Here's one particularly eloquent voice of reason from the other board:
David T wrote:
I think the way some of this has been handled was unfortunate. I do sincerely wish Dan Peterson the best in his life, and in his pursuits.
However, I see Bradford's desires and intents for the MI, as I've seen them expressed, to be a good ones. The inherent problem with much of the MI/FARMS apologetics is that generally a particular view, or interpretation, or ideology is what is being defended, not simply THE CHURCH, or even its core doctrines and principles. This does lead to alienation of those who do have a desire to see the Church defended, but not differing interprative wings thereof.
I think the absolute best thing being done and the example to set is the work being done by the Church Historian's Press - amazing, groundbreaking documentary editing and textual/contextual notes without being defensive, or trying to justify anything. This is how things are, let the cards be laid out.
The same problem with FARM/MI apologetics was very much the same as was presented in CES course materials - one very specific way of understanding Mormonism and its scriptures was being promulgated and defended, while other very valid and allowable-by-the-current-revelations-and-leadership views we, by omission, marginalized.
I've been a subscriber to MI publications, and have let my subscription to most of them lapse, mainly because of frustration with declarations as fact elements that are not necessary aspects of Mormonism guiding and permeating several of the papers, and their conclusions. (The second issue of Studies of the Bible and Antiquity greatly turned me off of this publication for these very reasons, which I was otherwise quite excited to see begin.)
I think by the way the Church has been handling its newest curriculum (such as the latest Gospel Principles revision), we are seeing an attempt to weed out former speculative assumptions and expositions that had become dogmatic. There's a lot of weeds.
What's fascinating is that the latest Gospel Principles did not narrow the breadth of official interpretive possibilities, but rather quite fascinatingly and subtly widened it.
I feel a continued emphases for the MI on pumping out documents, history, and critiquing history on a scholastic (not dogmatic) level will do far more for the Church in the long run. This way, they will presenting what we know, not just theories and defenses that will need to be disavowed or stepped away from when further information comes to light.
The openness of the Church will be far more faith promoting and confidence-building than constant attempts at damage control of things that, it turns out, don't often really need to, or should be, defended.
The Joseph Smith Papers and the current Church History Department is doing it right. It would be great to see the MI publications continue in the future to follow in this example.
Spot on, David T.
Translation: Mormon apologetics will now rely entirely on, "That's not official doctrine!!!"