Mormons seem conflicted over whether their own religion is even important enough, if false, to refute. I have to wonder if there is a kind of unconscious, latent atheism or agnosticism or even nihilism in the heart of Mormons who think this way—or at least a bottom-layer heart-orientation away from the importance of truth. Allow me to express this seeming conflict in a caricature:
“Mormonism is the most important religion, institution, and belief system on earth. It is the kingdom of God on earth. We have the oracles of God. We have the plan of salvation to which you should dedicate all your time, money, emotions, and thoughts. We have the vehicle by which your family can be saved, to which you ought to gear your entire family tree. We are the only true Church on earth. We most accurately represent the Lord Jesus Christ.
“But hey, if you decide that we’re not true, then don’t you dare say one critical thing about us, and don’t you dare spend any time trying to bring us down. After all, it’s not that big of a deal. Leave us alone.”
Here is what I’m asking: Do Mormons want to be left alone essentially because they think Mormonism is still worth believing even if it is false?
One of my ex-Mo Christian friends offered up an alternative explanation for the oddity. She expresses Mormon logic this way:
“If it is true, you shouldn’t attack it even if you disagree with it. Even if it isn’t true, well, we don’t have to follow that to its logical conclusion because it IS true! Really! So just don’t attack it.”
Whatever the case, Mormons don’t seem to have absorbed what their own leaders have said about this:
“Mormonism must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a Prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead people, then he should be exposed, his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false…” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954), vol. 1 pp 188-189)
Personally, I’m not convinced that Mormons take Mormonism’s truth-claims that seriously. They are useful, but not necessarily true. Worth defending, but if false, not worth refuting. They have prioritized sociology over theology. Culture over truth. Church over Jesus. Mores and norms of the community over the glory of God. Feeling-driven beliefs over belief-driven feelings. As someone once said, “The Mormon Church has outgrown the need to be true.” My Mormon friends, Jesus wants you to be encouraged:
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)