Real Mormons Don't Want Fake Mormons to Be Called "Mormons"

October 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

The following message (though not this picture) was posted yesterday on the Mormon Church’s public affairs blog. It explains the group’s unhappiness with recent news reports that refer to “splinter groups” which hive off from the Salt Lake City-based “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (AKA “the Mormon Church”) as “Mormons.”

These splinter groups (AKA “Mormon Fundamentalists”) assiduously devote themselves to the practice of the doctrine of polygamy (which was renounced by THE Mormon Church in 1890) and around whichever Viagra-addled alpha male has set himself up as the prophet, seer, and revelator for that particular harem.

Yes, it’s kind of weird, especially since the real Mormon Church used to officially teach (and practice with gusto) the doctrine of “plural marriage” (c.f., D&C 132:51-52, 61-64). But when you consider this issue from the standpoint of the LDS Church, their concern makes sense. And in any case, I personally find the whole wild and wonderful world of Mormonism rather fascinating anyway.

During the past few years most journalists in the U.S. have done an excellent job in clarifying the differences between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and small, polygamist, splinter groups that often call themselves “Mormons” but have no connection with the Church. Since these groups are covered in the press frequently, we appreciate journalists’ efforts to make this distinction.

However, today The Times in London ran a story about a polygamist group, not at all associated with the Church, with the headline “Mormon polygamist Raymond Jessop on trial after raid on sect’s compound.” Journalists who use the word “Mormon” in relation to polygamist groups unassociated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cause enormous amounts of confusion in the minds of their readers. Particularly internationally, readers do not distinguish between these groups and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which there are over 13.5 million members worldwide.

A few weeks ago I was in Korea and spoke with some of the Church’s Public Affairs media representatives there. They expressed frustration with international wire services that inappropriately use the term “Mormon” in their stories in association with fringe polygamists groups. The Korean press often reruns these stories with the wire service inaccuracies. The effect of such misinformation in Korea, and other countries where the Church has fewer members and is less well known, is much greater. . . . (continue reading)


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138 Responses to “Real Mormons Don't Want Fake Mormons to Be Called "Mormons"”
  1. Crazy cow says:

    What happened with the LDS person Gary Coleman ? Did anyone converted with the debate ?

  2. Bagmon says:

    Lord forgive us…

  3. Seth R. says:

    Sure Mike. Same to you.

    Grace and peace in Jesus.

  4. Mike Tea says:

    That's right Seth, you keep telling yourself its the same old yadayadyadaya from the Evangelicals. After all, there is a sort of security in blind faith and ignorance.

  5. Seth R. says:

    I get testimonials like this from Evangelicals all the time.

    The only difference is that they usually end with "grace and peace in Jesus" or something like that.

  6. Mike Tea says:

    Oh, dear! So proud of your faith and testimony yet not prepared to put your name to it.

    Can you hear yourself? All critics are "bashing", all reason redundant and everyone who prays about the Book of Mormon and decides it is not true is insincere. Your position is indeed unassailable, not because it is true, but because you are blind to its faults.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I served a mission, asked hundreds of people to pray to know if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was true. I never once encountered someone who did this in sincerity, not with their own preconceived ideas about the answer get a negative response from God. All received a witness. Not all joined while I was there but when they were ready to have God dictate to them in full sincerity instead of any degree of them dictating to God (sincere or otherwise) the result was always the same: God spoke to them in a personal way that they could understand witnessing the truthfulness of the message we brought to them. That is the power of our message. Much of the other "issues" discussed here and elsewhere about Mormonism are just fluff and the result of a lack of testimony yet received and/or a refusal to receive it.
    All the criticism of the church and its early leaders are not the real problem but the detractors really have when it gets stripped down to its core.
    The problem they really have is that they have not received or will not allow "the still small voice" to penetrate their hearts and bear witness to them the same thing that God has born witness to the millions (members and otherwise) who know in their hearts that it is true.
    And He does not just witness to them only but to all who will receive the word with a contrite heart and humble spirit, asking in faith, nothing doubting.
    I know its true. I probably couldn't keep up with half the research of most of the contributors here in this blog. When I do take the time to research an issue brought up by detractors or others I always come to the same place and the message I have given rings ever true as when I begin.
    Though I am not as versed in websites and sources what I know I know. And those who want to know can know it too. Most of the defenders here will probably know what I am talking about and some of the detractors may decide to bash.
    But at the end of the day what really matters is gaining that testimony from God. He is ever eagerly willing to give it and sustain it, but you must seek it on His terms, of Faith, Hope, and Charity, with an eye single to His Glory and His will, willing to submit to all things as a child doth submit to his parents…and not try to do so on your terms, for it is He who is God and we who are the children, It is He who knows the way and has provided the truth and we who must learn to follow and have faith in Him, and stop using His name and His doctrine for anger and contention.
    I leave this testimony with you in His Holy name, even that of Jesus Christ, amen.

  8. Bagmon says:

    (sorry for the month delay. Track and Homework's been crazy…)

    I think I just found out why Joseph Smith (and other Prophets?) said that there is a "unforgivable" sin:

    Alma 39:6
    "For behold, if ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it, behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable; yea, and whoseever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness."

    This is the Prophet Alma the younger, to his unchaste son, Corianton.

    I personally can testify to the truth of that statement. The one true time, when I've advantly felt "a burning in my bosom" it came with such power. It was like… I was in the presence of God. I knew then, instantly, that it was the spirit, but I was so overwhelmed… with joy… and this just extroardinary feeling. It changed my life by the way. I haven't been anything like the person I was before then: nonchalant, jokingly suicidal, a complete and utter bum who didn't care about the world or my world or my future.

    Imagine this: You are given direct revelation from God to do thus; your heart is lifted… no VAULTED by the Spirit, you know it, you cannot deny it; but you do so anyway. Your spirit… has to be exeptionaly in the path of the Devil to do somethingly like that. You have to actually know and yet HATE God; or something on that level.

    I can see why that would be unpardonable (and why it's above murder itself!). Some one who would do such a thing, has partaken and worked towards God's kingdom, his fruit; just to turn around when they've FELT his love so fully, and turn to INTENTIONAL servitude to the Devil: will surely not even WANT to repent. Not yet anyway.

    This is actually the requirement to go to Hell, by the way. That's what we're taught. Even the murderers and harlots will go to Heaven, probably because they don't know the extent of their wickedness. Some one who does as Alma stated, though, knows fully what they're doing…

  9. Bagmon says:

    Haha nice to hear from you again *wink*.

    No no, that's not what I ment. I'm saying that they weren't LUSTFULL to their wives. Yes they loved them just as much (or I'd hope), I'm just saying they weren't marrying people for the sake of sleeping with them. There's a way to be attracted to someone and still be respectful of their divinity and worth as God sees it.

  10. Seth R. says:

    Bagmon,

    I think you insult the memory of our ancestors by suggesting that early polygamous men did not love their additional wives just as much as their first wives.

    What an insult to a woman if the guy didn't actually find her attractive.

    And it's not true anyway. Early Mormon men in Utah did love their second wives just as much as their first wives – or tried to as best they were able anyway. So of course there would be nothing wrong with them being sexually attracted to them. She's your WIFE – you are supposed to be attracted to her! It's almost an insult not to find her attractive.

    Don't make things up to try and explain away things that are only a problem because modern conservative Christian culture is irretrievably sexually repressed. Sex is not automatically dirty and embarrassing. It is a sacred physical symbol of godlike love. When practiced with respect, with love, and within the bounds that God has set, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

    I see no reason whatsoever to apologize for my polygamous ancestors finding each other sexually attractive. Why shouldn't they have?

  11. Bagmon says:

    Anonymous… You make a fine point, but I'm not sure if it had to be made… Thank you for it however.

    Mike, I brought up polygamy awhile back.

    What I've come to realize is that, IF This is Jesus' true Church and IF it was indeed by his command that they were to practice polygamy: There was a reason for it to suddenly become expedient for the progressive of his work. Also, there must be some factor that allowed the Saints to practice it in righteousness; for the Lord would not command them to do that which is contrary to him.

    I remember you once saying that you don't beliefe the Saints practice polygamy for their own survival and "expediency" I think was the word you used.

    Remember that in the beginning God did command his people to practice it. If this IS his Church, would he not command his people to take those who were afflicted into their homes? Like Jesus did to his own mother (while he was on the cross) when he told one of his apostles "behold thy mother" and from hence for he took care of her.

    Another thing that I've come to understand is that though the Saints had wives, they were not their mistresses. These were people that had been raised with virtue and respect for women. I doubt that any of these men felt a lust for any of their wives, and if they slept with them it was for the purpose of impregnating them; as was God's command ("for behold be fruitful and multiply").

    What you need to ask yourself, Mike is "IF this IS Jesus' Church… would he not command as he did?" and more importantly pray for understanding. Like I said in my above post: Jeremiah 33:3 and James 1:5-6

  12. Anonymous says:

    I think it is funny how worked up the so called "Christians" get at Mormons mentioning that the belief in Jesus Christ makes them Christians.Especialy when I have seen that the "Christian" preachers are the must crazy about hating the Mormons, some even wish for Mormon death. I think that "preacher" crackpots that hate others for claiming Christianity and thier own salvation are just upset that Mormons don't get paid to preach and that the more time Mormons spend around other Christians, the more they show thier goodness. I work with alot of Mormons and other free thinking Christians and I see more similarities between the time of Jesus Christ and his old church and the Mormons. The more shrill people get about hating a group of nice people like the Mormons, the more they deserve a good honest look. May peace one day fill your heart Mike, may you find God and his teachings. I hope you can let go of your crazy hate and learn from the Bible and remember "What would Jasus do?".

  13. Bagmon says:

    (To all: sorry about the enormous delay. I seem to have forgotten this blog… It wasn't until yesterday that the spirit directed me back here but I was a little too busy to answer then)

    Anonymous,

    Amen! But I also want to warn you that though I'm Mormon I will seldom be able to answer your questions with full truth, as I'm imperfect.

    And with that in mind the best way I can help you find answers is to exhort you to pray (in faith). If the Church really is Jesus' Church, then it's he who can (and should) answer your questions. General Conference –a series of talks from the modern day Prophet and apostles of the Lord– will be going on this Saturday and Sunday (the 4th and 5th). You can watch/read them online at:

    LDS.org

    if you want. (The text won't be uploaded for a while, unfortunately…) there are 3 sessions Saturday, and 2 on Sunday.

    You might also want to seek the council of a missionary. They've devoted 2 years of their life in pray and service to their Lord, so that they can help those who want to know more about the church.

    But, once again, I whole heartedly encourage you to pray.

    Jeremiah 33:3
    "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and ashew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."

    James 1:5
    5) "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
    6) But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."

    PS)If you want to know the difference between The LDS church and other Christian faiths: you'll need to investigate the Book of Mormon; as it's the chief difference between the two.

  14. Mike Tea says:

    Anonymous,

    If you want to understand this from a Catholic perspective you might find Isaiah Bennett's book, Inside Mormonism, helpful:

    http://www.catholiccompany.com/catholic-books/1001498/Inside-Mormonism-What-Mormons-Really-Believe/

  15. Anonymous says:

    I would just like to make a comment. I recently came across this blog while searching for info on Mormons. A little background. I was born and baptised Roman Catholic. My granparents influenced that. My mother on the other hand wasn't very religious. I spent alot of time growing up with a babysitter, whom I went to church with because my mother was always at work. My babysitter was die hard Christian, going to a small Church of Christ. I'm not practicing any religion at this time. I recently started a family tree, and to my surprise found out that my granfather, great granfather, and great grandfather were Mormans. So started the search for information. My comment is this. I don't really understand why all the fuss about who is right or who is wrong. I do know that the Christians and Catholics persecuted non-believers, all thru time and history. I hear Christians say that the Bible is the only true book, word of God, and that Mormanism, or the LDS is fake, made up, a cult made up by Joseph Smith to satisfy whatever drove him at the time. That he was just a man, not a prophet. Was Jesus not just a man before a large group of people deemed him to be a prophet? Was the Bible not written by ordinary men who felt and were persecuted for their beliefs? Is the Christian church, be it Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, etc. all driven to grow, and prosper on what they themselves believe to be the CORRECT truth or interpretation of Gods will for mankind? Can Joseph Smith not be a modern day prophet? And if not, then why? How is he any different than any other prophet who has come before him and made the comment that the church is following the wrong path? I've grown up in the era of Jimmy Swaggart, and other Christian leaders, all whom have fallen, all whom have been proven to not be worthy of their following. I think sometimes that religion is a s oppressive as any government could ever be. It always has to be, it's this way or no way, or you go to Hell! I think people of religion should be alittle more tolerant. The LDS aren't the only one to practice polygamy, read your Bible. Just like they aren't the only ones to have fought for their beliefs in the past, be they right or wrong. What I do believe is that we are all on a path to try to get to Heavan. I believe that we might be taking different routes to get there, but the destination is the same for all of us.

  16. Mike Tea says:

    Hey Bagmon, Nice to know you are still around. I would be glad to see what you have to say.

    Mike

  17. Bagmon says:

    Hey everyone! i know it's been months, but I just wanted to say that I'm still keeping tabs, if anyone wants to start up a discusion. Also: I've been thinking about some things and think I understand the whole polygamy situation as well as some thoughts to our other arguments. Let me know if you're still interested in this blog.

  18. Bagmon says:

    (In an attempt to be respect full: I apologize in advance…)

    Calm down you two.

    If either of you can call yourselves deciples of our Lord, then you had better start acting like it and stop letting anger dictate your thoughts.

    Especially you, Seth.

    "He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me(this is the Lord speaking, by the way), but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

    30-"Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away."

    3rd Nephi 11:30-31

    Interpret what I would call obvious however you wilt, but think of this: Would your Lord and Savior have you doing what you're doing now? Or would he have you two be civilized and deal with your opposition in a manner that becomeith him?

    Get it together, and work on repenting.

    I'm sorry for my bluntness, but you two haven't shown a thread of decency to each other for months if not since this blog began.

    Now if you two are willing to see each other as the fellow brothers, each working towards salvation, as I know you are, let us continue with an actual DISCUSSION.

    Now… (once again I apologize, but seriously you two, can you stop focusing on what the other has done and step your game up? Your acting like the Mormons that give the LDS religion some very bad examples…) Mike: remember when I was asking you about your experiences with the spirit? Well to answer your question on relevence: It isn't – or at least, it wasn't until recently. Mostly I was asking you because of a personal problem but I've fixed it since I sent my last post.

    As of current relevence: if there is a single question being asked here with the intent of gaining knowledge for OURSELVES -not proving it to each other- then for the most part, that's between the questioneer and God. Ask men for their oppinions all you want, in regards to God's intent/message/whatever but whatever you come up with won't effect the truth.

    So if you're looking for answers: seek the spirit ("Look and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened onto you").

    BUT! If we are to try to prove something to one another, then remember this: You're not going to get anything across here. Not the way we've been going at it at least.

    Much of what we've been discussing is opinion "based", for lack of a better phrase. Trying to shove it down each other's throats is just not going to work (don't even try to debate that). What will work, however, is presenting your point in a respectful manner.

    That of a proper discussion. (not arguement)

    Another way of putting it, would be to invite the spirit. To do so will keep (or at least help keep) our thoughts on the strait and narrow, not to mention guide our thoughts to the truth, see flaws, and discuss them in a way that becometh saints.

    But remember: no matter what we discuss, it doesn't change anything, so stay true to what the spirit was (and will) testify to you; because there is the truth.

    (I'll end with one last "LOVE THY NEIGHBOR"!!! and I hope you two might actually get increase your testimonies from this blog now…)

  19. Seth R. says:

    Whatever Isaiah's other problems, his scriptures are perfectly compatible with my views. There's a lot more flexibility in the scriptures than people give credit for.

    Augustine did not originate the doctrine of the creedal Trinity. He merely provided one of the best explanations and defences for it. So I felt applying his name to it appropriate.

