Grant Palmer has passed away. 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. I will miss my friend Grant very much.
An excellent documentary has been made on Grant Palmer available to view on MormonThink's Youtube Channel. Grant Palmer: An Insider's View of Mormonism
Dying from stage four pancreatic cancer, Grant Palmer
graciously spent time with us sharing his thoughts
and research regarding the origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Grant has written three landmark books concerning the rise of Mormonism and the importance of Jesus Christ.
His three books are titled:
1. An insider's view of Mormon origins
2. The incomparable Jesus
3. Restoring Christ: Leaving Mormon Jesus for Jesus of the Gospels
Grant was very ill at the time of this filming.
His mind was sharp and alert especially considering
what he was going through. We cannot thank him enough for the precious time he has put into the making of this film.
John Dehlin of mormonstories interview Grant Palmer. In this two-part episode we sit down a final time with Grant Palmer to discuss the release of his final book: Restoring Christ: Leaving Mormon Jesus for Jesus of the Gospels.
Grant Palmer, author and former CES Director of the LDS Church has just published a new book titled "Restoring Christ: Leaving Mormon Jesus for Jesus of the Gospels".
Summary: He has come to greatly prefer the Jesus of the Gospels over the Jesus of Mormonism. This book is an exploration of the foundations of his journey, and what he has chosen to believe, what he hopes others might consider. He writes on Christianity and Mormonism, with the hope that struggling Latter-day Saints can find a way forward with Christ as their foundation. Looking at both Christianity and Mormonism, his intent is to lift the baby from the bathwater, to restore the Savior, with no desire to save the Jesus of Mormonism. Joseph Smith’s Restoration has grave problems. Joseph went astray in his view, because Joseph went beyond the footprint of Jesus’ teachings—committing the same mistake he claimed others had made.
This book is a Restoration-type endeavor; an effort to rediscover what is most basic, most important. How ironic to seek to restore the Christ of the Gospels from Mormonism! So what does a Latter-day Saint do when they discover that the church narrative they were taught all their life has fallen apart? For him, the “revelations” of Mormon Jesus and their practice by Joseph Smith—as especially seen in chapters 9, 17-19—is radically different from the behavior, character and personality of Jesus of Nazareth. For example, Smith produced “scriptures” which depended on nineteenth-century sources, claiming them to be ancient. He initiated a secret “spiritual wife system” which included concubines and slandered women who resisted his sexual advances. He married young teenagers and other men’s wives. He cursed his enemies and set up a secret organization, had himself ordained king and sought to violently overthrow the Nation. Comparing the two portraits has been the single most cathartic event since Grant’s crisis of faith. He finds the Jesus of the Gospels to better reflect God’s nature and love, and thus how to clearly respond to others as a disciple.
On Amazon at:
Details on Grant's Home Page.
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
UPDATE: This document shown on Mormonleaks indicates that members of the First Quorum of the Seventy made 120k/yr living allowance in 2014. While not excessive, this is probably mostly pocket money as many expenses are reportedly paid by the church e.g. housing, tuition, transportation, health insurance, etc.
From the Religious News Services, this article shows how quickly the church changed its seminary manual, at first being very open about certain things like encouraging discussion on whether the priesthood ban against black men was God's eternal law or simply church management. Read article
We have added the following book to MormonThink's list of books:
Recently added to the Polygamy and to the Temple sections is a link to this very interesting article on the problems with modern-day sealings causing polygamous eternal marriages:
Noted Mormon historian and author Grant Palmer has written an essay entitled 'Joseph Smith and His Concubines' which has been added to Grant's Home Page. This essay adds some color to Joseph Smith’s belief and practice of concubinage.
We have made some minor tweaks to the entry, but have added a new section: "Prophets, Seers and Revelators." We present that information below:
Because of the important role and responsibilities of a prophet, we present the following from the LDS Church's website:
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to be led by living prophets—inspired men called to speak for the Lord, as did Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, and other prophets of the scriptures. We sustain the President of the Church as prophet, seer, and revelator—the only person on the earth who receives revelation to guide the entire Church. We also sustain the counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators.
Like the prophets of old, prophets today testify of Jesus Christ and teach His gospel. They make known God's will and true character. They speak boldly and clearly, denouncing sin and warning of its consequences. At times, they may be inspired to prophesy of future events for our benefit.
We can always trust the living prophets. Their teachings reflect the will of the Lord, who declared: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).
Our greatest safety lies in strictly following the word of the Lord given through His prophets, particularly the current President of the Church. The Lord warns that those who ignore the words of the living prophets will fall (see D&C 1:14-16). He promises great blessings to those who follow the President of the Church:“Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith. For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory” (D&C 21:4-6).
"Prophets," Gospel Topics on the LDS website (emphasis added).
One of the hallmarks of Mormonism is their teaching that they have authority and revelation from God Himself:
A prophet is a person who has been called by God to speak for Him. Prophets…help us avoid deception…because they receive authority and revelation from God.
"Doctrinal Topics, Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, 2016" from the LDS website (emphasis added).
