Carl Mosser and Paul Owen Weigh in on my comments about MacArthur, Millet, and Mormonism
(First posted Thursday, September 08, 2005)
n 1997 Carl Mosser and Paul Owen were graduate students at Talbot School of Theology. In April of that year, they jointly presented a paper at the Far West regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. The paper, titled "Mormon Scholarship, Apologetics, and Evangelical Neglect: Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?" was a harsh critique of evangelical counter-cult ministries and a paean to the supposed superiority of Mormon scholarship.
Mosser and Owen said that when it comes to dealing with Mormon apologetics, evangelical apologists are, on the whole, clueless losers. That wasn't the precise language they used, of course, but it was undeniably the point of the paper. In their own words: "At the academic level evangelicals are losing the debate with the Mormons. We are losing the battle and do not know it. In recent years the sophistication and erudition of LDS apologetics has risen considerably while evangelical responses have not." And, "In this battle the Mormons are fighting valiantly. And the evangelicals? It appears that we may be losing the battle and not knowing it."
If nothing else, the paper was a public-relations bonanza for Mormons. It can still be found on websites offering Mormon missionaries ammunition for use against evangelicals. (One site includes a glossary that explains terms like apologetic and hermeneutics. Evidently, impressive as current Mormon scholarship may be, there are still a few Mormons bicycling around your neighborhood who haven't quite acquired the highbrow theological vocabulary or attained the rarefied level of scholarly erudition embodied in the work of these two Talbot students.)
Anyway, about a year after Mosser and Owen presented their ETS paper, they participated in an e-mail forum on apologetics where I occasionally posted. When the subject of Mormon soteriology came up, sure enough, the Millet-MacArthur meeting (see [Monday's] post) was instantly played like a trump card. What follows are my four contributions to the subsequent discussion.
These are somewhat long but (I think) not tedious, and well worth the time. The discussion was filled with insights on the subjects of cluelessness, scholarship, research, even-handedness, logic, apologetics, and effective evangelism. From these four messages you'll be able to discern the gist of what was being said on all sides. (These are posts from a discussion forum, so this is not private correspondence I am quoting from.)