    And if you want to talk about being sneaky Mike, your "trinitarianism" is likewise nothing more than a way of sneaking polytheism into the discussion – as any good Jewish or Muslim theologian could tell you.

  20. Mike Tea says:

    Don't be silly Seth. "Social Trinitarian" is nothing more to a Mormon than another way of sneaking their polytheism into the discussion by another route. It is a sly and dishonest thing to even use the word "Trinity" in relation to Mormonism since Mormonism teaches that there are countless gods among which the "social trinity" are numbered and among which they themselves hope to be numbered one day. A rose by any other name my friend.

    Of course you may be a bad Mormon but then I am convinced you are not a good Christian either. Are you so comfortable about dismissing Scripture? Or is Isaiah, like McConkie, an inconvenient prophet?

    Augustinian Trinitarian? Do you really swallow the nonsense that the Trinity was a late development? I said you didn't know church history. Maybe we should leave it there because it is certain that you don't want to contend for the faith so much as quarrel with anyone who disagrees with you.

  21. Seth R. says:

    I'm a Social Trinitarian Mike.

    That is why the idea of Trinity makes sense to me. The traditional Augustinian notion however…

    So, what is "substance?"

    And how can the Son share it with the Father, and yet not be identical with the Father?

    And I'll dictate whatever terms I want Mike.

    If you are incapable of stepping up to my terms, then I guess others can simply judge for themselves whether they were fair or not.

    It's always the same old song and dance. Try to ask an Augustinian trinitarian about the core identity issues of Father and Son, and they always – ALWAYS – change the subject and start throwing Isaiah quotes at you. You'd almost think they thought you couldn't use those same scriptures to support your own position…

    Seems to me that the problem isn't Isaiah, but rather the brain-game baggage you've tacked onto his words.

    And screwing up for 2,000 years doesn't make it any less of a screw up Mike.

  22. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    I did not dodge the question and don't even think about dictating terms to me. Now if you want simplistic answers to silly questions then I suggest you stay with Mormonism, but if you want to play in the grown up world of Christian theology stop acting like a trainee god and accept that you have something to learn.

    Something that always amazes me about Mormons is they don't understand the Trinity but they are determined that no one is going to explain it to them except on their terms; terms they cannot begin to elucidate because they don't understand what they are asking. Not getting the answer their ignorant and ill-informed preconceptions demand they are certain it is nonsense but, not understanding it, they have no idea what they are rejecting. Stupid or what?

    This is not about you demanding answers and then bitching because the answers you get don't suit you. It is meant to be a discussion in which I say what I want to say and you what you want to say and we try to understand each other. But I am not so sure you want to understand.

    What Christian literature have you read on the subject? What efforts have you made to think outside the box of Mormonism and see things from another point of view? Or is your head just packed full of Mormon garbage that rejects 2,000 years of Christian history, theology, scholarship, devotion, sacrifice and service?

    Now before we go further I suggest you reconcile the Mormon pantheon of gods with the Bible texts I have given you without abusing God's Word. Don't give me that old pony about "as far as it is translated correctly", or the nonsense about "to us he is the only god". The Bible is trustworthy and it does not say that.

    You say you trust the Bible and that it means what it says it means. There is only one God; the Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God.

    As to the way it is expressed in the creeds this is a secondary issue. For instance, if I quote McConkie it is "just his opinion". In the same way, as they expressed it in the creeds is just the way they explained it to themselves. I answer from Scripture, but we will deal with the creeds soon enough.

    Show a little patience man. You haven't "got" me, I am not dodging the question, I am explaining why the Trinity makes biblical sense to me and why it doesn't to you. It doesn't happen in a sound bite. If you want sound bites read the Ensign.

  23. Seth R. says:

    Yes, and those verses are consistent with the Mormon theological position. You simply unite them perfectly in purpose, and you're golden.

    You laid out this formulation:

    1. God is three persons
    2. Each person is fully God
    3. There is one God

    And I find no theological disagreement with it from a Mormon theological stance.

    But that wasn't what I asked.

    I asked you to explain how the Father and Son share the same substance. You dodged that question with a bunch of Isaiah verses.

    Do you not understand the topic?

  24. Mike Tea says:

    Seth, let’s do a simple Bible exercise and see what the Word says about God. Isaiah gives us the familiar and quite unequivocal texts on which we base our belief that there is only one God.

    "This is what the LORD says – Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty:

    I am the first and the last; apart from me there is no God" (Is.44:6)

    I am sure you know that “LORD” always translates “Jehovah” and “God” here translates “Elohim” so in this passage God is saying “I am Jehovah your Elohim”.

    There are numerous passages that say the same thing so Jehovah and Elohim are not, as Mormons teach, two different Gods, Father and Son, but there is one God, Jehovah who is our Elohim, or one LORD who is our God and “apart from me [singular] there is no God”

    Note also that this Jehovah our Elohim is also “Israel’s King and Redeemer…the first and the last.” Jesus describes himself In Revelation as the First and the Last (Rev.1:17; 22:13) We know, of course that he is King of Kings (Rev.19:16) and our Redeemer.

    While Mormonism insists that gods are “made”, or become gods, God makes it clear that there is only one God, that there was no god before him and after him there will be no gods:

    ”’You are my witnesses’, declares the LORD, ‘and my servants whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.’”

    So you have a clear statement from God’s written Word (and there are many more) that there is only one God, that there were never any gods before him nor will there be gods after him (of course, God being eternal, the terms “before” and “after” are nonsense in relation to him). We also have a clear claim that Jesus is this God; Jehovah our Elohim, King of Kings, First and Last and Redeemer.

    When we look at the activities of the Son and the Spirit they do what only God can do and we can go into many instances if you like. But this is the starting point of any discussion regarding the nature of God. It is not a question of resolving the issue to your personal satisfaction but of growing to understand it without doing violence to Scripture.

    Now, there will be those who insist that this makes no sense, much as you have done here, and then go on to try to make of it what makes sense to them.

    The Mormons end up with a pantheon of gods, of which three relate specifically to us and this creation. But the Bible is very clear that there is only one God.

    The JWs resolve this by insisting that there is only one God and that Jesus is a created being, the first of God’s creation, and the Spirit is not a person but a force.

    But the Bible makes very clear that the Son is God and the Spirit is also God (I can show examples but let’s keep it simple and to the argument for now)

    Out of this biblical picture the first century church began to understand something of the Trinity doctrine. Douglas Ottati, an American professor of theology in Richmond, Virginia has said, “Trinitarian theology continues a biblically initiated exploration.”

    Certainly a very explicit Trinity doctrine was already being taught by Irenaeus, the most important Greek speaking theologian of the second century. And his authority is considerable since he grew up in Smyrna where he sat at the feet of Polycarp who, in turn sat the feet of John the apostle.

    Nicea was a clarification, in the face of heresy, of what Christians had begun to understand and believe in the first century. It was not, as Mormons like to portray it, a cobbling together of the best efforts of apostate men to define something they had lost in apostasy, much less something imposed by the edict of Constantine.

    How this doctrine is expressed is another question but if you look at the above texts and others and compare them with the formula that has come down to us it makes more sense than perhaps you will allow. Three statements may summarise the teaching:

    1. God is three persons
    2. Each person is fully God
    3. There is one God

  25. Seth R. says:

    Tell you what Mike.

    Explain to me what the Son sharing the same substance with the Father means. And don't link me to some article that runs around in rhetorical circles obscuring the central point. You've represented that you are in a position of knowing what the Trinity means, while I have misunderstood.

    So put up.

    What does sharing the same substance mean?

  26. Mike Tea says:

    Seth, You have proved my point in what you write since the doctrine of the Trinity does not teach that the Father is the Son. You do what all mormons do in that, not understanding what you are looking at, you cobble together your own version of what you think you are looking at and then reject a thing of your own invention.

    As to prophets, I swear that so-called anti-Mormons quote Mormon prophets more than Mormons. Mormon prophets are not a crutch to me but it is becoming clear that they are not an authority for you.

    It is ironic that a church that dismisses a 2,000 year old Christian message because it comprises the speculations of men should so easily speculate on the clear pronouncements of its prophets. This is what it means to witness to Mormons: you quote the Bible only to be told that it is not correctly translated; you quote Mormons only to be told that private voices don't represent official Mormonism; you cite Mormon authorities only to be scolded for using them as a crutch. What exactly do you believe Seth?

    If you want to talk about these issues on the basis of your own investigations and understandings then I am up for that. But don't cite Mormon sources to me only to dismiss the Mormon sources I cite because they don't suit you.

  27. Seth R. says:

    If I'm right, I'm right Mike.

    Quit using prophets as a crutch for your own failures of analysis.

    It's not that I've failed to understand it Mike. I understand what is being claimed full well. The problem is you guys are trying to say the Father is the Son ontologically and in the philosophically full sense, but at the same time he is not the Son in that same sense.

    Incoherence is not the same thing as complexity. One can be understood, given enough knowledge. The other never can be because it denies the very thing it affirms.

  28. Mike Tea says:

    You miss the point Seth. You say it is incoherent because you fail to understand it. You reject it for no other reason than that your religion has taught you to reject it. If you think the Christian triune God is problematic it is "simple" compared to the problems presented by the Mormon man-become-god.

    I note also that you have overlooked my other point regarding Kolob. I would be interested in knowing why anyone should find your Mormon message credible if you contradict the clear teachings of Mormon prophets.

  29. Seth R. says:

    Wrong Mike.

    The pills are not based on a mutually exclusive, self-contradictory and logically incoherent set of principles.

    God is beyond mortal comprehension. But that does not mean he gets to be incoherent. He must be a being such that, if you had infinite knowledge, you COULD understand.

    The God of the Trinity is incapable of being understood, even with such infinite knowledge.

  30. Mike Tea says:

    Bagmon, I don't know where you are going with this. Am I to have a particular feeling? Does the way I feel about my faith not suit you?

    Seth, Now correct me if I am wrong but you reject the Trinity because you don't understand it. Kind of like me refusing the pills the doctor gives me because I am not a chemist.

    You "believe" (feel good about?) your Mormon faith but when a Mormon prophet teaches clearly about Kolob and another Mormon prophet clearly teaches that this is literal you "choose" to reject the counsel of the prophets you commend to everyone else and insist (no doubt on the greater authority of the man in the pew) that it is figurative.

    Explain to me again why anyone should take this seriously?

  31. Seth R. says:

    Shouldn't we move this over to the new thread?

  32. Seth R. says:

    Actually, I don't think you do understand Patrick.

    Because despite my own personal preferences about the symbolic nature of the passages in the Book of Abraham, I don't see any problems with it being literal. I'm not particularly embarrassed by this idea.

    What exactly is wrong with God standing somewhere?

  33. Patrick Madrid says:

    Seth, on the Kolob thing, I can certainly see why you would want to categorize Joseph Smith's teaching about Kolob (Abraham 3:2-3, 16) as merely symbolic.

    And I must correct you. I am not bringing up Kolob to "play up the 'eeew weird' factor." I bring it up because Joseph Smith taught this odd doctrine, it is part of the your church's Standard Works of Scripture and, unlike the LDS Church's backtracking on previously held doctrines such as withholding the priesthood from blacks, plural marriage, etc., the LDS Church continues to teach this doctrine (http://institute.lds.org/manuals/pearl-of-great-price-student-manual/pgp-3-a3-01.asp)

    Please note the statement (available at the link above) from President Joseph Fielding Smith:

    "President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Lord made known to him the following facts: That Kolob is the first creation, and is nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God. It is the first in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time. This measurement is according to celestial time. One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth, which by the Egyptians was called Jah-oh-eh. Oliblish, so called by the Egyptians, stands next to Kolob in the grand governing creation near the celestial, or place where God resides. This great star is also a governing star and is equal to Kolob in its revolutions and in its measuring of time. Other grand governing stars were also revealed to Abraham” ( Man: His Origin and Destiny [1954], 461.)"

    You see, Seth, even though you understandably would like to see the Kolob teaching as being merely symbolic, it isn't. It's just one of those many highly problematic Mormon doctrines which you must grapple with if you want to maintain your testimony.

    Incidentally, if you attended the April 2008 General Conference, you would have heard the old Mormon hymn "If You Could Hie to Kolob" sung by all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADX-He30_PA.

  34. Seth R. says:

    No Patrick, I understand modalism well enough.

    It's the idea that there is only one being who wears different hats. "Jesus" is just one of his hats.

    If you take Augustine's classic formula of the Trinity:

    1. There is one God
    2. The Father is God
    3. The Son is God
    4. The Father is not the Son

    And remove #4 – you get modalism. A heresy – as you said. I am aware that this is formally denounced as a heresy not only by the Catholic Church, but also by most modern Protestants.

    So why do the Christians I debate with always start talking like modalists whenever they find out there's a Mormon in the room?

    Perhaps you can explain this odd phenomenon to me.

  35. Patrick Madrid says:

    Seth, I'm not convinced you really understand either the theology of modalism or its history. You seem to be unaware that it was a heresy that was roundly condemned by the Catholic Church in the early centuries of the Church. Here's an article from the Catholic Encyclopedia that will help bring you up to speed on this issue:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10448a.htm

    Bottom line, though, to accuse the Catholic Church of teaching modalism is risible, since it was the Catholic Church that squelched that heresy in the first place.

  36. Seth R. says:

    Well, seeing as how a lot of us Mormons view the Kolob thing as symbolic anyway, I'm not too optimistic that this is going to be a fair article.

    People usually only bring up Kolob when they want to play up the "eeew weird" factor, rather than substantive critique.

  37. Patrick Madrid says:

    Hmm, not sure why the link isn't working. So here it is again:

    http://patrickmadrid.blogspot.com/2009/07/looking-for-god-in-all-wrong-places.html

  38. Patrick Madrid says:

    Hi, everyone.

    Thanks for the interesting and vigorous give-and-take on this issue. For any of you who may be interested, here's an article we ran in Envoy Magazine some years ago about the issue of how the Mormon Church understands God.

    "Looking for God in All the Wrong Places … Like Kolob."

    I'll post another one soon.

  39. Bagmon says:

    On what and what did it feel like? (I've been having some trouble with the spirit lately…)

    Oh, and as for the whole "Mormon's deliberately mis-lead people" Arguement: We believe in 3 seperate beings (you know this) The Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father; BUT we see them as ONE God. The same God you worship. The problem is that the way we view that same God, IS different. You forget that the God we think you worship is 'our' (as if anyone could own him). Just because we (you and I) have different oppinions of what kind of person he is doesn't change the fact that we're looking to THE SAME BEING! (please don't forget my orginal question, by the way…)

  40. Mike Tea says:

    Yes.

  41. Bagmon says:

    =) Oh I've been following evidence allright. But you still haven't answered my question: have you or have you not felt the Holy Ghost confirm your point regarding this issue? (I'm not really asking this becauase of arguement, I'm just curious).

    Also: I'm not assuming you haven't had spiritual experiences. I'm just saying (once again) that I'm doubtfull that you've felt the spirit bear testimony to you on this matter. I'm sure you've had several promptings, and the like; but even they can be miss interpreted. The spirit isn't so much as a feeling within your heart (which would be a prompting) as… something else… The first time I felt the spirit -bearing testimony that is- it pratically overwhelmed me. There is no room for mis-understanding in what I was basically TOLD. (no I wasn't 'told' but the spirit was nigh impossible to mistake the message). And it came in response to my scripture study in regards to violence (the love of my life at the time). I haven't been able to match the zeal I had during those frantic weeks ever again…

    So have you had the Spirit bear testimony to you or not?

  42. Mike Tea says:

    Bagmon

    I am not offended, just pointing out that, in your youth and enthusiasm, you mustn't assume that those who don't agree with you are spiritually indolent, or lack spiritual experience. It is very typical of a Mormon to insist that, if only critics of their church had a burning in heir bosom then they would stop criticising and become Mormons.

