What Mormons Should Know About Evangelicals

This guest article is written by Eric, a frequent participant here who was raised Evangelical and graduated from an Evangelical college. He has been an active member of the LDS church for a dozen years.

Both online and in the real world, I have heard many Mormons display misunderstanding and/or ignorance of Evangelical Christianity — as well as appreciation for the Christian example that many Evangelicals provide. I hope that my observations here can foster less of the former and more of the latter as participants in both great Christian faith traditions seek to follow the example of their Savior.

Evangelical Christianity is incredibly diverse: If you judge Evangelical Christianity from only a few of its adherents, you’re being too hasty. What many Mormons appreciate about their church is that you can go anywhere in the world and participate in worship and instruction that is very much like what you’re used to. But evangelicalism isn’t like that at all. In both theology and practice, evangelicalism is more diverse than you can imagine.

Within Evangelicalism, you can find churches that have rock bands in worship services, and ones where they sing the same types of hymns that we do (some of then even without pianos); you can find churches with thousands of people who attend each Sunday, and churches that meet in homes or small rented facilities; you can find churches with huge professional staffs, and ones that are run by volunteers; you can find ones that teach a doctrine of “once saved, always saved,” and ones that emphasize the need to, in LDS lingo, endure to the end; you can find churches that prohibit the use of alcohol and those that have more conservative behavior standards than Mormons do, and you can find many that accept moderate drinking and other behaviors as a choice that can be made within the bounds of Christian liberty; you can find churches that are open to the teachings of modern science, and you can find ones that insist the world was created in six 24-hour days; you can find churches where members speak in tongues, and you can find ones that condemn the practice; you can find some that baptize infants, and others that baptize only those past an age of accountability; and the list goes on and on.

Even within a single denomination, you can find diversity. If you’ve known one Southern Baptist, for example, you don’t know them all.

What tie Evangelicals together are beliefs that salvation is found through a personal faith in Jesus Christ and that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. There is still debate over what are the boundaries that define Evangelicalism. It is safe to say, however, that one key characteristic of evangelicals is that they believe the Resurrection was a historical, physical event, something that can’t be said of all Protestants. And while Evangelicals don’t define themselves by their views on sexual morality, one way of distinguishing between evangelicals and many mainline Protestants is that evangelicals nearly always are firm in the position that God intended sex only for married male-female couples.

Evangelicals believe in a personal God: Just because Evangelicals don’t believe that our Heavenly Father is corporeal doesn’t mean they see him as an impersonal force, a “blob” or an impassionate being who can’t relate to humans. For Evangelicals, the fact that Jesus came to Earth as a human and underwent suffering and death is evidence that God can understand everything we could possibly go through.

Anti-Mormonism is not a key focus of Evangelicals: While much of the opposition to Mormonism does come from Evangelicals, outside of the Mormon Corridor our church isn’t something that most of Evangelicals concern themselves with all that much, if at all. In most cases, we aren’t even on their radar. (There are exceptions, however.)

In general, Evangelicals don’t know much about Mormonism, and what they do “know” is likely wrong or incomplete: Visit an Evangelical bookstore, and you’ll find that most of the books that discuss Mormonism do so from an “anti-cult” perspective. They tend to emphasize obscure and/or inflammatory statements made by 19-century leaders (e.g., Jesus was conceived by the Heavenly Father having sex with Mary) or teach beliefs out of context (e.g., Jesus is Satan’s brother). What evangelicals often know about the LDS church (if they know anything significant at all) comes, often indirectly, from such sources. When everyday Evangelicals say incorrect things about Mormon beliefs, it’s usually out of ignorance rather than malice.

Evangelicals have a testimony of Jesus Christ as Savior: Get Evangelicals to talk about their faith, and you’ll hear many of the same things we hear in testimony meetings — gratitude about what the Savior has done for them, an appreciation for the guidance they receive from the Holy Spirit, a firm belief in the Atonement, and so on. They know Jesus lives, just as we do.

Evangelicals use the same Bible as we do: It is true that most American Evangelicals today (as always, there are exceptions) don’t use the King James Version of the Bible. But the modern translations they use have the same books as ours and are generally accurate translations from the best Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts that exist. They don’t take out verses or chapters because they don’t like them. In fact, outside the English- and Spanish-speaking countries, the LDS church typically uses the same translations that other Christians use.

Works do matter: Too many LDS-vs.-Evangelical debates boil down to disagreement over matters of faith and works. And while Evangelicals do emphasize the importance of faith, that doesn’t mean they don’t believe in works. In practical terms, most evangelicals who are active in their churches seek to live good lives, to follow the teachings of Christ, to serve the poor, and so on. Theologically, many of them emphasize the importance of sanctification — following the example of Christ and becoming more like him.

I’m not suggesting there are no differences between evangelicals and Mormon on this issue. But the stereotype of the evangelical being one who says “I can sin all I want because I’ve been saved and am going to heaven anyway” is just that, a stereotype, and represents the type of view that definitely wouldn’t be endorsed from the pulpit.

Just because many Evangelicals have rock music during worship services and pray to God as “you” doesn’t mean they’re irreverent: Read about the musical instruments that were used in the Bible, or about the exuberance of Pentecost (or the opening of the Kirtland temple, for that matter), and you’ll see that the 19th-century American worship style used in the LDS church isn’t the only one that is pleasing to God. Think of the differences as being cultural in nature rather than one stemming from an irreverent attitude.

The same goes for the prevailing (although not universal) evangelical practice of addressing God as “you” rather than “thou.” To many evangelicals, talking to God as “thou” would feel distancing and overly formal, and not recognizing him as someone who can relate to us mortals. It may be worth nothing noting that outside of English-speaking countries, most Mormons speak to God in the same “informal” language that evangelicals do, such as the form of “you” in Spanish. The choice of pronoun has more to do with custom than with reverence.

Most Evangelical pastors are not overpaid: While there are some televangelists who become wealthy through their ministries and other who abuse their positions in the interests of wealth, they are the exception rather than the rule. The pay for most is modest, and they’re generally paid with a salary set as part of an open budgeting process (rather than as a percentage of church collections). For those in larger churches, salary levels are probably comparable to what full-time LDS general authorities earn.

We have many things to be grateful to Evangelicals for: Much of the Biblical scholarship we have today comes to us from Evangelicals and other non-LDS Christians. Many of the hymns in the LDS hymnbook were written by Protestants. Evangelicals engage in much humanitarian work throughout the world (sometimes even in cooperation with Mormons). Evangelicals and Catholics are among the few groups in our country today that continue to teach chastity. Evangelicals have been in the forefront of efforts to protect religious freedom. Overall, evangelicals have been a force for good in our nation and world.

Evangelicals have a strong regard for family: They may not have as many children on the average as we do, but they love them just as much. Most evangelical churches place a strong emphasis on Sunday school and activities for children, just as we do, and many of them do a better job than we do in reaching out to unchurched teenagers. And Evangelicals are concerned about the cultural forces that can be destructive to families, just as we are.

Evangelicals don’t have the complete gospel, but they have quite a bit of it: Joseph Smith once taught: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” That is a statement that most evangelicals could agree with. Sit in on an evangelical adult Sunday school class sometime, and you’ll find that many evangelicals deal on a daily basis with the same issues we do — how to live our lives in accordance with Jesus’ teachings, how to understand what God is trying to tell us in the scriptures, how to sense the Holy Spirit guiding us.

I have no desire here to ignore or downplay the differences betweenEvangelical Christians and LDS Christians; they are real, and they are substantial. But we also share a love for Jesus Christ and a gratitude for the Heavenly Father sending his Son to Earth to set an example for us and to die for us. We have much we can learn from each other, but we can do that only if we make efforts to understand each other and to see each other not as people to demonize but as children of our Heavenly Father and who are sincerely, even though possibly mistaken, trying to heed the teachings of Jesus Christ..

185 thoughts on “What Mormons Should Know About Evangelicals

  1. I hope the Evangelicals appreciate this list, because it looks awesome from my standpoint.

    “We have many things to be grateful to Evangelicals for: Much of the Biblical scholarship we have today comes to us from Evangelicals…”

    YES! For example: NET Bible (online)

  2. Well Eric, I’m neither Mormon nor Evangelical, but I do like the perspective offered on this list.

    Even when you call out the heathen mainline Protestants. 🙂

  3. This is a great post! I have come to admire a couple of Evangelical families greatly. One has a public ministry and the other are personal friends. I have found a lot of what you have written to be true.

  4. This was a great post, Eric. One of those posts that I think I will save so that I can link it to LDS friends.

    Things I would add:

    1) Stay off the script. Clichés about how you don’t want to convert us, you really just want us to bring our truth so that you can add to it are not accurate and not helpful.

    2) One of the first declarations of the LDS church was that our creeds are an abomination and those who profess them corrupt. It is okay for us to have strong feelings about this. Arguing that this declaration came from God so we need to take it up with Him or that it only applied to the Christian world of 1820 is fallacious and will not help our relationship.

    3) Please avoid any connotation of “you don’t understand because you only have part of the truth” or “I could explain that to you, but you haven’t been through the temple.” The Mormons who say these things apparently have no idea how condescending and self-righteous they sound, and it’s a pretty fast way to shut off dialogue.

    4) Don’t accuse us of “seeking signs” for examining what’s so special about the LDS priesthood and/or LDS leaders. It is lame and always fail. You’re the ones who claim that you have something unique that the rest of Christianity lacks, so it’s only natural that we’re going to want to probe deeper into that claim.

    Gotta go to work. Loved the post.

  5. As an Evangelical I love this post. I can’t think of anything I would have added. Thank you, Eric!

  6. Clichés about how you don’t want to convert us, you really just want us to bring our truth so that you can add to it are not accurate and not helpful.

    I can’t speak for others, but if I say that, it’s accurate.

    A few reasons for that:

    1. That’s what I was told (along with everyone else in the world, by President Hinckley), and I took it at face value.

    2. I don’t have the power to convert anyone. Only a person’s free will in cooperation with the Holy Spirit can do that.

    3. The semi-universalistic nature of Mormonism allows me to take that approach. For the evangelical who believes that someone who doesn’t accept Christ will burn in hell for eternity, there can be quite a bit of pressure to convert people. For the Mormon, worst-case scenario is that even if you don’t convert and you’re a faithful evangelical, you’ll end up at a heaven that’s pretty much like what you’re expecting.

    4. I’m not convinced that God wants all people to join the Church in this lifetime. I’m certainly open to the possibility that some people can do more good outside the Church, and maybe that’s where they belong. To take an extreme example: Could Mother Teresa as a Mormon have showed the love of Christ to thousands upon thousands of poor Indians? I doubt it. I think she was supposed to be a Catholic, because that’s where she could best be a servant of Christ.

    5. While I firmly believe that evangelicals are missing some important truths, I’d say the same thing about Mormons. I think we all have much to learn, there’s much we can learn from each other, and our learning will continue in the afterlife. We’re all on different paths to a common destination, and since I can see ahead on neither my path nor yours, it would be arrogant to say I’m “farther along” than you are and insist you get on my path. But if you like what you see on my path, you’re invited to join me.

    6. We aren’t told a lot in the New Testament on how the earliest Christian missionaries did their work, but the model seems to be one of sharing the truth rather than imposing it or trying to guilt or browbeat people into accepting it.

    One of the first declarations of the LDS church was that our creeds are an abomination and those who profess them corrupt.

    You’ve not so subtly reworded what Joseph Smith was told. While I think yours is the correct of the two most likely interpretations, I’m not certain. In any case, this aspect of the First Vision is worth a post and discussion in itself sometime.

    Don’t accuse us of “seeking signs” …

    That’s a new one to me. I’m not even sure that “seeking signs,” whatever that means, is a bad thing. Oh well.

  7. Aren’t there “Evangelical” churches that do not emphasize the divinity of Christ? I’m pretty sure there are some that don’t take the Bible literally, anyway…

  8. Eric ~ While I think there’s a lot of room for agreement between Mormonism and evangelical Christianity, I do believe that evangelicals teach essential truths which contradict those of Mormonism, and vice versa, making it impossible for someone to convert to one group or the other without giving up old truths from the first group.

