LDS Discussions Website

NEW: For those looking for our new overview topic project, we have created an Overview Project landing page that links to all of our recent topic overviews, which now sits at 39 different topic pages on Mormonism.

Thank you for visiting LDS Discussions. Our goal is to explore the various topics of Mormonism from a historical perspective using mostly LDS sources. The material on this site has been written by members of the LDS church that have left, and incorporates both critical and apologetic standpoints on each topic. This is all of the information that we wish had been available to us years ago, and is all sourced so that you can know it is not "anti-Mormon" as so many will claim, but just history as we now know it backed up with both sources and our beliefs and explanations.

​We have gone through and taken the official LDS essays that the church released on some of the more controversial issues and annotated them with our notes where we feel the church is not being truthful about their claims. While the church has taken a positive step forward with the admissions in these essays, our annotations make clear that there are still serious problems that remain on these topics. These annotated essays are long, but they need to be in order to give a full picture of these topics that have remained controversial through the history of the church.

 

Following the release of the new Saints book from the LDS church, we have completed a chapter-by-chapter review and fact-check, Saints: The Standard of Truth?

We have also launched a blog that will have shorter posts on current church topics, historical issues, and more.

Latest additions to LDS Discussions:

  • A Final Summary on Mormonism and What Now? - For our final overview topic (for now), I wanted to give a summary of why the previous overview topics show without any doubt that the Mormon church is simply not what it claims to be, that the Book of Mormon is not an ancient, authentic text, and that the elements that are unique about Mormonism are not good. From there I wanted to look at what we can do with this information and some advice on the mistakes I made in trying to talk to believing members about this information so that you hopefully have better success in having these conversations.
     

  • If Joseph Got It Right, Then Who Got It Wrong? - As our overviews wrap up, we take a look at what is required for the Book of Mormon to be a true, ancient text and for Joseph Smith to be a prophet of God. Then we flip that upside-down and look at what it would mean if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God when it comes to all of the areas of science, archaeology, biblical scholarship, etc that tell us that the Book of Mormon is not an ancient, historical text. This is an important way to look at the claims of Mormonism, because if they are true then much of what we think we know today in those fields is simply not correct and must be addressed.
     

  • The Problem With Apologetics In Mormonism - An overview of the many ways that apologists (and leaders) within the church distort, obscure, and misrepresent history and scholarship in order to make the problems with the church's truth claims and history seem less damaging to members in order to keep them 'in the boat.' I look at many different tactics such as misusing footnotes, cherry picking sources, creating strawman arguments, and probably way too many more. This might be a long overview, but is an important one as you evaluate the church's truth claims openly and honestly.
     

  • The Transfiguration of Brigham Young - An overview of what is taught as the miraculous event that let members know Brigham Young was chosen by God to lead the church following Joseph Smith's death: the Transfiguration of Brigham Young. I look at what the church teaches against what the contemporary evidence tells us, and why it is such an important event to understand how easily faith promoting stories can not just be created, but solidified in a short time and what that means for the church's other truth claims as well.
     

  • Overview on Revelation, Part 4: Personal Revelation - The fourth and final overview on revelation looks at our own personal revelation, covering how patriarchal blessings have been consistently wrong to the point where patriarchs are told what they are allowed to say and how the leaders both cultivate and define our own personal revelations to keep us from contradicting the leaders. I also cover how personal revelation, just as revelation from the prophets of the church, has been watered down to the point where current leaders tell us not to expect words and visions, but just feelings to answer our questions.
     

  • Overview on Revelations, Part 3: Revelations After Joseph Smith - I continue the overview on revelations, looking at how revelation in the church has changed since Joseph Smith's lifetime. In addition to looking at the overall watering down of revelation since Joseph Smith, I examine John Taylor's 1886 revelation on plural marriage, the lifting of the priesthood and temple ban, and Russell Nelson's two biggest perceived revelations: the "name change" of Mormon and the reversal via revelation in 2019 of the 2015 revelation about LGBT families in the church.
     

  • Overview on Revelation, Part 2: Joseph Smith's Revelations - We continue the overview on revelations, looking at the ways Joseph Smith used revelations in the voice of God, including using them to get members to do what he wanted done (raise funds, polygamy, etc) and to get himself out of a tough situation (116 Pages, Emma and polygamy, etc). We then look at some of Joseph Smith's factually incorrect revelations along with some of his failed revelations made as a prophet of God and what that means for his ability and credibility as a prophet.
     

