“DCP” wrote: I think it important to preemptively strengthen faith as well as to fend off attacks, criticisms, or doubts.
Suppose a person has been a friend of yours for several decades. You’ve always known him to be good, honorable, reliable, and kind. The report that you’ve just heard about him simply doesn’t fit with the man you know, doesn’t seem consistent with his character as you’ve observed it over the years. You don’t necessarily pronounce the report a lie, but you’re certainly more inclined to withhold judgment, to give him the benefit of the doubt, to suspend your verdict until you can get his side of the story. It’s going to take quite a bit of solid evidence to persuade you to revise your long-standing opinion of your friend.
Now, I think that this parable, if you will, can be applied to both Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.
If someone runs into an argument against the Book of Mormon, the weight that she is going to give to that argument will depend, to a significant degree, upon her general evaluation of the Book of Mormon. If she’s studied it and found it rich with spiritual treasures, she’ll be more inclined to minimize the argument’s force than if she doesn’t know the Book of Mormon very well and doesn’t value it, let alone if she already holds the book in contempt or derision.
This is also good advice for running a used car lot. If you’re kind, smile, and make an emotional connection with your customer, when they take the junker you just sold to a mechanic, you can easily fall back on the emotional connection you made with them.
“You don’t think I would have sold you a clunker, do you?”
“I have had my mechanics look at it and they say it’s fine.”
“You don’t have enough knowledge or training to know if your car is broken or not. Read this pamphlet my guys came up with to assuage your fears. Stop listening to all those other mechanics that I am not paying.”
“I have 8 witnesses, all my family, who have testified that your car is perfectly fine.”
“Remember how happy you were when you drove it off the car lot?”