Millet and Johnson video

Here’s a video of Robert Millet and Greg Johnson discussing their respective faiths.

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40 thoughts on “Millet and Johnson video

  1. Although I have read about the Millet/Johnson discussions, this is the first time I’ve ever seen what the two look and sound like. What I found interesting about this video is how much of their faiths developed through their personal experiences and not the apologetics sort of issues that are often discussed on the Net.

  2. Like Eric, I also found it interesting that the catalyst for their faith differences developed from social reasons and not doctrinal.

    I loved this quote by Greg Johnson speaking on his experience as a Mormon boy going to an EV camp:

    “I felt that they had a relationship, and I had a religion….
    and I’d say the difference between the little boy that went to that camp, and the little boy that came away from the camp…..felt that God revealed himself in a particular religion and that He saved the world. But that little boy that came out of that camp was convinced that Jesus Christ died for me personally.”

    What I didn’t care for was this very awkward moment and comment to Robert Millet: (paraphrasing)

    “I love you, I respect you, and I was going to say I would even die for you,
    but I don’t know in the same way that I would have confidence in my EV Christian brother, that you’re going to be in heaven with me, like I have confidence that my wife will be in heaven with me.”

    It was going so well and it ends with that??? Robert Millet seems like such a nice man….. :O I understand his beliefs on it, but to say it right to his face like that….ouch.

  3. “I felt that they had a relationship, and I had a religion”

    What does that even mean?

    Couldn’t a Mormon just as easily turn this around on Johnson and say something like:

    “I felt that they had a theology, and I had a religion.”

    ?

  4. Seth R. said:

    “I felt that they had a relationship, and I had a religion”What does that even mean?

    Growing up evangelical, I know exactly what he meant. “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion” is an evangelical mantra of sorts that draws on the importance of what they call “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

    One way of putting it in LDS lingo is that he never had his own testimony of Jesus Christ until he went to that camp, and he associated that testimony with what the Baptists (or whatever group it was) teach rather than what the LDS church teaches.

    Another way of explaining what he meant is that what he observed (or believes he observed) as a Mormon was the same as what Joseph Smith says he observed around him at a young age: “[T]hey draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

  5. I agree that it was awkward, Seven, but I understand too well what he means. I don’t feel confident about my husband’s salvation, and it’s a constant heartache for me. I can’t really go into details, but there are things he does that worry me. I’m not talking about obvious sins so much as how he treats religious devotion.

    He knows I feel this way, and I’ve mentioned this on my blog and elsewhere, so this isn’t private information or anything.

  6. Hi Bridget,
    You said:
    “I can’t really go into details, but there are things he does that worry me. I’m not talking about obvious sins so much as how he treats religious devotion.”

    I would love to read and understand more of your thoughts on this. Do you have a link to this kind of topic on your blog?

  7. Actually Eric, I think I misunderstood Johnson’s words. He was saying that Evangelicals were the ones who had a relationship while he had a mere religion. Correct?

    I mis-interpreted it to mean that he felt like Mormons had “mere” relationship as opposed to Christians who have a true religion. I see now that this read misses the point.

    But understanding it raises a new problem. He feels that Evangelicalism offered relationship instead of mere empty “religion?”

    But what is he implying about the word religion – all trappings, formalities and no soul? Is that what the word religion is supposed to mean?

    And from an apologetics standpoint, it’s problematic as well.

    Because, ironically, with many of the Christians I interact with online, it seems to me that what I HAVE is a relationship. It’s what the CHRISTIANS are offering me that is mere empty theology. It’s like they want me to part with something warm and living in exchange for something cold and dead.

    This is usually the personal result of attacks from Christians against my faith that are largely theologically-based.

    “Join us now. All the life and joy in your world will be sucked away from you. But at least you’ll be able to feel cool about the new logical equations you’ve learned.”

    So I guess which religion has the “relationship” depends on your point of view. Which sometimes makes me wonder if moving from one to the other isn’t more about our own personal needs than it is about real truth.

    But… who’s to say that these relationships, affiliations and ties are not part of truth?

