We Push Them Out . . . Into What?

My own non-scientific observation and speculation is that 70-80% of ex-Mormons not only leave the LDS church, they leave Christianity entirely. I think for this reason we Evangelicals need to be careful in the way we present information that we think challenges Joseph Smith’s prophetic status. There are several reasons for this phenomena in my opinion and I’ll name a few of them in a minute. But I think we need to consider how and why we might pull someone from a place where we are uncertain about their place in Christ to a place where they are certain that they want nothing to do with Him.

There are several reasons I think ex-Mormons leave Christ. It’s a complex problem and it always concerns individual choice. But I think I can highlight some of the major themes. None of these are true of all Mormons or all ex-Mormons.

1) Many Mormons have spent much of their lives questioning nothing about their faith. They’ve recently learned the tools of skepticism and they become rampantly skeptical of everything. When you first give a child a hammer, everything becomes a nail. We have two obligations when it comes to knowledge. The first is to believe as many true things as possible. The second is to not believe as many false things as possible. Neglecting either one of these obligations is the same fallacy on opposite ends of the spectrum. I think many ex-Mormons are so upset that they lived by faith in things that they now believe are false that they are determined NEVER to believe any false thing again (which in general is a good idea). Unfortunately they stop believing some true things as well.

C.S. Lewis describes characters like this at the end of “The Last Battle”. A false Aslan is exposed and his followers refuse to accept the true Aslan when he meets them because they never want to be tricked again.

2) We Evangelicals offer what we are against, false prophets, rather than what we are for, a personal relationship with Jesus that transforms us into new creations that live by grace. So we shouldn’t be surprised when ex-Mormons take what we offer and nothing more.

3) There are many in the LDS church who find the words “obedience to Christ” and “obedience to the Church” to be synonymous. Jesus and the church are the same thing for many Mormons. So when they leave the Church they leave Jesus without it ever occurring to them that Jesus may be different than the Church. For some Mormons the Church is more central to their faith than Jesus. The only reason they follow Jesus is because the Prophet told them to. I think some of this is inspired by false ideas in Mormon culture and some of it inspired false ideas taught by the LDS church.

(I don’t think Evangelicals are guiltless here either. There are far too many Evangelicals who confuse Jesus with the Republican party, American patriotism, financial prosperity and a host of other things. Our need to clean house on these things will be a future topic.)

4) The never believed in the first place. They were born into the Mormon culture and religion. They’ve long felt atheism to be true.

5) Sin and the desire all people have to live in rebellion from Jesus.

6) They feel the evidence supporting the reliability of the Bible/Christianity is no stronger than the evidence for the Book of Mormon/Mormonism. This is encouraged by the LDS church’s deconstruction of all other Christian faiths. It’s a restoration church so it has to show why mainstream Christianity is false and why the Bible is unreliable by itself. To supports it’s own mission, the LDS church has latched onto the best the anti-Christian community has to offer and used it to bolster its own claims. When ex-Mormons leave the LDS church, they don’t need to learn why mainstream Christianity is false, they’ve been taught that their whole lives.

Once again, not all of these are true of every ex-Mormon, but I think this covers the general reason ex-Mormons most often become ex-Christians as well. Did I miss any?

To LDS, I say pursue Jesus with me above all else. To Evangelicals, I say be careful that when you replace Jesus for Joseph that it’s really “Jesus” in their hand.

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142 thoughts on “We Push Them Out . . . Into What?

  1. Tim, I come with a slightly different perspective since I was not brought up in the church, but i’d like to tell you what I think about this issue.

    All the talk that offends us, regarding a “different” Jesus, is (in my opinion) some what true. Not that He is not the Jesus born of Mary, but that we believe He is such a different personality then main stream Christianity.

    First we believe He is God’s Son, NOT God. Christianity puts the two together and makes God out to be somewhat of an untangible spirit ready to send you straight to Hell for not believing this way or that. And since Christians believe God and Christ are the same person it also puts Christ on this level.

    Mormons view God as a loving Father, who wants more then anything for His chidren to be with Him again, and has made a way for ALL His children to be able to return to Him. Christ is His Son our Savior, our Brother. The Son and the Father love and care about us and do NOT want us to burn in Hell. We strive to be like Christ who is the greatest example of kindness, love, service, and sacrifice.

    So there are big differences between our beliefs about God and Jesus. I have been on both sides, and I believe with all my heart that the “mormon Jesus”, and the “mormon God” are the true ones. (Not to be confusing but I believe that we have the same God as you, just views that are different)

    But this is just MY opinion. I know that if I was to fall away from the church I would go completly apostate and would never, not ever, return to any other Christian Denomination.

    So this of course, is my opinion, but maybe this will help explain why ex mormons find no comfort in other denominations

    Also, another point is that many (not all) christians bash the LDS faith and are so rude and unkind, why would a mormon who was brought up in a loving church want any part of that????

  2. Good point Steffi.

    Also when one has had their faith attacked, it makes that person leery of what is offered in its stead.

    Why would Christians, attack other Christians? As a member of the LDS faith, I wonder what type of christianity is being offered to replace it.

    If faith A was wrong, then does fatih B have any better? Or will faith C come along and destroy that faith as well?

    I studied many faiths before I became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have never regretted my decision.

  3. Steffie, thanks for chiming in. I think you may be guilty of comparing our “worst” to your “best” though. If you grew up as a Protestant being taught that God was a cruel individual looking for ways to banish people to hell, I’m truly sorry. I don’t think that’s an accurate description of the God in the Bible either.

    You and Onyx bring up something really valuable about how rude we can be to Mormons sometimes.

  4. I think that Steffi and Onyx bring up good points.

    I wasn’t raised with any religion. We celebrated Christmas every year, but more for the family time and presents; there wasn’t a religious meaning behind it.

    When I went to high school, I had moved down south, and started being criticized by a lot of people, and told that I was going to hell. It didn’t really make sense–I wasn’t being bad; I wasn’t doing anything that my parents hadn’t taught me was okay, I tried to be kind to people, etc. So what was the deal with this mean guy Jesus?

    The Mormon church painted a different picture of Jesus Christ–an older brother who loved me, cared about me, and wasn’t sending me to hell for not having learned about him from people spreading hate. I still think that all of those people are wrong. It doesn’t make sense (to me) that someone will go to hell for not having been taught about Jesus.

    Another thing that I think makes it difficult for post/former Mormons to integrate into mainstream Christianity is the expectations. The LDS Church gives callings, and expects you to do your part. It’s nice to be so involved. In the Mormon church, you’re so dedicated–you give so much of yourself, and your time, and everything–that when you leave and go to another church, there’s less to do. It’s hard to be motivated to just volunteer–hard for me anyway. It’s much easier to be asked to help in a specific way and then to go from there. Especially since without that, you have groups of friends who will tend to do the same activities, so it can get cliquish. That’s something I’ve noticed at other churches since we’ve left Mormonism.

  5. If Christian counter-cultists think that a Mormon who can be convinced of the ridiculousness of the Book of Mormon, the unsavory nature of Joseph Smith, and the hypocrisy of the organized LDS Church is going to throw his lot in with a bunch of creationist, George Bush – loving, hateful, you’re going to hell preaching, anti-sex ed Jesus screamers…

    You’ve got another thing coming.

    Note that this is a totally UNFAIR caricature of “evangelicals” (whatever that word means). But it is a common perception of the movement, and it often seems to accurately describe a lot of the counter-cultists and anti-Mormons who are, incidentally, going to be the LDS doubter’s primary contact with the evangelical movement (since they are where he got a lot of his reasons for leaving the Mormons).

    So that crazy nutcase who stands outside Temple Square in Salt Lake City screaming at Mormon wedding parties happened to be right about a few things. He’s still a moron. And the average ex-Mormon is unlikely to be all that jazzed to start hanging with him in Bible study.

    As for the Unitarians, or liberal Anglicans, or what have you…

    For a lot of Mormons, that ain’t religion. That’s a vague affiliation with some sort of “warm-fuzzy” concept that is pretty-much OK with whatever you are, and whatever you happen to be doing, so don’t expect much life guidance from it. If God doesn’t care enough to reprimand me, why should I care – period? Unitarianism sometimes seems like just a lousy reason to give up playing golf and sleeping-in on Sunday.

    Ironically, the best place for a non-believing Mormon to worship is probably – wait for it – an LDS ward! You get to hang with people you understand, a lot of your friends and family are already there, you keep peace with your believing wife and other loved ones, you get a highly involving social structure with abundant opportunities to give Christian service and remain highly involved in the community. In Utah, it’s pretty-much your only option unless you want to be out-of-the-loop on neighborhood activities for the rest of your life.

    Don’t think it doesn’t happen. I’ve heard of a lot of people who took this route. They don’t think Mormonism is “true” anymore, but they like it and feel attached to it just the same.

    Thing is, I’d imagine it’s very hard for a lot of ex-Mormons to get over the resentment and sense of betrayal they feel enough to where they can stomach entering an LDS chapel again.

    I don’t think my suggestion of Mormon services as ideal for ex-Mormons applies to all, or even most of that group. There’s a few real flaws with the whole idea. But I’ll leave it to Kullervo, or Katyjane to explain what they are.

  6. Steffi,
    I’m afraid you have gotten the same misinformation through the LDS community that virtually all of my LDS friends have had. Non-LDS Christians don’t believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ are the same person. For a down-to-earth, easy to understand explanation as to how God can be 3 persons (not 3 Gods) even though he is only one God, go to http://crcmin.org/brochnonlds1.html and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you’ll find a brochure, in pdf format, titled “You Can Understand the Trinity.”

    By the way, LDS scripture still has passages that agree with the original LDS theology of only one God — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being that one God (see Alma 11:44 for just one very clear example). For more on how we (LDS and non-LDS) used to have the same teachings on the attributes of God see a brochure titled “We Used to Agree” at WeUsedToAgree.com

    To clear up another misconception, non-LDS Christians believe that God “is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-10) For a rather thorough explanation of “Heavenly Father’s Plan for You…according to the Bible,” see the brochure of that title on the first web page cited above — http://crcmin.org/brochnonlds1.html

    May the Lord bless you with His truth and understanding which must come from the Bible, itself, and not your LDS or non-LDS “Christian” friends. We must not trust in man but in God alone.

    Belief without proof is faith. Belief in spite of proof is folly.

    Tom

  7. The term for those folks is “New Order Mormons.” They’ve got their own blog community, message boards, etc.

    We thought about staying at the Church despite wavering belief when we first started to doubt, but it never felt like a really good option. At the time, our concern was with the lack of ability to fully participate as a non-believing Mormon.

    Now, though, there’s no way I would go back to activity in a Mormon ward. Even though we’ve had trouble figuring out where we do belong, I know I don’t belong there.

    My problems with Mormonism aren’t just a matter of thinking the religion’s foundational claims are false. In fact, those kinds of doubts were never the big ones for me. Instead, I have problems with the authoritarian structure, stifling socially enforced conformity, the rampant doublethink, and with what I see as gross emotional manipulation happening at all levels.

  8. Seriously, though. This keeps coming up, but what are Evangelicals really saying about Mormonism that’s so ugly?

    That Mormonism is false? Pot, kettle. Mormonism teaches some nasty stuff about the rest of Christianity. You might not hear it from the pulpit alot, but check out 1st and 2nd Nephi. Read the account of the first vision. Tell me that serious attacks aren’t being leveled against other churches. In fact, without proclaiming the falsehood of the rest of Christianity, Mormonism has no reason to exist.

