Over at MormonInterpreter.com, Steven T. Densley, Jr. in “Should We Apologize for Apologetics?” reviews a book on LDS apologetics. He makes some excellent points that members of the Church should know.
Many LDS members don’t use the term “apologetics” to describe what many of them might engage in rather naturally when sharing or defending the Gospel, The use of logic, reason, and evidence goes back to the earliest days of Christianity. Densley points out that Christ used such tools in His sermons. Yet today, among some Latter-day Saints, it is fashionable to look down on apologetics as backward, embarrassing stuff. It is also fashionable to state or to imply that the leadership of the Church has distanced itself from such things. That argument, however, does not withstand careful inspection, nor does it even withstand listening to the latest General Conference.
A useful early example of apologetic argumentation can be found in the writings of Paul. In 1 Corinthians 15, for example, Paul uses a variety of arguments and evidences to support the doctrine of the Resurrection. One of the arguments he cites to teach and explain the Resurrection is the practice among at least some early Christians of baptism for the dead. Interestingly, that discourse has now become a source for LDS apologetics in explaining our doctrine of baptism for the dead. The argument is also buttressed by references to that and related concepts in many early Christian references that have been noticed or discovered since Joseph Smith’s day, although it is possible that Joseph Smith had access to one such document prior to his revelation on that topic, namely, the Pastor of Hermas, a beautiful early Christian text that was part of the canon for some Christians.
Next time you read the New Testament, note how many times various speakers or writers appeal to logic and evidence to support an argument. Apologetics was alive and well in that day, and may it continue to thrive in ours. Or rather, may intelligent, responsible, accurate, and compassionate apologetics thrive.
Has apologetics been of benefit to you and your family? I’d like to hear your story.