  • Overview on How the Church Handles Doubt - A look at how the church has approached those with doubts in recent years, looking at youth devotionals from the Renlunds, Elder Corbridge, the Rasbands, and then the April 2021 General Conference talk from Prophet Russell M. Nelson where he called those with doubts "lazy learners" and said that members should stop discussing their doubts with others who are willing to talk about the problems with the church's truth claims.
     

  • Overview on Revelation, Part 1: Backdating Prophecy - Our first overview on revelation in the church covers the idea of backdating prophecy. In this overview we look at how Joseph Smith used events around him to backdate prophecies into the Book of Mormon so they could be fulfilled, how that allows us to date the composition of the Book of Mormon, and how members continue to backdate prophecies today, looking at how many members credit Russell M. Nelson with prophesying of COVID when he never gave any kind of indication that a pandemic was coming.
     

  • Overview on Spiritual Witnesses and Testimonies - A look a the concept of spiritual witnesses and how all religions have used them to convey that God has told them they are in the true church. I then look at how testimonies are both cultivated and maintained through the church and the many different cognitive biases and fallacies that keep us from being willing to look at information that might harm that testimony, and a story about probably the most powerful spiritual witness that I have ever had regarding the church.
     

  • Overview of the Temple Endowment Ceremony and Masonry - An overview of Joseph Smith's introduction of the temple endowment ceremony, looking at the elements that were taken from the Masonic ceremony that Joseph Smith had learned just seven weeks earlier. This overview includes arguments from a 2019 church produced video on the temple ceremony and Masonry along with a look at how Joseph Smith used the signs, tokens, penalties, clothing, and symbols from the Masonic ceremony to create the temple endowment.
     

  • Overview of Race and the Scriptures of Mormonism - An overview of the scriptures of Mormonism and what they teach about race. We look at the curse of dark skin in the Book of Mormon for the Lamanites, who the church believes to be Native Americans and Polynesians. After that we look at the Book of Abraham and Moses and what they say about black skin, as well as quotes from church leaders and what apologists say about the curse of dark skin in the scriptures of Mormonism.
     

  • Overview of Joseph Smith's Translations - An overview of some of Joseph Smith's most significant translations, and what the evidence tells us about their authenticity including the Book of Mormon "caractors," the pure Adamic language, the Kinderhook Plates, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, and the writings of John.
     

  • Overview of the Kinderhook Plates: An overview of Joseph Smith and the Kinderhook Plates, looking at the history of the plates, Joseph Smith's partial translation, and how the church taught about the incident even after Fugate admitted they were a hoax. I also look at common apologetic responses to the Kinderhook Plates, what they tell us about the Book of Abraham, and what they reveal about the leaders of the church and their ability to discern truth.
     

  • Overview of Changes to Revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants: Our overviews continue with a look at the revelations received by Joseph Smith, and how he altered the text when compiling the Doctrine and Covenants. I look at some of the changes he made, what those changes tell us about the idea of revelation in the Mormon church, and what they tell us about Joseph's role in creating them.
     

  • Overview of the Word of Wisdom: A look at the Word of Wisdom, reviewing the historical events that led to the creation of D&C 89, how the church viewed the Word of Wisdom during Joseph Smith's lifetime, and how the church has redefined the revelation since it became a temple recommend question in 1919.
     

  • Overview of Joseph Smith and Polygamy, Part 3: Spiritual Wifery, Common Apologetics, and Conclusion: The polygamy overview concludes with part three, looking at some of the common apologetic responses to Joseph Smith's implementation of polygamy. I look at the difference between 'spiritual wifery' and 'plural marriage,' with testimonies from women who all say the men explicitly claimed to learn it from Joseph Smith, and a conclusion on what all of these accounts tell us about Joseph Smith's claim that it was all God's doing, even though Joseph admits he was the one who originally inquired about it in the first place.
     

  • Overview of Joseph Smith and Polygamy, Part 2: Part two of the polygamy overview focuses on Joseph Smith's proposals, looking at the common threads between the women he proposed to, his "Happiness Letter" to Nancy Rigdon, and a closer look at some of his other marriages and what their accounts tell us about how Joseph Smith implemented polygamy and polyandry in the church including Lucy Walker, Zina Huntington, Eliza and Emily Partridge, Helen Mar Kimball, and more.
     

  • Overview of Joseph Smith and Polygamy, Part 1: Our overviews continue into polygamy in early Mormonism, and we begin by taking a look at the basic timeline of Joseph Smith and polygamy, the Fanny Walker relationship, Joseph's polyandrous marriages, his 1841 teaching on there being no sin if there is no accuser, the historical process of composing D&C 132, and the problems in the text of D&C 132 as well as how it contradicts both the Book of Mormon and earlier revelations. There is a ton of info in this first overview, and we're just scratching the surface.
     

