What Evangelicals Now Need to Know About Mormonism

I’d like to speak to some common representations Evangelicals have of Mormonism as well as some common questions I hear when people discover that I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying Mormonism.

First off, I think it’s important for Evangelicals to recognize that a lot of information they have about Mormonism comes from second or third-hand anecdotes that Evangelicals pass on to one another. That’s not exactly the most reliable source of information and is typically how urban legends get started. While you might trust the person giving you the information to be passing along what they know accurately, rarely do people pause to question what the original source might have been. More often than not that original source for Evangelicals was a book or a movie titled “The God Makers” by Ed Decker. Without getting too deeply into the specific truth claims of Mr. Decker’s work I think Evangelicals need to know that “The God Makers” was largely created with the intent of scaring Evangelicals away from Mormonism so they would not be tempted to convert. Many Mormon beliefs were twisted to make them sound weirder or more devious than they actually are. Another popular source for Evangelicals is “The Kingdom of the Cults” by Walter Martin.

As effective as these books might have been in saving Evangelicals from Mormonism, they made for a lousy platform to evangelize to Mormons from, even worse if that information was passed on second or third hand. Some of the negative information in those books comes from true things taught by Brigham Young which the modern LDS church no longer teaches or holds to. I commonly hear Evangelicals say “Mormons just don’t know what their church teaches”. This is a laughable statement if you really think about it. If anyone will know what a church teaches it will be the people sitting in its’ pews every Sunday. It might be accurate to say that “Mormons don’t know what Brigham Young used to teach” or even “Mormons don’t understand the deeper beliefs of their church”, but you can be sure they hear exactly what their church teaches. (This same charge can be levied against Evangelicals because most can not give an accurate summation of the Trinity). On that note I’d like to comment on some of the things Evangelicals “know” about Mormonism.

Adam-God, Blood Atonement & Brigham Young
More than once I’ve heard Evangelicals holding Brigham Young’s teachings over Mormons. Quite often these attacks come with references to the Journal of Discourse replete with volume and page numbers as proof. There are two important things Evangelicals don’t understand about these teachings. The first is that the Journal of Discourses is not scriptural. It’s a collection of sermons. It’s no more fundamental to the Mormon faith than any book written by Billy Graham is to Evangelicals. Those sermons may be interesting, but they are not inerrant canon for Mormons.

This naturally leads to the second point, Brigham Young was not an inerrant prophet of the LDS church. Mormons do not believe in inerrancy. Evangelicals make a mistake when we try to hold Mormons to our standard of inerrancy. A fundamental of Mormonism is the belief in modern revelation. That means new prophets can not only introduce new doctrines, they can also contradict and overrule previous doctrines. This is the case with another one of Brigham Young’s favorite doctrines, polygamy. He taught that it was important and necessary; later prophets received new revelations about its’ practice and now taking on a second wife is the kind of thing that will get a person excommunicated from the LDS church. So while discussions on whether or not Brigham Young taught that Adam was God might be interesting or foreign to Mormons, they are Young’s teachings, not the teachings of modern Mormonism.

Jesus and Satan are Brothers
If Evangelicals know anything about Mormonism it is that the LDS church teaches that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers. What Evangelicals don’t know is that this is an implication of Mormon teaching. It is accurate, but you can sit through a year’s worth of Sunday school meetings and read every word of the Book of Mormon twice and you will not hear an explicit teaching on this. I’m not saying it is not true. It is. What I’m pointing out is that it’s not the kind of thing Mormons develop lesson plans around.

The more overt teaching that implicates Jesus and Satan as spirit brothers is that we are all spirit children of Heavenly Father. You probably will hear Mormons talk about how Jesus is our spirit brother if you spend any time with them. If they can figure out what you are getting at, they will agree that Jesus and Satan are brothers.

What Evangelicals need to understand about this teaching is that Mormons are not elevating Satan to a similar plane as Jesus. Instead they are lowering Jesus to the realm of created beings. Mormons still consider Jesus to be highly esteemed and want to devote their lives to his teachings, they even call him God. But (fancy word alert) ontologically they don’t consider him any different than us (or Satan). That may not remove the offense to Evangelicals, but it puts it in the proper light.

Angrily confronting a Mormon with “you believe Jesus and Satan” are brothers won’t gain you much traction in getting them to attend church with you this Sunday. It’d be a bit like someone saying to you “Evangelicals believe Adolf Hitler might be in Heaven.”

Temple Mormons
The term “temple Mormons” is one that was solely invented by Ed Decker as far as I can tell. Mormons do not have any such distinction for “temple Mormons” and “non-temple Mormons”. If you use that term, it’s a dead give away that you got your information from “The God Makers”.

The secrecy surrounding LDS temples tends to creep out Evangelicals a little bit. Our minds start racing to all of the worst possible explanations for why Mormons keep the temple ceremony secret. Statues of oxen and pentagrams on some of the temples don’t seem to ease our imaginations. Let me put your fears to rest. There are no animal or human sacrifices taking place. No one is required to perform any sort of sex act on any of the altars. There are no beds in the temple. Mormons do not enter the temple and laugh at how well their mild-mannered, family-values ruse is throwing everyone off from their love and devotion to Beelzebub.

Evangelicals will not find the temple ceremony to be something familiar to their typical religious activities, but there is nothing overtly offensive, crude or blasphemous about it. The rituals performed there would not be terribly unfamiliar to those who are involved with freemasonry. A great many of your Mormon neighbors and coworkers find the ceremony to be uplifting and inspiring and I’m guessing that you’ve found that you can trust them to be decent and honest people in all situations.

If you are a savvy enough researcher you can find the entire temple ceremony and discover what it is about. Mormons consider the ceremony sacred and will not appreciate you prying into it; you need to consider this before you go looking. Within the last year a nationally televised program acted out the entire ceremony. Mormons were upset that this happened, but I did not find any one that would say that the presentation was inaccurate. So all that is to say, if you don’t trust Mormons when they tell you nothing freaky is taking place there, you can go find out for yourself if you’re so inclined.

Are Mormons Christian?
For some reason Evangelicals like to “serve notice” to Mormons that they are not Christian. As if we can wash our hands of the souls of any missionaries who visit our doorsteps because we’ve let them know they are going to hell. This isn’t particularly useful or effective. Please avoid dismissing Mormon missionaries with the words “you aren’t Christians” as you close the door on them.

If you’d like to debate Mormonism’s place in the Kingdom, I’ve found that engaging the question “are Mormons Christians” is not a great place to start. Mormons and Evangelicals are talking about different things. Mormonism comes straight out of Christianity. It doesn’t make any sense outside of the larger religious context of Christianity. So at least in one sense Evangelicals can acknowledge how Mormons are Christian. If you want to talk about the same thing with your Mormon friend, I’d recommend asking the question “Does Mormonism teach a saving faith?” You may not come to any better of an agreement, but at least you’ll be talking about the same thing.

Grace and Works
Mormons are not as monolithic in their view of the role of grace and works in salvation as they might have once been. There are some who believe exactly as Evangelicals do. This is NOT the thing that separates Evangelicals and Mormons the most. Sometimes though it appears to be our biggest dividing line. Part of the reason for this is that both sides are at times engaging in “boundary maintenance” and taking a harder line on their perspective than they actually believe.

Ephesians 2:8-10

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Notice why verse 10 says we are saved by grace; to do good works. Don’t be ashamed of the good works we are called to do. Evangelicals should feel free to give in a little bit and agree that there are good works for us to do. That doesn’t mean we have to agree those good works are adequate to save us, but we shouldn’t give Mormons the impression that we go on doing whatever we want because of grace. Evangelicals should also acknowledge that our good works will earn Christians something, namely jewels in their crowns. Both sides have to fight against a caricature created of them. Instead of reinforcing that caricature, do your best to give in where you can. Not for the sake of giving in, but for the sake of having your beliefs properly understood by someone who may have a cartoon understanding of them. Be prepared to also recognize that your own understanding of Mormon beliefs may be a little cartoonish.

Shunning

The LDS church does not teach its members to shun those who leave the faith.  There is not an automatic threat that an ex-Mormon will lose all contact to their family including their wife and children.  It does happen at times, but not because the LDS church says it must happen.  Often when family ties are broken for ex-Mormons it is because of the tremendous stress such a paradigm shift creates in their relationships. It’s no different than when Evangelicals decide to become Atheists, Mormons or Catholics.  Sometimes relationships can not adjust to the new expectations and those relationships dissolve or fade away.  Evangelicals should not believe that those relationships dissolve due to a threat of ex-communication from the LDS church.  It simply does not happen.

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206 thoughts on “What Evangelicals Now Need to Know About Mormonism

  1. More than once I’ve heard Evangelicals holding Brigham Young’s teachings over Mormons

    I think we should keep doing this, at least in this sense: Brigham Young was supposed to be a prophet of God, and what he taught was supposed to represent God. Mormons might not agree with that, and they might give him a free pass for teaching Adam-God, etc. — but by God’s standards, that makes Brigham a false prophet.

    We can do that while acknowledging Mormonism itself doesn’t hold to the strict principle of inerrancy. Indeed, Mormonism gives its prophets a free pass to teach from the General Conference pulpit and integrate into the temple ceremony a doctrine about the very identity of God that is later disowned, “forgotten”, and denounced as false doctrine and damnable heresy by subsequent leaders. All the while teaching this loose idea that the prophet will never lead people astray.

    Certainly understanding Mormonism means understanding how Mormonism views itself by its own standards. But engaging Mormonism and serving notice that it has a line of false prophets partly involves using the Bible’s standards.

    Grace and peace in Christ,

    Aaron

  2. Tim,

    As an LDS blogstalker, I really like this post. I feel like the treatment you give is fair. Thank you.

  3. Aaron, the old “Deuteronomy test” doesn’t work the way you think it does.

    This has been more than demonstrated from the Bible to you on several occasions.

    Having an incorrect doctrinal idea doesn’t immediately put a “false prophet” hat on an individual.

  4. Tim,
    On “they are lowering Jesus to the realm of created beings”, I’d agree it is unfortunety comon LDS folk religion to bring Jesus down to the level of man, but I’ve never heard a GA teach such nonsense. In any case, I’m LDS and accept Jesus as my Lord and Savoir who will shield me from the final Judgment, not by anything I have done but by His grace alone. He is far more than a man. He is all man and all G-d, albeit a distinct being from the Almighty G-d who sent Him to save us.

    Aaron,
    I’m LDS and think it’s self evident BY was a false prophet and a half. That said, G-d used him to save the LDS church. Get over it, please. Hey, without BY you wouldn’t have a raison d’etre, n’est-ce pas?

  5. I really appreciate this type of post. Lack of innuendos goes a long way to civil conversation. Too bad the first comment didn’t find a creative way to follow suit.

  6. Something that has surprised me over the years as I’ve advanced in studying Mormonism: how often the statements made by counter-cult sources actually are rooted in an idea still current in Mormonism or a view that actually was taught by a General Authority at some point.

    I remember very clearly what the very first thing I ever read about Mormonism was. It was an entry in a book called Concise Dictionary of Cults and Religions by William Watson (1991). The entry was about 1.5 pages long and listed The God Makers, Kingdom of the Cults and The Maze of Mormonism as sources for the entry. I had borrowed the book from my aunt’s library because there were several Mormon kids in my sophomore health class and I was curious about what they believed. I was pretty innocent in all this.

    This paragraph stuck in my mind:

    Mormonism’s view of the Trinity is not the same as that of orthodox Christianity. God “was once as we are now and is an exalted man. The Father has a body of flesh and bone as tangible as man’s.” Every Mormon male can seek to become a god.

    The entry said nothing about Mormon women being allowed to become god[desse]s. It said nothing about Mormon women at all. “Wow,” I thought, “That’s so unfair! How can anyone teach that?”

    Later that year, when I really began talking with and listening to Mormons, they all vehemently denied such a thing. They were unanimous in affirming to me that women can become god[desse]s, too. I decided the thing about only men becoming gods must have been one of those “anti-Mormon lies” I’d been hearing so much about.

    Fast forward twelve years. After reading several posts at Zelophehad’s Daughters (here and here, for example) and learning about the heavenly mother problem and what the temple liturgy and the second anointing teach about women, I’m not so sure the line I read from Concise Dictionary was a lie. Oversimplification, yes. Misrepresentation via omission, yes. But not a lie.

    (BTW, this is absolutely NOT the place to try and argue whether or not the church really teaches that women can become god[desse]s. If you want to have that debate, head on over to Zelophehad’s Daughters and have it. The threads I just linked to are still open for comment and they’ll be happy to accommodate you.)