    For example, priesthood of all believers v. exclusive priesthood. There are similarities between the two systems, but I have to give up my belief in the one in order to accept the other. It’s not just adding onto my truth, it’s uprooting my old beliefs and replacing them with something else.

    That point only applies to Mormons who have an interest in converting evangelicals though. Mormons who accept (as you do) that maybe God has plans for us outside the church and have little desire to convert us are mostly off the hook.

    You’ve not so subtly reworded what Joseph Smith was told. While I think yours is the correct of the two most likely interpretations, I’m not certain. In any case, this aspect of the First Vision is worth a post and discussion in itself sometime.

    Agreed on both counts.

    That’s a new one to me. I’m not even sure that “seeking signs,” whatever that means, is a bad thing. Oh well.

    Well, if you want a recent example

    I’ve had other conversations with Mormons who went off about how the priesthood is the power for administering ordinances, healing the sick, driving out demons, raising the dead, calling on angels, etc. I said, “So you’ve seen all those things done?” and then they say, “Sounds like you’re seeking a sign!”

    In my book, Mormons who use those answers are on the same level as evangelicals who think Revelation 22:18 disproves Mormonism. I don’t think any of the regulars to LDS & Evangelical Conversations qualify, but this post seems to be tailored toward Mormons who are new to interfaith dialogue, so I thought I’d bring it up.

  9. There are some (by no means all) mainline Protestant churches that don’t emphasize the divinity of Christ in the way most of us here would use the term. By definition, though, they wouldn’t have the label “evangelical.”

    Within evangelicalism, there’s a range of beliefs in terms of how literally the Bible should be understood. Many believe in a literal six-day day creation, that Job was a historical person who spoke in poetry and that there was a worldwide flood, for example, while others believe in God-directed evolution, the Job account as inspired fiction, and a local flood.

    But when it comes to the Resurrection, I don’t think that anyone who believes it was symbolic or merely spiritual would be accepted as an evangelical. Mainline Protestant, perhaps.

  10. I agree that Eric did a great job writing this post. It was thoughtful and generous. There were a few things that I might quibble about, but in the larger scope of things I’ve got no beef with it as it is written from a Mormon perspective.

    Seth – there may be Protestant churches that don’t accept the divinity of Christ, but not Evangelical churches, and to be honest, I think that sort of claim would move a church outside of the bounds of Christianity entirely.

    As far as taking the Bible literally. There is wiggle room between inerrancy and infallibilty but both take the Bible literally. If someones is saying something like “we take the Bible seriously but not literally” you can probably conclude they aren’t Evangelical.

  11. I was also surprised to see you take exception to the “bring us what truth you have and let us add to it” idea since I’ve heard Roger Keller say that’s exactly how he viewed his experiences. But yeah, it definitely does not belong in a dialogue where conversion is not the goal.

  12. Mephibosheth ~ I think that analogy always bothered me because it makes it sound like Mormonism is just a super-fun-happy add-on to traditional Christianity, like plugging the 32X into your Sega Genesis. Sega Genesis = Good, Sega Genesis + 32X = Better!

    (This is not a good neutral analogy because all gaming nerds know that the 32X was crap and the Genesis was better off without it, but bear with me).

    I don’t believe that Mormonism is simply an add-on to traditional Christianity though. It calls for a deep re-structuring of traditional Christian beliefs and doctrines to the extent that they are no longer what they once were. In terms of video game systems, it’s more like taking apart your old Genesis and building another video game system using some of the same parts, an allegedly better video game system that plays most (but not all) of your old games, and then some. But some of those old parts still get laid aside.

    Basically, my gripe with that analogy is that I don’t think it does justice to what traditional Christianity is or what Mormonism is. I have the deepest respect for Eric and Roger Keller, but even when I was at my closest to converting to Mormonism, that argument never resonated with me. I always viewed Mormonism in terms of what it was asking me to give up as well as what it wanted to add to my beliefs.

    Sorry if I’ve derailed things by touching on this, Eric. I really do love the post.

  13. I just moved from Utah to California a few months ago, and my experience has been that it is a lot easier to see the things in your list out here. In Utah and on my LDS mission in South America, nearly all the exposure I had to evangelicals was related to anti-Mormon activities of one sort or another. It is refreshing when I occasionally listen to KKLA (a local Christian radio station) during my daily commute and hear testimony of Christ and His power to change lives for the better.

  14. Very nice post. Once of the more memorable experiences I had on my mission was attending an Evangelical Church in Guatemala (hey, if we invite them to our church, we gotta be ready to go to theirs).

    I wish my Spanish was better at that time (first area, I was learning) but I have to admit I kind of enjoyed it. Two 6 foot plus white guys sitting smack in the middle of 5 foot tall brown folks. Talk about conspicuous. But the music (full band w/ drum, bass and electric guitar, I almost expected Eddie Van Halen to take the stage) was good and the the pastor used it to great effect.

    His sermon seemed fairly standard (something to do with Jonathan and David). The only thing that caught me off guard and threw me for a loop was the end. All the women in the congregation veiled their faces (only time I’ve ever seen that) and then they all stood up and started speaking in tongues. That experience was . . . remarkable, yeah, remarkable.

    ‘Course, Central American strains of Evangelicism might be a lot different than it’s North American cousin. We didn’t tend to find the rabid anti-Mormonism that exits in some (emphasize some) N. American congregations. In fact, purely doctrinal discussions were quite rare. The Evangelicism in C. American seemed to be much more of a cultural/social phenomenon, which I’m sure is mostly dictated by the very low literacy rates, etc.

    It should also be noted that, even though I was likely considered to be “the enemy”, the folks in that congregation were as friendly and welcoming as any I’ve ever met. In fact, the only snarkiness I encountered was from the Pastor himself, who managed to sneak in a few well aimed remarks about the “gringos” in his audience.


  15. Great post. Linguistic bit of trivia which is relevant to the “you/thou” issue: Many Indo-European languages have the different formal/intimate pronouns that you referred to for Spanish. And when you study the linguistics, it turns out that “thou” is actually cognate with the intimate pronouns (Spanish “tu'” and French “tu,”) while “you” is cognate with the formal pronouns (French “vous”). In other words, during the time that the KJV was translated and “thou” was in common usage, it was a more personal, informal, intimate form of address. It is only because our pronouns became conflated and “thou” fell out of English usage except in the Bible–something seen as formal–that we came to see “thou” as being a respectful form of address. So when the GAs encourage us to use the archaic forms as a show of respect, they are in a bassackwards way telling us to do what the Evangelicals do–if we lived in the sixteenth century…

    For myself, because “thou” is no longer personal, I do like the Evangelicals for my personal prayers. I want my commnication to be as intimate as possible, and I find the archaic language is a barrier to this.

    Jack, I agree that it is stupid so many Mormons don’t see how offensive the “abominations” and “whore of the earth” talk is to other Christians. On the other hand, I think it is really silly that Evangelicals get upset that we don’t think they’re going to heaven (w/o temple ordinances), and that Mormons get upset that other Christians don’t think Mormons are saved. Isn’t on some level that the point of different religions, that they don’t think the others have it right? Why do we all get upset about what is a pretty obvious, basic fact?

  16. Modern Mormon theology no longer really equates any particular church with the “Whore of Babylon.”

    You can still get stuck with this kind of thinking if you’re reading Talmage. But his strong anti-Catholic views have kinda fallen out of favor.

    (Cue drumroll for someone to make a snarky remark about how Mormons are sneaky for trying to improve themselves and their worldview)

  17. No, modern Mormonism has downplayed, perhaps even downright dismissed the idea that the other faiths, individually or collectively, are the great whore. But neither are those thoughts entirely gone from the culture either. It takes quite some time for old dogma to be truly and completely excised from the community. I knew people in the nineties who still believed the blacks had been denied the priesthood because of the curse of Cain and pre-mortal fencesitting.

  18. I remember one Sunday school teacher who talked about the whore of Babylon being the Catholic church, repeatedly. He even said, “We don’t say that outright any more, because we don’t want to upset Catholics, but if you read Mormon Doctrine you’ll learn that it’s definitely the Catholics.”

  19. Hmmm….I’m not sure the comment about praying in Spanish is totally correct. In my Spanish education the “tu” construction was considered intimate, not informal (except in Mexico). Thus, in Guatemala, you only used “tu” w/ people whom you knew well. Moreover, when we prayed, we used the “vos” contrustion when refering to the group at large (“o vosotros que os embarcais”) which, as I recall, is the equivalent of “biblical” language.


  20. I was always taught that “tu” was informal…the only person I heard use the “Usted” form on a regular basis was my host-mom, and she was fairly prim and proper.

    Of course, with churches like this to keep us in line, I suppose it’s better if we all just learn KJE and shut up about it.

  21. I appreciate this post from a Latter-day Saint who recognizes much of value and common ground between the LDS and Evangelicals. I hope it will serve to further our interreligious dialogue.

  22. I think I should clarify, when I said churches like “this,” I was linking to the following crazy story:

    Crazy Story

    It seems that the link isn’t all that obvious, so it sounds like I was just being rude. And I was, just not toward the LDS church.

  23. I’m thinking of writing a similar post from the reverse angle, but so far my only real take is “Mormons aren’t as weird as you may think”. Is that keeping in the spirit of the post or is it more cultural than theological.

  24. I think the “language of prayer” stuff is pretty nit-picky and I wish the church would get over it. I don’t mind people using it–and if it were just a funny cultural quirk that would be one thing–but the whole “this is the ‘right’ way to pray” is overbearing.

    As an under-the-radar skeptic, it creates unnecessary cognitive dissonance for me. I don’t WANT to use the archaic language when I pray publicly because I don’t feel as authentic a connection with God when I do…yet it’s a cultural expectation. So what should I do? If I use the language am I being untrue to myself and just trying to blend in? If I don’t, will I give myself away?

    I usually just try not to volunteer for prayers–and when I’m called on, I attempt to structure sentences in such a way as to avoid the issue altogether. You know, “We are thankful for XYZ” instead of “Thank Thee/You.” Of course, when you spend so much time thinking about sentence structure, you end up not really communicating with God anyway…so it’s all shades of weirdness all around.

  25. Katie L — I can sympathize. These days, both ways sound right to me and both ways sound wrong.

    Whitney — That church’s web site is down, but I was able to poke around through it in the Google cache. Not only do they condemn any translation other than the KJV, they also say that all sorts of people including Billy Graham, the Pope, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Tim LaHaye among many others are apostates doing the work of the devil. I wonder if Thomas S. Monson is disappointed he didn’t make their list.

    You can see their letter to Billy Graham here, but I’m not sure how long the link will last.

  26. A civilised and honourably expressed opinion by the writer and other readers.

    As an Australian Evangelical interested in Mormonism, and US history I really appreciate this sort of dialogue by someone who seeks to impart information rather than trying to land a blow.

    It is a fine summary and accurate.

  27. I think that Seth makes a good point that “Modern Mormon theology no longer really equates any particular church with the “Whore of Babylon.”” While this brings up the question what the “Whore of Babylon” represents today, I believe that Mormons should be given the same latitude to develop their theology as they see fit within the bounds of their faith, as any Protestant theologian has today.

    For example the original Westminster Confession equated the Pope with the Antichrist, this was removed in 1789.

    Much confusion is going to exist from outside Mormonism on points like this because when unlike Protestant theologians, Mormon Church leaders claim to be prophets. This makes it difficult to understand how phrases like “Whore of Babylon” or “abomination in my sight” can be finessed.

  28. I’ll have to dig up an article I read explaining why, in the author’s view, the “whore of Babylon” mentioned by Nephi in the Book of Mormon cannot refer to the Catholic Church. He claims that the actual text precludes such conclusion.

    I believe it was one of the essays in the book “Early Christians in Disarray.”

  29. Wow, the pastor for that church is sure an amazing ambassador of Christ. I mean, what better time to tell a man that he’s a tool of Satan than on his 90th birthday?

  30. I mean, what better time to tell a man that he’s a tool of Satan than on his 90th birthday?

    That’s what I always say. Some people have suggested I bring it up on the 87th or the 88th birthday, and I’m all, “Hell no. 90th or nothin’.”

