“Mormon Derangement Syndrome”

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I suppose that the rescue of the US-flag ship Maersk Alabama is old news by now.  As we all know, President Obama ordered US Navy Seals to take out the pirates who attacked that undefended ship.  Like Jonah Goldberg, I praise the President for allowing the US Navy to take quick, effective action on those who would harm the defenceless. While I didn’t vote for President Obama [I DID, however, vote for Alan Keyes in the 2000 GOP Primary in my home State!], and I think that his economic policies will merely bring about what he tries to avert, it is only right to acknowledge his proper actions as they occur.

Moreover, I think that those who fault President Obama in this are merely applying a mirror image of the “Bush Derangement Syndrome.” Like the extreme Left, who could see no good thing from former President Bush, the extreme Right can see no good in President Obama.

This didn’t begin with either President Obama or President Bush.  In 1994, extreme Right-wingers published that awful book and movie, The Clinton Chronicles, which, in my opinion, effectively immunised President Clinton during his impeachment trial,  discrediting ALL criticism against him.  Ronald Reagan’s critics called him “an amiable dunce”–and worse.  Hyperpartisans apparently always see the worst in their opponents.

So what does all this have to do with Mormonism?  Very simply, many–if not most–anti-Mormons have as much trouble seeing anything benign–let alone anything good–in Mormonism as hyperpartisan Republicans and Democrats have with seeing anything positive in each other.  For example, where most people see an effort by the Church to rid the world of ungodly things like porn and to secure the right to worship God unmolested, anti-Mormons like Ed Decker and Dave Hunt see an insidious attempt to overthrow the lawful government of the USA to engage in a reign of terror against “real” Christians everywhere.

Like secular hyperpartisans, they attack others for what they do themselves–to the point of twisting what their targets actually say.  When Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cautioned against ignoring God the Father and the Holy Ghost in their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, anti-Mormons falsely claimed that it was official LDS doctrine to NOT have a relationship with Jesus Christ–at all!   Furthermore, I don’t recall any objection to Hinn’s February 1987 sermon cautioning Lakeland’s Carpenters Home Church attendees to not ignore the Holy Spirit.

I suppose that ignoring the positive about one’s opponents is only human.  I’ve seen too many instances of Latter-day Saints bad-mouthing non-LDS Christians–and not just anti-Mormons.  While (as believing Latter-day Saints should) I remain a believer that ancient Christianity had suffered from an apostasy, I find that I must remind myself of the sometimes heroic efforts of non-LDS Christians to salvage what there is of the Christian Faith (and there is a LOT!)–lest I fall into the trap of believing–as anti-Mormons claim we do–that non-LDS Christians are so thoroughly corrupt that there is nothing good left. It may help to remember that we can learn good things even from non-Christians.

Indeed, if we remind ourselves of the good in those who are “other,” we do three things:

1. It allows us to follow the advice of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true Mormons.”

2.  It adds credibility to our side. Because we don’t always look for evil, we are less likely to be blinded from real good.

3. It establishes “common ground;” preventing the “I’m great, you stink” mentality, and, in a related fashion (and most importantly!),

4.  We build charity, or the pure Love of Christ, as commanded in I Corinthians 13. If we do not, then, as I John 4:1-6 puts it, we are not His.

84 thoughts on ““Mormon Derangement Syndrome”

  1. Theodore Brandley

    Cr@ig

    When the Book of Mormon claims that a bronze aged civilization existed somewhere in the America’s before Columbus and science says that none existed…I simple find Science more credible with their evidence…and you find the church’s claims, despite little to no evidence, to be more credible.

    On the contrary, I see tons of evidence for the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, beginning with the fact that it even exists. There is a plethora of scholarly evidence that it is a translation of an ancient document. As for the current archeological belief that such an advanced civilization did not exist in America before Columbus, my personal investigation into the evidence leads me to believe they are simply wrong. I spent 3 years investigating the geographical claims of the Book of Mormon and found that it fits perfectly into the continent of North America, with corresponding archeological sites for most of the cities and all of described terrain.

    Science follows the evidence… adjusts and YES changes to accommodate the evidence/science. Mormonism simple denies or ignores conflicting evidence because it has already concluded that it already has the answer to the question before the question is even asked. At least that is my perspective.

    Mormonism is founded upon evidence. Read again the testimony of the eleven credible witnesses who saw and handled the gold plates. We sometimes disagree with the interpretation of scientific evidence, but so do many scientists. As you have pointed out much of it is subject to change and to reinterpretation.

