I’ve been asked a couple of times to share my thoughts on this talk given by LDS Apostle Dieter Uchtdorf. I just watched the talk and I have to confess it was amazing. It’s like someone snuck an Evangelical pastor into General Conference and taught him how to deliver a sermon in a manner that Mormons can hear it. If I had to choose only two things that Mormons should accept as authoritative teachings (in contradiction to what they have traditionally been taught) this would be one of them.
(the embed code is not working on WordPress, I’ll fix this if possible. click image for video)
I don’t have the transcript of the talk yet but here are some quotes that really stood out to me. I’m so encouraged that Mormons must now view these as reliable interpretations of scripture.
Salvation can not be bought by the currency of obedience. It is purchased by the blood of God.
We obey the commandments of God out of love for him
We misunderstand the words “after all we can do”. “After” does not mean “because”.
It seemed very clear to me that Elder Uchtdorf was teaching that grace is the path to obedience not the prize for it. Congratulations to those Mormons who have long agreed with this sentiment but lacked the authoritative voice to stand on it with confidence in their wards. I agree that grace has the power to transform and as Mormons encounter it with a correct understanding they and the LDS will meet God in new and powerful ways.
I don’t have the time to look up dissenting Mormon voices to this talk but I’m interested in how they may now justify their positions.
At last, Part 5! This is what we call in blogging “rounding third.”
I was sad to discover that this is not the first attempt at answering 50 bull dog questions. FAIR, the Mormon apologetics organization took at crack at answering those 50 questions for Mormons. I also discovered that someone else is working at answering Trimble’s list. What I learned from both sites is that reading these answers is even more boring than reading the questions. Holy cow that’s bad news for you Greg. That means I’m going to have to redouble my efforts at creative insults. I assure you, they’re not meant for you, just the people who love to hate you.
Some quick caveats for those that missed my first post. These answers will be short and to the point. I’m not trying give a complete answer, nor am I trying to convert anyone out of Mormonism. If I throw in a joke or two it’s to keep things interesting and not a personal attack on Trimble or an attempt to disrespect the Mormon faith.
Trimble, you sly dog. In my first post I suggested that people would probably be inclined to respond with a list of 51 questions that would cause someone to leave Mormonism. Sure enough, Runtu put together such a list. You won’t want to click on it though because it’s much better than your list (and I don’t say that not because he’s no longer a Mormon).
But then I found something. A list of 50 questions for Mormons that dates back to 2001. You cranked a prankster. You wrote your list of questions in response to THAT list. And then you added one more so that a web search for your list wouldn’t bring up that original list. [stands up and claps] I haven’t learned anything new about Mormonism, but I am learning somethings about you. You’re crazy like a fox.
I think I’m ready for Part 4. But are you?
Some quick caveats for those that missed my first post.. These answers will be short and to the point. I’m not trying give a complete answer, nor am I trying to convert anyone out of Mormonism. If I throw in a joke or two it’s to keep things interesting and not a personal attack on Trimble or an attempt to disrespect the Mormon faith.
31. The Jews prepare for Elijah’s return every year during passover. On April 3, 1836 Elijah returned to the earth and appeared in the Kirtland temple on the exact day that Jews around the world had prepared an empty chair for Elijah at their Passover meal? Is that a coincidence? [More]
No, of course it wasn’t a coincidence. It’s not like Joseph Smith knew nothing about modern Judaism. Less than a month beforehand Joseph and a number of his followers had just wrapped up 7 weeks of Hebrew lessons from a Jewish professor they had hired. In the “if he were making all of this up” line of questioning is it possible that Joseph was quite intentional about what day Elijah appeared? Of course it is.
