“The Smell of Evasiveness Will Linger”

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24 Responses to “The Smell of Evasiveness Will Linger”

  1. David says:

    There is a lot there to unpack. I am surprised this woman was so blunt. I really liked how she lumped Mormons and Catholics together in “trying to have it both ways”. I have encountered this numerous times with both groups.

    I submit that the evasiveness, cover-ups, and lying outright in Mormonism will always be present to some degree as this was the nature of Joseph Smith. I am a firm believer that adherents of ideologies tend to look like their founders.

    Mormons are between a rock and hard place when it comes to owning up to their beliefs and history. On the one hand, if they dodge and lie about their beliefs/history (which has been the dominant MO so far) then they rightfully look like they are hiding something. When ugly parts of history are exposed, this makes their effect even worse as it is apparent that Mormons are/were trying to engage in a cover-up.

    On the other hand, completely owning up to their beliefs/history has its pitfalls. Mormonism is so bizarre, so not anything like “other” Christian sects, that being completely transparent is bound to send people running away from Mormonism (including those born and raised in it). We know this can happen as it has happened before (consider the number of Mormons who left the church once polygamy was completely out in the open). Being completely transparent also means that your group actually lands on certain beliefs. It is an apologetic necessity that Mormonism not be pinned down. It is much easier to defend something when “it” cannot be fully explained.

  2. falcon says:

    David,
    Very good summary. The Mormon excuses for shading what they believe on the one hand and denying it on the other is often explained by 1) we’ll be persecuted for what we believe, or 2) people won’t understand it until they have understood the elementary truths. So hide it. I might ask a general question, “Where does deception come from?” A point not brought out in the clip is the idea of continuous revelation within the Mormon Church. While it is exciting for Mormons to believe that God is constantly updating and giving them new messages and perspectives, this prophetic “tradition” further contributes to a fluidness of belief and again lack of consistency. Walter Martin correctly coined the term “maze of Mormonism” to discribe the tangled doctrine and teachings within the Mormon Church. This “maze” gets further complicated by the Mormon Churches evasiveness and unwillingness to own their peculiar doctrine.

  3. Bill McKeever says:

    Helen Whitney understands what some evangelical academics refuse to admit. You can’t have “honest dialogue” with those who refuse to be honest.

  4. Arthur Sido says:

    David,

    “Mormons are between a rock and hard place when it comes to owning up to their beliefs and history. On the one hand, if they dodge and lie about their beliefs/history (which has been the dominant MO so far) then they rightfully look like they are hiding something. When ugly parts of history are exposed, this makes their effect even worse as it is apparent that Mormons are/were trying to engage in a cover-up.”

    That is the great dilemma of modern mormons, having to deal with the embarrassing teachings of their church from 100 years ago, while not being to disavow them. You can’t say Joseph Smith or Brigham Young was wrong, because that brings into question whether anything they taught was true and if they were real prophets at all. But you can’t answer in the affirmative either, because then you look like a crack-pot. It is a tough line to walk, little wonder most mormons are so evasive. I am glad that through the sovereign grace and mercy of God that I am not in the position of defending mormon teachings anymore!

  5. dj1989 says:

    I love the part where she quotes the person that says that Mormonism is “potentially dangerous, radioactive, and could ignite”. What in the world is that statement even based on!

    A clarification: She stated that polygamy was as “essential to Mormonism as baptism is the normal Christian”. Could that be true if polygamy was practiced by only 3% of the Mormon population? (I can’t remember if that’s the exact number, but it’s for sure in the single digits). Or was she saying that only 3% of Christians believe that baptism is essential? If that’s what she meant than maybe she wasn’t lying. (BTW… EVs have said that it is NOT essential, which I would whole heartedly disagree with).

    You have a good reason for saying that we try to have it “both ways”, though. I think that it’s rooted in a general distrust that many Mormons have of Christianity. I don’t like it… and I wish that things were different too… but Christians have encouraged that distrust historically, as well as in recent times. They have had an aggressive stance against us historically (the church’s formative years suffered several murders, rapes, and a general purging of the church from the homes and cities that they lived in, on several occasions). In recent times, they pester us at events that are special to us, as well as at events that are sacred to us.

