Mormons and Evangelicals in the Public Square

Columnist Joel Campbell at Mormon Times encourages Mormons to turn the other cheek when they are offended. Citing Tom Hanks’ statement that the LDS support of Prop 8 was “un-American” and Focus on the Family’s decision to pull an online interview with LDS conservative Glenn Beck, Mr. Campbell suggests Mormons meet such challenges with courage and civility. He says it’s time to forgive Mike Huckabee for asking, late in 2007, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”

However, Mr. Campbell notes,

“At the same time, I do think Mormons should remind Huckabee and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson about how some evangelicals misrepresent and denigrate Mormons in un-Christlike ways, including taking beliefs out of context (like Huckabee parroted to the Times). It also includes protests at our temple open houses, distributing defamatory videos and literature, ‘witnessing’ at religious pageants and using blow-horn mockery outside our general conferences. Mormons need to ask for these leaders’ assistance in increasing the level of respect, civility and tolerance toward Latter-day Saints among evangelicals.”

I’m all for respect and civility. And I agree whole-heartedly with Mr. Campbell when he writes,

“I like what First Amendment expert Charles Haynes wrote in his column: ‘With differences this deep, we are in for a protracted fight. Fortunately, the First Amendment makes it possible to wage the war with words, giving all sides freedom to make their case openly and robustly without government interference. Of course, there will be winners and losers — we live in a democracy. But how we debate — not only what we debate — matters. It isn’t mandated by the First Amendment, but treating our opponents with civility and respect might enable us to live with one another when the battle is finally over.'”

I’m having trouble fitting these two paragraphs together. If it’s good that everybody has the opportunity to “wage the war with words, giving all sides the freedom to make their case openly and robustly,” why does Mr. Campbell suggest that evangelicals engaged in such pursuits are lacking respect, civility and tolerance?

It would be foolish to say people never cross the line when debating Mormonism vs. Christianity, but in my experience such conversations are nearly always civil and respectful. I’ve been to many Christian outreaches at Mormon temples and LDS pageants. I’ve both observed and participated in discussion and debate. I’ve distributed videos and literature. Of course, some Mormons disagree with the content of these things—that’s why we need to talk about them.

Which brings me to another point of agreement I share with Mr. Campbell. While his encouragement is directed specifically at supporters of Prop 8, I think it has broader application. For all of us at Mormon Coffee, regardless of the degree to which Mormons might influence Mike Huckabee and James Dobson, we

“should continue to enter the public square and thoughtfully express our point of view.”

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Civil Liberties, Mormon Culture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Mormons and Evangelicals in the Public Square

  1. MDavis says:

    I think if people honestly are into debating Mormonism, they should use the works of apologists who have good arguments. Many sites, like Mormon Coffee, do not.

    They force the debate by only attacking “authorized” Church materials, thereby eliminating many great thinking minds about all sorts of points of issues.

    They dismiss sites like FARMS or FAIR simply for the fact that they are not part of the body of the Church, even though the contributors have compelling arguments. Furthermore, many of the contributors, while members of either organization, have many qualifications in scholarly fields outside of the organizations.

    I have yet to see a site that actually takes these arguments and refutes them, point by point. But then again, it is easier to debate a dead man who cannot argue back.

    I think honest people will see that the debates by sites such as Mormon Coffee, and others, skew the debates.

    This, I believe, is what Mr. Campbell was hinting at in the first paragraph quoted. When the opposing side resorts to cloudy tactics and unbalances the debate, it makes it impossible to have any reasonable and respectful discussion.

    Then again, it is not about debate, it is about destruction. Those who oppose the Church are not out to have a balanced, scholarly debate. They are out to topple the organization to the ground and will use every means necessary to destroy it. That’s war. Any attempt to talk reasonably, scholarly, balanced, will destroy their arguments because their arguments are not based on balanced premises.

    That’s the way it is. That is the way it has always been and will continue to be this way until Christ comes again. Only then will the faulty and deceptive arguments be washed away.

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  3. SteveH says:

    I would concur with MDavis in that the purpose of an evangelical site such as Mormon Coffee is not to hold a balanced and reasoned debate but to destroy the LDS Church through defamation of its leaders and demonization of its cherished beliefs.

  4. jackg says:

    I would say that the purpose of this specific site is to reveal the contradictions between Mormonism and Christianity. The problem is that an appeal to authority, which is the Bible, is not common ground for this debate. The reason it is not common ground is because Mormons view the Bible through the faulty lens of their 8th Article of Faith which, by nature, renders the Bible unauthoritative, meaning that points can be accepted or rejected based on what the leaders of the LDS Church say and not based on solid principles of biblical exegesis.

    MDavis suggests that Christians ought to use the works of apologists with good arguments, but yet does not make the same suggestion for Mormons, who often resort to their personal testimony rather than good apologetics. SteveH follows suit with accusations that lack originality and focus. In fact, his presentation does not encourage a balanced and reasoned debate, but encourages demonization of the evangelicals who post on this site. Now, one might make the argument that I am taking this to an extreme, and I am, because this is exactly what SteveH has done.

    As a follower of Jesus Christ, it should be understood by Mormons that my purpose is to destroy (using SteveH’s word here) an institution that preaches a gospel they claim to be the gospel of Jesus Christ, yet is a message of heresies that has been spawned by what I consider to be a false prophet. Because this is my belief regarding JS and the LDS Church, it is only natural that I would like to see the LDS Church exposed in a way that its members are brought to the saving knowledge and saving grace of the real and only Jesus Christ. I do not expect Mormons to agree with my beliefs; I merely state them as a foundation for why I do what I do. In ethics, what’s important is the motive for why we behave a certain way. My motive for coming on to MC and expressing my views of the LDS Church being a false church organized by false prophet is because of my love for all of God’s created beings and my hope to see them saved in the kingdom of God. My purpose is not to come onto this site and tell Mormons that they are okay with how they believe and, as long as they keep doing good works, they will somehow be saved in the kingdom of Heaven. That would be an absolute lie and extremely unethical. Unfortunately, Mormons become offended, (and yest there are times when offensive words are said by both sides) and then attempt to discredit any facts that followers of Christ bring to the discussion.

