Mormons and evangelicals: Answering the hardball questions about our faith

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Robert Millet (L) and Richard Mouw (R)

Robert Millet (L) and Richard Mouw (R)

I’m in Pasadena this week for my first meeting with a small group of evangelical and Mormon scholars who’ve gathered for the last fifteen years or so for dialogue and friendship. I’m one of the newbies in the group, and it’s a great honor to be part of it.

The contents of our meetings are off the record*, but I wanted to share with you what happened yesterday in a related public event, when BYU professor Robert Millet was the guest speaker in one of Richard Mouw’s classes at Fuller Theological Seminary.

To give you some background, Rich Mouw retired recently as the president of Fuller (though he still seems as busy as ever), and Bob Millet is professor of religion and emeritus dean of religious education at BYU.

Most importantly, they are great friends.

So when Rich introduced Bob to the large class of seminarians, he did so with a bromantic side hug and stories of their deepening friendship through the years. And Bob responded with something like how Rich knows that Bob hates the hugging, but he’s willing to tolerate it because Rich is a Known Hugger.

Then Bob launched into a masterful lecture about the Mormon view of humanity’s role and eternal destiny. He was quoting scripture; he was pointing them to the Lectures on Faith; he was combing through Mormon history.

And this wasn’t the softball stuff, either, like “We believe in eternal families, and isn’t that sweet?”

No, this lecture was about the question that Mormons get asked about all the time but that we rarely talk about in our own prosaic and decidedly non-theological Sunday church meetings:

“Do you guys really think that you’re going to become gods? And that God was once a man?”

Already we should note several things that distinguish this kind of interfaith give-and-take from the defensive linebacker posture that Mormons have so often adopted when we expect to be tackled by angry evangelicals. Bob was totally comfortable, in his element. He was an invited, known, beloved guest who knew he would be treated with respect.

And he was more than ready to return the favor.

How did he do that? Well, in addition to imparting information about what Mormons believe, he also respected his audience. He was not there to convert them or even to convince them of his POV; he was there to increase their understanding of his faith and his understanding of theirs. He talked about his love for evangelical writers like C. S. Lewis and N. T. Wright, quoting their words and suggesting how much he had learned from them.

And he was willing to be vulnerable and admit it outright when he didn’t know something – a humility which, when we’re talking about the speculative frontiers of Mormon theology, is a pretty important quality. “I don’t know what to do with that” was what Bob said in all honesty about the first half of the uncanonized Lorenzo Snow couplet that “As man is; God once was.” Mormons don’t focus on that, and we’re not at all sure we believe it.

The second half, however – “As God is, man may become” – is still alive and well in Mormon belief, and Bob showed how the idea of theosis or deification has roots in orthodox (and Orthodox, big O) Christian theology, quoting heavyweight Church Fathers like Justin Martyr, Ireneaus, Athanasius, and Augustine.

Then he opened the floor for questions, which both he and Rich responded to, with help from some people in the audience. Some of the questions were tough. What about blacks and the priesthood/temple ban? Don’t Mormons basically pay lip service to grace, believing instead that we’ll get to the highest heaven on our own righteousness? Why do Mormons try to evangelize evangelicals?

And the spirit in the room was so friendly that when Rich mentioned one of his great concerns about Mormonism, I think the Mormons in the room were ready to take a hard look at our own tradition and realize the truth of what he was saying. Rich said he feels uncomfortable with the degree to which Mormons emphasize being with our families forever – not the overall concept, but the heavy weight we place on it. There’s almost nothing in the Bible on the family as an eternal unit; there is a privileging of singleness as the biblical ideal; and this focus “can detract from the sense of our presence before the face of Christ . . . We should not just be hoping for the kingdom; we’re hoping for the king.”

Amen to that. I have a lot to learn.

  • Cat

    Wow – How I wish we could do this? How I wish we could in our own faith tradition have this type of loving dialogue.

    I know your intent is shine hope, sadly, it just hurts deeper to see the other writing on the wall. The writing that says this kind of interfaith and faithful type of LDSness is a pipe dream. Our barricade is nearly finished, we just have a few more bricks to put in place. Then we will have our complete goal. Utter uniqueness.

    I envy your luck at being there, experiencing this, and living on the edge of wonderful. I will keep the memory of your experience tucked away in my heart, because maybe in the next life I can be a part of something so amazing.

  • Ben in Oakland

    Well, Jana, you have to have some hope. After all, for at least a while, they were able to agree that they hated gay people more than they hated each other.

  • Dave

    This type of comment only perpetuates hate between those who disagree with each other and does not help.

  • Eric Facer

    Nice post, Jana.

