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The "objective" history theme seemed to be a recurring one with Prof. Bushman in this book. He seemed resigned to the fact that he would take hits from scholars because he was a "believing" scholar or historian. Yet, at the same time he seemed to fear the would alienate "believing" Mormons by providing an honest history of Joseph Smith. It was lose, lose.

It is ironic that some of our Christian "brothers" have no qualms believing in the Resurrection; but, throw in some Gold Plates, or an open cannon with continuing revelation to Apostles and a Propeht, and wow there's just not a chance that could happen.

I think you're right Dave. Most of the evangelicals I've encountered online seriously believe they've got hard evidence backing up their religion. As opposed to us Mormons who are just delusional.

It would be almost charmingly naive if they weren't yelling at you at the same time.

I always encounter the line "well we know from hard historical evidence that a person called "Jesus" and a people called "Israel" actually existed. But there's absolutely no evidence for the Book of Mormon."

I would agree with the essentials of that statement. But what these people don't get is that this is actually not an advantage to the born-again belief scheme. Because many events in the Bible can be independently researched and verified the book is actually MORE vulnerable to being independently discredited, not less. What happens when Israeli archeology directly contradicts accounts such as those of the Exodus? What happens when contemporary texts in... say... Babylon don't back up the stories of the exile or contradict it?

The Book of Mormon simply doesn't have these problems. Evangelicals, no doubt, call that convenient. And it is.

But they seriously need to stop strutting about their own "unassailable Bible." The book is no such thing.

Seth, this perspective also explains why the Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris books are making such a splash. Hey, Mormons have been dealing with this kind of criticism for a hundred and fifty years, but Christians haven't had to deal with direct attacks on their faith claims in quite the same way. Like a hothouse plant that is suddenly thrust out into the cold, harsh world, they aren't really prepared to deal with it very well.

Jeff's was the first? Interesting he let me reprint it at my blog when he first wrote it.

BTW - nice point about Hitchens. When I read Hitchens on Mormons it really did read like "more of the same." Like a screed written by an Evangelical back in the 60's. Almost embarrassing.

Re: Seth

I think that is one of the misunderstandings between mainstream Christianity and the LDS crowd. Like you said, the LDS have been dealing with this for over 150 years, whereas mainstream Christianity seems to have just come under fire for it. It seems like over the last 30 years the concept of "Maybe there's more to this than we think" has come about.

The question in my mind and the issue in my mind is the hubub that the LDS Church gets. Instead of mere acceptance (such as other religions receive), we are cast away in contempt. How many people, upon finding one is LDS, get a smirk, or a snide remark comes out, about our religion? I'm sure others get it as well, but it seems like ours is almost an automatic reaction, whereas others may be hit and miss

Brandt, I think Protestantism has engaged with these issues. It's just that fundamentalism - which frankly is where the growth of Protestantism has been over the past century - was a reaction against it. That is rather than engaging with these issues it turned against it and simply avoided engagement.

Now there are, to a far lesser extent, similar movements in our own Church. (I think the evolution debate is a great example - much of the "no death before the fall" movement depends upon not having an engagement on the scientific issue)

So I think it's somewhat unfair to castigate our Protestant friends.

Having said that though it has become much harder to be an island. And fundamentalists are grappling with this. Indeed I think much of the homeschooling movement is the attempt to maintain islands and avoid these problems by avoiding conflict. In a certain way I suspect the Mormon exile to the west was the attempt by Mormons to do that. And we saw how that turned out. Yet it remained in a lesser extent through much of the 20th century. Since the 70's though as we were so international and outside of "Deseret" we found we couldn't do it. So we're used to this. Protestants aren't.

Interesting post. I am reminded of Bertrand Russell's "Why I am Not a Christian," where he says that the Catholic Church declared that God's existence could be proved by unaided reason. (I don't know if that is fair to the Catholics or not.)

I loved On The Road as well. Finished it in one sitting. In fact, like Ann, I liked it better than Rough Stone Rolling. I think that is because I feel more "truth" watching Bushman wrestle with the Joseph Smith enigma (and by extension, with Bushman himself) than I do by reading Bushman's scholarly conclusions of the man. In that regard I find the depiction of Bushman in On The Road more immediate and fascinating than the depiction of Joseph in RSR. With RSR, Bushman was trying to present a more "human" Joseph Smith to the world. I think he accomplished his task, but along the way the "more real" human he presented was himself.

I recall, in the one and only Bible Bash I ever had on my mission (with a couple of preachers), that when I tried to bring up Moroni's promise, they just laughed. These preachers said, "We don't believe the Bible because of a warm, fuzzy feeling. We believe the Bible because it is self-evidently true."

That seemed to be a pretty common feeling among evangelicals I met as a missionary. The Bible is self-evidently true and that's why they believe in it. That makes anyone who doesn't believe in the Bible either a liar, an idiot, or a dupe of some sort.

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