Critics argue that the Mormon apologists – the people who study and write actively to defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ – are just jugglers desperately trying to overcome the downward pull of anti-Mormon logic. If so, I suppose their pro-LDS juggling act might best be likened to this recent performance by Chris Bliss.
Wait, that’s not Chris Bliss – it’s, it’s . . . Daniel Peterson of FARMS!
I’m glad some people don’t drop their faith and let the rest of us down when faced with the apparent gravity of anti-Mormon attacks. Keep looking up and keep, well, juggling or whatever you call it.
13 thoughts on “Mormon Apologists: Juggling the Truth?”
I find it strange that some LDS, who are consistent with their desire to share their faith with others, and are quick to point out where Christians have gone “apostate,” are unwilling to examine evidence which brings the Mormon faith into question.
Doesn’t St. Paul challenge all of us to face these questions with our best foot forward, and use these challenges as opportunities to strengthen our belief in Jesus Christ? That’s how I try to face such issues.
Most of my Mormon friends say they face these types of challenges all the time. Protestant Christians do, too, and although it’s probably not as many times as the LDS faith does, it’s still an uphill battle for anyone who is facing a conflict regarding their beliefs.
I frequently see the claim that “apologists” such as myself are engaged in a desperate rearguard action, trying (largely in vain) to support the crumbling edifice of Mormonism.
Perhaps we’re just too stupid, psychologically defective, or terminally dishonest — I’ve been explained, numerous times, in one or more of those three ways — but I don’t know of any of my friends and colleagues for whom that description rings true. It certainly doesn’t fit me, so far as I can tell. (And I’m fairly well placed so as to know what I think and how I feel.) For me, and, as far as I can tell, for those “apologists” with whom I’m acquainted, evidence supporting Mormon claims — while it is rarely if ever enough to “coerce” belief, and while questions and problems do remain — is abundant, sometimes dramatic, and often quite gratifying. We’re not desperate., but we are, often, excited and even passionate about the things we see.
And, by the way, I’m probably more familiar with arguments against Mormon belief than the vast majority of the critics are.
I don’t think any LDS are “just too stupid, psychologically defective, or terminally dishonest” to face questions about faith. I’ve never met a Mormon who wasn’t very intelligent and well-spoken, let alone high on charisma and chutzpah.
So why be afraid to have your faith challenged? It’s not new.
I don’t think LDS apologists are afraid of an examination of their faith. Daniel Peterson certainly isn’t. “If you are prepared, you shall not fear” (Doctrine & Covenants 38:30, I think). But not many people take the time to be prepared and are nervous about having to answer questions about their faith. Others relish the opportunity. We should all do more to be ready to give an answer to honest seekers of the truth.
Am I afraid to have my faith challenged?
Frankly, I hadn’t noticed that. I could swear that I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of hours dealing with precisely such challenges.
For that matter, I’d say that our willingness to send tens of thousands of our young people out each year to talk about Mormonism with a world that is, on the whole, not disposed to be sympathetic and is often downright hostile, shows a rather distinct willingness to encounter the differing views of other people.
I’m still waiting to find an honest member of the Religious Counter-Cult. So far they have been consistantly dishonest and evasive.
OK. So this is a little off topic, but I just got through reading a good piece on the Joseph Smith Papyri. If you had to argue this case in court, the weakest link in the anti-Mormon argument is, in my opinion, the implied claim that Abel Combs regained possession of the papyri after the Chicago fire of 1871. Typically, our critics will admit that the papyri were at one point in the Chicago Museum. Where they get fuzzy is how they got from Chicago into the hands of Combs’ housekeeper. The obvious conclusion is that the fragments in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art were papyri fragments Combs never sold and eventually gave to his housekeeper. The mythical path from Chicago to New York is essential to the anti-Mormon case and it has no legs.