    That Mormons aren’t Christian? We’ve been down that road before, and all I have to say is that it’s a matter of trying to classify and categorize, not an attempt to malign. I’m sorry if you take offense at it, but what it comes down to is that they’re saying “Christianity gets you to heaven; Mormonism doesn’t.” And Mormonism is saying the exact same flipping thing. Under no circumstances does a non-Mormon make it to exaltation and the Celestial Kingdom. Once again, this is just a different way of saying “we’re true, you’re false” and Mormons do the same thing all the time. It’s what the missionaries are out there doing every day.

    That Mormonism is a cult? Okay, I’ll grant that that kind of language is incendiary and that it doesn;t do much good. On the other hand, reasonable minds could conclude that Mormonism as an organization/institution displays many of the characteristics of coercive religious communities. It’s worth discussing.

    Or is it just a matter of the way that say it, rather than what they’re saying? That’s a fair accusation, but as Tim pointed out, this is a problem with painting a billion Christians with the same brush as a few vocal jerks. And if you really want to say that Mormonism has no jerks, you’re living in a fantasy land. They may not be allowed to be as vocal, but that has to do with the level of control that the organization exerts over individual members, which is not generally comparable to Christianity in general.

  9. As much as I like how NOMs may be moderating the LDS culture to some degree. It pretty much sounds like a direct path to living a life without integrity to me.

    I wouldn’t advocate anyone stick around in my church if they thought it was false. As Paul says “if it’s false then we are to be pitied above all men”. If it’s not about it being true you’re basically saying “we have a nice club.” I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t suffer and die so we could have a nice club with his name on the front door.

  10. So I guess I have experienced a different side of christianity then some, I need to give some examples, and let me say I UNDERSTAND that this does not mean ALL christians feel this way.

    Example #1

    I was brought up by parents who taught me Mormonism was an evil cult, and all mormons would go to hell. See some of this story on Mormons Talk blog http://mormonstalk.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/conversion-stories/

    Example #2

    My uncle is a pastor. When I was investigating the LDS church he sent me a very long letter. In this letter he stated that if I join the LDS church I will go to hell and I am sending my children there too.

    Example #3

    This guy and I would go back and forth on this blog and he would say things like:

    “the sword of the Lord’s judgment hanging over your neck ready to strike the life out of you at any second.”

    You can read the whole discussion here http://healtheland.wordpress.com/2007/08/03/the-medias-relentless-attack-on-christianity/

    Also have you heard of Bill Keller??? He has a web site called Live Prayer, He has daily “devotionals” and so many are directed at the LDS church.

    One of the most hateful in my opinion was intitled
    “If You Vote for Mitt Romney You are Voting for Satan” here’s the link for that one,

    http://www.liveprayer.com/ddarchive3.cfm?id=2931

    And here is a link to Bill Keller on the Alan colmes show regarding his harsh words towards mormons. I HIGHLY recommend listening to it to get a good idea about what these “christians” say about us mormons.

    http://www.liveprayer.com/fox1.cfm

    And my last example,

    Last year I was taking care of children in my home. I had this one little girl for about 2 months, until her parents invited me to church and I declined because I have commitments at my church. So we got into the discussion of what church I belonged to. When I told them I was LDS they decided to take their daughter out of my home. Upon leaving they gave me a folder full of anti they had gotten off the web and informed me that I was “going to hell”.

    I have many more experiences, but as this is not my blog and I have already written too much, I will leave you with only these examples.

    So Tim as I stated at the beginning of my comment I understand that not all Christians feel this way or act this way. But the people who say these things call themselves “christians” how are mormons supposed to distinguish the difference between you and them???

    Also,
    Tom Jones I appreciate your kind comment, if more Christians spoke as nicely as you, you may have more ex mormons attending your churches, also I will take a look at the links you provided. Thanks

  11. Hello,

    I believe I’ve said this in a previous post, but the best way to convince someone that they have a crooked stick isn’t to explain how crooked their stick is, but to show them a straight stick. The straight stick is the gospel of the Bible. No one can get saved unless they hear the gospel, anyway (Romans 10:14). Our goal shouldn’t be to get someone to leave their religion, or even to get people saved (worrying about numbers), but to preach the gospel faithfully.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  12. Kullervo,

    I don’t think it’s so much about what Evangelicals are saying about Mormons, but rather what they’re saying about anyone who believes differently. Condemning people to hell? Probably not going to get a lot of converts (certainly not going to get me). Do Mormons do the same thing? Maybe, but I would always butt in when they did and tell them that the LDS Church isn’t about that.

    And it might be that it’s just a vocal minority. It probably is (I hope that it is). But, at the same time, if that’s all you have contact with, why go further? There was not a chance that I’d have gone to church with one of those fire breathers when I was in high school.

  13. steffielynn,

    I think you’re right to say that the Mormon belief in God is different from that of the trinitarians. But I don’t think it’s right to say that we don’t believe that Jesus is God. We believe that Jesus is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament. In the Book of Mormon Nephi says that all people must worship the Holy one of Israel (that’s Jesus). The Book of Mormon often speaks of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) as one God.

    I think we’ve gotten so hung up over the years on distinguishing ourselves from trinitarianism that we focus too much on pointing out that the Godhead is comprised of three distinct persons. As a result, we forget that our own doctrine teaches the unity of God.

    And while it is true that Jesus can be called an older brother because of the fact that he is God’s firstborn son, it is also true that he is our father by covenant. When we take upon ourselves the name of Jesus by baptism, he is our father. That’s why the Book of Mormon refers to the church as “the Children of Christ.” Jesus IS our father.

    In the Book of Mormon, Abinadi’s teachings about the unity of God and the fatherhood of Christ are beautiful.

    So like I said, I think you’re absolutely correct to say that we view God differently than most Christians do. But please don’t take that to mean that we don’t believe that Jesus is God, or that he is our Father.

  14. Kullervo, I’d say it’s not so much that “evangelicals” are saying things about Mormonism that are false (though there does seem to be a bit of that – intentional or not). It’s just that the people in question are so one-sided and determined to relentlessly hammer away at Mormonism’s bad points.

    Imagine a roommate who made it his mission to constantly nag you about everything that is screwed up about you and NEVER had anything good to say about you whatever. Sure, he may be telling the truth, but honestly, who cares?

  15. This discussion is interesting. Similar discussions have come up in the past on LDS blogs. The consensus seems to be that most LDS feel that if they left the LDS Church they would join the Catholic Church (because from an LDS point of view they are least had authority and if LDS is wrong on this point then maybe the Catholics never lost it), become UU(do good works, believe what you want), or agnostic. Evangelical branches of Christianity are not very appealing to Mormons, for many of the reasons outlined above. Mormons see a confusing lack of authority, meanspirited attacks, and no compelling reason to join.

  16. billphillips: The problem with the approach that you cite, however, is that Mormons will insist that they are Christians already. Romans 10:14? Well they claim to already believe it. Case in point: this delightful response that a Mormon left for me: http://healtheland.wordpress.com/2007/02/22/the-mormons-come-to-defend-themselves-part-ii/#comment-89

    Tim: The central fallacy in this effort is the FALSE assumption that by exposing Mormon beliefs for what they are, they are “leaving Christianity altogether.” Please. First off, what about all the actual Christians that leave legitimate forms of Christianity? I read a Barna survey once that said that 75% of children raised in evangelical churches stop going to church as soon as they get grown, never to return. And the main thing is that Mormons never were Christians to begin with. They cloak themselves in our theology, but in truth they do not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ or even a sovereign God. The Mormon god is merely the god of this planet alone, did not pre – exist but himself was a man that progressed to godhood, and if he disobeys any of the “universal laws” that pre – existed him (just like the matter of the universe pre – existed him; their god cannot create new matter out of nothing, only reorganize existing matter … truthfully there is very little that their god can do that humans theoretically cannot) the other gods will depose him.

    Thus, this “My own non-scientific observation and speculation is that 70-80% of ex-Mormons not only leave the LDS church, they leave Christianity entirely” is, for lack of a better word, a LIE, and one could have been written by a Mormon himself in order to suit Mormon purposes. You cannot leave something that you were never in. We have to unequivocally speak the truth: MORMONS ARE NOT CHRISTIANS. THE GARDEN OF EDEN IS NOT IN MISSOURI. NATIVE AMERICANS ARE NOT DESCENDANTS OF THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL. If a Mormon leaves Mormonism and becomes an atheist, then he is no better off than he was before. Meanwhile, according to Mormon theology, if a Mormon leaves Mormonism for Presbyterianism, Methodism, Baptism, Pentecostalism, etc. then it is the same as becoming an atheist because either way he is an apostate Mormon headed for the lowest rung of Mormon hell.

    And yes, that is another reason why the notion that Mormonism is merely another Christian denomination should be exposed for the lie that it is. No branch of orthodox Protestant or Reformed Christianity claims that you will renounce your salvation or place in heaven by going from one denomination to another so long as your beliefs and practices remain Biblical, and by the same token Protestant and Reformed Christians strongly believe that all Christians with the right beliefs and practices are on equal footing. Not so Mormonism. If you leave Mormonism for “another Christian denomination” as they call it, you go to the lowest rung of hell: eternal home to apostate Mormons, Adolph Hitler, and the rest of the worst of the worst. Meanwhile, Christians that never were Mormons inhabit the NEXT layer, where we will have none of the benefits of heaven except the ministration of angels. Oh yeah, liars, adulterers, thieves, and the other “regular but not quite so bad sinners” will be there along with us. In order to get to the upper levels of heaven and actually dwell in the presence of God for eternity, you have to actually be a baptized Mormon.

    The only way that Mormonism resembles Christianity in any way is that it teaches resurrection from the dead. Apart from that, Mormonism is much closer to Hinduism, classical Greo – Romanism or any other henotheistic religion than Christianity. Judaism and Islam are both FAR CLOSER to Christianity than are Mormonism. Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses are closer to Christianity than Mormonism.

    Suppose someone were to come up to you and say “Well, if we demonstrate to a person that Vishnu does not exist, that person may leave Hinduism forever.” My response would be “So? Turn him off to Hinduism, and maybe he will become a Christian down the line.” The same thing about a Muslim and his false prophet Muhammed. Interesting that Mormon scholars have taken to defending Islam from attacks by Christians like Bill Keller, saying “the same things that these hateful intolerant Christians are saying against Mormons they say against us!” Well I guess people who follow false cults started by murdering pedophiles need to stick together! In a way I guess that it is great that Mormons acknowledge that their murdering pedophile Mason Joseph Smith (whose last words were “heaven help me!”, the Mason cry for help) is no better than Mohammed. Check it out here http://healtheland.wordpress.com/2007/09/27/mormons-and-muslims-united-oh-my-what-a-surprise/

  17. After being a Mormon my entire life, I would find it hard to take any religion, but especially Evangelical one’s seriously. At least the Mormon church takes some stands on things, and claims a foundation for their church.

    The Mormon church makes big claims, and I personally believe them. If I were to begin to doubt those claims, most anything else would seem pitifully weak in comparison.

