. Aurora, CO
    July 26, 2013 4:40 p.m.

    I just listened to the Mattsson's (general authority) interview from the new york times about his doubts. As some have said you can't trust everything on the internet, but when you have church historians admitting many of these problems (such as polyandry) it is hard to argue that the events didn't occur.

  • byufootballrocks Herndon, VA
    July 26, 2013 4:46 p.m.

    Chris B & Others:

    No, the Internet makes “information” readily available, but a large percentage of it is false. Anyone in a set of pj’s with a modem can spew venom against the church. Only those gullible enough to be taken in lose their faith over this “source.”

    Your suggestion that the church is not true is patently false. There isn’t one subject that couldn’t be researched in depth – and the so-called confirmation of your “doubts” would go tumbling down the stairs. Your “answers” are not “facts.”

    Nevertheless the day of dominance of the disaffected on the Internet is over. With FARMS, FAIR, FairWiki, Mormon Voices, Mormon Wiki, the vast expansion of LDS.org, and scores of other YouTube videos, blogs, websites, social networks, etc. our faith is valiantly defended and this will continue.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. We are not afraid of our history and welcome inquiry. Remember we were warned in the Book of Mormon that a common approach for those who leave the faith is “bearing down against the church.” (Alma 1: 3)

  • Sunset Orem, UT
    July 26, 2013 4:51 p.m.

    @KellyWSmith

    "Most members do not understand the need to develop faith and think it is something we are to live by in mortality. Yet faith is the means by which God created the worlds, so it is vital that we develop faith in order to become like him."

    Respectfully, your assertion cannot possibly be true. If God is all-knowing, like Mormons and others believe, then he has all knowledge. He creates all knowledge. Therefore, he does not act by faith but by power. God did not create worlds through faith; he created them through will (power). God is the antithesis of faith because He knows everything.

    Faith is a HUMAN trait, not a divine one, because humans are imperfect. Perfect knowledge is better than faith, but we can access only faith here. In short, living by faith is a limitation of mortality. If we are to become like God someday, then presumably we will outgrow faith and gain total knowledge.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    July 26, 2013 4:59 p.m.

    I'm someone who reads and has traveled and lived abroad. The internet is great for the amount of information it has but let's face it, we live in the "Misinformation Age" as anyone who has read the propaganda about immunizations and Autism, how 9/11 was concocted by our own government, or any other conspiracy theories.

    I think it's great to have more information on our History and have read widely including non LDS authors, but I also put some stock in my ancestors who WERE THERE when Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were alive, heard and saw them preach. Some of them lived in close proximity. So when I doubt, two things hold my faith: 1) the volume and power of the scriptures which Joseph Smith published which I believe fit with and support the teachings of the Bible and 2) the fact that the majority of those who knew Joseph Smith best stuck with him to the end and went to their graves believing in him as a Prophet.

    I also at my core believe in the teachings of Jesus and his disciples/Apostles in the New Testament. And if they were true then, they are true now.

  • Straitpath PROVO, UT
    July 26, 2013 5:00 p.m.

    I know the good, the bad and the ugly about the Mormon Church. I am a member based on my own spiritual experiences.

  • kindness matters Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2013 5:02 p.m.

    I've been a member of the LDS church for nearly 30 years (convert). I put put many questions and concerns on the back burner. When I started to ask the hard doctrinal and historical questions and really looked deeply into it, what I learned floored me. What I realize is that for those who have not done the homework they have no idea how incriminating the information is. Its not just laugh it off stuff. Its really serious. But the issue to my mind is that speaking as a convert, when you join the church you are taking TWO concepts on faith 1. The restoration of the Church and 2. The existence of God and Jesus. The Restoration can fall apart and you still have #2 to have faith in. Confusion occurs when members throw out the word "Faith" without specifying what they have faith in...the "Restored Church" or God and Jesus. If you equate them as the same as many do then this creates a huge problem when faced with this new information. But its not an a la carte system. You're either all in or all out. FTP or FTS. Your Choice.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    July 26, 2013 5:04 p.m.

    @Candide,

    I don't quite understand what you mean that Faith is a dirty word. Most of what we learn we take on faith, including Scientific knowledge, history, etc. Someone tells you or you read it and you believe most of it without questioning. How much time have you spent verifying the distance from the Earth to the Sun or researching the Jurassic Period?

    That said, we ought to all take what we hear with a grain of salt and try to research all sides of a story before accepting it as fact. Don't accept anything just because it is popular in one age or culture to do so. It was very popular in 1950's Utah to accept all facets of Mormonism. Today it is extremely popular to doubt all religion, indeed to blame religion for most of the world's problems, wars, colonialism, etc., when we know most of the bad behavior (reprehensible though it may be) is simply human nature.

  • Ghost Writer GILBERT, AZ
    July 26, 2013 5:07 p.m.

    With all due respect, Candide, faith is a pretty integral part of the scientific method. or of any type of inductive logic. Einstein himself had a difficult time convincing most experts of his day regarding the "truth" of what actually causes gravity. I don't think you should paint "faith" as a dirty word, because I'll bet you yourself are guilty of exercising it.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    July 26, 2013 5:49 p.m.

    Korihor lives on, and this brings out the weakness of many.

    Things are not spelled out precisely, and we strengthen ourselves by obtaining truth. It's that way, or life's tests are not invalid.

    Our one constant is,-- "God does not lie, or make mistakes".

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 26, 2013 5:57 p.m.

    @ClarkHippo

    "For anyone to suggest the LDS Church has never faced criticism of its history or doctrine until the Internet appeared is totally ridiculous."

    I reread the article and all prior comments and can't find any such suggestion. Nice strawman ClarkHippo.

    An issue which seems to be getting a bit glossed over here is that when you know you are not being told the whole truth (i.e., when credibility is lost) how can you know that what you are currently being told is accurate? What current events/practices are being glossed over? Why are personal journals encouraged for us, but discouraged for GA's?

  • iron&clay RIVERTON, UT
    July 26, 2013 6:17 p.m.

    The digital age was made for Mormons. Mormons are made for the digital age. They fit together like a hand in a glove.

    I have been digitizing census, marriage, birth, death, christening and immigration records for FamilySearth for over 8 years.

    Mormons have a glorious purpose and destiny in their family research endeavors.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    July 26, 2013 6:27 p.m.

    I listened to Mattson's interview again and what he is asking is not that unreasonable. He and his wife still want to practice Mormonism and have community with the members in the church. He's just asking that the Church leadership and us members not fear openness and discussion about topics that are not clearly understood and somewhat difficult - and cited a few examples. I agree with what he is saying and think it would be healthy to have the open discussion. Many of us speculate about "why Polygamy" (for example) and having a dialog about it and how it ended up as Polyandry in some cases, would be helpful.

    For many of us who see a great volume of doctrine, practices and results that make sense, addressing some of these gray areas is a good thing.

    And more importantly, let's treat those who differ among us with more respect and love. I actually see a lot of that (certain members in my family are not active and are treated normally). I feel sorry for those who feel threatened by questions and see their families break up as a result. It doesn't have to be that way...

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    July 26, 2013 7:04 p.m.

    eastcoastcoug: I don't understand what you're asking for. This forum, Sunstone Symposium, the FAIR conference, all these any many others provide an open forum for discussing exactly the things you are talking about.

    Are you suggesting these topics become part of the sunday school curriculum?

    Have you no sense at all about what is appropriate?

    Would you go to a funeral and use that as a forum to debate a person's personal ethics?

    What exactly are you asking for because I just don't get it? How can a person involved in an open forum discussion be complaining that there are no open forums in which to discuss things?

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    July 26, 2013 7:05 p.m.

    I think the big challenge for historically faithful LDS like Brother Mattson is reconciling what they learn about early church history with the common paradigm of how the restoration occurred, and how church members are expected to behave today.

    The early parts of how polygamy was implemented, and particularly polyandry, are very tough issues for many LDS to accept. It's understandable how these parts of history were actively de-emphasized during much of the church's history, because they present serious challenges to commonly held beliefs by most members.

    My sense is the vast majority of LDS are not aware of much of the history, and frankly, would prefer to not be exposed to it and the resulting challenges to comfortable personal paradigms. For example, a neighbor could not complete Bushman's biography of Joseph Smith, because the history is at such odds with her paradigm, her understanding of things. (And Bushman is faithful LDS.)

    Faith challenges are not enviable.

  • E.S Bountiful, UT
    July 26, 2013 7:09 p.m.

    I really do not see any problem in using our intellect to help us enlarge our faith and eventually know truth. But as a convert myself, I can definitely say that faith is ultimately what will lead one to action. When I decided to accept this gospel and baptism, I did relying only on faith - and hoping that one day I would receive a more consistent witness that my decision was the right one. Seven years later, still with a lot to improve, I can with all my heart say that my decision was right FOR ME.

  • morpunkt Glendora, CA
    July 26, 2013 8:03 p.m.

    It should come as no surprise that there will be an "opposition in all things", as in the case of the internet. The father of all lies has rallied to use his forces against the new efforts of the church's, in cyberspace.
    Be very skeptical of the myriad of cunning presentations. They abound. And maintain serious daily scripture study and prayer. Doubts will dissipated with knowledge that supersedes mere intellect.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    July 26, 2013 8:49 p.m.

    They're talking out both sides. The July 24th article in Meridian Magazine is painting doubters in a bad light.
    They need to admit the problems, be up front and move forward. The duplicity will ruin many, many so-called testimonies.

  • Brother Benjamin Franklin Orem, UT
    July 26, 2013 9:08 p.m.

    I am concerned with the LDS Church members who claim they know, as if they have been given some kind of special enlightenment or select opportunity.

    The fact is that I do not appreciate being made to feel like I have nothing to offer, or that I cannot associate with you because I am not of your faith or had your experiences.

    Please do not make me feel like doubting something makes me inferior to you. I have had different personal experiences, special ones that mean a great deal to me. I have much to give too.

