Bill Hamblin: No Apologetics at BYU

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_Kishkumen
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Bill Hamblin: No Apologetics at BYU

Post by _Kishkumen »

In response to David Bokovoy's excellent observations regarding the motivations for some to desire a reversal in the changes at the Maxwell Institute, Bill Hamblin, in an otherwise forgettable post composed almost entirely of links to past installments on his blog, makes one very important concession:

Bill Hamblin wrote:I actually agree that BYU should not be publishing apologetics; and if the it didn’t want to publish apologetics, BYU should never have forced FARMS to join the university.


http://www.patheos.com/blogs/enigmaticmirror/2014/12/30/2326/#ixzz3NUQxSkjD

Of course, it was President Hinckley who "invited" FARMS to join BYU. So, BYU did not force FARMS to join the BYU community. Had the president of the LDS Church never forced the issue, FARMS likely would not have joined.

This poses a rather big theological problem for the classic-FARMS apologists. Think about it: A system in which everything is geared to be guided by revelation from the LDS prophet, a board that is made up of GAs, and administrators who hold the Melchizedek priesthood decided to bring FARMS into BYU and then ultimately end it. Either this was a horrible tragedy, in that all of these inspired people inadvertently contributed to the demise of FARMS, or, as seems more likely, the system did exactly what it was supposed to do in ending FARMS.

Knowing all of that, Hamblin might well reflect on why it is he--a man who never thought apologetics belonged on BYU campus (and boy was he right about that)--is supporting Daniel Peterson in his quest to return attack-dog apologetics to their old home at the Maxwell Institute. Perhaps to prevent the Institute from using the donations of guys like Yahoo Bot on perceived liberal or secular scholarship? Yahoo Bot, you will recall, thinks BYU is within its rights not to allow apologetics to be published on campus.

So, at the center of all of this agreement that BYU should not publish apologetics, Daniel Peterson seems to be the only former BYU FARMSian who is publicly pushing to restore attack-dog apologetics to BYU. Even recently, he and BYU's Professor Jack Welch were musing about how they proposed the continuation of the very attack-dog-apologetic Review along side whatever it was the others wanted to do. Welch, as usual, has made no public statement about any of this (something I point out not to question Peterson's honesty but partly to emphasize the lonely nature of Peterson's public quest to save the FARMS' apologetic legacy). Most everyone else who actually still works at BYU is uninterested in having attack-dog apologetics at BYU. Heck, Blair Hodges at the Maxwell Institute seems more interested in keeping some form of apologetics at BYU than Bill Hamblin is.

Since it appears that, of BYU's active faculty, only Daniel Peterson is willing to go to the mattresses to save attack-dog apologetics on BYU campus, perhaps the rest of us can amicably agree that their absence from BYU is a good thing and move on to the real issues.

Part of the problem is that everyone has her or his own issues. One thing that is beyond dispute, in my opinion, is that the Maxwell Institute represented big resources. This was true before FARMS joined BYU, and it is probably one of the chief reasons FARMS was "invited" to join BYU. LDS donors with deep pockets were willing to write checks to Daniel Peterson in order to have him engage in attack-dog apologetics. To a more limited extent, perhaps, (I don't know) they still are. But as bad as the situation was, it was probably beneficial in terms of resources for attack-dog apologetics to bear the BYU brand. Many BYU folk may not have liked that, but it was the case.

No doubt Hamblin and others were upset to see the institution they fostered publish an article mentioning queer Mormon Studies, thanks in no small part to the donations of people who hate the very idea of queer studies. So, now we have this ideological war in motion, and Ralph Hancock is leading the charge with his protege Hedelius. If there is one thing the Maxwell Institute should not do, in the view of these folks, it is to incorporate liberal academic approaches into an institute of religion at BYU. Hamblin may not want apologetics at BYU, and Hancock hasn't even read much of what the old Review published in the first place, but by golly these damned liberals are not going to gain a foothold in the study of Mormonism on BYU campus on their watch!

