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
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
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.
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.