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You know, the vast anti-Mormon conspiracy opposing LDS scholars while they labor to build the kingdom with scholarly muskets in hand. Puhlease.

Is this really what Elder Maxwell meant with that imagery of his?

Does the church really want fealty to Joseph and all that he taught and stood for? There seem to be quite a few groups around that profess fealty to certain church leader(s) that are, shall we say, not in favor.

John F, I'm not quite sure what exactly Elder Maxwell had in mind, but it is quite clear he saw part of the proper business of BYU faculty was to defend the Church from its enemies. In his view, it seems, every prof is an apologist. Do you have an alternate interpretation to suggest? It's possible the quote is also used somewhere in one of his talks or writings, which would give some additional context to the statement.

J Stapley, I think there's a latent qualification to any endorsement of Joseph by present-day leaders, amounting to "fealty to Joseph Smith, as interpreted by present-day leaders." So, in a sense, one's true fealty would be to the interpretation of the present-day leaders or, more directly, to the present-day leaders themselves.

Here's the Merriam-Webster definition of fealty:

1 a : the fidelity of a vassal or feudal tenant to his lord b : the obligation of such fidelity
2 : intense fidelity

Looks like fealty is derived from the same root as feudal. The connotation of fealty, to me, seems more like loyalty out of fear than love.

This bugs me...

On the other hand -- do you know any academics who don't have a figurative musket at hand?

And many of them aren't afraid to take aim based on ideologies rather than concentrate on trowel work.

Of course, thanks to the great white-washing of Church history, the Church doesn't have to put a little caveat to their 'loyalty to Joseph' request. It's not like they have to say, "Be loyal to most of Joseph, but not the bad parts." Most members who are paying attention to church leaders aren't even aware that there are bad parts to ignore. Ignorance is bliss!

I think one can do apologetics without doing whitewashing. I think it unfair to assume that all apologetics is whitewashing or misdirection.

I have to confess that at a certain level I have always found the so-and-so is an apologist debates rather vacuous. It seems to me that they confuse the issue of an argument's genesis from its validity or content. The idea is that one can judge the legitimacy of particular arguments by figuring out whether their origin lies in either (a) a disinterested desire to finde the truth; or, (b) a desire to defend the Church. The point, however, of arguments is that they are meant to offer reasons indepedent of origins. Rather than asking whether writing X is apologetic one ought to ask whether writing X makes any good arguments. The odd thing about the whole scholarship v. apologetics debate is that ultimately it draws attention away from what is being said to the question of why it is being said. In other words, both sides of the debate are primarily concerned with establishing the virtuousness (intellectual or religious) of "their" position. At a certain point, however, the real response to this debate ought to be "who cares?" I can assess which of Michael Quinn's or Hugh Nibley's claims are valid and justified and which are kooky and out to lunch on the basis of what they say. I don't see that there motives have a hell of lot to do with it if we are talking about things in terms of scholarhip. There are not good guys or bad guys, pure motives and impure motives. There are just arguments.

There are not good guys or bad guys, pure motives and impure motives. There are just arguments.

That is, unless you are the one making the argument.

I like your comment, Nate, at least as an abstract ideal. Of course when you are evaluating arguments outside your field, a certain amount of trust is involved. That's especially true in evaluating historical arguments. The historian is often saying "I've spent years reading a bunch of obscure sources that you haven't read, and here is what I think it all means." Obviously in such a situation it is useful to know what the historian's biases are.

But Nate, I wonder how you your point applies to Pres. Samuelson's remarks. He seems to advocate judging academic work not only on its intrinsic merits but on how much loyalty to Joseph it displays.

The musket/trowel metaphor is popular in some circles. Some scholars associated with FARMS seem fond of invoking the episode in Nehemiah chapters 4-6, especially 4:13-23 and 6:3, in their writing (see here for an example).

Ed, the article quotes Pres. Samuelson as saying (just after the muskets line): "Today, scholars building the temple of learning must also pause on occasion to defend the kingdom." That suggests he sees a distinction between scholarly work and "defending the kingdom," which I would interpret as apologetics of one form or another. I don't see an intention to measure or judge scholarly work by whether or how much "loyalty" it displays. It does seem to suggest that every faculty member should be available to do their part in the Great Apologetic War if called upon. [Caveat: That's a descriptive use of "apologetics," not a pejorative one.]

if the church really wants members to be loyal to joseph smith and what he did they should have disfellowshipped the people that produced the recent dvd on the restoration rather than grant palmer.

