*DISCLAIMER* This podcast goes into some of the more in depth questions that can be challenging for church members to grapple with.*

I am a huge fan of Jasmine's. Her knowledge and testimony of the gospel is incredible. I have seen several of her videos and knew that I wanted her to join the podcast and give answers to some of the tough questions that can challenge a persons testimony, and ultimately refine it to be more mature.

Questions in regards to the history of the church can ultimately lead to strength and more assurance of our testimony if we can turn to the Lord.


Ashly Stone


Jasmine I am your number one fan, I, you know, hope to be anyway, I just think you're so awesome. And your videos have strengthened my testimony so much. And so I am so excited to have you on my podcast, it is such an honor, so.



I’m excited to be here. This is such a cool concept for a podcast. Very, very well needed.

Ashly Stone


Yes, yes, for sure. So, I kind of just so we got a lot of questions from listeners on my podcast, and from the Instagram page asking, you know, questions in the church. And kind of my purpose for doing this is that I think kind of what I've, I've realized from, you know, starting the podcast is that a lot of people, their faith crisis kind of stems from unanswered questions, and maybe turning to the wrong sources for answers. And one thing that I've really seen a parallel of in these stories is that, you know, a lot of times spiritual answers, they're, they're very unique and individualized. But I, I just hearing the way that you've answered questions on, you know, on the Scripture Plus app, and it's just so powerful. And so, I just really wanted you to be on this podcast and be able to answer some of these questions from people because you do it so eloquently. Just, you're amazing. So anyway, let's…



I try. Usually when I do videos on Tik Tok, or Instagram, like, I'm like writing them out and rehearsing them. And so, this is going to be a little bit more informal, but we'll do the best we can to answer some questions.



Awesome. Awesome. Well, I'd love to start with you're just kind of your story. I am, I love to hear just how you got to where you're at today. And you know, all of that.



Right? Well, my name is Jasmine Rapley, I work for Book of Mormon Central, that's my full-time job. And I run the social media accounts for what's called the Scripture Plus app. And so, I make a lot of videos on Tik Tok, and Instagram, and Facebook and Twitter and things, just like answering tough questions, but also like highlighting content that we have in our Scripture Plus app. But there's a lot of questions that people have about the scriptures. So, I spend a lot of time doing that. But as far as my story, and where I come from how I got here, um, it really kind of goes back to my teenage years, I had just lots of questions. But that wasn't something that was necessarily innate in me. I had parents that were really good at encouraging and almost forcing me to have questions like they really were so good at nurturing curiosity in the gospel. I am when I was a teenager, I grew up on the East Coast, there weren't a lot of members of the church. So it didn't give me a lot of opportunities to talk to my friends and other people of different faiths, but also maybe, maybe people who didn't have a faith, and have those dialogue and discussions about what I believe and why it's so different from what you believe, and, and things like that. And so that prompted some questions that I have. But because there were a lot of members of the church, there also wasn't like a super great seminary program. And so my mom, like really wanted us to have a solid seminary experience. And I grew up in the church, my parents are both wonderful, faithful members. And so my mom decided that she wanted to do home study with us, she really wanted to be very hands on in our scripture, education. And obviously, there were moments where there was a lot of pulling of teeth, and gnashing of teeth and tears and all that. But I really am ultimately, so grateful for that experience. Because one of the biggest things was every time you sit down to do your scripture study, you have to come up with two questions, write them down in your scripture journal, come up with two questions. And then on Sunday, we would sit down, me and my sister, and we would just go through all of our questions, and we would have a long discussion. My mom would try to answer them the best that she could sometimes she didn't know the answers, but most of the time, it made for a really interesting discussion. And those discussions would last a really long time. It'd be like four hours sessions on Sunday. And my parents, like, my mother probably would have loved to have taken a nap on Sunday or something. But instead, she thought it was so important to, like, walk me through the questions that I had. And that was such an influential experience for me that like it forced me to practice having questions. And I didn't realize that, you know, curiosity and questions isn't necessarily something that's innate. Sometimes it's something that you can learn. And it's something that can give you a lot of joy. And so eventually, it got to the point where I realized that like, oh, my mom can't answer my questions for me forever. I've got to figure out how to do this on my own. And so, I would do take more initiative to like, study it out and try to find my own answers. And that's kind of how I matured and grew up in that way. But like I mentioned earlier, I also had a lot of discussions with friends of different faiths. And I had one particular friend who was Catholic and we would have heated disagreements all the time about what one person believed or what the Bible said, you know, the Bible says this, and that supports what I believe, well, the Bible says this, and that supports what I believe and, and, you know, sharing back and forth things that may discredit or discount each other's faith. And it wasn't always, you know, looking back, it probably wasn't very sophisticated Bible bashing, but it really it definitely had an impact on me. And there were, you know, moments where this friend would share, you know, anti-Mormon stuff, or things that they had found or I would do Google searches and find things that I knew, like were anti Mormon, but I was really curious to know like, well, is this true? I'm hearing this. And so that kind of just led me a little bit on a very young faith journey. And, you know, definitely caused me to have some questions. And sometimes there were moments where I definitely had doubt and fear and kind of panic about what does this mean for my faith? And can't is this really real? Is the church true? But ultimately, like, the biggest thing that got me out of kind of that funk was having a great support system, my parents were just ceaseless. And being there wanting to answer questions, wanting to have conversations, keeping the lines of communication constantly open when I needed them the most. But also just, you know, taking time to be with the Spirit, taking time to try to connect with God, when I was feeling a little distant from it. And I remember one particular Sunday, we were just sitting in church, and I don't remember what the talks were, or whatever. But one of the intermediate hymns was, Where Can I Turn for Peace? And I remember just being completely blown away with just feeling the spirit. And that was the morning I was feeling particularly low. Like, I don't know what I feel about this. I don't know if I can even say that, like the church is true. What does that even mean? And all of a sudden, when I you know, it was just singing those lyrics are its talks about turning to the Savior for peace, and that he is the source of peace, I really felt that I really felt the Savior's love in that moment. And that doesn't mean my questions were necessarily answered all at once. But that's not necessarily what my 16-year-old self-needed, I needed to feel my Savior's love, I needed to know that God was there more than I needed to know the specific answers to specific questions. And that's really what supported me through, you know, the next little while as I'm working through things, and now I look back and the questions I was struggling with sound silly to me. But they were really important to me at that time. And they were really valid. And so, I'm so grateful that, you know, they're important to God, even the little questions. And so, when I have questions now, when I deal with things that I'm still not certain about, or, oh, I better research that more, I still don't know how that fits into the whole picture. I kind of reflect on those moments where I know that God is there, he loves me, even though my questions might sound silly to him. He cares about those questions. And I also rely on the fact that I still have a good support group, I have great family members who still would be so willing to talk about issues that I might be concerned with. And I have coworkers and I have friends who know a lot more than me about church history and the gospel that I can turn to when I have questions. And so those are kind of my two big takeaways: know that God loves you and, you know, go to your support system or people, you know, rely on people who have a strong testimony when you're going through those times. But anyway, so that was just kind of my teen years. But eventually, I graduated high school, I went to BYU, I studied ancient Near Eastern Studies, because after having all those questions about the scriptures and the church, I just couldn't get enough of it. I absolutely loved the idea of studying the ancient world and studying the scriptures. So it really was a lot of Biblical Studies. I did like Greek New Testament and Hebrew Bible Old Testament stuff. And I absolutely loved it was wonderful. And towards the end of graduation, well, towards the end of my time at BYU, I also started taking a lot of programming classes, and getting into computer science and things like that. And towards the end of my time at BYU, I connected with John W. Welch, who is a BYU law professor or he was, he retired recently. And he's also a Book of Mormon scholar. And so we connected and he told me how he was starting up a new organization that he was going to call Book of Mormon Central. And he wanted to provide to make this nonprofit and provide a place to publish really interesting research on the Book of Mormon and make it more accessible for a 21st century internet audience. And that they were looking for a web developer with a background in ancient biblical stuff. So it was a perfect fit. And that's how I got connected with book Mormon Central. That was several years ago. We've now been going for seven years. This is our Yeah, this is our seventh year as our nonprofit, and so that's kind of my story. I've been there ever since. And I started out working as a web developer but we're a small nonprofit, we all wear lots of hats. And we've transitioned a lot of roles over the years. So I started, um,