    I can’t blame MDavis and SteveH for the positions they take because they truly believe JS was a prophet of God, and their beliefs truly are cherished beliefs for them. Destroying people is not the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, destroying idolatrous and heretical forms of worship are. Therein lies the dilemma for all of us. How do we debate in a way that honors God and edifies as human beings, each special and valued by the shared virtue of being created by God.

    Grace and Peace!

  5. Free says:

    In reply to SteveH’s comment above:

    Yeah…kind of like how the mormon missionaries go around the globe telling people EVERYDAY that their church is an abomination to the (mormon lord) and also that their church is of the devil.

    Now I understand. Thanks!

  6. mrgermit says:

    jackG and all others: Jack asked the following EXCELLENT question:

    Therein lies the dilemma for all of us. How do we debate in a way that honors God and edifies as human beings, each special and valued by the shared virtue of being created by God.

    Here are the beginnings of an answer, shamelessly ripped off from this month’s Internetmonk, that’s Michael Spencer, for those who’ve not been monk-i-fied. this excerpt is from “THINKING DIFFERENTLY, DISAGREEING CHARITABLY”

    I thought it was/is great stuff.

    From Mike Spencer:
    Did you ever notice how Jesus deals with those he has serious disagreements with?

    Those Pharisees? Jesus had a lot in common with them. But at some of those key points, there was serious division and disagreement.

    So watch Jesus. Do what he does. Don’t do what Jesus doesn’t do.

    He interacts with the Pharisees. He doesn’t avoid them.

    He lets them finish their sentences.

    He doesn’t yell at them.

    He asks good, subversive, insightful questions.

    He tells stories.

    His “points” are simple and on target.

    He understands how these differences arise, i.e. out of methodology or values.

    He never compromises.

    He leaves the conversation in the hands of the Holy Spirit.

    Can you improve on that? I can’t. In fact, I have a long way to go to get anywhere close to it.

    catch up with the whole article, it’s not that long

    GERmIT

    PS to Sharon: great topic,, …….again. and I’m with you, I want the interchange to be respectful, charitable, and NOT GOVERNMENTALLY SQUASHED by the toleration police……this is a big fear of mine.

  7. MDavis says:

    To say that Mormons do not believe the Bible to be unauthoritative is incorrect. Article of Faith #8 states that the Bible is the Word of God as long as it is translated correctly. Thus, the point of issue is not authoritative vs. unauthoritative. It is between authoritative vs. ultimate authority. There is a big difference.

    More than a group of entities, people, etc. can hold authoritative power. A good example is a Mother and Father parenting. Both have authoritative power. Both combined constitute parenting. And I will say one thing:

    The Bible makes NO claim whatsoever that it is the ultimate authority. Talk about faulty assumptions here. It is not in there at all, whatsoever. Zip. Zero. Nadda. The most you will ever get at is the equivocable term “scripture.” There is no support for scripture = Bible.

    Now, for the comment regarding that Mormons “revert” to their personal testimony. This is a contextual issue here and not to what I was referring to with apologetics. There is a healthy resource of Latter-day Saint scholars of various subjects who reply back to criticisms from critics of the Church. Are these responses refuted? Certainly not on this website.

    Most sources of criticism of this Church has to do with what our Prophet has said, or what Journal of Discourses has to say, etc. These people cannot refute what Mormon Coffee and other websites say because…they are dead! Yet when scholars refute with well-written essays and reasonable arguments the crickets chirp on these websites. I would have MORE respect for websites such as this one, if there was well-written responses back.

    Also, the same arguments are brought back again and again despite new scholar responses. The Book of Abraham is a good example. Many critics of the Church ignore recent responses and continue to bring up old arguments. Mormon Coffee does this by rehashing blog posts on subjects that are old and stale, such as the old cliche grave vs. works argument.

    If there is to be any progress then there needs to be acknowledgement on both sides. Simply ignoring the progress of the other side of the debate only recycles the debate over and over again.

    Lastily, there is no biblical foundation for your actions to destroy an opposing “heretical” (in your view) organization. Yes, there are references in the Bible that state what God will do with the wicked, but the mandate given to APOSTLES was Preach the Gospel, not wage warfare.

    How interesting it is that those who claim that the Bible is the ultimate authority do not even follow its principles. The problem is that it is incomplete. When it is incomplete you MUST assume concepts to make it complete. And that is exactly what the above poster does when he/she ASSUMES that the Bible gives clearance to wage a war against an organization he/she does not agree with.

    I guess I missed the verse in the Bible that says blow up the Samaritan. He’s a heretic. Resort to whatever means necessary to accomplish your goal.

    Moderator’s note: Tone the unwarranted language of violence down or take a hike. Aren’t you the one who just above said, “When the opposing side resorts to cloudy tactics and unbalances the debate, it makes it impossible to have any reasonable and respectful discussion… Any attempt to talk reasonably, scholarly, balanced, will destroy their arguments because their arguments are not based on balanced premises.” How can you say something like that and then almost immediately imply that jackg was speaking of physically violent destruction? Practice what you preach and speak with reason and balance.

  8. MDavis, your religion claims to have a continual stream of revelation provided through a succession of prophets and apostles. If you’re complaining that we’d usually rather engage what they say than what your favorite BYU professor or FARMS apologist says, then you’d probably be more comfortable elsewhere.

    If you’re so desirious of a substantive, balanced religious discussion, then why not participate in a recorded Skype conversation with me for all to hear? I’m aaronshaf on Skype. Send me a message sometime. We can talk about the nature of God and the plan of salvation, the two most important things in the universe.