I’m almost embarassed to admit this because every time I discuss anti with members (who aren’t my husband) they say to stay far away from the stuff…
But defending against anti-mormon stuff got me pretty much reactivated. I have a friend who got baptized recently. when she was first investigating, she told her parents she was going to the mormon church. within two weeks she got a packet full of anti-mormon materials they had printed off the internet. I asked to “borrow” it and promptly set about countering their presumptions and misunderstanding with truth, mostly from their own source, the New Testament, in teh form of sticky notes and margin scribblings. I spent well over a week delving deeper and deeper into the scriptures I had so long neglected, being re-awakened to the reasons I joined the Church in the first place. To be honest, I had never honestly studied or even read the NT all the way through before taking on that project.
It also got me thinking about when I joined the Church. I was 17 and I had to defend my beliefs to my parents, who are a strange mixture of Judaism, Agnosticism, and non-denominational Christian. I don’t think I would have been nearly as valiant in the changes required for my new faith if they hadn’t resisted and questioned to hard. In that way I appreciate their concern- it was almost like they were testing me and hardly even knew it.
I think persecution has a very important part in the shaping of Saints, in whatever form it comes. I don’t think we should go SEEKING persecution (not like we have to), but I think we should be prepared to face it head on when it comes- with confidence that we know what we’re saying and we know that it’s true, and smiling because of it.
One last comment on daniel peterson’s comment about the “crumbling edifice of mormonism”… if it’s crumbling, why is the Church membership growing every day?
lol–btw, Dan Peterson’s comment about the “crumbling edifice” is simply his mockery of the antis’ rhetoric.
Ah, how blogging can rob words of nuance.
Jeff, you said in your comments here, “I don’t think LDS apologists are afraid of an examination of their faith.”
If you truly believe that, then I challenge you and the other LDS apologists to stop calling anyone who challenges the LDS church’s claims and teachings “anti-Mormon.” It is inflamatory, vilifies the recipient, and makes you look defensive.
The truth claims of any “church” should withstand scrutiny, and the bringers of that scrutiny should not be vilified simply for doing so… because anything that goes in bias to a truth claim must be false, by its very definition, right?
If all the “anti-Mormons” are wrong, then you have nothing to worry about, and using an epithet to describe them only raises blood pressure and tone, and also alienates your potential audience.
The “anti-Mormon” term makes LDS apologists out to be sorrowful victims — the very people who carry the banner of “the one true church” the highest (on the Internet anyway). Making yourself out to be a victim of “anti-Mormons” is not a very strong place from which to take a position.
Just my buck-O-five.
Brian : a follower of Jesus Christ, not a follower of a “church”
My letter to Greg Dodge is in the mail. Don’t kid yourself about church membership. I agree that the church will not fall but it will be an empty rundown shack. Greg Dodge is working his ass off because members are leaving faster than they can baptise them. And that isn’t including those that don’t bother taking their names off.
Daniel Peterson, like most members, is deluded.
The greatest message is that there is a wonderful, fulfilling world outside of Mormondom.
As to labeling anyone an anti-mormon. No one who has honest questions about the history of the church or its doctrines are called anti-mormon, that I know of. It is those that rely on lies, distortions of the truth, and half truths against the church are given those labels.
Brothers Hurlbut and E.D. Howe of old are a couple that come to mind and Ed Decker is a modern day anti. Ther are others of course. But when those anti’s are exposed, over and over, I have seen none of those who accuse us of anti extremism even acknowledging that any debunking has been accomplished, let alone any condemnation of it.
I think many LDS fit my description. Born in the Church, Lifelong member, love the “church”, well educated, temple married etc. etc.
I also think though that many who simply decide to look at the church and it’s claims objectively i.e. compare the “apologist” writings to easily located history, have to come to the conclusion that Joseph Smith made it up as he went.
I still go to church every sunday, and maintain faith in God, but I cannot deny that the book of mormon, the book of abraham, polygamy, the 3 kingdoms, the three nephites, the temple ceremony, the jaredite submarine, the story of lehi’s dream, threats to live polygamy by floating angels with a sword etc. etc. were either made from whole cloth or borrowed in bits and pieces.
I have no anger towards other members, I have not been offended, I just strongly disagree with these claims and feel that the religion could be better off without them.
In many other Christian religions, debate is philosophical and encouraged. No one is tagged an “anti” because they are thinking out loud.