Chris Duckworth, a Lutheran pastor in Indiana, wasn’t happy when a 12-page advertising supplement arrived on his doorstep last week. The “Non-Mormon Temple Visitors Guide” was published by Tri-Grace Ministries and distributed to communities in preparation for the LDS Temple Open House event scheduled to begin on July 17th (2015).
On his blog, Reverend Duckworth posted a piece he titled “Mormon Bashing,” in which he argued that the Tri-Grace publication was a form of “public bullying” and “not beneficial” to the community. Dismissing theological issues while quoting 1 Corinthians 10:23, Rev. Duckworth wrote that he plans to attend the Mormon Temple Open House in an effort to (quoting Martin Luther) “come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light” as well as to “stand with my friends and neighbors against the unfair attacks and slander.” He explained,
“Theological differences between the Mormon Church and the Lutheran Church are real. But so too is the unfair treatment our neighbors, friends, and fellow children of God of the Mormon Church receive to this day. My friends and neighbors don’t deserve to receive, on their doorstep, such a publication. I cannot remain silent. I have to speak out.”
Rev. Duckworth’s comments were praised by some, and challenged by others. Responding to one commenter that suggested he was moving toward conversion to Mormonism, Rev. Duckworth wrote,
“Nothing could be further from the truth. I am not in the process of conversion. I am simply saying that no group of fellow citizens and children of God deserve to have a 12-page screed ripping their religion delivered to their doorstep by a ‘newspaper’ that purports to serve the community and be a community asset.”
Rev. Duckworth repeated this concern several more times as he continued to respond to critics:
“All that I claim is that no group deserves to have a 12-page attack on their religion thrown on their lawn – and on the lawns of thousands of their neighbors. That is patently unfair and unChristian.”
“I have little interest either in defending or in disparaging the faith of my friends and neighbors. I simply believe they – or anyone – do not deserve to have a 12-page attack on their faith delivered to their doorstep by a newspaper purporting to serve our community.”
“I simply don’t believe that they – or any group of our neighbors, friends, fellow citizens – deserve to have a 12-page screed criticizing their faith thrown on their lawn wrapped in a garment that purports to be ‘news’ and a publication serving the community.”
As a Christian dedicated to evangelism, I found many things in Rev. Duckworth’s blog that troubled me, especially his repeated assertions centering on what he believes Mormons “deserve.” I responded, posting this comment:
“Chris, your argument is centered on what Mormons ‘deserve’ (or don’t deserve). Christians have some experience with the concept of getting what we deserve. From God’s perspective we are all sinners and deserve eternal punishment and separation from God. But God, in His mercy, has confronted our sin and offered us the gift of reconciliation and eternal life in Him. This we do not deserve; this is God’s grace. Mormons (like all of us) need God’s grace. They need to have their sin (including the idolatry of Mormonism) confronted. You say they do not deserve to have this confrontation delivered to their doorstep. On the contrary, Tri-Grace Ministries is a vehicle of God’s grace for the Mormon people, as well as for people who are unaware of the doctrines of Mormonism who are at risk of being deceived by the public relations presentation they will hear at the temple open house. Don’t these people ‘deserve’ God’s grace? Well, actually, no, they don’t. But our great God is merciful, and He calls His people to speak the truth in love. None of us deserve God’s grace, but neither do Mormons ‘deserve’ to have God’s gracious truth withheld from them in an effort to protect their feelings. May God move in a mighty way among the Mormon people of Indiana, and may He continue to use the Christians of Tri-Grace Ministries as His ambassadors of true and lasting peace.”
Christians, please join me in praying for the Christian outreach at the Indianapolis Indiana Temple. May God, in His mercy, rescue the perishing.
The unofficial motto of 21st Century America: “I disagree, therefore I hate” (Sorry, Descartes).
The house is burning. It’s one thing if you’re not willing enough to go inside and look for survivors, but don’t vilify the people who are.
When the MM came charging up my driveway one evening a month or so ago, I welcomed them enthusiastically and engaged them for well over an hour in a discussion regarding Mormonism. I knew I had frustrated, at least the lead missionary, when he became agitated and brought up “criticizing the LDS religion”. I told him that what we were having was a discussion which he was personalizing as criticism.
If Tri-Grace ministries was calling Mormons names and inaccurately presenting what the LDS church believes, practices and preaches, then I’d say Chris Duckworth had a point. Let’s remember. The last thing the LDS church wants is to be exposed. They do not want their history and doctrines to be out there and thus effecting their recruitment efforts. We have an obligation to defend the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I wonder if Chris Duckworth would have a similar reaction if a new Scientology center was opening?
