I was invited to present on a Facebook Live broadcast on Hi-5 Live on 1/16/19. This video is a recording of the broadcast, which was titled ‘Defending Your Faith: Using Tools of the Times”
My name is Jeff Roundy, from North Salt Lake, Utah and I was invited to speak on Hi Five Live from Mike White. He’s a friend of my daughter, Rachel Roundy, and Rachel’s watching this from Hawaii right now. She’s at BYU Hawaii. Thanks Rachel, and thanks Mike for inviting me on. He heard about my YouTube channel, Latter-Day Saints Q&A, and thought it would be great to have me on to talk a little bit about the channel, but also what I’m doing and why I’m on there. So I want to start a little bit about what inspired me to do this. It was a conference that I went to, the FairMormon Conference. I go to it each year. If you’re not familiar with FairMormon, they’re defenders of the faith, foundation for apologetic information and research. Apologetics is apology, a Greek word for defense, defense of the faith.
And so at this conference this year, in fact, I would suggest to, if you can go watch Elder Kevin Pearson of the Seventy. First time we’ve had a general authority speak there. Very powerful message. He called it an imperative and sacred duty that we have and really touched me specifically what he challenged us to consider and look at doing, led to my YouTube channel.
So if I could share a couple of things from Elder Pearson and he said, “Don’t wait for the Church to do everything on all of this. And technology is a key to sharing the gospel and particularly going forward. The Church can’t do it all. We need independent voices.” And he said, “70% of the world actually does not have missionaries today.” And so technology is going to be a key. 50% of those people have the internet, two thirds of them have cell phones or mobile phones. And so technology is going to be a really big key to sharing the gospel. But there’s also a lot of miscommunications online and misrepresentations.
He actually shared this scripture, D&C 123:11-12 and think about this today, right now. This was 1839. “It is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation and to all the pure in heart, for there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
Think about the internet today. You could say that statement on steroids. So two quotes I wanted to share from Elder Pearson from this, and then I’ll tell you about how this led to the YouTube channel and what I’m doing. So he said, “It is essential that members create and promote online content that effectively communicates what the Church believes in clear, authentic, and engaging ways, especially on some of the most prevalent search topics. Access to understandable answers to critical questions and concerns that can help correct misunderstandings about the Church and remove stumbling blocks to faith. It can also level the playing field for the sincere truth-seeker to find and recognize truth in a world increasingly hostile to faith.”
He also said, “The internet has become the most powerful and dominant source for information on virtually any topic or question. The inherent problem with this reality is that many inaccuracies come from limited experience, understanding, or viewpoints and even due to an intentional desire to mislead or misrepresent.” I’ve seen this significantly. “The internet can either lead individuals to the truth, or away from it. This is where independent organizations like FairMormon and individuals make a significant contribution. Church-produced content might appear more polished and professional, but yours will be viewed as more authentic because what you say comes with your personal experience and unique perspective. It enlivens content produced by the Church. There are thoughtful, faithful answers to virtually every question, issue, and concern being raised by critics and skeptics of the Church.”
Also, Matt Grow. He actually said at the Face-to-Face when they launched the book Saints from the Nauvoo Temple with Elder Cook, Matt Grow from the Church History Department said, “We do live in a new reality of the information age when challenging information on church history can appear on the social media feeds of members all around the world. So we have a heightened responsibility now to help members find good answers to their questions within the household of faith.”
So just tell you then how I went about doing this YouTube channel. Again, it’s called Latter-Day Saints Q&A and in my bio you can see the link to it. Please go check it out and subscribe if you’d like to have it. It might be a great library of resources to use for the future. But basically, after hearing this session, my wife and I were at lunch and I have felt this passion for these topics and defending the faith for 30 plus years. Studied the heck out of all these topics. I served a mission in the Bible Belt. That’s where it started. The passion started then in defending the faith.
