New York Times Article-LDS Area Authority Seventy Expresses Doubts

It seems that many LDS (Mormon) blogs and forums are discussing this article, so I thought that I’d bring it to the attention of those that read this blog.  On July 20, 2013, the New York Times published the article “Some Mormons Search the Web and Find Doubt“, which discusses the experiences of Hans Mattsson, who served in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an Area Seventy over Europe from 2000-2005.  The article is a great read, and I encourage all to take a look.

In addition, the transcript for the Fireside for Disaffected Swedish LDS, mentioned in the article which included Marlin K. Jensen, LDS Church Historian until 2012 and emeritus General Authority, as well as Richard E. Turley, Assistant Church Historian, can be read here.  Also, the Mormon Stories podcast blog interviewed Hans Mattsson, and the interview can be listened to here.

Many of his points resonate with the experiences of many disaffected Latter-day Saints, including myself.  In my case, I did extensive reading, and prayer, prior to my decision to leave the LDS Church and come back into full communion with the Catholic Church.  I read all of the Standard Works, searched for various Conference talks on different topics, read many books and articles, including much of Hugh Nibley’s works (including The World and the Prophets, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, and Apostles and Bishops in Early Christianity).  I’ve read many articles on FAIR and FARMS.  Etc.  I really was looking for help in understanding the difficult issues related to doctrines, ecclesiology, the Book of Mormon, etc, and focused on reading both sides to make an informed decision.  Some of the issues that Mattsson tried to grapple with, as mentioned in the NYT article, were also issues that I thought about, including Book of Mormon archaeology, how the Church presents historical matters, such as the translation of the Book of Mormon, the priesthood restriction of blacks until 1978 (until that time, black LDS males were not allowed to be ordained to the LDS priesthood (a major issue since the priesthood is given to worthy males beginning at age 12, and LDS love having the priesthood in the home, having fathers baptize and bless their children and spouses, etc), and black males and females were not allowed to enter temples to receive the blessings of the Endowment and Sealing (necessary for exaltation, full salvation in Mormonism)), etc.  Mattsson’s points included:

■ Why does the church always portray Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon from golden plates, when witnesses described him looking down into a hat at a “peep stone,” a rock that he believed helped him find buried treasure?

■ Why were black men excluded from the priesthood from the mid-1800s until 1978?

■ Why did Smith claim that the Book of Abraham, a core scripture, was a translation of ancient writings from the Hebrew patriarch Abraham, when Egyptologists now identify the papyrus that Smith used in the translation as a common funerary scroll that has nothing to do with Abraham?

■ Is it true that Smith took dozens of wives, some as young as 14 and some already wed to other Mormon leaders, to the great pain of his first wife, Emma?


4 Responses to New York Times Article-LDS Area Authority Seventy Expresses Doubts

  1. Phillip says:

    I sympathize with Hans and his wife. Its devastating when the foundation crumbles away. At least they are together in this (my wife is still firmly LDS). I am also happy that they seem not to have lost their faith in God as unfortunately so many doubting Mormons do.

    I think this quote from Chris Haws, a recent convert to Catholic faith, captures my experience as well (just replace Protestantism with Mormonism):

    “I see the Catholic Church as a body whose problems are painfully obvious on the surface, but with gold embedded underneath; conversely, the Protestantism that I knew was pristinely appealing on the surface, yet I found that problems emerged once I dug below.”

    • That’s a great quote! And it fits my experience as well. The LDS Church was pristinely appealing to me on the surface (and still is). Meanwhile, all of the issues throughout Catholic history were part of the reason why I considered Mormonism (and those negative issues are repeatedly referred to by LDS apologists as evidences of a Great Apostasy).

      But once I “dug below”, I found that I was attracted to the LDS faith “in theory”, i.e. apostles, prophets, continuing revelation, open canon, etc, and that below the surface, many of the things that attracted me are found in some fashion in Catholicism, while the prophets, seers, and revelators of the LDS Church unfortunately do not prophesy, see, or reveal these days, unless we count lowering the missionary age, building more, smaller temples, etc as examples of continuing revelation.

  2. Phillip says:

    Glad you liked the quote. It comes from this book:

    Technically speaking, Chris Haws is a revert like yourself, not a convert.

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