  • Book of Mormon Overview, Part 9: How the Book of Mormon was Composed: We wrap up the Book of Mormon portion of our overviews with a look at how the Book of Mormon was composed, using Jacob 5 and the parable/allegory of the olive tree as an example of how we can show where the author of the Book of Mormon was pulling from, along with other fingerprints that were left on the text that tell us both when it was written and who wrote it.
     

  • Overview of Joseph Smith and the Priesthood Restoration: Our overviews continue with the priesthood restoration. We have a timeline detailing how the revelations in the D&C 13, 20, and 27 were altered and retrofitted to include John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John along with how both Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery used these changes to elevate their status with the church.
     

  • Book of Mormon Overview, Part 8: Tight vs Loose Translation Theories: As we begin wrapping up the overviews on the Book of Mormon, we look at the two different theories of translation - the tight and loose translations. We look at which problems cannot exist with a tight translation, which ones cannot exist with a loose translation, and what those around Joseph Smith told us about the process of translating the Book of Mormon.
     

  • Book of Mormon Overview, Part 7: Anachronisms: Our overview continues, looking at how anachronisms and biblical scholarship can help scholars date the Book of Mormon to the 19th century, showing how the Book of Mormon's reliance on the King James Bible is so significant, and what should be in the Book of Mormon but isn't.
     

  • Book of Mormon Overview, Part 6: Surrounding Influences: Part six of our Book of Mormon overviews looks at the surrounding influences that are embedded in the text of the Book of Mormon including Joseph Smith's treasure digging and the King James Bible from previous sections along with the Moundbuilder myth, the Masons, Joseph Smith Sr.'s dream, and events happening while the Book of Mormon was being produced such as the Charles Anthon visit and the loss of the 116 pages.
     

  • Book of Mormon Overview, Part 5: DNA and the Lamanites: Our Book of Mormon overviews continue with DNA studies and what they can tell us about the Book of Mormon's claims of being a literal, historical record. We look not just at DNA, but the text of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's claimed revelations from God as to who the Lamanites are, and if there were other populations that could have swallowed up the Lehites as the current apologetics insist.
     

  • Book of Mormon Overview, Part 4: The Lost 116 Pages: We continue our Book of Mormon overview topics with a look at the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon taking a look at the event itself, Joseph Smith's revelation of D&C 10 unveiling the 'small plates' of Nephi, the vagueness of the replacement text, and what clues the dictation order gives us about the authorship of the Book of Mormon.
     

  • Book of Mormon Overview, Part 3: The Translation: We continue our Book of Mormon overview topics with a look at the translation process for the Book of Mormon. We continue to look at how treasure digging impacted the translation process along with some of the basic problems that arise from the translation accounts, the literary dependence on the King James Bible, and what it means that the gold plates were never used for the Book of Mormon as we have it today.
     

  • Book of Mormon Overview, Part 2: The Gold Plates: We continue our Book of Mormon overview topics with a look at the gold plates for the Book of Mormon, taking a deep dive into the different accounts to see how treasure digging impacted almost every impact of the gold plates story from the visitation by a guardian spirit, to the retrieval of the plates, and even the story of how the "spectacles" or "Nephite Interpreters" were created during a visit to Hill Cumorah.
     

  • Book of Mormon Overview, Part 1: Joseph Smith and Treasure Digging: We begin our Book of Mormon overview topics with a look at Joseph Smith's involvement in treasure digging, and how his magical worldview is embedded in both obtaining the Book of Mormon plates and the translation of the text using his peep/seer stone in a hat, just as he claimed to see buried treasure with.
     

  • FAIR Mormon 'This is the Show:' The Book of Abraham vs the CES Letter - A review of the new FAIR Mormon / This Is The Show video on the Book of Abraham. We fact check their claims about the Book of Abraham as well as letting you know what FAIR Mormon is intentionally leaving out and why they won't allow any comments to correct their blatantly incorrect statements and attacks.
     

  • Book of Abraham Overview, Part 2: The Book of Abraham Text - We build on our part one overview, and look at what the text of the Book of Abraham itself tells us about the authenticity of the Book of Abraham as an ancient text, and what the material tells us about both who wrote the Book of Abraham and when it was written.
     

  • Book of Abraham Overview, Part 1: Translation and Source Materials - A look at the translation of the Book of Abraham along with the source materials that we have from the translation process, and what that tells us about Joseph Smith's ability as a prophet, and the authenticity of the Book of Abraham as an ancient text.
     

