Episodes

Special Episode: The Dissection of Elder Quentin L Cook’s Face To Face On Church History

Radio Free Mormon and Bill Reel get together for a special Episode discussion on Elder Quentin L. Cook’s Face To Face On Church History.   While Elder Cook and Church Historians Matt Grow and Kate Holbrook attempt to tell the audience that Church history is faith building and that it can withstand scrutiny, a simple look at what they say and more importantly what they don’t say seems to deeply indicate otherwise.  There is even cameo Appearances by Elder Ballard, Church historian Steven Harper, and even a sound blip from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Sit back and buckle up as we learn that when it comes to Church leaders and the Church’s historians that “Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin'”.

Questions to LDS Church Historian after he promised to be candid and forthright in answering any question asked of him and of which when asked he refused to respond.

1.) What is your opinion of whether President Nelson as a proclaimed prophet can reasonably do what ancient prophets have done. Can he part seas, cast curses on critics making them dumb or deaf or three day slumbers or call down fires from heaven? Or do you agree that somehow now that history is recordable and verifiable and shareable that such God magic miracles have ceased and probably never were?

2.) Do you personally think Joseph Smith wrongly manipulated girls like Lucy Walker, the partridge sisters, Fanny Alger into having relationships with him?

3.) Do you believe that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text about literal ancient historically accurate Nephites and Lamanites

4.) Do you think personally that the Church is wrong about Homosexuality? do you personally think by the nature of our policies and doctrines that our institutional church causes undue trauma on gay people?

5.) Lastly do you think Elder Ballard is being completely forthright and accurate when he said “We would have to say, as two Apostles who have covered the world and know the history of the Church and know the integrity of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve from the beginning, there has been no attempt on the part of the Church leaders to try to hide anything from anybody.”?

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35 thoughts on “Special Episode: The Dissection of Elder Quentin L Cook’s Face To Face On Church History

  1. I wonder if Deseret Bookstore carries non authorized books because about 9 or 10 years they had the Mormon Enigma in the store. I remember because I went in there to look for the book called “In Sacred Loneliness”, and the saleswomen told me they didn’t but they have a book about JS’s wives in the “Mormon Enigma”, and pulled that for me. I passed because I thought it wouldn’t be as thorough. Now I need to go get it. Funny enough though is that it is now now longer available at Deseretbook. And at one time “In Sacred Loneliness” was once available as well, but pulled. Proof right there that the church hides things.

    • All bookstores stock books on the basis of their sales. When a book is no longer on the shelves, the most plausible reason is that the sales dropped to low to waste limited shelf space on it.

  2. Well done, RFM and Bill. Between listening to the entirety of this podcast and Sam Young’s excommunication announcement today, I’m exhausted. I’m not sure if my head will ever stop spinning but one thing is for sure, I need to stop being surprised by all these events.

  3. Bill, could you please share the 5 questions you asked steve Harper and your stake president? Great Job to you and RFM! Thanks

    • 1.) What is your opinion of whether President Nelson as a proclaimed prophet can reasonably do what ancient prophets have done. Can he part seas, cast curses on critics making them dumb or deaf or three day slumbers or call down fires from heaven? Or do you agree that somehow now that history is recordable and verifiable and shareable that such God magic miracles have ceased and probably never were?

      2.) Do you personally think Joseph Smith wrongly manipulated girls like Lucy Walker, the partridge sisters, Fanny Alger into having relationships with him?

      3.) Do you believe that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text about literal ancient historically accurate Nephites and Lamanites

      4.) Do you think personally that the Church is wrong about Homosexuality? do you personally think by the nature of our policies and doctrines that our institutional church causes undue trauma on gay people?

      5.) Lastly do you think Elder Ballard is being completely forthright and accurate when he said “We would have to say, as two Apostles who have covered the world and know the history of the Church and know the integrity of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve from the beginning, there has been no attempt on the part of the Church leaders to try to hide anything from anybody.”?

