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Lareliw

A newcomer's Church History for Dummies...

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I read a book by Joseph F. Smith I believe it was? About the history of the church. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it was from a library in a town that I do not live in any longer. Anyway, there were a couple of things that I found interesting and of course confusing! It seemed like a lot of the early church Elders/Apostles ended up being excommunicated, sometimes for reasons that I could not even determine based on the text. Was this a normal practice during the first decades of the LDS church? The thing that I found interesting is that even those who had been excommunicated or had left the church, and had witnessed the Golden Plates that Joseph Smith translated, never recanted the existance of those places. From what I understand, not ONE of them changed their stance on the existence of the plates. Do I have this correct? Why were there so many excommunications? And even though I understand that plural marriage is no longer practiced based on the Manifesto of 1890, why does the Church currently excommunicate members who continue to practice this doctrine that is still listed in D&C? Thank you for helping me to understand better, and please be gentle, I am still learning :P

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I read a book by Joseph F. Smith I believe it was? About the history of the church. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it was from a library in a town that I do not live in any longer. Anyway, there were a couple of things that I found interesting and of course confusing! It seemed like a lot of the early church Elders/Apostles ended up being excommunicated, sometimes for reasons that I could not even determine based on the text. Was this a normal practice during the first decades of the LDS church? The thing that I found interesting is that even those who had been excommunicated or had left the church, and had witnessed the Golden Plates that Joseph Smith translated, never recanted the existance of those places. From what I understand, not ONE of them changed their stance on the existence of the plates. Do I have this correct? Why were there so many excommunications? And even though I understand that plural marriage is no longer practiced based on the Manifesto of 1890, why does the Church currently excommunicate members who continue to practice this doctrine that is still listed in D&C? Thank you for helping me to understand better, and please be gentle, I am still learning :P

You need to do more research. All of the so called witnesses were either related or a mark for the con. Jospeh Smith was clever in that one could close their eyes and imagine seeing the golden plates and BAM it was considered REAL. The testimony is not a testomony at all, but instead a pre written note that Joseph Smith wrote up. Do a search for "spritual eyes" for the real truth. Also, there are literaly millions who have sworn testimony on being abducted by UFO's should we also belive them? What about Strangite . org the REAL LDS church who actually had gold plates...they have sworn witnesses also.

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I read a book by Joseph F. Smith I believe it was? About the history of the church. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it was from a library in a town that I do not live in any longer. Anyway, there were a couple of things that I found interesting and of course confusing!

I'd be happy to answer as much as I can =).

It seemed like a lot of the early church Elders/Apostles ended up being excommunicated, sometimes for reasons that I could not even determine based on the text. Was this a normal practice during the first decades of the LDS church?

I wouldn't know much about this, but I am guessing they have a case-by-case reason... you'd have to go look at them individually. Other people should be able to tell you more about this.

The thing that I found interesting is that even those who had been excommunicated or had left the church, and had witnessed the Golden Plates that Joseph Smith translated, never recanted the existance of those plates. From what I understand, not ONE of them changed their stance on the existence of the plates. Do I have this correct?

Yes, you have that correct. Some of them left because they thought the way the church was being run was incorrect, but they didn't go back on the fact that they witnessed the Golden Plates, even on deathbed. Some started their own churches. Others later rejoined the Church.

And even though I understand that plural marriage is no longer practiced based on the Manifesto of 1890, why does the Church currently excommunicate members who continue to practice this doctrine that is still listed in D&C?

Generally because

1) The Lord has asked us not to practice it right now and

2) It is also against the law, which could have impact on the Church

Thank you for helping me to understand better, and please be gentle, I am still learning :P

No prob, keep asking questions =)

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There is a Mormonism for Dummies book, but I don't know how much church history they cover.

My favourite, easily understood but pretty comprehensive book is by the respected LDS scholars Leonard Arrington and David Bitton, their book is the Mormon Experience. I think it's held up pretty well even with the last few decades new discoveries and extended resources being made available in easily accessible formats for scholars (the Joseph Smith Paper project).

