Is this an acceptable Evangelical church policy towards Mormons? 

I saw this excerpt from a Southern Baptist Convention policy on the internet the other day and modified it to fit Mormonism:

“In light of the fact that many tenets and teachings of Mormonism are not compatible with Christianity and church doctrine, while others are compatible with Christianity and church doctrine, we therefore recommend that consistent with our denomination’s deep convictions regarding the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church, membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints be a matter of personal conscience. Therefore, we exhort Christians to prayerfully and carefully evaluate Mormonism in the light of the Lordship of Christ, and the teachings of the Scripture as led by the Holy Spirit of God.”

Would this be an acceptable policy for low-church Evangelicals?

 

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63 thoughts on “Is this an acceptable Evangelical church policy towards Mormons? 

  1. The statement was made regarding Freemasonry after the SBC filed a report about Freemasonry. Essentially it was to correct the misunderstanding that the SBC forbid Freemasonry within its ranks.

  2. So you’re saying the SBC should correct the misunderstanding that membership in the LDS Church and membership in the SBC are incongruent?

  3. No, I am not saying that. I don’t care what the SBC does. Intellectually, I am trying to wrap my head around an approach to Mormonism that differs from an approach to Freemasonry within traditional Christianity. The SBC just provided a well-worded expression that summarized their position to serve as an example.

  4. We’d never say anything to our congregation about the possibility or validity of them joining any group…or another church.

    Our folks are absolutely free to come…or go…as they please.

  5. I don’t think it would acceptable because a denomination would not think that fundamental heresies would be something a Christian can hold in tension with the Gospel. They might say something like that in regards to reading or studying Mormon literature, but not membership in the institutional church.

  6. At least one very significant point of difference here is that Freemasonry is not being conceived of as an alternate religious body, the duties of membership in which would routinely conflict with the duties of membership in a local Southern Baptist congregation. Whereas, membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would consist at least partly of membership in a local LDS ward or branch, the duties of which would indeed routinely conflict with the duties of membership in a local Southern Baptist congregation – and vice versa.

    That is not a specifically LDS-related issue: generally speaking, it is not deemed appropriate (or feasible) to hold active membership in multiple worshiping congregations, even when there is no theological disparity between them that would additionally problematize such dual belonging. Thus, for instance, it would not be customarily acceptable for me to hold membership in both a Southern Baptist congregation and in the United Methodist congregation in the next town over.

    It is for this very reason, I would presume, that membership records are transferred from ward to ward when an LDS person or family moves: being a member of record in both wards would be undesirable for a variety of reasons (including, but not limited to, the headaches it might cause for those trying to keep track of statistics, plus the value of investing one’s commitment in the ward of one’s membership – say, through regular attendance and fulfilling callings).

    Matters become even more greatly problematized when the issue of theological incompatibility, which in this case looms large as heresy, is at issue. Hence, from the official LDS perspective, seeking membership in another local worshiping body from a non-LDS tradition is perceived – for all the LDS Church’s trends toward the use of inclusive rhetoric – as constituting “apostasy”. The LDS Church itself does not allow for dual membership in an LDS ward (and therefore the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and also in a Southern Baptist congregation – although the LDS Church does allow for dual membership in an LDS ward and a local Masonic lodge. However precisely we understand the practical and theological reasons for the difference between those two situations from the LDS Church’s own perspective, a great deal will likely apply (mutatis mutandis) to the analogous fact that the Southern Baptist Convention does not allow for dual membership in a Southern Baptist congregation and also in an LDS ward, but does allow for dual membership in a Southern Baptist congregation and a local Masonic lodge. Although other ‘low-church’ Evangelical bodies may, due to differing conclusions drawn in their theological reflections, vary in their estimation of Freemasonry and the prudence or acceptability of dual membership in it, at most we might see the case of dual membership in a Masonic lodge assimilated to the scenario of dual membership in an LDS ward – but not the other way around.

