Are Evangelicals Being Duped by Millet’s PR Spin

Yesterday afternoon I made a call into the Frank Pastore radio show to defend Richard Mouw’s comments that we Evangelicals need to apologize to the LDS. Frank acts like his an expert about Mormonism, but it’s obvious that he’s not saying anything that wasn’t given to him by Walter Martin and Ed Decker. It’s quite clear he hasn’t done any of his own research or come to any of his own conclusions (reading the Book of Mormon being a bare minimum to talk authoritatively about Mormonism). He’s kind of got a “Walter Martin said it, that settles it” attitude. It’s no surprise to find out that Walter’s daughter, Jill, is influencing his rhetoric, because EVERYTHING he said was right out of her playbook from the last couple of months.

Part of Frank’s diatribe was against an event at Mariner’s Church called “A Mormon and Evangelical in Conversation“. This is something that Greg Johnson and Robert Millet have done over 50 times now. (it’s influence on me is obvious) The two stand up and present the similarities and differences between Mormonism and Evangelicalism. Pastore was contending that Greg Johnson was selling out Evangelicalism and that Robert Millet was running all over him. But all of the callers that actually attended the event said that Johnson held his ground but it was Millet who made huge concessions. Many were quite surprised to hear Millet say that salvation comes by grace alone (a keystone of Evangelicalism).

Pastore chooses to ignore this and implies that Millet is just part of the vast LDS PR machine. He believes that Millet is not at all sincere in that belief but is just saying it to confuse Evangelicals into believing that LDS are no different. This accusation is just silly in my mind. First off, Millet has just as many critics on the LDS side as Johnson has on the Evangelical side. It’s quite clear that his comments are controversial in some LDS circles that reach all the way up into the 12 LDS Apostles.

Second, if Millet is confusing Evangelicals with his comments, he’s doubly confusing Mormons. 99.999% of Evangelicals have now idea who Greg Johnson is. They don’t consider him any sort of authority figure in Evangelicalism. But many many Mormons know exactly who Robert Millet is and what position he holds at BYU. They read his books and listen to what he says. If he tells Mormons that salvation comes by grace alone, and he doesn’t get disciplined, then Mormons are inclined to start believing that he is right. It’s of relatively small consequence if some Evangelicals believe him (because they think Mormons are heretical on a number of other topics), it’s a huge victory though if Mormons believe that Millet is right. That means other Mormons are going to start believing and living out salvation through grace alone. This is a MAJOR step in bringing Mormonism out of heresy.

What Pastore fails to understand is that Mormo doctine has a large oral tradition. A great deal of Mormon doctrine is not really written down in precise technical and theological ways. What many Mormons believe to be doctrine is often what they hear Mormon authorities and other teachers repeating. So if Mormons hear Robert Millet say that “salvation is by grace alone” or that “the Father did not have physical relations with Mary” then they start to believe that this is what Mormon doctrine is. What Pastore also fails to understand is that it really doesn’t matter if this is a contradiction to what deceased Mormon leaders said. It only matters if it’s a contradiction to what current Mormon leaders say (and right now NO ONE is publicly contradicting Millet, not even his critics).

I believe God is capable of making something big happen in the LDS church. I also believe that we are starting to see some early glimpses of it. I’ll admit that I’m an optimist about it. Pastore and others are looking at the same things I see and instead are choosing to view them cynically. In my view, grace is irresistible, even if Mormons are lying about their belief in its power, I believe they will come to embrace it. It’s too powerful to pick up and play pretend without it affecting you.

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38 thoughts on “Are Evangelicals Being Duped by Millet’s PR Spin

  1. Dando, you’re sure putting the I in “TULIP” on this one.

    The idea of Salvation by Grace has been gaining enormous ground in the Mormon church ever since Steven E Robinson’s book Believing Christ came out. I read it on my mission in 1999 and it massively changed my view of Mormon Christianity.

