Living by the Sword

I don’t want to disrespect Slowcowboy or any other Christian that hangs out here with this post, but something is under my skin.

TO EVANGELICALS: If you want to have any influence whatsoever with Mormons you have to adopt the same approach they adopt toward you. i.e. “Bring all the TRUTH you have and let us show you MORE.” Not, “You have it wrong and you are going to hell if you don’t shape up.” This is not about theology, it’s just human relations.  I am not pointining any fingers here, but from what I know of the love of God and the truth in Christ, traditional Christians should not be afraid of Mormons. Yet,  90% of all the inter-faith dialogue I see among Christians is complaining, arguing and fear-mongering.  If Evangelicals spend their efforts resisting the evil of bad theology, they are going to be as effective at winning souls for the TRUE Christ as the Spanish inquisition. Resisting bad theology is not teaching good theology. 

Mormons are not traditional Christians for a reason.  The more Evangelicals try to tear down LDS theology and claim that Mormons are not committed to Christ, the more Mormons feel completely secure that Evangelicals are part of the crowd in the great and spacious building mocking those who seek the love of God in Christ. This approach keeps people in the Church more than it leads them to whatever view of Christ Evangelicals have.  The folks that attack Mormonism come across like self-serving dumb-asses. Resisting Evangelicals come across as part of that crowd that Mormons think are clearly apostate. Why, because attacking anybody is blatantly un-Christian.

From a LDS perspective, and the perspective of a whole lot of non-LDS Christians, there is nothing to be proud of in Christian theology, and nothing to be proud of in Protestant theology. The most Protestant nations on earth are also the harbingers of death, destruction, and mayhem. It is arguable that the holocaust was an all-too-direct result of the Reformation. There is a strong case that the “whore of all the earth” is the traditional Christian Church.  The LDS don’t use this approach much because it is completely ineffective in converting Protestants, but that is not because it is not completely reasonable to see the church this way.  From the LDS the field is white, but most of it is choked with tares.

Mormons don’t see traditional Christianity as a reasonable alternative because they don’t believe they have everything that traditional Christians have and more. When I was a missionary, it was all too easy. I would stack up the LDS approach against anything out there. And it had nothing to do with theology.  If you take the ordinary run-of-the mill deist, they are going to find the LDS view just as reasonable as the Evangelical view.

Why am I saying this?  Its because I have skin in the game. I actually think Evangelicals have something the LDS do not have, but I fully believe that most Christians I have met don’t have what many Mormons have.

I WANT ENLIGHTEN MY LDS FAMILY TO CHRIST. If they want to be Christian, they should more fully join the body of Christ.  I think it is obvious that they do not need to leave the Church in order to accept Christ in an Evangelical way, just like Catholics don’t need to become Calvinists in order to be Evangelical. I believe the LDS should wake up to a richer and deeper view of redemption, but in the six years I have spent following the conversation I don’t see how Evangelicals are going to help them do that.  And the problem is not the Mormons. They need people that can see to lead them, not people that are blind to the Spirit that they follow, that they are sure leads them to Christ and God.  There are plenty of people in the Church that would be willing to embrace and teach a more grace-filled theology.  One of the greatest barriers to this is that those that try to teach them grace can’t get past their pagan theology enough to break spiritual bread with them. The boundaries are more important than the Gospel.  I don’t think the truth Mormons learn from the Spirit is AT ALL incompatible with the truth that Evangelicals know from the Spirit and from scripture.  I don’t think you have to name all of your errors in order to embrace the truth. I don’t think you have to give up all of your cults or culture to embrace the truth.

Evangelicals often try to save Mormon’s souls from the wrath of a God that Mormons know loves them. You can’t convince a Mormon that God will send them to hell.  Evangelicals should be focusing on saving Mormons from the wrath they hold in their hearts for their own souls and the hell they put themselves through on earth. God has nothing but love for the Mormons, and He routinely shows this (even if they don’t quite understand the breadth and depth of that love).  I can’t see why Evangelicals can’t follow suit.

Is the Protestant Doctrine of Salvation Incommensurate with the Mormon View?

I am always harping about how Mormons are allowed to believe a lot more things than traditional Christians and still be Mormons. I don’t think the Mormons that run the Church care about truth per se, but its usefulness in the cause, and it is eminently useful not to engage in debates about what you have to believe to be LDS.  I think most sane people believe this— it is generally not wise to declare how stupid you think others are within their earshot, and most people are apt to say stupid things when they are cutting down another cause.