    My point is, when counter-cult literature gets it wrong, it usually isn’t because they’ve completely made something up. It’s usually because they’re misrepresenting, exaggerating, or oversimplifying.

    However, Mormons aren’t blameless in this mess, either. Think of all of the Mormons who insisted to me that the thing about only men becoming gods was a lie. Were they intentionally lying? Most of them, probably not. Most Mormons are not as philosophically savvy as the women of ZD, and they’re honestly unaware of the problems with women and exaltation. I think that applies to a lot of historical problems and teachings as well; Mormons honestly aren’t aware of them, so the answers you get from them aren’t accurate, either.

    The final problem for evangelicals trying to navigate these waters is that I feel like Mormons give different answers to outsiders than they do to insiders. There’s a real tendency to dismiss and minimalize problematic or “tough” areas of doctrine and history when speaking with outsiders, whereas a Sunday school class full of Mormons will be more than willing to mention it. Just because a Mormon has dismissed something when talking with you or acted like it’s “no big deal” doesn’t mean they’re right. It could just mean you’ve made them uncomfortable and they want to move on.

    Those are things evangelicals who are entering into this fray need to be aware of.

    And in case I did not make it clear above, I thought that the Concise Dictionary entry was horrid and I plan to review it on my blog.

  7. Tim, I really appreciate this post, and I hope that Evangelicals and Mormons alike will take your comments seriously when they engage in conversations about religion.

    I do have one issue with something you said, though:

    “But (fancy word alert) ontologically they don’t consider him any different than us (or Satan).”

    Jesus Christ is very different from us and from Satan. He is an exalted being, a Deity. We are not. We are embodied spirits. Satan isn’t even that. So unless I am completely misunderstanding the meaning of ontology, I do not see how you can claim that Mormons considered Christ to be the same as mere mortals, or that we consider Him to be the same as Satan. We all came from the same stock, yes, but Christ has progressed far beyond us, while Satan hasn’t progressed at all. LDS doctrines make that extremely clear.

  8. Having an incorrect doctrinal idea doesn’t immediately put a “false prophet” hat on an individual.

    Or more precisely:

    In Mormonism a prophet can promote an incorrect doctrinal idea at General Conference as a test of your salvation or damnation, integrate it into the temple ceremony, only to have subsequent leaders denounce it as false doctrine and damnable heresy.

  9. Tim~ I like the post, it seems you have been very thoughtful in how you see the LDS and I think that this reveals an understanding. I think that it shows a strong attempt at real dialogue, despite the fact that you do have a very clear and firm theological position.

    Jack Said: “There’s a real tendency to dismiss and minimalize problematic or “tough” areas of doctrine and history when speaking with outsiders, whereas a Sunday school class full of Mormons will be more than willing to mention it.”

    I think part of the problem is that there is no easy way to completely square the corner of every religious issue and most people haven’t done this and often don’t even try. And it is bothersome when those who clearly have no interest in understanding Mormonism on its own terms (i.e. Aaron) to focus on all the rough corners. To me it really does seem like a bunch of pots calling the kettle black, and lots of other Mormons see it that way.

    A lot of Mormons don’t want to engage on that level because most every discussion of LDS Deification ideas boils down to fending off an attack rather than getting to the bottom of the role the doctrine plays in the religious life of LDS.
    If I always brought up all of the atrocious problems with the Protestant doctrine of eternal hell for the un-evangelized Evangelicals would probably be turned off as well since it kindof misses the entire point of the religion, i.e. that Salvation is free for the accepting.

    I think the rough corners of Protestantism are far more disturbing to me than the very unorthodox teachings of Mormon leaders and these teachings seem far more critical to the Evangelical faith than do most of the most oft-attacked ideas of Mormonism. However there are many more hundreds of years of theological static that dampens the problem and lets evangelicals feel as if they have resolved the intractable issues in their faith.

    My guess is that if you give the LDS a couple of more hundred years they will have a sufficient systematic theology to cover up all of rough edges with a contrived veneer like most of the Protestants have done.

  10. Jared, I’m not really talking about Protestants like Aaron who “clearly have no interest in understanding Mormonism on its own terms” (as you put it) and have a polemical purpose in focusing in on the bad stuff. I’m talking about people who honestly do want to understand Mormonism. I feel like too often I’ve been given a “move along, nothing to see here” answer on things that were still taught or really were important.

    I don’t see how a comparison with how Protestants handle tough questions about their doctrine is even relevant. I didn’t compare the two myself because this is a thread about giving advice to evangelicals studying Mormonism, not the other way around.

  11. Group dynamics are at play in all of these discussions. For example, suppose you have two Latter-day Saints and they perceive each other to be ardent believers and committed in the faith. One raises a historical issue or doctrinal issue that is problematic. What is the response by the other? Generally speaking, it will be acceptance of the facts and an openness to seriously reflect on the issue and discuss possible meanings concerning the issue.

    Consider another situation. You have a Latter-day Saint and then an individual who is not a Latter-day Saint, who the Latter-day Saint perceives as an outsider and even a critic. The outsider brings up the exact same historical issue or doctrinal issue. (However, probably not raised in the same way or framed in the same way, but suppose even raised or framed in the same way). What is the response? Generally speaking, it will be a skepticism and and the focus will be on whether the fact is really true or whether it is being misreported, exaggerated, misunderstood, etc.

    What is the difference between these two situations? Why the difference in outcomes?

  12. Alex,
    I think the point on ontology that Tim was making is that in Mormonism Christ began just as we did and has progressed just as we can. Therefore, we are ontologically the same. I is not that we are at the same stage currently. We have the same nature as Christ and can follow in His footsteps to becoming deity. Is that a misinterpretation of Mormonism?
    Josh

  13. ” Instead they are lowering Jesus to the realm of created beings.”

    I would also add to get the correct flavour, one should be aware of the degree to which Mormons have also lowered God the father to a similar plane, or, if you are taking a positive rather than negative perspective, the degree to which they have raised us to god’s plane.

    Some people also use the analogy of species evolution to conceptualize how God can be different from us but still reachable. For those using this analogy we are of a different species, but evolution from one species to another is possible. Thus the ontological plane is conceived on a “kingdom” level rather than a “species” level.

    I suspect there are quite a few implicit counterbalances preventing Jesus’ possible realm difference from limiting divine position or functional role.

  14. Jack~ my comment was not meant to be a “but you do the same thing” response.

    I believe that you do want to understand Mormonism but I also think you do come across as quite critical at times or at least intimidating since you do know a lot about Mormonism. Sort of a “sheep in wolf’s clothing.” So you may be treated as a critic in these sorts of conversations.

    I do think we are saying something similar i.e., that Evangelicals you should not expect the “average” LDS to engage on what most perceive as things that are peripheral to the LDS faith, i.e. theological questions/problems. The average Mormon practically never deals with theological questions in the way that you do. (I am guessing that Evangelicals don’t either, but could be wrong)

    I think one thing Evangelicals should understand is that Mormons do not tightly correlate theology with salvation or “saving faith” in the way Evangelicals seem to, so you are often going to get “tough” theological issues brushed aside in interfaith discussions because they actually don’t matter as much to Mormons as they do Evangelicals. Mormons just don’t get why Evangelicals are so caught up in their “creeds” ;).

    I don’t see how a comparison with how Protestants handle tough questions about their doctrine is even relevant.

    The comparison is relevant because if you want to understand why Mormons brush aside your theological questions, you have to see how theology fits in context with the rest of LDS religion. Academic theology in interfaith contexts has generally been front for attack by critics and since it is not so critical to Mormons they would rather not discuss it in interfaith contexts.

    Part of my point on theology is that you are not going to really understand Mormons even if you understand all of the clever answers to tough theological questions, and truthfully they have not had nearly so many clever people working on them as Protestants have so often the answers will often seem to come up short. Evangelicals may be looking in the wrong place if they are out to understand the LDS.

  15. PS. Jack, I realize original comment was kind of aggressive against Evangelicalism, but its just because I had my wolf suit on. sorry.

  16. I would add to Jared’s comments that, perhaps, another thing Evangelicals should know about Mormons is the different way they weight/value theological precision.

    Mormons tend to be frustratingly pragmatic without too much idea of what that means philosophically.

  17. Jack, your comment was spot on:
    “The final problem for evangelicals trying to navigate these waters is that I feel like Mormons give different answers to outsiders than they do to insiders.”

    They do give different answers. Active LDS view outsiders as potential converts, and behave through that lens. They are not going to say anything embarrassing or negative that could lead someone away from the church. It’s not their intention to lie; the misleading of information is more with the intent of “milk before meat.”
    New converts are not ready for the deeper doctrines.

    It’s true that we are taught from Primary age that Satan was our Spirit brother in the pre existence who was cast out of heaven with 1/3 of our brothers and sisters who chose against free agency. They chose the wrong plan.
    To say Mormons believe Jesus and Satan are brothers is true, but it needs to be given in it’s proper context. The way it’s presented by some anti Mormon sites, could lead outsiders to think we worship Satan.

    But the LDS outrage over Mike Huckabee’s infamous statement could have misled outsiders to believe it was some anti Mormon lie. I even remember some LDS saying we didn’t believe Satan was our brother .

  18. Tim said:

    “The first is that the Journal of Discourses is not scriptural. It’s a collection of sermons. It’s no more fundamental to the Mormon faith than any book written by Billy Graham is to Evangelicals. Those sermons may be interesting, but they are not inerrant canon for Mormons.

    This naturally leads to the second point, Brigham Young was not an inerrant prophet of the LDS church. Mormons do not believe in inerrancy. Evangelicals make a mistake when we try to hold Mormons to our standard of inerrancy.”

    I disagree. You are stating the views of the internet Mormon, not the rank and file members.
    You are correct that LDS do not believe it’s Prophets are perfect, but they do believe the doctrines and teachings given to the church are. They believe the Prophets in Conference sermons are giving the inspired word of God through his mouthpiece on earth. Most would say the church is perfect, and the revelations given are perfect, but the members are not. What this means is that Mormons don’t expect the Prophet to be sinless, but they do expect his revelations and sermons to the church to have a degree of inerrancy or what would be the point? If there is a contradiction or change in doctrine (e.g. polygamy being required for exaltation), it is viewed as “continuing revelation.” Most LDS are simply unaware of the crazy sermons from the JoD. If they were aware of them, it would probably be as troubling to them as it was to me.
    I actually took the teachings of the Prophets seriously, and I believe most active believing LDS do.

    I also disagree with downplaying the importance and role the Journal of Discourses has in Mormon teachings and beliefs. If you do a search on LDS.org, you will find those JoD sermons referenced and quoted in countless conference talks, Ensign articles, Sunday School lessons, etc. I grew up hearing it quoted all the time. But those dang ellipses were quite a shock to uncover with the internet! The reason I became so distraught over church history was the teachings on polygamy from the Journal of Discourses. I believed all those sermons to the church on plural marriage being required for the highest level of heaven either had to be the word of God, or these men were not real Prophets.

    As a believing orthodox Mormon, I would have never considered the Journal of Discourses as only interesting opinions of Prophets speaking as men. I believed they were conference sermons given to the church by inspired revelation, just as General Conference sermons were given for my day. And since they are quoted extensively in official publications considered doctrine, doesn’t that make the JoD somewhat official?

  19. Tim — Despite one quibble (see below), I commend you for an excellent post. My criticism here shouldn’t detract from the fact that I believe you were fair, generally accurate and respectful. Anyone evangelical who wants a clearer understanding of Mormons or who is interested in serious dialogue should read your post.

    I also appreciate the respect you showed toward the temple ceremony. (If you were talking about Big Love, though, the show didn’t show the complete temple ceremony, only a tiny portion, a portion that was left in with the intent of being offensive, according to my LDS friends who have seen it. I don’t speak from firsthand knowledge.)

    While your post was complete in itself, if I were doing something similar I might add two more points (the first of which you implied anyway).

    1. On various issues, Mormons aren’t monolithic. We can disagree on many areas of faith and yet be considered faithful church members. Just because my LDS brother or sister in Christ makes a definitive statement of belief and says it is church doctrine doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree, no more than the Calvinistic evangelical would agree with an Arminian evangelical on all key points of doctrine.

