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lostindc

The State of Mormon Apologetics

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1 minute ago, Ryan Dahle said:

BMC is definitely more in line with the "old guard," but it is a different type of organization than FARMS or the old Maxwell Institute were. BMC doesn't really get involved in "fighting battles." It mostly repackages faith promoting scholarship for a general audience. 

I didn’t mean to imply you were fighting battles, at least in the sense of adversarial polemics. As you note, I am just saying that BMC seems to be quite in line with old-style apologetics. 

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28 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

After checking out Book of Mormon Central, I’m not sure you’re correct. 

There's also FairMormon. And the Interpreter Foundation. All three were mentioned approvingly by a General Authority last week at the FairMormon Conference. A General Authority who freely affirmed he was there by assignment.

I wasn't there for all portions of the three-day conference, but I don't recall much, if anything, said about a "new guard more interested in Mormon studies."

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1 minute ago, Scott Lloyd said:

There's also FairMormon. And the Interpreter Foundation. All three were mentioned approvingly by a General Authority last week at the FairMormon Conference. A General Authority who freely affirmed he was there by assignment.

I wasn't there for all portions of the three-day conference, but I don't recall much, if anything, said about a "new guard more interested in Mormon studies."

I know. I just figured everyone knows Fair and the Interpreter are traditional apologetics. 

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1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

After checking out Book of Mormon Central, I’m not sure you’re correct. 

Isn’t it more of a niche group though?  How robust is the movement by comparison to times past do you think?  

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Just now, hope_for_things said:

Isn’t it more of a niche group though?  How robust is the movement by comparison to times past do you think?  

As Scott pointed out, they aren’t alone. I have no idea how robust the movement is. I did notice that the crowd at the Fair conference didn’t exactly skew young. 

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1 hour ago, Ryan Dahle said:

BMC is definitely more in line with the "old guard," but it is a different type of organization than FARMS or the old Maxwell Institute were. BMC doesn't really get involved in "fighting battles." It mostly repackages faith promoting scholarship for a general audience. 

I’m not too familiar with BMC, is the repacked scholarship just reruns of the old stuff, or are they producing new stuff too?  

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1 hour ago, Scott Lloyd said:

There's also FairMormon. And the Interpreter Foundation. All three were mentioned approvingly by a General Authority last week at the FairMormon Conference. A General Authority who freely affirmed he was there by assignment.

I wasn't there for all portions of the three-day conference, but I don't recall much, if anything, said about a "new guard more interested in Mormon studies."

I wouldn’t expect GAs to endorse less apologetic scholarship.  They’ve been reluctant to promote their own Essays.  But I do think that any opening up to non officially produced materials is one positive step.  

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4 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

As Scott pointed out, they aren’t alone. I have no idea how robust the movement is. I did notice that the crowd at the Fair conference didn’t exactly skew young. 

My impression is that the current movement is quite less influential and rigorous than 50 yrs ago.  

I think the strong scholars have moved past polemical work.  

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1 minute ago, hope_for_things said:

My impression is that the current movement is quite less influential and rigorous than 50 yrs ago.  

I think the strong scholars have moved past polemical work.  

One can only hope so. 

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15 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I’m not too familiar with BMC, is the repacked scholarship just reruns of the old stuff, or are they producing new stuff too?

Mostly old stuff, but new things as well.

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19 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Isn’t it more of a niche group though?  How robust is the movement by comparison to times past do you think?  

Lot better known, in my experience.

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18 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

As Scott pointed out, they aren’t alone. I have no idea how robust the movement is. I did notice that the crowd at the Fair conference didn’t exactly skew young. 

We never did at the conferences.  Even though it is during summer, it is still mainly retirees who have the time to attend from what I have seen.

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13 minutes ago, Calm said:

We never did at the conferences.  Even though it is during summer, it is still mainly retirees who have the time to attend from what I have seen.

That makes sense. 

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18 minutes ago, Calm said:

Lot better known, in my experience.

Couldn’t this be primarily a result of the internet rather than due to the materials being produced.  