When a prophet speaks for God, it is as if God were speaking (see D&C 1:38). …A prophet teaches truth and interprets the word of God. He calls the unrighteous to repentance. He receives revelations and directions from the Lord for our benefit.
"Chapter 9: Prophets of God," Gospel Principles, (2011).
As can be seen in the two quotes above, prophets should speak boldly and clearly those things that will help us avoid deception. Many things on MormonThink have not been clarified by the prophets of the Church. Because these things are not clear, people are apparently being deceived and falling away. It is mandated by the Church itself that prophets help the deceived, not apologists. MormonThink strongly urges the prophets to fulfill their calling.
Added to our book section, is a book not yet out that discusses little known financial aspects of the LDS Church. We have been looking forward to reading this book ever since we first heard about it when Business Week and Time published articles on the finances of the Mormon Church. You can pre-order the book on Amazon.
On 10/23/15 the Church released an essay called Joseph Smith's Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women. A MormonThink editor responds to the essay.
On 10/23/15 the Church released an essay called Mother in Heaven. A MormonThink editor responds to the essay.
Former CES director Grant Palmer was interviewed Oct. 19th at the University of Utah. Jason Wallace interviewed Grant and a LDS instructor from the U of U Institute of Religion (Alma Allred) on the Implications of Joseph Smith's use of his stone for producing the BOM, the earliest (18 ) sections of the D&C, and treasure seeking between 1822-1827) that he reportedly used this stone for. See Grant's Home Page for details and link to youtube video
SALT LAKE CITY - Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke Tuesday morning at the ninth World Congress of Families being held in Salt Lake City. Several thousand participants have gathered at the Grand America Hotel for the four-day meeting, which features 185 speakers comprised of scholars, researchers and religious leaders.
However, the Church doesn't say the embarrassing thing Elder Ballard said regarding how women should wear lipstick to attract a man, how the apostles caused it to rain in Ethiopia and how the computer was invented in order to serve the Church's geneological needs.
A popular LDS-themed blog site called Rational Faiths has published a very interesting article called The Mormon History Conspiracy. It discusses the current efforts of the LDS Church to be more transparent about its history. The article has been highlighted in MormonThink's list of blogs.
With all the publicity by the LDS Church surrounding the recent publication of photos of the actual seer stone Joseph Smith used, here is a refreshing, interesting and informative discussion with independent Mormon historians, including Dan Vogel, examining the recent disclosure of pictures of seer-stone used by Joseph Smith in translating the Book of Mormon. This video has been added to the Book of Mormon Translation section.
More "coming clean" by the LDS Church. This one is about Joseph's use of the seer/peep stone. Look for this article to appear in the October 2015 Ensign.
Editor Comment: This is a fairly revealing article and actually mentions Joseph putting a seer stone in his hat to translate th Book of Mormon. Three questions we have:
1) The article shows several images of the 'incorrect' methods shown in the past where Joseph was depicted translating the BofM without using a stone and a hat. They mention the 'stone in the hat' method in the article but why are they still not showing a correct image of Joseph using the stone in the hat? Why do they only go halfway in their disclosure?
2) The article has several paragraphs discussing what happened to the original seer stone. They conclude with "Since that time (Brigham Young's time), subsequent Church leaders have acknowledged the Church's ownership of the seer stone." However, why don't they simply say the Church has it now and how it is used or not used by the leaders of the Church instead of quoting from Brigham Young's time?
3) There is no discussion as to how this ordinary stone (found on Willard Chase's property when Joseph and Hyrum Smith were digging a well for Mr. Chase) had some sort of supernatural seering ability? This stone was not one of the original special stones preserved in the Stone Box by the Nephites for 2,000 years, so why would it work to translate ancient records from one language to another? Does it still work today? Members of the church might want to know this. The information presented in the article is new to many members, as it was not commonly or officially ever taught to the church membership before now, and does create some problematic challenges to the foundational claims of the church that we were all taught in Sunday School. The church should discuss this in more depth.
We think that members would be very interested in hearing more about where this stone is today and actually seeing this important artifact in a LDS museum. Without showing images of Joseph translating using the seer stone in a hat, discussing how it came to be and why it had seering abilities, nor discussing it's current status & potential use by the current leaders and also by not publicly displaying it in a visitor's center or other church BLDG, we must conclude that the church is still somewhat embarrassed by it.
There are many other issues that become problematic when the actual BofM translation method is known such as why were the gold plates even necessary when they were never actually used in the translation process, etc.
Read more about the Book of Mormon Translation (updated with links to the current Ensign article)
Added to our links section, this is a new website loaded with resources to help LDS believing members, questioning members and any member find the proper resources and community matched to their level of belief and interest. Many LDS resources are provided as well as questioning member sites designed with the purpose of helping members no matter where they are in their journey.
Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University, Philip Jenkins wrote a critique of Nahom called The Nahom Follies. We have added his analysis to the Book of Mormon Problems - Nahom.
Award-winning author Dan Vogel has released his latest video on Mormonism which we have added to our section on the Book of Mormon issues.
In this video, Dan explores in detail the once popular Mound Builder Myth and show why the Book of Mormon's version of ancient American history was both familiar and credible to the first readers of the book.
