Townhall.com posted an article on April 15 (2012) titled, “The Truth About Mormonism.” The article is a basic rehash covering some social aspects of Mormonism that are sometimes misunderstood/misrepresented in the media. Nothing much in the article caught my attention, but as I skimmed through the comments one jumped out at me.
For longtime Mormon Coffee readers this topic might bring a yawn. But because many folks are newer readers, and others are just passing through, this is a topic (in my opinion) worth binging up from time to time.
Last week I spoke with many Mormons as I handed out literature in front of the Kansas City Mormon temple during its public open house. One criticism I heard often from the Latter-day Saints was, “We don’t stand in front of your church and hand out critical literature.” Whenever I hear this complaint, my first thought is, “In light of the missionary movements of the early Christians as chronicled in the book of Acts, why don’t you?” But I don’t usually express this out loud. I usually answer with a recounting of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, which often leaves my LDS friend in quiet contemplation.
It should come as no surprise to me after all these years, yet I’m still astounded when I hear or read something like what Townhall.com commenter philbryson wrote.
“Thank you, Mr. Smoot [the Townhall.com journalist], for a fair article not based on motives to condemn an important, rapidly growing religion. The rapid growth has stimulated a lot of opposition from the insecure. Our growth is not based on attacking other religions, but on the desire to share our beliefs with others.”
Okay. Let’s talk about Joseph Smith’s First Vision. According to Joseph Smith, in answer to a prayer, God the Father and His Son appeared to Joseph:
“My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’” (Joseph Smith—History 1:18-19)
Mr. philbryson (and others) believe that Mormonism is persecuted by “insecure” people of other faiths who are somehow less virtuous than members of the Mormon faith who would not dream of challenging or criticizing (“attacking”) other religions. Apart from the fact that challenging false religions and beliefs is biblical, the idea that Mormonism/Mormons do not criticize other churches is just plain wrong.
Mormonism’s very existence is predicated upon the LDS teaching that all non-Mormon churches are wrong; all non-Mormon creeds are an abomination before God; and all people who profess these beliefs are corrupt. That is talking about my church. That is talking about your church. That is talking about my faith and your faith. Unless, of course, you belong to “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30), identified by the Mormon religion as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Somehow, Mormons have gotten it into their heads that Christians who stand up and say, “Wait a minute,” are “insecure” and are lashing out at the LDS Church without reason. These Mormons do not recognize the historic and ongoing LDS criticism of all other faiths that emanates from Mormonism: brought door-to-door by Mormon missionaries; declared unabashedly in LDS scripture; taught from Mormon pulpits; and proclaimed in Church magazines and manuals. As much as Mormons would like to think otherwise, LDS Church growth is “based on attacking other religions.” Mormons cannot share the heart of their religion without attacking others. It is at the very foundation–the very formation–of the Mormon Church. Those who are the targets of these flaming darts are both obligated and justified to respond with truth (Ephesians 6:14-20; Jude 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Ephesians 4:14-15).