There are 12 thoughts on “Introduction, Volume 6: The Modest But Important End of Apologetics”.

  1. In late 1987 I began reading the Tanner’s “Shadow Or Reality?” I had already left the Church, which had more to do with “Church issues” than doctrine. When I left, I still firmly believed the Book of Mormon. Odd, isn’t it? Maybe not, when you consider that the Book of Mormon was my *reason* for becoming a Mormon. Although the missionaries introduced it to me several months before, I didn’t fully read it, but initially, I was very attracted to principles like “opposition in all things” (“Hmm, must read more about that sometime”). I can’t remember the circumstances, but when I decided to read it in full, it was, to say the least, a life-changing experience. “Blown away” would be an understatement.

    Long story shortened, I was one of the first FARMS volunteers, and at the time one of only two in Australia (the other being Warren Aston). By 1988, I’d concluded that the Church, and “apologists”, were scraping the barrel for answers (especially after reading “Shadow Or Reality?”). That helped me to “walk away” with even less regret. In early 1988, I penned my resignation letter to the stake presidency, and in those days there was no easy option. A high council court had to be convened, and I was invited to attend, which I declined.

    A year later (why so long, I don’t know, but it appears they were very reluctant to proceed), I reminded the stake president about my request, and not long after received official notice of my excommunication.

    In 1989 I was still a subscriber to FARMS, the year “Review of Books on the Book of Mormon” appeared, or RBBM, which later became The FARMS Review. I was immediately attracted not only to RBBM, but its outspoken editor, Dr. Daniel C. Peterson. Seldom did any review ever match the conviction and passion of Dr. Peterson’s editorials. I was truly hooked.

    I think it was Le Grand Richards who warned about taking anti-Mormons seriously. His basic advice was – ignore them. Which I thought was a bit too laid back, even irresponsible. Just look at how they “assisted” *me* out of the Church, and all you can say is, “ignore them”?

    Dr. Peterson more than corrected that benign approach. Maybe the peacemakers are blessed, but sometimes it takes a “missile hit” to wake up people, like me.

    As a direct result of Dr. Peterson’s editorials, and The Review, I rejoined the Church in 1995. Later, divorce and awful life circumstances would compel me to once again resign (2001). Not because I became an unbeliever, but because I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I knew that my single status would not at all be “conducive” to the LDS lifestyle. And even the thought or remarrying in the Church was nothing but utterly painful. I just couldn’t do it again, end of matter.

    I had been Gospel Doctrine teacher for the last year of activity, Nov.1999-Feb.2001, and loved teaching Gospel Doctrine. From the feedback I got, so did class members. I was told that when released as Gospel Doctrine teacher (I had left the Church by then), the 1st Counselor in the Bishopric who released me, had tears pouring down his face. So I was told.

    So is apologetics “useful”. It’s more than useful, it’s *essential*, because that which we don’t defend, will quickly fall by the wayside as “false”, “fraudulent”, and useless.

    Thank you for bearing with me, and God bless.

  2. I am active LDS, who just recently has been introduced to apologetics.
    About a year ago, I visited Palmyra NY. I found this visit faith affirming and it re-sparked my interest in early church history.
    A couple weeks after that trip, a good friend of mine who is a former Mormon, had an article published in a SL magazine that essentially, and in an artful way, trashed the character of Joseph Smith.
    I felt compelled to send my friend a message and perhaps engage in a dialogue regarding his justifications for disbelief and share my own faith. The conversation was friendly and respectful, but he introduced me to some issues that I was either unaware of, or I didn’t know how to respond to them. One was the claim that the book of Mormon narrative closely resembles the “View of Hebrews”. Having never heard of VOH, I decided to look it up on wikipedia. I don’t remember exactly what the wiki had to say regarding its connection to the BOM, but I did find a link at the bottom of the page to the maxwell institue, which led me to a pdf of the View of Hebrews, as well as some insight into the question of its similarity to the Book of Mormon, which it turns out is negligible.
    Anyway I found answers to some other issues regarding BOM and DNA and archaeology, Book of Abraham, etc. This search also led me to FAIR where I have watched many talks by you and others.