  18. Healtheland,

    I don’t actually disagree with you that many Mormons weren’t following Jesus to begin with. I think the same can be said about many who self-identify as Protestant.

    To cut to the core of what you are saying, “it’s valuable to cut people out of any non-Christian faith and it’s easier to convert atheist than X (Mormons, Hindus, whatever).

    I disagree and I think we need to consider what kind of seed we are planting in people we don’t convert at the moment. Barna’s research is showing that more and more people are saying ” no thank you, and if that’s what you’re about, I don’t want any part of it and I never will.”

    I probably have a 90% theological alignment with you, but after your first comment here I don’t even want to hang out with you. You’re a clanging cymbal.

  19. >and claims a foundation for their church.

    which is built on lies.

    Lyndon Lamborn has been excommunicated by his Stake President, for simply discussing with others, like family members, the real truth of Mormon history, found in official Mormon sources. See here for the story -

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20940604/

    Why do this church have so much to hide they will go these lengths against one of their own simply for looking at history and wanting to find the truth? And finding in fact even acording to documented Mormon sources Joseph Smith was a polygamist and polyandrist. Does God not know the truth? Will all not be revealed, all that will be hidden to come to light. Why deny Joseph ever married more than one woman? The facts are out there for all to see who will even dare to peep.

    Why don’t the Mormon church and its leaders live in the light? If they believe the do the right thing by their God by covering up the truth….well, there is only one father of lies and that is Satan. And I’d say the same thing to the Evangelicals, Charismatics, Catholics before you say there is hypocrisy and lies there too.

    Could it be the Mormon Church have more than their history to hide?

    Be like the noble minded Bereans and actually think on the things you are taught, and see if they contradict scripture or not.

    If you reject the Mormon Church you do not reject Jesus for as healtheland says it is no more Christianity than other religions. The same for people leaving Catholicism, they leave behind only idolatary, paganism and false religion. I am glad I did not judge the Jesus by the catholic church I was brought up in, as I would never have found the real God and the real Jesus. They were chalk and cheese.

  20. “The Mormon god is merely the god of this planet alone.”

    Bzzzt. Wrong. But thanks for playing.

    Mormon scriptures speak of “worlds without number” being created by God. Not just this planet. Here’s a passage of Mormon scripture on the subject:

    “And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?
    And behold, thou are my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.”

    Moses 1:3, 4

    healtheland,

    Next time you want to come around gassing about what “them evil Mormons” believe, you might want to do a bit more research into what we actually believe rather than just parroting a few talking points from random attack websites.

  21. It really is amazing to me that the Christian counter-cultists are so unaware that the arguments they are using against the Mormon church are the EXACT SAME ARGUMENTS atheists are using against them – only with different wording.

    If you can ridicule a Mormon God for an “exhalted man” devoted to producing more gods with His wife, you can also turn around and ridicule a God who would cause His own son to be tortured to death on a cross to solve some insane catch-22 problem of universal evil, that GOD HIMSELF CREATED IN THE FIRST PLACE. What a sicko!

    At least, that’s what I’ve heard the atheists ranting on about. I don’t agree with them, and I’d imagine most here don’t either. But we need to be careful who we are calling “ludicrous” or “obvious fraud” but all of us believers are on very thin ice in this respect.

    Not hard to see that an ex-Mormon, after having been trained so well in this kind of negative and destructive analysis of his own faith would turn around and use it on Christianity as well. At least, you’d think it’s not hard to see, but the counter-cultists do seem to be blissfully unaware that they are basically all arranged in a circular firing squad.

  22. Healtheland,

    You don’t seem to know much about Mormonism. You were wrong on so many points that there’s just not even a good place to begin. Suffice it to say that if there was any merit in what you were saying, you lost all credibility by not understanding your subject.

  23. Healhtheland

    Thank you for proving my point!

    Us lying, non christian followers of false cults started by murdering pedophiles will NOT be attending YOUR church EVER!!!!!

  24. To all offended Mormons: everything that I said can be documented using the sayings of your “prophets”, a fact that you well know.

    Tim: If I am a clanging cymbal that you wouldn’t want to hang out, then you wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds with Paul, my friend, or John the revelator for that matter. Or James the Just, or Jeremiah, or basically anyone righteous in the Bible. I also bet that the church fathers wouldn’t have made agreeable company for your person either. But hey, that is fine. The church is not supposed to be a social club anyway. I would rather a person hate my guts on earth and be my brother in heaven than let my best man at my wedding bust the lake of fire wide open because I didn’t have the character to stand in his face, draw a line in the sand, and tell him about the real Christ and what the Bible actually says.

    Honestly , what do you think this is? Some type of game? Well Satan isn’t playing games, and God won’t be either when He casts these wicked rebellious souls into the lake of fire. If you want to see what I am talking about with so – called Christians playing games, come check this out http://healtheland.wordpress.com/2007/07/11/sex-sells-especially-in-the-church-prophetess-juanita-bynum-bishop-thomas-weeks-marital-advice/
    I have dozens of stuff like that, and I could have ten times more if I actually LIKED writing about it. But megapreacher Kenneth Copeland claims that Jesus Christ was homosexually raped by Roman soldiers and had evil spirits cast out of Him in hell. Is that who you want to hang out with? I may be an annoying cymbal, but I hear that Brother Copeland is real good at tickling the ears!

    Now of course there is a loving, patient, respectful way to win Mormons when dealing with them personally. Why? Because they are people, and God loves them and wants to save them. Light cannot come from darkness, so I have a hard time believing that a person that is filled with hate and disrespect for any of God’s people will be an effective evangelist. So yes, in dealing with Mormons, we are supposed to respect THE PERSON. But their beliefs? Please. We are to respect the PEOPLE that God loves, not the false beliefs that GOD HATES.

    Now it would be one thing if Mormons weren’t trying to pass themselves off as “just another Christian denomination.” But it is a lie, they know that it is a lie, and their claims of being offended, hurt, discriminated against, etc. is nothing but their premeditated attempts to coerce you into giving assent to their lie so that they can use it to go out and lure more people into spiritual darkness. Most people believe that Mormons are Christians just like anyone else, and any Christian that refuses to reject Mormons as members of their ranks is just being a bigot. Prominent Christian leaders won’t even speak publicly against Mormonism anymore, because they know that they will be excoriated by the media and marginalized if they do. And of course their willingness to make accommodations with the world like this is why they remain “prominent Christian leaders.”

    It comes down to this: there is no “nice way” to tell your best man that if he doesn’t give his life to Jesus Christ he is going to spend an eternity in the lake of fire, and that he needs to do so today because tomorrow is not promised to him. But if you can’t muster it because it just isn’t nice, well then you really do not love him, do you? And what is more, you really don’t love God either. That is what it is all about, whether a person spends his eternity in heaven or the lake of fire.

    And now for a parting mention to the Mormons: when you are trying to get Christians to accept you among our ranks as “another Christian denomination” do you tell them that your version of jesus was produced by a sexual union between your version of god and Mary, and that Mary remained a virgin despite the sexual act because she had sex with god and not a man? Oh, and do you also mention to Christians that John 4:24 “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” does not appear in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible? Why? Because your god isn’t a spirit, but rather is flesh and bone. Which of course, means that he cannot be omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, or eternal. Steffielynn was posting for months on healtheland.wordpress.com and we had the “really, I am a Christian just like you!” “No you’re not!” “Yes I am!” back and forth and she sort of neglected to mention it. Check out this entry http://healtheland.wordpress.com/2007/04/01/a-challenge-to-all-sinners-yes-this-means-you/ where I tried to pin her down on “is your god a god of flesh and bone or not!” The conversation lasted almost two weeks! I will grant you that several other Mormons that dropped by were more forthcoming concerning the true nature of SOME of their beliefs, and even them it was almost never initially!

    So Tim, please be aware of what you are up against as a promoter and defender of the TRUE gospel of the ACTUAL Jesus Christ. Currying the favor of men who reject the truth in this life will mean being rejected by the God of truth in the next. Of course you know this already, which is why my restating this truth should not offend you in the least. It will only offend those that have rejected the truth. Thank you and God bless you.

  25. do you tell them that your version of jesus was produced by a sexual union between your version of god and Mary

    Sorry, but Mormons really don’t believe this. Yes, it was taught by some early Church leaders. But Mormonism no longer teaches this, and you’ll have a hard time finding a Mormon who believes it.

    The consensus is that when early leaders like Brigham Young taught doctrines like this one, they were just teaching their personal opinion, not revelation from God.

    I personally think that’s a pretty flimsy way to weasel out of a lot of sour doctrine, but it’s what Mormons believe these days.

  26. Healtheland,

    I am not a Mormon. However, what you said about what the Church teaches is false. I’m sorry–but you’re wrong. On many of the points that you bring up.

    Mormons believe that they are Christian because they believe that Jesus Christ is their Savior. Depending on how you define the word Christian, that makes them Christian.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, condemning people to hell? Not your job. I think that falls under the category of judging others, and Jesus had some strong words for that. The way that you’ve talked to and about Mormons on here isn’t ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’, nor does it present Jesus in any light that I’d like to know Him. Luckily, I know a different Jesus than you apparently do.

    Spreading hate and intolerance is despicable, and that’s what you’re doing here. It is unacceptable, and you owe all the Mormons an apology.

    What’s not true about what you said?
    “The Mormon god is merely the god of this planet alone, did not pre – exist but himself was a man that progressed to godhood, and if he disobeys any of the “universal laws” that pre – existed him (just like the matter of the universe pre – existed him; their god cannot create new matter out of nothing, only reorganize existing matter … truthfully there is very little that their god can do that humans theoretically cannot) the other gods will depose him.”
    Not true. As Seth pointed out, the LDS god is not merely a god of this planet alone. And while it is true that the LDS god organized the matter that already existed, that is irrelevant (to me), and both that and what you would likely say are completely unsubstantiated by scripture. You would both read the same verse and have different interpretations. And it doesn’t matter anyway. And other gods won’t depose him. That doesn’t even make sense.

    You say Mormons aren’t Christians because Christians believe that other denominations are going to heaven? Is that your definition? Because if so, then YOU’RE not a Christian, because you’re saying that in order to be a Christian you have believe that others who believe in Christ (which Mormons do) are going to heaven.

    “If you leave Mormonism for “another Christian denomination” as they call it, you go to the lowest rung of hell: eternal home to apostate Mormons, Adolph Hitler, and the rest of the worst of the worst.”

    Not true. First of all, it’s really hard to go to ‘hell’, otherwise known as Outer Darkness. The ONLY people who go there are those who deny the Holy Ghost–which requires a sure knowledge (not just faith or belief). And Mormon doctrine will tell you that the lowest tier of the heavens is still way better than this world.

    “But it is a lie, they know that it is a lie, and their claims of being offended, hurt, discriminated against, etc. is nothing but their premeditated attempts to coerce you into giving assent to their lie so that they can use it to go out and lure more people into spiritual darkness.”

    Seriously–do you really think that Mormons are doing that? Do you know any in real life? Are any your friends? Because if so, you’d know what most people who know Mormons know–Mormons are generally good people who are doing their best to follow Christ in the best way that they know how.

    “do you tell them that your version of jesus was produced by a sexual union between your version of god and Mary, and that Mary remained a virgin despite the sexual act because she had sex with god and not a man?”
    This is also not Mormon doctrine. There was no physical union between Mary and God.