    You’re right, though- very few Mormons put much stock in what past leaders have said, except for the quotes from past leaders that have the current leadership’s stamp of approval. Mormonism really is a living tradition, for better or for worse.

    Anyway, my point is that although you can get into some mighty semantic arguments in Elders’ Quorum or Gospel Doctrine over it, I think there’s been a general trend in the last decade to a focus on Grace. Granted, it’s a grace that is accessed not by faith alone but by faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the other necessary ordinances (i.e. endowment, celestial marriage, etc.), but it’s still grace. Mormonism might set the price tag on grace a little higher than protestant Christianity (which usually, AFAIK sells it at the bargain basement price of faith alone), but the point is that Mormons see their salvation as something purchased by Jesus Christ that they have to qualify for, not somethign they earn themselves. The difference may seem subtle, but it’s honestly a major shift in emphasis.

  2. It’s not often I’m compared to a Calvinist.

    Do Mormons think people need worthiness to qualify for grace to receive salvation
    OR
    that worthiness is a requirement for higher glory in the Celestial kingdom?

  3. Well, one problem with Mormonism in my opinion is that the theology is actually pretty fuzzy compared to how crystal clear they insist that it is.

    All I can tell you is what I would have told you as a Mormon, though keep in mind I was more on the grace end of the grace-works spectrum.

    I would have said that personal righteousness, worthiness, and perfection are required for godhood and exaltation, but that’s something we’ve got like a billion years to work on once we’re in the Celestial Kingdom.

    For now, we’ve got to get there. Jesus purchased our redemption from sin and death by his suffering in the garden of gethsemane and his resurrection. By doing so, he paid for our sins and allowed us to be sinless before God and enter into his presence (i.e. the Celestial Kingdom), which no unclean thing can enter. That’s grace. It’s not something we can earn, since not only is it of infinite value but it requires a perfect record which we’ve already screwed up. So, we get it by the grace of Jesus Christ.

    Now, in order to qualify for his grace, Jesus has asked us to have faith, repent, be baptized, get the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end (i.e. get the other necessary oridnances, and just keep trying to do good). Perfection isn;t required because perfection is impossible in this life, but we need ot show Jesus we want his grace by not giving up.

  4. Beginning your last paragraph you said, “I believe God is capable of making something big happen in the LDS church. ” I certainly wouldn’t deny that!

    But, as I keep harping on, the LDS God is an exalted human man of flesh and bone, who became God by the route Kullervo talks about, above. That is one of the important reasons that most mainline Christiantly considers the LDS to be heretical. It would indeed take something big. Bigger than a few changes in some theological positions. They are not just a derailed train that can be put back on the track. Their train doesn’t fit the track.

  5. Gene, I agree, that doctrine is a BIG deal. But I think Hinckley started to sow the seeds of doubt in that one when he was on Larry King. Hey MAY have just been saying that to have a wider appeal to non-LDS. BUT it was Mormons who heard him the loudest. So if he didn’t mean it, it’s up to him to correct it (which he hasn’t) and LDS can take his word for it that “we no longer teach that”. (although he was wrong, it is still taught)

    I think he MAY have been revealing his strategy for distancing the church from doctrine he finds displeasing. Don’t confront it, but just stop teaching it. Allow a generational shift to occur, and then no members will leave because the church abandoned a doctrine they held dear.

  6. Dando, with that last comment, I think you hit the nail on the head for how so many LDS “doctrines” come into being.

    The way that I always understood (reconciled?) the God was a man once… was that he was the Jesus Christ of his generation. As in, Jesus Christ, being our eldest spirit brother, is also our Savior. God the Father was the Savior to his spirit siblings. It is Church doctrine that there are other worlds, and that those other worlds do NOT each have a savior. Therefore, one could interpret that God the Father’s spirit siblings got to be gods themselves… to their own worlds… for which Jesus Christ is the savior. That was always the ‘gospel according to Katy’…. and within its own logical framework, it makes sense. 🙂

  7. It wouldn’t be the first time a President of the Church changed doctrines he wasn’t comfortable with. I think it was Wilford Woodruff who dropped the Doctrine of Adoption because it didn’t feel right to him.