  • Ken Sisler Newmarket, Ontario
    July 26, 2013 9:45 p.m.

    Ever since I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have never had any doubts about my faith. The Holy Ghost has confirmed everything to me.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    July 26, 2013 9:56 p.m.

    Nullus in Verba: "We take no man's word for anything." As an educator, I find it almost amusing to read the exploits of those who find themselves relying solely on the crust of possibilities that exist within the intellect. Those who rely only upon the intellect as the only measurement of knowledge is equivalent to relying upon a grain of sand with the world's vast sandy coastline stretched out before you. Faith is far superior to intellect to obtaining truth, and yet I have tested the greatest minds in the world for helping me understand doubt and found it worthwhile.

  • Happy Mama Bountiful, UT
    July 26, 2013 10:05 p.m.

    It seems to me that it is time to stop teaching "church history" at church on Sundays. Teaching church history does not elevate the soul. Some historical points may be interesting but they are not teachings of Christ. Let's leave the church history for Institute or weekday study if you want. They are teachings of men. We shouldn't be worshipping men. We should be worshiping God and trying to improve ourselves. In fact, for many, studying church history in Sunday School causes much anxiety because the full truth isn't being told. Going to church should be an exercise in worshipping God and not used as a platform for worshipping Joseph Smith or any other leader.

  • runnerguy50 Virginia Beach, Va
    July 26, 2013 10:07 p.m.

    As a convert I had read much of what is being talked about before I became a member. I just don't take everything as literal truth in any faith. Bottom line, I love going to Church and its positive affect on me and my family is something I am forever grateful for.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 26, 2013 11:00 p.m.

    Re:HappyMama
    "We shouldn't be worshipping men."
    "Going to church should be an exercise in worshipping God and not used as a platform for worshipping Joseph Smith or any other leader."

    Well said. Thank you!

  • Mr. Bean Pheonix, AZ
    July 26, 2013 11:35 p.m.

    History can never be totally believed since there are too many people who have their fingers in the pie... revising to meet some ulterior motives.

  • Neanderthal Pheonix, AZ
    July 27, 2013 12:14 a.m.

    @joe5:
    "You know 2+2=4."

    Not necessarily. Take for example, Euclid telling us that two lines that are parallel to each other will never cross... even if extended to infinity. But Einstein, in one of his theories, says 'not so fast. Those parallel lines could well cross since the universe tends to warp. 2+2 could actually equal 5, or some other number... even the imaginary number 'i.'

  • KellyWSmith Sparks, NV
    July 27, 2013 12:51 a.m.

    @Sunset
    Here are 2 quotes from Bruce R. McConkie about God, Priesthood, Faith and Creation: "Priesthood is power like none other on earth or in heaven. It is the very power of God himself, the power by which the worlds were made, the power by which all things are regulated, upheld, and preserved. It is the power of faith, the faith by which the Father creates and governs. God is God because he is the embodiment of all faith and all power and all priesthood. The life he lives is named eternal life."

    "To be saved is to be like Christ, inheriting, receiving, and possessing as he does. To gain salvation is to grow in faith until we have the faith of Christ and thus are like him. Our nearness to him and to salvation is measured by the degree of our faith. To gain faith is to attain the power of Christ, which is God’s power."

    Faith is something we will use through eternity. God is not the antithesis of Faith because faith is power and he has all power. Faith is "mental exertion", it is Power and it is Priesthood. (Lectures on Faith)

  • mattrick78 Cedar City, UT
    July 27, 2013 1:12 a.m.

    Using reason and logic, there are undeniable truths and undeniable falsehoods. Faith exists between the two and must transcend reason and logic. We can get into trouble when we think we can explain faith (whatever your religion) through reason and logic.

  • Wilf 55 SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 27, 2013 2:50 a.m.

    The simple fact that Deseret News published this article shows how much the Church itself is starting to realize how thoughtful critics and independent conferences can help other church members. But there is still a long way to go, in particular in foreign countries and other languages.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    July 27, 2013 4:47 a.m.

    Neanderthal: I hate wasting my last post on something as trivial as your comment but this conversation seems to be dying down anyway.

    First: I've had six terms of advanced mathematics and I haven't got a clue what relationship you think there is between parallel lines and 2+2.

    Second: If the lines are warped, then they are no longer parallel, are they? In fact, they are no longer even straight. If you change the conditions, then you can certainly come up with a different conclusion.

    Third: My comments were about truths obtained through our natural senses (as well as reason), not abstract theory (reason without observation). In fact, I suggest that reason without observable fact is one of the biggest problems we have in our society today. Using that technique, you can accuse another person of racism and murder (Zimmermann), hatred and homophobia (popular GLBT technique), or an unwarranted belief in a god (this discussion). All are rooted in abstract theory, reason without observable FACTS to support them.

  • dumprake Washington, UT
    July 27, 2013 6:02 a.m.

    there is nothing new here. The only thing that has changed is intellectualism (higher education) has arrogantly persuaded millions of people that they know all (not God). And they have consequently convinced a lot of people that no one can know anything they don't know. I'm over age 60 and my generation understood very well there are not answers to every question, nor that every question needs to be answered right now. We walk by faith, so what if their are some holes in our knowledge, it was intended to be that way, if it were not so, there would be no need for faith. Every year I live, I have less and less faith in the learned, in science, in the intellectuals of the world. They have succeeded in deceiving us they know everything, that is nothing they don't know. Truth is, they don't know much more than the rest of us, they are just good at deceiving us that they do.

  • The Economist Newport, PA
    July 27, 2013 6:04 a.m.

    A young man who was listening to discussions from missionaries of the LDS Church came to me upset because the missionaries told him the Book of Mormon is true and he watched a video questioning the "historical accuracy" of the Book of Mormon based on history of America. He said he was hurt because the missionaries had told him it was true. I explained that we don't know what the history actually was any more than we know if Adam and Eve ever existed. There were no official historians around at the time to record it. What the missionaries meant was that the spiritual truths revealed in the Book of Mormon are true. Much of the Bible has been changed in history and even contradicts itself, a fact which is commonly taught in Christian Seminaries, but which Pastors seem to conveniently forget when they claim that the Bible is the infallable word of God to their flock. I guess people just want to hold onto something that they beleive is infallable when it may not be. Fortunately, as Mormons, we have the Gift of the Holy Ghost to comfort us and help us be faithful.

  • kamaina Flagstaff, AZ
    July 27, 2013 7:26 a.m.

    Good and needed article. As one who on several occassions has strayed into the darkness of doubt from the anti mormon freenzy on the internet, this article to me offers hope. Personally I found anti mormon exposure to provide a final unexpected result which I call darkness and light. I realized once after conference that both venues produce a consisten result. Conference the spirit, that warm spiritual testimony, anti mornon articles, darkness. Both as real and tangible in there own way. That is when I realized the difference and came to the point of understanding that although I don't always have all the answers, although anti mormon pandering can appear convincing, it comes from a one sided coin, painted with poison. The spiritual knowledge for me, is now my rod of iron. I'm grateful for FARMS, now the maxwell institue, for Bushmans Rough Stone Rolling, The Joseph Smith Papers (and the access to in on the internet) and all those who have taken a tremendous amoutn of time to aid the afflicted of anti mormon thought. The gospel is truly in the end, my joy and my song.

  • jskains Orem, UT
    July 27, 2013 7:42 a.m.

    I love when people use terms like "facts" and "proof". Much that people describe as facts are interpretations, not facts. Imagine that the LDS church claimed for years that there was no brontosaurus. But wait, there it is. Bones and all. The LDS church is wrong! So you leave. Well, joke is on you, it actually didn't exist cause they put the head of one Dino on the body of another. So that physical proof came tumbling down. Often people claim facts but then ignore or hide other facts that don't match their world view. For example, people claim we have most of the papyri used to create the Book of Abraham. There has been evidence that the scrolls were so long it would roll out across the floors. But since that complicates things for people who "know" the church is wrong, they make excuses that the evidence is tainted and unreliable. This is why the Church was set up as it was. Using prayer to confirm its validity. Cause life is faith, proof is interpretable, and facts aren't always facts.

  • Silverprospector SAN ANTONIO, TX
    July 27, 2013 8:42 a.m.

    KellyWSmith -

    It doesn't matter what Elder McConkie said, it was just his opinion.

    dlswingle

    It is always hard to lose friends, family, and associates because of a difference of opinion on religion. I assume mormonism similar with Jehovah's witnesses - that when you express doubt you are cast out. This is one of the main reasons I left mormonism. If this is how a person is made to feel when they express doubt or even leave the church then I wouldn't want to be a part of that organization anyways. I hope you find whatever belief system you are looking for, even if it isn't organized religion it doesn't matter. I firmly believe that god will judge us based on what we do in this life - not on what we do or don't believe. Good luck!

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    July 27, 2013 8:42 a.m.

    @dumprake:
    Funny how two outdated concepts, religion and regressive politics, can't handle higher education. Higher education does nothing more than question and use objective facts to get their outcomes. Those two concepts I mentioned cannot compete with objective fact. Which is why people who follow those two concepts don't like higher ed.

  • bigv56 Cottonwood, CA
    July 27, 2013 9:01 a.m.

    If its on the Internet it must be true, right?

  • LittleStream Carson City, NV
    July 27, 2013 9:14 a.m.

