The Journal Gazette Times-Courier out of east-central Illinois is in the middle of a pretty interesting online rant. It began on November 3rd when journalist Lee Thomson answered a couple questions about Mormonism in his (her?) “Journey of Faith” column. The questions:
Dear Lee: I’ve never gotten satisfactory answers to these questions: Why does the Mormon Church not have crosses in or on their buildings, and why do Mormons not wear cross jewelry?They say they’re Christians and believe in Jesus Christ, yet they won’t accept this universal symbol of His sacrifice for our sins.
— Puzzled Christian
Lee Thomson answered the questions — and then some. Being a distant relative of noted LDS “theologian” Hugh Nibley, Thomson has never been Mormon, but has close relatives who are members of the LDS Church. Therefore, he says, he has respect for his relatives’ faith and devotion.
The November 3rd column explained that, according to Thomson’s Mormon step-mother, Mormons don’t direct their worship toward symbols so, consequently, they do not have crosses in or on their churches. But Thomson went a bit further in the explanation. He wrote:
Mormons never use crosses anywhere, perhaps because Mormons believe Jesus’ death on the cross is insufficient to obtain eternal salvation.
Following this, Thomson briefly touched on several LDS doctrines:
- The requirement of perfection for salvation
- That God was once a man
- That many Gods exist
- That God progressed to Godhood by performing good works, and others may progress as well
- That God resides near the planet Kolob
- That Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother have bodies and use them to procreate spirits
- That these spirits wait until a human body is prepared for them by women on earth and then inhabit said bodies
- That by righteous living and faithful tithing a Mormon may obtain a temple recommend and marry “for time and eternity”
- That after death righteous Mormons obtain planets they populate with their spouses — “families are forever”
- That Mormons live healthfully without coffee, tobacco and alcohol
- That plural marriage is “God’s perfect plan” but Mormons accept legal restrictions against it
You can imagine what a furor this column has caused among LDS readers. The newspaper has received many dissenting comments from Mormons, mostly casting aspersions on Lee Thomson’s character and motives, as well as decrying the information the newspaper published as “inaccurate,” “nonsensical,” and “offensive.” One commenter, “kristie n,” wrote:
“What a load of crap! Where did you learn your LDS doctrine? I don’t believe any of that stuff you said, and have been LDS my whole life. “
Any Latter-day Saint who knows his doctrine must cringe when reading kristie n’s comment. Lee Thomson may have presented his information rather bluntly, but pretty much all of it has its source in the public teachings of LDS prophets and apostles. Is the Latter-day Saint who doesn’t “believe any of that stuff” really so unaware of the doctrines of her Church? Or is there another explanation for her comments?
There is one additional LDS doctrine or policy mentioned by Thomson in his column, and this one seems to have brought the loudest lambaste. It is:
When explaining LDS doctrine or practice might make the religion look odd to the general public, Mormons believe “giving milk before meat” is best. Giving simple explanations initially, and details later, is their belief. Another LDS method is “lying for the Lord,” or deceiving non-Mormons concerning potentially-misunderstood LDS beliefs.Many Mormons believe “lying for the Lord” appropriately keeps LDS matters sacred and unsullied by public criticism.
Remarkably, at last July’s LDS Sunstone Symposium, Ryan Wimmer discussed (in “Truth-Telling and Mormonism”) how “lying for the Lord” resembles the Shi’a Muslim concept, Al-Taqiyah — lying to “dodge the threat,” or save one’s life or faith.
It’s possible that kristie n is ignorant of the teachings of Mormonism. Or, it’s possible that she’s demonstrating Lee Thomson’s point, “lying for the Lord” or otherwise trying to keep doctrinal “meat” out of the hands of those she believes need “milk” instead. It looks to me like this is what most of the other Mormons commenting on Thomson’s column have endeavored to do.
If kristie n really doesn’t “believe any of that stuff,” she’s in the wrong religion. If, on the other hand, she does know and believe these Mormon doctrines…well, enough said.