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New articles and information about MormonThink.com

 

LDS CHURCH FINANCES FROM THE 1830s TO THE 1990s - by D. Michael Quinn - 10/28/14

This Sunstone article from June 1996 is by LDS historian Michael Quinn. He gives a fascinating insight into tithing in the early days of the Church.

Church finances have not always been as they are today. Imagine today's Church if: tithing were 2 percent, converts had to give all their surplus to the Church, bishops were paid 8 percent of the ward's tithing, patriarchs charged fees, and each April the Church released a detailed financial report

Article link has been added to MormonThink's section on tithing definition

 

Brent Metcalfe on mormonstories - 10/15/14

Mormon historian Brent Metcalfe did a series of 6 podcasts on mormonstories. It is one of the best podcasts we have heard. Brent gives firsthand insights into the Mark Hofmann bombings, interactions with General Authorities from his experience working in the Security Dept of the Church and examining the Book of Mormon. The podcasts are numbered 493-494, 497-498 & 499-499b. Link to mormonstories podcasts

 

 

New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology by Brent Metcalfe

With the very high interest in Brent Metcalfe's six-part podcast on mormonstories, readers may want to check out Brent's ground-breaking work from 1993 on the Book of Mormon. Brent edited a series of essays written by some of the brightest experts on the BOM including Dan Vogel, Stan Larson and Edward H. Ashment.

The book is also available for free online at Signature Books.

It should be noted that the printed edition is preferred as the online version does contain some mistakes per Brent.

 

Dan Vogel video on the Book of Mormon Witnesses - 9/30/14

Award-wining author Dan Vogel has just come out with his latest video. In this first of two parts, Dan examines the Three Book of Mormon witnesses and does an in-depth analysis of their testimony.

Since its publication in 1830, the Book of Mormon has been accompanied by the Testimony of Three Witnesses claiming to have seen the an angel with the plates and the Testimony of Eight Witnesses claiming that Joseph Smith showed them the plates, which they were allowed to handle. However, subsequent statements by members of both groups of witnesses indicate that the published Testimonies can be misleading and that using them to recreate the historical events behind them is a mistake. In fact, there is significant evidence that the experiences of the Three Witnesses was more subjective than their published Testimony implies and that the Eight Witnesses’ examination of the plates was not completely natural and physical.

Book of Mormon Witnesses - Pt 1 - The Three - Dan Vogel

 

 

 

NEW BOOK: Escaping the Darkness of Religious Light, Vol 1 Dr. Kim M. Clark - 9/23/14

This is a perfect book for those seeking to learn more about how the Christian story of Jesus and the concept of God isn't necessarily unique.. Latter-day Saints and those familiar with the LDS Church will find this book especially relevant as Mormonism is also discussed in this context as the author is a former Latter-day Saint. The founder of MormonThink was privileged to receive an advance copy of the book and wrote one of the forwards in the inside cover:

Book Review - Escaping the Darkness of Religious Light

 

Sexual Allegations Against Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Polygamy in Nauvoo - 9/22/14

Former CES teacher Grant Palmer has written a new paper detailing all the known cases in which the prophet Joseph Smith was accused of some sexual misconduct with women. He also discusses the beginnings of polygamy in the Nauvoo era. Please read Allegations against Joseph

 

Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham- 7/8/14

The Church just released the latest essay addressing troubling issues in its history. An essay on the Book of Abraham is now in the topical guide of the LDS.org website. It is found here: Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham

MormonThink will be responding to this essay in the near future. In the meantime, here are two resources to review:

Mormon Disclosures Blog on essay

MormonThink's section on the Book of Abraham issues.

 

Adolf Hitler & The Mormon Church - 6/17/14

This is an interesting article on how the Church viewed Hitler in the early 1930s.