So Elder Pearson talked a lot about YouTube too as a great search engine, particularly for the young people. So I thought, you know, I’m going to use YouTube. I’m going to do a YouTube channel and put out videos there and do it in a way that I could really do a cliff notes type of fashion. People, a lot of times they just want maybe the basics. What are the critics saying about a certain topic? And what are the answers? In maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Keep it short. But then I give a ton of resources so you can go really deep if you want. My favorite resources on any of the topics. Some examples of some of the videos we… I’ve got about I think approaching 30 videos now. I’m going to keep going until I’ve covered really anything and everything that I can think of in these categories.
But some of the examples: Kirtland Safety Society – Dispelling the Myths; Church Finances – Disconcerting or Miraculous?; Clarifications – Mountain Meadows Massacre; Priesthood & Temple Ban – How Did This Happen? So that’s just a couple of the videos, just to give you some examples and some flavors on there.
So what I also wanted to do is as I do these, I wanted to produce videos also talking about the powerful evidences of the Restoration and what I had resounding in my head was a quote from Elder Holland at BYU at a conference at BYU in August of 2017.
He said, “My testimony to you tonight is that the gospel is infallibly true and that a variety of infallible proofs supporting that assertion will continue to come until Jesus descends as the ultimate infallible truth of all. Our testimonies aren’t dependent on evidence. We still need that spiritual confirmation in the heart, but not to seek for and not to acknowledge intellectual, documentable support for our belief when it is available is to needlessly limit an otherwise incomparably strong, theological position. We ought to be more assertive then we sometimes are in defending our testimony of truth.”
We’ve heard some of that recently. You might recall about articulating our faith more and being aware of some of these things. I’ve had experiences with people with these videos saying, “Thank you.” This has helped them to articulate or to share with others who might have concerns or challenges or to understand what it is they’re going. I had a grandfather who said, “I had a grandson on a mission. He was struggling with some of these things and he didn’t have the time to really go deep on this. He wanted the reader’s digest summary of many of these things and so this was perfect.”
I had another friend that shared the church finances video with a friend of theirs who was struggling with that specific topic and said, “This video is exactly what they needed.” I think there’s a helpful place for it. Now I do want to mention what I feel like, if you look at the focus of the Church just recently seems to be on elevating our gospel learning and our focus. Think about the two hour church. So we’re coming home now to study the gospel more in the home, and if you think about the very first lesson of the new curriculum, it was we are responsible for our own learning. I thought that was a wonderful thing to see. That’s the focus right now, and I mentioned… I think I put it in the video earlier, maybe I didn’t.
But 58% of high school graduates have not read another book since they’ve graduated, 42% of college graduates. This was a recent survey, so people really are not studying a lot of things, including religious things. One of my favorite quotes is from Elder Hanks. He says, “No one knows anything about Christ’s work simply by being born a member of the Church. And often he knows little about it after years of unmotivated exposure and meetings or classes. He must learn, and learning involves self-investment and effort. The gospel should be studied as carefully as any science. The literature of the Church must be acquired and read. Our learning should be increased in our spare time, day by day. Then as we put the gospel truth to work in daily life, we will never find it wanting. We will be literate in the most important field of knowledge in the universe.”.
I love that quote there. I love… Who was it? It was John A. Widtsoe that had a formula. When he went to Harvard, he went deep in his studies, but he said, “I’m going to study the Gospel 50% of the time and 50% of the time I’m going to study chemistry and the rest of the subjects.” A great formula to think of to use. And you think about Elder Renlund, Sister Renlund, they just had the worldwide devotional with the young adults of the Church last Sunday. It was on faith and doubt and they talked about seeking answers to questions and seeking and really going deep and studying, spending time and trying to learn, but from faithful, trustworthy sources. And so that’s really a key thing.
I had an experience the other day why when I did the Kinderhook Plates video. I couldn’t believe it. So I’d like to try and see what’s out there whenever I’m doing these videos. And I will tell you that on YouTube it’s probably ten to one negative to positive. We need so much more on the positive. But on this Kinderhook plates, I was watching this video and from the name of the YouTube Channel, it sounded like it was a Latter-Day Saint, not an anti. They had this beautiful, religious music playing in the background, soft voice. They were going through factual information. I thought, “This is kind of interesting.”.