    Grace and peace,

    Aaron

  9. jackg says:

    mrgermit,

    Thanks for the great response. It was right on target.

    MDavis

    Thanks for replying. Your views are respected, even if I don’t agree with you. I do, however, think you prove my point about the Bible not being authoritative for the LDS believer. You actually contradict your opening line. Also, I would suggest reading the OT to see how God dealt with worshiping false gods. Then, read the NT to see how the apostles actually waged war on heresy. Heretical teachings are to be destroyed because they keep people from the truth of God’s grace and send them down the road to hell. It’s unethical to just sit back and allow that to happen. The heat of your language does not change that fact.

    Grace and Peace!

  10. jackg says:

    Thank you Moderator. I wasn’t implying physically violent destruction.

  11. MDavis says:

    Thank you for pointing that out. I meant to say that Mormons do view the Bible as authoritative. My main argument was the definition of what authoritative meant. I believe there is a difference between authoritative and ultimate authority. Article of Faith stipulates that the Bible is the Word of God (authoritative) as long as it is translated correctly, but in no way means it is the only source of God’s Word (ultimate authority).

    I do not believe the Apostles “waged war.” They taught the Gospel. There is a big difference and it has to do with the respect of people’s choices. War does not offer that choice.

    The punishment comes from God, not from his Saints. That is why I think it is interesting how so many people believe in a complete Bible as the ultimate authority and usurp God’s position. Yes, they may have good intentions, but it really is pushing God aside, claiming authority to do whatever it may be (new mission in Africa, new church building, new online ministry, etc.) when the Bible gives NO clear instructions on how that actually happens. It must be assumed. Otherwise, if people were to take things literally, they would have to acknowledge that the Church functioned with Apostles.

    In sum, I see no biblical evidence that heretical teachings must be destroyed by followers of Christ, but instead, see that as God’s job.

    Regardless with that tangent, I believe places such as this website and others would be more credible and a bigger help if they actually attempted to refute logical and consistant arguments in favor of the LDS Church. Instead, I see a rehash of things as if these scholars never existed.

  12. faithoffathers says:

    McGermit and others,

    This analogy, or example, of Christ dealing with the pharisees is used often by evangelicals to justify criticism of the LDS, but I belive this is a very misapplied example. Here’s why:

    What criticism did Christ make of the Parisees? He was critical of them being hypocrites- this was always the core of His criticism. It was not that they had the wrong doctrine or were misled. They used the technical aspects of the law and customs of the people to lift themselves above others. They would strain at small little rules, yet justify commiting adultery. They loved to look down on other people.

    I dont’ recall Christ ever criticizing anybody who sincerely and humbly lived their religion. He even used the highly despised Samaritans to illustrate this.

    Most often, evangelicals liken LDS to the pharisees because we believe we must work in our lives. This does not fit. If we lift ourselves up and think we are better than other people, then the analogy fits.

    But ya’ll should look in the mirror and ask whom is criticizing whom here. Who is claiming that the other is going to hell?

    I accept that this website is not an objective website. It is clearly designed to criticize the LDS church- no surprise. Each thread starts with an article that is critical of the church or its leaders. Much of what is said here is conjecture, heresay, and speculation. It is clearly not scientific in its approach. It would never stand up to any degree of academic standard. I accept that.

    It is hard to think it is otherwise. Consider Aaron saying he finds nothing wrong with lying to share the gospel. (Don’t mean to pick on you Aaron). In essence, because you believe you are right, you are justifying a certain action. Where is the limit to which a person will go to “win” for him side? This instinct is common in all of us. It makes it hard to be objective. But if our dialogue is to have any merit, we really have to try very hard to be truly objective and examine our assumptions and bias.

    keep the faith!

    fof

  13. MDavis,

    I don’t accept the notion that the preaching of the gospel and spiritual warfare were in such disparity. Paul wrote, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

    This is a war with weapons and destruction and strongholds and captivity and divine power. Paul uses this warfare motif elswhere, speaking of “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). This concerns one’s personal spiritual welfare and others’ spiritual welfare within the context of a cosmic battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.

    Christians wage war against Satan and evil and unbelief by prayer, by using the “sword of the Spriit” (the word of God), and by loving people holistically (mind, body, soul, spirit, etc).

    I’ll put it this way: Our spiritual mission as Christians is to destroy unbelief and see an explosion of joyful, liberating faith in the Jesus Christ revealed in God’s testimony (the Bible).

    PS Hebrews also uses this motif, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

    Regardless with that tangent, I believe places such as this website and others would be more credible and a bigger help if they actually attempted to refute logical and consistant arguments in favor of the LDS Church. Instead, I see a rehash of things as if these scholars never existed.

    Perhaps you’re not paying attention?

    I have an e-mail in my inbox from this just this past week of a person who left Mormonism, partly because he felt FAIR and FARMS was rehashing weak arguments against plain and precious truths of the Bible. A lot of this has to do with perspective and faith-commitments.

    Are you willing to join me on Skype, MDavis, for a recorded discussion on “logical and consist[e]nt arguments” concerning the nature of God and the plan of salvation, or are you going to keep grandstanding with complaints?

    Take care,

    Aaron

  14. MDavis says:

    I am not contending that you should ignore what our Prophets and Apostles say. I believe that is only fair.

    Yet many criticisms of the Church are over matters that many members of the Church give well thought out responses to. Members who are scholars in many different and respected positions.

    By definition then, you should not even have a comment board for LDS people like me because, according to your logic, my opinion does not mean anything because I am not a Prophet or Apostle.

    My point is, there are many people that have refuted these age old criticisms of the Church. They have explained, through a scholary, process why these criticisms are in error. I would love to see the opposing side refute these claims. I have not seen very many, which tells me (and any observer), that the opposing side cannot refute them.

