Of Mice and … Egos

Life is full of choices. In John Steinbeck’s classic novella from 1936 the result of one choice was George Milton putting a bullet in the back of his friend Lennie Small’s head. In the case of a recent in-house cleaning at the Maxwell Institute (a research arm of Brigham Young University’s Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts), it was a curt e-mail from Director M. Gerald Bradford to the Editor of the Mormon Studies Review (Daniel C. Peterson), informing him he was fired. In Of Mice and Men, George Milton figured he was doing Lennie a favor to save him from a far worse fate; and maybe that’s what Bradford thought about Peterson. Lennie Small’s problem ended with a bullet. Peterson’s problems may be just beginning. They both have one thing in common though – neither saw it coming.

It can’t do much for the ego to be summarily dismissed by e-mail (doubly worse in Peterson’s case – he was out of the country), after 23 years as editor with salary and some sort of standing in the Mormon community of apologists.  And there sure were a lot of egos on display since some private emails confirming the so-called “shake up” at the Maxwell Institute were leaked to the public last month.

It was confirmed that these leaked e-mails were in fact real by Daniel Peterson himself on his blog, and by a subsequent news release from the Maxwell Institute found here. The leaked emails caused a massive amount of discussion on various forums that are documented below (these reveal a great divide among Mormon academia about the future of church apologetics that is quite revealing); which culminated with this report by the Salt Lake Tribune last week (22 June 2012),

“In 1998, FARMS was brought into BYU under the umbrella of the Maxwell Institute, and the Mormon Studies Review came with it. Review writers responded to critics’ allegations by dissecting their arguments — and motives — sometimes writing scathing and often personal attacks on those who challenged LDS origins. It was, they believed, the essence of apologetics.

“The tipping point against that approach may have been a 100-page article about John Dehlin, a church member in Logan who launched Mormon Stories, which welcomes those who question aspects of LDS history, practice and theology. Dehlin’s group has published articles about reasons Mormons leave the fold and research on gay members, among other topics.

“After hearing about the piece, Dehlin called an LDS general authority who was a personal friend. Eventually, Maxwell Institute Director Gerald Bradford pulled the article from the journal, leaving a giant hole and putting it behind in its publishing schedule.

“‘I have had enough conversations with general authorities to know,’ Dehlin said this week, ‘that they don’t view ad hominem attacks as a constructive way to do apologetics.'”

In the span of a couple of days in May, the whole sordid affair played out on the Mormon message boards, with many claiming it was all an apostate anti-Mormon conspiracy:

“This is now the second time in a year that we have seen this newly adopted approach of the apostate evangelists when they learn that an important piece of Mormon apologia is about to go to print: pull out all the stops, unloose the dogs of a full-fledged propaganda war, and do everything in their power to CENSOR the voice that they themselves cannot otherwise silence.”  ~Will Schryver

“Bingo! If you hadn’t mentioned it, I was going to. Certain critics seem to abhor being critiqued, and have virtually no tolerance for differences of opinions. This is one of their ways of trying to get their way. One of the key strategies of that propaganda war, besides judgmental and sanctimonious dog-piling, is attempting to manipulatively pit LDS against LDS. Their efforts are so wrought with irony and hypocrisy as to beggar belief.” ~ Wade Englund

“And here we see the anti-Mormon playbook in action….”  ~Michael Ash

Did “anti-Mormons” appoint Bradford or leak the e-mails? Did anti-Mormons choose Dan Peterson’s agenda that now seems at odds with the direction the Maxwell Institute is now charting? Is this really an “anti-Mormon conspiracy” or is this about egos and jealousy over the popularity of John Dehlin’s approach:

“One thing you [John Dehlin] share with those among whom your popularity has recently skyrocketed: you are a cunning propagandist who knows how to capitalize on the relative ignorance of those whose perspectives you seek to mold. Of course, regardless of its utterly mythological status, this whole ‘apologetics destroyed my faith’ meme has become virtually an article of faith among the ex-Mormon crowd.  At the very least it has become a talking point imperative.  Never mind that it is only adopted AFTER apostasy has occurred.  Why is that?  Quite simply because it is nothing more than a weapon in the arsenal of the apostate evangelists; a weapon designed to discredit LDS apologetics in the eyes and minds of those who simply aren’t in a position to know better. How better to prevent faith from being defended and strengthened than by disarming and destroying, if possible, those for whom that is the primary objective of their work? You have to hand it to people like Dehlin and his ideological cohorts: they aren’t nearly as dumb as the people who accept their propaganda uncritically.” ~Will Schryver

