A New Mormon Attack

Another blogger, Samuel the Utahnite broke the news that an Evangelical ministry is planning a massive DVD distrubtion this coming Sunday, March 25. They plan on leaving a video on the doorsteps of people across the country. Particularly in Utah. I should note that Samuel is against this video, but is an anti-Mormon himself. If you don’t want to read anti-Mormon material, you should not visit his site.

The video can be previewed “early”, so to speak, on Google video. I watched it this afternoon. You can see the film here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=802338958263280034 Again, if you don’t want to see Anti-Mormon material, do not click on the link.

Some are already comparing it to “The Godmakers”. I think this comparison is a little stronger than appropriate and just a simple way to dismiss it. From what I could see they got all of their facts straight and didn’t distort anything to make it worse than it is. Faithful LDS may disagree with their conclusions on certain matters, but the facts at least are straight. For example, they discuss Joseph’s adultery, polygamy and wearing of the Jupiter Talisman and conclude that he was skirt-chaser. LDS apologist who agree with the same facts, do not conclude that he was unrighteous in his actions or his character. I didn’t see much in the film about the life of Joseph Smith that you wouldn’t find in “Rough Stone Rolling”.

I don’t know what real positive good will come from video bombing the LDS community though. If anything I think it will just convince people further that the church is being persecuted. And because it’s persecuted by outsiders (or Evangelicals), we shouldn’t talk with anyone from outside the church (or Evangelicals). Which, I think, would be a tragedy for both of us.

I’ll also throw in that I think they misapplied the 10 commandments by saying that “God would never condone lying”. I disagree. I think the Bible quite clearly teaches honesty, but there are times when lying may be appropriate (hiding Jews from Nazis for example).

Since the news is out, that this is happening, it will be interesting to see how the LDS church responds. I don’t see them issuing a statement to all members that they are forbidden from watching the video. That would likely backfire for a number of reasons. My guess is that FARMS will issue a paper that will be too long and complicated for anyone to actually read. But many will feel that everything in the video is disproven because FARMS wrote a rebuttal to it, regardless of the contents of the article.

Interested to hear what my LDS friends here think of the video and the approach of dropping it on doorsteps.

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25 thoughts on “A New Mormon Attack

  1. You’re probably right, on all accounts.

    Will this video really be anything new, or just the facts we already know with a sinister-sounding soundtrack?

  2. It doesn’t have a sinister soundtrack, thank goodness. It’s nothing new to you or me, but based on my exposure to LDS missionaries, it’s a whole lot of something new to about 65% to them. Anyone who thinks polygamy started with Brigham Young because there weren’t enough men in Utah is the most vulnerable.

    I was actually amazed at how much information they got into 60 minutes.

  3. So I just watched the first 15 minutes, but it seems like crap to me. In 15 minutes I was able to come up with 12 things that could easily be explained away or disregarded, or that they just got wrong. There was only one point that was brought up that is something that I’ve struggled with with the church.

    What’s frustrating for me is that there really ARE issues that I have had with the Church, and there really ARE logical gaps in the church, but that nobody ever discusses those (so I can’t get an answer on either side!).

    Really, what it seemed to boil down to in this video was semantics. I think that probably some of the big disagreements between Mormon doctrines and evangelical doctrines really aren’t disagreements but rather people using one word and meaning different things by them.

    If you’d like, I can post the notes that I took (yep, I’m that nerdy–I took notes!) so you can see it from a ‘former Mormon’ perspective. 🙂

  4. btw… I think there is a hint of a sinister soundtrack in the background. Possibly just subtle enough to be influential.

  5. Yes, I’d love to see your notes. Also, I’d love to hear about the logical gaps that you had issues with. Hopefully I can at least give you an educated Evangelical perspective on it.

    The film “plot” break down goes something like this:

    differences between Evangelical and Mormon Doctrines
    the life and character of Joseph Smith
    evidence of Lamanite/Nephite civilization
    Book of Abraham

  6. The part I saw mostly seemed to be the old “Mormon doctrine differs from Evangelical doctrine; therefore Mormon doctrine is wrong” tune.

    In general, I never found that kind of stuff very testimony-shaking, and I don’t think most Mormons wil either. More than anything, it will just make people angry. Actually, Mormons are counseled to stay away from anti-Mormon material, so I imagine most copies of the video that land on LDS doorsteps will pretty much go straight to the garbage.

