There are 10 thoughts on “Attacking Rather Than Explaining”.

  1. I don’t see where anyone here has dismissed Dr. Jackson for having examined Mormonism. No one seems to be complaining that someone from one segment of Christianity is examining another segment of Christianity.

    Instead, Ms. Hedelius points out: (a) simple errors in the text that indicate either a lack of familiarity with Mormonism or lack of careful attention to “getting it right,” (b) an unmistakable Evangelical/Protestant bias in portraying Mormon theology, (c) that some issues are portrayed incorrectly (and negatively toward Mormons) even when there is readily available information to clear up misconceptions, (d) the suspect nature of the promotion of the book itself — not only with the tie-in to the Romney presidential run, but that the book is directed to Protestants AND to Mormons who have grown up blissfully happy and content in a Mormon bubble without thinking through their faith or exerting much energy to evaluate the Church’s validity.

    Et cetera.

    In other words, critiquing the result of the effort, not that the effort was made.

  2. Stephen, it proves my point, you haven’t read my book and probably won’t, but you will support the review anyway. This is a typical LDS mindset. Also, I do not understand why Mormons dismiss me examining Mormonism. If Mormonism is Christian as you claim, and I am a Christian, then I am simply a Christian examining a segment of Christianity. Why is that so odd?

    • Interpreter prefers to publish posts that have some substance and contribution. Unfortunately, this post may be moving conversations away from productive dialogue. Posts that simply agree or disagree will not be published. Other arenas are available for that type of discourse. Posts that deal with specifics will be considered.

    • Dr. Jackson, hello. A few thoughts on your various posts above:

      1) I’m baffled by the claim that it was dishonorable for Interpreter to publish a review by one without “formal biblical/historical education.” Given that you state clearly the book was aimed at a “broad Christian audience,” and even more broadly, “interested non-Christians and Mormons,” such credentials are unnecessary. Furthermore, anyone who reads your book (which, despite the caveat that I don’t think it’s terribly enlightening or accurate, I wouldn’t actively dissuade) would find that it is definitely written for a non-specialist audience. I’m well-read on Mormonism and Evangelical Protestantism, and I stand by my analysis.

      2) If you read my review more closely, you will see that, contrary to your claim, I did indeed “address the fact that the whole book is based on Mormon sources.” I specifically mentioned your over 40 citations to Mormon Doctrine by McConkie and your many citations to LDS scripture, then noting that in addition you “resor[t] frequently” to critical non-Mormon sources. This is an accurate summary of your endnotes. And the fact that you quoted Mormon sources doesn’t lay to rest the question of whether you used them well.

      3) You say: “If Mormonism is Christian as you claim, and I am a Christian, then I am simply a Christian examining a segment of Christianity. Why is that so odd?” Reverend, I think you’re a decent chap, and so I hope you just didn’t think clearly about this. Neither you nor your book anywhere affirm that Mormonism is Christian. You approvingly cite the point of view that Mormonism is a cult. You everywhere laud Evangelical Protestant (though you simply label them “Christian”) beliefs as distinct from Mormon ones. You caricature and misrepresent Mormon beliefs, despite indications that you know better. I would have no objection whatsoever to a Christian examining Mormonism as a segment of Christianity if he considered seriously Mormons’ Christian beliefs and characteristics. Even if he ended up determining that Mormons are not Christians, I would respect his sincere attempt to grapple with Mormon thought. You did not do so.

      4) I decline to debate you, although I thank you for the invitation. I wish you well in your efforts to promote your book.

      5) I apologize that my writing style offended you. I didn’t mean to be glib or smug, only trenchant. I tried to give a full report of your and your book’s virtues, and was honest in my portrayal of its deficiencies. It’s really much better than many dismissals of Mormonism from an Evangelical standpoint, but that’s such an overcrowded and low-quality genre that being a cut above still isn’t terribly high.

      6) I wish you well, Dr. Jackson. From what I’ve seen on your resume and website, you’ve been a devoted friend to humanity and disciple of Christ. I hope that some day you will acquire a deeper understanding of Mormonism, but our differences in the meantime do nothing to lessen my admiration.

  3. James, I agree with your comment, but she certainly did not give a clear understanding of my book. Actually, I do not think she is biblically or historically qualified to do so. It seems as if her goal was to make sure no other Mormons read it. I would encourage people to read it for themselves, and not be discouraged by this distorted understanding of my book. In fact, if we had a proper public forum, I would like to debate Ms Hedelius on the content of my book. Is this possible?

    • You sir profess to write a book about the LDS Church and you don’t even know the names of the Three Witnesses or what actually goes on in our Temples? Apparently you also are unaware that while the Three Witnesses each left the Church, two returned and not one denied the witness they attested to. I mention these things because you attack the author as not being academically qualified to review your book. Yet I see a man with an advanced degree who is nevertheless wrong on such very basic points of fact and practices. How can I take anything else you say seriously?

  4. I assume that Cassandra is a very nice person, but her review of my book is simply an axe job, a diatribe of accusative words/assumptions, and common warn-out LDS arguments. It seems like she simply “cut and paste” this review together by what she found on the internet. A typical example of her writing style is her statement: “Many use the ‘some of my best friends are . . . ‘ gambit.” I would hope that MI could have found someone with formal biblical/historical education to review my book, it would have been a little more honorable. Although she likes to point out the non-Mormon sources I cite in my numerous end-notes to disqualify my book, she does not address the fact that the whole book is based on Mormon sources found throughout the end-notes. One thing this review did do, it revealed to me why she only “researches and writes about Mormonism FOR PLEASURE.” By the way, my specialized D.Min. did include writing and defending a dissertation.

    • Although I have not read your book, I think Cassandra made some important critiques of your treatment of Mormonism. This is, of course, assuming that she has fairly characterized those portions of your book which she is critiquing. Cassandra being an acquaintance of mine, and having read other material of hers, I do not believe she would fabricate things, so I am inclined to trust her ability to fairly summarize and critique your arguments.

      Your decrying of her piece as merely an “axe job” doesn’t do much to rebut her criticisms, and your appeal to authority is amusing since, based on your own standard, I highly doubt you are any more qualified to critically examine Mormonism than Cassandra is to critically examine your book.

  5. M. Hedelius has given readers a clear understanding of the Reverend Jackson’s book(s). For this she is to be commended. It is apparant she has written her review for a receptive LDS audience. Might not her review would have been more valuable had it not contained so many zingers? For example: “He’s on the attack already” adds nothing. Likewise “the well thus tidily poisoned” seems unnecessary.
    My argument is for maximum civility in defending the faith. Michael Otterson has done a remarkable job of demonstrating this approach. It surely invites less argumentative confrontation.

    • Michael Otterson is writing a different kind of piece. For a book review, saying things like “he’s on the attack already” and “the well thus tidily poisoned” is scarcely “uncivil” or “confrontational.”

      It’s certainly not inappropriate or unchristian for a theater review, say, to comment that a play is “poorly written” or “not particularly funny” or “badly acted.” Such expressions are the coin of the realm.

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