If you want to read an online version, the Church has their institute manual online for free, it's bit of a read, though easy for anyone who was a high school grad. I like that as an overview as it at times just touches on controversial or debated topics, but it is an excellent way to see how the church tells its own stories...and since we as a church form our communities primarily through narratives such as testimony meetings and such, I think if you want to get to know the Church as its members see it and see their place within its structure this is a worthwhile reading (though I would push for the Mormon Experience first as they cover more of the cultural experience and not just ones surrounding theological or administrative developments (I see the Church History in its Fullness text main purpose is to place in context and explain various relevations, doctrines and policies over the past 200 years or so, less so explaining what the people themselves are like, what their daily activities are and how they tend to mesh into their varied communities.)

Here's my preferred book online at google, I don't know how much of the text is available, but it should give you a good idea on if you want to invest in it or try to find a library that carries it (good chance among the larger libraries). http://books.google.com/books?id=oMQgrBcI998C&printsec=frontcover&dq=mormon+experience+bitton+arrington&source=bl&ots=xOfa8p9lcQ&sig=eocNPsTWfF4mwk4sIgN_1Y5OGd4&hl=en&ei=BSRqTe2DLYKosAO99eCmBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

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There is a Mormonism for Dummies book, but I don't know how much church history they cover.

My favourite, easily understood but pretty comprehensive book is by the respected LDS scholars Leonard Arrington and David Bitton, their book is the Mormon Experience. I think it's held up pretty well even with the last few decades new discoveries and extended resources being made available in easily accessible formats for scholars (the Joseph Smith Paper project).

If you want to read an online version, the Church has their institute manual online for free, it's bit of a read, though easy for anyone who was a high school grad. I like that as an overview as it at times just touches on controversial or debated topics, but it is an excellent way to see how the church tells its own stories...and since we as a church form our communities primarily through narratives such as testimony meetings and such, I think if you want to get to know the Church as its members see it and see their place within its structure this is a worthwhile reading (though I would push for the Mormon Experience first as they cover more of the cultural experience and not just ones surrounding theological or administrative developments (I see the Church History in its Fullness text main purpose is to place in context and explain various relevations, doctrines and policies over the past 200 years or so, less so explaining what the people themselves are like, what their daily activities are and how they tend to mesh into their varied communities.)

Here's my preferred book online at google, I don't know how much of the text is available, but it should give you a good idea on if you want to invest in it or try to find a library that carries it (good chance among the larger libraries).

http://books.google.com/books?id=oMQgrBcI998C&printsec=frontcover&dq=mormon+experience+bitton+arrington&source=bl&ots=xOfa8p9lcQ&sig=eocNPsTWfF4mwk4sIgN_1Y5OGd4&hl=en&ei=BSRqTe2DLYKosAO99eCmBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

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You need to do more research. All of the so called witnesses were either related or a mark for the con. Jospeh Smith was clever in that one could close their eyes and imagine seeing the golden plates and BAM it was considered REAL. The testimony is not a testomony at all, but instead a pre written note that Joseph Smith wrote up. Do a search for "spritual eyes" for the real truth. Also, there are literaly millions who have sworn testimony on being abducted by UFO's should we also belive them? What about Strangite . org the REAL LDS church who actually had gold plates...they have sworn witnesses also.

You need to do more research. You can start here: Attempts to Redefine the Experiences of the Eight Witnesses

None of the witnesses ever denied their testimonies, and when people try to say that it was just with their spiritual eyes, as if nothing physical was ever there, misunderstand those statements and ignore all the other statements that make it quite clear what they experienced. And where do you think Joseph got the amazing powers to make eight people to see the same exact delusion?

It is amazing the lengths people go to explain away the existence of the golden plates.

