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This volume in the Perspectives on Mormon Theology series is an exploration of Mormon apologetics—or the defense of faith. Since its very beginning, various Latter-day Saints have sought to utilize evidence and reason to actively promote or defend beliefs and claims within the Mormon tradition. Mormon apologetics reached new levels of sophistication as believers trained in This volume in the Perspectives on Mormon Theology series is an exploration of Mormon apologetics—or the defense of faith. Since its very beginning, various Latter-day Saints have sought to utilize evidence and reason to actively promote or defend beliefs and claims within the Mormon tradition. Mormon apologetics reached new levels of sophistication as believers trained in fields such as Near-Eastern languages and culture, history, and philosophy began to utilize their knowledge and skills to defend their beliefs. The contributors to this volume seek to explore the textures and contours of apologetics from multiple perspectives, revealing deep theological and ideological fissures within the Mormon scholarly community concerning apologetics. However, in spite of deep-seated differences, what each author has in common is a passion for Mormonism and how it is presented and defended. This volume captures that reality and allows readers to encounter the terrain of Mormon apologetics at close range.


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This volume in the Perspectives on Mormon Theology series is an exploration of Mormon apologetics—or the defense of faith. Since its very beginning, various Latter-day Saints have sought to utilize evidence and reason to actively promote or defend beliefs and claims within the Mormon tradition. Mormon apologetics reached new levels of sophistication as believers trained in This volume in the Perspectives on Mormon Theology series is an exploration of Mormon apologetics—or the defense of faith. Since its very beginning, various Latter-day Saints have sought to utilize evidence and reason to actively promote or defend beliefs and claims within the Mormon tradition. Mormon apologetics reached new levels of sophistication as believers trained in fields such as Near-Eastern languages and culture, history, and philosophy began to utilize their knowledge and skills to defend their beliefs. The contributors to this volume seek to explore the textures and contours of apologetics from multiple perspectives, revealing deep theological and ideological fissures within the Mormon scholarly community concerning apologetics. However, in spite of deep-seated differences, what each author has in common is a passion for Mormonism and how it is presented and defended. This volume captures that reality and allows readers to encounter the terrain of Mormon apologetics at close range.

