I would like a listing of Steven E. Robinson's books so I might buy them. This one sounds interesting.


At 09:45 PM 11/07/2002 +0000, you wrote:

This discussion by Stephen Robinson applies with equal validity to
questions about the historical accuracy of the Bible...

Naturalistic explanations are often useful in evaluating empirical data,
but when the question asked involves non-empirical categories, such as
"Is the Book of Mormon what it purports to be?", it begs the question to
adopt a method whose first assumption is that the Book cannot be what it
claims to be. This points out a crucial logical difficulty in using this
method in either attacking or defending the Church. When those with a
naturalistic bias apply their "scholarship" to LDS literature and
history, we usually assume that it is to test the prophetic claims of
the Church. In fact there is never a test at all. There cannot be, for
the naturalistically based assumptions of the method have determined
before we even begin that divine claims cannot be accepted, and the
critical scholar will already be looking for naturalistic explanations
for his data. Or in the words of W. Wink:

In this case the carrying over of methods from the natural sciences has
led to a situation where we no longer ask what we would like to know . .
. Rather, we attempt to deal only with those complexes of facts which
are amenable to historical method. We ask only those questions which the
method can answer (9).

It seems to me that few LDS scholars really understand this. While they
think they are engaged in "pure" scholarship, many are really
methodological half-breeds, using the naturalistic method when it suits
them and drawing upon their theology when it suits them, without ever
stating where and how they draw the line. Opponents and proponents alike
can use the fruits of empirical research in a selective way to defend
the faith, but the authority of the historical-critical method is lost
in so doing, and the final product lacks any real force, being merely
opinion (mingled with scripture). Pure critical scholarship on the other
hand is agnostic by definition, and its rules are by design stacked
against theistic conclusions. It would be incredibly naive to believe
that biblical criticism brings us closer to the Christ of faith. After
200 years of refining its methods, biblical scholarship has despaired of
knowing the real Jesus, except for a few crumbs, and has declared the
Christ pictured in scripture to be a creation of the early Church (see
the excellent summary in Perrin 207-48).

The Expanded Book of Mormon, Stephen Robinson essay; in Monte S. Nyman
and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Second Nephi: The Doctrinal Structure
[Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1989], 395.)

Mij Ebaboc

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