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I think that the reason that there were so many excommunications in the early days was mainly because of two reasons. First of all, things were especially hard back then. People would lose family members, all their property, would be attacked by mobs, and driven from several states. People sometimes would turn against the Church because of all these things happening to them. The second reason was that because it was a new church, Joseph had to chose leaders out of the crowd, unlike today where people show their abilities through life-long service to the Church. Sometimes probably not the best people got too much power, like John C. Bennett. Another thing that one must note is that most of the Saints were faithful their entire lives; it was mainly the leaders who were excommunicated. Also, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were always eager to let repentant apostates be rebaptized and there were many who did. For example, all of the three witnesses left the Church, but both Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris were later rebaptized.

As for an introduction to Church history, Church History in the Fulness of Times is a good place to start.

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Don't forget Mary Fielding Smith. Joseph wasn't even present when the angel showed her the plates.

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I read a book by Joseph F. Smith I believe it was? About the history of the church. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it was from a library in a town that I do not live in any longer. Anyway, there were a couple of things that I found interesting and of course confusing! It seemed like a lot of the early church Elders/Apostles ended up being excommunicated, sometimes for reasons that I could not even determine based on the text. Was this a normal practice during the first decades of the LDS church? The thing that I found interesting is that even those who had been excommunicated or had left the church, and had witnessed the Golden Plates that Joseph Smith translated, never recanted the existance of those places. From what I understand, not ONE of them changed their stance on the existence of the plates. Do I have this correct? Why were there so many excommunications? And even though I understand that plural marriage is no longer practiced based on the Manifesto of 1890, why does the Church currently excommunicate members who continue to practice this doctrine that is still listed in D&C? Thank you for helping me to understand better, and please be gentle, I am still learning :P

There were various reasons for the early excommunications depending on which time period one is looking at. Early on in Kirtland there was a serious schism in the church regarding the Kirtland Banking Society and Joseph Smith's involvement therewith. Many of the saints lost large amounts of money that went unaccounted for, some losing their entire livelyhoods.

A letter by Stephen Burnett addressed to Lyman Johnson (a member of the twelve apostles who was later excommunicated) reflects much of the discontent and the reasons for it:

Orange Township, Geauga Co., Ohio

15th April 1838

Br[other]. [Lyman E.] Johnson

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None of the witnesses ever denied their testimonies, and when people try to say that it was just with their spiritual eyes, as if nothing physical was ever there, misunderstand those statements and ignore all the other statements that make it quite clear what they experienced.

So what does it mean to say you saw something with your spiritual eyes?

I don't believe in magic or God or spirits. Would that mean I would not have been able to see the plates?

Please correct me if I am wrong, but it is my understanding is that each of the witnesses participated in the "viewing" with the preexisting belief that: (1) Smith was a Prophet of God, and (2) only those deemed righteous by God would be allowed to see the plates. If so, that would not make the most reliable of witnesses.

Its also my understanding that each of the witnesses either had a financial interest in the sale of the book, or was closely related to someone that did. Again, please correct me if I am wrong. If so, again, that would not make them the most reliable of witnesses.

Finally, its been my experience that people who participate in a scheme to defraud others, don't publicly admit to the role they played in that fraud, unless they have been caught, and even then to avoid or lessen the punishment that would follow. If you are aware of any examples to the contrary, I would love to see them. For some strange reason, people here seem to assume that having left the LDS Church the witnesses would have immediately confessed to their role in a fraud.

Personally, I thought that Whitmer handled it well, by saying that if you his believe his story about the plates, you have to believe his story about an angel telling him Smith was a fallen prophet. I don't believe him, period.

And where do you think Joseph got the amazing powers to make eight people to see the same exact delusion?

Who said they were deluded. They claimed to have seen plates which which had the "appearance of gold" and the "appearance of ancient work." They claimed that the plates were engraved.

If the Kinderhook plates had likewise "disappeared," apologists for the LDS Church woudl still be touting the testimony of the existence of the plates as evidence of Smith's claims.

