What's New in Mormon History : A Response to Jan Shipps
Journal of American History
Bushman agrees with Jan Shipps placement of his book, "Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling," as part of the new Mormon history, but also states that some may also see his book as part of Mormon apologetics. Apologetics also write about the beginnings of Mormonism, but their focus is to provide defense of the faith against the attacks of non-believers. Mormon history and Mormon apologetics to some should "be closely linked" since both focus on the history of the Church, particularly Joseph Smith. However, this has not always been the case. New Mormon historians felt they were "on a peace mission, expressing a desire for intellectual commerce" with the nation, while Mormon apologists "still feel like they are living in a hostile world." The two groups occasionally argue with each other as apologists think historians should actively defend the faith and historians believe apologists alienate readers with their "unwillingness to yield points." Bushman feels that Mormon historians, himself included, should not have to distance themselves from their faith, and that they will "write better if we are less defensive, more open to criticism, more exploratory and venturous" but still with their "Mormonism intact." In fact, "historical knowledge will be best served if Mormon historians tell the story in their own way, writing from the perspective of their faith."