    Doubt is not sin, but I know because I have been inactive that doubt is Satan's favorite way to find a chink in your armor against him. If you want to lead a strong LDS life, you do not have friends that smoke and drink. I also know that well over half of the "information" on the Internet is not true, is "spun" to get people to believe something different. We have forgotten that if we have a question, to pray about it. "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast aseen me, thou hast believed: bblessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

  • DGDENTON Gainesville, TX
    July 27, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    Is the article equating questioning with doubt? It seems to me it is. I've always questioned or doubted which is what we are expected to do. Being a convert, questioning doctrine and trying to make sense of my relationship with Heavenly Father, is what led me to the Church as a young adult. Faith is not blind. It is based on trust in the witness of the Holy Ghost as I continue to learn and progress. When I find something I don't understand in the context of what I already know, I study more and ask for the guidance of the Spirit to help me gain in knowledge and faith. Sometimes I don't have a complete understanding, but I do have the witness of the Spirit that I will eventually have a more sure knowledge. Until then I trust in the witness of the Holy Ghost which is what keeps me active in the Church. At the Finally Judgement when I stand alone before my God, I won't be able to "blame" the General Authorities or the Church for my sins. I alone am responsible. The Lord knows my heart.

  • Christmas Carole LAS CRUCES, NM
    July 27, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    @grj
    I do KNOW beyond ANY doubt that the church is true. I was given pure knowledge for a couple of minutes. I had to have FAITH about blacks not having the priesthood at that time. I have had to have faith on that and other issues until that faith had produced a more sure understanding. If I turned against that sure knowledge I would be denying pure truth given to me from above. It is I, a fallible human being, who must come to terms about my own doubts.

    @dustman
    EVERYONE who has or will live on earth(except the Savior)is fallible. To my knowledge(and since I'm fallible I may be wrong)anytime the leadership speaks representing the church(that includes in conference)we can count on it totally. When they speak for themselves(as Brigham often did)they are speaking for themselves NOT as representatives of God or His Gospel. The best to you in your seeking for truth.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    July 27, 2013 9:32 a.m.

    Very good job by Joe Walker in presenting a variety of thoughts on a timely topic.

    However, the accompanying "LDS faith and doubt" graphic is disturbing. Isn't anyone appalled that 77 percent of LDS say they "believe whole-heartedly in all" of the teachings of the Church? How can informed adults say such a thing? If we put them in a time machine and took them back to 1950, they would find many LDS teachings they do not believe. The same will be true at some future time for people looking back on 2013.

    I could list a few questionable teachings in today's Church, but, in the interest of brevity, I will resist the urge.

  • Tyler Ray Taylorsville, UT
    July 27, 2013 9:46 a.m.

    In my opinion, the reason why some LDS question the faith is because they grew up without any trial of their faith, and therefore had no need to research it or defend it.

    Many converts to the Church have such a deep testimony because while they were taught, they had skeptisism and doubt in the beginning,they were investigators (we take that word for granted sometimes) but as they prayed and read the Book of Mormon, they gained faith in what they were taught.

    Everytime I've learned something about the LDS faith I grew up in that worried me, or made me feel uncomfortable, I've taken the time to investigate it, pray about it, etc. Because of this I feel I've come back renewed and strengthened.

  • DUPDaze Bakersfield, CA
    July 27, 2013 11:14 a.m.

    Let me help all those skeptics who are sincerely asking why LDS faith and history should be examined:

    Because God's Word says to "examine yourself to see if you are in the faith". Non-Christians need not join this debate; we get your position. But for Bible-believers this is crucial. Joseph Smith based all his restoration claims on Biblical verse, all of which can soundly be debunked using Biblical texts.

    Just because men come along and make claims of revelations and heavenly visits does not mean you must accept every one, right? Use the original Word as your plumb-line and the false prophecies, gospels and claims are exposed. Just be honest and diligent in your search and journey- just in case the God of the Bible is true and Satan is here to deceive. An "Angel of Light" is an amazing claim for a Jewish convert in 60AD to make, and then a boy in 1820 to experience.

  • Dante Salt Lake City, UT
    July 27, 2013 11:40 a.m.

    “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us." -- Carl Sagan, Cosmos

    "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things..." -- Jesus Christ, John 14:26

    Whom do you choose to follow?

  • DUPDaze Bakersfield, CA
    July 27, 2013 12:06 p.m.

    The issue is not faith challenges within Mormonism. It is the consistent history of change, revision, reversal- and then their subsequent method of ignoring once-True Principles as if they never existed. To our credit or downfall, we are great record-keepers. (I was a member for 35 years, love my pioneer heritage, but now worship the Biblical Christ.)

    Polygamy, black priesthood restrictions, Masonic oaths, MMM, etc. If the SLC brethren had dealt openly with the controversies in the past, there may have been a lesser fall-out. But born-again believers are grateful for the hiding/ignoring/denying. It let us see beneath mere warts (vis-a-vis Biblical character's flaws), to the consistent denials and historical whitewash.

    Case in point: When will there be a Visitor's Center short bio-docu on the full Joseph Smith story? One Emma and marital fidelity is not what caused mass church exodus in 1843-44. Evil bigotry was not the cause for his encarceration; encouraging burning of "that" printing press was. And so much more.

    How can you trust the insiders/FAIR to be open when the actual prophets won't submit to Q&A?

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    July 27, 2013 12:09 p.m.

    Dante,

    Easy answer.

    Sagan

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    July 27, 2013 12:11 p.m.

    Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all. The conscientious historian will correct these defects.
    Herodotus

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    July 27, 2013 12:22 p.m.

    The more I read articles such as these, and the comments from believers, the more I am convinced you all completely lack any "unity of the faith".

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    July 27, 2013 12:27 p.m.

    If you are an empiricist you are not going to last in any religious faith. While I think things are changing, there is still an element within the Mormon Church who feel they can somehow "prove" the Book of Mormon or other elements of LDS theology empirically. They sometimes attack the scholarship of people whose work is not aimed at anybody's faith simply because it does not support their religious belief. I believe the cause of faith would be better served by dropping the often disingenuous attempts to reconcile science and religion. I don't think you are going to strengthen someone's faith with empirical arguments.

  • Christmas Carole LAS CRUCES, NM
    July 27, 2013 12:27 p.m.

    @Red Corvette
    "There are none so blind as those who will not see." I agree totally!! How long have you been blind?

  • 3GrandKeys Walnut Creek, CA
    July 27, 2013 12:32 p.m.

    We're taught young that we can discern absolute truth with certainty via emotional experiences and then all those experiences validate an "us vs the world" view where we are a minority of God's chosen among billions of spiritually lost. The certainty skews our reasoning. The lost manuscript becomes a faith promoting event rather than a head-scratcher. Joseph Smith's death becomes a dying testimony of truth rather than the consequences of hiding polygamy and destroying a press. Blacks getting priesthood/temple access in 1978 is a great revelation, rather than an overdue correction to racist policies. Staying abroad after a death in the family to continue missionary service is a badge of honor, rather than neglect of family-first principles. Millions in unison sustaining leaders selected by an inner-circle becomes common consensus rather than automated allegiance. Our reasoning becomes so skewed that anyone who learns about Mormonism and doesn't convert or leaves Mormonism is thought to deliberately be choosing an unfortunate and less fulfilling life of sin (of commission and omission) that results in eternal separation from God and family. Openly teaching the suspect aspects of church history is bound to skew our reasoning even further.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    July 27, 2013 12:59 p.m.

    Many of the claims about Church materials not covering issues are overblown. I once saw a claim that no Church publication had ever mentioned that Emily H. Wells was the wife of Heber J. Grant. The reality is that the Ensign has published an article that fully talked about all three of Heber J. Grant's wives, including the fact they were all his wives at once. The Heber J. Grant teachings manual mentioned both Emily and Lucy, but not Augusta who was President Grant's wife when he was president of the Church. The manual also discussed various facts, such as the time of the birth and death of Daniel Wells Grant, in a way that even very minimal paying attention would clue one in that Heber J. Grant had multiple wives simultaneously.

    Maybe there is a better way to present these facts, but the issue is not the church not presenting them, it is more people expecting everything all at once and when not getting it getting mad.

  • 3GrandKeys Walnut Creek, CA
    July 27, 2013 1:27 p.m.

    @John Pack Lambert of Michigan

    Nobody wants it all at once. They just want it straight and without bias.

    People certainly don't want to be told that they should've known better because an article or two has been published in the Ensign once every 15 years, or mentioned in a CES fireside 20 years ago, etc.

    What actually makes people mad is realizing a story they'd known since childhood and testified and cried about as "the spirit" poured over them in front of congregations, or personally to investigating friends, either never happened or happened in a completely different way than they thought it did...

  • LDS_Pioneer New York, NY
    July 27, 2013 2:07 p.m.

    I applaud Joseph Walker for writing this thoughtful article. And I appreciate this lively debate in the comments. While we can all speculate, my hope is that the Brethren, who are anointed to lead us, would provide responses to the most troubling issues and provide their point-of-view and inspired direction. They could do this via written responses or recorded Q&A. My heart years to know how they reconcile and view the following issues:

    HISTORICAL ISSUES
    Multiple First Vision accounts
    Joseph's use of folk magic/ treasure digging
    Masonry and the endowment
    Joseph's polygamy / polyandry
    Denial of priesthood to blacks
    Priesthood restoration credibility issues

    SCIENTIFIC ISSUES
    Book of Mormon anachronisms (e.g., horses, steel, chariots, Book of Isaiah, King James errors, etc.)
    Native Americans having Asiatic DNA
    Book of Abraham text not matching papyrus or facsimiles
    Age of earth (6,000 years old? No death before the fall?)
    Implausible scriptural accounts (e.g., Noah's Ark? Jonah in the Wale? Tower of Babel?)
    Dark skin as a curse?

    OTHER ISSUES
    Why closed finances?
    Past and present stance on homosexuality
    Women's future in the Church

    Anything else you would like the Brethren to respond to?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 27, 2013 2:15 p.m.

    Re:JohnPackLambert

    Have there been any Ensign articles about Joseph Smith's wives?

    Eliza R. Snow is never introduced as a plural wife of Joseph Smith--only as a wife of Brigham Young.

  • Jared91 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 27, 2013 2:30 p.m.

