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Statement Attributed To Dallin Oaks - Is It True?


sjdawg

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I have been reading one of Bob McCue's lengthy essays and came across this interesting (to me) statement. Does anyone know if this statement attributed to Oaks is true? Is there a reference to it anywhere?

Dallin Oaks, in a 1985 address to Mormon educators,

indicated that he assumed that all Mormons do what I am about to describe doing.

That is, he assumed that Mormons listen to both the “anti-Mormons” and the

Mormons with care, and then make up their minds as to what is likely most correct.

He used this assumption to justify his instruction to Mormon educators that they

were to only tell “one side” of the Mormon story, because the other side was told by

others

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I have been reading one of Bob McCue's lengthy essays and came across this interesting (to me) statement. Does anyone know if this statement attributed to Oaks is true? Is there a reference to it anywhere?

I have a copy of the talk in print, though I don't have access to it at the moment. It is entitled "Reading Church History," and I came away with a distinctly different perspective than said blowhard.

There are portions available online however:

“Some recent news stories about developments in Church history rest on scientific assumptions or assertions, such as the authenticity of a letter. Whether experts or amateurs, most of us have a tendency to be quite dogmatic about so-called scientific facts. Since news writers are not immune from this tendency, news stories based on scientific assumptions should be read or viewed with some skepticism. …

“The contents of most media stories are dictated not by what is necessary to a full understanding of the subject but by what information is currently available and can be communicated within the limitations of time and space.

“As a result, the news media are particularly susceptible to conveying erroneous information about facts, including historical developments that are based on what I have called scientific uncertainties. This susceptibility obviously applies to newly discovered documents whose authenticity turns on an evaluation of handwriting, paper, ink, and so on. Readers should be skeptical about the authenticity of such documents, especially when there is uncertainty where they were found or who had custody of them for 150 years. Newly found historically important documents can be extremely valuable, so there is a powerful incentive for those who own them to advocate and support their authenticity. The recent spectacular fraud involving the so-called Hitler diaries reminds us of this, and should convince us to be cautious.”

"It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. As Elder George F. Richards, President of the Council of the Twelve, said in a conference address in April 1947, 'when we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.' ... The Holy Ghost will not guide or confirm criticism of the Lord's anointed, or of Church leaders, local or general. This reality should be part of the spiritual evaluation that LDS readers and viewers apply to those things written about our history and those who made it." -"Reading Church History," CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium, Brigham Young University, 16 Aug. 1985, page 25. also see Dallin H. Oaks, "Elder Decries Criticism of LDS Leaders," quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday August 18, 1985, p. 2B
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Found this quote. Don't agree with it, but I found it.

"Balance is telling both sides. This is not the mission of the official Church literature or avowedly anti-Mormon literature. Neither has any responsibility to present both sides." (Dallin H. Oaks, Reading Church History, Ninth Annual Church Educational System religious Educators' Symposium, August 16, 1985, Brigham Young University.)
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Does any non biblical source tell a non Christian side? Nope. There is no source outside the Gospels and resulting Epistles, Acts and Revelation, that even speaks of a historical person believed to be Jesus the Christ.

If you are going to believe that Jesus the Christ literally lived as described in the Gospels, and testified of in Acts and Revelation, then you have no need for outside confirmation that such a person even existed.

But if you need empirical proof of the existence of Jesus the Christ as described in the scriptures, then you will possibly be impressed and converted by the rise of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormonism relies upon current revelation; both to confirm the literal existence on earth of Jesus the Christ 2K years ago, and arriving at the correct understanding of the Bible.

If this "second witness" fails to convince, you might either disbelieve in all metaphysical assertions; or you might expand your religious world view to include all religions, all metaphysical assertions, and all imaginings for "God": accepting them as communications from "God" to individuals who are in a constant state of change. Instead of "ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth", we might be seeing "ever learning, unlearning, relearning and seeking for the truth". There is no "arrived" state; only traveling. And if we travel WITH "God", i.e. accepting the reality of "God" though we do not know what we mean by that statement, then we are always going to be conscious of our ever-learning state....

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Does the New Testament tell both sides?

Both Testaments give accurate accounts of heroic deeds of faith with the sins and follies of all of God's people including kings, priests, prophets, and apostles. The problem would be if either you or Elder Oaks held that historical truth lies in the middle between "us and them" whereby two opposite but equally wrong claims of truth or error, innocence or guilt, virtue or vice exaggerate well-doing or wrong-doing.

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Does any non biblical source tell a non Christian side? Nope. There is no source outside the Gospels and resulting Epistles, Acts and Revelation, that even speaks of a historical person believed to be Jesus the Christ.

If you are going to believe that Jesus the Christ literally lived as described in the Gospels, and testified of in Acts and Revelation, then you have no need for outside confirmation that such a person even existed.

But if you need empirical proof of the existence of Jesus the Christ as described in the scriptures, then you will possibly be impressed and converted by the rise of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormonism relies upon current revelation; both to confirm the literal existence on earth of Jesus the Christ 2K years ago, and arriving at the correct understanding of the Bible.

