“Mormon Challenges”


An alpine meadow in Austria. Totally irrelevant. I just happen to love the Alps. So, when I think of a happy place, or of something helping, I think of scenes such as this.


Here’s a new project that, in my view, holds real promise.  I’m enthusiastic about any effort to help members of the Church who may be struggling with their faith — and I favor using every medium that can be enlisted, so that we can reach people where they actually are.


Apologetics efforts have, for too long, been confined largely to the print media — which is not where a lot of those needing help happen to be.  That’s one of the reasons that I’m so excited about The Interpreter Foundation, which is, thus far, only beginning to hint at its potential.



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  • Lucy Mcgee

    John Dehlin, the creator of Mormon Stories seems to tell a heartfelt story regarding the struggles facing disaffected members of the Church. To me, his interview style and voice evokes Nick Forster of eTown fame. After listening to at least 20 interviews, the fascination with the Mormon Story was complete.

    As a rank outsider and “secular” human, I’ve found the history of the Mormons as fascinating as anything I’ve read within our nation’s history. Some years ago, I walked the wagon ruts left by Mormon pioneers who traveled the high plains on their way to Deseret. Not only did we catch large trout from the Green river flowing through the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, but wondered about the hardships facing all those who chose to make the long and difficult journey. At that time, in the 80′s, I had no understanding that those tracks were created by the Mormons. Now, thinking back, I’ve grown to respect a group of people with whom I share not one bit of religious faith.

  • Noel

    I watched the video “Alone” on MormonChallenges. The couple struggle with the Book of Abrham question and seek answers of course from the Apologists like Muhlstein (sorry about spelling just off top of my head). He argues that the original BOA papyri might still be lost. Andrew Cook and Chris Smith in Dialogue:A Journal of Mormon Thought challenge this theory. Would the concerned man in the video be really aware of all the arguments from both sides?

    • danpeterson

      Probably not. Very, very few are.

      And the final word regarding the Smith/Cook piece hasn’t yet been spoken.

  • http://www.sethpayne.com Seth Payne


    There is no final word of the BoA, IMO. Just like every other worthwhile academic exercise the point is not to have the final word but rather, to contribute to a long and ongoing conversation.


  • Louis Midgley

    I have enjoyed reading the comments on Dan’s blog entry. It is more than a little discouraging to find that civil conversation is such a rare thing. It seems that both partisan political squabbles and religious controversy unleashes certain powerful and profoundly malevolent passions. The comments above are radically unlike what takes place on message boards where a rabid rabble launch invective Dan’s way virtually every day.

    • danpeterson

      It’s been nice to see civil comments. Of course, I have the power to delete uncivil comments — but the fact is that I’ve almost never had to do that. The really vicious types haven’t shown up here, and that’s perfectly fine by me.

  • Bob Oliverio

    Is the role of/need for Mormon apologetics finding itself in a shrinking spiral of insignificance to The Church or is the audience shrinking?  

    Seriously, if there are those that believe there is a meaningful group of members or targets that are NOT getting questions answered, and are need of the apologetic answers (regardless of delivery means), is this just conclusion of apologists or is it shared concern of The Church?  If it is a shared concern of the Church, why won’t they support the effort of apologetics and embrace what they have to offer in a sponsored/supported role?

    Because if it is the intent of the ‘Interpreter’ to address a meaningful group that is significant or important to the Church, and couldn’t be reached through the print media, why wouldn’t this have originated within the MI years ago?  Why is it now an effort outside of Church/BYU support or need?

    I guess it just seems to raise the question of “Who” is apologetics important to/for:  The Church, the members or the apologists?

    It just seems to be becoming more of an individual and/or isolated role outside of formal Church support and raises the question of whether it’s purpose is needed or shared by the Church.

    Perhaps a reconciliation of the apologetic’s role and the Church/members needs might be insightful.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    I earned my Ba and JD degress at University of Utah, but I am appreciative of BYU for providing a home for scholars who are ready, willing and able to apply their academic abilities to defending Mormonism, whether on the field of ancient history and languages, of MesoAmerican culture, of Mormon history, foreign languages, business and organizational management, legal systems, etc. The Brethren do not direct these scholars what to say, since it could undermine their credibility both within and without the Mormon community. Much of what is written by those scholars is necessarily speculative to an extent, but the zone of uncertainty is where the diablogue is most important. The Church as an institution properly hesitates to bet on a particular human interpretation or theory, knowing that any human theory is per se imperfect and incomplete and will show holes after a period of time. Instead, the Church provides an environment in which the knowledge about aspects of the Church and its story can grow and develop.

    The Church does not commit to a particular theory about the Big Bang or evolution, since the Brethren have not received authoritative revelation on the topics, but it invites competing ideas about these topics to be discussed among Church members.

  • noel

    I wonder is there is a parrallel universe where a Seventh Day Adventist is castigating Ronald Numbers book on Ellen G White. His wife even does a psychoanalysis of White. She had visions and she had writings that were highly accepted by SDAs. Then along comes a writer and finds she has plagerised other writings. Oh now she only plagerised the best.
    In another universe Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham. On one side you have straight out translations of the papyri by qualified scholars. The Apologists now argue that the original papyri are still lost, Disregard the writing around Fac 1. Disregard the ability of the scholars to read the writing on the Book of Abraham woodcut Fac 3 . Why are the “slave” and the “prince” holding onto the waiter? Was he upset with abraham? Did abraham say something bad about the food? Didn’t Abraham give him a tip?

    • Stephen Smoot

      “The Apologists now argue that the original papyri are still lost”

      By your dismissive “apologists” I assume you mean individuals with PhDs in Egyptology from places like Yale and UCLA, right?

      “Disregard the writing around Fac 1.”

      Actually, if you’d bother to carefully read what these “apologists” are saying, you’d see that they’ve addressed this issue before, and why it isn’t at all fatal for the “missing papyrus” theory.

  • Noel

    I think it was Michael Schermer from the skeptics group who asks why some educated people believe wierd things. His conclusion was that those born in a religious tradition stayed with it despite evidence against it. You will notice on MormonScholarsTestify the huge majority of them are born in the LDS church. Read the letters on Chris Smith’s blog where Klaus Baer makes his comments about Nibley’s “scholarship” in regard to the BOA. Nibley can write papers with masses of footnotes which many of us cannot check. Looks good but is it really supportive of his argument

    • danpeterson

      I’m always impressed when critics dismiss the “scholarship” of Latter-day Saints via the devastating argument of using . . . quotation marks.

      As for those on “Mormon Scholars Testify”: There are quite a few converts. Feel free to look for them. John Lewis might be a good starting point.