  7. Thanks for the response JB, I think you make good points. Practically it is much easier to be a freemasonry and a Baptist than a Mormon and a Baptism but conceptually there is not much difference. Freemasonry teaches what most Evangelicals would call patent heresy and contains many of the elements complained about in Mormonism. So I was struck how well the SBC’s capsule statement about Freemasonry fit Mormonism.

  8. Evangelicals would reject both Mormons and Freemasonry as Christian for similar reasons. Both Mormonism and Freemasonry describe God and the purpose of life differently than traditional Christianity.

  9. Fair enough, but it seems that most Evangelicals would say that believing in a God other than the Trinity is de-facto following another religion.

  10. Jared,
    So, by your own testimony, most Evangelicals (as so diversely Christian as they are) would claim the rest of their evangelical brothers and sister embrace another religion.

  11. Any Christian who rejects the LDS as non-Christian exclusively because we believe in a corporal Trinity is overreacting and living more and more alone in a very large tolerant Christian world.

  12. So, by your own testimony, most Evangelicals (as so diversely Christian as they are) would claim the rest of their evangelical brothers and sister embrace another religion.

    What? How?

    Any Christian who rejects the LDS as non-Christian exclusively because we believe in a corporal Trinity is overreacting and living more and more alone in a very large tolerant Christian world.

    Says the guy who just yesterday was waxing poetic about the absolute necessity of honoring and deferring to doctrine.

  13. Mormons “describe…the purpose of life differently than traditional Christianity.”
    Tell us, if you would, what a traditional Christian is if not what I identify below with Bebbington? Some other tradition? Are you referring perhaps to the ecumenical councils of the Middle ages or all the way back to the Dark Ages?

    This is quite relative. The Bebbington quadrilateral is widely known for the definition of evangelicalism, written 25 years ago. Your man Bebbington identifies four main qualities which are to be used in defining evangelical convictions and attitudes. All are SHARED BY MORMONS:

    BIBLICISM, a particular regard for the Bible (e.g. all essential spiritual truth is to be found in its pages)
    CRUCICENTRISM, a focus on the atoning work of Christ on the cross
    CONVERSIONISM , the belief that human beings need to be converted
    ACTIVISM, the belief that the gospel needs to be expressed in effort

  14. “Hence, from the official LDS perspective, seeking membership in another local worshiping body from a non-LDS tradition is perceived – for all the LDS Church’s trends toward the use of inclusive rhetoric – as constituting “apostasy”.

    The state of apostasy is relative to the LDS and does not officially push any buttons. After all, if a member of any other church wanted to worship with us, they might even be asked if they would desire a “calling”. I’ve seen it and the man in question converted.

    On the other hand, should a Mormon affiliate with any group antagonistic to the LDS they would not be seen as a “member in good standing” even though they did attend regularly and fulfilled all other expectations….unless he/she lied during Temple recommend interviews.

  15. robinobishop, you’ve got a classic necessary-but-not-sufficient logical bungle on your hands. “Cats can swim. Fish can swim. Therefore, cats are fish.” Your problem is that Bebbington takes for granted that he’s attempting to define a movement within Christianity (and mostly within Protestant Christianity at that), not trying to define an entire religion from the ground up.

    And yeah, most definitely, the ecumenical councils are the starting point.

  16. Kull: It is a mark of bigotry for me to reject you as Christian when you accept Jesus Christ as the resurrected Lord and Savior, as I a Mormon do.

  17. No, not acceptable for starters. You can’t have it both ways. Traditional Protestants shattered the integrity of those councils. Protestants and Evangelicals with them choose to cherry pick the edicts from those councils starting there own roots hanging in the air. Protestantism rejected the ecumenical traditions by becoming heretic to the Catholic Church.
    As you say, “Bebbington takes for granted that he’s attempting to define a movement within Christianity”….that isn’t Bebbington at all. Bebbington Identifies Evangelicalism as not a set of doctrines or religious positions (as would be associated with the Council); rather, being evangelical is a style, a collection of behaviors and impulses, a way of being religious. the LDS restoration exists within Christianity and it is evangelical in nature because much of our style has been identified by your man Bebbington as evangelical.

