This web site tries to offer many answers on topics like faith, authority, and so forth. But some critics do not want answers. If you get close to giving them an answer, such people will change the subject to attack you on a different topic. When someone's objective is to attack the "Mormon" Church, they are known as "anti-Mormon".
Popular "anti" issues
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|Are you a critic? Are you seriously worried about Mormonism and other "dangerous cults"? You need the CultMaster 2000® software at Jeff Lindsay's site. Try it out here! (Sense of humor required.)|
|How to spot an "anti"|
1. They neither know nor care that their side is losing
Most "antis" claim to be "Evangelicals" or "Born Again Christians." But they seem unaware of the article in the fall 1998 issue of the evangelical publication "Trinity Journal" called "Mormon Scholarship, Apologetics, and Evangelical Neglect: Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?"
In this article, two evangelical scholars read all the anti-Mormon criticism they could find, and then read what the Mormons said in response. They concluded that the evangelicals were losing the battle. The Mormons were winning! The authors argue that LDS scholars have effectively responded to criticism of their beliefs, that "no books from an evangelical perspective... responsibly interact with.... LDS scholarly and apologetic writings."
For a longer review, and how to order a copy, see http://www.farmsresearch.com/free/insights/june1999/evangelist.html
Some antis attack the church from a scholarly perspective. Often they quote the "Smithsonian statement." The Smithsonian published this a few years ago, stating the reasons why they did not accept the Book of Mormon. They listed several items that were mentioned in the Book of Mormon that were not known to exist in the ancient Americas. But the Smithsonian statement is already out of date. For example, it said there was no significant ocean crossings to America before Columbus, and that the ancient Americans did not have barley. Both these statements will now have to be revised, thanks to new discoveries that support the Mormon view. For a detailed response to the Smithsonian statement, see FARMS.
2. They ignore all the discoveries that support the Book of Mormon
When the Book of Mormon was published, it contained references to many things for which there was then no evidence. (For example, a literate civilization, the use of cement, writing on metal plates, or numerous other "anachronisms.") As the years have gone by, the Book of Mormon has been proven right again and again. The list of "what remains to be discovered" is getting shorter and shorter.
One of the few items that may have not yet been discovered is steel. Professional critics always home in on this, because they are not interested in the big picture, only in attacking what they assume is a remaining weakness. But as usual, they do not read the Book of Mormon very carefully, and they are not aware of what has been discovered.
Steel in the Book of Mormon
Part of the purpose of the Book of Mormon was to show that he Bible is true. So Joseph Smith chose to translate the Book of Mormon using the language of the King James Version of the Bible (KJV). This uses some words that we use differently today. For example, in the Book of Mormon, Nephi had a "steel bow." KJV readers will recognize this from the steel bow of 2 Sam. 22:35, Psalms 18:34, and Job 20:24 (see also Jeremiah 15:12). However, modern translations (such as the Jerusalem Bible) show that the KJV "steel bow" was actually made of bronze. So it seems that Book of Mormon "steel" was actually bronze, a far more common metal (and more easily produced) in the ancient world.
So little is known about metals in the ancient Americas that one single discovery can push back the accepted dates by well over a thousand years! See http://abcnews.go.com/sections/science/DailyNews/andeans981105.html (from ABCnews.com) for details. As the experts said, "It shows once again how little we know about the past and how there are surprises under every rock"
In addition, meteoric nickel-iron alloys are known to have been available in ancient Mesoamerica, and a non-Mormon scholar listed it as "a type of steel." See Robert J. Forbes in Metallurgy in Antiquity: A Notebook for Archaeologists and Technologists (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1950, p. 402). For more details, see http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_metals.shtml#steel
Apart from Nephi's bow, the word "steel" only appears three times in the Book of Mormon:
- 2 Nephi 5:15: Here, Nephi refers to wood, metal, and precious stones in general as being "in abundance." This seems to reflect just Nephi's great optimism. Throughout his book, we see that situations that look bleak and desperate to others (e.g. being lost in the desert, losing all their wealth, crossing an uncharted ocean in a home made boat, etc.) are described by Nephi as great blessings. He spends his time trying to motivate and encourage people. Nephi's idea of "great abundance" would not have been our idea of "great abundance."
- Jarom 1:8: steel is listed along with many other items. But we are not given any idea of the relative quantities.
- Ether 7:9: some "steel" swords are made - enough to fight one man (the brother of the man who made the swords), so there were probably not many. The context suggests that these swords were something very special.
That is it. In the three thousand year history of the Jaredites and Nephites, we just have three references .It sounds like this bronze/steel was quite rare. It fits comfortably into what is known (or rather how much is still unknown) about the ancient Americas.
3. They rely on obscure, unconfirmed, half-remembered quotations
For example, lots of people like to quote what one church member thought he heard Joseph Smith say about moon men - about forty years earlier! It would be like me, today, saying I think I remember Winston Churchill said, except nobody else heard it, and strangely, nobody bothered to write it down at the time. This response is from Jeff Lindsay:
Did Joseph Smith say there were men on the moon?
"There is no evidence from Joseph Smith's day that he ever said such a thing. The sole source for this claim is one person's journal entry from 1881 that was published in 1892. Joseph died in 1844. Can we trust an alleged reminiscence separated by decades and unattested by anyone else? It's not the kind of thing that ought to make anyone lose an iota of faith or sleep.
"But suppose Joseph did think that people lived on the moon - so what? Many people did in the early 1800s. There had been a newspaper hoax in Joseph's day in which it was claimed that Sir John Herschel had discovered that the moon was inhabited by people. If Joseph or Brigham Young or other Church leaders believed such errant reports, does it make those men false prophets? If President Hinckley, in the course of routine conversation, describes atoms in terms of the old model with spherical electrons in fixed orbits around a nucleus, has he lost credibility as a revelator chosen by God? ... If President Hinckley as a matter of opinion says that he expects the Green Bay Packers to go to the Superbowl, should we reject him if the Packers fall short? We do not believe that prophets will have divinely guided opinions on every matter 24 hours a day, but only prophets when acting as such."
For answers to more questions, visit:
|Critics in the Bible|
They'll KILL YOU & think they do God a service: John16:2
They'll SPEAK EVIL of you: Matt 5:11
STIR UP devout, honorable, and chief people: Acts13:50
MOCK your beliefs: Acts17:32
Reject the living prophets by appeals to DEAD PROPHETS: Matt 23:29-32; John 7:40-43; John 9:28-29
Motivation (sometimes): the Church threatens their income: Acts 19:24,27
Does any of this sound familiar? :-)
|Not all critics are "anti"|
It is not healthy to assume that all critics are anti. if you are not sure, assume honest motives. That is what Jesus would have done.
No matter how strong your position is, nobody likes arrogance. And realistically, you are bound to make mistakes. Even if you don't, you will say things that don't come across as you wanted. If people see you as arrogant AND wrong, there is no way they will take you seriously.
If there is bad feeling...
Many people who ask questions about the church are genuinely looking for answers. But some are just looking to trip you up. For convenience, I will label such a person as an "anti", because their main objective is to cause you trouble.
It is not always easy to tell an "anti" from a genuine critic. In my experience, the most people are genuine. If in doubt, treat someone as genuine. It is highly unfair to treat an honest person as if thy are just making trouble. But there are times when you will be in a situation where someone just wants to make you look stupid. This section is for those times.
Your attitude could be
Often the simplest response is just to remind all sides of the agenda. Obviously you want to support something that you find is very good. But the other person may have a different objective. It is worth agreeing on where you come from. Would you read a history of Jesus written by Judas?
The bottom line:
Great truth is there to be discovered, not defended.