    I think that, in the future, it would be wonderful to talk with you. As for right now, you do not have my trust. I would love to see Mormon Coffee be more balanced and take more effort to see the broad spectrum of information that members of the LDS Church (as well as non-LDS scholars) have put out in response to the criticisms of the Church.

  15. Consider Aaron saying he finds nothing wrong with lying to share the gospel

    Quote me instead of grossly mis-generalizing my nuanced and particular position (when you do that, it comes across as an ugly personal slander, regardless of any attached disclaimer), which was expressed in the context of justifying someone with an existing temple recommend audibly recording the ceremony and posting it online for all to hear.

  16. faithoffathers says:

    Aaron,

    I don’t mean to be unfair. But that conversation has been removed and I could not quote you more accurately.

    fof

  17. OK, fair enough. But you still have no excuse not to more completely represent what I carefully had said.

  18. By definition then, you should not even have a comment board for LDS people like me because, according to your logic, my opinion does not mean anything because I am not a Prophet or Apostle.

    No, it just means that, in our discussions, the appeals to authority with regard to Mormonism should be done more often with reference to the top of the priesthood hierarchy. Given mainstream Mormonism’s emphasis on priesthood authority, this seems only appropriate. When you start appealing more to unofficial Mormon apologetic works—particularly over and against more authoritative teachings—you start dealing more with fringe or neo-orthodox Mormonism. We obviously have more of a goal to holistically engage mainstream Mormonism, not mainly minority streams of unauthorized Mormonism.

    We simply take Mormonism’s priesthood succession more seriously than my Mormon apologists do.

    My point is, there are many people that have refuted these age old criticisms of the Church

    This kind of talk ironically just gets old.

    They have explained, through a scholary, process why these criticisms are in error

    Christian scholars have done the same. And Mormonism has simply kept changing and minimizing its own teachings to account for the devastating criticism. Notice, for example, the BYU neo-orthodoxy of Millett and Robinson which has abandoned much of the heartbreaking theology of Spencer Kimball in favor of neo-evangelical (i.e. “evanjelly”) understandings of repentance and forgiveness. Notice Blake Ostler’s abandonment of the more crass polytheism of traditional Mormonism, and his adoption of the “expansion theory” of the translation of the BofM to account for 19th century embellishments in the text.

    Are you willing to talk about these issues, MDavis, substantively, directly, or are you just going to keep complaining with empty language? If you really believed your scholars had refuted evangelical arguments, why aren’t you distilling their material into your own words to disseminate the information, instead of indirectly and ambiguously talking about the mere existence of LDS apologetic literature?

    New rule: Repeated complaining about the content and conversational forum of Mormon Coffee isn’t allowed unless you’re willing to get on Skype and have an audibly recorded conversation with one of us.

  19. mrgermit says:

    FoF: I think you missed the major intention of my “pharisees” post;

    my friend, feel free to make me the pharisee in the picture……I was not trying to say “you dumb LDS pharisees…..” my point was that ALL of us here at MC could learn a thing or two from JESUS as HE dealt with a very difficult audience…..wouldn’t you agree that BOTH sides of the aisle feel ‘beset’ or ‘besieged’ now and again. Look thru Michael Spencer’s list again…..aren’t those good guidelines ??? As an aside, I’d say you do a decent job of doing just what he (Spencer) is talking about. OF COURSE, at different times BOTH your side and mine will be tempted to say “DOOOHHHHH…….there they go again….acting just like PHARISEES !!! ” You’ve said it……..I’ve said it……..but the point of my post was Spencer’s list really, nothing else.

    we will never be “balanced” here in the sense that christians will probably always be in the majority here, just as Mormons will be the majority in LDS run blog sites…… my HOPE is that you get a fair opportunity to present your side, and that you find the enteprise worthwhile enough to come back. That’s my hope.

    This is probably the last post for me today……..see ya’ll Friday.

    MDavis: there are some who (foolishly ) sniff at ANYTHING from FAIR or FARMS…..what a pity….. if you think they(FAIR or FARMS) have something to offer, then do what FoF and others have done, bring in a piece here, a piece there……..if it is TRUE, you will, over time gain those who have a hunger for truth; you’d be surprised at how many of us WILL make the trip over there to check out a reference…. in the meantime , try to be the poster that you want others to become, pray, and wait…..what else is there. ???

    GERMIT

  20. Ralph says:

    After reading through this a couple of times I think some of you have the wrong idea. He is not saying that the government should step in and remove all the people that are openly talking critical against the LDS church from public places when there are LDS events going on. He is just saying that the people that are doing it should show respect, civility and tolerance towards the LDS people.

    From the examples he gave – “includes protests at our temple open houses, distributing defamatory videos and literature, ‘witnessing’ at religious pageants and using blow-horn mockery outside our general conferences.” – lets look at these.

    Protesting at temple open houses – when one thinks of protests they think of yelling slogans, calling those who are not with the protestors names and scornful words, placards with hate language or such-like, etc. This is not showing respect or civility.

    Distributing defamatory videos and literature – these things contain some truth but most of it is usually twisted dialogue of the truth, and thus is not true. This is definitely not showing respect.

    “Witnessing” at religious pageants – Pageants or shows are to illustrate/demonstrate things of a certain nature or to make a statement for typically a targeted group of people plus other interested parties. ‘Hijacking’ a pageant for one’s own purposes, even if one thinks it’s the truth, is not showing respect to the pageant nor its audience.

    Using blow-horn mockery outside our general conferences – Well this is the same as the temple openings. The bull-horn interrupts the meetings, causes a loss of reverence and thus for some people a loss of spirituality. And the ‘mockery’ is just not civilised. Neither is holding a placard with a set of garments on it telling the world these are the underwear that some of the people in the congregation wear. I don’t think they would like the same treatment back with someone showing the world what type of underwear they are wearing. Who cares about underwear no matter why someone wears a certain type.