    So, before you continue maligning a religion that you clearly don’t know much about, you should get your own house in order. You’re making serious allegations with nothing to back them up other than what lies you’ve heard other people say. Get your facts straight, because all you’re doing is spreading lies–which I believe you said is a tool of Satan…

  27. Healtheland,

    I agree with you, I would much rather see people in Heaven than in Hell. But if you can’t tell them how to get to Heaven in an attractive way that causes them to WANT to join you in following Jesus, you might as well be telling them “go to Hell”.

    I agree that strong words are needed to rattle our friends at times. The simple fact is, you aren’t friends with any Mormons. Your strong words are offensive rather than corrective. You aren’t presenting your message with ANY sort of recognition of who your audience is (as Jesus, Paul and all of the disciples modeled for us). Outsiders take one look at your tone and respond, “if that’s what Jesus will turn me into, I don’t want anything to do with him.”

    Be gentle as a lamb and shrewd as a serpent.

  28. Seth R. maybe for punch and cookies :) By the way, comment # 24 is soooo true!

    SIGH…….. :( My goodness healtheland I never thought I would be going back and forth with you again. I just have a few things to say to you,

    1st you say …” I tried to pin her down on “is your god a god of flesh and bone or not!” The conversation lasted almost two weeks! I will grant you that several other Mormons that dropped by were more forthcoming concerning the true nature of SOME of their beliefs, and even then it was almost never initially!

    I was actually the ONLY LDS member who commented on that particular entry, so you are incorrect about others being forthcomming, because there were no others! (except for the guy who was even more judgemental and hateful then you, he was on your side) Also I will not keep going in circles with this , I will just say that I am Christian because I believe in, and follow Jesus Christ. But I gladly stick with the title Mormon, as it seperates us and no one will think I affiliate with hateful people like you!

    Katy , for someone who is not LDS your points are right on! Sadly your words fall upon deaf ears. :(

    Tim, these “christians” give christians like you a bad name. My question to you is how can you expect anyone from any other religion to know the difference between YOU and people like him???? This, sadly, is one reason you will not find ex mormons in “christian” churches!

  29. “So Tim, please be aware of what you are up against as a promoter and defender of the TRUE gospel of the ACTUAL Jesus Christ.”

    A bit pretentious aren’t we? How could Tim have possibly known what he was up against?! The fool! He might be destroyed by the light of your TRUTH!

    I occasionally hear stuff like this from random Mormons who comment on online newspaper stories involving the LDS Church. And it sounds just as self-centered, melodramatic, and hysterical coming from them as it does from this guy.

    Have fun monologue-ing with yourself. You’ll always be sure to have an adoring audience.

  30. Pingback: How to Win Friends and Influence Mormons « Summa Theologica - Interfaith Dialogue

  31. Pingback: How to deconvert ‘em just enough… | Main Street Plaza

  32. Tim,

    I have a bit of a disagreement with the original post. See, as a Mormon, I believe in the Bible and Book of Mormon (among many other things, but I’m keeping this simple). I believe in them for the same reasons, and my faith in and understanding of them is intertwined, and so on. Evangelicals, on the other hand, believe only the Bible (among other things; likewise).

    So from my perspective it seems easier to convince an Evangelical to become Mormon (“That’s a nice plant/Bible there, let me plant this other nice plant/BoM next to it”) than to convince a Mormon to become Evangelical (“Let me tear up that weed/BoM without tearing up the nice plant/Bible right next to it”).

    In short, it’s a Venn diagram thing: Evangelical-to-Mormon involves addition; Mormon-to-Evangelical involves subtraction—and I think it must be easier to add than subtract.

    (And, no, this is not just a rewording of your #6; if needed I will explicate)

  33. brianj,

    I’d say that depends on how much we emphasize the Great Apostasy doesn’t it? The “let us add to your existing light” is a recent emphasis that Pres. Hinckley started. It didn’t used to be that way church-wide.

    Used to be, the universal apostasy was a major platform of the LDS conversion efforts.

    So it was actually more like saying “See that old and decrepit plant you’ve got there? Let us give you this much BETTER plant for your living room and lets take this old thing and put it in the basement where not too many people are going to see it.”

    Which admittedly is better than trying to get them to chuck it in the dumpster, but still….

  34. In the original post it says this: To supports its own mission, the LDS church has latched onto the best the anti-Christian community has to offer and used it to bolster its own claims.

    I’m curious to know what that is referring to. I’m an evangelical-to-LDS convert who keeps abreast of such things, and I honestly don’t know what the above is talking about.

    The original post also said this: When ex-Mormons leave the LDS church, they don’t need to learn why mainstream Christianity is false, they’ve been taught that their whole lives.

    I would say that they/we are told less that it’s false than that it’s incomplete. That’s not quite the same thing. Actually, there are quite a few good things said by our church leaders about non-LDS Christians, and it’s far from unheard of for them to be quoted or mentioned as good role models by General Authorities.

    Other than those things, I found the post reasonably accurate. Of the LDS I’ve talked to in person about such things, most just aren’t generally impressed by other churches. They’re often seen as wishy-washy more than anything else. And there’s a huge cultural difference as well; as much as some of us would prefer it, you’re never going to hear a rock band during a Sunday service in an LDS chapel. (I must confess, I do miss the contemporary music of Protestantism but not much else). So certain other churches can be offputting to someone who grew up in the the staid worship atmosphere of Mormondom.

  35. BrianJ, Great point.

    Eric, The Council of Nicea seems to be the first place everyone goes if they want to declare that Christianity used to be X (their own interpretation of scripture) until the Nicean Creed was formed. LDS are practically using an argument pulled straight from “The DaVinci Code”. I’ve also met a number of LDS more than thrilled to quote from Bart Ehrman to show how unreliable the Bible is. A much more thorough critique of both of those lines of criticism can be found elsewhere.

    Perhaps I mis-spoke when I said “the LDS church”, it might have been more appropriate to say “Mormons.” The LDS Church itself isn’t fond of saying much more than “be obedient, pay your tithing, you’re not working hard enough and families are swell.” (sorry that was snarky, but I liked it so I’m going to resist self-editing)

  36. If you want a good example of semi-official LDS rhetoric on other churches (it’s hard to call anything really “official” in our church unless it was said in the last 8 General Conferences) you should read “The Great Apostasy” by the LDS writer and apostle James Talmage. It’s not at all a very flattering view of the first couple centuries of Christianity.

    Talmage quotes extensively from Gibbons’ seminal work “Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire,” which, as I recall, was not exactly complimentary of early Christianity. The focus is more on the chronic corruption and widespread hypocrisy of early Christianity during the winding up of the Roman empire. The scholarship is probably a bit dated, but it’s still a good example of LDS writing from our heyday of anti-papist sentiment.

  37. I would say that they/we are told less that it’s false than that it’s incomplete. That’s not quite the same thing.

    This is the Church’s more recent rhetoric, but that doesn’t mean it’s reflective of what the Church actually believes, or that it’s more than PR spin.

  38. In response to #43 (Kullervo):

    This is not just a recent teaching. According to the writings of Joseph Smith, Joseph didn’t believe that the other churches were completely false. For example,

    Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true “Mormons.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Six 1843–44, p.316)

    Contemporary LDS might think differently, but if they do, they would seem to be departing from Joseph’s own beliefs on the matter. Many critics of Mormonism continue to persist that the Church teaches that other churches are “completely false,” however the writings of Joseph Smith simply do not support such a view.

  39. Seth,

    I don’t disagree that it can come across that way, or did in the past (I’m no historian). But even a very strong emphasis in the apostasy doesn’t necessarily have to come across as “see that old and decrepit plant you’ve got”—it can come across as “you’ve got a nice plant there, but it doesn’t look so healthy; I think I could give you some gardening tips” (sorry, this analogy is feeling cheesy, but it’s working, plus I am a terrible gardener so I can sympathize with this).

  40. InCognitus,

    You can’t cherry pick quotes to revise history like that. Or whatever, I guess you can, since it’s what the Church does.

  41. In theory, no reason. Positive change is good. In reality, I have two problems.

    1. The whitewashing and revisionism are bullsh*t. The Church needs to own its past and own its mistakes.

    2. This positive evolution doesn’t really square with the Church’s exclusivist and absolutist foundational claims. Eventually, something’s gotta give. If it’s the exclusivism and absolutism, then the Church’s reason for existing crumbles. Of course, I think that’s fine, because I think the Church is a complete fraud.

    Put more conceptually, I am increasingly irritated at the slipperiness of Mormonism. Coupled with the smiling faces and the slick PR campaigns, it comes across as quasi-sinister, or at least sleazy.

  42. Kullervo,

    I am puzzled as to why you would suggest that quoting a specific teaching by Joseph Smith on the topic of truth in other denominations would be an attempt to “revise history”, since the quote is part of the historical record. And since the quote is directly to the point of whether or not other denominations are totally and completely false, I am equally perplexed as to why you would think this is “cherry picking”. I don’t think I’m being selective on this particular topic, as I’m aware of many other similar statements by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, and others, where they taught that there are many truths that are to be found and gathered up in other religions. And I am not aware of any statements made by these men where they claim that all other religions contain no truth whatsoever. Since this seems to be what you are suggesting, perhaps you can help me out here and give me some examples of where this was taught.

  43. Interesting conversation. I find Kullervo’s statement — This positive evolution doesn’t really square with the Church’s exclusivist and absolutist foundational claims — interesting, because one of the reasons I was attracted to the LDS church was because it was less exclusivist than the evangelicalism I had grown up with. True, the LDS church has exclusivist claims (and rightly so, in my opinion) in much the same way that the Catholic church does. But unlike many evangelicals, we don’t claim that those who don’t believe the same way we do, or who haven’t had the opportunity to hear the gospel, will be eternally punished by a supposedly loving God.

    So if we believe that good Southern Baptists (for example) will live in eternity in a place that is much like what they believe heaven to be, but they believe that we’ll burn in hell because we have some points of doctrine wrong, who’s being exclusivist?

    And to tie that into the original topic, that point of doctrine is one reason why some LDS, should they leave the church, are not interested much in evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity. The megachurches and such don’t often emphasize that doctrine much these days, and I realize that some evangelical leaders (including Billy Graham) seem to have backed away from that doctrine a bit, but if you check their statements of faith it’s usually there.

  44. Quasi-universalism doesn’t equal nonexclusivity. the Celestial Kingdom is ultra-exclusive.

    And I am not aware of any statements made by these men where they claim that all other religions contain no truth whatsoever.

    Do you really believe that the rhetoric has always been consistently open and welcoming like you’re claiming?

    “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’”

    There’s plenty more, but I’m not going to do your research for you because 1) I don’t care enough, 2) I’m not going to convince you anyway, no matter what I say. You’re too busy drinking the Kool-Aid, buddy.

  45. Kullervo,

    It’s unclear to me how you can interpret God’s statement to Joseph Smith in the first vision to mean that all other religions are devoid of all truth, especially given the fact that Joseph taught in a very direct way that they did have truths. The context of the first vision quote was made in answer to Joseph’s question as to which church he should join, not about the extent of truth in other religions. And given Joseph’s clear statement to the contrary, it’s obvious that he at least did not understand this first vision statement the way that you want to make it sound.