one of the main goals, when we started Book of Mormon Central was to take a lot of this great research that people have done on the scriptures, and try to distill it in a more accessible way. Because if you're in the know, if you are a BYU professor, or if you are just a scriptorium, or a church history buff, or whatever you're going to know where to go to turn to when you have questions. But most people don't know where to turn necessarily. And they're all in books, they're in articles, they're in harder to find places. And so, the vision was to take a lot of this research and make it more accessible through an online database and put all scan all these old books and articles put them up online. So you can search for things more easily. But also, to create a more selected, curated, easy to read version on your mobile device as an app, which we called the Scripture Plus app. And that's basically we kind of sometimes we describe it as it's like the gospel Library app, because you can read your scriptures. And as you're scrolling through the Scriptures, the cool thing is that it like pops up a bunch of commentary and images and videos. So, we have like a lot of supplemental stuff that's just popping right up on your phone at your fingertips as you're scrolling through your scriptures. And so, once we started launching that project, I really transitioned to working a lot on that the UX design and curating a lot of the content, helping to get the content in there, find content, gather it, and review it, get it approved all of that. And so that's kind of what I've been doing since 2019, when we launched our scripture plus app. And then I've also been involved with doing the social media for scripture plus, and that's been a huge, fun adventure, because it's required a lot more. Well, it's a lot more content creation. So, it's, you know, helping me go back and study out questions, research some things, write some scripts, because we the purpose of our social media accounts is to promote our app, and to help people know that you can download it, and there are a lot of resources there. And we do that by sharing content that's in our Scripture Plus app that may answer some questions you have. And we discovered, especially once we got on Tik Tok, that people have a ton of questions. And there's a lot of criticisms out there on the church, but just a lot of sincere questioners who want to know some of these harder things that you may not hear about in Sunday school, or that may not be covered in the Come follow me manual. And so, you know, we want to highlight where you can find some of those answers to your questions in the Scripture Plus app and, you know, in short, very, you know, pithy videos on Instagram, or Tiktok, or things like that. So that's basically the summary of where I've come from what I'm doing now and why I do it. I love the scriptures, and I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ashly Rose


Love that so much. And I love the Scripture Plus app, it is so awesome. So, anybody listening to this, I highly encourage you to download. It's amazing. Well, why don't we just go ahead and jump in? We have some hard questions, and there is nobody better suited to answer these than you.



I don’t know about that but we are going to do the best we can.

Ashly Rose


Okay, so the first question that I have at the top of my list is women in the priesthood. This is one that a lot of women in the church struggle with. I'm very curious, you're a very, you know, I'm very curious to know what your take is on this?



Well, certainly my take is definitely not the end all be all. And there's still a lot that we're learning as a church. I feel like there's been definitely a shift in some of the rhetoric we've seen in general conference around women in the priesthood. Like 50 years ago, you had a lot more rhetoric and talk about very specific gender roles. Women, or men have the priesthood, women have motherhood. But there's been a little bit of a shift. Gene Bingham has been a big proponent of this. President Nelson. In like the last 15 to 20 years, there's been a lot more talk about how women have the priesthood, how women use the priesthood, how women like wields the priesthood, in their lives. And so, I think we're also still learning about, and we're receiving revelation line upon line about where we all fit into the plan of salvation. But I personally do find the gospel of Jesus Christ, one of the most empowering institutions on Earth for women, and especially the temple. My testimony of like women in the gospel really is centered on the way the temple glorifies and ennobles women to be priestesses and goddesses. It's, I mean, there's nothing more powerful than that, that glorious promise of being a priestess or a goddess in God's kingdom alongside the brothers in God's kingdom is one of equality is one of just beauty and ennobling and I absolutely love it. But that doesn't mean that there aren't things that kind of that can be difficult to grapple with, or that may rub us wrong sometimes. And personally, I really enjoy some of the thoughts of Valerie Cassler Cutwei, Valerie Hudson Cassler is her name, I'm so sorry, I messed that up. But Valerie Hudson Cassler has done some work. She's presented at the fair conference, she's published in the SquareTwo Journal and on Public Square Magazine, where she is a devout orthodox believer in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but she also sees herself as a feminist and so she kind of lays out her paradigm of how she sees women being equal to men in God's kingdom. And I don't agree with her necessarily on everything. But I do think she has a helpful paradigm that she calls the two trees where she goes through and retells the story of the Garden of Eden, and what we can learn about Eve's role in that, in that story, versus Adam's role in that story, and what that can tell us about our divine roles and God's kingdom. And she kind of comes away with the idea that Eve was the one who partook of the tree of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. And because of that, she allowed life to enter the world. And so that kind of is her stewardship she is the life giver, the life bringer. Eve's name, in Hebrews Chava, which means living or life for living things. And which then leaves the second tree in the garden, the tree of life, which we aren't really allowed to access at the point where we encounter this story in Genesis or in the temple. But we understand that this is a tree of immortality, and that it's guarded. And so, she kind of posits that, well, if Eve kind of has stewardship over bringing life into the world, maybe Adam has stewardship over this second tree of escorting people back into the presence of God. And so, the ordinances of the priesthood, really focus on leading us back into Heavenly Father's presence. It's that covenant path to lead us back after death, into God's presence again. And so, if men kind of have stewardship over that, then it's their job to do everything they can through the offices of the priesthood, to lead people towards Heavenly Father's presence and to the tree of life. And it is the sacred stewardship of women to participate in those rites and ordinances that bring life into this world. And Jeffrey R. Holland has talked about how you know, the ordinances of childbirth and intimacy really are sacred rites, when they're done in the new and everlasting covenant. And I'm not a mother yet, I don't know if that's going to be in the cards for me, but I absolutely resonate with that idea of being a life giver. And that being a sacred priesthood role for me. Whereas the men in my life, being the ones who have stewardship over they don't only get to participate in women get to participate, too, but they are the ones who have stewardship in officiating those ordinances that lead to death. And the women officiate in some of those rites and sacred privileges of bringing life into the world. So that's just what's resonated with me, it may not resonate with everyone. And like I said, we're still learning, we're still discovering things receiving revelation, but I love the gospel. And I love my role as a woman in this gospel. And I always have felt that I've been very empowered and ennobled through the ordinances of the temple.

