Should We Apologize for Apologetics?

A review of Blair G. Van Dyke & Loyd Isao Ericson, eds., Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics. Greg Kofford Books, 2017, 279 pages with endnotes and index. $25.95 (paperback).

Abstract: An analysis of the history, scope, and effectiveness of Mormon apologetics is long overdue. Unfortunately, Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics falls short of providing an in-depth analysis of the field and instead provides a very limited history, very little discussion of the scope of Mormon apologetics, and little discussion of the impact of Mormon apologists on Mormon thought. Furthermore, no attempt is made to discuss how apologetics has affected the arguments of critics of Mormonism. While a few articles do approach apologetics in a positive way, the work is largely critical of the activity of defending the Church with scholarship or of providing academic research to help support the testimonies of members of the Church. Continue reading

Making Visible the Beauty and Goodness of the Gospel

Abstract: Apologetics is typically seen as a purely cerebral activity designed to convince others of the truth or, at least, of the plausibility of certain propositions, typically but not always religious. In the case of the Gospel, however, mere intellectual assent isn’t enough—not in the eyes of God and, probably, not for the typical mortal human being. To please God, we must live our lives according to the Gospel, not merely concede its truth. But living such lives to the end requires that we love God and the Gospel and find them desirable, in addition to checking off a list of required faith-statements. Can apologetics play a role in encouraging and cultivating such attitudes as well as in convincing our heads? This article maintains that apologetics can and should play such a role, and invites those with the appropriate gifts and abilities to make the effort to do so. Continue reading

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on Consecration, Scholarship, and the Defense of the Kingdom

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


  1. “FARMS Becomes Part of BYU,” Ensign (January 1998), 80; online at https://www.lds.org/ensign/1998/01/news-of-the-church/farms-becomes-part-of-byu?lang=eng&query=hinckley,+%22FARMS+represents%22

Introduction, Volume 6
The Modest But Important End of Apologetics

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 Role of Apologetics in Mormon Studies

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