  8. Dando, in reading your post, I received a powerful insight into your concern for the well being of your Mormon brothers and sisters and in the hope that one day we’ll become true Christians. I almost (ALMOST 🙂 ) got emotional over your last paragraph.

    In saying that, I also have to say I do not agree with your assessments of the possible change in the LDS doctrine regarding grace vs. works (or whatever). I’ve only recently heard of Robert Millet (I’m not too up on the LDS scholars) and his debates & discussions with Greg Johnson, though I’d certainly be interested in all of these discussions and the books written, etc. I do not consider Millet an official representative of the First Presidency.

    If I may, I would like to explain a couple of things regarding Mormonism. First of all, we have been commanded, counseled, admonished, encouraged, and every other effort expended- to read, study, & ponder the scriptures daily. To “feast upon the word of God”. To meditate (I almost wrote “medicate”, which in a weird way does apply, ie. “To medicate upon the scriptures” 🙂 ) and pray about them. We have been equally commanded to have for our guide the Holy Ghost to help teach us.

    In today’s fast-paced and time-restricted society, it’s so very difficult to accomplish this daily. I would venture to say that many members of the Church are in this same boat as myself. However it is in the LDS scriptures that the complete LDS view of God’s grace is given, in my opinion. They are drenched with references to Gods grace, mercy, justification, sanctification, obedience, commandments, etc. We’d pretty much have to scrap the three additional canons if we were to go mainstream.

    I have on a few occasions tried to explain the LDS view using only the New Testament. This technique proved fruitless because my non-member friends would say such things as, “Well, actually what that says to me is…” or, “But in such and such a scripture it says this…”. This was a circular argument.

    I have since learned that if I want to teach others what I believe, then I have to use Mormon canon in conjunction with the Bible to show why I believe what I do.

    In response to your post, I have begun building a series of LDS scriptures that have truly had an impact upon me. They are many scriptures and sets of scriptures taken from the BoM, D&C, & PoGP. But when put together like a puzzle, it is a powerful message about the LDS view of grace. Some of them are pretty deep, even I am still pondering them. But with your permission I would like to post them or at least post a link to my semi complete puzzle. It may take a couple of days. But I think it would be worth reading to see a different perspective. In saying this, I am not belittling Brother Millet’s view of grace, for I do not currently know his view.

    Anyway, what do you think?

  9. Post away. If you like I’ll give you author privileges and let you make a new posting based on it.

    I do agree that significant portions of the LDS canon will need to be removed for the rest of Christianity to consider the LDS church to be orthodox. But I actually think that the Book of Mormon could survive that purging. It might need to be reinterpreted to some degree, but there is little in it that conflicts with classcial Christianity.

  10. Sure- I think making a new post based on it might prove easier and more visually stimulating.

    I think I’ll reserve most of my opinions on a “purging” for my post.

    One quick comment- I think some of Kullervo’s description of Mormon’s view of grace in his first and second comments are quite close to how it is- it’s scriptural- but how & why we come to those conclusions I think is the key.

    I can also understand Gene’s concern about our view of Heavenly Father. It’s an incomprehensible thing and certainly a heretical doctrine for those who do not believe.

    This may be topic for another post. But my personal feeling is that it’s impossible to understand the nature of God unless there is someone who knows God and can relate that to us. Christ himself attempts to do this as recorded in the New Testament, but not everyone (even among non-LDS Christians) can agree on the nature of God.

    Joseph attempted this as well. All Joseph Smith did was relate to us what he believed was revealed to him about the nature of God. As I recall this is exactly what has happened with the passing of the different creedal declarations in the 3rd & 4th centuries AD. What’s the difference? Did they know God personally to declare he is without body parts or passions? In my view, the difference is Joseph claimed to be a prophet and can therefore proclaim revealed truth. These early counsels did not claim direct revelation from God.