  31. Thank you for taking the time to help LDS members better understand the beliefs of evangelical Christians and how they worship Jesus Christ. There is no doubt in my mind, that the majority of evangelicals are sincere, and love the Lord as deeply as most Mormons do — and also desire to live His commandments.


  32. Hi All,

    Much confusion is going to exist from outside Mormonism on points like this because when unlike Protestant theologians, Mormon Church leaders claim to be prophets. This makes it difficult to understand how phrases like “Whore of Babylon” or “abomination in my sight” can be finessed.

    Seth suggested finding some reading about how the Great and Abominable Church != Catholic Church in a Mormon apologetic work. There’s also a good starting place in this Ensign article written by Stephen Robinson, Warring against the Saints. This article passed correlation, and so it should be clear to those outside of Mormonism that this belief is more acceptable to the Church, than books like Mormon Doctrine, which did NOT pass correlation.

    Hope that helps.

  33. Here’s the money quote for those to lazy to click the link and read the whole article:

    “Actually, no single known historical church, denomination, or set of believers meets all the requirements for the great and abominable church: it must have formed among the Gentiles; it must have edited and controlled the distribution of the scriptures; it must have slain the Saints of God, including the Apostles and prophets; it must be in league with civil governments and use their police power to enforce its religious views; it must have dominion over all the earth; it must pursue great wealth and sexual immorality; and it must last until close to the end of the world. No single denomination or system of beliefs fits the entire description. Rather, the role of Babylon has been played by many different agencies, ideologies, and churches in many different times…

    It would be an error to blame some modern denomination for the activities of an ancient great and abominable church. The other error is to go too far the other way, dehistoricizing the abominable church altogether. The term then becomes merely a vague symbol for all the disassociated evil in the world. We cannot, in the face of the scriptural evidence, accept this view. For if we do, we shall not be able to recognize the categories and know who is playing the role of Babylon in our own times or in times to come. Thus, we must, on the one hand, avoid the temptation to identify the role of the great and abominable church so completely with one particular entity that we do not recognize the part when it is played by some other entity. At the same time, we must remember that the role will be played by some entity or coalition, and we must be able to tell by their characteristic fruits which is Zion and which is Babylon.

    Can we, then, identify the historical agency that acted as the great and abominable church in earliest Christianity? Such an agent would have had its origins in the second half of the first century and would have done much of its work by the middle of the second century.

    This period might be called the blind spot in Christian history, for it is here that the fewest primary historical sources have been preserved. We have good sources for New Testament Christianity; then the lights go out, so to speak, and we hear the muffled sounds of a great struggle. When the lights come on again a hundred or so years later, we find that someone has rearranged all the furniture and Christianity has become something very different from what it was in the beginning. That different entity can accurately be described as hellenized Christianity…

    Clearly, whatever denominational name we choose to give it, the earliest apostate church and the great and abominable church that Nephi and John describe are identical. The fact is, we don’t really know what name to give it. I have proposed hellenized Christianity, but that is a description rather than a name.

    The historical abominable church of the devil is that apostate church that replaced true Christianity in the first and second centuries, teaching the philosophies of men mingled with scriptures. It dethroned God in the church and replaced him with man by denying the principle of revelation and turning instead to human intellect. As the product of human agency, its creeds were an abomination to the Lord, for they were idolatry: men worshipping the creations, not of their own hands, but of their own minds.”

  34. I agree with Robinson here.

    The first and second centuries of Christian history are an almost total blind spot that Christian theologians, apologists, and historians, can only make conjectures about.

    Arguments about doctrinal continuity and continuity of chain of authority run into an utter fogbank when they get to these two centuries.

  35. Eric, thanks for formalizing those points, some of which I’ve tried to informally make in various comments around the bloggernacle. I’ve also been dismayed at the lack of realization on both sides how much doctrine that the evangelicals and LDS have in common, especially the spiritual gifts, and “walking by the Spirit”. There is a lot of overlap between LDS and evangelicalism/pentecostalism.

    Another point you may want to add to your list is that both sides have a similar disdain for _mainstream_ Christianity. A term I learned back in my evangelical days was “church-ianity”. Both evangelicals and LDS see the mainstream Protestants as denying many of the powers and gifts of God. IE, evangelicals are with us in saying that the days of miracles and God pouring out his Spirit haven’t ceased.

    Some devout LDS members can also fall into the “church-ianity” trap, getting so involved in the programs and structure of the church and LDS lifestyle, that we can forget to keep the Divine Center as the focus.

    In my opinion, good evangelicals are already most of the way to being good LDS.

    My experience with evangelical churches as a teenager played a direct role in preparing me for receiving the restored gospel.

  36. Hm. Eric Bookslinger, I would actually suggest leaving the supposed mutual “disdain” for mainstream Protestants off the list, since it comes off as very middle-school-lunch-table. This mainline Protestant doesn’t see what’s so useful about two groups ragging on another just so they can find something in common to talk about, especially when that ragging easily falls into the type of over-generalizations that this post seeks to dispel.

  37. Whitney, isn’t it sad how there there is no better way to bring together “enemies” than to find someone else they can mutually “hate?”

    (words in quotes because I understand that in this instance, there is nobody here who are literally enemies or hates the different groups in question, but the principle is relevant)

  38. Indeed, Derek. And while it may be effective for military strategy, it hardly seems conducive to constructive ministry and dialogue efforts.

  39. Whitney — “Disdain” wasn’t my word, although I think I know what Bookslinger meant. I haven’t really seen that much “disdain” toward mainline Protestants from either the evangelical or the LDS camps, maybe more like indifference.

    I think many (both LDS and evangelical) see mainline Protestants as somewhat irrelevant in our culture, but that’s not quite the same thing.

    Perhaps some of the practicing evangelicals here would have a better perspective on that issue than I would.

    Between my college days and when I joined the LDS church, I attended both evangelical and mainline Protestant churches at one time or another (more often the former). I liked different aspects of both, and I have respect for both (although there’s flakiness in both groups too, just as there is in the LDS church).

    The main problem I had with mainline Protestantism was an increasing secularization (I don’t know if that’s the term I want) and that lot of what I saw seemed like having the framework of Christianity but not much of the substance, and I didn’t see much emphasis on what evangelicals call a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (which we also practice in the LDS church although we don’t use that term much). On the other hand, on an individual level I knew many mainline Protestants who not only were wonderful people but who also had a genuine and vibrant faith of trust in Christ.

    In my opinion, good evangelicals are already most of the way to being good LDS.

    I agree, although I’m not sure many would necessarily see that as a compliment. 🙂 Despite significant differences in theology and soteriology, there are some areas in which we (Mormons and evangelicals) have strikingly similar approaches to practicing our faith. (That’s one reason C.S. Lewis is so popular among Mormons.) I fully expect that when we arrive in the celestial kingdom, there will be more people there who were evangelicals in this life than were LDS.

  40. I’m guessing Whitney meant to address Bookslinger when she said “Eric.” That threw me for a loop for a moment, too.

    EDIT: I’ve confirmed with Whitney that she meant to address Bookslinger and edited her comment to reflect this.

  41. Psychochemiker
    I find it interesting that you assign greater authority to this Ensign Magazine article than the writings of your prophets. In discussing this very article back in January I was told by another member of your Church that this was just Robinson’s “personal opinion”.

    I am not going to tell you what you or your Church believes, but the article you presented has a problematic method of handling historical facts. The claim that “Tatian and Marcion rewrote the scriptures” has just enough truth to it to make you wonder why he doesn’t tell the rest of the story?

    Think closely about this statement. “We have good sources for New Testament Christianity; then the lights go out, so to speak, and we hear the muffled sounds of a great struggle.” The fact that much of the New Testament was written in the very period that he claims as a “blind spot” makes you wonder?

    While Robinson does not point to a single denomination as the “great and abominable church” by claiming that apostasy occurred early in Church history he, in effect, assigns all Christianity to come out of the first century to the “abominable church”.

  42. The first and second centuries of Christian history are an almost total blind spot that Christian theologians, apologists, and historians, can only make conjectures about.

    Arguments about doctrinal continuity and continuity of chain of authority run into an utter fogbank when they get to these two centuries.

    Lions around their throats seemed to be much of the cause of the muffling.

  43. Great post (as usual).

    And as a side note… every major Protestant denomination or tradition, the LDS church and still quite a lot of Protetants today all consider the RC Church the “whore of Babylon”.

    At least that’s one thing most of them have in common 😉

    Despite significant differences in theology and soteriology, there are some areas in which we (Mormons and evangelicals) have strikingly similar approaches to practicing our faith

    I sincerely appreciate that openness ! The challenge I have a little, and I really don’t know how to handle it or react to this, is that soteriology is exactly the crux of our faiths. What does it take to be saved ? How did Christ’s death and resurrection accomplish salvation ? And does this mean it was sufficient or do we need some form of “Christ-plus”.

    If the latter, which I still understand the LDS Church to adhere to, it actually becomes closer to that famous “Whore of Babylon” we’re talking about.

    As a side note, most of the LDS members I’ve talked to and met are actually close to the idea that you posted way higher on the 16th in that there may be a plan outside of the LDS Church for some of us.. which is refreshing since most evangelicals are in the “all or nothing” camp. And unfortunately still will put most LDS members i\on the “nothing” side of the equation.

    Besides that, Jack’s advice is pretty good too. Jsut like on the other post on how we’re supposed to approach elders on their mission, I like the suggestions Jack made. If I may add one, just be interested in what we do, our lives, our faiths. Try to learn and understand as much as you are perhaps trying to make us understand you.

    Great post !

    In Him

  44. Gundeck,
    I’m not saying Robinson’s arguments are perfect. I just happen to agree with them more, but I agree I wish there was more to go on.

    The point I was making with trusting this Ensign article over the personal opinions of BRM was that the Ensign article at least passed correlation, whereas MD did not (and could not). While I don’t place huge amounts of creedance in anything passing correlation (e.i., just because it does, doesn’t mean I believe it), the point I was saying, is the church is obviously more comfortable with Robinson’s article than BRM’s tome. And I think it’s time the lay members get a little more in-step with some of the actually correlated work rather than the popular writings of one, very authoritative sounding individual.

  45. Wow. Everyone needs to head over to PC’s blog, he has a live one.

    (Shameless plug for your blog, PC.)

    Regarding mainstream Protestants, I was talking with Whitney about this in Gmail chat, but I guess I’ll say it here, too: I don’t disdain people, I disdain doctrines. I see all of Christianity (and to a lesser extent, all religions) in degrees of error wherein I happen to think evangelical Christians have the most things (but not all things) right, and that’s why I identify as evangelical.

    How much error are mainstream Protestants in? That depends. John Shelby Spong is in a lot of error, but I’ve known plenty of mainline Protestants whose only disagreement with evangelicals was that of emphasis, i.e. a commitment to humanitarian works instead of ardent proselyting. I attended a mainline Protestant church for 4 years where I was very happy. A number of my professors at TEDS are attending mainline churches.

    As for Whitney though, she’s one of the most generous Christians I know and one of the best things to have happened to me since I entered the blogging world. She would put a lot of evangelicals to shame on the following-Christ scale. Anyone who looks down on her just because she’s a mainline Protestant is missing out on a truly remarkable example of what being a Christian means.

    And I’m dressing my daughter as a pirate for Halloween this year in Whitney’s honor. AAARRRRGGGHHH!

    (Sorry Whitney, have to embarrass you a bit.)

    I wanted to go back to what Tim said about evangelicals and inerrancy. I do know that there are a few evangelicals who reject inerrancy, I. Howard Marshall being the famous example. My friend J. P. Holding has similar views, see his article, “Why we cannot have inerrant copies of the Bible today.” I believe in inerrancy myself, but I find myself questioning how necessary it is for the evangelical movement as a whole. Our central message has never been, “We have an inerrant Bible,” but rather “Christ is risen, and by believing in Him you can have eternal life.”

    I applied for membership in the Evangelical Covenant Church last weekend. One of the questions on the membership application was something along the lines of “Do you accept the Bible as the only inerrant, infallible Word of God?” I said yes, but it made me wonder how they would have felt about an I. Howard Marshall / J. P. Holding position on the matter.

  46. Whitney, on October 18, 2009 at 9:13 am , Ummm, yeah, you have a point there. Come to think of it, I was in 9th grade when I learned what evangelicals privately think of the mainline protestants.

