Galatians and Mormon Neo-Orthodoxy: Why the BYU Religion Department Should Make Your Blood Boil

Remember, the Judaizers to which Paul was responding in Galatians were not crass perfectionists. They would have confessed that God’s grace was sufficient. They would have confessed the centrality of the atonement. They would have rejected explicit requirements of perfection. But they still insisted on just a few key teachings of the Law (distinctive boundary markers like circumcision, kosher eating, festivals, etc).

In other words, the harshness of Paul was NOT directly toward the Spencer Kimballs of the world. It was to the Robert Millets and Stephen Robinsons and Brad Wilcoxes of the world. Galatians is not directly written against a book like Miracle of Forgiveness, it is rather written against a book like Believing Christ. The compassionate rage of Paul in Galatians is against the subtlety of neo-orthodoxy.

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13 Responses to Galatians and Mormon Neo-Orthodoxy: Why the BYU Religion Department Should Make Your Blood Boil

  1. falcon says:

    It’s sort of tough for Mormons. They want to be holy right? And what separates us from God is our behavior, right? So what’s the harm in a few simple rules that will keep us on track and pleasing to God? Isn’t that the reason for the LDS system? Besides that, these behavioral rules and regulations hold the LDS above Christians who believe that having received Christ as Lord and Savior, they are now free to sin with impunity, right?
    Take the Word of Wisdom that Mormons are required to follow. By following these rules and participating in temple rites and rituals, not only will the faithful LDS member live a life pleasing to God, he will become a god also.
    The behavior rules and religious regulations allow an LDS male to “earn” transformation to godhood and a place in the Celestial Kingdom. What? The motivation for rule keeping and ritual observance are to earn deity status?
    There seems to be a smoke screen here. Most observers, who know little or nothing about the intricate legal program of Mormon salvation wouldn’t really know the underlying purpose for righteous living and ritual performance by (Mormons).
    Sorry but for me, everything in Mormonism leads back to who they say God is, who they say man is, who they say Jesus is and what they believe is God’s plan of salvation for mankind. Mormonism as practiced by the LDS sect is addressed with the phrase, “appearance of wisdom” written about in the Bible. On the surface the LDS program appears to have wisdom but when the onion skin is peeled back, what we see are a bunch of men who believe they will become gods if they do the system as dictated by the LDS church.
    NEWS FLASH: We are complete in Christ. There is nothing that can be added to His sacrifice on the cross.

  2. Mike R says:

    These Mormons which Aaron mentioned are popular individuals , they are also very intelligent men and they know how to sell Mormonism to non Mormons as well as keep themselves in popularity with those of their own faith . They have also lived around and talked with many non Mormons — christians who themselves are influential or teachers . As a result they know how to word Mormon doctrine in such a way as to sound very similar to how these non Mormons talk , and the best example of this is with the subject of grace , faith and works . The result of this was very predictable — many Christians think Mormon doctrine is not much different than theirs . This tactic by influential Mormons like those above has been a great proselytizing tool .

  3. Brian says:

    Galatians is an amazing book. In every other epistle there is commendation for the recipient churches (even the church in Corinth, which was having troubles). The recipients of this epistle receive not a word of commendation.

    Paul brings such passion (even fireworks) to this epistle, which I think signifies the importance of its subject. The message here is clear: neither salvation nor holiness are the attainment of man. Both are gifts from God. In a broadside to the belief that one can make oneself righteous before God by what one does, Paul says if this is so, Jesus’ death is meaningless (Galatians 2:21).

    This is a book that exalts God’s grace and humbles man. Martin Luther likened Galatians to a citadel. Against this citadel no attack launched against the gospel could succeed. It is not a lengthy book; I hope everyone visiting this forum will read it.

  4. MistakenTestimony says:

    If they weren’t a crafty theological cult they wouldn’t be worth confronting, now would they? But should they make my blood boil? Proverbs 21:30.

  5. falcon says:

    I think the best way to shut these guys down is to ask them if men are going to become gods. My guess is they have a shuffle and jive routine all worked out for this. They’d probably lay it back on the person asking the question as if it were inappropriate and confrontational.
    What they try to do is, as Mike says, try to make the LDS doctrine sound like it’s just like Christianity but expressed in a different way. They are snakes, deceivers and liars. It would be more accepting if they just laid it out there as it is but that’s not their game. Does anyone think that the FLDS sounds like these guys? At least that cult is honest.