    I think the LDS view is a way to actually be able to relate to God, to get to know him in a more real and personal way. I like that. I think it’s a lofty yet worthy goal. I don’t think the LDS should be condemned for this ideal.

  11. Kullervo- just saw your question.

    I think my view of grace (outside of my soon to be posting) can be best related by using an analogy to the movie- Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King. One of the last scenes to the movie is when Frodo is hanging on the edge of a cliff. Below is a lake of lava waiting to claim his life. Above is Frodo’s closest friend Samwise Gamgee. Samwise is pleading to Frodo not to let go, “Don’t you dare let go”. He’s pleading for him to give him his hand so he can lift him up. With all the energy he can muster, Frodo reaches up to grasp Samwise’s hand who pulls him up to safety.

    We as lost mortals are hanging on this cliff just waiting to be claimed by the abyss below. Our great friend and Redeemer is above us pleading with us not to let go but to grasp his hand to safety. We have to expend the energy to reach up- perform a physical act- which sometimes is very very draining.

    No matter how far we reach up we cannot reach safety on our own. It’s only when we grasp the hands of the Savior can we then be pulled up and reach Heaven.

    We still have to do things to get there. We still have to keep the commandments of God. But even then we cannot get there on our own. It’s only through the grace of Christ that we are saved, after all we can do.

  12. I sent this quote to Robert Millet on March 10:

    “[E]very man and woman will receive all that they are worthy of, and something thrown in perhaps on the score of the boundless charity of God. But who can justly expect to obtain more than they merit?” – Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., v. 20, p. 30.

    On March 12 he responded with:

    Great quote! Thanks for sending it.

    RLM

  13. “‘I cannot work myself into celestial glory, and I cannot guarantee myself a place among the sanctified through my own unaided efforts… It is not by my own merits that I will ever make it. Rather it is by and through the merits of Christ… [E]ven though my own merits are essential to salvation, it is not by my own merits that I will ever make it’.” – Robert Millett, Christ-Centered Living

    I wonder if Millet would be willing to publicly renounce this statement of his? His has thus far been extremely unwilling to explicitly renounce the core perfectionistic teachings of Spencer W. Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness.

    There’s more talk on this whole issue here.

  14. Kullervo said, “I think you’re overestimating how attached to that particular doctrine the average LDS member is, Gene.” He was referring to my comment about the LDS GOD being an resurrected, exalted human, having flesh and blood.

    I must say, if that “attachment” is weaking things have changed a great deal since I left the LDS church. That view, however, is explicit in Joseph Smith’s first vision. Where would Mormonism be without that vision? Isn’t that vision, since it is a part of the Pearl Of Great Price, scripture?

  15. “LDS GoD being an resurrected, exalted human, having flesh and blood” isn’t explicit in the first vision at all. Go back and read it if you don’t believe me.

    Whatever, Gene. If you want to put things in Mormons’ mouths and tell them what they believe and what’s important to them and what’s not, go ahead. I’m not going to argue it with you anymore.

  16. OK, I pulled out my copy of the Pearl Of Great Price and re-read the Joseph Smith History. Whether it is explict, or not in that first vision (see previous 2 comments) may be a matter of dispute. But that this God of Mormondom is an exalted man is not. It just isn’t. Doesn’t the believing, temple attending Mormon aspire to Godhood anymore? Don’t the Temple ordinances guide and lead one to that end?

    Some of the comments and posts I read, like the previous comment, have suddenly lead me to wonder if there is a movement in the LDS church toward a more Christian orthodoxy. Have I missed something in my single-mindedness? If so, the nature of God must be a subject for debate. Likewise, the goal of mankind, vis-a-vis eternal life. These two questions are of great importance.

  17. I don’t know that it’s a movement toward a Christian orthodoxy per se, but a shift in focus. Seriously, Gene, stuff like aspirations to godhead and God’s exalted man status just aren’t really emphasized in the Church anymore if they ever were.