It is amazing the lengths people go to explain away the existence of the golden plates.

Its even more amazing the lengths people go to overstate the persuasive value of the witness testimony.

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It seemed like a lot of the early church Elders/Apostles ended up being excommunicated, sometimes for reasons that I could not even determine based on the text. Was this a normal practice during the first decades of the LDS church?

This is correct, from the founding of the Church till this day excommunication happens. Oliver Cowdery, Martian Harris, and David Whitmer (the Three Witnesses) were all excommunicate, Cowdery and Harris later rejoined the Church, but David Whitmer never returned to the Church.

The thing that I found interesting is that even those who had been excommunicated or had left the church, and had witnessed the Golden Plates that Joseph Smith translated, never recanted the existance of those places. From what I understand, not ONE of them changed their stance on the existence of the plates. Do I have this correct?

This is correct, none of the Three Witnesses ever recanted there testimony that the Gold Plates were real and that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Each lost faith in Smith or his successors at some point and were excommunicated for various reasons, two of them repented and rejoined the Chruch later in life. Even Mr. Whitmer who never returned though always declared that the Book of Mormon was true, he disagreed with leadership but always knew that the BoM was true.

Why were there so many excommunications?

All churches excommunicate and they all excommunicate for the same reasons, refusal to repent from sins committed. When people disobey the commandments or the covenants they make with God they must be chastised and/or punished through the leadership of the Church. When the refuse to repent for these sins they will be excommunicated.

And even though I understand that plural marriage is no longer practiced based on the Manifesto of 1890, why does the Church currently excommunicate members who continue to practice this doctrine that is still listed in D&C?

Because Official Declaration 1 stated that the Church would no longer continue to practice polygamy because it was against Federal Law. Those that refused to obey this revelation and continued to seal plural marriages were excommunicates (as still are this day) if discovered by the leadership. The time for polygamy closed in 1890, any new plural marriages after that is a sin since God commanded us to stop practicing polygamy in 1890.

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I read a book by Joseph F. Smith I believe it was? About the history of the church. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it was from a library in a town that I do not live in any longer. Anyway, there were a couple of things that I found interesting and of course confusing! It seemed like a lot of the early church Elders/Apostles ended up being excommunicated, sometimes for reasons that I could not even determine based on the text. Was this a normal practice during the first decades of the LDS church? The thing that I found interesting is that even those who had been excommunicated or had left the church, and had witnessed the Golden Plates that Joseph Smith translated, never recanted the existance of those places. From what I understand, not ONE of them changed their stance on the existence of the plates. Do I have this correct? Why were there so many excommunications? And even though I understand that plural marriage is no longer practiced based on the Manifesto of 1890, why does the Church currently excommunicate members who continue to practice this doctrine that is still listed in D&C? Thank you for helping me to understand better, and please be gentle, I am still learning :P

You are asking questions that will lead you down roads unexpected. Are you ready for that? My journeys on that road have led to a change in my beliefs.

Start here:

Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling: This book provides insight into the the complete history of Joseph Smith. I venture to say that is apologetic in nature, and somewhat biased. On the other hand, it is quite thorough and covers some of the excommunications and power struggles in the early church. Useful for it's bibliography alone.

If you are interested further, PM me and I will provide you with a link to other readings.

H.

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It should also be noted that in the early days of the LDS Church, the leaders (and the members of course) came from other religious traditions. They carried with them their understandings, interpretations, prejudices, etc. into their new faith. This was also during a time new revelation was being given to the Church pretty regularly, revelation that probably didn't fit all that well together in a global paradigm since they hadn't had the time to explore the theological implications and how various concepts might fit together or should be put into practice. It is not surprising therefore that some would fall away when something new that they didn't feel comfortable with adjusting into their current understanding was revealed or implemented. This happens even with long time members of any faith or organization for that matter when the status quo is altered, sometimes even in just small ways.