What’s NOT a coincidence is that both Elias AND Elijah showed up on at the same time. That’s freakin’ unbelievable. (for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Elias is just another way to say Elijah). And by unbelievable, I mean I don’t believe it. Like literally. I literally don’t believe it. And not in the figurative way people use the word literally these days. I mean I actually don’t believe it. Continue reading →
I see that my good friend Greg has had his article picked up and partially reprinted by Meridian Magazine under a new title, “51 Questions that Mormonism Answers More Easily & Completely Than Any Other Religion“. Way to go! I’m hoping that my responses are picked up and reposted with a new title like “This Guy Answered 51 Impossible Questions and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!” or “Man Tries to Answer 51 Questions from a Mormon, His Response to Number 34 Left Me Speechless”. Between you and me Greg, I think you should tell those gosh dern hacks at Meridian to write their own content. They’re killing the SEO juju on your own blog.
Some quick caveats for those that missed my first post. . . These answers will be short and to the point. I’m not trying give a complete answer, nor am I trying to convert anyone out of Mormonism. If I throw in a joke or two it’s to keep things interesting and not a personal attack on Trimble or an attempt to disrespect the Mormon faith.
Mormon blogger Greg Trimble recently wrote a blog article that has picked up a decent amount of social media buzz entitled “51 Questions That Might Lead You to Mormonism“. Running through his post it became quite clear to me that after 7 years of blogging about Mormonism and Evangelicalism I’ve discussed almost every single one of these in one form or another. I felt like Horsack from “Welcome Back Kotter”. It’s quite possible that I’ve actually written something about every one of these questions on this very blog. In the tradition of marathon runners and novelist throughout history, I’m going to do something that’s going to take a lot of time; I’m going to answer all 51 questions. That’s my pledge to you.
I’m going to break up my answers into multiple posts and I’m not quite sure if there will be 5 posts, 10 posts, or something in between. As you can imagine, it’s much easier to ask 51 questions than it is to answer 51 questions. Most people would just turn his post around on him and ask 51 questions that might lead you out of Mormonism. I learned a long time ago that that sort of thing is not my job. Other people have taken it on and I’ve found it doesn’t really line up with my goals in this space. My job is to dialogue with Mormons about the shape of our respective faiths and to clear the air of misconceptions and errant assumptions.
Before I begin I feel the need to discuss Greg’s list as a whole and give a little bit of context to the answers I’m going to provide. First off, Trimble’s list is quite frequently known as the “shotgun approach”. Rhetorically it’s a bit like bringing a bucket to a water balloon fight. It provides the emotional satisfaction of getting someone else wet even if 90% of the water falls on the ground. At that ratio, I think it’s fair to say that at least 5 of my responses are not going to be all that satisfying. They for sure won’t overcome a person’s decision to follow a personal spiritual experience in the face of other considerations. Continue reading →
A couple of months ago I was asked for a list of books to help a former Mormons transition to Protestantism. I reached out to some friends and we came up with this list.These books are listed in order of complexity and depth, starting with the easiest to read.
I also STRONGLY recommend getting a modern English translation of the Bible. I love the King James Version and I think it’s a great translation, I recommend it to all my 400 year old friends. The English language has evolved and some of the phrasing in the KJV is archaic which makes it more difficult to understand. The newer translation were all created consulting the oldest known manuscripts of the Bible and were translated from the original languages so you can trust them to be accurate. Fears of the “Telephone Game” are misplaced. I almost always use the NIV. I also highly recommend reading the Bible in a paraphrase known as “The Message”. It’s available for free on the YouVersion Bible App created by LifeChurch.tv.
I recommend a fresh reading of Romans, Galatians and Hebrews with an attempt to dismiss everything you’ve been taught about these scriptures. Try to read them as if this is the first time you’ve read. If you can read them each in one sitting I think your experience will be even better. Don’t view the chapters as natural stopping points.
Lastly there is a study program called LDS Transitions that was made by Christians in Utah who saw a need for it based on the large number of people that have started to transition out of the LDS church.
My favorite book for all Christians is “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard. It’s probably not the best book to start with as part of a transition, but sometime in your life you should read it.
Biola University recently hosted an forum where the toughest scientific challenges to Christianity were fielded by William Lane Craig, JP Moreland and John Lennox. I thought the discussion was as candid as you could hope. Topics covered included the multiverse, the problem of the God in the gaps, historical Adam & Eve, and human sex with neanderthals. Hugh Hewitt moderated and kept the conversation lively and challenging.