Ashly Stone


That is so beautiful. And I mentioned this earlier, but I wasn't recording yet that Jasmine, your video about the initiatory in the temple is so beautiful. So, anybody listening, definitely check that out, it changed my entire the way that I see the initiatory. So, I'm so grateful you made that. Um, okay, so I've got a lot of questions about the Book of Abraham. And I actually don't really know what I mean, I'm assuming that you know what these questions are about? I actually don't really know. But this is a question that was asked by a lot of people and translating Joseph Smith and translating the Book of Abraham, what are your thoughts on that?



So, this is a huge topic. And we could spend an eternity of podcast episodes just going into this because it's very complicated. And so, I'll just give my best shot, but I really do recommend people do their own study on this. There are some great resources out there that I'll recommend. But from what I understand, the basic premise is that the Book of Abraham is kind of derived from papyri that Joseph Smith received in 1835. In 1835, Michael Chandler was an antiquities dealer, he came to Kirtland he had two mummies, as well as some papyri, some rolls of papyri. And Joseph Smith purchased them because he believed that they contained the writings of Abraham. So, they purchased the mummies. I actually don't remember what happened to the mummies, but they kept the papyri and Joseph Smith translated it between 1835 and 1842. And eventually he publishes the Book of Abraham in 1842. In the newspaper The Times and Seasons, as the Book of Abraham. It is four chapters long, with three fac similes that are only book of Scripture with pictures. But the questions people have tended to circle around the translation of the Book of Abraham. Because with the Book of Mormon, which is the keystone of our religion, we don't need to, you know, the Book of Abraham is not the keystone of our religion. So, while we do have a lot of questions about that, I really feel like we have to focus on the Book of Mormon. But the difference between the Book of Mormon a Book of Abraham is with the Book of Abraham, we do have a source text that we can look at, in a sense, whereas the book of Abe, or the Book of Mormon, we don't have the gold plates anymore. So, we can't check Joseph Smith's work, we can't see what's actually on the plates and kind of try to translate it for ourselves. We take that on faith that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. And so, we have a lot less clarity on how Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham. We have a lot of documentation on the Book of Mormon translation. We have eyewitness accounts talking about him using the urim and Thummim, using his own personal seer stone, looking into a hat, reciting it, having his scribes like Oliver Cowdery, or sometimes Emma, write things down. And if they got it wrong, he would correct them sometimes, and there was a very, very precise process. Whereas we don't have that kind of detailed documentation about the Book of Abraham. But we do have some papyri, we don't have all of the papyri, we know that most of it was likely burned in the great Chicago Fire of 1871, but a few small scraps, and we know that it's probably not all of the papyri, because we do have some eyewitness statements about how much papyri there was, and it's a lot more than what we actually have in the church's possession. But in 1967, the Metropolitan Museum of Art discovered these papyri fragments, and they're like, oh, these belong to the Mormons. So they gave them to the church, and they authenticated them, and they looked through them. And the big surprise was on these pieces of papyri, you have excerpts from The Egyptian Book of the Dead, or The Book of Breathing, and you have some of these other Egyptian texts that don't necessarily translate to what is in the Book of Abraham. And so, the question is, well, what's the relationship between the papyri and the Book of Abraham? Did Joseph Smith just make it all up? That might be a more critical perspective. Or are there more papyri that we don't have that contains the Book of Abraham, and we just have these excerpts, and they maybe don't contain it? That's a possibility, and a lot of faithful scholars do take that position. Some others say, well, maybe the Book of Abraham, contain, or the papyri contained these texts, and it inspired Joseph or was a catalyst for Joseph to receive revelation from God, on Abraham and these stories. And other faithful scholars take that position. And so, a lot of questions around the Book of Abraham surround to Joseph Smith make it up? And is he a fraud? Or is he a prophet of God? Did he really receive revelation? Or did he really receive a translation of an ancient text, and I fall in the camp of I do believe the Book of Abraham is ancient, I believe that Joseph Smith was restoring authentically ancient things now, exactly what that means, can be very complicated to but I think that he is restoring ancient scripture. He's restoring authentically ancient traditions about Abraham. And I believe that because of my own testimony, but also there are a lot of great parallels we see to ancient Egyptian practices, ancient Israelite practices that weren't known in Joseph Smith’s day. But people have questions about how that translation happened and if Joseph Smith was making things up. And so, the resources I would recommend for people who have these questions because I'm not an Egyptologist, I'm really not an expert on the Book of Abraham. But I love the Book of Abraham, because it's Ancient Egypt, which is super cool. And it's got pictures, which is super cool. Like, it's all the things that nerdy me, absolutely adores. But I'm also not an expert, but I know, have a lot of friends that are. And so, if you're really interested or struggling with the Book of Abraham, um, one great place to start is the church's gospel topics essays on the Book of Abraham. They have kind of very short introductions on it. The Book of Mormon central also did a series of videos on the Book of Abraham that go through some of these ancient evidences. We talk about some cool correlations between the fac similes and things in ancient Egypt that actually kind of pair well with what Joseph Smith translated, even if, you know, one Egyptologist might translate a fac simile one way, but another Egyptologist is going to come at it from a different perspective and translate it differently. And they're both valid translations. And so, we go through some of that. We go through some of the ancient parallels in the text of the Book of Abraham itself, some cool like Egyptian grammar stuff that you wouldn't expect. But also, there's a BYU professor who's also an Egyptologist named John Gee, he wrote a book called An Introduction to the Joseph Smith Papyri. And I feel like that's a great primer for just kind of getting you familiar with these concepts, getting you to know what who the big players are, what the big issues are, and how you can approach this from a faithful perspective, that we don't have to concede our testimony to understand some of these tough issues. And we can really be enriched by it. I feel like my testimony has grown leaps and bounds, the more I study the Book of Abraham. And there are a lot of people on the internet, in more critical spaces, who feel very confident about the Book of Abraham being false because Egyptologists have proven it wrong. Or we know Joseph Smith made it up because the Kirtland Egyptian papers, or we know that he thought he was translating Egyptian, when he was getting it totally wrong. They have a lot of confidence in these claims. But if I've learned anything, it's that the more you get into the primary documents, like go to josephsmithpapers.org, go to those actual the papyri, analyze the characters for yourself. When you get into the literature and read what all the scholars have said on it. It's pretty complicated. There's not necessarily clear-cut answers on all of this. And so, to assume a sense of competence about it's for sure disproved or it for sure is proved. Either way, we're going to fall into some pitfalls in our understanding. Whereas if we really want to understand what's going on, it should probably entail being humble, realizing we probably don't know the whole story, and doing our best to just go on this exploration to go on this quest to find to find out some new information and to deepen our testimony of the gospel through study and by faith.

