Why Christians Should Defend Mormons from Mockery, Part 2

Several days ago I began to make the case for why evangelicals should defend Mormons from mockery.  The line of commentary began when I came across a video from “NewNameNoah” showing secret Mormon Temple ceremonies, recorded on a hidden camera.  I referenced Walter Martin’s nasty treatment of Mormons in generations past, and Bill Keller’s accusations of demonic infestation today.  I wrote:

Evangelicals are not wrong to be concerned about the growth of Mormonism.  The truth matters, and I like many of my evangelical brethren am convinced that Mormonism does not fully teach the truth of Jesus Christ and his gospel.  But we are wrong to let that concern, that suspicion, that fear, drive us to treat Mormons worse than any other religious group in America.  It’s not a matter of compromising our commitments to truth, but of fulfilling our commitments to love.  Just as it would not be loving to let the saving truth of Jesus Christ be distorted, for in that truth is the liberating message of God’s forgiveness and provision for all people, so it’s not loving to misrepresent what Mormons believe and condemn them in vicious and exaggerated tones.  

Evangelicals have verbally abused Mormons in a manner not unlike our treatment of gays in the 1980s and 90s.  Many Mormons are disgusted by the treatment they’ve received; if you ask them for their impressions of evangelicals, they appreciate that evangelicals are co-belligerents on issues like abortion and marriage and the family, and that evangelicals (like Mormons) tend to have a high view of the Founders and the Constitution.  Yet Mormons are understandable resentful of the accusations that evangelicals pile upon them.  When evangelicals describe “what Mormons really believe,” most Mormons find what evangelicals describe unrecognizable, wildly at odds with the religion they’ve practiced for decades, and unconscionably caricatured.  It gets even worse when Mormons protest “That’s not what I believe!” and evangelicals — assuming to know their religion better than they do — tell them that they’re lying or else unacquainted with the “true teachings” that are only revealed to Mormons of a higher order.  It strikes of hubris.  Too many evangelicals believe they know what Mormons really truly believe but have never truly listened to a Mormon.

The truth is simple yet hard to practice: A message of life-changing grace falls flat when its messengers show no evidence of lives changed by grace.  The world does not see what we do in private.  So we need to hold ourselves to the highest standards of Christlikeness — being full of grace and truth — when we speak in the public square.

Which brings us to the videos that precipitated this whole discussion.  What is the proper Christian response?

First of all, let’s try to put ourselves in Mormon shoes here.  Imagine something that we evangelicals hold as extremely sacred, something beautiful and life-changing and deeply meaningful.  Then imagine that someone violated that sacred ceremony — and had to lie multiple times to pastors and church authorities in order to do so.  Then imagine that this person secretly videotaped the whole thing and broadcast it out to the world with mocking, one-sided, misleading captions that invited the whole world to join in the mockery.

In fact, it shouldn’t be too hard for evangelicals to understand.  We can imagine hypotheticals — imagine that your daughter were being baptized as a ten year old, and someone intruded in this ceremony that meant a great deal to you, secretly recording himself (forgive me for this) squatting in the baptismal and defecating into the water; then he posted the video on YouTube and made a mockery of something that meant a great deal to you.  But we don’t even have to reach for hypotheticals.  What about The Last Temptation of Christ, which showed Jesus (in his imagination) having sex with Mary Magdalene.  Or “Piss Christ.”  There is nothing more private or sacred for Mormons than the Temple rituals.  Yet these videos take what many people hold sacred, presents them in distorted form without any context or explanation, and invites the world to ridicule.

Do the rituals recorded in those videos seem weird to me?  Yes, of course.  Just like the Eucharist must seem bizarre to people who don’t understand its world of symbolism.  Is there anything wrong with having ceremonies that are only for the faithful, ceremonies that are meant to be kept secret?  Of course not.  Should Christians celebrate that someone lied repeatedly to gain admission, breached the rules to secretly record the proceedings, released those films with an obvious political agenda in the midst of an election contest, and invited the world to join in the mockery?  Would that be a Christian thing to do?

The answer is obvious.  Mormons view us as hypocritical when we tell them they’re not Christian, but then behave in a non-Christian way toward them.  And, well…they have a point.  To the extent that Christians take advantage of these videos to engage in more Mormon-bashing, they should be ashamed.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is stand beside those whose beliefs or actions we criticize.  Jesus spoke with love to the Samaritan woman.  He dined with prostitutes and tax collectors.  He defended the adulteress from stoning.  When you tell someone that their actions or their beliefs or wrong — but defend their dignity against the mockers and revilers — then you are communicating the love of God not only in your words but in your deeds.  Which is the only way truly to convey the love of God.

If you saw a gay man being beaten for his homosexual activity, would you intervene?  I hope so.  If you saw a Muslim being strapped to a lightpost with hateful words scrawled across his chest, would you help him?  I hope so.  We believe we have to communicate the truth with regards to homosexuality and Islam.  We also believe the same with regards to Mormonism.  But in light of the ways we’ve mistreated Mormons in the past, we should be seize the opportunity to make amends.

We cannot speak the truth in love unless we stand against those who speak in hate.  We cannot say “I tell you the truth because I love you” if we do not stand beside them against mistreatment.

About Timothy Dalrymple

Timothy Dalrymple was raised in non-denominational evangelical congregations in California. The son and grandson of ministers, as a young boy he spent far too many hours each night staring at the ceiling and pondering the afterlife.
 
