In Sunday’s op-ed section of the SLTrib (2 Sep 2011) there is an article by an historian that I greatly admire . . . Thomas G. Alexander. The piece titled “Mormon myths that aren’t” is very disappointing. It is a continuation of the “5 myths about Mormons” debate started recently by Joanna Brooks in The Washington Post.
Why do Mormons continue the debate about whether we are Christians? Why do we continue to discuss polygamy? Neither of these discussions is useful.
Some might argue that I’m not Mormon. So what, I don’t care . . . nor should I. I know what I believe. So why should Mormons care about what fundamentalist Christians or anyone else thinks about us? Who are they to decide where the boundaries are? Mormons believe in Christ’s divinity and that is all that really matters.
As for polygamy, Mormons can gain nothing from this debate. We have a checkered past and present on this subject, and we need to admit it and move on. For us to continue this discussion is silly.
When it comes to the subject of Mormon apologetics, I find myself in strange company. According to John-Charles Duffy writing in Sunstone (May 2004):
A hard-line version of Mormonism’s anti-contention tradition maintains that the best way for Saints to respond to criticism of their faith is to not respond at all; in the words of Boyd K. Packer, “ignore them.” . . . [Other] General Authorites who have preached this view include Elders Carlos E. Asay and Marvin J. Ashton. Also, a 1983 First Presidency directive maintains that it is neither “wise [n]or appropriate to react to all criticisms . . .” More recently, this view has been reiterated by BYU religion professor Joseph Fielding McConkie.
While my perception of Mormonism differs greatly from that of Boyd K. Packer and Joseph Fielding McConkie, I do strongly agree with them on this point. Apologetics is generally not a winning proposition. By continually responding to criticism, Mormons allow others to determine our agenda.