The title for this post comes from the (slightly altered) title of a presentation given at a conference at Yale for Latter-day Saint students (doing work in religion). The presenter, a Yale Div School student, argued for moving beyond apologetics, except in certain circumstances. I would like to further examine the circumstances which make apologetics appropriate.
In particular I’ve been reading “An Apology for Apologetics” by Paul Griffths, an Anglican who spent most of his career studying Buddhism. Griffiths positions himself against those who claim that the sole purpose of inter-religious dialogue is understanding, and that value judgments have no part in dialogue. He speaks of the “necessity” of apologetics and lays out his thesis as follows:
“If representative intellectuals belonging to some specific religious community come to judge at a particular time that some or all of their own doctrine-expressing sentences are incompatible with some alien religious claim(s), then they should feel obliged to engage in both positive and negative apologetics vis-a-vas these alien religious claim(s) and their promulgators.” (pp. 3)
One of the comments in response to the paper mentioned above, was that the avoidance of apologetics leaves a vacuum usually filled by bad apologetics. I tend like to think of myself as someone who is not very “apologetic”, but at the same time I do feel “obliged” as Griffiths mentions. Do we, as Mormons, have the responsibility to do apologetics? If so, what is “good” apologetics? Are FARMS and FAIR models of good apologetics? Or can we develop better models?