Sunday, August 19, 2012

Franklin Spencer Spalding: "Stupid forms of argument"

I am currently providing editing commentary for a doctoral dissertation by Charles Randall Paul of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy to be submitted for consideration as an academic volume on 19th century missionary conflicts in Utah. This book provides lessons for contemporary religious disputations which advocates peaceful contestation in religion. One of the chapters is on Franklin Spencer Spalding, an Episcopalian minister and missionary to Mormons. He differed from others during his time in the state and wrote the following:

"The theologian is a kind of philosopher who cannot avoid a sense of duty to proselytize. Yea, surely it is clear that sarcasm and ridicule are not only discourteous but stupid forms of argument. . . .  the universal flood of derision which has been poured out upon Mormonism has only made Mormons more loyal." 

These are important historical words for reflection and my hope is that other elements like this, as well as the entire volume, provides food for thought by evangelicals and Mormons alike.

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