Another issue is how someone views their place in the community and whether or not they are happy with it. When we lived in Russia, I was told by the elders and Russian members that many converts would leave after a few years of strong activity because they were offended by being released from their callings. They didn't realize or accept as proper that callings in our church tend to be cycled through a lot of individuals, giving people a variety of experiences to allow them to grow in a variety of ways and allowing leadership skills to be developed in a maximum amount of individuals to accommodate further church growth. In their culture, being terminated (which is how they understood being released) was an insult, an accusation of incompetence, etc. In a culture where position and public recognition were significant motivators (not having much money to outdo the 'Joneses' in material things), pride became an obstacle to further growth in the faith. There was a story, I don't know how accurate the details were that I got, that when a bishop/branch president in one of the former Soviet Union countries was to be released, he refused to be, got the local congregation behind him and basically defected from the church attempting to take church property with him and the rest. I do not know how this was resolved, at the time I was told it was in court determining who actually owned the property, the local members or the central organization. This is reminiscent of early LDS history in the US.

And when one reads of the early history of the LDS faith in the US, pride is often a factor there as well....and is unfortunately still today (though the US doesn't usually have issues with being released from callings as most members understand the dynamic nature of church structure).

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There were various reasons for the early excommunications depending on which time period one is looking at. Early on in Kirtland there was a serious schism in the church regarding the Kirtland Banking Society and Joseph Smith's involvement therewith. Many of the saints lost large amounts of money that went unaccounted for, some losing their entire livelyhoods.

A letter by Stephen Burnett addressed to Lyman Johnson (a member of the twelve apostles who was later excommunicated) reflects much of the discontent and the reasons for it:

Orange Township, Geauga Co., Ohio

15th April 1838

Br[other]. [Lyman E.] Johnson

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I read a book by Joseph F. Smith I believe it was? About the history of the church. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it was from a library in a town that I do not live in any longer. Anyway, there were a couple of things that I found interesting and of course confusing! It seemed like a lot of the early church Elders/Apostles ended up being excommunicated, sometimes for reasons that I could not even determine based on the text. Was this a normal practice during the first decades of the LDS church? The thing that I found interesting is that even those who had been excommunicated or had left the church, and had witnessed the Golden Plates that Joseph Smith translated, never recanted the existance of those places. From what I understand, not ONE of them changed their stance on the existence of the plates. Do I have this correct? Why were there so many excommunications? And even though I understand that plural marriage is no longer practiced based on the Manifesto of 1890, why does the Church currently excommunicate members who continue to practice this doctrine that is still listed in D&C? Thank you for helping me to understand better, and please be gentle, I am still learning :P

I'm not sure what you've read, but here are the first couple decades of excommunicated apostles, according to Wikipedia. (None of these men were witnesses to the plates):

September 3, 1837

John F. Boynton disfellowshipped. He was excommunicated later that year (apostasy after the "Kirtland Safety Society" fiasco).

April 13, 1838

Lyman E. Johnson and his brother, Luke S. Johnson excommunicated (apostasy after the "Kirtland Safety Society" fiasco).

May 11, 1838

William E. M'Lellin excommunicated (apostasy after the "Kirtland Safety Society" fiasco).

March 17, 1839

Thomas B. Marsh excommunicated (publicly accused Church leaders of violent intentions in Missouri in 1838. Later rejoined the Church).

August 20, 1842

Orson Pratt excommunicated. (His wife in 1842 claimed that Joseph Smith propositioned her for a polygamous arrangement; Joseph denied it and accused Pratt's wife of committing adultery with John C. Benett. Pratt sided with his wife and was ex'd. Later rebaptized and restored to quorum at lower seniority)

October 6, 1845

William Smith dropped from Quorum. He was excommunicated October 19, 1845 (tension over his role in the Church with Brigham Young after Joseph's death; also accused of "miscreant practices").

