Sunday, July 23, 2017

Understanding Apologetics

A week ago today I posted the ninth installment in the CES Letter series. After sharing it on Facebook, the author of the CES Letter, Jeremy Runnells, commented that LDS Apologists were making his point in the CES Letter and that we should keep it up since we were leading more people out of the Church than we were keeping in (he gave no statistical data to give evidence for the point he was making, so take that with a grain of salt).

The terms "apologetics" and "apologist" are often thrown around by anti-Mormons as a sort of pejorative term, one that deems those who write about LDS issues as apologizing or explaining away objections that are seen as substansial.

This is a misunderstanding of the term. The term "apologetics" comes from the Greek word "apologia" which means "to give a defense." So, an apologist is anyone who defends a particular point of view; since all people have beliefs and opinions they will defend occasionally we are by definition all apologists. Thus, characters like Runnells and John Dehlin are apologists just like their alleged enemies Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen Smoot.

Further, it is worth pointing out that many LDS apologists point out both sides of the story and are trained in the area that they write about  (John Gee is a trained Egyptologist and John Sorenson is a trained anthropologist for example). Runnells simply dismisses these people rather than engaging with them, and so he shows himself to be a bad apologist for anti-Mormonism.
In short, the next time someone calls you an apologist,  flash them a smile and say "So are you."

4 comments:

  1. Sometimes those who know what "apologist" means will ask silly questions like "Why do you feel like you need to defend your church?"

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    1. I think that the author of the first epistle of St. Peter answered that in in chapter 3, verse 15 of said epistle.

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  2. I thought JR sought assistance to answer his questions literally for months- no CES director or anyone else has tried to honestly address the issues as he requested.

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    1. That is true of the story he tells, and I do not doubt that happened. But, Runnells gave arguments that have been addressed before and did not interact with them, so he did shoddy, if any, research on the topics he addresses. Nothing he mentioned is new.

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