In Matthew 22 it says that "...all the law and the prophets" hang on the two great commandments of loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. where is there room for complete fealty to any man, past or present, in this declaration. We must know God and determine whether a prophet's words lead us to loving God and our fellow brothers and sisters, or not. This is the test, and from my understanding there is no room for a test in complete fealty.

Nate, ideally there would be only arguments, but for better or worse Mormons have a difficult time detaching themselves from their spiritual epistemology. This epistemology relies on the Holy Ghost as a means of obtaining truth, and experiencing the Holy Ghost requires righteousness. This is seen as being all for the better at, say, BYU, where the Holy Ghost is seen as enhancing one's ability to find all truth, even secular. On the other hand, the truth/Holy Ghost/righteousness connection can be seen as being hoplessly ad hominem by construction.

A call for complete fidelity to Joseph Smith is interesting in that Joseph required the same of those closest to him. Really of all the saints, but especially the leadership. I am reminded of Joseph telling Heber C. Kimball to give him his wife. Heber struggled greatly and ultimately did what was asked (I always wonder what his wife was thinking). Joseph was testing his loyalty and fidelity to him, as God's mouthpiece. Perhaps President Samuelson's remarks are not so off base when seen in that light? Or maybe this adds fuel to the fire.

On a side not, I WOULD be surprised if students went out and worshipped a statue of Joseph but NOT surprised if they questioned less.

Also, I've started to think of Joseph Smith as a combination of King David and Moses. I think that there are a lot of parallels.

Christian: "On the other hand, the truth/Holy Ghost/righteousness connection can be seen as being hoplessly ad hominem by construction."

I'm afraid I don't follow you. Exactly what does an ad homenem fallacy have to do with all this? Or are you saying that since the spirit can bring truth and the spirit requires unrighteousness that unrighteousness entails no truth?

If so I agree that is fallacious reasoning although I see it as a fallacy of affirming the consequence and not ad hominem. It's an argument of the sort if A then B. B. Therefore A.

Whoops. Brain fart. It's the fallacy of denying the antecedent not affirming the consequence. If A then B. Not A. Therefore not B. Duh.

This is why I almost never name fallacies. And this was me being overly picky anyway. So I probably just should have shutup. C'est la vie I guess. Mea culpa and whatever other foreign phrases fit.

Clark: Or are you saying that since the spirit can bring truth and the spirit requires unrighteousness that unrighteousness entails no truth?

Yes, this is what I was getting at. Obviously it's a fallacy with regard to all truth, but with respect to the truth of the Church, D&C 84:45-53 makes an explicit ad hominem argument (you know they're sinful because they're not joining the Church).

Hence, I think typical Mormons think this way (perhaps subconsciously) when it comes to anything remotely related to the Church. For example, `Quinn is excommunicated [edit], so I don't even to read him to know that he's wrong.'

From some strange reason, when it comes to other subject matter not related to Church history or doctrine, Mormons have no problem with sinful people obtaining truth, and even attributing it to revelation. For example, they might attribute the advent of computers to God's inspiration to enable geneaology, and have no problem with that inspiration coming to Alan Turing even though he was gay. [edited 1/23/05]

Interesting points. First, I think there was a typo in Clark's phrase, which should (I think) read like this in Clark's original comment: Or are you saying that since the spirit can bring truth and the spirit requires righteousness that unrighteousness entails no truth?

I would agree with Christian -- it seems that when LDS history or truth claims are in question, some Mormons collapse credibility into a question of Church standing. Thus, a GA is necessarily credible; an LDS scholar is presumptively credible; a non-LDS scholar is potentially credible (depending on what their conclusions are); and former Mormons or anyone labelled an "anti-Mormon" lacks any credibility and can be dismissed without giving serious consideration to their arguments or evidence.

Things that I read on LDS blogs that bother me are...Joseph is my hero... or being loyal to Joseph...he was just a man...the loyalty and heroism truly lies in Jesus Christ, not a prophet. Yes...Joseph was amazing...but hero???

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