And Daniel Peterson is no doubt an ally in preventing the same, regardless of the fact that what he really wants is the return of attack-dog apologetics on BYU campus.

Meanwhile, the new MI folk are happy to have an opportunity to breathe freely in an atmosphere where attack-dog apologetics and witch hunts are no longer the order of the day. They are happy to interface with the broader academic community in the study of Mormonism. It should be recalled that the academic study of most religious traditions has been spearheaded and nurtured by people within the respective communities. Mormon Studies on BYU campus and elsewhere will gain ground as an academic topic because of this kind of support.

Is there something "liberal" about it? Probably at least in part. I doubt that everyone who engages in scholarship of this vein is politically liberal, but no doubt the new face of Maxwell Institute is welcome to more than a couple of liberals inside and outside the Institute. However, I don't see this as the real issue.

The big question lurking behind all of this is what role a private religious institution should play in the representation of its faith to the broader LDS community and the world. Folks like Daniel Peterson see the Maxwell Institute, as a part of BYU, playing an active role in educating the community by tangling with the Church's enemies, as defined by Daniel Peterson and his friends, and intellectually/spiritually enriching that community through study of Mormon scriptures in their purported ancient context. The philosophy at the new MI is one of dropping the polemics in favor of seeking academic credibility primarily through the study of Mormonism within the historical horizon of the 19-21rst century LDS Church and its literature, and through antiquity (though perhaps to a lesser extent than in the past).

I don't see this argument ending anytime soon. My cause was opposition to the practice of religious polemics on BYU campus and with the official support of BYU. I am satisfied regarding the outcome. And, I take no small amount of comfort in the fact that people with whom I vehemently disagree on most issues agree that attack-dog apologetics should not be published under the aegis of BYU. My continuing interest is to see that there is no reversion to the old Review. I undertake this as a BYU alumnus who continues to care about his alma mater, and as a member of the LDS community.

Being an optimist, I suspect that BYU incorporated FARMS to tame it or kill it. One might describe what happened either way, but it did happen. Still, I see FARMS as having a partly positive legacy. The emphasis on antiquity at old FARMS inspired a lot of young people such as me to pursue careers in the study and teaching of antiquity. What I and many, many other people did not like was the polemical treatment of authors and personalities who did not hew to the party line of certain Mormons and a couple of LDS authorities (I do not contend that FARMS acted according to their bidding). I am happy that those days are past. Had pieces like Peterson's article on Nephi and his Asherah, been the sole legacy of FARMS, we would not, I submit, be having this discussion now. And that is why David Bokovoy's recent post is, regardless of Hamblin's unfocused objection, right on point.
Last edited by Guest on Wed Dec 31, 2014 6:04 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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_Zadok
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Re: Bill Hamblin: No Apologetics at BYU

Post by _Zadok »

Kumen, (My brother-in-law's given name by the way), I am amazed at your thorough and thought provoking analysis of David Bokovoy's post and Bill Hamblin's response.

As I read your analysis, I wondered if perhaps the motivation for moving FARMS under the auspices of BYU was so the money handlers at BYU could get control, and thereby increase, the donations and funding for the apologetic process?

I have spent a great deal of my life in the financial areas of society, and my cynical and jaded view is that the most accurate phrase in the entire Temple endowment is... "You can buy anything in this world for money!" Rarely have I ever seen someone do anything without a hidden agenda, or ulterior motive driven by money!

If the FARMS apologists were able to garner donations and raise money on their own, I can easily understand why President Hinckley would want better control over them.
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_Tator
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Re: Bill Hamblin: No Apologetics at BYU

Post by _Tator »

Great post that is spot on!

Of course, it was President Hinckley who "invited" FARMS to join BYU. So, BYU did not force FARMS to join the BYU community. Had the president of the LDS Church never forced the issue, FARMS likely would not have joined.