If this "second witness" fails to convince, you might either disbelieve in all metaphysical assertions; or you might expand your religious world view to include all religions, all metaphysical assertions, and all imaginings for "God": accepting them as communications from "God" to individuals who are in a constant state of change. Instead of "ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth", we might be seeing "ever learning, unlearning, relearning and seeking for the truth". There is no "arrived" state; only traveling. And if we travel WITH "God", i.e. accepting the reality of "God" though we do not know what we mean by that statement, then we are always going to be conscious of our ever-learning state....

that isn't entirely true, read Robert Van Voorst's book, "Jesus outside the New Testament"

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Jeff K., on 10 June 2011 - 10:57 AM, said:

Does the New Testament tell both sides?

Quote

Jesus would be called "Yeshua-ben-Pantera" from an adulterous union of Mary with the Roman soldier Pantera. Jesus would be a gang leader of hooligans and a practitioner of black magic that he learned in Egypt and was executed by the Romans for being a sorcerer and terrorist." For more, see "Tanner Worship and Real Scholarship."

Both Testaments give accurate accounts of heroic deeds of faith with the sins and follies of all of God's people including kings, priests, prophets, and apostles. The problem would be if either you or Elder Oaks held that historical truth lies in the middle between "us and them" whereby two opposite but equally wrong claims of truth or error, innocence or guilt, virtue or vice exaggerate well-doing or wrong-doing.

I believe they give an accurate account also. But that isn't the question. Those who argue that both sides of an argument should be presented (also implying equal weight to both) overlook the fact that the truth does not "have to" lie in the middle. Or an aspect of the truth which may be small and nuanced, but whose impact may change important perceptiosns on either or both sides.

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that isn't entirely true, read Robert Van Voorst's book, "Jesus outside the New Testament"

Anti-LDS history does not ordinarily feature attacks on Christ or God. It features accusations against Joseph Smith and the Church he founded, continuing to this day. The Scriptures expose squabbling, stealing, murdering, whoremongering, and apostasizing in the covenant community's leadership and members. The Scripture doesn't leave it to some "other side" to inform us about David and Bathsheba with its adultery and murder or that Paul and Barnabas weren't getting along very well.

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Anti-LDS history does not ordinarily feature attacks on Christ or God. It features accusations against Joseph Smith and the Church he founded, continuing to this day. The Scriptures expose squabbling, stealing, murdering, whoremongering, and apostasizing in the covenant community's leadership and members. The Scripture doesn't leave it to some "other side" to inform us about David and Bathsheba with its adultery and murder or that Paul and Barnabas weren't getting along very well.

ha! I am aware! I was just pointing out that the evidence for the existence of Jesus is attested to, with debate of course, outside of the NT.

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I believe they give an accurate account also. But that isn't the question. Those who argue that both sides of an argument should be presented (also implying equal weight to both) overlook the fact that the truth does not "have to" lie in the middle. Or an aspect of the truth which may be small and nuanced, but whose impact may change important perceptiosns on either or both sides.

Okay. So we agree that historical truth should be presented accurately without regard to what historical exaggeration says? I could be understanding Elder Oaks outside a necessary context. You would think he agrees with us? I see another quote where he said something about how a necessary "balance" means listening to both sides. I don't think I like that either. The problem is that in courtrooms, the best defense and prosecution tries to tilt everything to its favor. I wish it wasn't that way. But I don't see a better way in the courtroom. I definitely disagree with that approach as a guide for presentation of religious propositions. I think the church (I speak of yours and mine) needs to be strive for credibility and would only honor God if they are trustworthy to be its own prosecutor and defense without any tricks and without any deliberate coverup of evidence damaging to church claims.

I am not saying you guys do this. I am not saying Elder Oaks was saying that. I just want to make sure that in examining or presenting our own religious claims, we don't make the mistake of seeing ourselves like attorneys. They are obligated to be the agents of their clients. Apologists for a faith seem to me to have an obligation to be more open and forthcoming.

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I believe they give an accurate account also. But that isn't the question. Those who argue that both sides of an argument should be presented (also implying equal weight to both) overlook the fact that the truth does not "have to" lie in the middle. Or an aspect of the truth which may be small and nuanced, but whose impact may change important perceptiosns on either or both sides.

I don't believe that both sides of an argument should be presented equally or otherwise. I suggest things that both sides agree are true should be presented. (even if the two sides disagree on the interpretation of what the truth means)

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Okay. So we agree that historical truth should be presented accurately without regard to what historical exaggeration says? I must have misunderstood Elder Oaks. I see another quote where he said something about balance meaning listening to both sides. The problem is that in courtrooms, the best defense and prosecution tries to tilt everything to its favor. I am not a legal guy, but I don't like that even in the courtroom. I don't see a better way in the courtroom. I definitely disagree with that philosophy as a guide for presentation of religious propositions. I think the church (I speak of yours and mine) needs to be strive for credibility and would only honor God if they are trustworthy to be its own prosecutor and defense without any tricks and without any deliberate coverups of evidence damaging to church claims.