In December of 1933, a newspaper article was written in the Church News section of The Deseret News. The title of the article was “Mormonism in the New Germany.” This article praised the new regime of Adolf Hitler and sought to compare the glory of LDS teachings with the new doctrine of Nazism that was spreading across the German nations. Read Mormonism in the New Germany

 

Dan Vogel video on Book of Mormon translation. - 6/3/14

Eyewitness testimony confirms that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon in the same manner that he once hunted for buried treasure: that is, with his brown-colored seer stone placed in the crown of his white top hat and his face snug to its brim. Rather than seeing treasures in the bowels of the earth, Smith claimed he saw luminous words on the stone, which he read to a scribe. In this manner the entire Book of Mormon as we have it came into existence. This fact conflicts with Joseph Smith’s official history, which claims that he used magic spectacles—which he euphemistically called Urim and Thummim—attached to a breastplate. This video examines the historical sources and responds to recent apologetic attempts to reconcile this problem.

Joseph Smith's Magic Spectacles - Dan Vogel

ALSO, the video and the complete text to the video has been added to MormonThink's response to the Church essay on the BOM translation.

 

Peace and Violence among 19th-Century Latter-day Saints - 5/13/14

The Church just released the latest essay addressing troubling issues in its history. The essay is now in the topical guide of the LDS.org website. It is found here: Peace and Violence among 19th-Century Latter-day Saints

 

Response to the Church essay on 'Becoming like God' - 5/12/14

MormonThink has posted its response to the Church essay on LDS.org called 'Becoming like God'. Response to Becoming like God

 

Sacrament talk given citing issues in Church history - 4/23/14

A church member gave a rather enlightening talk in a sacrament meeting dealing with disturbing issues in LDS history and advocated the members learn more about them. Please read the talk along with MormonThink's commentary: Sacrament talk on church history - Midway 5th ward

 

Dan Vogel video on Joseph Smith - 3/26/14

Award-winning author Dan Vogel updated his original video "The Prophet Puzzle". This video is based on a paper delivered at the Mormon History Association in Snowbird, Utah, 18 May 1996.

Watch “Joseph Smith’s Motives – The Prophet Puzzle”

 

Response to the Church essay on plural marriage - 3/21/14

MormonThink has posted its response to the Church essay on LDS.org called 'Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah'. Our response is here: Plural Marriage - Response to LDS.org

 

In Defense of the Prophet Noah and the Great Flood - 3/13/14

The LDS Meridian Magazine defends the story of Noah and the Great Flood as a true, historic event as the LDS Church has always taught. Please read their enlightening explanations for why this story appears to conflicts with science. This has now been added to MT's science section as a faithful LDS response. http://www.ldsmag.com/article/1/14059

 

Dan Vogel videos on the Anthon Manuscript - 2/28/14

Award-winning author Dan Vogel made a 3-part set of youtube videos on the Anthon manuscript. The Anthon Manuscript is said to contain actual characters from the book of Mormon. If they could be verified as ancient writings as Professor Charles Anthon reportedly did in 1828, then this could give enormous scientific evidence for the historical claims of the Book of Mormon. Watching the videos really helps the viewer understand what the issues are and what likely happened. It is by far the most comprehensive video set on the subject.

Link to: Dan Vogel videos on the Anthon Manuscript

 

See the updates to the UK Fraud Case - 1/18/14

 

MormonThink response to essays -1/18/14

MormonThink has listed some additional information we have on the Church essays. See Responses to Gospel Topic Essays On LDS.org

 

Book of Abraham Criticisms, Defenses and Implications - 1/15/13

A reader wrote an essay which takes another look at the Book of Abraham issues. It includes a lot of visuals and really breaks down the issue in a way that makes it accessible for the average member. The Book of Abraham Criticisms, Defenses and Implications

 

New Books - 1/14/13

Please check out some of the new books that have recently been published including An Imperfect Book: What the Book of Mormon Tells Us about Itself by Earl M. Wunderli. Link to books

 

Book of Mormon Translation - 12/30/13

The Church just released the 4th essay addressing troubling issues in its history. An essay on the mechanical process in which the Book of Mormon was translated is now in the topical guide of the LDS.org website. It is found here: Book of Mormon Translation

The article is fairly brief and only superficially addresses the problem. For example the article states that a spectacle "urim & thummim" was used to translate the BOM as well as a common stone discovered in the ground. First the essay mentions how special the spectacle version of the urim & Thummim was:

“kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord” and “handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages.”

