How to Answer Questions about Church History

Posted By on August 16, 2019


Welcome to Gospel
Solutions for Families. I’m your host, Amy Iverson. Maybe you’ve had some deep
and lingering questions about Church history. Maybe you’ve had
family members who seem to have unresolved
questions about events in the Church’s
past, or maybe you’ve heard things about
Church history and haven’t known where to look
for information and context. If you’re in one
of these groups, you’ll be interested
in this episode. I recently sat down with
Steve Harper from the Church historical department
to talk about how he became interested in Church
history, and the principles and habits he uses to
seek out information, and how the discovery of Church
history has been for him, as Lord Acton says, “an
illumination of [his] soul.” So Steve, I think that Church
history is a unique profession to go into. And I’m just wondering
what piqued your interest in this field. I got interested in it long
before I thought I was actually interested in it. As a teenager, I
would have thought it was the most boring
possible thing to do. But at the same time, I remember
a pretty vivid conversation I had with my
father one morning. I was 14, and we were sitting
at the breakfast table. And the Church News for
May 15, I think, 1985– Oh, wow. OK. Not positive that’s the date. I know it was May ’85. It was sitting there
in front of us. And in this issue–the
reason it’s so memorable is because there is a letter
in it, a purported letter, published from Joseph
Smith to Josiah Stowell. It’s not a real letter. Turned out to be a forgery. But at the time,
no one knew that. So it’s printed on
the Church News, and it catches your
eye at breakfast at 14. OK. Right. And the letter is interesting. It talks about what today we
would call maybe a magic wand. But in the time of
Joseph Smith, it was called a rod,
a divining rod. And it was Joseph Smith,
faked by the forger, telling Josiah Stowell how to
find the right kind of hazel rod, or branch, and how
to cut it so that he could use it to find buried treasure. So that’s interesting
for a 14-year-old. I was thinking, “Is this
your breakfast reading?” Not the back of the
cereal box, but–but–[LAUGHS] Yeah, typically the
back of the cereal box would have been the far
limit of my engagement. But it definitely
caught my attention. And I remember asking my dad
something like “Why don’t they teach me this at church?” Yeah, this is fascinating. I was a bit flippant about it. I was a little concerned,
not too concerned. I was worried about a
lot of other things. But for a few minutes, at least,
I was a little bit disoriented and wondered, “How
should I understand this? This isn’t the story
I’ve heard before.” And my dad did a great thing. He listened to me. He did not tell me to not
think what I was thinking. He didn’t tell me to be afraid. He wasn’t himself afraid. He said, “I don’t know. I don’t understand that. That’s new to me, too. Never heard that before.” And he didn’t pretend to
know things he didn’t know. That’s one of the best
things he did for me. And he made me a promise. He said, “If you will be
patient and keep your faith, you’ll see that this
will all work out.” He didn’t know how it would,
but he believed it would. And of course, he was right. Within that year, the man
who had forged that letter killed two innocent people and
then nearly killed himself. And detectives
quickly figured out that he was behind
the forgeries. And everybody knew in the
end that that document wasn’t to be believed. But the most important thing
about that whole episode for me, that tragic history,
is that my father also said, “What I know is that
the Book of Mormon is true.” And then he explained to me
his own personal experience with the Holy Ghost confirming
the Book of Mormon to him. So he rested on the
bedrock of his faith in the Book of Mormon,
and everything else, he tested against that. And if he didn’t understand
it or didn’t know the answers, he waited patiently
for more light because he had faith in
what he already knew. And ever since then, I have
put my faith in that faith. It would be several
years after that before I gained my own
testimony of the Book of Mormon. But I believed in
what he believed. And I especially
believed in his promise that if I would be patient
and keep looking for answers, I would see that it would
all make sense at some point. And I’ve had many, many Church
history questions since then. And for several of them,
I have looked and looked and found that there
are good answers, and I now know the answers. And for several others,
I am still looking. But I know that if you
keep looking patiently and have faith, that someday
you see that it all works out. I know that from that
breakfast experience. And so let’s fast-forward
to you at BYU and starting on this
journey into Church history and studying it. And do you think that
you did go into it because you had questions? Was that part of it? I do believe that I study