From my point of view, this reality presents those who make massive truth claims, such as Evangelical Protestants, an interesting test: Here is a group of people who ostensibly believe a lot of the same things you Evangelicals believe; they are going to hell, forever, because of their confusion; it seems that the power of your message should be able to convert these people.  For me, it’s as if the Mormons are laying ready on Mount Carmel and Evangelicals can’t make so much as a spark to ignite what is dry kindling. I thought a good place to put my pet theory to the test is to determine whether a Mormon can fully believe the Protestant view of Salvation and remain LDS.  Is there some logical necessity of rejecting the message of the Restoration?  If they are not now, Mormons even become saved Christians and remain in the Church?

The question seems important. If the answer is “no,” Protestants should joyfully want Mormons to believe in their view of the Gospel whether or not the Mormons remain faithful to their LDS covenants or attend LDS church or believe the Book of Mormon is the word of God, or even continue to gather converts.  The entire approach to LDS missionary work would not be to show them where they are wrong theologically (which is extremely boring), but to teach them the truth in spirit and in power like Paul advocated (manifestly less boring). I recognize that many Mormons do not, and never will, understand or believe the theology behind the Evangelical view of salvation from original sin. But most Mormons are new Mormons without set theologies, and LDS Missionary efforts require a wide tolerance for strange beliefs. (I learned this acutely while eating dinner with a Jet Propulsion Laboratory physicist and my missionary companion, who was convinced that the earth was hollow.)   Continue reading

Fraud and Religious Freedom

The Evangelical ministry Breakpoint made Mormonism the topic of their daily broadcast.  The topic in question is a British criminal charge of fraud against Thomas Monson.  Breakpoint comes out strongly on the side of the LDS church that this is a slippery slope to the erosion of religious liberty.

I largely agree with Breakpoint’s assessment of the situation with one caveat.  A fraud charge is not solely based on whether or not the beliefs in question are falsifiable, it hangs on whether or not the perpetrators of the belief know it to be false.  How this can be proven to be the case for Thomas Monson seems like a herculean task.

In one more Evangelical connection to this case, wasn’t the plot of “The Godmakers” about a guy who wants to sue the LDS church for fraud and deception? {video queued to relevant scene}

Denial is a river in Utah

Approximately 1.75 years ago, I published my second guest-post at this blog, a little number entitled “Evangelicals, Theosis & Exaltation.” Quite unexpectedly, that post sparked an immense discussion that got to 281 comments, brought in numerous first-time commentators, and seemed well-received by most. In February of this year, I was contacted by the Mormonism portal gatekeeper at Patheos with a request that it be re-published there, and after making some minor modifications, it was.

As you may recall, I used something of a gimmick at one point in the article. I quoted a lengthy excerpt which I attributed to The God Makers film by Ed Decker. This excerpt taught that:

  1. Mormons believe in becoming God. Not just a god, or a God, but becoming God.
  2. Mormons believe they will one day rule over their own universes.
  3. Mormons believe women are needed for exaltation so that they can give birth to the spirit children who will populate these universes.

After citing this excerpt, I pulled a “just kidding” and came clean that the dialogue comes from an LDS Institute manual called Achieving a Celestial Marriage, and I did not get it from Ed Decker or any anti-Mormons. I purchased it from the Distribution Center in the basement of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on Temple Square during my first trip to Utah in August 1999.

I had my reasons for this ploy. Continue reading

Interview with Ed Decker

I didn’t want to interrupt our discussion of Romans, but while we were in the midst of that Mormon Expressions posted an interview with Ed Decker. Ed by far has been a major contributor to Evangelical views of Mormonism and has significantly colored how Evangelicals interact with Mormons.

I appreciated the interview because Decker is a controversial figure and it’s helpful to hear him in his own words. The interview helped round out my perception of him into a real person. I encourage you to go check out the interview.

Glenn Beck, are You Really a Mormon?

This video of Glenn-Beck-wannabe, Todd Friel, is a classic example of the traditional Evangelical approach to Mormonism. If the Mormon in question does not match up to the Evangelical’s notion of what Mormonism is, then it must be that the Mormon either doesn’t understand Mormonism or that the Mormon is really not a Mormon.

It never occurs to the Evangelical that Mormonism may not be what he thinks it is. It never occurs to the Evangelical that the way Mormonism has been described to him may not be completely accurate or in a full context. It never occurs to the Evangelical that the Mormon might be in a better position to describe his faith (particularly his own personal beliefs) than the Evangelical. Ed Decker’s influence is quite apparent in this clip.