    Beats me. I’d better quit before I meander too far afield here.

  8. I don’t think anyone is calling you to join them in a religion lived out solely on internet chat boards. Are you expecting to see manifestations of the Holy Spirit here?

  9. Seth said:

    He was saying that Evangelicals were the ones who had a relationship while he had a mere religion. Correct?

    Correct. The claim by many evangelicals is that people who don’t have a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” are merely going through meaningless motions that don’t have anything to do with a genuine, saving faith. Here’s an interesting Google search: http://www.google.com/search?rls=en&q=%22a+relationship,+not+a+religion%22.

  10. With all due respect to Greg Johnson, I’ve never really liked the “it’s a relationship, not a religion” mantra. While I understand what it’s trying to get at, I don’t really agree with that dichotomy. It’d be like saying “it’s a marriage, not physical affection.” Expressing physical affection to a member of the opposite sex can be a bad thing by itself, but it’s usually an important (if not essential) part of the marriage covenant. Likewise, my religious observances—prayer, baptism, the Eucharist, attending church, studying the Bible, worship through music, observance of holidays—are an important part of my relationship with God in Christ. They would be empty things on their own, but as part of the relationship they are incredibly meaningful.

    My concern with some of my LDS friends isn’t whether or not they have a meaningful relationship with a higher power in their religion. Of course they do. My concern is what they have a relationship with. My worry is that people develop relationships with the LDS church entirely instead of relationships with God, or that their relationships with God are so completely welded to their interactions with the Church that when the Church fails them, they give up on God altogether. Please take that as an expression of heartfelt concern and not a criticism of the Church.

    Seven, would it be okay if I e-mailed you using the address that you use to comment here? I can peek at it because I have admin rights.

  11. My worry is that people develop relationships with the LDS church entirely instead of relationships with God, or that their relationships with God are so completely welded to their interactions with the Church that when the Church fails them, they give up on God altogether.

    I have this same concern for members of the LDS Church, but also with friends of many other faiths. It is so easy for someone to weld their belief system to an institution and miss the greater point of what the institution is trying to point them to.

    If I understand correctly, this is largely what had happened with the Pharisees and the Sadducees in Christ’s time. And it is also spoken of in the Book of Mormon, when Jacob teaches about the danger of looking beyond the mark.

  12. This happens to everyone. You can make an idol of just about anything. Friends, family, politics, rituals, your own insecurities…

  13. I agree Jack that I think Evangelicals over use that phrase. It means much more to us than anyone else. I’ve probably said it in the past but I have to chuckle now when someone says it in an attempt to sound deep.

    I’m sure Greg didn’t even think those words to himself when he went to that camp, but in retrospect it encapsulates what he was feeling.

    Seth, if Evangelicals have given you the idea that we want you to have a relationship with our theology, we’ve certainly done you a disservice. Whether you are a Mormon or an Evangelical I don’t think you can have any kind of meaningful relationship with theology. I think Jesus is the place to look to means those needs.

  14. It’s just that whenever I get attacked on the grace vs. works thing, for instance, the discussion always gets so esoteric.

    Sure, the Evangelicals involved will usually pay a lot of lip-service to how it’s “all about the personal relationship.”

    But then they forge right ahead and ignore MY existing relationship with Jesus.

    Does anyone in these debates care whether I personally feel a connection with Jesus? They don’t seem to. Does anyone care about the nature of my own guilt or the nature of my own religious hopes? No, they kind of plow right on past those.

    Because they already know that I’m a prideful, works-obsessed Mormon who is unwilling to “let it go” and put Jesus at the helm.

    And how do they know this?

    Well, because of a bunch of technical theological distinctions between their religion and mine that I don’t think really exist, and that they have a distorted view of to begin with.

    So they may TALK like the relationship is the most important thing. But in reality, it’s the technical theology that they promote.

    Which honestly, has all the emotional appeal of a make-out session with a typewriter.