    I think it wonderful that LDS intellectuals are standing up to defend their faith. However, I have a few concerns. To have a complete and full testimony one needs to have both components of a testimony: 1. a testimony from the Holy Ghost, and 2. diligent study of God's word-the scriptures.

    Of the two components the testimony of the Holy Ghost is the more important, and I believe for many members this part is the most anemic-the least understood and sought after component.

    I hope church leaders will seek out those who have had scared experiences, men and women like Nephi, Enos, Alma the older and younger, members who can talk about the mighty change that comes from receiving a remission of sins.

    This article refers to Brother Mattson, a former Bishop, Stake president and Area-Authority-Seventy from Sweden. Apparently with all of his high profile callings Brother Mattson can't look back in his life experience to the moorings of an adequate Spiritual experience to see him through the intellectual challenges posed by an unvarnished view of church history.

    We need to hear from men and women who are fully converted.

  • Pac_Man Pittsburgh, PA
    July 27, 2013 2:38 p.m.

    Many people mistake changes in Church policy and discrepancies in the historical record with the core fundamentals of the gospel which have never changed: God lives, Jesus Christ atoned for our sins, and all mankind can be saved. While the Church does have a lot of history that is difficult to understand or reconcile, these issues are minor compared to the bigger picture. It is easy when one lacks perspective and proportion to make the minor things bigger than they really are.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 27, 2013 2:58 p.m.

    Once again it is almost impossible to have any kind of open discussion on this board with the DN censors heavily at work.

    But I will say that the digital age and the internet are not at issue here. Falsehoods on the internet are not causing a problem for the Church. Historians (many whom are Mormons themselves) discovering and documenting (in books, writings, talks and on the internet) what really happened are causing faith issues for "non-authoritarian follower" members who simple don't bury their heads in the sand.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 27, 2013 3:31 p.m.

    RE: “The central claim of Mormonism is not that God spoke to a fallible human being in 1820.”

    i.e. 3Ne. 21:9, A Marvelous Work and Wonder; a Modern Translation. Therefore I will take awesome vengeance on these hypocrites, and make their wisest counselors as fools. (IS 29:14 LB).

    Isaiah was not a prophecy about the(Bom),But God will punish the Jews for spiritual wickedness; He will remove their discernment from their hearts. Fulfilled in that they rejected Christ.

    RE: zoar63, The Bible honestly portrays its characters. The great heroes of the faith(Heb 11) were also sinful people. Scripture records the sin of Noah, Abraham, David, and Peter and Paul. There is no attempt to portray them as anything but human.
    There was no doubt in the mind of anyone that Jesus was unique from any man who has existed before or since. See, Theanthropic Nature.

    Heb. 11:3 By Faith we understand that the worlds* were set in order at God’s command so that the visible has its origin in the invisible.
    Grk “*ages.” God created time. A clear statement of creation Ex Nihlio not pre-existence

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    July 27, 2013 4:31 p.m.

    @DUPDaze

    "But for Bible-believers this is crucial. Joseph Smith based all his restoration claims on Biblical verse, all of which can soundly be debunked using Biblical texts."

    Christian Churches base their beliefs on the Bible yet there are countless Christian Churches i.e. Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Methodist, Unitarian, etc. Why aren’t all Christians Catholics? After all they were the first. It boils down to only two possible views which are the church( Catholic) has maintained a succession of divine authority since Peter so any other Churches that claim to be Christians are apostate offshoots of the Holy Roman Church. It all began with Henry the VIII who was refused a divorce from Ann and so Henry decided to start his own church complete with new ecclesiastical officers with the Bishop of Canterbury to head it.

    On the other hand if a universal apostasy did occur then it was necessary for a restoration to take place which is the LDS claim. If you reject the LDS claim then you must accept the Catholic claim that they are the True church of Christ or is it the Eastern Church? That is another story.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    July 27, 2013 4:38 p.m.

    It is long past the time for the Mormon church to open their archive and hidden files for inspection and research by authorized and legitimate scholars other than just Mormons. The whole and complete truth needs to be told.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    July 27, 2013 5:13 p.m.

    Re: LDS_Pioneer An excellent list!

    To which I would add:
    Political Issues
    Birchism
    Ezra Taft Benson conservatism
    de Facto endorsement of one political point of view via Deseret News
    absolute dislike of unionism
    unstinting support of so-called Right-to-Work

    Among religions I remain convinced that the Church is the best their is, but maybe this amounts to being the best in a very slow league.

  • 3GrandKeys Walnut Creek, CA
    July 27, 2013 5:59 p.m.

    @Jared91

    "This article refers to Brother Mattson, a former Bishop, Stake president and Area-Authority-Seventy from Sweden. Apparently with all of his high profile callings Brother Mattson can't look back in his life experience to the moorings of an adequate Spiritual experience to see him through the intellectual challenges posed by an unvarnished view of church history.

    We need to hear from men and women who are fully converted."

    So you think Mattson wasn't fully converted? What does it take to be fully converted if not dedicating ones life to service in the church and constantly testifying and defending it and interpreting all your emotional/spiritual experiences as proof of its truth? Listen to his Mormon Stories interview and you'll hear that he was as fully converted as any. A spiritual giant. When his knowledge increases and things didn't add up he did what he knew was right and let the consequences follow. The consequences lead to being hung out to dry by church leadership. Mattson still professes profound belief in Christ and the sacredness of spiritual experiences. Given what he knows now he simply can no longer believe whole-heartedly in correlated LDS teachings.

  • QuestionEverything Tooele, UT
    July 27, 2013 7:01 p.m.

    Beliefs are the angels of Ego, they call spirit to a halt - trapping it in form, forgetfulness and time. Let go of your limiting beliefs and you will be SO MUCH happier with yourself as well as others.

  • elliottpj Two Rivers, WI
    July 27, 2013 7:44 p.m.

    After years of struggling in the LDS faith, trying to deal with all the contradictions between living prophets and dead prophets, I knew I would never find the answers, come to any sure conclusions or maintain my faith in the Lord as a Mormon. Why should I continue to defend a history that isn't mine or doctrines that I don't believe are true? I've come home to my Catholic faith, and re-discovered a relationship with the Lord that I could never have known as a Mormon. Joy and peace are sweeter rewards than darkness and confusion.

  • RationalPlease Spanish Fork, UT
    July 27, 2013 7:54 p.m.

    Isiah wrote (55:8-9)
    For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither my ways your ways saith the Lord.
    For as much as heaven is higher than the earth, so are my thoughts than your thoughts, and my ways than your ways.

    It is impossible for mortals to understand God's thoughts, ways, and logic. Our leaders interpret Gods revelation to them as best as they can. Sometimes there are inconsistencies and contradictions, and that is ok with me. I was taught many gospel truths by my parents, but nothing about the restored gospel, ie Joseph Smith, etc, which is now such a powerful and sweet part of my life.

    My approach to the gospel and my professional life is guide by Francis Bacon who wrote
    Read not to contradict and confute,
    nor to believe and take for granted,
    but to weigh and consider.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    July 27, 2013 8:54 p.m.

    Belief is only something that you can count on or depend on. That said, I believe in the supernatural. Not all supernatural beings are evil there are good beings to. I know that someone is watching out for me, a guardian angel, the little erg that promps,the feeling to go or need to do something. The heart felt message.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    July 27, 2013 9:55 p.m.

    The apostle Paul told Timothy to 'fight the good fight of faith'. He said he himself had 'fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.'

    There is nothing effortless about a fight or a race. There is nothing easy about faith. Why should there be? What can we learn with no exertion? What is worth having that requires no effort in attaining?

    I can imagine a battered and bruised man or woman being told 'well done, thy good and faithful servant' in the hereafter, but I fear for the reception a lifetime couch potato will get.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    July 28, 2013 8:08 a.m.

    LDS church history is full of apostasy and faith - both are there when you look deep enough. Many of those most closely associated with Joseph Smith turned against him later with some eventually returning. Go back in time 2000 years and follow the New Testament and the same thing happened with the Savior Jesus Christ. Some of his apostles never wavered - others did waver and even denied and betrayed him. People tend to forget sometimes that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is run by ...people...doing their best to follow the inspiration from above but failing as often as succeeding. No one is asked to follow the LDS Church doctrine by blind faith. You are expected to search , study, compare, question, and above all keep an open mind and an honest heart.True doctrine always attracts the honest truth seeker - light attracts light. The Book Of Mormon is it's own best witness and I always simply ask those who are honestly seeking to find the truth to just read it - Testimony is a spiritual thing and must be earned in the spiritual laboratory by the honest in heart.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    July 28, 2013 8:15 a.m.

    @Moontan,
    The issue is: is it the truth. It makes no sense or glory of God to battle on like Don Quiote for the sake of fables like Santa Claus, the Tooth Faiiry or false religion.

  • Jared91 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 28, 2013 8:21 a.m.

    3GrandKeys asked: "So you think Mattson wasn't fully converted? What does it take to be fully converted if not dedicating ones life to service in the church and constantly testifying and defending it and interpreting all your emotional/spiritual experiences as proof of its truth?"

    A careful reading of the scriptures teaches that we need to experience fire and the Holy Ghost to be fully converted. Receiving high profile callings isn't a guarantee that an individuals is or will be converted as Nephi, Enos, Alma the older and younger, and the people of king Benjamin were.

    A man or women can be a dedicated member of the church, testifying and defending it, and so forth and never receive sufficient manifestations of the Spirit to be converted. If Bro Mattson had been blessed with significant Spiritual experiences he wouldn't be confounded.

    There are many men and women in church who have drawn near enough to the Lord that the current crisis in church history is not confounding them. They have been blessed with Spiritual experiences (dreams, visions, ministering of angels, mighty change of heart and etc) that trumps any challenge church history presents. I'm one of them.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    July 28, 2013 10:29 a.m.

    @Skeptic ... I was referring to faith in God. I'll leave battling windmills to those who reason their way into the blades.

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    July 28, 2013 10:32 a.m.