31 review for Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    Another great book from the publishers at Greg Kofford books. The term apologetics is unfamiliar to some, but it is basically defined as an attempt to defend religious claims. Even if you haven't heard of apologetics, Mormonism at its core requires some form of engagement with it. At its core, Mormonism, like Christianity as a whole, makes certain historical claims, such as the translation of the Book of Mormon, the First Vision, and the that the man called Jesus was the son of God. The authors Another great book from the publishers at Greg Kofford books. The term apologetics is unfamiliar to some, but it is basically defined as an attempt to defend religious claims. Even if you haven't heard of apologetics, Mormonism at its core requires some form of engagement with it. At its core, Mormonism, like Christianity as a whole, makes certain historical claims, such as the translation of the Book of Mormon, the First Vision, and the that the man called Jesus was the son of God. The authors of these essays give different perspectives on the role that scholarly apologetics should play. I will give a 1-2 sentence summary of each essay, as well as some of my favorite quotes from each of the articles. Critical Foundations of Mormon Apologetics: A good introduction to terms in apologetics, and a brief history of how apologetic approaches have changed in Mormonism over time. Two important splits that are discussed throughout the rest of the book: negative/positive apologetics (defenses against critic's arguments, versus building arguments for Mormonism's truth claims) and evidentialism/fideism (seeking evidence for truth claims versus a belief that a "leap of faith" will always be necessary and unavoidable). "For a disciple of Jesus Christ, academic scholarship is a form of worship. It is actually another dimension of consecration. Hence, one who seeks to be a disciple-scholar will take both scholarship and discipleship seriously; and, likewise gospel covenants.” A Brief Defense of Apologetics: Apologetics is necessary and inevitable; anyone with an opinion to defend is engaging in apologetics. C. S. Lewis: To be ignorant and simple now—not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground—would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defence but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. (I’m unaware of anybody who claims that religious belief derives purely from reason; for that matter, I’m confident that unbelief doesn’t either.) Boundary Maintenance that Pushes Boundaries: Scriptural and Theological Insights for Apologetics: A really interesting observation, that apologetics, rather than maintaining the doctrinal status quo, pushes believers into exploring different interpretations of their faith. It asks us to be actively engaged in our faith, coming with questions, and be willing to change our beliefs as necessary. The author looks at a few examples too that perhaps would make members uncomfortable. The concept of authorial bias in Nephi's account of his brothers (Nephi was using his writings as a propoganda tool). Finding Heavenly Mother in the book of Mormon's Tree of Life account is another interesting one. Also, the idea of King Josiah's religious forms being a form of apostasy. "Apologetics is, by definition, a defense of already held beliefs and points of view. As such, it is easy to see apologetics as an obstacle to new understandings of scriptural texts and theological concepts. This can and does happen, and some may even argue that defending a viewpoint inherently obscures or prevents new points of view from being considered." "Defending certain tenents of Latter-day Saint belief involves reinterpretations of scripture and doctrine—and that whatever the merits of any specific reinterpretation may be, this transformative effect is a net positive. Apologetics is at its best not when it is merely defending or providing supportive evidence, but when it can get Latter-day Saints to rethink their understanding of scriptural narratives and teachings, even as it defends certain fundamental premises." "Apologetic approaches like this give weight to a theological concept—that the Bible is not perfect and contains errors—that often feels hollow within typical Mormon approaches. They also serve to illustrate to Latter-day Saints that critically approaching the composition of scripture need not be something to fear. Seeing multiple, and even contending points of view within scripture is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can bolster faith as it provides better context for the Book of Mormon and improves understanding of how the Book of Mormon relates to different traditions within the Old Testament." "They help readers humanize scriptural characters, and thus better relate to the stories being told within the LDS canon. When readers have been engaging theses texts since childhood, the stories can begin to feel stale, but ancient paradigms can bring in fresh perspectives that help bring the stories to life." I Think, Therefore I Defend Some critics of