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Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: FairMormon conference seeks to give reasons for the hope within us’

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Published: Thursday, July 10 2014 11:34 p.m. MDT

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RanchHand
Huntsville, UT

It must be really hard "defending the faith" when the church you're trying to defend keeps publishing essays that contradict everything that they've taught for previous generations.

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

Wish I could attend the conference this year. It has been excellent in years past. Just wondering why the conference never includes a day on Saturday. I am sure there is a good reason, however.

coltakashi
Richland, WA

Those of us who live too far from Utah to attend in person can get streaming internet video of the two days of presentations. I have attended or watched several years of the conferences, and it is a feast for both mind and spirit. It is also one of the best sources for really stimulating books on these topcs.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

What’s unique about the LDS obsession with “defending the faith” is that it’s less about vindicating basic Christian precepts than Joseph Smith. That’s a lot for Mormons to explain. Mormonism is becoming accepted as a valid belief system. But its claims to absolute primacy come at a time when Christian denominationalism is moving towards embracing diversity and an ecumenical spirit.

Michigander
Westland, MI

"A revelation given to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon on Dec. 1, 1831, at Hiram, Ohio, commands the two men to respond both publicly and privately to critics and enemies of the still-young Church ..."

“Let them bring forth their strong reasons against the Lord,” counseled the divine voice. “Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you — there is no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and if any man lift his voice against you he shall be confounded in mine own due time” (see Doctrine and Covenants 71:7-10)."

This is a true and correct inspired statement of both JS and SR - who became JS's 1st counselor in the church presidency on March 8, 1833 and his rightful successor after June 27, 1844 (see D&C 90:6). Both men were speaking prophetically of The Church of Jesus Christ (WHQ: Monongahela, Pennsylvania), the only true succession of the restored gospel on the face of the earth today.

bolojse
Buffalo, WY

I grew up in an Evangelical and Catholic background. I am now a convert to the LDS faith for 20 years. In a time when many young members are leaving my root institutions, I find great relief in the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FAIRMormon is an excellent resource to find both sides of issues explored intelligently.

Whether a believer or nonbeliever in the LDS faith, knowing for sure what the tendencies are from more than one perspective will give a person the ability to make an informed choice, and have credibility when discussing topics of concern.

Thanks, FairMormon! And all involved!

1.96 Standard Deviations
OREM, UT

RanchHand:

We must be reading different essays, or you are seeing things as pessimistically as possible. For example, the recent essay on the Book of Abraham in the Gospel Topics section on the church's website is no contradiction what has been taught in the church in the past.

To confirm, you can read a small sample of Ensign magazine articles regarding the Book of Abraham the church as published over nearly the last 40 years:

1) June 1985 - BYU Professor Tracing Path of Book of Abraham Papyri (News of the Church section)

2) July 1992 - Research and Perspectives: Abraham in Ancient Egyptian Texts

3) March 1976 - I Have a Question

In sum, the church's essay on the Book of Abraham in the Gospel Topics section just happens is bit more visible and accessible. However, the church's position on how the Book of Abraham came to us hasn't moved a bit over time. No contradictions.

Rockyrd
Gilbert, AZ

Those who comment negatively here ought to attend the FairMormon Conference. Instead of prejudices and misinformation they would be surprised at what they hear. Thanks for the great article Dan.

TheProudDuck
Newport Beach, CA

My experience with the FAIR boys is that they have very sharp elbows indeed, and a mocking style that would not go over well with the judges I deal with in litigation.

The latter tend to think if you have to play the man, it's because you can't play the ball.

Mo-Pa
OGDEN, UT

I'm very excited for this upcoming conference. I've attended every one except for the first conference and it's one of the highlights of my summer. You won't be disappointed; the line of speakers this year is awesome!

Verdad
Orem, UT

TheProudDuck:

Specific examples of "the FAIR boys'" "mocking style" would probably be useful to the leadership of FairMormon -- the actual name of the organization, as Professor Peterson points out in the article -- which includes "girls" as well as "boys."

Shelama
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Of course, "apologetics" are pretty much meant only for the faithful anyway but it's interesting that virtually the ONLY people who find Mormon apologetics persuasive are Mormons who already belief and have pyscho-emotional investment and commitment.

Everybody has the exact same body of evidence.

Yet it is only believers who interpret that evidence in the affirmative. And not even all of them -- certainly the majority of Mormons who are inactive (70& church-wide according to Martinich & Stewart) and those who have left altogether in an apostasy not seen since Kirtland (publicly acknowledged by Marlin K. Jensen) include intelligent, honest people who left precisely because of that evidence.

The common evidence DOES drive de-conversion -- from Belief to Unbelief.

On the other hand, virtually nobody converts from Unbelief to Belief based on that evidence.

