Foundation for Christian Studies

Your thoughts? Are they merely teaching “essential Christian values” or something different? See their articles on marriage, the cross and church organization.

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94 thoughts on “Foundation for Christian Studies

  1. I’ve been chewing on it since before I posted. I think I agree with Kullervo. They have lots of rhetoric on their site about how inclusive the term Christianity should be, but then when they start getting down to specifics it seems that Mormonism is the only expression of Christianity. They don’t seem to even really bother explaining the different views or the ways others professing to be called Christians might approach these topics. Mormon scriptures are quoted more often than the Bible and the only authoritative voices are Mormon leadership.

  2. Deceptive site is deceptive.

    – They use a dove and an icthys in their promotional materials, two symbols that Mormons have traditionally ignored but many other Christian traditions have regularly utilized.

    – “The foundation does this in a way that inspires all people, regardless of theological differences, to come together in support of essential Christian values, in compassionate service to God’s children across the world.” This makes it sound like they’re a non-denominational group that teaches general Christian perspectives on questions, when what they’re really teaching is a very Mormon perspective.

    – What Tim said. Mormon leaders are the only ones being cited as authoritative, and they’re being cited as authoritative on subjects that almost the entire non-LDS Christian world would not agree on, like eternal marriage and church organization.

    Conclusion: deceptive site is deceptive.

  3. But the point is that it is set up like it’s something about Christianity in general, when its actually about Mormonism. Whether Mormons believe theirs is the true Christianity and whether or not Mormonism does include the fundamentals of Christianity is not really the relevant factor.

    The relevant factor is that at first blush, the website looks like its some kind of nondenominationally broad Christian formation site, and people looking for something like a nondenominationally broad Christian formation site are going to walk into it without realizing that they are actually looking at a very specific and distinct Christian sect–and one that depending on your intent and context may arguably not be Christian at all.

  4. At the same time, the fact that there is a crappy internet site out there is hardly news. It’s not like this is a new marketing effort by the Church Headquarters in SLC. Some random Mormons decided to cloak their website about Mormon doctrine in the trappings of nondenominational Christianity. Its plainly a deceptive tactic taken by these particular people, but unless it heralds some kind of wider trend or broader common proselytizing tactic or starts takingin an enormous amount of traffic, I don’t see why anyone should really get their dander up about it.

    Unless we just want to fight about whether or not Mormons are Christians and the extent to which traditional creedal Christian doctrine and Mormon doctrine are compatible again. That’s always a winner.

  5. Aren’t they just being cunning as serpents, yet harmless as doves?
    😀

    I agree that it’s deceptive…but blatantly so. That’s not to give them a pass by any means. But they could be far more deceptive: take out any reference to LDS materials and only quote the Bible to support theology claims, etc. They could get away with teaching nearly all of the same doctrine and leave no clear indication that it’s Mormonism-based.

    As the site stands, it is analogous to some LDS missionaries dressing down—losing the white shirt, tie, name-tag—in order to get into homes that would otherwise immediately recognize and reject them as Mormons; but once inside, teaching the lessons as usual.

  6. Funny you mention LDS missionaries because I find they’re embarrassingly using the same terrible apologetic arguments that missionaries tend to use.

    I agree, as a deception goes it’s a very obviously broadcasted deception. Like they kind of know it’s not cool.

  7. I’ve even seen far worse from several Christian or Bible Study sites that profess to speak for Christianity but do not, as you say, “bother explaining the different views or the ways others professing to be called Christians might approach these topics.”

  8. On a 1-to-10 deception scale, I’d give it an 8.

    I don’t give it a 10 because you don’t have to look hard at all to find its LDS roots (the founder is a convert from Catholicism). There are certainly places on the site where they’re upfront about their perspective.

    But I have to agree with Jack that its logo (with the use of dove and icthus) appears to be designed to give the site a decidedly non-LDS look. The site gives the appearance of pulling some sort of bait and switch.

    I’m not in a position to judge the motives of the people behind this, but even without the hackneyed apologetics I would find the site a bit slimy.

  9. Folks:

    I am the guy who set up the Foundation for Christian Studies website. My name is Eric Shuster and I am a Christian that happens to have selected the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as my Church of choice. I was a devout Catholic until 1989 when my wife and I, after a comprehensive year of study and prayer, became Mormons. You can read our story in my first book “Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest.”

    Following up on that book I decided to spend two years in a line by line study of the Old and New Testaments to put Mormon doctrine to the test from a Biblical perspective. The results of that study is my second book, “The Biblical Roots of Mormonism.” It was my personal testimony after conducting that study and writing the book that Mormonism is the most Biblically-based Christian religion in the world. Again, my opinion and I will certainly allow my book to support that claim. This is not meant to be arrogant, but rather a statement based upon my own research of several (not all) Christian religions. I am not the authority by any means, I am rather just a single individual with an opinion.

    As for the Foundation for Christian Studies, I make no secret that I am a Mormon and that the board is entirely made up of Mormons – it is there in plain sight for all visitors to see. We are teaching Christianity as we believe it to be. As such the teachings are aligned to that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – something also mentioned on the website. Should a Catholic had started this foundation I am certain the teachings would be the Christianity understood and believed as that individual – aligned to that of the Catholic Church. Had an Evangelical… I think you understand my point.

    The fact is, there are over 30,000 Christian denominations in the world today and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is only one of them. Although we take a bold stance at the Foundation in proclaiming that what we believe is the most true Christian doctrine (I am sure you believe the same about your own beliefs), we recognize and respect the differences that exist between the many Christian denominations that exist today. We have not cornered the market on Christianity, but we we are passionate about the Christianity we believe in and would like to teach everyone about it. In the fruits of Christianity section we do a comparison that is somewhat curious that should at least support (although loosely) that by their fruits ye shall know them. Again, not the only sect, but at least one sect that should be carefully considered.