    Especially in Utah, where house-to-house deliveries of anti-Mormon material is a fairly commonplace thing (I remember paperback books left on door steps of the whole neighborhood when I was a kid).

    And honestly, I really think that the overwhelming majority of longtime members (converts and grown-up-in-the-church members) know the basic story of polygamy, that Joseph Smith was given it by way of revelation long before the Saints went west. They teach it pretty extensively in Seminary at least. And it’ll get a mention in sunday school.

    This is the kind of thing that will have the biggest effect on either brand-new members, people who are investigating the church, or young people who aren’t very strongly rooted in the church (partially-actives, kids who don;t go to seminary, kids who joined the church for social reasons, etc.).

  7. Okay… this may not be incredibly easy to read, but they were the notes I took (in order) as I watched the video–again, just the first 15 minutes.

    1. … ‘to determine which one holds the truth.’ (Jesus or Joseph Smith)
    a. The two are not mutually exclusive.
    2. Bible doesn’t claim to be the inspired word of God.
    3. While Joseph Smith (or one of the LDS prophets) did say that the BoM was the most correct book… the BoM doesn’t. The video obscures that.
    4. In talking about Jesus as creator vs. ‘not’ in Mormonism, the video is missing the idea of the Godhead in the LDS Church. The LDS Church teaches that Jesus created everything as well—under the direction of God the Father.
    5. If’nothing existed’ prior to Jesus’s creation… how was Jesus created?
    6. hahaha—The video said that when we look at cool stuff (eyes, for example) it’s clear that there’s a perfect God? I don’t think that necessarily follows—then there would be no atheists, and nobody who wasn’t sure.
    7. “God is Spirit…” Does that follow that He doesn’t also have a body? The LDS Church teaches that we are made up of body and spirit.
    8. God being God for all eternity… (‘from everlasting to everlasting’)… how do we know that doesn’t mean from the everlasting of our time sequence? I mean, I would assume that God existed outside of time… so from everlasting to everlasting wouldn’t be very meaningful anyway. But how do we know that anyway? Also, what Joseph Smith said was the ‘God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did.’… Jesus Christ is God, and was God when he was on earth. So, if the LDS Church is true, one can assume that a savior was needed, and God the Father was the Jesus Christ on that world in that time. He later became God the Father, and Jesus Christ, when this world is over and we’ve received our rewards, etc., Jesus will be the Father, and His son will do the atoning. (It is also held in the church that there are other worlds right now with life… perhaps (and I don’t know that this is taught in the church) these worlds would be the worlds of God the Father’s siblings? They don’t each get a Savior—Jesus did it for everyone.
    9. We have one god. The LDS Church does not dispute that. Just like, for example, I have one father. There may be lots of fathers out there; those others aren’t mine. I think the difficult here might come with the necessity of a proper noun. There is one God. One being whom we worship. There are and the possibility of many gods. What is the definition of a god, anyway? Could it be that there are different definitions being used, hence the confusion? I mean, I know that evangelicals don’t believe that the afterlife is as the LDS Church teaches it is… but they do believe that in some way they will live forever in heaven. Is eternal life not godlike?
    10. In Mormonism ‘God is simply an exalted man’. That’s not true… He was a man, as Jesus Christ was a man. That doesn’t mean that Jesus was like the rest of us… it means that He had a body.
    11. Satan didn’t say that Eve would be become God. He said she’d become LIKE God, knowing good from evil. As we know good from evil, that IS true, no?
    12. Book of Abraham and lying… that was something I struggled with
    13. Why would God give a Bible and a Book of Mormon? For the same reason that I might give Oliver two books about a similar important subject. The argument that God shouldn’t repeat himself… then why have the 4 gospels? Most of the stuff in Mark is repeated elsewhere… why would God do that? Do the Bible and the BoM contradict each other? Perhaps in places, but an LDS person would tell you that that’s because the Bible has been translated lots of times, so some stuff may have gotten lost in translation/

  8. I think you just illustrated why the shotgun approach isn’t very good. It’s better to pick one thing and say it well, than 50 things and say them all poorly. As anti-mormon material goes, I’d say “The Book of Abraham” is much better than anything else I’ve seen.

    As Kullervo pointed out, it will probably only “work’ on new members or investigators. People who have some curiosity and then are exposed to a slew of issues and then decide they don’t want to mess with sorting anything out.