    I have two thoughts on this quote by Rich about the family: “There’s almost nothing in the Bible on the family as an eternal unit; there is a privileging of singleness as the biblical ideal; and this focus “can detract from the sense of our presence before the face of Christ . . . We should not just be hoping for the kingdom; we’re hoping for the king.”

    1. If the Celestial Kingdom turns out to be little more than one perpetual family reunion, then count me out. I can’t stand those things. (Though I love my family. Most of the time.)

    2. I disagree with the notion that there is a “privileging of singleness as the biblical ideal.” My reading of the Bible, especially the teachings of Paul, suggests that while personal worthiness and righteousness are important, the thing that is most privileged is neither the individual nor the family but the community, the group, the extended family of man.

  • Dave

    This type of dialogue happened everyday of my mission that I served for the LDS church. I think it is far more common than many would think. I appreciate the positive story about Mormons sharing faith with others in a peaceful way…

  • Dcsouthgw

    I have seen these two in action and have always enjoyed the idea of Mormons and evangelicals bridging gaps. As a missionary, my president made an effort half way thru to change our focus from being baptizing machines to being teachers…to teach true principles where ever we were. Oddly enough, our baptizing went through the roof when we stopped worrying about it. If we teach to convey restored gospel truth, we are opening up a connection to the Spirit in that setting or creating edification. If edification becomes the goal, then conversion is placed appropriately on the Spirit, where it has always been. I also see this attitude from the church leaders in conference and other addresses. I have always felt that one of the talents they have is to be inclusive and approachable when making addresses to the public. I think we can learn a lot from that example.

  • Susan

    “Why do Mormons try to evangelize evangelicals?”

    So Evangelicals don’t like to be evangelized. They don’t like it when the shoe is on the other foot.

  • Shallow Frog

    I am still waiting to hear these answers. Do Mormons believe God was man before becoming God. Does righteousness prevail over grace? Do they believe they can become divine as God is? Someone help me here.

  • Ben in oakland

    But that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Until mitt Romney went over to get Billy Graham’s endorsement, graham’s website insisted that Mormons are not Christians. Therefore, they would be going to hell. Mormons believe that the Baptist interpretation of the Bible is completely wrong. Both have tried to convert the others.

    However, the one thing both believe is that gay people are bad bad bad bad bad, that the mythical gay agenda needs to be stopped, and that gay people wanting to and discrimination against our lives are attacking faith, freedom, morality, heterosexuality, and Jesus God himself.

    So, I don’t think it far from wrong to state that they were able to put aside their profound theological differences to attack gay people, which both have been doing for decades. If you don’t want to call their profound theological differences hate, I can agree with that.

    But the rhetoric the Baptist have directed at gay people is not far off from what they direct of Mormons.

  • Jesse

    Yes to all Shallow. This is one of the problems. It’s not that the LDS are being shown to be similar to traditional Christian beliefs, the differences are still very broad. The other part of this is the Robert Millet is not actually speaking as a proponent of official doctrine of the LDS church. He is free to offer his own opinion, downplaying actual official doctrine. This is one of the deceptive aspects of this entire discussion. All of Millet’s books have the huge caveat that they are not actually official doctrine, as they all make clear.

  • Frankly,the idea of.Mormons (or anyone else,for that matter)”evangelizing”Evangelicals is simply an odd and/or bizarre concept: Why do you think they’re called evangelicals in the first place? What am I missing here,people??

  • I prefer the statement from Lorenzo Snow’s first wife, Charlotte Squires: “As God is, woman may become.”

  • maddy

    Ben,
    “So, I don’t think it far from wrong to state that they were able to put aside their profound theological differences to attack gay people”

    I thought the same. The LDS Church did evangelicals a huge favor though–they did much of the work and took most of the “heat.” I imagine, however, recently the LDS’ church support of employment and housing equality laws is not shared by evangelicals.

    I generally think dialogue can be better than no dialogue. But, I often wonder if the “tone/aim” of the Prop 8 campaign–demonization/distortions/untruths came about, in part, because of alliances between the LDS church and evangelicals.

  • W

    My $.02:

    #1 – Jana has the right of it, I think… it’s there, but it doesn’t play an up front role in practice (and is even sometimes questioned both in general and details).

    #2 – I’m willing to give this a solid no. It’s true Latter-day Saints place a lot of stock in works as a kind of practice, as part of covenants and taking on Christ’s yoke, and as a manifestation faith/grace. This can get confused by both insiders and outsiders as reliance on those works, but the theology seems pretty clear to me: salvation/exaltation is only possible by grace, the rest is mostly about how we are changed and aspire to be changed by that grace.

    #3 – Yes. Take as strong a reading of “heirs” as you can in Romans 8:16-17 in the context of a truly familial concept of our relationship to God and that should give you a rough picture of what it looks like to most believing Mormons.