In all his work he seeks a better understanding of why people do, and do not, come to faith, and researches and teaches in religion and science, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, the origins of atheism, Christology, and the religious transformations of suffering

  • http://www.godneversinned.com Aaron Shafovaloff

    While I certainly want evangelicals to mature from sloppy approaches to Mormonism, as well as to be more tender (especially in personal contexts), this shouldn’t be dichotomized from active, clear, pointed engagement of Mormonism. But the way this has been written certainly seems to exploit ambiguity such that Mormons will read it with such a dichotomy. What Timothy has written above unfortunately seems to be loaded with pander-slander rhetoric (see: http://mit.irr.org/appeal-authentic-evangelical-mormon-dialogue).

    There are some real challenges here that I don’t think Timothy has sufficiently taken into account. Mormons are 1) diverse (some of them seem almost proud to reject or mentally disassociate themselves from the teachings of LDS leaders) or 2) they really do belong to a culture which fosters, perpetuates, and rationalizes deception over history and theology.

    On #1, it is both Mormons and evangelicals who have a problem acknowledging, specifying, and engaging the theological diversity of Mormons. Neither are usually are even aware of the some basic diversity. And when Mormons learn of the diversity, they usually are in denial about it, and push non-traditional, minority positions as though they are *the* position of the LDS Church. This is dishonest. It is a generalization confirmed by my interaction with tens of thousands of individual Mormons (I live here in Utah as an evangelist). Neo-orthodox Mormons, for example, desperately want Mormonism to be portrayed using the writings of BYU professors instead of the manuals published by the LDS Church for use in priesthood, Relief Society, Institute, Seminary, etc.

    On #2, we have specifics:

    Lorenzo Snow couplet theology. “As man is God once was, as God is man may be.” It supposedly has “no functioning place” in the church, and yet it has been taught in the recent manuals explicitly, it has never been denounced, and most Mormons (not all) even think God perhaps sinned (see video interviews with Mormons for yourself at GodNeverSinned.com). The LDS Church taught, fostered, and perpetuated belief in Lorenzo Snow couplet theology. Mormons fall back to, “it isn’t official”, yet seem content to use this approach even when the teaching in question is taught to their own children using LDS institutional publications and venues.

    Becoming gods over worlds. The LDS Newsroom’s recent “Mormonism 101″, as well as FAIR’s “Mormon Voices” site both deceive their readers over the issue of whether Mormonism teaches that they will become gods over their own worlds someday. This is presently taught in Church-published publications, even to college students and high school students, and yet outsiders are given the impression that this is nothing but caricature.

    Virgin birth. Mormons insist they believe in the virgin birth, but usually refuse to offer clarification or acknowledge that “virgin birth” traditionally encompasses the possibility in Mormonism that God had sex with Mary, etc. I can totally understand that many Mormons haven’t even thought about it, or have ever heard of the issue, but even when they have, nothing seems to change. Even the well-read, well-studied academic and apologetic proponents of Mormonism perpetuate deception over this issue.

    As far as “mockery”, I really wish Timothy would cut the pandering rhetoric and be more specific. I can get on board with the idea of defending Mormons from mockery over belief in the supernatural. A lot of outsiders mock Mormonism for believing in fantastic (read: supernatural) things. But I don’t think this is worth mockery. I agree we should come to the defense of LDS on this. I want to defend Mormons whent hey are slandered, and I often stick up for them when I hear them misrepresented (especially in this politically-charged time!). I also am very uncomfortable with the length of deception Mike Norton went to acquire the footage. But as with the transcript of the ceremony which was publicized decades ago, we should be happy that a whole new generation of LDS youth will get to see the full endowment video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VrsFEiTpsQ — this one is straightforward, without the captions) before they go through the temple.

    The “weirdness” and “strangeness” that matters, the kind that should be criticized and exposed (which others would construe as “mockery” and “belittling”), is the departure Mormonism takes from Christianity and the Bible, all the while claiming to be Christian and Biblical. It is the obviously masonic elements of the temple, all the while claiming to be a genuine restoration of what went on in Solomon’s temple, etc.

    The claim that “Evangelicals have verbally abused Mormons” warrants some specific examples. Using the worst of the worst, obvious examples is understandable, but something more characteristic of evangelical engagement of Mormonism will be necessary to really support the dramatic generalizations that Timothy has made. Otherwise, it borders on slander. Hence, the pander-slander method spoken of in the first link I provided above.

    Grace and peace in Jesus,

    Aaron

    • http://www.wiics.org John W. Morehead

      I was wondering what a counter-cult response might be to this, and with all due respect, I think this reply and similar comments miss the main point and that is the challenge of mockery. Timothy is not failing to recognize serious differences between Mormons and Protestant Evangelical theology, or diversity among Mormons. And their teachings and those of other new religions are well known and thus we do not need yet another “expose” as Jason below is concerned about.

      I don’t understand why we Evangelicals have such a difficult time with critical self-reflection and recognizing that some of our attitudes and actions have not been the best where Mormons and other adherents of new and world religions are concerned. In addition, if we could take the concept of mockery seriously we would realize that many of our apologetic approaches, and the attitudes we bring with them, often “turn off” the audience which feels dicrespected, and therefore we lose any sense of persuasiveness. If we want to be effective in our proclamation, never mind fulfilling the call to love our neighbors as ourselves, then we will be more open to the critique this important essay brings, and modify our attitudes, understandings, and responses accordingly.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        Thanks John.

