Editor's Introduction:
Debating Evangelicals

Editor’s Introduction:
Debating Evangelicals

Louis Midgley

My first skirmish with one who might now be described as a “debating
evangelical” took place in 1951 while I was a missionary in New Zealand.
The pastor of a small Baptist church in Point Chevalier, a suburb some six kilometers
west of the center of Auckland, had been surveying my missionary companion and
me as we went about our activities, including our travel on the tram then connecting
Point Chevalier, where we lived, with Queen Street in the center of Auckland.
Eventually he introduced himself and invited us to his home so that he could,
he explained, learn more about our faith. I was, of course, delighted. But his
invitation was a subterfuge. I anticipated a civil conversation. I was
mistaken. As soon as I began describing the recovery of the Book of Mormon,
this fellow launched into a blistering attack on me and my faith. I faced
someone barely civil and fully confrontational. I was discombobulated, stunned,
and on the ropes, and this preacher knew it. He showed no mercy; he pounded
away, even boasting that, unlike him, I had not been properly trained for the
ministry. He was not interested in learning a thing about the faith of
Latter-day Saints. He was, instead, eager to bash our beliefs, which he was
confident he already understood. Savoring his triumph, he invited us back for a
second bout. Since I suspected that he had been bluffing and wrong on some of
what he had claimed, I accepted his invitation.

Though I had earlier, as
a student at the University of Utah, encountered secular critics of the faith
of the Saints, this was my initial introduction to sectarian anti-Mormonism. In
an effort to prepare for the second round in this debate, I visited a large
Christian bookstore then located on Queen Street, where I purchased some
leaflets and a pamphlet attacking the Church of Jesus Christ. This was my first
encounter with sectarian anti-Mormon literature. Since I was already in the
habit of looking for information in books, I also visited the little library in
Point Chevalier, which is still there, as well as the much larger Auckland
Public Library. I discovered that our host had made assertions that were flatly
wrong. At our second match, I was ready to respond to this preacher, who seemed
to have relied on muddled anti-Mormon literature. The debate ended in a draw,
and the preacher knew it.

With what I had discovered in those libraries, I was able to
expose some bluffing and mistakes on several key issues. I testified to the
truth of Joseph Smith’s prophetic truth claims and to the gospel of Jesus
Christ. I came away from that exchange with no information about the grounds or
content of that preacher’s faith. There was something odd about his mode of “witnessing.”
I have never lost interest in the literature sectarian critics produce,
distribute, or rely upon. I have discovered that some Protestant preachers,
especially those involved in or influenced by the countercult movement, have a
proclivity for denigrating the faith of the Saints; they operate in a
confrontational, attack mode.

Shifting Ideological Sands

Much has
changed in the Protestant world since my first encounter with a “debating
evangelical.” In the 1950s that Baptist pastor in Point Chevalier would
not have thought of himself as an evangelical. The reason is that the label evangelical
did not then distinguish conservative from liberal Protestants. He might,
however, have thought of himself as a fundamentalist. Why? The first
step in the emergence of what we now know as the evangelical movement came in
1941, when those who initially called themselves neo-evangelicals formed the
National Association of Evangelicals.[1] When viewed
as the primary contemporary conservative Protestant movement, instead of merely
the traditional name for the Lutheran rather than the Calvinist side of the
Protestant Reformation, what is now commonly known as evangelicalism gained
prominence only following World War II. In addition, those involved in this
embryonic neo-evangelical movement sought to distinguish themselves from
fundamentalists and also from other much earlier brands of conservative
Protestantism reaching back to the Great Awakening and to even earlier sectarian
movements in Europe.

The great leap forward for the evangelical movement came in
1956, when Billy Graham (1918–) founded the magazine Christianity
. With the help of some wealthy friends, he soon had in place
what quickly became the flagship evangelical publication.[2] From that
point on, the word evangelical has identified an alliance of a host of
somewhat different and even competing ideologies. The original so-called
neo-evangelicals set in place a kind of umbrella under which thrived some
increasingly sophisticated alternatives to the then dominant cultural or
liberal Protestantism.

As previously mentioned, in 1951 I did not debate a preacher
who thought of himself as an evangical. He was merely some sort of Baptist who
had been influenced by the fundamentalist movement. In addition, the sectarian
anti-Mormon literature he seemed to have consulted can best be described as a
product of Protestant fundamentalism. The newer and much less thorny
evangelical movement is clearly more diverse and also more intellectually
sophisticated than the older fundamentalism, which Carl F. H. Henry
(1913–2003) and subsequent editors of Christianity Today have striven
to marginalize, repress, and replace with something a bit more winsome.

Remnants of the older fundamentalist ideology are, however,
still alive, if not exactly well, on the margins of the now larger, more sophisticated
evangelical movement. The bizarre countercult religious industry is closely
allied with Protestant fundamentalism. The countercult, with its anti-Mormon
component, was launched by the notorious “Dr.” Walter Martin
(1928–1989) in the 1960s.[3]
It took Martin decades to describe himself as an evangelical. Much of sectarian
anti-Mormonism seems to have fundamentalist roots. In addition, sectarian
anti-Mormonism is now primarily, though not entirely, the work of the
countercult movement, which consists of an enormous variety of often competing “ministries”
or “outreaches,” as well as a host of Web sites, publishers, and
parachurch agencies, and even the top eche­lons of the wealthy and powerful
Southern Baptist Convention.[4]

My first encounter with sectarian anti-Mormonism was an indication
of the proclivity I would later encounter from some Protestant preachers, and
also, unfortunately, a harbinger of many later wearisome conversations with sectarian
critics of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is clear that debating with our
sectarian critics, though amusing or perhaps exhilarating, may turn out to be a
mistake. Debating evangelicals may not be a useful way of witnessing either in
word or deed to our own faith in the Holy One of Israel and the redemption from
both sin and death that he has made possible. And yet I am confident that we
must defend the faith.

Providing an Apology for the Faith of the Saints

The Greek word apologia (often translated
into English, depending on the context, as either “vindication” or “defense”)
appears either as a noun or as a verb (apologeomai) in eight passages in the New Testament (see Acts
22:1; 25:16; 1 Corinthians 9:3; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Philippians 1:7; 16; 2; 2
Timothy 4:16; 1 Peter 3:15). In what is perhaps the most famous of these
passages, most of which have a judicial context, Peter urged the Saints to “always
be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for
the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15 New Standard Revised Version,
emphasis added). But it should be noted that those early Saints were also
admonished to respond to such demands and hence defend their faith “with
gentleness and reverence,” so that when “maligned, those who abuse
you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:16

We should also remember that to defend (L. defendere,
meaning “to beat off”) involves, among other things, building a
protective fence around something we genuinely value and wish to preserve. This
is required by our scriptures. Latter-day Saints are told, for example, that

it is an imperative duty
that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart—for
there are many . . . among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are
blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive,
and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find
it—therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to
light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are
truly manifest from heaven—these should then be attended to with great
earnestness. Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which
lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things.
(Doctrine and Covenants 123:11–15)

I read this language as a call to assemble, identify, and
respond to the calumny crafted and circulated by our critics. How should this
be done?

By Debating Evangelicals?

It is clearly neither wise nor necessary to negotiate with
our sectarian or secular critics. In addition, our scriptures do not
necessarily require us to appear in public debates, either acrimonious or
civil, with our enemies to thrash out our differences. A fruitful conversation
is perhaps possible with sectarian critics of the Church of Jesus Christ, if
they are not in an attack mode and also when they are genuinely willing to
listen and learn.[5]
However, evangelical critics of the Church of Jesus Christ are often eager to
debate, and sometimes they even insist that we must debate them.

Engaging in debates with evangelicals may tempt us to make
at least two mistakes. First, our own opinions, whatever they might be, are
often among our most prized properties. They define, as much or more than
anything, who and what we are. Hence we tend to hold passionately to our opinions
come what may. And when our opinions are challenged, we fight back and may even
desire revenge or succumb to the urge to counterattack. We can easily be
induced into seeing the Other as a Diabolical Monster and ourselves as a Holy
Knight fighting the good fight against evil and error. We also may find it
useful to rationalize our words and deeds. Likewise, when we confront those
with different opinions, we may end up in verbal or written strife,
competition, or combat over our opinions. We may also make the mistake of not
really desiring to understand the opinions of the Other. One reason for this is
that debates take place before real or imagined audiences and hence in a kind
of theater in which points are scored or awarded. The “winner” in a
debate often succeeds by the crafty use of rhetoric. The goal easily becomes winning
or appearing to win a contest. Clever, quick, confident responses are at a
premium in such exchanges. And often biased, poorly informed audiences serve as
the judge and presumably determine a winner. Why is this so?

We are, I am confident, familiar with debates among those
seeking public office or with the polemics of those seeking to advance an
ideology. Debates often dwindle into a kind of theater where the mob takes
over. To debate, either formally or informally, is not necessarily to inform or
to discover truth but to convince an audience functioning as either judge or
jury, or perhaps even ourselves, in a strife for superiority between
adversaries. The word debate (L. de, down, + battuere,
beat) has always carried the pejorative meaning of beating down an opponent in
what amounts to a war of words.

