You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
I’ve listened to a couple of podcast interviews with non-conventional Mormons that have left me uneasy. There’s plenty of debate in the Bloggernacle about the fruit and benefits of the New-Order Mormonism movement and specifically about John Dehlin’s StayLDS site. I’ve largely stayed out of those conversations but I feel like I have something new to add to the conversation.
It’s no mystery that I have serious problems with the teachings of Mormonism. I’d like to see its heretical teachings eroded. I heard someone suggest that termites quietly eating away a building from the inside will bring about destruction much more quickly than locust slamming into the walls from the outside. So in that regard I would assume for myself that I would be quietly cheering on this new movement of liberal and unorthodox Mormons.
But when I hear the dreams and visions of these “Mormons” for the LDS church I find that I don’t really like hearing them call themselves Mormons. Often they’re really humanist or agnostics desperately clinging to keep a Mormon identity all-the-while hating Mormon origins and rejecting virtually everything the LDS church distinctively teaches. There are often things they like about Mormonism, but they are typically things they have adopted into Mormonism not necessarily things unique to Mormonism. They’ve made Mormonism into their own image. They fight tooth and nail to hold on to the Mormonism they’ve made, though it looks nothing like the Mormonism of Thomas Monson.
The thing about being a Mormon on your own terms is that it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s not salty. I could be a Mormon on my own terms. Everyone in the world is a Mormon on their own terms; they just aren’t calling themselves Mormon. The same goes for Christianity, Buddhism and Paganism. The goal of every religion is to fashion its followers’ worldviews into conformity with its teachings. The point is not to transform your religion into your own image. If you’re not being transformed into the image of your religion, you’re not really “in” it, you’re merely “of” it. You have the wrong kind of taste.
Joanna Brooks of AskMormonGirl.com offers her services for unorthodox Mormon answers. But if she knows her answers are unorthodox, does she have any place in calling them “Mormon”? Can you give answers that don’t conform to your religion’s teachings and still claim those answers belong to your religion? By acknowledging that her answers are unorthodox she does damage to Mormonism by replacing its teachings with a substitute and she does damage to her readers by misleading them about the nature of Mormonism. If she and others like her cannot find another religion it would make much more sense to me if they started a new religion and make an honest claim about representing that religion.
Follow the path of Joseph Smith. If none of the religions represent Heavenly Father, don’t join any of them. Call it “Reformed Mormonism”. Call it “United Mormonism”. Call it “The Community of Christ”. Just don’t call it Mormonism. There doesn’t seem to be much to lose other than the habit and anguish of banging your head against a wall and the constant rejection of those you say you love.
I am not suggesting that the LDS church should start a purge of such individuals. There are good theological reasons for the LDS church not to do this. There are good humanitarian reasons for the LDS church not to do this. But the example of Zell Miller just doesn’t look comfortable or healthy to me. While I pray for my own reforms within Mormonism I’m not holding my breath.