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"The Obligation To Do Apologetics"


Scott Lloyd

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Here's a hypothetical for narrator.

Suppose a friend or family member approaches you and says "I am beginning to have doubts about my testimony. There are things from the history of the Church which I never knew about, but which concern me. For example, my friend said that Joseph Smith stole the temple endowment from freemasonry. I was told the endowment was revealed by God, and now I am really having some confusing doubts."

What would you do, Loyd? Would you say, "well your problem is that you are using 'reason' to assess the claims of the gospel. I think what you need is more faith. If you just have faith and pray about it it will be OK." Would you say something else? What would you do?

I would say: Yes, Joseph Smith used Masonic rites to develop his endowment ceremony. If they want to ask more questions, I'd give them more answers: No, I don't think they are based on actually ancient rituals. Yes, I find them beautiful and meaningful nonetheless. No, I don't think they are magically efficacious. Yes, I believe that God uses them to bind us into communities to build the Kingdom of God, etc.

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Ironically, Google is so fast that at least one of those 199 is referring to this very thread.

Regardless of what Google says, I was referring to FPL's to refer to those faith promoting stories which are cognitively dishonest from the beginning, such as those engineered by Paul H. Dunn. While they are less common than those generated by gossip (FPRs), they are nonetheless used to support and build faith.

But they are ticking time bombs. Thus, I exclude them from my frame of reference in talking about apologetics that builds and sustains faith.

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I would say: Yes, Joseph Smith used Masonic rites to develop his endowment ceremony. If they want to ask more questions, I'd give them more answers: No, I don't think they are based on actually ancient rituals. Yes, I find them beautiful and meaningful nonetheless. No, I don't think they are magically efficacious. Yes, I believe that God uses them to bind us into communities to build the Kingdom of God, etc.

And the with that hypothetical the member is now strengthed and they choose to stay in the church.

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I would say: Yes, Joseph Smith used Masonic rites to develop his endowment ceremony. If they want to ask more questions, I'd give them more answers: No, I don't think they are based on actually ancient rituals. Yes, I find them beautiful and meaningful nonetheless. No, I don't think they are magically efficacious. Yes, I believe that God uses them to bind us into communities to build the Kingdom of God, etc.

Sounds "reasonable." :P

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So, in your mind, what is the appropriate response to address our critics?

Depends on the criticism. Sometimes the proper response is: Yes, you are right. Sometimes the proper response is to point out poor argumentation (which could be equally done by a non-believer). Sometimes the response is "I don't know." Other times the only response is: Perhaps, but it doesn't matter.

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Depends on the criticism. Sometimes the proper response is: Yes, you are right. Sometimes the proper response is to point out poor argumentation (which could be equally done by a non-believer). Sometimes the response is "I don't know." Other times the only response is: Perhaps, but it doesn't matter.

And that, to you, doesn't fall under the umbrella of "apologetics"? I mean, someone would certainly need to do some sort of scholarly work to determine what's "right" and what we do and don't know, correct?

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I don't think it takes boldness to admit that, really. It takes much more boldness (and effort) to actually confront specific examples and provide a corrective or better way. Otherwise we're just complaining from the peanut gallery or ivory tower, wherever we feel most comfy.

Fine. Then I said it in cowardice. Who cares how I said it.

I believe that they've all engaged at bad apologetics at times. I document some cases in my paper.

Can I not state my own beliefs, or must I document everything?

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Fine. Then I said it in cowardice. Who cares how I said it.

Who said it was cowardly?

I believe that they've all engaged at bad apologetics at times. I document some cases in my paper.

Like I said, it's more "bold" and takes more effort to actually respond to specifics.

Can I not state my own beliefs, or must I document everything?

You can do what you want, but you shouldn't shy away from constructive criticism. I thought you dig that sort of give and take anyway. If I'm being irritating just let me know!

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Sounds "reasonable." :P

I know the emoticon is meant to minimize your jab, but given the fact that I have repeatedly stated that my beef is with apologetics that attempt to prove or defend a religious truth claim, your subtle straw man response seems to be an unnecessary attempt to spur or prod me further.

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And that, to you, doesn't fall under the umbrella of "apologetics"? I mean, someone would certainly need to do some sort of scholarly work to determine what's "right" and what we do and don't know, correct?

No. By "apologetics" I have been referring to attempts to prove or defend religious claims.