Ashly Stone


I love that answer. That's so beautiful. Okay, moving on, polygamy. This is one that you know, forever, we will always have questions about this one. Yeah, I went to a conference for work in Alabama. And, or sorry, I was in Tennessee, and I was talking to somebody from Alabama. And he says, where are you from? You know what? I'm like Utah. And he's like, oh, are you Mormon? And I was like, I mean, yeah, it's member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And he says, oh, so are you polygamist? And I'm like, really? It's 2022, bro. Like, seriously? So, this is a question that, you know, a lot of people struggle with in our in our church, and I'm curious to know your take on it.



Yeah, well, I don't know that I again, I don't know if I have the greatest take, and people probably come to different conclusions. I mean, I believe that Joseph Smith received a revelation in D&C 132 that outlined the principle of plural marriage. Does that mean I understand everything about it all the whys all the mechanics of how this evens out in the calculus of fairness in Heaven? I don't know, I still do have questions about some of these historical issues with polygamy sometimes. But I've also come to really just trust in my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. And the more I've studied, the more I realize it is more complicated than it sounds. And it's definitely more nuanced than many critics on the internet make it sound. The narrative you may hear very frequently is a very simplistic, Joseph Smith was a pedophile, he was just a con man trying to get extra sex or whatever. And those claims really do not add up when you look at the history when you actually dive into the documents to what the scholars have written on this both in and out of the church, if they're being responsible about their scholarship, the picture is very complicated about what Joseph Smith was trying to do with how this may have fit into the theology. And I think that my testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet withstands a lot of that scrutiny. I highly recommend to anyone who's really struggling with polygamy, there's like you have to read Brian Hales books. He Brian Hales is has written on polygamy for at this point it's been a couple decades. But he has a three-volume series if you really want to get into the nitty gritty on Joseph Smith's polygamy and he goes through all of the historical documents. He goes through analyzing what we can make of these documents. He goes through the theology and how this might work and what Joseph Smith was being what was being revealed to him and how this fits in the whole plan of heaven. And it's as thorough as you're going to get, and it's as responsible as it's gonna get. He does a very fair job at looking at all the articles. But if you don't want to read three full volumes, that's understandable, he does have a single volume called Polygamy: Towards a Better Understanding. And that volume kind of tries to summarize the findings of all three of those volumes. So, if you are struggling at all with polygamy, I highly recommend, you've got to get into books. This is, I don't think polygamy is something that you can solve by watching a few videos online or by reading a few articles like, because it's such a delicate topic. And it's such a complicated one, it does require a little elbow grease, it requires diving into it a little bit more, so you understand what's going on. But I think it's pretty clear from the documentation that we know Joseph Smith practice polygamy, that's no secret. And we know he may have practiced it as early as 1836, though he didn't start really practicing it until the 1840s and Nauvoo. But his and we know he consummated some of these polygamous marriages, and that can feel kind of off putting and scary. And there are instances where he married or he was sealed to women who already had spouses. Or he was sealed to girls that today we would consider quite young. But once again, you've got to put it in historical perspective of the era it was. What he was actually doing? Was he sleeping with all of these women, that's pretty clear that he wasn't. He did consummate some of these marriages, but we also know that Joseph Smith, I mean, if we're being pretty blunt and honest, was fairly fertile, because he had multiple children with Emma. And he had multiple miscarriages deaths with Emma and he was a very, very busy man. And yet, he continued to reproduce with Emma. And so, we know he was fertile. And yet, we don't have a single documented case of a child being produced from one of these polygamous marriages. There was one child that kind of claimed she was Joseph Smith's daughter, but we recently a few years ago did DNA tests on it and it showed that it wasn't true, that she wasn't actually biologically related to him. So up to this point, we don't have any real biological children from Joseph Smith. Now, that doesn't mean that he didn't actually consummate some of these marriages. But it probably means that wasn't the point of polygamy. He wasn't seeking it out. He wasn't doing it a ton otherwise; we figure there probably would be more of a record of that historically. And so, if that wasn't his motivation, what might his motivation have been? And from everything I've read, I get the sense that it's because God told him to not because he wanted to. There's a lot of reluctance we sense from a lot of the documents from Joseph Smith. And a lot of the people that a lot of the women he proposed to a lot of the families that were in the know about polygamy there was consistent reaction over and over as absolute revulsion. Absolutely not, I will never do that, that's horrible. And then later receiving some sort of spiritual witness that this is hard, and we don't understand everything but God wants us to do this as an Abrahamic test or for some other purpose. And you've got women decades later, after Joseph Smith has died testifying of the principle of polygamy. And so, if we talk about the importance of believing women in our day and age, and how we want to give women a voice, I think we also need to make sure we're giving due credit to the voices of these polygamous women who felt like they had spiritual manifestations of this practice, and suffered the consequences severely getting kicked out of Nauvoo getting disenfranchised as citizens in Utah and trying to fight for their suffrage rights so that they could keep their polygamous marriages in the later 19th century. These women believed that this was a principle God wanted them to practice. And so I take that witness very seriously, as someone who believes that women deserve a voice.

Ashly Stone


Yeah, it's interesting because I, I had, you know, kind of a struggle with this and my dad who he's kind of a I a spiritual mentor to me, I guess you could say. And he said, you know, Ashly, you wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for polygamy. You know, your ancestors are polygamous and, and also reading the journals from my ancestor, my great, great, great grandmother, and her experience with polygamy and how and the witness she received, it was so impactful for me to read that and understand her experience and the witness she received. So, I love that I think that's such a good answer to that.