    • Matt

      Aaron, on #1, I appreciate that you recognize the diversity of thought in Mormonism. That recognition, alone, by all parties involved would be a giant step forward in these conversations. I would however quibble with your conclusion that Mormons who give their “non-traditional” views as doctrine are being dishonest. In my view they are being completely genuine. I don’t think a person has to explain how their view fits in the entire spectrum of Mormon thought to be honest–any more than an Evangelical has to locate his beliefs within the spectrum of other Evangelical thought.

      On #2, I would suggest that just because Mormons teach young adults what prior leaders have opined on those theological subjects you identified does not make those opinions doctrine or the official church point of view. The fact of the matter is that none of those subjects you have identified are canonized church doctrine, and the Mormon church has no official position on those subjects. Mormons, therefore, have a wide range of opinions about those matters and none is any more authoritative than another. In my opinion, Evangelicals would have deeper and more successful conversations with Mormons if they would ask what Mormons believe about these issues and address them accordingly, rather than try to tell us what we or the Mormon church believes. And again, if a Mormon does not believe those things, or if he believes something different, he is not being deceptive just because he does not volunteer the fact that a contrary opinion was once held by a Mormon leader.

    • Michael

      Aaron,

      First, let me compliment you on a well-written post. It does get difficult reading through others’ bad grammar and poor syntax, and yours is clearly a cut above; I doubt I am as talented as a writer as you are. That being said; let me see if I can clarify some of the issues that you wrote about. I am a volunteer for MormonVoices.org, and we try and help the general public to better understand what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes.

      Most of your arguments had to do with a misunderstanding of what constitutes LDS doctrine. The LDS Apostle Neil L. Anderson said in a recent General Conference address: “A few question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades ago that seems incongruent with our doctrine. There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many.” And of course I am sure that you are familiar with the fact that the LDS church believes in continued modern day revelation from God, as spoken of in the 9th Article of Faith which says, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” My hope is that what I say here will answer your assertion that many LDS “reject or mentally disassociate themselves from the teachings of LDS leaders.”

      We do not believe in the infallibility of our leaders; therefore, not everything that any particular leader ever said is doctrinally correct. That is why real church doctrine is not found in a single isolated paragraph of a manual or discourse, but taught by the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve many times over time. My Protestants friends don’t believe in the infallibility of their leaders, either. There are many teachings of Martin Luther that they do not adhere to, such as his comments related to his anti-Semitism. We discard such comments, understanding that the Lord, who is perfect, only has imperfect people to work with.
      In your post, you made reference to the following doctrinal issues:

      • The Lorenzo Snow Couplet which says “As man is God once was, as God is man may be.”
      • Becoming gods over worlds
      • The virgin birth

      Let me start by saying that these issues are to most Mormons “peripheral” doctrines, which are not central to our salvation. Therefore, little is ever said about these issues in our church meetings. It is possible that God will reveal more about them in the future, but until then, speculation only leads to inaccurate assumptions and misconceptions that later have to be unlearned. It is better not to bother speculating.

      Generally our sermons and Sunday school lessons are concentrated on other gospel topics such as the Atonement (which everything is centered around).

      The controversies regarding these issues originate from statements made from LDS leaders in the past (many years past) that do not constitute church doctrine.

      About becoming gods over other worlds, it is true that Mormons believe in a process of deification, or theosis (the idea that men and women can become gods and goddesses); however, there is very little about this that has been revealed unto us. Many people (Mormons and non-Mormons alike) over the years have tried to make more of this than what we should, given what little information we know about it. There is a lot of folklore about this issue, such as the part of one having their own planet or world to which they will be God over. Such has no scriptural basis.

      However, the idea of theosis did not start with the LDS church. There is enough scriptural evidence for it that it was taught by early Christian theologians such as Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandrai, Athanasius, and Augistine. Their teachings continued in the early Christian church into the 5th century. Also, the members of the Eastern Orthodox faith (there are several hundred million of them) still hold to a view of theosis. Even more modern day Christian thinkers such as C.S. Lewis believed in it as well. He said:

      “God said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good on his words. If we let Him – for we can prevent Him if we choose – He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or a goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness (Mere Christianity).

      The LDS do not believe that to become a deified man in any way lessens the glory of God, nor do we believe that we will ever approach Him in glory. According to LDS doctrine, to become a god is to become “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17), and “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 2:1). In other words, to become a god is to become like Christ. And while becoming a god is something most people of other faiths do not agree with, becoming Christ-like is a sentiment that few of my protestant friends would have a problem with.

      Most of the LDS look forward to the day when more will be revealed on the subject of theosis; until then, we don’t know enough to speculate.

      The bit about the virgin birth I believe came from Parley P. Pratt. I can honestly say that I have no memory of ever being taught anything about the virgin birth in our Sunday school that wouldn’t be taught in any protestant church; that is to say, I have no memory of ever hearing anyone say in any kind of teaching situation that Jesus was conceived by an act of sexual intercourse between God the Father and Mary the mother of Jesus. In fact, I am only aware of this statement because of conversations similar to this one. Because it has never been considered doctrine, there is never any reason for us to bring it up in our sermons and Sunday school lessons. In fact, much of what Parley P. Pratt said he himself later recanted. Also, because it does directly contradict what the New Testament says about the virgin birth, I disregard this statement in its entirety as nonsense. I have no knowledge of any Mormon who believes anything other than what the New Testament says about the virgin birth.

      You made a request of Timothy to provide an example of mockery, slander, and verbal abuse shown towards Mormons by Evangelicals. I have included here a link that gives such examples.
      http://www.fairlds.org/authors/misc/neighborly-christian-love-or-hate-speech-anti-mormon-protesters

      The three videos in particulars demonstrate exactly what Timothy was trying to say. There are also links to pictures of the protestor’s signs which are also interesting examples.