  • Be Brave

    That’s a bunch of bunk. Mormon “missionaries” at the front door are a welcomed sight to any “Evangelical” that desires to preach the Gospel unadulterated. Which of course IS NOT a Mormon missionary.

    Mormon theology has nothing in similarity to the New Testament other than spelling the english words Jesus Christ correctly. It ends there.

    Buddhists are nice people. Some secularists are nice people. That does not mean their theology is Christian.

    Mormons, like LGBT’s, have everything they want but the right Jesus. He is found in reality in the theology held onto by “Bible believing” Evangelicals. That is why so many of these kinds of people need to find their validation on the Evangelical road. It IS the narrow road taught as such by the real Jesus.

    Mormon theology when it is studied and tested has nothing at all compatible with “The faith delivered only once to the saints.”

    And those “saints” are not the ones led by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

  • Be Brave

    Sorry W,

    Doctrine and Covenants 132,

    Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, recorded July 12, 1843, relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant and the principle of plural marriage.
    1–6, Exaltation is gained through the new and everlasting covenant; 7–14, The terms and conditions of that covenant are set forth; 15–20, Celestial marriage and a continuation of the family unit enable men to become gods; 21–25, The strait and narrow way leads to eternal lives; 26–27, The law is given relative to blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; 28–39, Promises of of eternal increase and exaltation are made to prophets and Saints in all ages; 40–47, Joseph Smith is given the power to bind and seal on earth and in heaven; 48–50, The Lord seals upon him his exaltation; 51–57, Emma Smith is counseled to be faithful and true; 58–66, Laws governing plural marriage are set forth.

  • W

    If your point is that D&C 132 spells out ordinances/covenants as necessary works which eclipse Christ’s grace, one doesn’t even need the D&C to raise such a concern — you could do with Mark 16:16 as a similar go-to proof text.

    Assuming there is a conflict, of course. There are various ways of reading that verse and giving it due context in a broader canon and community of engaged readers. Some of them I referred to in my earlier comment. So it is with D&C 132.

  • Jeff P

    Jana, just at the general level, I’m curious how the organizers are able to create and foster a ‘safe’ enough environment to have conversations like this?
    There seems to be, sadly, such mutual institutional hostility between most Protestants, and the LDS Church, that it seems like its the rare person who can discuss with the other without labels being used, feelings being hurt, and tempers flaring. What advice might you have for others who find themselves in these kind of conversations?

    I’d also be curious, do the participants tend to see these as ‘ecumenical’ talks, or rather as ‘inter-faith’?

  • Pr Chris

    What drives me nuts when I try and understand Mormonism is the almost universal lack of interest in the truth of doctrine among many Mormons. For instance, they justify their entire faith community is that it brings back “Restored Christianity”. They claim some great Apostasy, whereby the Christian faith of the 1-3rd centuries gradually lost its true covenants, and was not restored until Joseph Smith found his golden plates.

    There is, however, is NO witness to this that I can find in the Christian materials of that time period. The support for this doctrine is a half dozen isolated verses stating that the Christian community will come under attack from false teachers. So? There’s nothing to show that although there was lots of lively disagreement among early followers of Jesus, that the entire true message of the faith was lost. I don’t accept outside source to show this, (The Book of Mormon, D&C, etc.) when there is nothing in the recognized text shows this.

    How can…

  • Just Askin

    So how many wives did Joseph Smith have again?

    Just askin…

  • Ben in oakland

    To me, maddy, it just showed that this has nothing to do with sincere religious belief, but selectively sincere religious belief, prejudice disguised and given the thinnest veneer of respectability by calling it religious belief, self loathing inculcated by religious belief, the exercising of somepeople’s demons by pretending to exorcise mine.

  • EG

    The Mormon church is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. The LDS church is scrutinized for every little thing. A Mormon member can committ a crime and it is the fault of the Mormon church. Oh the outcry.

    YET any other religion can do horrible things and yet there is silence from the critics. Any other religion who has horrible pasts gets a free pass. Today any religion and its members can do anything and say anything horrible and no one bats an eye or gets upset or critical of that religions teachings, actions, etc. Nope, no criticism.what. so.ever.

    Hhmmmmm……..where is the Evangelical outcry about the Duggars and their cult. Red flags every where.
    Oh, that’s right. They are alright because they are not evil Mormons.

  • Larry

    Awww that’s so cute. You hate fellow Christians just as much as you hate others. 🙂

  • “As man is; God once was” would be better said: “As man is; Christ once was, as Christ is man may become.” We do not know enough about God the Father to say that he was a man like us. We know he LOOKS like us, but we do not have enough revealed information to say any better than Snow should have been speaking of Christ, even if he was not.

    “What about blacks and the priesthood/temple ban?” The Church has admitted that we were racist though we will not apologize for our past.