And I mean, we don't have a ton of, I wish we had more clear reasons why. How does this work? How does work in heaven? How does this work on earth, all of that stuff, but the reasons we've been given kind of amount to A), it's an Abrahamic test. D&C 132 kind of lays that out that, you know, you'll be tried even as Abraham. So, it was a test of faith and I think that faith really did strengthen people during some very difficult trials. But as you mentioned, another one is to raise up a righteous seed, that's another reason that's given. And we don't necessarily always know what that means or how God saw that playing out. But we do see that it proliferated a large, a larger population in the church. I'm a product of polygamy, you're a product of polygamy, and I'm very grateful for my ancestors and forebears who lived that very difficult principle so I could be here and learn about it.

Ashly Stone


Yep, Yep, absolutely. Um, okay, so another question, which, you know, I actually, I, I don't really understand what the question is here but I'm assuming that you do. Book of Mormon translated with Urim and thummim in a hat. That was one of the questions that we got. I, you know, I know that there's a lot of things that go around on the internet that are antagonistic to the church. And so, I'm assuming that you probably have an idea of what this person asking this question is referring to. And maybe you can elaborate.



Yeah, so this is referring to the process of the Book of Mormon translation. Joseph Smith, himself, describing the translation said that it was done by the gift and power of God. And it's a little vague what that means. But we also have eyewitnesses from a scribe like Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdrey, Emma Smith, talking about Joseph using an oracular device, a stone, to receive revelation from God. When Joseph Smith received the gold plates, he also received with it some other Nephite artifacts. He described, receiving a breastplate with urim and Thummim in them or well, that's what he called them. In the Book of Mormon, they're referred to as the Nephite interpreters. And there's, you know, Latter Day Saints have probably seen pictures of this breastplate with these two stones that are tied together with brass rings, or rims that are kind of like glasses, kind of kind of funky looking glasses. And in the Book of Mormon, they're referred to as interpreters. And they're used to translate records like the Jaredite records, or um, the stone that Omni discovers, or Mosiah translates using these interpreters. And then Joseph Smith inherits them. And the early Saints were referred to them as urim and thummim, probably because they remind them of the ancient high priest who would use a urim and Thummim. Now, we don't know if these functions in the same way as the biblical high priest, or what Joseph Smith had. But he had these stones, and they did seem to have, they seemed to facilitate his revelation that he could see, look through them and see Revelation. He was a he's a prophet, seer, and revelator, so that he could seer or see and receive revelation. But we also know that Joseph Smith, before he received the gold plates, did participate in some, like 19th century folk magic practices. And he had his own personal stone that was like a brown stone. And he would sometimes use that to seer and to receive things because he had some sort of spiritual gift where he could receive revelation. And so, there is some evidence, again, when you actually look into the documents, it's more complicated than it first appears, you just dig in, you're like, oh, well, these documents are conflicting each other of these witnesses, it's not entirely clear what's going on. But there seems to be that Joseph Smith is at some point using these Nephite interpreters, these urim and thummim to look through and see the translation of the Book of Mormon. And at some points in the translation, he may be using his own personnel, seer stone. And the reference to the hat is simply a mechanism for blocking out light. Like if he wanted to see something on the stone, he wanted to be able to focus on it. So, he put it in a hat and kind of like put his face in there so that he could block out the light, block out distractions and just focus on trying to receive revelation. So, it's a medium for receiving revelation, the ancient High Priests in ancient Israel used stones to receive revelation from God, the Jaredites, the brother of Jared went to God and the Lord touched stones in order to provide light to the Jaredite barges. You know, stones, in the book of Revelation, it talks about receiving a stone with a new name upon it. Using stones to receive revelation is a pretty common motif in the Scriptures. And so, for me, it's not really surprising that the Lord would again, use a medium to help and to facilitate someone to receive revelation. And so, whether he's, you know, just receiving it through his head or looking at a stone to help him receive that revelation, it makes no difference to me because I fully believe he received it by the gift and power of God.

Ashly Stone


I love that and one of the things that you do Jasmine, that I think is so powerful is today, when we're talking about this and we're talking about a man that received revelation through a stone, it kind of seems kind of, you know, quirky, and, but the way that you relate these things to ancient times, and it's, it's so amazing because you know, the things that are happening today in the temple and the way that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, it's not a new thing. In fact, it's a very ancient thing that has been happening, you know, since forever. So, I love how you relate that so well,



True, there's a really cool book by scholar Don Bradley called The Lost 116 pages. And that book is all about what's possibly in the lost 116 pages, he goes through the history of it and he makes some speculative theories about what it might have contained based on very subtle hints that we have. And it's super interesting, super cool book. But one thing he does in there is he compares Joseph Smith to a high priest, he talks about how all of the symbolism involved in the translation of the Book of Mormon really kind of casts Joseph Smith as this new high priest that he has this breastplate, he has the urim and thummim like the ancient high priest would, and at some points he's working, you know, with a curtain of some sort. He's working through a veil and it’s like this high priest trying to enter into the Holy of Holies of this new scripture and reveal the sacred word of God that has arisen from the dust. And it's just really cool imagery to think of Joseph Smith in that light. Not only is he this new, young boy, prophet, seer, and revelator, but he's bringing back these ancient temple ideas of being a high priest to reveal God's will to the people and it's super cool. Don Bradley, The Lost 116 pages.

Ashly Stone


Sidenote, Don Bradley actually left the church and went on a whole thing and then came back to the church and he is very intellectual. Very, just incredible story. Just talked to him. He's planning on coming on my podcast in November, I'm so stoked.



Wonderful, you're going have an amazing conversation with him. He is one of the brightest minds in like Mormon studies, historical studies with the church today. He's so bright. He's so creative. Also, he just has a very innovative mind when it comes to trying to piece together these mysteries in church history. I could listen to Don Bradley forever. It's going to, uh, I'm so excited.

Ashly Stone


Me too, I'm so excited. Um, okay, so another question was book of Moses and papyri. Is that a separate thing? Or did we kind of cover that?



I think the questioner maybe conflating the book of Moses with the Book of Abraham, because the book of Abraham is what we have papyri for. The book of Moses is technically, the Joseph Smith translation. When he was doing the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible, he would make edits here and there, but for those first few chapters of Genesis, he provided just a massive corpus of text that we now call the book of Moses, which has a lot of new information, a lot of additions to our story at the beginning of the Bible. So, I think yeah, we've kind of have covered the Book of Abraham a little bit.


Awesome. Um, so we had a question about Galatians. I'm gonna pull it up really quick, just to read it Galatians 1:6-9. Um, where it says, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel, which is not another but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed, as we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you, than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

This was a question from somebody that said, this, this really is a struggle for me to um, with my testimony. So, what are your thoughts on this?



