LATIN – apologeticus GREEK – apologetikos Apologetics: “The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2009).
- FAIR JOURNAL FEATURE: DOES MORMONISM ATTACK CHRISTIANITY? A claim made by many anti-Mormon authors, this question is fairly and effectively analized. Just who is attacking whom?
- FAIR JOURNAL FEATURE: CELSUS AND MODERN ANTI-MORMONISM. Utilizing comparison and contrast with early Christianity, we find that detractors of the Church of Jesus Christ are not much different now than they were 1800 years ago.
- NEW FEATURE ON THE WEBSITE: Quickly navigate to what’s “hot” on the FAIR Web site.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: MORAL OBLIGATION AND MORMONISM–A RESPONSE TO FRANCIS BECKWITH. Continuing with the review of the new book, The New Mormon Challenge, the assertions and conclusions of Beckwith are challenged by Blake Ostler. An outstanding review and response.
- NEW ON THE WEBSITE: MORMONISM 201 ARTICLES. Three new chapter reviews of Mormonism 101 have been completed and added to the Web site, covering the temple, Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the leadership of the Church.
- ASK THE APOLOGIST. The question this month address the charge that the Articles of Faith have been changed and watered down.BOOK STORE NEWS. Hot off the presses–the second edition of Guess Who Wants To Have You For Lunch?
- 2002 FAIR CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS NOW ON SALE! Did you miss the FAIR Conference? Now is your chance to hear the speakers yourself!
- MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT, SCOTT GORDON. Read about what is going on at the FAIR online bookstore.
- BOOK REVIEWS ON THE WEBSITE. Looking for a review of that book your friend just gave you?
- ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS. Interested in writing for FAIR? Learn how you can have your apologetics work published.
- PUBLISHING NOTES. Learn how you can become more involved in FAIR and how you can reuse the material we publish.
DOES MORMONISM ATTACK CHRISTIANITY?
by Michael R. Ash
While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) claims that Jesus Christ stands at the head of their church, many anti-Mormons have vocally challenged their claim to Christianity. Anti-Mormon publications are found in the thousands. There are anti-Mormon books, pamphlets, radio programs, Web sites, and even movies. Protestors are found at Temple open-houses, conferences, and pageants. Anti-Mormon seminars are sponsored in Protestant chapels and members are instructed in the evils of Mormonism while LDS marriage customs and dress practice are criticized. Latter-day Saints have even been denied the opportunity to assist other Christian organizations in volunteer work.
Although the LDS Church has not returned fire in like-manner, some anti-Mormons have claimed that they are not attacking Mormonism, but are instead, defending themselves against Mormonism for launching the first attack–against “Christianity.” The following examples show that such a claim is common among the anti-Mormon community.
Read the full paper:
Does Mormonism Attack Christianity (PDF) by Michael R. Ash
CELSUS AND MODERN ANTI-MORMONISM
by Aaron Christensen
Consistent with the Preacher’s instruction that “the thing that hath been, it is which shall be…and there is no new thing under the sun,” it is no surprise to find stubbornly repetitive approaches from anti-Mormons when criticizing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it’s doctrines, leaders, scriptures, and followers. This paper will not concern itself with rehashing the already copious amount of LDS apologetic literature which seeks to expose these tactics, but rather, to show that these same tactices have not changed since ancient times, and have survived in only slightly modified form from the time that Christians were being fed to the wild beasts in Roman circuses.
Our prime witness to the philisophical and intellectual threads of anti-Christian literature in the earliest centuries C.E. is Celsus, a noted writer whose ideas come to us via the record of Origen, a brilliant apologist who defended the early Church against the pagan writers who sought to destroy the new faith. Our concern here is not Origen’s response to the claims, but an analysis of Celsus’ claims to show significant parallels between ancient anti-Christianity and modern anti-Mormonism. It is important to bear in mind that the authenticity of Celsus’ information is not strictly necessary, because, like his modern counterparts, important ingredients in the recipe of maligning the Church include exaggeration, distortion, sensationalism, and casting everything in the worst possible light.
