Email from D.L. Barksdale, co-founder of FAIR, Part 2 - 10/04/2004
** NOTE: This is part two of an email from Darryl Barksdale, a co-founder and past president of FAIR, an LDS apologetics organization. According to current FAIR president Scott Gordon, Mr. Barksdale is no longer associated with FAIR, and does not speak on their behalf. Mr. Gordon was kind enough to validate that this email did indeed come from Mr. Barksdale.**
<< Hi Anonymous. Thanks for writing to us.>>
You're quite welcome. :)
<< From your email address, I'm guessing you are LDS. >>
You would be guessing correctly.
<< First, before I specifically answer your specific question, let me say that Joseph Smith fired the first shot, so to speak. >>
Of course, this is baloney. This is a pathetic excuse for hatred and religious bigotry that finds absolutely no basis in fact. The widely-acknowledged apostacy of modern Christianity has been chronicled and outlined by Martin Luther, John Calvin, Roger Williams (the founder of the Baptist Church in America), and even recently by Evangelical scholars such as David W. Bercot, author of "Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up? A Look At Evangelical Christianity In Light Of The Early Church." In this ground-breaking book, Dr. Bercot outlines in detail how Evangelical Christianity has departed from the doctrines of the Bible and the Early Christian Church. I suggest that deal with these condemnations, which are far more harsh concerning the sorry state of apostate Christianity, than Joseph Smith, who never formed a "ministry" to attack others' faiths, never published hate-filled books filled with lies and misrepresentations of others' faiths, and who never desecrated what others' hold to be sacred in the name of "Lying For Jesus."
<< He founded Mormonism on the pretense that Christianity was apostate (or false), and that all Christian creeds were an abomination to God. >>
Which was very appropriate, since Christianity *IS* apostate, and the Christian Creeds ARE an abomination to God. Most of the dogma therein is patently unBiblical... such as the Trinitarian heresy, invented by a pagan sun-worshipper.
<< Bible-believing Christians must therefore defend ourselves against such attacks, and we have. >>
I fail to see where hatespeech is Biblically justified. In fact, the Bible specifically condemns ministries like yours: "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God." (1 Cor 11:16) Perhaps your "ministry of hate" would be a bit more credible if it actually engaged in activities that are approved by the teachings of the Bible.
<< Your email address also infers that you consider yourself a Mormon apologist. >>
That would be correct.
<< The same question could be posed to you? Where (chapter and verse) did Mormonism give you the authority to speak on her behalf? >>
Where did I ever claim to speak on behalf of the LDS Church? I merely asked YOU, since you DO make the claim of speaking for all of Christianity, where you received this authority. I take it by your response that you have no answer.
<< Where did Mormonism give web-based ministries such as FAIRLDS.org the authority to speak on her behalf? >>
As the founder of FAIR, I can tell you with absolute certainty that that organization has never claimed to speak for the Church. That disclaimer is found on the main page of the FAIR web site:
"FAIR is not owned, controlled by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All research and opinions provided on this site are the sole responsibility of FAIR, and should not be interpreted as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief or practice."
One must sincerely wonder what you have to hope to gain by insinuating that FAIR speaks for the LDS Church, and why you are llying about this. Perhaps you can "enlighten me."
<< With that said, let's go to some Bible verses. >>
Yes, let's. :)
<< First of all, Jesus gave His followers the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 to spread the gospel. >>
That is correct. However, you are not "spreading the gospel." You are attacking the sacred beliefs of those with whom you disagree with. Your ministry's entire mission, judging by your own site, is to be contentious, which as we have already seen, is soundly refuted by the Bible as unChristian.
<< His disciples engaged eagerly in that work. >>
REAL Christians do, too. They go on missions to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, to bring a knowledge of Him to those who do not know Him. You do not do that.
<< Yet some began to introduce false and heretical teachings. Paul had to counter that frequently. >>
We know. We feel his pain. One has but to look at the apostate state of modern Christianity to weep for how far it has diverged from the gospel that Jesus Christ taught.
<< In Galatians 1:6-9, Paul told the Galatian church, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" Notice the past tense on "preached." The true gospel had already been given. >>
Then why the need for the Gospels, the Revelation of John, and many of the other epistles that make up the NT canon? All of them were written after Paul's epistles.
<< Yet some people tried to change that, to introduce teachings (through "revelation" perhaps) that were not true. >>
First of all, where is your evidence that any teaching was introduced "through revelation"? Or are you adding to God's Word a concept that is not there, and subsequently bringing yourself under the condemnation mentioned in the Book of Revelation? Secondly, Paul clearly attested to the impending apostacy of the Christian Church... I'm gratified to see that you acknowledge that fact. In fact, Paul taught that shortly thereafter, "grievous wolves" would enter among them, "not sparing the flock." That means in the Greek that none would be spared, or not affected.