    I imagine that most members are more or less aware of those doctrines, but they’re not really taught anywhere other than in older books and church materials.

    Perhaps there has been a change in focus. Those doctrines are certainly (AFAIK) LDS doctrine, but most members would probably telly ou they’re really low on the scale of relevance.

  18. I am probably a lot older than you (Kullervo) and most of my experience in the LDS church was in the 60’s, 70, and 80’s. It [that God was a man] was emphasized, and taught. We revered Joseph Smith. We sang about him, we taught about him. We studied him. He was considered a prophet of God, and so how could he, when teaching about that very God, be wrong? Here is a brief excerpt from his King Follet sermon.

    “God himself was Once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible,—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form like yourselves. . .” –Joseph Smith

  19. I know the quote, of course- I believe it’s from the King Follett discourse. I read it in the “Teachings of Joseph Smith” book, but that book isn’t exactly preached from the pulpit.

    I’m 28 so most of my conscious experience with the Church has been in the 90s and 00s.

  20. Ex-Mormons usually got to be “ex” because of one of three things, according to my experience with a great many ex-Mormons.
    1. They never caught fire
    2. They chose worldliness over Godliness and as a consequense, lost their connection to The Holy Spirit.
    3. Their lifestyle was incompatible with Church teachings.

    Some may differ but not in any material way. When you ask these ex-Mormons about why they left they often get hostile. Seldomly is it an intellectual discussion. Hostility is a sign of something deeply emotional and is not a sign of an intellectual decision they made. Even if it was an intellectual descision it could still fall under “They never caught fire”.

    The significance of all this is to add some perspective to a few discussions. If you understand why some people say the things they do it is easier to find some real understanding. That is why I truely appreciate Tim’s approach. He is not burdened by some emotional baggage that hampers is ideas and opinions. His opinions come from an intellectual understanding and a willingness to make the effort that the vast majority of ex-Mormons are not. The latters is not intellectual and most often is pure venting if not hate mongering.

  21. Wow, I don’t even know where to start with that garbage, JLFuller. You’ve basically just tried to slander and discredit all former members of your organization in order to minimize their often very real grievances with what is in reality a deeply flawed and authoritarian organization. This is an example of cultlike behavior.

    One of the most irritating things about being an ex-Mormon who still has a lot of connections to the Church (all of my extended family, many of my friends, pretty much everyone I know in my hometown, old missionary comps, etc.) is the way so many Mormons don’t actually listen to your reasons for leaving. They build categories to explain you, and those categories are inevitably the following three: 1) you never had a testimony, 2) you were too caught up in pride or the World or 3) you struggled with sin and gave up (usually people further assume it’s the law of chastity). Those are all crap reasons, JLFuller.

    They’re not really the reasons that exMormons leave the Church. They’re the nasty reasons you assign to them after not actually listening to their real reasons. You think you have some kind of spirit of discernment that lets you get at “the real issue,” and it’s invariably something that utterly minimizes and invalidates anything that the ex-member could possibly say or thing. It’s a fortress mentality.

    On the one hand, I understand why you do it- you need to believe as a basis for your faith that God does in fact and will in fact confirm the truth of the Church via honest-to-God revelation. When someone claims this isn’t happening or has not happened to them, you have to come up with an explanation why. Since you can’t blame God, because that would undermine your core assumption, and nobody else should be able to stop them from receiving revelation (if revelation is indeed being sent) would be them, you have to blame them. it’s understandable, but it is no less repugnant.

    It is particularly repugnant because it means you’re either not listening to their real reasons, or you are listening to their real reasons and you’re calling them liars.

