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April 4, 2021 9:45 pm
Viewpoint: Mormonism program.
It examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint when Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism welcome to this edition of viewpoint on Mormonism on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry with me today is Eric Johnson.
My colleague at MRM. If you've listened to viewpoint on Mormonism for any amount of time you know that we often make reference to a set of essays that are known as the gospel topics essays will there's a book that came out in late 2020.
It was published by signature books titled the LDS gospel topics series a scholarly engagement that first of all we should explain why do we refer to the gospel topics essays what are these all about and should a Christian who is interested in sharing their faith with a latter-day St. acquaintance familiarize themselves with some of the things that are in these essays if they hope to have a very meaningful conversation with their LDS friends and we certainly do think they should.
It's not that they need to be an expert in every one of the essays, but there is a lot of good information. I remember speaking to a group of staff members with an apologetic organization in Budapest, Hungary.
Eric and I was to give a talk on the gospel topics, essays, and one of the things that I wanted to get across to those that were listening is the gospel topics essays are really a wealth of information, usable information that we as Christians can use without any fear whatsoever because they have the sanction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints leadership even though we know that none of the essays have an author's name on it. We know that the church has come out with a statement saying that members of the church should read these essays, they should know them. They should be very familiar with them and that they do have the authority of the first presidency behind them. That is huge because the essays are not all that long, you can become very familiar with some of the basic points in just a matter of a few minutes really and reading some of these and you can use that information when talking to a latter-day St. will let's talk about what is in this walk because were going to be spending quite a few episodes of viewpoint on Mormonism going through some of the chapters that deal with the essays. There were originally 13 gospel topics essays they since come out with some other essays that are known as historical essays, but this book deals with the original 13. How does this book describe what a reader will find in this book in its summary it says this anthology provides a scholarly in-depth analysis of the 13 gospel topics essays issued by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from December 2013 to October 2015.
The contributors reflect a variety of faith traditions, including the LDS church community of Christ. Catholic and evangelical Christian. Each contributor is an experienced, thoughtful scholar, many having written widely on religious thought in general and Mormon history. In particular, the writers probe the strengths and weaknesses of each of the gospel topics essays providing a forthright discussion on the relevant issues in LDS history and doctrine.
The editors hope that these analyses will spark a healthy discussion about the gospel topics essays as well as stimulate further discussion in the field of Mormon studies. Now, as we said, this book is published by signature book. We should probably talk about signature books because signature books is a big controversy only in its own right.
It was cofounded by a man by the name of George D.
Smith and another gentleman by the name of Scott Kenny George Smith has a chapter in this book. It's remembering forgetting and remembering 19th-century LDS plural marriage, I would say that would be an appropriate chapter for George Smith right because he wrote a whole book on Nauvoo polygamy.
So he's very familiar with the subject. George Smith is very familiar with Mormon history. That's probably why a lot of faithful Latter Day Saints are not real happy with signature books because they do tend to publish books that are going to say things that you would not find and what we would call a faith promoting book published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints itself. So signature books has come out with a new number of titles over the years. It was founded in 1980, its first book came out in 1981. We were looking at our library here at MRM and we have a number of books that are published by signature and I find them to also have a wealth of information, usable information that often tells us side of Mormonism that may be most members are not familiar with. There's not a whole lot on George D. Smith out there that we can understand him better.
He's kinda private, but he is a wealthy businessman. He made a lot of money. Apparently, in his years.
He is in his 80s now, but I'm looking at an Los Angeles times article from 1991 that did a feature on him and it's the only feature I was able to actually find additional information about him and this is what it says in part as president of signature books and that was founded in 1980 and then his first book was published in 1981 and is is an independent publisher of Mormon related history and literature. Smith says he is committed to unfettered historical inquiry. This is what he said whenever a historian overturns. If it's an actual document or a contemporary statement back in the 1800s that reveal something that's important. We will not shy away from publishing it. If the author has done responsible historical research. I'm willing to shake the tree and perhaps others don't like to shake the tree because it's sacred.
I think that's an incredible quote because what he saying is the history and its accurate history is more important to him. Then just trying to say I'm a latter-day St., which he claimed in the article he claims that he is still a latter-day St., but is not wanting to just repeat the standard I'm a Mormon just because I believe it to be true. He wanted to be true because historically it should be true, but isn't it interesting that that statement made by George D. Smith.