apologetics argue that Mormons cannot present unbiased scholarship, because of their beliefs. Ash argues that there is no such thing as an unbiased observer. We all are going to use arguments to defend our understanding of the world and how it works. "Both are vexed about defensive apologetic approaches which take on war-like mentalities that are more interested in defeating “the enemy” than in coming to the truth. Likewise, both are concerned about affirmative apologetic approaches that are based on shoddy scholarship, bad science, or faulty logic. No scholar (believer or critic) is right all the time. Arguments must be engaged on an individual basis." "While it is certainly commendable and worthwhile to pursue assumption-free scholarship, unfortunately it’s not something we humans are capable of doing very well. The more we know about the brain, for instance, the more we learn that apologetics is an unavoidable part of our human nature thanks to our evolutionary heritage." “There is no scholarship without an agenda; there is no such thing as simply following the evidence to its logical conclusions.” "In the face of contrary evidence, all scholars invent hypotheses that will preserve the paradigm to which they are committed, unless extra-scientific forces prompt them to convert to a different paradigm. All scholars assign the greatest relevance to those facts for which their paradigm accounts; facts they cannot explain, they set aside as problems for which solutions will later have to be found. As Kuhn says, scholarship is “a strenuous and devoted attempt to force nature into the conceptual boxes supplied by” one’s paradigm. This is as true for orthodox scholars as it is for revisionists." "Study after study demonstrates that we are all apologists for our personal worldviews and that holding worldviews doesn’t vitiate scholarly discourse. At times, all people seek data for an interpretation rather than an interpretation for the data." A Wall Between Church and Academy The author argues that there should be two separate efforts in scholarship surrounding Mormonism: the devotional directed towards members (apologetics), and the scholarly directed towards the academy (Mormon studies). "Forced integration leads to unnecessary complications, turf wars, and general unpleasantness." "Jefferson’s “wall” is notorious for protecting the government from religion, but to Jefferson it was just as important for the preservation and development of religious belief itself. He believed that the merging of the two spheres, religion and government, had led to one half of the “world [becoming] fools, and the other half hypocrites,” due to conflicting allegiances and ceaseless in-fighting. Only in the free marketplace of religious belief, where a clear demarcation of duties and obligations is instilled, could religion actually flourish." "Freed from the expectations to satisfy both camps, authors can be more pious to their various audiences, whether academic, public, or apologetic." Mormon Apologetics and Mormon Studies: Truth, History, and Love A look into the strength and weaknesses of the field of Mormon studies. The author acknowledges that it is possible and good to look at Mormonism from an outsider's perspective, complete with scholarly methodologies. But he also points out many of the weaknesses and hypocrisies of the academy-- including the idea that they are fair and compassionate, while apologists are mean-spirited and defensive; the lack of acknowledgment of their own biases; and their evasion of actual truth for something they vaguely call History. "Mormon Studies, for its part, is a domain within the more general area of “religious studies” that applies to Mormon scripture, history, belief, and practice. It thus involves looking at Mormon things from the outside—or, let us say, not necessarily from the inside—and employs frames of reference used by academics who study religious things." "It is important to note that, in this example, I have very deliberately stepped outside of Mormonism in order to enrich my understanding of Truth, which remains a Mormon understanding. This is what it means to think: to prove all things and to hold fast to that which is good. To be sure, my understanding of my own Mormonism is never complete and final, so it is to be expected—it is to be hoped—that my reflections on Aristotle will enrich, and therefore will modify, my understanding of the religious essentials that I remain committed to. Of course, in the abstract, there is the possibility that I will become so enamored of Aristotle’s philosophy that I will embrace it in such a way as to require my leaving Mormonism behind. But this possibility is indeed abstract for me, because I have tested the Mormon Truth over many years by study and by faith, have received many witnesses, both intellectual and spiritual, and have, moreover, made covenants that define and ground my life—none of which are conditional on anything to do with Aristotle." "But the oft-overlooked problem is that the academic disciplines that supply our alternative frameworks have reductive and imperialist tendencies: historians