    Now to look at being civil and respectful, – I like what Aaron has said about his (and his group’s) approach to temple openings and conferences. They do not picket the place with bull-horns, or call people names, and I don’t remember him saying that they use placards. They quietly approach people and ask to discuss things with them about the LDS church. This is being respectful and civil.

    The videos and literature that gets distributed needs to have their facts checked and corrected and their presentation balanced – but that ain’t going to happen. It’s like this site – the purpose is to make people see LDS beliefs as being strange and untrue. Any “anti” group will never give a balanced argument; NEITHER will any “pro” group. So in the end it just comes down to the person seeking answers – are they going to do a proper job of looking or will they just read one side and then cut it there?

    To make a point about a pageant, hold another pageant at the same time down the street rather than trying to take over the one that’s already been organised. If you went out of your way to do a pageant about the Bible and its prophets and teachings and then Muslims came in with people dressed up as individuals from the Bible and told a very different story to what you were trying to tell – how would you like that? Don’t hijack the pageant, show respect to the organisers and the intended audience – just go down the street and hold your own pageant giving the people a choice.

    Before anyone makes anything big of my comments – I do find most on this site fair and civil and more balanced in their arguments than on other sites I have seen. We are all still biased though – just one thing we cannot get rid of being human.

  21. GB says:

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    The moderator issued a level 1 yellow card on this comment.

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  22. Rick B says:

    Here are somethings I find really funny.
    LDS Claim they Never lie or mis quote anything, but we Christians are the Ones who do.

    I have yet to recall on this blog, One LDS saying to any of us believers you mis quoted this person or book or what ever, and then showing us exactly where we were wrong.

    I remember one LDS claiming Sharon Mis quoted or did not add enough context to something, but she came on and set that person Straight and that ended it.

    Then Me and some LDS went back and Forth over Jonah, They did not agree with me but I laid out my case in a clear way, then I mentioned JS false Prophecy about the Temple not being Built in Missouri and guess what? No LDS ever answered it, Why is that?

    I am not looking start that debate again so for know your off the hook, But the point is, THE LDS never answered that question, yet you jump on us claiming were the clueless ones.

    Another thing is this, in the article Mr Campbell says,

    “At the same time, I do think Mormons should remind Huckabee and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson about how some evangelicals misrepresent and denigrate Mormons in un-Christlike ways, including taking beliefs out of context (like Huckabee parroted to the Times).

    I have said this before on this blog and other Christians have said in reply, the same things have happened to them.

    Many times I have had MM’s over to my house and they are either extremely ignorant or flat out lying to me. I have had LDS deny that Jesus and lucifer are brothers, and I have had LDS tell me that the word of wisdom says no coffee allowed, when in reality it says, Hot Drinks, which you define as coffee. To me it is a big deal over words because you guys speak so much about getting the context correct, yet you change the meaning from hot drinks to coffee, that is a big deal.

    Then LDS claim we cannot debate what a dead prophet or president said, Like Adam God for example, because the Prophet is dead. That is a lame argument because, even though the prophet or president is dead, you guys believe and take things dead prophets said as pure scripture, example, King follet discourse. Rick b

  23. GB, see our comment policy:

    “Do not attempt to work around the filter by using aliases for banned terms.”

  24. GB says:

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    The moderator issued a level 2 yellow card on this comment.

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  25. Ralph, thank for chiming in.

    I don’t think civility always demands quietude or avoiding interaction with people at organized religious events. I do use signs (placards) to advertise JesusNotJoseph.com. We also often advertise SacredOrSecret.com at temple openings. I do this for two reasons: to advertise web sites, and to create opportunities. In contexts where we have very little interception with people (given the logistics of sidewalks, etc), advertising becomes a main way to get a message out. In contexts where there are crowds, I have had wonderful experience using a sign to gather a crowd for preaching (which often turns into a mix of monologue and then interactive dialog), to call people to repentance, and to display an appropriate passion and a tone of authoritative declaration in the proclamation of God’s word.

    Some preachers outside General Conference (who I call screechers) have taken a good way of engaging people and advertising and turned it into a medium seen widely as crass and beliggerent. That is the allusion most have when referring to the folks with bull-horns. I think they have done this partly out of frustration that there aren’t more others doing bold street-evangelism, but ironically I think they have driven away and discouraged many good people from loving, broken-hearted and bold street-evangelism, since many do not want to be associated with them.

    We could talk for hours about the whole issue of what means of engagement are appropriate, but the larger issue is theology. My theology of authority and scripture and communication drives me to affirm a wide variety of methods, even some I feel uncomfortable doing myself. This is because the multi-facted nature of the message of God’s word cannot be contained in one genre of literature or music, one common cultural style of communication, or a narrow scope of tone of voice. God’s word is both culturally adaptive and countercultural, thus it will inevitably involve methods of communication that are culturally sensitive and countercultural. And in my experience, people often (but not always) are uncomfortable with a method of communication precisely because of the kind of message it represents. Postmoderns, for example, who in principle oppose any kind of epistemic or spiritual authority are loathe to sit under authoritive preaching monologue on a Sunday morning. Often, but not always, the most decisive factor determining whether one likes a method of communication seems to be whether one likes the content of the communication. In my experience, about 90% of evangelicals encourage me in street preaching, while virtually no Mormons take kindly to the idea of street preaching at all when it involves a call for Mormons to repent of their idolatry.

    One book I recommend that challenges our Western, Victorian standards of civility is

    A Serrated Edge: A Brief Defense of Biblical Satire and Trinitarian Skylarking, by Douglas Wilson

  26. GB, I think it’s time for you to take a long, hard look at our comment policy:

    http://blog.mrm.org/comment-policy/

    Notice especially:

    “We consider this blog our virtual living room. Take your shoes off and be respectful.”

    “Criticism of a person’s character as a substitute for dealing with the positions they maintain is not allowed.”