If the church itself had followed those guidelines you think the gospel topics essays would have needed to be written in the first place and this book probably would never be published. I see the whole reason for the gospel topics essays folks organ to be getting into this in the next few days.
The reason they were written was because the church was putting out an airbrushed history that tended to always ignore the warts of Mormonism and a lot of the movers and shakers in early Mormonism that led to a lot of people having their faith shaken because women more truthful history started coming out and I would see signature would be responsible for a lot of that.
I would say that a lot of critics of Mormonism were responsible for a lot of that when that information started getting out. It started causing problems with a lot of the membership. If the church and only followed what George D. Smith wanted to do from the very beginning they probably wouldn't find themselves in the situation they are in right now and that is damage control.
I think you're right when you talked about all the books that you have on your bookshelf. We have read a number of them and they do a very credible job to come out with about 8 to 10 bucks a year since the 1980s and so there are a number of books out there. What I like about them is they are honest but LDS scholars have often times criticize the messenger back.
Let me give you one Stephen E. Robinson, who wrote a number of books including our Mormons Christians and believing Christ. He used to be the chairman of the Department of ancient Scripture at BYU before he died a few years ago. This is what he said give me X Mormons for Jesus or the Moody Bible tract society who are at least honest about their anti-Mormon agenda instead of signature books camouflage as a latter-day St. press.
I prefer my anti-Mormon straight up now is referring to X Mormons for Jesus, which was really popular. Back in those days in the 80s and 90s, Moody Bible tract society had produced several books, as well as tracks about Mormonism and that's what they're referring to, but Daniel Peterson is an LDS scholar who is also criticized signature book. This is what he said.
Signature books and George D. Smith seem to have a clear if on admitted agenda and agenda that is often hostile to centrally important beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to hear what he say what Peterson and as well Robinson are saying is if you're going to tell us the truth. We don't want to hear it. If it's going to go against our belief system and George D. Smith is saying if your system can't stand up to the facts of the history and the doctrines that this church is taught in the history of how this church came about and how it is today, then maybe this is not a religion that you ought to have. And it's funny because there were past leaders in the church that kind of echoed what George D. Smith was wanting to accomplish. Perhaps a lot of those statements now looking back were nothing more than bravado to try and call those who may have been upset by something they could've heard it all, like the statement by George a Smith that if a faith cannot bear to be investigated okay if it's for its foundation must be very weak. I'm paraphrasing, but that's basically what he said. In other words, we should be able to look at the foundation of this movement, we should be able to critique what LDS leaders have said if that's what they want their people to believe if were having to ignore a lot of what they've said that the member really get a well-rounded understanding of the very church they belong to. I would say no, they don't and I would go back to the statement that you cited earlier were George Smith is wanting to get this information out regardless of where the history went. If the LDS church had always done that.
I don't think they would be in the situation that they are in now, they would've never had a need to come up with the gospel topics essays because a lot of what of what is in those essays would've already been in church curriculum. Signature books has never made a profit it's been propped up by George D. Smith apparently has a lot of money we don't know how much money has so he has an agenda. He wants the truth to get out but this is what Stephen E. Robinson said in reviewing one of the books that came out called the word of God, essays in Mormon scripture.
Robinson said this quarter horse back and this time is got a printing press in his continuing assault upon traditional Mormonism signature books promotes with this recent and dubious titled work the word of God. Naturalistic assumptions in dealing with Latter Day Saints belief.
Of course Cora Hoar is talked about in Elma chapter 30 in the book of Mormon as being an antichrist to equate signature books with core horror George D. Smith with Cora Hoar. That's pretty low. While it's meant to be an ad hominem. And of course, to use an ad hominem argument like that was me. You don't really have a good argument. You don't call names, let's just deal with the issues and leave the name calling the site. Unfortunately, name-calling is popular, especially in our culture today. It's unfortunate that Stephen E. Robinson used it when he made that comment. Thank you for listening you would like more information is research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website www.rm.org you can request a free newsletter Mormonism research. We hope you join us again as we look at another viewpoint is looking for is in from a Christian perspective for you have questions about the history or doctrines of the LDS church, Bill McKeever and Gary Johnson are once again volunteering at the Utah lighthouse bookstore and would be glad to speak to you on Saturdays from 1 to 5 PM Utah lighthouse bookstore is located right there at 1358 SW. Temple St. in Salt Lake City. Be sure to come by any Saturday from 1 to 5 PM and say hi to Bill for Eric