long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Monday, October 23, 2017

How FairMormon sows contention

I read a comment on lds.org that led me to write something important about FairMormon. Here's the comment:

As of late, I have found myself arguing with many of my conservative and liberal LDS brothers and sisters on social media. Mainly, those take snippets from current General Conference talks, warp them to satisfy their confirmation bias that they have developed, use them to guilt trip and beat into submission those who may not agree with their philosophy, all while they ignore the established doctrines that do not sustain their warped views at all. What's is the proper way of debating these types of people who are leading many astray? If these brothers and sisters are going to blatantly ignore Scripture and Prophets anyways, is it worth the time and effort to debate them at all? It is hard to just testify of the truth and leave it at that on social media because that's usually where the confrontational arguments stem from in the first place. Someone testifies, but then someone has a counter-testimony that rejects the first. Both cannot be the truth.


This is exactly what we expect will happen when people go to FairMormon for answers.

FairMormon has a distinct editorial point of view that they don't disclose. They pretend to be neutral and to follow Church leaders, but in reality they are promoting their own agenda with well-planned and executed sophistry.

While FairMormon purports to provide "faithful answers to criticisms of the LDS church," FairMormon emphatically teaches readers to disregard the words of the prophets and apostles that contradict the editorial opinions of the FairMormon staff.

This leads to exactly the type of disputation and contention that the Savior warned against in 3 Nephi 11. I blogged about this separately here: https://bookofmormonconsensus.blogspot.com/

The latest issue of the New Era refers to fairmormon and BookofMormonCentral (https://www.lds.org/new-era/2017/10/to-the-point?lang=eng), and as I've always said, both sites contain good material.

But you need to use extreme caution in referring to both sites because they are pushing a specific agenda that involves rejecting the words of the prophets and apostles. 

FairMormon's work is causing members of the Church to become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon, just as Joseph Fielding Smith warned.

Here's one example. On this page

they declare, "Church leaders have expressed a variety of opinions over the years regarding the location of the Hill Cumorah."

Instead of the "variety of opinions" FairMormon wants their readers to believe, the modern prophets and apostles have been united and clear in affirming Oliver Cowdery's teaching that it was a fact that the Hill Cumorah is in New York.

Look at how FairMormon deceives members of the Church by omitting the material that contradicts the FairMormon editorial position that promotes the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.

Here's their list of "Church leaders" supposedly expressing "a variety of opinions:"

They list exactly one General Conference address, the one by President Romney of the First Presidency. We have to give them credit for that, at least, but they list it as an example of "an opinion."

FairMormon's overall editorial position is that any statement by the prophets and apostles that contradicts FairMormon's beliefs is merely an "opinion" that can be rejected.

Notice how this list of statements by "Church leaders" specifically omits Letter VII, written by the ordained Assistant President of the Church and repeatedly endorsed by Joseph Smith. FairMormon omits General Conference addresses confirming Letter VII given by President Ivins and Elder Peterson. They omit statements from Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and others.

All of these undisclosed statements by modern prophets and apostles are consistent and explicit about Cumorah being in New York.

Instead, FairMormon lists President Lee's obscure comment out of context, because they know that in the actual talk, President Lee listed the two-Cumorahs theory among other false doctrines taught by seminary and institute teachers, as I've shown here:  http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2017/10/fairmormons-famous-harold-b-lee.html

Next they list Paul R. Cheesman as a "Church leader."

Next, they cite the phony fax to repudiate an official letter from the office of the First Presidency, which I've discussed here: http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2016/11/how-to-create-some-doctrine.html

Finally, they attack President Joseph Fielding Smith's warning about the two-Cumorahs theory as merely his opinion and therefore something to be ignored. "These are not the droids you're looking for."

This final item on the list is especially audacious because they don't even show readers what President Smith actually said.* Instead, they give readers two paragraphs of sophistry designed to encourage readers not to heed the words of the prophets and apostles.

There's a lot more on FairMormon to discuss, but I'll just mention this one.

On this page, they purport to show "Statements on Book of Mormon geography made during Joseph Smith's lifetime: 1829-1840."  https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Book_of_Mormon/Geography/Statements/Nineteenth_century/Joseph_Smith%27s_lifetime_1829-1840

This one is framed as a comprehensive list, but notice that it omits Letter VII!

Well, not completely. I'll explain below, after I show you FairMormon's list:

If you look carefully, you'll see the entry "Oliver Cowdery (Jul 1835). If you click on that link, you get not Letter VII entire, and not the passage in which he explains it is a fact that the final battles took place in the mile-wide valley west of the Hill Cumorah in New York. Instead, you get this:

Oliver Cowdery (Jul 1835): "A history of the inhabitants who peopled this continent, previous to its being discovered to Europeans by Columbus"

Oliver Cowdery to W.W. Phelps in Messenger and Advocate
A history of the inhabitants who peopled this continent, previous to its being discovered to Europeans by Columbus, must be interesting to every man; and as it would develope the important fact, that the present race were descendants of Abraham....[11]
Note that "this continent" refers to both North and South America; Columbus never set foot in the present day United States; he was confined to the the Caribbean, South America and Central America. (Click here for maps of Columbus' voyages.)
This is sophistry that should be admired by everyone who studies techniques of persuasion. If you want to mislead people, you can learn a lot from FairMormon.

I've discussed this page in detail here:


*FairMormon has finally put President Smith's warning on its web page, but it immediately framed the warning as meaningless because of 50-year-old hearsay by a student who attended a BYU class by Sidney B. Sperry who supposedly claimed that President Smith told him he was entitled to his own opinion. Check it out for yourself:

So on one hand, we have an Apostle and Church Historian warning that the two-Cumorahs theory will cause members of the Church to become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith, and then, as President of the Quorum of the Twelve, repeating that same warning.

On the other hand, we have FairMormon teaching its readers that, based on anecdotal 50-year-old hearsay, "It seems clear, then, that Elder (later President) Smith did not regard his views as the product of revelation, nor did he regard it as illegitimate to have a different view of the matter."

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