Remember haters have to be destroyed. So label someone you disagree with a hater and then do everything possible to ruin, bankrupt, impugn and most importantly, “silence” those who have a differing point of view.
Unfortunately, people today demand that we celebrate whatever their “thing” is. It’s not enough to be tolerant.
So was Tri-Grace doing this; attempting to silence Mormons? Not at all. Were they attempting to close down the LDS temple? Again, a big “NO”! They were providing information for folks regarding Mormonism. Was there anything in the material that was untrue?
After going back and reading Rev. Duckworth’s post as well as some of the “Related Articles” linked on his site, it seems pretty clear to me that He just doesn’t understand what the problem is. He repeatedly refers to Mormon’s as “fellow children of God” or “my Mormon brothers and sisters”. He seems to be under the common and mistaken impression that Mormons are just another heterodoxical denomination.
His earlier post “Mormons are weird” (http://lutheranzephyr.com/2006/06/29/the_return_of_t/) is particularly telling. To be fair, the post is nine years old but I don’t think much has changed in the interim. His conclusion boils down to this: “They believe weird stuff, but so do I. They rely entirely on their personal experience for the truth of their claims and who am I to doubt their experiences?”
This part in particular drives me insane: “The only difference is that we “orthodox” Christians have history and a significant cultural hegemony on our side. Nonetheless, we’re all a bunch of believers who, at some point, suspend reason and live in a faith and belief that is simply illogical and nonsensical.“. (emphasis mine)
Yeah, let’s dismiss almost 2,000 years of archaeological findings, scientific consistency, and philosophical inquiry from some of the greatest minds that humanity has ever had that all point to the truth of the Christian worldview and just chalk it all up to “faith”.
The ELCA, which is Chris Duckworth’s denominational affiliation, is neither a Lutheran nor even a Christian church body. That is not to say that there are no Christians to be found in this church body, but it is to say that what this body teaches and approves is blatantly unChristian. The confessional Lutheran bodies of LCMS, WELS, AALC, and ELS no longer even engage in dialogue with ELCA. They represent the Lutheran church about as much as primitive Westboro Baptist represents the Baptist church, and as a Southern Baptist convert to the LCMS I know what I’m talking about. The fact that he calls Mormons “children of God” above makes this clear.
Agreed, this is just standard operating procedure in 21st Century Western culture. I just expect better from professing Christians.
Really, it’s not the “Hey, don’t pick on the Mormons” stance he’s taking that bothers me. It’s the underlying assumptions that would lead him to say this in the first place. Sure, we should all be loving and “tolerant” (in the traditional sense of the word) to those with whom we disagree. But if the Christian worldview is true and the Mormon faith is not compatible with it, then these people are in a very real danger of going to a very real Hell for the rest of time. It’s not a happy concept by any stretch of the imagination, but neither is cancer. We can’t just ignore the implications.
But to say that we should all just live and let live and let people believe what they want is to play the fiddle as Rome burns around us.
Folks remember, the ELCA has taken a stand on homosexual pastors that I find incomparable with Biblical Christianity. I went to a meeting where the pastor of the church where my wife was a member, explained the new policy. Barely anyone showed up, maybe a handful, which told me right off that the membership wasn’t even clued in on what had just happened. I politely pointed out to the pastor what the Scriptures tell us on the topic. The pastor politely told me it was a matter of interpretation.
Well being a Catholic by training I mentioned that we have two things to consider; the Scriptures and the traditions of the Christian church. I then pointed out that tradition was not consistent with the new policy. He said I was right. In the end, it made no difference.
My point is that this particular denomination wouldn’t even think about contending for the faith because it might look mean. Even if it were pointed out to Duckworth what the fundamental differences are between Christianity and Mormonism, he wouldn’t change his perspective.
Sadly, but there are more Pastors like it appears Rev. Duckworth is , around . Was it the way that the 12 page publication was delivered , or is it the group behind the publication , or both , that Rev. Duckworth rejects so adamantly ? It does appear like he is not among those shepherds who fully understand their role as protector these days — Matt 24:11 ; Acts 20:28 ; 2Pt 2:1 .
I wonder how he feels about Jw’s leaving their literature on doors in his community ? Or is it just Tri-Grace Ministries he objects to and castigates ?