Even our English word discuss once identified something
violent—a shaking apart (L. dis, apart, + quatere,
to shake), a shattering as something is dashed to pieces. We can see this
intensity in words related to discussion such as repercussion,
and concussion.
Even the word argue has a kind of negative ambience since it can
identify attempts to baffle, foil the plans of, or hoodwink someone, rather
than inform and clarify, though it also may identify that endeavor as well.
Arguments pull apart or separate; they also tend to arouse or generate violent
passions. Even or especially when arguments are set out, debates can be contentious.
An argumentative person is not necessarily seen as the most civil or
trustworthy. The master debater may preen and pose while slashing and battering
down an adversary or manipulating an audience with buttery smoothness. And
debates are seemingly won or lost on the basis of sets of skills and
personality features that have little to do with truth or even academic

No doubt with good intentions, a few Latter-day Saints have
engaged in public debates with our critics. In the inevitable commotion of
quarreling with the Other, we may fail to inform or instruct, and we may target
or appeal to audiences not disposed to hear or genuinely understand our
message. While such debates are perhaps unavoidable, they may be the wrong way
for a Latter-day Saint to display or sustain faith in the restored gospel. I
can imagine my by now petulant reader remembering that earlier I had insisted
that the Saints must defend their faith. How should this be done, since our
scriptures call for an apology—that is, vindication or defense—of
our faith? Is it possible to have debates with evangelicals where there is at
least a somewhat level playing field? Put another way: do not the so-called
interreligious debates that some evangelicals have sponsored manage to avoid
the excesses common to debates?

A “Lesson of Moderation”

Both Plato (427–347 BC)
and Aristotle (384–322 BC),
each in his own way, extolled the properly educated habits that they believed
make one virtuous—that is, an excellent, fine, or genuinely cultured
human being. They argued in various ways that this happens if and only if we
have somehow managed to win a victory over the base desires warring within our
own souls. They both employed the Greek word sophrosyne, whose subtle primary
meaning is something like “prudence” or “temperance,” to
identify this control over mere bodily pleasures (and hence self-restraint in
words and deeds) but also, by extension, mastery over all other violent
passions. Cicero (106–43 BC)
then seems to have used the word temperantia to translate sophrosyne
into Latin. He was not, however, aiming necessarily at sobriety, a meaning that
the word temperance
takes on only later. The English word moderation now most often
identifies what Plato and Aristotle had in mind when they used the word sophrosyne. Along
with justice, courage, and wisdom, moderation is one of the so-called cardinal
virtues. To moderate is to give a proper measure to things, as one ought to
strive to do in music. We should all attempt to reduce, abate, control, and
thereby render our desires or appetites less excessive or violent. When we
moderate, we limit or repress. We also learn to conform to the rules that
restrain desires or appetites and thereby make possible a civilized society.
Hence even a virtue like courage is self-defeating if it is not tamed by

James Madison (1751–1826), following David Hume
(1711–1776), once strove to teach a “lesson of moderation.”[6]
It can even be said that one ought to have a zeal for moderation. How can this
be? Zeal is genuinely praiseworthy if and only if it is an enlightened
The apostle Paul indicated that there is trouble when zeal is unenlightened—that
is, when it is without proper understanding or knowledge. Zeal without this
necessary enlightenment, and hence lacking moderation, can easily result in
various asperities—that is, among other things, a rough or severe manner
of address, harshness, and even churlishness. This is the zeal often manifested
in debates where points are being scored against the Other. Or it can be found
in the tricks and excesses of sophistry and in the action of partisans,
factions, gangs, or mobs.[8]
To avoid such excesses, we all need to learn to invoke what are sometimes
called the calm rather than the immediate and violent passions; otherwise we
may end up, in our zeal, indulging in a torrent of angry and malicious words,
as well as mendacious, malevolent deeds.

When we surrender to the desire to debate, we may risk
losing a battle within our own souls with appetites and desires over which,
with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, we should seek to gain a victory. The
desire to thrash an opponent in a debate, especially while drawing on an
arsenal of rhetorical or other tricks, could be an indication of the absence of
an appropriate and necessary moral discipline. Put another way, until or unless
we manifest an appropriate moderation, we do not represent well the faith we
seek to proclaim. It is a mistake to fall into anything like the pattern
commonly found among our critics who often insist on an essentially abrasive,
confrontational mode of discourse. Currently the absence of moderation can be
seen on blogs, lists, and boards. In some of these venues, diseases of the soul
are nourished and spread, rather than assistance being provided to aid in the
recovery of sometimes severely spoiled souls.

The Saints seem to me to be facing a growing wave of
mindless though also calculated hostility and misrepresentation. Given the
abundance of provocations, we must respond, but before launching rebuttals, we
should seek to learn the lesson of moderation as we opine—especially on
the Internet. While we certainly must defend our faith, this does not entail
descending into the rhetorical gutter with our critics. When confronted by
countercult calumny, it is painful to see signs of malevolent passions or
unenlightened zeal at work among the Saints or within my own soul.

Much, but not all, of the hostility towards the faith of the
Saints is peddled by countercult anti-Mormons. Some loathing of the Saints is
also found, unfortunately, among academics and others who, one might suppose,
are not fond of such excesses. In facing the current avalanche of
anti-Mormon prejudice and propaganda, we should strive to rise above the
violent passions and hence those commonly exacerbated in or heightened by
debating and disputing.

Responding While Avoiding the Rhetorical Gutter

Latter-day Saints do not have a history of bashing or
demeaning the faith of others. We have not persecuted, but have proselyted. We
have not been in an attack mode. When we have been assailed and assaulted, our
responses have been defensive and rather mild, especially given the sometimes
extreme provocations. We have no ministries, outreaches, or other agencies
dedicated to attacking evangelicals or the faith of others. Unlike the Southern
Baptist Convention, which has an elaborate and expensive agency that targets
the faith of the Saints, the Church of Jesus Christ has no office or employees
busy hounding and harassing those who are not Latter-day Saints. We publish no
literature attacking the faith of anyone. Nor have we sought confrontations
with evangelicals. We have, instead, sought to defend ourselves from the
onslaught of uninformed, distorted, and intemperate attacks on our faith.

We may not, of course, entirely avoid all the evils associated
with confrontation, contention, and disputation. Why? We must have the courage,
skill, and knowledge essential to defending the kingdom of God. We need not be
bullied by bigots. But, in setting forth the reasons for the faith that is in
us, we must strive to do so with moderation—with as much gentleness as we
can muster, given the onslaught we face from a growing number of critics. Elder
Dallin Oaks recently observed that

we live in a time when some misrepresent the beliefs of
those they call Mormons and even revile us because of them. When we encounter
such misrepresentations, we have a duty to speak out to clarify
our doctrine and what we believe. We should be the ones to state our beliefs
rather than allowing others the final word in misrepresenting them. This calls
for testimony, which can be expressed privately to an acquaintance or publicly
in a small or large meeting. As we testify of the truth we know, we should
faithfully follow the caution to speak “in mildness and in meekness”
(D&C 38:41). We should never be overbearing, shrill, or reviling. As the
Apostle Paul taught, we should speak the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15).[9]

Our primary and immediate audience is not those who rant outside
general conference, or who turn up at candlelight protests, or who harass our
missionaries, or who post up a storm on lists, boards, and blogs. Nor is it the
authors of criticism of our faith, whether academic or otherwise; nor is it
those who write tracts, pamphlets, or books or give seminars in Protestant
churches. We seek to inform both those within and without the community of
Saints who are or might become “blinded by the subtle craftiness of men,”
and hence those caught in a snare fashioned by those who “lie in wait to deceive.”
Our primary audience includes those honest in heart who are “kept from the
truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12), or those
among us who may not realize that there are competent answers to genuine
concerns and answers to what may seem like difficult questions.

Public confrontations with debating evangelicals, especially
when they set the agenda, provide or constitute the audience, or exercise some
measure of partisan control, and especially when they insist that our faith
must be measured against or assessed by some standards they set, are not likely
to be productive; they may not even be appropriate.

But the Saints should respond to critics and criticisms.
This has been at least part of what has been done in the FARMS Review
since 1989, when it was begun. Daniel Peterson has invited and encouraged
efforts to defend the faith and the Saints against both secular or sectarian
attacks. This has, however, troubled two different groups: first, both secular
and sectarian critics who insist that no defense is possible, and, secondly,
some of the Saints who wrongly assume that no defense is either necessary or
A premise upon which the Review is grounded is that a defense of the faith is
both necessary and possible. Since 1989, the Review has included timely
responses to both tired old and trendy new attacks on the faith of the Saints.
In addition to critical examinations of both secular and sectarian anti-Mormon
publications, accounts have been included in the Review of the
ongoing and sometimes heated quarrels between competing factions and ideologies
within the evangelical movement, as well as some of the more amusing and
instructive instances of the internecine warfare that rages within this
movement. Some of these go beyond correcting the confusion displayed by critics
or exposing the misrepresentation common in sectarian attacks on Joseph Smith
and the Book of Mormon. The pages of the Review have not, of course, been
opened to debating evangelicals; they have their own resources and venues,
including those provided by the wealthy Southern Baptist Convention. We have,
however, hosted productive exchanges with evangelical scholars on important
issues and have allowed them to have the last word.[11]

It is possible for Latter-day Saints to have productive
conversations with those not of our faith. If this were not so, few would have
become Latter-day Saints. Once one moves beyond a na•ve faith within an
isolated community, one must make choices between alternatives. It is also not
uncommon for Latter-day Saint and other scholars to discuss questions of faith,
including the similarities and differences between faiths or alternative or
competing understandings of faith. I have had many such exchanges. Such
conversations are fruitful when those involved assume that others are honest
about their own beliefs—that is, they present their faith as it actually
is for them—and also when there is a genuine desire to learn from the
Other. What can flow from such conversations is, among other things, mutual and
deeper understanding of both oneself and the Other. This is not unlike learning
by reading the best literature of another faith, or the way we come to have an
understanding of most anything of interest to us.