history to learn who I am. I study American history
and Mormon history. And I’m pretty sure
that the reason for that is, I’m on a quest
to figure out where I came from in a historical
sense and what makes me who I am and so forth. And so you have a unique
opportunity that a lot of us don’t to really dig into
original transcripts and things like that. As you have done
that, have you found it leads to more questions? Does it make your faith shaky? Does it strengthen that faith? How has that affected
your testimony? This is a great question. One great scholar whom I
admire once put it this way. He said, “I don’t have a
testimony of Church history.” It would take a long time to
explain what he meant by that, but let me tell you how I
gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon and get back to your
question in a backwards way. I was called to serve
a mission and thought, “I’d better read the Book of
Mormon through for myself.” We’d read it as a
family several times. I’d slept through part of
that–not, in other words, really engaged for myself. But I realized,
“I need to know.” And so I read it
seriously for myself with real intent, faith in
Christ, a sincere heart. And you know that at
the end of the book, it says if you have those
things and if you ask, then you can know the truth by
the power of the Holy Ghost. So I said a simple prayer. And in answer to that prayer,
I received a wonderful feeling, and along with it a sense,
words–not audible words, but words in my head that
came from outside of me, came from God. And the words were “You
already know it’s true.” And I felt at the
same time that I didn’t want to fight
against those words or reject those words. I did know. I knew it with a certainty. And I’m grateful for that. Now, that’s one of,
really, very few things that I know about the restored
gospel of Jesus Christ. I mean, I know a lot
of facts, but I’m not one who knows everything
about the Church. I have way more questions
than I have answers. Lots of things that
I would like to know. Lots of things I don’t
understand very well and have studied extensively. And so I find that as you
study the original records, it’s like the periphery,
or the perimeter, the border of the circle. If you live in the middle of
a circle and you reach out, the more you reach out, the
further the circle goes. Not a very good
analogy, but the idea is, the more you know
about Church history, the more you realize
there is to know, and the more you realize
that you don’t know. So I have lots of questions. Those questions don’t change
the nature of my faith. I have faith precisely
because of the great amount that I don’t know and the
little amount that I do know. So I put my faith in
what I know, and I exercise the kind of
faith my father told me would be rewarded. So let’s talk about that,
because you’re blessed that you have that sure knowledge. A lot of people today,
I think, you know, we have this immediacy with the
world where we can find answers to questions–they may or may
not be true–very quickly, and we can go down rabbit holes
of things that aren’t true very quickly. So I have seen this
lately, that people find things that just shake them. Certainly. And especially with,
I think, as you said, more and more information is
coming out about Church history and about stances
the Church may have taken in the past, or
people in the Church. So how can we maybe try to get
to where you are without going through the archives? What’s a good place to
start if we read something and it shakes us a little bit? This is a fantastic question. And I appreciate the struggle
that many people have. I think of myself in
that struggle, myself. I think a difference for
me, with the many people I talk to or hear about who
are really, really troubled, is that I had my formative
experience early, at age 14. And all of us, at
some point or other, get knocked back on
our heels a little bit. Disoriented is the word I use. And we wonder if what we
thought we knew is what we know. John Widtsoe, who went
on to become an Apostle, had his at Harvard as a graduate
student–he talks about it in his autobiography–studying
with world-renowned professors, all of whom, except one,
challenged his faith in pretty direct ways. And he had an experience
where he really wrestled to know if the
restored gospel was true. And through a lot of seeking,
hard work–intellectual work as well as spiritual work, which
is the gospel recipe–he came to know for himself, to have
faith in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. So I think that’s a good thing
to point out to not feel badly. If you are questioning and
if you’re having questions, it’s a good thing. Yeah, that whole
idea that you should be afraid of your questions or
that questions are bad, that is cultural. That is not scriptural. If you lack wisdom, ask God. Where would we be if we
didn’t ask questions, if we didn’t worry about