    What if I were to say to you that I know with all my heart that Mormonism is not true? Would that convince you that I am right? Yet I do know, in my heart and my mind, that the Mormon Church is a counterfeit of Christianity. Surely you will want to have more than my personal conviction to study and consider before you would even think of leaving the Mormon Church? Surely you would want to know upon what evidence, and for what reason, above and beyond they way I feel, I have for being so certain?

    Nowhere in the Bible are people urged to simply pray about the story of Christianity and seek a good feeling about it. On the contrary, everything in the Bible points to seeking hard, factual evidence and eyewitness testimony. Things that can be tested with the senses, observed and thoughtfully considered. The Bereans of Acts 17 were commended for taking this appraoch and the Galatians chastised for not taking into account the evidences clearly presented to them.

    I do not deny or reject the work of the Holy Spirit but the Spirit can only testify to what is there in the real world, what can be observed. I may feel with all my heart that Rome is the capital of Germany but the maps show Rome as Italy's capital and all tyhe praying and feeling in all the world will not change this fact. In the same way, all the evidence points to Mormonism not being true and all the praying in the world doesn't change this.

    I am glad your faith has made such a positive difference in your life and admire the strength of your conviction. I would not rob you of such things for all the world, but I know that Christ has better for you and urge you to stop relying on feelings and attend to the evidence. Remember that sometimes the good can be the greatest enemy of the best.

  43. Bagmon says:

    Mike, once again, I didn't mean any offense. (Though I knew it would come, nonetheless I tried to prevent this…) But my whole testimony, is built on the fact on the Holy Ghost, Mike. If there is anything I know it's that even though God answers all our prayers, he seldom answers them with the Holy Ghost bearing witness. The whole reason I'm ALIVE right now is because of a single, heartfelt question regarding the second of two reasons I didn't kill myself as a youth. (that's how much it weighed on me).

    Now what I'm asking you is have you ever felt the spirit, felt it bear testimony to you that my church isn't not true?

    (also I don't doubt that you've prayed diligently many times in your life, I just doubt you've felt the Holy Ghost; or at least felt it bear testimony to you against the church)

  44. Mike Tea says:

    It means nothing of the sort you numpy. It means that I can't get a straight answer to a simple and uncotroversial question.

    I want to know if Mormons worship a different god to the God of Christendom – Protestant, Catholic and orthodox. Mormon leaders have declared that Mormons do but Seth, for some mysterious reason, would rather argue about his inability to understand the God of Christians than admit that missionaries are misleading people when they say they worship the same God as everyone else.

    Put it like this:

    Mormons understand there to have been a restoration of a clear understanding of the true nature of God. From the so-called first vision to the King Follett discourse Mormons are taught that their god is an exalted man, unlike the "incomprehensible" God if Christendom. This "revealed" understanding is declared by all Mormon leaders to reveal a god vastly different to what Christians have believed in for some 2,000 years.

    Given this, is it so hard to conclude that Mormons worship a different god to the God of Christendom? Is it necessary to first pick the bones out of the Trinity before coming to the flesh of the pantheon of which the Mormon god is a member?

    If you want to debate the Trinity then bring it on, but there will be no discussion from me on that subject until you stops ducking the issue. You have even declared that you find my God "incomprehensible" and therefore you assume you know better than us what we mean and "assume [we] mean modalism".

    This is nonsense but it at least shows that you do not worship the God we worship and you know it. So why don't you say it?

    You throw these terms around as though you know something but can't follow a simple exercise in logic. How then can we discuss the deeper issues if you can't even operate on this basic level? Read John 3 again as homework please.

    Of course, what is happening here is easily explained. If Mormons worship a different god they will be perceived as less than orthodox but the ambition of Mormonism is to appear more orthodox because of "restored" truth. Therefore Mormons cannot admit outright that they have a different god until they first have an opportunity to "explain" this "restoration truth". In the face of a direct question that opportunity seems to slip away from them so they use a classic distraction strategy by disrespecting the orthodox understanding and "tearing down other faiths to build up their own", a favourite charge thrown by Mormons at Christian apologists who dare to question Mormonism.

    Mormons lie outright when they say they worship the God we worship and they lie when they dissemble and prevaricate in this way because there is an honest answer, they know it, but will not tell it. You see, "the church" is more important than the truth.

  45. Seth R. says:

    Which is Mike's code for saying he's encountered an argument he can't handle easily.

  46. Mike Tea says:

    Thanks Patrick, Maybe we can make some headway in this direction because Seth is talking double-Dutch as far as I can make out.

  47. Patrick Madrid says:

    Seeing the back-and-forth on the issue of the LDS teaching about the nature of God (the distinct, separateness of the Persons of the Godhead, eternal progression, etc.) versus the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox teaching (i.e., the Trinity, one God in Three Persons, etc.), I thought it might be of interest to some of you to check out the audio of the first "Catholic/Mormon Dialogue" I participated in with an official representative of the LDS Church, Gary Coleman (who's now a General Authority member of the 70).

    The description for the CD set is located here: http://www.surprisedbytruth.com/shop/shopexd.asp?id=45 and you can also download it as an MP3 here: http://www.surprisedbytruth.com/shop/shopexd.asp?id=108.

    The reason I reference this public debate is because the second of two subjects we discussed (before an audience of over 500) was the Trinity versus a plurality of gods.

  48. Seth R. says:

    "Every Mormon I have ever met has made the same bold claim, that Mormons do not believe in a Trinity but regard God the Father and His Son as distinct and separate gods."

    Most Mormons I've met equate the "Trinity" with modalism. Which you guys claim to reject.

    So your statement of experience in this regard is rather useless to me. We have been defining ourselves in opposition to each other for a long time – but we often do it without a very good understanding of each other.

    I don't think there are that many Mormons alive – General Authority or not – who actually understand what the Trinity means. For example, I don't think Bruce R. McConkie, Talmage, Hinckley, or Jeffrey R. Holland completely understand what the Trinity means within historical Christian orthodoxy.

    And I can hardly blame them for this. The concept is incoherent. Who on earth could believe in such a nonsensical statement? So, in a gesture of generosity of spirit, we Mormons simply assume you guys mean modalism when you speak of the Trinity.

    We like to think the best of people. So we assume that you believe in something that actually makes sense. And modalism makes sense. It's a coherent thought. The traditional concept of Trinity under Augustine however….

    Why, it scarce even counts as a "belief." If you cannot articulate it, how can you believe it?

    So again, as someone who has debated with enough Protestants to get a picture of what you guys are about (which the vast majority of my fellow Mormons have not – in leadership or out), I declare with all seriousness that I cannot be in disagreement with your concept of the Trinity, for the simple fact that there is nothing "there" to disagree with.

  49. Mike Tea says:

    Seth,

    Your own church teaches that Mormonism has a different God to "apostate" Christendom so I can't, for the life of me, understand why you find it so difficult to present this Mormon truth in answer to a straight question without first understanding the Christian, Triune God that your church comprehensively rejects.

    If a young Mormon lad had never met a Protestant or Catholic in his whole 19 years and then went on a mission he should have no difficulty understanding this one fact becaue Mormonism teaches it and Christians only teach it because Mormonism teaches it. It is fundamental to the faith of Mormons.

    Every Mormon I have ever met has made the same bold claim, that Mormons do not believe in a Trinity but regard God the Father and His Son as distinct and separate gods.

    If you want to insist that it is difficult for you to debate this issue because you don't understand the Trinity, that I can understand. But to insist that a Mormon, any Mormon, cannot make a plain statement to the effect that Mormons believe in a different God to other churches because he doesn't understand the Trinity then I wonder what Mormon planet you have been living on.

    Bogman,

    Bless you, I sense your sincerity but I must come back with, how do you know anything about my prayer life? Are you making the mistaken assumption that it can't be up to much if I don't have a testimony of Mormonism? I have a testimony of Christ and know that Mormonism is not a restoration of Christianity.

    If you had any idea of how much prayer and study, reflection and discussion went into discovering this you would not question my prayer life.

    James' words in James 1:5 have nothing to do with seeking answers to the great questions of life. He is addressing people who already have answers, Christians (v1) who need guidance in the wise application of what they already know.

    James' letter is about wisdom not knowledge. He is not saying, "If you don't know which Church to join, or what to believe then pray"; he is saying, "As the Church of Christ this is how you receive wisdom and guidance in living as Christians."

    Bless you anyway for your sincerity.

  50. Bagmon says:

    Mike (sorry for my prolonged departure. I've gotten absorbed in my… life…)

    Do you not worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? That is the being we refer to as "God", Mike. When Missionaries say "We believe in God the Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost." they're MAKING that distinction that we don't SEE God the way the average Christian sees him, but we DO believe in the same God.

    As for all of these questions regarding the Church: Have you tried praying, Mike? Praying with a devout intent, unwavering in faith?

    Have you followed James' council?

    What I mean to ask (though I sincerly exhort you to pray more fervently then I know you're doing–I mean no offense) what I mean to ask is, have you ever felt the spirit? That is, in the way the LDS church describes it?

  51. Seth R. says:

    Mike, if traditional Christianity wants to talk about how "different" their God is from the Mormon one, then they had better be able to explain exactly what they believe about God in a coherent fashion.

    In short, I cannot be in disagreement with the traditional Christian concept of God, because there isn't even a coherent concept to be in disagreement with.

  52. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    "Mealy-mouthed", def. Hypocrytically unwilling to speak plainly or directly"

    Every time someone comes up with this lame nonsense I think of this word. Now sit and think about this, instead of having half your mind on some mealy-mouthed response give it your full attention and you may learn something about Mormonism.

    It has nothing to do with whether a Mormon understands the Christian concept of God. You don't have to understand the Christian concept of God to know that you worship a different God because Mormonism tells you that you do.

    From the First Vision through the King Flloett Discourse to the more recent teachings of the prophets of Mormonism, one of the most important doctrines of Mormonism has been the assertion that the traditional Christian concept of God is wrong and the, different, Mormon concept is a restoration of what is right.

    The whole rasion detre of Mormonism can be summed up in that one word – "different." To pretend that somehow Mormons are let off the hook because of Christians is nonsense and you, as a RM should know this. The missionary goes out with one aim, to correct the world according to the teachings Joseph Smith whose God is, by his own definition, different.

    I stand by my assertion then that Mormon missionaries are lying when they tell people that they worship the same God as people have in mind when they say "God." Either they know they are lying, or they don't know what they are teaching. If the former they should repent and tell the truth, if the latter what are they doing on a mission?

    You know, what really gets me going is not that you believe differently to me. I can deal with that. It is that Mormons keep coming up with off-the-cuff, lame responses without knowing what they are talking about and with the agenda, not of reaching a place of clarity and understanding but of defending their faith, whether they understand it, whether it stands up to scrutiny, or not.

  53. Seth R. says:

    Mike, most Mormons have little to no comprehension of what you mean by "God" in the first place. So it's hardly fair for you to call them liars for failing to flag the differences for you.

    And honestly, the traditional Christian concept of "God" is so muddled and incoherent, that I think most Mormons can hardly be blamed for not getting it. You guys can't even clearly articulate the difference to us in ways that don't end up misrepresenting Mormon doctrine anyway. So I don't see anything wrong with the missionary approach at all.

    Because our notion of God does share in the Christian notion of God – at least when the Christian is having a coherent and concrete thought about God to begin with.

  54. Mike Tea says:

    The trouble is Lynn we ask questions of Mormons and can't get a straight or honest answer. Take your articles of faith, they aren't worth a light unless we can unpack them and understand in better detail what they mean.

    The first, for instance, reads like a classic Trinitarian confession yet is anything but. I have lost count of the times I have asked a Mormon missionary if he believes in a different God only to have that misleading statement thrown at me:

    "Yes, we believe in the same God, 'We believe in God the Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.'"

    This is what is known in more honest circles as deception on the part of the Mormon missionary.

    The honest answer would be, "No, we don't believe in the God you think of when you say 'God'."

    You see, it is not a simple question of "ask a Mormon and get a satisfactory and clear answer." Everything about Mormonism always needs explaining and qualifying. I learned many years ago that a man who does a lot of explaining usually has a lot of explaining to do.

    You worship a different God and I can't understand why it is so very difficult to admit that you do. After all, if you worshipped the same God and came with the same message as Christians there would be no need for a "restoration".

    Every time we highlight the ways in which you are different in your beliefs you protest but surely it is that difference that marks you out!

    You worship a different god to the God of Christianity.

    You don't trust the Bible as Christians do.

    You don't recognise the authority of Christian Churches and claim to have the only authentic priesthood.

    Your god is one in a pantheon while Christians are monotheist.

    Even your earliest Bible geography is entirely different to that of Christians, placing Adam and Eve in America.

    Your different and so those who believe differently to you are going to challenge your claims. Get over it! Why get upset about the inevitable? Why not strive to give straight answers to straight questions and see such challenges as witnessing opportunities instead of whining about how hard-done-by you all are?

    You are either the only Christians with the truth or you are not Christians, but you are not Christians like the rest of Christianity. There was a time when Mormons were anxious to make those distinctions and talk about them.

  55. Mike Tea says:

    Why the secrecy Lynn? I went to your profile to see where you are coming from only to be told that it is not available.

  56. lynnhurst97 says:

    The Articules of Faith
    13 basic statments of belief on what the LDS Church believes.
    You guys can waste your breath talking about more then one wife all you want, or any of the other side topics that people like to follow. You can find problems with just about any religion if you look long enought. Actions speak louder the words. Judge us by our actions not the actions of others. A wise man once said that is a foolish thing know a little about some thing and claim to know it all. If you truely want to know about us, Ask us. Talk but not argue. We will answer your questions.

  57. Mike Tea says:

    Every Mormon Seth. And especially this Mormon I am currently addressing. I realise that I have gifted you an "out" in challenging you to talk about MRM. But I will not allow you to forget that you have consistently dodged the question of blood atonement.

    You referenced a very selective article from FAIR but I provided the lack with a more probing article from MRM. You immediately went for character assasination, a classic Mormon ploy, and drew me into a discussion you preferred over the one at hand; blood atonement. (BTW don't assume that I am depending on MRM alone. I am perfectly well informed about the lies of Mormonism without their help)

    I am more than happy to discuss the relative merits of MRM and FAIR but first I want you to answer the honest and worthy points made about blood atonement. If you choose not to then this discussion, as far as I am concerned is over.

  58. Seth R. says:

    Now Mike. Why would McKeever omit all that? Any ideas?

    The preceding language from Joseph Smith was probably some of the most enlightened and racially progressive talk you could find ANYWHERE in 1800s America. Rather inspiring stuff actually. Gives a whole lot more context and information about Joseph Smith, doesn't it?

    But I guess McKeever had his reasons for hiding the ball here. Next quote… Brigham Young again.

    "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so."

    McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books), 241.

    How utterly awful. Let's have a look at the full quote:

    "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so…If the Government of the United States, in Congress assembled, had the right to pass an anti-polygamy bill, they had also the right to pass a law that slaves should not be abused as they have been; they had also a right to make a law that negroes should be used like human beings, and not worse than dumb brutes. For their abuse of that race, the whites will be cursed, unless they repent."

    Oh! I see! The CONTEXT here shows Brigham Young was talking about white masters who use their position of power to abuse the slaves underneath them. Like how male slave owners used their authority to force sexual favors from female slaves beneath them.

    How could McKeever have missed that?

    It seems pretty obvious Mike.

    McKeever is hoping that the stupid saps reading his trash aren't going to actually read the footnotes. Obviously he has read the full quotes himself. I can only conclude he is deliberately distorting the historic sources in an attempt to make Joseph Smith and Brigham Young appear more racist than they really are.

    This isn't the first time we've seen such tactics. Gerald and Sandra Tanner were famous for their use of ellipses that omitted sometimes several pages at a time in the quest for damning statements. Some of the quotes the Tanners pieced together were so full of dishonest ellipses that the end quotes sometimes resembled more of a random word-search than anything resembling responsible citation.