I hope Rev Duckworth is not one of those Pastors these days who feel it does’nt really matter what a person believes about God / Jesus etc , as long as they are a ” nice” person etc . That would be a tragedy.
I wonder if the good Reverend Duckworth preaches with the same fervor against the Mormons when they distribute their scriptures to the public claiming that he and all other pastors are serving Satan in the great and abominable church of the devil, the whore of all the earth (1 Nephi 13), and that they’re corrupt and their teachings are an abomination before God. (Pearl of Great Price – Joseph Smith History 1: 19)
Propositional truth doesn’t even get a seat at the table. Why? Because no one is allowed to make waves.
Unless, of course, we’re telling other people not to make waves.
It’s been fashionable in the last couple of decades to hop on the bandwagon of “strategic” thinking and the “tactics” that come from this. Just about any mission statement coming out of an organization had to include these buzz words. Now whether or not an organization actually had a strategy and tactics that were effective, is open for debate.
Is the strategy and the tactics used by Tri-Grace ministries in this campaign effective? I would say that the purpose isn’t to win LDS members to Christ. The purpose is to bring a knowledge of Mormonism to the general public. How many people who received the newspaper insert actually read it? Was there a targeted market for the insert?
I would think that most ministries to Mormons ask themselves if what they are doing is actually effective. I don’t know if there’s any way to measure effectiveness of this campaign. When it comes to Mormons, I think the goal is to bring them to Christ. My observation is that there are large numbers of Mormons who are leaving the LDS church but I don’t know how many of them come to Christ in faith upon leaving.
For any Mormon who is starting to question, there are any number of informational resources available to them. Just about every exit story that I hear indicates that the LDS member studied on their own and eventually figured out that what they had believed and dedicated their life to, isn’t true. I would say one good thing about the newspaper insert is that it would probably get read more by LDS than non-LDS. It might just cause them to begin to investigate in order to try and defend the religion that they are apart of.
If Chris Duckworth is a member of the ELCA, as noted by several posters, then he probably speaks from a very liberal Protestant tradition, believing in all probability that “all roads lead to God.” The Bible, presumably, is a guidebook to him, one that should be liberally interpreted. As an example, the ELCA now has a gay bishop, which has generated some public controversy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelical_Lutheran_Church_in_America
With that in mind, it would be only natural for him to object to any public crusade to shame a religious organization, even a “weird” one. After all, his own denomination is considered “weird” by many other Protestants, including other Lutherans. It appears his concern for Mormons is sincere and genuine, although possibly misguided. He evidently believes them to be a legitimate religion that does good, and he believes all such organizations should be tolerated and embraced.
There may be some value in the Reverend Duckworth’s message, just as there may be some value in the Tri-Grace Ministries’ message. There is truth in the admonition we have received to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. Matthew 10: 16.
I read Rev. Duckworth’s comments on his blog , and it appears that he is’nt concerned with whether the 12 page insert in the local newspaper was inaccurate about Mormon doctrine , rather his point is that he is troubled by the local newspaper being used to distribute the publication by Tr-Grace Ministries . He finds this “divisive ” and ” inappropriate ” so it does not benefit the good of the community .
Obviously a public outreach of this type by a christian ministry can be accurate on what is stated about the group being reached and yet the material might use a poor choice of words etc., and
that would be a mistake . However, it seems though that in reaching out to Mormons it does’nt take much to cause them to play the famous Mormon ” persecution ” card and paint those seeking to witness to them ( or inform the general public ) as attackers or haters etc . and it came as no surprise that there were those commenting on Rev Ducksworth blog who did just that .
Hopefully , Rev Ducksworth understands the seriousness of Jesus’ warning to beware of false prophets ( Matt 24 ) and has equipped his flock to spot them . From what I gathered from his comments , concerning his reasoning , about Mormons leads me to think that there will be those of his flock who go beyond just respecting Mormons as persons , into wanting to learn about what Mormonism teaches and so will invite the Mormon Missionaries into their homes . That would be a big mistake .
May God bless Tri Grace’s outreach to the Mormon people as well as their informing the general
public so that non LDS might have a opportunity to understand Mormonism beyond what the Mormon church P.R. Dept advertises or the Mormon Missionaries lessons present to them .
I can’t judge what Rev. Ducksworth believes about salvation, but if he’s a universalist, I get his objection to the newspaper insert. It’s just not nice, kind, considerate……….