    Latter-day Saints rely first and foremost on the witness directly from God. One cannot have a greater witness than a witness from God. That is more sure than a witness through the eyes or the ears. A witness from God is real, undeniable powerful evidence. And, yes, if that evidence from God conflicts with the scientific theory of the day, which would you expect we would follow?

    Theodore

  2. Cowboy

    “Mormonism is founded upon evidence. Read again the testimony of the eleven credible witnesses who saw and handled the gold plates.”

    ? (again, puzzled smiley face)

    Yes the book of Mormon presents two affidavits signed by three and eight men, which bares testimony to having been witnesses of the plates. On the other hand, in all probability Joseph Smith was the recorder text to their witnesses. Many of the men tell versions of their experience which seem contradictory of the signed testimony, and there is more than enough data to suggest that while it is not necesarrily a given that each or any where completely or partially dishonest, an as matter of fact stamp of “credibility” is not justified. They are questionable witnesses best, and then yes Theodore, you along with God (or Joseph Smith, whichever it may be) to Oliver Cowdrey are correct, “What greater witness can you have, than from God”.

  3. Theodore Brandley

    Cowboy, you sound like a lawyer for the prosecution. ;-)

    It is irrelevant whether Joseph wrote the testimony or not, they all signed it and agreed to its publication. None of them ever denied it, even on their death beds and even when it would have been publicly advantageous for them to do so. The fact that some of them gave a slightly different version later is normal for each to remember a shared experience slightly differently, and is a further testimony that it was not a memorized conspiracy. I stand by my description of them as credible witnesses. Their combined testimonies, and the character of the testifiers, meet all the criteria for being credible witnesses in any court in America.

    Theodore

  4. Cowboy

    I don’t know that it would have ever been to publicly advantageous for co-conspirators to a religious hoax to volunteer their dishonesty. The problem with Joseph Smith writing the “testimonies” is that the whole point was for each of these men to bare witness to what they experienced. There is also a level of inconsistency as to whether the eight witnesses actually saw the plates, or just hefted the box that they were supposedly and therefore knew of a surety that the plates must be in there. David Whitmers testimony is one of the most bizarre, not being able to differentiate as to whether he had a vision, or whether it was real. Suffice it to say, none of the men made an official statement that they were part of a hoax, but most of them told versions of the experience which are not flattering to the testimony that bares their name.

    David Whitmer puts a stake through his testimony in his pamphlet “an address to all believers in Christ”, by stating that if you are going to accept that vision which gave him assurance of the Gold Plates, then you must also accept that that same spirit told him (David Whitmer) that he must separate himself from the official body of Mormons in 1838 because they had fallen into apostasy. So, the point is, when you put all of this into context, it is insufficient to keep recycling the old tired argument that none of these men ever denied their witness (even on their death beds), because what they did do is just as problematic for the Church if they would have denied their testimony – unless you hold Mormon beliefs akin to break off groups such as those founded by David Whitmer.

  5. Cr@ig P@xton

    Theordore Said: Mormonism is founded upon evidence. Read again the testimony of the eleven credible witnesses who saw and handled the gold plates.

    Oh Theordore…how I’d love to get one of your credible witnesses on the stand. My first question to Martin Harris would be… Mr. Harris is it true that you once claimed to have seen Jesus in the shape of a deer and walked and talked with him for two or three miles?

    Yes…Mormonism is full of credible witnesses…

  6. Cowboy

    Craig:

    If that claim is true, then you may rest your case. However that claim is from second hand memory several years after the Martin Harris was to have said that. He was however notorious for espousing fantastic notions.

    I would like to know what Joseph Smith’s (and company) position was on treasure seeking during his Prophet years. In other words, did he still claim to have been visited by the spirits of undisclosed treasure (I’m not talking about Moroni here).

  7. Cr@ig P@xton

    Cowboy,

    Yes I am well aware that that statement attributed to Martin Harris was second hand…and that is why I stated the question in the manner that I did. I’d put Martin Harris himself on the stand and ask him if the statement attributed to him was in fact true.

    I just don’t think that you can put the words “Credible and 11 [Mormon] witnesses” together in the same sentence. There is enough first hand information available to discredit the credibility of many of the men who claimed to “see and touch”.

  8. Cowboy

    “I just don’t think that you can put the words “Credible and 11 [Mormon] witnesses” together in the same sentence. There is enough first hand information available to discredit the credibility of many of the men who claimed to “see and touch”.”

    Agreed.

  9. Theodore Brandley

    Cowboy wrote:

    David Whitmers testimony is one of the most bizarre, not being able to differentiate as to whether he had a vision, or whether it was real.