Not by Theological Formulae or Creeds Alone

misunderstandings, sometimes enhanced by various suspicions and fears, tend to
haunt evangelical conversations with Latter-day Saints. Even when evangelicals
are not heavily impacted by counter­cult propaganda, they may begin with
the assumption that they are the gatekeepers of Christian orthodoxy, however
this is understood. And they know before a conversation begins that the Saints
are not Christians. In addition, they insist that their orthodoxy involves what
they understand as theology—that is, what has been worked out or deduced
and reduced into creeds and confessions and hence also what certain churchmen
have written that now counts as biblical, Trinitarian, historical Christian
orthodoxy. This or something very much like it grounds some of the mistrust
evangelicals have of Mormonism.

In a recent essay, Martin E. Marty, distinguished American
church historian and occasional student of Mormon things, pointed out that
Christians are obsessed with doing theology, while Latter-day Saints live in
and by stories. He thereby contrasts Christian theology with Latter-day Saint thought.
But, we must ask, what kind of thought? And Marty has an answer. “If logos
means word or statement and theos refers to God, Mormon
thought overflows with theology, of a sort rooted in narrative.”[12]
Thus the Saints can be said to have a “theology,” if what one has in
mind is a veritable beehive of stories and also the kind of narration of events
associated with accounts of the past—that is, with history. “From
the beginning,” Marty has argued, Latter-day Saint faith has always
been “characterized by its thoroughly historical mode and
and not by what might be called a classical view of creeds, dogmas, and formal
theologies. When Protestants do theology, Marty argues, they “combine the
language of the Hebrew Scriptures with mainly Greek philosophical concepts as
filtered through academic experiences in Western Europe, most notably Germany,”
and if one were to include Roman Catholics, then one would have to also include
France and Italy.[14]

Marty identifies an enthusiasm for doing theology typically
found among sectarian Christians. This proclivity contrasts with the faith of
Latter-day Saints and helps to explain their antipathy toward classical theism,
which is found in one way or another in both Roman Catholic and Protestant
circles. The dependence of the faith of the Saints on divine special
revelations fuels a distrust of theological systems worked out by churchmen or
others, especially those grounded in the categories of pagan philosophy. Marty
correctly insists that the Saints live by and in a continuing story of
redemption and hence not by creeds or theological formulae. Both the grounds
and the primary content of the faith of the Saints consist essentially of
stories about the recent and remote past, but also about the present—that
is, the Saints tend to live in a charmed world much like that described in the
scriptures where the divine is even now present in different ways in the lives
of the faithful. The heavens are not closed, and the amazing story of
redemption continues. The faith of the Saints is thus profoundly historical.
Marty even suggests that it may be that this “will remind more Christians
that their theology is also born of story and stories.”[15]
He also thereby clearly identifies the radical difference between what he calls
“Christian . . . theology and Mormon or Latter-day Saint thought.”[16]

Marty’s remarks introduce
a “dialogue,” presumably between “contemporary Christian
theologies”—including those advanced by Reinhold Niebuhr
(1892–1971), Paul Tillich (1886–1965), and Karl Barth
(1886–1968), who must now be “regarded as historic by today’s believers
and scholars”[17]—and
what he calls “Mormonism.” I agree with Marty that this is a flaw in
this publishing project since this format necessarily keeps “the
Latter-day Saint scholars in a kind of responsive-defensive mode. There is no
way of getting around this inevitable distortion.”[18] But the
Saints are experienced at being on the defensive.

Marty also points out that “LDS scholars are far more
at home with . . . Christian thought than vice versa.”[19] One rather
ironic reason is that Latter-day Saint scholars tend to “earn their
doctorates at Harvard or other graduate schools permeated with the concepts of
Christian theology, even if and though they often return ‘home’ to Brigham
Young & Company.”[20]
The result is that “with few exceptions” the sectarian scholars who
were invited to lecture at Brigham Young University on various brands of
essentially liberal Protestant theology, and whose essays were included in Mormonism in
, showed “little evidence that they boned up on LDS
One possible reason for this is that non–Latter-day Saint scholars, with
very few exceptions, are either not interested in the faith of the Saints or
are interested only when they feel the need to demolish it or to try to talk
the Saints into what would amount to a surrender to an alien theology.[22]
There may not be a way of avoiding being cast in the response mode and hence
being on the defensive in these kinds of conversations, especially with
evangelicals or fundamentalists.

A Stalemate in Negotiations?

It seems that having the correct theology is what really
counts with evangelicals, but not for the Saints, for whom stories about a then
and there and also a here and now are crucial and decisive. But there is a
sense in which evangelicals realize that the faith of the Saints consists of
and rests upon stories. This explains why evangelicals insist that Joseph Smith
must be seen, in Richard Mouw’s recent acerbic formulation, as either a “deceiver
or deluded.”[23]
Accordingly, “the only question in many evangelical minds is whether
Joseph was—to put it crudely—a liar or a lunatic.”[24]
This explains why, when Latter-day Saints debate evangelicals, they inevitably
face those who see themselves as the gatekeepers of Christian orthodoxy and who
therefore insist that others are not genuine Christians until or unless they
adopt what they label a biblical, historical, Trinitarian, orthodox, creedal
version of Christian theology. In addition, it also provides an explanation for
why evangelicals insist that the Saints must abandon their distinctive history,
including especially the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s prophetic truth

To move away from picturing Joseph Smith as either a liar or
lunatic, again according to Mouw, “would require that we [evangelicals]
concede far more to Mormonism than we are inclined to do.”[25]
And yet, since Mouw is a gentle person, he still wants to see something
significant in the Joseph Smith legacy, even though he continues “to
reject [Joseph’s] claims to have received a new revelation from the heavens.”[26]
But he also finds “it difficult . . . as an evangelical [to] simply
endorse some of the efforts by other non-Mormon scholars to find an alternative
to the liar-or-lunatic choice.” Whatever else one can say about Joseph
Smith, he remains for Mouw either a liar or a lunatic. Hence, Mouw wants “to
resist the relativizing tendencies that often seem to lurk just beneath the
surface of non-Mormon efforts to offer a less-than-hostile account of Joseph’s
status as a religious leader,” while he also flatly rejects Joseph’s
prophetic truth claims. His taking the faith of the Latter-day Saints seriously
requires him to see Joseph Smith as either a liar or lunatic. He does not find
a genuine conceptual space “between ‘pious deceiver’ and ‘sincere fraud,'”
though he believes the efforts of Rodney Stark, Dan Vogel, and others have been
“helpful” or “quite illuminating,”[27] without
specifying how and why.

For Mouw the “claims on behalf of Mormonism” are, “at
best, seriously misleading, much in need of correction and revision in the
light of the teachings of the Bible as developed and clarified by historic
In this remark, we can see signs of the agenda at work in Mouw’s hopes to
correct and revise the faith of the Saints on the basis of his understanding of
what he considers “historic Christianity.” The goal is not to make a
few evangelical converts from among Latter-day Saints. Instead, this is an
effort to convert the entire Church of Jesus Christ into an evangelical sect by
gradually correcting and revising the faith of the Saints. I have previously described
this as an effort to negotiate a surrender. These efforts are modeled on some
apparent shifts that took place many years ago when Donald Grey Barnhouse
(1895–1960) and “Dr.” Walter Martin negotiated with Seventh-day
Adventist leaders, as well as during the more recent turmoil and eventual
breakup of the Worldwide Church of God following the death of Herbert W.
Armstrong (1892–1986), with a portion of that denomination eventually
being accepted as fully evangelical.[29]

Mouw is confident that without a “smoking gun
discovery—for example, finding a source from which the Book of Mormon was
obviously plagiarized—the hope of demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt
the falsity of Mormon historical claims is a vain one.” But he is still “not
willing to see us [evangelicals] declare a moratorium on all historical
investigation of ‘smoking gun’ possibilities.” Others have, of course, not
given up looking for some final, decisive proof that what Joseph Smith offered
was fraudulent. But Mouw is not himself interested in doing what he calls “serious
catch-up work in historical apologetics,”[30] which is
what he thinks Carl Mosser and Paul Owen once had in mind.[31] The reason
for not going down that road is that “such a strategy will accomplish
little beyond the maintenance of a stalemate.”[32] Instead,
Mouw seeks to correct what he considers the maladies of Mormonism, as he
understands them. He gently pushes the Church of Jesus Christ to accept the
radical otherness of God, since in his theology God is ganz anders
(Wholly Other); he wants the Saints to embrace what he also calls “a vast
metaphysical gap between Creator and creature,” and hence to stress what
he also calls the “metaphysical distance” between God and human

One reason Mouw offers
for not accepting Joseph Smith’s prophetic truth claims is that to do so would
radically challenge his own theological system, as well as “other systems
of religious thought that don’t accept such teachings [which] are now to be
seen as, if not blatantly false, at least in need of serious correction and
A somewhat less oblique way of making this point would be to say that the Book
of Mormon presents a radical challenge to those already churched, including
certain theologians committed to what Mouw calls “the Calvinist Deity.”
For such a one, can there really be a genuine correcting of historic Christianity?
The limited, thin, authentic appeal Mouw suggests might be found in what Joseph
Smith offered as a corrective to the “unhealthy spiritual distance of
creatures from the Calvinist Deity and his human subjects.”[35]
Since Mouw’s soft version of Five-Point Calvinism must include the radical
distinction between Creator and mere creature, one wonders how something
spiritually unhealthy can possibly flow from a foundational dogma. If these
kinds of issues had been pressed, those conversations would have soon reached a
stalemate even on theology. But the crucial questions are not theological but

Mouw seems to hope that
something like his mild version of Five-Point Calvinism (aka TULIP)[36]
will become attractive to Latter-day Saints or that something like it will
replace our distinctive history. Until or unless he can come up with a “smoking
gun,” it is not likely that the Saints will be enamored with any version
of classical theism or creedal Christianity and therefore willing to jettison
Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and join the National Association of
Evangelicals and thereby receive an evangelical seal of Christian approval.