I would say that Rev. Ducksworth is probably not heavily involved or involved at all in apologetic ministry and outreach. My guess is that he does his normal pastoral duties with the membership in his church and maybe volunteers at the local food bank or some other such organization. I had a student years ago who was an ELCA member but very much oriented to the cause of winning souls for Christ etc. He eventually graduated from an ELCA seminary and I’d say it ruined him. It was an amazing thing to watch. Today he is an ELCA minister and probably very good at it within the context of how that denomination operates.
As an example; I went to an ELCA Good Friday service years ago, and a visiting female minister from the headquarters kept emphasizing how Jesus died for our “hurts”. I had all I could do not to stand up and shout, “He died for our SINS!”. The idea of telling folks that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are in need of a Savior, wasn’t any where in her paradigm of salvation. She didn’t want the listeners to feel bad about themselves and maybe guilty, remorseful and mindful of why Jesus had died for us.
In my world, it’s important for people to know what Mormonism believes, teaches and practices and how it differs from orthodox Christianity.
On the “Christian” spectrum, Reverend Duckworth and the ELCA Lutherans are strict constructionist, Biblical literalists compared to some I’ve met. I attended a Unity service some time ago and in reading their program I was surprised to see that Jesus and Christ are two different things: Christ is a good feeling in all of us; Jesus isn’t the Redeemer or Savior, he’s the “way shower.” They are Christian but have no doctrine or dogma, and they welcome and accommodate all beliefs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unity_Church
As we prepared to leave after the service, my friend introduced me to the minister. She welcomed me, said they respect and incorporate all beliefs, and invited me to stay for refreshments. I jokingly replied (although with a straight face) that I really had to be going because I didn’t want to be late for my church’s goat sacrifice. The minister thought I was serious and she assured me that my beliefs were perfectly acceptable at Unity. Oops. Very nice people, though.
You’re right that there’s a very broad spectrum of “Christianity” out there, and a lot of churches teaching that the only Biblical admonition is to be kind. Granted, if you’re only going to take one message from the Bible, that’s a very good one to take, but I think Christ expects a little more of us. John 8:32.
I noticed that USA Today (on line) yesterday carried a story about this . Rev Duckworth is interviewed as well as Chip Thompson of Tri-Grace Ministries .
I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but…
Refusing to obey the unjust policies of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) policies against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals, Pastor Megan was ordained Extraordinarily on November 18, 2006. Rostered by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, Megan served on the organizations Covenant Circle as Director of Communications and as Director of Candidacy. On July 25, 2010 Megan was one of 7 GLBT pastors in the San Francisco Bay Area who were previously barred from serving the church who were received/reinstated to the roster of the ELCA. This service was the first of its kind and received national media attention. The first openly transgender Lutheran pastor ordained in the United States, Pastor Megan has worked with the Human Rights Campaign to create resources for congregations as an author and educator. [From http://revrohrer.blogspot.com/%5D
This is a pastor in good standing with the ELCA. Also, check out this congregation in good standing with the ELCA:
Browse around that sight for a while. Here are some prayers found there:
“Our Mother, who is within us, | We celebrate your many names. | Your wisdom come | Your will be done, | Unfolding from the depths within us. | Each day you give us all that we need. | You remind us of our limits and we let go. | You support us in our power | And we act with courage. | For you are the dwelling place within us, | The empowerment around us, | The celebration among us. | Now and forever. Blessed Be.”
“Hail Goddess, full of grace, | Blessed are You | And blessed are all the fruits of your womb. | For you are the Mother of us all. | Hear/heal us now | in all our dreams/needs. | O blessed be, O blessed be. Sophia!.”
The ELCA has absolutely nothing to do with Martin Lutheran and is Christian in name only. Any similarities with actual Christianity is purely coincidental.
Here’s the link to the article:
“If my Mormon brother says he’s a Christian, I’ll accept his word at that,” Duckworth said. “We might disagree in theology or have differences in opinion about what core tenets of Christianity are. But I’m not going to deny him the right to call himself what he or she in their faith believe they are.”
I thought that referring to LDS as “…..my Mormon brother” is quite interesting. Also the idea that someone can call themselves a Christian and we are to accept him at his word. I’d think a little due diligence would be required in the case of a religion that has doctrines antithetical to Christianity.
mod jail I’m in
I guess we’re going to have to rename our blog here “Lutheran Coffee”.
I’m in the heart of Lutheran Land here in the mid-west. There are all kinds of flavors bearing the name “Lutheran”. A merger of three Lutheran churches formed the ELCA in 1988. They were The American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and the Lutheran Church in America. In the area where I live there are a lot of little “country” churches that are ELCA. These are old time family churches formerly populated by farmers. I doubt if many of these churches even think about gay issues. They follow what their pastors tell them, if anything is said at all.