    2. Evangelicals won’t get very far if they tell Mormons that Mormons don’t believe the Bible, or that we believe the Book of Mormon replaces the Bible. While we recognize that the Bible isn’t complete, the average active LDS youth graduating from high school has probably spent more time formally studying the Bible than a similarly situated evangelical youth. We take the Bible seriously — although, of course, our interpretation can be at odds with the traditional understanding. Also, the Book of Mormon, which we take a very high view of, echoes Biblical themes (and, in fact, copies the Bible in places). If you’re looking for the source of our “weird” beliefs, don’t bother looking in the Book of Mormon. (I know that you know this, but many evangelicals don’t.)

    And now my quibble. You (Tim) said:

    Instead they are lowering Jesus to the realm of created beings. Mormons still consider Jesus to be highly esteemed and want to devote their lives to his teachings, they even call him God. But (fancy word alert) ontologically they don’t consider him any different than us (or Satan).

    I don’t understand Jesus as being of the same status of a created being, or of being created, for that matter. We’re told that he created everything that was (actually, that’s an evangelical teaching too, although many don’t know it) and was with the Father in the beginning. To be blunt about it, we don’t see Jesus as being lowered to anything.

    And we don’t just call Jesus God, we believe that he is God and always has been God (although he’s not our Heavenly Father, although he can also be thought of as our Father — that’s complicated). It’s possible that we may be elevating humankind to a divine level. It’s a complex subject, and I’m not sure the subject is totally settled within Mormonism. But whatever it is that we believe, I have never, ever heard any Mormon, theologically educated or otherwise, say that Jesus is/was a created being. While I can understand the argument that might be made to defend your wording, it’s just not the way that we view Jesus.

    I wouldn’t dispute that we have at least the potential to be ontologically like Jesus (and, furthermore, I believe that’s a Biblical concept). In all likelihood, Satan has forfeited his chance.

  20. I don’t disagree that Mormonism should, to the best of one’s ability, but understood at some first level on Mormonism’s own terms. But I believe it should go far beyond this, because I am not a postmodernist and I believe that the Bible gives me a meta-narrative worldview lens through which to view the world religions around me.

    Where this becomes is offensive is in its implication: The Bible helps me understand Mormonism better than Mormonism helps me understand Mormonism.

    I read the Mormon canon, I read the books sold at the LDS Distribution Centers, I read historical Mormon works, I read popular books at Deseret Book, and I talk with Mormon friends and a ton of Mormon strangers. And then I listen to what some of the best thinking Mormon philosophers and theologians are saying.

    All of that is valuable to understanding Mormonism on its own terms. But at the end of the day, I hold Brigham Young’s statements over Mormonism and its people because God’s word (and our consciences as well) show that such things as Adam-God reveal Brigham Young to be false prophet. And the implications of that are nothing less than enormous.

    In the God who never sinned,

    Aaron

  21. Seven, I kind of disagree with your disagreement (that is, I’m not sure I’m understanding you completely). The Journal of Discourses consists of talks from an array of venues, including funerals, prayers, etc, and definitely not just conference sermons. There’s a reason why they’re not considered official doctrine, just like anytime a leader speaks today, it’s not canonized. I’ve always been taught that prophets are not inerrant. You can believe that while also, at the same time, completely sustain them.

    Consider Elder McConkie’s comments concerning blacks and the priesthood. After the revelation was received extending it to all worthy males he basically said that many past leaders, including himself, were wrong and had spoken with limited light and understanding. He admittedly was wrong, even though, at the time he spoke it, he truly believed what he was teaching was the truth. Leaders of the church, now, give talks all the time in different settings that aren’t considered official church doctrine. But, for some reason, people don’t extend the same courtesy to prophets of old. It’s that tendency that many have (that’s been around for awhile) to give more credence to a dead prophet than to a living one. A principle many nonmembers do not understand is that they think we view our leaders in the same way catholics view the pope–holy and infallible. However, they are simply good men, called of God to direct His church, but with weaknesses, and moving forward with only the light and understanding that God has blessed them with up to the present. Another view of prophets that nonmembers often make is that prophets, being called of God, understand every eternal truth in God’s plan, in their entirety. The restored church is still less than 200 years old and God is still revealing things to them a little at a time, line upon line and precept upon precept.

  22. Aaron But at the end of the day, I hold Brigham Young’s statements over Mormonism and its people because God’s word (and our consciences as well) show that such things as Adam-God reveal Brigham Young to be false prophet. And the implications of that are nothing less than enormous.

    Setting aside all of your personal assumptions that lead you to this conclusion. . .

    What do you mean when you say that you “hold” these statements over the Mormon people?

  23. Eric said:

    “I also appreciate the respect you showed toward the temple ceremony. (If you were talking about Big Love, though, the show didn’t show the complete temple ceremony, only a tiny portion, a portion that was left in with the intent of being offensive, according to my LDS friends who have seen it. I don’t speak from firsthand knowledge.)”

    Yeah I noticed that too. Only a very small portion of the temple endowment was shown.
    While exposing any part of the temple endowment is a sure way to offend LDS, what they did show was so beautifully depicted that I can’t imagine the church showing it better themselves. I wouldn’t be surprised if it benefited the church by removing some of the fear and sinister descriptions about what goes on in the temple. They left out the Patriarchal language that could have been shown and some of the more controversial aspects of the endowment. If they intended to take a jab at Mormons, they didn’t do a very good job. 😀

  24. Jared, I too am sorry if my reply came off as too defensive. I think I’ve become overly sensitive to the “you too” apologetic. I’ve also decided that it’s one of the lamest apologetics in interfaith dialogue; not because it isn’t a perfectly valid point to make from time to time, but because so many people seem to use it as an excuse to not seek improvement in their own movement.

    This may be hard to believe now, but during my time at BYU I was hardly anything that could be called a critic. About the only thing I was critical of were bad apologetics and shoddy textual arguments from the New Testament. I barely ever even said a word about women in the church. I reasoned that it was not my church, not my problem.

    I think my critical edge has developed as my marriage has gone on. I was unprepared for how hard it would be to have Mormonism in my life every day for the rest of my life; I don’t think there’s any way to prepare for something like that. You get this close to something without embracing it, you’re bound to notice every flaw in it. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember the good and the compelling things that brought me here in the first place, but I try.

  25. Alex,

    When you said “We all came from the same stock, yes,” you made it clear that you agree with me that Jesus is ontologically the same as us. I understand in your view that he has progressed to Godhood and we have not. To orthodox Christians progressing to Godhood is not something we can do and it’s not something Jesus ever had to do either.

    You might like to check out this comment by Aquinas for further understanding:
    http://mormonmatters.org/2010/01/16/mormon-innovations-the-pre-mortal-life/#comment-128110

  26. I’ll add my opinion that the Big Love episode in question was much more tastefully done than I was expecting, although the end of the scene was unfortunate with a temple worker telling Barb, her mother and sister “your 15 minutes is up”.

    I’ll mention that I’ve never been very comfortable with our temple liturgy (wish we’d dump all the stuff that made sense for early Masonic Saints, but to me is just weird). In any case, I was quite relieved when I saw the Big Love episode. This was confirmed when people I work with asked me things like why we don’t publish/share such a beautiful ceremony so others could adopt it in their weddings, funerals, etc.

    I’ve heard young Tom Hanks went to LDS services with his Stepmom for some time. I don’t think he means us harm.

  27. I’d like to point out how surprised I am no one took any issue with me mentioning freemasonry in the same sentence as the temple. That’s a significant and noticeable change in online Mormon discussions over the last 4 years.

    Seven,
    It’s really not my place to tell you whether or not Mormonism believes in inerrancy. I don’t think any one could say that Adam-God was merely Young’s opinion given how it infiltrated even the temple ceremony. But “new and continuing revelation” as I understand it means that Monson can contradict or even overturn something Hinckley might have taught. But like I said, you’re a Mormon, I’m not; so it’s not my fight to tell you that Mormon prophets are infallible after they are dead.

    It’s also my understanding that LDS Correlation is removing as many references to the JoD as possible. I could only speculate as to why, but it’s probably because of those darned ellipses.

    Eric,
    Thanks for your kind words. Regarding your quibble, and I recognize it’s a quibble. The average Mormon thinks that Heavenly Father somehow procreated Jesus’ spirit along with Satan’s and mine. The eternal nature of “intelligence” is not clearly on the tips of every Mormon’s tongue. That being said, I could have said that Mormon theology elevates us to the same same ontological status as Jesus (as eternally existing, non-created beings capable of progressing to godhood). The main point is that Mormons view us to be ontologically similar to Jesus and that is not something Evangelicals will agree with.

    Hopefully every one will understand that in a post written to Evangelicals, I’m not going nail all the nuances of some rather elusive and sometimes speculative Mormon doctrine. I’m for sure not going to adequately express, McConkie’s, Steve’s, Blake’s and Kaimi’s views on the matter in one passing glance. I think Aaron’s man-on-the-street perspective is useful in letting Evangelicals understand what they might encounter when they meet a Mormon (though it might not perfectly represent the LDS church). In other words, Mormon folk-doctrine may not be Mormon Doctrine (TM), but it is what a lot of Mormons believe. Evangelicals are more likely to encounter a Mormon than Mormon Doctrine (TM).

  28. Tim, just so I understand, when you say that, according to Mormons, Jesus is ontologically the same as us, you mean that Jesus is a created being, just as we are. Correct?

    I’m not trying to derail this thread into a discussion about one quibble, and I think that Eric explained it quite well. But if your distinction is merely that of Mormons believing that Christ was created at some point, as opposed to being uncreate, then yes, I will agree to that.

  29. Aaron,

    I for sure don’t think that Brigham Young’s teachings are insignificant. I would love more Mormons to reflect on his teachings and compare them to their own beliefs.

    But what I’m trying to make clear to Evangelicals is that we can not hold up Young’s teachings and insist to Mormons that this is what they believe or what their church teaches. It doesn’t accurately reflect Mormons or the LDS church. It’s a mistake for us to do it and it’s something I think Evangelicals need to apologize for. I know you know this to be true and that you don’t do it yourself. So let’s make sure our fellow brothers don’t do it any more either. We got set up on the wrong path with how and why we use the JoD.

    BY ALL MEANS, let’s have some “interesting” discussions about Brigham Young (never has the word “interesting” been so loaded). I think even by Mormonism’s own standards he raises a lot of troubling questions about modern prophets and their ability to lead the church astray.

  30. we can not hold up Young’s teachings and insist to Mormons that this is what they believe or what their church teaches

    With that I heartily agree. I apologize for missing the spirit of what you said in the original post.

  31. You know… if you’re going to apply the Deuteronomy test for “false prophets” the way Aaron is applying it here, you realize you’re going to have to chuck several Bible prophets too right? Possibly even Jesus Christ himself.

    You can make a false statement, and even screw up doctrinally in a big way, and still be a prophet in many other matters.

    I’ve been studying the life of Brigham Young and reading a wide swath of the things he said (not just the handful of pet quotes critics like to obsess over). And I’m quite convinced he was a bona fide servant of God with authority to lead the LDS Church. His life and teachings were a blessing to our church and an asset. And if he had a few foul balls, he still hit plenty of home runs.

    We need not be any more embarrassed about Brigham Young than the United States need be embarrassed about George Washington. Young was one of the most impressive figures in US history and I’m quite convinced that no other American religion ever boasted anyone of that caliber. He was in a class all of his own.

    Prophet. Man of God. And people will be held accountable to take his words seriously.

    But no, he wasn’t inerrant.

    So what?

  32. Young was one of the most impressive figures in US history and I’m quite convinced that no other American religion ever boasted anyone of that caliber.

    Because you’ve done so much reading on George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, C. H. Mason, and Phoebe Palmer?

    But no, he wasn’t inerrant.

    So what?

    Even if we don’t see the Deuteronomy test for prophets as a be-all-catch-all guide for discerning false prophets in our day and age, there are still very good reasons for having doubts about Brigham Young. Dismissing serious concerns with a “so what” may have worked for Madonna, but I don’t think it works in religion.

  33. “I personally believe that [Brigham Young’s] theology was a disaster for the most part” – Blake Ostler (>>)

    I don’t know of any OT or NT prophets I can say that of.

  34. Unless of course we are holding prophets to an impossibly high standard (that is only tenable in situations where history and tradition have clouded the colours of how things may actually have been).

    What is the level of acceptable errancy? Is is the intent or the specifics? I really like the Evangelical tendency to focus on the heart when dealing with individuals and their relation to God. Can the same favourable trait be applied to prophets? In what way?

  35. I had Edwards in mind when I made that statement Jack.

    I’m not talking about who was a better religious philosopher or more influential theologian. I’m talking about the whole package.