February 9, 1846

John E. Page disfellowshipped. He was excommunicated on June 27, 1846 (supported James Strang as leader of the church in opposition to Brigham Young. Later rejected Strang as well.)

December 3, 1848

Lyman Wight excommunicated (left Nauvoo to set up a Mormon colony in Texas, and refused to join up with the main body of followers in Utah. Ex'd over disagreements with Brigham Young).

October 6, 1867

Amasa M. Lyman deprived of apostleship. He was excommunicated on May 12, 1870 (ex'd for denying the reality and necessity of the atonement).

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I'm not sure what you've read, but here are the first couple decades of excommunicated apostles, according to Wikipedia. (None of these men were witnesses to the plates):

Your source deals solely with the Quorum of the Twelve not the entire Church, you also seem to imply that none of the Three witnesses were excommunicated this is the opposite of reality for all three were excommunicated.

Martin Harris was excommunicated in 1837 after he left the Church after the Kirtland Trust fell apart and rebaptized in 1870 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Harris_(Latter_Day_Saints)

Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated in 1838 as a dissenter after he proclaimed Smith was an adulterer, he was rebaptized in 1848. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Cowdery

David Whitmer was excommunicated in 1838 also as a dissenter over the fall out from Kirtland Trust, he never rejoined the Church http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Whitmer

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I am ready to follow whatever road God leads me to. Thank you :P

You are asking questions that will lead you down roads unexpected. Are you ready for that? My journeys on that road have led to a change in my beliefs.

Start here:

Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling: This book provides insight into the the complete history of Joseph Smith. I venture to say that is apologetic in nature, and somewhat biased. On the other hand, it is quite thorough and covers some of the excommunications and power struggles in the early church. Useful for it's bibliography alone.

If you are interested further, PM me and I will provide you with a link to other readings.

H.

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What is the purpose of being rebaptized after you are baptized as a believing adult?

Your source deals solely with the Quorum of the Twelve not the entire Church, you also seem to imply that none of the Three witnesses were excommunicated this is the opposite of reality for all three were excommunicated.

Martin Harris was excommunicated in 1837 after he left the Church after the Kirtland Trust fell apart and rebaptized in 1870 http://en.wikipedia....ter_Day_Saints)

Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated in 1838 as a dissenter after he proclaimed Smith was an adulterer, he was rebaptized in 1848. http://en.wikipedia..../Oliver_Cowdery

David Whitmer was excommunicated in 1838 also as a dissenter over the fall out from Kirtland Trust, he never rejoined the Church http://en.wikipedia....i/David_Whitmer

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What is the purpose of being rebaptized after you are baptized as a believing adult?

Baptism serves two distinct purposes. The first is the remission of sins, and the second is a "birth" into the family of Christ

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That makes sense, thank you for that clarification!

Baptism serves two distinct purposes. The first is the remission of sins, and the second is a "birth" into the family of Christ

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You are asking questions that will lead you down roads unexpected. Are you ready for that? My journeys on that road have led to a change in my beliefs.

Start here:

Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling: This book provides insight into the the complete history of Joseph Smith. I venture to say that is apologetic in nature, and somewhat biased. On the other hand, it is quite thorough and covers some of the excommunications and power struggles in the early church. Useful for it's bibliography alone.

Lareliw,

You will learn, if you haven't already, that some people think "apologetic" is a bad word. It isn't; it simply means "defense" or "explanation."

However, I don't believe it is accurate to describe Rough Stone Rolling as "apologetic." That word sometimes is used to mean "anything less than a full-scale denunciation." Bushman does not denounce Joseph or spend his time trying to discredit Joseph's prophetic charisms, therefore some think his book is "apologetic."