Read the full paper:
Celsus and Modern Anti-Mormonism (PDF) by Aaron Christensen
NEW FEATURE ON THE FAIR WEB SITE
FAIR’s Web development team (led by Allen Wyatt) has added a really “HOT” new feature to the FAIR Web site. The FAIR Web site continues to grow and to add articles. In addition to the “Whats New” list we have on the Web site, we have added a “FAIR HOT SPOTS” box on the left side of the screen to aid in navigation.
If you don’t find your article in one of those lists, you can also type keywords into the search box. You probably want to start with simple one-word keyword search (like “Abraham” for the Book of Abraham or “blacks” for discussions on racism). The Search box can handle multi-word searches, but as with all search engines, sometimes less is more.
The Topical Guide is also a wonderful place to find articles of all kinds. It includes Ensign articles, Encyclopedia of Mormonism articles, articles on the FAIR Web site, and articles from many other Web sites across the Internet.
Take a visit to the Web site and check out the new feature. A special thanks to Allen Wyatt for all his work on the FAIR Web site.
MORAL OBLIGATION AND MORMONISM: A RESPONSE TO FRANCIS BECKWITH
by Blake Ostler
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Blake Ostler continues his response to the new Evangelical book on the LDS faith, The New Mormon Challenge, with this review. This new book and the corresponding reviews on the FAIR Web site, by Ostler, are from a different mold. The claims and arguments are much more philisophical and depart from the typical anti-Mormon issues.]
In his contribution to The New Mormon Challenge, Francis Beckwith argues that the LDS view of God(s) cannot explain the existence of objective moral obligation and that the “Classical” view which he purports to defend can.1 Beckwith’s essay is an argument based on meta-ethics and not ethics proper. That is, he bases his arguments on the theoretical underpinning of moral obligation–“what is the source and explanation of the fact that we have objective moral obligations?” –and not on the practical ethical question: “what are we morally obligated to do?”
Beckwith argues that Latter-day Saints cannot account for the fact of moral obligation given their view of God. Beckwith argues that the Evangelical god can explain the existence of moral obligation because moral laws are grounded in God’s nature. Beckwith reviews several moral theories cursorily and then declares that no meta-ethical theory is available to Latter-day Saints. This claim is bold indeed, given the very limited discussion of the issues he provides. His conclusion is even more daring because he fails to discuss the best candidates for a Mormon view of meta-ethics. I show that the revelations of the Restoration point to a profound and thoroughly Christian view of ethical obligation that is not available to Evangelicals.
In addition, I will show that Beckwith cannot adopt the view that moral law is grounded in God’s nature given the constraints on moral theory that he outlines in his article. I argue that Beckwith’s position is necessarily false because he takes all moral laws to be logically necessary. Moreover, I argue that the moral law cannot be the result of a rational mind if it is grounded in God’s nature. I also argue that if God is necessarily good, as Beckwith’s argument implies, then God is an a-moral being in whom we cannot repose interpersonal trust. Finally, I argue that the view of God that Beckwith critiques is not necessarily the LDS position.
Read the full paper:
Moral Obligation and Mormonism: A Response to Francis Beckwith by Blake Ostler
MORMONISM 201 PROJECT UPDATE
As an ongoing project over the last 12 months, more and more reviews of the anti-Mormon book, Mormonism 101, have been added to the FAIR Web site. This month, three more chapter reviews have been added.
CHAPTER NINE: THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS AND PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
Reviewed by Michael W. Fordham
Most of Christianity today claim that there are not supposed to be any more prophets after Christ’s day. But this belief is firmly rooted in tradition, not the Bible. The Bible teaches the opposite of this traditional belief. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” God has always had direct dealings with man, through the prophets and thru revelation. “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?” The Lord is the one who directs His Church, not man. This is accomplished through prophets. This is the process God uses, and has used since the time of Adam. “As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.” Since “God will do nothing” except through “his servants the prophets” and He is, after all, “at hand” and not “afar off,” and prophets have been “since the world began,” it is only logical, and biblically correct, to expect God to have the same relationship with man today.
