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