    Do you not feel the same about the Christianity that you ascribe to yourself? If you didn’t believe what you believe to be the most correct you would not be a member of that Church. It is human nature.

    You are my brothers and sisters in Christ. We will likely never agree on doctrine. HOWEVER, we can find commonality on many Christian values, allowing ourselves to come together in the Body of Christ to build better communities and strengthen those Christian values in society. The fight to pass proposition 8 in California is a good example. Although the fight was primarily financed and organized by Latter-day Saints, there were thousands of people from the Catholic Evangelical and other Christian communities that came together in the defense of family.

    The Body of Christ is many parts – my beliefs, your beliefs and the beliefs of many others. The Foundation for Christian Studies is teaching Christianity as we know it to be – that which we believe is solidly Biblically-based, illuminated further by modern day scriptures. Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God; the Savior of all mankind; and He who will return again to reign on earth in His second coming.

    Look for the differences and you will find them. Look for the commonality and you will find that too.

    Thank you for discussing the Foundation for Christian Studies in this blog. You can contact me through my author’s website at http://www.ericshuster.com. I don’t normally comment in forums or blogs due to my limited availability (we also have new infant twins which really takes away whatever free time I had before), but I wanted to comment here so you understood our perspective.

    Please forgive me if I offended anyone in my post.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Eric Shuster

  10. Eric: I’m glad you responded here, but I don’t think you addressed the main concern: your logo, which we here find deceptive.

    Also, you should know that some of us commenting here are (active) Mormons.

  11. I don’t think anyone is besmirching the “foundation” for believing Mormonism to be true. I don’t think any of us are even the least bit offended that you want to promote Mormonism. It’s the way you go about it that gives us all pause for concern.

  12. Eric S. ~ I’m an evangelical Christian (member of the Evangelical Covenant Church) who has been married to an active and believing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for over seven years. We have one child right now, 4 years old, whom we raise in both faith traditions, alternating which church she goes to every Sunday. We read to her from the Bible or the Book of Morning every evening, and we have FHE’s consisting of lessons that our faiths share. I hold a degree in classics from Brigham Young University and I’m currently an MA candidate in American church history at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

    Or in other words, I know an awful lot about about finding common ground between Mormonism and other Christian traditions.

    And I still find your site deceptive.

    Picture this: somebody creates a site called “The Foundation for Mormon Studies.” This site claims to “support essential Mormon doctrine” and “inspire Mormons to engage in compassionate service to God’s children across the world.” It utilizes traditional Mormon symbolism like the angel Moroni and the CTR logo. It even contains plenty of quotes from Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, and Joseph F. Smith. The site also utilizes a lot of artwork from popular LDS artists like Greg Olsen, Simon Dewey and Del Parson.

    But when you click on the articles for subjects such as “marriage” and “church organization,” you find articles advocating for polygamy as a modern-day practice and the need for prophets to remain stalwart in teaching correct doctrine. You find quotes from “prophets” and “apostles” like John Y. Barlow, Joseph White Musser, Charles Zitting, Leroy S. Johnson, Rulon T. Jeffs, and Warren S. Jeffs. Or in other words, the Foundation for Mormon Studies is an FLDS site, and the “Mormonism” they advocate for is strictly the FLDS kind. The only time the site discusses what different Mormon groups believe on a matter is to advocate for the FLDS view and refute or dismiss all other views.

    Would you not find this approach to be deceptive? And if the owner of the site came and explained that he was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and later converted to the FLDS church and truly believes the Foundation for Mormon Studies is teaching Mormonism the way he knows it to be, that the teachings of the FLDS church best represent the teachings of the early Mormon prophets—would that make it okay?

    Why or why not?

    Eric ~ (Our Eric) ~ 8 out of 10 sounds good to me.

  13. Is FCS a nonprofit organization or oriented? Looking at this as another para-church group there are questions from what is presented on the website.

    Judging from the book selection, The Great Apostasy in particular, t is clear that FCS is a paragon of ecumenical relations

  14. Yeah, I agree. As a faithful Mormon, I find this misleading. The study programs, book lists and stuff could be accessed by people without them ever knowing they were even on an LDS-oriented website.

    Well… at least they aren’t claiming official endorsement from the LDS Church. It would be time to call someone’s stake president if that were the case.

  15. So it’s misleading, but like, oh well, some dude on the internet has a misleading website. In other news, water is wet, the Pope is Catholic, and Cal thinks Mormons are really Christians.

  16. I’m not up in arms over this.

    At most, this is ammo for me when terribad Mormon apologists claim that Mormons aren’t misleading and deceptive like those evil evangelical counter-cultists are.

    I’ll be like, ORLY??

  17. And they’ll be all like, “So it’s misleading, but like, oh well, some dude on the internet has a misleading website. In other news, water is wet, the Pope is Catholic, and Cal thinks Mormons are really Christians.”

  18. Folks… step back, take a deep breath, and consider for a moment the bigger picture here. Set aside any issues you have with Mormon doctrine and look at what we have:

    We are claiming to be the Foundation for Christian studies.

    We are letting everyone know on the website that we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    We clearly state that as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that we are offering a doctrinal view of Christianity that is aligned with Mormonism.

    What is so misleading about what we are doing?

    If you don’t believe Mormonism is Christianity then I can see why you believe we are being deceptive. HOWEVER, if that be the case then it is your opinion that we are not Christian and therefore there is no deception involved here, just a difference of opinion.

    If we take ALL of the websites, blogs and forums dedicated to Mormonism on the web, out of 100 how many do you think offer a negative view of Mormonism? How about 97 out of 100? In such websites the authors often cut down Mormon beliefs offering their own opinions and scriptural interpretations as to why Mormonism is false and not Christian. Some do so in an incredibly disrespectful way with strong negative overtones.