  • FAIR Mormon's New Video War on the CES Letter: LOL Seer Stones Are Awesome - A review of the new FAIR Mormon video series called This Is The Show (TITS), where they declare war on the CES Letter. We fact check their claims about the seer stone, and look at what they're leaving out of the video to keep members from knowing.
     

  • The Prophet Has No Clothes - A look at Russell M. Nelson's "message with the world," and how the church used a highly publicized talk eight months into a global pandemic to launch a marketing campaign for the church instead of providing the revelation that we are taught to believe the prophet of God will provide during turbulent times like these.
     

  • Deutero-Isaiah and the Book of Mormon - An overview of the problem that "Deutero-Isaiah" presents for the Book of Mormon, as scholars can now date Isaiah chapters 40-55 to after 586 BCE, but the brass plates were taken from Laban years earlier in 600 BCE. We look at how extensively this material is used in the Book of Mormon, and why that presents challenges to its claim as an ancient, historical record.
     

  • The Long Ending of Mark and the Book of Mormon (October 25) - We review the scholarship behind the "Long Ending of Mark" that was not in the original Gospel manuscripts, and then examine how material from that late addition to the Gospel could end up in the Book of Mormon (Mormon 9:24) in a word-for-word copy from the King James Bible.
     

  • The Sermon on the Mount and the Book of Mormon (October 23, 2020) - A look at the Book of Mormon's use of the King James Version of the Sermon on the Mount in 3 Nephi as the Sermon at the Temple. We look at the historicity of the Sermon on the Mount and what that tells us about its inclusion in the Book of Mormon, as well as a look at the Synoptic Gospels along with the belief of a Q source for Matthew and Luke.
     

  • The Book of Mormon and the King James Bible (October 15, 2020) - A look at the Book of Mormon's reliance on the King James Bible, and what that tells us about the Book of Mormon's authenticity and claims of ancient history. We look at the mistranslations, late additions, and use of Jesus' 'Sermon on the Mount' to see if their integration into the Book of Mormon would be possible historically, and what they tell us about Joseph Smith's translation abilities.
     

  • How the Church Addresses Doubts in 2020 (September 16, 2020) - A recap of the September 13, 2020 Face-to-Face event with Elder and Sister Rasband, looking at how they answered concerns about the truth claims of the church by using a "HeartSell"® video about someone who almost committed suicide, warnings about eternal families, and a renewed call to not look at "anti-church literature."
     

  • The Book of Mormon and Adam and Eve Historicity (September 6, 2020) - We look at the historicity of Adam and Eve and how that impacts the Book of Mormon, Abraham, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the temple ceremony. In addition, we look at how Joseph Smith called Adam the "Ancient of Days" and where that idea originated.
     

  • The Book of Mormon and the Tower of Babel (August 28, 2020) -  A look at the historicity of the Tower of Babel, and what the implications are for the Book of Mormon as the Jaredites left to the Americas right after the confounding of languages was to have taken place.
     

  • Follow the Footnotes (August 21, 2020) - A closer look at ten footnotes that the church uses in the gospel topics essays, Come Follow Me manual, and other materials to look at what they actually say, and why the footnotes contradict the claims being made by the church in their apologetic works.
     

  • Joseph Smith and the Happiness Letter (August 17, 2020) - A look at the Happiness Letter written by Joseph Smith following his plural marriage proposal to Nancy Rigdon, and how Joseph carefully uses language in the letter to give both promises of glory if she entered into a polygamous relationship with him or threats of losing blessings if she rejected God's commandment through "his servant."
     

  • Official Gospel Topics Essay: Book of Mormon Geography, Annotated (July 19, 2020) - We look at the church's official Gospel Topics mini essay on Book of Mormon geography and what the history and past leaders say about where the events of the Book of Mormon took place (specifically the battles on Hill Cumorah), and if it is true that the church does not take a position on the geography of the Book of Mormon
     

  • The Transfiguration of Brigham Young (June 30, 2020) - A look at the story of the transfiguration of Brigham Young and what the evidence tells us actually happened. From there we look at why this event is possibly the most important story to understanding church history as a whole, and how every member needs to understand it when studying church history.
     

  • About That Gold Plates Video (June 18, 2020) - A review of the church's new "now you know" video on the gold plates containing the Book of Mormon. We look at what the church leaves out of the video, and how it contradicts the "now you  know" seer stone video released just ten months earlier.
     

  • What Do The Church's Scriptures Teach Us About Race Today? (June 14, 2020) - We take a look at Russell Nelson's statement that "prejudice, hate and discrimination are learned," and compare that to past statements from prophets, seers, and revelators along with what the church's own scriptures teach about what caused people to have dark skin to this very day.
     