      Let me say though that I do not believe that these individuals are in any way representative of the Evangelical community. Most of the Evangelicals that I know and have spoken to are very devout, wonderful Christians and are appalled by the behavior of the individuals shown. I am sure that you will be as well.

      You stated: “The “weirdness” and “strangeness” that matters, the kind that should be criticized and exposed (which others would construe as “mockery” and “belittling”), is the departure Mormonism takes from Christianity and the Bible, all the while claiming to be Christian and Biblical.” But your assumption that Mormonism has taken a departure from Christianity and the Bible is based on the premise that there is a universal definition or standard of Christianity and biblical teachings from which it could depart from. In fact there are thousands of Christian sects who all believe very different things about the Bible and its teachings. Should Catholics criticize and expose the “weirdness” and “strangeness” (which is often construed as mockery) of Protestants, and vice versa? Should Methodists do the same to Baptists, and Baptists to Unitarians? In my experience, when others talk badly about another’s faith, they usually have to bear false witness in order to do so. An undeniably unchristian thing to do. A much better thing to do, in my estimation, is to adhere to the “Convicted civility” that Richard Meow of Fuller Seminary speaks of. We should be firmly convicted in our own religious believes, and yet civil towards others of different believes. A wonderful kind of unity in Christ would be the result.

      I hope that I have been able to shed some light on these issues for you.

      God Bless,
      Michael

  • http://trommetter.com/log/ Jason

    The Mormon cult is just as dangerous as Scientology. Their practices need to be exposed, not covered up by true Christians.

    • Fusion

      Jason, you have the depth and sound of those early Jews and Romans who together decided on, and acted upon EXPOSING Jesus and His apostles, claiming He was no doubt as DANGEROUS as John the Baptist and disciples, as their practices needed to be EXPOSED, instead of covered up by the weaker links among the population who fell for their CULT-ish teachings. (love the over-worn, shock value words you and your others like you use). And you are 100% as correct about Mormonism, as they were about Jesus…

      Here’s a great example of what a true Christian/Evangelist is, and ought to be like, in his deep analysis of Mormonism, having the experience of actually meeting with, and being amongst them BEFORE coming to his conclusions…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkaydedl5Ug

  • RedWell

    I tend to agree and appreciate this call for self-reflection and love. Evangelicals can be quite shameful in their treatment of near-outsiders–and blind to how well Mormons conduct themselves in comparison to many orthodox believers.

    And yet … both parts of this argument feel a little too much like election year apologetics. In this recent post (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/philosophicalfragments/2012/10/18/four-reasons-why-a-candidates-faith-matters-and-why-this-helps-romney/), for instance, Dalrymple falls on Romney’s side. Fine, but the larger argument here is that 1) beliefs matter and 2) we should factor beliefs into our voting considerations. That’s a much bigger issue, and I don’t see much consideration of Obama’s beliefs. Evangelicals have savaged his claims to be a Christian in sometimes harsher terms than they’ve attacked Romney’s earnest Mormonism. In some (perhaps many), they deny he is even a Christian. Dalrymple briefly addresses this in the post I mentioned, but given the treatment here, I’d like to see more.

    [Tangential to the post, so reader beware!: If Evangelicals shouldn't angrily attack Mormon and, by extension, Romney's beliefs, they should be careful about Obama's and other liberals' beliefs. I'm not arguing for relativism, here, but I will say that I increasingly believe faith assessments are a poor guide for voting. Frankly, the Mormon story of its origins is ... thin (at least most evangelicals are part of a tradition reaching into the hoary past), but I think Romney is a strong candidate despite of or aside from that. Similarly, Obama's spirituality is not convincing to many, but what I want to know is whether he is competent or not. Yes, policy positions and beliefs matter, but I'd rather have eight years of Obama's professorial, secular managment than GW Bush's ferver and bold incompetence. Where Romney falls, here, the gentel reader can decide.]

  • Larry Easton

    RedWell,
    Perhaps you should delineate between “Evangelicals” and “Americans” who are also Evangelicals. As American citizens we are obliged to become engaged in the political process … that means mixing it up with those who would shout us down.

    Indeed, many on the Left have relied upon our silence and the moment we address issues of importance we are immediately challenged with a different standard. I can allow mu witness to remain intact, all the while going toe to toe and nose to nose with the loudest voices on the Left.

    You might do well to revisit the lessons of history in that regard. From 1770 till 1783 Americans who were also deeply committed Christians were at the center of heated debates and finally a war … all while not merely maintaining their witness but livng out their faith as salt and light.

    • Jeremy Forbing

      Oh yeah, as a guy from the Left, I have to say, we’ve really been relying on the Religious Right being silent. Thanks for staying so quiet and unobtrusive out there.

  • Larry Easton

    One more note LMS, “Obama’s professorial, secular management”? You deal an insult to professors and secularists in that single remark. Mismanagement would better capture the leadership (I use that word loosely) style and “accomplishments” of President Obama.

    I cannot imagine any objective analysis of his term assigning any level of competence to the outcomes his policies and doctrine have yielded.

    • Jeremy Forbing

      “I cannot imagine any objective analysis of his term assigning any level of competence to the outcomes his policies and doctrine have yielded.” As opposed to the high level of positive outcomes arising from the extreme competence of the Bush years? Come on. Ideological partisanship is one thing, but this is just blind, self-serving delusion.