    I don’t think Jonathan Edwards really compares.

  36. Steve EM said:

    “I’ll add my opinion that the Big Love episode in question was much more tastefully done than I was expecting, although the end of the scene was unfortunate with a temple worker telling Barb, her mother and sister “your 15 minutes is up”.”

    I agree. I can’t think of one time a temple worker mentioned a time limit and shooed me out, but I also can’t recall ever sitting there longer than ten minutes either. Maybe it’s happened to others. I also found it disappointing to show Barb borrowing a relative’s temple recommend to get in for an endowment ceremony. The temple going LDS I know would never participate in allowing an unworthy person to enter the House of the Lord.

  37. Andrew said:

    ” I’ve always been taught that prophets are not inerrant. You can believe that while also, at the same time, completely sustain them. ”

    I have also been taught that Prophets are not perfect. I expect them to make mistakes and sin, just as we all do.
    But the church teaches something entirely different when it comes to their sermons. We are taught to follow their talks in Conferences and other publications as if their words to the church are innerant.

    Take the following example of what they are teaching the Young Women today in church: (I could show many many more examples with the same message in official church publications)

    “As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to know that there is a prophet on the earth, who serves as President of the Church, and that through this prophet the Lord makes known His mind and will. When the prophet speaks to us in the name of the Lord, he speaks what the Lord would say if He were here.
    We also believe “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Articles of Faith 1:9).
    It is a blessing to be members of the true Church and to know that our prophet speaks the will of the Lord for today……
    The prophet who leads the Church will never lead us astray. He tells us things that pertain to our lives now. The prophet gives us instruction from the Lord at general conference, which is held twice each year. He also gives the Lord’s counsel to us at other conferences held throughout the world. Many of the prophet’s addresses are printed in the Church magazines.

    In addition to the President of the Church, other men are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators. These are the prophet’s counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve. These Brethren also receive revelation, bring us the will of the Lord, bear witness of the divinity of Christ, teach the plan of salvation, and perform ordinances.

    President Harold B. Lee said: “If you want to know what the Lord has for this people at the present time, I would admonish you to get and read the discourses that have been delivered at this [general] conference; for what these brethren have spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost is the mind of the Lord, the will of the Lord, the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation”
    (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 176; or Ensign, July 1973, 121). “

  38. Thing is Seven, you can dig up just as many General Authority quotes saying the opposite – that prophets can err in doctrine, and that we each must be responsible for what beliefs we adopt.

    Having read plenty of quotes on both sides, my conclusion is that the waters here are thoroughly muddy, and members are going to latch onto whatever quotes they want based on their own personal preferences. If they want a fundamentalist religion, they’ll find a way to make the LDS Church one.

    For myself, I don’t feel bound by that paradigm. I feel like a more critical and comprehensive look at LDS doctrine and teaching has given me permission to take the stance I have taken within Mormonism.

    Good enough for me.

  39. Seth R. said:

    “Thing is Seven, you can dig up just as many General Authority quotes saying the opposite – that prophets can err in doctrine, and that we each must be responsible for what beliefs we adopt.”

    I’ve seen quotes that we should not expect perfect Prophets, but they were referring to personal sins and behavior, not inspired words/revelation/doctrine spoken to the church in sermons.

    I have NOT seen quotes in church curriculum stating that Prophets can be wrong in their sermons and doctrine, and that we are responsible for our own beliefs. This was something I learned from internet Mormonism, not in the Chapel.
    Do you have any examples from Sunday School lessons to the Youth that would say the opposite of what I quoted?
    (I don’t mean quotes that Prophets are not perfect-I’m not disputing that)

  40. Andrew said:
    “Consider Elder McConkie’s comments concerning blacks and the priesthood. After the revelation was received extending it to all worthy males he basically said that many past leaders, including himself, were wrong and had spoken with limited light and understanding. He admittedly was wrong, even though, at the time he spoke it, he truly believed what he was teaching was the truth. Leaders of the church, now, give talks all the time in different settings that aren’t considered official church doctrine. But, for some reason, people don’t extend the same courtesy to prophets of old. ”

    I’m glad you used Blacks and the Priesthood as an example because I grew up with a generation of LDS who were not taught the ban was a mistake by the Prophets. The Mormons I grew up with believe God DID institute or at least allow the ban for His purposes and that the church would not have survived if blacks had been given equal status in our church. It’s an answer I’ve heard my whole life from LDS. It wasn’t until I picked up a first edition copy of “Mormon Doctrine” that I became aware of the racist doctrine once taught.
    When “continuing revelation” is given it trumps all previous doctrine/scripture. This gives members a way out of confronting the troubling contradictions. I’m sure older folks had to change their paradigm when the ban was lifted, but I was a child at the time and unaware that Prophets had so grossly errored in doctrine.

    An issue like Blacks and the Priesthood is a mistake of such enormous magnitude that it’s impossible for me to view the Prophets in the role the church claims. The teachings that blacks were cursed and less valiant in the pre existence started from 1844 and continued until 1978. A church that claims to be restored from apostasy and led by God could not have made such a horrible error, that denied blessings of Priesthood and exaltation to an entire race of people for well over a century.

  41. Seven, I’m with you. The Mormonism I grew up with allowed prophets to be “imperfect” in the sense that they commit minor sins of omission, but they sure didn’t teach false doctrine. I grew up with a father who believed all kinds of crazy things prophets have said just because prophets have said them, from God having sex with Mary to evolution being a vicious lie.

    In fact, just this weekend I had a conversation with my mother where she said that one of the “dangers of intellectualism” is that people start to think they “know better than God.”

    I said, “Mother, no intellectual I know who believes in God thinks they know better than Him.”

    She said, “Well, they think they know better than the prophets.”

    I said, “NOT THE SAME THING.”

    But in many people’s minds, they are.

  42. “A church that claims to be restored from apostasy and led by God could not have made such a horrible error, that denied blessings of Priesthood and exaltation to an entire race of people for well over a century.”

    This just doesn’t follow for a lot of reasons.

    God is completely genocidal in the OT, Jesus was far more exclusionary with his ministry.

    God’s people allowed and endorsed what is essentially indentured servitude for woman for thousands of years.

    Biblical prophets endorsed slavery.

    God didn’t see fit to inspire the bill of rights for thousands of years. . .

    All of this may prove that the Biblical God is not at all like us when it comes to justice and equality. but the LDS history is not inconsistent with everything else recorded about He has been explained to operate.

  43. Seth, Edwards was far from just a philosophical theologian. When you say you’re comparing the “whole package,” I have no idea what it is you’re comparing.

    @ the discussion – As far as errancy from leaders goes, I don’t expect inerrancy. I do expect accountability to the membership and repentance of sinful behavior. History has seen precious little of it from LDS leaders.

  44. Jack- I think Seth was talking about how Brigham Young lead a mass colonization the West and built Utah and the building of the LDS church.

    Of course. . . I am sure Edwards could probably own Young intellectually/philosophically.

    But I would probably go with Young in a cagefight, I think he had superior submission grappling ability.

    But I think Martin Luther would kick the crap out of both of them in most every area. He had a very solid overhand right from what I hear. But then again he wasn’t American . . .

  45. @ the discussion – As far as errancy from leaders goes, I don’t expect inerrancy. I do expect accountability to the membership and repentance of sinful behavior. History has seen precious little of it from LDS leaders.

    I agree accountability and repentance would be the right thing to do. I think the lack thereof is what fuels the inerrancy myth among the most of the active mainstream membership.

  46. Jared,
    I agree with your points and apply the same standard to Biblical Prophets. I was raised in the church to believe the Bible is only correct as far as it is translated correctly, and that God works with us within our culture. I’ve never viewed the scriptures or Prophets as perfect, and I also don’t attribute every heinous act or immoral behavior of Prophets in the OT as a commandment or doctrine of God. I view many stories from the Bible as allegorical, and not literal.

    What concerns me are the current teachings and claims made by the LDS church to my children on the modern Prophets authority to speak for God. It wouldn’t affect my testimony to learn Joseph Smith committed adultery with married women. But if he said God commanded those women to marry him via. 132 of the D & C under the threat of an angel with a flaming sword, you bet I’m going to need some degree of reliability on a Prophet’s authority to speak for God.

    By your standard of allowed fallibility for LDS Prophets, how would I know if someone was a false Prophet?

  47. “By your standard of allowed fallibility for LDS Prophets, how would I know if someone was a false Prophet?”

    My standard answer. . . by listening to the Spirit.

    How else could you possibly “know” if somebody is a true or false prophet except by God Himself?

  48. Just a question for the Bible scholars, what is the frequency of demonstrated repented doctrinal errancy among Old Testament prophets? New Testament prophets/apostles, and early Christian leaders?

    The example that comes to the top of my head is Peter in Acts 10, but I suspect LDS prophets experiencing similar visions would also immediately repent of their doctrinal errors.

    To me, that leaves one saying:
    -old prophets never erred doctrinally,
    -actual frequencies of doctrinal repentance are fuzzy and are better inferred from injunctions against false teachings than demonstrated admissions of doctrinal errancy.

    Therefore, as much as we would like to apply a common standard to LDS prophets, it seems challenging. I would hazard the issue is more about pushing expectations than it is about accurate comparisons. I would also add the (possible) evolution of the importance of systemic theology creates a tradition that colours the lenses upon which people, on both sides, operate.

  49. Thanks KatieL. 🙂 I’ve had very similar experiences discussing this with LDS relatives.
    The term “intellectual” seems to be used as a pejorative in the church, right along with feminist. When I began studying church history and started asking questions, I was given warnings from Mormon friends and family about the danger of intellectualism. I was also warned after sharing my struggle with the Patriarchal order and polygamy that feminism was one of the dangers to the church.

  50. Jared, it’s more than just listening to the spirit.

    It’s also based on your ability to read and analyze what you’ve already accepted about God and his dealings with us. It’s also a basic use of common sense.

  51. Jared, Protestants had religious leaders who were responsible for mass colonization. That just tended to be spread out among people like John Winthrop and other Puritan colonists.

    I don’t think Protestants had a major leader who colonized the American West for religious reasons like Brigham Young did. One of the primary reasons that Mormons headed West was so that they could implement polygyny free from arm of the law, and we never had a religious practice as controversial as that. Then again, Mormon leaders barely lifted a finger to assist with huge events in the development of American history and human rights progress: the Civil War, the abolition of slavery, the fight against segregation and Jim Crow laws, etc. To say Brigham Young was of a greater caliber than C. H. Mason (the African American holiness pentecostal preacher who founded the Church of God in Christ) or Phoebe Palmer (the theologian and women’s rights advocate who was largely responsible for the holiness movement, which in turn planted the seeds for Pentecostalism) is, to me, a rather arbitrary valuing of one type of accomplishment over another.

    That doesn’t mean that Brigham Young wasn’t impressive in his own right. But the only reason I can see for wanting his accomplishments to be better than that of all the other religious figures in American history is to try and boost his “prophet cred,” and I’m just not buying it.

  52. Brigham Young pretty much felt the United States got exactly what it deserved in the Civil War. Missouri, for instance, was pretty much burned to the ground. Understandably, more than a few Mormons felt just a tad bit smug about the whole thing.

  53. Many will say “Lord, Lord”…and will hear “depart from me, I never knew you.”

    Some will be very surprised to hear that at judgment.

  54. It’s also based on your ability to read and analyze what you’ve already accepted about God and his dealings with us. It’s also a basic use of common sense.

    I don’t know. . . I think I would weed out most everybody.

  55. Jack, you also could have mentioned Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

  56. I could have. My sample wasn’t really meant to be exhaustive. Billy Graham and Martin Luther King, Jr. would also be on my short list of influential American Protestant religious leaders.

    I was just informed today that Kenneth Starr will be the next president of Baylor University. Heh. I think he ought to count for something.

  57. When I was on Law Review at University of Wyoming, we had Kenneth Star appear as a featured speaker for a legal symposium.

    I’ve still got the photo of me and my seven other Law Review classmates posed with him stored in a box somewhere….

  58. Oh, I forgot the best one of all:

    Michael J. Nelson, the second host of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

    The fact that MJN is Protestant is, to me, a greater proof of the truthfulness of my religion than all of the empty tomb and reliability of the New Testament Gospels arguments combined.

  59. Yeah, but… don;t we live in a country that is overwhelmingly Protestant? Chances are good that the majority of people you think are cool are Protestant, just by virtue of being born in the US.

