Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Finding Answers to Book of Mormon Questions: An Anecdote on John L. Sorenson

[From Truman G. Madsen Lecture, FARMS Evening of Excellence” Dinner, August 24, 1990, Provo, Utah].

I don’t want to embarrass John Sorenson, who is here tonight, but some years ago, a friend of ours who is in Arizona called and said “I’m bringing a fire-breathing non-Mormon up to campus, having promised him that he can talk to you.” That’s fine. So they came. This man, it turned out, had his own anti-Mormon bookstore. And it was massive, almost like a pornography factory, and as you came in, it was absolutely loaded with anti-Mormon literature. They also had booths where if a Mormon came in, they would take you in and debrief you. I’ve never known a more antagonistic personality, but one of the troubles was that he was also radically misinformed. As Josh Billings said, “It wasn’t his ignorance, it was all the things he knew that weren’t true.” To be very candid, I got no where with him, we just did not communicate, but he had heard some hearsay about one John Sorenson, and after a futile evening, he asked if he could meet him. That was arranged. Now, I’ll condense, but John took the trouble, later, after really a very favorable conversation, to answer a whole list of objections that this man had, not just to the Book of Mormon, but to a whole variety of other things. John took the time to take them, one by one, and on a tape, responded in his careful, objective way. Well, the man will never be a Mormon, I predict, in the foreseeable future: but he closed down his anti-Mormon store, and said of John, “There is one guy I can talk to.” What John did there, in part, is now part of a book, and the book was published by FARMS [An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Deseret Book and FARMS, 1985], and I cannot describe to you how important such things are.

Now, twenty-eight years after the publication of An Ancient American Setting, in September, Deseret Book and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship will publish Mormon's Codex: An Ancient American Book, which represents the culmination of decades of research on the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican record.

The Maxwell Institute Blog has a teaser on this. Mormon's Codex will prove to be a benchmark in Book of Mormon scholarship for many years to come.

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