    “Don’t Mormons basically pay lip service to grace, believing instead that we’ll get to the highest heaven on our own righteousness?” No, D&C 76 proves that grace is all that is needed for Salvation, yet our works do help with Exaltation. Christ told his followers there are many mansions and that there will be those above other (the first shall be last) so we know there is more to it than Grace.

    “Why do Mormons try to evangelize evangelicals?” God sends us out to gather the saved and save the…

  • One more…

    ““Do you guys really think that you’re going to become gods?” No. We are already gods. We are here to become that which we are.

    The Bible is very clear when it says “let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1: 26). As stated earlier, we existed in the preexistence (life before the Earth was formed). In the creation of mankind, we see that Christ did not do all of the work himself, but had helpers, likely the morning stars that sang together, all the Sons of God that shouted for joy (Job 38: 7). While it is true that “us” could be God the Father and Jesus Christ, this would mean that women were created after the male image of God. It would seem more likely that women would be created after the female image of God’s spirit creations or a Heavenly Mother not mentioned in the Bible directly. We are then gods. Being “Sons of God,” as the Bible says, this doesn’t seem to be an issue as the term “god” takes a new meaning.

    http://learnaboutchrist.info/the-creation/

  • Jeff P

    Chris:
    Learning LDS theology has been frustrating for me too. Jana’s book ‘Mormonism for Dummies’ was handy.

    Their idea of a Great Apostasy you mention is a good example. From my reading, it says that the rest of Christianity is ‘Apostate’, teaches a largely false man-made (or ‘pagan’) Gospel and needs restoring from scratch. The articles on the ‘Great Apostasy’ on the LDS Website seem say our primary failures are mistaken beliefs relate to the nature and number of God(s), whether God is primarily a ‘man’ or a spirit, and the nature of man.

    This paradox is illustrated in Mr. Millet’s comments here. Mr. Millet is supporting his views about man becoming like God, by likening it to the Orthodox views on ‘Theosis’. Yet, the Orthodox are rejected as Apostates, per LDS website partly because of their mistaken views about God. We are apostate for not believing that God was/is a man, yet Jana and Mr. Millet here are implying that’s not official LDS teaching. Its very…

  • Fred M

    I don’t think it is church doctrine that we earn exaltation through our works. See President Uchtdorf’s latest talk in general conference. Our good works are a demonstration of our love for the Lord–but in no way do we earn a reward in heaven based on them (although I think many many members believe that’s the case, it’s certainly not doctrinal).

  • Jeff P

    EG:
    Your point is quite fair.
    We tend to judge others more harshly, and give ourselves a break.
    As an outsider, I do see Mormons targeted for blanket condemnation for the sins of a few. I am sorry for that. Hopefully, gatherings like Jana’s article is describing will help in that area.

    You might be pleased to know that many more thoughtful evangelicals are becoming very vocal in criticizing evangelical leaders and institutions who sweep sexual abuse under the carpet. Twitter was ablaze this weekend with evangelicals calling their fellow evangelicals to-task for their response to the Duggar scandal.
    For an example, Russell Moore’s piece ‘What should the Duggar Scandal teach the Church’. Or, the harsh criticism Mike Huckabee has gotten from conservative evangelicals for his comments.

  • Joseph M

    This is a couple of Years old but i think it gives a good summery of Mr. Mouw’s experience of this dialogue.

    https://vimeo.com/22184895 Richard Mouw – Mormonism and Traditional Christianity: A Report on an Ongoing Dialogue from La Canada Presbyterian Church

  • Dave

    Ben,
    It is clear that you and Baptists disagree with Mormons on many levels and per Mandy’s comment even on gay rights (Baptists). You have a right to disagree but using the blanket statement that Mormons “hate” gays is not correct. I even disagree with my church’s stance on gay marriage but I do not believe the church, membership or leadership “hates” gay people. Some rare individuals may but that is a small minority that is unfair and counterproductive to even mention.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    @ Ben: “the one thing both believe is that gay people are bad bad bad bad.”

    That’s false and I think you know it’s false.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Oh, OK. I thought this was clear enough but let me help you.

    1. We’re uncertain about God’s history. No one thinks that God was once sinful (this is an allegation that gets made by some so-called Christians) but we *do* think that we are made in the image and likeness of God. (Hint: That’s in the Bible.) So while someone like Robert Millet can say (this was in the article, if you noticed) that we don’t quite know what to make of the expression “as man is, God once was,” it could just refer to the fact that God has an appearance like ours. It could mean more than that, but nothing very specific has been revealed on the subject of God’s history.

    2. Grace is absolutely necessary and no one says that righteousness “prevails” over grace, whatever it is that you mean by that.

