The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, or FARMS, was organized by John W. Welch in California in 1979 and then moved to Provo when Professor Welch joined the law faculty at BYU the following year. In 1997, while I was serving as chairman of the FARMS Board of Directors, Gordon B. Hinckley, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and chairman of the Board of Trustees of Brigham Young University (BYU), invited the Foundation to become a part of the University. “FARMS,” President Hinckley said at the time, “represents the efforts of sincere and dedicated scholars. It has grown to provide strong support and defense of the Church on a professional basis. I wish to express my strong congratulations and appreciation for those who started this effort and who have shepherded it to this point.”1 Continue reading
I first became involved in apologetics because I wanted to defend the truth of beliefs that are important to me and to defend the character of leaders for whom I have great respect, even veneration, against attack. I’m offended by falsehoods, prejudice, and injustice. I wanted to help faltering members who were sometimes besieged by intellectual challenges for which they had no adequate response. I also desired to assist interested observers to see sufficient plausibility in the Gospel’s claims that they would be able to make its truth a matter of sincere and receptive prayer. My hope was to clear away obstacles that might obscure their recognition of truth. These continue to be my motivations, and I expect that others who are engaged in apologetics feel much the same way. Continue reading
The 183rd Annual General Conference of the Church featured, among other things, remarks by three General Authorities that touched on the importance of members to sustain and defend the Church.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles began his remarks in the priesthood session with the following, “As bearers of the priesthood, we have the responsibility to stand strong with a shield of faith against the fiery darts of the adversary. We are role models to the world, protecting God-given, inalienable rights and freedoms. We stand in defense of our homes and our families.” Elder Hales then related an anecdote from his youth. Continue reading
In a recent blog comment Ben Park describes “a different approach to apologetics,” apparently favored by some young scholars. He describes it by quoting Richard Bushman:
These younger scholars have a new attitude toward Mormon apologetics. They are no longer so interested in defending the faith in the old sense. In the time of Nibley, the aim of scholarship was to prove Mormonism true. In the new age, the aim of Mormon scholarship is to find the truth about Mormonism. Among the scholars writing today are many who are as proud of the Church, as interested in its flourishing, and as committed to its mission as the previous age, but they follow a new maxim, voiced tellingly by James Faulconer: Richness is the new proof. Rather than attempting scientific proofs of Mormonism as a previous age tried to do, they point to its cultural depth, its scope, its usefulness, in short, its richness. The unspoken assumption of this rising group is that Mormonism will flourish best if its true nature is uncovered and investigated, not if it is proven perfect and infallible. (http://www.juvenileinstructor.org/the-new-mormon-studies-review/, comment 26.)
We need to begin with a couple of clarifications. No apologist I know tries to “prove Mormonism is true.” No apologist I know believes there are any “scientific proofs of Mormonism.” (There can be no “scientific” proof of history–which cannot be empirically investigated since the past no longer exists–nor of religious claims, which are inherently parahistorical.) No apologist I know claims the church is “perfect and infallible.” All Apologists I know reject the possibility of establishing such proof using any known scholarly method. Second, if Mormonism is indeed “true,” then understanding that fact is indeed “finding the truth about Mormonism.” In other words, the “truth about Mormonism” may well be that “Mormonism is true.” To me, Bushman’s description of “old” apologetics is a straw man caricature. Continue reading
The following essay was presented on 3 August 2012 as “Of ‘Mormon Studies’ and Apologetics” at the conclusion of the annual conference of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) in Sandy, Utah. It represents the first public announcement and appearance of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, which had been founded only slightly more than a week earlier, on 26 July. In my view, that rapid launch was the near-miraculous product of selfless collaboration and devotion to a cause on the part of several people—notable among them David E. Bokovoy, Alison V. P. Coutts, William J. Hamblin, Bryce M. Haymond, Louis C. Midgley, George L. Mitton, Stephen D. Ricks, and Mark Alan Wright—and I’m profoundly grateful to them. This essay, which may even have some slight historical value, is something of a personal charter statement regarding that cause. It is published here with no substantial alteration. Continue reading