Brief Summary

Priesthood Restoration

Although Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery claimed to have been physically ordained to the Priesthood by John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John in 1829, no such claim was made publicly until 5 years later in 1834. FairMormon’s responses to my claims about the Priesthood restoration are nitpicking at best.

While Joseph Smith made an obscure reference to the Priesthood and angels in 1832, that reference was still 3 years after the restoration was claimed to have taken place, and that reference makes no mention of John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthoods, the laying on of hands, or other very important details. Indeed, LDS historian and scholar Richard Bushman calls this a “glancing reference at best.”

Finally, when compiling the 1835 version of the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith changed and backdated earlier revelations to make it appear that those revelations had included all along the descriptions of the physical ordination by John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John.

Donut Chart

Priesthood Restoration

The above donut chart shows percentages of the Priesthood Restoration section of
Letter to a CES Director that FairMormon is in agreement, disagreement, and neutral on.

If one assumes that FairMormon's undisputed silence is acceptance of the facts, FairMormon agrees with 87.5% of the CES Letter's Priesthood Restoration section.

Breakdown can be found here.

Detailed Response

Priesthood Restoration

Priesthood restored in 1829, Joseph and Oliver
made no such claim until 1834.

CES Letter says...

"Like the First Vision story, none of the members of the Church or Joseph Smith’s family had ever heard prior to 1834 about a priesthood restoration from John the Baptist or Peter, James, and John. Although the priesthood is now taught to have been restored in 1829, Joseph and Oliver made no such claim until 1834. Why did it take five years for Joseph or Oliver to tell members of the Church about the priesthood?" . . . . "Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery did not teach anyone or record anything prior to 1834 that men ordained to offices in the Church were receiving 'priesthood authority"

FairMormon Disagrees

FairMormon says...
  • Incorrect:
  1. Joseph made the claim in writing in 1832 in his first history of the church.
  2. There is a reference to his ordination in the Articles and Covenants of the church of Christ, written in 1830.
  • Joseph's 1832 history (written two years prior to the author's claim) talks of the restoration of the priesthood through the "ministering of Angels":

    1832
    A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Chist the son of the living God of whom he beareth record and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brough<t> forth and established by his hand <firstly> he receiving the testamony from on high secondly the ministering of Angels thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministring of Aangels to adminster the letter of the Gospel-- <--the Law and commandments as they were given unto him--> and the ordinencs, forthly a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God power and ordinence from on high to preach the Gospel in the administration and demonstration of the spirit the Kees of the Kingdom of God confered upon him and the continuation of the blessings of God to him &c––
  • There is an even earlier reference that was made in 1830: Book of Commandments Chapter 24 (the equivalent of today's Doctrine and Covenants Section 20). The question that this passage should raise is: "Who ordained Joseph prior to June 1830?":

    The Articles and Covenants of the church of Christ, given in Fayette, New York, June 1830:
  1. The rise of the church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in the flesh;
  2. It being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God in the fourth month and on the sixth day of the month, which is called April:
  3. Which commandments were given to Joseph, who was called of God and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of this church;
  4. And also to Oliver, who was also called of God an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of this church, and ordained under his hand.

Quotes to consider:

  • Reverend Richmond Taggart to reverend Jonathan Goings, Cleveland, Ohio, March 2, 1833.
    “The following Curious occurrence occurred last week in Newburg about 6 miles from this Place [Cleveland, Ohio]. Joe Smith the great Mormonosity was there and held forth, and among other things he told them he had seen Jesus Christ and the Apostles and conversed with them, and that he could perform miracles.”
  • Painesville Telegraph, November 16, 1830.
    “About Two weeks since some persons came along here with the book, one of whom pretends to have seen Angels, and assisted in translating the plates. He proclaims the destruction upon the world within a few years,--holds forth that the ordinances of the gospel, have not been regularly administered since the days of the Apostles, till the said Smith and himself commenced the work . . . . The name of the person here, who pretends to have a divine mission, and to have seen and conversed with Angels, is Cowdray.”
  • Painesville Telegraph, December 7, 1830. “Mr. Oliver Cowdry has his commission directly from the God of Heaven, and that he has credentials, written and signed by the hand of Jesus Christ, with whom he has personally conversed, and as such, said Cowdry claims that he and his associates are the only persons on earth who are qualified to administer in his name. By this authority, they proclaim to the world, that all who do not believe their testimony, and be baptized by them for the remission of sins . . . must be forever miserable.”
  • The Reflector, February 14, 1831. They [missionaries] then proclaimed that there had been no religion in the world for 1500 years,--that no one had been authorized to preach &c. for that period—that Jo Smith had now received a commission from God for that purpose . . . . Smith (they affirmed) had seen God frequently and personally—Cowdery and his friends had frequent interviews with angels.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