    I came upon another apologist, whom I will not name, who posted videos from his back yard. He had a particular exuberance which was initially hard to get past, but I found his arguments and insights quite interesting. I didn’t realize that these videos were over four years old, so when I came across a more recent video of his, I was surprised to find his arguments seeming to favor atheistic views. Now I don’t know this man, I’m sure he’s a good guy, and I respect his intellect, but I have to ask, was he more interested in winning and argument than defending faith?
    It’s one thing to defend religion, but if there is no faith expressed in our adherence to religious practice, then there is nothing to defend.

    So I want to thank you, Dan Peterson. In your lectures I have always found compelling insight and argument, but more importantly, I sense that you truly love the faith you are defending.

  3. Dan, you’ve always been my poster-child for LDS apologetics. I absolutely love reading your articles and hearing your thoughts. I appreciate your immense gifts and the good-natured way you approach your defense. I hope you don’t mind being idolized!

    This is a great article and I enjoyed your perspectives – as usual. We’ve made sacred promises in sacred places to ‘…defend the kingdom of God.’ No one does a better job of clarifying and defending the doctrine of the kingdom than you (in my humble and accurate opinion!) As you point out, it is the Spirit that testifies and leads to truth, but intellect and wisdom has to be employed when needed. Captain Moroni understood that! May I quote one of my favorites from your writings? One of very, very many?

    Here goes:
    The anti-Mormons cannot go on like this. They cannot continue to boast of their triumphs over Mormonism while running from the evidence and logic that would defeat them. They cannot continue to pretend that Mormon arguments do not exist. They surely cannot persist in composing books and articles that leave us embarrassed on their behalf.
    No, on second thought, they can, and they almost certainly will. (Farms Review 1997)

    Carry on, good brother! Never hesitate to draw your sword in ‘so great a cause’.

  4. While I was in law school our mock court said my case was logical but not persuasive. Love is the strongest persuader.

  5. Brother Peterson,

    The energy of your writing thrills and motivates me. Thank you for using your talents to lift us.

    Thank you again and again!

  6. Dr. Dan,

    I’m glad to have your insight. I’m certain that your imploring perspective helps me develop a clearer introspection on how I can be of service in God’s kingdom, even as I have a guilty pleasure in (daftly-amateur) apologetics.

    Apologists would do well to heed Covey’s 5th Habit: seek to understand before being understood. In the long run, the church and our faith as a whole will be much better for it.

  7. “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118; 109:7, 14)

    It would appear that apologetics, in conjunction with faith, is a commandment for the Latter-day Saints.

  8. Brother Peterson,

    What you are saying might be better clarified if you (and others here in comments) would apply it to a real world example, that being Elder Ballard’s request to the sisters at Education Week last?

    From the Deseret News:

    All — women, men, young adults, youth, young boys and girls — have the Lord and his church to defend, protect and spread throughout the earth, Elder Ballard said. More distinctive, influential voices of faith from women are needed — for only women can show the world what women of God who have made covenants look like and believe.

    “None of us can afford to stand by and watch the purposes of God be diminished and pushed aside,” he said. “I invite particularly you sisters here and throughout the church to seek the guidance of heaven in knowing what you can do to let your voice of faith and testimony be heard.”

    • I’m not sure how I can expand on Elder Ballard’s request, which I heartily endorse.

      My “Mormon Scholars Testify” site represents an attempt to recruit more public voices for the cause, and I’ve repeatedly encouraged others to start up parallel websites. Also, my 2013 FAIR conference talk tries to get others involved besides scholars.

  9. There is a certain irony is the very existence of a book arguing for the “end” of apologetics. Should we call it an anti-apologetic apologetic?

    In any event, from what I have been able to gather of Dr. Penner’s view, I feel the Mormon apologetics has largely been able to avoid the pit falls Dr. Penner sees as the evil of apologetics, and I think we have done precisely because we have failed – even refused – to professionalize and institutionalize apologetics. We don’t have full-time apologists, we don’t offer apologetic classes, and the apologist has no place in the tightly structured hierarchy. In fact, that we even have a hierarchy at all is different from our Evangelical friends, and which also, I think, holds our apologetics in check a little. Any Mormon apologist will, invariably, defer to the present authorities when necessary.

  10. “Reasoned argument can nourish and protect a seed and can even prepare the soil for the sowing of a seed, but it can’t cause a seed to germinate where none has been planted.”

    Well said.

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