    Not all Mormons do this, I should note. I’ve had some very open, honest, frank discussions with family and friends since leaving, and they didn’t put me (at least to my face) into one of the three standard ex-Mormon boxes, thereby ending the conversation. But all too many Mormons do this- people who don’t even know you very well and have no business coming to snappy judgments do it. Missionaries and Bishops who don’t take the time to find out what you’re really thinking like they should, and instead drop you in a box and try to fix you with sunday school platitudes, they do it to. Family members do it, to your face and behind your back- my own extended family has had many conversations about whether my brother had landed in serious moral sin, because “that must be why he left the Church.” It’s offensive and insulting, and it’s no wonder that I’ve kept my own disaffection kind of quiet.

    You wonder why exMormons are often hostile? This is one reason why. When you’re talking about why they left, you’re really just trying to angle which offensive box to file them under: “No testimony,” “Pride,” or “Chastity problem.”

  22. But this aside, of course ex-Mormons are emotional. Leaving the Church generally means leaving behind a core piece of their being. For me, Mormonism was the way I was raised- it was my culture, my set of assumptions, my worldview.

    People go through this kind of upheaval, and usually they do it without support from the people close to them. In fact, they often do it amidst hostility and anger from the people they love. So they do it alone.

    And you expect them to be calm and dispassionate?

    People who decide that the Church is not what it claims to be have to deal with the conclusion: they have been lied to their entire life. They have been manipulated and betrayed. And now that they aren’t ready to tow the party line, they find themselves abandoned and rejected.

    And you wonder why they are hostile?

    Then, they meet people like you who don’t really listen to them, who pass judgment and assign them to one of three offensive ex-Mormon profiles based on the most cursory of investigations (and never simply a matter of taking what they say at face value- when you put people in one of these boxes, you’re accusing them of ulterior motives), and you’re all shocked that they don’t want to have an intellectual discussion with you?

  23. Okay, here’s my last one.

    JLFuller, your last thing about how ex-Mormons never are intellectual or have never left the church for intellectual reasons is also complete and utter crap.

    For starters, it’s the pot calling the kettle black. Mormon conversion is supposed to be based on an emotional experience. The missionary discussions aren’t intended to intellectually persuade the investigator to conclude that the Church is true. The whole point is to get them to feel and recognize the spirit (at least that’s what it said in my Missionary Guide), that’s the most important thing in the conversion process. And it’s not an intellectual thing at all. It’s purely an emotional experience (feelings of peace and joy, a burning in the bosom, etc.).

    People don’t join the church for intellectual reasons. And you’re impugning them for leaving for other-than-intellectual reasons? Lame.

    and anyway, I don’t think it’s really true. I’d wager that more ex-Mormons (as in actual ex-Mormons, not just inactive but believing members) left for intellectual reasons than for any other reason. I’ve not got scientific data here or anything, but the general consensus in the ex-Mormon community seems to be that Mormonism, in particular Mormonism’s origins, just don’t add up logically and intellectually. The official correlated version of events doesn’t match the evidence, and it all starts to sound a bit 1984-ish. People realize then that they’ve based their lives, committed to this logically improbable but authoritarian organization that demands total loyalty, based on emotional experiences, and they have spent their lives “listening to the Spirit,” which is usually an emotional thing, even when it means ignoring the evidence and saying that 2+2=5.

    If they’re angry, they’re angry at the organization for being a fraud and they’re angry at the organization’s members and leaders for perpetrating a fraud. But they didn’t necessarily leave for angry reasons, or because they were offended (another classic and rarely ever true ex-Mormon profile).

  24. JL,

    I think you’re awful simplistic in your view of this.

    Let’s address the common LDS idea of ex-Mormons as being “those who just couldn’t hack it.” I.e. they weren’t committed.

    The idea of them also “not having a testimony” is pretty-much the same concept stated a different way.

    Think about what you’re saying here. Take away the uncharitable sneering tone and it basically, it boils down to: “They left the church because they weren’t fully committed to it.”

    Well… gee…

    Like, NO DUH!

    If you aren’t committed to a religion or don’t really believe in it anymore, the choice to leave is hardly a radical decision.

    Why you thought such an obvious and circular statement was going to be news to anyone here is quite beyond me.

