LDSFAQ (Mormon Answers) is Jeff Lindsay's attempt to deal with many common questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the "Mormon Church"). There are numerous questions, objections, allegations, and rumors about the Church, and many are legitimate issues worthy of discussion. Here I take on a number of them and offer my perspectives. Topics cover the Book of Mormon, doctrines and practices, issues from Church history, and more.
The Church has not endorsed my writings (though one early essay on DNA is on the LDS newsroom site for informational purposes). While I strive to be accurate, my writings reflect my personal understanding and are subject to human error and bias. I welcome your comments to help my information be more accurate and useful, or to suggest additional topics and resources I should inclue. This site is the sole responsibility of Jeff Lindsay. For the official LDS site, see LDS.org.
"'Arise from the Dust': Insights from Dust-Related Themes in the Book of Mormon (Part 1: Tracks from the Book of Moses)," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 22 (2016): 179-232. (The PDF file for "Arise from the Dust, Part 3" is now available here at JeffLindsay.com.) This 3-part series explores the significance of themes related to rising and falling to the dust in the Book of Mormon. Part 1 begins by exploring some surprise discoveries that build upon Noel Reynolds' proposal that material tied to the ancient Book of Moses appears to have been on the brass plates. The discussion includes new evidence of a possible Hebraic wordplay in 2 Nephi 1:23 which sets the stage for the Book of Mormon's sophisticated use of some ancient motifs related to rising from the dust.
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Map: Part 2 of 2," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 19 (2016): 247-326. (The PDF for "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Map, Part 2" is now available here.) This article tackles the ill-conceived notion that Joseph Smith could have stumbled upon maps of Arabia to guide him in fabricating the details of Lehi's trail across the Arabian Peninsula. That Arabian journey and its many details seemed ridiculous in 1830 but have now been met with surprising evidence of plausibility in the past few decades. Old maps of Arabia provide almost no help and no explanatory power regarding the strengths of the text.
"The Yoke of Christ: A Light Burden Heavy With Meaning," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 18 (2016): 171-217. (The PDF for "The Yoke of Christ" is now available here.) Christ's famous call to take his yoke upon us in Matthew 11 may merit more analysis than it has commonly received. Taking up the yoke may have connections to other things that are taken upon us as well, including the name of Christ, temple covenants, priestly robes, and sacred anointing. In light of ancient Christian and early Jewish concepts, a deeper understanding of the yoke of Christ can help us better appreciate His words and also better appreciate the beauty of the Restoration found in the LDS Temple concept. Related LDSFAQ page: "Are LDS (Mormon) Temples Derived from Masonry?"
Newest "Mormon Answer" pages:
Book of Mormon Problems #4: Bible Scholarship vs. the Book of Mormon?. This considers the issue of passages from an allegedly late, post-exilic "Deutero-Isaiah" being quoted by Nephi, and also gets into the broad issue of the Documentary Hypothesis and the accusation that allusions to the Exodus account woven into the Book of Mormon come from a late source, the Priestly text ("P") that came long after Nephi's day. A few other questions are also included. Initially prepared Sept. 2017.
Alleged Problems in the Book of Mormon #5: The Problem of the Longer Ending of Mark Quoted in the Book of Mormon - This 2016 article deals with one of the most interesting arguments against the Book of Mormon, wherein Mormon quotes words of Christ to the Nephites that closely follow words of Christ in the end of the Gospel of Mark that supposedly were a late, bogus addition to the New Testament. If Christ never spoke the words in the so-called "longer ending of Mark," it would seem unlikely that He would speak them to the Nephites. But the disputed longer ending, contrary to the alleged "consensus" of scholars, has strong evidence pointing to its antiquity and authenticity. This page explores the controversy in light of recent scholarship.
Book of Mormon Plagiarism Theories and The Late War -- exploring an interesting case of confusing random parallels for plagiarism and fraud. Could Gilbert Hunt's obscure book written in KJV language about the War of 1812 have been the inspiration for the Book of Mormon? Some critics says yes, based on poorly applied "big data" methodology and very curious parallels, like linking Lehi's Liahona (a round compass-like object Lehi providentially discovered while in the desert) to another round, metallic object in Hunt's book--why, a naval torpedo, of course!