So, I think what the questioner is getting at is this idea that if an angel announces another gospel, it's not the true gospel. And well, the Latter-day Saint church was started by angel Moroni, and who showed to Joseph Smith, and he introduced this new church. But one thing to know is that in the Greek, the word behind angels, angelos, and yeah, it can mean angel, but it also just means generically a messenger. So, it's not necessarily as specific a reference as it might first appear that, you know, oh, this is like angel Moroni, beware of the Mormons. It's, it's more like if anyone comes and preaches a different gospel, just know that they're not a God. But another thing to consider is the time and place that we're discussing here, and this point in the history of the church. This is the New Testament Church, you've got the apostles still alive who are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, who were eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ preaching this gospel. And so, they are the ones with the authority and the keys on the earth at the time. And so, as they're preaching, they're saying, yeah, don't listen to anyone else, because we're the ones with the keys in authority. But Latter-day Saints have a unique belief in the apostasy that after the apostles died, that some of the authority and keys were lost. So, we have a perspective of restoration, that this isn't an angel revealing a new gospel. This is an angel restoring an old gospel that once those keys once the authority was lost, now an angel needs to restore the true gospel so that we can have it again on the earth. And so that we can say, Yeah, anyone else tries to preach to a different gospel. It's not it. This is the God's true church. And so that's just my two cents. But I don't know, I don't have a huge beef in this argument in Galatians. Personally,

Ashly Stone


I love that. Um, okay, this is one that the next question is something that I'm really curious about. I, Freemasons and the temple. I was just talking to my mom about this. And she was, you know, reading through the church website, getting more information on this, and I thought it was interesting, because our founding fathers were Freemasons. And, you know, it just, I don't know what are your thoughts on that?



Well, I think it's super interesting. I don't claim to be an expert on Freemasonry, necessarily. But I've been reading a book lately that I think is fabulous, and I highly recommend. It's called, what is it called? It's called “Freemasonry and the Origins of Latter-day Saint Temple Ordinances” by, Jeffrey Bradshaw. And he does a very thorough job going into the history of Freemasonry, the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, why there may be similarities, but why there are very significant differences and what the relationship might be. So, Freemasonry is a fraternity or it's a brotherhood that started kind of in the Middle Ages ish, you know, 1300s 1400s, it really got a kind of a resurgence in the Renaissance. And in the 1700s, it was very popular in America, like you mentioned, our Founding Fathers, many of them were masons, and it was a fraternity that taught generic principles of, you know, integrity, honesty, goodness, loyalty, all those things. And they did it in a ritual context. They did it, they taught those principles, through ritual drama, through symbols and gestures, and clothing that can remind them of those principles. And in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have temple ordinances that similarly teach important principles about goodness, about honesty, and sacrifice and obedience, and consecration and all of those things. And we teach those concepts through a ritual drama, we tell a narrative story, and it's part of a liturgy that we get to participate in. And it also contains symbols, ritual, gestures, clothing, things like that. And some people have pointed out, there are pretty close similarities between some aspects of what they might see in the temple, and what Freemasons were doing. Now, again, I'm not an expert. But this is just kind of what I've gleaned, as I've studied, um, the Freemasons while they weren't, they didn't start in antiquity, they started in the Middle Ages and later it became more popular. But from the very beginning, their inspiration was the Bible. They are kind of I mean, the idea of Freemasonry is that they're a guild of stone masons that eventually became a more generic fraternity that didn't have anything to do with, you know, building with stone, but originally, it was a guild of stone masons. And they drew their inspiration from the architect of Solomon's temple, Hiram Abiff and how he was the inspired architect to build Solomon's temple and that they draw their inspiration from that. And so, a lot of their rituals and a lot of their principles, their drawing straight from the Bible. Now, Latter Day Saints in the temple, we are also patterning a lot of what we do in the temple, straight from the Bible, and straight from Solomon's temple. Now, it's not a one-to-one comparison, for sure. But there's both masonry and a Latter-Day Saints are looking towards antiquity and we're looking towards the Bible, for templates and patterns to teach these principles. And so, I sometimes like to describe masonry, not as it's not a parent child relationship, Joseph Smith didn't become a mason and be like, oh, this is gonna be the temple endowment and just copy it word for word and it became the temple endowment. I like to view the Morris first cousins like they have a common ancestor. They're both looking towards ancient traditions. But I mean, we also acknowledge that Joseph Smith was influenced by his current environment, too, like there's both of that going on. And so, I think, Jeffrey Bradshaw's book is really, really good if you want to go in detail. Um, Anthony Sweat is a professor at BYU and he also has a really interesting perspective. He talks about how Joseph Smith, how the Lord wanted to reveal to Joseph Smith these rituals, and these very sacred ordinances. But Joseph Smith grew up in a very austere, more puritanical Protestant community in upstate New York, they didn't have Catholicism as prominently. It was very Protestant. And so there wasn't a whole lot of rituals a lot more stripped down. And so, Joseph Smith understood some of the principles behind the endowment. And the Lord was teaching Joseph Smith these principles, all the way back in 1829 when Joseph Smith is translating the Book of Mormon. Then the Lord teaches them a little bit more line upon line, as he's doing the book of Moses translation then he learns a lot more when he does the Book of Abraham translation. You can see a lot of Temple themes and all of these works. And so, I think the Lord is like slowly teaching him line upon line, these principles of ascending into the presence of God, of being endowed with power of, you know, looking towards the ancient temple of clothing yourselves with power and glory, and receiving priesthood, all of that stuff. Joseph Smith is learning line upon line. I lost my train of thought there. Oh, but Joseph Smith, so is learning these principles, but Joseph Smith didn't necessarily have a language for ritual. He wasn't surrounded by ritual, gestures, ritual things, he wasn't going to like a Catholic mass where that's a lot more prominent. And so, the Lord needed some way to teach Joseph Smith about ritual. And so, I've come to see Freemasonry as that stepping stone were Joseph's were, the Lord is teaching Joseph Smith, about symbolism, about ritual, about clothing, about all of these things that can very visually teach us principles about our internal souls. And so, I think there's a lot more going on there too, but we could be talking forever, that masonry is kind of a stepping stone for Joseph Smith. It's a learning tool for Joseph Smith. And so, I think he does get influenced by some of that. But ultimately, what is in the temple endowment is ancient, it is of God and it is really a template of what we see in the ancient Israelite temple adapted for modern times.