the state of our souls or the truthfulness of the
things we’ve been taught? Everybody that I admire who’s
come before in the Restoration, starting with Joseph
Smith, has asked questions, has had doubts and concerns
and worries and fears. There’s nothing wrong with that. And the Church is
teaching that, clearly. So it’s not even
a Church teaching that you shouldn’t ask. It’s just a cultural
expectation that has developed. And so I think the
important thing then is, what do you do after you ask? Right. So what do we do? Well, one of the most
important things to do is to assess our assumptions. We go into our questions
with assumptions that often we’re
not even aware of. And those assumptions
make all the difference in what kinds of
answers we will find or what the answers will
mean to us when we find them. So there’s a lot
of introspection to be done before or
even during the time we’re reading the Book
of Mormon or reading accounts of the First Vision
or whatever else it is. In other words,
just having access to the historical records is
not the solution to the problem. It’s part of the solution. We have to have the witness. We have to have the
records in order to assess their truthfulness. But the assumptions we
bring to that process will determine what
the outcome is for us. And many people make
uninformed assumptions. This is where training
as a historian can be really
helpful, because you learn when you study
the historical method to not project your own views
or assumptions onto the past, to try to get into the
minds of the people who lived in the past. There’s a famous line
from a novel published in the ’50s that says, “The
past is a foreign country; they do things
differently there.” We need to go into
it with an open mind. An open mind, and having
identified our assumptions, our expectations. Let me give you an example. There is something I call
hypothetical history. And you can hear hypothetical
history in Sunday School and in all kinds
of conversations. And it goes like this: If
Joseph Smith saw God and Christ, then he went right home
and he told his family. He wrote it down immediately. He told the same story every
time to everybody he met. When you assume those
things and then come up against the historical
records, your assumptions are shown to be false. None of those things
are documented. None of those things
have to be true. There’s no law written
in the universe that said any of those things are true. They are hypotheticals. They’re just my assumptions. They’re just my
expectations about what would happen if I wrote
history, if I knew everything about the past. So when we do
hypothetical history, we will always be
disappointed in it. It will be overturned. Our assumptions will
be proven wrong. And if we can’t
discern the difference between our assumptions and
things as they really were, we will come to the
conclusion that our faith has been overturned, that the
gospel has been proven wrong. That’s not the case. It’s just our expectations
or assumptions that have been proven wrong. And so in your studies,
you talked about that your testimony wasn’t
shaken by what you studied. Was it strengthened? Yeah, I would say so. But again, let’s
say that I don’t study Church history looking
for strengthening of my faith. I already know
where my faith is. I think I study Church
history because I have faith, because I have a testimony. And there are people who study
it who don’t have a testimony. So the reasons for studying
it–some people study it to try to disprove the Church, and some
people study it to try to prove the Church. And I think I study it because
I want to understand who I am. I want to understand the
doctrine and the history that have gone into
making me who I am and that shaped my
future, my eternal future. And I think these
days, oftentimes, our friends will come to us. We talked about
when we see things in the news that maybe
freak us out a little bit until we study it. What about when our friends
come to us with these questions? Maybe they’re members of the
Church; maybe they aren’t. Sure. A good place to start for
us as members of the Church? The best place to start is
to listen, to listen to them. Follow your dad. Right, yeah. My dad was so great
at that, to listen. I take this cue also from a
terrific talk that President Eyring gave–Elder Eyring
then–in the early ’90s, about how to help a student
in a moment of doubt. And he said the
first thing to do is to not treat them like
they have some sort of disease or something. It’s to treat them
like a seeker, an honest seeker of truth. The Methodist minister–no
disrespect to Methodists or Methodism, but the minister
who rebuffed Joseph Smith, he went about it all wrong. “That’s not true, son. Shut your mouth. Don’t ever say that again.” That’s not the right way
to treat a seeker who’s looking for the answers
to their questions, their honest, sincere questions. And my dad got it right. He listened. He didn’t freak out. He wasn’t surprised