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I know the emoticon is meant to minimize your jab, but given the fact that I have repeatedly stated that my beef is with apologetics that attempt to prove or defend a religious truth claim, your subtle straw man response seems to be an unnecessary attempt to spur or prod me further.

No, my point was that even you believe it is proper in certain circumstances to engage in "apologetics," as you yourself just described. The wink was only to point out the deliberateness of the pun, since we were talking about "reason" earlier. No jabs intended. I hope you don't take it personally. Message board conversations have the tendency to make tone sound like cardboard, or more aggressive than is intended, or more formal, or whatever else.

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No. By "apologetics" I have been referring to attempts to prove or defend religious claims.

I'm afraid I'm not seeing the fundamental difference. You said:

"Depends on the criticism. Sometimes the proper response is: Yes, you are right. Sometimes the proper response is to point out poor argumentation (which could be equally done by a non-believer). Sometimes the response is "I don't know." Other times the only response is: Perhaps, but it doesn't matter."

It seems as though you are trying to draw some bright-line distinction between a defense which provides a simple yes/no response to a criticism and one which provides more detail, and perhaps rationale. Are you suggesting that more detail is "bad" apologetics?

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Who said it was cowardly?

I did.

Like I said, it's more "bold" and takes more effort to actually respond to specifics.

Actually, on these threads, it can take more boldness to just state one's belief and experience, knowing the inevitable comments complaining about no references being provided to substantiate one's own beliefs and criticism.

You can do what you want, but you shouldn't shy away from constructive criticism. I thought you dig that sort of give and take anyway. If I'm being irritating just let me know!

Perhaps I just didn't find it very constructive.

Responding to too many people at once on this thread is beginning to be a bit too much for me to handle. Time for me to bail out.

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Responding to too many people at once on this thread is beginning to be a bit too much for me to handle. Time for me to bail out.

Sorry. That's my fault. I was last to the party, so I'll be first to leave. If LoaP or Scott think there is anything worthwhile in the line I was pursuing they are free to go ahead.

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Sorry. That's my fault. I was last to the part, so I'll be first to leave. If LoaP or Scott think there is anything worthwhile in the line I was pursuing they are free to go ahead.

I'm pretty much in line with what you're saying, that is, narrator is drawing distinctions that I don't think hold up well to scrutiny. But he's checking out for now so I'll leave it at that. :P

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Sorry. That's my fault. I was last to the part, so I'll be first to leave. If LoaP or Scott think there is anything worthwhile in the line I was pursuing they are free to go ahead.

Actually, I have a task that needs my attention, so if there's a quota here, feel free to take my spot.

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I'm pretty much in line with what you're saying, that is, narrator is drawing distinctions that I don't think hold up well to scrutiny. But he's checking out for now so I'll leave it at that. :P

I'm fine if I can just leave the discussion with one person.

LOAP, what is the distinction that you think I am drawing? Perhaps we are just talking past each other. Too many short discussions on a thread makes clarification nearly impossible.

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I think we're agreed that not every believer is obligated to write apologetics in journals, conference presentations, books, etc. On what exactly constitutes apologetics, and the utility or necessity of apologetics, we seem to diverge.

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I think we're agreed that not every believer is obligated to write apologetics in journals, conference presentations, books, etc. On what exactly constitutes apologetics, and the utility or necessity of apologetics, we seem to diverge.

We are, each of us, to do our bit to build up the Kingdom with all our might, mind and strength. It goes without saying that not each has the gifts to argue persuasively and effectively such that the critics' incessant sniping is answered to the extent it can be in order to restore "balance to the Force." But each can and should do what he can in furtherance of the Kingdom.

We're not all Julianns . . . or Pahorans . . . or Herr Professor Doktors . . . or Consiglieris . . . or Will Schryvers . . . just as I'm no Tom Selleck. Schlumps that we are, we do our best . . . and you never know which lurker is touched by our little victories . . . or even our failures.

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I'm quite sure that Dan was aware of them.

I hold a position that Diet Coke tastes better than regular Coke, and that Diet Black Cherry-Vanilla Dr. Pepper was the best tasting cola ever made. I also hold a position that Crystal Pepsi tasted like bottled plastic.

Do I have a responsibility to defend those positions?

Yes, you do, and you better defend them to the death!

And to start with, all Coke is crap. Dr. Pepper is made from prunes (not necessarily a drawback!). Pepsi is like a beautiful mountain stream in early spring when snow is still on the ground but all nature is waking from its long winter sleep.

But you are absolutely correct about Crystal Pepsi, on that we can agree.

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