And,

“He [Dehlin] believes he is riding the crest of a wave; his power and influence at its all-time apex; his objectives on the verge of ultimate fulfillment.  But, in reality, the events of the past few days (and no doubt the next few as well) have sealed his fate, along with that of all those who have chosen to make common cause with him. I am a great fan of dramatic and profound ironies, and this one is almost Shakespearean in its scope and depth.  I’m loving every minute of it as it unfolds …” ~Will Schryver

Yes, Dehlin’s star appears to be rising, as FARMS falls. According to John Dehlin this is because,

“… MI/FARMS/FAIR hurt the church, its members, apologetics, and the people they target when they stoop to ad hominem attacks, so I feel justified in escalating to church leadership.  I am told that an apostle and several GA’s were involved in telling the Maxwell Institute to stop this piece.  If you support your priesthood leaders, then maybe you might consider that my escalation was a good thing — or at least a reasonable one.  In fact, I am told that several from within your own ranks who have read the piece find it to be distasteful, FWIW.” ~John Dehlin

Of course this is denied by those in Peterson’s camp,

“This is a myth concocted and perpetuated by clever apostates who recognized in this approach a way to manipulate public opinion as to what the Review is like.  There is virtually nothing in the way of ‘ad hominem attacks’ in the Review.  There never has been. Again, it is a myth whose underlying purpose was to accomplish what happened a little more than a week ago.” ~Will Schryver

The FARMS Review, has undergone many changes since its launch in 1989. In the introduction to Volume One, Daniel C. Peterson wrote,

“We undertake this enterprise with some concern that our intentions be properly understood. As Latter-day Saints, we belong to a culture which values kindness and the accentuation of the positive. This is quite proper, and entirely Christian. Criticism in the commonly used sense of the term–and the reviewing of books written by fallible mortal authors will always entail a certain amount of such criticism–is something that our culture is wary of, and with some justification. Too often, it can be unhelpful, unfair, cruel, and self-aggrandizing. Of Babylon, and not of Zion.”

Unfortunately, “kindness and the accentuation of the positive” have not always been the hallmark of The FARMS Review (now titled Mormon Studies Review).  As the Salt Lake City Messenger reported in 1994:

“[Mormon apologists] seem to be very skillful in making ad hominem attacks on those with whom they differ. Since Professor [Daniel C.] Peterson serves as editor of Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, he sets a very bad example for contributors to that publication. Anyone who examines the articles written by Daniel C. Peterson, William Hamblin, Louis Midgley, and some of the other Mormon scholars will see that they have sometimes been mean spirited in their attempt to save the church.” (Salt Lake City Messenger, “LDS Scholars Very Upset,” June 1994 – Read the entire issue for details)

Dehlin indeed admitted that he “contacted his GA friends” when he learned of Greg Smith’s “hit piece” about him that was to be published in the Mormon Studies Review.  Dehlin e-mailed one of the Seventy in March along with Daniel C. Peterson and wrote,

“I am hoping that the Maxwell Institute will not issue a hit piece on me. I would ask you both to please not allow this to happen. If such a piece is, indeed, in the works — I would like notice so that I can contact Elder XXXXXXX as well. My guess is that he wouldn’t approve of this either….but I can’t say for sure. If my friend is mistaken in his information — I sincerely apologize for the error and annoyance.”

Peterson’s reply, “You’re threatening, blackmailing, and defaming, and I don’t appreciate it” was posted on-line by Dehlin, and the mice began to scurry as ego’s clashed. Peterson confirmed the above with a follow up post,