that somebody would have a
question or a concern or even flippantly
challenge the faith. He was steady. He was honest. And the best thing we can do
for our friends and our family and even for ourselves
is to listen. So first we want to hear
what they’re really saying. And often that’s not the words
that come out of their mouth. We want to hear what
they’re really saying. Sometimes they need
to articulate it even to figure out what they’re
thinking themselves. And then we want to
give honest responses. And I’ve found that the
most frequent response I end up giving in situations
like that is “I don’t know.” Yeah. A lot of times, we don’t know. We don’t know. There’s a lot more we don’t
know than what we do know. And so as we
recognize in ourselves that we don’t know
everything, you have a great analogy where
you talk about how we can hold on to what we do know. And it involves Santa Claus. [LAUGHS] [LAUGHS] Santa Claus. I hope it’s a useful analogy. I hope it doesn’t
burst anyone’s bubble. But I learned–I can’t
remember exactly how old I was, but I learned once that
Santa Claus is not real, at least not the way I
thought Santa was real, a man who magically flies a
sleigh with reindeer to every person in the world and delivers
Christmas presents overnight. And as I grew up, I became
aware that the story is much more
complicated than that and that the way I had
received it from my culture was not really the truth. And so over time, you
learn to accommodate that. You see things more
as they really are, and you gain more
understanding and wisdom, and you learn how to
put the pieces together. What a tragedy it
would have been if I had thrown out Christmas,
if I learned Santa isn’t real and I say, “Well, then
none of it’s true. There’s nothing of value here. I’m just throwing
the whole thing out.” So as we grow up, there are
these losses we experience. Everyone has this experience. As you come of age, you
learn that your parents are real people. They sometimes made
mistakes or haven’t met all your expectations. You learn that the simple math
you learned in third grade is compounded and more
and more complicated, the more math you learn. These kinds of things are
true with Church history, too. We learn things
when we’re young, and they’re very simplified
versions of the story. And when we’re older, we might
learn the more complicated version of the story. And it’s tempting
in those situations to just throw it all out,
to say, “Well, nothing I believed then was true.” And that’s not the happiest
way, in my experience, to deal with that. It’s better to say, “Well, I can
see that some things I believed about Santa weren’t
true, but I can see there’s a great deal
of value in Christmas.” And so with our testimonies,
then, in the gospel, we need to just hold firm to
those things that we know. Right. OK. My dad was right. “This is what I know. I’m going to stick with it. And if I do so patiently and
I keep looking for the answers to my questions, I will see
that it will all work out.” So I’ve proved that true in
my own life 100 times by now. He was right, and I know that
from all kinds of research at this point. And I have lots more questions
than I have answers to, but I know the answers
that I’ve found are solid. They are historically
verifiable. That is, by all the rules
of the historical method that you learn in graduate
school, they’re sound and good. But it’s also the case that no
amount of historical research proves the gospel true. It doesn’t prove it untrue, but
it also doesn’t prove it true. In the end, it’s a spiritual
process, a spiritual quest. People who are unwilling
or afraid of or unable, for one reason or another,
to trust in the Spirit and in God’s desire to reveal
Himself to them–they have a very hard time with this. But I’m grateful that I had
experiences early on that confirmed that my
Father in Heaven did want to reveal to me the
truthfulness of the gospel. And I believe that He
loves all His children and will do that for
all of His children at some point or other. I believe there is a
great deal of hope. I know that there is
a great deal of hope, even for people who struggle
with Church history or doctrine issues. I know that they
can find answers. And I know that in
the meantime, they can find peace and comfort. I know that their
Heavenly Father loves them and that He will comfort them
and guide them and lead them. And I know there are
a lot of people who will help them along the way. Thank you so much. Thank you very much. Certainly, not all questions
about Church history can be answered in
a short program, but hopefully, you’ve heard
some insights today that will help develop
principles and habits that will be helpful as you continue
your individual search. [MUSIC PLAYING] And hopefully, those principles
will continue to bring, as Lord Acton says, “an
illumination [to your] soul.” I’m Amy Iverson. Thanks for joining us. Join us again next time for
Gospel Solutions for Families.

