Discrepancy & Paul Dunn

CES Letter Core Question

Is there a major discrepancy between what the church teaches and what historical documents show?


As a believing Mormon, I saw a testimony as more than just spiritual experiences and feelings. I saw that we had “evidence” and “logic” on our side based on the correlated narrative I was fed by the Church about its origins. I lost this confidence when I discovered that the gap between what the Church teaches about its origins and what the primary historical documents actually show happened, and between what history shows what happened and what science shows what happened...couldn’t be further apart.

CES Letter, Page 77

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not hiding its past or its archival documents.

The alleged gap between what the Church teaches about its origins versus what the primary historical documents actually show happened is an illusion. Elder Snow, then Church Historian, explained: "The Internet allows the Church to do many things it could not before. Transparency is important." Thousands of primary documents are being uploaded to the Internet. If there is a gap, then it should become obvious as these documents are becoming more available, but The CES Letter only makes the accusation.

Gospel Topics papers deal with every significant controversy and are available at LDS.org.

Thousands of documents have been uploaded at the LDS Church History Library website.

The Joseph Smith Papers project has uploaded thousands more and is publishing every known document personally associated with the Prophet Joseph Smith. These and additional documents will be uploaded to JosephSmithPapers.org.

With the assistance of FairMormon, Brian Hales has uploaded his entire polygamy database of over 15 gigabytes to MormonPolygamyDocuments.org.


I read an experience that explains this in another way:

I resigned from the LDS Church and informed my bishop that the reasons had to do with discovering the real history of the Church. When I was done, he asked about the spiritual witness I had surely received as a missionary. I agreed that I had felt a sure witness, as strong as he currently felt. I gave him the analogy of Santa; I believed in Santa until I was 12. I refused to listen to reason from my friends who had discovered the truth much earlier...I just knew. However, once I learned the facts, feelings changed. I told him that Mormons have to re-define faith in order to believe; traditionally, faith is an instrument to bridge that gap between where science, history and logic end, and what you hope to be true. Mormonism re-defines faith as embracing what you hope to be true in spite of science, fact, and history.

CES Letter, Page 77

This analogy falters as most persons do not pray regarding the existence of Santa Claus.

Paul H. Dunn

Paul H. Dunn: Dunn was a General Authority of the Church for many years. He was a very popular speaker who told powerful faith-promoting war and baseball stories. Many times Dunn shared these stories in the presence of the prophet, apostles, and seventies. Stories such as how God protected him as enemy machine-gun bullets ripped away his clothing, gear, and helmet without ever touching his skin and how he was preserved by the Lord. Members of the Church shared how they strongly felt the Spirit as they listened to Dunn’s testimony and stories.

Unfortunately, Dunn was later caught lying about his war and baseball stories and was forced to apologize to the members. He became the first General Authority to gain “emeritus” status and was removed from public church life.

What about the members who felt the Spirit from Dunn’s fabricated and false stories? What does this say about the Spirit and what the Spirit really is?

CES Letter, Page 77-78

Many Church members remember hearing Paul H. Dunn's entertaining discourses. His faith-promoting historical fictions were all unrelated to Christ's divinity and may have temporarily buoyed them up. However, building a testimony on those feelings would have been inappropriate.