    Disdain may seem too harsh a word. But my point is that the doctrinal difference between evangelicals/pentecostals and mainline protestants over the specific issues of spiritual gifts, personal revelation, and walking-in-the-spirit is, in my opinion, greater than the difference between evangelicals/pentecostals and LDS over the same points (restricting the comparisons to just those points, perhaps not overall doctrine.)

    I don’t know all the family-tree of the various evangelical/pentecostal denominations, that is, who split off or is descended from whom. But my understanding is that the issues about spiritual gifts, etc., was a major factor in the formation of evangelical/pentecostal churchs.

    If I remember correctly, I think evangelicals came off of other protestants, not from the Catholics. Please correct me on that if I’m wrong.

    Those who would eventually start their own evangelical/pentecostal churches pointed the finger at their leaders in the mainline churches and said something like “You guys are dismissing some important points of the Bible here.”

    And it was enough of a disagreement (or disdain) for them to start new churches over those points.

    Prior to my association with evangelicals/pentecostals in 9th grade, my view of Christianity was short snippets of tv preachers (both holy rollers and mainliners) while flipping through the TV channels on Sunday, and visiting my maternal grandparents’ Presbyterian church during visits over Christmas vacation. To my teenage mind, the holy rollers were undignified, and the mainliners put you to sleep.

    I have to agree with Eric. My immature teenage view of the mainliners was that it was form over substance. Lukewarm pablum. Nicey-nice Ned Flanders-ish. Soporific. (And lots of LDS speakers have put me to sleep too.)

    Of course people have a right to believe and practice what they want. And I contrasted all that to the warm, ebullient, gregariousness of my Jewish relatives, and the socializing after the Temple/Synagogue services we went to while visiting my paternal grandparents.

    If I hadn’t found Jesus while investigating in an evangelical setting, my choice was going to be Judaism over Christianity. But it was the evangelicals who got me asking the right questions, and prompted me to seek.

    “The main problem I had with mainline Protestantism was an increasing secularization (I don’t know if that’s the term I want) and that lot of what I saw seemed like having the framework of Christianity but not much of the substance, and I didn’t see much emphasis on what evangelicals call a personal relationship with Jesus Christ”

    Yeah, that better explains it. I call it a watering-down. Middle-way Mormons are trying to do the same thing, specifically those who are saying the BoM is inspired but that there really weren’t any Nephites/Lamanites. (They are some I think Elder Holland was addressing in some of the points of his latest GC talk).

    So my point is, evangelical/pentecostal doctrine is much more in line with LDS stuff than it is with mainline protestantism. Yet, for some reason, the evangelicals seem to be our biggest critics. And the LDS seem to be the biggest critical targets of evangelicals/pentecostals.


    My guess is that because they have the most essential _key_ (ie, the belief in, and the knowledge of how to follow the Holy Spirit and use personal revelation) to find out if the LDS church is true, therefore Satan has stirred up certain crusaders to mislead as many evangelicals/pentecostals as possible so they don’t turn that key in the LDS direction. Ed Decker and Walter Martin told so many half-truths and un-truths loud enough and long enough that they still have momentum.

    Has someone ever written a thesis on why evangelicals/pentecostals see “a different Jesus” (Mormonism) as a bigger threat than the “no Jesus” (or “Jesus was a good guy but was not the Son of God) of Islam?

    13 million Mormons or 500 million Muslims? Who is the bigger threat to (whatever is your version of) Christianity?

  47. I have to go to bed, but if you want a concise read that will help you understand the history of evangelical Christianity and what the movement is, I recommend “The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement” by Douglas Sweeney. It’s only about 200 pages long and very accessible, so anyone can read it. I promise, the fact that Douglas Sweeney is one of my history professors at TEDS has nothing to do with my high opinion of the book.

    A book that does a good job looking at why divisions between mainline churches and evangelical churches exist is “The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy” by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark. I only read the 1990 version and haven’t caught up on the 2005 version, but it was a good secular read on American church history and a fascinating study on some of the factors that drive our religious economy.

  48. Pingback: Mormon Coffee » Saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace.

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  50. How much error are mainstream Protestants in? That depends. John Shelby Spong is in a lot of error, but I’ve known plenty of mainline Protestants whose only disagreement with evangelicals was that of emphasis, i.e. a commitment to humanitarian works instead of ardent proselyting.

    My observation (and it’s not an original one) is that the people in the pews are more “evangelical” than much of the leadership. Where we see splits today in some of the mainline denominations is over the evangelical wing vs. nonevangelical wing. The pattern has been that the evangelical wing puts up with and/or semi-overlooks theologically liberal tendencies until it gets to matters of sexuality. Then the differences can reach the breaking point (as is happening in the Episcopal Church over the ordination of gays) or the evangelicals leave (as has happened to a great extent in the United Church of Christ over sexuality and political issues).

    But my point is that the doctrinal difference between evangelicals/pentecostals and mainline protestants over the specific issues of spiritual gifts, personal revelation, and walking-in-the-spirit is, in my opinion, greater than the difference between evangelicals/pentecostals and LDS over the same points

    I think those are among big cultural differences. The big theological differences have to do with what the Bible is believed to be — is it the only infallible and reliable word of God, or is it merely a human record of God dealing with His/Her people? (I’m oversimplifying things here.) If it’s the latter, then that opens the way toward lack of belief in miracles and that sort of thing, even lack of belief in the virgin birth and all that implies about the nature of Christ.

    I don’t know all the family-tree of the various evangelical/pentecostal denominations, that is, who split off or is descended from whom.

    Jack or Tim can correct me, but I think what many evangelicals would say is that Protestantism has been evangelical from more or less the beginning, but that it is within the last century or so that the mainliners have drifted away from essential truth. Aside from that, there are so many denominations and splits over various issues, a family tree would look more like a dense and lopsided bush.

  51. Jack said:

    Whitney … would put a lot of evangelicals to shame on the following-Christ scale.

    I would say the same thing of two of the groomsmen in my wedding ages ago. One of them was United Methodist, the other Presbyterian (USA), and they were among the finest examples of the Christian faith in action that I have personally known.

    Bookslinger asked:

    Has someone ever written a thesis on why evangelicals/pentecostals see “a different Jesus” (Mormonism) as a bigger threat than the “no Jesus” (or “Jesus was a good guy but was not the Son of God) of Islam?

    I’ve wondered the same thing about why evangelicals who campaign against Mormonism don’t target theological liberalism or modalistic Pentecostalism, both of which teach what evangelicals consider to be heresies. I think the answer is mostly cultural; the theological liberals aren’t much of a “threat” because they’re literally dying off, and evangelicals are a better proselytizing “target” for Mormons than for Muslims.

  52. Bookslinger and Eric – Thanks for clarifying on that. I tend to agree with the overarching point…I just wanted to keep the conversation from veering off into not-so-helpful directions.

    And Jack, wow. Thank you. That was one of the nicest things I’ve read in a long time. And the feeling is mutual.

  53. Bookslinger said:
    Has someone ever written a thesis on why evangelicals/pentecostals see “a different Jesus” (Mormonism) as a bigger threat than the “no Jesus” (or “Jesus was a good guy but was not the Son of God) of Islam?

    The issue is over defining the term “Christian”. Muslims don’t claim to be Christians. The New Testament plainly outlines different treatment for outsiders than for those who claim to be Christians but teach false doctrine or are immoral.

    And there is plenty being said against Oneness Pentacostals, the Prosperity Gospel and secularized churches. You just don’t hear about it as much because you’re a Mormon. Listen to Hank Hanagraff on any given day and he’ll be taking someone other than Mormons to task.

    Eric said:
    Jack or Tim can correct me, but I think what many evangelicals would say is that Protestantism has been evangelical from more or less the beginning, but that it is within the last century or so that the mainliners have drifted away from essential truth.

    I think that’s a good chunk of it. The other part is that Evangelicals know that there are differences among churches even within a denomination (as you pointed out). So while the majority of a denomination might be headed towards Unitarianism, there are still individual churches within the denomination that are just as upset about it as the rest of the Evangelical world.

    Often these churches are caught between staying in a denomination they disagree with and losing their property. They may also be significantly separated by geography.

    So while I may be concerned with the overall movement of the Methodist denomination, I still know of great Methodist churches and great Methodist both of whom I’m confident have the core message intact.

  54. I think it is precisely the similarities that breed conflict between Mormons and Evangelicals.

    We’re both competing for the same theological living space, in a sense.

  55. I liken it to showing up at the high school prom in a really kick-ass dress only to see that another girl there is wearing the exact same dress, but in a different color.

    Makes you want to rip it off her.

  56. Tim ~ Often these churches are caught between staying in a denomination they disagree with and losing their property. They may also be significantly separated by geography.

    I have two professors who attend a local ELCA that is quite evangelical. Their local church is struggling with what to do in response to the denomination’s recent change on homosexuality right now. I believe the concern of possibly losing the property altogether if they split is a big one.

  57. And there is plenty being said against Oneness Pentacostals, the Prosperity Gospel and secularized churches. You just don’t hear about it as much because you’re a Mormon. Listen to Hank Hanagraff on any given day and he’ll be taking someone other than Mormons to task.

    I haven’t heard Haanegraaff in quite a while; I’ve heard him say too much about Mormonism that was flat-out wrong, so I wouldn’t trust what he says about anyone else. But I do give him (and some other evangelical apologists) credit for picking on not just Mormons. Last time I heard him, he was criticizing Paul Crouch and Benny Hinn (who deserve all the criticism they get, but that’s a whole other subject).

    I do think he is somewhat of an exception, though (but since I’m less in touch with the evangelical world than I used to be, I could be wrong). Last time I checked the biggest evangelical bookstore in my town, they had a whole shelf of books devoted in whole or in part to groups such as the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists and Seventh-day Adventists (which some evangelicals accept, but others don’t), with Mormons leading the list. At least in the apologetics section, there were only two books devoted to liberal Protestantism (one was about Spong) and none, zero, zip, nada criticizing modalistic Pentecostalism (which in many ways is probably more of a threat to evangelical orthodoxy than Mormonism is), although there were a few books deploring the prosperity gospel (some of whose teachers are modalists).

    I’m not really in a position to be criticizing evangelicals for whom they decide to criticize; that’s an in-house thing for them to worry about. But the sociologist in me does find it interesting. I think that what Seth says is mostly right; also, our best proselytizing targets (for lack of a better phrase) are much the same people and/or each other, so it’s not unexpected that there’d be some friction.

  58. Okay, so to clarify, the big differences between Evs and mainline Protestants are…

    1)–Mainline protestants see the Bible as a potentially fallible record of God’s dealings with humans as opposed to the Evangelical position that it is God-breathed and infallible;

    2)–Mainline protestants are therefore more prone to disbelieve in miracles (some even denying the Divinity of Christ);

    3)–Mainline protestants tend to be more liberal on political and social issues.

    Did I get that right?

    If so, say a Mainline Protestant has more “liberal” views on the first and third pints above, but still affirms the divinity of Christ and believes in miracles. Do Evs still have a beef with them?

  59. Katie, here is what the United Methodist Church has to say about scripture. Here are a couple of excerpts:

    The biblical authors, illumined by the Holy Spirit, bear witness that in Christ the world is reconciled to God. The Bible bears authentic testimony to God’s self-disclosure in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as in God’s work of creation, in the pilgrimage of Israel, and in the Holy Spirit’s ongoing activity in human history.

    Our standards affirm the Bible as the source of all that is “necessary” and “sufficient” unto salvation (Articles of Religion) and “is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice” (Confession of Faith).

    Thus, the Bible serves both as a source of our faith and as the basic criterion by which the truth and fidelity of any interpretation of faith is measured.

    My handy dandy book on Methodist doctrine also states the following:

    The Bible’s authority comes from God. United Methodists…believe that God chose to reveal God’s very self by inspiring writers to record accounts of God’s movement in, through, and in spite of God’s people.

    The book also clarifies that Methodists believe that the Bible is “soteriologically inerrant.” So we believe that it contains all we need to know to be saved.

