"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
June 29, 2012
The Obligation to Apologize
by Jeff Lindsay

In 2010, Daniel Peterson of BYU gave a talk called "The Obligation to Do Apologetics" in which he expressed puzzlement over Latter-day Saints who look down on efforts to defend the faith. That's what apologetics is, by the way: intellectual defense of the faith, giving answers to questions and objections, not "apologizing" for having a loser religion. It comes from an old Greek work that means "to defend."

If we accept the faith, we should seek to defend it, or at least be able to defend it without just relying on blind faith and tradition. That seems to be the obligation that Peter gives us in 1 Peter 3:15, when he tells us to "be ready always to give an answer" to anyone that asks the reasons for the hope our religion gives.

Brother Peterson says:

I think that it is a duty incumbent upon all of us to "apologize" in the original sense for our faith. It's simply a human duty to apologize in that sense for positions that you hold. We all have an obligation. It's an individual obligation, and it's incumbent upon all of us.

The disdain some faithful LDS members show for apologetics may come from their misunderstanding of what apologists are trying to achieve. We don't expect our arguments to take the place of the Spirit in converting people. But without defense, there can be much greater damage from the offense of the adversary.

Peterson quotes Austin Farrer with an insightful nugget, offered in discussing the work of C.S. Lewis in his beautiful apologetics for Christianity:

Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.

Exactly. I've seen that so many times. The inability of many Latter-day Saints to help others when challenged with common arguments and attacks has led to many souls falling away unnecessarily. Many wandered and struggled in despair, not knowing that there were good answers and explanations to help them deal with challenges that shook them. We would do well to be a little better prepared to help those struggling in the faith.

Kudos to those organizations and people who are not afraid to defend what the world will never hesitate to attack, the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now more than ever, we need people and resources to stand boldly in defending the truth to the world and helping members better understand the plausibility and intellectual wonders of their own religion.

For more from Jeff Lindsay, see Mormanity at http://mormanity.blogspot.com and his Mormon Answers section at http://jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/.


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About Jeff Lindsay

Jeff Lindsay has been defending the Church on the Internet since 1994, when he launched his LDSFAQ website under JeffLindsay.com. He has also long been blogging about LDS matters on the blog Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com). Jeff is a longtime resident of Appleton, Wisconsin, who recently moved to Shanghai, China, with his wife, Kendra. He works for an Asian corporation as head of intellectual property. Jeff and Kendra are the parents of 4 boys, 3 married and the the youngest on a mission.

He is a former innovation and IP consultant, a former professor, and former Corporate Patent Strategist and Senior Research Fellow for a multinational corporation.

Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins and Mukund Karanjikar are authors of the book Conquering Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

Jeff has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is a registered US patent agent. He has more than 100 granted US patents and is author of numerous publications. Jeff's hobbies include photography, amateur magic, writing, and Mandarin Chinese.

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