In a recent FairMormon conference, Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the Seventy spoke about the need for independent organizations to help answer questions about the Church and it’s history. In the questions and answers section of his presentation, he specifically said that he was speaking with approval from the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and that FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, Interpreter Foundation, and More Good Foundation are recommended resources for members and Church leaders such as bishops.
The LDS Church has also approved a list of resources for Seminary and Institute teachers to “help provide answers to doctrinal, historical, and social questions.” Aside from listing great organizations that stem from the Church such as BYU and the Joseph Smith Papers, this list includes third party organizations like Book of Mormon Central, FairMormon, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, and Interpreter Foundation. While it may seem like a small thing on the outside, the internal checks and balances within the Church, and approval from the First Presidency, is a lot. The fact that the First Presidency, Apostles, and Seventy are promoting such organizations is pretty big.
The following link is a list from the Church’s website of approved resources for Church teachers:
[UPDATED] The Church just came out with another new webpage (August 23rd 2018) with not only links to these organizations, but links to specific articles.
A New Era magazine also recommended two of these organizations to LDS Youth,
“Some scholars have, in fact, put forward many plausible explanations for the things in the Book of Mormon that may seem inconsistent with what we know about the ancient New World (see, for instance, fairmormon.org or bookofmormoncentral.org).”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland at a Book of Mormon Central Conference
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland recently spoke at a Book of Mormon Central and BYU Studies Chiasmus Conference in August 2017, showing support for these and other similar organizations,
To all who have, as Yogi Berra once said, “made this event necessary,” we say thank you. And the “we” I am representing includes the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In that spirit I wish to say at the outset that the presiding officers of the Church appreciate and applaud the exceptional work being done by so many to search and to substantiate, to defend and promulgate the history and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including and especially the Book of Mormon, in a way both scholarly and spiritual.”
“…please know that as officers of the Church and trustees of the university, we know it takes money and other resources to research and write and publish these marvelous pieces of scholarship that we have enjoyed for so many decades. Your generosity and devotion have helped do that. Some of the agencies, departments, institutes, and scholars doing such work are an institutional part of and integral to Brigham Young University. Other groups and like-minded colleagues are not part of the university per se but are spread out around the Church.”
He has further voiced support about the importance of seeking scholarly evidences,
I believe God intends us to find and use the evidence He has given—reasons, if you will—which affirm the truthfulness of His work.
Our testimonies aren’t dependent on evidence—we still need that spiritual confirmation in the heart of which we have spoken—but not to seek for and not to acknowledge intellectual, documentable support for our belief when it is available is to needlessly limit an otherwise incomparably strong theological position and deny us a unique, persuasive vocabulary in the latter-day arena of religious investigation and sectarian debate. Thus armed with so much evidence of the kind we have celebrated here tonight, we ought to be more assertive than we sometimes are in defending our testimony of truth.”
Check out the transcript here, http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/transcript-elder-holland-speaks-book-of-mormon-chiasmus-conference-2017
Or watch the video posted by Book of Mormon Central here:
President M. Russell Ballard and Scholarship
It would seem that the LDS Church is continuing to move forward with a scholarly approach to religion. It should be no surprise. The Church has already done many things with the Joseph Smith Papers and Gospel Topics Essays. The new “Saints” book will become the new official Church History, with a focus on historical accuracy using the latest research. The Church has been vocal lately about the need for all of this. In 2015 and 2016, Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke to CES teachers at a Utah Regional Conferences:
“For you to understand the doctrinal and historical content and context of the scriptures and our history, you will need to study from the “best books,” as the Lord directed. The “best books” include the scriptures, the teachings of modern prophets and apostles, and the best LDS scholarship available.”
“consult the works of recognized, thoughtful, and faithful LDS scholars to ensure you do not teach things that are untrue, out of date, or odd and quirky.” (Elder Ballard, The Opportunities and Responsibilities of CES Teachers in the 21st Century)
“When I have a question that I cannot answer, I turn to those who can help me. The Church is blessed with trained scholars and those who have devoted a lifetime of study, who have come to know our history and the scriptures. These thoughtful men and women provide context and background so we can better understand our sacred past and our current practices.” (Elder Ballard, To the Saints in the Utah South Area)