Then the essay introduces the 'seer stone':

"The other instrument, which Joseph Smith discovered in the ground years before he retrieved the gold plates, was a small oval stone, or “seer stone.” As a young man during the 1820s, Joseph Smith, like others in his day, used a seer stone to look for lost objects and buried treasure. As Joseph grew to understand his prophetic calling, he learned that he could use this stone for the higher purpose of translating scripture."

But the Church does not bring up an obvious natural question this would bring up:

Why would a common stone "discovered in the ground" have the same prophetic seering abilities as the spectacle urim & thummim which was "“kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord” and “handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages”?

To get a more complete view on the BOM translation process and the many problems not discussed in the LDS article, read MormonThink's section on Book of Mormon Translation.

 

Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah - 12/17/13

The Church just released the 3rd essay addressing troubling issues in its history. An essay on Polygamy is now in the topical guide of the LDS.org website. It is found here: Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah

The article is fairly brief and focuses on polygamy between 1847 and 1890 (after Joseph Smith). The article states "Latter-day Saints do not understand all of God’s purposes for instituting, through His prophets, the practice of plural marriage during the 19th century."

The article postulates that per the Book of Mormon, polygamy may have been instituted to increase the population. However, this makes little sense because a group of women can have far more children if they each have their own husband instead of sharing one man. For example Brigham Young reportedly had 55 children by some 29 child-bearing capable wives but had those women had their own husbands they may have had 150 or more children in total. This reasoning only makes sense if there was a shortage of men but census records show that there were always more men than women in Utah during that time period.

The article completely avoids the most troubling issue that knowledgeable LDS have on polygamy which is the way Joseph Smith practiced it. Joseph Smith practiced polyandry where he married other men's wives as well as polygamy. Joseph married 33 women of which 11 were married to other men. Although many LDS believe that Joseph did not have sexual relations with those women, many faithful historians acknowledge that there is evidence he did. Often Joseph would send men on missions overseas then marry their wives. Also not mentioned is Joseph's marriages to young girls as young as 14 and to what lengths Joseph went to hide these marriages from his first wife Emma. Also omitted is how the Church leaders denied practicing polygamy before the 1850s.

The article also makes it seem that all the LDS women were more than willing to practice the principle and to defend it. They omit very sad stories of women like 14 year-old Helen Kimball who was pressured to marry Joseph Smith and to keep it a secret as she was promised exaltation for her family and faithful men like Henry Jacobs who had his wife Zina taken from him and sealed to Joseph Smith and later to Brigham Young.

To get a more complete view on polygamy and the many problems not discussed in the LDS article, read MormonThink's section on polygamy.

Blog response to essay: Woman at the Well

 

Richard Bushman Interview on reddit - 12/17/13

Faithful LDS historian Richard Bushman did an 'Ask Me Anything' (AMA) on reddit on 12/16/2013. We appreciate his candid responses and we archived the dialogue here.

 

Grant Palmer Interview on reddit - 12/10/13

Retired CES teacher Grant Palmer did an 'Ask Me Anything' (AMA) on reddit on 12/5/2013. Grant Palmer AMA (edited 12/12/13)

 

Race and the Priesthood - 12/8/13

The Church just released the 2nd essay addressing troubling issues in its history. An essay on Race and the Priesthood is now in the topical guide of the LDS.org website. Unfortunately, it is a fairly brief discussion and it only really addresses one problem of the Church denying blacks the priesthood until 1978. It is found here: Race and the Priesthood

The article disavows that the curse of Cain is black skin. Although not addressed is the Book of Mormon verses that specifically describe the curse as 'dark skin'.

The essay is basically a historical recap of the Church's treatment of blacks regarding the priesthood. Unfortunately the article does not say why the prophets from Brigham Young until Spencer Kimball denied blacks the priesthood when Joseph Smith allowed it in at least two instances.

Most of the issues discussed in MormonThink's section on Blacks and the Priesthood are still not addressed at all in this Church article.