    @jared91, patriot and others

    Millions of members of other faiths say the exact things you say (that they have had spiritual experiences and they know their religions are true). And many of those religions do not have the incredible baggage cited by LDS_Pioneer in his excellent post.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    July 28, 2013 11:40 a.m.

    For those members that are entertaining doubts about their faith. The Book of Mormon has some wise counsel.

    "And it came to pass that after I had received strength I spake unto my brethren, desiring to know of them the cause of their disputations.
    And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?.. Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?--If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you."

    The entire discussion can be read in 1 Ne 15:5-11
    It is not unlike what is transpiring in the Church today. And Nephi counseled his brothers who had problems understanding certain subjects and gave them the key to receiving answers to their questions.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 28, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    RE: zoar63,Christian Churches base their beliefs on the Bible yet there are countless Christian Churches i.e. Baptist, Lutheran. “Unitarian”*?

    A common misunderstanding among Mormons is because they are many denominations which leads to a spiritual free for all.

    This of course is not true. Baisically, all truly Christians hold to these basic truth: 1. The Bible is the **infallible Word of God. 2. One God composed of three presonages: Father,Son and Holy Spirit. 3.Jesus was truly God and truly man.4. The virgin birth was a miracle. 5. He rose from the dead. 6. Salvation by grace.
    Mormons try to give the impression that they are the only true church because they all believe the same. There are over 88 different factions of the Mormon Latter-day Saints who accept JS as a prophet and believe the BOM is from God.

    *anti-trinitarian, Christian’s classify them as non-Christian.

    ** The original articles of faith. #8 We believe in the Word of God recorded in the Bible; we also believe the Word of God recorded in the Book of Mormon, and in all other good books. See current #8.

  • Rand Ogden, UT
    July 28, 2013 12:19 p.m.

    Don Bradley's experience in this article is very telling to me. He left the LDS Church because he could find no intellectual consistency in it. He returned after his search for other religions didn't give him what he wanted and after the death of his brother created a dire emotional need to believe in an afterlife. He had an irrational (but understandable) emotional need, and LDS doctrine fills it.

    Unfortunately, that says nothing about the credibility & intellectual inconsistency of LDS doctrine. You believe LDS doctrine because of your emotional needs, not because it makes any sense. You choose to ignore evidence against LDS doctrine and history to protect those emotional needs, not because it makes sense to do so.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 28, 2013 1:18 p.m.

    Sharrona,

    Your point that Christianity (outside of the LDS) is basically united is not evident in what I hear on the radio and read online. The differences among denominations is significant enough that those who hold to once subset of beliefs are not considered saved by another subset.

    Saying we are non-Trinitarian and therefore not Christian indicts many Christians – especially in the world before the Nicene Council. As you read through the New Testament, read what Christ said about himself and the Father (and Holy Ghost). He always drew a distinction. If ANYONE could explain the difficulties of Nicene Trinitarianism, it would have been Christ. He demurred.

    Skeptic,

    Agreed. The issue is truth. That is why I don’t chase fables.

    Elliottpj,

    My experience has been the opposite.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    July 28, 2013 1:20 p.m.

    In my weekly encounters with LDS members over the past quarter of a century, I have frequently witnessed expressions of doubt met with personal attacks against the doubter (much like many of the comments here), one-upmanship, ostracizing the "doubters", and many other forms of trying to shame doubters into abandoning their doubts and pretending to beliefs that they do not have.

    This phenomenon seems particularly poignant in the way parents treat their children, or groups of "friends" treat a doubting peer. I have witnessed young high school students being called into seminary principals' offices and put through an Inquisition because the seminary students did not believe in the personal opinions of the seminary teachers. I have seen parents remove privileges from their children who doubted certain "teachings," historical claims, and positions of the Church on social issues.

    Although I have no data to back it up, I suspect a great many members in the Church are "active" for no other reason than out of fear of being judged, condemned, marginalized and ostracized if they were to reveal their doubts.

    That is not a climate conducive to the pursuit of truth, not matter how you define it.

  • language fan longview, wa
    July 28, 2013 1:42 p.m.

    I think one problem many members face when they encounter surprising information about the church is that the questions and criticisms are usually written at something like a fourth-grade or eight-grade reading level, while the answers are usually written at a college level or college graduate level. Anyone can understand the questions, but you need a college degree to understand the answers, simply because of the differences in how they are worded and expressed. Perhaps that is why acceptance of church doctrine increases along with education. Those of us who have found answers could do a better job of addressing common questions and doubts with simple language.

  • Pendergast Salt Lake City, UT
    July 28, 2013 1:50 p.m.

    re: md 1st page

    Faith, as the saying goes, is the ability to believe in the intangible.

    to Candide 1st page

    Exactly. Wasn't it R. Reagan who trust but verify?

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    July 28, 2013 1:57 p.m.

    re:sharrona

    "There are over 88 different factions of the Mormon Latter-day Saints who accept JS as a prophet and believe the BOM is from God"

    Don't confuse apostate branches as legitimate versions of Latter Day Saints. The 88 different factions you refer to ...there is only ONLY one...legitimate version and that is The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. If you check Doctrine and Covenants you will find the name of the church - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - as given by The Savior. All of these "other" branches who pick and choose parts and pieces they like and throw the rest away are nothing more than apostate branches. In the early Christian church the Apostle Paul was constantly trying to unite the ONE true church - that one true faith with the twelve apostles at its head. Same is true today...only ONE has the Priesthood power and twelve apostles and a prophet.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    July 28, 2013 2:11 p.m.

    re elliottpj July 27

    Because their has been no history of shady dealings, obfuscation, & suppression with the Catholic church has there? But, then no one expects the Spanish inquisition.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    July 28, 2013 5:51 p.m.

    Sharrona,

    Take as an example Catholics, Baptists and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Can you say their doctrines are compatible with one another? I am sure they all believe in the Bible but it is the interpretation of scriptures found in the bible where they disagree, otherwise there would be one and not three churches. And if the Christian churches all agree on basic truths there should only be one church and not many.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    July 28, 2013 6:15 p.m.

    Among the many histories, claims and doctrines taught in the LDS faith there are some things I do know. I know there is a God. I know he knows my name and loves me. I believe that the 14 year old boy Joseph Smith had a sincere question and I believe the answer he claims to have gotten. I know that the teachings of current church leaders have greatly blessed my life, unequivocally.

    In the 40+ years I have been a member I have seen historical claims and doctrinal difficulties flare up - clashing with current social trends - resolved, proven false or still left unresolved. My core beliefs remain unchanged in spite of the "informational and social winds" that blow even more ferociously thanks to the internet.

    There are some things I do not "get" about my religion or its history, but in the balance what I do understand really does trump what I don't.

  • ImABeliever Provo, UT
    July 28, 2013 6:18 p.m.

    Digital age or people opinions don't matter to me. The spirit teaches and it's the only thing I listen to and it has never led me astray but instead to happiness.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    July 28, 2013 6:24 p.m.

    Sharonna ... God is omniscient. Christ didn't know when the end times would come. "Only the Father knows." Christ wasn't the Father. He was the Son.

    A Scientist ... re "Although I have no data to back it up, I suspect a great many members in the Church are "active" for no other reason than out of fear of being judged, condemned, marginalized and ostracized if they were to reveal their doubts." You are probably correct in that suspicion, but the indictment is on whose who act like they believe what they don't believe, out of the fears you mentioned. If one truly doesn't believe, say so, stand tall, go on one's merry way and let believers believe and doubters doubt. An open atheist is preferred to a hypocrite, IMO.

  • Ghost Writer GILBERT, AZ
    July 28, 2013 7:11 p.m.

    @ 3GrandKeys -- Modern historians and researchers have pretty much given up on the idea of eliminating bias or remaining completely objective. All they ask is that one acknowledge one's bias up front and openly so that the reader can better understand the data/ideas presented. The church's bias (thankfully) is to build faith in Christ, not to find reasons to tear it down. That's their bias. There are other places to go if we want to hone in on the nitty-gritty of historical characters, a never-ending and constantly changing process leading to who-knows-where.

  • LiveNLetLive Bakersfield, CA
    July 28, 2013 7:14 p.m.

    My faith is founded in experience. I know the teachings of the church work. I do not care if you believe in God or not. However who will deny that universal compliance with 9 of the Ten Commandments would not vastly improve life for everyone.

    To my mind being 90% right 100% of the time is strong evidence that the first commandment is extremely good advice as well.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 28, 2013 7:23 p.m.

    The other day I said: "Kudos to the DN for even broaching this topic. However I wonder if the "moderators" will let us discuss any of the specific facts that are causing heartburn for so many members?"

    Well now it's overwhelmingly clear that the answer is NO. People can bear their testimonies, but no facts please.

    The other paper in SLC ran this same story several days ago and has almost 2,000 comments. I wonder how many comments this piece would have here without the censorship?

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    July 28, 2013 7:49 p.m.

    Anti-LDS, doubters, skeptics, non-Mormon Christians, come to the Mormon Times (which in itself is a huge red flag indicating underlying issues) to insult and demean and parade their defiance, and then complain that they are being ostracized, not well-received, and censored??

  • hamaca Baton Rouge, LA
    July 28, 2013 8:17 p.m.

    @1aggie,

    Of those 2000 comments, what would you estimate is the breakdown between pro, anti, and truly un-biased?

    I would have preferred more academic debate here in these comments relative to "testimony bearing", however, the other paper's comment section usually degenerates into a circus of mocking, self-pity, disrespect, and anti-Mormon slurs. I used to view it as the more open and unbiased publication and comment section. Now? Not so much.

  • J.D. Aurora, CO
    July 28, 2013 8:54 p.m.