FairMormon's above answer actually confirms my point that the general Church membership was unfamiliar with the now official story of the Priesthood restoration until 1834. The best FAIR can do after scouring through everything for their rebuttal is this?

1832 Quote from Joseph Smith’s History:

  • As to the quotation from Joseph Smith’s 1832 history, “the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministring of Aangels to adminster the letter of the Gospel," this quote is vague, ambiguous, was recorded 3 years after the supposed Priesthood restoration, and was not taught to the general Church membership when it was recorded.
  • As to the ambiguity of the statement, there is nothing in this statement about a restoration. Rather, it’s a “reception” of the Priesthood. Nothing about John the Baptist. Nothing about Peter, James, and John. Nothing about the laying on of hands. “Reception” means “to receive”. The claim of reception of the Priesthood or authority to act in God’s name was not new or unique. Being called of God and receiving the reception of the priesthood or authority has been used by other Christian denominations. This is especially true with the Catholic Church for over 1,500 years. Even Mormon scholar and historian Richard Bushman calls this “a glancing reference at best.”

    The general membership of the Church was not aware of any claims of a Priesthood restoration before 1834. There is no mention by Joseph Smith or any contemporaneous witness accounts, for example, in April 1830 when the Church was founded.

1830 Quote from Book of Commandments Chapter 24:

  • As to the quote from Chapter 24 of the Book of Commandments, “Joseph, who was called of God and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ” in 1830, notice how it’s worded that Joseph is simply “called of God” and “ordained.” Also note in verse 4 that Oliver is specifically “ordained under his hand [Joseph’s]”. This actually contradicts the current official story. As the story is now told, both Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ordained under the hands of John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John yet this is not how it was presented in the above 1830 reference.

Both quotes contain the following problems:

  • No “John the Baptist”?
  • No “Peter, James, and John”?
  • No “Aaronic” priesthood?
  • No “Melchizedek” priesthood?
  • No June 1829 date? Or any other dates?
  • No “laying on of hands” by these notable men?
  • No mention of a “restoration.” Reception means to “receive” and does not differentiate from any other Christian denomination’s claim of likewise receiving a call or the priesthood or authority to act in God’s name.
  • No mention of Joseph and Oliver Cowdery baptizing each other in the banks of the Susquehanna River after the laying of hands and command from the resurrected John the Baptist himself? The same individual who anciently baptized the Savior of the world?

Further, the fact that FairMormon has to resort to using secular hearsay accounts and newspaper clippings – which are ambiguous at best – is another testament to the void of Church records of a Priesthood restoration prior to 1834.

Here’s what Mormon scholar and historian, Richard Bushman, says regarding the late accounts of the Priesthood restoration:

As Joseph told the story in 1838, the person said he was John the Baptist and that he had been sent by Peter, James, and John. Then he laid his hands upon their heads to ordain them…but Joseph did not tell anyone about John the Baptist at first. Summarizing the key events in his religious life in an 1830 statement, he mentioned translation but said nothing about the restoration of priesthood or the visit of an angel. The first compilation of revelations in 1833 also omitted an account of John the Baptist. David Whitmer later told an interviewer he had heard nothing of John the Baptist until four years after the Church’s organization. Not until writing in his 1832 history did Joseph include “reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministering of angels to administer the letter of the Gospel” among the cardinal events of his history, a glancing reference at best…The late appearance of these accounts raises the possibility of later fabrication. Did Joseph add the stories of angels to embellish his early history and make himself more of a visionary? If so, he made little of the occurrence. Cowdery was the first to recount the story of John’s appearance, not Joseph himself. In an 1834 Church newspaper, Cowdery exulted in his still fresh memory of the experience. ‘On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace unto us, while the vail was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the gospel of repentance! When Joseph described John’s visit, he was much more plainspoken. Moreover, he inserted the story into a history composed in 1838 but not published until 1842. It circulated without fanfare, and more like a refurbished memory than a triumphant announcement. - Rough Stone Rolling, p.74-76


Why five years for Joseph or Oliver to tell members
of the Church about the priesthood?

CES Letter says...

"Why did it take five years for Joseph or Oliver to tell members of the Church about the priesthood?"

FairMormon Neutral
  • FairMormon does not directly acknowledge nor deny that it took 5 years for Joseph or Oliver to tell members of the Church about the Priesthood restoration under the hands of John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John.
  • FairMormon instead creates a diversion focused on the false claim that Oliver had a reputation for honesty.

FairMormon says...
  • If Oliver was covering up a fraud on the part of Joseph Smith when he talked of receiving the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, then why didn't he expose the fraud after he fell into disagreement with Joseph Smith and was excommunicated from the Church?
  • Why, in fact, did Oliver continue to insist that the events related to the restoration of the Priesthood actually happened?

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Note that FairMormon’s above responses ignore the issue here and instead shift the focus onto Oliver Cowdery’s failure to expose the Priesthood restoration fraud during his excommunication proceedings and after his excommunication from the Church.

Why not expose the fraud? Why stick with the false story? Many possible reasons exist:

  1. By exposing Joseph Smith and the fraud, Oliver would likewise be exposing himself as the co-conspirator and co-founder of the Church.

  2. Oliver Cowdery competed with Joseph Smith for leadership in the Church and wanted to maintain his credibility as a potential future leader among the Church membership. Indeed, Oliver remained in Far West for a few months after his excommunication (until he feared for his life and left) and was known as a “dissenter.”

  3. Any person (even an honest person) hates to admit that he was flummoxed, or that he lied under oath, or that he has contributed to the deception of thousands of trusting people. It is easier and it causes less trouble by just sticking by the original story.

  4. He did not want to disillusion or destroy the faith of those who were converted to the Book of Mormon because of his testimony.

  5. He may have retained a special feeling and regard for the Book of Mormon because of its many Biblical passages and Christ-centered teachings.

  6. Since his declaration is stated in the name of “the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” he would not only be guilty of perjury, but his credibility would be suspect and ruined for the rest of his life. This is especially true for Oliver as his most important currency and asset in his careers – law and politics – was his perceived honor, integrity, and reputation with non-Mormons.

  7. He enjoyed the celebrity status of being a witness and founding member of a rapidly growing religion. In time, he continued to embellish and persevere in his story.

  8. Oliver would appear sinister, conniving, deceptive, and untrustworthy telling people that what he testified to and allowed to appear in print, was just one big hoax and lie. The price in loss of respect and reputation was perhaps a price Oliver was simply unwilling to pay.
FairMormon says...
  • The author wishes to imply that Oliver was dishonest, yet his associates during the time that he was a lawyer after leaving the Church viewed his character as "irreproachable". Harvey Gibson, a political opponent of Oliver's, and another lawyer (whose statue now stands in front of the Seneca County courthouse) wrote:

    Cowdery was an able lawyer and [an] agreeable, irreproachable gentleman. ("Letter from General W. H. Gibson," Seneca Advertiser (Tiffin, Ohio) 12 April 1892.)
  • Webster's 1828 dictionary defines "irreproachable" as "That cannot be justly reproached; free from blame; upright; innocent. An irreproachable life is the highest honor of a rational being."

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Contrary to the single account painted by FairMormon, let’s take a look at what others, including the Prophet Joseph Smith – a very close associate of Oliver Cowdery – had to say about Oliver’s (and three other Book of Mormon Witnesses) integrity and character:

Such characters as … John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them.
- Prophet Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 3, Chapter 15, p.231

Oliver was excommunicated in 1838 for “seeking to destroy the character of President Joseph Smith, Jun., by falsely insinuating [lying] that he was guilty of adultery”, “for dishonestly retaining notes after they had been paid”, and other sins. – History of the Church, Vol. 3, Ch. 2, p.16

President Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith’s first counselor in the First Presidency and also a once close associate of Oliver Cowdery, did not mince words about what he really thought about Oliver and his character and integrity, along with Book of Mormon Witness David Whitmer.

The following November 1838 letter was written by Rigdon and signed by some 84 Mormons on the “lying, thieving, counterfeiting” Oliver Cowdery:

"Oliver stole the property…like criminals (which indeed you were), you appealed to our beloved presidents, Joseph Smith, jr. and Sidney Rigdon, men whose characters you had endeavored to destroy by every artifice you could invent, not even the basest lying excepted;…but notwithstanding all your scandalous attacks…by secret efforts, continued to practice your iniquity...we design this paper to be published to the world, we will give an epitome of your scandalous conduct and treachery for the last two years. We wish to remind you, that Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer…by their testimony which they gave concerning the plates of the Book of Mormon, that they were shown to them by an angel, which testimony we believe, now, as much as before you had so scandalously disgraced it. You commenced your wickedness by heading a party to disturb the worship of the saints in the first day of the week, and made the house of the Lord, in Kirtland, to be a scene of abuse and slander.

The saints in Kirtland, having elected Oliver Cowdery to be a justice of the peace, he used the power of that office to take their most sacred rights from them, and that contrary to law.

Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer…united with a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs in the deepest dye, to deceive, cheat, and defraud the saints out of their property, by every art and stratagem which wickedness could invent, using the influence of the vilest persecutions to bring vexatious law suits, villainous prosecutions, and even stealing not excepted. In the midst of this career, for fear the saints would seek redress at their hands, they breathed out threatenings of mobs, and actually made attempts with their gang to bring mobs upon them. Oliver Cowdery and his gang (such of them as belonged to the church) were called to an account by the church for their iniquity. They confessed repentance, and were against restored to the church; but the very first opportunity they were again practicing their former course. During the full career of Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer’s bogus money business, it got abroad into the world that they were engaged in it, and several gentlemen were preparing to commence a prosecution against Cowdery; he, finding it out, took with him Lyman E. Johnson, and fled to Far West with their families; Cowdery stealing property, and bringing it with him…Shortly after Cowdery…left Kirtland for Far West…on whose arrival a general system of slander and abuse was commenced by you all, for the purpose of destroying the characters of certain individuals…Neither were you content with slandering and vilifying here, but you kept up a continual correspondence with your gang of marauders in Kirtland, encouraging them to go on with their iniquity; which they did to perfection, by swearing falsely to injure the character and property of innocent men; stealing, cheating, lying; instituting vexatious lawsuits; selling bogus money, and also, stones and sand for bogus; in which nefarious business, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmar, and Lyman E. Johnson, were engaged while you were there. You set up a nasty, dirty, pettifogger’s office, pretending to be judges of the law….you stirred up men of weak minds to prosecute one another, for the vile purpose of getting a fee for pettifogging from one of them. You have also been threatening continually to enter into a general system of prosecuting, determinded, as you said, to pick a falw in the the itles of those who have bought city lots and built upon them – not that you can do any thing but cause vexatious lawsuits.

And, amongst the most monstrious of all your abominations, we have evidence (which, when called upon, we can produce)…We have evidence of a very strong character, that I you are at this time engaged with a gang of counterfeiters, coiners, and blacklegs, as some of those characters have lately visited our city from Kirtland…”
February 15, 1841 Letter and Testimony, p.6-9

The above letter and testimony written by President Sidney Rigdon and signed by some 84 Mormons was presented by Sidney Rigdon as testimony before the Fifth Judicial District of State of Missouri on November 12, 1838 in the trial of Joseph Smith, Jr., and others, for high treason and other crimes against the State.

So, we have the Prophet Joseph Smith and his first counselor in the First Presidency, Sidney Rigdon – both once close associates of Oliver Cowdery – testifying that Oliver was a lying, thieving, counterfeiting man who was “united with a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs in the deepest dye, to deceive, cheat, and defraud the saints out of their property, by every art and stratagem which wickedness could invent…”

It is an understatement – to say the least – that the Prophet Joseph Smith and his first counselor, President Sidney Rigdon, along with the Church, did not think Oliver Cowdery was an “irreproachable gentleman.”

I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whose words hold more weight on the kind of man Oliver Cowdery was: The Prophet Joseph Smith, President Sidney Rigdon, and “84 Mormons” or…Harvey Gibson.

FairMormon says...

Quotes to consider

  • Oliver wrote the following to Phineas Young two years after Joseph's death, well after he had left the Church:

    I have cherished a hope, and that one of my fondest, that I might leave such a character, as those who might believe in my testimony, after I should be called hence, might do so, not only for the sake of the truth, but might not blush for the private character of the man who bore that testimony. I have been sensitive on this subject, I admit; but I ought to be so—you would be, under the circumstances, had you stood in the presence of John, with our departed Brother Joseph, to receive the Lesser Priesthood—and in the presence of Peter, to receive the Greater, and looked down through time, and witnessed the effects these two must produce,—you would feel what you have never felt, were wicked men conspiring to lessen the effects of your testimony on man, after you should have gone to your long sought rest. (Oliver Cowdery to Phineas Young, 23 March 1846, Oliver Cowdery Collection, "Scriptory Book of Joseph Smith Jr." (kept by George W. Robinson), 22, LDS Church Historical Department (published in Scott H. Faulring, ed, An American Prophet's Record.— The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), emphasis in original; cited in Scott H. Faulring. “The Return of Oliver Cowdery”, FARMS Featured Paper, no date.)

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

FairMormon’s basic argument here is that Oliver didn’t recant his testimony and was still testifying about the Priesthood restoration events even after he was excommunicated from the Church. Somehow, this is supposed to mean that the event must have happened simply because Oliver never recanted nor denied; even after his excommunication.

I address and respond to this here. Note also that Oliver mentions only Peter when recollecting his reception of “Greater” Priesthood in this passage. This, of course, contradicts the official version of the Priesthood restoration and casts further doubt on the veracity of that story. Why would he not also mention James and John in this account?


Joseph Smith & Co. changed earlier revelations

CES Letter says...

"Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery changed the wording of earlier revelations when they compiled the 1835 Doctrine & Covenants"

FairMormon Agrees

FairMormon says...
  • Correct:
    The Church discusses this most recently in the January 2013 Ensign:

    Many Revelations Were Later Revised by Joseph Smith through Inspiration.

    Over the course of the first five years of the Church, Joseph and others under his direction made changes and corrections to some of the early revelation texts in an attempt to more closely portray the intent of the revelation. Other times, especially as the revelations were being prepared for publication, Joseph was inspired to update the contents of the revelations to reflect a growing Church structure and new circumstances. At times this process resulted in substantial additions to the original text. As early as November 1831, a Church conference resolved that “Joseph Smith Jr. correct those errors or mistakes which he may discover by the Holy Spirit while reviewing the revelations and commandments and also the fullness of the scriptures.” —Gerrit Dirkmaat, "Great and Marvelous Are the Revelations of God," Ensign (January 2013)

Quotes to consider

  • Brigham Young described the revelatory process:

    “I do not even believe that there is a single revelation, among the many God has given to the Church, that is perfect in its fulness. The revelations of God contain correct doctrine and principle, so far as they go; but it is impossible for the poor, weak, low, grovelling, sinful inhabitants of the earth to receive a revelation from the Almighty in all its perfections. He has to speak to us in a manner to meet the extent of our capacities...

    The laws that the Lord has given are not fully perfect, because the people could not receive them in their perfect fulness; but they can receive a little here and a little there, a little today and a little to-morrow, a little more next week, and a little more in advance of that next year, if they make a wise improvement upon every little they receive...”

    Brigham Young, "The Kingdom Of God," (8 July 1855) Journal of Discourses 1:314.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Here are the two complete paragraphs I wrote in Letter to a CES Director on this topic:

"Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery changed the wording of earlier revelations when they compiled the 1835 Doctrine & Covenants, adding verses about the appearances of John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John as if those appearances were mentioned in the earlier revelations in the Book of Commandments, which they weren't."

