Book Review: Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith

Emma Smith (1804-1879) may not be as well-known as her husband, Joseph Smith, Jr.Cover for NEWELL: Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith but understanding this woman is important for anyone who desires a more complete picture to the Mormon story. In this 1994 book, two female historical researchers—Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery—tackled the life of the first wife to the founder of the Mormon religion. This review takes a closer look at the book and sheds an interesting light on the woman whose deepest conflict with her husband involved his plural marriages to many of her friends and their daughters.

The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith


Critics and supporters agree that the veracity of Mormonism hinges on Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805-1844), the founder and first prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS or Mormon Church). Smith began his own church with just six people and saw it grow and thrive, despite the many persecutions it endured. He and his brother Hyrum Smith were murdered on June 27, 1844, by an armed mob, an event that has prompted Mormons to classify them as martyrs. It has caused others, however, to raise the question whether someone who dies in a gun battle fighting against his enemies can be considered to be a martyr. A close examination of the term reveals that one must meet specific requirements to be considered a martyr, which involve, for example, the reasons why one is put to death and the way one faces such a death. An investigation of the reasons why Smith was murdered and the actions he took to avoid this fate inevitably makes it difficult to maintain that Smith was “like a lamb led to the slaughter.”

The Mormon View of Salvation: A Gospel that is Truly Impossible (Witnessing with Six Verses)

The following article was printed in the Christian Research Journal, Vol. 34, No. 04, 2011, 6-7

A doorstep encounter with missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) may allow only a brief moment to hopefully make a lasting impression, so we must weigh our words carefully. Too many Christians make the mistake of introducing peripheral topics that can sometimes head the discussion toward an agonizing dead end.

Do I not understand your religion?

One complaint often made against Christians who are critical of Mormonism is that they just don’t “understand” Mormonism. It’s almost as if the Mormon is assuming that a person must be a Latter-day Saint in order to be accurate in any assessement of the religion. When the Mormon makes a statement saying "you just don't (or can't) understand," it might be wise to ask if you could, in three minutes, quickly list some of what you know. If you are in a face-to-face discussion, ask the Mormon to not interrupt as you go through this list. The following are 21 possible points that a Christian could make:

What does "unpaid ministry" look like?

One of the criticisms many Mormons have about Evangelical Christian churches is their perception of a “paid” clergy. However, Bible and even the D&C are very specific that leaders, such as bishops, ought to be paid. However, an LDS Mission President's Handbook was released on the Internet by a private individual. In this current handbook, it explains the many perks that the mission president's family receives, including all living expenses, college tuition, and even a maid and gardener. For a mission president in Utah, the benefits could easily reach $100,000. Yet the mission president pays no taxes on these benefits and is not even required to tithe. What's going on here? This article examines the situation and does away with the notion that Mormon leaders are not "paid."

Warning Bells and a Big Siren: A Review of It’s True: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey to Truth in the Mormon Church

While it’s only 82 pages in length, the title of Tom Scott’s book (It’s True: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey to Truth in the Mormon Church) begs to be read. If nothing else, Scott appears to be a good marketer, even having worked out a deal with several Utah Costco stores to sell copies at $6.99 (regularly priced at $10.99—though still a bit pricey for a small 7x10-inch paperback averaging 300 words per page!). Sitting at a card table, he has made autograph-signing appearances there as well as at LDS Fireside meetings in Utah; according to one source, books by the caseloads have been sold at these events.  

Answering Mormons’ Questions Leader’s Guide

Answering Mormons' Questions (Kregel, October 2012) by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson deals with 36 common questions that Mormons ask Christians about faith. In this book, which is scheduled to be released in the middle of October, we provide material--including hundreds of original quotes from LDS sources and plenty of stories from our own experiences-- that will help you with your own discussions. In addition, we include 2-3 questions at the end of each chapter, meant mainly to be discussion starters for groups wanting further study. In this free guide, we provide background information along with possible answers. Feel free to use this guide in any way you wish to equip your students to better answer Mormons' questions.

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