I occasionally get asked to preach in an ELCA church. I preach right from the Bible and my messages are always very well received. If you were to ask me I’d surmise that most there are believers. I’m sitting here thinking about the responsibility that the local pastors have before God.
In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, some 600 congregations left in 2010 and 2011 following the denomination’s 2009 decision allowing the ordination of pastors in same-sex relationships.
That the denominations’ changing stances on gay ordinations and same-sex marriages were a key factor in the exodus is without question. But new research into why congregations decided to leave reveal differences on sexuality issues were only part of a much larger divide.
Among the broader, longstanding concerns that convinced departing congregations that they no longer had a home in their denominations that Carthage College researchers found were:
• “Bullying” tactics by denominational leaders.
• A perceived abandonment of foundational principles of Scripture and tradition.
• The devaluation of personal faith.
“The ones that left said reform was not possible,” said Carthage sociologist Wayne Thompson, study leader.
Leaders of churches departing from the ELCA said along with the policy on gay ordinations that the denomination was no longer a good fit for their churches and it was important for them to disassociate with the reputation of their former governing body.
More specific reasons included claims that some ELCA leaders were “dictatorial” and that the denomination was undermining the authority of scripture and was more interested in social justice work than traditional ministry, Carthage researchers John Augustine and Brian Hansen reported.
When the church leaders were asked if they had any regrets about their decision to leave, “The only thing they’d ever say is we should have left sooner.”
Wow. All that discord among Lutherans and all those churches disassociating with each other…
I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto. ….
Nevertheless, they “ain’t got nothin’ ” on the Mormons. The topic is rarely discussed and most people assume there are only about three break-off sects from the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt lake City, all polygamous, but that’s not the case. There are actually more than 80, some say more than 200. I gave up counting at 86.
“Get your score cards. Get your score cards here. Can’t tell your prophets without a score card!”
When we were told to beware of false prophets, they weren’t kidding…
Sharon did an article about a “Mormon Walk About” that she did just in the Independence, Mo. area. I don’t know if you’ve ever read, “Under the Banner of Heaven” but it takes this topic of the various sects and shows the results of the Lafferty brothers.
“Thirty years ago, Dan Lafferty and his brother grew their hair long, called themselves prophets and claimed God told them to kill their sister-in-law and her baby after she resisted her husband’s entry into a radical polygamous group.”
“Kristi Strack was 6 years old when it happened, but police said she developed an obsession with the case that turned into a close yearslong friendship with the imprisoned man.”
“The mindset of Strack and her husband, Benjamin, grew increasingly bizarre, culminating with a belief that the apocalypse was near just before they killed themselves with a drug overdose and took their three children with them.”
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2929451/Utah-parents-showed-troubling-signs-deaths.html#ixzz3g1PvPGVQ
I read “Under the Banner of Heaven.” Very scary stuff. For some reason quite a few of those Mormon break-away sects, especially the polygamous ones, seem to be homicidal, suicidal, fratricidal, and a few other “cidals” that i can’t think of right now.
As an aside, the Tri-Grace Ministries webpage invites prospective missionaries to come to Utah and witness to the LDS and also to several polygamist communities near the Tri-Grace Ministries headquarters in Ephraim, Utah. I don’t know if I’d recommend witnessing to the polygamists. They tend to be paranoid about visitors and follow them around in vans. And the local police are often on the polygamist’s payroll (at least in Colorado City/Hilldale), so you can’t expect any help from them if the locals determine you’re unwelcome. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hildale,_Utah
This is one case where discretion may very well be the better part of valor. (With apologies to Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I.)
Good movie on the LMN the other night about Warren Jeffs. I don’t know if it’s on Netflix.
I found your comments on the ELCA quite interesting. Once I attended worship services at the ELCA for about 18 months. Some mornings before church began, I would just sit and try to clear my mind, thinking I must be bringing some baggage with me which was making it difficult to understand the sermons. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Was the gospel of grace being taught where I attended? Well, I cannot really say. Which may indicate a problem.
I have read some of Martin Luther’s writings, and they are filled with wonderful clarity, joy, and gratitude. Reading his writings of what God has done to save unworthy sinners is for me an act of worship, and so encouraging. Consider:
Martin wrote, “The article of justification must be sounded in our ears incessantly,” least it tend to be lost. This, the ELCA does not appear to do.
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