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 56 comments

  1. I like his advice about not projecting present-day assumptions into the past, but isn't that exactly what the Orthodox narrative is? An assumption about what happened in the past?

    Reply
  2. This has been similar to my personal experience as well. Take the time to read reliable sources, pray, read the scriptures and confusion or doubts become knowledge and understanding come. It may take time and effort but sincere seeking will yield results.

    Reply
  3. Church history hits home with me. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ is true.

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  4. Steven Harper is one of my most favorite people to listen to as he speaks in such a humble and thoughtful way about church history and gospel related topics.

    Reply
  5. Yes I had the same experience with the Holy Ghost testifying to me of the Book of Mormon and that it's true. I was reading in the Book of Jacob at the time and I received a physical and spiritual feeling and heard His voice at the same time.

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  6. Jesus Christ works through all righteous people and all groups who are pure in heart, even the latter-day saints. His work will continue and He will use the willing for His highest purposes. Church History needs no defenses. His will shall be done.

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  7. Steve Harper gives clear, smart perspective. And it is faithful perspective. Faithful Perspective is crucial.

    Reply
  8. I am disappointed in this video/interview. At about the 8 min mark he says his knowledge of the truthfulness of the church and BofM is all based on his feelings/HolyGhost. Dang. I was hoping for something tangible and substantial.

    I do agree with his Santa Claus analogy. What we are taught at the LDS church is not really the way it is. As he says “it’s more complicated than that.” I would add that it is more beautiful and amazing as well.

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  9. i appreciate – and agree – with what he says about people bringing biases to questions they ask. i have to say though, it feels like one bias (it's not true despite what i see) has been exchanged for another one (it's true despite what i see). What's the difference between faith and persistent delusion? i suppose the answer is obvious, but correctly identifying them is not. i wish things could be a little less polarized. But it seems there's such a massive glass bubble of perfection built up around the Mormon Church's identity. And all glass bubbles tend to be shattered at some point – typically with catastrophic and existential crisis kind of results.

    It's all just so confusing, and irreparably sad. You can be wholly good and make people better and kinder and more gentle compassionate people without the facade of perfection. The bubble of perfection, the masking selective parts of reality with faith, it doesn't help anyone. You have a bunch of people defending the bubble against all the other people who want to smash it, and both of them get bruised and sliced to ribbons in the process. And a lot of them them walk away as atheists with shattered family relationships – having discarded the entire notion of God. Truly, it is the shadow of a high level of religious importance.

    i guess i see things from the lens of religious sects being paths to God. And i can't tell you how sad it makes me when people leave religion as atheists/nihilists, with poisoned family relationships just because of bickering over whose path to God ought to apply to everyone else.

    Anyways, delete this comment if you must, but just know it is written from an honest place – and a place that's not full of hatred.

    Reply
  10. This is great. I'm a convert with LDS heritage (parents and grandparents) and I studied mormonism and its history for around 4 years through the good the bad and the ugly and in the end I came to the conclusion that I couldn't find anything too denigrating or "outlandish" about the church even when reading all the anti-church writings I could. Latter-day Saints need to know that the church is one of the easiest targets out there and they need to be resilient and to have understanding.

    Reply
  11. I like that we should hold on with faith until we do understand. For truth, we should not be hung up on minor dissonances. But if we do, we should keep learning and save that question when as we learn greater context and grow greater faith. How can we expect ourselves to understand fully right away? Precept upon precept right? One thing I know for sure: the gospel maybe not answer all our questions immediately, but it will answer the questions that really matter .