    “Use of the pejorative term [the a-word which is filtered] is not allowed, nor any other personal accusations of hatred. Comments that include such terms will at the very least be filtered by our profanity filter. The comment may be entirely deleted. Do not attempt to work around the filter by using aliases for banned terms.”

    “Comments that do not contribute satisfactory substance may be deleted without warning.”

    Also see the addition as of today:

    “We prefer engaging important issues directly. If you don’t think either side is doing this well, then be a good example and exemplify the way you wish it were better done. Repeated complaining about the content and conversational forum of Mormon Coffee is not constructive, and is prohibited unless one is willing to have an audibly recorded conversation with one of us for all to hear. You can talk with Aaron over Skype by adding “aaronshaf” do your contacts list.”

  27. GB and Rick, I have deleted some of your comments. Take your dispute to a more pertinent thread.

  28. Rick B says:

    === MODERATED ===

    The moderator issued a level 1 yellow card on this comment.

    === MODERATED ===

  29. Rick B says:

    Aaron,
    I can understand why some LDS do not find you to be honest. I know this thread is not about the temple, but still you need to cut people some slack, you delete way to much stuff. I guess it’s your choice, but then do not be surprised by the lds who claim what they do.

    I say this in part because I did email Sharon a few times way back about how you go crazy and remove things that I think should have stayed, and have had a brother who posts here say to me that you remove way to much. but again, do what you want, just do not complain when lds call you dishonest. rick b

  30. If you’re going to complain about how Mormons aren’t answering your questions or addressing your points made on a completely different thread, then your comments are going to be subject to deletion. I’m not sure how that is dishonest. It’s just me being fed up with personal charges going back and forth.

  31. Rick B says:

    In this Topic at hand Sharons Quotes MR Campbell saying

    However, Mr. Campbell notes,

    “At the same time, I do think Mormons should remind Huckabee and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson about how some evangelicals misrepresent and denigrate Mormons in un-Christlike ways, including taking beliefs out of context (like Huckabee parroted to the Times).

    According to MR Campbell as I pointed out already if you read it, the LDS state we misquote things and take them out of context, it is theirfore implied they do not. On this topic and many others, even before you came to this blog, on of the biggest gripes by Believers is and was LDS do not answer questions, I even pointed this out and was proven correct.

    I for the most part do not complain on this blog or even grip, I did complain once or twice to Sharon, Since I felt you really did not care what I would say, Then When I said your being Dishonest, One reason I said that was, you did remove a few comments I said a while back and you never even stated they were removed or why. I complained to Sharon about that.

    I honestly do not place a lot of stock in what the LDS say, but if you have them complaining about you and then Believers also, it would seem to me Either we have an honest complaint or were all crazy and you are being honest and correct. But Since you clearly stated no Complaing allowed, Dont expect LDS or others to complain on Skype Since we wont expect you to honestly care about what we say.

    Plus, if you want to push Skype thats fine, But as it stands we have a Webcan or audio option here on the Blog, and I dont see much of those, so why would many go to Skype? I guess it;’s your Choice.

    Honestly I dont think you care what I say and I dont have much respect for you, I will check in here and their. but If I dont reply much, it’s because I think your on a power trip and are removing way to much and pushing a certain type of Debate that you want.

    It’s your Blog, do what you want, others will simply fill my space and I dont expect you to mis me if I dont post much. Rick b

  32. I care what you have to say, Rick.

    If anyone wants to complain, they are free to e-mail me at [email protected] or Sharon at [email protected]. What I’m fed up with is incessant complaining and personal charges going back and forth between commenters. I miss a more sustained concentration on substantive issues.

    Our comment policy says, “Comments that do not contribute satisfactory substance may be deleted without warning.”

    I cannot assure anyone that I will post an explanation every time I delete a comment that is off-topic or that violates some other part of the comment policy.

    Grace and peace,

    Aaron

  33. Ralph says:

    Aaron,

    I see nothing wrong with the placard you are using in the photo. When I said placards in the previous post I had in mind the ones I have seen posted on the web saying things like ‘You’re going to hell’ or as I stated with a set of garments on and a sacraligious statement about them. I agree one can use most types of media in a respectful manner and as I said, I respect you and your group because you (from what you have said anyway) do things in a respectful manner even though you disagree whole heartedly with our teachings.

    But that’s all my point was about – treating others as you would have them treat you.

    That’s how I do my posts – I write them out in Word first, read through it and think ‘how would I feel receiving a response like that?’ Then I make adjustments and post it – or sometimes I completely delete it without posting it. But I have had my days and posted things I shouldn’t have -I am only human.

  34. I think my response was my subconscious attempt at preempting what I thought were some assumptions of yours. I’m sorry if I too much into your post.

    I’m like you in some ways: I usually draft my comment in another application and then review it. I am probably too quick to post, though. I appreciate you here especially when you are most ardently defending Mormonism, because your comments encourage a good degree of sustained conversation. I don’t say this to be demeaning to the others, but I hope you rub off on the others.

    I’m curious to know how different Australia is in terms of the cultural acceptance of polemics and debate and public engagement.

    The whole issue of cultural adaptation vs. countercultural communication is so grey to me. There are a host of advocates that opine when and how one should be accommodating and another on when to be stubbornly defiant against culture. The matter is tiresome to me, and I doubt that there is any clear rule that ensures walking the tightrope of grace and truth. The only hope for having some success in discernment is:

    “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

    One thing I have settled on is that my long-term interaction with any other religious group will inevitably involve not only differing beliefs over theology, but also over philosophy of communication. The two are more intertwined than I think most people realize. In my worldview, I would rather my theology be primary/dominant and still be sociologically informed, rather than (as some missiologists would seemingly have it) have my sociology be dominant/primary and the message of the gospel be neutralized.