In reality, Bushman tried very hard to steer a middle course in Rough Stone Rolling. It does not show Joseph as a total scoundrel; therefore, for anti-Mormons and their fellow-travellers, it can never be anything but "apologetic." However, many believing Latter-day Saints are suspicious of it, precisely because it is not "apologetic"; it makes no attempt to "prove" that Joseph really had the visions and other experiences that he claimed. Rather, it does what any good biography should do: it approaches its subject sympathetically. Where a question arises that is simply beyond the ability of secular scholarship to determine -- such as whether God and angels really did visit Joseph in answer to his prayers -- RSR treats the question as moot: Joseph believed it (as he unquestionably did) and conformed his actions accordingly. Therefore, for biographical purposes, that's all that is necessary.

In RSR, Bushman tried too hard to push his own faith into the background. Which is another way of saying that he didn't tell us all that he knew, or thought, regarding Joseph Smith's life and ministry. But with all of that, his biography of Joseph is still the best that has yet been seen.

Regards,

Pahoran

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Oh most definitely, I look at apologetic works of any kind merely as an argument in favor of something and explanation and clarification. I think a summary, or biography, of his life that is as objective as is possible, would certainly have educational value. I will see if I can locate a copy of this book locally so that I can read it :P

Lareliw,

You will learn, if you haven't already, that some people think "apologetic" is a bad word. It isn't; it simply means "defense" or "explanation."

However, I don't believe it is accurate to describe Rough Stone Rolling as "apologetic." That word sometimes is used to mean "anything less than a full-scale denunciation." Bushman does not denounce Joseph or spend his time trying to discredit Joseph's prophetic charisms, therefore some think his book is "apologetic."

In reality, Bushman tried very hard to steer a middle course in Rough Stone Rolling. It does not show Joseph as a total scoundrel; therefore, for anti-Mormons and their fellow-travellers, it can never be anything but "apologetic." However, many believing Latter-day Saints are suspicious of it, precisely because it is not "apologetic"; it makes no attempt to "prove" that Joseph really had the visions and other experiences that he claimed. Rather, it does what any good biography should do: it approaches its subject sympathetically. Where a question arises that is simply beyond the ability of secular scholarship to determine -- such as whether God and angels really did visit Joseph in answer to his prayers -- RSR treats the question as moot: Joseph believed it (as he unquestionably did) and conformed his actions accordingly. Therefore, for biographical purposes, that's all that is necessary.

In RSR, Bushman tried too hard to push his own faith into the background. Which is another way of saying that he didn't tell us all that he knew, or thought, regarding Joseph Smith's life and ministry. But with all of that, his biography of Joseph is still the best that has yet been seen.

Regards,

Pahoran

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Palerider: You need to include the source for your references.

Skylla

The original letter of Stephen Burnett to Lyman E. Johnson dated April 15, 1838, was copied on May 24, 1838, onto pages 64-66 of a Letter Book which contained copies of Joseph Smith

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Your source deals solely with the Quorum of the Twelve not the entire Church, you also seem to imply that none of the Three witnesses were excommunicated this is the opposite of reality for all three were excommunicated.

I didn't mean to imply that. She asked about Elder/Apostles, and I was just explaining what happened with the Apostles. Obviously, there were many other non-Apostles that also fell out of favor with the Church (including many of the original witnesses).

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Lareliw,

You will learn, if you haven't already, that some people think "apologetic" is a bad word. It isn't; it simply means "defense" or "explanation."

However, I don't believe it is accurate to describe Rough Stone Rolling as "apologetic." That word sometimes is used to mean "anything less than a full-scale denunciation." Bushman does not denounce Joseph or spend his time trying to discredit Joseph's prophetic charisms, therefore some think his book is "apologetic."

Goodness, Pahoran, there's no need to be cynical. The fact that I pointed that it is apologetic AND somewhat biased should show I was using the word correctly. Yes, RSR does explain the life of Joseph Smith in a detailed way that was not found previous. At the same time, and I think Bushman admits it himself, the text does expose some slight bias towards the faith. When I read this book, I was a fully believing saint, and still found this true.

H.

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