    If you want more about McKeever and his stuff, I suppose I could look some more. That was just the stuff that is readily available.

  59. Seth R. says:

    OK, let's take a bit of deliberate quote-mining that McKeever did in his book "Mormonism 101."

    "You may inquire of the intelligent of the world whether they can tell why the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome, ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation…When the Lord has a people, he makes covenants with them and gives unto them promises: then, if they transgress his law, change his ordinances, and break the covenants he has made with them, he will put a mark upon them, as in the case of the Lamanites and other portions of the house of Israel; but by-and-by they will become a white and delightsome people"

    McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books), 235.

    Notice that little ellipses in there? Any time an anti-Mormon uses ellipses, warning bells should go off in your mind. And with good reason, as we see with the original quote:

    "You may inquire of the intelligent of the world whether they can tell why the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome, ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation; and they cannot tell. I can tell you in a few words: They are the seed of Joseph, and belong to the household of God; and he will afflict them in this world, and save every one of them hereafter, even though they previously go into hell. When the Lord has a people, he makes covenants with them and gives unto them promises: then, if they transgress his law, change his ordinances, and break the covenants he has made with them, he will put a mark upon them, as in the case of the Lamanites and other portions of the house of Israel; but by-and-by they will become a white and delightsome people"

    Brigham Young, "Re-Organization of the High Council, Etc.," (October 8, 1859) Journal of Discourses 7:336-336.

    This is still not the most racially sensitive quote in the world. But one wonders why Bill McKeever deliberately left out softening language in Young's quote that indicated he viewed these people as being of blessed lineage and destined for salvation (a highly progressive view in his time).

    Tell me Mike. Why would McKeever do that, do you think?

    Then McKeever brings in Joseph Smith for the same treatment. Not by ellipses this time, but just good old-fashioned leaving stuff out:

    "Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species and put them on a national equalization."

    McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books), 238.

    McKeever omitted the preceding two paragraphs:

    "At five went to Mr. Sollars' with Elders Hyde and Richards. Elder Hyde inquired the situation of the negro. I replied, they came into the world slaves, mentally and physically. Change their situation with the whites, and they would be like them. They have souls, and are subjects of salvation. Go into Cincinnati or any city, and find an educated negro, who rides in his carriage, and you will see a man who has risen by the powers of his own mind to his exalted state of respectability. The slaves in Washington are more refined than many in high places, and the black boys will take the shine off many of those they brush and wait on.

    Elder Hyde remarked, "Put them on the level, and they will rise above me." I replied, if I raised you to be my equal, and then attempted to oppress you, would you not be indignant and try to rise above me, as did Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and many others, who said I was a fallen Prophet, and they were capable of leading the people, although I never attempted to oppress them, but had always been lifting them up? Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species, and put them on a national equalization."

    Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:217–218.

  60. Seth R. says:

    "Every" Mormon Mike?

    "All" Mormon apologetics?

    "Every" Mormon publication?

    Lot of sweeping generalizations you've been throwing around in this thread.

    "Have you ever noticed that what passes for Mormon apologetics is constant rebuttal…?"

    Are you kidding me Mike?

    Go grab a dictionary. Look up the definition of "apologetics."

    Come back when you've figured out just how stupid that remark sounded.

  61. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    Bill McKeever is a personal friend of mine and I challenge you to either produce hard evidence to back up your scurrulous remarks or shut up about it.

    I note that, for post after post, you have failed to address your remarks to the question in hand, or even acknowledge Mormon leaders cited, preferring to give the job to FAIR – who are anything but fair in their commentary.

    Haven't you noticed that what passes for Mormon apologetics is really constant rebuttal? They don't actually explore the subject, just grasp at straws that "explain" why critics are wrong. Why do you think that is? When they run out of places to hide they go for the classic Mormon ploy of character assassination.

    Have you any idea how this sort of conduct contributes to the general conviction that Mormons would rather talk about anything except the errors and problems within their own church? What's that you say? You don't have any? How many people out here in the real world do you think find that plausible?

    Do you wonder that people are frustrated with you and picket your conventions? Are you surprised that people determine to publish those things that Mormons refuse to acknowledge as part of their history and religion? Every Mormon publication, history or commentary is hagiographic, idealizing in its nature. Is this reasonable do you think, or fair?

    Ben Okri wisely said:

    "Nations and peoples are largely the stories they feed themselves. If they tell themselves stories that are lies, they will suffer the future consequences of those lies.

    If they tell themselves stories that face themselves, stories that face their truths, they will free their histories for future flowerings"

    I think its about time Mormons began to face themselves, face their truths no matter how difficult or inconvenient, because only then will they know any degree of true freedom.

  62. Seth R. says:

    I've had far more dealings than this with MRM.

    And yeah. They are pretty much a bunch of dishonest hacks. The Judas quote is one of the milder examples I've encountered.

    Bill McKeever gets most of his mileage playing off the ignorance of his audience.

  63. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    That has to be the most excrutiatingly tenuous critique I have ever read! First, it picks up on a secondary issue that is, at best, debatable. Was it the apostles or "men" that kicked Judas until his guts fell out? It could be either but it could easily be the apostles since it is they to whom Jesus addresses his words. There is nothing there that precludes them. Why would "men" in general "kick him until his bowels came out?" It makes no sense at all.

    The sad thing is that many who follow this kind of discussion will pick up on the misleading statement that MRM are not to be trusted and not bother to give each commentary a critical reading. Which is why I put up the MRM article that, I think, is a good commentary. I personally don't think FAIR are being honest. They are certainly not being as ingenuous as they might but then I am not at all surprised.

    The main issue is blood atonement and what is described is clearly a man having his blood shed in a way that is particularly reminiscent of the old pre-1990 temple oaths "rather than reveal (the secrets of the temple) I would have my bowels torn asunder" I know, I was there and made those same oaths.

    Given that Kimball is preaching about the real dangers of not keeping covenants, the whole raison detre of blood atonement and subject of those temple oaths, it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that blood atonement is in view in this sermon. Think about it Seth. Until 1990 blood oaths were integral to the mormon temple ceremony. It is just silly to pretend that Mormons are being defamed when the subject is raised.

    Put that together with this quote from tenth Mormon prophet and president Joseph Fielding Smith and what do you get:

    "Man may commit certain grievous sins – according to his light and knowledge -that will place him beyond the reach of the atoning blood of Christ. If then he would be saved, he must make sacrifice of his own life to atone – so far as the power lies – for that sin, for the blood of Christ alone under certain circumstances will not avail. Joseph Smith taught that there were certain sins so grievous that man may commit, that they will place the transgressors beyond the power of the atonement of Christ. If these offenses are committed, then the blood of Christ will not cleanse them from their sins even though they repent" (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:135,138)

    If anything could be more horrible than this doctrine of blood atonement it has to be the unbiblical idea that there are sins that cannot be covered by Jesus' blood! The only unforgivable sin is the refusal to repent and the denial of access to Christ's saving work in your life; to refuse salvation.

    Otherwise Christ holds out his love all the day long to the vilest of offenders who will turn, repent and believe.

  64. Seth R. says:

    Well, I've found one problem with the MRM article. It mentions Heber C. Kimball saying that the other apostles "blood atoned" Judas.

    This appears to be a distortion of what Kimball actually said:

    http://en.fairmormon.org/One_Nation_Under_Gods/Use_of_sources/Apostles_killed_Judas

    The FAIR article actually provides the full quote and context for it showing that this caricature of Kimball's remarks are inaccurate.

    As is common to stuff from MRM, they take quotes in isolation and out of context in order to make them appear as damaging as possible.

    Maybe I'll get to more of the article, but this isn't a great start for McKeever, I must say.

  65. Mike Tea says:

    And I read it Seth and, finding it inadequate to the task and selective in its commentary, I provided another source that provided missing information.

    That is how these things are done in the real world. You say something, I say something, we consider each other's arguments and try to move the discussion on. Anyone looking on can then make an informed judgement based on ALL the facts and not those selected by the Mormons.

    The way you want it is you say something and we all step back in astonishment at your wisdom and insight; failing that, you say something, I say something and you make ad hominem responses that fail to address my comments.

    What you don't want is that anyone else who disagrees with you should have a fair hearing. So very Mormon.

  66. Seth R. says:

    Whatever Mike.

    I provided a perfectly good resource for you to read up on.

    It's not my problem if you don't want to read it.

  67. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    I think you sometimes forget that if the subject under discussion is Mormonism and evidence is presented then it may be incumbent on you to respond. I get sick of the "this is beneath me" nonsense that passes for discussion with Mormons.

    I really had hoped for better things from you but if you insist on taking the head-in-the-sand position that assumes everything Mormon is right and everything that challenges Mormonism is wrong then my hopes are dashed.

  68. Seth R. says:

    I think the FAIR article I linked to more than handles this topic. I don't see that any further response is needed, warranted, or even particularly useful.

    And oh yes, MRM is indeed "setting the agenda." In a way that blatantly favors themselves. I wonder how they'd feel if the Mormon Church started returning the sort of tactics they employ on them.

    Just as well the LDS Church does not stoop to this kind of behavior though. MRM might have a hard time explaining away all the blatantly obvious double-standards they've been operating under.

  69. Mike Tea says:

    I hope everyone has a had a peaceful and happy Christmas.

    Seth

    Regarding your last comment. MRM et al are not "setting the agenda" but encouraging a healthy discussion, something the Mormon Church is notable for ducking.

    It is the cowardly and dishonest Mormon Church that attempts at every turn to set the agenda and in so doing preclude honest discussion. Why don't we skip the usual "I say something and you pretend to be insulted or hurt and stand on your dignity, looking down with contempt at anyone who has the temerity to challenge Mormonism with inconvenient truths" and skip to your answering the direct quotes from Mormon leaders in the article. Mormon leaders believed and taught Blood Atonement, deal with it.

  70. Seth R. says:

    FAIR is not the LDS Church.

    The LDS Church – appropriately – does not stoop to allowing MRM to set the agenda for debate.

    That stuff is best left to the membership.

  71. Mike Tea says:

    I was referring to blood atonement and, as usual, the Mormon Church is being less than candid in talking about its past. Here is an article looking at what Mormon leaders have actually said and done in relation to it. If oyu depend on the Mormon Church alone my friend you will never know the truth:

    http://www.mrm.org/blood-atonement

  72. Seth R. says:

    I think he's talking about "blood atonement."

    Here's a Mormon article explaining the idea:

    http://en.fairmormon.org/Blood_atonement

  73. Bagmon says:

    Sorry for the delay; I've been kind of absorbed in life…

    (BTW: I'm reading Teachings of J. Smith, and you thought I've never read the A&C??? Haha, That's one of the first things I actually LEARNED!)
    As for seeing my race "in the victim role" I don't. Neither do I see my race as inferior either. But I sure don't see us as superior (particularly with my peers in mind). As to the Church repenting of this: it's not a Church wide problem, but an individual one, and I trust God to dish out the consequences as he see's fit. Though the terms would be concerning "loving one's neighbor".

    Now there's something that caused me concern MONTHS ago, but I forgot to address it: Can you please explain this "blood tribute" you mentioned so long ago?

  74. Seth R. says:

    Sorry Mike, I really do think that what you consider "orthodox" or "authentic" Mormonism is merely a faction within the ambit of the Restored Gospel that has been allowed to hog the pulpit for too long. Studying the actual history of the LDS Church, I see a much greater diversity of belief than you are admitting to.

    And I have not found any problem holding my own views openly in my congregations.

    Mormonism is not a religion that has ever been concerned with orthodoxy to any large degree. To demand an orthodox definition from the LDS faith is to force us to play by the artificial rules of American Protestantism.

    In essence, I believe Protestantism to be deeply misguided in its enthroning of orthodoxy as the litmus test for religious participation and living. Orthodoxy is a historical detour – an aberration on the religious landscape. It is creedal Christianity's own particular dysfunction. Orthodoxy, and the obsession with it, in fact, lies at the heart of creedal Christianity's state of apostasy.

    The Restored Gospel is a corrective to this. A religion of history, narratives, identity, and affiliation. Not empty catechisms.

    Of course creedal Christians are going to resent this. "How dare these new upstarts not play by our rules!" And so you continually harp on us about orthodoxy and correct philosophical belief and try to force us to play your own rigged game.

    Not playing.

    Sorry.

  75. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    Further to my last remarks, I find myself impatient with the characterising of the authoritarian Mormonism of the not too distant past as “McConkie Mormonism”. It cannot possibly be ascribed to one man or one generation and wipes out generations of Mormon teaching and thinking and nullifies the “anointed” leadership of the prophets of those generations.

    If Mormons are finally facing up to the failings of their church, its history and leaders they should be honest and face their own errors and stop vilifying critics as “anti-Mormons” who do little more than mine for quotes.

    I am reminded of the old saying that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Mormonism has been increasingly transparent to the outside world. Its traditional criticism of “Christendom” (which has been vitriolic at times) is increasingly implausible as Mormons themselves deny and/or explain away polygamy, racism, polytheism, contradictions and failed prophecies as misrepresented or the product of a dynamic religion.

    I don’t expect Mormons to be perfect. I certainly don’t expect Mormonism to be perfectly consistent but Mormonism expects it and promises it. That is the claim of the “restoration” and if you are saying that it is no longer the case then surely someone ought to tell the prophet? More than that, the prophet ought to tell Mormons so they can relax and look at their religion realistically for the first time. That is all critics really want and if we can start the Christian/Mormon discussion again with Mormons understanding that they are allowed to be wrong and change their minds too then surely we will begin to get somewhere.

  76. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    You highlight a very important issue when you talk about “orthodox” Mormonism and the expectation of “continuity, predictability, certainty, and a safe religious experience.” This for me is the key issue and perhaps we should address the question of what is “authentic” Mormonism.

    While I respect your point of view, even rejoice in the freedom you feel you have to hold it, nevertheless I cannot allow that it represents authentic Mormonism. I am not pitching my Mormonism against yours but I am returning to the same point I always come back to and that is the message Mormonism offers the world “officially” through its missionary programme.

    You reject what you describe as “expectations of continuity, predictability, certainty, and a safe religious experience” in favour of “a whole new wild and changing religion full of possibilities and potential”. The irony is that the Missionary Discussions criticise the Christian Church for being wild, changing and full of potential and call it “apostasy” and characterise the Mormon Church as “restoring” a “consistency, certainty, continuity and safe religious experience.”

    Of course, you will find something in Joseph Smith to reinforce the “Third Way Mormonism” that is popular with some these days. He was a unique character who thought Mormon thoughts for the first time and much of what he said and did was experimental and unfixed. Much changed and developed very quickly, such as his view of God, which was almost Trinitarian although ultimately Modalistic in the BOM and which developed into the polytheism of the Book of Abraham (ch.4) and the King Follett Discourse, a view from which some Mormons today are distancing themselves. He saw his role as simply producing the BOM but then changed D&C 5:4 (orig. Book of Commandments 4:2) to accommodate further ideas he had such as producing his own Bible.

    He was a monogamist who became a polygamist, a mystic who became a general, an opportunist who became a city mayor and leader of a new religion. He gave the Word of Wisdom “not by commandment or constraint” and never once felt constrained to keep it. He wrote clearly in the BOM of dark skin being a curse and produced the Book of Abraham which spoke of the curse of Cain passing through Ham and denying his descendants the priesthood (BoAb.1) and yet he ordained a Negro. Yes there is much in Smith to comfort those who seek a more fluid and flexible Mormonism.

    Is this view “officially” taught and endorsed by the apostles and prophets of the Mormon Church? Do the prophets on whom the mantle of Smith has fallen and through whom alone Mormons are taught to find restored truth smile on the wild, changing and goodness knows what will happen next Mormonism you describe? Does the Mormon Church still offer the consistency and continuity it claims to restore and that it finds woefully lacking in the Christian Churches or is Mormonism becoming as experimental and tentative as it once accused Christianity of being? Is Mormonism in its popular form becoming itself apostate? Such a thought is richly ironic given the question that started this discussion.

