In 1987 I published the theory of the Book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source. I wrote the article as a bit of apologetics to show that assumptions made by both believers and critics lead to unwarranted conclusions.
The number of missionaries is down about 15,000 from its peak. The number of convert baptisms is down about 20% per missionary. Retention rates are also down. There are numbers of young men who would be willing to serve missions who are not allowed to because of sins that would not have barred them from missionary service previously. Is there a link here?
I interact with evangelicals regarding LDS beliefs. Our way of approaching issues of “doctrine” drives them crazy because they feel like they are shooting at a moving target. It seems to me that they are shooting at no target at all. We approach the way of being in relation to God so differently that we are not really even talking to each other about doctrine. Let me explain.
It seems to me that LDS are good at a lot of things. We are good at creating community. We are pretty good at supporting the family structure. We’re good at producing world-class choirs. However, we’re not so good at creating a place that is safe to discuss and work through doubts about the gospel.
Sister Mendel is a Saint for sure. This fact must be grasped or nothing else I say makes sense. She came from Germany to the United States shortly after WW II with her newly converted husband. She has the remarkable ability to reveal to everyone that they are loved. She is a saint already celestial in character. Of this simple truth there is little doubt. Yet Sister Mendel couldn’t formulate a coherent doctrine on any issue if her life depended on it. She admits that she doesn’t understand doctrine very well and she even admits that she is just not bright regarding that kind of thing.