    I suppose you’ll next be solemnly informing us that practicing Buddhists are only Buddhist because they never made the decision to be Mormon. Glad you’re willing to clear these things up for us.

  25. But Seth, you’re missing the point to. I was wholly committed to the Church. 100%. I served diligently in all of my callings–even after I felt that the Church was not true.

    It wasn’t a matter of not being committed. It was a matter of the Spirit telling me that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not the place where I’m going to draw closer to Jesus Christ; not the place where I’m going to become more Christlike.

    It had nothing to do with pride, commitment, testimony, or sin. Unless it was a matter of me getting a ‘testimony’ that I should be somewhere else.

  26. I skimmed through the response to your post Tim, so if this is covered elsewhere, forgive the redundancy. I know of no teaching that claims we are not saved by grace alone. It is the free gift that given to every person ever born or who will be born on the earth. We have always been taught that and there has never been any deviation from it. But we also beleive we are judged by our works. Grace means we are all resurrected but by our works are we placed in one of the three degrees of glory. It is a simple.

  27. Again, this is a semantic issue- the “saved by grace” you’re talking about is salvation from death alone, not from sin. And everyone gets it, regardless of faith or works, including Sons of Perdition, as far as I understand, because everyone will be resurrected.

    This is not the same thing as salvation from sin, or from a package deal of salvation from sin and death, which is what Evangelicals are talking about. To pretend that you believe the same thing about salvation from grace is disingenuous at best.

  28. I skimmed through the response to your post Tim,

    Also, way to demonstrate exactly what I was talking about re: not actually listening.

  29. Kullervo
    I don’t ever remember seeing anythng authoritve that says we beleive the definition of grace espoused by tradtional Christianity and ours are the same. In fact our message is that traditional Christianity’s take is inacurrate or maybe incomplete. Grace has broader implications. It really is about the Atonement which is much broader than I think any of us understand. Certainly I don’t have a very good handle on it yet. Let’s understand one thing. We do not claim to beleive the same things that Evangelicals believe in all things Christian. But we do claim that our beliefs are the restored version of what Christ actually established. Of course that creates a lot of resentment in some circles and is really a threat to many. Our mesage is not that we believe we are the same in all things but rather we have additional information that is worthy of consideration. To those honesty of heart who truely have an open mind and are not blinded by the craftiness of men will find a certain familiarity with the thngs we teach and will seek to learn more. These things are not new to us. We were taught these principles in our premortal life. Most will reject the message as we see all around us. We just think that people should actually have an honest opportunity to hear the message andmake up thier own minds. But there are some who would deny them that opportunity by using scare tacticts and misinformation. That is not God’s way. It is Satans.

  30. Man, it’s all the same thing. “To those honesty of heart who truely have an open mind and are not blinded by the craftiness of men, blah blah blah.” So anyone who rejects the Mormon message must be dishonest in heart or be blinded by the craftiness of men?

    Lame.

  31. Kullervoi
    That seems accurate. Good read.

    On another matter, there is an LDS proverb that says’ “People can leave the Church but they can’t leave it alone”. Why is that? If it was an intellectual decision to do so, why are so many so angry? It seems is not a preference but rather vengence they seek. I don’t understand this. Do all former Baptists feel this way? How about former Catholics or former JW’s? I understand people who have never been a member having divergent views but they are seldomly as venomous as ex’s. I wonder if these ex’s were doing something that got them ex’d. I wonder how many would even acknowledge the fact that thier member ship was taken from them and that they in fact did not give it up on intellectual grounds. That could explain the anger.

  32. C. S. Lewis said:
    “The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him–for we can prevent Him, if we choose –He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said. 20

    “Regarding the debate about faith and works: It’s like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most important.”
    — C.S. Lewis

  33. JLFuller,

    My membership was not taken from me. I could go back to church, and probably get a temple recommend if I could say that I believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I still think often about the Mormon church, even though I left it for intellectual (and spiritual) reasons.