    As a life time member of the church I have always been taught that there is truth to be found in other religions, and I’m not aware of any statements from the church teaching that this statement from the first vision means that there is no truth to be found in any other religion, although I have heard this interpretation given by several critics of the church. And given that there are many statements teaching the exact opposite, I think the example you provided falls short of demonstrating your claim.

  46. It seems a tad convenient to say “I can make whatever claim I want and don’t ask me to demonstrate/prove/back up with evidence any such claim, ’cause I aint gonna!” Why? Why are you exempt from being reasonable. Because you are angry? We get that. Move on.

  47. Kullervo is right that there is Mormon prophetic writing out there that goes far beyond what God said to Joseph. Several apostles have, on occasion seen fit to be much, much more harsh on the other religions.

    But I see no reason why my Mormon beliefs require me to take these statements from Church authorities with anything other than a large grain of salt.

  48. What Kool-Aid am I drinking, frofreak? The “Church is not true” flavor? Please. The implication is that it is clearly more reasonable to believe the Church true than not, and that is utterly laughable.

    Why? Why are you exempt from being reasonable?

    I’m not. I said why. I don’t care enough about convincing InCognitus and I’m not willing to engage in a battle that I can’t win anyway, because InCognitus is going to believe whatever he wants, regardless of how the evidence points. InCognitus wants to believe, which drastically skews his perception of the evidence. Furthermore, even if I manage to convince InCognitus, what do I get out of that? There’s very little incentive for me to do a lot of research and carefully construct arguments.

    Seriously, the hard evidence does not support Mormonism even a little bit. That’s why your testimonies are based on emotional spiritual experiences, or on selective facts and biased logic.

    You’re Mormons, for God’s sake, and you’re telling me to be reasonable? Belief in Mormonism is based on unreason. That’s what faith and testimony are, after all.

    I don’t mean that in a perjorative sense. I certainly don’t think reason and logic are the be-all end-all, the apex of truth, or some kind of infallible compass. I think reason and logic are something that human beings made up. But my point is that it’s silly for Mormons to argue from reason or logic, since Mormonism is not based on either of those.

    “But I see no reason why my Mormon beliefs require me to take these statements from Church authorities with anything other than a large grain of salt.”

    I would say that again, you’re involved in a very convenient cherry-picking operation. If you have to selectively edit Church history and teaching in order to have a palatable and believable Mormonism, “the Gospel according to Seth,” it sounds to me like you’re grasping at straws. Reasonable minds might differ, though. I mean, it may indeed be the case that your particular selection of doctrines and teachings is in fact the Truth or the closest thing to it. I just don’t think it likely.

  49. Mormonism has always been about praying and studying for your own confirmation of the truthfulness of a prophet’s words. Joseph Smith himself preached this.

    You also have to be discriminating about what a prophet did and did not say, and whether he said it authoritatively or not.

    Mormonism is, at it’s core, supposed to be an informed religion. It seeks for all truth from whatever source.

    I can’t help it if a lot of Mormons and ex-Mormons don’t understand this.

  50. I as an “open-minded” Mormon wouldn’t consider “evangelical” Christianity simply because it describes God in a way that it is near diabolical, at least to my understanding. You don’t believe in Christ, you are going to hell. How can it make sense that he puts you in a world that is filled with confusion, extremely easy not to make the “right” choice of believing in the Trinity, and then punish you for eternity for screwing up during the 50-70 years you hung around earth. It doesn’t make sense that any sort of loving God would condemn you to hell for eternity for much of anything you BELIEVE as a stupid mortal human on this earth. The smartest people I have met are the ones that live by faith, not a sure light, about what is real.

    It doesn’t make sense that he is going to send you to hell for something as capricious as belief.

    I think this position can be embraced by most Mormons.

    (Keep in mind that mormons don’t believe in an “endless” hell. I personally think the very idea is an affront to the justice of God.)

  51. It doesn’t make sense that he is going to send you to hell for something as capricious as belief.

    I think you mischaracterize the Evangelical position there. It may be nuanced but profound to us at least. We don’t believe that anyone is going to Hell because of belief. We believe people can’t be with God because of sin, their actions.

    Only actions have the power to remove us from God. Only belief (in Christ) has the power to reconcile us to God. Mormons believe the same thing. They just believe that people have the opportunity to believe in Christ either here on earth or later on in spirit prison. If someone in spirit prison refuses to believe in Christ he is no closer to God than the person who refuses to believe here on earth.

  52. Tim, but what about the logistics of it? That still isn’t a clear answer for the African girl born in a mud hut during the 5th century who never had a shot at accepting Christ in mortality or not. This life is your only shot at accepting Christ? Really?

    Unless you are suggesting that it’s simply a mystery and we don’t know how God is going to sort things out – in this life or the next – in which case, I can respect that position (although it is a bit more nuanced than what I hear from a lot of lay Christians).

  53. Kullervo,

    What does this discussion have to do with epic Finnish folk poetry?

    Although I finally figured out where you got your blogging name.

    How bad was your last ward anyway?

  54. Seth,

    Our ward where we live is just a regular ward. We didn’t go very many times before we left, although we made some great friends. Probably if we’d gone for long enough we would have loved everyone.

    Our ward in NYC was the best ward in the entire world. Absolutely stellar. :)

  55. Seth,

    The name for the poster in #60, Ilmarinen, is also from the Kalevala.

    Like my hot wife said, our ward here is unremarkable, though we have some good friends there (though most of the good friends we made are also law students at Georgetown, so I at least have other contact with them).

    Our ward in NYC was indeed the best ward in the world. Our ward in Tallahassee wasn’t perfect, but we grew to love it. My “home” ward, where I grew up in Tennessee, has some major problems, but I don’t think it was unusually bad (my wife might disagree).

    I have seen many wards in many places. Enough to be certain that my problems with the Church are indeed problems with the Church as a whole and many of its typical and representative members in general, not just the quirks of one particularly dysfunctional congregation.

  56. On Kalevala: (Sorry Kullervo, couldn’t resist, I am posting from Helsinki and thought it was appropriate)

    I think you are missing my point Tim. Mormons believe that you are going to get enough teaching in the spirit prison to really have a chance at belief in Christ, you get the full download, other Christians say you are going to hell forever. The choice is not one of belief but one of covenant, will you commit to Christ and accept his atonement and its consequences, not whether you will believe he is the Son of God, that will eventually be apparent. Mormons say even if you don’t follow Christ will inherit a kingdom of Glory, which is described in the same way that most Christians describe heaven. I.e. communion with the Holy Spirit for eternity.

    Mormons don’t believe in endless hell, which is the main point I am trying to make, and my main contention with Evangelicals, and why it is hard for me to take their position seriously. If God is love, why does he send you to hell FOREVER for not believing in his son here? Tell me if I am getting this wrong, but on its face it seems a grotesque and utterly callous position for God to take.

  57. Ilmarinen,

    I would propose to you that you don’t actually have a very accurate picture of what non-Mormon Christianity actually is all about. You appear to be painting an over-simplistic picture, essentially creating a straw man.

    I could be wrong, though. Tim?

  58. Well, I agree that I what I am saying is simplistic, but I don’t think its a straw man. (it migh have posed this to dozens of evangelicals and there is not much nuance to their answer: i.e. If you don’t accept Jesus as your personal savior in this life you are going to hell when you die.

    I have read hundreds of tracts and other statements saying this. I have watched TBN and got this message. I have read evangelical books telling me this, The very fact that they tell me I am going to hell, i.e. endless torment, for being a Mormon is a perfect example of this.

    My point is certainly not a Mormon point. The point is an argument from justice.

    Our sins separate us from God, is it just that we are going to the lake of fire if we don’t find out about Christ now and accept him, while we are living. I.e. endless punishment for finite sin. You don’t have to be a Mormon to ask this question.

    Maybe that is not pushing Ex-Mormons away from protestantism but it would push me away.

  59. I would venture to guess the statistic for becoming an atheist after leaving ANY church they were raised in is about the same. I doubt this applies just to Exmormons.

    Now the real reasons most choose Atheism. They start to think for themselves something has given them the strength and courage to question that which they have always been taught to believe. Rational thinking on these issues comes into their life for the first time. Perhaps at first they look at other religions as they are still conditioned to believe in the concept of it. Some do come across a religion that feels good to them and they stay for awhile, especially if they left because of emotion rather than reason, such as someone in their church hurt their feelings etc.

    Unlocking the power of rational thinking and using common sense and reason is powerful and over time they develop confidence and are able to examine all the evidence with an open mind for the first time. Educate themselves regarding religious history and the origins there of, something it seems very few Christians do. Most Atheists that I know that weren’t raised as such are much more informed and knowledgeable on what the Bible actually teaches then the Christians I have met. In fact they have actually done studies and most people that claim they are Christian can’t even name most of the books of the Bible and think Joan of Ark was Noah’s wife. So the answer should be of no surprise that once a person starts down the path of rational thinking they soon discover that there is empirical evidence that shows us that none of the current God myths could be true. Most of you are atheists when it comes to the majority of the Gods out there, Zeus, Apollo, etc. I think there are hundreds if not thousands to choose from. Today’s Atheist has just taken it one God further.

  60. I would venture to guess the statistic for becoming an atheist after leaving ANY church they were raised in is about the same.

    I would not bet any money on that venture. Leaving Mormonism is nowhere near the same thing as leaving, say, Methodism.

  61. evangelism is a verb, not capitalized

    Evangelical is an adjective or a noun, depending on the use is capitalized

    Evangelicalism is a system of thought, a proper noun, capitalized

  62. I agree it is much harder to leave a religion such as Mormonism but it is also easier to still call yourself a Methodist or Catholic and not even actively attend any services. My point being actually questioning the belief system in which your were raised. There is very little room in Mormonism to just passively believe or participate. I wasn’t comparing the two in that context.

  63. CoventryRM hit the nail on the head. Once you go down the path of rational thinking, all revealed religions crumble.

    There is not a religion on the planet that can explain what happens to neanderthals. You know, the humans that pre-date Adam and Eve by hundreds of thousands of years.

    Or, why Hebrews (Jews) are God’s “chosen people”. This claim was written down by Hebrews of course. Kind of like Joseph Smith prophesying of himself when he wrote the Book of Mormon.

    Or why Jesus only preached to a few hundred folks around Jerusalem and Bountiful, ignoring the rest of the world.

    Or why Jesus sacrificed himself for a religion that only lasted a few hundred years (due to supposed apostacy) compared to the millions of years of human existance or even the thousands of years of civilization.

    I am a Mormon that no longer believes. I am not an atheist but I do not believe in revealed religion. I would claim leanings towards deism, only because I can’t reason my existence away.

    And I agree with CoventryRM. Atheists or other non-Abrahamic followers do seem to know more about the Bible than most Abrahamic followers, and more about the Book of Mormon than most Mormons.

    Protestantism has no foundation to stand on, and if Catholicism is wrong, then that only leaves us with Judaism since it is the earliest of the Abrahamic religions. They are after all, God’s chosen people.

  64. Protestantism has no foundation to stand on, and if Catholicism is wrong, then that only leaves us with Judaism since it is the earliest of the Abrahamic religions. They are after all, God’s chosen people.

    This is a typical Mormon statement laden with characteristic Mormon assumptions. It’s not just a truism.