We've added two well-done podcasts to our listing: Mormon Studies by Brent Metcalfe and Infants on thrones.
In April 2015, HBO made a very informative documentary on Scientology entitled 'Going Clear'. The documentary involved many former high-ranking members of Scientology that have since left the organization and are speaking out against it. They interviewed several former members who describe an organization that ended up being very different than they thought it was when they joined it. After the documentary "Going Clear" aired, it became apparent that many former and questioning Latter-day Saints saw similarities with Mormonism to the things being exposed in the Church of Scientology.
On 4/22/15 noted Mormon author Grant Palmer did a TV interview with Jason Wallace on the subject "Why William Law opposed Joseph Smith in Nauvoo" during the last two years of Smith's life. Watch this interesting interview on youtube.
Howe's infamous book has often been labeled as 'anti-Mormon' by LDS defenders like Hugh Nibley. However, it is referenced many times in books written by faithful LDS historians like Richard Bushman. The average member doesn't know exactly what to think of the book as many of the things in Howe's book have now been confirmed from faithful sources. We are very much looking forward to reading a critical analysis of this landmark book by award-winning, Mormon historian Dan Vogel when it comes out on April 20, 2015.
Award-winning author Dan Vogel has released his latest video on Mormonism which we have added to our section on the Book of Mormon issues.
The purpose of this video is to explore what was known about the ruins and antiquities of the New World before Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Mormon in 1829, and how that information compares with what is claimed in the Book of Mormon. In other words, does the Book of Mormon's content demand an extensive knowledge of New World antiquities beyond what was known by Joseph Smith's contemporaries?
Little has been written about the actual stone box that the gold plates were preserved in for 1,400 years. Many wonder what happened to it. A MormonThink writer has compiled what has been written about it in order to see what evidence there may be of it and its significance in Mormon history. Read The Stone Box.
Moroni and the Swastika: Mormons in Nazi Germany - 2/20/15
This is a fascinating new book for anyone interested in how the LDS Church dealt with Nazi Germany.
Moroni and the Swastika: Mormons in Nazi Germany by David Conley Nelson Ph.D
Summary: While Adolf Hitler's National Socialist government was persecuting Jews and Jehovah's Witnesses and driving forty-two small German religious sects underground, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continued to practice unhindered. How some fourteen thousand Mormons not only survived but thrived in Nazi Germany is a story little known, rarely told, and occasionally rewritten within the confines of the Church's history—for good reason, as we see in David Conley Nelson's Moroni and the Swastika. A page-turning historical narrative, this book is the first full account of how Mormons avoided Nazi persecution through skilled collaboration with Hitler's regime, and then eschewed postwar shame by constructing an alternative history of wartime suffering and resistance.
As if they were speaking for God - when do prophets and apostles speak for God? - 2/10/15
Video on the Church essays - 1/29/15
We've added a link in our essays section to Brother Jake's entertaining and informative 4-minute video on the Church's essays. Of particular note is he makes mention of how the Polygamy in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay is not listed with the other essays on the Church's website: Brother Jake Presents: A Gospel Topics Commercial
MormonThink's response to Church Essay on Joseph Smith's Polygamy - 1/8/15
An editor at MormonThink has compiled a response to the LDS essay entitled 'Plural Marriage in Kirtland & Nauvoo' which was published on the LDS.org website in Oct 2014. Please read Plural Marriage in Kirtland & Nauvoo - Response to LDS.org
Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon - Dan Vogel - 12/16/14
Award-winning author Dan Vogel has released his latest video on Mormonism.
The purpose of this video is to explore the intellectual and theological discourse about Indian origins in the New World that preceded Joseph Smith's dictation of the Book of Mormon in 1829 and how the Book of Mormon may have participated in that discussion.
MormonThink's Response to the December 2014 Ensign article "The Answer to All the Hard Questions" by R. Val Johnson.
Grant Palmer interview on Utah television station - 11/24/14
Interview on November 19th, 2014 by Jason Wallace on TV 20 here in SLC : The Ancient Paths - Grant Palmer on New Polygamy Statement
Daily Beast article: God vs. the Internet. And the Winner is… - 11/17/14
The Daily Beast has a new piece up, "God vs. the Internet. And the Winner is…," by Michael Schulson (Link is here.) that touches on the recent LDS essays. His main focus is on how the internet has created a "crisis of authority" because of the shift in who frames the narrative of a religion. He features Mormonism and how the internet has caused the Church to make changes in how much information they disseminate to the general membership. MormonThink is also mentioned in the article and is linked to twice.
To read article: God vs the Internet
MormonThink's Responses to Current Issues - 11/14/14
We have added a new section where MT editors respond to some of the current issues effecting the Church. Read the latest:
Response to those who say members should have known more about Joseph Smith's polygamy
MormonThink's response to the Newsroom: The official publication for news media, opinion leaders and the public article, Church Provides Context for Recent Media Coverage on Gospel Topics Pages, November 11, 2014.
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 Mormon Stories 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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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. Link is here.
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.
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:
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
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. 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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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
Will Bagley Home Page - Romney article and several others - 11/3/12