Ironically, Mouw’s “historic
Christianity” is, to borrow Martin Marty’s formulation cited earlier, an
amalgam of the Bible “with mainly Greek philosophical concepts as filtered
through academic experiences in Western Europe.” What can be expected from
closed conversations with those whose world is theological rather than
essentially historical? Is there a good reason to debate theology with those
who are not open to the possibility that the Book of Mormon is true? Mouw is,
however, correct in stating “that some evangelicals have a tendency—especially
when . . . asked to assess the differences between certain worldviews—to
see things in terms of stark alternatives.”[37] The debates
Mouw has sponsored have been essentially theological rather than historical.
From my perspective, those debating with Mouw, despite the friendly relations,
have often dealt with the wrong issues. Both sides in those debates have either
not faced the fact or have forgotten that the Saints live by and in stories and
not by a theology that is not primarily narrative.

Learning the Rules, Playing an Old Game

Conversations between Latter-day Saints and other Christians
are not new. A number of these have taken place informally over the years. The
first formal talks were put together many years ago by Truman Madsen with his
academic friends.[38]
After that groundbreaking event, including the book that resulted from it, not
much was done for several years. The next such formal exchange took place in
1984, when Paul Kurtz, until recently the impresario of secular humanism,[39]
in league with George D. Smith, owner of Signature Books, held what was called “A
Mormon/Humanist Dialogue.”[40]
Kurtz insisted that “in a pluralistic society such as America, it is important
that people from diverse religious and nonreligious traditions engage in debate
to define differences and more meaningfully to discover common ground.”[41]
He neglected to provide reasons to justify this opinion.[42] And he
would, of course, not want his atheist ideology described either as a “religion”
or as a “faith,” though it has many if not all of the usual
characteristics associated with both words.

The publication of How Wide the Divide?—an
exchange between Craig Blomberg and Stephen Robinson—ushered in the next
stage in these interreligious debates, this time between evangelical and
Latter-day Saint scholars.[43]
The Blomberg-Robinson book garnered some immediate attention and soon led to
biannual private meetings between Richard Mouw, Robert Millet, and their
respective friends. Millet has turned his friendship with Mouw and other
evangelicals into a series of books, including a debate with GeraldR.
McDermott that carries the title Claiming Christ.[44]
Millet has also been heavily involved in a series of public exchanges he holds
with the Reverend Gregory C. Vettel Johnson.

describes the contents of Claiming Christ as an “inter­religious
dialogue” (p. 65). The exchange, at least for McDermott, at times does not
seem to be one taking place within a faith tradition but between competing
religions. In addition, Claiming Christ carries the subtitle “A
Mormon-Evangelical Debate.” The exchange is clearly cast as a contest over
the soundness of Mormonism from the perspective of traditional, creedal
Christianity, at least as this is understood by McDermott, who speaks as a
Lutheran within the evangelical movement.

We have a debate between one representing a theological “movement”
and one speaking for a church—the community of Saints—with its own
unique history and founding narrative. This places Millet utterly on the
defensive. He has to try to show that what the Saints believe is as close as
possible to the norm that McDermott sets out. Hence the question at issue in
this debate is whether the faith of the Saints measures up to traditional,
orthodox, biblical standards as these are understood by one faction within the
evangelical movement and thus to what is currently believed in some but not all
Protestant circles. McDermott strives to identify the difference between the
theological “movement” he represents and the faith of Latter-day
Saints and hence the Church of Jesus Christ. He is a bit more specific: he
claims to be speaking from the perspective of what he calls “evangelical
faith traditions” or “groups” or “movements,” with all
their variations and differences (pp. 11–12), except fundamentalism,
which he distinguishes from evangelicalism (p. 60) and apparently dislikes.

McDermott asserts that “evangelicals discount the
authenticity of the Book of Mormon and other Mormon scriptures,” and hence
“they regard Mormon use of these sources as clear violations of the sola
principle” (p. 16)—that is, of what stands behind
the slogan “Bible alone.” Despite whatever similarities there might
be between his brand of evangelicalism and what is found in the Latter-day
Saint scriptures on the role and saving power of Jesus Christ, in his opinion
the Saints are not genuine Christians. The principal problem for McDermott is
that “Mormons teach that Jesus visited North America after his incarnation
and resurrection in Palestine in the first century. The Saints also believe
that Jesus and his Father appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 to give him new
revelation. Mainstream Christians (including evangelicals) reject these
assertions about Jesus and his revelations to Joseph Smith”(p. 16). The
primary reason for this rejection is that Joseph Smith’s prophetic truth
claims, including the Book of Mormon, violate the sola scriptura
principle. In addition, the very existence of divine special revelations in
addition to the Bible challenges the authority of the great ecumenical creeds.
According to McDermott, evangelicals “tacitly accept the authority of the
early creeds” (p. 17). This seems to mean that McDermott defends creedal
Christianity, which he assumes is normative, and hence he begs all the crucial
questions, which are historical and not theological.

But there is an additional problem with McDermott’s
argument. Despite appealing to the Bible alone, evangelicals also depend very
heavily, he insists, on what he calls “interpretive traditions” (p.
17), and hence not merely on the Bible. Quite unlike Craig Blomberg in his
earlier exchange with Stephen Robinson, McDermott is “not overly concerned
with the ‘inerrancy’ debate” (p. 9)—the recent Protestant claim that
the Bible is sufficient, infallible, and inerrant. Evangelicals, it seems, come
in various sizes and shapes. At least it seems that McDermott differs somewhat
from some other evangelicals by insisting on the crucial role of “interpretive
traditions” in how we read texts, including the Bible. His argument runs
as follows: “All of our reading is done through a filter of our own cultural
traditions. There is no naked text that we can access without seeing it through
the screen of traditions that we have absorbed” (p. 19). Hence he grants
that he cannot ground his own interpretative traditions in the Bible alone.
What he ends up asserting is that his interpretive traditions do not leave room
for divine special revelations outside the Bible. But his historically bound
and diffuse interpretive traditions cannot be normative for those with
different traditions. It is not, therefore, the fact that he reads the biblical
texts from interpretative traditions that is the issue, since this cannot be
avoided. And yet he insists that the crucial question is “whether Mormon
traditions and scriptures are authentic” (p. 19). He ends up arguing that
the Latter-day scriptures and the network of supporting interpretive traditions
are flawed because they differ from the interpretive traditions he feels ought
to be normative.

The real issue involves a decision about which texts, both
biblical and otherwise, will be considered authentic (that is, have authority).
According to McDermott, this issue must be settled not by appeals to the Bible
alone, since that is impossible, but by an appeal to interpretive
traditions—that is, from the perspective of his understanding. In
rejecting the authenticity and hence authority of the Book of Mormon (and all
that goes with it), he is speaking from the perspective of the “orthodox,”
“traditional,” and also “Protestant” versions of Christianity.
He describes his own “orthodoxy” on this issue as a subset of “traditional”
Christians who “hold to its classical, 2000-year-old teachings of faith”
(p. 11). With these woolly labels in place, he excludes the Church of Jesus
Christ from his notion of groups or movements or theologies that fit within his
definition of Christian orthodoxy.

How should we, McDermott asks, “go about deciding what
we can believe about Jesus? (p. 16). Or, put another way, where must “we
go to gain assurance that our portrait of Jesus is the right one” (p. 16)?[46]
Since he is confident that God only “reveals himself through the
scriptures” (p. 16), it seems that, for McDermott, the answer is not to
God, who has already had his say in the Bible (and perhaps also through the
creeds and to theologians who have, more or less, worked things out), and not,
of course, through the unique Latter-day Saint scriptures, since they are, from
McDermott’s perspective, not authentic. And yet he also insists that the Bible
alone reveals Jesus Christ. This conclusion rests on his appeal to what he
calls the sola
principle. But the problem, which he recognizes, is that
the Bible does not interpret itself. Instead, he claims that “we need the
wisdom of the whole church in order to understand the scriptures better”
(p. 20). What he seems to mean by “the whole church” includes the
disparate “Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant” factions,
which he describes as “orthodox” and which serve a subset of “traditional”

So “the real question,” for McDermott, “is
not whether we will be influenced by tradition in our reading of and
interpreting [of the Bible], but which tradition. The one that is based on the
classical Christian Bible or the one that calls both those books [the Old
Testament and the New Testament?] and the Mormon scriptures divine revelation?”
(pp. 20–21). Since McDermott is claiming to speak for what he calls “orthodox”
Christianity, the crucial question is settled for him by what amounts to
question-begging made to flow from loose labeling. Even though the Bible alone
cannot possibly close the canon of scripture, he will not allow the question of
an open canon to be opened to genuine consideration. Unfortunately, the desire
of some Latter-day Saints to do theology, rather than to confront the decisive
historical issues, may keep us from pressing and addressing the question—is
the Book of Mormon an authentic divine special revelation? So, for McDermott,
the Latter-day Saint portrait of Jesus is wrong, the Saints worship a different
Jesus, and so forth. This is true for McDermott precisely because the
Latter-day Saint canon of scripture includes the Book of Mormon and is
therefore open.

