Part 69: CES Letter Conclusion [Section C]

by Sarah Allen


Well, here we are: the final post in this series. I’m sitting here right now with mixed feelings. This has been a very long time coming, requiring a tremendous amount of research and study, and a lot of blessings have come my way because of it. It’s gratifying to see the final result of all of the effort I put into it, though I have to admit, I’m also eager for a bit of a break.

I’ll go more into my thoughts toward the end of this post, but for now, there are still a few lines of Jeremy’s conclusion to get through.

Picking up where we left off:

The Book of Mormon containing 1769 King James Version edition translation errors and 1611 King James Version translators’ italics while claiming to be an ancient record?

Multiple eyewitnesses stated point-blank that Joseph did not use a Bible during his translation of the Book of Mormon. In fact, he and Oliver later had to go out and buy one because Joseph didn’t even have one of his own. The Book of Mormon was already at the printer’s office when they made the purchase in October, 1829. Moreover, eyewitnesses—or at least Emma—confirmed that Joseph translated out in the open, with nothing between them, for hours at a time with his face inside a hat. And in his Critical Text Project, Royal Skousen confirmed that the errors made in the original manuscript were from copying something that was spoken audibly, not copying from something that was written.

At no point did Joseph ever show himself capable of memorizing daily large blocks of text, and there were so many people living in the Hales and Whitmer homes that he never would have had the privacy to do it even if he was capable of it. There was no way he could have consulted a Bible to copy those passages without everyone in the house knowing about it, but they all said he didn’t. And if he didn’t even own a Bible to begin with, that would have been quite a remarkable feat. How exactly was he supposed to memorize lengthy passages of a book he didn’t own while hiding it from everyone around him while living in a house without any privacy?

As far as the italics go, those are because translations from one language to another are often not word-for-word. That’s why Google Translate will sometimes give you hilariously inaccurate translations. There are a lot of words our language simply doesn’t have. For a few recognizable examples, consider “taco,” “ballet,” or “schadenfreude.” Those are words that the English language does not have a corresponding word for, so we use the original languages’ words instead. We wouldn’t be able to describe any of them in a single word, but would need multiple words to explain each concept. Those italicized words are the extra words needed for the translation make sense.

In an interview posted at the Interpreter Foundation, Skousen further stated that approximately 38% of the differences between the Book of Mormon verses and the corresponding KJV Bible verses are found just in the italics alone, and another 23% of those differences rely on the italics to make sense. And in just the Isaiah passages, one author estimates that 46% of the corresponding verses are identical between the two books, while 54% are different. That includes the italicized words.

So, why are there some identical verses between the KJV and the Book of Mormon (which account for only ~2% of the Book of Mormon text)? Well, this is when I’d suggest looking to the scriptures, particularly D&C 1:24 and 2 Nephi 31:3. Both verses teach us that the Lord speaks to us in our weakness, according to our language and understanding, to help us learn.

By the early 1800s, the KJV Bible was the most common book owned in the United States. In many households, this was the only book they owned. Children learned to read from it, and nightly family scripture study was popular. If the Lord was trying to speak to His people and tell them that the Book of Mormon was His scripture, just like the Bible was, why wouldn’t He use language and passages known to them from the edition of the Bible they were most familiar with?

When the intent of the text was different enough that changes needed to be made, they were made. When the intent of the text didn’t change, the language between the two books remained the same. That tells me it was purposely done, and if you accept the evidence that Joseph was not copying word-for-word from the Bible, the most obvious reason for any of this is that the Lord was trying to speak to the early converts in the language they most understood.

That there’s actually a polygamous god who revealed a Warren Jeffs style revelation on polygamy that Joseph pointed to as a license to secretly marry other living men’s wives and young girls and teenagers?

D&C 132 is nothing at all like a Warren Jeffs revelation. There is proof that at least several of the husbands in question were aware of their wives’ sealings to Joseph, and it is unknown whether the rest of them knew because there’s no record of it. Additionally, all of Joseph’s wives were of acceptable marriageable age for the time period. This nonsense about “young girls” as a separate category from teenagers is not only a stretch, but it was clearly done to imply that Joseph was married to girls younger than teenagers, which was not the case.

Regardless of Jeremy’s spin, there is no evidence whatsoever of Joseph having a sexual relationship with anyone he was sealed to that was married to anyone else, or with his younger wives. All indications are that those were eternity-only sealings, not marriages in this life. In fact, more than half of his marriages were not consummated because they were only sealings for the next life.

Beyond that, we have no idea whether Heavenly Father has more than one wife or not, so labeling Him as a “polygamous god” is pure speculation. It wouldn’t bother me personally if He was because I have a testimony of plural marriage when instituted by Him, but we don’t know either way. This is sort of like the equivalent of the legal objection, “Assumes facts not in evidence” — assuming unrevealed things about the nature of God can and does get people into trouble. See the Adam-God theory for a notable example.

