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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shaken Faith Syndrome

Have you ever had a shaken testimony? What about friends or family? If so, then Mike Ash (owner and proprietor of www.mormonfortress.com) has just the book for you. In this new volume entitled Shaken Faith Syndrome, Mike details some of the ways to strengthen one's testimony in the face of criticisms and doubt and offers introductions to some of the apologetic responses to hard questions about the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham, Joseph Smith & Brigham Young, Church history and doctrine and dealing with cognitive dissonance (or thought disharmony).

The book is basically divided into two sections. The first section is an introduction to dealing with doubt and criticisms of the Church and includes the following chapters:

1. Dealing with Doubt
2. Ex-Mormons, Critics, and Fundamentalist Assumptions
3. Unrealistic Expectations of Prophets
4. Confusing Tradition with Doctrine (This section can be read online here.)
5. Paradigms, Evidence, and Imposing Our Views on Others
6. Scholarly, Historical and Scientific Limitations & Unrealistic Expectations
7. Betrayal and Church "Cover-up"
8. Adding Cognitions (Beliefs)
9. Anti-Mormon Disdain for LDS Scholarship and Apologetics
10. Summary to Part 1: "The Answers Are Out There"

While Mike has something to offer in all of these areas, chapter 6 was my favorite. In this chapter, Mike points out several things which includes:

1. That anti-Mormons rarely deal with real LDS scholarship and instead rely on straw men most of the time.
2. That, contrary to anti-Mormon allegations, LDS scholars are real scholars with real degrees from prestigious universities.
3. That LDS scholars are widely accepted in mainstream academia and their works are often cited favorably by non-LDS scholarly venues.
4. That a number of non-LDS researchers are coming to recognize aspects of LDS scholarship.

Part two of Mike's book then tackles some of the issues raised by anti-Mormons or critics and includes chapters on the following:

11. Joseph Smith, Abraham, and Modern Egyptology (This is a section on the Book of Abraham that I highly recommend be read)
12. Anachronisms: The Wrong Things at the Wrong Times
13. Book of Mormon Geography
14. Book of Mormon Textual Changes
15. DNA and the Book of Mormon
16. Fulness of the Gospel
17. Joseph's Environment and the Book of Mormon
18. Others in the Book of Mormon
19. Reformed Egyptian and Book of Mormon Languages
20. Who are the "Lamanites"?
21. The Book of Mormon Witnesses
22. Journal of Discourses
23. Kinderhook Plates
24. Plural Marriage
25. The Temple (This is also a good chapter that I highly recommend)
26. The First Vision
27. "Magic", Treasure Digging, and the Young Joseph Smith
28. Part II Summary: Conclusions

There is much that could be said about this wonderful book, but I will let the reader see for him or herself. All in all, it is a fine volume that offers a good introduction to Mormon apologetics and is an excellent resource in helping strengthen one's (as well as one's family and friends) testimony in the face of criticisms and doubt.