    (More below I hope)

  77. Mike Tea says:

    After a busy week I finally have time to sit and think about what has been said here. Please forgive my tardiness. The funeral was a splendid event and a real celebration of a truly good Christian life and the hope we share. Thank you dagmon for your sentiments; I do share that hope of reunion.

    I appreciate that this is not familiar to you and I take into account your youth and inexperience (I am not being condescending). Every Christian I know falls into the description I gave, not because they are perfect but because they trust entirely and only in Jesus for salvation. There is no Christian “law of progression”.

    The question of hell is a tricky one and perhaps for another time but the question of progression is not. While the Bible demands obedience and speaks of rewards and punishments nevertheless the Mormon idea of progression isn’t found, especially the idea of men becoming gods. Perhaps you are not familiar with this?

    Your take on polygamy is familiar but not orthodox Mormonism. Those men didn’t marry these women to save them from destitution, nice though this idea may appear, but because it is the order of heaven. The question you must tackle is not whether God would allow or command polygamy as a temporal solution to a local problem but whether polygamy is a doctrine you subscribe to as the normal marriage state for Mormons. God never commanded polygamy in the Bible but he did allow it.

    I am surprised that you haven’t heard of Doctrines of Salvation. They are a serious distillation of Mormon teaching from a man who was an apostle and went on to be a prophet; in my day essential reading. If you are to understand Mormonism outside your own time and experience and understand discussions such as these I suggest you investigate it further as you say. I also recommend Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Gospel Doctrine, Articles of Faith and Jesus the Christ. Modern Mormon publications tend to be redacted and sanitised versions of what Mormon prophets once taught clearly enough. BTW why not see this discussion as an opportunity for growth in faith instead of a trial of faith?

    It saddens me that you see your race in the victim role and this role as evidence of inferiority. Logically you are arguing from perceived effect to cause and that isn’t right. You are not black because you are inferior, but because you are of a different race, one that has as much to be proud of and thankful for as any other. The history of Africa is incredible, noble and rich and very Christian BTW. The effects of colonialism and slavery no more make black people inferior as does the persecution of the church make Christians inferior. Yes, God must have his reasons but there is no reason to believe them informed by a low view of black people (I hate PC terms like “people of colour” – I am a person of colour, a rather fetching pink) The Mormon colour bar reflected the prejudices of leaders and not the prophetic leading of the church. It is something that should be repented of not revised and hidden behind claims to further prophecies.

    Re. The “definitive version” of Mormonism I shall write something in reply to Seth that might help clarify my own view. I want to come back to your saved by works argument because you raise some good points that require more space than allowed in one comment. Gosh, I have a lot to catch up on.

  78. Bagmon says:

    6-Yes. If God had a man, who thinks of my race as inferior, lead this Church, then I know Heavenly Father had a really good reason to do so. I don’t have even an iota of God’s intelligence but I do know that he commanded us to accept the Prophet as HIS servant. I doubt that those Prophets who had “racist” (I put that in quotes because I don’t agree with how the term is used) hated Blacks. If they thought of them as inferior, then it was because of the “evidence” that came into their thoughts. Also, for some reason, God has afflicted my race for millennia. I have yet to develop a testimony as to why that is, but I’m currently assuming it has something to do with the souls that he gave black bodies. One thing that I’ve noticed is that we are rather prideful (though this doesn’t apply to ALL Blacks), which might be one reason… Anyway, one thing I can be sure of is that slavery, racism, and a general reputation of being “inferior” isn’t something we’ve received for one reason; it’s definitely not something simple, and as such I resort to faith that God’s reason for such things is for the good of the majority of souls born, living, and waiting to be.
    7-As for what you said to Seth about the “definitive version” of the Church: there is one: Come unto Christ. Now it’s pretty obvious how broad that is but it’s the truth. THAT is core of “Mormonism”. The reason why our religion seems to be so infrequent is because there is SOOOOOOO MUCH that falls into it. There is so much knowledge graced upon us through the servants of the lord, revelation and from prayer, that it’s tremendously difficult to communicate everything. This is one reason why personal scripture study is so important.
    8- And as for the whole “saved by works” discussion: we do indeed teach that if a person is to come into heaven, they have but to believe in Christ. BUT! Do you, honestly, believe that the rapist and the murder could sit down with the Jesus, and Abraham and Paul on equal terms because they just believe that Jesus is their Savior? NO! They have to repent! And “WORK” towards the exaltation and security that God wants of them! I’m going to assume that you know about the 3 degrees of Glory. Well, wouldn’t a belief in Christ be able to get anyone into at least the Telestial Kingdom? That alone will bring a soul onto Salvation. But, there is so much more that can be had! Many, if not all, of the Prophets of old devoted their lives to following God’s commandments and acting as his LITERAL servants. The glory that they have received is, in no doubt, FAR greater than the person that comes to Church every Sunday, yet refuses to obey even the most well-known commandment. THAT is what “saved by obedience” is: Exaltation; and it’s not something easily come by. Surely, the process of changing ALL of one’s actions, beliefs and THOUGHTS can be described as “work”!

  79. Bagmon says:

    Mike
    1-I wish you patience in your wait to see your friend again. He’s in a safe place.
    2-Regarding Christianity: My head is spinning at the moment, so I’ll come back to that later, but do tell me: how many Christians do you know that fall into this description?
    4-Polygamy: firstly, take heed that in our Religion, to be damned isn’t to go to hell, per say, but to stop progressing. Now when you have the ability to take care of a woman, who in those times of trials, needed someone one to protect them, and yet you refused to take them under your wing… Well, I can easily see why you would be “damned”: you’re leaving women helpless before a slaughter. This is just my opinion thus far, however. I have yet to research that topic because until recently it hasn’t really affected my life or even came across to me as something I should think about in depth. So please give me a bit more to think about that one as well.
    5-Rewinding slightly to the “Doctrines of Salvation”… never heard of it.
    Seriously.
    I’ll have to look into the history around that time period and the actual writings themselves before I can have any adamant views on what he meant. Something is definitely off, that’s for sure… * shrugs * it doesn’t really matter what he meant though; my testimony of this church remains strong. If Heavenly Father is going to use this blog as a trial of faith, then bring it on.

  80. Seth R. says:

    Sigh…

    Sorry Mike. I'm getting a bit uncivil too.

    The demand for perfection in religion is probably one of my biggest irritations in inter-faith discussion/debate. It's just not an impulse that I have myself, or one that I really understand.

    I always felt stifled within the LDS Church by the expectations I felt were all around me for continuity, predictability, certainty, and a safe religious experience. I always felt held-back by it – all those people who wanted their religion to be static, immovable, and impassible. And there were certainly plenty of people like that in LDS congregations.

    Imagine my delight when I discovered that Mormonism was not as set-in-stone as I had previously thought. My excitement at discovering that there were actually people in standard LDS wards who did NOT think the same as the stereotype of "Mormon" that I had built up in my mind throughout adolescence. I discovered a whole new wild and changing religion full of possibilities and potential.

    It was like a breath of fresh air. Like being stuck in a broom closet for a week and then coming out and seeing the clouds for the first time in ages. I absolutely loved it.

    Ironically, I think it was a frank look at what Joseph Smith's life, mission, and message really was that broke me out of that mold. His life was an invitation to throw off human error, prejudice, and convention and look God straight in the face for answers.

    I will always be grateful to him for providing that example.

    Once I had busted out, I started to see things in Mormonism that I had always missed before. The whole religion took on a new meaning to me. I saw clearly just how inadequate my own stereotypes of Mormonism had been.

    I had spent my whole life in the Mormon faith – consistently the kid with all the answers to doctrinal questions, the kid who had read ALL the LDS scriptures more than my peers, son of one of our stake's most formidable scriptorians (he even taught religion at BYU once for a few semesters).

    And yet, for all that, I had let my own prejudices blind me to what the Restored Gospel really was, and what it could be.

    I always felt a bit crushed by the weight of Mormon convention and orthodoxy as a kid.

    Coming out into the fresh air was such a blessed relief to me. I just can't understand people who have come out of that closet and seem to be bitterly regretting the loss of that crushing embrace.

    I guess it's a hot-button issue for me.

  81. Seth R. says:

    "Joseph and Brigham taught no exaltation without polygamy, today it is an excommunicable offense"

    Absolutely false Mike.

    Joseph never required polygamy of all the saints. And Brigham Young made it clear that merely being WILLING to enter into the practice was enough. He made it plain that not all had to actually DO it to receive exaltation. Both Brigham and Joseph's statements on polygamy being a requirement usually focused on the aspect of being obedient to God.

    I think even a Protestant would agree that an unforgiven state of disobedience disqualifies you for living with God.

    Our religion does not exist to sooth your insecure demands for continuity Mike.

    Enjoy the facade of continuity and security of Protestantism if you will. I have little use for it.

  82. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    I won't even dignify your remarks about my "veneer of civility" with a response. What I am interested in is the fact that while I address the issues you dance around them.

    Are you saying there is no "definitive version" of Mormonism? In which case are you implying that the Mormonism taken around the doors is just one version among many? An interesting thought.

    You write that Mormonism is broader than I had thought. It seems to me to be not so much broad as malleable, adaptable. Now you see it, now you don't. Now its clear, now its obscure.

    Joseph and Brigham taught no exaltation without polygamy, today it is an excommunicable offense

    Pre-1978 leaders declared that the Negro would not receive the priesthood, not while time endures, today he has the priesthood

    These things, once clearly understood and faithfully believed, are portrayed as cultural, temporal, the product of a prophet's ravings, or mysterious and inexplicable. I think Gordon B Hinckley said, "We don't understand that much" more than anything else.

    Pre-1990 temple attenders (like me) were expected to make blood oaths and vows that are not required of today's Mormons

    The historian Fawn Brodie was excommunicated for writing a book that portrayed Joseph Smith as gold digger, this week non-Mormon historian, Jan Shipps, was lauded in SLC for writing a book that portrayed Joseph Smith as a gold digger.

    But, of course, none of this is up for discussion, people are discouraged from asking questions and when people like me attempt to engage in intelligent debate we are dismissed as paranoid, contentious, bitter and angry. Again, I suppose I am a fool for expecting anything different.

    However, as I keep repeating, people are pinning their eternal hopes on this Mormon message and rejecting the Christian gospel in doing so. Is it unreasonable to expect some degree of consistency, clarity, integrity anf honesty from a church that makes such promises?

  83. Seth R. says:

    That's right Mike. You put your faith in God, not men. Which is why it ought to be an even bigger problem for you that there are problems with your God, than it is for me to have problems with my Church.

    I'm not dissing God here Mike. I have my reasons for believing in him despite the existence of evil in the world, and I'm sure you do too.

    What I am saying, is that problems with a church run by mortals are of far less concern than problems with God himself. That is the case even with a Church that claims divine guidance.

    Anyway Mike, I seem to be really, really getting under your skin, because your veneer of civility about Mormonism seems to be slipping quite a bit. Your posts have become increasingly bitter and angry.

    Look Mike, I'm sorry that I'm not bowing down the same graven image of what you THOUGHT was the Restored Gospel when you still had a temple recommend. I'm sorry that you felt you had adequately refuted the "definitive version" of Mormonism, only to find out that the religion was a little broader than you gave it credit for. I'm sorry that I'm not following the stupidest version of Mormonism possible and making your job in this debate easier. I'm sorry that Mormonism turned out to be a bigger tent than you gave it credit for. And I'm sorry that you thought you had refuted every last bit of an entire religious tradition, when in fact, you had only been attacking a rather recent neo-orthodox McConkie-ite FACTION of it.

    But these are your problems to sort out – not mine. It's not my fault that your view of the Church was so narrow when you were in, and has only narrowed further since you left.

  84. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    If you want to have a discussion about our respective views on a variety of spiritual issues I am sure it would be interesting and fruitful for both of us. However, you are not the subject of discussion here but Mormonism. It is not Seth that people are being invited to join or pin their eternal hopes on but Mormonism.

    You ask for a little reflection well reflect on this. You wrote:

    Prophetic personality faults simply aren't a problem to me.

    Since when has false doctrine been a "prophetic personality fault"? When God's prophets teach error isn't it apostasy?

    You wrote:

    "Let's say that for well over fifty years the LDS Church was in gross error on something theologically viable (I'm not conceding anything – it's just for the sake of argument). Let's say they were that messed up. So what? Why is it supposed to be a fatal problem to me?"

    Just fifty years? I think it is telling that you concede nothing, indicating perhaps that this matters to you more than you let on. But whether it matters to you is not the main issue. The question is does Mormonism live up to its promise? (see below)

    You write:

    "I don't think my church's history presents any greater problem for me than the theodicy does for ALL religions in general."

    The point of Mormonism surely is that it isn't like all other religions? Mormonism claims that it will not be subject to the same problems evidenced in Christian Churches because led by prophets. If your prophets have "prophetic personality faults" so extreme I wonder what Mormonism has to offer exactly. Broken promises it seems and no inclination to discuss them honestly.

    I also wonder, if the Mormon Church is comparable in all its faults to Christian Churches why Mormons make a point of criticising and rejecting Christianity when you have nothing one jot better and, some would argue, a lot worse. Maybe you should come to my church.

    You asked:

    "Have you lost your faith in God because there is evil in the world and God allows it to happen Mike? If not, why? It's exactly the same for me."

    My faith is intact because I put my faith in God and not men, in Christ and not an institution. The problem is not the evil in the world, which is grist to the mill to any Christian, but the evil in the Mormon Church and Mormonism's refusal to be wrong about anything.

    Have you any idea how the glossy brochure, Amway door-to-door, product placement, self-aggrandising image of Mormonism compares with the gritty, life-by-the-throat, wrestling with issues, community-based Christian communities across the world? Mormonism is a lot of things but it is not honest enough to be Christian. I am glad it remains an American religion.

  85. Seth R. says:

    Mike, I already spelled out for you why Nephi and Mormon are perfectly at peace with Paul some time ago.

    It's not my fault you don't remember it.

    Prophetic personality faults simply aren't a problem to me.

    So, let's take your assertion here for the sake of argument. Let's say that for well over fifty years the LDS Church was in gross error on something theologically viable (I'm not conceding anything – it's just for the sake of argument). Let's say they were that messed up.

    So what? Why is it supposed to be a fatal problem to me?

    Honestly Mike, I don't think my church's history presents any greater problem for me than the theodicy does for ALL religions in general.

    Have you lost your faith in God because there is evil in the world and God allows it to happen Mike?

    If not, why?

    It's exactly the same for me.

    And believe me, to a devoted atheist, your rationalizations for continuing to trust God will sound just as strained, stupid, and desperate as my rationalizations no doubt sound to you.

    Little self-reflection here please.

  86. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    Why do I hear Mormons repeat ad nauseum the nonsense that polygamy was nothing more than an earthly expediency? Why do you feel comfortable with the fact that your church was led by a racist for thirty years whose teachings were considered so inspired that a man could be excommunicated, or worse, for defying them?

    Why, if it was only BY, was racism was taught right up to the July 1978 deadline when the Mormon Church had 100 years in which to put it right after Young's death? Why did the civil rights movement have to bully and shame Mormons into changing the doctrine?

    For that matter, where is the "revelation" that effected the change? It can't be read and studied in this fabled "open canon". Can't you see that this calls into question the whole claim of Mormonism to being led by inspired prophets who would not lead people astray?

    This was not simply an unfortunate sideshow in an otherwise good circus. This was the main event and people for 148 years were invited to sign up to something that defined Mormonism just as much as the BOM and the First Vision.

    Regarding your claim that I have twisted scripture, I stand on the same ground, i.e. I know what Mormonism teaches and issue again the challenge to explain "saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel." That makes about as much sense as "saved from drowning by your profficient use of the breast stroke!"

    You are doing what most Mormons do, making an assertion rather than engaging in a discussion. Assertions don't establish anything beyond the fact that this is the way you think; so what!