tend to reduce Truth to or replace Truth by History, sociologists by Society, etc. And professors and other professionals get paid (in money and prestige) to impose their frameworks and to publish the results to the applause of others who have an interest in those frameworks." "Academic disciplines tend to hide their distinctive frames of reference behind a façade of neutral “methodology.” This is why, I would suggest, Mormon engagements with other bodies of thought that involve frank and straightforward Truth-claims—Aristotle or Hegel, Mohammed or Martin Luther—are surer sources of spiritual and intellectual enrichment than “methodological” exercises in the hidden or disguised frameworks of the contemporary specialized disciplines." "But are we to imagine that, unlike the mere “apologist,” the “secular” student of Mormonism wakes up every morning ready to cast all inherited and habitual elements of his worldview aside and to start afresh to discover the meaning of life—including his own scholarly activity—with not the slightest prejudice in favor of, say, what he has already been doing, what people expect him to do, what others praise and pay him to do, etc.? That seems a lot to ask. But if the apologist is blamed for not demonstrating awareness in every moment of his writing of the potential that the Church is false, would it be too much to ask that every practitioner of secular Mormon Studies similarly demonstrates openness to the possibility that the LDS Church is true?" "Whereas apologetics is thought to be proud and mean, Mormon Studies is supposed to be compassionate, empathetic, humble, and nice. The connection between science and compassion, I note in passing, is not clear. In any case, it should first be noted that the soundness of a defense of any opinion is not determined by matters of style or tone, but by reasoning and evidence." Neal A. Maxwell: "This new irreligious imperialism,” he wrote, “seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions. Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened.” The Intellectual Cultures of Mormonism: Faith, Reason, and the Apologetic Enterprise An account of some of the recent tensions in Mormonism surrounding faith and reason, including how general authorities lost control of the Mormon narrative in the age of the internet, and the re-direction of the Maxwell Institute in recent years, trying to be more in line with mainstream scholarship. He argues that ultimately, faith takes the upper hand in Mormonism with this quote from President Lee: "The revelations of God,” he declared, “are the standards by which we measure all learning, and if anything squares not with the revelations, then we may be certain it is not truth.” Billy Sunday: “When the consensus of scholarship says one thing and the Word of God another, the consensus of scholarship can go plumb to hell for all I care.” Philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff: “Sometimes suffering is a trial. May it not also be that sometimes the nonrationality of one’s conviction that God exists is a trial, to be endured?” The implications here are profound. If faith claims can always trump evidence and argument, then apologetic dialogue runs the risk of being a pretense. The Role of Women in Apologetics An awesome look at how women have contributed to Mormon apologetics, from Mormon wives defending polygamy back in the day, to pioneering the Mormon voice on the Internet with publications like Meridian. Avoiding Collateral Damage: Creating a Woman-Friendly Mormon Apologetics The author puts forth criteria in how to avoid friendly fire in regards to women when making apologetic arguments: (1) what happens when we invert genders?, (2) does the argument reflect what we know about heaven as well as earth? (3) Are we strictly scrutinizing beliefs that conform with our culture? and (4) are we honoring the paradoxes at the core of Mormon belief? "Further, the Mormon tendency to develop theology from policy—not the other way around—amplifies the potential for damage to occur if we are inventing reasons for a policy and then those reasons become our theology." Elder Oaks: "It’s not the pattern of the Lord to give reasons. We can put reasons to commandments. When we do we’re on our own. Some people put reasons to [the ban] and they turned out to be spectacularly wrong. There is a lesson in that. . . . The lesson I’ve drawn from that, I decided a long time ago that I had faith in the command and I had no faith in the reasons that had been suggested for it. . . . I’m referring to reasons given by general authorities and reasons elaborated upon [those reasons] by others. The whole set of reasons seemed to me to be unnecessary risk taking. . . . Let’s [not] make the mistake that’s been made in the past, here and in other areas, trying to put reasons to revelation. The reasons turn out to be man-made to a great extent. The revelations are what we sustain as the will of the Lord and that’s where safety lies." "The paradoxes of Mormon history and theology must be defended with at least as much vigor as the status quo. There is an inherent danger