For Evangelicals interested in what they may be missing about Mormonism, I recommend this article:

What Evangelicals Now Need to Know About Mormonism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 2:8-10

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

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


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

Me & Mormons – Part 4

After my debacle with a couple of Mormon missionaries I was quite excited to hear that some one was having more success than I was talking with Mormons. Dr. Craig Hazen from Biola University had started to report that he had been invited to some forums with some LDS scholars and he found them quite encouraging. He stated the discussions were on a much higher level and much more positive than anything he had ever encountered with LDS ever before.

As a result of these on-going conversations, a book was being published to raise the bar on Evangelical and LDS dialogue. It was called “The New Mormon Challenge“.

When the book was released there was a conference for it held at Biola University. I attended the kick-off lecture and there for the first time heard Greg Johnson of Standing Together Ministries speak. I had been looking for a new way to talk with Mormons and Greg offered me what I was looking for.

Previously, Evangelical interaction with Mormons had been most influenced by Ed Decker‘s “The God Makers.” Which I think was simply an attempt to scare people away from Mormonism and condemn it to Hell. Johnson stated that the relationship between Mormons and Evangelicals had been nothing but antagonistic for a very long time. Instead of approaching them as Christian heretics we should simply view them as a different faith altogether with a different culture. We should enter into conversation with them as we would anyone in a foreign country with a different set of values than our own. Leading with friendship and relationship-building first.

Given that Jesus taught a life of grace and peace and the example of how he approached people outside of the Jewish faith, we hardly should need someone to tell us that in regards to Mormons. But the message was fresh and new to me. I resolved that the next time LDS missionaries came to my door I would first invite them back for pizza and get to know them. Then on a later date get into the particulars of our faiths. I figured any missionary who actually knew my name and a little bit about me would have a harder time bolting out the door at the first sign of hearing something they didn’t like.

Now all I needed was some Mormon missionaries to show up at my door. . . .

The Worst Chicken Coop Ever Made

This weekend I set out to make the worst chicken coop ever made. The house we live in has a beautiful aviary. The aviary was one of the reasons we decided to get chickens.


The problem is that my chickens don’t like it. Every night they crawl into a little box inside the aviary that’s much too small for them. We figured out that the aviary is too big for them. It provides everything they need but they don’t feel safe in it because it’s got too much space. Thus the need for the worst chicken coup ever made.

I decided to build something that the chickens would perceive as a coop and put it inside the aviary. I wanted to spend as little time as possible and zero money on it (we are moving in less than a year). I gathered a bunch of termite infested wood that’s been sitting out in the backyard for at least 5 years. I cut the pieces in roughly the same size and attached them to one another with whatever screws and nails I had. I put a skin over it using water damaged cardboard. This thing provides zero protection from the elements. I think I could destroy it in 30 seconds flat with my bare hands.


This project caused me to reflect on my own history of faith. I was raised in a denomination that had varying amounts of legalism in it. The pressure to conform to a stricter set of external commands was different in different parts of the country (Indiana for some reason was known to be the most uptight). When LDS say that the pressure to live up to commands in Mormon life is too intense for some it makes me laugh because my up-brining was much stricter in many ways.

Alcohol and any amount of tobacco use were clearly signs a person was on their way to hell. We were not allowed to go to the movie theater under any circumstances (later an exception was made for Billy Graham films). Pre-marital sex was a path to the evils of dancing. When I saw “The Godmakers” as a kid, the most shocking thing to me was that the LDS church sponsored dances. . . in their own fellowship halls (the horror). I read in our church manual that we should not go to the circus. For some, using poker-style playing cards was a sin and I remember concerned conversations about shopping on Sunday. There were pictures of my mom in jeans that we had to make sure some members did not see. A pastor friend of ours lost the respect of his congregation when he pulled his belongings out of a moving truck while wearing a short sleeve shirt in July.

The denomination was formed at the beginning of the 20th Century. Technology and culture had surpassed what the New Testament had made clear what was appropriate and what was inappropriate in the life of a believer. So instead of teaching virtue, the church decided that it was safer to give people a clear set of dos and don’ts. Eventually the church’s own rules got passed up by technology. We thought it was funny that we couldn’t see a movie in the theater, but we could watch whatever we wanted on VHS. Not too long ago, the church lifted the prohibition on movie theaters. The first time my mom went to a movie she had anxiety attacks. When I had told her a couple of years earlier that I had seen Aladdin in the theater she thought that she had lost me to the world.