    Reply
  12. At 12:00 we have the following quote: (Q) So I think that’s a good thing to point out… to not feel badly if you are questioning and if you’re having questions, it’s a good thing. (A) Yeah, that whole idea that you should be afraid of your questions or that questions are bad… That is cultural. That is not scriptural. “If you lack wisdom, ask God.” Where would we be if we didn’t ask questions, if we didn’t worry about the state of our souls or the truthfulness of the things that we’ve been taught?

    Compare those words with that of apostle Renlund, June 2018: (https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/satellite-training-broadcast/2018/06/doubt-not-but-be-believing?lang=eng): That doubt which feeds and grows upon itself, and, with stubborn indolence, breeds more doubt, is evil… Stagnant doubt does not lead to knowing the reality of the Savior, Jesus Christ; it does not lead to really knowing that we have a kind, loving Heavenly Father. We can come to know the truthfulness of this latter-day work, but it requires that we choose faith, not doubt, and that we go to the right sources for our answers.

    Reply
  13. I'm a recent convert to the church, nearl two years and whilst investigating the church I came across church history…and it doesn't bother me. I didn't live in the 1830s and 1840s, therefore, I don't judge and will never know what it's like to live in their shoes. I feel God wants us to live in today, the hear and now, so I do. I love The LDS Church, Callings, Sacrament, General Confrence talks, etc…all I'm bothered about is gettting a seat on public transport…long live Joseph Smith and The LDS Church

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  14. Having problems with Church history? Imagine our Catholic brothers! How can they keep their faith even with THAT past? I think that they appreciate more the benefits of their faith than the shadows from the past. Grow up, people! Enough of looking to the vast building and feeling ashamed after tasting the fruit.

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  15. That idea of 'hypothetical history' is really powerful for me. Making assumptions about how something occurred, without having any evidence of it – and then when finding out its not true and feeling like it's a betrayal.. Wow.. Lightbulb moment!

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  16. Wonderful interview. Agree with all insights and have utilized the same thought processes in my own personal journey as a convert to the church. It's the counsel I offer my children . . . rely on what you do know. There will always be questions. Doubt your doubts and study it out. The answers will come. Never abandon what you already know.

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  17. This is my similar ask of now…but i start to learning some brother they are belong to mormon church..and i like it all they teaching me..thanj you

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  18. Hi everyone

    This man is good and genuine, I respect his insite. Unfortunately all of the answers I've recieved (including Gods) concerning church history seems to tell me that christianity in a broader sense is true but the idea that any one church is the only true church is false. The amount of sin and lies committed by (mormon) church leaders, reformers (luther and anti-semitism), king henry (a complete tyrant ) and catholic leaders clearly indicates that. If God tells me Im wrong I'll gladly listen.

    And if anyone has anything to share I'm excited to hear your experiences.

    Best of luck to anyone else who has been torn apart by learning about the reality of church history and inconsistencies.

    Much love!

    Reply
  19. I wish there were a "love" button that I could click. This is one of the best videos I've ever seen on this topic. I absolutely loved this. Thank you so much!

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  20. What an enjoyable experience to listen to this man. I too have experienced that "it will all work out," when it comes to questions about church history and doctrine. The Gospel has been in my life now since 1957, when I was 16–and what I keep learning just keeps increasing my faith. Have there been questions, yes, have I found answers, yes.

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  21. Regular study of the scriptures goes a long way to answering the critics. It does two things: 1. arguments leveled against modern prophets frequently can be applied to ancient ones as well. 2. the miracle of the Book of Mormon is evident in the reading of it.

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  22. I was bought up in a respectful home with religious beliefs. I loved this video because it answers many questions about the many variations of knowledge of a religions background or history of a man made structural guidebook. I loved the way he is able to keep an open mind and that he debates the historical written work. I wish all teachers of faith were as wise and knowledgeable. History is only as good as the person who wrote it down.

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  23. I agree with testimony and the advice of brother harper. My faith has turned gradually to knowledge in pretty much the same way that he described– over my lifetime. I still have a lot of questions, but I also have a lot more answers than I used to and they are verifiable and historically provable. And if those answers have been given to my satisfaction, I'm confident that the rest of my questions will be answered eventually.