  60. Tim,

    You mentioned that the temple ceremony is not particularly offensive. I would strongly disagree with you on that point. Especially if you are looking at the temple endowment ceremony prior to the changes made in 1990, and priot to the changes made in the washing and annointings ordinance. Not only would Evangelical Christians find it offensive, but many LDS did as well. Looking back historically at the LDS endowment ceremony,there are many things most christians as well as LDS would find shocking and offensive. I think most LDS today would believe that the “oath of vengeance” taken in the LDS temple is extremely offensive and absolutely does not embrace the gospel of Love that Jesus taught.

    Tim, if you went thru an endowment session, I think you would be deeply uncomfortable and offended at some points.

    Kind regards,
    Gloria

  61. I don’t think Tim had the pre-1990 endowment in mind (which I agree was incredibly offensive to non-LDS Christians), or even the pre-2005 washings and anointings.

  62. Tim,

    Although I do not believe the LDS church “officially” encourages shunning of it’s ex-members, it does happen. Perhaps not overt “shunning practices” like the Amish employ, but believe me, when a former LDS choses a different path it ain’t going to be met with much support or respect. I could sit down with you and tell you expierences of friends that would break your heart and move you to tears. No, there is no official shunning practice or doctrine, but “if” you attempt to leave. You will not for the most part be met with expressions of ” we love, you and God bless you.” I have walked that path, and I am speaking from the heart.

  63. Seth,
    How do you reconcile your beliefs with what your Church officially did/taught in LDS temple ceremonies prior to 1990?

    Does it trouble you that there was a time when an oath of vengeance was taken?

    Does it ever trouble you that the penalities were so , shall I say “strong”?

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  64. gloria,

    No, there is no official shunning practice or doctrine, but “if” you attempt to leave. You will not for the most part be met with expressions of ” we love, you and God bless you.”

    I couldn’t disagree with you more. The LDS church does the opposite of shun members who want to leave, it will send home teachers forever unless they request them to stop, whether they attend church or not. Obviously the church wants people to be active members but there is no retribution for not being active. A lot of members don’t like those who leave and begin attacking the church, but that is a far cry from shunning. For the most part the Church has an “open arms” policy for those that leave. This is not to say that leaving mormonism is easy or not personally difficult or trying, but that is just because of basic social dynamics involved among the devout of any religion.

    Some families take their religion overboard and break off relationships with those who leave, but I can’t think that this is any different among mormons vs. others. I have heard all kinds of heartbreaking stories of people whose parents and family “disowned” them for becoming LDS.

  65. Not really.

    The oath was symbolic.

    We have almost no examples of actual enforcement (that isn’t pure unfounded rumor-mongering). People used to use strong language in their symbolism. In the modern context, there is less use for such strong metaphor in religious worship, so it’s been abandoned.

    But I don’t think there is anything particularly upsetting about the old oath. Certainly, the actions of past LDS saints have been anything but those of a bloodthirsty cult bent on vengeance.

    So yeah… the blood oath is totally not something that upsets me in the least. It’s all cool with me.

  66. gloria,

    I would say that the former practices of the Church are no worse than the former practices of Judaism, which, to a Christian faith, is the foundation of our faith. I mean, come on, it used to be that a woman who committed adultery was stripped naked and had rocks thrown at her until she died. And that wasn’t symbolic at all.

    So if I’m going to be offended at all the things that have happened in the long history of religion, there are things to be a lot more upset about than uttering a symbolic oath.

    Concerning the shunning, my heart goes out to you that you were treated in such a horrific way. I feel extremely fortunate that, in all the areas of the world in which I have lived, I have never witnessed such behaviour from members, toward those who are simply no longer attending or toward those who have had their records removed. I have wonderful friends and family members that fit into these categories, and there are still strong bonds of love and friendship between us.

    But as Jared said, Mormons are not the only ones who do that, and while I know that it is Jack’s least favourite rationale, I find it unfortunate that you paint Mormons as the only ones who do this. Just as you have your personal experiences, I have my family’s experiences with converting from Roman Catholicism to Mormonism. Can we just agree that some people are unkind to family and friends, and stop blaming the churches for it?

  67. Jared,

    I agree with you that the LDS most definately try to “win” back the wandering sheep of their fold. I also agree with your comments about how some families take things overboard. I also want to say that this kind of thing can happen in any family, from various faith walks. I just find it tragic when a spouse can not seem to reconicle the fact that their spouse has chosen another faith, or a parent can not accept the new faith or life choice of one of their children. Does that make sense? I know this happens in a lot of denominations, and definately is not unique to the LDS church.

    I recall a recent conversation with an Amish couple. I asked them about their shunning practices. They made no excuses, and came right out and told me that those who are baptized Amish and then leave the Amish faith, ( even for another Christian faith expression) are shunned from the family/ community. I tried to explain to them what “love” is about in light of Christ’s teachings, but it went right over their heads.

  68. Alex,

    With all due respect, you misunderstood what I shared.

    I did not say I was treated “horrificly”.

    I did not say that Mormons are the only ones that may shun or show dissaproval of one’s faith change, or exiting from their denomination.

    That is not what I said, and I felt I needed to clarify that with you. If you go back and read my comments I never said such.

    What I “did” say is that although the official practice of shunning is most definately not taught by the LDS church, many expierence some level of it at some point in their exit out. Perhaps not from their local ward, but from their own family or friends. Each person’s expierence in exiting is unique and I can not speak for the whole of ex-mormons, but I think I am safe to say that most of us who have left expierenced some challenges from LDS friends,family and ward members.

    I hope that clarifies any kind of miscommunications,

    Kind regards,
    Gloria

  69. Seth,
    Thanks for taking time to respond.

    How do you then make sense of the oath of vengeance that Mormons would take years ago in light of Christ’s teachings that vengeance is His alone?

    Did Christ not teach us to love our enemies and to do good to those that hurt us? Is that not the response we should have to those that misunderstand us and mistreat us?

    Why would LDS members take an oath of vengeance in light of teachings of Christ?

    gloria

  70. People being angry at you because you quit the Church is not the same thing as shunning. Shunning is a specific practice. Being hostile because you reject something they hold sacred is just a pretty normal human reaction.

  71. ” basically as long as the people were behaving themselves, what do you care if they had a few funky rituals?”

    Because God says it’s wrong Seth. It’s not merely funky. It’s wrong.

    I am no longer an LDS , so I don’t lose any sleep about it. But believe me, when I was LDS it deeply disturbed me because it is contrary to what God teaches.

  72. Kullervo,

    I think it’s pretty sad when the LDS spouse tell their non – LDS spouse ” I don’t love you anymore because you are no longer a mormon .”

    Or the LDS teenager/ child who refuses to have any contact with their non – LDS parent since they “left” the LDS.

    Is that not in a way shunning? It happens often enough.

    Where is the love of Christ in this?

  73. I was raised on stories of devout Protestant and Catholic fathers and mothers disowning their children for converting to Mormonism.

  74. gloria,

    What does discussion this have anything to do with Mormonism, this behavior has absolutely nothing to do with what the Church teaches.

    Its like saying “there are some knuckleheads who are Mormons”

    to quote set “SO WHAT?”

    The point is you can’t draw any real conclusions about a religion from a few knuckleheads. . . . which is what you seem to be doing.

  75. But believe me, when I was LDS it deeply disturbed me because it is contrary to what God teaches.

    That is kindof what I thought when I read the old testament.

  76. Seth,

    Take a peek at what God says about vengeance:

    1. Deut. 32:35

    2. Hebrews 10:30

    3. Nahum 1:2-3

    4. Romans 12:19

    The Lord is the one who takes vengeance, not us.

    Jesus told us to love our enemies. Matt. 5:44

    Do not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom. 12:21

    If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
    If he is thirsty, give him drink.

    Proverbs 25:21,22 ; Romans 12:20

    Pretty clear, Seth.

    God commands us to love our enemies, not to take vengeance upon them or to take an oath of vengeance.

    Christ so clearly taught us to love. Even those we consider our enemies.

  77. Jared,

    Do you have a problem with taking an oath of vengeance? I thought most LDS would find that appalling in light of Christ’s teachings.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  78. jared,

    My original comments were meant to be for , Tim. I expressed my disagreement with him on his thoughts that the LDS temple expierence/ordinances are not offensive. I gave some examples of why I thought this. I also commented on the topic of shunning.

    As usual, the LDS here jump on those comments. ( I expect, so hey it doesn’t bother me.)

    I am merely explaining “why” I think in a round about way the LDS “do” practice a form of shunning and why I find the LDS temple ceremonies offensive to Christians and some LDS.

    I also clearly stated that I do not believe the LDS church are the only ones who do such.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  79. Seth,

    It is God’s perogative to exersice vengeance. What I am saying is it is not “our” perogative. His and only His. That is what is stated in the verses I shared.

    If someone has done me harm, or my loved ones harm it is God’s hope that I would forgive them . It is not my perogative to take an oath of vengeance upon those who hurt me or my loved ones. God is the one who deals with our enemies.

    Christ so clearly taught that I am to love my enemies.

  80. I mean seriously, you seem to have this idea that “love” is the only thing God is. Like he’s some fuzzy mix between St. Francis of Assissi and Heidi’s grandpa rolled into one.

  81. I think it’s pretty sad when the LDS spouse tell their non – LDS spouse ” I don’t love you anymore because you are no longer a mormon .”

    Or the LDS teenager/ child who refuses to have any contact with their non – LDS parent since they “left” the LDS.

    Is that not in a way shunning? It happens often enough.

    Where is the love of Christ in this?

    I also think it is sad, but that doesn’t make it “shunning.” I think it’s sad when pets die, but that doesn’t make it “shunning.” Whether or not it is sad has nothing to do with shunning.

    Shunning has a specific meaning in this context, and it only applies to norms of group behavior.

    Like “taxes,” taxes has a specific meaning. Taxes are when the government takes your money, according to a plan. If I walk up and punch you and take your money, you have less money, but it is not “in a way taxes.”

    Getting robbed and getting taxed are both ways you can lose your money, but that doesn’t mean getting robbed is the same thing as getting taxed. Dogs and squirrels are both mammals, but that does not mean that dogs are “in a way squirrels.”

  82. Seth,

    If protestant parents or RC parents disown their children for becoming a Mormon, then they truly have rejected the 2nd greatest of all commandments Christ gave us…. to love one another. I know it happens. I don’t deny it one bit. I am just saying it is wrong. Plain and simple.

    Jesus said it well ” by this all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another”. John 13:35

    Whether it happens from a RC family or Mormon family … it is wrong to disown a child, or divorce a spouse because they have chosen another faith. Don’t you think?

    gloria

  83. Kullervo,

    I can see your point. Thanks for sharing your insights. They were helpful to me and what you are defining as “shunning.”

    Thanks,
    gloria

  84. Seth,

    If protestant parents or RC parents disown their children for becoming a Mormon, then they truly have rejected the 2nd greatest of all commandments Christ gave us…. to love one another. I know it happens. I don’t deny it one bit. I am just saying it is wrong. Plain and simple.

    Jesus said it well ” by this all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another”. John 13:35

    Whether it happens from a RC family or Mormon family … it is wrong to disown a child, or divorce a spouse because they have chosen another faith. Don’t you think?

    Now you’re shifting the goalposts. It may be wrong, but it isn’t “shunning.”

  85. Seth,

    Well, God is never going to command me to do something that goes against His word, His will and His mind.

    So, I am pretty confident. ( yeah, 100%) that God is not going to tell me to take vengeance on someone who has done me harm.

    Christ’s command is clear: “love your enemies”.

    So, I’ll keep on loving them.

    Yes, Seth …… love is at the heart of Christianity… it is the essence of Christ and if we are to call ourselves His, love is the defining characteristic of being His. I’ll leave the judgement, vengeance, etc to Him.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  86. I can see your point. Thanks for sharing your insights. They were helpful to me and what you are defining as “shunning.”

    It’s not “what I am defining as ‘shunning.'” It’s what we are all talking about when we talk about the cultural or religious practice of shunning, as practiced by groups like the Amish.

    Nobody here is talking about “to shun” in the common sense of “to avoid in general, because you don’t like.” I shun Gary, Indiana. But that’s not the religious practice of shunning.

  87. Ok, so all of you here… what do you define as “shunning”?

    Maybe what kullervo is describing is not shunning to some but to others it is….

    What would you see as a fair description of shunning?

    gloria

  88. Well, God is never going to command me to do something that goes against His word, His will and His mind.

    So, I am pretty confident. ( yeah, 100%) that God is not going to tell me to take vengeance on someone who has done me harm.