  15. There’s a lot of bad bumper sticker doctrine in evangelical Christianity to avoid. It’s why I really appreciate C. Michael Patton’s “. . . and Other Stupid Statements” series, i. e. “‘The Trinity is Like 3-in-1 Shampoo’ and Other Stupid Statements.” “It’s a relationship, NOT a religion” would probably make my list of stupid statements. But I think we all catch ourselves parroting stuff like that from time to time.

    Seth, Alex, while I agree that any religious system can have a problem with people making idols out of things that are not God, and I certainly think there are ways in which evangelicals do it, I feel like the LDS church deliberately sets itself between people and God. So I worry that the problem is much more common in Mormonism.

    I’m sure I’ll be very unpopular for saying that, but I’m trying to be honest and compassionate about my concerns.

  16. Seth, I’ve seen a lot of the conversations you’ve had around the Internet with other evangelicals. All I can tell you is that I’m sorry. I do feel like they often talk past you, and I don’t feel like they’ve tried to meet you where you are when it comes to God.

    One of the things I’m saying to CJ in my response to your question (in e-mail) is that I believe that evangelicals are often at their worst when they’re actually trying to reach out to Mormons. I think we’re at our best when Mormons aren’t in the picture and we’re just being us.

  17. Which honestly, has all the emotional appeal of a make-out session with a typewriter.

    I cannot even begin to tell you how much I hope you are not speaking from experience on that one . . .

  18. There is that.

    There is also the fact that you didn’t get out of the VLC until you were like, what, 24?

    Who knows what you may have practiced on in the meantime . . .

  19. Hi Jack,
    You are welcome to e-mail it to me. 🙂 Thanks!

    The reason I liked how Greg described his experience after the camp is something I’ve commented on from an old post here. As a lifelong Mormon it was difficult for me to develop a relationship with my Savior and it wasn’t something that was ever encouraged in the church. (at one time it was even DIScouraged) I believe the root of the problem comes from the teaching that Jesus was our brother in the pre existence. That our Father sent one of His spirit children to die for us, instead of my Father coming to save me. I was grateful for my brothers sacrifice, loved Him, worshiped Him, etc. but something felt disconnected or missing. When I prayed, it was to the Father, and he was not the same God as Christ. (they were only one in purpose) There were many times I would get frustrated while reading the scriptures trying to figure out if it was the Father talking or Christ. And the modalistic scriptures in the Book of Mormon further confused me.

    I’ve heard New Order Mormons describe the LDS experience as Christ being “the parsley on the plate” and I would have to agree. I don’t mean that Christ is not the center in our church, because His name is in most of what we do. But He tends to get lost among a heavy focus on the restoration of the church, Joseph Smith, and a Heavenly Father who made one of His spirit children suffer for us, instead of coming Himself. I had more of a fearful relationship with my Father in heaven, and not one where I felt He loved me because of the pre existence doctrine.

    Had I been taught that it was my Heavenly Father who came to earth to save me, who bled and died for me (as the mortal Jesus), my experience would have been entirely different.
    That is why I understand why Greg hadn’t really come to know Christ until after he went to that EV camp. In Mormonism he had a religion, but he didn’t have that close personal testimony and relationship with Christ.

    I’m not saying there aren’t Mormons who know Christ and have that relationship that Greg now does. My LDS husband does not understand how my Mormon experience is so different than his. It doesn’t make any difference to his testimony and relationship whether it was the Father or Christ who came down. He has also said that if the church wasn’t true, it wouldn’t affect his belief in Christ. It’s hard for me to relate with him because I came close to despair after studying Joseph Smith’s life. It’s no surprise to me that so many former LDS lose all faith in God when they become disillusioned with the church.

  20. No major Christian group I know of (aside from maybe Holiness Pentecostals) believes that it was the Father who came down and died for the sins of the world. Trinitarians, at least ostensibly, believe that that sacrifice was made by a different person, and believe it heresy to think otherwise.

    I never thought of Christianity to be a “cult of Jesus” where he was the center of everything. He explicitly taught that the focus was His Father.

    Is God so capricious that he is not going to bless us and have a relationship with us if we get that focus wrong . . .