    What you have missed is the simple notion that your man Bebbington in his quad refuses to dictate doctrinal boundaries in order to be inclusive of so many sects known to him. As a matter of fact, it is my opinion that the style of evangelicalism that Bebbington extols best describes the actual behavior and style of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Nobody does of the quad (conversionism and activism) in the Christian sense like the Mormons.
    I assert that most Evangelicals would have quite a difficult time demonstrating how, from a point of activism or conversionism can be differentiated from their agnostic neighbors.

  18. How did Protestants shatter the integrity of the councils? I mean show me a Church that doesn’t exclude points from the council canons. Protestants may be schismatics but not heretics.

  19. Tell us, if you would, what a traditional Christian is if not what I identify below with Bebbington?”

    By “traditional Christian” I mean those that follow and revere the traditions of the ecumenical counsels and the patristic fathers.

    FWIW: I think Mormons are certainly Christians, but certainly not traditional Christians.

  20. Robino: “BIBLICISM, a particular regard for the Bible (e.g. all essential spiritual truth is to be found in its pages)”

    Mormons don’t believe that. They do not believe that ALL ESSENTIAL spiritual truth is to be found in the Bible’s pages… they are to be found in the pages of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the D&C, the Pearl of Great Price, and any latter day revelation that doesn’t appear silly nowadays.

    “CRUCICENTRISM, a focus on the atoning work of Christ on the cross”
    I think Mormons would really like to believe that that is their focus. If it is, they do an unfortunately lackluster job of showing it. On any given Sunday, the focus of the talks is rarely about Jesus. Many of the talks don’t even mention Him.

    Don’t get me wrong–I love Mormons. Mormons are some of my very favorite people in the world, and some of the very best people I have ever met. I get incredibly excited when I find out that one of my friends is LDS and I didn’t know it.

    I don’t know why Mormons care so much about being labeled as “Christians” and accepted as “Christians”. I’m a Christian. I have faith in Jesus Christ. He has saved me. He has changed my life, my way of thinking, the kind of person I want to be. He is God, and God is so big and so incomprehensible that when I sometimes get a glimpse into all that I do not understand, I am awed and overwhelmed and crave more. What does the LDS church offer me that I do not already have? Why should I join your Christian church?

  21. “Mormons don’t believe that.”
    Wish I had a quarter for every time somebody said that to me. If there is an Essential spiritual truth that we hold that is not found in the Bible please let me know and I’ll direct you to it.

    “On any given Sunday, the focus of the talks is rarely about Jesus. Many of the talks don’t even mention Him.”
    Every talk mentions the Savior. Guaranteed. We at least end every talk in the name of Jesus Christ. Mormons believe the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was the singular most important event in the history of history.

    “I don’t know why Mormons care so much about being labeled as “Christians” and accepted as “Christians”. I’m a Christian. ”
    Nobody likes to be insulted.

    What does the LDS church offer me that I do not already have? Why should I join your Christian church?
    That’s not for me to say.

  22. really? Robinobishop, if I was a Mormon who cared about how people saw Mormons, I would tell you that you are making a pretty bad showing for the Church in this discussion.

    You are defending the Church, when, if the Church is true, it needs no defense or apology, especially the one you have mounted. You are coming off like a person insecure in your beliefs. Not the voice informed by an endowment from God. I don’t quite understand LDS who cannot at least see Evangelicals for what they are from the LDS point of view, i.e. those poor souls who are in theological chains because of the foolish traditions of their fathers. These are not seekers of your truth, mainly because they are blinded by a truth of their own. Many are literally scared of your truth. Given how sad that picture is, is there any reason you can’t give them a massive break for getting things so mixed up by following thousands of years of Christian tradition?

  23. And it you wanted to break it down to LDS terms, it doesn’t matter AT ALL who calls you Christian, in the end it only matters if you can call yourself a Christian standing in front of Christ. Why are you insulted by what God told you would happen? Didn’t you get the part about the great and spacious building?

