CES Letter Intro Letter
[Name of CES Director Removed],
I'm interested in your thoughts and answers as I have been unable to find official answers from the Church for most of these issues. It is my hope that you're going to have better answers than many of those given by unofficial apologists such as FairMormon and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute (formerly FARMS).
I'm just going to be straightforward in sharing my concerns. Obviously, I'm a disaffected member who lost his testimony so it's no secret which side I'm on at the moment. All this information is a result of over a year of intense research and an absolute rabid obsession with Joseph Smith and Church history. With this said, I'd be pretty arrogant and ignorant to say that I have all the information and that you don't have answers. Like you, I put my pants on one leg at a time and I see through a glass darkly. You may have new information and/or a new perspective that I may not have heard or considered before. This is why I'm genuinely interested in what your answers and thoughts are to these issues.
CES Letter, Introduction
Studying both sides of the issues is important.
Concerning individuals who encounter anti-Mormon literature, Richard Bushman, author of Rough Stone Rolling, counselled believers:
The need is to take these people seriously. [For them] it is like running into a great wall. It is like learning you have cancer or that your mother died. It is something very real in your life and it should never be belittled.
Bushman further advised:
Once you encounter this stuff it can be shocking, terrifying, and you just feel frozen and hardly know what to do. And then when the evidence begins to mount up you just say, “I better get out of here,” and turn away from it. And from then on there is a tendency to just read more and more things that confirm your decision and there’s more evidence that it is all phony.
Despite what the CES Letters says, it isn't phony. Brother Bushman encourages the inquirers to keep seeking: “Be intellectually courageous and focused. . . . Go right into the heart of the problem.” Then he explains how:
Try to figure out what is it precisely about this that is disruptive, what is it that troubles me most. And state that problem in the most severe form you can. And state that problem as clearly as you can. Then try honestly to accumulate information that bears on all sides of the problem. . . It requires a lot of independence and a certain amount of courage to keep looking at all sides of the issue, to read the apologists as well as the critics, and to try to try and figure it out for yourself. My number one piece of advice is to don’t falter. 1
Then he adds: “That is the best way I think you will arrive at a resolution.” Bushman seems unaffected by the critics’ allegations and claims. Undoubtedly, he is aware of them all. He reflects a confidence that sincere earnest inquiry can lead the seeker to the same conclusions he has drawn.
For religious belief, faith is also needed because no source of information has all the answers.
Best of Fair 7: The Joseph Smith Papers, Ron Esplin, 1:00:05
FAIR Conversations, Episode 3: Richard L. Bushman p.1, Richard L. Bushman, 1:01:16
FAIR Conversations, Episode 4: Richard L. Bushman p.2, Richard L. Bushman, 0:47:51
Faith and Reason 3: A Prophet’s Birth from Noble Heritage, Michael R. Ash, 0:07:54
Faith and Reason 4: A Miracle Operation, Michael R. Ash, 0:08:46
Faith and Reason 5: Joseph Smith’s Name Known Worldwide, Michael R. Ash, 0:05:19
pt 1, The Trial of 1826
“Without a Cause” What this Phrase Means with Mike Ash
Top Essays and Articles:
To better understand Richard Bushman's beliefs see: