What is a CES Director?
An employee of the LDS Church Educational System. This is a person who has likely dedicated a large part of their life studying the doctrine and history of the LDS Church.
What was in the CES Letter?
Jeremy had questions about some of the core tenets of doctrine of the LDS Church. In seeking answers, he compiled a list of issues, and presented them in letter format to the CES Director.
What were the topics of the letter?
The issues fell into these topics:
- Historicity of the Book of Mormon.
- Translation of the Book of Mormon.
- Multiple accounts of the first vision of Joseph Smith.
- Translation and evidence of the Book of Abraham.
- Polygamy and Polyandry in the early church.
- The role of prophets in the church.
- Translation and forgery of the Kinderhook plates.
- Testimony/spiritual witness as a method of obtaining truth.
- The Priesthood restoration in the early church.
- The history of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon.
- Modern Mormon temples and their connection to Freemasonry.
- Countering faith and doctrine with conflicting scientific claims.
- Belief in the scriptures is seemingly to endorse a god who condones slavery, murder, and more.
- And, lastly the whitewashing of LDS church history to remove the many polygamous wives of Joseph Smith, further polygamy in the church, reasons why black people couldn’t hold the priesthood.
So, shouldn’t the church be able to answer all of these questions?
The problem for the church comes from point 14 above. Ideally, the LDS church could carry on in the current manifestation. Free all of the historical baggage that it carries. The many members of the church that are active today are largely not aware of these many issues, and would love to carry on, actively engaged in the modern church. However, for many progressive Mormons, (this author included) it is difficult to separate the current church from the old.
Is LDS Church leadership aware of these issues?
Do you think they take issue with the CES Letter?
Of course. Jeremy has a church disciplinary court scheduled for this Sunday, February 14th to resolve this. One possible outcome is that he will be excommunicated from the church for posing the questions in the letter.
Should the LDS Church be accountable for the questions in the letter?
Yes, but this would put them in a precarious position. They have been doing some of this for the last few years, as evidenced in the Gospel Topic Essays. Many questions remain unanswered though. Many people after reading the essays have even more questions about the doctrines/history presented, leading them down a path that the church would hope they would stay away from.