Boundary Maintenance and Mormonism

The very public news that John Dehlin, Kate Kelly and Rock Waterman are facing possible church discipline has hit the Bloggernacle with a great deal of sound and fury. I must admit that while I don’t really have a dog in the fight in this particular controversy I find the topic to be fascinating. This issue has highlighted to me the benefits of having a cornucopia of options within Protestantism in which adherents can find an option which best matches their personal understanding on controversial topics. Several notable dissenting authors have enjoyed the ability to disassociate themselves from Evangelicalism entirely and no one had to hold an official trial to boot them out.

I was asked by a Mormon friend (Seth) what I thought of excommunication and whether or not a church should have the right to define itself and officially excuse dissenting members? Continue reading

The Right Wing Breaking Point

A friend shared this Facebook post with me. It was written by a passionate, conservative Mormon who had a number of issues with the recent church statement on race and priesthood. I think it’s fascinating for a number of reasons. For those Mormons who are more invested in the doctrines and the scriptures of the church than the structure and organization you can see what a tenuous position the church is in. The signs of potential apostasy are all around. As the church attempts to move forward with a more open approach to it’s history and more palatable views of its origins, it can not do so too quickly.

It’s been reported that Boyd K Packer mentioned in response to his claim that the greatest threat facing the church are gays, feminist and intellectuals that the true threat comes from the right wing of the church; that the church always must be on the look out for true believers who want to make their own claims to authority. It’s also been reported that a number of active but non-believing members sit on the committee who have been writing these new articles. For those who distrust the priesthood statement these alleged conversations might only see evidence of that in this post.

I have to wonder if the First Presidency will ever put their name on these articles or if they’ll continue to leave the authorship ambiguous, if they’ll do something more than leave an anonymous article buried deep in their website or if they’ll make the some sort of statement in a broader format.

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Prophet, Priest, Member, and Disciple– A way to understand Mormon life

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Christianity and religion in general lately. I’m trying to figure out what was going on when I was a full-believing Mormon, and how to compare that to the religious lives of others.   I came up with some simple (i.e. over-simplified) categories of roles people play while involved in an organized religion like Mormonism.  I found them helpful in providing a way of understanding my Mormon experience and comparing it with others without worrying too much about theology.   I see four roles people play in organized religion:

Prophet: receiving spiritual guidance from the Spirit of God.

Priest/Clergy: administering teachings within a community. Teaching, preaching, helping, managing, setting policy, etc.

Member: special attachment, loyalty, and duty to particular community or group

Disciple: a devotee seeking to practice the principles taught by the prophets.

I admit it’s an over-simplified model;  there are a bunch more roles that come into play: e.g.,Saint, Missionary, Theologian, Convert, Skeptic, Monk, Mystic, etc.  And I am probably not using the terms in a  completely standard way.  But for me it’s a start on trying to grasp all the dynamics involved in living a faith.

Continue reading

Obery Hendricks on Mitt Romney & Mormon Racism

Yesterday Obery Hendricks posted an article on the Huffington Post challenging Mitt Romney on racist sentiments found in the Book of Mormon.  As has been pointed out, Hendricks is guilty of cherry-picking some of those statements.  He also doesn’t have a good enough handle on Mormonism to understand that the Book of Mormon is not making reference to people of African descent, rather it’s speaking of dark-skinned people of Jewish descent living in a yet-to-be-determined location (some might say they are dark-skinned Native Americans, others might say these passages have nothing to do with skin color at all).

Last night Hendricks appeared as a guest of Ed Schultz on MSNBC.  As I predicted, I believe this is just the start of these attacks on Mitt Romney and Mormonism.  The challenge Romney faces is answering these charges in the length of a sound-bite.  I don’t think the nuance that Mormons engage the priesthood bad with is going to communicate.  I also don’t think he has the opportunity to engage in exegis of the Book of Mormon. Hendricks does not offer an attack that effectively sways Mormons, but he does offer an attack that sways non-Mormons.

I don’t believe this is going to go away and I’ll be interested to see how Romney resolves it.  I believe he’ll eventually be forced to say, as John Huntsman has stated, that the priesthood ban was wrong.

Three Witnesses & The Priesthood

I don’t remember seeing an answer to this basic question. How do LDS synchronize the loss of the priesthood with the immortal lives of the 3 witness and John the Beloved (as described in the Book of Mormon)? Wouldn’t these four men be passing on the priesthood for the last 1,900+ years as they went about their lives as disciples.

What’s the standard Mormon answer to this question?

A New Low Point

Evangelical and LDS relationships hit a new low point. This audio clip is from the Evangelical show “Heart of the Matter.” Hosted by “Born Again Mormon” author Shawn McCraney. A caller tries to silence him by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Direct link

The Top 10 Things Jesus Would Say to Mormons

as told by Dr. Craig Blomberg in a sermon found here (paraphrased)

  • 10. I admire your devotion to your families, to your wards and to giving generously to your church
  • 9. I never intended anyone to believe in me and act in any way they please. You are right to reject that idea.
  • 8. Please don’t judge me based on unkind things done by some who profess to know me.
  • 7. I applaud your restored emphasis on Bible study. Please note when you read the Book of Mormon how often it says I am one God in three persons and how often it says that salvation comes by my grace alone.
  • 6. It is tragic how often my churches have fought with one another, but no one who has ever rejected all of the existing churches and tried to restart my church has ever gotten it correct.
  • 5. I liked what Joseph Smith was doing at the beginning a lot more than what he was doing at the end.
  • 4. I never established any priesthood or ordinances that required you to be part of One True Church to receive them.
  • 3. I LOVE your good deeds, but PLEASE don’t count on them to earn you anything. (Blomberg notes that in his discussions with LDS scholars everyone on both sides of the table agrees on this one).
  • 2. On judgment day all that will really matter is that you have accepted me as Savior and Lord. . . and it has to be both.
  • 1. I love you and really do want you to be part of my forever family.

What do you think? I think he hit all the major items I’d hope to hear from Jesus in regards to Mormonism (as if I could dictate what he would say).