    Visions from God are still real. Apparently sometimes one is not able to tell the whether they are still in a mortal state when they receive the vision:

    And whether they were in the body or out of the body, they could not tell; for it did seem unto them like a transfiguration of them, that they were changed from this body of flesh into an immortal state, that they could behold the things of God.” (3 Ne 28:15)
    “The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell.” D&C 137:1

    The possibility that David Whitmer could not differentiate whether this was a physical or spiritual experience does not discredit his testimony that it was a real experience.
    In David Whitmer’s pamphlet that you cite, the use of his testimony of the plates to justify his apostasy is a discredit to him. However, compared to this one statement are seventy two other statements over the rest of his live reaffirming his testimony of seeing the gold plates (Lyndon W. Cook ed., David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness (Grandin Book Company, 1993).

    When a Missouri mob tarred and feathered David Whitmer and others and aimed their guns at him and told him to deny the Book of Mormon he raised his hands and bore testimony to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. David Whitmer is a very credible witness.

    Other than your own opinions, neither you nor Cr@ig have presented sufficient concrete evidence that would nullify the testimonies of any of the eleven testifiers. Please note also that the testimony of only two or three would be sufficient evidence.

    Theodore

  10. Cr@ig P@xton

    Theodore, there is enough gun powder on both sides of this issue to support both your belief and my lack thereof. I wish it wasn’t so.

    Oh how I wish the witnesses were as credible as you claim. But the reality remains, the church teaches a polished version of the lives of these 11 men, leaving out many inconvenient details, in order to leave an impression with its membership of how they wished events had happened rather than how they actually did happen. They do this in order to promote faith and belief.

  11. Cowboy

    Theodore:

    You are now making my case. I have stated that there is nothing of which I am aware that would conclusively “nullify” the witnesses testimony. I recognize that fact and stand by my points. You on the other hand have made a case that because David Whitmer did not deny The Book of Mormon when his life was threatened, he must be credible. While this is a fascinating story, I don’t think that it leaves us with the single possibility that David Whitmer was being honest. You infact note yourself that his religious convictions with regard to his apostasy are a discredit to him. The same God that spoke to him on the day he claims to have witnessed the plates, he claims also told him that he must leave the Church and that they were in apostasy – yet another published testimony of David Whitmer.

    Regarding the literalness of the experience, the story is advocated today as though the experience were literal and that an Angel attended to demonstrate the plates. It also begs the question of why would a “vision” of the plates be necessary when an actual demonstration of the plates, physically, would be more convincing. This is even more problematic given that the eight witnesses were supposedly given the oppurtunity to hold the plates literally and turn it’s pages. Lastly when you read David Whitmers last interview regarding the matter, it comes accross very confusing. How hard would be to say, “Yes, an angel came out of heaven and showed us the plates” or “Our minds were opened up to a vision, and in that vision we saw an angel and heard the voice of God”. A final problem with the idea of a vision is that a vision is an individual experience, yet three men signed their names to one affidavit. As an experience which could be shared, such as a literall visitation from angels in the flesh, one affidavit with three signatures would be appropriate. Three individual visions, two if want to make a case for a shared vision, it would seem that each occurence would require it’s own statement. So, perhaps not a total proof against the claims, however there is room to scratch our heads enough to say that these claims are not quite slam dunks, such as how you suggest.

    There is also the matter of the witnesses. David Whitmer we have already addressed.

    Oliver Cowdrey is officially on record saying absolutely nothing. There is some speculation as to whether he was actively promoting the idea that his testimony was false. This matter is addressed disdainfully of in a “Times and Seasons article” where he is compared to Peter, regarding his denial of The Christ. I would have to dig up the refernce, but I can if you would like.

    Martin Harris was considered generally honest, but those who knew him considered his views as extreme, and even noted him as a person susceptible to “seeing spooks”, is the description I believe.

    Joseph Smith would hire out as a fortune teller of sorts, who would use a stone found while digging a well to contact the spirits of deceased treasure guardians. He would lead groups around the woods based on superstious impressions to mystical treasures. It should also be noted that this same stone was used to translate substantial portions of The Book of Mormon, based on David Whitmers account, and by some accounts may have even served as a medium for facilitating the three witnesses experience.

    The eight witnesses where all members of either Joseph Smiths family, or David Whitmers. Certainly raises the stakes for colusion, or at least duress. Secondly, there are claims extant which suggest that very thing, that the affidavit was signed under pressure. There are also other versions which suggest that the handling of plates was not quite the experience alluded to in the witness signed that describes said events.