    At the Foundation for Christian studies we are taking a positive approach to discussing Christianity from a Mormon point of view. We do not cut down any other Churches in the process, we simply offer doctrinal explanations across a large variety of subjects. In doing so we hear from thousands of people offering both positive and negative impressions of what we have offered.

    No deception here, just our point of view.

    Think about it this way: if someone were to ask you to tell them about Christianity what would you tell them? You would probably discuss Christianity from your point of view whether you be a Baptist, Evangelical, Catholic or whatever. You would bear testimony of Christ from what you have learned and share the the gospel as you know it to be. Rarely in doing so would anyone offer differing doctrinal points of view or stop and say “this is what I believe, but other Christian faiths many not believe the same way.” No, you would offer your view of Christianity as you know it without caveats.

    That is all we are doing here, in a positive and meaningful way.

    What we find are those who are most upset by what we are doing are those who passionately feel that Mormons are not Christians. We are OK with that, as everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    If you feel we can do this in a way that is more positive in your perspective I would love to hear it. Email me at eshuster@studychristianity.org.

    May the light of Christ burn brightly in your lives.

    Your brother in Jesus Christ,
    Eric Shuster

  19. I think Mormons are Christians by most of the qualifications that actually matter.

    And I still think the website is misleading.

  20. Think about it this way: if someone were to ask you to tell them about Christianity what would you tell them? You would probably discuss Christianity from your point of view whether you be a Baptist, Evangelical, Catholic or whatever. You would bear testimony of Christ from what you have learned and share the the gospel as you know it to be. Rarely in doing so would anyone offer differing doctrinal points of view or stop and say “this is what I believe, but other Christian faiths many not believe the same way.” No, you would offer your view of Christianity as you know it without caveats.

    Actually, I would do precisely the latter. If someone wanted to know about Christianity I would talk to them about Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and various flavors of Protestantism. Because when someone asks you about Christianity, they are asking about Christianity as a whole. If they wanted to know what your specific beliefs are or what your specific denomination teaches, they would ask questions like: What are your specific beliefs about Christianity? or What does your specific denomination teach? I know I am being really tricky here in using a form of communication known as “English,” but I find it helpful for getting my points across.

    So please, for the love of all you consider holy, stop trying to redefine English as a defense of your position. It’s inane and it makes you look bad because it looks like you are assuming that your interlocutors are complete idiots.

    But while we’re at redefining English, anyone up for a game of “Patriarchy and Equality: Why They Are The Same Thing.”

  21. This has nothing to do with whether or not Mormons are Christians. I’m quite ambivalent on that matter. If you were merely portraying Mormons as one type of Christians, sure, some people would get up in arms over that, but I wouldn’t blink.

    This has to do with your site’s portrayal of Mormonism as THE Christianity. This has to do with you commandeering traditional Christian icons that Mormons have almost always ignored for a site that promotes Mormonism. This has to do with you presenting the Mormon position as THE Christian position.

    I had an evangelical friend attending Brigham Young University who was there because her LDS relatives had made it seem like BYU was “just another Christian college.” They wanted to get her there in hopes that the heavy LDS environment would influence her towards conversion, so they weren’t up front with her about how BYU would differ from an evangelical Christian college. Or in other words, they were well-meaning but deceptive. My friend was pretty miserable once she got there and learned the truth, and eventually transferred out of there. So I take it pretty seriously when Mormons try to pass themselves off as “just another Christian denomination,” because some people are misled by such tactics.

    And to answer your question, if someone were asking me about what Christians believe, no, I would not portray the specifics of my own evangelical denomination as representative of the entire Christian faith. I would let them know how Christians differ on a particular subject and then explain what I believe and why I think that’s the best.

  22. Eric S: The problem with the site isn’t that it presents an LDS point of view (or, to be more accurate, one particular LDS point of view). I’m not sure how well you’ve read the comments above, but there are at least three of us in this discussion who are LDS and find ourselves uncomfortable with the site’s approach. And the evangelicals in this discussion are generally a fair-minded bunch as well who wouldn’t be criticizing a site the way they have simply because it’s LDS-oriented.

    The problem is that the site often seems to present itself as objective and nondenominational when it is not, even borrowing distinctly non-LDS symbolism to provide an aura of ecumenism. While in a sense the LDS orientation of the site isn’t hidden, the site nevertheless has a bait-and-switch feel to it.

    No doubt about it, there are plenty sites out there from non-LDS perspectives that do much the same thing (and some are much more egregious in doing so). But for those of us who are part of the restored Church, should we let others set the standard of how straightforward we should be?

  23. Eric Shuster: From your own web site, you claim to be rather broad and ecumenical:

    “…this web site is specifically designed for people interested in learning more about all faiths and Christianity in general.”

    “…inspires all people, regardless of theological differences, to come together…”

    Although in fairness, there is also this:

    “Therefore the doctrines defined on this web site are consistent with and in some cases unique to that Christian [viz. LDS] denomination.”

    So I’d be willing to cut you some slack.

    But then there’s articles like the one on the Godhead that thoroughly rejects every notion of Trinitarianism (that most of Christianity accepts). So I see little or no attempt to discuss “Christianity in general.”

  24. Also, just to reiterate what I and Eric (first-name-only-Eric) have said:

    Some of us on commenting here are faithful, active Mormons.

    Both of your comments in this thread seem not to take that into account.

  25. There’s also this:

    The foundation does this in a way that inspires all people, regardless of theological differences, to come together in support of essential Christian values

    But theological differences are extremely important since only one flavor of theology (i. e. Mormonism) is promoted on the site, and things like eternal marriage and belief in linear male-only priesthood are not “essential Christian values.”

