I think Robert George and Cornell West offer an important message to today’s culture. With the impulse to shame and silence anyone who disagrees with us at an all time high, the ability and willingness to listen and seek a common truth is important.
I have to admit, President Dieter Uchtdorf’s talk “The Gift of Grace” surprised me. But as I think about it, it was the logical move. When I was converted to a grace-based Gospel, I had the idea myself that the LDS church could vastly improve its teaching by simply adding Evangelical-style grace to the formula, and as Tim has proven, it barely produced a ripple. If the Church leadership doesn’t jump on this opportunity to make the church a more powerful force in the world by moving toward orthodoxy, I will know they have no hope. If they do preach grace and salvation, they just might make themselves the true Church they claim to be.
If Uchtdorf pushed his neo-Mormon-Lutheranism down the throats of the correlation committee, the church will be in a great position to boost its power to spread to the third world. Given how theologically wacky Brigham Young was, there should be no objection at all from the membership if the First Presidency started transforming into a full-blown Evangelical mega-megachurch. It has the media resources to put the pseudo-Christians at TBN to shame, and the organizational resources and financial support that should inflict most megachurches with a heathen lust. Whether or not move toward orthodoxy was accepted by the rest of the body of Christ, the LDS church could actually adopt the cutting edge of Protestant theologies, whatever would propagate faster in each individual culture.
Mormonism already has a competitive advantage over many Christian churches because its religious structure is much more akin to post-Christian paganism than Protestant churches. They have the catholic capacity to mint new authoritative doctrine and tradition, and the nimble doctrine of modern-day prophecy to maximize their theological impact. This has got to play better in tribal societies that need a strong church structure within unstable nation-states. For example, the Congo needs Mormonism badly, for social reasons as much as religious ones. If Evangelicals got serious about teaching the Apostles how the preach the Gospel better, the Church could be a powerful force to spread hope to Africa.
The reason why Uchtdorf’s talk didn’t raise eyebrows is because grace-based theology is simply superior religious technology. From a religious perspective was as if this German airline pilot showed up with an iPhone 8 in a room full of flip phones. Uchtdorf and other right-thinking church leaders could revise the entire church curriculum, most of the membership who has heard of the Evangelical gospel are all-too-happy to jump ship on Brigham Young and Co.’s archaic theology. Because the King Follet discourse has been kept from the canon, there is almost no need to even minimize it, simply allow people to believe what they want and preach the real McCoy in the correlated literature. Any rift within the church could be countered with a form of Gamaliel’s counsel coming from the First Presidency. The missionaries can integrate a grace-based message into the first discussion, and you will immediately dramatically increase the conversion rate.
The reason I think this is a good idea, is that the semi-pagan structure of the church, and allowance for further prophecy is a very important step toward bringing the Gospel to Islamic countries and pagan Europe. The only evidence I have is a curious up-tick in Iranian-American baptisms in Southern California. (Muslims becoming anything like Christians is a very important phenomena in my book.) By coming out with the truth behind Joseph Smith’s sex life, the church could distance itself from his later teachings yet maintain the “secret sauce” that is the Book of Mormon. Thus it could maintain its well-ordered authoritarian structure and true-church status all while moving to a more orthodox — and therefore more appealing — Gospel without jeopardizing unity. I think they could become a force to be reckoned with in spreading the actual Gospel if they went this route.
I propose the Christian world act like Alma the Elder and push toward this new path in policy and doctrine.
LDS President Dieter Uchtdorf delivered a talk on Easter morning that I found to be different than the way Mormons typically discuss grace. I reached out to a number of Mormon friends and message boards to gain an understanding out how they viewed his talk. I’ve come away with four general reactions
1) At Last
This is the reaction of those who have become convinced by the writings of Stephen Robinson and Robert Millet or have appreciation for a talk by Brad Wilcox. They clearly hear a difference and are grateful to have the understanding pronounced by someone in the First Presidency at General Conference.
2) No Difference
Some hear no difference between what President Uchtdorf said and what they have always heard in Mormonism. I would classify these respondents into two camps Continue reading
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.
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.
41. Who are the “other sheep that are not of this fold” referred to by Christ in (John 10:16) Hint: It’s not the Gentles.
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.