Blog reacting to essay: Mormon Disclosures

 

First Vision Updates: - 11/26/13

Youtube video & CES Lecture:

Author and retired CES director of 34 years Grant Palmer, gave a lecture at the SLC Library, Nov. 6, 2013. The outline of the lecture can be read here: Joseph Smith's changing view of God as seen in his First Vision accounts Updated 12/13/13 with photos from the lecture

Youtube video: "Joseph Smith's changing view of God" with Grant Palmer

Church essay on the First Vision:

As MormonThink first mentioned on 6/3/13, The LDS Church has released it's first of 13 reported essays addressing controversial historical Church topics. The Differing Versions of the First Vision is now in the topical guide of the LDS website: First Vision Accounts

The MormonThink editors are reviewing the article and will be responding to it.

 

Church historian acknowledges LDS Church has been keeping information from its members - 11/15/13

Current Church historian Elder Steven E. Snow, who recently replaced Elder Marlin K. Jensen as the Church Historian and Recorder, did an interview with BYU’s Religious Educator on the topic of Church history. In the interview, Elder Snow essentially admits that the church leaders have suppressed information about Church history. He also tacitly states that they would still be doing so were it not for the internet. Read Truth in Church History: Excerpts from the Religious Educator’s Q&A with Elder Steven Snow

 

MormonThink gets its first billboard - 11/5/13

On November 4, 2013, MormonThink put up its first billboard. It is off of I-15 just south of Salt Lake City between 33 South and 45 South. It's on the left side of the road.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency said in the Oct 2013 General Conference, "We respect those who honestly search for truth.” MormonThink agrees with that and invites all members to explore Mormonism's fascinating history in detail from all sources. MormonThink discusses little known historical details of Mormon history and provides information and links to both critics and faithful defenders of Mormonism so the readers can study information from all sides. We are the largest website on LDS history that provides resources from all viewpoints to help those honestly searching for truth. You might just learn something new and interesting from reading some Mormon history on our site that you may not have been taught in Sunday School. Read MormonThink Billboard

Update: Thanks to the impact the freeway sign is having and to the generous contributions of our readers, the MormonThink billboard will be up an additional 3 weeks extending till Dec 22.

 

mormonthink billboard

 

 

Swedish Rescue commentary by Sandra Tanner - 10/21/13

In the October 2013 issue #121 of the Salt Lake Messenger, a publication by the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, they give a very nice recap of the Swedish Rescue and the 15 questions address during the fireside. The newsletter also discussed some related issues. The issue is well worth reading, even if you have already read the Swedish Rescue information on MormonThink, as I found their commentary to be very insightful and provided interesting comments we didn't think about before. Link to updated section by Sandra Tanner

 

Brother Jake Explains: The Book of Abraham video - 9/28/13

 

New video on Joseph bringing the Gold Plates Home - 9/23/14

The following very informative video by noted Mormon historian Dan Vogel describes the circumstances surrounding how Joseph first brought the plates to his family's house in 1827. This video is now in several sections of MT, including this one:

Video on Joseph bringing the Gold Plates Home

Video Description:

Joseph Smith claimed he translated the Book of Mormon from anciently engraved gold plates, which he took from a stone box in the side of a hill near his home in Manchester, New York. Claiming that he was forbidden by God to show them to anyone, Smith kept the plates carefully wrapped in a cloth or concealed in a wooden box. Believers accept this as God's way of requiring faith, whereas skeptics suspect Smith constructed a set of plates that couldn't pass visual inspection. This is the story of Joseph Smith's bringing the plates home in September 1827.