"It wasn’t until the 1835 edition Doctrine & Covenants that Joseph and Oliver backdated and retrofitted Priesthood restoration events to an 1829-30 time period – none of which existed in any previous Church records; including Doctrine & Covenants’ precursor, The Book of Commandments, nor the original Church history as published in The Evening and Morning Star.”

There is a major difference between correcting some minor grammar, spelling, and tweaking a small thing here and there for clarification purposes versus completely backdating and retrofitting major events such as the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood restoration under the hands of resurrected John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John into the same earlier revelation as if they were in there all along; 5 years after these pivotal events supposedly took place. This is a major substantive change and there is no good reason to have omitted these events in the earlier revelations.

There is a reason why LDS scholar and historian Richard Bushman wrote:

The late appearance of these accounts raises the possibility of later fabrication.
Rough Stone Rolling, p.75

I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery “made changes and corrections to some of the early revelation texts in an attempt to more closely portray the intent of the revelation” and “to update the contents of the revelations to reflect a growing Church structure and new circumstances” by backdating and retrofitting the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood restoration events in the earlier revelations as if they were there all along; 5 years after the alleged Priesthood events occurred.

"During the turbulent meeting, Joseph ordained five men to the high priesthood, and Lyman Wight ordained eighteen others, including Joseph. The ordinations to the high priesthood marked a milestone in Mormon ecclesiology. Until that time, the word 'priesthood,' although it appeared in the Book of Mormon, had not been used in Mormon sermonizing or modern revelations. Later accounts applied the term retroactively, but the June 1831 conference marked its first appearance in contemporary records...

The Melchizedek Priesthood, Mormons now believe, had been bestowed a year or two earlier with the visit of Peter, James, and John. If so, why did contemporaries say the high priesthood was given for the first time in June 1831? Joseph Smith himself was ordained to this 'high priesthood' by Lyman Wight. If Joseph was already an elder and apostle, what was the necessity of being ordained again?"

- Richard Lyman Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p.157-158




Debunking FairMormon Table of Contents





Important Note

Priesthood Restoration Last Updated: 4.6.14

My above response is based on FAIR's 11.28.2013 Priesthood Restoration answers.



About the Author

Born and raised in Southern California, Jeremy is a seventh generation Mormon of Pioneer heritage who reached every Mormon youth milestone. An Eagle Scout, Returned Missionary, BYU alumnus, Jeremy was married in the San Diego Temple with expectations and plans of living Mormonism for the rest of his life.

In February 2012, Jeremy experienced an awakening to the LDS Church's truth crisis, which subsequently led to a faith transition that summer. In the spring of 2013, Jeremy was approached and asked by a CES Director to share his questions and concerns about the LDS Church's origins, history, and current practices. In response, Jeremy wrote what later became publicly known as the CES Letter (originally titled Letter to a CES Director).

The CES Director responded that he read the "very well written" letter and that he would provide Jeremy with a response. No response ever came.

“I believe that members and investigators deserve to have all of the facts and information on the table, to be able to make a fully-informed and balanced decision as to whether or not they want to commit their hearts, minds, time, talents, income, and lives to Mormonism.”

Jeremy T. Runnells


Interview with Mormon Stories

Part 1 On Growing Up Mormon and the Genesis of the CES Letter 
Part 2 Jeremy Discusses the CES Letter in Detail 
Part 3 Rapid Firing Round, Reaction to the Letter 

Debunking

Several unofficial Mormon apologists, including FairMormon, have provided responses to CES Letter:

Jeremy's response to FairMormon:

The only official response, to date, is the series of recent essays by the LDS Church, which is available on the Church’s own lds.org website.

A comprehensive critique of each essay is available here on MormonThink.com.

Jeremy’s rebuttals to other Mormon apologist arguments:

A Zombie’s Reflections on That Mormon Apologist’s Reflections

Jeremy’s rebuttal to Daniel C. Peterson’s FairMormon Some Reflections on That Letter to a CES Director presentation.

The Book of Abraham: “Except for Those Willfully Blind, the Case is Closed”

Jeremy’s rebuttal to Brian M. Hauglid’s Jeremy Runnells and the Book of Abraham essay.

The Sky is Falling – Part 1

Jeremy’s rebuttal to FairMormon’s Kevin Christensen’s Eye of the Beholder essay.