Thursday, December 06, 2007

Curious about Mormons?

One of the things I've learned from my (granted, somewhat limited) experience with those who call the Mormon Church home is that they are gifted at misdirection. They play like smoke, shifting and dodging in order to avoid the tough questions, hoping to win you over with their good values and nice personalities. Often, after attempting to have extended conversations with Mormons, I've felt that old adage "style over substance" applied very well. Not that they weren't sincere. And I don't even think they were truly lying to me. It's just that they realize some of their cherished beliefs are somewhat controversial, and they'd rather not bring those things into the public eye.

So when you challenge them on the Book of Mormon's validity, they respond "The Book of Mormon isn't on trial here. . ." But when you ask for proof as to the historical validity of Mormonism, they point you to the Book of Mormon.

When you attempt to point out the massive gulf between Christian orthodoxy and Mormon theology (heresy?) they'll say "We're not here to prove this to you. You just need to read the Book of Mormon, pray that God speaks to you, and see if you get a Burning in your Bosom." And then there are the times I've challenged Mormon missionaries on Mormon doctrines that they themselves were unaware of. Perhaps they even keep their own people in the dark about certain theological positions they hold.

Mormons want to be seen as mainstream, as just another branch of Christianity, and they present themselves as such. Yet they never really want to get into the nuts and bolts of things, where they are truly quite far away from historical Christianity. Reference the article I reviewed a few weeks ago, where a Mormon elder went to great pains to say "we're not heretics!" only to espouse some of the oldest and greatest heresies ever rejected by the Church.

So now Romney has delivered what may come to be known as his "Mormon" Speech. And I have no doubt about his sincerity, or the passion with which he follows his Mormon faith. I'm also not convinced that his Mormon faith automatically disqualifies him as a candidate I would vote for (note: I'm not planning on voting for Romney, but for reasons other than his faith).

What I am curious about is how all this publicity will affect the Mormon Church. They are getting the light shown on them, perhaps like never before. For an organization that tends to work in the shadows, this is a coming-out party for them. So far, the smoke-and-mirrors still seems to hold sway. They aren't dealing with the substance of Mormonism; instead, people are simply lauding Romney for sticking to his convictions (One Southern Baptist said the speech was "Kennedyesque"), or rejecting him because those religious convictions stand against their own agendas.

At some point, will somebody actually bring out the substance of what Romney is giving credence to? Will somebody point out that to accept Mormonism means to accept the fact that we all pre-existed as spirit children, that our souls were deposited into our fleshly bodies when we were born, and that if we live good Mormon lives we get to spend eternity populating another planet with our good Mormon spouse(s)?

In other words, will the conversation reveal the unsavory aspects of Mormonism, bringing it all into the light of day?

Or, will Mormons be forced to rethink their more "interesting" beliefs in this new light, perhaps rejecting some of them and moving ever more closer to True Christianity?

Or, will Americans never ask those tough questions, because they're too excited about the Spice Girls reunion tour?

4 comments:

brenda said...

This is getting so old. Yes, we Mormons believe many things differently than other religions. How about if we just get over it and move on.
Yes, we are uncomfortable discussing certain aspects of our doctrine, but don't assume this is because of shame. Unless one has a good understanding of the basic beliefs, they will never understand the obscure beliefs. Launching right into a discussion of "becoming a God" without the proper foundation and understanding, it will sound crazy. Any convert had to go through this process of learning the basics first.
The big problem between Protestant Christians and the LDS is that the former seem to not understand the concept of communication from God, called personal revelation. Without this understanding, we just go around in circles, so how about if we just be tolerant of each other and move on.

Reachout said...

"All churches are an abomination!" Sounds pretty tolerant, doesn't it? Of course, this is just another example of the smoke and mirrors described above.

As a former Mormon I understand "the basics" very well and have found that the charge that non-Mormons simply don't understand is another example of Mormon sleight of hand. Of course non-Mormons can understand Mormonism.

As far as personal revelation is concerned, my Bible tells me that the work of the Spirit is to testify of Christ and to the truth already established in the Word of God. If so-called "personal revelation" contradicts what has already been established you can be sure that it is not of God, and Mormonism contradicts all that has gone before.

That being the case, it is hardly intolerant of Christians to question the Mormon faith and highlight the differences. Rather it is a biblical imperative and God forbid we get to that day where "tolerance" contrives to have us deny the truth and embrace error because of a misplaced sense of fair play.

Of course, the answer to all this is that non-Mormons simply don't understand, former Mormons are bitter and not to be trusted, and the only people who can possibly understand Mormonism are Mormons. That is rather like insisting that only the top men at Enron could possibly know what really went on and, that those who lost money are just bitter and not to be trusted, and legal and financial authorities cannot possibly understand the truth of the matter.

Kim said...

Yes, we are uncomfortable discussing certain aspects of our doctrine, but don't assume this is because of shame. Unless one has a good understanding of the basic beliefs, they will never understand the obscure beliefs. Launching right into a discussion of "becoming a God" without the proper foundation and understanding, it will sound crazy. Any convert had to go through this process of learning the basics first.

*applause*
Wow! That was the most intelligent sounding and convincing explanation of brainwashing that I've ever read! Bravo!

I think you've succeeded in helping Dan make his point, something for which I am grateful.

Mike's 4 Tea said...

Brenda wrote:

"The big problem between Protestant Christians and the LDS is that the former seem to not understand the concept of communication from God, called personal revelation. Without this understanding, we just go around in circles, so how about if we just be tolerant of each other and move on."

Christians understand well enough the concept of revelation. The problem is that they will insist that what God reveals today must square with what he has said in the past. It is a pesky old business for those who would rather rewrite the plan of God but there you have it.

Jesus Christ is the final revelation of God (Heb.1:1-5), the Spirit's work is to reveal Jesus Christ (Jn.15:26), and the church's work is to proclaim the revealed Christ (Col.1:28).

In that process Christians are led by that same Spirit who will lead them into (reveal to them) all truth (Jn.16:13) "that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ" (Eph.4:12-14).

That is biblical revelation and God's purpose in it and Christians understand it very well.