Ashly Stone


Right. And for me, personally, I feel like that is very faith promoting to have these rituals that we do, I mean, not gonna lie, the first time I went to the temple, I was not expecting that. I was so, it was very different. And I, you know, I don't know, but to see it through a lens of we are participating in these ordinances, because they, they are ancient rituals there. Yeah, if you wanted to temple for the first time, it seems a little different, because it's not something that you see out in our modern world. And I had this really interesting impression when I was at the temple last, and I was thinking, Okay, let's take something from our modern world. That is, maybe somebody getting a tattoo, if you've never seen someone getting a tattoo before, and you're like, what is this person doing? They're literally sticking a needle in their arm with ink on it, and putting something permanent on their arm that can appear totally wild. And just, and I mean, that's a completely off the wall comparison, but just, you know, something in the modern world that we see every single day people with tattoos, and you know, a lot, it's just, it's normal now. But like, if we were to see that as having never seen that before, it would be pretty bizarre. And so, when we go to the temple, it for the first time, it's something that we're not used to seeing, it's not really of this world, it's something sacred, it's not something that we're experiencing every day in the world. And, and it is, it's, it's an ancient, you know, ritual. And so, it just, it's not something that, you know, yeah, it does, it feels different at first. And so, um



And we were chatting a little bit beforehand, we were talking about like the coronation of King Charles the third that will be upcoming. And so there are actually some examples of seeing this kind of ritual stuff in the modern world. But it's so rare and far between, and we see it in different contexts that we may not expect it in our church setting. Like coronations have a lot of parallels to what we do in the initiatory. They have similar ideas of, you know, initiating you into a new state of being or receiving new power and glory and being washed and being anointed and graduation ceremonies have kind of a lot of parallels and kind of have their origins in similar ritual religious ceremonies as well of wearing certain clothing and you know, changing your tassel when you achieve a certain stage or getting a new hood when you achieve another stage. And you have a lot of like ritual gestures, even in graduation ceremonies. So coronations, graduation ceremonies, Catholic masses, Eastern Orthodoxy, you have examples of where this kind of very similar stuff shows up where they're trying to replicate more ancient patterns that you found in the Bible, but we don't necessarily expect it in the Latter Day Saint church because we tend to be a more austere church in our Sunday worship, and we don't see a lot of that as much we have like our sacrament ritual, but we don't have as much of it until we get to the temple, and then it's dialed up to 10. And because it's so sacred to us, we don't talk about it a lot. We don't broadcast it publicly, like graduation ceremonies or coronation ceremonies. And so, it can be surprising. And it can be hard to know what to make of it, though I do think we're starting to get better as a church with our temple preparation. And with you know, just telling people that there are certain things we promise not to disclose, but everything else as long as we're being very reverent and being very careful, we can talk about and we can, you know, make comparisons and learn from the Bible learn from other modern examples where we see the same thing going on. So yeah,

Ashly Stone


Love that. So, I have one final question for you. And it's an important question. So, I mean, I want to preface this by saying that my brother-in-law is a faithful listener of my podcast. He has been from day one, I totally was not suspecting him like that he would be so pumped about my podcast, but he from day one has listened. And I appreciate that so much. But he texted me after one of my last episodes, and he said, wow, I'm learning so much about all this anti stuff that's out here that I didn't know before. And I was like, oh, crap, that's like the exact opposite of what I want to do. But on the other hand, there are a lot of people that their testimony is getting shaken by things they're seeing on Tik Tok things they're seeing on Instagram. And um and so one of the things that has been a huge testimony shaker for a lot of people, is the CES Letter. I have never read the CES Letter, I've heard people close to me have read it. And um you know, some people, it doesn't even shake their faith at all. Some people, it really does shake their faith, I kind of have an idea of what it's about. But I want to know, you know what your thought is on? I think for me, it's like, I don't search that stuff out. Because I and I'm not, I guess I'm just not as I don't know, like, I just don't have the desire to do it. Because it feels dark to me. And I know that some people, they say, you know, that's you know, your bias, because I believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And to me, with my experience of being out of the church for some time, and how my life so drastically changed coming back, I have no desire to even open that can of worms. But since starting this podcast, I know that there's a lot of people who their testimonies are, are shaken because of things they're seeing online. And, and one of the reasons I want to ask this to you is because you have such a great perspective on and you're so knowledgeable about the history of things. And you know, and so I want to ask you this, because I feel like you'll have a good knowledgeable response that isn't just like, you know, people in their thoughts about the CES Letter on Tik Tok, or whatever. So curious to know if you have any insight surrounding the CES Letter and what your thoughts are.



Yeah, I mean, I've read through it. And it never really bothered me that much. But like I said, I've kind of had my own journey. And so, I don't, I don't want to discredit anyone who's really struggled with the CES Letter, because there are lots of people who have read it, maybe struggled with some things and then came out stronger on the other end and believe in the church and the gospel, and they might be better people to talk to if you're really struggling as far as and really empathetic response. But my perspective, as I've kind of seen people struggle with this, the CES Letter was written in, I want to say 2012. And it's basically like 100 ish page PDF of, it's a treatise just listing everything that ex Mormon subreddit essentially sees wrong with the church. It was written by an individual, but it was crowd sourced by ex-Mormon subreddit and for the most part, and it just kind of just lists everything that is problematic about the church about Book of Abraham, the Book of Mormon, church history, polygamy, racism in the church, sexism in the church, you name it, just like kind of lists everything and in quick bullet points and quick little explanations. And understandably, when you kind of compiled that Dozier it can feel overwhelming when you say, Wow, I didn't know about any of this. I don't know what how much of it is true. But even if a fraction of it is true, that means the church isn't true, right? And so, it can very easily lead you down a path that leads you questioning, doubting, spiraling and that can be really, really difficult. And I think one of the reasons it's so effective is because it does just kind of list a ton of things. It's an overwhelming sort of feeling, it's nothing in there is rigorous, nothing in there is responsible academically, but it is a lot, there's a lot of quantity, not a lot. When you read it, it can feel very overwhelming that whoa, I don't even I don't know about I didn't know about this issue or this issue. And I don't even know where to go to learn more, that might give me solid information because they don't really provide a lot of sources that are responsible in the CES Letter to like, learn more later on. And if you Google some of this stuff, you're going to find hit and miss sources. So, it can be really difficult. But one of the main things to keep in mind is to have patience with yourself that you know, these people compiled this massive list of things with the specific intent to give you doubt. Their goal is to cause you to question. And so, if that's their goal, and that's their intent and motivation, maybe you should question the methodology. Maybe you should ask questions about how they're getting their sources. how are they coming to these conclusions, and just give yourself space and time because it takes, you know, it takes very little effort to knock down a structure a building compared to the effort it takes to build it up. And so, I mean, I mentioned earlier, when we were talking about the Book of Abraham, how, you know, critics might say, Oh, the Book of Abraham is proven false by Egyptologists, that's just one phrase that can sow doubt, and respond to that, you know, I gave like, I don't know, a five minute spiel, or whatever. And that's even a summary of what you really need to go through to kind of assess that claim. But that's a lot of work to kind of go through and assess, is this claim really true? Or is my faith Okay, is I maybe I need to, you know, calm down a little bit or take a step back, take a breather. And so, I would, first of all, take solace in the fact that there's a lot in the CES Letter that is plain false. There's even more that is very deceptive in its rhetoric, and putting a lot of spin that isn't very representative of what's probably going on. And, you know, there's just, there's a lot going on there. And so, one, one of the pieces of advice that I have is to give yourself time. number one, is to just like, let yourself sit with it. You don't have to make a decision right away, you don't have to decide you're leaving the church that weekend, after spending a few dozen hours on Wikipedia, you can give yourself time and space. Because often it's that panic mode, that feeling of my worldview is crashing down that can lead us towards that can lead us away from God and lead us away from the church, which is when we need to connect with God the most. So just give yourself the space and the time, you need to think about things to go to your support system to go to people who maybe know about these things, or maybe don't but have strong testimonies of the gospel and learn from them how they deal with trials of faith. Also, go to good sources. I'm mostly pulling this advice from President Nelson. He himself gave a devotional in this last year where he gave four pieces of advice for faith struggles. And I think they're perennial, and they're evergreen, and they're so true. One was to be okay, giving yourself time and space, like not everything happens overnight. Just breathe like it's okay. You can find things over time; I have questions that I've had. And I've kind of just kind of set them aside for a moment while I go pursue other things. And before you know it, I'll find an answer to that question when I'm not even focusing on it. But sometimes you just need to give yourself time and space to let yourself mature or just let yourself think about it more like you don't have to make rash reactions in that moment. The other thing President Nelson recommends is to go to truth filled sources. And this doesn't mean you have to only go to churchofJesuschrist.org. There are a lot of great sources out there, like Book of Mormon Central, like the Joseph Smith papers, like any number of resources, but always question Who is behind this source? What's their intent? What's their angle? What are they trying to accomplish? By always, you know, having that critical mind, you can kind of sift through a lot as far as what they're trying to do. I mean, people talk about going to objective sources, but the reality is, no one's really objective, everyone has some sort of worldview they're operating from. So that's not necessarily a bad thing. And we want to try our best to be responsible and get to the truth. But we should always acknowledge that everyone's going to have some sort of worldview or paradigm they're operating from, and it's really helpful to know what that is, when you're reading a source about polygamy about the Book of Abraham. Are they a believer? Or are they not? Or are they somewhere in the middle? Or where are they coming from, and that can help you kind of decide, you know what to make of these things. President Nelson also talks about um, loving those who have left the church. And I think that's really important, too.