<< Paul countered those for the sake of the truth of the gospel. Paul had the same problem with those in Corinth. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 says, "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough." >>
Of course, the underlying assumption you are making here is that the LDS Church teaches another Jesus than what Paul did. I eagerly invite you to show me in detail your evidence of this. And just so that we're on the same sheet of music, so to speak, please make sure that all of your references to LDS doctrine is from official sources of LDS doctrine, namely the 4 standard works of scripture, and statements or proclamations that appear over the signatures of the First Presidency, and the full Quorum of the Twelve. I'm sure that as a Christian, you would certainly not want to falsely represent LDS teaching to be our official doctrine when it is not. Conversely, I will refrain from using the patently blasphemous writings of Martin Luther, Pat Robertson, Paul Crouch, Kenneth Copeland, and other Evangelical leaders as representative of YOUR faith.
<< Here again, we find people introducing new teachings that are false. It was very distressing. >>
No kidding. Imagine how "distressing" it was to see the heretical doctrine of the "homoousion" Trinity introduced by a pagan sunworshipper, along with the false and unBiblical doctrines of Sola Fidianism (Salvation by Faith Alone), Sola Scriptura (Bible Alone), the Priesthood of All Believers, Ex-Nihilo Creation, Original Sin, and the host of other abominations that sprang forth from the Apostacy and the "Great Reformation."
<< Later in verses 13-15 Paul says of these false teachers, "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." Heresy isn't something for only Paul to fight. >>
You're right. It behooves EVERY real Christian to fight against the unBiblical, heretical doctrines found in the Creeds of apostate Christianity as I have mentioned above.
<< Jude told us in verse 3, "Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints." This verse is near the top of our main page, and is the source for the name of our ministry. >>
Unfortunately, in your zeal you have managed to confuse "contend" with "contentiousness," which the Bible flatly prohibits, as Paul attested to the Corinthians.
<< So, in short, the Bible tells us of the nature of God. >>
Yes, it does. It is a shame that modern Christianity has rejected the teachings on the nature of God that the Bible teaches, choosing instead to replace them with the damnable heresies of the Trinitarian dogma.
<< The Bible tells us the gospel. >>
As it was written, yes, it did. Since we have none of the autographs of the Bible now, however, we have no idea if the teachings that survived are those that fell from the pens of the original authors. Nowhere does the Bible claim to be complete, or inerrant. What we DO have is a mountain of evidence that points to the FACT that those who copied the Bible through the ages after the apostles were killed, in fact ALTERED the text of the Bible to suit their own personal beliefs... this practice is widely acknowledged by non-LDS Biblical scholars as the practice of "harmonization," and even THEY acknowledge that it is impossible to know the true extent of that damage that was done in this practice.
<< The Bible tells us there will be false prophets and false teachers that try to subvert the true gospel, and will introduce new gospels. >>
Which also infers that there will be TRUE prophets. :) And their warnings are very valid, especially when one considers the "other gospel" introduced by no less than Martin Luther himself, of which he publicly repented of before his death.
<< The Bible tells us to contend for the faith with such people. >>
No, it doesn't. It taught the leaders of the Church in the Meridian of Time to safeguard their flocks against the teachings of a few WITHIN their church. Modern fundamentalist hate-mongers like yourselves have completely twisted this rationalization beyond belief in order to give some credibility to your thinly-veiled ministry of hatred and religious intolerance.
<< Joseph Smith was a false prophet who introduced a false gospel and subverted the teachings of the true gospel. >>
Then you should have NO problem showing me where, exactly, Joseph Smith taught doctrines that contradicted those taught in the Bible. Please be thorough and document all work from primary sources.
<< He introduced new and destructive heresies. >>
<< Well, polytheism isn't exactly new, but he repackaged it. >>
Apparently you are as ignorant of Christian terms as you are of the Christian faith as taught by Christ, Paul and the early apostles. Polytheism is the belief in, and WORSHIP OF, multiple dieties. I think the term you're groping for is "henotheism," which is the worship of one God, but the acknowledgement that there are others who have become partakers of the divine nature.
<< We get our authority from the Bible -- God's Word. >>
Where specifically do we find that authority being given to you, specifically, by name? Since you obviously claim the Bible as the ONLY source of spiritual truth, if your name, and a specific granting of authority to YOU, as an individual, is not found therein, then your claim is false. I'll be eagerly awaiting the chapter and verse where that is found.