    Additionally, our doctrine is similar & dissimilar to traditional Christian doctrine. That goes back to our fundamental belief that the doctrine that we believe is the RESTORED gospel. Naturally, there will be overlapping with Christian traditions (so whether you want it or not, there are more similarities than differences). But the dissimilarities give EVs a certain desire to make Mormons seem more distant than we actually are.

    Finally, she is right when she says that Mormons don’t believe that Christians are fully Christian, which isn’t meant to anger you… it’s just a part of our belief that the finer points of the gospel needed to be restored

  6. Jeff B says:

    If you look at Mormonism like a ball, it makes sense to me.

    Mormonism at its core is a mess. Contradictory doctrines/beliefs/no archaeological evidence, no historical evidence, no good reasons why Joseph Smith married women who were already married to a living husband(polyandry), Joseph Smith’s blunder on the Book of Abraham, etc..

    However, the core of this ball in which it’s obvious not even all the members can agree on because of the vagueness in the teachings of their own leaders, is surrounded by an almost impenetrable shell. The shell is the average members “Testimony.” Tightly woven by hopes of the promises of Mormonism and secured by ones desire for it all to be true. Fastened together by the “Good feeling” that the Holy Spirit communicates by.

    So traditional Christianity can try and rebuke the inside of that ball, but it is typically of no use and only comes off as “[filtered profanity or slur]”. It is only when an LDS member begins to question things found within the ball that the shell begins to weaken.

    There was a statement made I believe by Sandra Tanner that bringing an LDS person to Christ requires more than just one person. It is multiple people, things, and ultimately God that helps direct them to the truth (God first, then scriptures and people). It makes me sad that I alone can’t make such an impact, but I see God’s reason for not giving the power to just one person. It is the biggest decision of their life and in no way should their choice of faith rely on just a mortal sinner.

  7. Bill McKeever says:

    DJ, I don’t think that 3% number is defensible, but it certainly gets a lot of play. I heard it a few months ago while touring the Beehive House. Regardless, Brigham Young certainly made polygamy a requirement for exaltation when he said, “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy… I heard the revelation on polygamy, and I believed it with all my heart, and I know it is from God—I know that he revealed it from heaven; I know that it is true, and understand the bearings of it and why it is. ‘Do you think that we shall ever be admitted as a State into the Union without denying the principle of polygamy?’ If we are not admitted until then, we shall never be admitted” (Brigham Young, August 19, 1866, Journal of Discourses 11:269).

  8. Arthur Sido says:

    DJ,

    “Additionally, our doctrine is similar & dissimilar to traditional Christian doctrine. That goes back to our fundamental belief that the doctrine that we believe is the RESTORED gospel. Naturally, there will be overlapping with Christian traditions (so whether you want it or not, there are more similarities than differences). But the dissimilarities give EVs a certain desire to make Mormons seem more distant than we actually are.”

    The names and terms may be the same, but when you get down to the heart of the matter, the nature of God and the nature of man, Christianity and mormonism diverge from the beginning and there all semblance of similarity ends. There is no overlapping the worship of the God of the Bible, eternal, uncreated and the exalted man of mormonism; no overlapping the created Jesus of mormonism and the Jesus Christ who is the Alpha & Omega of the Bible. The mormon gospel is not a restoration of the Gospel, it is quite literally “another gospel”.

  9. 3 percent? An article on history.utah.gov states:

    “… in the Utah period the number who lived in plural households was considerably larger than previously believed. During the 1880s, Mormon representatives in testimony before Congress stated that no more than 1 or 2 percent of the church’s membership was polygamous. Church authorities in their sermons, missionaries abroad, and guides on Temple Square almost to the present time have repeated these figures. We now know, owing to work by [Larry] Logue, [Ben] Bennion and others, that the actual number, depending on the years and location, likely averaged between 15 and 30 percent.”

