This blog will not always have posts about temple studies, I admit, as there are other things that are at work today, about which I feel I must write a little. They keep in the same genre of sustaining and defending the Church and its members.
Over the past few days I’ve never heard so much negative criticism of the Maxwell Institute and FARMS, in the various venues online. You’d think BYU had been harboring a criminal all these years. Even Mormon apologetics in general is now taboo, unfit for the Church, a view which even some members are advocating. The fad of the week is to say that “FARMS-style” apologetics is hurting the Church, is damaging to members, destroying their faith, is a losing affair, and does nobody any good, and that’s why its remaining vestiges were finally eradicated, wholly and completely from BYU. Even the Brethren must be against apologetics and the apologists to allow, nay, to cause, nay, to be the force behind, nay, to have directly requested what happened at the Maxwell Institute last week. Ousting Dan Peterson and stopping the work of “FARMS” must have been the goal of BYU and the Church all along. It’s so clear now in hindsight. The very first moderated comment on my last post? “FARMS was an embarrassment.”
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. They even go so far as to determinedly conclude that it is Mormon apologetics, in fact, that is having a negative influence on the Church, which you’ll notice is completely backwards from its true meaning and purpose. Indeed, they are saying that the defenders are now essentially those doing the damage, which is almost comical in its twistedness.
I enjoyed reading a piece by Benjamin McGuire last night about Apologetics and Polemics, in which he makes a very good point about current events:
What fascinates me is that the most vocal proponents of the idea that apologetics is harmful are the critics of the church (and it doesn’t matter if they are still on the membership roles). I have to wonder if part of this isn’t a rather unorganized campaign to try and smear apologetics writers in rather the same sort of way that they are accused of hurting the church… the suggestion that it is disagreement with leaders that is the source of the conflict – all of these things are concerted efforts to create division, to put the “faithful” members of the church with their leaders on the one side, with apologists on the other.
Yet, he notes the reality of the good that comes from these organizations,
FAIR and FARMS do good work, try to be responsible, try to limit the emotional appeals that come in their polemics, try not to engage in the fear mongering of their opponents – and they try to be intellectually responsible. They help members of the church far more than any harm that comes from them. But this is not the potrayal that any critic wants to hear (or to present).
The critics would have you believe that it is the apologists, in fact, that have been on the dark side the whole time, leading people away from the Church. Well that certainly turns the tables, doesn’t it? Why do they say this? Well, they don’t want you to ever read or hear what those apologists have to say! That would not be good for them, especially those apologists who are very good at defending the kingdom, and helping countless members strengthen their faith.
The video above is a talk given by Daniel C. Peterson at the 2008 FAIR Conference in Sandy, Utah. I was actually in attendance at this conference, which I live blogged, when he gave the talk, which is just plain terrific. He titled it “Humble Apologetics” after a book by the same name, and spent the hour talking about what many have been discussing online the last few days. How do you engage in apologetics without damaging your critic? How can you possibly defend against what a detractor has said without personally attacking that person’s character and beliefs? What is apologetics all about anyway? Why are we engaged in this? What is it for? What is it not for? Is it necessary? Do we really need apologetics or apologists in the Church? How should we be engage in apologetics? What is the right, and what is the wrong way to go about it? Of course, we are not all perfect defenders of the faith, just as we are not perfect people, and we do not always get it right. But knowing some of these things can certainly help along the way. If you have an hour to spare, it is well worth your time to watch this video. (Thank you Tevya for bringing it up.)
As for those who are calling this man vicious, mean-spirited, hard-headed, cold-hearted, and all other sorts of hyphenated corporeal ad-hominem-laden epithets, I give you no further evidence (something others seem to be desperately short on these days) contrary to all such slander than this one video, and this one video only (of course there are many others, including his upcoming talk at the 2012 FAIR Conference on the topic “Of ‘Mormon Studies’ and Apologetics,” which is sure to be good given recent events and the Maxwell Institute’s new “direction”). Daniel C. Peterson is probably the most eloquent, erudite, and jovial man I know today, which are a most fantastic combination of qualities in an individual.
P.S. In lighter news, I received this email a few minutes ago, inquiring about my inventory of baptismal fonts for sale:
Good-day Sir/Madam, I will like to order (Baptismal Fonts), Do get back to me with the Models and price range on the ones that you carry or customer made so i can place an order with you or can get back to me with your web site so that i can make my selection and get back to you.Also do you accept credit card?Thank You..
I’m sorry, but this spam just makes me laugh. I’m half tempted to reply, “Why sure! Which variety do you prefer?”