    All in all, again nothing conclusive here. But again, that goes both ways. None of this brings a smoking gun to the table which absolutely demonstrates a fraud. It does, however, raise the level of reasonable skepticism to a point where laying an as matter of fact seal of credibility is not justified.

  12. Theodore Brandley

    Cowboy,

    When a being from the unseen world appears to a mortal or mortals that is a vision as understood by Joseph Smith Jr. and associates. Some examples are John the Baptist appearing to Joseph and Oliver and laying his hands on their heads, or when Moses and others appeared to Joseph and Oliver in the Kirtland Temple and committed the keys of the gathering of Israel, which would also have been done by the laying on of hands. These are real physical experiences not just something that occurs in one’s mind, and the appearance of the angelic being may well be to more than one person at time. As Moroni had the plates back in his charge at the times of the witnessing he had to appear with the plates. The plates were physically there; Moroni was physically there. Some of the witnesses (but not necessarily all of them) physically handled the plates.

    As in any case where witnesses are called to testify there are those who will believe them and there are those who will not. Any lawyer worth his salt can create, as you say, a “reasonable skepticism” in the reliability of any witness in the minds of the jurors.

    To my mind the eleven witnesses are credible. I believe their testimonies. It fits into all the other historical circumstances surrounding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, which, after many years of studying it, I am absolutely convinced that it is a translation of an ancient document and that it is the word of God to the people of our day.

    I also understand people who do not believe these things. I understand your “reasonable skepticism.” This testimony I have is a rare possession and is a gift from God. The only way that anyone can know these sacred things are true is by personal revelation. As you have pointed out, the things of God cannot be proven or disproven solely by the reason of men.

    All the best to you, and to Cr@ig.

    Theodore

  13. Seth R.

    “Oh how I wish the witnesses were as credible as you claim.”

    You know Craig… somehow, I don’t think you do.

  14. Cowboy

    By the way Theodore, your comparison of comments to a lawyer who would “create” a reasonable skepticism isn’t very impressive. Particularly when the witnesses themselves created this skepticism about themselves. I might argue as a corallary that any religious advocate worth their salt will be honest enough to recognize where there faith has merit, and where has weaknesses. This does not require a person to abandon their faith, but just be open enough to recognize that the evidence isn’t as concrete as they would like. Hence, defending the three and eight witnesses as an unimpeachable body.

  15. Theodore Brandley

    Cowboy,

    Since we have been discussing the validity of the testimony of the witnesses I think the legal analogy is quite appropriate and I do not accept your premise that the witnesses created their own skepticism. The only evidence you presented against the witnesses that in my opinion has any merit was David Whitmer’s pamphlet and I recognized and acknowledged that. You, on the other hand are ignoring the other seventy two recorded statements over the rest of his live reaffirming his testimony of seeing the gold plates. His one misuse of his testimony strikes him out for you. Also, you are ignoring the majority of the witnesses for whom you have no contrary evidence. To your credit, you did recognize that the ridiculous accusation against Martin Harris about seeing Jesus in the form of a deer was hearsay and recorded several years after the Martin Harris was to have said it. However, other than mentioned above you have not presented any concrete evidence that would discount the validity of the witnesses. If I believe someone in my church has done wrong I will readily admit it, but I have not seen any compelling evidence to that effect with these eleven witnesses.

    These eleven men are witnesses of the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ. These eleven men are therefore special witnesses of Jesus Christ. I am honored to be able to say a few simple words in their defense.

    Theodore

  16. Steve G.

    This has been a fun conversation. I haven’t had the time or necessarily the insight to respond to some of the comments. A few comments that stood out to me and I would like to give my input to are when Craig said:

    “Science follows the evidence… adjusts and YES changes to accommodate the evidence/science. Mormonism simple denies or ignores conflicting evidence because it has already concluded that it already has the answer to the question before the question is even asked. At least that is my perspective.”

    That is not how I see things; it is true that we hold the scriptures to be inspired and that we believe in some core revealed truths. My observation is that different individuals have received different insights from those truths. I believe what Joseph Smith said that we should “follow the majority of the council of the twelve” and what Bruce R. McConkie said we should “stay in the main stream of the Church”. I love Elder McConkie and am re-reading his series on the Messiah but I do not need to accept every thing he says as scripture. He changed his own mind on some things and came to different conclusions on other things than Elder Talmage did in his great work like for example when the Savior was born.