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35 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

My impression is that the current movement is quite less influential and rigorous than 50 yrs ago.  

I think the strong scholars have moved past polemical work.  

 

43 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Isn’t it more of a niche group though?  How robust is the movement by comparison to times past do you think?  

Influence is difficult to track. BMC certainly has an online/social media influence that is different than past organizations. I think in several ways BMC has been more influential than past organizations. It is only 2.5 years old and it already has produced hundreds of articles/videos/podcasts. It has some pretty good quality evidence videos. It has a very significant presence among Spanish-speaking Latter-day Saints. And it is developing a scripture app that hopefully will inform many more LDS about the scholarship that is out there (although the scholarly aspects of the app won't be fully realized in its initial version). 

It would be a mischaracterization, though, to imply that BMC is involved in "polemical" work.

Strong scholars work for and are affiliated with BMC. But the organization is not really attempting to produce cutting edge, robust scholarship. The problem is that we already have mounds of robust scholarship that most LDS know nothing about. BMC takes that information, synthesizes it, summarizes it, and then presents it in a multi-media way. I think it is too early to tell how influential BMC will be compared to previous organizations, but it is on a good trajectory imo. 

I am a little biased though. ;)

 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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I distinctly recall a conversation with Dallin as my involvement in these matters increased. He told me to be extremely cautious and to document thoroughly all the findings I made; to create a "paper trail" of these things such that it could never subsequently be disputed that it was I who had made the discoveries. My initial reaction to this counsel was to express disbelief that anyone at BYU would try to "steal" my research and call it his own. But Dallin was adamant that such things do happen—even at BYU—and that I would live to regret it if I did not take steps to prevent the misappropriation of my research. Therefore, from that moment forward, I heeded his counsel to carefully document the various findings consequent to my research. Little could I have anticipated how prescient that counsel would turn out to be.

Without planning on naming names at all, I will say that this has definitely happened to people I know in the past.

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Strangely enough, no sooner had my name and the title of my presentation been posted on the FAIR website, than several members of the FAIR Board of Directors were bombarded with demands that I be removed from the conference agenda! These demands originated from people who participate (most of them anonymously) at the Mormon Discussions message board—an online forum dominated by critics and enemies of Mormonism. The premise of their demands was that I am (allegedly) vulgar, sexist, misogynistic, etc., and that I consistently engage in what they characterize as "vicious ad hominem attacks" towards the women with whom I have participated in online debates of issues related to Mormonism.

Things like this happening are an extremely good reason to stay off the forums. I think that, as much as anything, why many hated the old guard was due to their participation in such forums. Whether fair or not it probably helped set in motion the split at the Maxwell Institute. (I've said many times that one of the worst things to happen to FARMS was to become part of BYU - and I said so at the time)

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Now, a little more than one year later, my predictions have proven accurate in virtually every respect. Furthermore, it has become apparent that it is not only the anti-Mormon critics of the Church who seek to suppress Mormon apologetics, but also a substantial number of the LDS intelligentsia who oppose apologetics per se, and who instead advocate a purely secular approach to Mormon studies—an approach that will necessarily entail the rejection of traditional faithful defenses of the restored gospel.

Sadly I think this also true. 

All that said, I'm surprised he didn't contribute to the Interpreter more. 

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2 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Couldn’t this be primarily a result of the internet rather than due to the materials being produced.  

I am attaching "robust" to level of impact on others or effectiveness of mission.

Impact has spread in part due to greater internet use, but also because of FM being discussed in the Church News and on LDS.org as well as in talks.  And talks that are put online will have a larger influence than those limited to the group present.  Impact is also affected by how accessible materials are...FM wiki is accessible to anyone with the internet and with google or its own search function, people can go right to their concern (if it has been written about) rather than be dependent on having access to hard copy journals.  If they can't find it, they can always ask.  It gives an incentive, imo, to search if one knows one is not depending on a dice roll on whether or not it has even been written about.

BoM Central and FM and to a great extent Interpreter are all Internet based, So of course Internet use will have a huge influence on their impact.

