In October of 2000 I received an email from Arthur Vanick, one of the authors of the Spalding Enigma. He requested that I review his online material to see if it might change my mind about the criticisms I have leveled against anti-Mormons on my LDS Apologetics web site.
Once I finally was able to locate the web address for Art's material (click here for an explanation), I quickly did a superficial critique, which I then posted to the net and later notified Art where it could be viewed. He sent me a rebuttal, which I likewise posted along with my counterpoint. The exchange is available at: http://www.aros.net/~wenglund/vanick.htm --though I would advise against reading it for reasons that will be explained below.
Not long thereafter, Dale Broadhurst, who has conducted extensive research on the Spalding theory (see his web site at: http://www.solomonspalding.com/), and who Art had suggested shared many of the same views with him about the theory, sent me his perception of the exchange between Art and myself.
While I was not in agreement with all of Dale's comments and scoring (he scored the entire exchange as even, zero to zero), he did convince me that my critique had been nit-picky and petty (my words, not his).
After some introspection, I decided to make a more thorough and substantive examination, not only of Art's book, but also of the history of the Spalding theory itself. I did so in hopes of eventually putting an end, one way or another, to this 150-year-old debate. I won't be holding my breath.
However, although Art had requested that I review his book, he later refused to provide me with a complementary copy of it, but suggested, instead, that I traverse the thousands of miles (round trip) from my current home in Seattle, to Provo, Utah and borrow a copy from the people at FARMS. Obviously, this was impractical. And, given that my funds have been limited as a VISTA Volunteer, I have as yet been unable to obtain a copy of the book. The reader will understand that this has naturally put a major crimp in my conducting a thorough and substantive critique thereof.
But, in December of 2000, Art did email me an electronic file of the eleventh chapter of his book. This at least gave me some material to review. The ongoing results of my examination of that chapter are posted under the title, "Rigdon Didn't Visit Smith Prior to 1830?" Perhaps as time goes on, I will eventually obtain other chapters electronically from Art as well. One can at least hope.
My reasons for setting forth this brief background is not to possibly embarrass anyone, but so that the reader will understand why I have begun my critique at the point that I have, and why I took-up my critique of the book towards its end, rather than at its start, as may be expected.
I had thought it wise to include, at first, all parties (Art and his coauthors, Dale Broadhurst, and myself) in an investigative dialogue, so as to fairly consider each point of view, and to place my critique upon as objective a footing as possible. This I did by posing certain critical questions regarding the evidence presented in Chapter Eleven of the Spalding Enigma.
Unfortunately, rather than seizing the opportunity to clarify, correct, and respond to my questions, the co-authors persistently, and surprisingly, resisted, and with the exception of the Tucker statement (please see: Answers), they refused, all together, to provide answers to my questions until after I have addressed, to their satisfaction, a number of question that were completely unrelated to the issue at hand. Dale Broadhurst, on the other hand, was completely forthcoming with his insights.
I also invited the authors to formulate a coherent and detailed statement of their theory (which was lacking from what I have seen of their book) so that I would not have to second guess their thinking, or chance putting words in their mouths. This request was initially denied, but after several appeals and arguments raised by me, and intercession by Dale Broadhurst, the authors finally acquiesced. I will post the result if, or when, they send it to me.
Finally, while I was initially limited to reviewing Chapter 11 of the Spalding Enigma, there has been a variety of resources made available to me on the subject, which has afforded me the opportunity to explore the history of the theory so as to determine what ground has already been covered and settled, and also to see how, and possibly why, the theory has evolved and continually resurfaced. I am in the process of taking up an examination of the history in the chapters to follow as time permits.
Links listed at the Mormon Studies web site:
Pro-Spalding web sites:
Con-Spalding web sites (LDS):
Con-Spalding web sites (non-LDS):
Last updated 1/29/01