  24. In Germany where I served my mission there was a lot of hostility towards “sects,” which has a connotation pretty much identical to “cults” in English, and Germans are pretty consistent in labeling Mormonsm a sect. This really, really bothered me until I realized that it doesn’t matter if Mormonsm is a “sect” by someone’s definition; if its a sect then it’s the only true ad living sect on the face of th earth.

  25. Jared, I do not share in your characterization against the Evangelicals. I only have an opinion. take it or leave it. Don’t get so exorcized.

    “Given how sad that picture is, is there any reason you can’t give them a massive break for getting things so mixed up by following thousands of years of Christian tradition?”

    Which Christian tradition (in particular) is that?

  26. “Mormons don’t believe that.”
    Wish I had a quarter for every time somebody said that to me. If there is an Essential spiritual truth that we hold that is not found in the Bible please let me know and I’ll direct you to it.

    Right? Telling someone what they do or do not believe is a super obnoxious thing to say. Totally. I get that. I really, really do. Then again, that brings us to the never-ending problem of hammering down Mormon doctrine. Because it is very common to bring up a Mormon doctrine and have a Mormon say, “Well, I don’t believe that.”

    Tell me where the Word of Wisdom is in the Bible? A rule against drinking alcohol? A rule against hot drinks, defined specifically as tea and coffee. I can find plenty of references in the New Testament about how there is no food or drink forbidden (see Romans). The Word of Wisdom is a temple recommend question, and thus I think one could reasonably consider it an “essential spiritual truth”.

    “On any given Sunday, the focus of the talks is rarely about Jesus. Many of the talks don’t even mention Him.”
    Every talk mentions the Savior. Guaranteed. We at least end every talk in the name of Jesus Christ. Mormons believe the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was the singular most important event in the history of history.

    So, your defense of the prevalence of Jesus in Mormon lessons is the fact that they end their talks with ‘in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen’? That’s more like a post-script. Next Sunday, aside from that, count up the number of talks that focus on Jesus. Like, actually on Jesus Christ. You can actually get through an entire Sunday and not hear much about Jesus besides His name being used to bless the sacrament and talks being given in his name, amen.

    Nobody likes to be insulted.
    Why would you say that someone saying you are not a Christian is insulting? I am personally torn on whether or not I think Mormons are Christians or not (mostly I don’t think about it because it’s irrelevant and a parsing of words and definitions). Nobody is saying you don’t believe in Jesus, or that Jesus isn’t something you believe in (even if He isn’t the focus of the talks at church). So why do you find that insulting?

    me:What does the LDS church offer me that I do not already have? Why should I join your Christian church?
    Robino: That’s not for me to say.

    If you are LDS, you are called to missionary service. I am actually asking you–if you are a Christian just like I am a Christian, if you believe Jesus saves those who call on His name… why should I join your church? At the very least, if it matters that one become LDS for salvation, and not just be a Christian, shouldn’t you characterize yourself as a Christian+? Like, we have all the Jesus that you already believe in, plus all this other stuff!

    My experience with Protestants has been that the denominations are more divided based on nuance–some of which may or may not be important, and which often guide the tone that is taken when preaching and worshiping on Sunday, but I think most Protestants would consider that people from other Protestant denominations can be saved even if they have some of the nuance incorrect. (Correct me if I’m wrong, More Experienced Protestants) LDS do not believe that–they believe that one needs to be LDS for the most awesome salvation.

    So, how do you, an LDS, explain to me why I should leave my Christian church and join your Christian church, when we both have Jesus, and Jesus is the answer that we both already have?

    The silly question was asked. I provided a suitable answer for any lurker who has a silly interest.
    Oh, and I hope that I’m the silly lurker you mention with all of my silly interests. What was the silly question, though? That comment seemed to be referring back to nothing…

  27. Oh my goodness! You are really talkative. On the big points, selecting the word of wisdom as any Essentially spiritual truth for the Mormon church is baloney. That’s because people can opt out the word of wisdom and still enter the Temple. Besides, the Judeo-Christian ethic of abstaining from certain kinds of food and drink have been around for tens of thousands years.