<< Thanks to God's help, we have seen many people abandoning heresy and false gospels and coming to the true Jesus as presented in His gospel.>>
And we see over 300,000 of your numbers finding Jesus Christ each year, and entering into the waters of baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I doubt you really want to play the numbers game.
<< Personally, I don't really care who gave you or FAIR or FARMS the authority to speak on behalf of a false prophet, but I asked those questions to point out the hypocrisy and double-standard built in to your question. >>
Actually there is only "hypocrisy" and "double-standard" if we in any way inferred that we spoke for our faith. I never make that claim, and neither does FAIR, as I proved to you irrefutably. Why then are you lying and bearing false witness? Do you really think that lying is something Jesus Would Do?
<< I hope we have answered it to your satisfaction. >>
Actually, you have completely avoided the question altogether, which is understandable, because you cannot answer it. Nowhere have you shown where the Bible authorizes you to be contentious, to trash the sacred beliefs of others, and to harass and persecute those you disagree with. Nowhere does the Bible teach anyone to establish "ministries" to attack others' faiths, write books specifically aimed at destroying the faith of different sects, to picket their houses of worship, to attempt to embarrass them in public by desecrating what they hold to be sacred, etc. etc. Nowhere. In fact, Jesus Christ... the REAL Jesus Christ of the Bible, and not the apostate "christ" of the "homoousion" Nicean Creed, taught that such was against Him and His teachings. When his disciples wanted to condemn and reprove those who were casting devils in Jesus' name, but who "followed not us," He forbade them, and told them that "whosover is not against us, is for us."
Mormons are not against Christ. To suggest such is flatly dishonest, deceptive, and quite frankly, Satanic. One can only pray that someday you really come to find out who Jesus Christ really is... the Biblical Jesus, of whom you seem to be so unacquainted. We'll know when you finally find Him, because you will abandon your "ministry of hate" and will dedicate yourselves to preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ instead.
<< In Christ, >>
Speaking of hypocrisy...
D. L. Barksdale
Founder, former Chairman and President,
Foundation of Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR)
CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:
Hi Mr. Barksdale. As it’s easy for people to claim to be someone they’re not via email, I sought and received independent confirmation of your identity. Mr. Scott Gordon of FAIR and James White’s Alpha and Omega Ministries have provided that confirmation. You tended to jump around in your last response, but I’ll try to maintain some continuity in this reply.
First, let me address some rather scurrilous charges you made. You accused us of “hatred”, “religious bigotry”, “hate speech”, “heresy”, “hate-mongering”, “lying”, and “persecution” of Mormons. You also accuse us of being “Satanic.” Judging from your debates with Mr. White, such ad hominem attacks are a trademark of your brash style of communication, and they do nothing with regards to dealing with truth or error. Such behavior is unbecoming, and quite revealing. I am confident of our mission, so your name-calling doesn’t bother me. What DOES bother me is your use of the word “persecution.” It seems that in your view, exposing the false gospel of Mormonism via a website, books, speeches, or distributing tracts constitutes persecution. Mr. Barksdale, Christians around the world face real persecution for their faith. They are beaten, intimidated, threatened, imprisoned, and even killed for their faith. Even LDS missionaries abroad face similar persecution. While I believe LDS missionaries are misled, and unwittingly misleading others, I will still decry their persecution. The way you define persecution minimizes what these people face. You are not being persecuted simply because you read things you do not like. You are not being persecuted simply because Christians hand out tracts near the temple. In case you are not aware, this is the United States, and these Christians are exercising the first amendment rights to exercise their religious beliefs by attempting to reach decent Mormons with the truth. Nobody is hampering your ability to practice your faith, even if it is built upon the deception of a false prophet. Stop belittling the sacrifice of Christians around the world because you read something you don’t like and you don’t have thick enough skin to deal with it constructively. You go tell Christians in China, who have to meet secretly or face imprisonment that you’re being persecuted. Tell Christians living under Islamic law who have to fear for their lives that you are being persecuted. You tell the families of missionaries who have been kidnapped and killed for evangelizing that you are being persecuted.
As far as your accusations of us “hating” Mormons, you are way off base. I grew up in a predominantly Mormon area of Southern Idaho. I have had close friendships and relationships with Mormon people. My wife and I have this ministry because we love Mormons, and want to see them delivered from the deception of Joseph Smith. Because we believe condemnation awaits those who die in their deception, we do everything we can to shine the light on their faith, and direct them to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. What you probably consider a “live and let live” policy, we look at as a “live and let die” policy. That is NOT loving. If we did hate Mormons, we wouldn’t have a care in the world about their eternal destination, and wouldn’t have this ministry. That would be so easy to do if we really did have hatred as you suggest. We could save a lot of time and money, and be able to have more hobbies. But because of the Spirit within us, we can’t hate Mormons or anybody else. And because of that, we have to show them true love by trying to reach out to them and bring them into the eternal assurance that Christ Jesus purchased for them with His blood.
