the thinker

Welcome to MormonThink

MormonThink is concerned with truth.  It is neither an anti-Mormon website nor an LDS apologist website.  Instead, for each topic we present the strongest and most compelling arguments and explanations from both the critics and the defenders of the Church.  It is then up to the reader to decide where the preponderance of the evidence lies and which side has dealt more fairly with the issue.

Because we aim to be as complete and impartial as possible, we welcome contributions from readers who can strengthen the positions on either side.  As a result, we present a range of viewpoints, privileging those we believe are the most accurate, consistent, and empirically valid.

You may want to start by reading the Introduction to MormonThink.

Gordon B Hinckley

“Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. They may find what they are looking for, but the fact is the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley
(Prophet, Seer & Revelator)

~ Dec. 25, 2005 interview with The Associated Press

Top Current Stories

Lance Miles interview on Mormonstories - 24, April 2017

Lance Miles' personal story of discovery has been one of the most popular and well-liked of the personal stories shared my members and former members of the LDS faith on MormonThink's personal stories section. Of particular appeal is his detailed account of the meeting he had with the Church historian Elder Marlin K. Jensen. Lance and his wife Nicki share their story via podcast on John Dehlin's Mormonstories.

Read Lance's original story and link to the mormonstories podcast: Lance Miles personal story

Grant Palmer - new book to be released in 2017 - 3, March 2017

Grant Palmer, author and former CES Director of the LDS Church has submitted a new book that will hopefully be published soon. It is to be titled "Restoring Christ: Giving up Mormon Jesus for Gospels' Jesus." In anticipation of this, Grant has allowed MormonThink to release what will be Chapter One of this new book. It is available on Grant's Home Page.

Read Jesus Did Exist (PDF).

A Celebration of the Life and Work of Grant Palmer - 21, February 2017

Grant Palmer is an author of Mormon books, a former CES Director and most importantly a friend of mine. He has been very helpful to me and to the group at MormonThink almost since its foundation when I asked him some questions about his book "An Insider's View Of Mormon Origins". He gave me his number and told me to give him a call. After a long and informative call, we kept a continual dialogue on Mormon topics ever since. We often consult him on Mormon historical issues and he has always been very willing to give us the benefit of his research.

We are proud to have been the host of Grant Palmer's Home Page on MormonThink for over a decade. It remains one of the most popular of MormonThink's pages visited each month where we will always keep a complete archive of all things Grant Palmer including articles he writes, TV appearances, youtube videos, correspondence on his dealing with the LDS Church, etc. No doubt MormonThink would not be as popular as it is without Grant's many contributions over the years.

I can't say enough good things about Grant. Although some apologists criticize him for revealing certain truths about the Church after serving as a Church employee for 33 years, Grant has always been fair with the Church. For example when I was telling him about a quote from Oliver Cowdery that I was thinking about putting on our site, Grant told me that he personally researched that issue and did not think it was a valid quote and told me not to use it. That goes against the claims that some apologists have said that Grant is just trying to destroy the Church.

I've very much enjoyed reading Grant's writings, listening to his podcasts, watching his youtube videos and especially talking with him in person when visiting Utah. Grant, thank you for being my friend and for helping me when I was at my lowest after finding out that the Church I loved and grew up with wasn't exactly what I thought it was.

Grant has recently been diagnosed with a terminal cancer and not expected to live much longer. Now for the happy news.  Mormon Stories Podcast and the Open Stories Foundation, along with a few supporters, held a private event in Grant Palmer’s honor on the evening of February 15, 2017* in Utah.  The video made from this can be viewed here:

Details on the Celebration of the Life of Grant Palmer

Grant's Home Page

Your friends at MormonThink

New Video: Joseph Smith and Other Men's Wives - Dan Vogel - part 3 is now up 29 Dec 2016

Popular author and Mormon historian Dan Vogel's newest video discusses Joseph Smith's polyandrous marriages.

Of the 33 plus women Mormon founder Joseph Smith married, about 14 were already married to other men. This created polyandrous situations in which these women had two husbands. Some Mormon apologists have tried to defend Joseph Smith by arguing that most of the polyandrous marriages were merely ceremonial and intended for the next life only. In this the first of a two-part video, I will discuss the case of Sylvia Sessions Lyon, who believed that her daughter Josephine was the biological daughter of Joseph Smith but through DNA was recently disproved. This has turned out to be the best evidence for sexual polyandry. In a second video I will discuss the other polyandrous wives of Joseph Smith.