Christianity claims that God does not change. This is a statement that Latter-Day Saints agree with. Yet, while making this claim, most of Christianity says God has changed. They claim we do not need prophets because Christ came and finished establishing and directing the “church.” Christ did not come to do away with prophets, as traditional Christians claim. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, til all be fulfilled.” How important are prophets? If there were no prophets, mankind would be destroyed, in a spiritual sense. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Access all the reviews of Mormonism 101 here:
CHAPTER 15: THE TEMPLE
Reviewed by Benjamin McGuire
It is necessary that the reader understand that the topics of the temple and the ordinances and ceremonies which are performed inside it are sacred and special to members of the LDS Church. Faithful members of the Church do not discuss these topics publicly. This means that there are portions of Mormonism 101 which, although incorrect, I cannot correct. Because of the sacred nature of the temple, it would be inappropriate for me to disclose exactly how McKeever and Johnson have misrepresented LDS practices. I hope that you will understand these situations as they arise.
Additionally, I need to point out one more issue that will be referred to several times in the course of this review. While often used interchangeably, the terms ordinance and ceremony can have different connotations. An ordinance is a covenantal act-baptism is an ordinance, ordaining to the priesthood is an ordinance, confirmation is an ordinance, etc. A ceremony is the ritual or rite that includes the ordinance. But a ceremony is often far more than the ordinance. A wedding ceremony, for example, is a lot more than the ‘I do,’ and yet, most of the ceremony is relatively unimportant to the actual ordinance itself. In the case of a wedding, much of the ceremony is largely irrelevant to the ordinance itself-the ring ceremony, the giving away of the bride, taking vows, etc. There is a persistent attempt within Mormonism 101 to cloud this distinction. The reasons for this will become apparent as the discussion proceeds.
Access all the reviews of Mormonism 101 here:
CHAPTER 18: THE CHURCH AND IT’S LEADERSHIP
Reviewed by J. Cooper Johnson
McKeever and Johnson spend the first five or six pages of this chapter quoting former leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These quoted statements exhort members of the Church to trust their leaders (accepted by Church members as apostles and prophets, just as those who wrote the Bible) and follow their teachings. The point, McKeever and Johnson conclude, is that trusting in these men, their teachings and their counsel, is a foolish and destructive path.
The authors question the “role of such authority,” and wonder how people can “trust these men.” I ask the question…is it so difficult to believe that a religious leader would counsel the adherents of the religion to follow the teachings of the religion? Would Billy Graham be found preaching his interpretation of the word of God, yet following up his sermons with a statement, “but you folks interpret this stuff however you want…don’t mind me…this is just a guess…faith, works, baptism…your guess is as good as mine?” Of course not! Would Jerry Falwell teach his doctrine and his interpretation of scripture, but say to his teachers, “Go teach what you want…you can change anything you see fit because the doctrine I declare isn’t any better than what you could come up with…feel free to declare whatever you think.” Ridiculous, isn’t it? Yet, McKeever and Johnson put forth such an argument. This is the conclusion reached by these authors. They would have the members out seeking their own interpretation of scripture to determine their own doctrine.
Access all the reviews of Mormonism 101 here:
ASK THE APOLOGIST – FAIR Journal feature.
This month’s question:
Anti-Mormons claim there were originally 14 Articles of Faith and were substantially changed and watered-down to our current version of 13 Articles of Faith. Is this true?
Read the answer here:
BOOK STORE NEWS: NEW AND HOT OFF THE FAIR PRESSES!
Announcing “Guess Who Wants To Have You For Lunch? A Missionary Guide to Anti-Mormon Tactics & Strategies, Second Edition.”
This great book is NOW IN STOCK! Written by Alan Denison and Darryl Barksdale, this book is a revealing and insightful look into the motivations, tactics, strategies, and methods used by anti-Mormons to try and lead members and potential members astray.
The first edition book was a hot seller and completely sold out. One member from Chico, California, said it was the first book she read as a new member and it helped her “deal with her well meaning, non-member relatives” after she was baptised. She credits the book for helping her stay active in Church.
Don’t miss out on this handy, basic, easy-to-read book. It retails for only $11.95 (US) plus $2.00 shipping and handling within the USA.