    On Evolution and science, you admitted that they use carbon 14 data at BYU and in other church schools. My first 2 years in collage where at the “Y”, in the biology class I took and the smaller discussion group I joined we discussed evolution pretty extensively and the professor was an advocate of it and still teaches there and he had a testimony of the restored gospel. A book that I enjoyed reading was “The Way, The Truth and The Live” by B.H. Roberts. I am sure you have read it. It was very good in and of its self, but I really enjoyed the foot notes and what it said about the discussions between Eder Roberts and Elders Joseph Fielding Smith and the leadership of the church. The First Presidency came away from that discussion saying that not enough had been revealed by the Lord to take an official stand. We are not a stagnate faith. We have many intelligent Latter-day Saints who are involved in the sciences as well as all other fields. I believe what Joseph Smith said that the Lord will yet reveal many great and important things. In my oppinion the Church is more perfect today than ever before because of that continued revelation and that the future will be even brighter.

    As far as the witness are concerned I am not up on everything but I enjoyed a book called, “Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses” by Richard Lloyd Anderson. I am sure you have read that one also. I thought he did some good research and the witnesses came way pretty credible to me. That is not what I base my testimony of the Book of Mormon on thought. My testimony comes from spending many years reading it and trying to conform my life to its teachings. I am sure I don’t do a spectacular job of it, but through my efforts I have come to know that the book is true. Love you guy’s and hope you are having a good life.

  17. Cowboy

    Fair enough Theodore, I don’t think we can go much further from here. Suffice it to say we haven’t convinced one another, you feel that I have not made a sufficient case to completely disqualify the witnesses – with some reservation I agree. On the other hand you seem to feel that you have made a strong defense for the credibility of these men, to which I disagree. Infact, all you have really stated is that David Whitmer didn’t back down with gun in his face, and that Oliver Cowdrey maintained his position on his death bed – in the company of David Whitmer, in Martin Harris’s home. Just a few point’s in response to your last comment, and you can have the last word if you choose (which I will of course read, and as always try to consider).

    1) To beat a dead horse, yes Martin Harris did create his own skepticism by his comments in “An Address to All Believers in Christ”. Joseph Smith, for the record, also declared following the excommunication of the Three Witnesses, that each was a liar – regarding allegations made against the Prophet – so can we rely on the witness of liars?

    2) David Whitmers feelings regarding the apostasy of the mainstream Church were not limited to one comment made in history. He was quite emphatic about that point until his death. I am sure the number of times he mentioned this fact matches the 72 in defense of The Book of Mormon. Secondly your ratio of David Whitmer defenses of The Book of Mormon to his quote in his pamphlet is besides the point anyway. David Whitmer remained an advocate of The Book of Mormon his entire life, he just claims that he had an experience akin to his witness of The Book of Mormon where God revealed that the Church was in apostasy. So if you throw that claim out, then you ought to question his claim to having seen an angel. In other words, he’s not a good witness.

    3) The alleged quote that Martin Harris claims to have talked with Jesus in the form of a deer is ridiculous, but not entirely falsifiable. It’s just not substantiatable so in fairness you can’t hold that against him. He was however notorious for being superstitios.

    4) My objection to your law comparison was regarding the accusation that I am creating – embellishing – this position. Theodore I have witnessed a few occasion where you have been accused of the same thing by your fellow believers. I referring to theories you have espoused regarding BOM geography. It’s not polite, and I didn’t write David Whitmers pamphlet.

    5) I raised a legitimate issue on each of the witnesses. Not all are as strong, I realize that, but your decision to just outright reject everything – you have even basically rejected outright the solid objection regarding DW – comes across more as an attempt to defend than to try and see eye to eye.

  18. Cowboy

    Retraction:

    I wish there was an edit feature of FAIR. I thought I would quickly check a fact that I became unsure on. Oliver Cowdrey died in David Whitmers home, not Martin Harris’s. I seem to recall that all three witnesses were present for this occasion, does this sound incorrect to anyone? A brief seach on the internet doesn’t seem to address this, I will try and find out. In any case, Oliver’s death bed affirmation of The Book of Mormon is recorded by David Whitmer. I am not certain that Martin Harris witnessed this. Sorry for the oversight.

  19. Cowboy

    While we disagree Theodore, I respect you and your views as well. Best of luck to you.

  20. Steven Danderson Post author

    Hi guys!

    Sorry for the delay; I’ve been finishing up classes before summer!

    I plan on using another blog post to address some issues raised. However, I have some observations here:

    1. Jeff, why not just work with the LDS where interests converge, and staying apart from them where they do not? That is what we LDS do in the “Bible Belt”.