      • Larry Easton

        Actually LMS, that was a stand alone remark comparing actual results with promised ones. Though, by comparison, Bush offered far more competent leadership than has Obama.

        Authentic conservative leadership, however, would have managed far better than President Bush who, I think, suffered from the absence of a deeply embedded and full orbed conservative philosophical core.

        Obama suffers form quite the opposite, a deeply embedded Marxist core utterly unimpeded by facts and history.

        • Jeremy Forbing

          The story of the Bush years is the most recent climax in the story of Conservativism’s failure as a governing philosophy. Lowered taxes and deregulation delivered us a debt crisis and the Great Recession. If Bush was not Conservative enough for you, I am not sure who would have been. Joe McCarthy?

          It seems like your comments are the things unimpeded by facts and history.

          • Larry Easton

            Jeremy,
            There’s little use in discussing factual history with one so clearly enamored of myth.

    • RedWell

      Larry, I think you missed my point: I’m not saying believers shouldn’t participate and make they’re views known, I’m saying we should be leery about assessing a candidate’s faith as a criteria for office. The Wheaton Political Scientist Amy Black makes a similar point in a recent CT piece: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2012/fall/dancing-with-caesar.html?start=1. Her point, and mine, is that we need a lot of humility about choosing sides and applying Scripture to politics. Dalrymple here makes a compelling point that we need to respect Mormons, and perhaps defend them from injustice, even if we find their beliefs troubling. I’m trying to say that Dalrymple doesn’t seem to extend this treatment across the aisle. Why not?

      It sounds like your response is that Christians have a right and obligation to defend themselves against the Left. I agree. It’s also not the issue. What your response (and yes, some of Jeremy’s commentary) does demonstrate to me, though, is what academics like me might call “cognitive consistency”: the tendency of all people to reject information that doesn’t confirm our preexisting beliefs. They story you offer about early America and recent presidential administrations seems rather stylized to me. It supports a certain position and that’s it. I’d also add that what you are describing above is, to use your word, a “myth” in the sense that it is a simplified story that frames political issues in such a way that it frightens and mobilizes less committed citizens. This is the very kind of thinking that has driven me from staunch conservatism: it seems unwittingly blinkered and is as dangerous as “the Left.”

      As a professor (but, alas, not a secularist or even a liberal), I hope you’ll take one of my classes someday, and we can help you work out a more … rounded view of things.

  • Larry Easton

    Tim,
    Who are these Evangelicals to whom you’re referring (as in “Evangelicals have verbally abused Mormons in a manner not unlike our treatment of gays in the 1980s and 90s.”)? I came of age during the eighties (I’m now 50 years old) and served as a pastor during that decade, as well as the next two.

    I noted the shrill voices of a minority who might be said to have behaved in an ill mannered and ill advised fashion … but they were anomalies … not the rule. Its as if your building your argument on the false posits of those who would, for their benefit, offer just such a caricature.

    Its unhelpful to everyone involved to exaggerate the actual state of affairs. Indeed, it is harmful to those who’ve labored against error, in a reasonable manner. This is precisely the sort of disingenuous mea culpa offered by the likes of President Obama on behalf of America. It’s subtext is clear … ” I wasn’t there, I wasn’t among them … I have no guilt … but I’ve heard the stories. I apologize for our cretinous behavior … which is to say, I’m so much better and wiser than they”.

    I was there. I was involved. To characterize as common or widespread such behaviors is not accurate. By a long shot. Most evangelicals approached the matter with a live and let live acceptance. Until of course, an opposing agenda was shoved down our throats. Then Evangelicals wisely took a stand. In such an environment, however, nothing is so offensive as the truth. More often than not, that is the hatred Evangelicals have been tarred and feathered with … simply speaking the truth … because nothing less than the truth was sufficient.

    I can confidently state that with regard to homosexuality and Mormonism. I’m aware that numerous ministries (most begun by former Mormons) addresses the grave error of Mormonism precisely because of their very, very aggressive nature. Mormons missionaries are a common feature of many doorsteps.

    Warning people against their false doctrine was, consequently, a necessity. Let me ask you, are Mormons more likely to call on Evangelical households than Evangelicals calling on Mormons?

    • Matt

      Larry, here is a another way to look at what Tim is saying. If Tim were to invite me to sit down and discuss with him the differences between his Evangelical beliefs and my Mormon beliefs, I would welcome that conversation, and I would take his point of view seriously. That is because as a regular reader of his blog, I have noticed two things: Tim is a dedicated Christian who tries to live as the Master taught, and I know he will listen to what I actually believe and will not accuse me of believing things I do not believe.

      If you, on the other hand, were to invite me to have such a conversation, I would be much more hesitant because of the views you have espoused in the comment section on this blog. I would still be willing to have that conversation with you, because I believe it is my duty as a Christian, but my posture would be much more defensive and I would have little confidence that you are capable of listening to my beliefs and characterizing them fairly or that such a conversation would be remotely productive.

      In my view, that is the dynamic that Tim and others in the Evangelical community are ably elucidating: it is the meek who shall inherit the earth and the peacemakers who will be called the children of God.

      • Larry Easton

        Matt, you don’t even know me, so I find your statement absurd. I’ve been invited to sit down and converse with Gays on many occasions. Mormons, only a couple (but, I don;t encounter as Mormons often).

        Those who know (actually know me), know me as I kind and patient person who listens respectfully and attentively … and then addresses the matter forthrightly.

        In other words, any one who wishes to have a courageous, adult discussion enjoy, very much, chatting me up. If, however, they’re looking for an opportunity to persuade themselves of their open-mindedness by engaging in a conversation which will tread lightly on facts … they generally will pass on the chance to dialogue with me.

