“Understanding the Book of Mormon” reviewed by FARMS

I’ve been wondering how long it would take for my book to be noticed by the professional LDS apologists, and what they would say about it. I just found the review by FARMS today. Here’s the link to FARMS Review of books. Scroll to the bottom of the page.

The reviewer seems to completely miss the point of the book. He seems to expect that the only reasonable way for an evangelical audience to treat the Book of Mormon is to parrot without critical evaluation all the standard LDS apologetics in favor of it. I guess if you disagree with the LDS party line, you are engaged in “indoctrination.” To the reviewer, I’m guilty of apostasy, and of trying to “lure Latter-day Saints from their faith.” I find especially distasteful the implication that anyone who disagrees with the LDS story is attacking the faith of Latter-day Saints.

He castigates me for an “elementary and superficial” book that offers no new scholarship. But the point of the book is merely to summarize and present an overview to a non-scholarly evangelical audience. He says I failed to even mention the literature that answers the critics. He must not have read my footnotes, where I point out to the reader where he or she can read the perspective of LDS authors on various subjects.

Anyway, read the review yourself, and tell me what you think. In what ways is the anonymous reviewer correct, and in what ways does he miss the mark?

1 thought on ““Understanding the Book of Mormon” reviewed by FARMS

  1. I would imagine that the reviewer could have created a harder-hitting review had he actually read your purpose and your footnotes. He comes to the text with his own assumptions and does interpretive violence regarding authorial intention and motivation.

    His proof-texting from 3 Nephi to answer how you never say what LDS doctrine or the definition of the LDS gospel does nothing to answer your assertion that the Book of Mormon contains nothing to address the functional and most public aspects of the LDS faith: the temples and all the secret/sacred things which occur in there (marriages on behalf of the dead and baptisms in proxy for dead people). With exception of its affirmation of baptismal regeneration (the heretical requirement of baptism for salvation), your book describes how the Book of Mormon’s theology does not add much to LDS theology and in telling the LDS Plan of Salvation.

    This review was not professional when it addressed the author as well, snidely calling you “Reverend Anderson” rather than Rev. Dr. Anderson. Emotion destroyed the effectiveness which FARMS could have applied their own take on this book. True, meaningful dialogue could have taken place.

    The review is boiled down to “We do not like this book because it teaches things contrary to what the First Presidency teach us.” This is the exact same view on authority which the Medieval Roman Catholic Church had, only now it is the First Presidency instead of Pope Leo. Yet Luther’s greatest weapon was that he wrote and taught on the Bible in the common vernacular of the people, and that is to your book’s credit.

    Soli Deo Gloria

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