  9. I think that’s an interesting point to assert, ” It would only work on new members or investigators” which is to say, ” it would only work on those that have very little faith, knowledge or conviction” An example of that would be if I were to present the problem of evil to a person that has recently been investigating any evangelical church. Because we all know that main stream Christianity has not been able to solve that problem completely.
    So lets flip the coins of who defends in this argument. Dando, what do you say to the following argument; I pick you because of your religious preferences (because the Mormon church doesn’t have to deal with the problem of evil like many Christian denominations.)
    1. If God exist, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
    2. If God is Omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.
    3. If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exist.
    4. If God is morally perfect, then God has all the desire to eliminate all evil.
    5. Evil Exist.
    6. If evil exist and God exist, then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exist doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.
    7. Therefore, God doesn’t exist
    Now, one might feel inclined to say that evil is caused by the free actions of men. If you claim that you must have an argument that supports the idea of how God can remain truly omnipotent and allow agents to truly do as they wish.
    Furthermore, if you attempt to say that Evil is the counterpart of Good you must be prepared to admit that evil is the privation of Good, and if that is true then that statement commits a naturalistic fallacy; which causes evil to be an illusion of good.
    Moreover, if you attempt to respond by asserting that God has a morally sufficient reason to allow evil, then you must be prepared to ask yourself: why could God, if he is all-knowing and all-powerful have not created beings and situations where they always choose what is morally sufficient to the well being? This is logically conclusive given that God is all-powerful.
    Also, if you attempt to argue mysticism then you will have to be prepared to defend the revelations given to the prophets in the bible.

    Thus, my question is can the main-stream Christian God exist according to the previous? Especially, without committing a logical contradiction?

  10. So I just watched the entire video and I want to give you my input. Now this is just MY opinion and who knows how other LDS will feel. (Now remember I am a recent convert to the church). So this film in no way has made me question the church. Why?… because I have prayed and have a clear answer from God that what I am doing is right. I wish I could type better so that I could share all my experiences with all of you… anyways, I was lost and now I am found! My life, my husband, my two children, we have been sooooooooooo blessed by the gospel! These videos cannot change that. Good things come from God!!!! To me it is very simple. I grew up with anti my whole life and the only reason these people were anti was because they were misinformed and afraid of what they could not (or would not ) understand. It seems all anti is the same. And the church answers all these questions and then a new video comes out with the EXACT same crap. It’s just a cycle that never stops. I think some may leave the church or more likely stop investigating because of this video and all the others like it, but only because they are afraid and confused by the misleading and dark ways these people portray the church. I think it is soooooo very sad, The gospel has changed my families life and I am sooooooo sad for the people who will miss out on the Happpiness that comes from knowing the gospel. For me personally the Anti just confirms my beliefs, and I will never ever stop discussing it with others (even you crazy Evangelicals 🙂 ) J/K …… Well I WISH they would drop it on my doorstep! I would LOVE to have a discussion with these people!!!!!!! (sadly I don’t live in Utah so I guess I won’t be getting one)

  11. Thanks for your review Stephanie. I’m glad you watched the whole thing so that we could get your perspective on it.

    Just out of curiosity, would you say that you and your husband were as involved in Protestantism as you are in Mormonism?

  12. Steffielynn,
    Thank you for that spiritually ameliorating witness of you faith. That is amazing, and you should feel very blessed that you have received what men should most value and that is the love of God. He gave you that via a answer, not logic or some abstract theory, but rather by the spirit. I applaud your faith and diligence in the gospel.

    Now, I am still waiting for dando to respond to me about his perspectives on the problem of evil. If of course he has enough tenacity to answer a problem that has proved that many Christian faiths especially evangelical denominations to be somewhat erroneous in their beliefs of an all-powerful God.

  13. The problem with your “evil problem” is premise number four, “if God is morally perfect, then he has the desire to eliminate evil.”

    Where do you get that? What is that based on? Premises two and three are true by definition, and thus unassailable. But Number four? You’ve pulled it out of a hat.

    At best, you’re imposing your own idea of moral perfection on God. However, moral perfection is completely outside of human experience. Neither you nor I have ever met someone who is “morally perfect.” Furthermore, there is no real consensus on what is moral and what is not, and any ethical school of thought you use as a yardstick is one that was thought up by a human, and thus itself has flaws. So, you have nothing to compare moral perfection to, you have no frame of reference, and you have no standard or rubric by which you can say “moral perfection is x.” You can play a semantics/definition game by which you define, arguendo, that moral perfection means “the desire to eliminate all evil,” but then you’re saying you have disproved God because God doesn’t fit the criteria you, and imperfect human, fabricated whole-cloth.