        Which is probably why I ordinarily have such discussions with people who are really looking for answers. Businessmen usually have very little time for bs, so they frequently phone me to talk. Ditto for pastors, they need answers now. The same for those in crisis … they’ve no time for games.

        Pro’s at dorm room bs sessions … not so much. One time is generally enough for them.

        • Matt

          Fair enough, Larry, but I made clear that I was judging both of you on the basis of what I have read on this blog. Your comments always seem to justify and, indeed, proffer the types of strategies Tim is discouraging, such as reducing Mormonism to unrecognizable caricature with a few cherry-picked quotes and implying that the Mormon witness of Jesus is somehow illegitimate. I don’t know whether you believe those things or not. What I do know is that those tactics are unlikely to get anywhere with anyone who actually knows and understands Mormon theology and history. If you wish to influence the way a Mormon understands his relationship with his Lord, you would do better to acknowledge that he already has one–even if you think it is imperfect.

          • Larry Easton

            Cherry picked quotes? Uh, Matt … not so fast bubba. I’m quoting Mormon doctrine … not my fault. It would appear that you prefer to cherry pick Mormon doctrine … then take offense at those who take it at face value.

          • Matt

            And that is essentially the difference Larry. Mormon doctrine is not monolithic. There are a lot of ways to understand it within the general rubric of the Mormon canon, just like any other Christian denomination. Taking a few quotes that you selected because they suit your purposes and then telling me I have to understand them the same way you do is, frankly, ridiculous.

            The difference, it seems to me is that Tim is advocating finding out what I as an individual actually believe, and then we could have an open genuine discussion about differences (and their are real and significant differences). You, on the other hand, seem to want to tell me what I believe, or what Mormon doctrine requires me to believe, and my inclination is just to tune you out. After all, why would I conclude that your way is better if I don’t believe you know what the actual differences are? If you believe I am in error and your goal is to help me to see and understand that error, just from a strategic perspective, Tim’s way is much more likely to work.

            One last point on taking “offense at those who take [quotes] at face value.” This argument is just like those who take the most controversial things out of the bible and caricature Christianity generally and Evangelicals in particular with those beliefs. It is no more accurate to pretend that all Mormons must believe in a “grundle of Mother Gods” (to take an example from a recent comment on this blog) than it is to pretend that Judeo-Christian faiths must believe in genocide, misogyny, slavery, etc.

    • Jeremy Forbing

      When the “shrill” minority is not condemned by the allegedly well-behaved majority, and their voices are so loud as to drown the others out, is there any discernible reason to believe the mockery is not “common or widespread”, other than your entirely anecdotal testimony? When you “confidently state” that in relation to homosexuality, it makes you wonder if you’ve ever even actually spoken to a homosexual about their experience of religious persecution, yet alone felt any real personal sympathy.

      • Larry Easton

        Jeremy,
        I wonder, is absurdity a practiced skill, or were you just born with that gift?

  • Nayajja

    Brother Timothy, thank you for your blog. When I first read an installment months ago, I subscribed. As a Mormon, I have appreciated your efforts.

    One suggestion: You state “Sometimes the best thing we can do is stand beside those whose beliefs or actions we criticize.”

    If you believe this (and I believe that you do), then remove the link. You compare the video to defecating the baptismal. Why unlock the door and urge your readers to peek inside to view that? This discussion can continue without supporting the defecator.

    • Fusion

      Right on, Nayajja. Tim, thank you for having the courage to write what you have. I, like Matt, would discuss Jesus in a flash with you because of your true Christian, I would even boldly say true Mormon, behaviour. I think most people I meet, from Mormons to Muslims, Hindus to Sikhs, Atheists to Agnostic, all say the same thing- ‘What is with the aggressiveness of those Evangelicals, and their constant declaration that everyone (most especially those Mormons) are going to hell?!’

      I want to make one thing clear- Mormonism, is the only branch (i would state root, more than branch) of Christianity that actually believes in true salvation by grace. What is the Telestial kingdom is one of those pesky three heavens that Paul was caught up in- it’s magnificent glory, as Joseph Smith said, would defy description. Jesus’ salvation, the free gift it is to mankind, to all those who profess His eternal name- and let me state what the scriptures say clearly, that EVERY knee shall bow, tongue confess- hence, if everyone will eventually do this, and if even the least deserving still get the Telestial part of HEAVEN, then it is His glorious grace that saves everyone therein!…even sans the works. Now, the other two kingdoms of even greater glory have grace and works as their characteristic, something is surely reserved for those who believed, obeyed and loved Him with all their heart. So for heaven’s (Telestial, at the very least) sake, please Evangelicals, understand that we believe in the saving power of grace at least a little more than you. One has to truly get into the incredible Book of Mormon to understand its depth. So grateful that my rebellious soul finally followed the Lord’s admonishment to the very heart of my spirit, and I read it, wept over it’s manifestations of Jesus’ love, and continue to be overwhelmed of how much more of His word was given that we don’t know about (John did say that if everything Jesus did could be written, the world would not have enough space to fit it), and that is being given now to many, and how much more will come forth from other nations/people, in due time. The Book of Mormon is just the most spiritual, precious gift from Jesus that I know of…my knees tremble at the very majesty of His words given to us in the book that changed my life and continuously does so.
      Fusion

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Fair enough.