    3. Mormons believe (this was in the article too) that we can become as gods and goddesses. This is in the Bible (Romans 8), the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the writings of C.S…

  • trytoseeitmyway

    The Apostasy is mainly concerned with the loss of the priesthood as the Church of Jesus Christ was co-opted by Rome. The Roman church added and subtracted doctrine falsely. This ultimately led to the Protestant Reformation, but it did not (and could not) restore the priesthood. Hope that helps.

  • ben in oakland

    It all depends on how you wish to parse the words they use.

    I can agree that the blanket use of the word “hate” is not correct. But not all bigotry is hate. So much of it is the always assumed, never questioned belief in one’s wholly imaginary superiority as a heterosexual, an allegedly moral person, a Christian, and a human being.

    When someone calls me broken, It’s getting close to hate. When someone makes claims about my life that three minutes on the internet will fix, it’s willful ignorance and even closer. When they say my marriage will cause 900,000 abortions and heterosexuals to abandon marriage, it has crossed a line, and slanders heterosexuals as well.

    When they call my CIVIL marriage a threat to marriage, family, faith, freedom, heterosexuality, morality, and western civilization, without one single bit of fact, logic, and experience that they haven’t created from whole cloth, they have definitely crossed the line.

    Now, you explain to me why this isn’t…

  • ben in oakland

    Of course they do. They try to disguise it as “love the sinner, hate the sin”, by claiming that it is homosexual sex that is bad, but gay people are merely broken.

    But that is simply obfuscation of their actual intent.

    I am a gay man in exactly the same way heterosexuals are heterosexual. My sexuality informs my life, and is how I express love, romance, sexuality, and family. Pretending the my homosexuality is merely a behavior that can be abandoned at will, but heterosexuality is innate, is simply to deny my humanity because it fits their theology.

    Calling my very existence and civil rights a threat, as they have done, and my CIVIL marriage likewise a threat to marriage, family, faith, freedom, heterosexuality, morality, and western civilization, without one single bit of fact, logic, and experience that they haven’t created from whole cloth…

    Well, I find that nonsense, whether called “love” or admitted for what it so clearly is, completely indistinguishable from…

  • ben in oakland

    completely indistinguishable from hate.

    I sure wish they would fix this commenting system/.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    So you equate policy disagreement with hate. I thought so. That’s nonsense, but you’re too busy hating to understand.

  • ben in oakland

    I think you are capable only of seeing it your way.

    If Mormons want to believe that homosexuality is a sin, I’m fine with it, apart from, thinking that it is stupid, and an abuse, misuse, and mistranslation of scripture.

    but that’s just a policy disagreement, right?

    When they make up a bunch of scheiss about me, my family, my life, and my community, they have left a mere policy statement well behind them, unless you are also claiming that outright lies are also simply a statement of policy.

  • ben in oakland

    How this for a bit more concise:

    I don’t equate statements of policy with outright lies about gay people, and politically motivated fear mongering.

    Perhaps you do.

  • Dave

    We are all broken Ben, at least that is what I believe and it is the same reason that has brought me to believe as a Christian. I believe Jesus is working to make us all better. I feel bad that you have been made to feel less than others by people that should be kind. I have beliefs that I don’t live by myself because it is hard to do the right thing. I am broken… I am not sure what else to say that I do believe there is truth and if we don’t live by it there is consequences, but it seems that we disagree on what is truth in this specific matter. I believe sexual behavior outside of a heterosexual marriage is wrong. I don’t hate gay people, I married a bisexual woman whom I love dearly I hope that despite my difference of opinion with you , that you do not think I hate you. As long as we believe that someone hates us, it is hard to understand them…

  • ben in oakland

    @Dave: as before, thanks for your measured response.

    No, I don’t believe you hate me, nor that Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin NECESSARILY do so out of hate. I’ve clarified this position many times.

    It is one thing to believe that homosexuality is a sin. I think it is an abuse of badly translated Scripture, but it’s your faith, not mine.

    It’s quite another thing to advocate disadvantagement of gay people in secular law based upon bad theology. It’s not something that is done for all of the rest of the sinners, like those who don’t believe jesus died for their sins. Just us. And that is VERY telling.

    It’s quite another thing simply to make up a bunch of crap about gay people, completely divorced from facts, logic, and experience. And it’s completely beyond the pale of civilized behavior to use the crap that (generic) you just made up to justify the most egregious harm wreaked upon our lives.

    That is my objection, and the point of nearly all my…

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Hey, we agree about something: the messed-up commenting system!

    So I notice that you shift your ground: the so-called hate (it’s evident that *you’re* a hater, but you’re making it up when you accuse others) no longer has to do with theological or policy differences, but now you’re saying it has to do with “making up” stuff.