    Furthermore, premise number one, “1. If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect” is similarly based on nothing. At best, it’s based on pure speculation. Perhaps God exists and he is simply more powerful, knowing, and moral than anything else in the universe? Or maybe God simply is two out of the three? You could say that you would accept nothing as God that didn’t meet all three of those criteria, but again, you’re imposing criteria that you invented (or at best inferred, and even logically correct inferences can turn out to be false) on God.

    And in the end, there’s a fundamental problem with logic: it works within it’s own rules, but it can only tell you conclusions that match objective reality when the premises you have are not only correct but also exhaustive.

    Garbage in; garbage out.

  14. John,

    You assume that God is concerned with Good vs. Evil at all. Where do you see that in the Bible?

    And who says that God’s morals are the same as ours? Why does being morally perfect mean that you have the desire to eliminate all evil? You’re making an assumption with nothing to back it up.

    If you consider the parent/child analogy used in relating God to people, you can see that God would want to give people agency–I let my son fall down, because it helps him learn to get back up. Does that make God less omnipotent? No, because He still has the power to do anything… He just chooses not to exercise said power.

    Why would God have created beings who didn’t always do what He would like? I imagine that if God had wanted to create robots, He would have… but they’re probably way less fun. 🙂 Also, since life isn’t black and white, I think that it is hard to say what would always be “morally sufficient to the well-being”. What about the good that can come out of ‘evil’? What about the growth and the development that comes from pain? What about the music, poetry, art, that have all stemmed from people experiencing horrible things and expressing them?

    I wouldn’t want to live in a world without evil–because without experiencing bad, you can’t appreciate the good. I don’t want to live in a world of neutral. My favorite color isn’t beige. (Tell my wife, “Hello.”)

  15. You left out other possible attributes anyway, like “all-wise.” Perhaps it is possible for God to simply eliminate evil, but it does not suit his purposes to do so at the moment, because he has a better or a preferable way of doing it?

    Perhaps God is “omnipotent” for all intents and purposes.

  16. John,
    you kind of come off as a bully. Did you know that? Is it intentional?

    I think Kullervo kind of pointed out some of the deficeincies in your argument already. But I would back up what he was saying about Point #4. You are assuming a lot to say that a morally perfect individual would not allow any evil. I can think of situations where it is moral to allow evil. For example, cutting into someone’s stomach with a knife is evil, but if it’s to remove a tumor, it is right to allow an evil event to occur. Surgery becomes a necessary evil. Perhaps God is allowing certain evils because he knows something better will come of it. Perhaps he views creating man with out free will to be a greater evil than anything man might do with that free will.

    I’m interested in why you think it’s a problem for Evangelicals but not LDS. What about LDS theology excludes them from the problem of evil as you have constructed it?

    If you are interested in full debate with Evangelicals (which is not what this site is about) I recommend http://www.apologetics.com . There is a discussion board there where they routinely discuss questions like this.

  17. ****Dando, I would say yes, I had been seeking out the truth all my life. I was raised in a Lutheran church ( no bad feelings for the church, i just didn’t feel it was right) When I left home I pretty much went down a different path although I always believed in God I just was not living it. When I was married and started a family, we started going to church again. In our first three years of marriage we attended MANY churches, we just never found the right one. Now I have. My husband and I were not excited about joining the LDS church. It meant we had to completely change our lifestyle! My family told me I was crazy and we lost 95% of our “friends”. My mother in law hates me, (but I think she hated me before:) ) Anyways, point is, it was not an easy path, but we both knew it was the right path. Did that answer your question? Hope so, and i’ll gladly answer anything else you would like to know (it’s my favorite thing to talk about:) ) **** John thank you for your nice comment!!! I truely do feel blessed!!!!!

  18. Thanks Stephanie. that answer my question. =)

    Sorry you had that experience with your friends and family. I know many ex-Mormons experience the same difficulties. It’s sad for both sides regardless of what I might think of any church.