      • Hot Damn – I love those questions and will likely use them in my next conversation with my Bishop. I have met with him during SS the last two Sundays. He asked me to be the secretary of the YM. I said no and said that is probably because the EQ is getting uncomfortable with my nuance lessons over the last 10 months of my faith reconstruction. Which has amped up to can’t chase down every rabbit tunnel I learn of. My Evernote and Reddit saves are ridiculous. Anyway yesterday he tried again and then the EQP came by my house thinking he was saving face and really it was me. He thanked me for my time to put together lessons and for my time as if I had been called to something else. I saved face by letting him think I didn’t know he and the bishop had conversations about my lessons.
        I know the bishop will want to chat again at some point.
        I think I heard Bill Reel say at one point or RFM that for the most part church history is no longer about what happened by why. The cats out of the bag and the church can no longer hide and try to say they never did but now the big unanswerable question is why did x, y or z happen.

      • The problem with these questions is that they’re opinion based questions. They have nothing to do with church history or verifiable facts.

  4. I don’t necessarily blame any of these folks. They’ve been brought up in the system. They don’t know any different.

    Their paychecks depends upon saying and believing these things.

    Ultimately, the dead will bury the dead. I have to believe with Sam’s excommunication that the church is one the clock. God has stayed his hand so far, but he won’t forever.

    Expect more Sam Youngs in the future. And expect them to be rejected and excommunicated.

    We have the patter laid before us in the Book of Mormon. It will happen again. It won’t be pleasant. Take the Holy Spirit as your guide. It’s the only way.

  5. Once again, great job guys.
    One addition on my part would be that I’m tired of the fact that we try to make him out as if were some illiterate dummy. He had a lot of scratches on his notes, couldn’t get the grammar right… we get way too much mileage out of that statement and it satisfies no one.

    Joseph Smith was anything but dummy, and not receiving a formal education didn’t render him incapable of what he did… which is nothing short of impressive.

    There’s a personal philosophy that Joseph Smith adopts which I think is uber impressive and useful. The idea that he was expansive, an aggregator, that he was willing to update and revise his teachings.

    It’s sort of a shame that his personal flaws almost obliterates the mormon movement before it even gets a chance to start. But his King Follet funeral discourse was priceless. That’s the type of Mormonism that I want a see in Sunday school… and if the church has a 20 year program that can get us to get to that point I’m on board with that. Let’s start moving the ball in the right direction.

    ****

    Also the idea the Mary Elizabeth Rollins was a wife of Joseph Smith, well it shouldn’t factor in because she wasn’t at the time she was picking those papers containing the book of commandments.

    Saints does leave a lot of stuff out, but includes a long list stuff in that is useful. It basically compiles everything you have heard or learned about church history at church while addressing superficially the problematic issues you might find on the internet from a faithful perspective. Saints does have it’s merits and it can be a gateway introduction to more solid historical material giving a point of reference when they are ready to start digging deeper.

  6. Alllways changing, moving the target… (like Jesus did!)

    “Thus saith the Lord: Mine Church™ shall henceforth now be changed again and called The Church of Cheese n Rice of Latter-day Slaves™. Thou shalt show your devotion and loyalty unto Me and unto mine Leaders by passing Mine Test™ that all go forth and proclaim my Godspell™ of Truth, using lies, deceptions, threats and bullying all unto Me. Amen (Rah)!”

  7. I just have more and more fun with each episode. And as a Seinfeld afectionado I have to say it was GOLD! As opposed to the book(s) kept at the translation table… excuse me, the revelation table.

    You know what’s worth $120,000? Radio Free Mormon’s music selection.

    Question: I find it to be a stretch that not a single scribe came forward at any point to hint that Joseph in fact used other books there in the room when revelating the gold plates and revelating the bible. However it is a little gaslighty that as RFM points out Emma seemingly goes out of her way to make a point of Joseph not having any books not where to hide them from her during his trans-revelation process. How do you think it was possible for Joseph to so universally kept everyone to keep the secret to their deaths? With the evidence that Joseph was able to recite long elaborative stories about the native americans etc, is it not fairly plausible that with the exception of probably having the bible handy for the Isaiah chapters, Joseph has fairly extraordinary narrative abilities and really kept no books present in the room? And perhaps took time elsewhere to develop the next day’s material and have it sufficently dedicated to memory? Or does Emma’s comment, and also her comment that Joseph didn’t ever ask where he had left off, smell a little too gaslighty?

    • I don’t give much credence to Emma’s description of the translation. In the same interview, given to her son (J.S. III) after her husband’s death, Emma flat out denies he ever practiced polygamy. If she is clearly lying about polygamy, the rest of the the same interview is suspect. She was still trying to sell the story after Joseph Smith Jr.s death. So if Joseph was using other sources, I wouldn’t be surprised if Emma knew it but was covering it up.