McDermott complains that Latter-day Saints imagine that
Jesus came to be fully God. McDermott thinks this is a fatal weakness in
Latter-day Saint theology since it collides with creedal Christianity. For him
the “creeds and tradition are justifiably authoritative for a religious
community,” and, he adds, “it is impossible for them not to be,”
but of course “scripture is the touchstone for all creeds and traditions”
(p. 9).

But, given our devotion to Jesus as the Messiah, and hence
Lord and Savior and so forth, what difference does it make that we imagine a
time in the remote past when Jesus might not have been fully God? McDermott
cannot explain why this is a problem other than that it violates the language
of the ecumenical creeds and the teachings of churchmen and theologians. His
complaint ends up being that we hold a different view of Jesus. This is true,
but so what? Does McDermott imagine that one is saved if and only if one has
the most adequate theology, which is defined as “biblical” but which
McDermott admits depends on a stream of traditional readings of the Bible and
cannot be drawn merely from the Bible alone? So Latter-day Saints are not what
he considers creedal Christians. Well, so what? What is gained from debating
theology in this manner, since those intent on doing this insist on brushing
our faith aside, whatever similar beliefs we more or less share with them? This
is especially critical when evangelicals do not even agree with each other on a
host of theological issues.

McDermott raises a vital question when he makes reference to
different strands of Christian faith, which are often in tension and sometimes
even in violent disagreement. They all are presumably part of a grand tradition
of Christian orthodoxy, which can then be turned into a stick with which to
thrash the faith of the Saints. If the Bible does not interpret itself, which seems
obvious, what exactly constitutes the orthodoxy McDermott values? Is there,
except for polemical purposes, such a thing?

If the Bible does not interpret itself and we must rely on
interpretive traditions, how can we be sure that we have absorbed or picked the
right ones? For instance, if we look closely at justification by faith—a
core element in much contemporary evangelical theology—it turns out that
there are profound disagreements over whether the teaching commonly attributed
to the apostle Paul has been properly understood. According to McDermott, “most
evangelicals in the twentieth century favored a model of justification that
stressed the primacy of the forensic or legal dimension of the atonement, a
model that some scholars are now claiming to be based more on sixteenth-century
debates than the Bible itself” (p. 17). McDermott cites N. T. Wright’s Paul: In
Fresh Perspective
which challenges the opinion found among evangelicals who insist on an
essentially Augustinian and Reformation understanding of justification. This
traditional understanding—reaching back to Martin Luther
(1483–1546) and, with a long Roman Catholic interlude, to Augustine
(354–430)—insists on contrasting what they label “works
righteousness” with “faith alone.” Wright has challenged the
understanding of what Paul meant by works of the law. What Paul had in mind by “works,”
if Wright is right, were merely ceremonial matters such as circumcision,
dietary restrictions, and Sabbath observances required under the Torah. Wright
insists that, for the followers of Jesus, the Mosaic law was fulfilled in Jesus
and hence the old badges of the covenant were now dead works, having been
replaced by faith as the badge of the new covenant or testament with Jesus
Christ. For the followers of Jesus, faith and faithfulness in keeping the
commandments of God had replaced circumcision, which was a dead work.

Wright, quite unlike Protestants generally, thus emphasizes
the importance of the new covenant in Paul’s understanding. The new covenant
requires repentance and faith in the Messiah, or Christ. Wright also argues
that justification does not take place, other than by anticipation, at the
moment one becomes a Christian, but at the final judgment and hence only after
one has been sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit. If Wright is right
about this, Protestants have been wrong about this crucial matter. Faith must
be manifested in faithfulness—that is, by obedience to the commandments
of God. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, this will eventually lead to sanctification
ending in justification, which takes place not when one answers an altar call
or confesses Jesus. What this means is that evangelicals, since they build on
Augustine and then Luther, have been wrong on this crucial understanding of
Paul’s teachings.[48]
All of this is, of course, highly controversial. But this is exactly what goes
on in interpreting the Bible.

McDermott’s rather casual mention of what is now being
called the “new perspective on Paul” (NPP) seems to expose the
problems inherent in the myth of seamless interpretative traditions that somehow
began with the church fathers, found their way into the great ecumenical
creeds, and then were constantly fleshed out and reiterated, refined, and
reformed by a steady procession of theologians who presumably, of course, all
had as their touchstone the Bible. Elements of the NPP come remarkably close to
what is taught in the Book of Mormon. McDermott was, of course, wise to shift
way from the notion of sola scriptura, but by grasping for some other peg
upon which to close the canon of scripture and thereby limit forever what God
can say or do, he has opened the door to a jungle of competing understandings
of virtually every passage in the Bible. This jungle is often red in tooth and
claw, though the controversies are sometimes even polite and proper rather than
demonic and deadly.

McDermott never speaks as
a fundamentalist, though he does speak as a Lutheran and as an evangelical, and
sometimes for a much larger, much more amorphous, and even less well-defined
community that he calls “the whole church.” From this peremptory
higher ground, in a rebuttal to Elder Bruce D. Porter’s recent essay in First Things,[49]
he reports that, though the reasons they give “are sometimes awkward,”
“most Christians say Mormonism is not Christian.”[50] He then
attempts to offer other and better reasons for this judgment than those commonly
held by “most Christians,” often with the help of the countercult
movement operating on the fringes of the evangelical movement. He is
magnanimous; he corrects some common falsehoods advanced by critics of the
Church of Jesus Christ. He is to be commended for this. But, much like
fundamentalists and those countercult bottom-feeders he abhors, he has but two
categories: the beliefs of orthodox Christianity versus the (incorrect) beliefs
of the Mormons. His penultimate conclusion is that perhaps some “individual
Mormons” might not “be barred from sitting with Abraham and the
saints at the marriage supper of the Lamb.”[51] His reason
is that “we are saved by a merciful Trinity, not by our theology,”[52]
though putting the matter that way suggests otherwise. From his imperial higher
ground, he insists that Latter-day Saints are simply not “orthodox.”
McDermott is certain that the Church of Jesus Christ is an aberration and not

While Mouw suspects that a frontal attack on the Book of Mormon
will lead merely to a stalemate and perhaps block any attempt to talk the
Saints into adopting some version of evangelical ideology, McDermott, in his
response to Elder Porter’s fine essay setting out reasons why the faith of the
Saints is Christian to the core, makes the Book of Mormon the key to his
argument that we have a different and hence false picture of Jesus and
therefore are not genuinely Christian. He does not directly attack the
historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Instead, he argues that its
theology is all wrong and therefore not authentic. What this demonstrates is
that those debates with Mouw, McDermott, and others have skirted the real
issues by focusing on theology. Those debates seem to have avoided historical
matters, which are the key to the faith of the Saints if Martin Marty is even
close to being right.

Has debating with some evangelicals, even when it has been
fully friendly, reduced the overall intensity of sectarian anti-Mormonism? Or
has it exacerbated rather than helped heal the often bitter warfare between
factions of evangelicals intent in one way or another on excluding the Saints
from their Christian world?

Internecine Warfare between Evangelical Factions

An essay that Ron Huggins has posted on a stridently
anti-Mormon Web site provides an instructive sample of the internecine warfare
that takes place on the margins of the evangelical movement. It seems that
Huggins is not pleased with the recent modest efforts to tone down anti-Mormon
He begins with the standard line; he grants that “some Evangelicals have
certainly been unkind to Mormons and have been guilty of inaccurately
portraying Mormon beliefs.” He neglects, however, to identify any of these
offenders, nor does he indicate why they were impelled to do such a thing,
given their faith claims. Instead, he insists that this is “not
characteristic of most evangelical churches and ministries.” Of course,
not all Protestant congregations sponsor or disseminate anti-Mormon propaganda.
But the vast bulk of individuals who constitute the countercult movement,
including the so-called Institute for Religious Research, are involved in
spreading rubbish about the Church of Jesus Christ.[54]

When on 14 November 2004, at an evangelical rally in the
Salt Lake City Tabernacle on Temple Square, Richard Mouw issued an apology for
the long and abundant misrepresentations by conservative Protestants of the
faith of the Saints,[55]
Huggins and other countercultists were outraged. Later, under pressure from
pastors, Mouw explained that he had, among others, the notorious “Dr.”
Walter Martin in mind when he issued his apology. He could, however, have
included the entire countercult industry. His explanation, of course, did not
assuage the anger of countercultists. Huggins claimed that he had warned those
responsible for the rally that Mouw was unreliable. He was troubled because it
seemed to him that prominent evangelicals were now “willing to publicly
disparage their own brethren.” Doing this, he asserted, allows the Saints
to escape the kind of pummeling they deserve.

