"The Lord needs men and women who know how to get answers. Men and women who aren’t easily deceived and whose testimonies aren’t shaken by someone with carefully crafted talking points. Men and women whose faith isn’t threatened when they don’t have all the answers and can’t always effectively respond to alternate points of view. Men and women who have had witness after witness that Jesus is the Christ and that His gospel has been restored—so that when circumstances confuse or discourage them, they turn toward the Savior rather than away from Him. And men and women who are secure enough in their own testimonies that they can help others who are struggling to find their way. He needs men and women who are willing to engage in the wrestle." —Sheri Dew, Worth the Wrestle
Two years ago, while at work, I noticed several of my co-workers engrossed in a discussion. I gathered that they were talking about a book or document of some sort, and as the day passed I became intrigued by what had so captivated their minds.
I finally asked one of my coworkers what they were all so fascinated by. He looked at me a bit awkwardly and said, “I don’t know if we should tell you,” suggesting that the reason had to do with me being a devout Latter-day Saint.
Of course, that only made me more interested to find out what they had all been talking about. I pressed him on the subject and he divulged the name of a 90-page document discussing one man’s reasons for rejecting the LDS Church. I had heard of the document before (it’s one of the more popular pieces of anti-Mormon literature produced in recent years), but never thought to read it.
This time I decided I would.
I found the document on-line and began reading. I didn’t expect to do more than skim over it, but ended up reading the document rather closely.
As someone who has studied argumentation and rhetoric, I was immediately struck by the subtle tools of deception used by the author. Whether the author was purposely relying on misleading presentation techniques, I do not know. But I do know that the most emotionally impactful parts of the document were based on deeply flawed logic and zero substance.
However, I did learn things about Church history that surprised me. Obviously it was impossible to have all the context, but some of what was true was enough to leave me feeling pretty unsettled.
I was suddenly plunged into confusion. Many of the claims made by anti-Mormons were based in half-truths, presentation tricks, and outright lies, and yet some of what was true seemed to have no good or plausible explanation and simultaneously could not simply be brushed aside as unimportant details.
In the midst of this confusion, Brittney and I prayed and considered the implications. For the first time in many years, we asked with uncertainty: was Joseph Smith really a prophet? Is this really Christ’s Church?