We know that the Spirit testifies to eternal truths, but we often forget (or neglect) the role that intellect plays in uncovering truth.
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Inspiration, Intellect, and Rethinking Revelation
2021 1211

Inside this Edition:

  1. Message from Michael R. Ash
  2. New: The CES Letter Rebuttal Series
  3. Events and Updates
  4. Conversational Apologetics
  5. FAIR Bookstore
  6. Blog & Social Media
  7. Donate to FAIR & Info on Tax Receipts
  8. Today's quote
  9. Subscribe & Share!

Inspiration, Intellect, and Rethinking Revelation

Inspiration and Intellect are two sides of the same coin in how Latter-day Saints believe that God communicates with His children. We know that the Spirit testifies to eternal truths, but we often forget (or neglect) the role that intellect plays in uncovering truth. The late Apostle Hugh B. Brown said, “revelation does not come only through the prophet of God nor only directly from heaven in visions or dreams. Revelation may come in the laboratory, out of the test tube, out of the thinking mind and the inquiring soul, out of search and research and prayer and inspiration.”[i] Likewise, the Lord instructed the Saints to “seek learning… by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). This counsel was repeated several more times in modern revelations (see D&C 11:22, 90:15, 93:53; and 109: 7, 14), and the admonition led Joseph to establish the “School of the Prophets” (D&C 88:127).

The dual-nature or dual-sources for discovering truth presents some challenges, however. The first challenge is that neither source—neither inspiration nor intellect—can provide infallible and inerrant data.

The Challenge of Inspiration
In my book Shaken Faith Syndrome, I wrote many pages demonstrating that prophets are divinely called men who have special responsibilities but not special brains. Therefore, their callings do not prevent them from making human-laden assumptions or errors in thought, word, or action. As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said in the October 2013 General Conference: be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine. I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes…. This is the way it has always been and will be until the perfect day when Christ Himself reigns personally upon the earth.[ii]

Since we do not believe that prophets are inerrant or infallible, we should recognize the obvious: what they have written, even if canonized as scripture, cannot be inerrant either. The early American prophet Mormon recognized this problem when he said of his collection of records: “And now if there are faults, they are the mistakes of men: wherefore condemn not the things of God….” (Book of Mormon Title Page). Sometimes we forget that continuing revelation implies not only that we will receive new revelation, but that future revelations may correct current errors in our gospel understanding.

Continue the article here...

My research, therefore, concludes that a marriage of inspiration and intellect offers new models for understanding personal revelation, scripture, the production of the Bible, our cosmos, the translation of the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham, and why the Book of Mormon is the “new covenant” as described in D&C 84:56.

Michael R. Ash


Michael R. Ash, a member of FAIR for more than twenty years, has been featured in nearly 90 podcasts and 30 videos. In more than two decades of writing LDS-themed material, and as a former weekly columnist for Mormon Times (owned by the Deseret News), his works include over 160 on-line articles, as well as articles in periodicals such as the Ensign, Sunstone, Neal A. Maxwell Institute’s FARMS Review, and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

Michael is also the author of four LDS books. In 2008 FAIR published his book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt (which is available in English, German, and Italian). Mike quickly followed this publication with his second book, Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. In 2015 Michael published Bamboozled by the CES Letter: An honest response to the .pdf pamphlet entitled “Letter to a CES Director”, and this year he has introduced his newest book, Rethinking Revelation and the Human Element in Scripture: The Prophet's Role as Creative Co-Author.

[i] Hugh B. Brown, quoted in David H. Bailey and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, “Science and Mormonism,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (2016), 19: 23.

[ii] Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Come, Join With Us,” Ensign (November 2013), 22-23.

[iii] James Ladyman, “Toward a Demarcation of Science from Pseudoscience,” Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), Kindle Edition, 46.

[iv] John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith as Scientist: A Contribution to Mormon Philosophy (Salt Lake City: The General Board Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association, 1908), 156.

[v] Harold B. Lee, “I Dare You to Believe,” USAC Baccalaureate Address, 31 May 1953, Church News, 6 June 1953, 4-5, 19; quoted in Kirk D. Hagen, “Eternal Progression in a Multiverse: An Exploration in Mormon Cosmology,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Summer 2006), 39:2, 16.


Sarah Allen is relatively 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 friends lose their testimonies, she became interested in helping others through their faith crises and began sharing what she learned through her studies. Sarah originally started posting these rebuttals to the CES Letter on the faithful Latter-day Saint subreddit and was invited to repost those thoughts here on the FAIR website. We're grateful to Sarah for sharing her scholarship and testimony with us.

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Events & Updates

Sustaining Member Month ends Monday, December 13. If you haven’t taken advantage of the sales in the Bookstore, you’ll want to act now!

Recently, some of the transcripts from the some of the 2020 conference have been posted here. Please share this content with your friends, family, etc., so people are aware of it and are able to use it.

The recent "Ask the Egyptologist" program was a great success! It  is available here to Sustaining Members on demand.



Question: Did Joseph Smith create the endowment based on Freemasonry?

Latter-day Saints believe that they can receive special blessings from God by receiving the temple endowment ordinance. "The endowment provides instruction, covenants, and promised blessings that offer power, purpose, and protection in daily life" ("Endowment," below).