      Emma’s interview: Part on polygamy starts in third column, about a third of the way down. http://www.mormonthink.com/files/emma-interview-1879.pdf

      • What if joseph never practiced polygamy and Brigham framed him after having him murdered. ALL of the sources are from years or decades later or the altered originals, altered by Brigham or heber.

  8. I just have more and more fun with each episode. You two have a great dynamic. Bill, your points and comments were spot on. Thank you for just a wonderful episode. I can’t wait for others in my family to get to a point where I can share the fun with them.

    And as a Seinfeld afectionado I have to say these episodes are GOLD! As opposed to the book(s) kept at the translation table… excuse me, the revelation table.

    You know what’s worth $120,000? Radio Free Mormon’s music selection.

    Question: I find it to be a stretch that not a single scribe came forward at any point to hint that Joseph in fact used other books there in the room when revelating the gold plates and revelating the bible. However it is a little gaslighty that as RFM points out Emma seemingly goes out of her way to make a point of Joseph not having any books not where to hide them from her during his trans-revelation process. How do you think it was possible for Joseph to so universally kept everyone to keep the secret to their deaths? With the evidence that Joseph was able to recite long elaborative stories about the native americans etc, is it not fairly plausible that with the exception of probably having the bible handy for the Isaiah chapters, Joseph has fairly extraordinary narrative abilities and really kept no books present in the room? And perhaps took time elsewhere to develop the next day’s material and have it sufficiently dedicated to memory? Or does Emma’s comment, and also her comment that Joseph didn’t ever ask where he had left off, smell a little too gaslighty?

  9. The shift from a directly translated Book of Mormon to one given by revelation is interesting to see. Perhaps one day the church will believe its own scripture. D&C 24:1-2 “Behold, thou wast called and chosen to write the Book of Mormon, and to my ministry; and I have lifted thee up out of thine afflictions, and have counseled thee, that thou hast been delivered from all thine enemies, and thou hast been delivered from the powers of Satan and from darkness!
    Nevertheless, thou art not excusable in thy transgressions; nevertheless, go thy way and sin no more.”
    Apparently in 1830, in the Lord’s own words, the Church was told Joseph wrote the Book of Mormon and was a sinner. No peep stone, or urim, or thumbythingy required. From heaven in English, to an English speaking prophet, for the benefit of an English speaking church. Yet somehow we need to mormon-splain the words given in divine black and white, by adding a correlation department approval process refined header: “1–9, Joseph Smith is called to translate, preach, and expound scripture.”

  10. I am only partway through the episode and have heard a number of things that are incredibly frustrating and even angering. By far, the thing I am most livid about is Elder Cook laughing while Kate Holbrook describes the conditions her polygamous 1st wife ancestor lived in, while the second wife was treated as the favorite. What on earth is wrong with Elder Cook? Did he mis-hear something, or does he legitimately think this situation is hilarious? If he does think it’s funny, that would really explain a lot about the church’s approach to women.

    Also, RFM & Bill, Kate did not say that the 2nd wife was “typically” the favorite in polygamous families. She said that HER ancestor was a first wife, and in THAT family, the 2nd wife was the favorite. She didn’t state how her ancestor felt outright, but it sounded like a very difficult situation for her ancestor.

  11. I’m trying to finish this podcast but the discomfort in the voices of the 2 historians is soooo awkward.

  12. Fantastic episode gentlemen! You have found a great niche in discussing church topics together to share your independent perspective on things, and yet bringing more light upon church topics that are still securely held in the dark, or behind the curtain.

    I can’t imagine a time when the church will tell the full story of things. The historical issues are too complex and it falls into the category stated by two well known apostles in our recent history:
    Boyd K. Packer – “Some things that are true are not very useful.”
    Dallin H. Oaks – “But not everything that’s true is useful.”

    This is made clear by the two historians in this event. They say uplifting things, but they leave out tons of important facts that are true, but not useful to the Mormon narrative. Like where the Seer stone came from and how it was used for treasure seeking prior to the translation of the gold plates. Or Joseph Smith’s tactics of coercion on young women and their family members to allow him to marry young brides in secret, with their salvation and eternal exaltation guaranteed. No mention of Christ’s role in that salvation message, it was all built into obedience of marrying Joseph Smith when he came calling.

