The leading Mormon
apologetics organization, defending all aspects of Mormonism. Theologically, the Mormon Church is a cult of Christianity
In the name of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts (Institute) supports study and research on the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, the Old Testament and the New Testament, studies of the early formative period of the Christian tradition, ancient temples, and other related subjects. It also publishes a number of periodicals, books, and other related material on these subjects, of particular interest to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, under the FARMS imprint.
Established in 1979 as a private not-for-profit organization, the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) focused on promoting research and publications on the Book of Mormon and related subjects. Brigham Young University acquired FARMS in 1997.
In extending the invitation to become part of BYU, Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS Church president and chairman of the BYU Board of Trustees, observed that, "FARMS represents the efforts of sincere and dedicated scholars. It has grown to provide strong support and defense of the Church on a professional basis.
Source: What is FARMS
Official FARMS site (Last accessed Mar. 15, 2003)
Evangelical Christians Carl Mosser and Paul owen discuss, among other subjects, FARMS scholarship in their controversial paper, Mormon Scholarship, Apologetics, and Evangelical Neglect: Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?
The title of this paper reflects five conclusions we have come to concerning Mormon-evangelical debates. The first is that there are, contrary to popular evangelical perceptions, legitimate Mormon scholars. We use the term scholar in its formal sense of "intellectual, erudite; skilled in intellectual investigation; trained in ancient languages."2 Broadly, Mormon scholarship can be divided into four categories: traditional, neo-orthodox, liberal and cultural. We are referring to the largest and most influential of the four categories—traditional Mormon scholars. It is a point of fact that the Latter-day Saints are not an anti-intellectual group like Jehovah's Witnesses. Mormons, in distinction to groups like JWs, produce work that has more than the mere appearance of scholarship. The second conclusion we have come to is that Mormon scholars and apologists (not all apologists are scholars) have, with varying degrees of success, answered most of the usual evangelical criticisms. Often these answers adequately diffuse particular (minor) criticisms. When the criticism has not been diffused the issue has usually been made much more complex.
A third conclusion we have come to is that currently there are, as far as we are aware, no books from an evangelical perspective that responsibily interact with contemporary LDS scholarly and apologetic writings.3 In a survey of twenty recent evangelical books criticizing Mormonism we found that none interact with this growing body of literature. Only a handful demonstrate any awareness of pertinent works. Many of the authors promote criticisms that have long been refuted; some are sensationalistic while others are simply ridiculous. A number of these books claim to be "the definitive" book on the matter. That they make no attempt to interact with contemporary LDS scholarship is a stain upon the authors' integrity and causes one to wonder about their credibility.
Our fourth conclusion is that at the academic level evangelicals are losing the debate with the Mormons. We are losing the battle and do not know it. In recent years the sophistication and erudition of LDS apologetics has risen considerably while evangelical responses have not.4 Those who have the skills necessary for this task rarely demonstrate an interest in the issues. Often they do not even know that there is a need. In large part this is due entirely to ignorance of the relevant literature.
Finally, our fifth conclusion is that most involved in the counter-cult movement lack the skills and training necessary to answer Mormon scholarly apologetic. The need is great for trained evangelical biblical scholars, theologians, philosophers and historians to examine and answer the growing body of literature produced by traditional LDS scholars and apologists.
In a reply to Mosser and Owen's paper, evangelical Christian apologist and countercult researcher John Weldon
FARMS has over 100 Brigham Young University
scholars working on its projects and a multi-million dollar budget to pursue its goals: "They strongly believe that no other organization on earth can compete with their knowledge of the Book of Mormon. They are convinced that as far as human wisdom is concerned they are the ultimate experts on the subject. Consequently, they are very offended if anyone ignores or his ignorance of the research emanating from FARMS." (Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Mormon FARMS: Battling the AntiMormonoids
," Utah Lighthouse Ministry website printout, page 8)
Although this is clearly the most scholarly venue of Mormon apologetics, unfortunately for FARMS, its first ten years indicate the horse has stumbled at the gate and is close to dying. FARMS cannot defend what does not exist. FARMS literature may appear persuasive, but so does the literature of evolutionary scientists. Evolution seems persuasive to those with naturalistic spectacles because their assumptions cause them to ignore or misinterpret factual data they might otherwise accept; in a similar fashion, FARMS materials seem persuasive to those with Mormon spectacles because their assumptions cause them to ignore or misinterpret factual data they might otherwise accept.
Mormon FARMS: Battling The AntiMormonoids
(Contra) By Jerald and Sandra Tanner
Mormon Scholarship, Apologetics, and Evangelical Neglect: Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?
By Carl Mosser and Paul Owen. Controversial article by two evangelical Christians, examining evangelical apologetics scholarship and/or countercult responses to current Mormon scholarship. See also this discussion
regarding the paper.
: Many Mormons have used Mosser and Owen's paper in support of LDS beliefs. However, the following comment, by Carl Mosser, should be noted:
1) We say that currently evangelicals are *needlessly* losing this battle. The Mormons have an advantage only because of evangelical neglect, not because their arguments are compelling. 2) It should be obvious that we have read as much of this stuff as anyone, probably more than even most Mormons have, and we remain unconvinced. This ought to be a little troubling to the Latter-day Saint who looks to FARMS for inspiration. We have read a good chunk of their best scholarship as charitably as we can and remain unpersuaded.