Edited by Calm

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5 hours ago, lostindc said:

What happened to Will?

He still lives in Cedar City, as always.

5 hours ago, lostindc said:

I think the Backyard Professor is no longer Mormon, or at least a believing Mormon.

That's why I listed him and Xander, who likewise was at one time an extreme pro-Mormon.

5 hours ago, lostindc said:

Besides the Interpreter Foundation, the other outlets you mentioned like the Church History Dept and the Essays, to me, don't seem like apologetics.  Rather, these outlets seem like they focus more on compiling historical documents and acknowledging portions of Church history.  I don't feel like these outlets are seeking to explain why something happened in an apologetic manner.  I could be wrong.

The Essays have been specifically explained as deliberately formulated to "inoculate" members against the depredations of the anti-Mormons.  So their composition was deliberately apologetic via telling the whole truth up front  Likewise, the Joseph Smith Papers Project includes extensive introductions which place the them in context -- leaving nothing out.  This again is a massive apologetic enterprise.  The anti-Mormons have, after all, always claimed that the Mormons were hiding their real history, which could include the details of polygamy, or of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. They can no longer make that false claim so easily as in the past.

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2 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I wouldn’t expect GAs to endorse less apologetic scholarship.  They’ve been reluctant to promote their own Essays.  

I don't concede that this is true.

Quote

But I do think that any opening up to non officially produced materials is one positive step.  

My perception is that the Church has always been tolerant of, if not overtly supportive of, "independent voices" that are in alignment with the doctrine and position of Church

But any approach that casts doubt on the authenticity of the Book of Mormon or the Book of Abraham or that seeks to unauthoritatively alter the doctrine and position of the Church is not a "step" that I welcome.

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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21 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

But any approach that casts doubt on the authenticity of the Book of Mormon or the Book of Abraham or that seeks to unauthoritatively alter the doctrine and position of the Church is not a "step" that I welcome.

Hypothetically, how would you react if the official church position on the Book of Abraham changed?

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47 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

Hypothetically, how would you react if the official church position on the Book of Abraham changed?

Do you mean what would I do if capitulation from within were to corrupt the Church such that another general apostasy transpired like that which occurred following the deaths of the original apostles? I suppose I would await another restoration of gospel truth and priesthood authority and keys.

But it's not a notion I can take seriously, as I believe the words of John the Baptist to Joseph and Oliver Cowdery, that the priesthood authority and keys would never again be taken from the earth.

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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47 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I don't concede that this is true.

My perception is that the Church has always been tolerant of, if not overtly supportive of, "independent voices" that are in alignment with the doctrine and position of Church

But any approach that casts doubt on the authenticity of the Book of Mormon or the Book of Abraham or that seeks to unauthoritatively alter the doctrine and position of the Church is not a "step" that I welcome.

Since your personal preference is for conservative apologetics, I’m not surprised you view events this way.  

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22 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Since your personal preference is for conservative apologetics, I’m not surprised you view events this way.  

My personal preference is for defense of the faith and the saints, not some altered form thereof.

 

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1 hour ago, Scott Lloyd said:

My perception is that the Church has always been tolerant of, if not overtly supportive of, "independent voices" that are in alignment with the doctrine and position of Church.

How can the voice be independent if the voice is in alignment with the doctrine and position of the Church? Also, of course the church like any organization loves voices that agree with it. So, it doesn't seem remarkable that the church would "tolerate" an agreeable voice. "Tolerance" seems more along the lines of acceptance of a different or even opposing view.

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1 hour ago, Exiled said:

How can the voice be independent if the voice is in alignment with the doctrine and position of the Church? Also, of course the church like any organization loves voices that agree with it. So, it doesn't seem remarkable that the church would "tolerate" an agreeable voice. "Tolerance" seems more along the lines of acceptance of a different or even opposing view.

I don’t accept your implicit assumption that an entity must conflict with or be hostile to the Church to be regarded as independent of it. That strikes me as rank prejudice, in fact. 

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