    But it is clear from the scriptures that God is vengeful, and willing to take out his vengeance with brutal violence on a massive scale. How then does taking vengeance go against his will and his mind?

    love is the defining characteristic of being His

    Where do you get that definition?

  89. Ok, so all of you here… what do you define as “shunning”?

    We’re not playing a game of make-up-your-own-definition here.

    We are using “shunning” in a specific sense, the one that is used to describe the kind of cultural practice we see among groups like the Amish. It’s a specialized term used to refer to a fairly specific practice that some cultural and religious groups use.

    It is not the general sense of “shunning” as in “avoiding something you don’t like,” the way I shun Gary, Indiana, because it is gross. Same word, two different–if related–senses.

  90. The point is gloria, its not relevant to the discussion that some Mormons (or Catholics) often change family relationships when someone close rejects their religion. . . it says nothing about Mormonism per se, and doesn’t help Evangelicals understand Mormons, it just clouds the water.

    Your point seems to boil down to. “Mormons sometimes act like other devoutly religious people when people within their family members leave their religion”

    ok, again, so what, irrelevant.

    The issue Tim brought up is that Mormons don’t act like Scientologists or Amish in this Area, while you didn’t disagree you brought up this irrelevant stuff about how sometimes its hard on relationships when someone close rejects their religion.

    The real issue that Tim brings up is that Mormons have been made out to be a militant cult who shuns or cuts off those who leave, this of course is a complete distortion of the truth and those who are fair minded should go out of their way to dispel.

    And, I am not really interested in your approach to Mormonism since it seems to be single-mindedly focused on pointing out stuff that you don’t like. I don’t mind criticism but most of what you bring up here seems a bit shallow.

  91. Kullervo,

    The scriptures I shared clearly define that God is the one who decides when action is required and when it’s not.
    They speak for themselves.
    I am not saying God does not exercise vengeance. I am just saying it’s not for “us” to decide when and where and how that should happen.

    Does that make sense?

    As for love:

    Jesus said ” by this shall all men know that you are mine, if you love one another.” john 13:35

    He who does not love does not know God; For God is love.

    1 John 4:8

    If we don’t love, how can we call ourselves His?

    LOVE is the heart of the good news. For God so loved the world, that He sent Jesus to die for us. And greater love has no man than to die for His friends. Jesus died for His friends.

    LOVE… that is truly at the heart of the Good News!

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  92. The point is gloria, its not relevant to the discussion that some Mormons (or Catholics) often change family relationships when someone close rejects their religion. . . it says nothing about Mormonism per se, and doesn’t help Evangelicals understand Mormons, it just clouds the water.

    Your point seems to boil down to. “Mormons sometimes act like other devoutly religious people when people within their family members leave their religion”

    ok, again, so what, irrelevant.

    The issue Tim brought up is that Mormons don’t act like Scientologists or Amish in this Area, while you didn’t disagree you brought up this irrelevant stuff about how sometimes its hard on relationships when someone close rejects their religion.

    The real issue that Tim brings up is that Mormons have been made out to be a militant cult who shuns or cuts off those who leave, this of course is a complete distortion of the truth and those who are fair minded should go out of their way to dispel.

    Exactly. the fact that some Mormons act like people of basically every religion and act sh!tty to people who have left their church is completely irrelevant to whether Mormonism, as a religion, practices shunning.

    The only way it would be relevant is if it was so prominent that is was a de facto cultural practice, basically the same as “official policy,” just without being official.

    But you would have a pretty hard time making that argument.

  93. Ok, so all of you here… what do you define as “shunning”?

    gloria, just google “shunning” and then if you have more to contribute let us know, its not what you are talking about.

  94. The scriptures I shared clearly define that God is the one who decides when action is required and when it’s not.

    That’s not what we’re talking about. Seth asked what if God commanded you to do something sh!tty. You said he couldn’t/wouldn’t, bece that would go against his very essence. But now you are changing your song and saying that God just gets to decide when it’s okay to do sh!tty things, which is exactly what Seth was saying.

    “God decides when it’s okay to shun” is not the same thing as “God will never tell people to shun.”

    And given that the scriptures show God telling people to commit genocide, I think you would have a pretty hard time arguing that mere shunning would be against God’s very essence and thus inconceivable for God to command

  95. Jared,

    If you think I am shallow or what I write shallow, you are free to think so. You have the right to express and share what you think. But let me remind you, I am free to do the same. Your remarks are yours. They are not indictive of what everyone thinks,feels, believes.

    I shared my thoughts on a few points for Tim. Not for Jared, not for Seth, etc. I made them for Tim. If you don’t like what I share. You are welcome to ignore my comments. Tim has not banned me from his blog, so I assume it’s ok with him that I keep sharing. 🙂

    I think Jared, that people like you and others may just wish I would go away and not share at all here. I get that feeling, and perhaps I am wrong. Please correct me if I am.
    I know that LDS do not enjoy hearing from those who have left, and often they do not like to hear anything negative that would place their church, or it’s doctrines in anything less than a positive light.

    Kind regards,

    Gloria

  96. I know that LDS do not enjoy hearing from those who have left, and often they do not like to hear anything negative that would place their church, or it’s doctrines in anything less than a positive light.

    I am not LDS.

  97. Kullervo,

    I stand by my original remark: God is not going to ask me to do something that violates His word.
    If I begin to “hear voices” telling me to go out and kill one of my enemies, please get me to a shrink and quick!

  98. There’s a Bible verse that says “God is love.”

    But that’s not all he is.</blockquote?

    Because he is also A GIGANTIC, AWESOME COMPUTER!

  99. Kullervo,

    I recognize you are not LDS. Thank you for pointing that out to me. I respect your thoughts you have shared here regarding “shunning” and how that may not apply to the LDS.

    Kind regards,
    Gloria

  100. I stand by my original remark: God is not going to ask me to do something that violates His word.

    But you just said the only reason it violates his word is because he is the one who says when action is taken or not.

  101. ok, so when an LDS husband tells his now non-LDS wife that he will not come home if she is there, and will not have anything to do with her since she left the LDS church… is that considered shunning???

  102. I recognize you are not LDS. Thank you for pointing that out to me. I respect your thoughts you have shared here regarding “shunning” and how that may not apply to the LDS.

    So your comment about “wah-wah-wah nobody wants me here because I say critical things about the church and Mormons don’t like it when you say critical things about the church so thats the reason maybe you all don’t want me here” is completely full of crap.

  103. gloria,

    I don’t mind hearing Kullervo’s rants against the church, they are sometimes interesting and challenging.

    Yours are just annoying. . . and its not because you criticize Mormons.

    Probably because you don’t seem to get what is really being discussed and just want to chime in with some sort of argument against the church.

  104. ok, so when an LDS husband tells his now non-LDS wife that he will not come home if she is there, and will not have anything to do with her since she left the LDS church… is that considered shunning???

    No.

    When the leadership of the LDS church tells its members to have no contact at all with people who leave the Church, that is shunning.

  105. Kullervo,

    I never ever said God violates His own Word.
    What I did say is God is the one who decides when to call the shots and He is the one to do it. I am not God, none of us are. We have no right to call the shots when it comes to exacting vengeance.
    I hope that clarifies things,
    Gloria

  106. ok, so when an LDS husband tells his now non-LDS wife that he will not come home if she is there, and will not have anything to do with her since she left the LDS church… is that considered shunning???

    No

  107. I never ever said God violates His own Word.
    What I did say is God is the one who decides when to call the shots and He is the one to do it. I am not God, none of us are. We have no right to call the shots when it comes to exacting vengeance.

    You keep changing what you are saying.

    What if God, “the one who decides to call the shots,” decides to delegate his vengeance-taking authority, like he did over and over again in the Bible?

    What if God commands you to take vengeance? That does not go against who God is; you said yourself that God can personally take vengeance if he wants to. What’s the difference between God taking vengeance himself, and God calling up one of his anointed vengeance-takers to do it for him?

  108. Jared & Kullervo,

    You are both free to have your own beliefs and judgements about me , my person and what my agenda is here. Thank goodness the Lord knows my heart & Praise God He will be my judge.

    I wish you both well,

    Gloria

  109. Probably because you don’t seem to get what is really being discussed and just want to chime in with some sort of argument against the church.

    This.

  110. You are both free to have your own beliefs and judgements about me , my person and what my agenda is here. Thank goodness the Lord knows my heart & Praise God He will be my judge.

    what?

    Nobody is judging your person. We’re judging the stuff you are saying, because it makes no sense but you keep saying it over and over again.

  111. And who pray tell are his annointed vengeance takers????

    Listen if some preacher got up and started saying : ” God has called me to take vengeance on __ people…. rise up people of God ! ” I would say the man is nuts! Simply based on the fact that God’s word says differently. If a preacher’s word or so called “annointed” person is spewing out stuff that is not in line with God’s word, then I can be sure they are most likely off the deep end.

    So mormons back 100 yrs were annointed vengeance takers? Was it right for them to say lets take vengeance on those who hurt Joseph Smith?

    Are you justifying these oaths of vengeance?

    Not saying you are, just asking.

  112. Jared,

    Well I claim to be no theologian & I am not offended by your comments. I could say something too, but that would not be kind of me, so I choose to refrain. 🙂

    Kind regards,
    Gloria

  113. I would say the man is nuts! Simply based on the fact that God’s word says differently. If a preacher’s word or so called “annointed” person is spewing out stuff that is not in line with God’s word, then I can be sure they are most likely off the deep end

    This seems more the product of the fact you grew up in 20th century America, and it is not a relevant argument in this context.

  114. Listen if some preacher got up and started saying : ” God has called me to take vengeance on __ people…. rise up people of God ! ” I would say the man is nuts! Simply based on the fact that God’s word says differently. If a preacher’s word or so called “annointed” person is spewing out stuff that is not in line with God’s word, then I can be sure they are most likely off the deep end.

    Happened all the time in the Old Testament. Enough to where I am absolutely comfortable saying that the Bible is crystal clear that God is perfectly willing to kill individuals, families, and entire nations, and that usually he delegates the responsibility to his mortal followers.

    So mormons back 100 yrs were annointed vengeance takers? Was it right for them to say lets take vengeance on those who hurt Joseph Smith?

    Are you justifying these oaths of vengeance?

    No, because I don’t believe Mormonism is true. We’re not talking about whether God really tells people to wipe out nations and take vengeance. We’re talking about whether the Bible says he does. And rest assured, the Bible says he does.

    If you are ignoring those parts of the Bible, then you need to be honest about it, and you need to be able to provide a pretty good justification for it.

  115. This seems more the product of the fact you grew up in 20th century America, and it is not a relevant argument in this context.

    In my opinion, this is the major fault in liberal/mainline Christianity: the desire to remake a supposedly eternal God in our modern cultural image.

    I would call it “idolatry,” but those who live in glass houses…

  116. ” I shun Gary, Indiana, because it is gross.” Kullervo–I didn’t know that! When have you been to Gary to determine that it’s gross? And here, it was always my dream to go visit…

    Gloria–I think it is possible for a person to shun another person, and that is always sad. To shut someone out of your life because you don’t like their religious decisions is wrong. I experienced that when I joined the LDS church, and again when I left it.

    HOWEVER, that is not an official practice. It is people who are dealing poorly with their hurt feelings/lack of understanding/whatever it is that they are going through.

    As far as who gets to exercise vengeance, I think that everyone here would agree God ought to be the one who decides. However, to say that He will never use people as His instruments seems presumptuous. Would I follow a preacher who said God commanded him to go kill ‘all them ugly folk’? Uh, no. Is it possible that God might have commanded him for reasons that I don’t need to know and I wouldn’t understand the reason or even know that it was real, perhaps, ever? Sure.

    I think it is unwise to assume that you know what God will and won’t ask you, or anyone, to do. Or that you know what He will do. God’s ways are probably not our ways, and I don’t think we can limit Him based on what we think is right or good or what we want Him to be. You can pick scriptures that very clearly state your purpose, Gloria, but yet you haven’t said anything about the horrible things that God apparently wanted in the Old Testament. In other words, anyone can probably find scriptures to back up whatever they want to say that God wants, but that doesn’t mean that they know for sure that that’s right.

  117. I mean, when God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham wasn’t like “Oh, no way, YHWH wouldn’t ask that. I guess I can just ignore that one.” Sure, an angel came in at the last second and was like, “Psych!” But Abraham didn’t know that.