My Turn - Instead of answering frequent questions from critics of the Mormons, I've decided that it's time I ask a few infrequently answered questions of my own.
Mormon Prophets, Called of God but Fallible or, Why the Church of Jesus Christ Is and Can Be True Even Though Church Leaders Make Mistakes. An essay dealing with the Biblical concept that true prophets are still fallible mortals. I call for a spiritually mature approach to the inevitable human mistakes that God's anointed leaders may make, including Mormon leaders. Their divine calling has never been contingent on omniscience and total perfection!
Mercy and Justice in the Book of Mormon: Ancient or Modern Concepts? - Is the Book of Mormon's profound discourse about mercy, justice, and the Atonement of Christ evidence of modern derivation, or evidence of ancient truth restored? Critics have charged that Book of Mormon theology is too modern. This page seeks to show that Book of Mormon concepts can plausibly fit into the fabric of ancient revealed truths known to Jewish prophets and early Christians - truths which were muddled for centuries and restored beautifully in the Book of Mormon.
Is the Book of Mormon too Wordy to Be True? - A response to attacks alleging that the apparent wordiness of the Book of Mormon shows that the text was not taken from a record engraved on metal plates, where a terse writing style might be expected. In fact, the "offending" aspects of the Book of Mormon are what one would expect from sacred writings from a Hebraic people. Created Aug. 3, 2002.
2 Nephi 12 and the Septuagint: Evidence for Fraud or Authenticity in the Book of Mormon? This page deals with interesting internal evidence for authenticity of the Book of Mormon found in 2 Nephi 12, which quotes Isaiah 2. I respond to a critic's attempt to dismiss an interesting passage that brings together Isaiah variants from the Septuagint and Masoretic texts. In researching this issue, I came away with an even deeper respect for the Hebraic roots of the Book of Mormon - something Joseph Smith could not have fabricated or reproduced through his "intuition." In my research, I found some interesting (but still tentative) examples of what appear to be an authentic Hebrew poetical form in the Book of Mormon known to scholars as "paired tricola" - a form unrecognized in Joseph Smith's day. Take a look and let me know your thoughts.
Questions about the Oneness of God. Deals mostly with inquiries about the Trinity, "plurality of gods," how God can be One if Christ and the Father are distinct Beings, etc. Contains interesting material from early Christianity and modern scholarship. (Please note how strong the evidence is becoming that Latter-day Saint doctrine really is a restoration, not an innovation from Joseph Smith.)
Questions about the Dead. Do they live as spirit beings or are they just unconscious (or nonexistent)? This LDSFAQ page is actually a Q&A by Raymond Woodworth, used with his kind permission.
Love, Dating, Marriage, and Morality - a new page answering common questions about dating, marrying in or out of the Church, morality, and so forth. These topics have resulted in many questions recently - often from non-LDS people dating Mormons. I hope this page will help.
Is it true? (yes!) Infallible? The final authority? Are there missing books? Can there ever be any more words of God? What about the prohibition on adding and subtracting? A Bible, a Bible - which Bible? A new page, perhaps my favorite.
Gives detailed discussion on many popular topics used to condemn us as a cult. What does the word "cult" really mean? Challenge: is there a reasonable definition of "cult" in the negative sense that could condemn the Latter-day Saints without also condemning early Christians or the writers and prophets of the Bible, or even Christ? This page discusses the Trinity, modern revelation, polygamy, and other hot issues.
What is a prophet and why are they needed after Christ? Are prophets infallible? Was Joseph Smith really a prophet? What about the affidavits against him and other attacks on Joseph's character? What about Gordon B. Hinckley and the Salamander Letter?
Other LDS Writings from Jeff
Mormanity is a leading LDS blog that gives emphasis to the LDS experience while also discussing and promoting the Book of Mormon and the Restored Gospel.