    Why? 1. Most of my husband’s family are active LDS, and we are close to them and want to have a good relationship with them. That results in confronting the religious differences all the time.
    2. I was a wholly dedicated, committed LDS. I threw myself into the culture. Leaving the church means leaving a huge chunk of yourself behind. Feeling like you’ve been lied to–or lead astray–by people that you trusted and looked up to is betrayal–which is hard to move on from.

    Leaving the church means accepting that you were wrong. It’s the opposite of being prideful–it’s taking a huge slice of humble pie.

    Seriously–JL–you’re incredibly offensive in the way that you word things. Do you realize that?

  34. On another matter, there is an LDS proverb that says’ “People can leave the Church but they can’t leave it alone”. Why is that? If it was an intellectual decision to do so, why are so many so angry?

    Again, a lot of arrogant assumptions here. Of course there is an emotional component, because the Church uses peoples’ emotions to keep them in the Church. Do you seriously believe someone should be able to just walk away and forget the whole thing? Mormonism is more than a lifestyle, it’s a worldview and a mindset- it permeated every part of the believer’s life.

    And you want them to just be dispassionate when they walk away? Come on, that’s not even fair. The ex-Mormon has had his whole world crumble around him, and likely feels betrayed, duped, and taken advantage of. In all likelihood, he has made incredible sacrifices for the Church, and he realizes that it’s been a fool’s errand, that he’s been giving all his time, talents, and possessions for a fraud, a hoax. And you think he should be dispassionate?

    And the chances are overwhelmingly likely that he still has most of his family and friends in the Church, so he can;t help but deal with it all the time. The response from friends and family–from people he trusts and loves–is often openly hostile. It is completely reasonable for him to be angry about it. Like I said, he may have intellectually decided that the church is false, but the ramifications of that decision are going to impact him so strongly that if he didn’t react emotionally, he’s either an android or he doesn’t have the ties to the Church that some of the rest of us had.

    And yet people like you sit smugly on your high horses and say condescending crap like “you can leave the church but you can;t leave it alone- I wonder why?” implying that the ex-Mormon really knows the Church is true and is only actively fighting against it because he secretly knows it’s true.

    It’s a typically simplistic and condescending mindset.

    Come on, Mormonism teaches missionary work- it behooves him who has been warned to warn his brother. But when it goes the other way around and the one who finds out that the Church is a lie tries to “warn his brother” you make asinine generalizations and take it as further proof that the Church is really true and that the ex-Mormon is a liar.

    And you _really_ wonder why ex-Mormons are angry?

  35. I have struggled with certain viewpoints and venture to say that for either side to completely agree with the other would be betrayal of something deeply internalized. For me to follow Christ, I must love you and care for your soul as my brother. Someone whom if I have reached a certain level of spiritual maturity, regardless of denomination, I must strive with in word to the convincing of your soul to the cause of truth. Either side that I am on, this must be my motivation or my argument is in vain and in essence my life is vain. If I am to be a true Christian. The second I desire to look smart or pious or even humble on a chat forum I have lost this fragile state and it doesn’t matter if I was logically or emotionally convincing.

    How do you want to be loved and how does God want to love you? Those are questions that I can’t easily answer. If I love you the way you want to be loved but not the way God wants, then I am sinning. If I claim to know the will of God but do not in fact know it, then I am sinning. Christianity begs me to try to convince you of the way to your salvation, because as a Christian I cannot be content with my own salvation because then I am lukewarm and in some ways must have doubt that what I believe is true. Saul believed he was doing God a favor by removing Christians. It is a very difficult thing to say that you were led by a false spirit or false prophet or a false assumption or feeling. God have mercy on us all in our imperfections. God keep us from the perils of frivolous rage or blinding complacency. Protect us from lies and the pride that keeps us inside of them. If I convince you of life please follow it and I would hope I have the courage to do the same. Would that I had the courage and perspective to love you with nothing but God’s view and what you need today to step closer to him. Perhaps I can’t have more than that today. Please don’t let me be Saul.

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