    I have struggled with these problems for years now, and it gets to the point that the shelf is just too small to hold all the issues. Some will say just have faith, but if I were one of Jehovah's Witnesses would they be encouraging me to have faith in that belief in spite of the evidence? Why then does this beleif hold any more weight? I think it is time to leave irrational faith for truth and let the consequences fall where they may. WHEW! IT FELT GOOD TO TYPE THAT.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    July 28, 2013 10:19 p.m.

    1aggie- I doubt intellectual conversations and debates will settle anything.

    There is a Star Trek Voyager episode where one of the main characters has access to a historical data base and with her superior power of reasoning come to the conclusion, based on historical evidence, that the captain is a traitor. As the episode unfolds she continues to search the historical record and sees many facts which, lined up, point to nearly everyone as undercover traitors. In reality none of the characters she accuses are guilty of any wrong doing even though the facts seen from different perspectives would indicate otherwise.

    There are so many issues to consider when weighing factual information. What is the source? Is it trustworthy? What was the historical context? And people have different opinions on who can really be trusted to be objective and truthful.

    The captain finally persuades this character that all the analyzing is driving her crazy and reminds her of all the good things that the captain has done for her. The captain's "fruits" speak louder than the "facts". For me the fruits of the Mormon church speak louder than all the "facts" than can be discovered and debated.

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    July 28, 2013 11:33 p.m.

    The LDS Church was supposed to "fill the earth." It has not. Three million young people turned out to see the Pope today in South America. Why is the Pope's message resonating with the youth? I would hope the LDS leaders would go back to the drawing board and come back with a meaningful message for young people. Instead, we have a new mall. Does that make for a better world? Does it inspire young people to do something meaningful with their lives or to go shopping?

    Somewhere along the way, we got lost.

  • Int'l Businessman SLO, CA
    July 29, 2013 7:39 a.m.

    @jeanie
    If we are going to be like Steven Colbert and use our "guts" rather than information and reason, then I must say that huge red lights and sirens go off in my "gut" when somebody tries to suppress information or whitewash the truth. In how many episodes of Star Trek (or any other drama) has the good guy tried to suppress information or misdirect those seeking it?

    @hamaca
    I too would prefer more academic debate here rather than "testimony bearing". Other sites may have a lot of "chatter" to cut through, but at least some honest debate and airing of facts can occur. Unfortunately the DN moderators seem to be allergic to facts and would prefer this board to be about feelings (especially ones that comport with theirs).

    @1anguage fan
    The essence of intelligence is the ability to distill and convey your thoughts simply. Almost without exception, when someone cannot express an answer clearly it is because that person is confused or does not understand the information they are trying to convey.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 29, 2013 8:09 a.m.

    Re:Jeanie
    "There are so many issues to consider when weighing factual information. What is the source? Is it trustworthy? What was the historical context? "

    Sources?
    Well-respected LDS historians who provided context.

    For some of these issues there is just not enough lipstick to dress up the pig. But we ought to stop now presenting and teaching information that is factually untrue. If we can't do that, then what does it say about us and our truth claims?

    I am equally troubled--maybe even more troubled--to see the LDS Church align itself with other groups and denominations to sign proclamations which are untruthful and become involved in campaigns under the banner of "religion under attack" which demonize others because these are actions/decisions being taken by current leaders.

    Lastly, how can our leaders proclaim political neutrality yet own and publish a decidedly right-wing newspaper?

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    July 29, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    One of the most daring things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that it asks EVERYONE to ask the questions, What do you believe is true? What do you WANT to be true? Why not prepare yourself to ask God whether it is true?

    Mormonism has always started out proposing that many of the things that are "conventional wisdom" among many of our peers are not completely true. One of the most significant "articles of faith" that traditional Christianity insists upon as dogma is that the age of direct, intelligible revelation from God to man, the era of prophets and apostles, has ended. Mormonism invites us to DOUBT that idea, rather than build our faith on it. Mormonism advocates us to serk revelation for purselves, to trust God to speak to us.

  • Silverprospector SAN ANTONIO, TX
    July 29, 2013 10:19 a.m.

    patriot

    So there is only one faction of the 88 branches off the mormon church that is true, and it happens to be yours? The other 87 would claim that they hold that title as well. Also, regarding the name of the church, it too has changed over time. First it was the Church of Christ, then in 1834 it was the church of the latter-day saints. Then in 1838 it changed to its current name. So when you claim it is called this name from god's own mouth, you shoot yourself in the foot because it had 2 names prior to that. Let me guess, god changed his mind twice and then finally settled on the current name?

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    July 29, 2013 10:38 a.m.

    @coltakashi
    For the sake of argument let's say you are right and that God talks to us; the problem seems He is saying very different things to many different minds. What He seems to be telling you may be just the opposite of what others hear Him saying. Therefore, the more probable is that He speaks to no one; and we just imagine what we want to hear.

  • SSmith Salt Lake City, UT
    July 29, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    To say that we will find the truth on the Internet is absurd. Since when was something written by who knows who, the truth?

    If one gains a testimony from the only source possible, that being God himself, who knows all truth and cannot deceive, then why would one seek to strengthen or fortify that testimony by turning to the philosophies of the world? Instead, I suggest that he or she return over and over again to the ONLY source of truth.

    Daily prayer and scripture study bring the witness of the Spirit. It is the only way to gain a testimony and the only way to keep a testimony.

  • Silverprospector SAN ANTONIO, TX
    July 29, 2013 11:30 a.m.

    SSmith

    "If one gains a testimony from the only source possible, that being God himself, who knows all truth and cannot deceive"

    If god cannot deceive then why do so many people get so many different answers? If it were a realiable method there wouldn't be so many different churches, everybody would know it was the mormon church.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    July 29, 2013 11:32 a.m.

    From the Biblical perspective, Mormonism is "another gospel" with another/different Jesus than the One Paul proclaimed, with another/different salvation.

    Always has been, despite the reversals and whitewash. A man-evolved God, a Mormon Jesus, and a works-salvation. (Galations, Colossians.)

    Try asking Christ if His blood covers all sin, confess yours, and trust in His spiritual birth to change you into the "new man", the new spiritual creature. There's no comparison!

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    July 29, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    To "Truthseeker" you realize that the LDS church is a right wing organization, and as such has a newspaper that reflects the church's beliefs. If you are an LDS member and are so opposed to the conservative leanings of the DN, maybe the problem isn't the church or the newspaper but is with you.

    What document did the LDS church sign that is giving you so much heartache? What is wrong with the LDS church saying that it is wrong to allow the US to adopt Secular Humanism as a state religion?

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    July 29, 2013 12:26 p.m.

    I have said before that the Holy Ghost trumps everything.

    I came from an anti-Mormon/apostate background, and I was bred on criticisms of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I became an atheist as an adolescent.

    However, I had an experience with the Holy Ghost that was overwhelming, and that experience became foundational for my current faith.

    I have a PhD, and I have read a great deal, both in favor of and against the Church. I haven't been surprised in decades, though I continue to learn details that I didn't know previously.

    I say that to say this:

    It should be no surprise to anyone who knows Mormons that a large number of Latter-day Saints have had spiritual experiences analogous to mine, even though we are very diverse in our personalities and backgrounds.

    This spiritual experience includes a very personal connection with God which provides insight into God's personality and character. That is why I believe that God loves all of His children, and all may have the same spiritual experience if they want it.

    Certainly, once having felt the Spirit, the rest is easy to understand.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    July 29, 2013 12:37 p.m.

    To "Shazandra" but the Bible states that men can become Gods. See John 10:33-35. Jesus said that it was declared that we are Gods. If men can become Gods, doesn't that also mean that God could have been a mortal man?

    The Bible states that we must confess our sins AND it also states that we must work for our salvation.

    The Prophet Amos said that God will do nothing without first telling his Prophets what is about to occur. Prior to the LDS church being founded, none of the religions at the time considered themselves to have prophets.

    To "Silverprospector" the purpose of this life is to see if we will seek out God's will and follow it. That is why there are so many religions. People are not seeking out Gods will or else put their own desire's above God's desires for us.

  • dlswingle salt lake, UT
    July 29, 2013 1:58 p.m.

    @ J.D. I was raised a Witness and lost my faith when I was about 35. Yes, they would encourage you to have faith in spite of any evidence against them. There are several ways they get around this... if you bring up historical information, they will tell you "that was then, the light of knowledge wasn't as bright." They maintain that the Bible explains itself, but they insist you need "God's chosen Organization here on Earth" to explain it to you. They don't claim to be "inspired" but claim to be "directed" by God's Holy Spirit (the difference is that it leaves a huge back door to escape should their teachiings change, or their dates for Armageddon not work out, as in 1914, 1918, 1925, and 1975).

    If you have doubts, you are considered spiritually weak, and in need of help. But if you say "I no longer believe this is the 'truth'" then you are worse than an unbeliver. People will never speak to you again, or even say "hello" when they pass you on the street.

    The Bible does NOT explain itself. So who gets to decide what the Bible says?

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    July 29, 2013 2:33 p.m.

    The frequent claim that various issues with the Church's history and claims have been "addressed" or "resolved" is often made with the suggestion that they have been conclusively resolved, such that there is really no room for honest doubt.

    That's not true.

    An issue is not "resolved" simply because someone has come up with one plausible explanation for it. For instance, the question of whether the IRS bureaucracy was used for partisan purposes is not "resolved" simply because the spin doctors have come up with their latest official version of what happened. ("That's our story, and we're sticking with it.")

    Coming up with an elaborate alternative explanation for inconvenient evidence doesn't "resolve" the issue. It just raises one possibility. If that's all it takes to hang your faith on, fine -- but don't pretend, as so many do, that that's not what you're doing; that the spin has "addressed" the issue, and left no other conclusion than yours possible.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    July 29, 2013 2:35 p.m.

    RE: Patriot,….the name of the church - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
    The Church has changed its’ name several times: the Church of Christ, the Church of Latter Day Saints.
    Church(ekklesia=)called ones i.e. the Church of God in Corinth; the Church of Thessolonians….