Then towards the end there were some blatant falsehoods that I knew were absolutely wrong and led to a completely false outcome to the entire video. But if you didn’t know a lot of those details you could easily have been deceived by watching that video. So it’s a crazy time, crazy world.
So some of the tools also of the times, I would say, to give you some of my top and favorite recommendations, just websites, FairMormon, tops. You can’t touch it. There’s nothing else out there like it. It’s a composite of all answers essentially, and they go deep. All these subtopics, any question you have has been answered on FairMormon to the 10th degree all the way down. So lots of great resources and material. That is the best out there, I think, online. Elder Pearson put a big shout out for that too in his talk and he, in fact he mentioned four at the end in the Q&A. That was big one. The Interpreter Foundation is fantastic. Book of Mormon Central is fantastic and then the More Good Foundation. Those would be the ones I would recommend for on the websites.
Now podcasts, I would actually say the big three that I mentioned. All of those have great podcasts. Love them. They’re fantastic. My all time favorite podcasts I’ll actually say is the LDS Perspectives podcast. I love that. Let’s see. The BYU Maxwell Institute is fantastic. Terryl Givens is fantastic.
Now I should’ve started with this. The Church has got these phenomenal resources now that they have put out and I absolutely love what Matt Grow said about the… So you think about Saints, the Gospel Topics Essays, and the Joseph Smith Papers, which is unbelievable. As he talked about those three sources, he said, “These confront many of these challenging doctrinal historical questions.” He says, “The message to me of this openness is that the history of the Church can withstand scrutiny. We don’t need to be afraid of it. It is inspiring. Sometimes we will have questions, but there are good answers. We just need to study.”
Okay. Now, books. I do have five books that I just want to quickly show you. These are my favorites on this. This is in my top 10. This just came out a few months ago. Maybe even less. Faith Is Not Blind from the Hafens. Elder Hafen, Sister Hafen. Fantastic book. I think I bought a dozen of these, and I was handing them out to lots of people. Fantastic.
All right, Michael Ash. This is a composite of a ton of information and research, Shaken Faith Syndrome. Love this book. A Reason For Faith, Laura Harris Hales. She did a great a group of… These are scholars writing each of the different chapters on lots of different topics. This is fantastic. Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt. This is a great one. Many of these are are fairly new books. Shaken Faith’s been out for… This is the new edition, but it’s been out I think five years. No Weapon Shall Prosper, Robert Millet, New Light on Sensitive Issues. This is a great, great one too. That’s been out for a little while.
And then YouTube channels. You know there isn’t a lot of great stuff, like I mentioned, but there is Hi Five Live videos which are awesome, of course. There’s the LDS Church History. They have some great videos out. The big three, so FairMormon, Interpreter Foundation, Book of Mormon Central. Those would certainly be the tops out there. And then Saints Unscripted. It used to be called Three Mormons. They’ve got a lot of great stuff too. What Mormons Believe, that was somebody else that did something like eight years ago and they’ve got lots of cool little… They’re just two to three minute videos, but they don’t go real deep. But it’s, you know, again, it’s more good stuff out there.
So go check the YouTube channel out. Like I said, it’s called Latter-Day Saints Q&A or the URL we just set up. It’s YouTube.com/LatterDaySaintsQA. That’s another way you can go to it. Remember, you do not need to have all this stuff down. The thing I would say is know what’s out there. Know what resources are out there, so you can point people to different things. Because a lot of times they just need to… One of my favorite quote is… Austin Farrer. I didn’t bring it in. But, “It’s good to have good arguments for these things and helps create a climate where belief can flourish.” It’s one of my favorite sayings. So I do want to thank Hi Five again. These guys are doing what I’m talking about. It’s awesome. So thanks again. Thanks Mike White for letting me come on today. And if you add a question on there, I’ll get back to you as I go through. So thanks. It’s been a delight to be with you guys.
Hi Five Live’s Page https://www.facebook.com/HiFiveLive/
Latter-day Saints’ Q&A is a video series not produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but by me, an ordinary member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an independent voice, with a passion for studying Church history and defending the faith. In this series, I provide evidences for the restoration, and address tough questions posed by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offering faithful answers based on accurate research and historical references which will be posted at the end of each video.