That this god actually threatened Joseph’s life with one of his angels with a sword if a newly married pregnant woman didn’t agree to Joseph’s marriage proposal?

Nope, Jeremy has it backwards. Joseph wasn’t threatened with an angel bearing a sword if Zina Huntington didn’t marry him. He was threatened if he didn’t enter into polygamy and was commanded to approach her. She had a choice, like all women Joseph approached, and she was clearly not shy about making up her own mind.

Besides, God actually threatened Adam and Eve’s life angels carrying swords if they tried to re-enter the Garden of Eden, as well as Balak’s life (as we recently covered in Come Follow Me), so it’s not like it’s unheard of.

I’m supposed to believe in a god who was against polygamy before He was for polygamy but decided in 1890 that He was again against it?

That is not what happened. In the Book of Mormon, we’re taught that monogamy is the rule but that sometimes, God commands exceptions. He commanded an exception in the early days of the Church, for many reasons: to multiply and replenish the earth, according to Christ’s commandment; to fulfill the promise which was given by God the Father before the foundation of the world; for the exaltation in the next life of those practicing it, that they may bear the souls of men; to glorify the Father by continuing His work; to prove the Saints like He did with Abraham; and to require an offering of them by covenant and sacrifice. Then, it ultimately became a choice between following the commandments and abandoning the temples and all of their resources again on the one hand, or between abandoning plural marriage and remaining in the country that supposedly promised them religious freedom on the other. That’s when Heavenly Father permitted them to give up plural marriage in order to keep their other civil rights and retain access to the temples.

I’m told to put these foundational problems on the shelf and wait until I die to get answers?

So dramatic. Who told him to put his questions on a metaphorical shelf and leave them there? No, we’re supposed to pray for assistance, and then let the Spirit guide us while we research the answers to our questions.

To stop looking at the Church intellectually even though the “glory of God is intelligence”?

Nobody wants any of you to stop looking at the Church intellectually. We want you to research this stuff and find your own answers. We want you to read all you can, and learn how to evaluate sources and research your questions. We want you to learn how to rely on the Spirit while you study. We don’t want any of you to bury your talents in the earth and shirk your potential like the unrighteous servant, or to be caught unaware when these questions invariably come up in your own life. We want you to be able to answer them without having your entire world turned on its head the way it apparently happened for Jeremy.

Ignore and have faith anyway?

Whoever said to do that? Our leaders have counseled us over and over again to gain all the knowledge we can find. We’ve been taught to do the exact opposite of what Jeremy claims here.

I’m sorry, but faith is believing and hoping when there is little evidence for or against something. Delusion is believing when there is an abundance of evidence against something.

I don’t know where Jeremy got his definition of faith, but it’s not believing in something without any evidence for or against something. It’s believing without having a perfect knowledge of something, after examining the evidence both for and against it. And Jeremy has not shown there to be an “abundance of evidence” against anything except his own common sense.

To me, it is absolute insanity to bet my life, my precious time, my money, my heart, and my mind on an organization that has so many serious problematic challenges to its foundational truth claims.

What serious problems? Because Jeremy hasn’t presented any here that hold up to scrutiny. We’ve gone through every one of his questions and concerns here, and there’s not much left without a concrete answer or a reasonable explanation.

I don’t have any special qualifications or skills that the rest of you don’t have. I’ve said it before: I’m not an historian, I’m not a theologian, I’m not an Egyptologist, I’m not an archeologist, I’m not a professional researcher. I’m just a girl with an internet connection who knows how to read. That’s it. Those are my qualifications. And look at all of the answers I was able to find with a little time and some digging. If I can find these answers, anyone can. This information is out there.

And when exactly did Jeremy bet his life on any of this? Was someone holding a gun to his head, demanding he believe in the Church? Or, as Reddit user JasTHook suggested, was an angel standing above him with a flaming sword, waiting to take his life if he abandoned his testimony? Somehow, I doubt that.

There are just way too many problems. We’re not just talking about one issue here. We’re talking about dozens of serious issues that undermine the very foundation of the LDS Church and its truth claims.

The only problems I’ve seen here are a lack of dedication to discovering the truth, and a lack of leaning on God to help during the discovery process.

I realize that not everyone has the same experiences growing up, especially in a church with a lay ministry comprised of those who aren’t formally trained theologians or historians. Some of us will be taught things that others weren’t, and some of us will inadvertently be taught things that we may discover later were incorrect. That happens.

