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 meant to be a balanced summary of the most difficult historical issues for the LDS Church. I recommend that no one accepts any information or conclusions 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 already 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. 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?
We typically get information on these difficult church historical issues from two categories of people.
1. Literal minded Non-Believers. You hear this information called “anti-Mormon” sometimes and it’s all over the internet. Sometimes the information is accurate. Sometimes it’s manipulated. But usually there is commentary associated with this information that deems the church a fraud and “not true”, based on the information.
2. Literal minded Believers. The vocal in this group include LDS Apologists like the old FARMS or the current FairMormon. Apologists typically 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. You can find a lot of information on church historical issues produced by these people.
I struggled a lot in my search for accurate historical information during my initial faith crisis phase. The information from #1 types seemed more accurate. The information from #2 types seemed implausible. If I were to pick one, I would have chosen #1. What I hoped to find was something that acknowledged the difficult facts the #1 folks were clearly laying out, but provided a way for me to make sense of them, retaining my faith in God and spirituality and the good that I knew was in the Mormon church.
Over time, I found a third group.
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 Adam Miller. But the tactic they take, which is understandable and is arguably a better approach than mine, is to be extremely vague with their direct position on some of these issues. They will say “it doesn’t matter”, “focus on more important matters”, but they largely will avoid direct discussion of the controversial issues. 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 this approach. But I’m taking a different tactic, because I think people are giving up on this approach before it has a chance to click for them. This site is to clearly spell out and define the nuanced view, while tackling every controversial piece of church history.
To those with vulnerable testimonies
I fear information read in this section, without taken in the correct context and understanding the holistic view of the truth and beauty of the LDS church within this nuanced view, could be damaging to vulnerable testimonies. I have put years of careful thought into this before going forward. This site could harm some people’s faith, but I also believe many will be helped. 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.