My college friends had to put up with my own legalistic tendencies as I carried this proud tradition with me into adulthood. Eventually I began to mature as I read the book of Galatians all the way through in one sitting a couple of times (not to mention the teachings of Jesus). I figured out that all the rules in the world wouldn’t mean anything if I didn’t first transform my heart and to encourage someone to seek holiness through outward conformity was naive as well as misguided.

It occurred to me that the chicken coop I was building was just like Christian legalism. We have all the protection we need under the blood of Christ. We have freedom as well. But for some of us it’s either too much or we can’t trust it. So we build barriers around our lives out of the crudest materials we can find. We then set these cheap imitations up as the Christian life. We have no scriptural support for our prohibitions but we defend them with dogmatic tenacity and judge those who fail to meet OUR standards. Hopefully in those moments God views us as nothing more threatening than silly little chickens. Sadly, Jesus’ words to the Pharisees doesn’t make me think so.

Are Evangelicals Being Duped by Millet’s PR Spin

Yesterday afternoon I made a call into the Frank Pastore radio show to defend Richard Mouw’s comments that we Evangelicals need to apologize to the LDS. Frank acts like his an expert about Mormonism, but it’s obvious that he’s not saying anything that wasn’t given to him by Walter Martin and Ed Decker. It’s quite clear he hasn’t done any of his own research or come to any of his own conclusions (reading the Book of Mormon being a bare minimum to talk authoritatively about Mormonism). He’s kind of got a “Walter Martin said it, that settles it” attitude. It’s no surprise to find out that Walter’s daughter, Jill, is influencing his rhetoric, because EVERYTHING he said was right out of her playbook from the last couple of months.

Part of Frank’s diatribe was against an event at Mariner’s Church called “A Mormon and Evangelical in Conversation“. This is something that Greg Johnson and Robert Millet have done over 50 times now. (it’s influence on me is obvious) The two stand up and present the similarities and differences between Mormonism and Evangelicalism. Pastore was contending that Greg Johnson was selling out Evangelicalism and that Robert Millet was running all over him. But all of the callers that actually attended the event said that Johnson held his ground but it was Millet who made huge concessions. Many were quite surprised to hear Millet say that salvation comes by grace alone (a keystone of Evangelicalism).

Pastore chooses to ignore this and implies that Millet is just part of the vast LDS PR machine. He believes that Millet is not at all sincere in that belief but is just saying it to confuse Evangelicals into believing that LDS are no different. This accusation is just silly in my mind. First off, Millet has just as many critics on the LDS side as Johnson has on the Evangelical side. It’s quite clear that his comments are controversial in some LDS circles that reach all the way up into the 12 LDS Apostles.

Second, if Millet is confusing Evangelicals with his comments, he’s doubly confusing Mormons. 99.999% of Evangelicals have now idea who Greg Johnson is. They don’t consider him any sort of authority figure in Evangelicalism. But many many Mormons know exactly who Robert Millet is and what position he holds at BYU. They read his books and listen to what he says. If he tells Mormons that salvation comes by grace alone, and he doesn’t get disciplined, then Mormons are inclined to start believing that he is right. It’s of relatively small consequence if some Evangelicals believe him (because they think Mormons are heretical on a number of other topics), it’s a huge victory though if Mormons believe that Millet is right. That means other Mormons are going to start believing and living out salvation through grace alone. This is a MAJOR step in bringing Mormonism out of heresy.

What Pastore fails to understand is that Mormo doctine has a large oral tradition. A great deal of Mormon doctrine is not really written down in precise technical and theological ways. What many Mormons believe to be doctrine is often what they hear Mormon authorities and other teachers repeating. So if Mormons hear Robert Millet say that “salvation is by grace alone” or that “the Father did not have physical relations with Mary” then they start to believe that this is what Mormon doctrine is. What Pastore also fails to understand is that it really doesn’t matter if this is a contradiction to what deceased Mormon leaders said. It only matters if it’s a contradiction to what current Mormon leaders say (and right now NO ONE is publicly contradicting Millet, not even his critics).

I believe God is capable of making something big happen in the LDS church. I also believe that we are starting to see some early glimpses of it. I’ll admit that I’m an optimist about it. Pastore and others are looking at the same things I see and instead are choosing to view them cynically. In my view, grace is irresistible, even if Mormons are lying about their belief in its power, I believe they will come to embrace it. It’s too powerful to pick up and play pretend without it affecting you.