    And even if the figure is lower, it was a standard part of early Mormon theology that polygamy was necessary for exaltation. It was deeply embedded in the Mormon mindset. After the Reed Smoot hearings the mainstream Mormon sect really had to shift focus away from polygamy onto things like the First Vision to reshape the very Mormon identity.

  10. Bill McKeever says:

    Sorry for taking this a bit off topic, but let’s not forget also that if the purpose of polygamy was to “raise up seed” as the BofM says (an argument I hear often), it was also totally unnecessary since the female population was never more than the male population during the polygamy era in Mormon history. That being the case, Brigham’s hoarding of women (not to mention other GAs during that time) was actually a selfish act since it made it more difficult for other male members to find that necessary ingredient for exaltation.

  11. dj1989 says:

    The polygamy comment was an aside, meant to point out that the comparison between polygamy and baptism wasn’t an equal comparison. Without going into details, though, Brigham Young’s statement is heavily loaded, and the whole meaning of it cannot be understood by the quotation itself.

    The main point of my comments were in response to the topic at hand (which I’m trying to stick to)… the “evasiveness” of Mormons, and the reasons for that evasiveness. Specifically, the reasons I’m talking about are how Christians have encouraged Mormon suspicion & distrust throughout the history of the church, by their non-Christ-like behavior (murder, rape, expelling Mormons from their homes and cities which they built and paid for, and taking the property for themselves, harassment). Our history has all too many accounts of abuse from Christians that go as far as enforced law has allowed them.

    I don’t like it AT ALL. I tolerate it, but I wish it was different as well. But to say that it’s not warranted given our long history of being “neighbors” in this country, is being blind to history.

  12. falcon says:

    dj1989,
    I don’t know for sure, but I think you may have demonstrated the topic at hand with your first paragraph above regarding the BY quote that Bill McKeever cited. BY said in the quote that you can’t get to be a god unless you are practicing polygamy. I can’t think of a way to take that other than what BY said. I’m trying to think how it could be taken out of context not to mean what it says. So there you are. Could you please explain how BY didn’t mean that you Mormons needed to practice polygamy to become a god by that quote. Again, I think your response demonstrates perfectly the topic at hand.

  13. DJ, I don’t know one Christian who would condone the kind of violence Mormons experienced in, for example, Missouri. But that kind of threat doesn’t exist anymore in America today. There simply is no warrant for hedging and equivocation when responding to direct questions. I sympathize with Mormons for all the violence they underwent (although I think the persecution stories told by Mormon culture are often caricatures, ignoring the other side of the story), but I’m not going to give Gordon B. Hinckley a free pass to essentially lie.

    More than anything, I think Mormon leaders lie about doctrine because they are embarrassed over their own theology, they love too dearly the image and perception of the Church, and they have Satan over them.

    I think Jesus would say to Gordon B. Hinckley, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

  14. lautensack says:

    DJ the thing is the evasiveness should not be there, as a member of the Nation of Islam what they believe and they will plainly tell you, ask a Christian what they believe and they will make it plain to you, ask a Mormon and they will generally hide the truth from non-Christians as well as Christians, using “catch” words that in the western culture mean one thing but in the Mormon culture mean something entirely different. You would think that if the Gospel had truly been restored a would want to make these doctrines plain and clear, and proclaim them as John and Peter did in Acts 4 where it did not matter what happened to them they could not be quieted because of what they knew. Or like Paul in Philippians 1 rejoicing for his imprisonment for the sake of the Gospel. They were bold, they could not help themselves to be. But it seems that Mormons, again in general, lack this boldness from the Prophet down to the layperson, a boldness still found in many Christians who are joyfully spreading the Gospel even at the risk of persecution, imprisonment, death, and worse.

  15. Bill McKeever says:

    Sorry Dj, but persecution against Mormons will never even come close to that against professing Christians. Not only do I challenge your 3% polygamy numbers, I challenge you to produce a documented account of how many Mormons were actually raped and murdered by Christians. While I concede that one is far too many, I really think Mormons need to quit using the past as an excuse for the present. The fact is, despite the the current persecution against professing Christians, you don’t see us making a habit of obfuscating what we believe. The suspicion against the Mormon Church can be blamed on how the leadership portrays itself in public. The same leadership Mormons to sustain in conference.