    Reply
  24. The Santa Claus story that we believed in when we were kids was indeed a myth. I still enjoy Christmas, even though I don't need to believe in a Santa with a sleigh and reindeer. But I don't insist on bearing testimony that Santa is true. As adults we know, or should know, that the ways God directs the Church, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are much more complex than just God speaking directly to a Prophet. Yet to me it seems many in the church are offended if we approach revelation and God as anything other than the (dare I say this) mythical setting we learned in primary. Many church leaders seem to be offended when members, in trying to maintain their faith, try seek a nuanced understanding of the reality of revelation and God. Conference talks and church magazine articles, seem to encourage a "child-like belief in Santa" and discourage members who are trying to find what is true and real. Some children do feel betrayed when they learn the truth about Santa. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its leaders, and members, should not discourage those who feel they can't just go with the flow. They should not discourage, for example, a view that doesn't include belief in a a literal revelation about the children of LGBT people, or a literal translation of the Joseph Smith Papyri. But, I could be wrong.

    Reply
  25. Here's the thing about the Santa analogy- the matter isn't complicated at all. Santa doesn't exist. Period. We are not asked to believe in Christmas based on the existence of Santa. If it turns out, for example, that the story about the foundation of the church is not true, all things surrounding the organization are suspect. You cannot trust liars.

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  26. As someone who is reading the Book of Mormon now and having had looks into the LDS Church before, I found this video very comforting. I have often viewed the Mormon church as claiming that they know kind of all the behind the scenes spiritual stuff we cannot see, that is something I have always held as a purposeful mystery. Hearing Mr. Harper talking about having more questions than he has answers for has really resolved that tension for me. It needs to be said about "throwing the whole thing out" because of something you find un true, or unlike what you previously thought. And you see people of faith, whether Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, they find out one wrong thing (which you will find many many wrong things in all of our pasts… were human… hehe) and they just throw it all away. I think that is sad. I also enjoyed this as a history major.

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  27. In summary…
    There are many disconcerting questions and concerns about Mormon church history, BUT you can pray and console your doubts with the comfort of the holy ghost.

    *Spoiler Alert*Feelings of the holy ghost are NOT unique to Mormonism. The moment you accept a personal spiritual revelation as true you must also dismiss billions of others’ personal spiritual revelations about their particular religion as false. I dare not be so arrogant.

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  28. His father is a wise man. The book of mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ is what matters. Not the prophets, not the policies, not the false history, none of that changes whether the book of mormon is true.

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  29. In response to some of the commentors asking why people of other faiths can feel the same feelings as Mormons (burning in the chest, the Holy Ghost, etc) … I believe there are absolutes – absolute truths, rules, etc. I believe the ordinances the church facilitates are important for everyone. That's why we have temples and do work for the dead. To God, this life and the next life are two sides of the same coin. Most religions provide great teachings. Those teachings are going to create positive feelings – exactly the same feelings that Mormons experience. They are triggering the same biological mechanism. God loves everyone. He knows that most people, in this life, will not have a chance to be baptized, sealed in the temple, etc. But they will have the opportunity later on. In the meantime, he will continue to inspire and guide his children. I consider myself a strong member of the LDS church. But I find tons of truths and knowledge in other religions and cultures. I know something is true and of value when I get the subtle burning in my chest. The church offers a lot. But it's not the end all be all of truth. Members of the church need to ask questions and dig just like anyone else. At the end of the day, if we don't learn to love each other it doesn't matter if we're Mormon, Catholic, Buddhist, etc.

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  30. Joseph smith prophesied of D&C 107:57 over 187 years ago , it states the Book of Enoch would be testified of , and to this day has not been spoken of by Church leaders. Why not ? It’s the word of God . Enoch was a Holy man and was more than likely the very first scribe in the world . Book of Mormon is true , but there is much being hidden from us in ancient scripture .