“Now, John Dehlin and I have never been buddies.  But we’ve always been civil.  So I was more than a little surprised when I noticed that this email hadn’t been sent only or even primarily to me.  Instead, it had been sent to a member of the Seventy, with an appeal for him to stop publication of what Dehlin characterized as a ‘hit piece’ and a promise that Dehlin was prepared to go further up in the hierarchy if he didn’t get what he wanted.  Thereafter, it was copied to me, as well as to three influential non-BYU LDS academics (friends of mine, actually) who presumably might be able to help in squelching the unseen article, and to one other person whose name I didn’t recognize. I wasn’t in the mood, it was late, I hadn’t (I think) as yet read the article in question, and I didn’t respond. The next morning, at 8:42 AM, I was copied on another email from John Dehlin, which was principally sent to the same member of the Seventy and which was also copied to the same addressee list as the one from 10.5 hours earlier. It provided the Seventy in question with five quotations culled from Dehlin’s unscientific survey of disaffected Latter-day Saints, all of them highly critical of (and more or less insulting toward) me and my associates. They were included, Dehlin explained, ‘to aid you in your decision-making about these issues.  I hope you find them useful.  If you want more examples, I’m happy to provide.’ I confess that I didn’t find this particularly nice.  Slandering me to one of the leaders of my Church and to academic friends of mine didn’t seem a particularly charitable opening gambit.”

What has become clear in the last week is the great divide that appears to exist among Mormon apologists about how best to address Book of Mormon and apologetic issues. In a blog article titled “What the Maxwell Institute controversy is really about,” William J. Hamblin called the merger of FARMS with B.Y.U. “a hostile takeover,” and labeled Director M. Gerald Bradford “a less than competent administrator”; a view, states Hamblin, that is shared by “many other people.”  Calling Peterson’s approach, “classic-Farms,” Hamblin writes,

“with [Peterson's] dismissal classic-FARMS is gone.  There is not a single voice left in the leadership of the Institute to represent the original goals of classic-FARMS.  This is why Dan’s dismissal and marginalization is seen as such a massive betrayal.  It is the removal of the last vestige of classic-FARMS.  The pretense of the MI as the heir of FARMS can no longer be maintained.  Bradford believes this is a good and necessary thing.  And we need to understand: he always has.  This does not represent a shift of policy for Bradford.  This represents a shift of power from a Board of scholars with a particular vision, to employees who never shared that vision, but who were hired to perform strictly limited and specific tasks.  By allowing BYU to absorb FARMS the Board effectively abdicated its power to guide the future direction of FARMS.”

Hamblin describes Bradford’s behavior as “shameful,” calls him “a flawed human being,” and “dead wrong” in his dismissal of Peterson.  John Dehlin commented on his Facebook page (since removed) about Hamblin’s article, writing,

“Such a fascinating article. My response to Bill Hamblin (and Daniel Peterson): ‘What if it’s as simple as this: you guys have failed at doing apologetics in a way that LDS church leadership is comfortable with. Clearly Gerald Bradford didn’t act alone. Clearly general authorities were involved. It’s clear to me that LDS church leadership is uncomfortable with your (and Dr. Peterson’s) brand of apologetics. To blame Bradford for this seems like scapegoating. Unfortunately you can’t criticize LDS church leadership and remain an apologist (ouch!)….but it’s not fair to lay the blame on Bradford either. Not fair at all. Try looking in the mirror.'”

Will Schryver, who claimed to have read some of the “hit piece” in question wrote,

“I have now read about 1/3 of the article.  It is an absolutely devastating piece of work–devastating to Dehlin’s proclaimed ‘objectivity’ and ‘balance,’ that is. That said, I have yet to identify a single instance of the ad hominem logical fallacy.  Quite to the contrary, what the article does is use Dehlin’s own words, meticulously assembled and cited, to demonstrate that he (Dehlin) is what I have long claimed him to be: an apostate evangelist, whose objective is to erode the faith of the Saints. The sooner this article appears in print, the better: it will conclusively expose Dehlin for what he really is.”

Schryver then looks forward to attacking others,

“Hopefully, once this Dehlin article is finally printed and out the door, [author] Greg [Smith] can turn his sights on [Joanna] Brooks.”

Again, is this really an anti-Mormon conspiracy, or just jealousy and ego? Here is Schryver again, who has his own problems with the Maxwell Institute:

“I’ve been in a position in the last few years to observe, to a considerable extent, the ways and means by which this pressure is brought to bear.  I believe it has been able to occur almost entirely beneath the radar of the highest levels of Church leadership.  I hope the excruciatingly public nature of this final act in the dissolution of the FARMS mission will at least serve to alert the Brethren to the fact that there is a war for the soul of LDS intellectual thought that is being waged in ways it has never been waged before, and with factions formed and organized to a degree that they are able to mold, manipulate, and sway public opinion.  And now, it seems, they have proven capable of dictating the direction and agenda of the most respected scholarly publishing brand in the Church.” ~Will Schryver

How much easier to just blame it all on the anti-Mormons! In Of Mice and Men, George Milton didn’t have the resolve to look Lennie in the eye as he pulled the trigger,

 “And George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie’s head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger.”