  26. The foundation does this in a way that inspires all people, regardless of theological differences, to come together in support of essential Christian values

    The foundation is doing a very poor job of it, if that’s really their goal.

  27. Hey, I just looked at Eric Shuster’s website, and he has some “recent thoughts about us:

    We had a small burst of activity this week around a set of individuals upset that the Foundation for Christian Studies (FCS) website is deceptive. While most will not clarify what they mean by deceptive, most will finally admit that they are angry that we are proclaiming the doctrines of Mormonism to be Christianity, or at least those of a legitimate sect of Christianity. Although I can understand their concerns based upon the fact that the Christian doctrines they ascribe to may be different from the doctrines of Christianity ascribed to by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that does not make the FCS website deceptive. We make it very clear on the home page that we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and therefore one can expect that what is being taught on the website will be aligned with the Christian doctrines of Mormonism. It is really that simple. If one does not want to learn the Christian doctrines of Mormonism, then they are free to visit the thousands of other websites that teach other forms of Christianity. If one considers for a moment the overwhelming ratio of websites dedicated to cutting down the Mormon faith (negative-driven content) as compared to those that attempt to explain and teach the Mormon faith (positive-driven content), one might start to understand why we felt a website dedicated to a positive view of Mormonism as one of the many sects of Christianity was badly needed. We hope people who visit the FCS website will come with a bit more objectivity and therefore see the site for what is meant to be: one point of view of Christianity.

    Seriously, this guy is just not listening.

    First, he says:

    While most will not clarify what they mean by deceptive, most will finally admit that they are angry that we are proclaiming the doctrines of Mormonism to be Christianity, or at least those of a legitimate sect of Christianity.

    Which is of course, completely bogus. We have explained in explicit detail exactly what we mean by “deceptive.” The website holds itself out as being about Christianity, generally. Despite the disclaimers Shuster uses, the iconography of the site is the iconography of traditional creedal Christianity, not of Mormonism. The site is set up to look like something nondenominationally Christian, but it is actually something explicitly Mormon. In other words, the site turns out to be something extremely different from how it is presented. That’s deceptive.

    Next he says:

    Although I can understand their concerns based upon the fact that the Christian doctrines they ascribe to may be different from the doctrines of Christianity ascribed to by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

    Which is also bogus. Nobody here is in the least upset that his doctrines don’t match ours. As BrianJ pointed out in bold: a number of the people criticizing Shuster for deceptive practices are faithful Latter-Day Saints.

    And as I have recently pointed out, I don’t ascribe to any Christian doctrines at all. This isn’t an issue of point of view or theological nuance. While Shuster claims to be merely presenting his website as what he believes are the essentials of Christianity, he knows good and well that from a descriptive point of view, those doctrines are not mainstream or generally accepted fundamentals of Christianity. He has trotted out the canard of “30,000 different denominations” to insist that he’s just doing what all Christians do, but which obscures the fact that the overwhelming majority of Christians define the essentials of Christianity by the traditional creeds.

    He has re-defined “Christianity” not to refer to Christianity-as-a-world-religion, but to mean “Mormonism.” That’s deceptive because he knows full well that the term “Christianity,” descriptively, which is in the way an average web-surfer is going to think of it when they stumble on his site, means Christianity as a world religion, not any specific denomination.

    This is a slick and tricky maneuver, and it is dishonest marketing.

    It would be like me having a website about The Essentials of Automobiles which turns out to be one big Dodge ad, and then claiming that, as I am a Dodge driver, Dodges are essential automobiles from my point of view. That would be deceptive because I have cloaked my shameless Dodge ad as an educational website about cars in general.

    (PS Dodges are awesome)

    We make it very clear on the home page that we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and therefore one can expect that what is being taught on the website will be aligned with the Christian doctrines of Mormonism.

    Again, bogus. The iconography and “trade dress” of the website is non-denominationally Christian, which iconography is not used by Mormons, but the content of the website is specifically Mormon. It’s a bait-and-switch. Bait-and-switch is dishonest. Honesty is against the commandments.

    Hey Eric, what does the Book of Mormon say about honesty?

    If one does not want to learn the Christian doctrines of Mormonism, then they are free to visit the thousands of other websites that teach other forms of Christianity.

    Sure, Eric. How about you help out by not making your site appear to be one of those sites.

    If one considers for a moment the overwhelming ratio of websites dedicated to cutting down the Mormon faith (negative-driven content) as compared to those that attempt to explain and teach the Mormon faith (positive-driven content), one might start to understand why we felt a website dedicated to a positive view of Mormonism as one of the many sects of Christianity was badly needed.

    If you just felt the ground lurch there, that’s because Shuster was massively shifting the goalpost.

    Nobody is arguing that he should not have a Mormon-positive website. We’re just arguing that you should not make your Mormon-positive website look like a basic website about non-denominational Christian essentials because that is deceptive and dishonest.

    We hope people who visit the FCS website will come with a bit more objectivity and therefore see the site for what is meant to be: one point of view of Christianity.

    If you want visitors to see your site as “one point of view about Christianity,” you might not want to pitch it as being about the essentials of Christianity, generally.

    Yes, there are many interpretations of Christianity, Shuster. But honestly? Most of them have a lot of the basics in common. And the basics they have in common definitely do not include things like eternal marriage, premortal existence, or the degrees of glory.

    By dressing up your Into to Mormonism page like an Intro to Christianity page, you are being dishonest.

  28. I posted the following comment on his blog; it is awaiting moderation:

    You have not accurately represented the complaints of the bloggers and participants at LDS & Evangelical Conversations. We thoroughly clarified exactly what we meant by “deceptive,” and not one of us took issue with any presentation of Mormonism as “a legitimate sect of Christianity.” I recommend that interested parties view the thread in question for themselves, here.

