Friday, February 17, 2012

Critiquing a Critique: Responding to Rod Meldrum's Critique of John Sorenson's Methodology



I posted the following at a blog that had recently done a podcast with Rod Meldrum. Thus far, my comment has been essentially ignored. Now, I have no ax to grind with Meldrum, but I find that his claims typically don't stand up to scrutiny. Here, I dissect the Meldrum's critique of John L. Sorenson's method for doing Book of Mormon geography. When I first heard this critique I thought Meldrum had made an interesting point. When I decided to actually investigate it, I quickly found that Meldrum had played fast and loose with the facts. Remember that this was just a quick comment (long though it is). You can read my more formal critique here, where it is included in my lengthy aside on Book of Mormon geography (you'll have to scroll down a long ways to find it, or use the ctrl+G search function and type in "Rodney"). 
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

REVIEWING THE REVIEW: VOL. 18, ISS. 2 (2006)


Overview
            Compared to most issues, this issue is rather small. It features only seven reviews/essays. Despite its size, this issue has a lot to offer. Five of the seven articles are recommended, and each was very good. A lot of emphasis seems to be on science this time around, with one review and an essay discussing the relationship of science and Mormonism (well, if you count intelligent design as a science). The others discuss pretty standard topics for the Review, i.e. theology, evangelical anti-Mormonism, apologetics, etc.

Recommended Reading

            Daniel C. Peterson, “Editor’sIntorduction – The Witchcraft Paradigm: On Claims to ‘Second Sight’ by PeopleWho Say It Doesn’t Exist,” pg. ix-lxiv: In what is one of my favorite Ed. Intro.’s by Peterson, he offers an “apology (defense) for apologetics,” and also dispels several myths and rumors about FARMS (particularly their peer-review process) that are frequently circulated by anti-Mormon’s and other critics in an effort to dismiss and discredit the organization.

            Robert R. Bennett, “Science vs.Mormonism: The Dangers of Dogmatism and Sloppy Reading,” a review of Duwayne R.Anderson, Farewell to Eden: Coming toTerms with Mormonism and Science (Bloomington, IN: 1st BooksLibrary, 2003), pg. 1-43: Bennett critiques Anderson’s approach to both Mormonism and Science, and touches on each type of science Anderson compares to Mormonism.

            Richard Sherlock, “Mormonism andIntelligent Design,” pg. 45-81: Sherlock has actually recently converted to Catholicism. What impact that may have had on the views he expressed in this article, I do not know. I can’t imagine that his perspective on Design Theory would change simply by switching from one religious belief to another (both of which obviously believe in some sort of design behind the creation of the world), though his views on Design Theory certainly could have changed for other reasons (I’m not sure where ID and other forms of Design Theory stand in the scientific community at this point; when this article was published, proponents of the theory were fighting to win some scientific credibility for the theory; as an aside, I can remember hearing/reading about this controversy my senior year of high school). Despite all that may have changed, however, I still found this to be an informative essay. Sherlock defines what ID theory is, discusses its relationship to science, religion, God, and Mormonism. Throughout, he argues for ID as a science, and he argues that it is something Mormons should be open to and even accepting of.

            David L. Paulsen and Cory G.Walker, “Work, Worship, and Grace,” a review of Dougles J. Davies, The Mormon Culture of Salvation: Force,Grace, and Glory (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2000), pg. 83-177: Looking at the page numbers, this seems like a daunting, 90-plus page review. The review itself, however, actually ends on page 127. The extra 50 pages comprise Appendices A-D, which contain several quotes from LDS leaders, hymns, and scriptures regarding grace and salvation. Thus, these appendices are an invaluable resource for those seeking to understand the LDS view on grace and salvation. The review itself is pretty good as well, as Paulsen and Walker note that they feel that Davies got a few things wrong about how LDS view and understand grace and works, worship, and salvation. They layout how they understand the balance between grace and works to function, and argue that grace has always played an important role in LDS sortiology.  

            Louis Midgley, “Orders of Submission,”a review of essays on Mormonism published in the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 9/2 (Summer 2005): 1-81, pg.189-228: Midgley compares the SBC’s anti-Mormon campaign in 1998 to a recent issue of their journal to see if any progress has been made. The answer: not much, if any. He also uses this as an opportunity to comment on another group of evangelicals (some of whom cast their lot with the SBC by publishing some essays in the issue of SBJT under review, while others were criticized in said issue) who have delusions of “converting” the entire LDS Church into an evangelical group through the means of “dialogue.”

Final Thoughts

            Though lacking somewhat in overall content when compared to other issues, I found this to be a very good issue. Peterson’s introduction, Sherlock’s discussion of ID, and Paulson and Walkers review of grace in LDS theology are all must-reads in my book. Midgley’s review also provides a very important intellectual history on some of the development in sectarian anti-Mormonism. One thing to note that, although I don’t recommend all seven contributions to this issue, there really wasn’t a single one not worth reading; an overall solid issue.

Rating: 4/5