When it does, it can absolutely cause us shock, hurt, and confusion. That’s why it’s our responsibility as children of Christ to put in the effort ourselves to learn all we can about His Gospel, and to share what we know with others. That’s the cure for the distress those discoveries can bring. Inoculation prevents the illness, and knowledge prevents the shock and confusion.

Jeremy claims he spent a year of intense study in searching for the answers to his questions. Yet, he couldn’t find any answers at all on the main Church website, despite my finding more than 730 from that very site as of two weeks ago (the number has since grown a little). He also claims he couldn’t find any answers on other Church-related apologetic websites such as FAIR, the Maxwell Institute, Book of Mormon Central, or the Interpreter Foundation. Between those four websites, they probably account for at least 1,000 of the ~2,730 sources I’d used up to that same point.

The answers to his questions are available. They are not hidden. They’ve been given many, many times over. I’ve linked to thousands of them over the course of this series. The truth is out there. But it’s not going to be found in books or on websites that are critical of the Church. That is clearly the material that Jeremy studied the most, as he quotes from those books and websites liberally throughout his Letter. Over the course of this series, we’ve gone through numerous instances where the history has been ignored or the quotes have been selectively edited or removed from their context to change their intended meaning. We’ve seen evidence altered and reframed into something it never originally said. And we’ve seen the Gospel twisted into an unrecognizable caricature of the real thing.

Any source that does that is not giving you the truth. And yet, those are the sources that Jeremy relies on over and over again. Those are the very same tactics he copies throughout this Letter. Instead of inviting the Spirit in while he “desperately searched for answers,” he chose to go down paths that deliberately drove the Spirit away.

And now, he spends his free time trying to do the same thing to you that was done to him.

The past year was the worst year of my life. I experienced a betrayal, loss, and sadness unlike anything I’ve ever known. “Do what is right; let the consequences follow” now holds a completely different meaning for me. I desperately searched for answers to all of the problems. To me, the answer eventually came but it was not what I expected…or hoped for.

In this Gospel, we tend to get back what we put into it. If we coast along, taking the Atonement for granted, it’s not going to change our hearts and minds in the long run. If all we’re focusing on is the flaws of our leaders, we aren’t going to see their strengths.  If we don’t study Church history and theology, our testimonies aren’t going to grow. If we don’t honor our covenants with God, He won’t honor His with us. If we don’t hold tight to the Iron Rod, we’re going to fall off the path and drift out into the mists of darkness.

And when we’re looking for reasons to leave the Church, instead of reasons to stay, guess what we’re going to find?

I’m not saying to live your life in a bubble. I’m also not saying to bury your head in the sand and ignore anything negative toward the Church, the scriptures, or the Gospel of Christ. I’m saying to look at things critically, learn how to evaluate your sources, and most importantly, lean on God and trust His Holy Spirit to guide you in your journey.

This year in our Come Follow Me, we’ve been studying the Old Testament. One of the things that stood out to me was the Israelites, following the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night as they moved through the wilderness. This pillar was the Lord, “going before their faces,” showing them the way they should go. That’s His promise to us, that if we follow Him, He will go before us to guide us and protect us on our journey. That’s what He will do for us as we navigate our way through the scriptures, Church history, the Atonement, and the doctrines of the Gospel and Salvation.

On a recent podcast (parts 1 and 2 found here), Kerry Muhlestein discussed this very concept with John Bytheway and Hank Smith, and they came to a point in the conversation that I thought was really interesting. Shortly before the midway point of the first episode, they talked about how getting the children of Israel out of Egypt was one thing, but it was another thing entirely to get “the Egypt” out of the children of Israel. They were deeply embedded in the Egyptian culture of idolatry by the time of the Exodus, and purging that influence from their own culture took hundreds of years. They then likened that to President Nelson’s advice that getting all of our information from social media, from news media, from the World, instead of from God means we’re going to struggle due to a lack of information. Our ability to hear the whisper of the Spirit will be diminished. We have to listen to the Savior and His guidance through the Holy Ghost, or we’re going to come up short. We have to get the world’s culture out of our lives, the same way the Israelites had to abandon Egyptian culture.

It’s the same when you’re studying the Gospel and all its related subjects. There are so many gaps in the history and so many nuances that shade the context and meaning of what we’re reading that, if we aren’t listening to the Spirit while we study, it’s a lot harder to make sense of it all. The Spirit can open our minds and enlighten our understanding. Sometimes, we need that guidance to cut through all of the conflicting, confusing information.

Jeremy closes out the CES Letter with a poem he borrowed by a man named Jim Day, the owner of one of those critical websites I mentioned earlier:


As a child, it seemed so simple;

Every step was clearly marked.

Priesthood, mission, sweetheart, temple;

Bright with hope I soon embarked.

But now I have become a man,

And doubt the promise of the Plan.