    Keep up the great work and thanks for all you are doing to shed light on things.

  13. Bill and RFM, I sure wish I could have heard your reaction to the translation process of the B of M at minute 2:15.50. She said that “he (Joseph) started with a SCHOLARLY APPROACH where he looked at the gold plates, and he studied the characters and he wrote the characters onto a piece of papered he studied those, and he sent those characters to scholars who wouldn’t help him, and he decided this scholarly approach is not working. And then he turned to a REVELATORY APPROACH. And with the revelatory approach he used both the urim and thummim and a seer stone to help him……” That whole REVELATORY APPROACH thing was interesting. We haven’t been taught that that was his approach, only that he sought confirmation from a scholarly source to prove he was translating ancient characters. I thought that whole thing was very weird. Plus, it doesn’t put Joseph in the best a light. I mean, and angel of the Lord comes down and gives you a translation device and you don’t use that and try the scholarly approach first. Hmmmmm. Or, you throw that out and use a magic rock you found. Was Moroni rolling his eyes at this point? I found the apologetic nature of this part, and the revelation/translation part that follows to be perfect example of apologetics gone crazy! Love what you guys do! Keep it up!!!

  14. Yes, clearly. Also, it was apparent that they had somewhat memorized the content or at least the outline of their reply. That became very clear to me when Kate stumbled and was speechless for that 5 sec. pause, and then remembered what she was to say.

  15. Two beings or not two beings, that is the question. RFM, I know you are a lawyer but you should’ve been a comedian. That was brilliant.

    Where can I find the original video where Elder Crook says that the Savior died in Cartage?

  16. Thank you Bill and RFM. I tuned in for the last few minutes of the livestream and could barely handle that. I got the full version in 3 hours with your commentary which was far more tolerable than the original hour long charade.

    One thing that really bothered me came at the end as Matt Grow was bearing his testimony. He was talking about how when Joseph died, the Nauvoo temple wasn’t complete. But, BY “knew” the saints would have to leave Nauvoo. “BY prayed to ask the Lord what to do. The answer came back that he should stay (in Nauvoo).” Matt concluded that the answer to stay was so that BY and his followers could get temple ordinances ( from the unfinished temple?) before heading West. Two things stand out to me in this scenario.

    A). Why was BY contemplating moving instead of/before finishing the Nauvoo temple? In Section 124:45, the Lord told the people that if they would “build it (Nauvoo temple) on the place where you have contemplated… they (the people) SHALL NOT BE MOVED OUT OF THEIR PLACE.” In verse 47, the Lord speaks of cursings if they do not finish the temple as He instructed. Descriptions of the dirt floor, unfinished interior walls, make-shift hanging tarps, etc of the temple as the saints were getting endowed evidence it was not finished.

    B) BY was not the president of the church in Nauvoo! (RFM has covered the succession crisis before.). He wasn’t the elected president of the LDS Church until AFTER he was in Utah. Why would BY even be praying for revelation for the church when that was not his role? Matt is trying to make it sound as if the leadership passed easily from Joseph to BY when in reality, there was a leadership vacuum.

    It was a constant stream of half-truths and coverups per usual for these Q and A sessions.

  17. The biggest problem the church has today is its cadre of paid flunkys who occupy the church office building. If I had a cushy job with benefits I would have no problem lying my arse off for the benefit of my family. Heck I would probably delude myself into believing the party line, like these folks.

  18. Great episode! In reference to the first vision and varying accounts, it was a good comparison to bring up a police officer who would view inconsistencies in a suspects testimony as a red flag against trustworthiness. It seems so obvious, especially when a story evolves to paint oneself in a better light. However, over time memory does actually become quite unreliable. There have been studies such as one where participants were asked to write down their experiences on the day of big events such as when the Challenger spacecraft exploded or on 9/11. They were asked then some specified time later (like a couple years or something) to rewrite the details of those same experiences. The result was that the details of those accounts changed and varied. So much so that the participants insisted the first account was not how it happened, despite recognizing the handwriting as theirs. So memory is not as reliable over time as we may think. However, the problem with the Joseph and the first vision is not so much that accounts varying, but that equal credibility is given to each account. Since memory becomes more unreliable the more time passes, then the earliest account should be the one that is most reliable and the subsequent accounts not reliable. Yet they use a much later account as the official one. Another problem, as I think was pointed out, is the significance of the details that were changed. Yes, memory changes, but much less likely for significant details to change. The church’s explanations just aren’t satisfying to me in any way.