  • http://craigvick.wordpress.com Craig Vick

    I agree that we need much respect for one another. In fact, out of respect, I haven’t viewed the video. I also think, however, that we can overdo it in terms of discussing how we should discuss. There needs to be openness on both sides. We will (because we are passionate about what we believe) probably both mock at times and need to ask for forgiveness. Let’s get on with the discussion and commit to giving each other much respect.

  • Brian P.

    Who should we not defend from mockery?

  • Rick

    You could have saved a lot of words by simply saying: Vote for Romney. I mean, that seems to be the point in all of this whitewashing of Mormonism.

  • http://www.newnamenoah.com NewNameNoah

    I made the horribly offensive videos that have been compared to pooping in a baptistry right before a child is scheduled for baptism.

    I couldn’t help but laugh at the comparison.

    I was born and raised in the Mormon church. I was a faithful member for over 30 years. I served a full-time mission, got married in the temple, and even worked as a paid employee of the Mormon church for a period of time.

    There is NOTHING in any of the videos in question that is inaccurate or untrue. There are countless comments in the comment sections of the videos by former Mormons and even some Mormons that. Ouch for the fact that the videos are 100% accurate.

    Also, a lot of assumptions have been made here. It’s said that I lied to many people many times to get the videos made. Who are these people I lied to? Can you, in fact, name a single person that I lied to? If not, then how do you know I lied to ANYONE?

    Lastly, there is absolutely no comparison between an univited person videotaping a child’s baptism (which is hardly a secret ceremony that NOBODY is allowed to ever speak of outside of the actual baptism) and an uninvited person videotaping adults in a ceremony that is so secret that, not too long ago, members were asked to make secret’s death oaths to never reveal the details of the ceremony. The Mormon temple rituals are secret even from Mormons until they are sitting in the temple actually participating in it.

    Potential converts to Mormonism DESERVE to know what they are getting into. They DESERVE to know that Mormons believe they must wear special underwear (that can only be purchased at special Mormon owned stores) and memorize handgrips that were directly stolen from Freemasonry in order to go to “Heaven.”

    “Heaven” is defined by Mormons as the place where “God”, known as Elohim (an exalted man-god of flesh and bone who lives near a celestial object known as Kolob) lives.

    Elohim/God is a polygamist who was one a regular man who eventually grew to become God. The best part is, Mormons believe that we can ALL become Gods.

    100% of the information I just shared is true. It is not “mocking” someone to tell the truth. Rather than defend the Mormons by suggesting my videos are the equivelant of a religious snuff film or something, why not ask the Mormons to point out exactly what I’ve posted is untrue and/or mocking them.

    Heck, let’s put together an open forum where I discuss the fallacies of Mormonism and we can have a panel of Mormons and former Mormons judge the accuracy of everything said. Of course we can invite a Mormon to debate me and you see no mockery or lies come from me.

    The Mormon temple rituals are a secret. To say they are “sacred” and THAT’S why they hide it is nonsense. They are plenty of VERY “sacred” ordinances and teachings in Mormonism that are spoken of in children’s Sunday School classes.

    It’s fine to defend bigotry, mockery and slanderous lies but let’s not pretend like videotaping secret rituals that are kept from virtually every single convert so that FUTURE converts know what they’re getting into is some sort of perversion along the same line as defecating in a baptistry.

    No legitimate Christian religion should have secret ceremonies that they hide from even most of their own members. Secrets are the breeding ground of DIRTY little secrets.

    I left a cult in 2002 and I am now educating others so that they don’t JOIN the cult without full disclosure of what they are joining.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Many religions and religious groups have secret ceremonies. There’s something to be said for mystery.

      The pantomiming, for instance…when covenants were cut in Old Testament times, they would split animals in half and the person committing to a covenant walked through the two halves of the animals and committed that the same thing would happen to him if he broke the covenant. While I’m glad they no longer pantomime their violent death if they should break their covenant, it’s not exactly unprecedented and I don’t see anything necessarily objectionable about it.

      The captions are very, very hard spun, with the clear intent to present Mormonism in a very negative light. If you were really out to educate, for instance, you would have given a much richer description of baptism for the dead, its history, its theology, its intentions. Presented differently, it’s an act of compassion to give those who would put their faith in Christ in the afterlife an opportunity to be “baptized” for their eternal benefit. So, again, I know you think you’re doing a service, but you said you’d be delighted if this embarrassed Romney, and you can see how offended many Mormons are by these caricatures. Sometimes the spin is so hard that I think it’s fair to call it deceptive.

      Sometimes it amazes me that people think others will believe them when they say things like “I’m just out to educate.”

      • http://craigvick.wordpress.com Craig Vick

        There’s also something to be said for transparency, especially when asking for people’s commitment. We can’t create mystery by keeping something secret. Mystery has to do with reality being greater than what we can comprehend. As I mentioned above, I haven’t seen the video out of respect for those who feel that my doing so would be a kind of violation. I might feel differently, however, if I was thinking of becoming LDS. I would wonder why transparency is missing.

