Mormon Apologetics

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[edit] Definition

Mormon apologetics refers to the practice of defending and/or promoting the truthfulness of Mormonism (particularly its scriptures and doctrines) and the integrity of the organization, vis a vis its history and practice. Apologetic tactics can be defensive (deflecting a specific outside criticism) or proactive (providing alleged evidence for a particular aspect of Mormonism).

Mormon apologetics uses, or attempts to use, a variety of scholarly fields of study in order to defend or promote Mormonism's truthfulness, including archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, literature, genetics, geography, biblical studies, historical studies, etc. (It's worthwhile to note here that these same fields have frequently been used to discredit many of the claims of Mormonism, as well.)


[edit] Mormon Apologetic Organizations & Individuals

There are several organizations that exist for the stated purpose of defending and promoting the scriptures, doctrines, and a favorable view of the history of Mormonism.

The two most prominent organizations in this arena are FARMS (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, also known as The Maxwell Institute, which recently came under the auspices of Brigham Young University; and FAIR (Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research) which is an independent, internet-based organization.

Self-appointed apologists such as Jeff Lindsay have also established a significant presence in the realm of online Mormon apologetics.

There are numerous other organizations and individuals, whose writings and "findings" are mostly promoted via the Internet, and often focus on one particular aspect of apologetics, such as New World archaeology.

Of all these organizations, only FARMS has achieved any official status as an officially recognized resource, by virtue of their association with Brigham Young University.

[edit] List of Mormon Apologetic Organizations / Individuals


[edit] Criticism of Mormon Apologetics

Mormon apologists are known to produce large quantities of materials in defense of Mormonism; despite this, however, critics charge the apologists with failing to produce cogent arguments or reasonable conclusions. By and large the criticism of Mormon apologetics is not so much that they use false information, but rather that they derive erroneous, illogical, or non-sequitur conclusions based upon information that may be accurate, but irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Critics charge Mormon apologists with using "smokescreen" tactics when addressing challenges to Mormonism. In other words, when a challenge is made, the apologists frequently answer with a lengthy litany of information and data that is designed to distract the reader/viewer with scholarly-sounding language that touches on the topic, but does not actually answer the challenge that was posed.

"Proactive" apologetics often will take a piece of data--an archaeological artifact, some scientific finding, a historical footnote, or a passage from the Bible, for example--and will present it as "proof" of some aspect of Mormonism. Critics rapidly point out, however, that the conclusions drawn are stretching the data far beyond any logical or reasonable use.

Another area of Mormon apologetics that draws heavy criticism is the defense the historical integrity of the organization. This usually has to do with aspects of the history that have been the most controversial, e.g. the Mountain Meadows Massacre and Polygamy. Perhaps in this area more than any other, Mormon apologists (and Mormon leadership) are accused of using false or misleading information, or ignoring pertinent facts, and are thus accused of historical revisionism.

Of particular note is Mormon apologists' use of the Bible to support the unconventional doctrines and teachings of Mormonism. This use of the Bible draws sharp criticism for a failure to use proper exegesis of the biblical text: passages are taken out of context and distorted far beyond their intended meaning. In dealing with these accusations, Mormon apologists will frequently say it is simply a matter of interpretation. However, this suggests that the Bible is unclear and ambiguous in these matters, when in fact, it is not.


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[edit] Mormon Apologetics Topics (Defensive)

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[edit] Mormon Apologetics Topics (Proactive/promotional)

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[edit] Mormon Apologetics Topics (Historical)

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[edit] Mormon Apologetics Topics (Biblical)

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