The endowment was first introduced in May 1842 by Joseph Smith to a select group of Saints. Because this happened shortly after Joseph was initiated as a mason, many wonder if Joseph simply copied Freemasonry rites. Records left by early Latter-day Saints who were also Masons show that they believed the endowment to have been revealed to Joseph Smith. "Mormons in Nauvoo who experienced both Masonic rites and the endowment acknowledged similarities between some elements of the two ceremonies, but they also testified that the endowment was the result of revelation. . . . They acknowledged parallels between Masonic rituals and the endowment but concluded, based on their experience with both, that the ordinance was divinely restored" ("Masonry," below).

To learn more, consider reading:
·                    "Masonry," Church History Topics
·                    "Relationship between the Endowment and Freemasonry," FAIR Wiki
·                    "Endowment," Gospel Topics

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FAIR Bookstore

Christmas is coming! Please place your orders before December 16th to ensure Christmas delivery! If your order is intended as a gift, please make a note of that when you order, and we’ll do our best to get it there on time. The bookstore will be open limited hours December 22-January 3: orders placed Dec 22-26 will ship Dec 27 and orders placed Dec 27-Jan 2 will ship Jan 3. The holidays are a great time to catch up on your reading, so find some new books today!

There is also a selection of Christmas titles in the Bookstore. You can find them here.

The First Days and the Last Days
This comprehensive phrase-by-phrase commentary on the Book of Moses and JS—Matthew is the result of decades of study. This book is a witness that the doctrines and ordinances of the temple are deeply woven into the fabric of these supernal works of scripture, containing persuasive evidence of their authenticity and antiquity. PDF available now, book later!
Learning to Love Isaiah: A Guide and Commentary
Isaiah contains messages that are clearly vital to our understanding of the gospel. But with its notoriously complicated symbolism, how do we begin to decipher this sacred ancient text? Religion Kerry Muhlestein deepens our comprehension by studying the scriptures chapter by chapter and verse by verse.
A Sacred Place Like This
Sharing inspiring personal stories, doctrine, and scriptural insights, President Eyring invites us to better understand the Savior, build eternal family connections, and feel more hope, joy, and optimism in our lives. His words are coupled with beautiful temple photography and powerful graphics depicting the growth of temples worldwide.
When It Doesn't Make Sense
This book examines what theologians call the “law of retribution” and how it has affected our thinking. It will show how Jesus added valuable insight into the different types of adversity that come with living in this fallen world. It will also look at contemporary issues such as modified missions, health trials, and the challenges of Church membership. With hope for the future and the assurance that there will be answers eventually, When It Doesn’t Make Sense will help you feel peace while you wait for your own “eventually.”

Also just in...

Our Family Christmas: Creating Meaningful and Memorable Christ-Centered Traditions

Study Commentary on the Old Testament

Old Testament Insights: The Sacrifice of a Broken Heart

Peruse other new titles

All purchases in the FAIR Bookstore go directly to support FAIR -- thanks for helping us in this way!


Shaken Faith Spotlight

Too frequently we judge past peoples by the standards of today. Some people believe that Paul was sexist for saying that wives should “submit” to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22). The notion of gender equality, however, is a modern (and typically Western) belief. While we may have good reason to argue that gender equality is the morally higher standard, we cannot impose judgments on past generations who did not have our understandings. We encounter the problem of presentism when judging early Americans and even LDS leaders with racism. Were past racist attitudes wrong? Certainly. And while we can look back with remorse at the reprehensible attitudes toward blacks by early Americans, we must be careful to recognize that they did not see things as we do with our modern understanding. They lived in their own time and understood race, gender, and other issues according to the explanations of their day

Mike Ash, Shaken Faith Syndrome, p 62


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We Believe all that God Has Revealed Come, Follow Me Week 50 – Articles of Faith and Official Declarations 1 & 2

Part 32: CES Letter Prophet Questions [Section F]

Part 30: CES Letter Prophet Questions [Section D]

Heirs of the Celestial Kingdom of God

Part 29: CES Letter Prophet Questions [Section C]

Part 28: CES Letter Prophet Questions [Section B]

Part 26: CES Letter Polygamy & Polyandry Questions [Section G]

Religious Freedom for All

Part 25: CES Letter Polygamy & Polyandry Questions [Section F]

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Donation & Tax Receipt Information

As 2021 comes to a close, we'd love to remind you all that since we are a 501c(3) corporation, your contributions are tax-deductible. So if you were looking for one last tax-write-off for the year, please consider us!

Donors can access & print or download their tax receipt at any time by going here. It will prompt you for your username and password; enter those and click the "Log in" button. This will take you to your personal Donation History. From there, you can download or save your Tax Donation Form.

FAIR has taken on some new and exciting projects this past quarter. If you'd like to make a difference, let us know! We gratefully welcome donations of any amount.

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Today's Quote...

" We must be grounded on the rock of revelation, and although we may not know the answer to every question, we must know the answers to the primary questions. And if we do, the gates of hell shall not prevail against us and we will stand forever.
— Lawrence E. Corbridge, General Authority Seventy - Stand Forever

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