For the path is growing steeper,

And a slip could mean my death.

Plunging upward, ever deeper,

I can barely catch my breath.

Oh, where within this untamed wild

Is the star that led me as a child?

As I crest the shadowed mountain,

I embrace the endless sky;

The expanse of heaven’s fountain

Now unfolds before my eye.

A thousand stars shine on the land,

The chart drafted by my own hand.

I don’t personally think much of Jeremy’s poem of choice; to me, it’s as tragic as it is nihilistic. Relying on our own wits and knowledge, instead of on our Father’s infinite wisdom, is not going to get us anywhere. That’s why I decided to share a poem of my own choosing in response.

This untitled poem was shared with my Seminary class by an old friend from high school and I liked it so much, I’ve kept a copy in my scriptures for the past 24 years. I reached out to the friend for permission to share it, only to be told he remembered sharing it but didn’t remember writing it, the way I’d always believed he had. He’s going to look through his old things to try to determine where he came across it, since I can’t find any trace of it online. So, in the meantime, consider this poem “Untitled,” by Anonymous (and if anyone who knows who the real author is, please, please let me know so we can get it properly attributed?):


I stood alone one evening

As the darkness chased the light.

I saw a single star appear,

Then two more caught my sight.


The pace began to quicken

And before I’d been too long,

They had seated themselves up in the sky

In an awesome-looking throng.


I saw the heavens open

Like a curtain to a play,

And beheld the power of God

In a glorious array.


But, “What am I,” I asked myself

“In this immensity?

Why should God even care a bit

For someone as small as me?


“How many men just like myself

Live out amidst the stars,

And run and live and work and pray

On worlds just like ours?”


An inner voice then spoke aloud

And with my heart it shared

The reason why the worlds were made

And why God really cares.


The voice, it said, “You are my child;

Your sojourn here is known.

Your test will last but just a while,

And then I want you to come home.”


I keep that poem tucked beside my favorite scripture, D&C 50:41-42:

Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;

And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost.

The Father and the Savior want us to return home to Them. They have given us the Atonement, the Priesthood, the scriptures, the covenants and ordinances of the temples, the prophets and apostles, and this Church, with all of its many resources, to help us make that journey home. Our leaders have made available thousands and thousands of resources for us, so many that there isn’t even time in this earthly life to study them all. But we have to put in the work ourselves to try. We have to do our part, too.

Our Heavenly Parents and our Savior are standing with open arms, just waiting for us to reach out and take Their hands. But They won’t force us to. We have to make that choice, and to me, the forks in the road could not be more stark: do we rely on the Holy Ghost, or do we rely on the wisdom of the world? Whose poem do we follow? Do we honor our Father’s works, or do we honor our own?

In closing this out, I wanted to share a quote that’s often misattributed to Plato:

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.

It truly is a tragedy if we’re afraid of the light when that’s exactly where we’ve been commanded to walk (1 Thess. 1:5 and Eph. 5:8):

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.

Do not be afraid to walk in the light of the Lord, and to let that light shine forth.

Thank you all so very much for going on this journey with me. The support, encouragement, help, and friendship you’ve all given me has been a gigantic blessing in my life. I appreciate every one of you, and most of all, I appreciate my Father in Heaven for nudging me down this path, and then sending His Spirit to walk beside me as I traveled it. I could not have finished this without His help.

As I wrap up this one last time, I wanted to share some news. Because so many of you have asked for a full PDF or book, FAIR has very graciously offered to help me turn this series into both a print book and an e-book. They’ve put together a team to help me get it ready, so while I don’t know when it’ll be done, that’s what I’ll be starting next after resting my brain a bit. A huge thank-you goes to the FAIR volunteers who are helping to make this happen. It doesn’t have a title yet, so any suggestions you guys want to offer would be welcome.

Again, thank you all so, so much. I’ve said this before, but I genuinely was not expecting anyone to read these. I wasn’t expecting this project to be this in-depth, or this time-consuming, or for anyone to pay it any attention. I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it except maybe a handful of posts few people would even notice. The response has blown me away. It also shows me that there’s a hunger for this kind of thing, and I’m grateful and very blessed to have been a part of it. I’m truly humbled by the support and encouragement you’ve all shown me. Thank you.


Sources in this entry:–objection–assumes-facts-not-in-evidence–mean-.cfm


Sarah Allen is brand new in her affiliation with FAIR. By profession, she works in mortgage compliance and is a freelance copyeditor. A voracious reader, she loves studying the Gospel and the history of the restored Church. After watching some of her lose their testimonies, she became interested in helping others through their faith crises and began sharing what she learned through her studies. She’s grateful to those at FAIR who have given her the opportunity to share her testimony with a wider audience.

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