    LDS.org has our complete Sunday school curriculum; read about Jesus there. During sacrament meeting (it’s called sacrament meeting for a reason) the sacrament is taken in similitude of the Last Supper Every Sunday. The charge that we fail to give proper respect and instruction of Christ does not seem to hold water.

    “So, your defense of the prevalence of Jesus in Mormon lessons is the fact that they end their talks with ‘in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen’? ”
    I generally act silly when I hear silly questions. My apologies.Let’s see if I can hammer this point down: our church is called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Note: Jesus Christ. (Please notice I’m being silly again).

    Once again you repeat the same question about why you should join the LDS church. After reading your bio for this blog, I can’t think of a legitimate reason why or how you would enjoy the disciplines found with the LDS at this time in your life. However, when things get nasty serious in your life and family, legitimate reasons may surface.

  28. Robino–why the hostility? Your “silly” comes across as nasty, and I don’t know what I’ve done or said that warrants that. So you disagree with me about the amount of Jesus in Mormon services. That’s fine. I would have disagreed with me when I was LDS too. 🙂

    I am a bit shocked that when I ask you, plainly, and simply, what your church has to offer me, you say that it offers me nothing “at this time in my life”. You’re really saying that the good news of Jesus Christ that you believe in wholeheartedly offers nothing for me? If we met in person, and I asked you why I should join the LDS Church, as a Christian already, you’d say I shouldn’t? Really?

    Also, I’m fairly certain that if I went to a temple interview and told the bishop that I drink coffee, he would not grant me a temple recommend. Or did I miss all those years of coffee drinking??!!

  29. After reading your bio for this blog, I can’t think of a legitimate reason why or how you would enjoy the disciplines found with the LDS at this time in your life.

    Katyjane has a bio for this blog? Where?

  30. Tell us, if you would, what a traditional Christian is if not what I identify below with Bebbington?”

    “By “traditional Christian” I mean those that follow and revere the traditions of the ecumenical counsels and the patristic fathers”.

    The councils were Catholic. You must be Catholic. A church does not leave the Catholic church tradition and follow their councils unless, maybe you have your own Pope Jr.? You are heretic to Catholicism by their own mouths.
    Try again.
    So, what other traditional Christianity are you really, really following?

  31. I am catholic.

    “As we believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so we firmly believe that from the beginning there has been, now is, and to the end of the world shall be, a kirk, that is to say, one company and multitude of men chosen by God, who rightly worship and embrace him by true faith in Jesus Christ, who is the only Head of the kirk, even as it is the body and spouse of Christ Jesus. This kirk is catholic, that is, universal, because it contains the elect of all ages, of all realms, nations, and tongues, be they of the Jews or be they of the Gentiles, who have communion and society with God the Father, and with his Son, Christ Jesus, through the sanctification of his Holy Spirit.”

    Scotts confession of 1560

  32. I am not catholic or Catholic, I have never followed traditional Christianity, I was LDS until my late thirties.

  33. Wish I had a quarter for every time somebody said that to me. If there is an Essential spiritual truth that we hold that is not found in the Bible please let me know and I’ll direct you to it.

    Wish I had a quarter for every time someone framed a challenge as a no true Scotsman fallacy.

  34. robinobishop, I am also catholic. Not only do I affirm the statement about the universal kirk from the Scots Confession of 1560 that gundek posted above, but I also unambiguously and without reservation affirm the Nicene Creed, including, but not limited to, “I belive in one catholic and apostolic church.”

    Despite your bare and unsupportable assertion that only Roman Catholics are allowed to profess the ecumenical creeds, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of Christians of every kind and throughout history have professed the creeds and accepted them as normative and binding. Even without your permission.

