One report on the conference contained these, somewhat ironic, words:
SANDY — Bluffing is involved in a great many verbal and written attacks on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to an unofficial apologist for the church.
Daniel C. Peterson, sometimes referred to as the “chief apologist for the LDS Church,” made that declaration Friday in the final session of the sixth annual Mormon Apologetics Conference, sponsored by the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, at the South Towne Exposition Center.
“Sometimes you just have to stand up to them,” said Peterson, himself a member of the LDS faith.
Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University and the director and executive editor of BYU’s three-part Middle Eastern Texts Initiative.
I say these words are ironic given the opportunity that has been offered Peterson, repeatedly, to “stand up to them” and be counted right in his own back yard. His language seems to indicate he is willing to “take on” critics of Mormonism. In fact, in this audio, he says just that. In fact, the direct quote, given by Peterson at the end of that clip (which aired on radio: the first voice is Bill McKeever, Peterson replies) was that he would be willing to go “head to head” with “any of those people” (my name specifically had been mentioned) “any day of the week.” First, that sounds like he’s willing to take on critics he doesn’t personally find to be possible future “buddies.” There’s nothing in those words that would lead me to believe he was really saying, “I will only debate milquetoast scholars who wish to exchange notes on comparative religion but don’t really believe anything themselves.” It seems Daniel Peterson, in public, wishes to be seen as a defender of the LDS faith, able to take on “the critics.” Secondly, he’s been given the opportunity, more than once (not just on one day of the week!) to do what he has publicly claimed to be ready to do: and has declined each time. There seems to be a continuing contradiction between the public persona and the reality.