Daniel C. Peterson tends to get defensive when it comes to his religion.

But in a good, calm, educated way.

In a recently released two-disc recording called "Defending the Faith," Peterson, a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University, offers suggestions for dealing with criticism directed toward The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With the church coming under more intense focus worldwide, Peterson argues that members must prepare for and learn how to counter such inevitable opposition.

Peterson frames his remarks by comparing one's church membership with a marriage. A successful relationship requires commitment and a desire to make the marriage work.

"Do I want this to continue?" Peterson asks. "Do I want it to be true?"

Throughout the recording, Peterson emphasizes personal conviction and education. He encourages the listeners to remember their covenants, keep spiritual journals, read about the church's history and realize that we will always have to navigate between questions and evidence.

"Proof is not available," he says. "This is a life in which we're supposed to walk by faith."

Testimony is imperative when dealing with the church's critics, who Peterson says are often like "bitter ex-spouses." But he also gives practical advice — "tips for ways to meet them and to deal with them," he says — on countering specific criticisms ranging from archeology to DNA to polygamy.

He also asks listeners to consider the value of engaging in such arguments, and to be conscious of what church members should defend, and what they don't have to.

"Defending the Faith" (2008) is produced by Covenant Communications.

Aaron Shill

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