related to the enterprise of apologetics: it privileges the status quo and reifies it. To the extent that our discussions focus on apologetics rather than theology, we become more concerned with fossilizing the current historical moment than we are with continuing the ongoing work of the restoration. Apologetics by its nature tends toward dismissing the strands of tradition that do not mesh well with current practice. Therefore, apologetics can inhibit the ongoing nature of the restoration if we are not careful to acknowledge the various strands of Mormonism." "The Perfect Union of Man and Woman": Reclamation and Collaboration in Joseph Smith's Theology Making Fiona Givens explores the concept of a Heavenly Mother and how that changes our perspective of the divine, as well as the centrality of the Relief Society to Joseph Smith's theology. Fascinating! Explores how Joseph Smith believed he was restoring something from the primitive Church (women were church leaders in the New Testament), and that they were meant to have a priestly role. Kathleen Flake: “Joseph Smith was the Henry Ford of revelation. He wanted every home to have one, and the revelation he had in mind was the revelation he’d had, which was seeing God.” Richard Bushman: “Smith did not attempt to monopolize the prophetic office. It was as if he intended to reduce his own role and infuse the church bureaucracy with his charismatic powers.” Lamanites, Apologetics, and Tensions in Mormon Anthropology The author uses the Nephite/Lamanite tension and examines how it can be used to interpret scholar/layman and faithful/critical writers. I didn't like this one as much, too much jargon (indexicality? seriously?) Conceptual Confusion and the Building of Stumbling Blocks of Faith Argues that apologists actually create stumbling blocks to believers by giving legitimacy to the idea that faith is entirely at the mercy of reason; faith cannot exist unless reason has a say first. He argues that even if it were proven that the Book of Mormon were a product of the 19th century, faith can adjust and live on. "Thus, I argue that rather than defending any religious claims, apologetics actually establishes or affirms the false criterion by which those religious beliefs may be unfortunately lost. In other words, instead of tearing down potential stumbling blocks to faith, Mormon apologetics actually and unknowingly engages in building and establishing those blocks—blocks that may be tripped upon by others who have accepted the conceptual confusion." D. Z. Phillips: “Apologetics is guilty of friendly fire when it says more than it knows.”4 "They are joining hands with the critics they are opposing in their misguided understanding that religious claims stand or fall on secular historical, philosophical, or scientific argumentation." "Second, regardless of whether or not any particular work of secular scholarship in defense of religious claims withstands the rigorous debates of time, it wrongly establishes secular scholarship in general as an ever-present potential defeater for religious belief. Religious claims thus survive at the mercy of scholarship, and apologists must stand ready to defend them against any and all new threats." "“Moreover, most would agree—I certainly would—that it is impossible, using empirical methods, to prove the divine.” However, he later adds, “It’s the duty of the apologist . . . to clear the ground in order to make it possible for the seed to grow. Faith is still necessary. . . . Apologetics is simply a useful tool that . . . helps to preserve an environment that permits such faith to take root and flourish.” "Far from avoiding the conceptual problem inherent to apologetics, this nuance actually exacerbates the apologetic building of stumbling blocks of faith. This is because not only does such rhetoric imply that secular argumentation has something to say about particular religious claims, it implies that religious claims are only possible or may only be permitted if certain secular claims are in fact true."...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    A collection of essays exploring the history and the future of Mormon apologetics. There is the complete spectrum, conservative, institutional, orthodox, science-trained, theologically-trained, feminist, liberal, disillusioned, etc. There were a couple of boring ones near the end, but by and large, this was an excellent collection of how Mormons should use the tools the academy and logic in the context of their faith. Chief among the debates is the role of the Neal Maxwell Institute. About five y A collection of essays exploring the history and the future of Mormon apologetics. There is the complete spectrum, conservative, institutional, orthodox, science-trained, theologically-trained, feminist, liberal, disillusioned, etc. There were a couple of boring ones near the end, but by and large, this was an excellent collection of how Mormons should use the tools the academy and logic in the context of their faith. Chief among the debates is the role of the Neal Maxwell Institute. About five years ago, the director, Dan Peterson, was let