    Not to mention the fact that your identification of the ecumenical creeds with Roman Catholicism would absolutely flabbergast my Eastern Orthodox friends.

  35. “Not to mention the fact that your identification of the ecumenical creeds with Roman Catholicism would absolutely flabbergast my Eastern Orthodox friends.”

    My apologies, being Mormon I’m just not used all these schisms and heresies flying around between brothers and friends. Yes, I failed to mention that their ecumenical councils And ecumenical creeds among Catholics that are not honored by other Catholics just because of where they live.

    I don’t know how we got so far off-topic but your driving.

  36. If you’re not used to schism you should probably study your history, but I think the difficulty you are having is that the ecumenical creeds are just that, ecumenical.

  37. My apologies, being Mormon I’m just not used all these schisms and heresies flying around between brothers and friends. Yes, I failed to mention that their ecumenical councils And ecumenical creeds among Catholics that are not honored by other Catholics just because of where they live.

    That would come as a really big surprise to the Orthodox who sing the Nicene Creed in Divine Liturgy every Sunday.

  38. I suppose this is the question I should be thoughtful over…..The question has been previously answered, perhaps not to your particular liking but it has nevertheless been answered. I’ll come at it from a different angle. Here is a synopsis: If you suppose me to be clairvoyant enough to tell a perfect stranger why or even if they should want something, then you are mistaken. Given your personal interests, I suggest “you take a little time, take a little time to think things over.”

  39. Here is a synopsis: If you suppose me to be clairvoyant enough to tell a perfect stranger why or even if they should want something, then you are mistaken.

    Oh, so are you denying the power of the Holy Ghost to tell you what you should say, to or are you just saying you’re somehow exempt from the Great Commission, D&C 4, and the four-fold mission of the Church?

  40. In any case, you might think you’re being cute and sarcastic, but you’re really getting in your own way. And you still haven’t answered katyjane.

  41. Robino–you quoted Bebbington (who I have never heard of), and said that those four points were the focus of Evangelical Christianity and also Mormonism. Now, I don’t know that I agree with that, but, for the sake of this conversation, let’s say you’re correct.

    First of all, you claimed that Mormons believe that all essential spiritual truths can be found in the Bible. If so, why the need for latter day revelation, why the need for the Book of Mormon, the D&C, etc? You took issue with me saying that Mormons don’t believe that… but you never responded to the substance of that–which is that there is an overriding assumption in Mormonism that the Bible does NOT hold all of the essential truths. The LDS church claims that precious truths have been lost. And that God keeps talking through latter day prophets, which leads to more scripture. So, already you (you = generalized LDS member) do not agree with that first point that you said you did. Am I wrong there?

    You also claimed that not following the Word of Wisdom would not affect one’s ability to go to the temple. So, are you saying that if I went to a temple recommend interview and said that I drink a couple of cups (pots) of coffee every day, the bishop and stake president would be like, “Totally understand. You have four little ones. You are given a pass on the Word of Wisdom. It isn’t Biblical anyway.”? If the Word of Wisdom is not required for temple worthiness, why is it in the worthiness interview? And how do you square that with the Bible where it clearly says in multiple places that it is not what you eat that defiles you, and that there are no restrictions on diet?

    And if you are saying that your Christian church offers exactly the same stuff as my Christian church, why would I leave mine to join yours? So far, you have only told me, multiple times, that I do not need your church at all. If that is the case, can you please call my in-laws and tell them that too. 😉 Don’t tell my visiting teacher though… she brings me cookies.

  42. robinobishop, your apparent notion that the Restored Gospel is not for everyone is completely unsupportable by Mormon scripture or theology.

  43. Hmm, The Restored Gospel is for everyone eventually, but the LDS Church is for the foreordained elect in this life.

  44. I think that is completely inconsistent with other Mormon doctrines about proclaiming the Gospel and free agency, and I challenge you to find any authority that directly and in so many words says what youve just said (whereas there is a huge volume of scriptural and other authoritative statements about the necessity if preaching the restored gospel to everyone and inviting everyone to “come unto Christ” (I.e., join the Mormon church).