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"Mormon Answers" is the work of Jeff Lindsay of Appleton, Wisconsin. Writing about LDS topics is simply a hobby and passion. Jeff served an LDS mission in the Switzerland Zurich mission and has served in a variety of Church callings. A recent survey also rated Jeff as one of the top two best grandfathers in the world (yes, the sampling did include my grandchildren). Not that it matters, but Jeff has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from BYU, is a registered U.S. patent agent, is a former professor, is the former Corporate Patent Strategist at a Fortune 500 company, and used to be a consultant doing IP strategy, management consulting, new product development, and technology scouting. He now lives in Shanghai, China helping a large Asian company do IP strategy and innovation. What a wonderful city! Jeff is also the lead author of a book on innovation, entrepreneurship and strategy from John Wiley & Sons: Conquering Innovation Fatigue by Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins, and Mukund Karanjikar.
Provides several examples of accurate prophecies covering the Civil War, the future of the Church, Stephen A. Douglas, and more. (So just how do critics explain the prophetic accuracy of the Word of Wisdom?)
What happens to those who lived and died without ever even hearing of Christ? Does a just, loving God send them all to hell for having been born at the wrong time and place? No! Welcome to one of the most wonderful doctrines of the original and restored Gospel of Christ, and one of the many powerful evidences of Joseph Smith's divine calling as a prophet of God. Examine the evidence that baptism for the dead was an ancient Christian practice that was restored through Joseph Smith.
What do Latter-day Saints mean when they speak of their "testimonies"? Isn't it just based on emotion? What role does intellect play? What is the gift of the Holy Ghost? How does one "follow the Spirit"?
Discussion of the ancient Christian concept of "theosis" and its presence in LDS theology. Do "Mormons" really think they will become gods? What does the Bible mean when it calls humans and angels "gods"? What did early Christians believe? You may be surprised....
Why don't we accept the standard Trinity concept from the creeds of the fourth and fifth centuries? Does the LDS idea of a unified Godhead of three Beings differ from the teachings of the Bible and early Christianity?
What is the LDS view of the Bible? Is it sufficient for salvation? Is it infallible? What about the various canons that Christians have used over time? Is the Book of Mormon on the same plane as the Bible? Does the Bible contain errors? Is it complete? How dare Mormons add scripture to the modern canon!?
Black or white, all are children of God and potential heirs of eternal life through Christ. This page deals with common questions about LDS doctrine and the painful previous policy of racial limitations on the priesthood. Also see my review of the book, Black and Mormon on this site or my review at Mormanity.
A new page answering common questions about dating, marrying in or out of the Church, morality, and so forth. These topics have resulted in many questions recently - often from non-LDS people dating Mormons. I hope this page will help.
Includes discussions of Pepsi versus Coke, garments, planets, polygamy, and more. It's one of the more popular LDSFAQ areas. Warning: not for the comically impaired. This has been split now into two pages: Part One and Part Two.
Questions about the Book of Mormon
Update: Apparent Discovery of the Seal of Mulek
One of the most intriguing recent evidences of Book of Mormon authenticity may be the discovery of the seal of Mulek, the son of King Zedekiah, supporting the Book of Mormon account. I discuss this on my Book of Mormon Evidences page and on a "Book of Mormon Nugget" page, "Mulek, Son of Zedekiah." For the impressive details, see Jeffrey R. Chadwick, "Has the Seal of Mulek Been Found?," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 12, No. 2, 2003, pp. 72-83.
Christ is the foundation of the Church, and the Book of Mormon is cited as the "keystone." It's the primary evidence that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. If it falls, so does the Church. If it's true, so is the core of our message. Critics, this is the place to focus your attacks. Investigators, this is the place to start reading to understand the message of the restored Gospel and to put our claims to the test. Latter-day Saints, you ought to spend more time reading this treasure and less time surfing the Web! (Call 1-877-537-0003 to receive a free Book of Mormon or order a free Book of Mormon at ComeuntoChrist.org.)
Deals with the many sloppy statements made by a department at the normally quite reputable Smithsonian Institution - but made without the benefit of adequate scholarship about either Mesoamerica or the Book of Mormon. The Smithsonian Statement is embarrassingly out of date and needs significant revision. Many issues are covered, including transoceanic voyaging and allegedly missing items such as silk.