 

School of the Prophets - 8/21/13

The original School of the Prophets was instituted by Joseph Smith starting in 1833 to instruct select Latter-day Saints on both sacred and secular topics. In 2013, the LDS Church has initiated a program they also call School of the Prophets designed for select members in Sweden. Sweden's School of the Prophets

 

Compilation of professors - 8/13/13

A current, young LDS member sought further knowledge about what the scientific community thought about whether the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham could be historically plausible. Here's his feedback from 14 professors that have responded so far and allowed their comments to be printed: professors

 

Joseph Smith, Captain Kidd, Cumorah And Moroni - by Grant Palmer 8/9/13

Folktales of the treasure feats of Captain William Kidd (1645-1701), and their likely influence upon Joseph Smith Jr., have previously been argued and written during the last several decades. While the topic is not new, circumstantial evidence linking the two men is accumulating. This article is not the last word on the subject, but rather an effort to clarify where things presently stand.  READ: article by Grant Palmer

Note: This article has been accepted for publication and will appear in the Spring issue of 2014, in The John Whitmer Historical Journal.

 

More Mormon Personal Stories - 8/8/13

By reader request, MormonThink has added another personal stories section for those LDS members or former members that wish to share their stories of faith crisis or other interesting thoughts or essays. The first essay is especially interesting by a family that left the LDS Church after visiting the apologetic site FAIR. Please see More Mormon Personal Stories

 

Temple Changes - 8/8/13

The LDS temple ceremony has recently undergone some changes. Reports are sketchy as to what exactly was changed. Apparently the movie was updated to have a more modern look and 12 minutes added to allow for language conversions.

 

New book - Mormon Crisis : Anatomy of a Failing Religion by James A. Beverley - 8/7/13

The book offers a serious indictment of the LDS belief system but also presents a way out of the current crisis facing one of America’s most famous and controversial religions. Book information: Mormon Crisis

 

Swedish Rescue Part 2 - 7/23/13

This section contains a link to the audio made from the 2010 fireside in Sweden mentioned by former Seventy Hans Mattsson as well as the transcript and various commentary (new critic's commentary added 7/29). Swedish Rescue Part 2

 

Hans Mattsson, former Seventy discusses his disbelief in the New York Times - 7/20/13

Page devoted to Hans Mattsson, a former member of the 3rd Quorum of the Seventy, who made headlines when his story appeared on the front page of the July 21, 2013 New York Times. Includes links to the NYT article, 5-part podcast Hans did on mormonstories, information on the fireside in Sweden discussed by Hans and the Swedish Rescue which was a program instituted by the Church to appease questioning members in Sweden. Page devoted to Hans Mattsson

 

LDS apologist defends the Book of Mormon translation - 7/11/13

LDS apologist Michael Ash defends the Book of Mormon translation process in Meridian Magazine. An editor responds to Ash's article. Translating the Book of Mormon by Michael Ash

 

LDS author and MT contributor Avery Wright latest writing: Finding Normal - 7/2/13

 

New Book of Abraham video - 6/30/13

This 23 minute video, made by a Latter-day Saint is one of the best, most concise and neutral overviews of the Joseph Smith papyri. He gives an excellent summary of the history of the Book of Abraham, the problems and the apologetic explanations. Added to the front page of the Book of Abraham section.

 

Dan Vogel video on the 1823 discovery of the gold plates - 6/19/13

The latest Dan Vogel video was added to both the Moroni visitation section and the Translation of the Book of Mormon section. It is a well-done video that touches on both the Moroni visit and Joseph's treasure seeking before he translated the Book of Mormon.

Occult context of Joseph Smith's 1823 Discovery of Gold Plates

 

Professor Givens' "Crucible of Doubt" UK Tour on the “new” Church History – 6/11/13

During May 2013, under the apparent direction of the Church, LDS apologist Terryl Givens and his wife Fiona toured the UK and Ireland giving firesides on the ‘Crucible of Doubt’. MormonThink received many emails after these firesides, including a link to an audio tape made by a member in attendance. The firesides appeared to be apologetic in nature mentioning that there are some historical issues coming to light in the LDS Church which is causing members to doubt the Church.  An e-mail was sent to all leadership that no missionaries, investigators or youth should attend. Click here for more information

UPDATE: Another similar fireside was given by Richard Bushman in Provo, UT July 6. A write-up by an attendee

 

Letter to a CES Director - 4/23/13

A current lifelong Latter-day Saint, Jeremy Runnells was asked by a CES Director in April 2013 to share with him Jeremy’s questions and concerns regarding the LDS Church and its truth claims. The following letter is Jeremy’s response: A Letter to a CES Director

Note: The most up-to-date version of this file will be permanently available on the personal stories webpage under Jeremy Runnells.