Um,because there is a lot of pain that goes into a faith crisis or a faith journey. No matter where you are in life everyone's dealing with hard things. And so, I don't think we need to belittle people who have left the church or necessarily see them as less than or anything like that, we should acknowledge that they went through a hard struggle, and they maybe didn't come to the same conclusions I did. But we can still extend the charity and pure love of Christ, as we're interacting with them in our real lives or online or even just talking about them that they deserve our respect, our dignity, and our utmost charity. And then the other thing that President Nelson talks about is to have a lens of faith. Now I mentioned like everyone has a worldview. Everyone has a paradigm and we're not truly ever super objective. And so if you're going to choose a worldview, why does it have to be the critical one? Maybe you can look at it from both ways. And I think it is really helpful to like, you know, look at both perspectives, try to see it from someone else's shoes. But ultimately, if your goal is to stay in the church, if your goal really is to maintain your faith, then try to give the church the benefit of the doubt. I think you'll be surprised when you're going through historical sources, or if you're dealing with a tough issue. You're going through this stuff, and you can choose to look at it as Joseph was a con man, or you can look at it through a lens of Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. But he clearly you know, it was an imperfect man, he was clearly human, there's some weird stuff going on, there's some complicated things going on. But ultimately, he could be a prophet. And if you go with that lens, you're going to come out with a very different conclusion than if you go in with the lens of he must have been a con man. And so, you know, go in with a lens of faith as best you can. Give yourself time and space, give yourself breathing room to feel the spirit to connect with God, to feel his love as you're working through some of these difficult issues. Rely on your support group. Find family members and friends who believe in the gospel, get their perspective. Turn to truth filled sources, whether that's on social media, like the Scripture Plus account, or the comeback podcasts, or go to books, like the ones I've mentioned, here, some good history books, if you're really struggling, there's really no better place than to go straight to the books. And those are just some of the things that I've learned as I've grappled with questions as I've as I've gone through trials of Faith and Faith Journeys, and things like that. And I've seen others go through them, that those elements seem to help them most, if you really do want to keep your testimony, stay in the faith and ultimately grow your testimony. We mentioned a little bit before the podcast, Elder Bruce C. Hafen, he's an emeritus General Authority who wrote a book called Faith is Not Blind. And he talks about the paradigm of you've got, you start off usually with simplicity, most of us start off our knowledge in the Gospel with a fairly basic elementary, maybe even naive understanding of how things work. But then, as we grow up, we may encounter difficult information. And we head into the stage of complexity, where all of a sudden, things were as it seems, that's not how I was taught about it in primary. Well, of course, not because you were six years old, of course, you're going to learn things differently when you're an adult. And so, you learn things differently. And all of a sudden, it seems to conflict, and there's some cognitive dissonance, there's some hurt, there's some conflict there. And eventually, you can either choose to stay in that area of complexity, where you come to the conclusion that the church isn't true, or I've been lied to, or Joseph Smith was a con man or whatever. Or if you give yourself if you go through those steps, give yourself space, go to truth, build sources, rely on your support group, you eventually can come on the other side to the simplicity on the other side of complexity, where it turns out those truth claims you were taught when you were six years old, still hold true. Joseph Smith, is a prophet of God, the Book of Mormon is the word of God, President Nelson is God's prophet today. All those things, but you have a more robust understanding. You are stronger now because of it. And your testimony is better than it ever was before, in complexity or in simplicity, because now, you know, everything that complexity knows and more. You are on the its simplicity on the other side of complexity. And I find that really reassuring.

Ashly Stone


I love that. And that's what I've really seen with doing this podcast and hearing everyone's story of, you know, leaving and coming back is they come back and they are stronger than they were before. And it's because of those wrestles with the spirit. It's because of those, those trials and, you know, all that they go through, when they take a step back and come and choose to come back, they come back even stronger than before. And so, I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that. Well, do you have any final thoughts before we wrap up here anything else that you would like to leave listeners with?



Well, you know, personal plug, download the Scripture Plus app or follow me on Instagram or Tik Tok, or Twitter at Scripture plus, but also, thank you for having me on here. And I just gotta give a shout out to the Comeback Podcasts. I was telling you before, I feel like this is so needed. One of the most powerful things is having stories, and narratives that that can bolster our faith. And we hear so many stories of people leaving the church and what caused them to go and that's a can be a compelling story or narrative. And so, I think it's so cool that you are devoting this podcast to the stories of people coming back being stronger than they were before. You know, going through their own Hero's Journey to come back to the church and to share their testimonies. I think it's absolutely magnificent.

Ashly Stone


Thank you so much. And I appreciate you taking the time with me tonight and everyone download the Scripture Plus app. It is awesome, K.