  6. Mike R says:

    We must remember that BYU professors ( and other apologists ) have no authority to introduce doctrine . They’ve focused their attention on putting a good face on Mormonism , one that will be effectively appealing to the general public . To accomplish this they need to look and sound a little less Mormon and a little more Christian , and this they have done with some of their teachings . This has been an aggressive tactic since the 1990’s or so , and it’s only gotten better tuned since then .

    Another example of this tactic is how Mormons say they can become “like” God . This sounds a lot better to attract people than saying what their leaders have taught about this , which is that Mormon males can become Gods in every way in which God is God . A Mormon male can become an Almighty God and he will be able to create vast kingdoms populated with offspring by him and his Goddess wife(s) , this can even take place by them on other worlds/planets . But sharing this Mormon gospel truth with outsiders won’t sell well hence it’s more profitable to say Mormon can become ” like” God
    instead of saying they can become “Gods ” . This may seem like a small change but it can successfully keep non Mormons from seeing the full truth about Mormon doctrine and be scared away etc .

    Mormonism has sold well because it’s knowledgeable messengers have been efficient in using half truths at the right time .

  7. falcon says:

    The idea is to make Mormonism not be Mormonism.
    I’ve learned that one of the least productive discussions you can have with a Mormon is on the topic of “grace”. They’ll make it sound just like the grace we as orthodox Biblical Christians believe in. Fact-of-the-matter is that just like the doctrine of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the LDS doctrine of God is nothing like what we believe.
    So when we refer to the topics Paul deals with in Romans, they can’t be applied to Mormonism. Paul talks about “another gospel”. He’s referring to those belief systems that are outside the gospel that was once and for all delivered to the Saints/true believers.
    The best way, I think, to approach LDS style Mormonism is to compare and contrast it to Christian doctrine. There is no place for common ground with Mormonism. It’s a human relations technique to find areas with which you can agree with someone. That doesn’t work with Mormons because their goal is to make it sound like we’re all the same.

  8. Vax says:

    Mike R: I agree with you. Mormons are changing the doctrine in subtle and not so subtle ways to appear more mainstream Christian. I have heard the same explanations: “to become “like” Gods” or “we really don’t know or understand this doctrine” so we aren’t going to lead with it and if pressed we’ll soften it. But the temple rights have not changed so…there you have it. Offical doctrine is men, once exalted become perfected, and will be gods and goddesses.

    Falcon: Grace and Mormonism…silly man, grace is what happens “after all you can do” and no one knows what “all” they can do which leads to accepting multiple callings, overworking (at the expense of your marriage and family) burnout, fatigue, self righteousness, judginess, jealousy, guilt, anxiety, fear…none of these are good things. This is one of the biggest issues for me. The Mormon concept of grace devalues the atonement and thus, devalues Christ.

  9. falcon says:

    I’ve been thinking about how the late Dr. Walter Martin would have debated these guys. There would not have been any big slobbery kisses and an attempt to reconcile LDS doctrine with Christianity. He wouldn’t have given the LDS boys a pass and let them spin their yarns.
    He would have been steadfast, direct and uncompromising. Best of all, he would have used God’s Word to dismantle their pitiful arguments. The BYU contingent would have probably yelled “persecution” and left before the allotted time was up.

  10. falcon says:

    So then I got thinking about what Bruce McConkie would have to say to these BYU professor types who do their “dialogues” about Mormon doctrine. Couldn’t you just see the loveable/hugable cousin Brucie playing nice with these Christians? Yea right!
    Here’s what Bill McKeefer had to say in an MRM article:
    “During his lifetime, Bruce Redd McConkie was probably one of the most popular theologians in the Mormon Church. This Mormon apostle regularly spoke at General Conferences, delivering a total of 69 messages since his installation as a General Authority in 1946. Today his speeches and writings are still quoted in LDS Church publications, including official church manuals. Although I rarely agree with his theological positions, I cannot fault him for writing what he truly believed. One thing that always impressed me about McConkie was that he did not shy away from expressing what he thought to be true. Compared to the spin and vagueness coming from today’s Mormon leadership, McConkie’s propensity to be blunt is something that I truly miss.”
    “On occasion, his honesty caused him to use the bully pulpit to expose teachings—both within as well as outside the church—with which he did not agree. One issue that caught my attention was his public rebuke of George Pace, an associate professor at BYU. Pace had been advocating that members should strive to have a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” a popular theme in evangelical circles but anathema in Mormonism. In March 1982, McConkie gave a devotional address titled “Our Relationship with the Lord” that branded Pace’s book as “unwise” because it contained “plain sectarian nonsense.”
    To access this MRM article:

