Defending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Wayne D. Arnett
FAIR /SHIELDS , 2003. Large booklet:
Suggested retail price: $3.95 (US)
Defending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a shortexposition exploring the methods of the Church's critics, and how tounderstand, and meet, their challenges. It contains many helpful summariesand definitions, and some good quotations from Church leaders, and evensome Church detractors.
As Arnett's booklet notes, anti-Mormonism has been part of the Mormonexperience from its inception. Beginning with Joseph Smith's firstannouncement of his encounter in the Sacred Grove, scoffers and otherenemies have tried to discredit both the Church and the Restoration thatforms its foundation.
The tradition of criticism continues unabated. Recent interest inpolygamy, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and other aspects of Mormonhistory and practice, have been explored by scholars and journalists, someof whom have misrepresented the events, either by design or by ignorance.Members of the Church are sometimes unprepared to respond to thesecriticisms.
Arnett does not set out in so brief a work to offer full explanations orextensive histories. He supplies a very good bibliography at the close ofthe pamphlet; interested readers can utilize these to study further intothose areas that are of interest.
Arnett does, however, offer a basic critical apparatus in anon-threatening, accessible format, understandable to most people.Included in the booklet:
a short glossary of words used by critics, but not always fullyunderstood;
a rationale for the existence of critics, and why they persist to thisday;
an understanding of the role of a Prophet (and a timely caution tomembers of the Church that they may *overstate* the prophetic gift, andthus contribute to the confusion);
a short list of logical fallacies, helpful when you *know* someoneisn't making sense, but you can't put your finger on the preciseproblem;
an attempt to categorize the kinds of attacks made by critics;
a short list of Internet resources for those who want to learn more.
This is a lot of information, packed into a very small publication. Asmight be expected, none of the above topics is treated exhaustively, butall are treated fairly and concisely.
Arnett has performed a service for the Church, much as FARMS has in theirbook, "Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon." By taking a large,complex theme, and reducing it to an understandable minimum, Arnett hasprovided a helpful starting point for Mormons, and others, to meet thecritics and defend their faith in an organized and reasonable manner.
I recommend Arnett's pamphlet for those wanting a good beginning tounderstanding, and answering, the critics. And yes, it's just a beginning.There's yet much to be written.
Jeff Needle December 8, 2003
© 2003 Jeff Needle