Another thought, continued from Wednesday’s post…
Regarding Dr. Dursteler’s remarks in “Attacks on Islam, Mormonism spring from the same dark well”, it is incorrect to give the impression that Christians are the only ones who have used the type of rhetoric Dr. Dursteler criticizes (i.e., describing an adversary with phrases like “a criminal, a fraud and a rapist“). Mormon leaders have used similar terms to describe dissenters from their ranks. Consider these excerpts from a letter written by Joseph Smith to the Church 1838:
But these men [Mr. Hinkle and John Corrill], like Balaam, being greedy for reward, sold us into the hands of those who love them, for the world loves his own. I would remember William E. McLellin, who comes up to us as one of Job’s comforters. God suffered such kind of beings to afflict Job…. This poor man who professes to be much of a prophet, has no other dumb ass to ride but David Whitmer, to forbid his madness when he goes up to curse Israel; and this ass not being of the same kind as Balaam’s,… he brays out cursings instead of blessings. Poor ass!” (History of the Church, 3:228)
“…we have waded through an ocean of tribulation and mean abuse, practiced upon us by the ill bred and the ignorant, such as Hinkle, Corrill, Phelps, Avard, Reed Peck, Cleminson, and various others, who are so very ignorant that they cannot appear respectable in any decent and civilized society, and whose eyes are full of adultery, and cannot cease from sin. Such characters as McLellin, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them. Marsh and ‘another,’ whose hearts are full of corruption, whose cloak of hypocrisy was not sufficient to shield them or to hold them up in the hour of trouble…” (History of the Church, 3:232)
In 1841 certain Mormons wrote a threatening letter to Church dissenters which included this:
“Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Lyman E. Johnson, united with a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs of the deepest dye, to deceive, cheat, and defraud the saints out of their property….” (quoted in Senate Document 189, February 15, 1841, 6-9)
Consider poor Martha Brotherton, who refused Brigham Young’s proposal of plural marriage in 1842. She and her family exposed what was going on in Nauvoo regarding polygamy. Fawn Brodie wrote,
“…Heber Kimball and Brigham Young called her story a base falsehood, and Martha’s two sisters and brother-in-law, who had remained true to the church, were persuaded to swear that she was not only a liar but also a harlot.” (No Man Knows My History, 307, footnote)
Or how about this note received at Mormonism Research Ministry from a Latter-day Saint:
“In my experience those who seek to destroy the LDS church, are usually ex-saints who had a hard time living words of morality and wisdom. Groups like yours are made up of perverts, wife beaters, and sheep who will follow the loudest bleating moron out there.”
I think it’s human nature to verbally lash out against those we perceive are against us. I agree with Dr. Dursteler — these sorts of verbal attacks do spring from the same dark well — the deep, dark well of human sinfulness. As Romans 3 says about all people, “The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness” Romans 3:13-14).
Friends, if accusations are untrue, we are guilty of sin to speak them. If the accusations are true, we must nevertheless temper our words and check our motivation before we open our mouths. We are charged to speak the truth, but we are to speak it with love (Ephesians 3:15). Paul told Timothy that “the Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). This is a fruit of the Spirit, and by our fruits we shall be known.
May we always honor God by striving to speak the truth — as unwelcome as it may sometimes be — out of genuine concern, with gentleness and kindness toward all.