  11. falcon says:

    More from the article. Does this sound like what would come from a BYU professor?
    Mike R. is right when he says that the BYU faculty does not speak for the Mormon church thus it would appear that these guys simply want to be accepted or validated I guess. Bruce McConkie had no such desire. My dream debate? Dr. Walter Martin and Bruce McConkie.

    “On another occasion he publicly condemned the concept of salvation by grace alone, dubbing it the “second greatest heresy” of Christendom. (The idea of God as a spirit won top heretical honors as McConkie called it the “father of all heresies.”) In this speech he recalled an experience he had while driving his car and listening to an “evangelist who was preaching salvation by grace alone.” When this radio evangelist offered his listeners an invitation to be saved simply by believing in Jesus, McConkie commented, “Unfortunately I did not accept his generous invitation to gain instant salvation; and so I suppose my opportunity is lost forever.” The crowd laughed. (“What Think Ye of Salvation by Grace?” BYU devotional address, 10 January 1984).”

  12. falcon says:

    There’s another article at MRM by Bill McKeever that discusses a presentation made by Bruce McConkie. This article is very good because it presents a picture of a certain attitude that existed with this general authority which is not consistent with what we see coming from BYU professors. In fact the LDS community is at odds with itself over McConkie and what he taught. It tells us what most of us have claimed and that is when it comes to doctrine, the LDS church is all over the ball park.
    From the article:
    The three “greatest heresies in all Christendom,” according to McConkie, include: 1) The concept of a God who “is a spirit essence that fills the immensity of space; that he is three beings in one; that he is uncreated, incorporeal, and incomprehensible; that he is without body, parts, or passions; that he is a spirit nothingness that is everywhere and nowhere in particular present.” 2) The idea that “men are saved by some kind of lip service, by the grace of God, without work and without effort on their part.” 3) That “revelation has ceased, that God’s mouth is closed, that the Holy Ghost no longer inspires men, that the gifts of the Spirit were done away with after the death of the ancient apostles, and that we no longer need to follow the course they charted.”

    To his first charge, we plead guilty. Christians have historically believed that God is a spirit essence because that is exactly what John 4:24 states ever so plainly – “God is spirit.” Nowhere in our history can we find Christian orthodoxy supporting the worship of a once-human God who was eventually elevated to the position He now holds.

    Nowhere in our history can we find Christian orthodoxy supporting the idea that God has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s. Such notions can only come about as a result of an extremely sloppy exegesis of biblical passages.

    McConkie claims that Christians only pay God “lip service” because we deny that our effort has anything to do with what actually saves us. I would venture to say that most Christians would be highly offended by this stereotype. Our confessions of faith are hardly lip service. Millions of Christians take their commitment to Christ and His word very seriously. While I will not deny that there are probably far too many professing Christians (Christians in name only) who do not possess saving faith, I am sure this can also be said of many professing Mormons.

  13. falcon says:

    One of the first things that I noticed when I began posting here on MC, way back when, is that Mormons who posted didn’t know much about Mormonism. They thought they did but it appeared that they all had their own understanding and form of the religion. We’ve identified different types of Mormons and it’s all related to how they view the religion. There’s internet Mormonism and chapel Mormonism and now I think we’ve swerved into another type of Mormonism. I think it should be called BYU Mormonism. It can even be delineated further than that and be called “BYU professor Mormonism”.
    I think that both the internet Mormons and the BYU professor Mormons have to find a comfort level with the religion because they have way too much to lose if they leave the LDS church. The BYU types would lose their livelihood and status. They have to stay in the program. I don’t know if there’s anyone around the Mormon bubble these days that can slap these guys around if they get too far off the reservation, but I’d guess they have their own little groups.

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