    So obviously there’s quite a bit of wiggle room in there, especially when we get into, “But what exactly does inerranr mean?” But as I told Jack the other day, I would fall out of my pew if I heard my pastor preaching that Jesus was not divine. My handy dandy book also states that the church is undecided on speaking in tongues (some Methodists believe and do it, others don’t), but we most definitely believe in gifts of the Spirit.

    So there’s everyone’s mile-high run down of Methodism for today. Yay for the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.

  60. Oh, and politically, I think it totally depends on the individual congregation (and perhaps geography). My grandfather is a hardcore and active United Methodist, but he and I had to stop discussing politics long ago in the interest of familial harmony. 🙂 And he used to talk about regional conferences where the heathen liberals from the Portland, Oregon, area were trying to steamroll the godly conservatives from Idaho. So it’s hard to say what the general trend is.

  61. Whitney, thanks for the refresher. I read a lot of the United Methodist Church website a few months back (I think I told you about it), but I had forgotten some of the details. I really, really admire your position on most things.

    Truth be told, I am probably more Methodist in my beliefs than Mormon these days. I like the openness I see from you guys. 🙂

  62. Katie, the loose definition of Evangelical says that you “believe all the teachings of the Bible to be accurate”. Whatever that means in terms of infallibility and inerrancy is anyone’s guess and cause for a lot of Evangelicals to be angry at a lot of other Evangelicals much less Mainline Protestant Denominations.

    Also it should be noted that there are Evangelicals in the Mainline Denominations, as well as the Catholic and Orthodox churches and maybe just maybe the Mormon church. Evangelicals are not limited to Southern Baptist and non-denominational churches.

    Check out the link to the Evangelical Manifesto on my sidebar as far as “you must be a Republican” goes.

  63. Just as a matter of interest, here are key excerpts of the Presbyterian Church (USA) statement on the Bible, taken from the Confession of 1967. It’s further from the evangelical position and with more wiggle room, I’d say, than what Whitney shared with us from her church:

    The one sufficient revelation of God is Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate, to whom the Holy Spirit bears unique and authoritative witness through the Holy Scriptures, which are received and obeyed as the word of God written. The Scriptures are not a witness among others, but the witness without parallel. The church has received the books of the Old and New Testaments as prophetic and apostolic testimony in which it hears the word of God and by which its faith and obedience are nourished and regulated. … The Scriptures, given under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are nevertheless the words of men, conditioned by the language, thought forms, and literary fashions of the places and times at which they were written. They reflect views of life, history, and the cosmos which were then current. The church, therefore, has an obligation to approach the Scriptures with literary and historical understanding. …

    In contrast, here’s the statement the Assemblies of God, which I think is the largest Pentecostal denomination:

    The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct.

    And for good measure, the LDS article of faith:

    We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

  64. There are two different sects of Presbyterians. Everybody is more liberal than one, everyone is more conservative than the other.

  65. Katie,

    To answer your question if Presbyterians are more or less liberal? That depends… Inside the PC(USA) confessional subscription by the clergy is not enforced by the denomination, the Presbyteries have become the defacto gatekeeper, some being more liberal than others. There are also a number of smaller confessional Presbyterian denominations that are theologically more conservative.

    I cannot speak for evangelicalism but as a confessional Presbyterian from the PCA I can say that few people I know would say that they “disdain” the mainline denominations, even the denomination we historically broke away from. There are reservations over doctrines and practices but “disdain” is not a word I would use to describe a whole swath of the Church. In fact I follow the goings on in the PC(USA) closely.

    While I sometimes wonder if Presbyterian and Reformed Churches are Evangelicals by today’s standard, I don’t think it is helpful in this conversation to conflate Pentecostals and Evangelicals.

  66. Can someone give me a clear definition of what you consider to be an “evangelical” ? And please don’t send me to a link of the “Evangelical Manifesto”. Even though I personally know some of the people that drafted, subscribed and signed it, it has fallen short of its valiant effort.

    Personally, I concur with some of the efforts that you can find Evangelicals in every denomination. Perhaps even as Tim pointed out in the LDS.

    It would probably be more appropriate to make a distinction between mainline protestants and non-denominational protestants. I think it won’t necessarily work to equate evangelical with non-denominational protestant.

    Denominational Church movements, including RC, LDS, etc, tend to adhere to some form of “Christ Plus” faith. Which is what Hus, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and couple of other great reformers came up against (as you undoubtedly may recall from your Christian History). Once however the centralized, almost dogmatic, doctine was questioned, the interpretation of peripheral beliefs and practices became fodder for the splits in the overall tree of the Protestant church. Remember that the word comes basically from “protestor” or the ones that were protesting against the ecclesiology of the Roman Catholic church in the 15th and 16th century. I’ve been working on a chart and will let you know when the draft is on my blog. It’ll take me a while to finish the whole thing up 😉

    Non-denominational Christians tend to have come back to that type of Christian faith. I wouldn’t necessarily call it back to the “Sola Scriptura” idea, but definitely less “Sola Ecclesia” than RC, LDS and some other mainline protestants tend to put forth.

    Just my two pennies worth.
    In Him

  67. Thanks for the plug, Jack. Incidentally, I wrote my post not for the LDStalk audience but for LDS audiences. I was surprised at the “controversial manner of attack”, but I guess I shouldn’t be. I mean, I AM out to destroy the false parts of Mormon Culture, so I should just assume that those who are defending the culture built up by BRM will not like me tearing that culture down. Oh well.

    Also, Jack, thanks for the reading suggestions. I now have two more things to add to my reading queue.

  68. Tim — I was going mention that Barna definition. It’s interesting to note that according to Barna’s definition, 8 percent of the U.S. adult population is classified as evangelical, although about five times that many self-identify as evangelical. Apparently, there are quite a few evangelicals who don’t believe what their churches teach either — I guess we both have work to do in that area!

    I think Barna’s definition does have some shortcomings; among other things, as you suggest, it doesn’t automatically exclude all faithful Mormons or Catholics or members of some other groups that aren’t traditionally considered evangelicals. Theologically, the definition probably should include something about a belief in the doctrine of the Trinity. But for the purposes for which Barna does its studies, it’s a useful definition.

    An excellent overall perspective on what evangelicalism is (theologically, historically, culturally and more) can be found here:

    Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College

  69. “I think Barna’s definition does have some shortcomings; among other things, as you suggest, it doesn’t automatically exclude all faithful Mormons or Catholics or members of some other groups that aren’t traditionally considered evangelicals. “

    That seems like a strength, not a weakness.

  70. Many Mainline Protestants are Evangelicals.

    Most of the Mainline denominations have experienced schism on these issues, to the extent that most have a more theologically liberal majority and a theologically conservative minority that may or may not have split away completely (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, for example; the former is as a rule more liberal and the latter would probably fall into anyone’s definition of “Evangelical”).

    But it is confusing to try to compare “Mainline Protestant” and “Evangelical” since they are different kinds of categories. Mainline Protestant is a traditional group of older (once-significant-but-now-declining-in-America) denominations. “Evangelical,” as Tim uses it, is a cross- and extra-denominational movement within Protestantism (as are “Fundamentalist” and “Charismatic”).

  71. I have to admit that I was just passing thru, and I am not trying to be a troll here. Even as an evangelical I honestly believe that a Mormon who relies ONLY on the cross of Christ and not their works will be saved.

    But the last point : “Evangelicals don’t have the complete gospel, but they have quite a bit of it:” seems to be the main issue doesn’t it.

    I suppose this has already been debated but Galatians 1:8 seems to sum up the whole issue “…though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
    I honestly don’t see how a person can get around that…

  72. “I honestly don’t see how a person can get around that…”

    oh no you didn’t!!!!!!

    I was hoping this knockdown argument would remain secret, now that it has made it to the internet, the LDS church is surely doomed!

    People just can’t get around it! Whatever Angels say that does not agree with evangelicals must be wrong!

  73. Sorry that my reply comes in a little late. I had to re-read some stuff, ponder it and besides that.. life got in the way.

    A good definition of “evangelical” can be found here as well as why I believe a “Mormon Evangelical” may exist

    You know, I may reconsider the evangelical manifesto a bit. Even in the barna definition, the first two of the nine points indicate a personal faith in Jesus Christ and acceptance of Him as the re-assurance for salvation. The “Sola Christe” perspective of the protestant reformation.

    In the evangelical manifesto, the same is mentioned:
    …committed to the priority of “right belief and right worship,” to the “universality” of the Christian church across the centuries, continents, and cultures, and therefore to the central axioms of Christian faith expressed in the Trinitarian and Christological consensus of the early church.

    So can there be such a thing as an Evangelical Mormon ? I don’t know honestly. Can there be such a thing as an evangelical Mormon ? The answer to that question is “yes”. I’m convinced you can have a Mormon with evangelical attitudes such as commitment, spreading the good news, applying it to their own life, etc… These characteristics are lined out both by Barna and the evangelical manifesto.

    But the foundational one in both is an acceptance of Christ for who He is and who He claimed He was and what has been accepted by the Christian Church for 1,700 years. Hence I have a little bit of a challenge to call any Mormon Evangelical since I understand there is a fundamental difference of opinion there.

    Does that make any sense ?

    In Him

  74. Mick: makes sense to me, but I question the value of distinguishing between “E” and “e”-vangelical. It seems that you’re reluctance is based on:

    “E” = “e” + bona fide Christian

    …and since we all know* that Mormons aren’t bona fide Christians, it is impossible to have a Mormon + “e” add up to “E.” Thus, “E” vs. “e” becomes just another way to debate “Are Mormons really Christians?” And we already have enough ways to debate that.

  75. I think you have something their Mick considering that Mormons consider all other church expressions to be apostate. A Mormon can’t really be in communion (take communion, accept baptisms, etc.) with other Christians. So an Evangelical Mormon (or an evangelical Mormon) would have to reject the idea that the LDS church is the ONE true church which is a destructive idea to Mormonism.

  76. Hey Tim,
    Not all Mormons consider all other religions apostate.
    See for example here. Also note clean-cuts comments there.

    You-all may be incomplete, certainly, but not apostate.
    You have to do certain things to have that special pin of dis-honor.

  77. psychochemiker makes a good distinction: “apostate” and “incomplete” are not the same thing, and the fact that there was a general apostasy does not mean that all churches today are in apostasy. I can only speak for myself, but growing up in the Church, every time someone taught about The Great Apostasy I always pictured ancient peoples, not modern ones.

  78. BrianJ

    Touché ! But isn’t that what the title somewhat implied as well ? 😉

    What Mormons should know about evangelicals

    Granted, every word in there was started with a capital, so it’s hard to distinguish, but I’m understanding there is a difference between Mormons and Evangelicals as implied in the title.

    True enough there’s already lots of venues out there to discuss that topic.

    In Him

  79. One little minor error you made in how God is addressed linguistically–and I think it might have something to do with why many LDS people find “evangelical” prayer and vocabulary strange. The Spanish word TU does not mean YOU. TU means THEE, THOU or THY. It is kind of a reverse mental process in Spanish to what it is in English. For example, formal Spanish USTED–and its associated verb forms–is used in all polite public communication. TU–and associated verb forms–is used only between friends, family, intimates, and in informal situations–and in properly addressing Deity…! Using TU in any formal setting, i.e. in any polite or public situation, is considered improper etiquette. They even have a colloquialism in Spanish to describe this breach of custom: TUTILLANDO. USTED as a formal pronoun evolved from the medieval practice of addressing royalty as VUESTRA MERCED–literally “Your Grace”. In common practice it evolved into USTED–and became the formal polite method of public discourse. It is ironic that Biblical Spanish should address our Creator as TU–equivalent to THEE or THOU (informal Spanish) while formal, public Spanish, to be considered polite is USTED. Partly because I speak Spanish, I find it disrespectful to address Deity–i.e. our Heavenly Father–in terms like “We thank You”, “We ask You”, etc. Call it what you will, but that is one reason I prefer the King James Bible, and Shakespearan era English as the proper way to address our Heavenly Father. I also cringe every time I hear an “evangelical” use improvised or fad terms like “Father-God” etc. Heavenly Father already has enough disrespect and offense heaped upon him by humanity, without our inventing silly colloquialisms to insult his Deity…! believe that if we are going to be respectful and reverent to our Heavenly Father, we should address Him appropriately…! At least that is how I feel..!