    You’re making that up. Here, I will prove it. Just provide a specific citation – including the exact quotation – of something you claim was stated authoritatively by a representative of the Church acting in that capacity which was false, which was never withdrawn, modified or explained, and which demonstrates malice toward homosexuals as such. We can look at it together, friend.

  • ben in oakland

    @dave; the commenting system can’t count.

    “That is my objection, and the point of nearly all my postings on this subject.”

    but since i’ve started…

    Believe whatever (generic) you want. I don’t care. Try to harm my life, my family, children, friends, and I WILL fight back.

    I don’t believe we’re all broken. That’s one of the great harms that Christianity has inflicted on the human race. Are we all of us less than perfect? Are some of us very bad? Absolutely.

    But most people I have known are decent people, doing the best they can. The idea that we must be redeemed from our lack of perfection by the god who allegedly made us all, because of what some imaginary First couple did 6000 years ago, is just pernicious nonsense. If you don’t believe in Adam and Eve, then original sin and redemption have no meaning.

    “I’m American, conservative, and Christian and proud of it!” Said a debate opponent.

    “I’m a human being, and prepared to take the consequences.”…

  • Dave

    @Ben in Oakland

    Thanks Ben, I think you may find there are many Mormons that are not comfortable with the political oppression of active gays that some of the actions of the church have unfortunately been a part of. Though I am not a Libertarian, I have always taken their view on marriage, that it is not the interest of government to be involved in marriage at all. I see my marriage as purely a religious commitment to God and my Wife and only have a marriage certificate because I believe in being a law abiding citizen. I believe the Mormon doctrine that states “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” (Articles of Faith:11) Currently there is no law restricting a gay couple or any other couple for that matter from having a marriage ceremony and making marital vows. I think the issue at hand is that the gay community is not allowed to…

  • Dave

    Sorry if repeat, the messed comment thing driving me crazy. But I think the real issue is that the Gay community wants the legal rights of marriage. The government (us) has historically supported the legal infrastructure of marriage. I think this issue tells us this wrong as one should not be forced to support a group that he or she does not agree with any more than I should have to support Republicans with my taxes. Other than that I think the church is friendly to those who disagree with them (this is my opinion) to your comment “Are we all of us less than perfect? Are some of us very bad? Absolutely” This is what I meant by being “broken” I think we agree on this. I also as well as mainstream Mormon doctrine do not believe in original sin of Adam and Eve. But when we do sin, we are responsible but unable to bear the responsibility therefore Jesus takes the punishment of sin. But then we have to stay changed otherwise his help is meaningless…

  • Dave

    SO I think if we did away with the whole marriage issue and made it a private matter then all can be happy believing what they want without forcing it on others. True some will continue to shove it down each others throats but that will be a minority I believe. The church has supported other gay rights initiatives recently and is trying to do better. Just like this country we lived in used to allow salves and now it does not. It doesn’t mean that America is wrong just that we are people. And people can change, I believe that. Even you and I.

  • ben in oakland

    here is just one: Official Mormon Church Publication, LDS Church Ensign, July 1974, Page 14

    “Homosexuals and lesbians seldom are happy people. Theirs is a relationship that is unnatural, one not bound by fidelity, trust, or loyalty, and one totally lacking in the meaningful family relationships that marriage offers. Homosexuality often espouses emotional problems because of the constant insecurity inherent in a relationship neither sanctioned by nor protected by the law…Because there is no legal bond, homosexuality too often encourages, or at least permits, promiscuity…To say that “no one gets hurt” is presumptive… There is harm in homosexuality. Many homosexuals seek to introduce others into their practice, often those in in their tender, impressionable years. Many studies have indicated that such early homosexual experience may interfere with normal sexual adjustment in subsequent marriage.”

    More lies than I can count. 1000 characters do not allow fuller…

  • ben in oakland

    @Dave, there are misconceptions in what you say, and 1000 characters won’t exposition.

    Marriage is separately a legal AND a religious matter. If you want the legal rights, benefits, and protections of marriage, you get legally married. Is it not a matter of being law-abiding. And religion is optional.

    Marriage as a legal matter creates kinship, specifically, NEXT of kinship. This is why the government can’t get out of marriage, and why the legal appurtenances of marriage are important to gay people.

    your thinking about “one should not be forced to support a group etc.” is confused. You do that all the time the minute you allow religious freedom, or divorce, or lots of other things. The issue is how the government treats it citizens, not about agreement or support. My marriage is not “forced” on anyone. It is a matter between us and our government, not religious people we don’t know. Sex is not the issue. Our sexual relationship is not the government’s business, or…

  • trytoseeitmyway

    So you quote from an article from 1974. That’s 40 years ago. There is not a shred of hatred expressed there. The views expressed were consistent with then-prevailing psychological attitudes, homosexuality only having been removed from the DSM as a psychological disorder in December of the prior year.