    God recognizes His people by their faith in him not by the name on the door.

    RE: Twin Lights If ANYONE could explain the difficulties of Nicene Trinitarianism: JS’s inspired version does with(1John 5:7,8 KJV & JST ). …. The Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one (*heis)…. these three agree as one(**en). 3 persons one God. "1 in(substance,5287). Hebrews 1:3

    (*heis,1520=the#1); (**one=en 1722 preposition)) i.e. John 10:30, One in unity . different Greek words.

    @Moontan, Catholic Answers: "By its(hypostatic) union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he came to reveal. What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal".

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    July 29, 2013 2:41 p.m.

    Faith is an appropriate tool with which to consider those things that are outside the reach of reason. Where reason is capable of giving us knowledge, it is the appropriate tool. God himself endorsed it.

    Yes, reason is fallible -- but so is faith. Or at least, our reason is fallible in recognizing true faith, and no more, as faith.

    If faith is hope for things that are not seen, that are true, then many of us have accepted untrue things on "faith" -- but our fallible reason was mistakenly identifying something other than faith as faith.

    Either way, you can't get away from reason. Reason is what we are doing here. Reasoning was what the article we are responding to was doing. Faith and reason are two wings by which man considers the things of God. They should not contradict each other. If they seem to, one or the other is being done wrong.

  • LDS Revelations Sandy, UT
    July 29, 2013 2:58 p.m.

    Honestly I think "doubt" has been presented as a bad thing in Church for such a long time now that it will be hard to change the perception and a long time before that view is altered. It's not only that LDS have been taught that 'knowing' is better than believing but also that spiritual impressions and feelings are superior to empirical evidence. By contrast I've seen doubt in other belief traditions appreciated as the necessary fire in which belief is tried and evolves in to something better rather than a thing to avoid in order to preserve fragile faith.

    "I admire men and women who have developed the questing spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas as stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent -- if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression."
    -Elder Hugh B. Brown

    "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed."
    - J. Reuben Clark

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    July 29, 2013 10:27 p.m.

    What of all the other churches, universities and organizations out there that lacked diversity for so long? What of them? I'll stick with my church until something better comes along. Thank-you.

  • OutsideUT Lilburn, GA
    July 30, 2013 7:15 a.m.

    There is a good bit of discussion here on how to know what is "doctrine." A thought on that subject:

    In the October 2012 General Conference, Elder Neil Anderson of the Twelve reaffirmed the definition of doctrine. He stated, “There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many. Our doctrine is not difficult to find.”

    This is not a new concept, but it is core to understanding some of the concerns brought up by those seeking to discredit the LDS Church.

    A statement casually spoken or written by a member of the LDS Church, even if that person happens to be a presiding authority in the Church, does not necessarily make it a pronouncement, or even correct explanation, of doctrine.

    However, principles taught repeatedly by all the leading quorums of the church are doctrine.

  • OutsideUT Lilburn, GA
    July 30, 2013 7:27 a.m.

    One more thought,

    Questions, when asked with a sincere desire to increase one's understanding and faith, are to be encouraged. Indeed, a very substantial proportion of both ancient and modern revelations, many of which are recorded in scriptures, have come because someone raised a sincere question.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    July 30, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    Just wait until the internet hears about Moses parting the Sea, or Peter raising someone from the dead, or Paul seeing a vision. There are no surprises: the first step in Mormonism is to hear about gold plates and new scripture. That is day one, lesson one. And to say, you were mislead along the way, is laughable. We are all free to choose.

  • Int'l Businessman SLO, CA
    July 30, 2013 10:33 a.m.

    @christoph
    You say "There are no surprises: the first step in Mormonism is to hear about gold plates and new scripture. That is day one, lesson one. And to say, you were mislead along the way, is laughable."

    So let's examine lesson one day one, the golden plates. I was taught that Joseph Smith translated the book of Mormon from the golden plates only to find out from historians that he did not. I would say that indeed I was misled along the way.

    @OutsideUT
    You say that questions are to be encouraged. I don't believe Elder Mattson and other Swedish members experienced an encouraging atmosphere or any resolution to their questions. Did you read or listen to his interviews or are you just stating a platitude?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 30, 2013 10:54 a.m.

    Silverprospector.

    "....First it was the Church of Christ, then in 1834 it was the church of the latter-day saints. Then in 1838 it changed to its current name. So when you claim it is called this name from god's own mouth, you shoot yourself in the foot because it had 2 names prior to that. Let me guess, god changed his mind twice and then finally settled on the current name?"
    ______________________________

    The original name Church of Christ caused confusion at the outset because the Campbellite faction of the Restoration Movement also called itself Churches of Christ. Their beliefs were similar to Mormon beliefs before the D&C revelations began to flesh out Mormon belief more fully in the 1830s. It may have been Sidney Rigdon who suggested to Joseph Smith the name Church of the Latter-day Saints, Rigdon himself being a former Campellite minister.

  • wanpaku Springville, UT
    July 30, 2013 11:01 a.m.

    "[Hans Mattsson], who has been speaking openly, to the Times and elsewhere."

    Deseret News, why do you link to ALL of the articles/site/studies that promote the church but fail to link to anything that offers a critical view (like the NYT article). You fail to mention Mattsson's high profile interview with John Dehlin's Mormon Stories, instead saying "elsewhere".

    I know that you are church owned, but can you at least TRY to appear unbiased?

  • Rita52 ANN ARBOR, MI
    July 30, 2013 11:34 a.m.

    “If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
    ― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
    We walk by faith, as has been noted. And doubt is a part of that walk. But to dwell in it as if it's a permanent home is short-sighted and faithless. We will not know the answer to all the questions in this life, and the best way I have found to continue in the face of doubt is to put that question I can't answer on the shelf and wait. Eventually, one of two things happens. I either find an acceptable answer, or it remains unanswered. I then have another choice: I can either fuss about it, or put it back on the shelf. Some questions have been on the shelf for a very long time, but I know that, either in this life or the next, the answers will come. That is the promise.

  • elbow orem, UT
    July 30, 2013 11:56 a.m.

    My concern is that Bro. Ash and other apologists say that many of these questions have been answered long ago, yet we don't hear these answers at church or when privately talking to bishops or stake presidents. I'm still waiting for these answers and I've read much of what the apologists have to say on these issues. B.H. Roberts said that these issues would come back to haunt the church and that they should be dealt with with openness. I agree. My "shelf" is almost ready to collapse.

  • mattrick78 Cedar City, UT
    July 30, 2013 1:09 p.m.

    There needs to be the possibility of doubt otherwise there would be no need for faith.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    July 30, 2013 3:12 p.m.

    There are a lot of comments on this article about "faith", followed by assertions that the Church is "true", or implications that the "evidence" suggests that it is not true. Faith is a term that I think is thrown around a bit carelessly. Some have said that science operates on faith, for example. This may be true based on some reasoning, but I think it is more than safe to say that whatever element of faith that science follows is distinct from the religious faith used to justify religious worldviews. I think its a bit more helpful to think of scientific faith more in terms of degrees of certainty, rather than "faith". I see no real means of applying any kind of measurement to religious faith, making it a far more ambiguous notion.

    Nobody leaves the Church over Church history. They leave because they realize that they don't believe. If there were good reason to believe in the restoration, then polygamy for example, wouldn't diminish from that. Polygamy instead forces us to do a gut check and honestly ask, "do I really believe this?". When people leave it is because they realize that they never actually believed.

  • jaba166 Wasilla, AK
    July 30, 2013 3:51 p.m.

    I am glad to hear from those who have had doubts about their religion or many other things, examined them, and came out with stronger faith or convictions in the end. Our entire society has become so steeped in "AGENDA", that many have stopped thinking critically, and are too arrogant (insecure) to consider other points of view.
    In the past, this type of thinking has always led to bad outcomes. To the contrary, people who had doubts, but still yearned to know the truth regardless of the costs, rather than cling to the safety and acceptance of "AGENDA" , political correctness, popular opinion, and self-justification, are those who have done the greatest good for mankind. For example, when virtually all of society was sure that the earth was flat, mariners like Columbus proved them all wrong. Joseph Smith was given the opportunity to bring back amazing truths into the world that had been lost and / or distorted - because he first doubted and questioned the establishment. Sincere questioning and wanting to know is the first step in gaining any valuable knowledge. Continued later.... running out of room.

  • Int'l Businessman SLO, CA
    July 30, 2013 4:03 p.m.

    @Mormoncowboy
    " When people leave it is because they realize that they never actually believed."

    I couldn't disagree more. People form beliefs based upon what they are told, their trust in the people who instructed them, and other evidence at hand. You can truly believe something, but your belief can change if the above factors change. For example, once most people believed that the earth was flat. Their trusted teachers had told him it was flat and it seemed flat based upon the evidence at hand. Saying that those people never actually believed the earth was flat just because they dropped that belief when more information became available is false and ludicrous. This is not just about polygamy. This is about new information and loss of trust which can validly affect beliefs.

  • elbow orem, UT
    July 30, 2013 4:14 p.m.

    Some may say that "no one leaves the church over church history" but that they never really believed in the first place. Pretty bold statement, especially when I personally know several people that totally believed, but left. (I'm talking about 60 years of believing, here.) I do agree that church history isn't the issue, though. You see, we're not just talking about "church history". The issues that are causing many to leave are doctrinal issues. Basic issues. Various first vision account issues. Translation issues. DNA issues, Book of Abraham issues, Blacks and the priesthood issues, and so many more. These issues are basic to our doctrine. The Book of Abraham is one of our core standard works, for heaven sakes. One could surely overlook many church history issues, but my friends and family members that have left the church didn't do so on a whim. They struggled and agonized over the decision. To say they never believed in the first place is just, well, misinformed.

  • Mikhail ALPINE, UT
    July 30, 2013 4:27 p.m.