  118. Katyjane,

    I appreciate your thoughts you shared.
    I agree, God’s ways are not our ways. I don’t assume to understand everything about God. I really don’t. I also waant to go record that my standard of truth is God’s Word, and if God tells me to love and leave vengeance in His hands. Then I really do believe that.
    I also realize that God does take vengeance. I am just saying it’s not for me to take into my own hands.
    I would rather focus on loving people, and err on that side than on the other.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  119. Of course some consider the definition of an “atheist” is if you would no kill an innocent person even if God asked you to. . .maybe gloria is such an athiest, I think I am.

  120. I also realize that God does take vengeance. I am just saying it’s not for me to take into my own hands.

    But that’s not what we are talking about and it never is what we were talking about. It’s not what you were talking about, either.

    We’re talking about whether or not God would command you to shun someone. Or wipe out a nation. Not whether you would take it into your own hands.

  121. gloria,

    Mormons who made that particular temple oath did NOT consider it “taking vengeance into their own hands.” They felt it was something they were doing because GOD asked it.

    Just like Old Testament folks.

  122. gloria,

    I think I have made it clear that I do not think it is right to disown a child or divorce a spouse because of religious differences, but, in light of your insistence on using the words of Christ, I can’t help but think of Luke 14:26. I know a lot of Christians who use this passage as justification of the very thing you are so upset about.

    Furthermore, your claim that people who turn away from family and friends is equivalent to shunning is ridiculous, as kullervo pointed out, and completely irrelevant to a discussion of what Evangelicals need to know about the teachings of the LDS Church. The LDS Church does not teach its members to do this. So just because some do, so what? There are Evangelicals who bomb abortion clinics. Does that mean the Evangelical community teaches its adherents to bomb abortion clinics? Of course not. It means that the are crackpots in every bunch. Finally, if you don’t want people to think you are singling out Mormons, try not to single them out when you bring up things like this.

  123. Alex,

    You said ” I am so upset”. This sir is far from the truth. I wish that we could all sit back and read & “understand” what each person is saying…..ahh the challenges of online dialogue.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  124. Seth,

    I most definately do not know of any LDS who “acted out” on that oath. The fact still remains the oath was taken. My original remarks to “Tim”, were that these oaths would be considered “offsensive” to Christians today and many LDS I suspect. That way my original remarks made on this issue. I stand by that remark . I think most LDS today would find such an oath deeply offensive.

    Regards,
    gloria

  125. Gloria, thanks for your comments regarding the Temple and shunning. I do not deny that some individual Mormons shun their family members. But they do it out of the same motivation that Evangelicals do it out of when people convert to Mormonism or Atheism. They are practicing shunning, but they are not practicing it as a religious duty.

    I’m surprised that you didn’t clearly see me stating that it does happen at times among Mormons. Please reread my paragraph in the original post.

    I agree that many Christians would find even the current temple ceremony offensive, but only because it is being called a Christian ceremony. If the same rituals were being performed in a non-Christian context I think most Christians would think it was unfamiliar or unusual. But they wouldn’t find it offensive like a Sarah Silverman routine or a Marilyn Manson music video. It doesn’t shell out obscenity for the sake of being profane.

    I also agree that the pre-1990 use of a Protestant minister as a tool of Satan was offensive, as were the penalties. The 2010 LDS church doesn’t practice those things anymore, so I can’t say they are still being offensive in that way. In the same way, I could say the priesthood ban WAS racially offensive, but I can’t say it currently is.

    You are welcome to comment here as much as you’d like. But when you do so, be prepared that other people are allowed to comment on what you have to say, even if your comments are directed to me. This is a public discussion. If you’d like to have a side bar perhaps you can find me on Facebook. I have private conversations with several of the regular commentors there.

  126. I think modern American Christians would find just about ANY ritual to be “unfamiliar.”

    But this is more because contemporary American religion has a bit of a senseless phobia about the idea of ritual in general.

  127. Tim,

    Thanks for taking time to respond.
    My commments were originally geared to you, as you were the one who originally posted, but yeah of course others are going to comment. That is what a public forum like this is about.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  128. Tim said:
    “The LDS church does not teach its members to shun those who leave the faith. There is not an automatic threat that an ex-Mormon will lose all contact to their family including their wife and children. It does happen at times, but not because the LDS church says it must happen.”

    I agree that the church doesn’t teach shunning, but there have been Bishops or Stake Presidents that counseled spouses to leave an apostate.

    There are teachings that demonize and degrade apostates which can lead or contribute to the shunning we see in exit stories. (but I know this can be found in any religion that believes a person has rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ)

    I think it’s important to not conflate inactives who left the church over lifestyle choices (lost sheep), with apostates who rejected the religion and temple covenants. The beliefs and behavior of Mormons toward them is completely different.

    There are still teachings in the church that characterize the fallen apostate as disobedient, stupid, in Satan’s grasp, leaving for sin, etc.

    When I first began to feel “shaken faith syndrome”, the first feeling that came over me was an overwhelming fear that I was trapped in the church because the threat of losing my family relationships seemed very real. I knew what people would think and believe about me if I left the church, because I had been taught the same things.

    After expressing my doubts and books I had read, I experienced some shunning by relatives; some who would not let their children associate with me because of my new beliefs.

    To clarify, I’m not saying this bigotry is taught by the church, but I do believe the religion fosters it.

    Here’s just one example of what is taught in the church that could lead some to view apostates as dangerous to their faith:

    12 Preventing Personal Apostasy 35554, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 12: Preventing Personal Apostasy, 79

    “People do, however, leave this Church, but they leave it because they get into darkness,……”

    “You have known men who, while in the Church, were active, quick and full of intelligence; but after they have left the Church, they have become contracted in their understandings, they have become darkened in their minds and everything has become a mystery to them, and in regard to the things of God, they have become like the rest of the world, who think, hope and pray that such and such things may be so, but they do not know the least about it. This is precisely the position of those who leave this Church; they go into the dark, they are not able to judge, conceive or comprehend things as they are. They are like the drunken man—he thinks that everybody is the worse for liquor but himself, and he is the only sober man in the neighborhood. The apostates think that everybody is wrong but themselves (DBY, 84).”

    “What have the Latter-day Saints got to apostatize from? Everything that there is good, pure, holy, God-like, exalting, ennobling, extending the ideas, the capacities of the intelligent beings that our Heavenly Father has brought forth upon this earth. What will they receive in exchange? I can comprehend it in a very few words. These would be the words that I should use: death, hell and the grave. That is what they will get in exchange. We may go into the particulars of that which they experience. They experience darkness, ignorance, doubt, pain, sorrow, grief, mourning, unhappiness; no person to condole [lament] with in the hour of trouble, no arm to lean upon in the day of calamity, no eye to pity when they are forlorn and cast down; and I comprehend it by saying death, hell and the grave. This is what they will get in exchange for their apostasy from the Gospel of the Son of God(DBY, 85).”

  129. Seven,

    The fact that Mormons think apostates are in darkness can hardly be seen as surprising or even offensive. And its not really bigotry to lament the darkness of the mind of the apostate any more than Evangelicals saying that Mormons are going to hell is bigotry.

    I would guess that I am just as skeptical as you on certain things and I could definitely understand my brothers not wanting me to talk religion with their children.

    I just don’t understand the resentment of this attitude. I would feel the same way if I were them.

  130. I mean seriously, you seem to have this idea that “love” is the only thing God is. Like he’s some fuzzy mix between St. Francis of Assissi and Heidi’s grandpa rolled into one.

    I think modern American Christians would find just about ANY ritual to be “unfamiliar.”

    Seth sometimes I think you’re creating these zingers and waiting for a place to unleash them.

  131. I’m late to the party, and haven’t read all of the comments, but thanks for the thoughtful post. Is there any way to make this required reading? Because I’d really like to avoid some of the random ‘attacks of my faith’ that happen whenever a zealous ev finds out I’m Mormon. kkthx

  132. I’ve had several long, in-depth conversations about what goes on in the temple with numerous friends, including my husband—these being people who feel that it’s okay to discuss what happens in the temple so long as you don’t reveal specific signs & tokens.

    It’s nothing I would ever want to do, not by a mile. But I don’t find it offensive (beyond the general “it’s offensive because what it teaches is wrong and it’s misleading people,” but that can be said of a lot of things).

  133. I’d like to chime in as one modern day Christian who is not freaked out by ritual. And I think most of my Catholic and Episcopalian friends, etc., would agree, seeing as how those churches are even more ritual-focused than the stodgy Methodists.

    Then again, I come from hardy Masonic stock (and I’m a former Job’s Daughter myself), so maybe I’m just weird.

  134. I think that if the LDS temple rituals were made public, people would soon get over the idea that they’re “weird” and come to accept them as just another religious practice in American life. Then the church wouldn’t have to worry about new initiates to the endowment freaking out as everyone would know exactly what to expect.

    I’m not trying to advise Mormons to make them public; I realize it’s a complicated matter and I don’t have the emotional attachment to the temple ceremonies that Mormons do. I just question the wisdom of continuing to try and keep them secret in an age where any curious person who wants to can Google them from the comfort of his or her living room. The church can’t even keep the Church Handbook of Instructions or the second anointing from being leaked, let alone something that nearly every adult member goes through.

  135. Aaron S. wrote:

    “I personally believe that [Brigham Young’s] theology was a disaster for the most part” – Blake Ostler (>>)

    I don’t know of any OT or NT prophets I can say that of.”

    That’s because the only stuff you have from them currently is stuff that survived the past couple millennia. That’s hardly a convincing argument to me. For all you know, Ezekiel was a total crackpot in half the stuff he wrote.

    Like I’ve said before, one of the main differences between Mormons and other Christians is that other Christians have had a few thousand years to sweep a lot of their uncomfortable image problems under the rug.

  136. I agree with Jack – I think they should just be made public. There are so many elements that are familiar with some other rituals – Masonry, Catholic mass – that eventually, the chatter would die down. And better yet, noobs wouldn’t be so freaked out (or at the very least taken off guard) and could focus on the covenants they were making, with a full understanding. I was a bit freaked out that I was making all of these promises and covenants when, given the speed and the volume and the newness of the material, I wasn’t quite sure what I was covenanting to.

    The one good thing (from the Church’s POV) I could see from keeping it private is to avoid doctrinal discussions and deep analysis of something that is supposed to be so holy. Maybe they don’t want it torn apart and analyzed by those unfamiliar with the rest of what the religion teaches. Then again, this sorta happens anyway, but only by people who don’t care about the ‘sacred’ part of our beliefs.

  137. JaredC said:

    “I would guess that I am just as skeptical as you on certain things and I could definitely understand my brothers not wanting me to talk religion with their children.

    I just don’t understand the resentment of this attitude. I would feel the same way if I were them.”

    I would also understand my relatives not wanting me to talk religion with their children. But that wasn’t the issue. I would have never discussed Mormonism with their children, or shared any of my struggle with them.

    What happened is they would not allow their children to associate with me based on the books I was reading and having expressed my feelings about polygamy (to the adults only). Never in any of the conversations I had with these inlaws did I express feelings that the church was not true, or doubts about the Book of Mormon. (because those were not issues I was struggling with)

    The gossip going around in the family about me at that time caused more harm to the children than allowing me to associate with them. Had they left well enough alone, the kids would have never known I was struggling with anything in the church. Now they know that their Aunt had a major faith crisis over church history that caused inactivity for a time, and that I had stopped wearing my garments after learning the connection of Masonic oaths and the inner circle of polygamy.

  138. I think modern American Christians would find just about ANY ritual to be “unfamiliar.”

    Have you never been to a Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopal, or Lutheran church? Plenty of ritual

  139. Actually, pretty much everyone who joins a fraternity or sorority in college is at least familiar with ritual. (No, not hazing rituals. Initiation is actually a pretty formal and symbolic affair.)

  140. The Church used to have a fraternity, called Sigma Gamma Chi, that was in place at LDS Institute programs in colleges other than BYU. I was in it before my mission.

    But they replaced it in 2000 or so with some much more bland Men’s Institute Association or something. And they took away the rituals and the sacred sword. Super-lame.

  141. My extended family has definitely distanced themselves from me since I started openly questioning the Church. I don’t like it, but it’s still not the same thing as shunning.

  142. Kullervo,

    My heart goes out to you. Have you had the chance to talk to them about it and “clear the air” sort of speak?

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  143. Seven,

    Yikes, sounds like you have some knuckleheads on your hands, that really sucks. I would never wish that sort of problem on anybody. Good luck.