Along with other countercultists, Huggins views the debates
sponsored by Mouw as at least misguided. He complains that Mouw’s debates end
up lending a hand to those Latter-day Saints who refuse to interact with and “seek
to marginalize” those he considers “careful and credible critics like
Jerald and Sandra Tanner, the Institute for Religious Research (IRR), and
others.” For Huggins the Latter-day Saint disinterest in getting into the
rhetorical gutter with Sandra Tanner or those at the IRR indicates that “the
Mormon Church appears to be interested in ‘dialoguing’ only with Evangelicals
who lack an in-depth knowledge of Mormon history and doctrine and who are thus
more likely to take at face value the representations of its PR types.” He
declares that “the LDS Church does not appear ready for, nor does it seem
to really desire, authentic dialogue with Evangelicals.” Instead, what
Latter-day Saints “desire is mainline respectability.”[56]
But the Saints have no interest in being thought of as part of the evangelical
movement, if that is what Huggins considers the “mainline.” He does
not explain how Richard Mouw, David Neff, and their associates could grant “mainline
respectability” to the Church of Jesus Christ. What Latter-day Saints
would like to see is an end of evangelical misrepresentations of their faith.

Huggins is not happy with the conversations staged by Robert
Millet with the Reverend Gregory C. V. Johnson.[57] Huggins
accuses the Reverend Johnson of having “unhealthy, lopsided relationships
with the Mormon apologists.” In addition, Huggins accuses Reverend Johnson
of pandering to Latter-day Saint apologists while slandering countercultists.
He calls this a despicable “‘Pander/Slander’ method” of dealing with
the Saints.[58]

Shifting to Polemics

For many years Sandra and Jerald Tanner operated in Salt
Lake City a mom-and-pop countercult agency called Utah Lighthouse Ministry,
which is dedicated to attacking the Church of Jesus Christ. Part of their
endeavor included publishing a tabloid entitled the Salt Lake City Messenger.
With Jerald’s illness and then eventual passing, the tabloid came to a virtual
halt. When it reappeared, it consisted essentially of recycled materials.
However, with the announcement on 28 October 2008 of the closing of the financially
troubled Salt Lake Theological Seminary (SLTS),[59] Ron Huggins,
who formerly taught there, seems to have assumed part of the role once played
by Jerald Tanner by providing a series of items for the Tanner tabloid. One of
these was a blistering attack on Hugh Nibley.[60] Huggins
seems to have imagined that, if he could only find some feature of Nibley’s
writings about which he could complain, the chief foundation of the Latter-day
Saint effort to defend their faith would crumble and the entire edifice would
begin to collapse. But Huggins met an obstacle: Dialogue declined to
publish this essay. He turned to the Tanner tabloid. His attack on Nibley might
be an indication of what he considers “a real dialogue” with
Latter-day Saints. Shirley Ricks, in a delightful essay, has demolished the
Huggins effort.[61]

Included in the most recent Tanner tabloid is a continuation
of an intense effort to lionize Jerald Tanner. “As an historian,”
Huggins announces, he has “long been cognizant of the fact that being
careful about getting at the truth of history is not a necessary prerequisite
for success in publishing, in fact a certain cavalierness [sic]
in fiddling the truth is often just the right recipe for achieving big sales.”[62]
“Mormon scholars,” Huggins opines, “have begun to flourish to
the point that even in a book published by the distinguished old firm Oxford
University Press, Richard Bushman can get away with asserting that Mormon
apologists have ‘produced vast amounts of evidence for the Book of Mormon’s
historical authenticity.'”[63]
Without engaging the sizeable literature supporting Bushman’s opinion, Huggins
asserts that those he denigrates as “Mormon apologists have not
produced any
substantive evidence for the Book of Mormon’s historical authenticity.” He
asserts that Bushman “would have been more honest and accurate if he had
said the opposite, i.e., that there is [sic] ‘vast amounts of evidence against
the Book of Mormon’s historical authenticity.'”[64] Huggins
claims, but without providing any supporting argument or evidence, that
Latter-day Saint scholars have been “very disrespectful toward truth and
the weight of evidence” and that this has actually opened the door for
Latter-day Saint apologists to get Oxford University Press to publish “substandard
It is exactly this kind of bald, unsupported assertion that this Review
has been engaged in carefully dismantling for the past twenty years.

Huggins manifests some anguish over the efforts of Ronald
Walker, Richard Turley, and Glen Leonard to examine the tragedy at Mountain
Meadows. Their book, according to Huggins, is “bristling with detail of
only peripheral importance to the story,”[66] but they
failed to tell the real story because they wrote as mere functionaries “of
an authoritarian organization with a long history of suppression of the truth.”[67]
And they do not agree with Will Bagley and Sally Denton,[68] who “pointed
to Brigham Young as the one guilty for the massacre.”[69]

Latter-day Saint historians, according to Huggins, have suppressed
evidence of Brigham Young’s responsibility for the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Huggins claims that Leonard Arrington once prepared a paper for the First
Presidency “on John D. Lee and the Mountain Meadows Massacre.” This
account was eventually gifted to the library at Utah State University. Huggins
imagines, it seems, that this paper contained Arrington’s opinion that Brigham
Young was responsible for the lamentable events at Mountain Meadows. Turley and
a church attorney, he alleges, located this document in the Arrington Papers at
Utah State by breaching the diary that Arrington had wanted sealed for a number
of years.[70]
He seems to assume that Turley needed access to the diary to find where it was
in Arrington’s papers, but he has not explained why they needed access to Arrington’s
diary since an exhaustive register of his papers is available. Turley is then
accused by Huggins of removing from the Arrington Papers at Utah State
University this bit of secondary material in an effort to protect Brigham Young’s
reputation. Huggins has not seen the paper allegedly prepared by Arrington.
Instead, he rests his speculation on those entirely garbled newspaper accounts
of an incident involving the Arrington Papers that he simply does not
understand. This whole scenario is wild, unfounded speculation.

Huggins has published a few essays in academic journals. However,
he seems to have turned to quarreling with fellow evangelicals, as well as
mounting an anti-Mormon polemic and thereby to have moved away from serious
scholarship. He now seems bent on replacing the late Jerald Tanner as the chief
contributor to an anti-Mormon propaganda outlet.

Some Tentative Conclusions

For several reasons the Church of Jesus Christ is currently
under attack from enemies both sectarian and secular. I believe that I have demonstrated
that the Saints must defend their faith. How should this be done? I have argued
that we must learn and relearn a lesson of moderation before we venture out
with fortitude in defense of the faith. Some have sought to engage some
evangelical theologians in debates. They have formed friendships with some of
them, but unfortunately the pleasures resulting from these exchanges do not
seem to have changed the situation in which we find ourselves. The anti-Mormon
element within the bizarre countercult movement opposes these debates, which
have not resulted in a reduced but even a heightened hostility towards the
Church of Jesus Christ. The anarchy of contemporary Protestantism is such that
debates with our more polished and respectable evangelical “friends”
have not reduced the calumny directed at the Saints and their faith.
Evangelicals eager to debate theology with us have neither the will nor the
ability to tame the countercult beast that operates with little or no
supervision or discipline on the margins of the larger evangelical movement.

Comments on the Essays That Follow

We are pleased to include in this number of the Review
the initial Neal A. Maxwell Lectures. The first of these was delivered in 2007
by Elder Cecil O. Samuelson, and the second was delivered a year later by Elder
Bruce C. Hafen.[71]
Future Maxwell Lectures will also appear in the Review.

Some additional comments on this number of the Review
seem warranted. I trust that those authors whose essays I do not mention will
not feel slighted.

° We
doubt that historians, rather than mere journalistic ideologues and partisan
demagogues, will lash out at Massacre at Mountain Meadows.
Those who brush aside this book because of dark suspicions about motivations or
out of intense anti-Mormon fervor are not likely to understand what is involved
in writing sound intellectual history. We offer some commentary on a serious
effort to address that appalling event and its background. The first item is a
sober, restrained review of Massacre at Mountain Meadows, by
Robert Briggs,[72]
while the other is an address by William P. MacKinnon, a widely published,
distinguished non–Latter-day Saint student of the so-called Utah War and
hence an authority on the setting for the terrible events that once took place
at Mountain Meadows.[73]

° Perhaps
because the Brethren have not tried to fix a Book of Mormon geography, this
topic has attracted some wild speculation. In addition, entrepreneurs have
sought to sell lectures, videos, and tours flowing from essentially bizarre,
neophyte speculation. Some of these endeavors have become very controversial.
In this number of the Review, Brant Gardner updates his earlier reply to an
effort to pre­sent what are likely forged artifacts as possible “proof”
that the events recorded in the Book of Mormon took place in the Great Lakes
area of the United States.[74]
A version of this geography is currently being marketed by both Wayne May and
Rodney Meldrum.[75]
Among other things, Gardner demonstrates that Ed Goble now flatly rejects the geography
for the Book of Mormon that he had originally fashioned for Wayne May.

° Gregory
Smith has undertaken an examination of portions of George D. Smith’s Nauvoo Polygamy, and we
also have some impish observations in a review by Robert White on George Smith’s
long-awaited exposŽ of polygamy.[76]
Attentive readers of the Review will be aware that the owner of Signature Books
has been involved in several ways with the major atheist publishing venture in
America. George Smith is the financial sponsor of what is called the
Smith-Pettit Foundation, as well as the so-called Smith Research Associates. He
uses both of these to fund his own work, as well as that of others with similar
It seems a bit odd that he neglects to inform the readers of Nauvoo Polygamy that his
long fixation on polygamy has resulted in his having published in Free Inquiry, the major
American atheist magazine,[78]
a series of essays on that topic.[79]
Instead, he lists four other essays, two of which were blatant attacks on
Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.[80]

The close ideological partnership between Paul Kurtz and
George Smith, which first became apparent in 1983, and which drew some
attention in 1994, has now yielded a copious endorsement of Nauvoo
in the pages of Free Inquiry,[81] where Smith
has been opining for over two decades about the evils of polygamy. Kurtz
believes that Nauvoo Polygamy is “a meticulously researched and
well-documented book.”[82]
He also claims that “we should thank George D. Smith for Nauvoo
and Signature Books . . . for publishing this and many
other groundbreaking books in a courageous effort to redress the imbalance of
the ‘official version’ of [Latter-day Saint] church history.”[83]
Signature Books has, of course, posted the Kurtz review on its Web page.[84]
Readers should compare and contrast Greg Smith’s close examination of Nauvoo Polygamy
with the reviews used by Signature Books to peddle that book.

