Last Friday Curt Jester linked to an anachronism in the Book of Mormon, in a blog post by Carson Weber. Not the horses-in-America kind, but it deals with KJV translations. I’ve seen plenty of things like this, so the commentators’ reactions are of more interest to me. Basically, they say “Well this proves Mormonism wrong!” and “I wonder what Mormons will say to this!” I don’t blame them for either sentiment, but I can’t agree with either. In my opinion there are plenty more substantial things that prove Mormonism wrong, starting with the Catholic faith being true.
Regarding the second sentiment, a couple of the commentators on Mr. Weber’s post seemed wise to the fact that presenting this anachronism to the average Mormon will accomplish, on average, nothing. I would guess that the other commentators have never had long and substantial apologetic discussions with Mormons, or they’d be in the jaded camp with me.
I have struggled for a long time with handling, if you will, the wrongnesses of the Mormon religion. At first, I put too much faith in them, thinking that they were reason enough for a Mormon to decide not to be one anymore. In practice, that idea is wrong with a side of stupid. I wish something besides experience had taught me that. The simple fact is that the assurance LDS have of the truth of their faith is heavily based in an entirely different category of knowledge and experience, one that arguments like BoM anachronisms can’t touch. To paint with a broad brush, they approach arguments like that with the mindset that even if the argument is correct – which it isn’t – it doesn’t matter.
I won’t fault approaching a potential problem with the attitude that it won’t wind up being an actual problem – my comment above about the truth of the Catholic faith against the claims of the LDS faith is an example. I don’t go into a panic every time someone criticizes or argues against the faith, and neither should a Mormon. But between me and a Mormon, our confidence, our assurance, is based in different things. Or rather, in many of the same things but in wildly different proportions. I’m confident that a Catholic can meet an argument on its own terms and prove reasonable. But to my perception, a Mormon is confident that his testimony trumps arguments like that, because the testimony is more substantial and more important than, shall we say, worldly wisdom. To the non-LDS, that’s a disproportionate reliance on the non-intellectual. To the LDS, it’s the way it should be, and venturing outside of the assurance provided by the testimony produces stress and guilt. Even Mormon bloggers, often the most open of the bunch, are generally comfortable in their testimony.
If the non-LDS readers are wondering at this point what one is to do to get through to them… I’ll let you know if I ever find out.
Anyway, these days I still struggle with LDS wrongnesses. Now, because of what I’ve just discussed, I basically put no stock in them at all. I don’t know if I ought to or not. I know that sticking to telling why I believe in one holy Catholic Church is always a good idea, but is there a place at all for telling why one shouldn’t believe in the LDS church? I don’t know. Add to this the problem that, especially on the internet, people who point out LDS wrongnesses (I love making up words and then using them a lot) are dismissive, scornful, and/or hostile to Mormonism and do nothing but turn Mormons off to the idea of non-Mormonism. Moreover, many authors I’ve read who left Mormonism for its wrongness are now the dismissive/scornful/hostile type, whereas people who left it for the rightness of whatever else are less so. The result is that I’ll see an argument – even presented charitably – and just shrug. That’s nice, I’ll think, but I didn’t really need it and Mormons won’t have it.
I haven’t come to a conclusion, but my thinking right now is that the best I can do is a be a great Catholic, which is sadly an area in which I’ve always fallen short.