    To me it reveals a startling (but unsurprising) ignorance about 2000 years of Christianity.

  65. Why do you need a religion that explains what happens to neanderthals (and when you say that, do you mean what happened, or what happens to them heaven/hell-wise?)

    Why were the Jews God’s “Chosen People”… my understanding is that they were the people chosen to bless other people. It just became misconstrued and a thing of pride. But it makes moe sense that God would choose a group of people that are supposed to help others as opposed to a group of people he’s going to bless above all others.

    Why didn’t Jesus preach to everyone around the world? Well, according to Mormonism, He did. :) He preached to at least the folks in Jerusalem and to the Nephites; I believe the doctrine is also that he preached to the other lost tribes as well. And I imagine world travel was a bit trickier before, you know, airplanes and all.

    Why did Jesus sacrifice himself for a religion that lasted only a few hundred years… are you going with Mormon doctrine? In which case He sacrificed himself knowing that apostasy would come to pass, but that there would be a Restoration. If you’re not going with Mormon doctrine, then the religion has lasted some 2000 years.

  66. “Protestantism has no foundation to stand on, and if Catholicism is wrong, then that only leaves us with Judaism since it is the earliest of the Abrahamic religions. They are after all, God’s chosen people.”
    _____________

    I agree with Kullervo on this point.

    Mormons are very fixed-minded with their own authority paradigm. There is plenty of archaeological evidence that the early church looked almost nothing like Mormonism (or any other current “mainstream” Christian religion) it had a totally different authority structure and understanding of priesthood.

    That said, contemporary Evangelicals seem to be a stripped down version of Christianity, who, like Mormons, are equally ignorant or dismissive of the complexity of its diverse history.

    Catholics seem to be more open on this point, probably because that church contains so many divergent beliefs itself.

  67. Of course, now you’re distilling Christianity down to just Evangelicals and Catholics, which leaves out Mainline Protestantism, Charismatic Christianity, Fundamentalism, Orthodox Christianity, Coptic Christianity, etc.

  68. No- no distillation here. I was just pointing out two examples of Christian traditions and their relative ability to incorporate a diversity of views without pulling out the “you are going to hell for believing/teaching that”. Of course the word “Catholicism” is a distillation of hundreds of traditions and sects, often divergent in belief.

  69. The claim about Protestantism not having a foundation probably comes from Mormon Apostle LeGrand Richards landmark book “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder.” The reference is to page 3 and details a conversation between Apostle Orson F. Whitney and a Catholic scholar where the scholar declares:

    “You Mormons are all ignoramuses. You don’t even know the strength of your own position. It is so strong that there is only one other tenable in the whole Christian world, and that is the position of the Catholic Church. The issue is between Catholicism and Mormonism. If we are right, you are wrong; if you are right, we are wrong; and that’s all there is to it. The Protestants haven’t a leg to stand on. For, if we are wrong, they are wrong with us, since they were a part of us and went out from us; while if we are right, they are apostates whom we cut off long ago. If we have the apostolic succession from St. Peter, as we claim, there is no need of Joseph Smith and Mormonism; but if we have not that succession, then such a man as Joseph Smith was necessary, and Mormonism’s attitude is the only consistent one. It is either the perpetuation of the gospel from ancient times, or the restoration of the gospel in latter days.”

    This book was written in the 70s and doesn’t really factor in the bridge-building that has gone on between Protestants and Roman Catholicism since. The quote is probably pretty dated itself and reflects some attitudes in Catholicism which are probably no longer as widely held. It is noteworthy, though not surprising, that the Catholic scholar failed to mention Eastern Orthodoxy’s claims to the apostolic succession at that time. All in all, the discourse reflects the assumptions of the participants. Both Catholicism and Mormonism at the time were wedded to the assumption that God MUST be mediated by the organization of God’s Church, complete with bona fide Priesthood authority by succession. Protestantism does not hold this view that God can be separated from the believer by an intervening Church structure.

    Mormonism still makes the assumption that Priesthood lineage is a vital component of God’s Church and thus this quote still has currency in LDS circles, even though it is my understanding that both Protestants and Catholics have moved beyond it somewhat.

  70. Well, I don’t know how fundamental it is, but I do know that Roman catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Anglican Protestants (and maybe Lutherans?) continue to set some store by Apostolic Succession, which is basically the same thing as Priesthood lineage.

  71. Interesting topic and comments. An anarchic mix of views. I loved it. And I can’t believe I read the whole thing! There’s too much to comment on and since I don’t want to take sides, I’ll just say that all of you all right. ;)

  72. Pingback: Using Tough Language From The Bible IS NOT Speaking In Hate! « Jesus Christology

  73. Having been a born again christian I can say that I am appalled at the lack of honestly when it comes to dealing with the mormon community. Even active followers of the evangilical movement have basically stated that they have poorly treated the LDS and are losing the battle.

    when I studied with the mormons, I came with alot of ideas that I thought they taught. What I found out was that these ideas were not understood by the non mormon authors and did not represent LDS beleif. What I saw and continue to see is a strong, active christian community that strives to serve God as Jesus taught us to. that fact that they hold to a more original christian belief then do most modern christians can be established, ( the trinity not part of the christian beleif until the 400th century, Harpers Bible dictionary).

    The one thing that really amazes me is the insistance not to pray to gain an answer from God about the church. I find this hypocritical of the evangelicals who pray to Jesus to find salvation ( an act that Jesus did not condone). How can you say that you are saved when you pray to Jesus ( when He clearly told us to pray to the Father in His name) and then condemn the LDS for following Jesus teachings in prayer and receiving answers. I have put them both to the test and have found the Lds has the truth and the other only parts or milk as Paul states it. As I study the antis facts I find that they have been mistated, misunderstood and in some cases lied about the Lds beliefs.

    Ron Cook
    former evangelical and active LDS member 37 yrs,

  74. When you ready to understand a MORMON , ask them “WHAT GOES ON IN YOUR TEMPLE??

    ASK THEM ABOUT THE GOLDEN CATTLE??

    ASK THE HOW THE BRIDE TO BE IS ANOITED??

    ASK ABOUT “THE CLOTHES OR COSTUMES” THAT ARE WORN DURING THESE SO CALLED CEREMONIES??

    ASK ABOUT THE SECRET HAND SHAKE??

    ASK ABOUT THE SECRET VAIL CEREMONY??

    DON’T FEAR WHAT THEY DO IN PUBLIC, FEAR WHAT THEY ARE DOING IN PRIVATE.

    IF YOU KNEW WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON IN THESE TEMPLES, YOU WILL BE TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY!!

    LIKE I SAID JUST ASK

  75. are the statements of #90 true?

    can you give me any info on the mormon militia??

    I didn’t know mormons knew how to laugh

    what is this mormon tag team??

  76. actually Abused, you’re being tag teamed by a Mormon and a ex-Mormon. You didn’t start out on a good foot here and they are rightfully pummeling you for it.

    Sorry to delete most of these post, but it had to be cleaned up.

  77. You might wanna bring a bigger army, after what a stake pres did to me and how a G.A. tries to cover it up.

    I still would like a reply on #90 or are you just like the rest??

  78. It’s not like you have the right to demand answers or anything. It’s not like we’re accountable for the Mormon Church. Especially me (ex-Mormon). Ditto for Tim, and its his blog. And it’s not like Seth is trying to convert anyone, and he’s not exactly the Church’s official spokesperson.

  79. By the way, I’ve been though the temple.

    Golden cattle? No idea what you’re talking about, honestly. ditto for anointing the bride, and if it was anything weird, I’m pretty sure my wife would have spoken up. I think you might be talking about the Washings and Anointings rite, which both men and women undergo.

    The clothes or costumes just aren’t a big deal. ceremonial clothing? Who cares. It’s a religious ritual. I mean, I think the hat is stupid, but its not like a sinister hat or anything.

    The secret handshakes? Sure, ripped off from Freemasonry, but seriously not a big deal.. Ditto with the veil ceremony. There area lot of problems with the Mormon church, but the handshakes and the veil aren’t some of them. Silly, yeah. Plagiarized, yeah, but if you already don’t think Mormonism is true, who cares?

    Honestly, nothing in the temple “blew me away.” I’m guessing you’ve never actually been to the temple yourself. It’s more boring than evil.

  80. I think the “golden cattle” thing was just abused’s way of saying he/she didn’t like our baptismal font design.

    I’m crushed I tell you. Absolutely crushed.

  81. I thought about that, but I’ve never been in a temple where the baptismal font oxen (representing the 12 tribes of israel) were anything other than white. Shoot, they didn’t even have oxen in the Atlanta temple when I was a youth going on temple trips.

    That is sinister of the Church, though, to have architectural design and symbolism. Shiver! Gasp!

  82. I think the Manti Temple has 12 golden oxen supporting the font if I remember correctly. Representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

  83. So the issue is just color, then. And it appears to be a purely stylistic choice. With open, acknowledged, and fairly superficial symbolism. SINISTER! EVIL!

    Look, I think Mormonism has some extremely problematic cult-like aspects, but the fact that there is symbolic architecture in the temple… is not one of them.

  84. steffielynn, your posts here were quite moving. In fact, I read them yesterday and they have haunted me. I had to come back and say this . . .

    I am an Evangelical BUT I completely understand what you’re saying. I grew up in a particular Christian denomination (I won’t say which one, they get upset with me when I do – and if I even hint at it James Dobson and Les Parrot roll their eyes!) and I HATED God because of the legalism and goofy religious nonsense that went on. How many ways can I say, “Ew! Yuck!”

    I rebelled BIG time – drugs, sex and Rock ‘n’ Roll, the whole package.

    However despite all that I was sovereignly pursued by God who loved me through all it all and ultimately caught me through His pervasive love. And that love has been pervasively returned by this poor, humbled, broken, unworthy man for 37-years.

    I realize now that what I grew up in was RELIGION. What I have found is a direct and intimate RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ and it is quite different than what I grew up!

    Never-the-less, my heart goes out to you and I am so sorry that all that was inflicted on you by well-meaing but misguided Christians. And I hope that you can eventually forgive my people group for what you suffered at our hands.

    I will be praying for you. May God richly bless you and your household in Jesus’ Name.
    ;-)

  85. Ron Cook, I was delighted to see you here. I always enjoy your quiet respectful posts and appreciate your honesty. Thank you for being a good friend to we poor misguided Evans! (sorry I couldn’t resist that last little nudge!)
    ;-)

    Regarding this statement: “The one thing that really amazes me is the insistance not to pray to gain an answer from God about the church.”

    Well, that’s not entirely true I have taken, “The Book of Mormon Challenge” or “Moroni 10 Formula” or whatever you like to call it; and I did so per the stated requisites. And on my home board (http://concernedchristians.com) I found 5 other Evans who had done the same thing. So it’s actually more common than you might think!

    Unfortunately the outcome wasn’t the same as yours but never-the-less it was honest, it was intentional and it was sincere in all cases.

    In fact, I found the experience so profound that I included the subject of Mormon Testimonies in my Mormon Studies regiment (there’s actually been a lot of work done in this area – believe it or not!) and wrote up the results in an article called, “‘Deconstructing Mormon Testimony Bearing” which you can read at this link: http://www.concernedchristians.com/index.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=42&func=view&id=75526&catid=10

    I encourage you (and anyone else who’s interested) in this subject to consider my findings. I’ve got good feedback on it so far and most people seem to find value in the piece.