You allege a total apostasy of Christianity, which I’m afraid is not borne out historically. It is true that Roman Catholicism exercised wide control over Christendom for quite some time, and introduced a number of destructive heresies. However, there were those who did not buy into the heretical doctrines. Martin Luther spoke out about those heresies, and sparked a reformation. The doctrines we hold true and dear are not based on papal decrees. They are not based on the writings of Luther, Calvin, Percot, Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Athanasius, or Clement. The doctrines we hold dear are based solely on the writings of the prophets and apostles as contained in the canon of the Old and New Testament. It is true that we do not have the autographs. But scholars smarter than you or me have been able to analyze all the extant manuscript evidence, including the biblical quotes contained in the writings of many of the ante-Nicene figures as well as the biblical texts, and can reliably conclude what was contained in the original manuscripts. The dates of copies and their widespread translation in the early years made it a virtual impossibility to corrupt the Scriptures, as such corruptions would be restricted to only a few, and would be revealed in comparison to other early copies and translations. I encourage you to read The Text of the New Testament, by Bruce Metzger, for a good history lesson in this regard. It would help for you to brush up on New Testament Greek before reading this book, but it’s still educational even if you lack a knowledge of Greek. With that said, there is a myriad of evidence that supports the Bibles on my shelf as accurate renditions of the writings of the original authors. The amount of textual variants are minute, and don’t affect key doctrines. The KJV has some minor errors given the manuscript basis available at that time for translation, but it is still a decent translation. Also, you claimed that the Epistles were written prior to the writing of the gospels. For one thing, most scholars currently place an early date on the writing of most of the gospels (early AD 50’s to early AD 60’s, with some opinions to a late 40’s writing). This is concurrent to slightly before the writing of most of the Epistles, so you are in error on that point. Aside from that, your argument is irrelevant. Paul refers to the gospel they had “preached” (past tense, verbal communication). It wouldn’t matter if the gospels were actually written down later. It is clear that the gospels were written and distributed during Paul’s ministry, at the latest. If they were in error, I’m sure there would have been mention of that. Paul mentioned him taking Peter to task, so if the gospel authors were in error, I have no doubt he would have said so.
With that said, you referred to the doctrine of the Trinity as a heretical doctrine. I’m sure to many Mormons it seems that way, just as it seems that way to the Muslims, and to the Arians of old. Many LDS leaders and apologists are adept at picking a verse from here or there, totally ignoring its context. Since the word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible, and since no single verse is totally clear on the Trinity, then you believe it to be a heresy. This is where I encourage you to practice reading the Bible in its entirety. When the Bible is taken as a whole, there is no logical alternative than the existence of One Triune God, eternally existent in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I have clearly defended the Trinity elsewhere on our website, and see no need to reproduce that for you, but if you want a full explanation, I can certainly email you the links to those explanations. Even the Book of Mormon speaks of Jesus being the same as the Father, and other verses lead toward a Trinitarian conclusion (2 Nephi 19:6, 31:21, Mosiah 15:1-5, Alma 11:38-44, 3 Nephi 11:27-36, Ether 3:14). Even the conclusion to the Testimony of the Three Witnesses is Trinitarian. While I don’t consider the Book of Mormon to be Scripture, I do admit that some of these verses are incredibly and clearly Trinitarian! 2 Nephi 31:21 for example, “And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.” If you dismiss the doctrine of the Trinity as heresy, then you must condemn the Book of Mormon of heresy as well. If you don’t, then your position lacks intellectual honesty.