go. With it came a massive overhaul of the Institute's purpose. Peterson moved his apologetic publications outside of housing of BYU, and the NMI became more secular in its approach. Being housed in an academic institution (B.Y. University) indicated they should use the tools of the academy more explicitly. In my view, I agree with this. Although Peterson and others defending the older approach claim their arguments were always of a scholastic quality, they never could engage with the wider academic world, outside of orthodox Mormonism. I tend to agree with the criticisms against the old FARMS publications. (See my discussion of Elephants and the Book of Mormon). Too often they resorted to character attacks, questionable scholarship, and unchristian temperament. However, I found the questions posed by Peterson et al against the new direction to be worthy of consideration. Since BYU is funded by tithing and represents the Church, how much room should the Maxwell Institute have for exploring ideas. Exploration, argument, invited non-Mormon guest authors, etc. all being published in journals by the Maxwell Institute indicates a certain stamp of approval on possibly heretical teachings; certainly not something the institutional church should do. My counter argument is that I want a big-tent church. One where people can explore new ideas and still be considered within the confines of the institution. A Church that allows for more individual freedom of thought, and less reliance on hierarchical obedience. Thus, having the NMI publish unorthodox ideas does not necessarily imply a stamp of approval by the Brethren. Beyond the criticism of historical apologetic tone and questionable scholarship (from Hugh Nibley to the present Interpreter), a second theme of the book is the roll of apologetics in questions of faith - the epistemological question. On the one hand we need more scholarship in our faith. Take Lester Bush's landmark 1973 article on Blacks and the Priesthood. It took the Church until 2013 to officially acknowledge his findings (40 years!). I enjoyed David Bokovoy's essay on how to better incorporate Biblical Scholarship - such as the Documentary Hypothesis - into the LDS paradigm. On the other hand, following Kierkegaard, the question of Jesus' Divinity is without the tools of scholarship to answer. It is a question of faith that can only be experienced as truth, rather than objectively argued. This was forcefully argued by Editor, Loyd Isao Ericson's "Conceptual Confusion and the Building of Stumbling Blocks of Faith." When apologists refer to scholarly methods to defend their faith, it inherently sets up a stumbling block. For scholarship constantly changes. Eventually, some of that scholarship will be overturned. Rather, Ericson argues for a faith dependent on revelation and the spiritual, solely. It isn't that apologists don't rely on spiritual experiences as the foundation of their faith, but in their arguing they rely on scholarship as settling and informing their faith. Scholastic challenges to faith are only given room because scholastic apologists have built the scaffolding. We need not fear academic challenges. It is outside of the purview of scholarship to inform the experiential knowledge. It doesn't matter if Nephi and company left archaeological trace, or whether they existed. The spiritual value of the Book of Mormon carries force, regardless. It hearkens to Paul, spiritual things "ought to be discerned spiritually" (1 Corinthians 2:14). The last essay by Seth Payne was my favorite: "Apologetics as Theological Praxis". In short, Peter's verse to "provide a defense to any who demands" is followed by the command "to do it with gentleness and reverence." (1 Peter 3:15) The work of the defender of the faith is to constantly practice the Christian faith by exercising the Christian ethic of charity and pastoral care. An apologetic that ignores the spiritual needs of the doubter is anti-Christian. He offers as an example Justin Martyr, who's "The First Apology of Justin" took his Roman audience seriously. He accurately portrayed them, rather than building a strawman. He gently showed them the errors of idolatry (from his perspective), and the superiority of Christianity without ever insulting them. It is respectful. Ultimately, it didn't persuade and Justin earned his last name. However, the failure of Justin's apology in persuading is not reason to argue that Justin's method of gentleness and respect are the cause. An honest apologetics must take critics seriously and respect their integrity. It must honestly acknowledge criticisms. Doing so does not weaken ones position; it strengthens our credibility as truth seekers. Ultimately, our religious experience is what is most true; not abstract questions of how many angels can fit on the head of a needle, or whether God is one or three, or whether God is made of bones or blood. What Christians care is whether we can think of God as approachable and loving. That essential truth is the core of Christianity. That is where apologetics succeeds.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Devan Jensen

