The following was pulled off of Eric's ex-Mormon mailing list in response to a fringe Mormon who was struggling with the responses he was getting from people who were trying to convince him that the Mormon Church was still "true".
I've got lots of thoughts. There are lots of problems with Mormonism, and in response Mormons have developed a number of responses to "explain" them. This has become quite an art form. After lots of conversations with Mormons, I've decided it would be easier to just number them. It would save lots of time in these discussions. Here are some of them.1. God is smarter than you. (Variations: "Man's ways are not God's ways." "If you could understand everything, there wouldn't be any need for faith." "We aren't supposed to inquire into the 'mysteries.'" "There is an explanation that will be revealed to us in good time.") 2. We never said our leaders were perfect. (Used to explain all weird statements made by church leaders. Variation: only the four standard works are really doctrine, the rest don't count). 3. God can change his mind any time he wants to. (Continuing revelation is used to undo past mistakes). 4. I can explain that.....(insert theoretically possible but wildly improbable factual explanation here) (Once you know the truth, any theoretically possible explanation can become the explanation, and you can always come up with something).
5. PERSECUTION!!!!! (All of this evidence to the contrary just shows the lengths to which Satan will go to persecute the true church) (A wonderfully ironic argument -- the stronger the evidence against the church, the truer the church actually becomes)6. Maybe it's just you.......(The church is true, so if you don't believe it, it must be because you are harboring some secret sin, like adultery or masturbation or coveting your neighbor's satellite dish. Maybe someone offended you. Just fast alot, rededicate your life to the church, and you'll fall back in line.)
7. I know it's true, and I can use Jesus's name in saying so. (What can you say to mindless repetition of one's testimony over and over and over?)I'm sure I missed one or two, but you get the basic drift. As an exercise, try and catalog the responses to your questions, or invent your own categories. I believe that these responses are powerful enough to allow the true believers to deflect any argument or criticism of the church that you make. Of course, they would also be powerful enough to rationalize the first church of Larry, should I be inclined to become a prophet. Because the rationalizations are so powerful, they can "prove" anything to be true, and so prove nothing. Feel free to beat your head against the wall by asking questions of the true believers. If you want to believe, the above techniques will be sufficient to keep your faith intact. If you don't want to believe, hearing the same stock answers over and over will probably reinforce your disbelief. The only important question is what do you believe. Don't expect to persuade anyone other than yourself. In my experience, all discussions with true believers on the subject of the truth of Mormonism eventually end up with a one-two punch of numbers 6 and 7, which can then devolve to actual punching.