    As I said, it’s always a special joy to see your posts. I hope that you and your family are doing well and look forward to seeing you around the boards again soon!

    God bless you and your household in Jesus’ Name Ron!

  86. Well, not that I really want to add fuel to this very silly fire . . . but I feel I must . . .
    ;-)

    I included a B&W photo of the Baptismal font in the Salt Lake Temple, circa 1912 in the following post and the oxen appear to be goldish and not whiteish. So for what it’s worth (and as IF it really matters!) here’s the link:

    http://www.concernedchristians.com/index.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=42&func=view&id=75389&catid=10

    Gold? White? Purple?

    Come people in the end does it REALLY matter . . . really?

    (Mr. IT shaking his head in wonder and amazement at how silly we all can be!)

  87. Finally, I want to put in a plug for the “Born Again Mormon” Movement that’s been spearheaded by Shawn McCraney. McCraney’s premise is that the old “shock and awe” technique of “getting them out and hoping that they find Jesus” isn’t effective (and I think that a 60-80% failure rate would validate that claim) so he suggested that we:

    1) Help Mormons have a Born Again experience with Jesus while STILL in the LDS Church.

    2) Let God move the “Born Again Mormon” out of the LDS Church when it’s His good pleasure.

    With the “Born Again Mormon” approach the Mormon is moved INTO a relationship with the Biblical Jesus before they’re moved OUT OF the LDS Church.

    As you can imagine this approach is quite controversial on both sides of the divide!

    In brief this approach is based on two scriptures:

    First, I Corinthians 9:19-23.
    Key take away: “I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible . . . I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

    Second, Corinthians 16:14-18.
    Key take away: “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.”

    You read more about this approach on the Born Again Mormon website which is http://www.bornagainmormon.com.

    Or better yet, watch the trove of great TV shows Shawn has done over the last 3-years on this approach.
    http://www.hotm.tv

  88. Mr. IT,

    I think that’s not a bad approach. It also leaves open the possibility that the “born again” Mormons within the LDS faith may influence and change Mormon culture in ways that are more in line with Evangelical beliefs.

  89. This is essentially the Mormon missionary approach, i.e. help those of other faiths to have the Spirit speak to them and let them know that the Church is true.

    I think you have to assume that the religion that is closer to God will survive head-to-head challenges, don’t you?

  90. Seth, Shawn has that vision as well. His prayer is the Born Again Mormons might “grass roots” a Worldwide Church of God type transition to orthodoxy. Or as he says:

    “Our Purpose
    To introduce Latter-day Saints to the God-given gift of spiritual rebirth through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    To assist Born-Again Mormons in their sacred mission or peacefully bringing other Latter-day Saints to the Lord.

    To help Born-Again Mormons appreciate and support positive aspects of church membership while simultaneously (but politely) reject any doctrine or practice contrary to biblical truth and authentic Christian beliefs.

    To patiently help initiate an integration of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into the existing body of Christ.”
    (http://www.bornagainmormon.com/about-purpose.htm)

    Jared, I would assume that you are LDS both from your name and your approach to seeking truth – that is, feelings. No, Shawn (who BTW was a very successful LDS Missionary in Harrisburg, PA when he was LDS) does NOT feel that being Born Again or seeking truth is feelings based. He covers this in detail throughout his massive 359-page behemoth of a book. (good read through – goes fast)

    He is now of the opinion that subjective truth discernment (aka “feelings”) must always be “plumblined” against objective truth – The Bible.

    BTW, if you’re LDS he will send you a free copy of the book if you ask for it. Here’s the link http://www.bornagainmormon.com/book.htm#freebook.

    And, to close, I agree with J. Budziskewski who said, “. . . it is all too possible to delight in the lie and to sorrow in the truth; that’s why false religions exist.”
    – J. Budziskewski; World Magazine, September 13, 2008; p. 27

  91. Mr. IT,

    Are you saying Evangelical truth seeking is not “feelings based”? ( I guess you may be right, Evangelicals are roundly criticized for being too scientific in their approach to truth.)

    From what I see on McCraney’s site, he seems to be just as much as a closed minded true believer now as he probably was when he was a Mormon. The irony of Budziskewski’s statement is palpable.

    McCraney’s conversion to Evangelicalism seems to have been prompted primarily by feelings as well.

  92. Thank you for your response Jared, you’ve made some interesting points.

    Evangelicals do discern truth with feelings BUT also plumbline those feelings against the objective truth of the Bible. If there’s a contradiction then the feelings are either discounted or discarded as unBiblical and therefore, not valid.

    I won’t attempt to speak for Shawn but he is strongly Evangelical now and, yes, he is quite strong of will and personality. From what I understand it’s just the way he is.

    However, I’ve found him to be approachable, and teachable in emails. He’s strong but he DOES listen and consider what you have to say if you do it in love and with respect. However disrespect from others doesn’t do very far with Shawn – as some of the TV shows demonstrate. Let’s just say that he’s got healthy boundaries.

    And like me, he loves discussing things with Mormons.

    I really encourage you to get a free copy of his book. It’s not “Anti” – not even close to it – and it’s a good read even if you disagree with him.

    Finally, on Budziskewski’s quote I would merely point out that ALL cults emphasize feelings over evidence – just consider the Jehovah’s Witness cult for example. What this means is that if the evidence doesn’t match the feelings then a known process called “Thought Stopping” kicks in which you can read about here: http://changingminds.org/techniques/conversion/thought_stopping.htm (which is an objective, neutral Psychology Site nothing more)

    God bless Jared and thank you again for your wonderful reply!

  93. Mr. IT,

    I appreciate your response. However isn’t the trust in the bible as the “objective truth” something that is based on feelings, tradition, convention, etc. rather than established scientific fact?

    If so, Evangelicals seem to be simply pushing the “feeling factor” to belief in the Bible rather than belief in the Book of Mormon and modern prophecy. (Certainly you could argue that their is a bit more historical evidence for the some of the EVENTS of the Bible but its inerrancy appears something that is based something other than objective measures of truth such as science)

    McCraney’s description of his conversion from Mormonism sounds remarkably like the stories of so many converts TO Mormonism.

    I think the original question of this post is very central to the entire LDS-Evangelical discussion. This post is what drew me to this blog in the first place.

    To the outsider majority (Non-lds and non-evangelical) we are members of two faiths that take an awful lot on faith and feeling in absence of solid objective evidence. Those who are prone to take things on faith and trust their feelings are prone to move from one to another rather than abandon such systems.

    However, I think the Evangelical position that their beliefs are somehow more “rational” , “objective ” and less feelings based is simply less honest and self-aware than the Mormon position that personal revelation is necessary to discern truth from God.

    The reason why Budziskewski’s comment is ironic is that the Jesus “cult” is a supreme example of emphasizing tradition, convention, feelings, intuition, spiritual experience over purely objective measures of truth. We certainly trust feelings at least relatively more than the eminently skeptical Science “cult”. Rationality in Christianity is primarily used to defend the truth of the Bible rather than to establish belief in it.

  94. Jared C said:

    However, I think the Evangelical position that their beliefs are somehow more “rational” , “objective ” and less feelings based is simply less honest and self-aware than the Mormon position that personal revelation is necessary to discern truth from God.

    I agree with what Jared said. If you could prove objectively that the Bible was inspired by God and inerrant, and that that furthermore than evangelical intepretation of the Bible is objectively what it ways … why, everyone would be evangelicals.

    For one instance, I know many evangelicals who believe, for example, that the world was created in seven 24-hour days a few thousand years ago, because that’s what (in their opinion) the Bible teaches. But any objective standard of evidence would suggest otherwise. (I realize not all, not even most these days, evangelicals agree with this doctrine. I’m just using it as an example for my view that many evangelicals are no more able to look at evidence objectively than Mormons are.)

    And how can you arrive at the position that the Bible is objectively true? I’m not even convinced that’s a Biblically supported position.

    And I find it a bit ironic that many, many evangelical worship services place more emphasis on feelings than does the typical LDS church service, which by comparison is emptionally flat. In the various megachurches I’ve attended, for example, the tempo of the music, the worship style, even the architecture is chosen in a way that is designed to elicit feelings of God’s presence. I’m not saying, not at all, that that’s a bad thing (in fact, I wish we Mormons did more of that). I’m just saying that I don’t buy the argument, not for one second, that evangelicals substantially rely on their feelings in determining spiritual truth less than Mormons do.

  95. Popular Evangelicalism has always struck me as a primarily emotional affair. Which has always made their accusations that we are “emotional” rather amusing.

    One disagreement though Eric. You wrote:

    “If you could prove objectively that the Bible was inspired by God and inerrant, and that that furthermore than evangelical intepretation of the Bible is objectively what it ways … why, everyone would be evangelicals.”

    This does not follow. Many Evangelicals think it logically follows, but it really doesn’t.

    Acknowledging the EXISTENCE of God – even the existence of a Biblical God – does not automatically get us to worshiping Him.

    In fact, you’re not even halfway there.

  96. Seth said:

    Acknowledging the EXISTENCE of God – even the existence of a Biblical God – does not automatically get us to worshiping Him.

    Point well taken.

  97. Gentlemen, I must tell you that I’m enjoying this dialog immensely – you all given me a lot to chew on!

    AND I feel like I owe you all an apology, I’m new to this board and I didn’t realize that I had replies to respond to (my “home board” emails me whenever a reply is posted). Please forgive me for the delay in responded to your wonderful responses!

    So with those house keeping items dealt with . . .

    Seth, in response to, “More things than just ‘cults’ emphasize feelings.” That’s true. There’s nothing wrong with feelings as long as if once they’re subjugated to clear, physical, verifiable contradictory evidence they lose.

    For example if I pick up a bottle of cyanide and declare, “The witness of the Spriit is that this is Vitamin C and I should take one!” you would be right to say, “No friend, the label and the pills clearly say cyanide – don’t take any!”

    What if I replied, “Seth you CLEARLY aren’t seeing this with your spiritual eyes! The Spirit is telling that this is Vitamin C! Further the Spirit is directing me to take one and be healed of my cold!” and then promptly took one and died?

    A silly story to be sure! However it serves to illustrate this point: The keep difference is that it is a key determining factor as to whether a group is a cult or not is whether “truth” is discerned via “feelings” rather than evidence.

    For example, on my home board we have a LDS who absolutely refuses to consider or accept any form of evidence – period. Scientific, Archaeological, Historical, Physical, etc., etc., etc. He has flatly stated that evidence is a “vain and hollow philosophy of men not God”.

    Rather his Mormon Testimony trumps ALL evidence – period. And that “testimony” is ultimately feelings based.

    When we try to reason with him we’re told that we have CLEARLY been taken capture by “inferior” means of discerning “truth” and are therefore, lost deceived Christians! And we are most obviously inferior to him in Spiritual Discernment because we rely on infallibles like “reality” while he relies on direct revelation from God.

    To this LDS, all science, all history, all evidence of ANY kind that contradicts his belief system is, “of the devil – and you’ve been snared! You’re a fool!”

    However, in my limited, demonic, deceived, captive state, I can only response that the term for someone who subjugates evidence to feelings like this is in some type of light (please note the key word “light”) psychotic state. Consider . . .

