1. From J. N. Washburn (sent to me by my friend Neal Rappleye):
I have no fears for the future of the Book of Mormon. While I may agree with those who say, “If it is man-made, the sooner we find it out the better,” I am convinced that it will stand up under all the tests of scholarship. I am not fearful of investigation at any point nor from any source. There may be surprises in store for us, as for others. We shall unquestionably have to change some interpretations and adjust to new developments, as men have had to do in the case of the Bible, but the Book of Mormon will survive these adjustments, even if some of its devotees may not. It is my earnest, soul-filling, time-tested testimony that it is the work of God.
(J. N. Washburn, The Contents, Structure, and Authorship of the Book of Mormon [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954], xv.)
I could not articulate my own thoughts any better. I have had to adjust my understanding of the Book of Mormon (sometimes dramatically) over the years, and I still have plenty of questions relating to its historicity and teachings, but that has not negatively impacted my confidence in the authenticity and divinity of the Nephite record.
2. Speaking of the state of German literary criticism before the advent of the highly influential Enlightenment thinker Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, the literary critic Samuel P. Capen scathingly commented, “German scholarship [of the 18th century] was a horrible scarecrow of desiccated, meaningless pedantry.”
(Samuel P. Capen, Lessing’s Nathan der Weise [Boston: Ginn and Company, 1914], xii.)
I cannot think of a single greater descriptor of a lot of the anti-Mormon material I’ve read over the years. The material on MormonThink, as well as Jeremy Runnells’ noxious Letter to a CES Director, particularly qualifies.
Then there is this from Capen:
[W]e are accustomed to think of the critic as a destructive agent, or at best as a kind of parasite. The things which he criticizes must exist first, and off these he feeds. Yet the great critic is not a mere parasite, and his work is most certainly not destructive. The great critic is not only a judge but a teacher. He not only estimates what has been done but he shows how it might be improved, and the measure of his greatness lies in the truth and forcefulness of his recommendations, and in their effect upon intellectual and artistic production.
When I read this definition of a “great critic,” in the positive and intellectual sense of the word, I think of all the great thinkers in Mormonism, such as Bushman, or Givens, or Nibley, or Madsen, or Ostler, or England, or Roberts, etc. And that greatly encourages me to continue my studies!