    I have studied "Church History" from both sides of the fence. Motivation for publication of certain information (especially historic) is important to examine, yet, as cited above "faith" is not "knowledge." Knowledge replaces faith. I believe that faith needs to be directed towards truth. I agree with C.S. Lewis:
    "[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
    We are all agents with ability to discern as children of a loving God.

  • Truthseeker2 SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA
    July 30, 2013 4:43 p.m.

    re:MormonCowbody

    "When people leave it is because they realize that they never actually believed."

    I truly believed in Santa Claus. Are you saying he doesn't exist because I didn't believe hard enough?

    And what do you know of the people who leave? Their hearts? Their experiences? Or are you just making a broad judgment with little or no real understanding/knowledge?
    Bro. Mattsson spent many, many hours and years--more than you or I ever will--living the Gospel and carrying out his significant Church callings. He truly believed, heart and soul, what he was taught, and had spiritual experiences as well.

    "Nobody leaves the Church over Church history."

    Some discover and learn the true historical record, which bring up many, many questions, some unanswerable. Some people have no interest in historical facts or aren't bound by historical facts. But others find the historical facts leads them in different directions. Since there is no actual "proof" of anything who are we to say they are wrong? or that they never believed?

    The easiest path is to not learn and stay uninformed, perhaps like Adam and Eve in the Garden.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    July 30, 2013 5:05 p.m.

    Int'l Businessman & Elbow:

    I actually agree with both of you. I should not have said that these people never "believed", but rather "these people never "knew"". It was a typo while trying to keep my around what I was trying to say, and I mis-communicated. Sorry for the confusion.

    My point was to stress the fact that while we like to insist in Mormonism that we "know the Church is true", often times we really don't. We "believe" it is true. If we actually "knew" the Church was true, then Church history wouldn't be an issue. If I had unimpeachable knowledge that the Mormon Church was "true", as we like to say, AND that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and polyandry, what would that mean? Would the polygamy/polyandry suddenly invalidate true facts?? Of course not! Therefore, it is not logical to say that because Joseph Smith practiced Polygamy/Polyandry, that the Church can't be true. So why do we leave? It's because these issues force many of us to confront the reality that we have way more uncertainty regarding the truth claims of the Church than what we were usually willing to admit.

  • jaba166 Wasilla, AK
    July 30, 2013 5:43 p.m.

    This is a continuation of my previous post below. As I stated, although I believe that sincere questioning is a necessity for gaining knowledge, FAITH is also vital to gaining knowledge. But, many talk of faith like it is a principle unto itself, when it is not. The tenets of the Mormon church teach the the first principle of the church is "faith in the Lord Jesus Christ," not in Joseph Smith, or any other church leaders. That is faith that Jesus Christ is in charge and will make sure that things work out to fulfill covenants and promises made by Him regardless of any mistakes made by inspired and often exemplary, but still FALLIBLE men. While I do have faith that the words spoken and delivered by the leaders of the Mormon church are almost always spot-on correct and inspired, I believe they (the prophet and apostles) would be the first to acknowledge that Faith in Christ is the first principle on the algorithm. They can and have made mistakes in judgement and rhetoric, but I would certainly be way more inclined to trust their direction than I would almost any other men on the planet.

  • O'really Idaho Falls, ID
    July 30, 2013 9:11 p.m.

    I wonder where those who leave go? Maybe the LDS church is a challenging one to believe in and belong to, but is there a better choice? Is there a better, healthier lifestyle? Is there a better safety net somewhere? Is there a cleaner, happier people to associate with? And by cleaner I mean one without the binding chains of addictive substance abuse, offensive language and entertainment? Is there a better group of people to support and encourage families in all their challenges? If so, then maybe it's worth it to some. But I doubt anything better could be found. "By their fruits ye shall know them."

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 30, 2013 10:14 p.m.

    Through my own trials I have often come back to the following exchange between Peter and Christ (from John 6):

    From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God

  • OnlytheCross Bakersfield, CA
    July 30, 2013 11:32 p.m.

    O'really: Yes there is. It's found at the foot of Christ's Cross. The Christ of history and truth, not the rewrite.

    And there thousands of churches in my state alone where believers are free from unbiblical mandates and pressure. You might want to get out a little more. There is freedom and joy in The Son.

  • Texas9 Plano, TX
    July 31, 2013 12:23 a.m.

    Chris B SAID:

    "The Internet is a great tool that is bringing a lot of knowledge to many people, including LDS church members." - Agree. But it's always been there from the beginning.

    "20 years ago it was harder to find answers for those with questions." - Only in that it took more time and effort, but not impossible. I found it all 30 years ago.

    "Answers and facts are literally at our fingertips now." - They were literally at our fingertips back then too, in libraries and collections.

    "People's doubts are now being confirmed daily about what they'd long been told by their parents and church leaders." - Wrong. People today don't bother to do real research, all they want is to prove themselves right. Those who are honest and open to whatever God tells them, come back around to the Church, unless they are simply not ready for that yet. But one day they will be.

    "Knowledge is a great thing." - Personal revelation is better though, engraving upon your soul a testimony of the truthfulness of something like the Gospel as found in the LDS church. At that point, one KNOWS. I KNOW & cannot deny it. Yes. One can KNOW.

  • BigTujunga L.A., CA
    July 31, 2013 9:49 a.m.

    @O'really I agree with @OnlyTheCross on this one. By the Fruit...? I think there is actually a better happier way. I think back to my teenage years and the guilt the church piled onto us. Many times the guilt and depression would even lead to self destructive thoughts. Since I technically am still involved with the church I actively watch for this with my teen-age boys and run interference, deprogramming statements of worth or "WORTHiness" based upon The Church's ideas of perfection laid upon them in their meetings. *Bad Fruit* - Fruit of guilt in the teenage years for minor victim-less infractions is not prudent and teen suicide is and has been a serious problem. It would be much better in my opinion to focus on Christ and trying to emulate his goodness, doing what he did and put an end to constant focus on small imperfections. We know nobody is perfect and by God's grace we will be saved let's stop with manipulation already.

  • DHRogers Las Vegas, NV
    July 31, 2013 11:02 a.m.

    Critics routinely accuse the Church of suppressing and hiding uncomfortable facts from its own history. Yet, these very same critics quote Church sources in order to provide proof of their claims. This concern often rests on a misunderstanding. It is true that the Church's teachings are primarily doctrinal and devotional—Church lessons are neither apologetic nor historical in scope or intent.

    The Church’s’ primary mission is to testify that Jesus Christ is the divine Savior of the world and the Son of God and that His Church is restored to the earth. During regular Sunday church meetings there is not time to delve into all the nuances and details of Church history. That’s why, in addition to Sunday Services, the Church has publications which discuss church history in further detail and that’s why the Church makes the information available to researchers and allows them to publish the information.

    Most, if not all, of the criticisms of the Church have been debunked by better and more up-to-date scholarship.

  • DHRogers Las Vegas, NV
    July 31, 2013 11:11 a.m.

    Craigwg says Joseph Smith “calls himself better than Jesus.”

    No. He didn’t say anything of the kind. Joseph Smith said:

    "I do not think there have been many good men on the earth since the days of Adam; but there was one good man and his name was Jesus. Many persons think a prophet must be a great deal better than anybody else...I do not want you to think that I am very righteous, for I am not." (Joseph Smith Jr., Teachings, p 303)

    "I never told you that I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught." (Joseph Smith Jr., Teachings, p 368)

    "Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charged with doing; the wrong that I do is through the frailty of human nature, like other men. No man lives without fault." (Joseph Smith Jr., Teachings, p 258)

    "...a prophet is a prophet only when he is acting as such." (Joseph Smith Jr., DHC 5:265; Teachings p 368)

  • DHRogers Las Vegas, NV
    July 31, 2013 11:14 a.m.

    Craigwg quotes Joseph Smith’s statement about holding the church together when Jesus didn’t. Jesus Himself said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12)

    So, Joseph Smith agrees with Jesus.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    Aug. 6, 2013 1:31 p.m.

    @ Chris B - Salt Lake City, UT - Caravan, "There is a difference between "demanding physical proof" and "denying the physical proof that exists"

    Chris, did you ever consider that your "physical proof" is simply not "proof", ie, not "true"? Those that will not believe until they see physical "proof" do not please the Lord: Matthew 16: 1, 2, 4: "The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him (Jesus) that he would shew them a sign....He answered and said unto them....a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign..."

    @ Brahmabull - sandy, ut - The Caravan Moves On - So you take god over facts? That is disturbing to me."

    Brahmabull, yes, I will gladly take "God" over "facts" for the same reason I told Chris B: your "facts" are in reality not "fact." Whether you like to admit it or not, God does in fact exist and He does in fact possess the ability and the desire to speak to us and He does in fact communicate knowledge to His children. Just because you don't "know" does not mean that I don't, or can't, "know" and someday you will see for yourself that I did know.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    Aug. 6, 2013 1:52 p.m.

    @ grj - Bountiful, ut - "Do any of you who claim to "know" the truth see any inconsistency between that stance and the statement by your Elder Holland, quoted in the article, where he says "And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith.”

    grj, no, there is no inconsistency whatsoever in some of us claiming that we "know" and yet simultaneously say we walk by "faith".

    Let me explain: a person, as a physical being AND a spiritual being, has the ability to see/experience spiritual things in such a way that they learn firsthand that that 'thing' is in fact "true". We learn 2 + 2 = 4 through rational thought, observation and counting the objects. We can likewise learn spiritual truths through spiritual means. The prophet Alma taught we can in fact "know" the seed (the truth/principle) is in fact "good" (i.e., "true") by experiencing it firsthand. HOWEVER...we do NOT yet know ALL things with this level of perfect knowledge. For those things we walk by "faith". See Alma 32: 27-34 (especially vs. 34)

    Therefore, I "know" the Church is "true" but must walk the path it leads me down by "faith".