The Church is True blogger did a good review of the CES Letter.
First, the author put context around historical and spiritual truths and encouraged people to go beyond the simple, narrow view of religion to look at the deeper, spiritual truth.
Then a point by point review as made, including Book of Mormon anachronisms, Book of Abraham, Joseph Smith polygamy, multiple First Vision Accounts, and the seerstone involved with Book of Mormon translation.
The article is considered very fair to Jeremy Runnels and the Letter to a CES Director.
The blog post finished with quotes from Terryl Givens, Mother Teeresa, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.
What is different about this review was that there wasn’t the usual extreme positions you find in this discussion. Generally you have your critical view which sides against the church on every single issue. Then you have your apologetic view which sides for the church every time. It gets a little ridiculous when people can’t agree on anything.
Here are some quotes.
“FairMormon spends a lot of time on the archaeology and anachronisms and other Book of Mormon historicity issues. A lot of smart LDS scholars have spent a lot of time identifying correlations that support Book of Mormon historicity. It’s good to be familiar with their work. That works for many LDS. But in the LDS academic world, it’s becoming more and more acceptable to view the BOM, at least partially, as non-historical. Joseph might have followed the example of prophets in ancient times that used the technique of midrash to create scripture. They would take a historical subject and by the power of the Holy Ghost, expand it, adding historical narrative, stories, teachings, and doctrines. The result was not meant to be understood as literal and historical truth but as scriptural truth.”
“German philosopher Nietzsche said “if you stare into the abyss long enough, the abyss will also stare into you.” This is scary stuff. There’s a lot at stake. Eternal families and heaven and God and salvation and purpose of life. Stare into that abyss for as long as you need. Don’t flinch when it stares back. Don’t surrender when it enters you and fills you with fear and doubt. Pushing back at that abyss with courage will bring the reward that God promises.”