    From Dictionary.com:

    “psychosis (sī-kō’sĭs)
    A mental state caused by psychiatric or organic illness, characterized by a loss of contact with reality and an inability to think rationally.”

  98. Also, Mr. IT, I totally dare you to apply the same evidential standards to Christianity as you do to Mormonism. You realize that atheists think you’re just as deluded as the Mormons, right? Pot-and-kettle.

  99. Mr. IT, I can honestly tell you that in 30 years of life as a practicing Mormon, I have never – not even once – experienced the “burning in the bosom” that some LDS talk about.

    For me it is a combination of things that comprise my commitment to this religion.

    First, I have the evidence of a lifetime of practicing it. It has served me well. I can judge the root of the beliefs from the fruits it has yielded in my life.

    Second, I have a lifetime of study of the theology, doctrines and teachings of my church. I have found them compelling and powerful. They have served me well in contextualizing every other piece of information I have ever received in my life.

    Third, I have the assurance of people whom I know to be of an intellectually high caliber that this is a true faith. I also have the assurance of people of high moral commitment. Some of the wisest people I know are Mormons, and their examples are compelling to me. This church is not populated with emotionally fluttery ignoramuses, but with people of the highest intellectual, ethical, and emotional character.

    Perhaps from the outside, it is easy to lump these people together with the deluded. But from my standpoint, it is much different. There is nothing deluded about these people.

    Fourth, I have the harmony of Mormon doctrines with other inspired writings. This of course, means the Bible. But it also includes other inspirational sources I have encountered.

    Finally, none of the criticisms I have encountered of my Church are compelling enough to discredit it. None of them.

    And by this point, I’ve heard almost all of them. DNA evidence, archeology, Kinderhood Plates, Spaulding, Adam-god, polygamy, you name it. I’ve heard it, looked into it, and come away unconvinced.

    You can add to all these reasons an intuitive deduction that the LDS faith is true. But this is a far cry from “cheap emotionalism.”

    With all due respect, I don’t think you really know us.

  100. Kullervo, as it wasn’t a clinical assessment merely a functional one.

    And, yes, some Christians are just as in the same light psychotic state. No disagreement.

    However, not all. I’m not saying this to sound elitist, but to be fair to both sides.

  101. > With all due respect, I don’t think you really know us. <

    That’s an odd, statement given that I’m new to this villa and we don’t know each other very well yet.

    So, let’s see . . .

    My Uncle is LDS.
    My Brother is LDS.
    I had several LDS friends growing up.
    I have several LDS friends now.
    I have agressively engaged in Mormon Studies.
    I’ve interacted with who knows who many Mormons online – Stalwarts, New Orders, Ex, you name it.

    I realize that you are all different but for the sake of conversation generalizations are useful.

    AND I am always open to correction!

    So please fill in the gaps. I’m listening.

  102. Part 1 of 2

    Jared, great post! Thank you.

    > I appreciate your response. However isn’t the trust in the bible as the “objective truth” something that is based on feelings, tradition, convention, etc. rather than established scientific fact? If so, Evangelicals seem to be simply pushing the “feeling factor” to belief in the Bible rather than belief in the Book of Mormon and modern prophecy. (Certainly you could argue that their is a bit more historical evidence for the some of the EVENTS of the Bible but its inerrancy appears something that is based something other than objective measures of truth such as science) McCraney’s description of his conversion from Mormonism sounds remarkably like the stories of so many converts TO Mormonism. <

    I would surely like to read some. Do you have any links or references?

    - TO BE CONTINUED -

  103. PART 2 OF 2

    > To the outsider majority (Non-lds and non-evangelical) we are members of two faiths that take an awful lot on faith and feeling in absence of solid objective evidence. Those who are prone to take things on faith and trust their feelings are prone to move from one to another rather than abandon such systems. However, I think the Evangelical position that their beliefs are somehow more “rational” , “objective ” and less feelings based is simply less honest and self-aware than the Mormon position that personal revelation is necessary to discern truth from God. The reason why Budziskewski’s comment is ironic is that the Jesus “cult” is a supreme example of emphasizing tradition, convention, feelings, intuition, spiritual experience over purely objective measures of truth. We certainly trust feelings at least relatively more than the eminently skeptical Science “cult”. Rationality in Christianity is primarily used to defend the truth of the Bible rather than to establish belief in it. <

    Perhaps, I not sure I QUITE understanding your meaning. However, I think that where Mr. Budziskewski and I might give off your bus is when that bus is heading into the tunnel called, “Feeling based revelations that contradict God’s written revelation – the Bible as well as reality as defined by the sciences and your senses.”

    That’s a tunnel I deliberately and intentionally avoid.

    And as a former Atheist and Evolutionist I would counter that the thing that APPEALS to me about the Bible was it’s consistency with the Cosmological record. My conversion was a blend of reason and faith working together and sealed by the blessing of the Holy Spirit just as your leaders have suggested.

    Great post Jared – as usual – I look forward to an equally interesting reply!

  104. AND THE END NOTES
    (this board is gagging on something in the notes)

    Email me and I’ll send the end notes to you if you want the cross references.

  105. Jared, I burned through my time allotment on long post so I’m going to have to refer to the work of others on this:

    “Third, I have the assurance of people whom I know to be of an intellectually high caliber that this is a true faith. I also have the assurance of people of high moral commitment. Some of the wisest people I know are Mormons, and their examples are compelling to me. This church is not populated with emotionally fluttery ignoramuses, but with people of the highest intellectual, ethical, and emotional character.

    Perhaps from the outside, it is easy to lump these people together with the deluded. But from my standpoint, it is much different. There is nothing deluded about these people.”

    I would refer you to former Bishop and Stake Missionary President, Bob McCue’s superb article entitled, ”Do Smart Mormons Make It True?”

    http://www.concernedchristians.com/index.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=42&func=view&id=73237&catid=10

  106. You’ll note that the “smart Mormons” argument was only one of several factors that played into my convictions.

    At a certain point, you cannot live on borrowed light.

    And in any event, I do not think that dismissals of Mormons as fluttery emotionalists shows a true understanding on what undergirds a typical Mormon testimony. True, the emotional aspect tends to be on display at testimony meetings and other such events. But that does not mean that the emotion is the only grounds for Mormon conviction. Nor does it mean that emotional reaction is the most important pillar of Mormon conviction. It could easily just be the most flashy one, and the one that people tend to notice most.

  107. Mr. IT,
    Let me be clearer on my meaning:

    Belief in the Bible as inerrant is just as relatively the same amount of scientifically testable objective evidence as believing that Joseph Smith had revelations from God. (i.e. very little.)

    Until you can give solid scientific evidenced that God inspired the writers of the Bible, you are on the same footing as any Mormon. However Mormons, at least, admit that they have to rely on personal revelation.

    The problem is that you are assuming that the foundation of your religion is solid (without proof) and then complaining that Mormons are relying on feelings.

    Ultimately, and most honestly,you should admit that Mormons and Evangelicals are simply arguing about interpretation of the Bible between two similar groups with very different interpretations.

    To consider Mormons somehow more deluded than Evangelicals because their interpretations are so different and calling them a “cult” and calling them “irrational” is just rhetorical smoke and mirrors to distract from the analogous weaknesses in the Evangelical position. (Additionally, I would agree with Seth that, although you may know a lot of Mormons, your descriptions of Mormon faith are more caricature than representative. )

    Evangelicals and Mormons both assume the same fundamental premise, i.e. there is a God that speaks to people. The primary disagreement is about which people God spoke to and what those words mean. Neither religion has any solid objective evidence supporting the premise that is universally acceptable. Even you seen to acknowledge that the Spirit is the final arbiter of spiritual truth.

  108. Gentlemen, I can only speak from my experience, strength and hope when it comes to Mormon culture. It has been my EXPERIENCE that Mormons tend to put a heavy emphasis on feelings. I will happily acknowledge that you all seem very different – in fact, this board is very different than the others I’ve encountered.

    And since I am a Charismatic Evangelical you may find me a bit different than many of the non-Charismatic friends you’ve had. Even Richard Mouw acknowledged this at his ‘The Worlds of Joseph Smith’ Symposium Address (highly recommend seminar if you haven’t worked through it yet, http://www.concernedchristians.com/index.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=42&func=view&id=72853&catid=10). Plus I don’t know if you realize this but Mormons started out as Tongue Speaking Pentecostals. Yes, boys we have a lot more in common than you might suspect at first blush.

    And I would agree with this from Jared:

    “Evangelicals and Mormons both assume the same fundamental premise, i.e. there is a God that speaks to people. The primary disagreement is about which people God spoke to and what those words mean. Neither religion has any solid objective evidence supporting the premise that is universally acceptable. Even you seen to acknowledge that the Spirit is the final arbiter of spiritual truth.”

    Except I would, perhaps, nuance it a bit more and state that, “. . . the Godhead is the final arbiter of spiritual truth.” I say this because eventually we will see God and at that point all arguments will cease.

  109. Helsinski? Dang I was hoping that you were in Southern California and we could catch a ballgame. I think you guys rock!
    ;-)

    How about you Seth? So. Cal maybe? I know a Mormon Bishop in San Diego, we could catch a Padres game and you guys could double team me!

    LOL!

  110. Alas, Colorado – north of Boulder.

    I’m always up for meeting people in real life. But don’t seem to get much opportunity out here…

  111. Seth, here’s a small world thing – my finance’ grew up in Boulder and still owns land out there.

    So maybe someone we’ll be catching a Rockies game and y’all can trash talk me because I’m a Red Sox fan.

    Great discussion guys! I’m going to start hanging out around this board – I like it!

  112. Oh, and Seth, I apologize for not validating this statement earlier in the dialog:

    >Acknowledging the EXISTENCE of God – even the existence of a Biblical God – does not automatically get us to worshiping Him.

    In fact, you’re not even halfway there<

    Absolutely true AND quite Biblical in fact. After all most the Pharisees and Sadducees acknowledged the existence of God and were “Bible believing” yet didn’t recognize God when He was standing incarnate right in front of them – let alone come to worship Him.

    GREAT point Seth!

    Dang, I have got to meet you some day – I suspect that we could burn hours just chatting about these things and “throwing the ball back and forth”.

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  115. It’s fun to read the old discussion of this. This was my favorite part:

    “ASK THE HOW THE BRIDE TO BE IS ANOITED??”

    Anoi[n]ting the bride to be? Sounds kinky! For the first time in my life, I think I regret not being Mormon and not getting married in a temple.

    Oh well. At least I can still wear halter tops.

  116. I am ex-mormon and I think that your reasons are very over simplified. And rampant isn’t a word

  117. Rampant:

    # unrestrained and violent; “rampant aggression”
    # rampant(ip): rearing on left hind leg with forelegs elevated and head usually in profile; “a lion rampant”
    # (of a plant) having a lush and unchecked growth; “a rampant growth of weeds”

    See here.

  118. To be fair to Heather, Tim seems to incorrectly use it as a verb rather than an adjective or adverb, or at least as an odd compound verb “go rampant” which I have not heard.

    “They’ve recently learned the tools of skepticism and go rampant on everything.”

    I think the reasons given are a bit too simple as well, but this is only a blog post.

  119. Pingback: Why do many ex-Mormons leave Christianity altogether? « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

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