Those who are involved in LDS apologetics know what I refer to when I mention the “shotgun” attack. It is a tactic employed by critics in which they will tick off a number of issues, sometimes related to each other and sometimes not, all the while providing no context for the unwitting reader. It is often a series of silly or outright false claims which, individually, would be simple enough to dispel but taken together would require an immense amount of work to address all at once. Like a shotgun it is an array of projectiles in the hope that one of them will hit. Other names and analogies for this type of thing exist also.
A “shotgun” attack might look something like this:
“Jesus of Mormonism is not a unique and the only Son of God, but he is the eldest of all spirit children of God born to God and his multiple wives in the “pre-existence”. Mormon-Jesus is also a spirit-brother of Lucifer and all angels. When Jesus of Mormonism was born into mortality, He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost, but he was begotten by their “father in heaven”, an exalted god-man…”
If this sounds Ed Decker-esque in nature that is because it is from Ed Decker. Not every critic talks that way, but many do. Each of the points mentioned are rooted in some kind of Mormon folklore, or are a perversion of an actual Mormon belief, and none of them is given the slightest bit of context or fair trial. The advantage is that nobody is going to be willing to work through every statement made and explain them properly because it would be an overwhelming task.
Daniel Peterson and Stephen Ricks, in their classic book “Offenders for a Word“, quote Catholic apologist Karl Keating who complains of this exact phenomenon:
“It must be admitted they enjoy a certain tactical (if short-term) advantage in that they can get away with presenting bare-bones claims such as these; they wear out Catholicism’s defenders by inundating them with short remarks that demand long explanations.”
Keating, Karl. “Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians.” San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988.
Next time a critic of the Church attacks our faith using the “shotgun” approach, you can commiserate with our Catholic friends. It is a shoddy, dishonest, but effective tactic.