  80. I know Spanish grammar. You can trust me on that. And I can say unequivocally that in Spanish is not a term of reverence but of familiarity. The fact is that Spanish-speaking Mormons address their neighbor’s barking dogs using the same pronoun as they do when they speak to God, so I think we shouldn’t condemn English-speaking evangelicals when they do the same thing.

  81. Uh, Harlan, it’s you that’s making the linguistic error.

    “Thou” in English is the (now-archaic) informal second person singular pronoun, the equivalent of tu in Spanish or (more closely) du in German. Before “thou” it fell into disuse, it was never, ever used to show reverence and respect, but always used in informal or condescending language, precisely how tu is used in Spanish and du is used in German.

    So yeah, in every language that has a modern formal/informal pronoun split, God is addressed informally. That’s the point. It’s supposed to be intimate and familiar.

    Go back and look a little closer at the usage of “thou” in the King James Bible and in Shakespeare. Its always used as a term of informal address. Its why Quakers who use “plain speech” use “thou.” They’re not addressing each other formally; addressing each other formally (like using titles and honorifics) is actually against their religion.

    “Thou” and its derivatives (“thee,” “thy,” etc.) are the Endglish language’s informal second person pronouns. It’s not the reverse of Spanish. Its the same as Spanish, we just don’t use it anymore.

  82. Just one problem with all the above explanations regarding YOU vis-a-vis THOU etc. The first form of Spanish with which I was really familiar–from the religious perspective–is the form I heard and used when I attended the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Spanish-speaking branch in Provo, Utah, while attending BYU. And since the majority of those attending services there were native Latin American Spanish-speakers, I can reasonably conclude that their manner of speech was the norm south from the Mexican border. TU was always the form used among brothers in the faith–but NEVER formally or on the street–at that time. USTED was never heard in the religious context. Modern “on the street” Spanish, as now spoken colloquially throughout the U.S.–and probably much of the world is a different story. Has anyone ever heard the expression SPANGLISH…? Simply defined–that’s Spanish with English grammar. True Spanish speakers–from south of the U.S. border–call that form of Spanish “pocho”. And that isn’t meant as a compliment…! “Pocho” has become street-Spanish in the U.S.–and from what I can see throughout much of the world. It is probably a reflection of English becoming the predominant international mode of communication. (For example, English is the official international language of air traffic controllers.) “Spanglish” isn’t–from my point of view–an improvement. Sometimes the difference between true Spanish and the “pocho” form is very subtle–for example “Que etas haciendo…?” (“pocho”) versus, “Que haces…?” which would be more proper Spanish grammar, asking “What are you doing…?”

    I am also familiar with Spanish–from both persepctives–as a retired law enforcement officer. I was one of few deputies in our department who could communicate with Spanish-speaking detainees, and who could articulate legal and medical terminology as needed–for example, advising those arrested of their “Miranda rights”. I also assisted medical personnel with their work. Having a working mutual trust between law enforcement officers and those accused was of vital necessity. Should our communication with our Creator be regarded with any less respect, care–or reverence…?

    And with a feeling for both forms of Spanish, I can tell you that it has given me a whole new perspective on my own native English. And part of that conviction is religious. I don’t sense anything resembling reverence when hearing people address our Heavenly Father as “You…” To me it is profoundly disrespectful–perhaps unintended–but disrespectful nevertheless…! Do Americans and other English speakers have to flaunt their ignorance by addressing Deity thus…?

    And the thing about familiarity versus reverence: Your perspective is BACKWARDS–English-to-Spanish–like mixing apples and oranges. TU in Spanish social communication is considered familiar. From the THEOLOGICAL point of view in Spanish, the OPPOSITE is true. TU is the proper Spanish pronoun expressing reverence for our Heavenly Father–meaning THEE. Ironic, isn’t it…? The real problem is you have to not only be able to speak Spanish–but THINK it as well…! In modern English, we have long lost that grammatical formal-familiar subtlety.

    Many in modern American society try to make it a separate religious issue–by claiming we need a new, “easier-to-understand” Bible version in English. Is that the real reason…? Or do some evangelicals just need an excuse to tinker with the word of God…? The similarity between KJV and NIV is too close for one not to suspect that NIV is re-interpretation, directly from KJV–not really translation…! We always hear the same excuse: “We have found newer and better Greek manuscripts…!” That doesn’t wash–when the NIV is practically word-for-word, verse-by-verse, book-by-book, Genesis-to-Revelation, lock-step with the King James Version–except for re-wording in “modern English”…! Did the ancient Greeks have the internet too…? Is that why an “older, more inferior” Greek translation is so close in wording to a “newly discovered” Greek translation…? Well, they must have had something better than the internet. It must have been more like a time-machine–because centuries separated these alleged ancient Greek scholars…! Why were they able to say almost exactly the same thing…? And don’t try to employ the “inerrancy” thing. That is just as discredited as the “rapture” myth…!

    Sorry…! Now I’ll get off my soapbox…!

  83. I’m sorry, I was a Spanish minor, and I lived in Ecuador for 5 months (and Ecuador is considered to have a very “pure” form of Spanish), and I really think you’re mistaken.

    “Tu” is informal. It just is. Unless you have a specific background in comparative theological languages and translation (and it doesn’t sound like you do), I don’t know why you’re still arguing this. It just seems like you’re trying to bend Spanish grammar to conform to your idea of what’s proper protocol.

    I can’t speak to the history of “thee,” but I think Kullervo has given a pretty compelling explanation.

    I’m sorry you take offense to how non-Mormons address God, but frankly, you have no idea where their hearts and minds are when they use those forms of address, so you really have no place to be faulting them on such a superficial basis. I address God with a “You” because I don’t use the vocabulary of a 16th century English person. I’m pretty sure God understands how much love and respect and awe I’m trying to communicate–and how much I actually have in my heart. The fact that most of us weren’t raised with the KJV as our linguistic point of reference doesn’t mean we’re automatically conveying disrespect to God. It means language evolves–and frankly, it’s always going to fail in some way when we’re trying to address and understand the divine.

    (I won’t get into the Bible translation issue because we’ve discussed it exhaustively on this and other blogs and I’m no longer interested.)

  84. And the thing about familiarity versus reverence: Your perspective is BACKWARDS–English-to-Spanish–like mixing apples and oranges. TU in Spanish social communication is considered familiar. From the THEOLOGICAL point of view in Spanish, the OPPOSITE is true. TU is the proper Spanish pronoun expressing reverence for our Heavenly Father–meaning THEE. Ironic, isn’t it…? The real problem is you have to not only be able to speak Spanish–but THINK it as well…! In modern English, we have long lost that grammatical formal-familiar subtlety.

    No, there is nothing ironic about it at all. You are misunderstanding. In Spanish, German, Italian, Franch, and in English (at least until we dropped the familiar pronoun forms of thou and ye from our language some time in the last 4 centuries), God is addressed informally. It’s not formal-reverential. It’s intimate-familiar.

    Tu in Spanish is not “informal-socially-but-formal-thrologically.” Tu in Spanish, like tu in French and Italian, du in German, and thou in English, is grammatically informal-personal, always. Including when addressing God. Thats how “thou” was used in the KJV and Shakespeare. Look a little closer. Look a little more carefully.

    “Thou” in English (back when it was commonly used) was the informal pronoun. “You” was formal.

    Again, because it seems like you are not getting this: in the early modern English language, “thou” is the second person singluar informal, and “you” is the second person singular formal. “Thou” is informal/intimate, and “you” is formal. Thats how it when the KJV was translated, and thats how it had been ever since the English language developed from early West Saxon during the dark ages.

    In contemporary English, we have stopped using the informal “thou” altogether (i.e., it has become “archaic”) and so now we just use the grammatically formal “you” for all social purposes, both formal and informal.

    I say it again, because you’re acting hardheaded on this point: “thou” was informal. “You” was formal. We stopped using the informal one (“thou”) and now we use the formal one (“you”) for all purposes. Because we use it for everything now, it seems like its informal (whereas “thou” seems formal because its old-fashioned). But its not, and it never was.

    KJV-Biblical use of “thou” to address God is not formal and reverential at all. It is the opposite–informal and intimate, like you would use when addressing a very close loved one.

    Honestly, the only people who seem to be laboring under the impression that “thou” is or ever was formal are Mormons. Sorry. I said it.

  85. I should also say, I completely support the use of “thou” to address God. But I support it because we should be addressing him personally and intimately, not because we should be addressing him impersonally and informally.

  86. Mr. Kullervo, you apparently do not speak Spanish very well or you would be familiar with the dichotomy present in the use of street Spanish–which is identical to the scriptural form–versus the formal. The reverent form for addressing the Creator IS the familiar form–which doesn’t make sense to a non-native Spanish speaker, but that is the fact…! And when you say “we” stopped using the familiar form–you really should say “we English speakers”. Some uneducated Americans call Shakespearan English archaic–but is it really…? I attended college in Colorado when I first started (a non-LDS school, by the way), where the King James Bible was our first English text for one quarter. So if King James Bible English is so “archaic”, why do college students still study Shakespeare…? English evolved away from that form of public communication somewhere between Shakespeare’s time and the establishment of the American republic. However, the Spanish-speaking world DID NOT COMPLETELY–and it still survives, in some form–especially in church services. Maybe that is why membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is exploding in Latin America–including Brazil, where the Portuguese language shares much in common with Spanish. At one time I could name every LDS temple in the world. Now I have no idea how many are in Mexico alone–forget their locations…! Brazil has at least two–and possibly three. They are all over Europe–even in Rome…!

    So if you really want to start some dialog between evangelicals and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints, get to know the people you are dealing with from a global perspective. More than 50% of us live outside the U.S. now. Long, LONG, gone are the days when someone could assume that if a man were LDS he lived in Utah. And for heaven’s sake ditch all the old preconceptions, misconceptions, prejudices, and outright misrepresentations that enemies of the LDS Church like to parrot…!

  87. Harlan, your first mistake is in thinking you’re arguing with evangelicals. Kullervo and I are not evangelical. Eric is actually LDS. We’re not saying you’re wrong because you’re Mormon…we’re ALL saying you’re wrong because you are misrepresenting how Spanish and English formal conjugation works.

    Second, you’re really not giving credence to what we’re saying. We ALL speak Spanish. Eric and I have extensive experience with it. For my part, I’ve been speaking Spanish for over 20 years. My Spanish minor required me to read Spanish literature dating back 300 years. If there is or ever was a distinction in how is used between everyday/”street” usage and religious usage, I certainly never saw or heard of it. And I was reading poetry and other writings by religious figures like nuns and priests. Who is telling you that this distinction exists?

    (Lest you try to say I obviously lack an understanding of Spanish…I got A’s in pretty much all of my Spanish classes and A’s in all of my classes that I took in Ecuador. And they were ALL conducted in Spanish.)

    Third, I invite you to consider the meaning of the word “archaic.” The primary meaning, via Merriam Webster, is “having the characteristics of the language of the past and surviving chiefly in specialized uses.” People study Shakespeare because his work is genius. The fact that the language is “archaic” just means we have to work a little harder to understand what he really meant. Example: “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” (notice the informal use of “thou”???) does not mean “Where are you Romeo?” in modern English. It means “WHY are you Romeo?”. Why continue to read Shakespeare in his original (now archaic) language? Because “translations” to modern English lose the iambic pentameter of the original, which is an important characteristic of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry. There are lots of reasons people study the KJV over more modern translations as well. Doesn’t change the fact that the language is archaic.

    It also doesn’t change the fact that NEITHER Spanish nor English ever evolved in the ways that you’re saying. Spanish has NEVER used as a formal means of address. Usted has quite clearly filled that role over time. (Consider also the use of “vosotros”, which is the informal version of “Ustedes.” It’s really only used in Spain, so “Ustedes” has is neither formal nor informal in most of Latin America. It’s exactly that kind of evolution that Kullervo is talking about, and that you’re really not rebutting.)

    Similarly, English has NEVER used “thou” as a formal version of “you”. This is the critical point you’re missing. The fact that the KJV uses “thou” does not make it a formal way of addressing God. It means you and other members of the LDS church are still addressing God informally, but in an archaic, rather than modern way.