For more information, visit the FAIR online store and click on “This Month’s Specials” at the left side of the screen:
DID YOU MISS THE 2002 FAIR CONFERENCE?
Do you want to know what all the hype was about? The 2002 FAIR LDS Apologetic Conference Proceedings are now available on audio CD for only $19.99!
Click here to visit the FAIR store:
Once in the store, click on the link titled “2002 FAIR Conference Proceedings.”
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT, SCOTT GORDON.
As some of you know, we have had some technical problems with our online bookstore. We have corrected most of those and now have a new bookstore manager in place. The new manager assures us that she will provide the best service. If you still have an unresolved problem from the bookstore, please contact her.
Pre-Christmas specials from the bookstore:
- Understanding Islam by Dan Peterson. This 2 CD audio set will help you to understand what Islam is all about. In this intriguing seminar, Daniel Peterson, a noted scholar and professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at BYU, provides a fascinating look at the history and beliefs of a religion that encompasses more than 1.4 billion people. Dr. Peterson explains such things as shared beliefs of Muslims and Mormons, the historical events that have led to today’s fundamentalist movement, and why some Muslims have such an intense hatred for the West. $14.95 plus $2.00 shipping and handling.
- Mormonism: The Faith of the 21st Century by Edward K. Watson. This is a landmark book and packs one heck of a punch. One reviewer commented, “I thoroughly enjoyed perusing this volume. I’ve found myself turning to it for clear, sound discussions of questions concerning Mormon theology. And while Watson uses hundreds of sources and tackles some very difficult questions, his method is designed for comprehension and appeal to the non-scholar.
On the back cover of the book we read, “Edward Watson uses forty Bible versions and more than sixty Bible Dictionaries, Hebrew-English and Greek English Lexicons all of which are from the leading non-Mormon scholars in examining the usage and interpretation of pertinent biblical words and passages. He also draws from Kabbalistic writings, Rabbinical literature, the Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha, the Church Fathers, Philo, Josephus, Dead Sea Scrolls, Targums and even theoretical physics and modern cosmology in presenting Mormon thought in a logical and biblical manner.
The retail is $39.95, however, we have it on sale for $29.95 plus $2.00 shipping and handling.
More information on what is available at the book store is available here:
Just click on the “This Month’s Specials” link on the left side of the screen.
-Scott Gordon FAIR President
BOOK REVIEWS ON THE FAIR WEBSITE
Looking for a review of that book a friend just gave you? Try searching the 90 book reviews found on the FAIR website (FAIR reviews and FARMS and others).
Most books critical of the LDS faith can be found here.
We welcome article submissions for the FAIR Web site. If you would like to submit an article, please review the editing guidelines at:
Submit your article to the FAIR Journal Editor. An appropriate article would be one that affirms the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While LDS apologetics (in the broadest sense) deals with refuting critics of the Church, articles don’t necessarily have to deal with anti-Mormonism, but may deal with some new evidence of the Book of Mormon, some interesting scripture interpretation, a viewpoint or quote from the early Christian Fathers or other historical figure, an interesting lesson idea, an inspiring missionary story, Church history, or your view on a current event related to the Church or a piece from a historical journal.
We may also accept articles from people who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that may not necessarily meet the guidelines of supporting the church if it is a topic of general interest to people involved in apologetics.
A submission may range in length from several pages to a single paragraph.
FAIR is not owned, controlled by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All research and opinions provided in the FAIR Journal and on the FAIR Web site (http://www.fairlds.org) are the sole responsibility of FAIR, and should not be interpreted as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief or practice.
If someone has forwarded this e-journal to you and you would like to join you should go to www.fairlds.org and click on the FAIR Publications link.
If you are very interested in apologetics and would like to actively participate in FAIR you should consider joining our apologetics e-mail list. Visit www.fairlds.org and click on the Join FAIR link to join this list.
If you manage your own e-mail list, and wish to include some of these thoughts or articles on your list, contact us through our Web site, at this page: www.fairlds.org/contact.psp. We have a fairly liberal policy of using our material so long as you contact us first to gain permission and clearly identify that your source was FAIR and by adding a link to the FAIR Web site (www.fairlds.org).
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