Disclaimer: I’m not an academic, scholar, or intellectual. These pages are not written in academic style, carefully footnoted and ready for peer review. This section is best described as a fair analysis from a guy with intellectual integrity to the actual facts. I recommend that no one accepts any potentially controversial information from any single source. Seek out multiple sources, focusing on facts and applying a healthy distrust to commentary or interpretation.
This section was written to appeal to those who have come across difficult historical information and have lost or are struggling with their testimony. The objective is to show that one can accept what some LDS might consider “worst case scenarios” on these issues and still retain a strong belief in Father in Heaven, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, the restoration, and the truthfulness of the church today. Additionally, you are not crazy if you are struggling with these issues and others give you simple explanations that are not satisfying to you. Some of these are very hard issues that I believe God wants us to grapple with. Please take your time and be patient as you struggle with difficult historical information. There is a way to retain the faith you have in the beautiful aspects of the LDS church.
The purpose of this section is NOT to cause problems for literal believers.
I’m pro-LDS, why take this information on directly?
My opinion is there is a lack of honest, direct approaches to these issues from a faithful perspective. There are three camps.
1. Literal Non-Believers. Ex-Mormons fall into this group. This group takes a literal, binary view of Mormonism. If something can be proven false about the church, they believe it invalidates the entire church.
2. Literal Believers. The vocal in this group include the Apologists. Apologists defend the church from a literal, sometimes binary perspective. They share the view with group#1 that if some of these issues were proven, ie BOM historicity, that it would prove Mormonism as false. Their tactics are generally to create a possibility that literal belief can be retained, even if it be highly implausible. They push many believers into group#1 because in the fight group#1 vs group#2, they seem to be losing.
3. Non-Literal Believers. The Progressive Mormons. Many times you hear LDS voices in this arena use language similar to what you find on this site. Voices like Terryl Givens or Richard Bushman. But the tactic they take, which is understandable and arguably better approach than this site, is to be extremely vague with their direct position on some of these issues. They will say “it doesn’t matter”, “focus on what’s right and important and not on what’s wrong and unimportant”, but they largely will avoid direct discussion of what so many people are demanding answers for. This is frustrating for some and pushes them into group#1 or back into group#2 while the discomfort continues to grow. I don’t criticize these good men and women championing this view. But I’m taking a different tactic, because I think their message is lost on a certain segment of people. That group is my intended audience.
I offer on this site a fourth option, which I call the sacramental or metaphorical paradigm.
4. Direct, Non-Literal Believers. I give a full and complete plausible view of all the historical issues. If you’re OK with group#2, please stay there. If you’re OK with group#3, please stay there. If the vague messages from group#3 are resonating but you need a fuller view of it, then I invite you to review this site to see if it resonates.
Please also check out my response to Jeremy Runnels’ CES Letter.
To those with vulnerable testimonies
I fear information read in this section, without taken in the correct context and understanding the holistic view of God and the LDS church, could be damaging to vulnerable testimonies. I have put years of careful thought into this before going forward. I believe it’s possible for some this site could harm their faith, but I also believe the potential good this website’s perspective offers will outweigh that negative. For those that are impacted negatively, I have a hope that you would work out the message from this site and over time it will bring you peace and increased love and testimony of God and the truthfulness of the LDS church. Please only read the information in this section if you have first reviewed the content of the entire site, especially the section LDS Beauty, so that you will understand the information in the proper context.