  21. I never thought of Christianity to be a “cult of Jesus” where he was the center of everything. He explicitly taught that the focus was His Father.

    Is God so capricious that he is not going to bless us and have a relationship with us if we get that focus wrong . . .

    So why should you care if Evangelicals focus on Jesus rather than Heavenly Father? . . . further, why should he care about the exact words and method we use for prayer or baptism. Why should he care whether or not we used a valid priesthood or if we wore nothing but white in a certain building and performed the right hand gestures.

    The problem with assuming something about God’s attitude toward X is that those assumptions can be applied to a great many other things. Is God so capricious that he is not going to bless us if we fail to recognize him in worship or believe him to be real?

  22. God really should just get over himself and recognize that everything we do is art and therefore an expression of his beauty. /end sarcasm

  23. I don’t particularly mind Tim.

    I’m typically the one on the defensive with Evangelicals trying to aggressively tell me that I don’t properly “worship” Jesus, and therefore, do not qualify as “Christian.” If God is OK with people fudging a bit on the metaphysical details here, then shouldn’t Evangelicals lay off just a touch on these kind of arguments?

  24. Both groups think God cares very specifically about the way certain things are done. Mormons think he cares about orthopraxy, evangelicals think he cares about orthodoxy.

    Seems like we’re about even to me. All clear to intermarry now . . . ?

  25. “So why should you care if Evangelicals focus on Jesus rather than Heavenly Father? . . . further, why should he care about the exact words and method we use for prayer or baptism.”

    Can’t imagine that he worries too much about that. Its clear that he answers prayers for all those who “get it wrong” and clearly will give them a chance to get it right. . . eventually.

  26. Also, my point is that the Bible doesn’t seem to make His Church out to be a cult of Jesus.

    I don’t really worry that Evangelicals “get it wrong” in this area since God seems to answer their prayers and bless them with a strong spiritual relationship with Him (just as he does Mormons).

    The proof that God is not so worried about the differences between Mormons and Evangelicals comes from evidence in the lives of the believers in those two religions, theologies, or types of relationships.

    This is not to say that some interpretations of scripture are not true and some are not false. It just seems that God allows a lot more lee-weigh in interpretation and practice than we do. Perhaps because he is more charitable and his love will overcome our foibles in interpretation and our pride in making sure we get it “right.” Just a theory. . .

  27. To me, it seems that God has different sets of expectations for different aspects of our lives.

    For instance, taking the Sacrament is not going to matter much as to whether you are a good and moral “Sermon on the Mount” sort of person. So will taking the Sacrament correctly matter in the calculus of judging your heart? Maybe not so much.

    But what if you’ve been called by God to do this as a symbolic gesture of your internal relationship with God via the Atonement?

    Yes, it can matter very much then in that respect.

    I think that’s what I was getting at. And I’ll admit it is only half a thought at present.

  28. Maybe I should back up a bit, be less concerned about “right back atcha” arguments and more concerned with explaining myself.

    Jesus taught that the greatest commandment was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37-38, NRSV) The first of the Ten Commandments was, “You shall have no other gods before me.” It’s tricky business to say that we love God and have no other gods before him if we’re “getting the focus wrong,” as Jared put it. It isn’t that I think God is capricious; it’s just that I care what the text of the Bible says in this regard, and it indicates that God does care about these things. I can see God reaching through and finding a way to meet someone who has sincerely chosen a “wrong focus” and still have a relationship with them. I certainly believes that He loves us that much, and I am one of those evangelicals who falls in with the inclusivist camp on such things. It’s like Seven said in her summary of The Shack: it’s not that all paths lead to God, it’s that God is willing to search every path to find us.

    All that said, I’m not going to kick back and shrug and say that the “wrong focus” doesn’t matter at all because we all get some things wrong so it’s no big deal. If I have a wrong focus, I want to know about it. I want to draw closer to God, and I want to get rid of the things that come between me and God and hinder my relationship with him.