Editor’s Picks

As is customary, we offer our selection of books of special
interest, according to the following ratings:

**** Outstanding, a seminal work of the kind that appears only rarely

*** Enthusiastically recommended

** Warmly recommended

* Recommended

The recommendations:

*** Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley Jr., and Glen M.
Leonard, Massacre
at Mountain Meadows: An
American Tragedy

*** Hugh Nibley, Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself,
Others, and the Temple


This number of the Review would not have been
possible without the dedicated efforts of its contributors. Others assisting
include Don Brugger, our production editor, and, for editorial and technical support,
Shirley Ricks, Jacob Rawlins, and Alison Coutts. Careful source checking and
proofreading were performed by Paula Hicken, Caitlyn Ainge, Charlotte Wood, and
the entire editorial team at the Maxwell Institute. I also wish to thank my
esteemed colleagues, Daniel C. Peterson and George Mitton, for allowing me to
write the introduction to this number of the Review. I have thereby been able
to situate and assess the conversations currently taking place between
Latter-day Saints and those speaking for various brands of evangelicals, as
well as to trace a bit of the history of such debates.


[1] The
National Association of Evangelicals drew some unwanted attention when its
recent president, the Reverend Ted Haggard, the founder of the huge evangelical
megachurch in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was exposed and deposed as a moral

[2] For an
easily accessible treatment of this most recent manifestation of a much older
and very diverse evangelical movement, and its close and competitive
relationship to the earlier fundamentalism, see Douglas A. Sweeney’s “Standing
on the Promises through Howling Storms of Doubt: Fundamentalism and
Neoevangelicalism,” which is chapter 7 of his The American Evangelical Story:
A History of the Movement
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005),
155–80, 195–99. See also the comments on Sweeney’s remarkable book
in the FARMS
20/1 (2008): 254–58.

[3] See Louis
Midgley, “A ‘Tangled Web': The Walter Martin Miasma,” FARMS Review
of Books
12/1 (2000): 371–434; for additional details and
context, see Midgley, “Anti-Mormonism and the Newfangled Countercult
Culture,” FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 271–339 at
286–93, 329–31.

[4] For
details, see Louis Midgley, “Orders of Submission,” FARMS Review
18/2 (2006): 189–228 at 189–97, 203–7.

[5] I have
dealt with this issue previously. See, for example, Midgley, “Orders of
Submission,” 189–228.

[6] For the
expression “lesson of moderation,” as well as supporting homilies on
this virtue, see James Madison and Alexander Hamilton (1757–1804) writing
under the pseudonym Publius in The Federalist, ed. Jacob E.
Cooke (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961), 4–5 (Federalist
No. 1, on the wisdom and necessity of learning a “lesson of moderation”),
17 (Federalist No. 3, praising “moderation and candour”), 231 (Federalist
No. 37, on the “spirit of moderation”), 298 (Federalist No. 43,
extolling “moderation . . . and prudence”), and 595 (Federalist No.
85, after quoting David Hume, noting that “these judicious reflections
contain a lesson of moderation” that should be learned if we seek a civil
society). Publius borrowed the expression “lesson of moderation” and
the architecture of much of his argument contrasting it with zeal and factional
or party spirit from David Hume, who once wrote that he would “always be
more fond of promoting moderation than zeal; though perhaps the surest way of
producing moderation in every party [faction] is to increase our zeal for the
public. Let us therefore try, if it be possible, from the foregoing doctrine,
to draw a lesson of moderation with regard to parties, into which our country
is at present divided; at the same time, that we allow not this moderation to
abate the industry and passion, with which every individual is bound to pursue
the good of his country.” David Hume, “That Politics May be Reduced
to a Science,” in his Essays Moral, Political, and Literary (Indianapolis,
IN: Liberty Classics, 1985), 27; compare his comments on moderation on pp. 15, 45,
149, 168, 201, 273, and elsewhere.

[7] In The
and Hume’s Essays, both cited above, there
is much said about zeal, its destructive force, and the possibility of
disciplining or restraining it through calm passions and hence enlightenment.

[8] It should
not be necessary to trace the arguments on the evils of faction that are found
in James Madison’s contribution to The Federalist, other than to
again point out that one of his prime examples of the evils of faction was
drawn from the annals of religious controversy. For some of the details, see
Midgley, “Orders of Submission,” 223–26.

[9] Dallin H.
Oaks, “Testimony,” Ensign, May 2008, 26–29 at
28, emphasis added.

[10] Some may
assume that only the Brethren should defend the faith, but every endowed
Latter-day Saint is under covenant with God to build and defend the kingdom.

[11] See, for
example, the exchange between Michael S. Heiser and David F. Bokovoy on theosis
in the FARMS
19/1 (2007): 221–323. And an entire number of the FARMS Review
of Books
(11/2, 1999) consisted of commentary on Craig L. Blomberg
and Stephen E. Robinson’s How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation
(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997).

[12] Martin E.
Marty, foreword to Mormonism in Dialogue with Contemporary
Christian Theologies
, ed. Donald
W. Musser and David L. Paulsen (Macon: GA: Mercer University Press, 2007),
vii–xiv at vi. This volume is a collection of exchanges between
Latter-day Saints and those who are either Protestant liberals or speaking for
those who would now be lumped under that label. There are two exceptions: one
is Clark Pinnock, a prominent evangelical, and the other is David Tracy, a
distinguished Roman Catholic theologian. For details, see the Book Note in the FARMS Review 20/1 (2008):
252–54. Marty helped put together the bulk of the exchanges included in Mormonism in Dialogue.

[13] Martin E.
Marty, “Two Integrities: An Address to the Crisis in Mormon Historiography,”
of Mormon History
10 (1983): 3–19 at 4. With slight revisions
and under different titles, this essay has been reprinted four times. For
details, see Louis Midgley, “The First Steps,” FARMS Review
17/1 (2005): xi–lv at xii n. 3. See also MartinE. Marty, We Might
Know What to Do and How to Do It: On the Usefulness of the Religious Past

(Salt Lake City: Westminster College of Salt Lake City, 1989).

[14] Marty,
foreword, vi.

[15] Marty,
foreword, vii. I have pointed out that for all the investment in both dogmatic
and also systematic theology grounded in a philosophic culture, all varieties
or brands of Christian faith are ultimately rooted in historical events and
stand or fall on the veracity of those stories. See Louis Midgley, “Knowing
Brother Joseph Again,” FARMS Review 18/1 (2006):
xi–lxxii at xiv–xx.

[16] Marty,
foreword, vi, emphasis added.

[17] Marty,
foreword, ix.

[18] Marty,
foreword, ix.

[19] Marty,
foreword, ix.

[20] Marty,
foreword, vi.

[21] Marty,
foreword, ix.

[22] See
Midgley, “Orders of Submission,” 189–228.

[23] Richard J.
Mouw, “The Possibility of Joseph Smith: Some Evangelical Probings,”
in Joseph
Smith Jr.: Reappraisals after Two Centuries
, ed. Reid L. Neilson and
Terryl L. Givens (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 189–207 at

[24] Mouw, “Some
Evangelical Probings,” 189; compare pp. 190 and 191 where Mouw repeats his
“liar or lunatic” line, as well as p. 196, where he also adds “deception
or lunacy” to his terse language.

[25] Mouw, “Some
Evangelical Probings,” 189.

[26] Mouw, “Some
Evangelical Probings,” 199.

[27] Mouw, “Some
Evangelical Probings,” 190, including quotations preceding this sentence.

[28] Mouw, “Some
Evangelical Probings,” 191.

[29] See
Midgley, “Orders of Submission,” 211–17, for some crucial
details about the role played in the imagination of evangelicals by the curious
shifts in the Worldwide Church of God.

[30] Mouw, “Some
Evangelical Probings,” 194.

[31] See Francis
J. Beckwith, Carl Mosser and Paul Owen, eds., The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the
Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement
(Grand Rapids, MI:
Zondervan, 2002).

[32] Mouw, “Some
Evangelical Probings,” 194.

[33] Mouw, “Some
Evangelical Probings,” 195.

[34] Mouw, “Some
Evangelical Probings,” 190.

[35] Mouw, “Some
Evangelical Probings,” 195.

[36] See Richard
J. Mouw, Calvinism
in the Las Vegas Airport: Making Connections in Today’s World
Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004); see the Book Note in the FARMS Review
19/1 (2007): 366–68. TULIP is an acronym for Total depravity, Unconditional
election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the
Saints, which are the Calvinist tenets set forth at the Dutch Reformed Synod of
Dort in 1618–19. Some version of all but perhaps limited atonement can be
found in the writings of Augustine (ad
354–430). It is not clear that John Calvin (1509–64) believed that
the atonement was only for those saved at the moment when the God of classical
theism presumably created everything out of nothing.