  • Why are there multiple accounts of the First Vision and what can we learn from them? A closer look. (April 3, 2020) - We take a look at the new church article about the First Vision accounts, and take a closer look at the arguments made to dismiss scholarly criticism of Joseph Smith's change in seeing just one personage to both God and Jesus from 1832 to 1838.
     

  • Signs, Signs Everywhere a Sign (April 2, 2020) - A response to another social media post that looks at how the coronavirus actually proves the church is true, and that it is led by a living prophet who prepared us for this pandemic. We look at how confirmation bias can lead us to look for signs that bolster our case while ignoring the many red flags that are telling us the exact opposite.
     

  • Searching for Parallels to Explain Problems Away (March 24, 2020) - A response to a recent social media post about how the church was positioned by God for the coronavirus outbreak, and how the use of parallels by apologists overlook the massive problems underneath that have no good answers.
     

  • The Church Does Not Take a Position (March 5, 2020) - A look at the recent issues with the church's handbook, the BYU Honor Code whiplash towards LGBT students, and why the church refuses to take a position on the urgent and important issues of our time.
     

  • Come Follow Me: Ensign Peak, Tithing, and Why the Church Claims They Hid it From Members (February 10, 2020) - A look at the recent articles about the Ensign Peak investment fund, and what the church claims is the reason they hid the truth about their $124 billion fund from members.
     

  • Come Follow Me: What if Skin Doesn't Mean Human Skin? (January 30, 2020) - A response to the opinion piece in the Salt Lake Tribune about the dark skin controversy from 2 Nephi, and how the apologetic argument that the curse of dark skin actually meant clothing is an insult to our intelligence and has no basis in fact or common sense
     

  • Elder Tad R. Callister: Straw Man Slayer (January 28, 2020) - A look at the recent official church article titled "The Book of Mormon - man-made or God-given," and detailing why Elder Callister's framing of critical arguments is not just deceptive, but intentiomally misleading in order to paint the critics as flip-flopping conspiracy theorists while ignoring the actual problems that they have been talking about since the beginning of the church.
     

  • Come Follow Me: The Curse of Dark Skin (January 19, 2020) -  A look at how the church changed their Come Follow Me manual after printing to avoid discussing the literal text in 2 Nephi that the Lamanites were cursed with a "skin of blackness" in order to "not be enticing" to the "white and delightsome" Nephites, and what church history and past prophets say about this very painful belief.
     

  • About That Joseph Smith and Masonry Video (January 17, 2020) - A review of the church's new "now you know" video on Joseph Smith, the Masons, and the endowment ceremony. We look at what the church isn't telling members in this video, and why that matters.
     

  • It's Not Blind Faith, It's Big Faith (Response to Henry Eyrings BYU-I Devotional; January 16, 2020) - A quick write-up about the devotional where BYU-I president Henry Eyring discussed doubts with students, and why they should not have blind faith, but big faith to problems with church history, doctrines, or leaders.
     

  • About That Joseph Smith Video (Response to new LDS video on Joseph Smith; October 29, 2019)

  • An Overview of the First Vision: Different Accounts and Apologetics (Added October 3, 2019)

  • Thank You, President Nelson (BYU Speech on LGBT policies; September 18, 2019)

  • Doubts Are Not Dangerous - They're Necessary (September 17, 2019)

  • The Book of Abraham in 1,000 Words (August 26, 2019)

  • Our Favorite Podcasts on Mormonism (List of Recommended Podcasts; August 25, 2019)

  • About That Word of Wisdom Video (Response to new LDS video on the WoW; July 18, 2019)

  • The New Survey On Interviewing 8-11 Year Old Children (July 11, 2019)

  • About That Seer Stone Video (Response to new LDS video on seer stones; June 26, 2019)

  • Unintended Consequences (LDS Civil Wedding Rule Change Announcement; May 7, 2019)

  • The Larger Implications of the LGBT Policy Reversal (Revelation and Spiritual Confirmations; Apr 4, 2019)

  • Blog: The Sixth Sense and Studying LDS History (How the Sixth Sense mirrors Mormon studies; Mar 27, 2019)

  • Blog: What D&C 132 Tells Us About Revelation (Insights into Joseph Smith's revelations; Mar 13, 2019)

  • Blog: Please Don't Look Under the Hood (Elder Colbridge's Devotional on Issues with Church History; Jan 23)

  • Blog: Navigating Doubts in the LDS Church (Elder Renlund's Youth Devotional: January 16)

  • Saints Chapter-By-Chapter Review/Fact-Check (Completed February 4)

 

Among the first pages completed are:

We will be posting new material as we go - and if you have anything you would like answered email us at ldsdiscussion@gmail.com