1. The claims in Brickmore’s Book “Restoring the Ancient Church” deserve to be thoroughly refuted.

    Here is a link to his book.

    Here is a link to the writings of the early church.

    All Brickmore does is look at the entire first and second century period (the followers of the disciples, pagans, gnostics, Jewish gnosticism, Greek philosophy, everything) and looks for anything that can be construed as being anywhere close to LDS teachings.

    What he should do is start with page 1 of the ANTE-NICENE FATHERS and let them explain for themselves what they do and do not believe is the core of the Christian faith and compare that with Mormonism.

  2. Not really the point of Mormon study of primitive Christianity Christopher.

    Usually, the only point of such Mormon studies is to show that Mormon-style beliefs were not unheard of in that time period. That’s about it.

    The pre-Nicene fathers can go hang as far as I’m concerned.

  3. Christopher, I encourage you to read Carl Mosser and Paul Owen’s Fall 1998 article in Trinity Journal. They offer an extremely helpful overview and critique of Latter-day Saint patristic studies. They explain:

    Special attention has been given to the writings of the Patristic Fathers in an effort to demonstrate similarities with Mormon belief and practice. These similarities are not intended to show that the early Christians were proto-Mormons. Rather, they are intended to show that remnants of true pre-Hellenized belief remained for a time after the apostasy. In this regard Mormon academicians (along with many non-LDS scholars) have taken keen interest in the “parting of the ways” between Judaism and Christianity.

    I think Owen and Mosser would greatly welcome a response to Latter-day Saint Patristic studies, one which may be long overdue. In fact, it would be useful if perhaps various Evangelicals with expertise in Patristics would collaborate and produce scholarly reaction to LDS scholarship.

    Lastly, I greatly appreciate the writings of the ante-Nicene fathers. I appreciate and respect the struggles and challenges that many of them faced. It was definitely not an easy time to be a Christian and many of these Christians gave their lives rather than recant their beliefs. We owe them much.

  4. The problem is that I’m not sure what this approach to patristic studies accomplishes when even Barry Bickmore recognizes many core LDS beliefs and practices are not found at all in the first and second century. Bickmore attributes, without any supporting evidence, any LDS beliefs and practices that can’t be found to esoteric practices of the early church. That is poor scholarship and a form of circular reasoning.

    “Usually, the only point of such Mormon studies is to show that Mormon-style beliefs were not unheard of in that time period. That’s about it.”

    Bickmore did not even accomplish this. Also, if this is the point of these studies, why the title “Restoring the Ancient Church”?

    Personally, after reading the book, I don’t believe that Bickmore (or many LDS scholars) believes his own title. I think both of you would agree that this was not a very well written book.

    I do know several Evangelical scholars that would be qualified to respond to LDS studies on this issue. Unfortunately they are dealing with other issues in relation to patristic studies. Here is an example of one of those studies.

  5. Christopher, that is a valid concern. Clearly not all books give the same kind of treatment of a topic. Owen and Mosser’s survey didn’t spend time on popular usage of the Fathers, but rather point Evangelicals to the stronger apologetic works in the LDS treatment of church history such as Hugh Nibley’s 1954 radio address “Time Vindicates the Prophets.” They explain, “Nibley’s most important works in this area are: The World and the Prophets (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, vol. 3; Salt Lake City: Deseret and FARMS, 1987) and Mormonism and Early Christianity (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, vol. 4; Salt Lake City: Deseret and FARMS, 1987).” The latter work, Mormonism and Early Christianity is particularly important. It contains Nibley’s critical essay “The Passing of the Church: Forty Variations on an Unpopular Theme” which was first published in the academic journal Church History in 1961. Evangelical scholars would better utilize their time familiarizing themselves with these works.

    As a side note, Latter-day Saint scholars are re-thinking their understanding of early church history. In 2005, FARMS published “Early Christians in Disarray” which grew out of conference on early Christian texts. It isn’t a systematic treatment of the apostasy written for a non-LDS audience. Rather, it is more discursive in nature, a collection of exploratory and self-critical essays, including a historical overview of LDS studies on the apostasy.

  6. “I think both of you would agree that this was not a very well written book.”

    Maybe so. I haven’t read the book, so I couldn’t say. I don’t automatically endorse all books with Mormon authorship. After all, we’ve certainly produced our share of stinkers.

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