    But your very hostile, prejudiced statements were all expressed in the present tense. So let’s be a bit more current, shall we? E.g.,

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that same-sex attraction is a sensitive issue which requires kindness, compassion, and understanding. The website “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction” strives to address, through interviews and videos from Church leaders and members, the issue of same-sex attraction as it relates to individuals and affected family members. The statements and stories emphasize the importance of Christ’s commandment to love one another and reaffirm the Church’s position.”

  • Ben in oakland`

    You asked for one, I gave you one that met your criteria. I knew it was old. Your claim that it represented the prevailing ideas at the time is nonsense. I was there. I knew that there were kinder, gentler things that represent the same attitudes. I could have quoted spencer Kimball and Gordon hinckley. I also said that 1000 characters is not enough to delve into the issue of the fist in the velvet glove, prop8, and similar things.

    so, no thanks for now. you got what you wanted, and now you want to change the rules of the game.

  • You are not really dealing with the hardball questions, or the facts. http://downtownministries.blogspot.com/

  • Pr Chris

    EG: Some of what you perceive as a difference in treatment may be the result of a non professional clergy in Mormonism. Trust me, when a Lutheran minister is found to have committed a crime, it is WELL COVERED, believe me. And the Roman Catholic problem of pediphile in among the Catholic clergy is another. Since there is no professional clergy to point to in Mormonism, any Mormon is as good as another for blatant coverage. As a Lutheran, we had a pastor found out about misbehavior just last week. And don’t forget the BTK killer, a very “upstanding member of a parish council” who was sensational because of his church connections, while he went on to kill quite a number of people… when I talk with other Lutheran clergy, we sometimes comment that if it wasn’t negative coverage, there would be NO coverage.

    Pr chris

  • Pr Chris

    Ok, now you are saying the Great Apostasy happened when Rome recognized the church, and they added and subtracted to the priesthood. But WHERE do you find support for that in Christian sources? See, you assert things that I have spent forty years studying and not come up with those conclusions at all. As we follow Christian theology over the decades and centuries, I find no support within Christian documents to support this supposed Apostasy, and without it, doesn’t Mormonism fall of its own weight?

    Bringing in other sources not recognized by the Christian Churches to say the Christian churches have failed just doesn’t work. For us, it becomes a nice fairy tale, but has no reality.

    Pr Chris

  • ALW

    I actually think Rich Mouw is right about the over-emphasis of the family in the eternities among Mormons. I don’t think we really understand the meaning of being sealed to our parents or children for eternity. We certainly understand it differently than members of the church did in the 19th century, when people saw those sealings as a way for eternal blessings to pass in an unbroken line of inheritance from God to us. Members were originally sealed to prophets.

    It seems to me that if we live with our parents and they live with their parents and we live with our children and they live with their children and so on and so on, then we all would just live together as one big family. That seems little different than not living together as a family.

    In any case, the whole emphasis on living as family units in the eternities is not found in the scriptures and was not seen as part of the meaning of temple ordinances for several decades after they were introduced.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    “You asked for one, I gave you one that met your criteria.”

    No, you didn’t. I provided very specific criteria and an Ensign article from 1974 doesn’t meet the criteria I specified, on multiple grounds. So in fact you’re the one changing the rules.

    By the way, statements of opinion can’t be “lies.” They are statements of opinion with which one can agree or disagree. You’re effort here and on many other occasions is to attack opposing viewpoints unfairly and maliciously using exaggeration and mischaracterization. For example, your original claim is that Mormons and evangelicals think that homosexuals are “bad bad bad,” when there is no justification for that statement at all. And I cited evidence to the contrary that you ignored. It’s too bad you’re such a hater. Probably means you’re an unhappy person too. Sad.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    As a postcript, we need to be clear about meaning when we allege that someone has “lied.” A lie is not merely a statement that turns out to be inaccurate or an opinion with which one disagrees or believes to be ill-founded. A lie is a false statement on a matter of fact (rather than opinion or evaluation) made by the speaker with knowledge of the falsity.

    It happens in political or quasi-political discourse that an interlocutor will accuse his or her opponent (or a third person claimed to be affiliated with the opponent) of a lie or of lying when not all (or perhaps any) of the criteria are present. In those situations, the accusation is, at best, an exaggeration. It is common to find exaggeration used to make a case because a fair and evenhanded recitation of facts would be inadequate to do so. We see that here.

  • Cody

    lol – wow. Not a Mormon here, but as a Methodist pastor, I can tell you that although I might not fully agree with Mormon theology, they certainly have several similarities with the New Testament.

    And yes, they are our brothers in Christ. Mormons are Christian.

  • SanAntonioRob

    I don’t think we understand the nature or consequences of the concept of the family unit being eternal. I would doubt that my own children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren,… etc. will live with me in the afterlife – definitely not in the same sense we do here.