    Finally, I don’t know how on earth you’re linking shared grammar rules to an increase in LDS membership in Latin America. That doesn’t even make sense. Even if you were right that has two meanings…that would be reflected in all Spanish and Portuguese religious texts. How does that give the LDS church an advantage?

  88. One last thing–it seems you’re getting too focused on the distinction between informal and formal. To be fair, that’s how I generally think about and Usted. However, the more precise way to understand is that it’s familiar (as Kullervo has stated). That doesn’t make it less respectful…it means that you’re assuming a higher level of familiarity with the person you’re addressing.

    To the extent that there used to be a distinction between “thou” and “you,” the same difference would have applied. “Thou” would have been more familiar and personal than “you.” Thus its use in both love speeches to Romeo and in discussions with and about God.

  89. I am not going to argue any further. It is always the same: “You’re wrong…!” “No, I’m not…!” “Yes you are…!” etc. Obviously, none of those who have weighed in are conversant in Spanish–so I guess Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Latin, etc. are completely out of the question.

    Let’s put it this way: There are 14,000,000 of us in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, mostly ouside the U.S. That isn’t bragging–it’s a simple fact…! Have any of you a clue how many evangelicals there are…? We keep accurate records of all our membership: births, deaths, baptisms, those who choose to leave us, those excommunicated, etc. Every ward has a clerk whose purpose is to track all of this, and submit a report to LDS Records weekly. It is on-going and never-ending.

    As best I am able to determine nobody can even guess how many evangelical churches, sects, congregations, groups–whatever you choose to call them–even exist…!

    Good luck is all I can say…!

  90. Harlan, another Mormon here.

    False. This wasn’t a “you’re wrong,” “no, I’m not,” “yes, you are,” discussion.

    This was you having your arguments completely and thoroughly dismantled by people who know what they’re talking about better than you do, through the use of sound evidence and linguistic experience…and you refusing to take the new information into your worldview.

    That’s your prerogative, but don’t kid yourself about what happened here. I learned some cool new stuff from this discussion (thanks, Whitney, Kullervo, and Eric!). You could have, too.

    P.S. Your use of ellipses is excessive. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good ellipsis as much as the next girl. But it doesn’t need to end each and every sentence. Just a friendly, passive-aggressive stylistic note.

  91. The only thing dismantled here was a lot of linguistic nonsense. Here’s one for all you experts. The evangelic community is sprinkled with those who insist God’s name as rendered in the Hebrew tetragram YHWH–is allegedly pronounced “Yahweh”. Only problem with that is that Hebrew–ancient and modern–has no sound corresponding to English letter “w”. No other European language to my knowledge has such a sound, including German–which renders “w” as our English “v” sound. Spanish renders “u” following “g”–as in agua–almost as “w”, but not quite. In Hebrew the closest sound to “w” would be the letter they call “vahv”–in other words “v” sound. So Hebrew YHWH really does not exist. It would have to be YHVH. So the Jehovah’s Witnesses have it at least partially right. They might have a little problem with “j” though…

    So Yahweh would be more properly pronounced as Yahveh–since some people insist on being armchair experts.

    Nice stimulating brain work…! May Yahveh bless you all…!

  92. Btw, since the subject has changed, the way you pronounce the tetragrammaton is:


    The EE’s are high pitched, as high a pitch as you can make. The OO is low pitched, as low a pitch as you can make. And the AA’s are in the middle. That’s how you pronounce the name of the Supreme Being.

  93. There are 14,000,000 of us in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, mostly ouside the U.S. That isn’t bragging–it’s a simple fact…!

    The church claims 14 million+ people on its rolls. But that does not mean that the church actually has 14 million members because:

    – All members are counted in that figure until (1) the church receives a death notice for them or (2) they are 110 years old. That means that if a person goes inactive or leaves the church but does not request name removal, dies at age 67 (the average worldwide life expectancy), and nobody notifies the church of the death, that person’s name keeps being counted as a member for 43 years after his/her death.

    – Children under the age of 18 who have had a blessing and naming ceremony, but have not yet been baptized, are counted as members. These children are included in that number indefinitely unless they fail to get baptized by age 18, at which point their names will be removed from the records of the church. My five year-old daughter had a blessing and naming ceremony, so she’s counted in that figure, even though she’s currently showing a preference for her mother’s evangelical church. Will she get baptized LDS when she’s older? It’s too early to say, but it’s entirely possible that she won’t and that her name is currently being counted on the rolls in vain.

    – Plenty of people, especially in developing and Latin American countries, go inactive shortly after baptism, stop identifying as “Mormons,” and never set foot in the church again. And these people will be counted on the rolls until they’re 110, even though they were only briefly converted.

    Whenever survey organizations like Pew and CUNY conduct polling on LDS self-identification among the population, they always come up with much more modest figures for LDS membership. There are maybe 8-9 million people in the world who self-identify as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and probably only half of those are active in the church.

    Have any of you a clue how many evangelicals there are…?

    Yes. From a blog post I wrote for Times and Seasons in 2009:

    Evangelical Christianity is a movement whose estimated adherents number somewhere between 700 million and 812 million. Mormonism’s boasted 13 million membership figure pales in comparison to those numbers, with Mormonism being about the size of a single Protestant denomination, say the United Methodist Church (12 million members) or the Southern Baptist Convention (16.2 million members).

    Those figures assume that Pentecostalism (which has about 500 million members) is counted as part of evangelicalism.

    FYI, evangelical denominations do keep records of their membership and activity rates. They differ from the LDS church in that most of them remove their inactive members from the rolls every 10 years or so.

    However, membership in an evangelical denomination is not necessary in order to be considered evangelical, so the denominational membership statistics alone would not tell you how many evangelicals there are.

  94. Guys, just to put to rest all the fruitless, totally senseless debate about who is right, who is wrong; who has the truth, who doesn’t; who knows what the future holds, who doesn’t; who is the fastest growing religious phenomenon, who isn’t; who speaks for God, who doesn’t; why doesn’t everybody just resolve to go about their own damned business and keep their noses out of everybody else’s…? Let the evangelistic folks go back to “witnessing”, Mormons keep doing what they are doing–and everybody get out of everybody else’s way, keep their long noses out of everybody else’s business, and find something constructive to do besides carry on an argument that nobody wins until the world ends. Let it all play out the way God intends for it to, because nobody on this blog is going to change that one way or the other anyway…!

  95. Harlan.

    You haven’t been on this blog long enough to know whose ideas have been changed, what progress has been made, or even what bridges have been built. This blog has been around for years. You don’t know what the positions of the Evangelicals on this blog about Mormons were three years ago, nor do you know how they’ve changed for the better.

    So, before you throw your hands up and “dust off your feet” against this blog because you didn’t get anywhere on an argument about the Spanish language, I think you might consider that there’s possibly been a lot more going on in this small community than you are aware of.

  96. Harlanwhy doesn’t everybody just resolve to go about their own damned business and keep their noses out of everybody else’s…?

    This is a discussion and dialogue blog, which sometimes includes debating. The primary focus of this blog is not evangelicals “witnessing” to Mormons. It’s true that the blog is maintained by an evangelical, but he originally started the blog with a regular LDS co-author, and he encourages guest posts from Mormons. Most of our LDS regulars here have contributed guest posts over the years. The regular commentators include Latter-day Saints, evangelicals, mainline Protestants, one pagan, a few ex-Mormons who don’t identify with a new religion, and a few other kinds of Christians. Once in a while, we get a Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox commentator.

    Part of participating on this blog means being told that you are wrong. There is not a single regular posting here who has not been told that s/he is wrong at some point in time. If you can’t take constructive criticism of your arguments, then you are definitely in the wrong place, but the good news is, no one is making you post here. No one here chased you down and forced you to defend your ideas. You came to this blog, put your arguments on the table via your comments, and we responded. That’s how it works. If you don’t like it, then don’t post here.

    I welcome you to stay. But if your only response to being called on absurd arguments is going to be to throw your hands up in the air, claim that we can’t really know who’s right and who’s wrong, and rant about how pointless and futile this entire blog is, then I don’t think this blog is a good fit for you. The participants who do the best here are the ones who are willing to have their own thinking challenged in addition to challenging the thinking of others.

    And btw, you are absolutely wrong that people on this blog have not changed things one way or another. I have seen people make large changes to their worldviews via participation at this blog and other LDS-Evangelical-themed blogs.

  97. Ms. Jack:
    The problem is–despite your protest–that the only purpose for this blog is to give evangelicals another chance to gang up on Mormons. Number one, YOU people invented the title “Mormons” almost two hundred years ago–we didn’t. Nobody ever really defined the reason, but it is obvious upon simple reflection. Number one: most people are too lazy to say Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Number two: doing that identifies us as the SAVIOR’S CHURCH–so that’s inconvenient, as Al Gore would say. I am amazed that in all these years nobody else has ever tried to claim a similar title. Maybe it has something to do with U.S. or international copyright law. But we became “Mormons”–courtesy of folks who enjoy attacking us–and want to deflect attention from the fact we identify by the name of Jesus Christ…! The excuse for our unwelcome nickname was that we believe in the Book of Mormon. Of course another inconvenient fact is that we also recognize the Bible as God’s word. And compounding the inconvenience of that is the fact that we use the Authorized King James Version–translated 401 years ago, but UNTAMPERED WITH by evangelistic manipulators since then. I guess we could say the devil is in the tampering…!

    But I won’t give you people the pleasure of attacking me anymore, because I have better things to do with my time than tolerating your abuse…!
    Good bye…!

  98. This is like a very special episode of an 80s style sitcom where despite everyone’s crazy antics they all decide they love one another. Thanks Harlan!

  99. Harlan – There were very few non-LDS commentators here when I began commenting in 2008. It was largely Tim creating posts with a handful of LDS commentators issuing responses and talking with Tim. Or in other words, this blog has been a place for Mormons to “gang up” on evangelicals as often as it’s been the other way around.

    I didn’t give anyone the nickname “Mormon.” I was born in 1982 and did not begin studying Mormonism until the late 90s. By that time, Mormons were proudly using the term as a self-appellation quite independently of anything I ever said or did. When I write about Mormons, I alternate between “Mormon,” the abbreviation “LDS,” and spelling out “Latter-day Saints”–which is exactly what I did in my comment above.

    There are many, many Christian denominations out there which use the words “Jesus,” “Christ,” “Christian,” “Messiah,” “God,” or “Savior” in their official names. Putting one or more of those words in a church name does not say very much because any one can do it. A lot of other churches choose not to do that because they want a name that is more distinctive.

    Evangelicals have not intentionally manipulated modern-day translations any more than the King James translators (who were Anglicans) manipulated the KJV. All English translations are, of course, subject to the biases of their translators, but the KJV was no exception. That you prefer a version of the Bible that was produced by 17th century Anglicans over versions of the Bible produced by modern-day Protestants using a much better assortment of manuscripts than the KJV translators had access to is really your call. For my own part, I think it’s important that the Bible be translated correctly, so I use modern-day translations.

    I’m sorry that this blog was not a good fit for you, and I wish you well wherever you end up.

  100. There’s something ironic about a Mormon complaining about folks tampering with the KJV.

    Anyway, like the others have said, Harlan, best wishes in your journey.

  101. That you prefer a version of the Bible that was produced by 17th century Anglicans over versions of the Bible produced by modern-day Protestants using a much better assortment of manuscripts than the KJV translators had access to is really your call. For my own part, I think it’s important that the Bible be translated correctly, so I use modern-day translations.

    See, I prefer the KJV because it is itself a profound literary and spiritual masterpiece; not merely a translation of one.

  102. I think the claims of some of its fans aside, the Book of Mormon never claims to be a “literary masterpiece.”

    In fact, Mormon explicitly admits the book is no such thing. He worries to the Lord that the Gentiles will “mock at us” because of our “weakness in writing.” He knew he was no Shakespeare and was quite concerned about that fact.

  103. Mine doesn’t include “literary masterpiece”

    This is a religion for me Kullervo. Not a hobby.

  104. Wow; that’s incredibly condescending, and for no good reason.

    This is a religion for me too, Seth. Just because mine doesn’t look like yours or play by your rules doesn’t make it any less so.