Did Joseph Smith plagiarize from Shakespeare, the King James Bible, Solomon Spaulding, James Adair, or View of the Hebrews to create the Book of Mormon? And what about those italics in the Bible and their treatment in the Book of Mormon? (Also see The Book of Mormon and the Writings of Alexander von Humboldt, a "Book of Mormon snippet".)
A satirical work that illustrates the pitfalls of anti-Mormon efforts to show plagiarism by finding stray parallels. Um, yes, it is satire. Please don't leave the Church over this--unless you are seriously looking for a reason and really, really hate bad satire.
Critics mock the wordy passages, but they are the type of thing one would expect from a text with its roots in ancient Hebrew. Created Aug. 3, 2002.
Questions about the Book of Abraham
The Book of Abraham is Joseph Smith's translation of an ancient Egyptian writing from Thebes. The original manuscript may have had a Christian or Jewish source, and could have been brought to Egypt by refugees from Israel. My long, detailed documents are intended primarily for LDS people with a serious interest in this minor work. If you just want to know the bottom line from my perspective, it's this: there is no need to reject Joseph Smith as a prophet on the basis of the Book of Abraham. In fact, there is much recent evidence which offers plausibility to his work. If you wish to criticize my views, I hope you'll first look at what I've written:
Discusses background on the Book of Abraham, whether the source of the Book of Abraham has really been found (comparing two different views), and whether the Kirtland papers were used to produce the translation. LONG - about 140 k.
Discusses Joseph Smith's comments on the Facsimiles in the Book of Abraham, presenting some of the many correlations to other recently discovered documents and to Egyptian concepts. Also discusses the text of the book and its relationship to other documents. Long - about 90 k.
New!Part 3: Ancient Records Offer New Support for the Book of Abraham - A brief survey of the vast body of ancient documents that confirm numerous details in the Book of Abraham that are not found in the Bible, and could not have been known to Joseph Smith. The primary source for this page is Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham, edited by John A. Tvedtnes, Brian M. Hauglid, and John Gee (Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2001), which I strongly recommend. This book provides easy access to many dozens of ancient documents to let the reader see if the details in the Book of Mormon were primarily random fantasies of Joseph Smith, or if it is related to information about Abraham known in ancient times. The evidence for authenticity is truly noteworthy.
Responds to common misinformation about the infamous and mysterious "Danites." Also deals specifically with Stephen LeSueur's allegations about Joseph Smith's involvement with the Danites, as found in LeSueur's book on the 1838 "Mormon War" in Missouri.
To you who zealously condemn us as a cult, do you realize that the typical logic you use against us would also invalidate the ministry of Jesus Christ? The objection to new scripture, for example, was not originated with modern critics of the Church, but was applied by Jews against the Christians and their NEW Testament. Look at my page about the cult attack for more details. But first, I would appreciate your response to your own arguments when they are applied to other targets. John Tvedtnes provides an eye-opening example of how your arguments, if accepted at face value, would also condemn our Lord (and some of these arguments WERE used against Him). Take a look at "Solving the Christian Puzzle."
Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship -- a peer-reviewed publication dealing with LDS scriptures, Mormonism, and defense of the faith, building upon the apologetics tradition that once was the focus of the Maxwell Institute. Kudos to Daniel Peterson and a great team of volunteers who make this possible.
FAIRMormon.org - The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research is a new group dedicated to providing an intelligent defense of the truth. Many serious and well written papers can be accessed at their site.
Valuable work is also found at SHIELDS, dealing with LDS historical and intellectual issues, including good answers to some common anti-Mormon questions.
And please don't miss Mike Ash's Mormon Fortress, a rich site loaded with great material.
For basics about LDS belief, it's hard to beat Gospel Principles - a book published by the Church to teach basics of LDS belief and practice, available free online at the LDS Web site. But also see the Encyclopedia of Mormonism with extensive information on LDS history, perspectives, issues, the arts, etc.