[37] Mouw, “Some
Evangelical Probings,” 197.

[38] Truman G.
Madsen, ed., Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels (Provo,
UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1978).

[39] The
agencies fashioned by Paul Kurtz include the magazine Free Inquiry,
the Council of Secular Humanism, Prometheus Books, and several other fronts
used to advance an essentially atheist religion. Kurtz has recently been
eclipsed by Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel C. Dennett,
and Richard Dawkins—the so-called Four Horsemen of the New Atheism.

[40] See George
D. Smith, ed., Religion, Feminism, and Freedom of Conscience: A Mormon/Humanist
(Buffalo: Prometheus Books and Signature Books, 1994).

[41] Paul Kurtz,
“Overview: Humanism and the Idea of Freedom,” in Smith, Religion,
Feminism, and Freedom of Conscience
, xvii. For details, see Louis
Midgley, “Atheists and Cultural Mormons Promote a Naturalistic Humanism,”
of Books on the Book of Mormon
7/1 (1995): 229–97.

[42] Kurtz was
probably correct, however, when he opined that “this dialogue is historic,
for as far as we are aware it is the first formal exchange of ideas by Mormons
and humanists.” Kurtz, “Overview,” xvii.

[43] See Craig
Blomberg and Stephen Robinson, How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an
Evangelical in Conversation
(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997).

[44] See Robert
L. Millet and Gerald R. McDermott, Claiming Christ: A Mormon-Evangelical
(Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2007). For convenience, subsequent
references to this book are indicated by parenthetical page citations in the
discussion rather than cited in footnotes.

[45] McDermott
is currently a Lutheran who teaches religion at Roanoke College.

[46] Compare p.

[47] N. T.
Wright, Paul:
In Fresh Perspective
(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005). For
references to N. T. Wright, see Claiming Christ, 8, 17, 36, 67,
113, 117.

[48] N. T.
Wright’s more elaborate argument is offered in the book not cited by McDermott.
See N. T. Wright’s What Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of
(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997). Wright has caused
a huge stir among evangelicals with his treatment of Paul. This has led to
several responses. See John Piper, The Future of Justification: A Response to
N. T. Wright
(Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007); Guy P. Waters, Justification
and the New Perspective on Paul
(Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2004);
and a collection of essays entitled By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to
the Doctrine of Justification
, ed. Gary L. W. Johnson and Guy P.
Waters (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006). Wright has described responses to his
approach to justification as an effort to demonize his views and carpet bomb
them or “nuke them from a great height.” See N. T. Wright, “New
Perspectives on Paul,” in Justification in Perspective: Historical
Developments and Contemporary Challenges
, ed. Bruce L. McCormack
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 243–64 at 247.

[49] See Bruce
D. Porter, “Is Mormonism Christian?” First Things 186
(October 2008): 35–38.

[50] Gerald R.
McDermott, “Is Mormonism Christian?” First Things 186
(October 2008): 38–41 at 38.

[51] McDermott, “Is
Mormonism Christian?” 41.

[52] McDermott, “Is
Mormonism Christian?” 41.

[53] See Ronald
V. Huggins, “An Appeal for Authentic Evangelical-Mormon Dialogue.”
This essay can be found on the Web page of an agency that calls itself an
Institute for Religious Research. To access this essay, go to http://irr.org,
then to the button on the left labeled “Mormonism,” which leads to a
batch of strong attacks on the faith of Latter-day Saints. One of these is “An
Appeal” (accessed 11 December 2008), the source of Huggins’s quotations

[54] The
Institute for Religious Research was once also known as Gospel Truths Ministry
before indulging in a PR labeling ploy. Huggins appears to be an executive
board member of the Institute for Religious Research.

[55] For the
details, see Louis Midgley, “Cowan on the Countercult,” FARMS Review
16/2 (2004): 395–403 at 401–3. Mouw had also included a very
similar apology in his foreword to The New Mormon Challenge, ed.
Francis J. Beckwith, Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan,
2002), 11. But since that version of his long-overdue apology appeared in
print, it drew essentially no hostile commentary from agitated countercultists,
nor was it mentioned by journalists.

[56] See Huggins,
“An Appeal,” for this quotation and previous ones.

[57] For a
published version of these conversations, see Robert L. Millet and Gregory C.
V. Johnson, Bridging
the Divide: The Continuing Conversation between a Mormon and an Evangelical
foreword by Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson (Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish
Book Publishing, 2007). For an assessment of this book, see the FARMS Review
20/1 (2008): 249–52.

[58] Huggins, “An

[59] See the
press releases, dated 28 October 2008 and currently posted on the Salt Lake
Theological Seminary Web page, entitled “Salt Lake Theological Seminary to
Close,” http://www.slts.edu/Press/Press_Releases.htm (accessed 14 December

[60] See Ronald
V. Huggins, “The Nibley Footnotes,” Salt Lake City Messenger 110 (May
2008): 9–21.

[61] See Shirley
S. Ricks, “A Sure Foundation,” in this issue, 253–92.

[62] Huggins, “Jerald
Tanner’s Quest for Truth—Part 3,” Salt Lake City Messenger 111
(November 2008): 3.

[63] Huggins is
citing Richard Bushman’s Very Brief Introduction to Mormonism (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2008), 32. Huggins garbles the title of Bushman’s book.

[64] Huggins, “Jerald
Tanner’s Quest,” 3.

[65] Huggins, “Jerald
Tanner’s Quest,” 3.

[66] Ronald V.
Huggins, “Review: Massacre at Mountain Meadows: An American Tragedy,”
Lake City Messenger
111 (November 2008): 17.

[67] Huggins, “Review,”

[68] See Robert
H. Briggs and Robert D. Crockett, who both reviewed Sally Denton’s book, American
Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows
, in FARMS Review
16/1 (2004): 111–47.

[69] Huggins, “Review,”

[70] Huggins, “Review,”

[71] See Cecil
O. Samuelson, “On Becoming a Disciple-Scholar,” in this issue of the Review,
1–14; and Bruce C. Hafen, “Reason, Faith, and the Things of
Eternity,” in this issue of the Review, 15–36.

[72] See Robert
H. Briggs, “A Scholarly Look at the Disastrous Mountain Meadows Massacre,”
in this issue of the Review, 215–36.

[73] See William
P. MacKinnon, “The Utah War and Its Mountain Meadows Massacre,” in
this issue of the Review, 237–52.

[74] See Brant
A. Gardner, “This Idea: The ‘This Land’ Series and the U.S.-Centric
Reading of the Book of Mormon,” in this issue of the Review,

[75] Meldrum,
who began with apparently unfounded speculation about a DNA proof for the Book
of Mormon, has also added to his scenario the dubious artifacts being promoted
by May.

[76] See
Gregory L. Smith, “George D. Smith’s Nauvoo
,” in this number
of the Review, 37–123; and also Robert B. White’s review of Nauvoo Polygamy, in this
issue of the Review, 125–30. Both of these essays focus on the embarrassing mistake
found in the opening lines in Nauvoo Polygamy where the unwary reader is introduced to the
sensual language written by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1792 to Josephine in which he
describes their first night together. This is then compared to a letter written
by Joseph Smith in 1842, presumably to Sarah Ann Whitney. In 1994, George Smith
was fully aware that this letter had been “addressed to her parents, Newel
and Elizabeth Whitney, inviting them to bring their daughter to visit him.”
George D. Smith, “Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy, 1841–46: A
Preliminary Demographic Report,” Dialogue 27/1 (1994): 1–72 at 27. It was not
addressed to their daughter, though he seems to have forgotten this fact when the
introduction to Nauvoo Polygamy was fashioned. This fact should complicate
matters for the spin doctors at Signature Books, who tend to use their Web page
to rationalize problems that turn up in their publications.

[77] For the
relevant details, see Louis Midgley, “The Signature Books Saga,” FARMS Review
16/1 (2004): 361–406.

[78] Free Inquiry
is published by the same set of people and agencies (or fronts) that advance
secular humanism, also known as atheist propaganda. See Midgley, “Signature
Books Saga,” 370–74.

[79] See George
D. Smith, “Polygamy and the Mormon Church,” Free Inquiry
7/1 (1986–87): 55–57; Smith, “Mormon Plural Marriage,” Free Inquiry
13/3 (1992): 32–37, 60; Smith, “Strange Bedfellows: Mormon Polygamy
and Baptist History,” Free Inquiry 16/2 (1996): 41–45; reprinted in Freedom of
Conscience: A Baptist/Humanist Dialogue
, ed Paul D. Simmons
(Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2000), 207–16. In this essay, it is suggested
that Joseph Smith might have gotten the idea of polygamy from John Milton (see
note 69 at 377–78). In addition, George Smith published as a separate
essay a much less polished version of his “Introduction” to Nauvoo Polygamy
under the title “Nauvoo Polygamy: We Called It Celestial Marriage,” Free Inquiry
28/3 (2008): 44–46. For access to a Web version of this essay, see
http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=smith_28_3 (accessed
27 December 2008).

[80] For the
details, see Nauvoo Polygamy, 682. Why would George Smith call attention
to his “Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon,” Free Inquiry
4/1 (1983–84): 21–31, which is a strident attack on both Joseph and
the Book of Mormon, while he neglected to mention four additional essays he
published in this same atheist magazine in which he speculated on polygamy?

[81] Paul Kurtz,
“Polygamy in the Name of God,” Free Inquiry 29/2 (2009):

[82] Kurtz, “Polygamy,”

[83] Kurtz, “Polygamy,”

[84] See