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  31. Could any members help me out with some BOM doctrinal stuff? It's been bothering me for a long time, and I was wondering if anyone else has had any insight. My school textbook said something about how Mormons believe that "the Natives were cursed by having their skin turned dark." I was surprised, as I had never heard anything remotely related to this in all my years of being in the church. I looked into it a bit, and I eventually found where this statement came from. There's a couple verses about it somewhere in Alma. It hasn't been sitting right with me, so I tried to look up more on Lds.org but I didn't have too much luck finding a lot of information about it. I want to be able to have a better understanding the BOM to get a testimony of it, have any other members noticed these verses and do y'all have any insight? Help would be much appreciated.

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  32. When I first encountered the things that troubles people I asked myself a basic question.
    If this history is so bad, why would they leave it in my plain sight?
    Then I always come to the conclusion, I've got more to seek before I can know the entire truth.
    It was so misty that I could only see about one step further, each step I took the more understandable things became.
    As patience was mentioned, patience is a good quality.

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  33. People are willing to say Joseph Smith wasn't perfect, but are unwilling to face the truth. If it's worth staying in the church for the social community aspects of it I would say that is the one redeeming factor. That is if you are ready for an existential crisis.

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  34. Thanks for these thoughtful ideas. I know many people find things to criticise both the LDS Church and Joseph Smith, and that is okay, but I wonder how the prophets of the bible who stand up to scrutiny if they lived 2 centuries ago, and we would know considerably more about them that would undermine our history shaped assumptions . I am comfortable walking with God and being led by the Holy Ghost, despite other’s doubts. God bless all who seek the truth.
    .

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  35. So, I should stay in the Church based on how I feel when I pray? even though there are numerous facts that show doctrinal mistakes?or illogical circumstances like Israelites in the Book of Mormon being baptized hundreds of years before Jesus lived, somehow following the Law of Moses and at the same time being disciples of Christ?

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  36. I think it's a bit disingenuous to start off with a story of how someone actually did lie about church history. While true, that was one instance of a bad actor.

    Honestly, that does not represent the majority of the historical questions people have. The questions people have are extremely legitimate, documented, and deserve real answers.

    On another note – can faith lead to the wrong answer? Are there people that use faith to justify harmful beliefs?

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  37. Some great answers here, which I have validated in my own experience many times. Such as a similar experience with Christmas.

    I loved both the baby Jesus and Santa Claus with all his presents! when older siblings disabused me of any notion of a real Santa Claus flying in his sleigh from the North Pole ("It's just Mom and Dad…"), I soon went into what is called "cognitive dissonance" today with this question: "If there is no Santa Claus, does that mean there is no baby Jesus; nor His wondrous miracles either?" I put in some serious thought about that. I recognized, eventually, that my parents lived their lives with Jesus always being important, and not just a once a year for fun thing. I decided then that Jesus must be truly real.

    While I felt a vague sense of unease about the deceptions of Santa Claus, I never really became angry at my parents for it, ascribing it to perhaps some higher wisdom they had to guide their family into becoming generous like the good Saint Nick. For some time I did not bring it up with them, but when I did, to their credit, they did not try to continue the cover-up. "Santa Claus is just pretend, for the fun and excitement of the kids." Still, I promised myself that I would never perpetuate the Santa story as "real" with my kids; though we could certainly still have fun by pretending. They would then be less likely to question my honesty when I would tell them about Jesus and other true things.

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  38. Very uninformative…sorry but from someone who has real serious questions this does not help at all. Why does no one in the church want to actually DISCUSS the church history issues that people have the most questions about?? They skirt around them or completely ignore them leaving those of us with questions who have faith and have fasted and prayed feeling even more lost! I felt this is all this video did.

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  39. Show me your desire and ill show you your idol. Desire Christ first before money, toys, a house, marriage, a baby. If you desire Christ first all else will be taken care of. God bless you. John 13:34 Castlerock ward. : )

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