    Also, please note that so far, 8 different people at LDS & Evangelical Conversations have indicated that they found the FCS approach deceptive or misleading. Of these, three are active and believing Mormons. It is not merely the members of other Christian faiths who are taking issue with your site.

  29. Wow! Just wow.

    My dear brother Eric Shuster is like a deaf robot.

    I’m appalled, ashamed, and aggravated all at the same time.

  30. EricS is responding to me on private email, it seems we have to read between the lines to see that none of us think that Mormons are Christians and that’s the only thing that could be fueling our criticisms.

    Two words: “Lock Box”

  31. EricS is responding to me on private email, it seems we have to read between the lines to see that none of us think that Mormons are Christians and that’s the only thing that could be fueling our criticisms.

    WHAT ABOUT CAL

  32. If you teach a class called “Introduction to Mammals,” and the course catalog says the class will cover the basics attributes of Class mammalia, but then your course only teaches information about the platypus, then you are not really teaching Introduction to Mammals. You are teaching Introduction to the Platypus. The name of your course and the description in the course catalog are misleading, even if on the first day of class you say “In this course we will be specifically learning about the platypus.”

    In the case of Introduction of Platypus, it may be unintentionally misleading. It is possible that the professor did not write the course description or name the class, for example. But that is not the case here. Shuster knew exactly what he was doing when he made a website called “Study Christianity,” decorated it with a dove and a little Christian fish, and then has a bunch of text about “the study, teaching, and practice of Christianity in a way that inspires all people, regardless of theological differences, to come together in support of essential Christian values and compassionate service to God’s children across the globe.” And certainly Shuster wants people to read his website and be persuaded by the teachings of the LDS Church. In other words, the misleading information is designed to make a presentation of Mormonism, with the ultimate aim of conversion to Mormonism, appear to be a discussion of general ecumenical Christian principles.

    That’s not accidentaly misleading. That’s intentionally misleading. And moreover, it is intentionally misleading with the intent of enticing people to rely on the misleading presentation.

    When someone misleads intentionally, particularly in trying to get people to rely in the misleading information in some way, the word for that is “fraud.”

  33. . . . and when it’s so obviously misleading it actually detracts from the message. He undermines his own mission (and I’m glad for it).

    It’s as effective at teaching Mormonism as “The Godmakers”. It really only plays to those who already agree with it’s underlying message.

  34. OK, I’ve been a pain in the butt here. My excuses are pretty lame, but nonetheless I will give it a try: I am in hyper scan mode right now as we transition our family to having new twins in our home (4 weeks old). I only use to think I had little time and little sleep. Unfortunately given this recent habit of scanning and not reading, mingled with hundreds of past individuals much less thoughtful than you who simply send us “we hate your guts” mail, I jumped to conclusions and I apologize. Please forgive me. I will try to address your concerns:

    Intention: the intention of the website at the highest level is to provide an alternative view of Mormonism as Christianity as compared to the hundreds of websites that do exactly the opposite. We knew we needed to be aggressive in doing so, yet not take aim at any denomination in doing so. We wanted to keep the content positive, educational, and as Biblically-based as possible in order to relate to the vast majority of visitors.

    Logo: when you design a logo it needs to be something that is immediately recognizable. As you know, the Mormon faith does not use the cross as a symbol as we focus on the living Christ and his atonement and resurrection. Therefore the cross was not a consideration. The Mormon faith focuses heavily on the Holy Ghost, therefore the universal symbol of the Holy Ghost is the dove – that is immediately recognizable. The use of the fish is to symbolize the miracles of Jesus Christ – the fact that forgiveness through grace is available to all through faith in the Savior. One of the most well known miracles is that of the loaves and fishes. Using the fish was another easy choice. Outside of the temple Mormonism does not use symbols in general; however, in order to find common ground with other Christians the use of such symbols allows one to immediately know they are on Christian ground.

    A place for all Christians or all faiths: the idea here was to not put ourselves up as the only form of Christianity, but rather to teach Christianity from our point of view (as Mormons – which we clearly acknowledge) and invite everyone to share their thoughts. When someone asks you to share your faith you do so without caveats. We did so here without caveats.

    Mormon authorities only: we did this to help teach people that there are Apostles and Prophets on the earth today. Notice that is how we bill the videos. Why do we do this? Because people are generally unaware that Apostles and prophets are on the earth today and this give them an opportunity to listen to them and see for themselves. Generally we find that this is very unique to the LDS faith and something that generates a great deal of discussion. We never say they are the only authorities, but they certainly are unique in that they are Apostles and prophets.

    Cloaking Mormonism as General Christianity: We have tried to state clearly in multiple places that we are providing Christian content that is aligned with that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am not sure we can say it any louder than we already are. It is on the home page and several other pages. Perhaps you might have some suggestions for us on how we can do this even more clearly without being verbose.

    Creative content: Although some of the explanations are tried and true, you may want to look a bit deeper. The website draws heavily from my book “The Biblical Roots of Mormonism” in which I crawl through the Old and New Testament offering solid biblical references to support Mormon doctrine. It is not the same old stuff, but a fresh look from a Biblical perspective.
    Did I miss something?

    Again, I do apologize that I flew through this and did not take the time to carefully read your comments. Although I am certain I did not change the minds of those who think we are being deceptive, perhaps you know now a bit more behind the efforts of the website.

    From here on out I invite you to email me so I don’t have to come back to the blog to read posts. My issue with time still remains and it is pretty tough to carve out much time these days. I do appreciate your listening and pray you will find joy in your journey in Christ.

    Eric Shuster

  35. From here on out I invite you to email me so I don’t have to come back to the blog to read posts. My issue with time still remains and it is pretty tough to carve out much time these days.

    Please. I’m a lawyer in a soul-crushing big-city megafirm. Don’t talk to me about no time.