 

BYU professor's Book of Abraham videos - 2/27/13

Recently, BYU professor Kerry Muhlestein recorded a series of youtube videos where he defends the veracity of Joseph Smith's translation of the Egyptian papyrus as the Book of Abraham.

In these videos, Kerry makes many claims about how Egyptology is discovering new connections between ancient Egypt and the patriarch Abraham.

In February, 2013, Youtube author Flackerman approached three UCLA professors of Egyptology where Kerry received his PhD in Egyptology and asked them to review Kerry's videos. See how they responded by reading BYU professor videos

 

John Dehlin's updated video - 2/11/13

John Dehlin has updated his popular 'Why people leave the LDS Church and what can we do about it' video. He has now included results of a survey.

Updated Video: 400: Top 5 Myths and Truths about Why Committed Mormons Leave the Church

Powerpoint presentation can be found here.

 

Future Missionary - site made by Returned Missionaries to help new missionaries prepare to go on a mission. Informative and useful information. - 1/21/13

 

Mission Presidents and taxes - 1/9/13

 

MormonThink joins FaceBook - 1/5/13

Although many contributing members of MormonThink have had Facebook accounts for years and have often posted Mormon happenings on it, we have decided to enter this social media field with the MormonThink FaceBook Page.

 

MormonThink Blogger Avery Wright - 1/5/13

Many active Latter-day Saints continue to join the MormonThink team to add their knowledge and ideas to past and current Mormon topics. One new addition is Avery Wright, author, current Latter-day Saint & MT contributor. He blogs on Mormonism and just added two new articles. Check out Avery Wright.

 

Book of Mormon Tories - Part 2 youtube video by Tom Donofrio - 12/20/12

This fascinating presentation by Tom Donofrio from Oct 2012 is a must view for those interested in the Book of Mormon and interesting parallels with contemporary sources of Joseph Smith's time.

All conference talks from the Oct 2012 gathering in SLC

 

Mission Presidents and paying taxes -- 12/9/12

This blog discusses the rules for Mission Presidents and interesting things like how they treat taxes.

 

Former Stake President takes over as MormonThink's Managing Editor - 11/29/12

Tom Phillips has agreed to act as the managing editor of MormonThink. The last two managing editors resigned from the church after the LDS leadership called them to church courts for writing about church history and doctrine, as well as working on the MormonThink website.

Tom is a former stake president well qualified to speak to the issues. You can learn more about him at Tom Phillip's Home Page.

Tom will use his knowledge and background to carry on MT's goal to generate discussion about little-known topics of church history to those interested in increasing their knowledge about these fascinating doctrinal and historical issues. Tom vows to continue representing truth and provide the critic and faithful LDS with evidence to make informed decisions.

His first official act is to respond to the apologetic organization known as FAIR that has made many unfair attacks against the good people of the MT site. Tom has asked several MT contributors to help respond to their latest attack. Please read FAIR vs. MormonThink

 

First Vision Essay - 11/29/12

R. L. Pratt's essay on the First Vision discusses issues such as throughout the Nineteenth Century, Elohim was thought to be a name synonymous with Jehovah. But in 1916, Church authorities issued out a Doctrinal Exposition saying in effect that Elohim was actually an altogether different person; a higher-yet god.....a god above Jehovah. Read Joseph Smith Sabellianism and Mormon Belief

 

Grant Palmer Presentation - 11/26/12

LDS historian and former Church Education System instructor Grant Palmer, gave an excellent talk in SLC in October 2012 entitled “My Ah-Ha Moments in Researching Mormon History”.

This was a great presentation by Grant that everyone really enjoyed and is now available on youtube.

Youtube Version - My Ah-Ha Moments in Researching Mormon History

Grant Palmer's Home Page

 

Will Bagley Home Page - Romney article and several others - 11/2/12