    The Mormon doctrine of foreordination only means God knows ahead of time who will and who won’t accept. Its definitely for everyone who kept their first estate; God just knows ahead of time who will accept it.

    In any case, absolutely nothing about the Mormon understanding of foreordination justifies robinobishop’s unwillingness to tell katyjane why she needs Mormonism.

  45. It does not seem that you are distinguishing membership in the Church from the mortal test. Where is there authority for the position that the Church on earth is for everyone that keeps their first estate? If you can give me a hint I think I can respond better.

    The Church is offered to everyone in principle, but practically it makes no sense to think that God expects everyone to join the Church in this life, or that it is an important part of the mortal test of most of humanity. The form the Church exhibits itself is designed to prosecute a particular mission, ultimately, in principle, it is the culmination of a series of human decisions that will inevitably alienate plenty who do not believe in the mission. So, membership in the Church really can’t be for everyone in the same sense that Christ is for everyone. Why? Because Mormons believe God is just in a human sort of way.

  46. The misunderstanding arises as to what we are actually expected to achieve during mortality. If we are to be “complete, finished, fully developed” (alternative translations from Greek texts) perhaps we need to pursue a path that will give us the resources to get it done.

    I agree, robinobishops unwillingness is psychological. Perhaps it is not unreasonable given the difficultly of the task he has in coming up with something to say to a former convert, and the nature of this forum. I suppose you could judge his behavior not particularly consistent with the cost of his sort of discipleship. But it did not seem like he came here to convert anyone.

  47. I can see that position, but I think there are other acceptable Mormon positions. It doesn’t take much thinking to understand that the truth can’t be as simple as that, and Mormon leaders generally don’t see it that simply (at least not in my limited experience).

    My mission President prided himself in the fact that he got more baptisms than any english-speaking mission in the church, and he absolutely did not see things that simply, nor did he see himself doing anything other than fulfilling his conception of the Great Commission. Mormonism, for most Mormons I know, is about building or re-building saintly community. Of course those Mormons want the saintly community to be as large as possible, but they are not particularly concerned with the lost sheep. Which, as you are probably painfully aware, includes you and katyjane.

    Why? I think the roots of this idea are found in many of Joseph Smith’s ideas about the primacy of individual revelation. For many I have met, Mormonism is about following through with the charge led by Joseph Smith, i.e. establishing stakes of Zion across the world to prepare for the second coming, spreading temples across the world to prepare for the millennium. For many, shirkers and deserters are a distraction and ultimately a waste of time and resources. (Pretty much the same ethic as corporate america.)

    I personally have always thought this sort of belief was a bit un-Christian for a Christian organization. I did not believe in any sort of spiritual profiling as a missionary, but most of the average members of the ward did. Even in my fringe view, I recognized that the Church was not for everyone, it was for those who believed their prayers were answered. I recognized that Einstein probably could not be converted to the LDS church, even if all available intellectual resources were spent in spelling out the Gospel in a way that he could intellectually accept, without a personal answer to his prayer. But that sort of idea is at the heart of the Book of Mormon.

  48. Jared, I appreciate your thoughts. I am a particularly sticky widget for Mormons because I have very clear answer to prayer to join the Mormon church. That was exactly what God wanted for me, and if I tried to deny that now, it would be an utter lie. The events that led to my baptism in 2000 were miraculous and shocking answers to prayers. I also received very clear answer to prayer that I should leave the church.

    My goal, in general, is to go where God calls me to go, to keep listening, and to keep following Christ to the best of my ability. Looking back, I wouldn’t have come to Christ any way but through Mormonism, as far as I can tell. While I can’t imagine a situation where this would happen, but if God called me back to Mormonism, I would go. For that reason–my openness to God’s plan–I find it amusing that robinobishop will hardly even engage with me without Kullervo prodding him so. Then again, being called back to Mormonism would not happen through him, as his general hostility and sarcasm is incredibly off-putting.

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