  36. in order to find common ground with other Christians the use of such symbols allows one to immediately know they are on Christian ground.

    So you thought it was important to use universal Christian symbols but not actually discuss universal Christian theology? If Mormonism is indeed Christian, than there would be no issue in using Mormon temple iconography. It should be as easily recognized as Christian as the theology within the site. Right?

  37. Some sure seem jelous and hatemongers believing what they want to …MY QUESTION IS: cannot we share Christianity like it should be we are ALL GOd;s Children and JESUS is the way… I am a mormon all my life. I never put down other Christians because that is not what Jesus taught.
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints centers in the Relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and I know some will never believe this statement but its True.
    PRAISE THE LORD
    I believe that we will all come to the UNITY OF CHRIST when he returns gradually and his GREAT WONDERFUL PLAN included everyone … at least that is what my church has taught me.

  38. for Eric S:

    I wonder how you would feel if you were asked to come pick up your twin grandsons, but when you arrived in Texas someone said, actually there are 5 of them. You might protest, “ I thought there were twins” and the response was “There are twins, it’s true, the twins are right here. . but there’s also 3 others and ever since you arrived I’ve consistently told you there were 5 total.” Would you not feel mislead?

  39. Julie,

    …MY QUESTION IS: cannot we share Christianity like it should be we are ALL GOd;s Children and JESUS is the way

    Maybe, but that’s just, not what we’re talking about here.

  40. I think the upright pentagram would make a cool Mormon symbol.

    Much better than that weird Moroni-with-a-trumpet-emerging-from-a-circle thing they’ve got going on right now.

  41. Misleading site is misleading.

    Mormons are Christians. But Mormons are a particular type of Christians, and are an outlier from the main body of Christianity.

    This would not be a big deal if the site focused primarily on common ground. But it doesn’t! Instead, it focuses almost entirely on areas which *aren’t* common ground.

    So it’s not just Kullervo’s platypus class. It’s a class that says, “let’s talk about mammals. Mammals are animals that lay eggs. [FN: See “The Platypus — A Natural History.”]”

    And that’s misleading. It’s not outright false (platypus is a mammal, platypus lays eggs) but it is absolutely misleading in context.

  42. I teach my students in securities law class, a statement can be misleading even if it’s not false. For instance, your CEO cannot announce that “we have the leading product in the Paris market” if those results are from Paris, Idaho. The 34 Act is clear that you can’t make statements which are either false or misleading.

    If you connect enough dots, it’s not outright false to say that “some Christians don’t believe in drinking coffee.” After all, Mormons are a branch of Christians, and Mormons don’t drink coffee. But it’s quite misleading to say that — akin to saying that mammals are group of animals that lays eggs.

  43. Shuster,

    You seem genuinely oblivious about your foundation’s deception. So, my advice to you is to take the mission of your site into account when reading the comments on this thread – many people here are non-Mormon Christians and they find your site misleading.

    If your goal truly is to bridge the divide with other Christians, I suggest you actually listen to them when they express an opinion about how that bridge is holding up (not so good as of now).

  44. Please. I’m a lawyer in a soul-crushing big-city megafirm. Don’t talk to me about no time.

    LOL!

    Man-Up Shuster! Only 10 hours a day on blogging? You are dust against the wrath of my MEGAFIRM!!

  45. For instance, your CEO cannot announce that “we have the leading product in the Paris market” if those results are from Paris, Idaho.

    Which, incidentally, has got nothing at all on Paris, Virginia, home of the lovely Ashby inn and location where several companies of Mosby’s Raiders were raised.

    It has its ups and downs, but it definitely beats working for a soul-crushing big-city megafirm.

    Without a doubt.

  46. CJD said to Eric S.:

    You seem genuinely oblivious about your foundation’s deception.

    That very well could be. Although I do believe the site is deceptive/misleading, I’m not in a position to judge whether that was intentionally so.

    It’s possible that there’s a good idea there, but one poorly executed. I’m not sure about that, though, because I’m having a hard time figuring out what the site’s mission is, and that’s because what the mission appears to be doesn’t line up very well with the stated mission.

  47. I can’t take any of this seriously.

    Here’s why:

    Every time I read Shuster’s name… I hear Jane Lynch yelling about Schuster. That might not be how this Eric pronounces it… but it’s close enough that all I can possibly assume is that this guy uses too much hair gel and puts up with shenanigans from Sue.

  48. Hahahaha I have been meaning to comment that since Shuster claims to be a recording artist on his website, I wish he would move to Lima, Ohio and coach show choir.

  49. I asked EricS what the purpose of his site is (per Eric’s comment). He sent me this response:

    The website has multiple purposes, including the opportunity for people to give to excellent charities. If I were to try to encapsulate one ultimate intention it would be to act as a counter-balance to the overwhelming number of websites that attempt to falsify Mormon doctrine and often cut down, even attack, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They often do so with cleverly worded interpretations and one-sided arguments that misrepresent the doctrines in an attempt to draw people away from the Church. Seth made the comment yesterday: ” I think the upright pentagram would make a cool Mormon symbol.” It is callous childish remarks like that that litter cyberspace about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I have made it one of my goals to counteract such ignorance and recklessness. This kind of dynamic often travels in packs – they band together – faithful Mormons and otherwise, and it is a motivator for me to go elsewhere to teach truth-seeking individuals. Christ himself urged us to move on if people don’t want to hear. The prophet Joseph Smith put it even clearer when he said: “Avoid contentions and vain disputes with men of corrupt minds, who do not desire to know the truth. Remember that ‘it is a day of warning, and not a day of many words.’ If they receive not your testimony in one place, flee to another, remembering to cast no reflections, nor throw out any bitter sayings. If you do your duty, it will be just as well with you, as though all men embraced the Gospel.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976], 43.). I’ve used too many words already.