Likewise, Gerald Bradford didn’t seem to be able to muster up the courage to look Dan Peterson in the eye when he pulled the trigger on his 23-year tenure as Editor of the Mormon Studies Review. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

—-

Of further interest:

Timeline of events
M. Gerald Bradford’s vision for the Maxwell Institute
Dan Peterson: A Eulogy, by Tal Bachman

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17 Responses to Of Mice and … Egos

  1. falcon says:

    I found the above article interesting but I must admit it’s an “inside baseball” type of issue. Without knowing the players and the issues I got lost.
    grindael,
    Could you bottom line this for those of us who aren’t all that familiar with the personalities and issues. I’m very familiar with John Dehlin and have listened to some of his podcasts. I’ve listened, in fact, to the one dealing with why Mormons leave the LDS Salt Lake City Branch church.
    The first time I listened to it I was wondering what kept John Dehlin in the Mormon church. His interview with Grant Palmer was really fascinating. With both of these guys I couldn’t really figure out why they hadn’t left the Mormon church. Grant Palmer talked about being a sort of “reformer”. However once someone figures Mormonism out, what’s to reform? Mormonism simply dissolves under close scrutiny.
    If the BoM isn’t a factual history, for example, then Joseph Smith is a false prophet. If Joseph Smith is a false prophet than Mormonism is a fraud and a sham. So what’s to reform?
    What would be helpful to me would be an explanation of who the sides are. With Peterson getting the shaft do the Dehlin’s get a “win”.
    A little more background information would be helpful.

  2. falcon says:

    I clicked on and read the above link with the posting by Tal Bachman and that helped fill in the information blanks for me. I would highly recommend it.
    What seems to be going on here is some infighting among the Mormon apologists. We have the camp that is looking for the truth and the camp that is interested in defending the Mormon paradigm. Dahlin would be the former while Peterson and his crew are the latter.
    Tal Bachman has some great lines in his post. He does a good job of explaining how Peterson and his group are charged with defending Mormonism no matter how nonsensical and convoluted there reasoning is. He also describes Peterson’s behavior and if accurate that in and of itself would be enough to get the guy booted from his perch, in my opinion.
    So in the end, was its Peterson’s personal style or his scholarship that earned him his release. Can we say that the grown-ups have taken over? I don’t know how anyone can be a Mormon apologist. A clear thinking individual would figure out Joseph Smith’s scam in short order. Unless your livelihood depended on it and you didn’t have much of a conscious, I would think that the group known as Mormon apologists would be shrinking rapidly.

  3. grindael says:

    Here is a timeline of sorts, (best I could figure out from all the discussions) and blog entries:

    1. Before March 24 Greg Smith writes “hit piece” on John Dehlin.
    2. March 24, Dehlin emails a GA [a "Seventy" is all we know] & CC’s Daniel C. Peterson to stop it.
    3. ??? Gerald Bradford hears from GA?and stops the piece from being published and delays release of the Review
    4. May ? Peterson’s emails to Dehlin are leaked to the public from someone in the MI
    5. May 10 “Dr. Scratch” (who Dan Peterson calls his “stalker”) posts the leaked emails on Mormon Discussions
    6. May 10&11, a two day slam fest on Mormon Dialogue & Discussion Boards, with Peterson commenting and William J. Hamblin posting Dehlin’s original emails to Peterson.
    7. early June Peterson and Bradford meet and discuss the future of the review and do not really come to any agreement, Peterson leaves the country on a trip to Israel
    8. June 14 Bradford emails Peterson that he is fired
    9. June 17 Bradford’s email is leaked to public
    10. June 22 SL Tribune publishes piece and MI releases official notice of change of direction

    What is happening, is that the Mormon apologists from FARMS [and their supporters] are seeing Daniel C. Peterson as a legitimate “defender of the faith” and John Dehlin as an undercover “apostate evangelical a***-Mormon) who is out to destroy the faith of the “saints”.