    • Fusion

      Newname-

      (my sincerest apologies to my Catholic friends in this reply. I am only making a point, a respectful one, I assure you)

      It amazes me that as an ex-mormon you would have such viciousness in damaging the faith of those who do believe in these things. I cannot get the mentality of someone who apparently has gotten their freedon from something, then like Lot’s wife, turn back to it. When I, who was raised Catholic, found out the history of the Catholic church and all the things that I considered very weird and estranged from the true Gospel of Jesus, at the age of 15 years old (I didn’t discover the Book of Mormon till 23), I was thrilled at my freedom and got away from it all. I did not start an ‘excatholic’ website or community, I didn’t want to ‘expose’ the Catholics and make videos of priests in their chambers getting dressed or handling the wine. I didn’t decide that the issues with pedophilia etc were to be shoved in the faces of sincere Catholics. I didnt think that they should ‘know the truth’. I simply was free from a system I personally didn’t click with, thuough my entire family still does. I didn’t turn back and try to bring them down, etc ad nauseum. That is a pathetic excuse to cave into your sense of sour grapes- you feel you were stupid to believe in something, give it your all, only to find out like me and Catholicism, that it just didn’t click. Why tear it down for others? Do you tell your kids Santa doesn’t exist too? Do you also tell them life is just a series of failures, and then you die, so don’t bother trying? Why not go enjoy your freedom, get out and about! Feed the poor! Make the lives of the afflicted a positive one that will bring you blessings from the God you may or may not still believe in. Become a modern (make) Mother Teresa. Put your actions where your mouth is. Live it. Walk the very walk that you believe others haven’t been doing properly. Now, I agree that the church Joseph Smith set up in it’s purety is barely recognizable today inthe modern LDS form, but if you stopped for a moment all this maliciousness, you may see that within the amazing Book of Mormon, this has all been prophesied anyway. Do I believe in the Book of Mormon? Yes, 100%. Joseph Smith’s mission? 100%. Jesus? 1000%. The post-Joseph era confusion where a few tried to take over the reins, and one ie Brigham Young was more successful than the others? Not necessarily. Will there be changes in the Book of Mormon churches including LDS church in the coming seasons? Hmm, but this is all in the Book of Mormon already. Even non-mormons are disgusted with you- not all, but I guarantee the spirit of most are repulsed by your cunning deception to sneak in like a snake and film these things. If you stopped this nonsense for a moment, and look to Jesus, and get filled with love instead of hate, you will be amazed.
      Until then, know who your master is that you are serving…

  • Bruce T. Forbes

    I have read both Part 1 and Part 2 of this article on “Why Christians Should Defend Mormons from Mockery”. As a practicing Latter-day Saint (“Mormon”), I applaud this article. You hit the nail squarely on the head. In the “Mormon” view of things, Evangelicals are the least christian acting people on earth over one single thing: when it comes to Mormons, they do not love their neighbor as themself. At times, Evangelicals appear to be akin to Nazis when it comes to treatement and respect of my freedom of worship – I say this having studied the Third Reich; I do not say it lightly. When my oldest son was married, for instance, we endured crowds outside the temple shouting (with a bullhorn!) “Whores of Satan!” and “Bitches of Hell!” And these same people were demanding their freedom of assembly to be able to come on to the temple grounds themself so they could literally be shouting in our face. When we left the temple grounds we endured being pushed around and actually HIT by this crowd. Wow, that builds bridges. That really makes me want to listen to a message. From this particular Latter-day Saint’s point of view, if Evangelicals were filled with Christian love – if they truly represented Christ in their thoughts, words, and deeds – they would be acting and speaking as if they were Christ. I do not find anywhere in the Four Gospels where Christ acted they way today’s Evangelicals act towards me and my religion. What I do find in the Four Gospels is a Master who taught that I should treat others as I wish to be treated. Evangelicals need to review the life of the Master and try better to emulate Him.
    Please excuse any spelling errors – it is early morning and I have just woke up.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Bruce, who were those people protesting outside the wedding? Those don’t sound like standard-issue evangelicals to me, to be honest. They sound like Fred Phelpsian militant fundamentalists, but regardless I’m terribly sorry for the treatment you endured. It’s awful.

      • Greg Smith

        Those who protested at LDS temple weddings are the same bunch that tend to protest at every LDS general conference. They are not mainstream evangelicals, but they are also not Westboro Baptist types either.

        http://www.fairlds.org/authors/misc/neighborly-christian-love-or-hate-speech-anti-mormon-protesters

        Again, this link shows their tactics. The same faces show up again and again. Evangelicals would do well (as some, but too few, have) to condemn such behavior. In fact, it was partly to combat this sort of behavior at LDS weddings that the Church bought the plaza near the temple from the city.

        The LDS experience with evangelicals (especially Calvinists) is also tainted by the mobs of the 19th century, which were often led by Calvinist ministers. So, LDS experience it as simply more of the same, from the same theological camp, and are grateful that such things no longer lead to violence, dispossession, rape, and murder. But, when one hears the rhetoric of people like Bill Keller and Ed Decker and the like, one cannot but worry that if they could get away with it, things might again escalate.

  • johnturner

    Thanks, Tim. Wonderful post, esp. about the temple rituals.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks, John. Honored by your feedback.

  • Janine Bryant

    I think that this is a well thought through and presented case for orthodox/evangelical Christians to rethink the way we relate to our fellow persons of faith, of The LDS religion. I know that LDS theology is not reconcilable with, at least what I believe is, orthodox Christianity…but I have always known them to be a people of good will and kindness. I think that we must exercise some of the wisdom of St. Paul as he related to the people who regarded there being multiple gods; he used the “altar to the unkwnown god” and sort of claimed it for Jesus as a point of illustration. We should always lead with good will in all our relationships. I was at the touring of the new Mormon temple in Oklahoma City (before its consecration), and an unrelenting member of our touring group kept arguing with the tour guide..who was reduced to tears and sobbing and asking “what do you have against us?” and having to be replaced by another guide! I was accromonious! This twerpy and argumentative member of our tour was nothing but a bully…..and Christians are NOT Bullies!
    I really appreciate this article.


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