    Notice Tim nowhere on the website do we advertise for the Church, tell people to call the missionaries, or direct them to join the Mormon faith. We have effectively used search engine technology to drive people to our site; not into coming to a mammal class and teaching about platypuses, but into coming to a class on Christianity and teaching them the form of Christianity that I know to be true. The study forum, which use to be an active forum that I took down due to the Seths of this world, is now a set of links to many different forums that discuss multiple religions – LDS included. If someone wants to compare religions they can go to Religion Facts (http://www.religionfacts.com/big_religion_chart.htm) – they are the best at doing this. We found no value in reinventing that wheel.

    Among Tim’s group of bloggers the FCS has been weighed, measured, and found guilty of deceptiveness. That is the opinion of the group and It is time for me to move on. And contrary to Kullervo’s admonishment of me complaining about time, I will put my schedule as a father of six (three one-year old and under), CEO of a successful market research firm, a published author, director of a non-profit, and Church teacher up against anyone – I have a few minutes each day to spend on this kind of thing and therefore I must be choosy in how I do it. Rarely do I keep up a conversation as I am with you. I admire what you do and am willing to do it, but I feel we are at an end.

    In the court of public opinion we get thousands of visitors each year. Most I do not hear from. From those I hear from you can put them into three categories: 1) those who protest that we are positioning Mormon doctrine as Christian. They are a bit like Seth, making comments that show ignorance and recklessness with no desire to seek truth in the gospel. 2) those who read one or more anti-Mormon websites and were interested to find a different view point, one that is comprehensive across 60 different topics using the Bible as a primary scriptural reference – a fair number of these people get baptized and I hear from them long afterwards. And 3) Mormons who have been barraged by individuals or websites telling them their religion is false and happy to find a source that helps them know they are on the right track.

    Feel free to post this if you’d like, as I said I will not be returning to your blog so as to avoid having to deal with the Seths of your group.

    God bless you Tim, you are a good-hearted and passionate disciple of Christ.

  50. Just in case anyone reading this is new here . . .

    Seth is a lifetime member of the LDS church. Graduate of BYU, married in the temple, father of three, has a calling as a finance clerk for his ward.

    And his opinion on the Pentagram is neither callous nor childish; he has blogged elsewhere on it, with quite a bit more thoughtfulness and research than anything I’ve seen on the FCS Web site.

    Seth was even relatively tame in his criticism of FCS here, calling it “misleading” rather than the harsher “deceptive” that most of us are favoring.

    So that Eric Shuster singles Seth out as his archnemesis on this speaks volumes for his paranoia and inability to engage thoughtful and respectful critiques of his projects.

    And since I think you are still reading this, Mr. Shuster, please know that I personally have little problem with your new vow to not respond to us further. Having a forum to expose the deceptions you’re parading on your site without being challenged by you is just fine with me.

  51. a) I wonder why one would attempt to run any kind of ministry-ish organization if one has virtually no time to understand outside concerns and communicate about it effectively…

    and b) I very much appreciate a good Paris, Idaho reference.

  52. “… avoid having to deal with the Seths of your group.”

    Because you know, always two Seths there are. No more, no less.

  53. Because you know, always two Seths there are. No more, no less.

    A Seth, a Seth! We have got a Seth, and we need no more Seth!

  54. Here was my wife’s reaction to the site. I’m citing the email in its entirety:

    “I think the name is misleading. With a name like that, you would think it would include lots of different types of Christianity. However, if you read a little bit, it’s clear they’re Mormon. So, not really deceptive.”

    Just to be clear EricS, my wife is a faithful Mormon.

  55. Wow….

    This was totally worth me coming out of hiding to comment on this blog.

    Thanks Tim.

    Eric S., Jack linked you to my article where I discuss the deep symbolic meaning behind Mormon use of the pentagram on their religious buildings. But you seem to have a bit of difficulty with reading comprehension (or you aren’t even bothering to read the comments here carefully), so I’ll summarize the article for you.

    Mormons get criticized for the use of the pentagram on buildings like the Nauvoo and Salt Lake temples by the ignorant. However the pentagram is an ancient Christian symbol. It symbolizes, among other things:

    – The five wounds of Jesus Christ
    – The three members of the Christian godhead – along with the mortal and immortal natures of Jesus Christ
    – The human form itself – pointing back to the ultimate man of Christ (the “Son of Man”)
    – The five knightly virtues in some of the Aurthurian legends
    – The five trials of the Virgin Mary

    And it goes on.

    And by the way Eric, I’ve been a defender of the LDS Church online for more than half a decade now. I’ve served in many active callings in the LDS Church and have been an active member my entire life.

    But thanks for providing me with my own “what the heck?” moment for the week.

  56. I was so pleased that he said I could post his message to the blog just so Seth would say “what the heck?”.

  57. I will put my schedule as a father of six (three one-year old and under),

    Okay, that’s legitimate. He has like two new twins, I think. I would be frazzled and incoherent, too.

    CEO of a successful market research firm,

    Please. That’s pretend work.

    a published author,

    Unless you’re busy writing a book right now or going on a signing tour right now or something, the fact that you have had some books published in the past does not make you busy right now. I know too many writers for this one to make me think you’re any busier than anyone else.

    director of a non-profit,

    You mean “director” of your website? Is your nonprofit actually an operating concern, because it sure doesn;t look like one? You can’t just have a website and call it a “nonprofit.” That’s a blog, Shuster.

    and Church teacher

    You mean, you have a calling in your ward, like every other Mormon. Unless you’re something like the Bishop or the Ward Clerk, I am unimpressed. You teach a 45-minute lesson once a week. That’s not an unreasonable demand on your time. I go to one guitar lesson a week. That’s the same amount of demanding.