    Why do you think that way? How do you understand matters? How do you reconcile Nephi with Paul? How do you explain a message of grace against the clear background of "saved, by obedience…" I am presenting what I was taught and believed as a Mormon.

    Joseph F Smith said:

    "Men can stop sinning and can do right in the future, and so far their acts are acceptable before the Lord and worthy of consideration. But who shall repair the wrongs they have done to themselves and to others…? By the atonement of Jesus Christ, the sins of the repentant shallbe washed away."

    This is a gospel of faith and works. Jesus washes our sins away and we make every effort to prove worthy of gaining God's approval. Talmage wrote:

    "Some degree of salvation will come to all who have not forfeited their right to it; exaltation is given to those only who by active labours have won a claim to God's merciful liberality by which it is bestowed."

    This is a gospel of works, "saved by obedience…" I know the nice distinction Mormons make between "salvation" and "exaltation" but this distinction flies in the face of what Paul writes in Ro.7 where he describes perfectly the plight of the sinner who can't do the good he would do and can't help but do the evil he would resist. Contrary to Joseph F Smith, Paul declares that men can't help but sin, indeed can't do anything else!

    Contrary to Talmage, Paul writes in Ro.3:24 "We are justified freely by his grace" and in Ro.5:21"the gift of God is eternal life"

    Define "free" and "gift", and ask yourself how these words relate to "grace". How is "Gracious liberality" earned?! It is in the nature of a gift to be free, it is in the nature of a free gift that you don't earn it and it is in the nature of generosity that it is not deserved but liberally given. In this case not because of the indolence of the recipient but because of his helplessness.

    Mormons don't, it seems to me, feel so needy as they should.

  87. Seth R. says:

    You sound like some sarcastic ex-spouse Mike.

    I was only talking about your misuse of the scriptural phrase "all you can do."

    As it so happens, polygamy IS still the order of heaven. Nothing the Church has done since the US government crushed us into submission over it has changed that theological stance. People are being sealed to multiple spouses in temples right now.

    The doctrine hasn't gone anywhere. It's simply been suspended as an earthly practice in the face of the worst episode of systematic religious persecution in United States history – bar none.

    And I'm aware that racist doctrines were officially taught.

    They were wrong.

    It happens.

    This is a living religion Mike – not a wax museum of your own personal theological insecurities.

  88. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    There you go again. You should know better and I suspect you do know better. I am not addressing the "popular view" I am addressing the "official view" and if you can't bring some clarity on that basis I wonder what matters to you at all.

    I was a Mormon so you can't pull the old "if you want to understand Mormonism ask a a Mormon" stunt (which is a load of nonsense anyway). Its no good playing the old "people just don't understand and misrepresent us" game. I know what Mormonism teaches and it is this I am addressing. You are just being mealy-mouthed but then I suppose I should be used to it by now.

    I have answered bagmon's questions at length, giving quotes from a number of "official" sources and leaders across several generations and all you can do is come back with "I don't care what is popular." Perhaps you don't care what Mormonism teaches full stop?

    The Mormon Church has taught for most of its existence that polygamy is the order of heaven. It was routinely taught when I was a Mormon and this was the way it was always understood.

    It taught right up until July 1978 that the Negro was barred from the priesthood because he carried the mark of Cain, was disobedient in the pre-existence and was a representative of Satan on the earth.

    It was taught Seth, officially, not as a popular idea among the great unwashed of Mormonism, who seem increasingly to get the blame for the errors of their leaders, but as a precept by leaders and teachers.

    Now both polygamy and racism are being portrayed, with shameful dishonesty, as products of C 19th circumstances and prejudices. This is a lie from the pit!

    I am glad I am not a Mormon today, mainly of course because there is no salvation in the Mormon Church, but also because I couldn't stand to see such a lack of conviction and integrity and show of dishonesty and misrepresentation as I see from the Mormon Church today.

    The Mormon Church is founded on the claim that the first century church abandoned truth in apostasy within a couple of hundred years. Mormonism has cut itself loose from its founding teachings within 179 years. Your canon is closed, your prophets are administrators at best, your doctrine and apologetics are being written by para-church organisations like FARMS and FAIR, your flagship magazine, once a great source of Mormon doctrine, is little more than a glossy brochure and "every [Mormon] is doing what seems right in his own eyes."

    People are pinning their eternal hope on these things and it is just a shame that all today's Mormons can offer is speculation, superior looks, adumbration and specious nonsense about persecution and victimhood.

  89. Seth R. says:

    As I've told you before Mike, I don't really care what the popular view in Mormonism is.

    This is my Church. My scriptures. My interpretation.

    The end.

    And I do think you are misreading the Book of Mormon scriptures you are using.

  90. Mike Tea says:

    Bagmon

    You asked about racism in the Mormon Church. First let me point out that acknowledging the racism of BY as though the problem begins and ends with him presents two problems.

    First there is the problem that a Mormon "prophet" was so thoroughly racist that his views and reputation have blighted the church to this day. And you are alright with that? OK with the idea that God had his church led by such a man for decades?

    Then there is the problem that this does not begin and end with him, as these quotes show:

    "Is there any reason why the type of birth we receive in this life is not a reflection of the worthiness or lack of it in the pre-existent life…We cannot escape the conclusion that because of performance in the pre-existence some of us are born as Chinese, some as Japanese, some as Latter-day Saints. These are rewards and punishments." (Mark E Peterson)

    "Though he was a rebel and an associate of Lucifer in pre-existence, and though he was a liar from the beginning whose name was Perdition, Cain managed to attain the privilege of mortal birth…he came out in open rebellion, fought God, worshipped Lucifer, and slew Abel.
    As a result of his rebellion, Cain was cursed with a dark skin; he became the father of the Negroes, and those spirits who were not worthy to receive the preisthood are born through his lineage"
    (Bruce R McConkie)

    "And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God"

    "Not only was Cain called to suffer, but because of his wickedness, he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was placed upon him and that curse has continued through his lineage and must do while time endures" (Joseph Fielding Smith)

    "Now, Pharoah being of the lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharoahs would fain claim it from Noah through Ham, therefore my father was led away by idolatry" (Abraham 1:26,27, cited in a 1939 church manual on "Priesthood and Church Government", pub.1939)

    It gives me no pleasure to point out these things and I am painfully aware that the Mormon Church I joined taught these things as a matter of routine. It wasn't a "mystery", or a product of cultural mores, or an anachronism harking back to BY. We knew and understood fully why Negroes were denied the priesthood and it had nothing to do with the peculiar views of one man or one generation.

  91. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    Now you know that your take on Mormonism is less than orthodox. You almost express yourself like an Evangelical but you know that is not what Mormonism teaches.

    "Saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel"

    This means that without laws and ordinances you are not saved, which means they are essential to salvation. This what the BOM means when it tells us "we are saved by grace after all we can do" But Paul wrote:

    "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph.2:8,9)

    Contrast these two simple sentences:

    "Saved by obedience, to the laws and ordinances of the gospel"

    "By grace you are saved…not by works"

    It is not a question of interpretation but of plain English. One says, "saved by obedience" and puts an emphasis on works while the other says "saved by grace" and explicitly excludes works.

  92. Seth R. says:

    Sure. It's an expression of our love of God.

    It is that relationship that saves – not the merit of obediance.

    We are only "saved by obediance" in the sense that we are saved by our relationship with God – and obediance is a part of that. Obediance does not save us on its own merits. It saves us as a part of that relationship.

  93. Mike Tea says:

    Explain "Saved by obedience" would you?

  94. Seth R. says:

    "A Mormon is one who trusts in his own efforts to gain a place with God"

    That's a bald distortion Mike.

    Mormons trust in Christ for salvation.

    We have been commanded to do good works as a part of accepting Christ. But don't for a moment think that this equates with not giving Christ his full and due credit.

    We don't earn salvation.

    We do good works because we are so commanded. But those works do not "earn" us anything. It is only through a loving relationship with Christ that salvation is given – and "exaltation" (used in the LDS sense).

  95. Mike Tea says:

    Bagmon

    I am sorry for the delay but a very close friend has gone to be with the Lord and I am wrestling with preparing the sermon for the funeral. Your reminder has come as a welcome distraction.

    To answer your points:

    A Christian is one who trusts fully in the finished work of Christ on the Cross (Ro.10:9-13), depending wholly on him and not one jot on anything in themselves for salvation (Ro.3:21-28). Someone who has been Born Again (John 3:5-6), who has crossed over from death to life and no longer fears judgement (John 5:24), who has peace with God through faith in Christ and stands in a place of grace and assurance (Ro.5:1-2) and knows free and open access to the Father because of Christ our great high priest, approaching God with confidence (Heb.4:14-16). Someone for whom the journey of faith is a walk of service and sacrifice and who, because of God’s grace, abounds in good works, the fruit of salvation and not the root from which salvation springs (2 Co.9:8).

    A Mormon is one who trusts in his own efforts to gain a place with God, who is “saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the [Mormon] gospel” (8th Article of Faith) and not by grace; someone who believes that Christ’s work on the Cross is insufficient to atone for all sins, that for certain sins a man must atone for himself:

    “Joseph Smith taught that there were certain sins…that man may commit, that they will place the transgressors beyond the power of the atonement of Christ. If these offences are committed, then the blood of Christ will not cleanse them from their sins even though they repent. Therefore their only hope is to have their own blood shed to atone…on their behalf” (JFSmith, Doctrines of Salvation, vo.1, p.135)

    A Christian has a Saviour who saves to the uttermost while the Mormon saviour fails to atone for the uttermost offense no matter that the sinner repents in tears.

    Re. Polygamy, you fall for the lie that it was a practiced as a matter of practical need but BY disagrees. In responding to the call of Congress to relinquish it he said;

    “We have shown that in requiring the relinquishment of polygamy, they ask the renunciation of the entire faith of this people. No sophistry can get out of this. Mormonism is true in every leading doctrine, or it is false as a system altogether!”

    Jedediah Grant said:

    “A belief in the doctrine of the plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his followers. We might almost think they are Mormons”

    BY said:

    “Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned”

    You insist that polygamy was not a teaching in the founding days of the church but issued from a practical need to provide husbands for widows of Mormon martyrs. But Joseph F Smith said:

    “To put this matter more correctly before you, I here declare that the principle of plural marriage was not first revealed on 12th July 1843. It was written for the first time on that date, but it had been revealed to the prophet as early as 1832”

    You say that one is only required to believe it as a principle but Joseph F Smith said:

    “I understand the law of celestial marriage to mean that every man in this church, who has the ability to obey and PRACTICE it in righteousness, and will not, shall be damned”

    And Orson Pratt said:

    “The one wife system did not originate in the Christian Church, but was adopted from the practice of the Roman nation by the Romish priesthood and by them palmed off on the nations originating in Christianity”

    Racism: The principle is established in the Book of Abraham, ch 1, where the sons of ham are mentioned. I will come back with more on that but I am probably running out of characters.

  96. Bagmon says:

    I'm waiting for you Mike

  97. Mike Tea says:

    Bagmon

    I haven't the time right this minute to respond properly to your comments but want to say how much I appreciate them and the integrity that attends them. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I will be back soon with a response and I am sure there is more to be said.

  98. Bagmon says:

    Mike

    1-What is your definition of a christian?
    2-Yes, I've read D&C 132.
    3-Polygamy is NOT taught as a requirement to heaven.
    4-I've read the Book of Mormon, I know about how the curse of (my) dark skin originated.(Yes, I am black. My parents moved here from Jamaica roughly a year before I was born. My Mom is a convert my Dad is a non-member). I also know that Mormon's are not racist's. The Book of Mormon is a RECORD. It's not doctrine preached, it's HISTORY. If you have any more "racist" comments from either LDS Apostles or Prophets, please… let me know. I find this preaty interesting… (I'm being perfectly honest)

    Also, on the regard of "the young and naive Mormon who wishes to think well of his church": I haven't for a moment believed that every member of my Church is perfect. Ask any Mormon who knows anything about the LDS religion and they'll tell you that NONE OF US ARE. That's the whole point of our religion, Mike. To take our sins and come onto Christ. To follow his teachings, repent, and become like him; a process–that I've allready stated–takes A LIFETIME. One thing I'll defend the Prophets for however is that not one of them hates blacks. I make the same testiment about them not seeing Blacks as "inferior"–as I don't have a testimony–on that yet, but I do know that one of the reason's they supported (and *I*) support slavery (to a degree) is due to the meekness it allows the slave to have. Moroni 7:43 "And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek and lowly of heart". (hopefully this Blog helps me get there…)

  99. Seth R. says:

    Yeah, Patrick.

    And as I already explained, calling it a Catholic "doctrine" was sloppy on my part.

    So if that's all you wanted, I already retracted it several posts ago.

  100. Patrick Madrid says:

    Seth, you did in fact say that. Here's the exact quote from your earlier post:

    "I also think that the rest of Christianity likes to forget that Mormons BORROWED racist doctrines, from their Protestant neighbors (who inherited them from Catholicism). So it's not like we came up with the idea. But for some reason, we're the only ones required to apologize for it.

    The only thing I'd expect you to apologize for now is your claim which, by your own failure to back it up with evidence, has been shown to be false.

    So, let's have a your retraction, Seth.

  101. Seth R. says:

    "it's time for you to retract your claim that the Catholic Church teaches "racist" doctrines."

    I can't retract something I didn't say. I never said the Catholic Church teaches racist doctrines in the first place.

    Here's what I had in mind:

    Origen (circa 185-c. 254): “For the Egyptians are prone to a degenerate life and quickly sink to every slavery of the vices. Look at the origin of the race and you will discover that their father Cham, who had laughed at his father’s nakedness, deserved a judgment of this kind, that his son Chanaan should be a servant to his brothers, in which case the condition of bondage would prove the wickedness of his conduct. Not without merit, therefore, does the discolored posterity imitate the ignobility of the race [Non ergo immerito ignobilitatem decolor posteritas imitatur].” Homilies on Genesis 16.1

    Anne Catherine Emmerich – Augustinian Nun, beatified October 3, 2004 wrote:

    "But God replied that it would not be so; that whoever should kill Cain should himself be punished sevenfold, and He placed a sign upon him that no one should slay him. Cains posterity gradually became colored. Hams children also were browner than those of Shem. The nobler races were always of a lighter color. They who were distinguished by a particular mark engendered children of the same stamp; and as corruption increased, the mark also increased until at last it covered the whole body, and people became darker and darker. But yet in the beginning there were no people perfectly black; they became so only by degrees."

    and

    "I saw the curse pronounced by Noah upon Ham moving toward the latter like a black cloud and obscuring him. His skin lost its whiteness, he grew darker. His sin was the sin of sacrilege, the sin of one who would forcibly enter the Ark of the Covenant. I saw a most corrupt race descend from Ham and sink deeper and deeper in darkness. I see that the black, idolatrous, stupid nations are the descendants of Ham. Their color is due, not to the rays of the sun, but to the dark source whence those degraded races sprang"

    Don't try to make me claim more than I'm really claiming.

    My original point was not one of placing blame for these notions on any particular church. My point was simply this – Mormons didn't invent these ideas. We got them from other Christians.

  102. Mike Tea says:

    Young Mormons understandably wish to think well of their church. perhaps it would open their eyes if they looked at this

    http://www.i4m.com/think/history/mormon_racism.htm

  103. Mike Tea says:

    As a codicil to my last statement perhaps it woluld enlighten the young and naive Mormon who wishes to think well of his church that Mormonism taught racist doctrine officially if they looked here:

    http://www.i4m.com/think/history/mormon_racism.htm

  104. Mike Tea says:

    Bagmon

    You really must learn that asserting a thing doesn’t make it true. Mormons are not Christians because they say they are Christians. That is a great mistake and Mormons need to put up a better defence than simple assertion and the lame notion that using the name of Jesus makes you Christian.