I am not saying you guys do this. I am not saying Elder Oaks was saying that. I just want to make sure that in examining or presenting our own religious claims, we don't make the mistake of seeing ourselves like attorneys. They are obligated to be the agents of their clients. Apologists for a faith seem to me to have an obligation to be more open and forthcoming.

The exaggeration could be merely an interpretation of events without necessarily being exaggeraion. Exaggeration implies a specific knowing act in which the event is overblown with intent I remember when I was young thinking how large and exotic the Holy Land must be. And then of course being disappointed at the size, and exotic nature once I got there. Were there inaccuracies, possibly (not the main points mind you, but other things of less importance).

When a Catholic approaches you and tells you of the history of the church, he doesn't give equal time to the critics of the Borgean period. Is that exaggeration of the church and its goodness? No. It may merely be deemed irrelevant to the main points of the Catholic church being the emphasis on doctrine and its good works.

Serious resesarch entails the measurement and weighing of different or distinct positions, not automatic equal weight.

A courtroom must give equal weight and measure for all sides since its position is one of neutrality and even neutrality in the face of evil. We do not give equal weight and measure for Satan's point of view when compared to Christ.

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QB:

"There is no source outside the Gospels and resulting Epistles, Acts and Revelation, that even speaks of a historical person believed to be Jesus the Christ."

Not true.

These historians made reference to Jesus and to early Christians. Ancient pagans, Jews, and Christians wrote historic texts that mentioned Christ.

Eusebius of Caesarea - A third century theologian who used the library in Caesarea for much of his research.

Flavius Josephus - A first century Jewish historian who documented the Roman empire.

Justin Martyr - A Gentile who lived in Palestine and later became a Christian. This theologian used Greek philosophy to explain Christian doctrine.

Resources for Philo of Alexandria - A Jewish philosopher and historian who lived in the first century.

Tacitus - A first century Roman historian, who chronicled the lives of several emperors.

Tertullian - An African theologian who wrote extensively in Latin. He was first to use the word trinitas to describe the Godhead.

Fathers of the church - Links to writings of other early theologians.

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Found this quote. Don't agree with it, but I found it.

Kewl! 8) Authors and purveyors of anti-Mormon literature have a responsibility to provide balance! Who knew?! ;)

If both belief and disbelief were not active choices ... if we were, instead, mere automotons, to be carried about wherever the prevailing winds might blow us ... the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might have a duty to present "both sides".

The good news is that both belief and disbelief are active choices, and that we're not mere automatons, subject to the direction of the prevailing winds. Why, then, do you believe differently, that the Church has a responsibility to present "both sides," while our critics do not?

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Kewl! 8) Authors and purveyors of anti-Mormon literature have a responsibility to provide balance! Who knew?! ;)

Why, then, do you believe differently, that the Church has a responsibility to present "both sides," while our critics do not?

I believe both sides have a responsibility to present the facts whatever they may be. Individuals can reach their own conclusions what these facts mean.

For example - it is fact that JS had polygamous marriages. That is fact. The why is up for interpretation.

It is fact that JS hid (for a time) his polygamous relationships. The why is up for interpration.

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Kewl! 8) Authors and purveyors of anti-Mormon literature have a responsibility to provide balance! Who knew?! ;)

If both belief and disbelief were not active choices ... if we were, instead, mere automotons, to be carried about wherever the prevailing winds might blow us ... the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might have a duty to present "both sides".

The good news is that both belief and disbelief are active choices, and that we're not mere automatons, subject to the direction of the prevailing winds. Why, then, do you believe differently, that the Church has a responsibility to present "both sides," while our critics do not?

I am of the opinion that the church should present "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

I do not propose that the LDS church teaches the "anti's" view of LDS history alongside their own story of LDS history, and then let the listener decide. However, I do propose that the LDS church teach the facts as they know them.

If you know that it is true that Joseph used the "head in the hat" trick to translate, then teach it. If you know that it is true that there were varying accounts of the first vision, then teach it. If you know that Jospeh Smith had multiple wives, then teach it. In my 25 years in the church, none of these topics were ever mentioned in a church lesson, whether it be seminary, Sunay school, EQ, etc. But these are the facts, the truth, and they should be presented as such.

I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around a perfect god who condones deceit (lying by ommision) by his one, true religion on this earth.

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I am of the opinion that the church should present "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

I do not propose that the LDS church teaches the "anti's" view of LDS history alongside their own story of LDS history, and then let the listener decide. However, I do propose that the LDS church teach the facts as they know them.

If you know that it is true that Joseph used the "head in the hat" trick to translate, then teach it. If you know that it is true that there were varying accounts of the first vision, then teach it. If you know that Jospeh Smith had multiple wives, then teach it. In my 25 years in the church, none of these topics were ever mentioned in a church lesson, whether it be seminary, Sunay school, EQ, etc. But these are the facts, the truth, and they should be presented as such.

I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around a perfect god who condones deceit (lying by ommision) by his one, true religion on this earth.

Well Said. Thank You

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