Joseph Smith and Other Men's Wives (Pt 1)-Dan Vogel

Joseph Smith and Other Men's Wives (Pt 2) - Dan Vogel

Joseph Smith and Other Men's Wives (Pt 3) - Dan Vogel

The Mormon Council of Fifty: What Joseph Smith’s Secret Records Reveal - 9 September 2016

In 1844, the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith surrendered himself to state authorities after destroying an anti-Mormon printing press in Nauvoo, Illinois. When he was sent to nearby Carthage, the county seat, and charged with treason, he knew there was a strong chance he would never escape alive. Before he left he whispered instructions to his secretary, William Clayton, “to burn the records of the kingdom, or put them in some safe hands and send them away or else bury them up.”* Clayton, a British convert who became a keeper of Smith’s most important documents, chose the latter option and, according to his later account, “put the records in a small box and buried them in my garden.”

Read full article

New Video: Anti Universalist Rhetoric and the Book of Mormon - Dan Vogel - 23 August 2016

Popular author and Mormon historian Dan Vogel's newest video discusses how the Book of Mormon reflects anti-Universalist rhetoric and in what ways it participated in the debate Joseph Smith’s contemporaries were having on the subject. Anti Universalist Rhetoric and the Book of Mormon - Dan Vogel

New book on Joseph Smith's Seer Stones - 8 August 2016

On 5 September, 2016, a book entitled 'Joseph Smith's Seer Stones' written by Michael Hubbard MacKay will be available to the public. The author is an assistant professor in the Department of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. Per the author:

When the Church released photos of the brown seer stone that was owned and used by Joseph Smith, the news ignited a firestorm of curiosity and controversy. People wanted more information and wondered why they hadn't been aware of the stone's existence.

This book discusses the origins of Joseph Smith's seer stones and explores how Joseph used them throughout his life in a way that goes beyond translating the Book of Mormon. It also traces the provenance of his stones once they left his possessions. The authors examine how the Book of Mormon itself provides a storyline about the history of seer stones and how this helped Joseph Smith learn about his own prophetic gifts.

Polygamy lives on in Mormon temple sealings - 3 August 2016

Very interesting article on the problems with modern-day sealings causing polygamous eternal marriages:

LDS historian Richard Bushman speaks about the Church teaching inaccurate history - 14 July 2016

To his credit, LDS patriarch and historian Richard L. Bushman (in the video below) candidly admits that the narrative the LDS church has been teaching its members and investigators for decades, "Is not true."...that the church is on "shaky grounds," and implies that the church "has to change" or it will experience significant problems.

Questioner: In your view do you see room in Mormonism for several narratives of a religious experience or do you think that in order for the Church to remain strong they would have to hold to that dominant [orthodox] narrative?

Richard Bushman: I think that for the Church to remain strong it has to reconstruct its narrative. The dominant narrative is not true; it can't be sustained. The Church has to absorb all this new information or it will be on very shaky grounds and that's what it is trying to do and it will be a strain for a lot of people, older people especially. But I think it has to change.

Richard and Claudia Bushman youtube video

Apostle says the Book of Mormon "is not a textbook of history" - 6 July 2016

LDS Church News: President Russell M. Nelson at a 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents said the following about the Book of Mormon:

“There are some things the Book of Mormon is not,” President Nelson said. “It is not a textbook of history, although some history is found within its pages. It is not a definitive work on ancient American agriculture or politics. It is not a record of all former inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, but only of particular groups of people.”

Link is here

It seems as if the Church wants to leave the Book of Mormon in a sort of gray area where it may not be 100% historical. Nelson's remarks are confusing as the Church, since its foundation in 1830, has always said the Book of Mormon is a true record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. The remarks appear to be geared to the complete and utter lack of any archeological, linguistic or any of scientific evidence to support it. To the contrary, many anachronisms are mentioned in the BofM such as horses, elephants, wheat, barley, steel, silk, etc. which did not exist in the Americas during BofM times. Elder Nelson seems to want to lessen the validity of these arguments with his dismissal of the BofM as a 'textbook'.

Perhaps the LDS Church is foreshadowing the day when they recognize that the BofM might be merely 'inspired' writings of Joseph Smith rather than an accurate account of ancient Israelites that lived in the Americas. The 2nd largest church that uses the BofM, the RLDS Church (Community of Christ) realized this about two decades ago and now makes it optional to believe that the BofM is historically correct or simply inspired writings of Joseph Smith.



For other stories and for older stories, see What's new? and Latest News on Mormonism