There are many levels of faith and testimony within members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some are lifelong members that have been recently exposed to anti-Mormon literature or have discovered an Ex-Mormon website. Others are new members that have been asked questions by their friends from their former faith.
FAIR, the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research can provide answers to some of those disturbing questions that are not always answered on the official LDS websites. It is an all volunteer organization of researchers and writers who have dealt with these age-old questions over the years in various formats and from multiple sources.
When I started blogging last year, I almost immediately began to get objecting comments from readers about some of my essay topics that they found difficult to accept. For example, I wrote about a discussion in a marriage group that Carol and I enjoyed as presented by our friends from the Church of the Nazarene in our neighborhood.
The question of marriage in heaven
The subject was marriage in heaven, which came up in one of the concluding lessons of the wonderful seminar from Emerson Eggerichs entitled Love and Respect. As I did then, I still heartily endorse it as one of the best marriage enrichment experiences of my life. Learning about pink and blue communication methods has changed so much for me.
In my essay I described the LDS view of marriage, especially how it relates to our marriage relationship in the eternities. Emerson had pointed out the scripture in Matthew 22:30 and said that we are not married in heaven but are angels to God. Of course we believe that we are married in heaven and I gave some scriptural justification for it.
An anonymous commenter decided to take exception to my explanation and began to berate me for believing in a false prophet and belonging to a church that taught false doctrines. It seems that every time I have brought up the subject of marriage in my blog I get someone objecting to some aspect of our beliefs. Why is it such a difficult subject?
How I answered the challenge
Although I was familiar with FAIR, I decided to answer my commenter from my own experience, using a technique from my missionary days. I am convinced that almost all objections to our doctrine can be answered by one simple question. Does the Book of Mormon contain revelation from God? If so, then Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet.
Of course if Joseph was a prophet then the church he established is the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days. To me, that always leads to the importance of authority to act in the name of God and therefore, keys of the priesthood. With these keys, families can be sealed together for eternity. Hence we are assured that there is marriage in heaven.
There is a wealth of material on this subject on the FAIR site that I could have added to the dialog that perhaps would have helped my anonymous friend. There are answers there to difficult questions and beliefs of the restored gospel unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Eternal marriage is a difficult one for many people.
How FAIR can help with these challenges
For example, this one-page response from Marc A. Schindler says it so much better than I can. This challenge comes up so often in blogging that every LDS blogger should be familiar with the contents. It would almost seem to me that some who like to question our faith cruise the LDS blogs just looking for this subject so they can quote Matt 22:30.
The FAIR website is easy to use. Besides providing material that is original to FAIR, they are also kind enough to point to other outside sources that have additional helps. In this case, a link to an Ensign article from Feb 1986 and a link to an entry on Light Planet by W. John Walsh are both extremely helpful. This particular objection is very common.
When you refer your friends or readers to these essays on FAIR, you are engaging in what is called Apologetics. If you are not familiar with the term, it might be helpful to read this essay by Gary Bowler. No, we are not apologizing for what we believe. We are defending our faith. We strengthen our own knowledge and testimonies at the same time.
Additional resources available on FAIR
I have been engaging in email dialogs and frequenting online message boards that deal with the topic of religion for many years. FAIR began as a group of individuals like me, who love to discuss religion, got together to create a central repository for their resources and shared articles that they had written. FAIR has been around now for about ten years.
The site has grown over the years and become more and more useful. Besides the topical guide, they recently created a Wiki, that is easy to navigate and fairly comprehensive. If you are not familiar with a wiki, think Wikipedia, one of the most popular sites on the Internet. The real advantage of a wiki is the community contributions with hyperlinks.
The FAIR journal is a monthly email newsletter that contains news of changes to the FAIR websites and lists of new material that has been published in the last month. I highly recommend this free service. You can join FAIR as a member on several different levels. Content providers are welcome as the wiki is constantly in need of additions.
Summary and conclusion
Perhaps you have no intention of engaging in apologetics. I feel the same way. I like to present uplifting and faith-promoting essays on my blog. Most of the subjects I deal with include some aspect of LDS doctrine that is not common to my readers who do not share my faith. Because of this, I often find myself defending my viewpoints in the comments.
I love blogging about the church and the restored gospel. It has blessed my life so much and in so many ways. I am completely convinced that living the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can solve all the problems of the world. I have often said that we have so much more to offer than other churches. Of course, we don’t say this arrogantly, but it is true.
FAIR can help explain and defend the parts of our religion that are not familiar to people. Of course, our own personal explanations and witness are the best. But we may not always be familiar with all the scriptures and quotes from prophets and apostles that can back up our claims. That’s where FAIR can help. It is an easy to use online resource.