  16. Jeff B says:

    Falcon said “BY said in the quote that you can’t get to be a god unless you are practicing polygamy. I can’t think of a way to take that other than what BY said.”

    Falcon you silly evangelical.. He was speaking in code, not only that, BY gave that quote on opposite day, so what he really meant is “Polygamy is NOT essential for one to become a God.”

    Today is opposite day in fact also. So, I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

  17. dj1989 says:

    Bill – This isn’t a question of who’s been persecuted the most (as if it were some sort of heavenly competition). I don’t care that there were crimes committed (and un-answered for) against my ancestors. Though, it’s created some cultural identity for me, it has no bearing on my life today.

    I am not using it as an excuse, but the fact that it happened is relevant to this conversation because it’s created a great amount of distrust that has become, to a certain extent, ingrained in Mormon culture. For my part, I actually lean more toward your belief that we should be more open. But, that’s not my call to make, and it has NO bearing on whether I believe in the church to be true or not, because, at the same time, I can see why church leaders do it.

    But, while your on the subject of Christians being persecuted. I’m not sure how the persecution of Christians has somehow given them license to persecute others, but unfortunately the history of the United States has shown that Christians have been almost exclusively responsible for some of the worst persecution, and not the other way around. Thus, at least in US history, Christians haven’t exactly shown that they carry the name of Christ through their actions. I’m making a historical observation. I’m not accusing any single person on here of being one way or the other. Tell me if I’m out of line when I say that.

  18. Bill McKeever says:

    DJ, to paraphrase a famous line I hear alot around here, “Christianity is true, but the people sometimes aren’t.” Just so you know where I am coming from, I’d much rather discuss current issues instead of past injustices. It isn’t that I am not sympathetic. As Aaron has stated, the atrocities against the Mormons in the 1830’s and 1840’s were wrong, no matter what the people who did them professed. The deeds of some bad Mormons do not make Mormonism false, any more than the bad deeds of some professing Christians makes Christianity false.

    If I understand you correctly, you can justify your church’s vague explanations. Personally, I cannot. If the leaders in my church explained our truth claims like your church does, I’d be personally challenging them in a heartbeat. If they refused to change, I’d vote with my feet and find another place to worship. I know that is not so easy for a Latter-day Saint, but perhaps that is something you, and all LDS should think about if integrity is something you cherish.

    The way your church responds to questions about the LDS faith reflects on you in a broad sort of way (I personally can separate the two, but many cannot). IMO, when it comes to your leaders, it is all about preserving the church’s image. I don’t think for a minute that the church had you in mind when it issued that response to Fox News or to Huckabee’s question about Jesus and Lucifer. I find that both troubling and sad because I find most Mormons to be very sincere, hard working people, and they should not be painted with a broad brush just because their leaders refuse to state their positions with clarity. I wish only the best for you and other LDS and I am sure the people who contribute to this blog do as well.

  19. Arthur Sido says:

    Dj,

    You are right that there is a culture of persecution in mormonism. But I think that it has a lot more to do with control than reality. The exaggerated history of mormonism is used to substantiate the bogeyman of the “[filtered profanity or slur]” used by the church hierarchy to frighten members away from honest investigation of counter claims. Whenever any honest questions are raised by outsiders, the “[filtered profanity or slur]” charge is thrown out, discussion is quashed and the us versus them mentality prevails. Sandra Tanner is not leading lynch mobs, she is simply reprinting historical mormon documents but the way she is spoken of you would think that she, and Bill McKeever and James White and others are waiting outside Gordon Hinckley’s apartment with hot tar and bags of feathers.

