I was recently asked
Tim, please correct me if I have misunderstood you. It seems to me that you have already completed your evaluation of Mormonism and have concluded that Joseph Smith is a false prophet and that teachings in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are false. You have held up Mormonism to the standard of scriptures and you believe it does not comply with what you know to be true about the nature of God and Jesus. I feel that you have made your position clear about that in this thread and on other posts.
My question is, with this understanding, what kind of communication do you hope to have with Latter-day Saints who participate on the blog?
I have to admit that this question made me pause for a second. Not because it stumped me. I do have at least a rough idea of what I’m after. But how to articulate it?
I’m definitely not interested in any sort of Kumbaya-let’s-all-get-together-and-celebrate-our-differences forum. I’m also not asking anyone to convince me that Mormonism is true. Nor do I think I have much hope via blogging of leading someone through the four spiritual laws, the sinner’s prayer and resignation from the LDS church. I do in fact think Joseph Smith is a false prophet. But quite intentionally, I spend very little time pointing out what I perceive as his moral failings or the historical problems with his institution. I rarely mention the differences between faith-promoting and the actual descriptions of popular Mormon lore.
So what do I hope to happen through this blog? Iron sharpening iron is often a violent act. I recognize that my personality type is not common in our society. But I like to have my thoughts and ideas challenged. I also enjoy challenging the thoughts and ideas of other people. I find these challenges to be a sort of refiner’s fire for poor thinking and shoddy reasoning. They also strip away inaccuracies and distortions pretty effectively. Both sides have a number of popular straw men set up against the other which need to be debunked so that the real issues can be discussed. I find a valuable education (and at times edification) in these interactions.
I want my thoughts on Mormonism to be challenged. I want Mormon thoughts on Mormonism to be challenged. I want my thoughts on Evangelicalism to be challenged. I want Mormon thoughts on Evangelicalism to be challenged. Our faiths appear quite similar on the outside but their core principles offer so many contradictions. I wish to explore those differences and see which can be modified, stretched or amended and which are off limits.
To make the whole thing even more difficult, I want to learn to disagree with Mormons in a way that my discipleship under Jesus can’t be questioned by anyone. I want to find a way to “violently” disagree, to what I believe to be falsehood, that still leaves Mormons interested in me and my presentation of Jesus. At times I think I succeed, there are many other times in which I do not.
I spent a good amount of time on a Mormon message board. Ultimately I found it too combative and too aggressive, so I left. I started this blog because of a conversation I had with a Mormon that led me to believe a more civil and respectful tone could be reached by both sides. I hope the readers and commentators of this blog can agree.
And most certainly, not all of the conversations here are duels. Nor should they be. There is much we agree on and much that can be celebrated (but let’s be honest, that’s not as much fun). 🙂