    Frankly, I fail to see where you have any more right to demand that the LDS change its doctrines than we do to demand that Evangelical or Fundamentalist Churches change theirs.

    2. Cowboy, I would say that the LDS mirror image of anti-Mormons are those who understand the Great and Abominable Church of the Devil to include all non-members. I don’t personally know anybody who fits this profile, but I know OF some. I must say, though, that these people betray a gross ignorance of II Nephi 28:14.

    3. One thing I’ve observed, is that many of those who scream the loudest about our use of the term, “anti-Mormon” feel no qualm about using the phrase, “non-Christian Satanic cult” to describe us.

    4. Cr@ig P@xton and others, I must remind you that it is those who think we’re wrong that bear the burden of proof when trying to entice us to leave Mormonism. That means that WE get to decide who is credible and who is not. Conversely, when our missionaries preach the Gospel, it is those missionaries that are required to demonstrate that the Church is true–or at least provide a means where people can find out.

  21. Cowboy

    Steve:

    I would be interested to know what venues you frequent, where the prevailing attitude is to take offense at being labled “Anti-Mormon”, but have no reservation against calling the Church a “non-Christian Satanic Cult”. From my experience, those who portray the Church as either a cult or a branch of Satanism have no objections in bearing the label “Anti-Mormon”. Many in that camp see the reference as a positive.

    As a note, both Craig P@xton and I have been challenging your usage here, and neither he or I have stated anything even remotely close to what your coment (#3) is suggesting?

  22. Steven Danderson Post author

    Cowboy said,

    I would be interested to know what venues you frequent, where the prevailing attitude is to take offense at being labled “Anti-Mormon”, but have no reservation against calling the Church a “non-Christian Satanic Cult”.

    Cowboy, I live in the US South–the famed “Bible Belt.” Some Evangelicals (including preachers) have demanded that I “fess up” to being a non-Chrisitan cultist–after I made it clear that I confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. When I asked them to define “Chrisitan” and “cultist,” they took offence, telling me that they don’t want to start a fight–all the while completely oblivious to the fact that they used “fighting words” to effectively accuse me of lying about my testimony of the Saviour. Other Evangelicals go further than this–to the extent of accusing me of swearing “death oaths” of fealty to Satan.

    You said,

    From my experience, those who portray the Church as either a cult or a branch of Satanism have no objections in bearing the label “Anti-Mormon”. Many in that camp see the reference as a positive.

    EVERY ONE of these people I spoke of above took offence at the label, “anti-Mormon,” exclaiming words to the effect of, “I’m not anti-Mormon; I LOVE Mormons!”

    Somehow, their profession of “love” rings hollow, in light of repeated misrepresentations of my faith.

    You said,

    As a note, both Craig P@xton and I have been challenging your usage here, and neither he or I have stated anything even remotely close to what your coment (#3) is suggesting?

    I haven’t the foggiest why.

    I don’t know you, and, to my knowledge, you haven’t done anything that would fit you as an anti-Mormon. Thus, I think it wrong to accuse you of being an anti-Mormon, and I do not recall ever doing so.

    Hence, it wasn’t directed at you. It is merely my observation of the behaviour of many, if not most anti-Mormons of my acquaintence.

    If, on the other hand, you HAVE done something that betrays anti-Mormonism, you may wish to ask yourself why my comments “come too close to home”–and adjust your behaviour.

  23. Cowboy

    Steve, I have spent considerable time in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and little in Michigan – all basically within the famed “bible-belt” area you are referring to. My experience has been quite different from yours. I have met many pastors, even in the last few years, and spoken to them about Mormonism. Among those that would so cavelierly declare us to be a Satanic cult, bearing the the “Anti-Mormon” moniker was no big deal – infact, they often times see it as a positive. Generally those who would take offense at being called “Anti-Mormon” are not so abrasive in their interactions with me. They will often debate as to whether or not we are Christian, but for them that is generally an academic debate, to which even President Hinckley has suggested he agrees. In their minds our perspectives on Christianity are so radical, that we really belong in a class of our own. As a side note, there are those (Bushman) who agree with this sentiment, and suggest that Mormonism actually represents a fourth Abrahamic religion.

  24. Steven Danderson Post author

    Cowboy says:

    Steve, I have spent considerable time in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and little in Michigan – all basically within the famed “bible-belt” area you are referring to.

    Agreed. I was born in Indiana, and grew up (mostly) in the Chicago area.

    My experience has been quite different from yours. I have met many pastors, even in the last few years, and spoken to them about Mormonism.

    Did you initiate the conversation about Mormonism, or did they? The ones I referred to in my post approached me.