  19. Dear fellow Bloggers,
    I must admit I have much to respond to.
    1st I will respond to the comments provided by Kullervo. kullervo that logical proof is actually from the Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy, so it isn’t anything that I have directly written. Lets examine a simplified version of the argument.
    (1) God is omnipotent (that is, all-powerful).
    (2) God is omniscient (that, knows all things).
    (3) God is omni benevolent (all-loving)
    (4) Evil exists.
    This previous example 1→3 can coincide perfectly, yet when one introduces 4, you come to a problem of contradiction (Reduction ad absurdum).
    So one must ask? I is it possible to combine the following contradiction and prove that evil is actually not logically inconstant with the existence of omni-benevolent God?
    You have provided criticisms that are your attempt to reconcile 1–>3 with 4. Lets see if they are possible..
    You said,
    “The problem with your “evil problem” is premise number four, “if God is morally perfect, then he has the desire to eliminate evil.”
    “Where do you get that? What is that based on? Premises two and three are true by definition, and thus unassailable. But Number four? You’ve pulled it out of a hat.”
    -Premise 4 is referring to the omni-benevolence of God (Judeo-Christian God) that is the God is a perfectly loving, good, charitable being. This is completely congruent with mainstream Christian theology. Its not out of a hat it is a characteristic of God, or would you consider God to not be morally perfect (i.e. Omni-benevolent)?
    You said,
    “1. If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect” is similarly based on nothing. At best, it’s based on pure speculation. Perhaps God exists and he is simply more powerful, knowing, and moral than anything else in the universe?”
    This is what premise 1 is attempting to capture, you see, according to Christian theology God is all-powerful and all-knowing, thus, he must be perfect.
    This idea that God is perfect and the he is all-knowing and all-powerful one must LOGICALLY (not speculatively or emotionally) conclude that he is Morally perfect. And if he is such, then we know that he must be Omni-benevolent; if he is such, then we know that we can trust him to be a ‘good God.’ However, evil exist.. that is the logical contradiction to the problem of evil. You cannot assert that God is omnipotent (that is, all-powerful), omniscient (that, knows all things), and omni benevolent (all-loving) and hold that evil is present.
    There are arguments that have been provided to help alleviate the logical contradiction. (FYI all-wise is Omniscient)

    Katy Jane said,
    “If you consider the parent/child analogy used in relating God to people, you can see that God would want to give people agency–I let my son fall down, because it helps him learn to get back up. Does that make God less omnipotent? No, because He still has the power to do anything… He just chooses not to exercise said power.”
    This is a good response to the moral evil problem of the problem of evil. Its called a morally sufficient reason to allow evil. This ‘moral reason’ is obviously for our benefit, thus, evil is good for our ability to improve. Yet, that is only supporting the fact that us HUMANS choose to fall and choose agency. However, there exist natural evils (natural phenomena). Natural evils don’t have anything to do with your response because one could assume that this world has a sufficient amount of moral evil to help our progression, and that all natural evil is merely UNECESESARY.
    Situations such as the book of Job, help clarify this example, you see there is NO morally sufficient reason that God has for making job suffer. He experienced moral evils by his friends and an almost tantalizing amount of natural evils without a reason (and yes, he did get his blessing in the end, but he has to unnecessarily suffer for such worldly possessions).
    It is illogical to assume that God is all of the previous attributes and the evil (in the quantity realized) to exist. Because I could say that if god is
    “All-wise” then he must have the ability to make a world that is free from evil and still allow ways for us to grow, and “get back up.”
    So, the only way that you can attempt to avoid this vexing problem is 1. Admit that God is not all-powerful or not all-knowing. 2. say that God is evil. 3. Or find a way to allow for natural evil and unnecessary suffering as congruent to a perfect omni-benevolent being.

    Dando,
    I apologize if is seem to appear as a bully. I was merely not attempting to candy coat my opinion or become (like many others) covertly influencing.

    Ps. This isn’t my problem, but rather a paradox that has confused and thwarted theologians for almost 1,500 years!

  20. Oh…
    Philosophers and atheist wont touch LDS doctrine with the problem of evil, because of a pre-existence where a plan that involved evil and opposition was presented. This ‘spiritual existence’ and approval frees the LDS doctrine from the problem of evil.

  21. Honey attracts more flies than vinegar.

    I still don’t understand how preexistence rescues LDS from the problem of evil. Are you saying that all evil was intentional and planned in the preexistence?

    That would seem to put the same dilemnas you offer on LDS except only worse because you’re saying God wanted evil to happen. Is that what you are saying?

  22. You see the idea of a option/plan laid out for approval by the children of God dose free them from the problem of evil. You see according to LDS doctrine a plan was presented for approval and the spirit children of God were able to use the AGENCY to approve if they agreed to go and resist and continue to use their agency to overcome and return to God successfully. Yes on could say evil/opposition was necessary in God’s plan because without any opposition would the atonement and teachings that we have now be necessary?

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