    But I am more than happy to play the game you are playing right at now: if you think there’s a single canon of sacred text that was dictated or inspired by a lone, unique creator deity as His Special Word For Humanity, you are deluded. No religion, including especially yours, passes even a threshold credibility test for the claim to exclusive truth.

    That being said, a lot of the world’s sacred texts, which term I use in the most broad possible sense, express powerful and relevant truths about the human experience. And powerful truths are best expressed powerfully. The medium itself is an inseparable part of the message. A great work transmits a more powerful, multilayered, complete and sublime message than a mediocre one–even a mediocre work that ostensibly comprises the same core idea as the great work does.

    The mere fact that I don’t believe the KJV is dictated from Jehovah’s mouth to our brains–or that I believe that the merit of a sacred text’s form is a significant part of what makes it sacred–doesn’t make my religion a “hobby.”

    Since its pretty much a given to everyone that’s not either ignorant or lying to themselves that neither Mormonism nor Evangelical Christianity is objectively true, and that the claims both religions make with regards to the divine provenance and official divine sanction of their respective sacred texts are mythic exaggerations at best and bald-faced lies at worst, I’m left as an independent moral agent to evaluate each text for myself without having or needing to appeal to the lazy, infantile and/or ignorant default position of “God ordained it so it therefore must be True and I have to like it and find it meaningful or else the problem is clearly mine.” And as a part of my bona fide religious belief, whether you like it or not, that evaluation includes the text’s artisitc and literary merit, because a work’s aesthetic merit is an inseparable part of its spiritual value. And the King James Version of the Bible as text in itself has aesthetic merit in spades.

  105. Well, I’m pleased to have this clarification from you.

    But no, I don’t consider aesthetics to be a necessary component of scripture. Otherwise, we cut anyone without enough eloquence out of the running – which seems a tad snobbish to me.

  106. See, I prefer the KJV because it is itself a profound literary and spiritual masterpiece; not merely a translation of one.

    …and frequently at the expense of the context and intent of the original authors. Which, for a text that many look to as a guide for living, is a problem.

    I’m happy to place the KJV on par with Shakespeare. That is, sitting on my shelf collecting dust.

  107. Which, for a text that many look to as a guide for living, is a problem.

    Not if the principles reflected are as good or greater than what the original authors intended.

  108. An expansion theory Jared? Similar to Ostler’s view of the BoM revelation process? Interesting.

  109. Don’t know Ostler. But it doesn’t seem necessary to disregard profound insight or literary excellence simply because it wasn’t what was originally written.

  110. See here Jared – https://dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V20N01_68.pdf

    I’m not disregarding the literary achievement that is the KJV. Nor would I ever deny the enormous importance the translation has had on the shape of Western civ. However, if the Bible has any weight as a spiritual/theological text to guide people’s lives, the meaning and context of the original authors should be at the top of your list IMHO. That’s much more difficult to do with the KJV. (nice to have at the pulpit – not so much for personal study)

    Maybe I’m just grumpy, because I see the the Mormon reliance on the KJV as contributing to their blase attitude toward the Bible in general. “Who cares about hermeneutical excavation anyway? – the prophets interpret scripture for us – and the Bible isn’t all that reliable anyway…”

  111. While I know the bible mainly in KJV language. I bought my kids (still active Mormons) modern translations. The learning curve to understand the bible or the KJV is far lower when you read it beside a modern translation.

  112. The shoe is kinda on the other foot. Mormons now number 5 million in a cohesive, worldwide community, while other churches probably that many tiny, splintered, noncohesive sects without a shred of unity.

  113. Incorrect. There are now 15 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with more than 50% outside the U.S.

  114. That would be the point, Kullervo. There will never be a great number of true Christians in the world. In fact, according to Matthew 7:13, few will actually find the truth and enter heaven. That should be taken literally. Fifteen million true believers as opposed to 7 billion world citizens is pretty pitiful testimony to the general judgment and righteousness of mankind. Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints perhaps one or two percent will actually ever enter into the presence of God. And outside the LDS Church, the number will be just as pitiful–if not more so. LDS people are no more likely to return to God’s presence than are unbelievers. But the fact remains, the only true faith is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The commonly held concept of a “body of Christ” encompassing all of alleged Christendom is a myth.

  115. What I’m saying, Kullervo, is that I am lucky enough to possess the truth–you deny it. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are 1000% more fortunate than you are, since we embrace what you reject. You impose ignorance on yourself intentionally through your own denial. However, God affirms that he is no respecter of persons, so as his children we are equal. I am simply saying that what either of us do with the talents we have received will determine our eternal destiny: with God–or separated from his presence. No one can say which of us is more beloved of God. God’s judgment will decide that. Maybe the Dalai Lama or Sister Teresa will be allowed closer to God than either of us. You are sanctimonious enough to believe that you are closer to God than all of us. But that is for God to judge–not you or me. How’s the whiplash now?

  116. As it currently stands, your argument, if you even have one, is a non sequitur. So you might want to do a better job of connecting the dots between this comment and this one. Insulting people is not the same as making a good argument.

  117. Kullervo, what does “,,,by their fruits ye shall know them…” mean ? You consider it an insult when I do you the favor of informing you that you are ignorant and/or stupid ? Goodbye. Have nice day with your sanctimonious head in the sand !

  118. I swore to never come on this “site” again. But every time I do a search on line it pops up. Your title “What Mormons Should Know About Evangelicals” is a little presumptuous. I think “Mormons”–actually members of the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints–already know quite enough. For your own edification, Tim, go on line and look up Governor Lilburn Boggs of Missouri, during the 1830’s. He issued Executive Order #44–also known to LDS settlers as the “extermination order”. Dozens of LDS settlers were massacred at Haun’s Mill by a raiding party of the good Christian citizens of Missouri–under the cloak of legality provided by Governor Boggs. Later, the Prophet Joseph Smith was assassinated in Carthage, Illinois–while incarcerated–by a mob of the good Christian folk of Illinois. More than a century later, official apologies were issued by legislators…!

    I think we know quite enough of “evangelicalism”–thank you !

  119. Halan,

    Boggs was a great Evangelical leader. You would do well to go easier on Boggs. He was a child of the the 19th century, with a really villainous-sounding name. He had it rough. Evangelicals in Missouri had their necks under the jackboot of Mormonism for so long that something had to give. And the wounds are deep. I know many Evangelicals wept bitterly when Missouri retracted his extermination order in 1976. Sermons across this land decried the liberal appeasement strategy. I wish you didn’t have to bring up that painful memory to make your point.

    However, it is apt that you bring up the death-struggle that Mormons and Evangelicals find themselves in. Evangelicals scientists are developing new, humane ways to drive Mormons from our borders without brutal extermination. This blog is part of these efforts. Tim was genetically engineered to insidiously attack Mormonism from every angle. Some wonder whether he is human at all. Rest assured, the Evangelicals are determined to drive the scourge of Mormonism from our great land, either by extermination or by blogs such as this.

    The question is can you stop them? You Mormons will have no hope unless you know the evangelical weaknesses for praise music, smiling, and coffee. Praise music fueled by electric guitars and compelling baselines will pull Mormons into their destructive maw. And, as Mormons should well know, coffee drives the murderous mechanics of the Evangelical machine. Sadly the strictures of the word of wisdom will be the undoing of the Mormon empire. For lack of coffee, your religion is lost.

  120. Harlan, I’ve been an active temple-going Mormon my whole life and have often challenged Kullervo and others on this site here on several issues. I’ve pretty consistently defended the LDS Church over the years I’ve been here.

    And I’ll just say – I have no clue what you are trying to argue. You’ve been completely incoherent and a literal grab-bag of poorly thought-out arguments. You haven’t done the LDS Church any great favors here. You said you promised yourself you wouldn’t come back here.

    Why not take your own advice?

  121. Boggs was a great “evangelical” leader–and a murderer by proxy ! “Evangelicals” would do it again–given the opportunity–and still be proclaimed “great leaders”. Suck it up and move on, smug in your hypocrisy ! That’s why I don’t spend much time here. Goodbye…

  122. Correction to last entry: The Legislature of Missouri did not make the apology in 1976. Then Missouri Governor Kit Bond rescinded the order by decree, declaring it “unconstitutional”. That probably was done partly to commemorate the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial festivities. Now all you “Mormon” haters can go do an obeisance to St. Lilburn–the great evangelical saint !
    Once again, goodbye–until I stumble upon more anti-“Mormon” crap.

  123. Harlan,

    You may be the only person who truly knows the threat that the coven of Evangelical leaders poses to you, your religion, and your family. Please do not shirk your responsibility to defend all Mormons against the tide of tyranny and oppression that the Evangelicals have in store for your kind. I implore to continue to study the ways of the anti-Mormon. Ultimately you will find that you must use his methods or perish. For heaven’s sake, get yourself a cup of coffee before its too late.

  124. Jay, Holy war that will embroil the entire earth in the final battle of good over evil is not really genocide is it?

    Marv, Are you implying that Boggsian Evangelicals are not Christian?

  125. Yeah, Mormons are “counseled” to stay away from places like this, unless officially representing their faith. I doubt he is. That could put him in hot water.

  126. DEAR, Brother Jay, I have been thnking about what you said just now about counseled “counseled” to stay away from places like this, unless officially representing their faith. I doubt he is. That could put him in hot wat for many, many days and I think that we should all rpray about it because, DIO YOU KNOW WHAT JAY. DO YOU KNOW. The “Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ (and a LIVING Prophet of Heavenly Father JUST LIKE IN BOOK OF MORMON TIMES)” says in Moroni 3:5 that we should pray without wavering for hw that wavereth is like a wave. I AM NOT A WAVE CROTHER JAY.

    So I think that you should obvey the Book of Mormon. DO you know why? BEcause, I have done this. I have asked the Heavenly Father of thy son JEsus Christ to tell me, by the POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST OF JESUS CHRIST (Jesue Christ’s ghost) if it is true. AND IT SAID YES. “Yes.”

    Would you like to know what the Holy Ghost of Jessus Christ says about “counseled” to stay away from places like this, unless officially representing their faith. I doubt he is. That could put him in hot wat? I know that you can ask if this is true and you will receive and anderws answer! BECAUSE OF A PROPHET OF GOD. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen. Will you do this brother Jay? Brother Jay?

  127. Dear brother Jay, I do not know what a site is raving, babbling insanity means. BUt do you know what I want you to know? I know that the Book of mormon is TRUE AND A PROPHET OF GOD. And the atonement. Do you know that Brother Jay? WILL YOU DO THAT.

  128. Dear, Brother Jay I do not know if Jay is your last name or if Jay is your first name but I want you to know that in the Church of Jesuc Christ of Latter Day Saints (“MORMON”) we do not call each other by our first names. It is disrespectful. Do you know that the missionaries when they are missionaries with therir companions they always ALWAYS say Elder :ast Name but say the last name not actually say Elder Last Name? They do not use first names or nick a’names because it does not show respect for ELDERS OF GOD. This is why we always say Brother or Siuster and use last names unless someone is a Bishop or PResident or another different office. So, Btother Jay this means that you should always say “President Monson” and never say Tom or Peanuts. So Brother Jay I want you to know that you canpray to know tif this is true (Mormoni 3:15). WILL YOU PRAY AND FIND OUT IF THIS IS TRUE and then stop saying Tom because it is disespectful. Just lik ehow you would never ever say just “Jesus” like Evangeliucals do. You would always say “President Christ.” WILL YOU DO THIS JAY.

  129. Jay, I do see what you mean! I DO!

    Your conventional, level-headed approach to all of life is refreshing and comforting in the face of the dual menaces of weirdness and Mormonism.

    And if your friend Mr. Monson shows up, he will be greeted with open arms as well. Count on it!

  130. Gig, if you do gay or don’t gay, you are still not filled. You stand on the fence of gay and say “do not” but your life is empty. To you I say: Just do gay-how’s your empty?

  131. Harlan, you should be aware that I can track commenters (or in your case commentors) by their location. In just the last day you’ve used Harvey, Harvical, Marv, Marvelous, Jay and Newbie.

  132. At least we know there is only one person abusing us with those ridiculous turns of phrase.

    Honestly Harlan, this has been a total amateur hour. Try harder.

  133. Ooo, I know… If I post under a different name, they’ll never know it was me!

    I can live forever!

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