This poses a rather big theological problem for the classic-FARMS apologists. Think about it: A system in which everything is geared to be guided by revelation from the LDS prophet, a board that is made up of GAs, and administrators who hold the Melchizedek priesthood decided to bring FARMS into BYU and then ultimately end it. Either this was a horrible tragedy, in that all of these inspired people contributed to the demise of FARMS, or, as seems more likely, the system did exactly what it was supposed to do in ending FARMS.


So much for the 15 chosen ones having the gift of discernment. It is all another example of a typical corporation with a chairman and a board.

Part of the problem is that everyone has her or his own issues. One thing that is beyond dispute, in my opinion, is that the Maxwell Institute represented big resources. This was true before FARMS joined BYU, and it is probably one of the chief reasons FARMS was "invited" to join BYU. LDS donors with deep pockets were willing to write checks to Daniel Peterson in order to have him engage in attack-dog apologetics. To a more limited extent, perhaps, (I don't know) they still are. But as bad as the situation was, it was probably beneficial in terms of resources for attack-dog apologetics to bear the BYU brand. Many BYU folk may not have liked that, but it was the case.


Yep, and it is all about money and power.......that is what corporations are about.

Kish, thanx for keeping us posted.
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_Tator
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Re: Bill Hamblin: No Apologetics at BYU

Post by _Tator »

Zadok wrote:Kumen, (My brother-in-law's given name by the way), I am amazed at your thorough and thought provoking analysis of David Bokovoy's post and Bill Hamblin's response.

As I read your analysis, I wondered if perhaps the motivation for moving FARMS under the auspices of BYU was so the money handlers at BYU could get control, and thereby increase, the donations and funding for the apologetic process?

I have spent a great deal of my life in the financial areas of society, and my cynical and jaded view is that the most accurate phrase in the entire Temple endowment is... "You can buy anything in this world for money!" Rarely have I ever seen someone do anything without a hidden agenda, or ulterior motive driven by money!

If the FARMS apologists were able to garner donations and raise money on their own, I can easily understand why President Hinckley would want better control over them.


Great post, I think were thinking on the same wavelength. Imagine that, my starch and your pea brain basically thinking the same things. :lol:
aka Pokatator joined Oct 26, 2006 and permanently banned from MAD Nov 6, 2006
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_Zadok
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Re: Bill Hamblin: No Apologetics at BYU

Post by _Zadok »

Tator wrote:Great post, I think were thinking on the same wavelength. Imagine that, my starch and your pea brain basically thinking the same things. :lol:
Thanks... All sucking up is greatly appreciated~!
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_Kishkumen
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Re: Bill Hamblin: No Apologetics at BYU

Post by _Kishkumen »

Zadok wrote:As I read your analysis, I wondered if perhaps the motivation for moving FARMS under the auspices of BYU was so the money handlers at BYU could get control, and thereby increase, the donations and funding for the apologetic process?

If the FARMS apologists were able to garner donations and raise money on their own, I can easily understand why President Hinckley would want better control over them.


I don't know, Zadok, to be honest. Would I find a speculation regarding financial motivations plausible? Potentially. When the Provo Daily Herald published a big, front-page picture of the planned FARMS Ziggurat, which would have been right next to BYU campus, I bet the administration at BYU felt a wave of nausea. The message that sent regarding the money FARMS felt it could command was revealing. The idea that this would be operating at the side door of campus was probably intolerable.

Following the finances is always a good idea. I don't know the actual causes. But, "follow the money," yes! What all was done with the big donations given to FARMS? Would our idea or a university's idea of fiscal responsibility and priorities have been FARMS' standard? I don't know, but it might not have been. If an LDS millionaire wanted a FARMS researcher to be able to buy a house or get a new car, would FARMS have rejected the offer? I have no idea. It is fun to speculate, of course. Unfortunately, I do not know. Just as I do not know exactly what motivated President Hinckley to invite FARMS to join BYU. All we have are his words. But I don't think anyone should be so naive as to believe that Hinckley felt obliged to reveal all of his actual reasons to everyone.