  20. falcon says:

    I picked-up an interesting article on the internet today that appears in The Salt Lake Tribune. The headline: “Comment appears at odds with LDS faith” sub: “Pre-eminent Mormon scholar says Romney’s answer is not at all a contradiciton.” The question: “Should God speak to you, and ask you to do something that might be in conflict with your duties as president, or should He speak to your prophet who would speak to you, how would you make that decision, how would you handle that?” The answer: “Well, I don’t recall God speaking to me, I, I don’t recall God speaking to anyone since, uh, Moses and the (burning) bush, or perhaps some others, but, but I don’t have that frequent of communication.” Jan Shipps (Mormon scholar) says that Romney has some wiggle room because he did say “some others”. Shipps added that she believes Romney was trying to joke but then answered the question saying his religion would not be a problem. One interesting sideline to the article was a comment that the LDS doctrine of continuous revelation puts it at odds with other mainstream Christian faiths. Revelation is an interesting concept. I think it needs to be separated out as far as “what kind” of revelation is being talked about. As a sideline, not having anything to do with this: It always irritates me that Mormons think that God reveals things to them but doesn’t reveal things to orthodox Christians….making them (Mormons) spiritually superior. Read “Under the Banner of Heaven” for a discussion of Mormon revelation.

  21. Arthur Sido says:

    Falcon,

    Wow, I just read that article in the SL Trib. He didn’t say “some others” he said “perhaps some others”! Perhaps? This from a former bishop and stake president?

  22. David says:

    DJ,

    I think you are out of line or at least wrong in your historical observation. Persecution in American has been much softer than what has existed in Europe or Asia. It has existed (and has even been perpetrated by Christians) but calling it “some of the worst” and American Christians “exclusively responsible” is an over statement.

    Furthemore, your own church should listen to your advice, “I’m not sure how the persecution of Christians has somehow given them license to persecute others”. Anyone who has ever spent time in Utah knows that mild persectuion exists against religious minorities. Ironically, the worst off in that state are non-LDS Mormons.

    You lumped together rapists and people handing out tracts at the Manti pageant (many of us have seen this before from Mormons) and in doing so have revealed how your church often views “percesution”. This topic could easily side-track this thread, but sufice it say for myself (and probably most on this blog) you will have a tough time convincing us that 19th century Mormons were merely helpless victims as most of us are somewhat familiar with Mormon history.

    It is good that you are owning up to your cultural identity. You have definitely demostrated a 19th century Mormon attitude with regards to lying being justified due to persecution. However, I don’t see how that helps you when the lies your leaders tell are directed at a broad audience where many of the listeners are non-Chrisitan and non-Mormon.

    If G.B. Hinckley’s lies have no bearing on whether you believe the LDS church to be true, then would lies told by Josph Smith matter? Would witnesses to the golden plates saying they saw the plates with there own eyes, then saying they saw them with the “spiritual eye” have any bearing? You see many non-Mormons see the lies in Mormonism going clear back to its inception – even before Mormons were persecuted.

  23. Rick B says:

    DJ, The A.of F. number 13 comes to mind with your leaders for not being upfront with what they believe. I think if the LDS church really believes A of F 13 they should live it out a little better.

    But I bet they have a vauge answer for that, and I bet that also shows “Meat” and someone will direct me towards “Milk” before I can fully understand the true and deep meaning of A of F 13. Rick b

  24. jer1414 says:

    I mentioned in a previous post (“From the Mailbag” 12/9/07) about how no legitimate organization would lie or mislead about what they practice or teach. I think it is disgusting that so many religious groups recruit and operate using deception. Two perfect examples as outlined in http://www.howcultswork.com/ were given above by saying “there are more similarities than differences” between Mormonism and historical Christianity – a ridiculous notion but a great PR effort. As mentioned by Arthur Sido above, and worth repeating, we may share the same “words”, but the definitions of those words are completely different. So HERE HERE for him saying “The Mormon gospel is not a restoration of the Gospel, it is quite literally “another gospel”.

    Intimidation and character assassination was also used in the claim of how “persecuted” Mormons are/were by “Christian” murders, rapists, and a host of misc. other inflammatory descriptions. There are two sides to every story, and the persecution went both ways. I am sorry so many Mormons choose to only listen to the faith promoting history their church uses to keep them faithful followers.

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