    It has been reported that Neal. A. Maxwell once said that there would be “no more slam-dunks” against the church [or Book of Mormon], and that they needed an apologetic arm to defend the church. It was thought that FARMS would be perfect for this, and Gordon Hinckley invited them to come under the umbrella of B.Y.U. and the church. This carried with it the church taking over direction of FARMS. They felt this was all right at first (though some like Hamblin said later that they objected and it was a “hostile take over”), and Peterson kept his position as the editor of the FARMS Review for 23 years. But as time went on, more and more “non-scholars” were put on the board of directors, and the “scholars” say that more and more their articles were being rejected for publication, there were less and less papers published, and that created a conflict, with many outside the Institute like John Dehlin criticizing the FARMS ‘scholars’ as basically being too aggressive and making too many ad hominem attacks in their reviews. The FARMS “scholars” claim that too much “secularism” is creeping in, and think that Bradford is being manipulated by “apostates” which they feel that Dehlin is. How all this is going on, or how “a***-Mormons” are involved, they don’t explain. (Though they have called believing Mormons “a***-Mormons” when it suits them.) Much of this is available for review in the links I provided in the article.

    What is important about this episode is how it is shaping the Church’s approach to apologetics. There are some really angry people out there right now. They think the “Brethren” are being deceived.

  4. grindael says:

    There is a lot of money involved here, Falcon. It has been intimated by some of the FARMS crew, that they will use their influence with donors to punish the Maxwell Institute and Bradford. Many are paid, (like Peterson) who speaks of his salary in his leaked letter to Director Gerald Bradford:

    “I understand that some contract issues may be affected by my resignation as Director of Advancement. I trust that we can work those out in a civil manner. Pending my dismissal from METI, I will insist that I continue to be compensated as a director in my role, which I will now have more time for, as its editor in chief. I also expect my usual fee as editor of the issue of the Mormon Studies Review that you’ve killed. It was finished and ready to go.” http://mormoncurtain.com/#pub_1710393818

    Also, these guys have been building up the Review for years calling it “the most respected scholarly publishing brand in the Church,” and they are ticked off that they are basically being shut out. This is definitely going to get more interesting.

    Guess it’s pretty lucrative to be a “defender of the church”, else why would Peterson care so much about the salary? But, this really comes as no surprise now does it?

  5. falcon says:

    grindael,
    Thanks for the clarification. I would think that the Mormon prophet would come forth with a “revelation” about all of this. I think this proves that the “one true church” is just as snarky as any other organization. OOPS I forgot. The church is perfect but the people aren’t. Kind of a funny way for all of these future gods to be acting towards one another. Perhaps when they get deified they’ll throw lightning bolts at each other.

  6. Mike R says:

    Grindael, Am I understanding that Prof. Petersen gets paid a salary as Editor of an important
    apologetic journal , and he also draws a salary as a teacher from the Church owned University
    BYU ? How objective can his “defense of the faith ” really be ? It’s from arrangements like
    this that Signature Books , for example, have arisen and provided more of a balanced look
    at Mormon history/doctrine . Would this be a correct assessment in your opinion ? Thanks.

  7. Pingback: ClobberBlog » A Change Would Do You Good — 2 of 3

  8. spartacus says:

    Thank you grindael for the clarifying piece and follow-ups. I saw a bunch of stuff on M Dialogue n Discussion but was having trouble reconstructing the events. Also, I have read a bit of FARMS, but can anyone show proof of the history of ad hominem that is so categorically denied by faithful as aunty’s myth?

  9. falcon says:

    I think our readers would enjoy tripping over to (60s lingo) this site (see below) and reading the first three posts. They compliment what grindael has written very nicely. I keep asking myself, “What does a Mormon apologist do?” I can’t shake that thought. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a position of having to defend Joseph Smith and Mormonism. I wonder if the Mormon church could ever go the way of Herbert Armstrong’s World Wide Church of Tomorrow or whatever it was called. After he died the leaders started doing some real soul searching and concluded that the church was a theological nightmare. The church crumbled with some “faithful” members still trying to hold on to the lie. They couldn’t let it go.
    So take a look at the three short articles here:

    http://www.mormoncurtain.com/

  10. grindael says:

    Spartacus, I provided a link to a 1994 issue of the Tanner’s Salt Lake City Messenger, where they devote most of the issue to some of the attacks. (It’s in the article above)

    I think everyone should use some common sense here. If the article on Dehlin was so squeaky clean, and non partisan, it’s hard to believe that they would scrap a whole issue of the Review and everything that went into it. Somebody found something wrong with it. A good series of articles about this can be found here:

    The question of salaries Mike, is an interesting one. Of course, when one writes for a Journal, it takes time and effort. Let’s say that you want to write for a scholarly Historical Association Journal or Magazine. You have an interest in the subject, and they usually will pay you some kind of fee if your article is accepted. That’s fine, but The Farms/Mormon Studies Review is an apologetic effort for defense of a church, is highly partisan, and is offered for free, here

    It always gets questionable when money is involved in an effort that most think should come from the heart. Motives get questioned. The Farms Review has been in decline for years, and one might think that if one gets a nice salary one can then devote little time to it, collect the money and devote yourself to other interests. The Farms “scholars” have been blaming the decline on the non scholar appointed board members. Who knows? Perhaps it will all come out now.