  58. Kullervo, I rate the demands of Cub Scout Leader as being heavier than the demands of Ward Financial Clerk. I did the former before being called as clerk, and I can say that Financial Clerk was a welcome break after Cub Scouts.

  59. Kullervo, I rate the demands of Cub Scout Leader as being heavier than the demands of Ward Financial Clerk. I did the former before being called as clerk, and I can say that Financial Clerk was a welcome break after Cub Scouts.

    Whatever, my point is that not all church callings are equally demanding.

    I taught Gospel Essentials for years. It just, never was a big time sink.

  60. Excellent comment by Revenge of the Seth. However, he inexplicably failed to mention that in addition to all that history stuff, pentagrams also look like ninja stars. That is easily the most important reason to employ them in religious ceremonies. (This same goes for triquetras.)

  61. Personally Kaimi, I want my religious icons to do something awesome.

    Like this:

  62. Bait: Welcome to the Foundation for Christian Studies.
    Switch: Please enjoy perusing our all-Mormon content!

    Ughh.

    And please don’t mind my gratuitous linkage (I’ve got kids to feed, so please ignore what otherwise might look like obvious shenanigans on my part). This is really just a quick (but utterly earnest) note thanking the commenters here for the fascinating reading.

    By the way, it’s so cool that FCS have got an advisory board member based out of Manassa, Colorado. My favorite polygamous Mormon forebear (Samuel Echols) put down roots there for a spell before uprooting to Mexico. Small world. And thanks to the Internet that FCS is now trying to exploit, it’s getting smaller by the day. Apparently already small enough now that even the silliest examples of the Dunning–Kruger effect somehow show up on the radar.

    In other words, did y’all over at FCS really think folks were gonna fall for it?

    Wow.

    Parting question: Is it really still the case that the Mormon faith does not use the cross as a symbol? I was under the impression that that had recently undergone a rethink.

  63. As far as I know Chino, we still don’t use it.

    The only thing that’s being re-thunk is how nice or tactless we are in saying so.

    Nice Gordon B. Hinckley style remarks are in fashion these days. Aggressive “Jesus torture device” remarks are not.

  64. The exception to the nonuse of the cross is that LDS chaplains in the military wear crosses so they will be identified as Christians.

  65. “The exception to the nonuse of the cross is that LDS chaplains in the military wear crosses so they will be identified as Christians.”

    But, of course, whenever they counsel or administer to a soldier they use only Mormon theology and scripture, all the while pretending to be a “broad-based” Christian chaplain. Bwahahaha!

  66. Chino’s March 3 comment had gone to spam, and I just cleaned out our spam filter today and rescued it. Sorry about the delay.

    Chino said:

    Is it really still the case that the Mormon faith does not use the cross as a symbol? I was under the impression that that had recently undergone a rethink.

    Mike Reed has an upcoming book on the historic Mormon use of the cross. One need only glance at B. H. Roberts’ tombstone to see that Mormons were not always as adverse to the cross as they are today.

    My experience has been that Mormons are getting less likely to use the callous “cruel torture device” argument (as seen on the FCS site). However, I haven’t known many Mormons who felt much like wearing one for themselves.

    The ones who did as much usually did so because the necklace was a family heirloom or whatever, not out of a conscious decision to embrace cross symbolism for religious reasons.

  67. “…conscious decision to embrace cross symbolism for religious reasons.”

    I personally can’t see myself wearing a cross for the same reason I wouldn’t enter a room announcing myself as Christian or Mormon; I don’t like feeling that I’m “wearing my religion on my sleeve.” I make no attempt to hide my faith, I just don’t announce it.

    I stress that this is my personal feeling about it, and I recognize that wearing a religious symbol could mean something else to someone else (so no judgment of others here!).

    The obvious exception was my name tag as a missionary, but that is clearly a different scenario.

    All that said, I wouldn’t resist placing crosses on LDS buildings. I might even promote it, if only to get away from the questions that come from not displaying the cross—questions which, I think, are a distraction.

  68. soi de huanuco pero quiro vivir aqui en lima no tengo caac ni en huanuco perngo una ija de dos años de edar y quiro un travago una casa i estudiar para sai dar lo megor ami ija poues en huanuco no tengo nda por favor nesesito tu ayuda ya no se qa ser pues apoyame si selos pido a mi ami mama a mis hermanitasa q estan en pucalpa i esta mal estan fraca y ami ija para q sea una bueno persona nesesitamos mucho tu ayuda aora estoi en panprona por el paraiso ern la casa de la señora monica por favor es q ya no se q aser pues

  69. Oh, me first! Go Spanish minor, go!

    “I am from Huanuco but I want to live in Lima I don’t have [caac] in Huanuco but I do have a two-year-old daughter and want a [travago], a house, and studying I give the most love to my daughter but in Huanuco I don’t have anything please I need your help nobody will help me if I ask my mom and my little sisters that are in Pucalpa and it’s bad and they are [fraca] and I love my daughter in order for her to be a good person we need a lot of help from you now I am [panprona] for paradise in the home of Senora Monica please it’s that I don’t know what to do.”

    So….

  70. It’s tough with the misspellings, and there are so many of them …

    Travago is supposed to be trabajo = job. And that’s the only one I’m sure I can figure out.

    It’s possible that panprona is supposed to be Pamplona, a place name in Peru.

    It’s possible that caac = casa = house, which would fit the context but doesn’t make much sense for a misspelling.

    It’s possible that fraca is related to fracasar, the verb for “to fail,” but that doesn’t make a lot of sense here.

    It’s possible there are some regional words being used here, but it’s hard to tell. This is a challenge.

  71. Okay, so basically…She wants a better job and better home so that she can give her daughter a better life in a different town, and her family can’t help her.

    And the web link is bonus.

    But I’m always glad for the opportunity to practice my Spanish. Thanks, Tim’s blog!

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