But many LDS apologists and leaders must resort to plucking verses out of context. As such a method does not reveal clear, concise teachings of the Trinity in the Bible, you reject it off-hand. Context is very important, whether it is in the context of the Bible as a whole, or simply including the surrounding verses. For instance, you plucked 1 Corinthians 11:16 completely out of context to support your view that being “contentious” is condemned. If you include that verse in context, it wraps up a section on “propriety in worship”, wherein it states that a man’s hair should remain short, but a woman’s hair should remain long as a covering. In verse 16, the NIV and NASB provide a better translation, relying on a majority of older manuscripts: “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice--nor do the churches of God.” So what does verse 16 mean in context? It means that if anyone wishes to argue about the length of hair appropriate for a man or a woman, they should realize that there is no other accepted custom within the church. Yet you take verse 16 OUT of context to support your view that we are condemned for being “contentious.” There are verses in the Bible (AND in the Book of Mormon) that instruct people to contend for the faith, or for true doctrine. That is what Jesus did with the Pharisees. That is what Paul did, even to the point of calling the Galatians “foolish” (Galatians 3:1). That is what we are doing. That is what FAIR feels it is doing. And that is what you obviously feel you are doing. Condemn one, condemn us all. If we edited the New Testament to remove all things contentious by your definition, it would be a shell of what it currently contains. We do not engage in hate. If you wish to accuse us of hatred, then point out specific examples. Support your position with facts. You specifically state that we claim to speak for all of Christianity. That is patently false. Nowhere do we make such a claim. You do not support your integrity with lies and spurious claims. I never said FAIR claims to speak with the imprimatur of the LDS Church. I asked that question because FAIR has the same type of ministry that we do. I must say, your reputation for misrepresenting people’s statements precedes you, as I read your exchanges on James White’s website where you did the same thing. Yet it is not honest. You accuse us of lying. If you are going to make scurrilous accusations, then point out specifically where we lied, and prove that it is a lie. In other words, show us the quote from our website, show that it is provably false, and show that we knew it to be false. That is the burden of proof for showing a lie. I submit to you, Mr. Barksdale, that you will find NO lies on our website.
You challenged me to present an argument that Mormons worship a “different Jesus.” I addressed this fully in my response to chapters 1 and 2 of Mormonism 201, a “FAIR” response to Mormonism 101 (http://www.contenderministries.org/mormonism/fairldsresponse.php). You also maintain that you’ll only accept quotes from the four standard works of the LDS Church. I maintain this to be an intellectually dishonest approach, and I’ll tell you why. In Mormonism, as opposed to Christianity, there exists a strong hierarchy of leadership. This hierarchy maintains tight control over LDS doctrine. There is no variance of doctrinal beliefs from ward to ward, as there exists within Christianity. That being so, the quotes of your “prophets” and “apostles” should reliably reflect official LDS doctrine, whether they be in the four standard works or not. The sermons of Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses should be a reliable account of Mormon beliefs if, as you believe, Brigham Young was an anointed prophet of God. The published works of Elder McConkie, an Apostle of the LDS Church, that have been distributed in official LDS bookstores, should be an acceptable reference for LDS beliefs. After all, I’m sure the LDS Church would not distribute the works of one of their apostles if anything within the works were not true or fair. If you truly believe in continual modern revelation, then you can’t legitimately restrict references to the Bible, Book of Mormon, D&C, and PoGP. Yet many LDS apologists raise the same objections. “Don’t quote from those,” they cry. If you’re embarrassed about the statements of your prophets and apostles, perhaps you should consider if they have true authority to be God’s spokesmen on earth.
If you claim the LDS Church holds to henotheism as opposed to polytheism, then you are either a misinformed/misled apologist, or a deceptive one. You believe the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to be three separate and distinct Gods, do you not? If you hold to LDS doctrine you do. They are three distinctly separate Gods, according to Mormonism, united only in purpose (in contradiction to clear verses in the Book of Mormon). Yet at least two of these are worshipped by Mormons. I’ve spoken with many Mormons who say they worship Jesus AND they worship the Father. 3 Nephi 11:17 and 4 Nephi 1:37 state that Jesus must be worshipped in addition to the Father. Mormons worship both Jesus and the Father. Mormons believe them to be two separate Gods. Therefore, Mormonism is polytheistic.
You also claim doctrines such as ex-nihilo creation, original sin, sola fide and sola scriptura to be heretical and unbiblical doctrines, along with the doctrine of the Trinity. We can explore each of these later, if you wish, and I can prove your position wrong through the Bible and ante-Nicene history.
You allege I “added” to the Word of God by suggesting that the heresy in some of the first century churches was introduced through “revelation.” You deceptively suggest that I claim that to be the truth. You conveniently neglect that my words were, “through ‘revelation’, perhaps?”. It is obviously written as questioning a possibility, not concluding its truth. You claim that we are hateful and contentious. That is your right. I think those who read this exchange will be able to decide for themselves if your accusation is correct.
Finally, Mr. Barksdale, while I do believe you have been deceived by Satan, I will not accuse you of being Satanic. I sincerely hope and pray that you will join so many of your brethren who are waking up every day to the truth. You seem to have a lot of anger in your heart, but I assure you that the love of Jesus Christ can assuage that anger if you’ll invite Him into your heart.
Ben and Jennifer Rast