    This isn’t me looking for a good spot to land a blow on the LDS church. It’s something that honestly worries me and my fears aren’t going dissipate in a puff of postmodernist “well how can any of us be sure we’re getting it right,” blah blah blah.

    I’m sorry if this is frenzied and unfocused. These past few days have been bad for me in ways that I can’t really get into and I’m not at my best.

  29. Jack, I agree with you in that God is going to meet us on the paths we are on, even when they are heading the wrong direction. And I also agree that there are some paths that God will not meet us on.

    I do think its a big deal if we get some things wrong and I think the spiritual consequences are generally obvious. However I think the EVIDENCE for which errancy God can tolerate and that which he cannot is evidenced not by the truth of one’s analysis of the Bible or beliefs or by their orthodoxy or by the correctness or authority of their ordinances.

    My point is not that there is no answer, but that the answers in this area are evidenced by God showing up in the lives of those who endeavor to follow him, not if their minds don’t believe or grasp certain doctrines. I tend to see these things as the outward appearance of a person’s relationship with God/religion rather than their heart.

    The fact that God is working in the lives of (some) Evangelicals, a lot, lets me know that God doesn’t care so much if they have such a mixed up interpretation of God and his plan.

    The fact that God is working in in the lives of (some) Mormons, a lot, shows me that he doesn’t worry too much about some of their foibles either.

    I think that there are things that are going to push God away from you, but these don’t seem to be simply the theology or the practice of one’s religion. I am not a all interested in kicking back and throwing up my hands on the question of what is going to really bring us close to god, I really am interested in finding out the common elements of those people’s lives who have the real and active power of the love and Spirit of God, be they Mormon or Evangelical.

  30. Tim, thanks for the support.

    Jared, I appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks for clarifying. I probably have more to add, but I have to go to bed and I have a busy day tomorrow. Take care.

  31. Jack said:

    … while I agree that any religious system can have a problem with people making idols out of things that are not God, and I certainly think there are ways in which evangelicals do it, I feel like the LDS church deliberately sets itself between people and God. So I worry that the problem is much more common in Mormonism.

    In some ways, of course, there is more emphasis in evangelicalism on the fact that believers have a “direct pipeline” to God, at least in the sense that individual faith is somewhat independent of the church, but LDS teaching too is that we can approach our Heavenly Father in prayer because of the Atonement and the work of the Holy Spirit.

    As i was reflecting on your remarks last evening, I thought of that morning’s high priesthood group (I mention this specifically, because we’re talking mostly about a bunch of older guys well-established in the Church along with a few younger guys who have had “high” callings), in which the lesson was based on (Jack, you’re going to love this) a talk given at last general conference by Ann Dibb, a Young Women’s counselor, who spoke in part on Lehi’s vision of the iron rod. As I participated in the discussion, what I kept on hearing were people who were sincerely trying to follow the teachings of Christ, the teachings all Christians share, and discussing how they deal with temptation and other things that get in the way of that. I didn’t hear anything suggesting the Church was an obstacle to that; in fact, I heard quite the contrary. It was a conversation that, I suspect, most evangelicals would have felt comfortable with in another setting.

    Do we always have the “right focus”? Certainly not. But neither does any church that I’ve seen. I’m not suggesting an attitude of, to quote Jack, of wanting “to kick back and shrug and say that the ‘wrong focus’ doesn’t matter at all because we all get some things wrong so it’s no big deal.” I guess where I’m coming from is more along the lines of what Seth said:

    But what if you’ve been called by God to do this as a symbolic gesture of your internal relationship with God via the Atonement?

    I fully believe I am where God wants me to be, where I’ve been called. No, the Church doesn’t get everything right; as much as I believe the Church is led by prophets, I don’t believe they’re infallible, and even where they’re correct, I don’t believe they’ve been called to fix every little error that’s there. As long as God reveals himself through human beings, it is incumbent upon me to humbly seek the truth and direction for my life, and that’s why he has given us the Holy Spirit and the scriptures.

  32. Eric, thanks. I really appreciate your thoughts on this.

    Would somebody find a way to add 4 for hours to my days so that I have more time to comment again? 😦

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