    I am glad my extended family has been open minded and tolerant toward questioning attitudes.

  144. My heart goes out to you. Have you had the chance to talk to them about it and “clear the air” sort of speak?

    Not that simple by far. But like I said, it’s my extended family, so it doesn’t, like, wound me to the core.

  145. One of the things I enjoy about Mormonism is how it has decent potential to get people confronting dissonance between the God of the Old Testament and interpretations of the God of the New Testament (lots of ways to rationalize or explain differences away)

    It seems like some of the rub with the way Mormon’s accept potential commands of prophets is due to the way this rationalization has occurred. From my perspective, Mormonism has found a balance keeping the two paradigms together while others have found that balance with more of a replacement model.

  146. Really, quite a well done post, Tim. The only part I’d nit-pick is this line:

    “Instead they are lowering Jesus to the realm of created beings”

    It’s not just that I object to the idea that we are “lowering” Jesus, although I do. But I also don’t think it’s accurate to say that he/we are “created” beings. Joseph Smith actually taught quite the opposite, that “the spirit of man is not a created being; it existed from eternity and will exist to eternity.”

    Great post on that, by the way, by aquinas:
    Joseph Smith’s Revelations on Preexistence and Spirits
    http://thepierianspring.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/joseph-smith-revelations-on-preexistence-and-spirits/

  147. No, I didn’t see that. I didn’t read through all the comments before I responded to the OP, so thanks for pointing me to Eric’s comment. I agree with him (about your fairness and tone in the OP and also with the quibble.)

    I have a couple of additional thoughts provoked by your response to Eric. You wrote:
    “The average Mormon thinks that Heavenly Father somehow procreated Jesus’ spirit along with Satan’s and mine. The eternal nature of “intelligence” is not clearly on the tips of every Mormon’s tongue.”

    Perhaps you’re right. I suspect that this might be a common assumption, and I believe it is an area where a little more critical thinking could benefit the masses. I think I just made up my mind that I should do a separate post about this geared toward this “average Mormon” so that they might think a little deeper about this “procreative” spirit assumption.

    You also wrote: “That being said, I could have said that Mormon theology elevates us to the same same ontological status as Jesus (as eternally existing, non-created beings capable of progressing to godhood). The main point is that Mormons view us to be ontologically similar to Jesus and that is not something Evangelicals will agree with.”

    I agree with you here–“the main point is that Mormons view us to be ontologically similar to Jesus”. Perhaps you should just say this outright. While Evangelicals will disagree with this teaching, Mormons (for the most part, at least) will agree with it.

    As to the potential of progressing to godhood–this is another area where average Mormons must think deeper so that they don’t assuming that exaltation/theosis (or “becoming a god”) is the same thing as becoming God (it’s not). I do believe many Mormons have been and currently are mistaken about God’s mortal experience, and unwittingly believe that God “became” God and that we’re destined for the same experience. I think that interpretation falls short of critical thinking. See “My Take on Joseph Smith’s King Follet Sermon”, http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2009/07/my-take-on-joseph-smiths-king-follet.html

    I understand that there has been (and still will be) much debate about this, but they are indeed two separate ideas.

  148. I agree with you here–”the main point is that Mormons view us to be ontologically similar to Jesus”. Perhaps you should just say this outright.

    From the original post:

    But (fancy word alert) ontologically they don’t consider him any different than us (or Satan).

    For us to be the same as Jesus, someone has to be raised or someone has to be lowered. Glass half full? Glass half empty? This post was written for Evangelicals who are mostly just concerned that someone drank a half a glass of water.

  149. I guess I didn’t catch that since it comes directly after the quibble point. I was too distracted by what I DON’T agree with to see that the next sentence is one that I DO agree with.

    Although, even then, it might lead people who don’t understand the ontological nuances to believe that we don’t believe there are ANY differences between us. While we may believe we are of the same ONTOLOGICAL essence/kind, there are certainly a lot more important distinctions between us. (Not the least is that Christ is not only the Son of God but God the Son–God in His own right. We are not).

    As to the glass half full or half empty: If you could have said either that we lower Jesus to a created being, OR that Mormonism raises man up to God, why did you choose the first choice? It makes much more sense to choose the second.

  150. CC,
    I was trying to contrast against the idea that Mormons are raising Satan up to Jesus’ stature. Plus I view the glass as half-empty on this issue.

    Seth,
    We need to view Jesus as ontologically different because that’s what the Bible seems to be saying (particularly in John 1). We don’t NEED to have any religious opinion other than our own commitments to our own texts. Just as LDS don’t need to view Jesus as ontologically similar to us except for a commitment to the Book of Abraham and the First Vision.

    You can read how Aquinas explained our viewpoint here:
    http://mormonmatters.org/2010/01/16/mormon-innovations-the-pre-mortal-life/#comment-128110

  151. I think there is more to this than “the Bible tells me so.”

    Because let’s face it – the Bible is pretty dang vague on this point. Likewise, Mormon scripture isn’t necessarily cast-iron on the opposite position.

  152. Thanks fro this post, Tim! I am really excited about catching up on what modern mormonism teaches. The old way of doing things definitely does not work anymore… maybe it never did?

  153. Mmm. I find it interesting that style of worship is at the top of your list of reasons you wouldn’t be LDS, Cal. I wouldn’t put it at the top of my reasons, but I have mentioned on my blog that it would be a difficult shift to make.

    There was one Protestant church I checked out last year when I was looking for church homes, and I almost immediately knew that they wouldn’t work for me because of the way they did music. They had a very old-fashioned style, single-piano accompaniment to traditional hymns scattered throughout the service—a lot like how the LDS church does it.

    I’ve studied the LDS church for 12 years and attended once a month with my husband pretty regularly since my marriage started 6.5 years ago. My tastes just aren’t going to adjust.

  154. I’ve been an active member of the LDS church for as long as Jack has studied it, and I have yet to completely make the adjustment. While I certainly think that parts of the evangelical world have their excesses in terms of music, I think we LDS folks certainly have something we could learn from them.

  155. “While I certainly think that parts of the evangelical world have their excesses in terms of music, I think we LDS folks certainly have something we could learn from them.”

    Ditto.

  156. Jack – I’m delurking to ask something I’ve wondered before about your stated reasons for not becoming LDS. I found your inclusion of worship style in this list a bit strange.

    It makes sense to me to discuss this as an aspect of evangelical culture which you prefer to Mormon culture, but not to as a reason to be an evangelical Christian rather than a Mormon, where doctrinal issues surely come into play, even if certain modes of arguing over doctrine are not very productive.

    I can see that stylistic preferences may well inform your choice of congregation when you are able to choose between two or more evangelical churches, all of whom you would agree with at the level of core doctrine. However, it seems to me that if you were to believe that the LDS Church is the one true and living church on the face of the earth (which I don’t), the music not being to your liking would not be a sufficient reason not to join.

    I wondered whether you highlight worship style because it’s a relatively inoffensive point of difference to discuss without being drawn into doctrinal polemic, or if it really is that big of a deal for you?

    For what it’s worth, I think Mormon doctrine is heretical but I think a lot of Mormon culture is pretty cool (e.g. Family Home Evening is a great idea). I like contemporary worship too though, with a few traditional hymns thrown in.

  157. Hi David,

    Welcome from lurking.

    Not too long ago, I decided that I don’t really like making lists of what’s wrong with someone else’s religion. I blogged about this here. But to answer your question, I guess that in my head there’s two major aspects to being part of a religion: cerebral and spiritual agreement with what the religion teaches as truth, and the functional aspect of what a religion requires from you.

    In theory, cerebral and spiritual agreement > all. If we agree that a religion teaches the truth about God, it shouldn’t matter what it requires of us; we should be like the man in the parable of the field with the hidden treasure who goes with joy to sell all that he has so that he can buy that field (Matthew 13:44). In this area, my list of why I’m not LDS is very short. I don’t believe in priesthood authority as it’s taught and practiced by the LDS church. I don’t believe it existed in the time of the New Testament church and I don’t believe it exists now. If I’m right, then what reason is there to be LDS other than preference for the Mormon lifestyle and style of worship?

    In practice though, I really do have a difficult time accepting that some of the things that the LDS church demands of its members are from God—particularly when proponents can offer no theological justification for the rules or their reasoning is highly fallacious. I could see the basic tenets of a religion being from God while the demands being made on the membership by the current religious leaders are in error and not of God. I think that this has been the case for the historic Christian church many times throughout history.

    Style of worship is one of those things that falls into that second camp. I have a really hard time believing that God wants the entire world to worship like 19th century white American Protestant pietists. When all is said and done though, if I actually thought the essential claims of the LDS church were true, style of worship would not keep me out of it. It would be a painful sacrifice to make, but I would make it.

    Some of my other doubts about current practice though, those might just keep me out.

  158. Thanks, Jack. That does make some sense. I guess the idea that faith is embodied and not purely cerebral does come in here.

    On my couple of visits to an LDS ward, I quite liked the music, especially the 19th century Protestant revivalist hymns which I could happily sing along with, though might get tired of it as an exclusive diet.

  159. stupid is as stupid does. That so called bed is a alter where the couple kneel upon covenanting between themselves for time and all eternity. I have knelt at a similar temple alter when I married my husband

    Get your head out of the gutter……No beds in the Temple

  160. Pingback: Main Street Plaza » Sunday in Outer Blogness: Other People’s Problems Edition!

  161. “Instead they are lowering Jesus to the realm of created beings. Mormons still consider Jesus to be highly esteemed and want to devote their lives to his teachings, they even call him God. But (fancy word alert) ontologically they don’t consider him any different than us (or Satan). That may not remove the offense to Evangelicals, but it puts it in the proper light.”

    Actually, this is only half true. While Heavenly Father created everyone spiritually, Jesus being the Firstborn Son, only Jesus had God the Father as His Father in the flesh.

  162. Tim, Thank you for your post. I found it very balanced and insightful. As a relatively new beleiver in an election year where one of our candidates will be a Mormon, I just wanted to better understand his world view. ROmney seems an upright and good man, and I just wanted to be assured of his faith position. I know that we are all fallen souls, but I was raised to believe that Mormons’ were a cult and very strange. I want to be reassured that I am not voting for the devil. ha ha. I appreciate any expansion on this candidate. Thank you.

  163. I keep hearing this nonsense about Satan being some entity which (or who) spontaneously came into being, and was not a creation of God (or his son–perish the thought…!). Did not God create every living thing, give birth to it, and give it animation, i.e. life? Do all you people wear your butts where your heads ought to be…?

  164. Kullervo, you are proof of why they say cowboys always wear their names on the back of their belts. (So they can remember who they are when they pull their heads out !)

  165. Not a single person here has claimed that Satan is “some entity which (or who) spontaneously came into being, and was not a creation of God.”

    You vaguely claim that you “keep hearing this nonsense” about it. So I ask again, from whom do you keep hearing it? Who claims that Satan is “some entity which (or who) spontaneously came into being, and was not a creation of God?”

  166. Kullervo: Where did you learn Jehovah’s Witness-type circle logic ? You have it mastered. When you use evangelical seminary terms like “ad hominem” and “non sequitur” you betray your origin. You are a flaming idiot–and that is constructive criticism, not insult !

  167. You are still not answering the question. You claim that you keep hearing that Satan is “some entity which (or who) spontaneously came into being, and was not a creation of God.” I asked you from whom. If you don’t answer the question, I’m going to assume that you don’t have an answer.

    Who told you that Satan is “some entity which (or who) spontaneously came into being, and was not a creation of God?” Because no orthodox Christian church teaches that.

  168. Dear, Brother HAervey Ical, I think that you a ere am member of the churhc of JESUS CHRIST of latter-day saints(and a prophet of God) and so I want you to know that i think that you think that I think that JEHOVAS WITNESS CIRCLE LOGIC is not God’s one true church. Would you like to know how I know this Brother ICal? I know this because Mormoni 3:5 says you can ASK OF GOD NOTHING WAVERING AND HE GIVETH TO ALL MEN LIBERALLY so I asked of God by this Holy Ghost of Jesus Christ and he tols me thorugh the wsweet, small poer of the still, small voice that Jehoba’ Witness IS NOT A HOOD CHURCH BROTHER HARVEY ICAL. I do not know if Kullervo is a Jehovas Witness or an Evangelical Seminary but I, know that thy HEavenly Father of Jesus Christ told me to tell you “no. Do not.”

  169. Harveyical

    1. If I can’t say that here, you should not be allowed to say that here either.

    2. What orthodox Christian church teaches that? Name one. Just one.

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