If prior belief is REQUIRED before concluding in the affirmative can it really be argued that there is honest intellectual and critical equivalence in evaluating the evidence?

In the end it seems not the evidence at all but the commitment to the cultural belief that common varieties of religious experience are a divine testament of truth.

The Wraith
Kaysville, UT

@1.96 Standard Deviations

I believe RanchHand is referring to what the church taught about the Book of Abraham from the time Joseph Smith bought the papyri to the mid 1960's. There is no doubt when reading Smith's own words about what he was translating that he believed it was performing a literal translation of papyri written by Abraham himself. That was the church's position until the 60's when some of the papyri (although yes not all of it) turned up. So of course your articles from 1976 onward won't be contradicted by the current essay. However, anyone who can't see that the essay contradicts Joseph Smiths own words is fooling themselves.

Verdad
Orem, UT

Shelama:

Actual data as to how many are convinced by Mormon apologetics and how many aren't, and for what reasons, would be helpful. So would solid evidence that Mormon apologists intend their work only for those who already believe.

Do you have access to such data, or are you merely sharing your personal feelings?

Shelama
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

@Craig Clark, Boulder CO -- "What’s unique about the LDS obsession with “defending the faith” is that it’s less about vindicating basic Christian precepts than Joseph Smith."

You're right -- Mormons pretty much silently and uncritically default to basic Christian precepts: "We believe the Bible is the word of God..."

"Higher Criticism" is discouraged in Mormonism while the church and Mormon intellectuals pretty much leave basic Christian apologetics up to the Evangelicals. "The Bible is the word of God" (whether or not translated correctly) is simply an un-examined belief.

The more I read and studied the Bible -- both OT and NT but mostly the NT -- the more it became clear to me the whole thing was a purely human invention. But, if a person could come to believe the OT, they could safely reject the NT, and Jesus as messiah and savior, and all of Christianity.

In the end, it's the reason I left Mormonism and all of Christianity at the same time.

Exploring historical-critical Bible studies it became more clear to me what I had intuitively sensed then and why. It was and is liberating.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

As scholarship, apologists are the flip side of debunkers who are out to disprove. To do a scholarly study honestly, you can't attempt to predetermine the outcome.

1.96 Standard Deviations
OREM, UT

The Wraith:

In the case of the Book of Abraham, what supposed contradictions do you think RanchHand was referring to? Can you or RanchHand clarify?

There is still no contradiction with the current essay and what Joseph Smith and others said pre 1960's. The church still believes and teaches the book came just like Joseph Smith indicated -- a translation achieved through revelation from (a) document(s) whose author was Abraham ("by his own hand").

Here are some references:

1) The essay itself - "The book originated with Egyptian papyri that Joseph Smith translated beginning in 1835."

2) 2013 Edition of Scriptures - Intro to Book of Abraham - "A Translation of some ancient Records that have fallen into our hands from the catacombs of Egypt. The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus."

FAIR also has a lot of good commentary on the subject of the Book of Abraham. Have you ever checked it out? Apparently, it will also be part of the upcoming conference. Very nice.

P.S. - Read the section heading for D&C 7. Translation of a parchment by John. Very interesting concept.

Ellen F
Arnold, MO

I have benefited so much from the previous Fair conference talks, learning more about the wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ. Last year I was able to access the streaming, and. I will again this year. My hope is that next year I will get to intend in person. I highly recommend the conference--even long-distance it is great!q

TheProudDuck
Newport Beach, CA

Most LDS apologists declare up front that in the end, evidence is not what makes people believe. That is correct. They are not so much out to prove the things of the Gospel, as to clear away some of the potentially contrary evidence, so people are not put in the position of having to choose between reason and faith.

The idea is that if the evidence is in "equipoise" (I think that's Terryl Givens' word) a person can simply choose to believe, or not.

I'm not sure it quite gets you to "equipoise," though, to show that a thing has neither been conclusively proven nor disproven. That can be true even if the evidence is 90% for and 10% against, or vice versa. "Evidence in equipoise" means that the evidence is 50-50, neither case being stronger than the other.

And as ingenious as some of the apologists' arguments are, I don't find they get over that 50% threshold in many cases. They were in fact one of the main reasons I might be fairly called, as one FAIR gentleman once called me, a "cultural Mormon stinking up the place." If theirs was the best case that could be made....

Dan Maloy
Enid, OK

@ RanchHand - Huntsville, UT - "It must be really hard "defending the faith" when the church you're trying to defend keeps publishing essays that contradict everything that they've taught for previous generations."

Ranch, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints truly is God's restored church, and the only church that has His authority, correct doctrine and organization.

See?, that wasn't hard at all.

When you know, you know.

Cheers!

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