I‘ll admit, I don’t know many Mormons. In fact, Jana is one of the few that I know. I like her and consider her a good friend.
One of the things that I like most about her is that she always keeps her good-natured smile when answering one of my questions about Mormonism, questions that are usually laced with incredulity. For all of my (supposed) openness, I don’t tend to be that open or understanding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. To me, it seems secretive and odd, and its founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., smacks to me of a half-crazed charlatan.
Jana, however, is neither half-crazed nor a charlatan. She’s thoughtful and literate, and she’s an adult convert to LDS, so she went in with her eyes open.
Thus, when she talks about Mormonism, I listen.
For years, people have asked me the hypothetical question, “If emergent is so open, would you allow Mormons in?” And I have answered, “That’s a silly question because I cannot imagine that Mormons would have any interest in emergent.”
Well, Jana has declared herself the first (and only?) eMORgent, a hyphenated Mormon-emergent, and she explains why in the post linked below:
What does Emergent offer to me as a committed Latter-day Saint?
At its best, the Emergent ideal can enliven burned-out people and put some new wine in tired wineskins. Emergent does this by balancing focus on Christ–Christ as savior, Christ as Lord–with a focus on Jesus.
Jana goes on to note at least one fork in the road for Mormons. She writes about attending a talk during which Rob Bell emphatically stated that Jesus did not come to found a church (or, I think, we could substitute, a religion). Jana says that Mormons believe that, to the contrary, Jesus did come to found a church, and that is the Church of LDS.
I would also ask more pointed theological questions of Jana and any other eMORgents out there:
- What do you do with the emergent focus on the relational/social doctrine of the Trinity?
- What of the obvious challenges of jibing the emergent community’s consensus of the normativity of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures with the Book of Mormon?
- And what about possibly the most significant trait of emergent, and that is egalitarian leadership and non-hierarchical structures?
I’m not saying that any of these questions cannot possibly be answered, just that they loom large in a potential dialogue between Mormon and emergents.
In any case, I am enormously grateful to Jana for opening this can of worms, and I’ll be very interested to follow the comments on her blog and mine on this issue.