Elizabeth Kuehn, a doctoral candidate in history at the University of California, Irvine, who works with the Joseph Smith Papers project in the Church History Department of the Church History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offered a presentation on “Finances and Faith in the Kirtland Crisis of 1837.” She provided a calm, informed, lucid, and empathetic treatment of both the faithful Saints and the dissenters embroiled in the rise and fall of the Kirtland Bank.
Dr. Keith Erekson, director of the Church History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke on “Witnessing the Book of Mormon: The Testimonies of Three, Eight, and Millions.”
Anybody who’s followed me much over the years will know that I’m extremely interested in the witnesses to the Book of Mormon. Some will be aware that I’m especially focused on their story, and how to tell it, right now. (More on that in months to come, I hope.)
Brother Erekson examined the treatment of the experiences of the official Witnesses in various sources and accounts.
I liked his bringing of the relevant scriptural passages to bear on the calling of the official Witnesses. And I was grateful that he alluded to the experience of Mary Whitmer, my favorite among the unofficial witnesses.
At the end, he very briefly applied the principles that he had outlined to Mr. Jeremy Runnell’s lamentable “Letter to a CES Director.” It didn’t fare well at his hands. (He offered a nice general judgment on critics of the Witnesses in the question-and-answer session, too — a judgment with which I completely agree.)
And he suggested two basic readings, in which he lays out some of his principles for the faithful study of the history of the Restoration:
A very solid conference, thus far. How I wish that more members of the Church were paying attention to these things. I think that many who’re wavering might have been strengthened by things that were said today.
Full disclosure: I’m a member of FairMormon’s very small board. Both FairMormon and the Interpreter Foundation — of which I’m the president and board chairman — could use more volunteers and, to put it bluntly, more money. I understand that a generous donor has offered to match donations during this conference, up to $5000. I hope that supporters will take advantage of that opportunity.