Zadok wrote:I have spent a great deal of my life in the financial areas of society, and my cynical and jaded view is that the most accurate phrase in the entire Temple endowment is... "You can buy anything in this world for money!" Rarely have I ever seen someone do anything without a hidden agenda, or ulterior motive driven by money!


Yes, it is a shame. I was always a "sufficient for our needs" kind of guy. I understand your cynicism in this regard.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist
_Gadianton
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Re: Bill Hamblin: No Apologetics at BYU

Post by _Gadianton »

Thanks for continuing the scholarly analysis of the MI Reverend along with your deeply spiritual insights.

I half thought it was odd that BH would say apologetics didn't have a place at the MI, but he might be sincere. There was, after all, often an attitude of intellectual snobbery among the apologists that they were engaged in highbrow academic work above the heads of the critics and not of interest to the vulgar membership. I was kind of blown away when all of a sudden the old MI was promoted as "the peoples" MI. As I mentioned earlier, there was a grain of apologetics in the Review and there certainly was "attack dog" apologetics, but not in the earliest publication(s), and it's not fair to say that's primarily what the Review did. Certainly, I do not believe the apologetic pieces were necessarily aimed at the vulgar membership to help them, even if those pieces were relevant to the vulgar membership. As you mentioned, that kind of work likely resonated very well with big donors. It seemed to me, the prominence of the place of articles that are rightly apologetic in the spirit of FAIR grew over time.

I'm also not certain Bokovoy's opinion is the only relevant opinion here to the motives of the new MI. Certainly, everyone save a few see a PR problem with BYU and the Church officially endorsing 100-page+ long attacks on the personal credibility of any individual. But there have been exchanges I've seen where it seemed like treating Book of Mormon geography as a real scientific discipline is also a problem. But that's unclear because the focus of the discussion gets lost quickly.

My professional advice as one of the foremost experts on Mopologetics in the entire world is that the apologists quit talking about "apologetics" whether negative or positive, because that's the least likely battle to win. Focus on the place for Book of Mormon archeology within the new MI. Engage the new MI on this publically, and try to avoid derailing the conversation over personal vendetta. Get the new MI on record either a) agree that Book of Mormon Geography is a worthy discipline, and now let's what we can do about getting some papers on it or b) get clear statements as to why it's not, and try to do so without the venom that could make these statements look set up or out of context. Focus on the weakness of Mormon Studies in a careful way, rather than flaunting the weaknesses of classic Mopologetics on a near daily basis, because that's going to stick out in peoples' minds as a much bigger problem.
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Re: Bill Hamblin: No Apologetics at BYU

Post by _Doctor Scratch »

The crucial line in Hamblin's post is this one:

The fact that the new regime may object to what they feel are overly harsh apologetic articles barely registers as an issue.


Of course it "barely registers"--that's why you and the rest of the classic-FARMS crew were tossed out. Bokovoy was quite right to highlight that as the main problem with the "Old Guard."
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Re: Bill Hamblin: No Apologetics at BYU

Post by _Fence Sitter »

As long as BYU has a Religious Indoctrination Education department, apologetics will be alive and well at BYU.
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Re: Bill Hamblin: No Apologetics at BYU

Post by _Markk »

Doctor Scratch wrote:The crucial line in Hamblin's post is this one:

The fact that the new regime may object to what they feel are overly harsh apologetic articles barely registers as an issue.


Of course it "barely registers"--that's why you and the rest of the classic-FARMS crew were tossed out. Bokovoy was quite right to highlight that as the main problem with the "Old Guard."



Help me out here doc,

Maybe I should start a new thread on this question ...but

In reading the threads lately on Mopology, and where the focus is...it is clear to me that there is no longer a audience for Mopolgy outside of Mormon Discussions, and between themselves. There is no longer a evangelical vs. Mormonism debate...chapel Mormons do not read their work...so where is the future of Mopology whether passive or aggressive, and who do they think they are talking to?

Is the divide necessary so Mopology has someone to talk to?

I hope this makes sense or maybe I am just smoking crack.
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