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John Weldon's Response To Mosser/Owen and FARMS

Note: This is an initial response to the paper "Mormon Scholarship, Apologetics, and Evangelical Neglect: Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?" by Carl Mosser and Paul Owen. This response may be modified or expanded within the near future.


Studious researchers like Jerald and Sandra Tanner, James White, and others, spend a great deal of time to research Mormonism because, first of all, they truly love the Mormon people and second, because they care about defending the truth. By contrast, in its 'scholarly' furthering of the unbiblical doctrines of Mormonism, FARMS/BYU scholars and LDS leaders confirm they have little love for either the Mormon people or the truth. And, not surprisingly, even other Mormon scholars have, not infrequently, described their work as incompetent. For example, Stephen E. Thompson, in "Critical' Book of Mormon Scholarship," in Dialogue 27/4(1994) refers to FARMS 500-page review of New Approaches as "seriously flawed" and as replete with "dross and Bile."

FARMS characteristically labels Christian critics of Mormonism as "anti-Mormon"--but not as "anti-Mormonism." The book by Peterson and Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints does this twice in one title. This is also unfair. Criticizing a person's beliefs is hardly the same as criticizing the person. There is all the difference in the world between caring about Mormons as people and being critical of their theology. Christians can be considered anti-Mormon doctrinally, but hardly "anti-Mormon" when it concerns Mormon individuals. After all, it is concern for the salvation of Mormon people that causes Christians to examine LDS beliefs critically. Hopefully, individual Mormons would understand that criticism is not a sin.

Unfortunately, ours is an age where pluralism rules, absolutes do not exist, where everything is true and all is permitted-- and one in which lots of people do not care about much of anything, let alone the truth. Again, Mormons apologists, scholars and writers, for example, certainly do not seem to care about the truth.

Christians who write responsibly on Mormonism do care and it comes across in their writing, even if it may be polemical. But polemics also aren't a sin. To write polemically is simply to argue against an opinion or doctrine. This is a necessary task for the Christian because Christianity, like Mormonism, has exclusive truth claims. If a person's doctrine is wrong and a Christian does not tell that person the truth, it is impossible to truly be loving toward that individual.

Yet even some Christians think polemics is a sin, because it "offends" others to tell them their beliefs are wrong. But the Bible teaches that the Gospel itself is offensive, and for those who wish to personally justify themselves before God, it could hardly be otherwise. (Gal. 5:11; cf. 1 Cor. 1:23) God never tells Christians to be so concerned about people's sensitivities that they neglect the truth. That is the sin. The simple fact is that one cannot speak the truth today without offending some people. Certainly, one cannot defend the truth without arguing for it or against that which opposes it.

That is what we did in our book and that is all other Christians have done in their books. If in places we were strong with LDS writers, apologists and scholars for so thoroughly distorting the truth that 10 million Mormons and million of Christians do not even think there is a difference between the Gospel and paganism, we are sorry if some are offended-- but we offer no apology for our views.

The Bible is clear that God holds truth in very high regard and that religious leaders who lead people astray spiritually, whether Mormon or Christian, will bear the greater judgment (cf. Ja. 3:1). God told the false prophets of Israel, "Although you claim, 'This is the oracle of the Lord' ... even though I told you you must not claim [this] ... I will bring upon you everlasting disgrace--everlasting shame that will not be forgotten." (Jere. 23:40)