    Do you read Mormon Scripture? If you read D&C 132 and the accompanying teaching you would know that polygamy was not the product of necessity in this life but qualification for the next. The notion that it was the product of expediency is laughable.

    Seth

    The teaching on Negroes was official doctrine and Young’s teaching on the subject, far from being aberrant, was taught consistently and defended fiercely right up to July 1978. McConkie, that apostle the Mormons love to hate, along with “the brethren” had made such strident statements over the years that he had to make a special statement to the effect, “I know what I have said and what the brethren have said in the past but you must forget that and fall in line with this.”

    If it was never official doctrine why have the Mormons not repented and apologised like other churches that you insist influenced Mormons so? And what exactly is the purpose of “restoration” prophets in the Mormon Church? Surely it is to guide Mormons right when apostate churches have gone wrong? To suggest that other churches taught Mormons racism is ridiculous. The doctrine is official and based on the Book of Abraham and countless statements by Mormon leaders all the way up to 1978; the list is formidable and the racist sentiment unmistakably official. To try and wipe it off the map with a wave of the hand and an appeal to cultural mores of the time is dishonest and inexcusable.

    Mealy-mouthed: overly wary of speaking plainly or openly, especially of admitting unpleasant truths

    That’s Mormons for you, overly wary of speaking plainly or openly, especially of admitting unpleasant truths.

  105. Patrick Madrid says:

    No. You didn't supply it because you can't.

    No such doctrine exists or ever has existed in the Catholic Church. You know it, I know it, and those who've been following along here know it.

    So now it's time for you to retract your claim that the Catholic Church teaches "racist" doctrines. Let's have it.

  106. Seth R. says:

    I didn't supply it because I knew what your answer would be – "that's not doctrinal."

    My initial post wasn't actually trying to peg any particular portion of the Catholic tradition. I wasn't trying to make the case that this was "official" or not, "canonized" or not. So the use of the word "doctrine" was probably sloppy on my part.

    Hope that clarifies things enough for you.

  107. Patrick Madrid says:

    I notice that you never did supply an example of the alleged "racist doctrines" of the Catholic Church. Why not?

    A doctrine is a formal teaching. I gave you a very wide avenue of opportunities (councils, popes, catechism, etc.) within which to make good on your charge.

    Again, if you are unable to cite a specific example of the Catholic Church having a racist doctrine, then I call on you to do the right thing and publicly retract your claim.

    I'm waiting to see whether you will do the right thing.

  108. Seth R. says:

    Actually Patrick, this brings up an interesting point.

    What is "official doctrine?"

    I noted that you carefully worded your rebuttal to exclude a whole list of Catholic sources that you would probably label "unofficial." I would imagine that your list excludes statements from prominent figures in Catholicism who simply wrote about or taught racist doctrine that you would not consider "officially declared." Am I right?

    But the same considerations apply to the LDS Church as well. Brigham Young's declarations about blacks being excluded from the Priesthood (and therefore temple ordinances) came not by way of revelation, or even by way of an official forum. But from an address that he made to the Utah Territorial Legislature.

    Hardly the sort of place from which to derive "doctrine."

    From that point, Brigham Young's opinions grew into hardened church policy. But they never were adopted as canon. These doctrines remained absent from our scriptures. Of course, various LDS authorities made repeated assertions about blacks bearing the "Mark of Cain" or the "Curse of Ham" (which we did actually borrow from other Christian sources – whether you consider them "official" or not). They backed this up with the same sort of misreading of Mormon scripture that religious advocates for Segregation did with the Bible.

    In the end, this unofficial racist stance was so entrenched in the practice of the LDS Church – and in the minds of many of its followers – that it took a revelation to get rid of it in the 1970s.

    But I am not in the slightest convinced that these were ever legitimate LDS doctrine to begin with. Just misguided policy, that then became tradition layered in misread scripture.

    In the end Patrick – this is my view of Catholics, Protestants, and the Churches they belong to.

    They are not generally racists. They've moved beyond such sentiments. And by and large, their Churches have put the ugliness of the past behind them as well, and are moving forward. I don't require an apology for racism from either Catholics or Protestants (at least, not most of them). We've moved on.

    And I think similar courtesy might be extended to the LDS Church.

  109. Patrick Madrid says:

    Seth, you said: "I also think that the rest of Christianity likes to forget that Mormons BORROWED racist doctrines from their Protestant neighbors (who inherited them from Catholicism). So it's not like we came up with the idea. But for some reason, we're the only ones required to apologize for it."

    Is that so? Then please cite for me one of those Catholic doctrines that are racist.Provide any example you can find from official Catholic teaching: an ecumenical council, a papal decree, or even just a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church will do fine. And if you can't locate such a doctrine (I'll save you time here and let you know that you can't), then I ask you to to publicly retract your erroneous claim that the Catholic Church has "racist" doctrines. The Mormon Church surely does, but you cannot blame that on the Catholic Church.

  110. Peter Davidson says:

    Gerald R. McDermott, the Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion at Roanoke College and author, with Robert Millet, of Claiming Christ: A Mormon-Evangelical Debate, addressed the question of whether Latter-day Saints are Christians in an article "Is Mormonism Christian?" published in First Things magazine (October 2008).

    By examining Professor McDermott's critique in light of the Bible, one can see that Mormonism differs from historic Christian orthodoxy to the degree that historic Christian orthodoxy diverges from Biblical truths. See the following link:

    http://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B2mH1gj1Vq-BYjczOWYyMDItNDE5NC00YzAxLTgxZDUtZGZhN2IxMzc2MjIz&hl=en

    Most points where sectarian Christians have problems with LDS doctrine illustrate the departure of sectarianism from the Bible.

  111. Bagmon says:

    Mike

    To answer your "So you believe in polygamy and that polygamy is the order of heaven, as taught by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young? Then why are Mormons so coy when the issue is raised?" question: We do not. However one of the chief practices our religion encourages is making self sacrifices to return to our Heavenly Father and Savior. If we are commanded to become polygamists in order to do so; then we would do it and endure the affliction the world would put on us. (no matter how disgusting we would find the prospect…) I think that is what Seth (?) was refering to.

  112. Seth R. says:

    It's pretty well-known that 1830s Mormons were anti-slavery. Joseph Smith himself including purchasing the freedom of all slaves with proceeds from sale of Louisiana Purchase lands a part of his presidential platform.

    I figure that Brigham Young's hang-ups were Brigham Young's hang-ups. Somehow they wound up being institutionalized as Church policy. But Brigham Young's racial statements in 1852 are well after the time period we're talking about, so I'll thank you not to try and change the subject here.

    I also think that the rest of Christianity likes to forget that Mormons BORROWED racist doctrines from their Protestant neighbors (who inherited them from Catholicism). So it's not like we came up with the idea. But for some reason, we're the only ones required to apologize for it.

    Besides, your response ignores that nothing in Brigham Young's statements precludes him or any other Mormon being abolitionist in sentiment. Plenty of 1800s abolitionists still considered African Americans inferior. Even the vaunted Abraham Lincoln held views about race that would get him immediately thrown out of office today.

    So, I fail to see how your comment is even relevant to the point I was making.

  113. Mike Tea says:

    Seth

    So you believe in polygamy and that polygamy is the order of heaven, as taught by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young? Then why are Mormons so coy when the issue is raised?

    Regarding the Mormon fiction about early Mormon abolishonist sentiments I find Brigham Young's 1852 speech on slavery enlightening. He said:

    "I am as much oposed to the principle of slavery as any man in the present acceptation or usage of the term, it is abused. I am opposed to abuseing that which God has decreed, to take a blessing, and make a curse of it. It is a great blessing to the seed of Adam to have the seed of Cain for servants, but those they serve should use them with all the heart and feeling, as they would use their own children, and their compassion should reach over them, and round about them, and treat them as kindly, and with that humane feeling necessary to be shown to mortall beings of the human species. Under these sercumstances there blessings in life are greater in proportion than those who have to provide the bread and dinner for them" (you can read the speech here I am as much oposed to the principle of slavery as any man in the present acceptation or usage of the term, it is abused. I am opposed to abuseing that which God has decreed, to take a blessing, and make a curse of it. It is a great blessing to the seed of Adam to have the seed of Cain for servants, but those they serve should use them with all the heart and feeling, as they would use their own children, and their compassion should reach over them, and round about them, and treat them as kindly, and with that humane feeling necessary to be shown to mortall beings of the human species. Under these sercumstances there blessings in life are greater in proportion than those who have to provide the bread and dinner for them" (You can read the speech here: http://www.mrm.org/topics/documents-speeches/brigham-youngs-1852-speech-slavery)

    By this he means that "the African" is naturally a slave and the only thing about slavery to which he objected was the inhumane manner in which slaves were used. Otherwise he makes clear in the speech that the servant condition of the blackman was natural and right and he stood opposed to any effort to make him equal in society.

    I know Mormons are fond of the presumed abolitionist reputation but consider that until 1978 the Mormon Church adhered to Young's views in allowing the Negro nothing beyond baptism in the privieges afforded by church membership. The scandal after 1978 is that while other sections of society, including Christian churches, who previously endorsed and practiced slavery have repented, the Mormon Church has hidden behind the fiction of being abolitionists and pretending that there is nothing to repent of.

  114. Bagmon says:

    also, [Mr. Editor] please let the people know that I tried to send more but that you found it unnessary (that would be the "what the heck" message…yes I know that was a bit obsene, but I poured my heart out into that long entry and you denied it to the public (no I'm not trying to despute anything with you or be disprespectful, I just wanted you to know that that hurt). Please post that one comment(NOT THIS ONE) so that people know that the list didn't end with please "remove yourself to somewhere quite".

  115. Bagmon says:

    (I edited the whole "history" part ok [person who deleted it befor] blease at least put this much into the blog the four page blog entry) NOW TO GET BACK ON THE SUBJECT OF POLYGAMY (I capitalize this for the sake of skimmers) the practice was in response to the fruits of hate form those who did not know the truth of our religion. There were many instances of LDS being shot, tarred and feathered and driven from their homes. As a result we had a vast amount of martyred men. Their wives would then be cared for by another LDS member. This was NOT something that everyone was allowed to do and was NOT something done due to men lusting after multiple women! It was something done out of compassion and love for the many, many, many widows our church had. (The commandment to “be fruitful and multiply” was another reason but not the primary one) This is the polygamy we DID practice, but eventually (while we were STILL being persecuted) the fourth president of the church, Prophet Wilford Woodruff, denounced it after a fit of fervent prayers. We hold true to that today and that is why we don’t want to be associated with the FLDS! They are NOT the same religion!!! I have had to tell people that I do not practice polygamy and that no Mormons do! I’M SIXTEEN!!! Yet when you have Shows like “Big Love” depicting polygamist FLDS members as “Mormons” now wonder people are confused!

    Now before I conclude I have one more thing to say: if you want to know about a Mormon, ask a Mormon, for there are very few people who actually know what a Mormon IS unless they are a Mormon themselves or have a Mormon friend (you have no idea the amount of rumors people come up with to describe us… =P). And if there is anything else I haven’t cleared up with you I firmly beg of you to contact a LDS ward and ask for a missionary; tell them you have some question about our religion you want answered. Our Missionaries are men and women who have dedicated two YEARS of their life to preaching the gospel and (more importantly for you) answering questions. Please. If you have felt something as you read this, I beg of you to seek them out. Do not hesitate, for if this Church is true, the Devil and his demons will try to stop you. This will most likely start with a thought like: “I don’t feel like it”, “I don’t want to talk to anyone!” or “I’ll do it latter”. For such instances I ask, with all my heart, for you to seek out a missionary (go to LDS.org if you must and click on the “about the church” thingy on the left of the Jesus Statue). Please don’t delay, for every second you wait you’ll find yourself less willing to do so, and you’ll find your memory, of anything you’ve felt during this whole ordeal, beginning to wane.

  116. Bagmon says:

    what… the… HECK!!!! They removed my whole entire testimony!!!!! (how dare you!)

  117. Seth R. says:

    "Mormonism clearly teaches that polygamy is essential if you want to go to the celestial kingdom and be with God."

    Who's rewriting history?

    Brigham Young and multiple other LDS leaders repeatedly taught that mere heartfelt acceptance of the doctrine of polygamy was necessary for exaltation. They did not require it as a PRACTICE for any wishing to obtain exaltation.

    This is consistent with D&C 132 that you cited.

    And as for rewriting history -

    The Missourians who raped and murdered our people weren't generally even aware of polygamy. It wasn't openly taught at that point in LDS history. Nor was it widely known.

    The main reason that the LDS were persecuted in Missouri was because they were clannish, kept to themselves, tended to vote similarly, and – above all – were anti-slavery.

    Being anti-slavery was a hugely distasteful thing to the existing Missourians. Don't forget that this was in the middle of the whole slave state-free state balancing game that ultimately led up to the Civil War. A large, clannish, voting block moving in next door with strange doctrines and anti-slavery.

    It doesn't take a genius to see where the violence came from. But polygamy was never more than a vague rumor during this period. The real public outcry came during the Nauvoo period.

    And there was nothing all that questionable in Joseph's banking practices given the time period and the need for capital in new frontier communities.

  118. Mike Tea says:

    There you go again Seth, rewriting history. Do you wonder Christians get fed up with Mormons and just "tell it like it is?" It is a popular Mormon ploy to suggest that Christians are making more of this or that, than there really is and it is truly disingenuous.

    To characterise polygamy as "just one doctrine" as though there were better and more important things to talk about is just misleading. Mormonism clearly teaches that polygamy is essential if you want to go to the celestial kingdom and be with God.

    It was taught and practiced in the 19th century with the that conviction. Given all Joseph Smith taught about polygamy (usually to avoid the ire of his wife Emma) to deny its central role in Mormonism is akin to denying the central role of the Cross in Christianity.

    I know it is a comparison that will aggravate you but when you consider D&C 132 and all that was preached from and around this “scripture” it is difficult to draw any other conclusion:

    “For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.
    5 For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.
    6 And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.” (D&C 132 4-6)

    I don’t know how Mormons can be so complacent about something that, if it is not believed and abided by, will determine damnation for the heretic. In my day at least we believed in and understood it and excused its absence by referring to AofF 12. Today Mormons typically talk about it as though it was a 19th century aberration and I am sick of reading these lies.

    I didn’t write about the median but the average. Understanding the difference will argue my point for me. The average, or mean, is the total when you add the numbers in a list by the total number of marks. The median is the middle value in a list. The difference is important when you understand the “mode” in this list. If the median is the middle number and the average the result of dividing the total by the sum of marks the mode is the number (or numbers) that occurs most frequently.

    In your list the mode works out at 14, 16, 19, 23, 27, 33, 37, each number occurring twice in the list. Smith married two fourteen year old and two sixteen year old girls, a seventeen, a 19 and a 20 year old at a time when the average age for marriage was 22.

    This means that he didn’t straddle the median equally as you suggest but was below the average in choosing very young girls who would normally have waited longer for marriage to someone more their age (the average age for men marrying being 25)

    Now, either he was obeying God in doing this, or he was a pervert with a penchant for young flesh and Mormons should stop being mealy-mouthed about it.

    Regarding the so-called “persecution” of the saints there are two sides to every story and it is well to remember that the Mormons were the otherwise innocent party in all this. You put a scenario to me let me put one to you.

    Imagine you have worked hard to make a life, build a community and secure a future for your family when a large group of polygamists move into your area proclaiming from their pulpits that the land was to be theirs as Canaan was Israel’s. Imagine hearing all the stories of underage brides, questionable banking practices and failed banks, of a man determined to raise his own militia to achieve “God’s purposes” (echoes of Muhammad here).

    Do you just give up your land, surrender your daughters and walk into the sunset? Of course there is wrong on both sides but I don’t think an influx of Presbyterians would have provoked such a reaction as greeted the Mormons.

