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

Admonitions from General Conference to Defend the Church

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

The Apologetics of Richness?

[Reposted]

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