    Take care,

    Aaron

  35. Ralph says:

    Sorry but I can’t help you too much with the cultural side of things except to say that Australia is very laid back on most things. We have a few sayings – She’ll be right! – No probs – No worries. Things like that, but we do debate and argue, etc. One big difference is that we tend to use sarcasm and irony as part of our joking with each other. I said once on this forum that I liked some of the comments you have made because to me they were jokes, but to most of the American LDS they came across as being a bit of a slap in the face. The main one I remember was a comment about you waiting with your iron sword and wheeled chariot.

    But my penchant for trying not to be brash or ‘in your face’ comes from my experiences, not my social background. I grew up with 5 sisters (I am 2nd oldest); I had no friends at church or school my age but I got along quite well with the adults; I was beat up and ridiculed almost everyday at school; and now I have a wife with depression and a mental disorder that makes her very agressive at times so I have learned to watch what I say and how I say it for minimum offense but to get my point across.

    Maybe Martin from Brisi could help about the social aspect – he being a Pom and migrating down under. He has seen it from 2 continents.

  36. faithoffathers says:

    McGermit,

    Thanks,

    I see your point more clearly now. I appreciat the fact that you do not take things personally! I find I can through stuff out at you and you don’t get worked up, but can respond in a reasonable, thought way.

    I only have 2 posts a day as a result of my horrible behavior, so I will touch on a few things here, even though it is out of place.

    To Aaron’s use of the whole “war” concept: While there is a certain sense in which preaching the gospel or resisting temptation can be compared to war, I think too many take this analogy and use it to justify their treating other people poorly. This ranges from picketing outside General Conference or the evangelical equivalent with a bull-horn to fighting all out wars in the name of Christ. Any virtue, if given enough emphasis, can destroy other virtues.

    Christ taught that the greatest commandments were to love God and love our fellow man. Well, some may say love is not always sticky sweet, giving something people may not want to hear. It can be difficult to dertimine where the appropriate balance is. But in my opinion, it is better to error on the side of patience, humility, kindness, and extending people the benefit of the doubt (not that I am always there). That seems to be far less dangerous, spiritually, than erroring on the other side of the spectrum. The other end- “preaching” to others, telling them to repent in a judgemental way- seems to be a good breeding ground for pride, contention, and it rarely ever works!

    I think the more a person is able to communicate and engage in such a respectful way, the more comfortable they are with their own faith. Force isn’t necessarily power.

    Till tomorrow-

    keep the faith!

    fof

  37. FoF, thanks for your comment. It’s the kind that will make discussion on Mormon Coffee more constructive and less frustrating for all.

    The other end- “preaching” to others, telling them to repent in a judgemental way- seems to be a good breeding ground for pride, contention, and it rarely ever works!

    I’m reminded of Paul in Acts 17:30-31, who said,

    “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

    His message of repentance had a message of coming judgment. In that sense our culture would automatically dismiss Paul’s message as arrogant and judgmental.

    My question to Mormons would be: In what valid ways can a person openly declare a message to Mormons of repentance from existing idolatry without violating the apparent Mormon standard of what constitutes judgmentalism?

    I agree that preaching such a message can foster pride, but that is what the gospel is for: it reminds us that we evangelicals have been given eternal life and comprehensive forgiveness as a gift, freely received by faith apart from works or merit or worthiness or striving. Going back to the cross is the remedy for the natural tendency in all evangelicals to be prideful.

  38. Arthur Sido says:

    fof,

    “The other end- “preaching” to others, telling them to repent in a judgemental way- seems to be a good breeding ground for pride, contention, and it rarely ever works!”

    Well…

    37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2: 37-41

    They were cut to the heart and Peter commanded them to repent. Seemed to work pretty well on the day of Pentecost and not a mormon missionary to be found!

  39. mrgermit says:

    FoF: I am MIGHTILY in need of some “visiting the prisoners” extra credit, I’m hoping that this counts……put in a good word to Heavenly Father, please. As twisted as my humor tends to be, and my penchant for going off-topic, it’s only a matter a time before I have a “Cool Hand Luke” day or four.

    Great post, questions, and observations. You are, of course, right about love being the highest priority…..that seems to be almost a non sequiter…..and yet AARON is ALSO on target with quoting Ephesians6……..so it seems we are asked to hold things in balance: love and agression……putting anothers needs first…..AND saying harsh, seemingly cold-hearted things, at the same time…..

    no pressure , eh ??/

    and your point about warfare taking on weird shapes and colors (I’m thinking large RED crosses on chest armor, while marching into Jerusalem……. this doesn’t help either….. and yet the NT is rife with warfare imagery and descriptions

    at the risk of repetition, I think a LOT of the confusion lay in fighting a spiritual battle with some kind of earthly weapon (you’ve already referenced FORCE, and I would put COERCION, and MANIPULATION in that category) you’ve referenced the need to win an argument, and insecurity, the need to be seen as “right”. Touche…….all have somthing to do more with US than the gospel. And yet these valid points are taken far into caricature when the attempt is made to lump large categories of outreach, methods, and even personalities with the “love brush”. Sometimes it’s not hard at all to see GERMIT’s insecurities……or pride…….but that does not make Mormon Coffee the nest of those vices. I do not care much for “street screechers”, and I think I know one when I hear one, but that doesn’t mean EVERYONE who picks up a bullhorn or talks loudly is out of step with what GOD has them to do. Stated another way: I think , I’m convinced really, that LOVE sometimes looks much different than what we are used to , what we grew up with. sometimes different than what we’ve been

    Something to consider: there have been MANY who have reported positive, respectful, interactive conversations with those who do some kind of outreach at a pageant or GA conference. By there very nature, these kind of meetings will be somewhat ‘adverserial’, but it seems like they can be done in a way that is lawful and orderly and respects moral free agency and CIVILITY. Much like Mormon missionaries going door to door, although I am aware of some differences between the two approaches. (public vs somewhat private)

    the rights of others, what is seen as civil and ‘courteous’ WEIGHED AGAINST the urgency of the gospel and the commands of GOD…….AARON touched on this: these are always in tension, and it’s up to each generation to apply the truth, as we best understand it, and move forward prayerfully. I think you are trying to do just that.