    Among those that would so cavelierly declare us to be a Satanic cult, bearing the the “Anti-Mormon” moniker was no big deal – infact, they often times see it as a positive.

    How did you define the term, though?

    Generally those who would take offense at being called “Anti-Mormon” are not so abrasive in their interactions with me. They will often debate as to whether or not we are Christian, but for them that is generally an academic debate, to which even President Hinckley has suggested he agrees. In their minds our perspectives on Christianity are so radical, that we really belong in a class of our own.

    Certainly not more radical than, say, the Unitarians! ;)

    The standard definition of a Christian is one who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. I don’t mind (MUCH! ;) ) when people say that we’re so radically different from historical, orthodox Christianity–we’re NOT “orthodox!”–my ire gets raised whenever this “academic speculation” becomes an implication that I am NOT truthful when I say that Jesus Christ is Lord.

    That accusation of lying simply brings dialogue to a swift end! :-o

    As a side note, there are those (Bushman) who agree with this sentiment, and suggest that Mormonism actually represents a fourth Abrahamic religion.

    Shipps, too. ;)

    I may blog about this later. For now, let me say that I’m not sure that we’re so radical that we are as separate from Christians as Christians are separate from Jews. While the Jews view Deity as some Wholly Other Entity that must not even be named, Christians view Him as the Man Jesus Christ [Romans 5:15; see also I Timothy 2:5].

    Somehow, viewing Jesus Christ as having a “spirit brother” doesn’t strike me as radical as changing a view of God from an Entirely Superior Kind of Being to that of an acknowledged Human! ;)

  25. Cowboy

    Fair enough Steve. To be quite honest, I don’t know that I personally agree with the notion that Mormonism represents fourth Abrahamic faith, I just mentioned this point to suggest that from an “academic” perspective, even our leading scholars agree that we are very different from orthodox Christianity. That being said, I personally see Mormonism as an offshoot of Christianity, since as you mention, Jesus Christ in a Christian context (albeit, unique) is the central theme to the Church.

    Having been in similar situations where someone insists upon my not believing in Jesus Christ myself, I understand why you take offense at that. What bothers me about those coversations is that I feel like I am talking to a wall because nothing I can say penetrates.

    As far as this conversation goes Steve, I think I’ve said about all that I can say. While I won’t pretend to know exactly what your interactions have been, having had similar experiences to what you mention (speaking with clergy about Mormonism in the mid-west), I can’t say that I have had any experiences that would support your claims.

  26. Cr@ig P@xton

    Steve Danderson Said: Cr@ig P@xton and others, I must remind you that it is those who think we’re wrong that bear the burden of proof when trying to entice us to leave Mormonism. That means that WE get to decide who is credible and who is not. Conversely, when our missionaries preach the Gospel, it is those missionaries that are required to demonstrate that the Church is true–or at least provide a means where people can find out.

    Cr@ig’s Response: Steve I could care less whether you remain an active Mormon or not. I have no desire what so ever to convince you that Mormonism is not what it claims to be. If you are able to bend your brain into a pretzel to make the many twisted pieces of Mormonism work for you…I’m actually happy for you. I wish I could do the same.

    You’re a better man than me for I am just not able to justify, excuse, discount, ignore, suspend or mold all the many conflicting pieces of the LDS faith paradigm to make it a remotely believable religion. To me, it is just a mass of cognitive dissonance.

    Much like the little Dutch boy trying to plug all the leaks in the dike with his finger…as soon as he plugs one hole…another spouts forth. The Mormon faith paradigm is not reconcilable with its own doctrines, established history and science.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the institution that claims to be the one and only true church on the face of the earth. Contrary to your assertion, I believe it is the Mormon Church that carries the burden of proof to explain away why it’s so called reality does not sync with established reality. Only in an alternative universe does Mormonism make any sense.

  27. Steven G.

    Hi Craig, I think I can understand what you are saying though I don’t see all the conflict that you see. To me there are many more witness to God than there are against Him. I find the miracle of the human personality to be one of the great physical evidence of the existence of a creator. I know that I can not prove my feelings or beliefs to anyone. I remember sitting in a psychology class and we were studying how it was possible for us as humans to carrie on a conversation for 5 minutes let alone be a person over time and science really did have very little hard facts of how we exist as persons over time. I have worked in jails and mental hospitals and am aware of the problems that us humans have, but still when you take into consideration that there our 6 billion plus of us to me that is a miracle. I know that everything cannot be explained that has to do with my faith but neither can it be explained by science. To me there just is not that big of a conflict between what I see and feel and believe. I love you though guy.