    Signature Books is a publishing house. It’s main purpose is not defense of the church, but the publication of historical works. The authors are interested in a subject, submit it and get a royalty. They are not befuddled with a group of “brethren” breathing down their necks to make sure it’s all faith promoting.

    I’m not against anyone making money for their writing. But I think a Church should be transparent about it, and disclose to people that this is what happens. I think most people don’t know that these guys get paid. Maybe some of them don’t. I would hope that there are Mormons out there, who are above having to get paid for everything they do. The rank and file members do things for free. It’s kind of strange that it’s the leadership, and some of the apologetic scholars that get paid for defending what is supposedly the most important thing in their lives.

  11. falcon says:

    I would think that the two main qualifications of a Mormon apologist would be first of all unwavering faith, love and devotion for the BoM, the D&C, the BoA, and, I’ll throw in, the Journal of Discourses. The second qualification would be to come up with creative explanations for all of the things in Mormonism that have no rational explanation.
    Just start with the BoA for example. It has been proven that the text that Smith used to write the BoA isn’t in any way related to what (Smith) wrote. Now it takes creativity to come up with an explanation for that.
    I guess fortunately for the Mormon apologist, the rank and file Mormons aren’t real interested in what these (Mormon apologists) say anyway. Those who are questioning Mormonism and go and check out the FARMS site come away convinced that Mormonism isn’t true, as they expected. This is because what is written there has no ring of truth and no grounding in reality. It just serves to shove people out the door.
    Speaking of getting shoved out the door, Peterson and his ilk are experiencing the same fate as Bruce McConkie has within Mormon circles. McConkie had a good ride while it lasted but he got tossed under the Mormon bus also. I’ve never read anything written by Joseph Fielding Smith but my understanding is that he’s suffered the same fate.
    In order to be a good Mormon you have to suspend credulity. Therefore you have to have apologists who do the same. The FARMS crew under Peterson have been experts at this. So I guess a purpose is served for people not interested in the truth but rather creative spin that supports what they desire to believe.

  12. falcon says:

    My understanding is that at one point an “edict” went out from the SLC HQ that the rank and file should stop bothering the top boys with questions regarding doctrine etc. So who are the folks suppose to c0ntact. It looks like there’s a dust-up going on with the Mormon apologists.
    But these apologists wouldn’t be the go to guys anyway because they have no authority so speak for the church. So my question is, what good are either the “prophet(s)” or the apologists if one won’t respond and the other carry no weight.
    As a Christian, if I want to know something I just study the subject and come to some conclusions. Also, within certain segments of the Christian family, there are recognized apostles and prophets along with evangelists, pastors and teachers. Mormonism supposedly has some sort of reincarnation of a factitious Christian priesthood from the first century, but my guess is that these guys can’t really be much help when it comes to matters of doctrine and practice.
    When it comes to spiritual matters, these Mormon prophets are firing blanks anyway. They are leading a fictitious religion that has, as it’s basic core belief, a false practice called “progressive revelation”. This is basically a license to steal since in practice, the Mormon prophet can change anything previous prophets have proclaimed.
    Even the BoM has been changed from it’s original version.
    So when it comes to this current controversy regarding the FARMS boys, I can only wonder what the motivation is behind it. Could it be that a new revelation is coming down the pike and the current crop of apologists just aren’t up to the task of explaining it?