  19. Very interesting commentary. I agreed with your criticism of Cook’s laughing at the tragedy and sorrow of polygamous wives. That chuckling response revealed a strong remaining sexism and patriarchy pervading polygamy. The question asked about current polygamy if I remember correctly and the hurtfulness of eternal polygamy. No effort was made to sort that out or rebut Carol Lynn Pearson’s current book on the devastating effects of the belief in an eternal polygamy.

    I noticed that Bill picked up a thread that I discussed with him on his Facebook page regarding the 19th Century influences on the Book of Mormon. I observed that Joseph either had a photograph memory or had the Bible in the translation of the Book of Mormon. But by the historical evidence that RFM delights in demonstrating, Joseph had his head in a hat the whole time he was translating. All the evidence points to the head in the hat as a constant. Now RFM seems to be disputing that. He implicitly now believes that Joseph lifted his head out of the hat and then referred to the Bible and dictated to his scribes long portions of the Bible, pretending all the while that he was actually translating. And RFM now must believe that all of the scribes, Cowedery, Harris, Emma and a couple of others observed this but kept it quiet. Except Emma made a point of saying that he never had any other book. So I now see people on this thread willing to dispute the evidence of Emma and the other witnesses to the translation. Not a good historical approach. RFM is going to leave himself vulnerable. You can’t pick and choose historical evidence just because you want to believe the worst about Joseph. You can’t believe the statements regarding polygamy made 50 years after the fact with a strong motive to lie for Brigham but not believe Emma and the other scribes when they say Joseph had his head in the hat the whole time.

    • Good points Bryce. I agree if we are to find truth then consider all know “evidence” and give it a fair shake. Those looking for bad in the church are just are as misguided as those looking for only the good.

  20. the final song gold solid gold lol
    thats my new theme song for mormonism
    my ward keeps asking me to do a musical number,
    i may have to sing this, gold solid gold
    also another note, they the panel threw themselves under the bus when they said that it took 6-7 years to come out with saints because of the extensive review process, i thought they were prophets and had revelation like joeseph and could knock this thing out, but also on the flip side, joeseph could have used 7 years and an extensive review process and maybe there wouldn’t be so many redflags in the book of mormon, would have given him time to actually write it himself.
    great job you guys if i could just get my wife to listen to it,
    so i can get myself out of this mormon mess.

  21. I’ll be quick: fantastic episode! And it’s true. You two are the best new team since PB & J! 😄

    More eps from Bill & RFM, please!

  22. Interesting stuff for sure. I left the church about 3 yrs ago. I’m sympathetic to “The Remnant” viewpoint, but I don’t belong to any particular group. Whatever conclusion we come to RE church history, the one fact remains – JS produced the BoM. And I think the BoM is quite remarkable in and of itself, even if it has 19th Century influences. Do we disregard the Bible because it has ancient Hebrew influences? Well, the OT maybe…hahaha. And we have the 3 witnesses, which seem to me to be pretty strong witnesses imo, especially David Whitmer.

    I’m beginning to think Whitmer’s view is correct in his “An Address to all Believers in Christ”. JS’s calling was to bring forth the BoM, period. That the wheels started coming off when he officially organized the church (probably under the influence of Ridgon and associates, who wanted a NT structure. Daymon Smith has done a good deal of research on this). Perhaps hierarchy’s and positions and structures got to peoples heads. The Church can’t handle that narrative because it would undermine the colossal top down structural organization, instead of how I think it was really intended: local, independent, self-governing believers, loosely tied together, using the BoM as simply an additional witness with the Bible.

    But as usual, human nature tends to dictate: we want more, we want leaders and structure. And when we want that, people will tend to fill it.

    Did JS get swayed too much by associates? Did God give the people what they wanted through JS? Did JS let position get to his head? Did JS stil make brilliant observances thoughout his life in his role as a teacher? Probably yes to all the above.

    I could be wrong in all this. But that is what makes life interesting.

  23. Thank you for another great and professionally produced podcast. Your skill at dissecting these talks is amazing. I did however notice in your summation of JS’s marriage to girls and his digging for gold what I believe to be errors in analysis. Setting those errors aside, your work at forcing the lying LDS church leaders to take notice that we see their lies, is music to my ears.

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