  28. Cowboy

    Steve:

    For what it is worth, I can completely agree with and respect comments like your recent one to Craig.

  29. Steven Danderson

    Hi Cowboy!

    You said,

    Having been in similar situations where someone insists upon my not believing in Jesus Christ myself, I understand why you take offense at that. What bothers me about those coversations is that I feel like I am talking to a wall because nothing I can say penetrates.

    Yes, it IS a pain in the neck [and a couple of feet south! ;) ] to have others tell you that THEY know you better than you know yourself! :/

    It is THOSE people that have the “Mormon Derangement Syndrome!”

    While I won’t pretend to know exactly what your interactions have been, having had similar experiences to what you mention (speaking with clergy about Mormonism in the mid-west), I can’t say that I have had any experiences that would support your claims.

    While it is unusual that we have had different experiences with anti-Mormons, it does NOT follow that one of us must be wrong. As Colin Bruce has Sherlock Holmes telling Watson, events with a 1% chance of happening actually DO occur–one percent of the time! ;)

    I suspect, though, that many of those who self-identify as “anti-Mormon” might more appropriately be classified as “unbelievers in LDS theology.” Such people who make no bones about their belief that our theology is deficient, but make no attempt to undermine the faith of believers qualify as “anti-Mormon” only in the most peripheral, abstract manner.

    Frankly, I would shy away from such usage of the term, “anti-Mormon,” and, I’m told, so would my FAIR and FARMS colleagues. FAIR and FARMS are apologetic groups; that is, we are to DEFEND the faith. To defend against those who will not attack is a waste of time and resources. Moreover, to include those who aren’t attacking with those who are provokes unnecessary additional warfare, and, because the “enemy” is larger in size, that war is harder to win. This, too, is an unconscionable waste in resources–and outright sin.

    As a parallel, if we were to define ALL Protestants as “anti-Catholics”–and vice versa, because each group firmly disbelieves in the truth-claims of the other, we would have a replay of (literally) centuries of warfare. This would make us quite vulnerable to either secularistic dictator-wannabes, who would lead us into increasingly lethal military adventurism, or to a new Dark Age, ruled by a particularly virulent form of militant Islam–or both, as happened in Europe.

    I also suspect that the type of anti-Mormon that engage those of us at FAIR may actually believe–or give that impression–that they are trying to save us from ourselves.

    I only wish that they would NOT have such a reckless disregard for truth in their attempts! :/

    Pax vobiscum!

  30. Steven Danderson

    Cr@ig says:

    I could care less whether you remain an active Mormon or not. I have no desire what so ever to convince you that Mormonism is not what it claims to be.

    Then why did you storm onto my Fun House Mirrors [http://www.fairblog.org/2009/04/11/fun-house-mirrors/] entry defending an anti-Mormon diatribe designed to entice people to leave (or evade) the LDS faith?

    Frankly, Sir, I fail to see why somebody who is uninterested in whether we stay in the faith would do that.

    As I recall, you said that you WERE LDS. That was why I reminded you of the fact that the burden of proof is on those who would lead us FROM the faith. It is evident in your statement, “I believe it is the Mormon Church that carries the burden of proof to explain away why it’s so called reality does not sync with established reality.” That might be so–if I were a missionary bringing a Gospel message to non-believers. But for anti-Mormons to go to members and demand them to prove the Church true to ANTI-MORMONS’ satisfaction or leave the Church is tantamount to putting “innocent until proven guilty” on its head.

    That, coupled with anti-Mormon determination to NOT accept any answer we give–even before grilling us–strikes me as a “kangaroo court.”

    From what you wrote, you seem to be a victim of such a kangaroo court!

    If you are able to bend your brain into a pretzel to make the many twisted pieces of Mormonism work for you…I’m actually happy for you. I wish I could do the same.

    You presuppose–wrongly–that I twist my mind. As a “quant jock,” I am required to keep my mind straight and UNtwisted.
    ;)

    It is easy, I reckon, to come to the conclusion that Mormonism is all mixed up, if I were to just listen to anti-Mormon convoluted reasoning–and not ask questions. It is those who attack Mormonism who are required to connect all of the dots! ;)

    You’re a better man than me for I am just not able to justify, excuse, discount, ignore, suspend or mold all the many conflicting pieces of the LDS faith paradigm to make it a remotely believable religion. To me, it is just a mass of cognitive dissonance.

    It is only complicated if I were to unquestioningly take the anti-Mormon spin at face value. If THEY cannot make an intelligible case, I view it as NOT my problem! ;)

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