    But I would be VERY surprised if at least married couples were not bound together in the eternities in a very real way. Here on earth, we are to become one flesh. Jesus said divorce was a sort of compromise because of our weaknesses. To explain His own relationship to us, Christ used the metaphor of a bride and groom. It would seem rather stupid to put so much emphasis on forming and solidifying this relationship in the flesh- to use it to emphasize His own relationship to us – if it did not have some important, eternal significance.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Pr Chris,

    Your comment is confusing. There is no source to cite in which a prelate says something like, “Memo to file: We became apostate today.” So, if that’s what you’re looking for, I agree it’s not there.

    If you’re looking for evidence that doctrines changed from what they were before, then the evidence abounds. There is a long list compiled in T. Callister, The Inevitable Apostasy and the Promised Revelation (2006) (available at Amazon.com). If you’re looking for evidence that the priesthood became corrupt, well, there’s evidence of that too.

  • Bob

    I believe the biblical focus on “singleness” has largely to do with this life, our personal accountability to God and our responsibilities to adapt the principles and values Jesus taught. Among which arefaith, hope, and charity which is love which is generosity. We all must be generous (kind) in our thoughts, words, prayers, deeds, and giving to others. We should pray, for example for those of other faiths that they may be successful before God. One of the most revolutionary of religious tenants was introduced by Jesus when he said “Love your enemies,” “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the [re]publicans so?

  • By your logic, Paul is also a false prophet. Paul stated the people shouldn’t marry. This goes against God’s commandment to multiply and replenish the Earth. Jesus said that God is no respecter of persons, yet Genesis and Paul place men above women. Who is right, Paul and Genesis or Jesus? The best example of the relationship between God and His prophets can be seen in the story of Jonah. Jonah thought he was a false or failed prophet as his revelation did not come true. But in fact, it just didn’t come true the way he thought it would or should. When you condemn Joseph Smith Jr., you end up condemning his fellow prophets in the Bible.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Thanks, Pastor, for this thoughtful comment.

  • Ben in oakland

    @Cody:

    “but as a Methodist pastor, I can tell you that although I might not fully agree with Mormon theology, they certainly have several similarities with the New Testament. And yes, they are our brothers in Christ. Mormons are Christian.”

    Not according to St. Paul. in Galatians. “7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

    8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

    9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

  • Noel

    I think it is interesting that at the very seminary that Millet taught at is a theologian/philosopher who argues that we have no spirit. This is called physicalism view as opposed to dualism (spirit & body). If Nancy Murphy is right then all the temple work that Mormons conduct in their temples for the dead is pointless as those who died do not exist anywhere. See her books Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies & Whatever Happened to the Soul? Neuroscience will be a challenge to traditional views of body and soul.

  • “Bob showed how the idea of theosis or deification has roots in orthodox (and Orthodox, big O) Christian theology, quoting heavyweight Church Fathers like Justin Martyr, Ireneaus, Athanasius, and Augustine.”

    I’m disappointed to see that Dr. Millett is still using this apologetic when it has been pointed out to him repeatedly – often in long scholarly papers – that he’s comparing apples and oranges. This apologetic is WAY off the mark!

    Simply put the Patristic Father did not, ever, teach that human beings will BECOME a god. Rather, they taught that we will be LIKE God, sharing SOME aspects of His nature.

    There many scholarly papers I could cite here but I’ll stick with Rob Bowman’s deconstruction and analysis of Daniel C. Peterson’s abuse the patristic Father’s theosis teachings.
    http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/08/did-joseph-smith-restore-theosis-part-one-the-mormon-doctrine-of-exaltation/

    Dr. Millet can do better than this – and I hope that, going…

  • Leo

    Bob, it’s just you can’t understand what is the Law. You can’t change the gospel of Jesus Christ to justify your own way of life and lust. Jesus said: “have faith in my Name, repent, be baptized, keep in my path and be saved”.

  • Pr Chris

    I read much of the book you recommended, and I have to say I am very unimpressed by his scholarship. It is very shallow and doesn’t follow strong principles of argument.

    When I say that there is no record of a “Great Apostasy” I mean that there are no identifiable themes from the writings of the first century until the 4th, 5th, etc. You claim that we have lost ordinances. But when there is nothing in the text that biblical scholars can identified as supposed “ordinances” that have been lost, it is a story that just doesn’t ring true. What do you think we lost?

    I’ll take the witness of the NT, the Church Fathers, and the thousand and thousand of church history over the next 2k years that simply doesn’t provide a background for the doctrines of Mormonism. I have had Mormon friends who try to suggest that it is important to practice, than to dissect facts…but my faith is in the reality of the gospel story. I simply find another story in Mormonism.

    Pr chris

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