    Hope this helps……stay with the vending machine food in there, cuz you just never know……… GERmIT

  40. Vook says:

    In regards to the original article, Aaron notes that :

    “I’m having trouble fitting these two paragraphs together. If it’s good that everybody has the opportunity to “wage the war with words, giving all sides the freedom to make their case openly and robustly,” why does Mr. Campbell suggest that evangelicals engaged in such pursuits are lacking respect, civility and tolerance?”

    With all due respect Aaron, this is not surprising you find this confusing. I have many times seen you standing outside Manti or General Conference yelling your arguments at disinterested LDS passersby. It is not that you are preaching YOUR beliefs, though you sometimes do, but it is largely your attempts to attack the LDS beliefs and incite a defense by the Mormons of their faith. Contrasting Lonnie Pursifull, Bill McKeever or Matt Slick’s public preaching to the approach of Greg Johnson or Ravi Zacharias is what I believe Mr. Campbell had in mind.

    I think the three I cite, and you at times as well, lack civility, though it is entirely your right to do so. However, as an LDS person, I read 1 Pet 3:15 and wonder who in the crowd asked you to explain your faith in terms of attacking the LDS, and in what manner such preaching conforms with the following verse: “3:16 Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.” As a Mormon defending my faith, I do occassionally cross the line of “good conduct” by using words more hurtful than helpful, and I also apologize when it happens. But Mormons primarily defend and expound about their faith, spending little or no time denigrating other churches or beliefs. If people ask the difference, then give an answer. But for most of the vocal critics, they would be convicted, not justified, by verse 16 concerning their behavior.

    Civility and respect in the public square are not just words. They require us NOT to demonize or create caricatures of enemies. As an eyewitness of the religious attacks on the LDS faith, which are of course legal and protected speech, I would note that legal and protected do not make speech civil, courteous or respectful. That is up to the speaker to excercise self control. And folks like Lonnie, Matt Slick and some of the folks at MRM have opted for exercising their civil rights in stark contrast to the Biblical mandate.

    Maybe those verses are mistranslated and don’t mean what they say. I rather think they are simply ignored, as they don’t fit the approach these individuals have chosen to employ. Thus exercising legal rights is affirmed by Mr. Campbell, while the style of that exercise is at times uncivil, disrespectful and intolerant. Or in a word, unChristian.

    Bob

  41. Vook (Bob),

    The article was written by Sharon.

    And your caricature of my street preaching is lacking and even silly. For one thing, I preach so much by way of contrast that it involves both a presentation of what Mormons should believe and of what Mormons should stop believing. But having one’s own beliefs challenged can be unpleasant, and it seems some people are so blinded that they interpret the whole experience as purely negative. I’ve long preached, for example, by contrasting Isaiah 43:10 and Romans 11:33-36 with the Lorenzo Snow couplet, only to have some complain afterwards that I haven’t told them what I believe. But that comes down to an issue of selective listening.

    And I don’t share the notion that any public criticism of Mormonism in street preaching is automatically uncivil or disrespectful. It’s part of the task of calling you to repentance. You don’t like that, and it seems you never will until you are born again, and until then you’ll keep defining “civility” and “respect” as that which excludes public, heralding criticism and calls to repentance.

    Another big problem with your comment is that you seem to be forgetting about the LDS teaching of the Great Apostasy and the First Vision, doctrines that publicly attack and denigrate our religion. We have every right to take our own defense against those offensive doctrines public, and if you think our defense is an merely an offense, then so be it. It just sounds like more complaining to me. And complaining, like our new comment policy states, is for the audible venue. So unless you’re willing to plug in your microphone and join us on Ustream or Skype next time, get busy discussing more substantive issues instead of whining.

    As a Mormon defending my faith, I do occassionally cross the line of “good conduct” by using words more hurtful than helpful, and I also apologize when it happens

    Me too. And I have apologized to you before. I think we should spend some more time together interacting. You are not a normal Mormon, and, like I have told you before, I view you as a kind of wolf looking for sheep, seeking out Christians at public evangelistic events to distract and confuse so they don’t speak with other Mormons. So while I am happy to interact more with you, the religious part will probably not be entirely pleasant to you.

    But Mormons primarily defend and expound about their faith, spending little or no time denigrating other churches or beliefs

    In my experience, people who aren’t forthright in their criticism simply become passive-aggressive about it. I’d rather be open about the criticism.

    PS I recommend taking at look at this post where I address 2 Timothy 2:23-26. Paul talks about the need for patience and kindness in correcting. The ironic thing is that Mormons are essentially telling us evangelicals that correcting at all is inherently unkind.

  42. Vook,

    Thanks for your perspective on this. It’s always good to be challenged to see things from a different point of view. I agree with what Aaron has written – being called to repentance, being challenged in one’s faith, is not a pleasant experience. Nevertheless, speaking the truth in love is what God calls His people to do. There is precedent in the Bible for publicly disputing over faith issues (see Acts 17-19 for some examples). I understand you don’t like it, and I understand you don’t think doing so is generally civil. Again, I appreciate your perspective. Mine, of course, is different.

    I’d like to point out that Mr. Campbell, whose remarks my article discusses, does not find fault only with street preachers. He also disdains Christians distributing literature and engaging in faith discussions at LDS public events. As I mentioned above, in my experience these Christian outreaches are generally civil and respectful. They are merely people expressing their differing points of view in the public square.

    As you have noted, we Americans have the right to express ourselves with or without civility. However, as followers of Christ, most missionaries to Mormons seek to follow the direction given by Paul: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26) This is the model Mormonism Research Ministry strives to follow. Whether street preaching, handing out literature, or discussing Mormonism in the public square, we strive to honor God by upholding His truth while challenging the false claims of Mormonism.

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