  119. Bagmon says:

    PS: I can’t remember if I made this point clear but, for those who don’t believe that Mormons worship Christ: our ENTIRE religion is on the basis of becoming like Christ. We find joy in Christ, our aim (and my whole reason for continuing my life on earth) is to find our imperfections (and they are as most of our brothers and sisters) and to repent. The central point of our religion is the atonement. Everything else is of secondary importance; period. Through it, we believe we can be with our loved ones forever and live for the rest of eternity in Joy; for we can either chose to live in happiness or we can live in misery. If you could only get one thing from this entry it’s this: that we’re are a people striving to become like Jesus Christ and to come back to him through his sacrifice.

  120. Bagmon says:

    The Book of Mormon was brought unending affliction to the LDS religion; but his also brought limitless joy to our lives, with both the teachings there in, and the fulfilling truth it brings when paired with the Bible. During Joseph Smith’s time the Book of Mormon, along with unfounded beliefs that “Mormons”: worship Smith; are demon worshipers (in fact, there are people now, who believe we have horns and have had them “surgically removed”); and various other (seemingly random) assumptions about this strange group of people, led to a great deal of our persecution, execution, and affliction.

    NOW TO GET BACK ON THE SUBJECT OF POLYGAMY (I capitalize this for the sake of skimmers) the practice was in response to the fruits of hate form those who did not know the truth of our religion. There were many instances of LDS being shot, tarred and feathered and driven from their homes. As a result we had a vast amount of martyred men. Their wives would then be cared for by another LDS member. This was NOT something that everyone was allowed to do and was NOT something done due to men lusting after multiple women! It was something done out of compassion and love for the many, many, many widows our church had. (The commandment to “be fruitful and multiply” was another reason but not the primary one) This is the polygamy we DID practice, but eventually (while we were STILL being persecuted) the fourth president of the church, Prophet Wilford Woodruff, denounced it after a fit of fervent prayers. We hold true to that today and that is why we don’t want to be associated with the FLDS! They are NOT the same religion!!! I have had to tell people that I do not practice polygamy and that no Mormons do! I’M SIXTEEN!!! Yet when you have Shows like “Big Love” depicting polygamist FLDS members as “Mormons” now wonder people are confused!

    Now before I conclude I have one more thing to say: if you want to know about a Mormon, ask a Mormon, for there are very few people who actually know what a Mormon IS unless they are a Mormon themselves or have a Mormon friend (you have no idea the amount of rumors people come up with to describe us… =P). And if there is anything else I haven’t cleared up with you I firmly beg of you to contact a LDS ward and ask for a missionary; tell them you have some question about our religion you want answered. Our Missionaries are men and women who have dedicated two YEARS of their life to preaching the gospel and (more importantly for you) answering questions. Please. If you have felt something as you read this, I beg of you to seek them out. Do not hesitate, for if this Church is true, the Devil and his demons will try to stop you. This will most likely start with a thought like: “I don’t feel like it”, “I don’t want to talk to anyone!” or “I’ll do it latter”. For such instances I ask, with all my heart, for you to seek out a missionary (go to LDS.org if you must and click on the “about the church” thingy on the left of the Jesus Statue). Please don’t delay, for every second you wait you’ll find yourself less willing to do so, and you’ll find your memory, of anything you’ve felt during this whole ordeal, beginning to wane.

    I love you all, hopefully this helps clear up any confusion you feel about us.

  121. Bagmon says:

    Three years later, after enduring increased persecution due to his continued affirm that he had seen a vision and after keeping to God’s commandment to join none of the churches, more was revealed to him. He admits to have “frequently [fallen] into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth.” He continues “In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature.” One night, he retired to his bedside and begun to pray for forgiveness for his weakness and various imperfections. He also asked for a sign, that he might know of his state in the eyes of God.
    An angel appeared to him that day; this is how he described him: He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom. Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him, I was afraid; but the fear soon left me.” The angel told him of the Book of Mormon. He made it known unto Joseph that his name was Moroni, though it wouldn’t be until many years later that Joseph found out that this was the very man who sealed and hid the Book of Mormon. Twice more that night would Moroni appear before him, each time revealing a little more, including the location of the Book of Mormon. He was not yet permitted to take the record. He was even told that if he did so he would be destroyed! (As he had been told that the record had been written on plates of gold and that the devil would tempt him to take and sell the gold thereof)

    Eventually (several years later) after having been directed and tempered into a more righteous soul then he had been, He was directed to take and translate the plates. And eventually the translation was completed and latter The Church was organized; with Jesus at its head, Joseph Smith as its prophet and twelve apostles to help lead the Church.

  122. Bagmon says:

    He was raised in a farm, by a father and mother that believed in the teachings of Jesus and lived by it (if none else). He lived in a community that was HEAVY his various religions; all firm in their beliefs, yet each preaching doctrines that contradicted the teachings of other churches. Naturally, as someone concerned for his soul, he begun to search out which church was THE right one (and not the just the right one for HIM). He thus turned to the Scriptures to find a way to know which church was right. And so he studied; and studied; and studied, until one day he came across a scripture in the Epistle of James, Chapter 1, verse 5: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally , and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." and I continue with verse 6 "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." This scripture hit Joseph with a resonate force. He felt that if anyone "lacked wisdom" he most certainly did. He soon decides that that is what he would do and with firm sense of determination, he removed himself to the woods by his home, and begun to pray. (I'm going to quote from a record on Joseph Smiths words on what happened next.) "I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction–not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being–just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear him!” They then answer Joseph’s prayer and tell him to join none of the Churches. Eventually they depart. When the community eventually found this out, Joseph came under an astonishing amount of persecution as it is generally believed at the time that all visions and revelations had ceased with the apostles. He was but 14, 15 years old at the time. This continued throughout his life. Not once in his life would Joseph deny that he saw a vision. In his own words: “For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.”

  123. Bagmon says:

    Ok, for any of you who happen to come across this: I just want to put something strait.

    1-The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a church of ADAMANT Christianity: Our whole religion is centered on him, becoming like him, and returning to him. In short, no we're not Catholics, Baptist or what have you; we ARE Christians

    2-LDS members are FREQUENTLY branded as polygamists; this is what started this article in the first place. The FLDS and The LDS religions are two COMPLETELY separate religions. The LDS not only believe AGAINST the practice of polygamy, but we also believe in the existence of a prophet, just like the prophets of old, who is to guide us in these latter-days and help us prefect our lives (a process, we believe, tends to take a VERY long time). This is one of the fundamental differences that separate the FLDS and the LDS: we believe in our current prophet, the FLDS do not. (In fact, they broke away from our church not when we denounced polygamy but when Joseph Smith, our "first" Prophet died)

    4-Polygamy was NOT a practice neither taught nor even ALLOWED during the funding of the church. This was so for many years, but then our Church began to be persecuted, beaten, tarred and feathered, (you get the idea, America wasn't doing a good job of defending its citizens)for various reasons; the chief reason being: the Book of Mormon (in which we get our controversial little nickname). The Book of Mormon is a Second Testament of Jesus Christ. We believe that the book was written by the prophets God sent to the Americas during the same time of the Bible. The Book of Mormon (which was written primarily by the prophet Mormon) is a record of God's dealings with the inhabitants here in the Americas. At one point the last Saint in the Americas (Mormon's son: Moroni) finishes the record, seals it, and hides it in the earth until the time comes that The Lord Jesus Christ reveals it to the Gentiles and restores a Prophet and Apostles to the earth once again. Joseph Smith was the Gentile we revealed it to.

    THIS is what begun the Controversy: Joseph Smith had first begun to become a Prophet (though he didn't know it at the time) while he was but a teenage boy

    (Please. Before you continue to read, I would ask you to remove yourself to somewhere quite. I beg of you. It’s more important than I can possibly communicate to you.)

  124. Seth R. says:

    More true in their teachings if you only count one doctrine Mike. I don't deny that polygamy was an important aspect of 1800s Mormonism. But I think people critical of Mormonism make it a little more central to the whole enterprise than it really was.

    I really have no idea what you mean by "iron regime of Brigham Young." Do you mean he actually bothered to try and govern rather than follow the model of barely suppressed anarchy typical of the rest of the American frontier?

    As for wrecking the printing press… bravo to Joseph Smith for destroying it. It was a dangerous hate-filled publication advocating for physical violence against the Mormons living in Nauvoo. Good riddance I say.

    As for the Danites, sure you can mention them. And I can ask why you think after we had our farms burned, our women raped, and our men beaten within an inch of their lives, you seem to think it unreasonable that elements within the Mormon community would want some payback.

    Tell you what Mike. You take a mob of men into an American town and start beating them, robbing them, and stealing their homes. And then when some of them start fighting back, whine about how they're "being too violent."

    Yeah, see how that plays in the press. Good luck to ya.

    Your appeal to the median age of marriage is rather pointless, because the median obscures how common marriages in the other age brackets were. As I said, the age breakdown of Joseph Smith's sample wasn't that different from the age breakdown in the population at large at the time.

    Really, the only weird thing about Joseph Smith was that he had more than one wife.

    No one at that time gave a damn how old they were.

  125. Mike Tea says:

    I love the way Mormons "correct" comments as though to inject reason into a conversation that started with Joseph Smith marrying two fourteen-year-olds and altogether marrying 32 women aged from 14 to 58!

    The average age of women getting married in the US in 1900 was 22 and for men it was 25. In Europe the average age at marriage was:

    1566-1619 27.0 years
    1647-1719 29.6 years
    1719-1779 26.8 years
    1770-1837 25.1 years

    The notion that it was typical for very young and barely pubescent girls being pressed into marriage is a fiction (BTW pubescence in girls at that began later and not earlier).

    But it doesn't serve the Mormon cause to appeal to this because Joseph Smith practiced and taught polygamy and polyginy at a time when it was socially unacceptable and illegal.

    I didn't mention the FLDS so I don't know where you get that from. I simply assert that such groups are more true in their teachings and practices to the teachings of their founding prophets.

    The issue of compounds is not an issue at all. The equivelant would be the iron regime of Brigham (I can beat Joe in the wife stakes) Young. Need I mention Dannites? Oh, and BTW the wrecking of a printing press at the behest of a megalomaniac by the name of Joseph Smith. I think compounds and a penchant for cotrolling people represent in microcosm what in Joseph and Brigham's days was writ large across large tracts of the midwest.

  126. Seth R. says:

    The ages of Joseph Smith's wives (in order):

    22
    16
    37
    26
    20
    31
    33
    23
    23
    47
    27
    50
    53
    37
    38
    17
    37
    33
    16
    19
    22
    30
    17
    17
    19
    14
    29
    29
    58
    32
    27
    19
    14
    56

    Actually it appears that he preferred them mid 20s to mid 30s. Percentage-wise, the layout in age of his wives actually matches up fairly closely with the ages of the American bride population in general. You'll find similar percentages in the American bride population in the early 1800s in teenage brides, brides in their 20s, and brides in their 30s as the percentages in Joseph's own marriages.

    Seems like he was just following the general trend (except in having more than one).

  127. Brandy Miller says:

    And one of those LDS members with way more than two wives was Joseph Smith – who tended to favor them on the underage and near pubescent side.

  128. Seth R. says:

    Mike, the FLDS are NOT a time-capsule of Mormonism "the way it used to be."

    Late 1800s LDS did not live all crowded together in a fenced compound. They did not have a problem with "lost boys" (due to population dynamics of the day). They did not forbid contact with outsiders or outside ideas. To the extent it was available, they availed themelves of everything modern education (as it existed at the time) had to offer. Women in Utah were at the head of the Suffrage movement and were independent and strong-willed. High levels of education were common and encouraged among 1800s LDS women. Visitors from back east were routinely surprised at how little polygamous LDS women matched the stereotypes they expected.

    1800s LDS lived shoulder to shoulder with "gentiles" (even if they didn't particularly like it). They had friendly relations with competing religions like Catholicism (Brigham Young and the local Catholic clergy were on amiable terms and the local Catholic priest was even allowed to preach from the Mormon Tabernacle pulpit).

    Late 1800s LDS were individualistic and self-reliant farmers spread out over millions of square miles, on isolated and largely self-reliant farmsteads. They were fully capable of making a living even after essentially flipping the local Stake President the bird (like my great great granduncle essentially did when he had a fight with the Stake President over irrigation allotments).

    And the late 1800s LDS had no systematized method of withholding wives and children from men they didn't like.

    Finally, the vast majority of late 1800s polygamist men had only two wives. Higher numbers of wives were largely a legacy of the short-lived "Nauvoo Period" of Mormon history. Only a few men within the LDS Church had more than two wives, and almost all of them had their wives from the brief period in Nauvoo. And polygamy was only ever practiced by a small percentage of the men in late 1800s Utah.

    There's really not a lot of useful comparison to be had.

  129. Mike Tea says:

    As a Christian who can trace his tradition back to the first century I object to Mormons calling themselves Christian. The problem is that SLC Mormons cannot make that same claim even for the brief 170 years or so of their history since the so-called breakaway groups adhere more closely to the teachings of Joseph Smith than SLC Mormons. These other grops can just as easily counter with calling the SLC Mormons a breakaway group on that basis.

    These polygamist groups are an accurate representation of early Mormonism and help educate and remind people where this cult came from and what they would rather we didn't know.

  130. Seth R. says:

    As a believing Mormon, I frankly don't care if I get the coveted "Christian" label. As long as people acknowledge that I claim to worship God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, it's all good in my book. Mormonism can stand on its own two feet without begging for table scraps from Catholicism or Protestantism.

    I also don't care if you call the polygamists in Texas "Mormons." As long as you keep the two groups straight, it's all good for me on this score too.

  131. ELC says:

    I think Patrick is well aware that Mormons do not, in fact, believe in the teachings and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    "Particularly internationally, readers do not distinguish between these groups and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which there are over 13.5 million members worldwide." That reminds me of something.

    As long as I can remember, which I guess is about 30 years, I recall hearing two facts about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. What are they? you ask.

    First, LDS is the fastest growing religion in the USA. Yep, I've been hearing that for 30 years.

    Second, LDS has about 10 million members in the USA. Yep, I've been hearing that for 30 years, too.

    Go figure.

  132. Nick says:

    Re: "Wouldn't you be upset if some fringe wacked out group decided to call themselves Catholic even though they did not preactive the faith you love?"

    You mean like how Mormons call themselves Catholic? Yes, I am upset. The sin of self-righteousness angers me. They dare to call themselves the Church of Christ, which, according to the early bishop Cyril, is properly named Catholic Church. And according to the early bishop Augustine, every Christian is Catholic and every Catholic Christian, for he calls the members of the Church "Catholic Christians". So the Mormons are calling themselves Catholic, yet they are not, and you have proved that my anger over the sin of self-righteousness is just. Thank you for that.

  133. Pulchritudo Musicae says:

    But the off-shoot groups are actually following the original teachings of the church. Doesn't that make the relationship more like Baptist:Catholic than Catholic:Baptist? It would as I see it. Our Church doesn't have to denounce its own teachings and then claim to have nothing to do with those who follow the original teachings of the Church!

  134. pjmitch says:

    Mormons are Christians. They believe in the teachings and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wake up. Caholics are Christians for the same reason. Wouldn't you be upset if some fringe wacked out group decided to call themselves Catholics even though they did not preactive the faith you love?

  135. www.spamlds.org says:

    It seems to me that Catholics don't like to call the folks who broke away from their church Catholics–that's why they called them Protestants.

    The offshoot sects from the LDS Church are no more "Mormon" than a Baptist would be a Catholic.

    The point of your article seems to be an excuse for a thinly veiled, bigoted poke at Mormons. How very "Christian" of you.

  136. Ginkgo100 says:

    Well, as a Catholic I don't want Episcopalians, schismatics, and so forth calling themselves "Catholic." So I completely understand the LDS Church not wanting to be incorrectly identified with their schismatics, either.

  137. Douglas Naaden says:

    So? They want to call themselves Christian when they are not even monotheists.
    If they get to call themselves Christian, then why should they object when fringe groups are identified as Mormons?

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