    Review of Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics By R. Devan Jensen Those who want to learn about the art and practice of defending the faith—known classically as apologetics—will enjoy reading Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics, a compilation of essays edited by Blair G. Van Dyke and Loyd Isao Ericson (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2017). The fifteen authors share a variety of perspectives, both praising and critiquing past and present approaches. My review focuses on this s Review of Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics By R. Devan Jensen Those who want to learn about the art and practice of defending the faith—known classically as apologetics—will enjoy reading Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics, a compilation of essays edited by Blair G. Van Dyke and Loyd Isao Ericson (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2017). The fifteen authors share a variety of perspectives, both praising and critiquing past and present approaches. My review focuses on this survey of apologetics, as well as related definitions and questions. Apologetics in the Past and Present In the age of Hugh Nibley, the term Mormon apologetics referred to a fairly traditional set of papers defending the claims of the Church or attacking critics. Today’s apologetic approaches are more varied, including “traditional apologetics, new positive apologetics as typified by [Terryl] Givens and [Patrick] Mason, a form of official apologetics as with the Gospel Topics essays, pastoral apologetics as outlined by Seth Payne, religious studies scholarship examining and discussing the same LDS doctrines and practices that apologists often discuss, and so forth.” Such scholars have professional training in history, Near Eastern languages and culture, and philosophy. The book applauds apologetic work created by the Church History Department, the Joseph Smith Papers Project, and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship (21–22). I note that other strong apologetic work has been published by BYU Studies, the Religious Studies Center, Book of Mormon Central, and other venues listed by Seminaries and Institutes at LDS.org. Defensive versus Affirmative Apologetics The book defines several vital terms. Van Dyke defines the term negative apologetics as “responses to criticism already levied against Mormonism” (2). Daniel C. Peterson clarifies that the term refers not to being “mean-spirited” but to “rebuttal and defense” (40). Peterson compares this act to “clearing the ground of weeds, and keeping it clear, so that the seed has a chance to take root and grow” (40). Accordingly, Michael Ash prefers the term defensive apologetics (65). Adoption of this term over the other seems important because of Latter-day Saint cultural desire to avoid negativity and contention, even to the point of avoiding uncomfortable conversations that lead to heated emotions or compromise. Conversely, the term positive apologetics refers to “arguments that justify the faith and fortify her position ahead of disagreements and criticisms” (2). In Peterson’s analogy, this is planting the seed in the ground and nurturing it. Ash refers to this as affirmative or educational apologetics (65–67). The latter terms prevent ambiguity and potential criticism that apologists have a “positive” bent or mindset that precludes the possibility of dismissing credible evidence to the contrary of their position. Neal Rappleye offers several examples of Book of Mormon defensive scholarship that pushes the boundaries of scholarship in a positive direction (52–61). Evidentialism, Fideism, and Presuppositionalism Evidentialism refers to attempts to anchor defense of one’s truth claims in objective evidence, such as the 1987 discovery of a steel sword near Jerusalem to justify Nephi’s claim about Laban’s sword (4–5). Conversely, fideism emphasizes subjective faith over objective evidence, suggesting that spiritual matters are deeply personal (5). Van Dyke notes that “Mormons consistently manifest strains of fideism” (6) and sometimes “anti-intellectualism” (12). Presuppositionalism identifies the assumptions all human beings make about which sources of evidence we trust and seek out for additional confirmation (15–17). Another term for this is confirmation bias. As one example, after the 2013 US Supreme Court announcement in favor of same-sex marriage, the LDS Church asserted, “Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children.” Van Dyke claims, “Evidentiary proof does not bear out this claim” (19). We would be wise to evaluate the presuppositions and evidence of all parties involved in such vital arguments. Critiques of Current Apologetics Ralph Hancock and Loyd Ericson both critique current practices, though from different ends of the spectrum. For example, Hancock criticizes newly re-created Mormon Studies Review by being too neutral in faith matters, engaging non-LDS scholars on their own terms (107–9). On the other end, Ericson divides Book of Mormon studies very discretely into historical facts or “religious studies,” arguing against historical examination of “things of the soul” (220). These voices from the ends of the spectrum will variously please or annoy readers. Questions Raised by the Book In sum, it seems fair to assert that “every argument defending any position . . . is an apology” (27). Peterson concludes his essay with several searching questions about how to do apologetics: “Will we be honest? Competent? Civil? Will we be effective, or not?” (41). To which, I add several questions of my own: Who is doing the best, most exciting work in apologetics at the present? How can scholars be most effective in evaluating evidence for their arguments? How tentative should they be in propositions and conclusions? What place does scientific evidence play in relation to faith? How can we evaluate science effectively when it is also subject to confirmation bias? These are a few questions raised by a reading of this important book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John

    http://goodgazette.blogspot.com/2017/... http://goodgazette.blogspot.com/2017/...

  5. 5 out of 5

    John

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dan Ellsworth

  7. 4 out of 5

    Todd

  8. 4 out of 5

    Loyd

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Brown

  10. 4 out of 5

    RodOlson

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  12. 4 out of 5

    B

  13. 4 out of 5

    Greg

  14. 5 out of 5

    Todd Decker

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Todd

  16. 5 out of 5

    Colemen Wilson

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christi Nazer

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kelli Bonin

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brianne Mccusker

  21. 4 out of 5

    Garret Shields

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kim Berkey

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Owens smith

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Bradford

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael Purple

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rashelle

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cari Graham

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Dupree

  31. 4 out of 5

    Felicia

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