  13. falcon says:

    We have two specific Mormon (political) groups here, I would say. What I’m interested in is what do they represent? Are we talking about a difference in form or attitude or are we talking about two different views of Mormonism?
    Peterson has a reputation of being caustic in his approach. It looks like he wore out his welcome at least to some degree because of this. If I’m reading this right, he and his group are attacking the other group as being a@@@-Mormon. Why are these other folks considered a@@@-Mormon? I think it’s because they have some amount of integrity and live in reality.
    Let’s face it, Mormonism is tough to defend. It totally falls apart at the second level of questioning, certainly. It is sustain by emotion and the desire for it to be true on the part of those who buy-in to the story. Anything that has to be sold and maintained by an emotion (known as the burning in the bosom) is difficult to sustain. That’s why Mormons favor “revelation” as opposed to “evidence”. There is no evidence that would support the notion that the cornerstone of Mormonism, the BoM, is a historically accurate book. Quite to the contrary, it’s not even very good fiction.
    Bottom line is that Jesus Christ is, as the Bible tells us, is the truth, the way and the life. Any religion that turns Jesus into something else, as Mormonism does, won’t stand the test of time nor maintain members. The Good News is that sinful man has been reconciled to a holy God who proved His love, mercy and benevolence by sacrificing himself. Mormonism rejects this notion by teaching that men can become gods through a system of works. This does not honor god. It defies Him and His Plan.

  14. falcon says:

    So who should the Mormons go with for their apologists? Well it’s too bad that Peterson (is reported to be) lacking in bedside manner because his group sounds like they are the perfect match for “the one true church”. Mormons need apologists who have the ability to spin straw into gold and for people to not notice that it’s still straw.
    In order to be a gung ho Mormon, a person has to have the ability to suspend credulity and be willing to accept at face value anything the LDS church says. The Peterson backed group appears to be so enamored with Mormonism that they can make anything work.
    The problem with the other group is that if their scholarship and point of view are accepted as the apologetic real deal, the SLC denomination of Mormonism will sort of end up as a hybrid version of the Community of Christ. These folks, it appears, have moved on. They give their members the choice of seeing the BoM as a spiritual book rather than actual history. They also didn’t mess with polygamy or get into the men to gods program.
    In many ways the CoC is very much like Mormonism during its initial go round. Their doctrine of God appears to me to be pretty conventional in the orthodox Christian way. But to be honest, once folks figure out a few things about Mormonism, they don’t really want to hang around. Some become Christians, some become atheists and some are just sort of in limbo.
    Let’s face it, once folks do figure it out, it’s pretty tough to hang in there unless they become what’s known as “social” Mormons.
    The fight over which apologetic group is going to be recognized won’t end soon. They’ll each probably have their own little group of followers.

  15. Mike R says:

    Much has happened in the last 20 years concerning events in Mormon history , many things
    that were not readily available or were not emphasized to the rank and file members began
    to be written about . This started to paint a picture that was disturbing to many members as it
    slowly eroded the image and claims promoted by their leaders. Claims like having a living
    prophet to clear up confusion on spiritual matters by providing consistent reliable guidance ,
    yet the track record of gospel teachings by Mormon apostles ever since their alleged appointment
    by Jesus to teach the restored gospel begin to paint a different picture. Church leaders had a
    lot of questions from a lot of members. Enter the trained apologists . They afforded Church
    leaders some breathing room while careful to emphasize their part as “non-official ” . This tactic
    has worked out well for a while but soon rank and file church members began to see through
    this arrangement as their apostles seemed to be anemic in their leadership as the teachers of
    correct doctrine and in providing appropriate safety from spiritual confusion . With episodes
    like the Mark Hoffman forgeries , and the way the Blacks being denied the Priesthood was a
    doctrine then relegated to “folklore” , and how the “sacred not secret ” alibi about Temple
    rituals , or the fact that Joseph Smith married dozens of women was kept largely quiet in
    public sermons and church publications for such a long time , all this behavior and more has not
    been lost on rank and file members. Despite all the apologetic efforts to give answers for the
    behavior of Mormon leaders many members continue to become inactive/leave.

  16. grindael says:

    Well, things might be getting really interesting at the COB, there are rumors that Monson has Alzheimer’s Disease… This was just posted recently on Mormon Discussions… If Packer becomes the next President… things are bound to get very interesting.

    http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=24617

  17. Stanley2 says:

    What caught my attention, and still find it difficult to believe it takes ONE HUNDRED PAGES to respond to John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories and his other work.

    I’ve found Mr. Dehlin to be an honest man, fair, who isn’t afraid to address the tough issues. Mr. Dehlin is building bridges to help people in the church and that offends people so much it requires a book size paper to respond? Amazing…….

    In a way I wish FARMS had published it. It would expose them for what they are……..

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