An Illustration of Why I Do Mormon Stories Podcast : Anti-LDS DVDs in Arizona

March 27, 2007
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For the last year or so, I’ve had 3 primary goals for all I do with Mormon Stories Podcast:

–More Knowledge within Mormonism
–More Understanding/Empathy/Compassion within Mormonism
–Less Pain within Mormonism

When I conduct an interview, it is always with these 3 goals in mind.

Recently I’ve had to discuss and justify (in a friendly setting) the costs/benefits of what I do (which is a very healthy exercise, I might add). Clearly I feel like what I’m/we’re trying to do is a good thing, but sometimes it’s hard to articulate.

Perhaps this recent news article I stumbled upon today helps to illustrate this a bit.

Basically, a group of anti-Mormon evangelicals has developed a DVD entitled “Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith” to convince members of the LDS Church to leave it. They are distributing 20,000 DVDs to members of the LDS Church this week, in coordination with LDS General Conference this weekend. Here is one example of how a member of the bloggernacle handled the issue. It was a very interesting reaction (collect and destroy).

Now, the evangelical group says about their approach, “We’ve found this works very well. We need to step out in faith to do it,” yet the LDS spokesman says, “It won’t phase members of our church one iota. They’re strong enough in their own beliefs. It’s water off their backs.”

Who’s right? I think that both are. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Anti-Mormonism has made a dent in Mormonism over the past few years, AND the testimonies of members are often quite resilient.

But I do think that the LDS representative is perhaps the least accurate of the two. If the DVD will not have an iota of impact on members, then why collect and destry the DVDs before members get a chance to view? What is the fear? Are our testimonies like soap bubbles (to be protected in the palms of our hands), or like jackhammers that can divide rock asunder?

Now, let me be clear: I think that what this group is trying to do is extremely lame for a number of reasons. I feel that they are inaccurate, deceptive, and most importantly, EXTREMELY hypocritical. For a reference, here is FAIR’s response to the video. I also think that their distribution method is tragically flawed — devout LDS folks are clearly just collecting the DVDs off of car windshields in church parking lots and community doorknobs, and throwing hundreds of them at a time into the trash before folks are ever available to actually view.

That said, I feel very confident that the LDS Church is operating from a position of weakness in this very important way: the evangelicals (in many instances) know more about factual LDS Church history and doctrine than the average member of the LDS Church does — and so this puts the Church in the uncomfortable and weaker position of figuring out how to deal with members being blindsided by factual stuff that they should not be learning through 3rd parties. In addition, members of the LDS Church are not generally experienced in thinking about, and even defending church history and doctrine — yet these folks clearly are.

The playing field, for the members, is simply not level. They are left to fight an uphill battle (if they want to interact with people outside of Mormonism).

Well, that’s what Mormon Stories is (or tries to be) all about. Trying to tackle these issues head-on in an honest, candid, open and intellectually accessible (non-academic) way, so that LDS Church members can learn about all this difficult stuff from fellow-members, in the context of faith — so that when the DVD arrives on their door step, they can throw it in, watch it, and have the reaction, “I know all this. This is nothing new. And here’s where they have it all wrong….”

If members were adequately prepared regarding our factual history and doctrine, and were well-versed in being able to discuss and justify it, not only would this DVD initiative be a non-event, but it likely would not have have ever been initiated. It might even become a missionary opportunity. Instead, sadly, we have to pull out the “religious discrimination and bigotry” card as our only real response, and then try to gather and throw away as many of the DVDs as possible before folks actually view them.

That’s how I see it, anyway. And that’s what Mormon Stories is trying to accomplish.

How do you see it?

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75 Responses to An Illustration of Why I Do Mormon Stories Podcast : Anti-LDS DVDs in Arizona

  1. DV
    March 27, 2007 at 11:36 am

    John,

    I started a thread on this very topic on NOM on Sunday, the day FAIR posted its response, and the day the DVDs were initially distributed.

    I agree that open discussion is the solution to the church’s issues regarding its history. Invevitably the internet will expose the authentic church history to the entire membership sooner or later. Your description of a member who is aware of these issues, popping the DVD in and watching it, critiquing its flaws and strengths, is exactly how I view myself watching it. I have not seen it yet, but probably will at some time in the future. It doesn’t affect my testimony one iota, whether I watch it or not. I agree that many of the troubling aspects of mormon history should be discussed among mormons, without the intervention of third parties who have ulterior motives.

    Thanks for your open discussion about this DVD. I disagree with throwing the DVD away, and keeping the blinders on. That is a juvenile approach to a very complex problem. Adults should face their problems squarely, and have the courage to confront their problems.

    And thanks again for the continued production of mormon stories podcasts!

  2. Equality
    March 27, 2007 at 11:59 am

    “And thanks again for the continued production of mormon stories podcasts!”

    Speaking of which, when will we see a new podcast, John? I’m jonesin’ here.

  3. March 27, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    I dunno that it is “fear” that would make someone take the DVDs and destroy them so much as being offended. It is more like someone sticking porno on all the cars than it is like an add to swtich from Target to Wal-mart…

  4. Doc
    March 27, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    John,
    “the evangelicals (in many instances) know more about factual LDS Church history and doctrine than the average member of the LDS Church does”

    They may know much the questionable, dark, or difficult to understand stuff, but really John, how much of the redeeming, faith affirming, or noble history do they know. I applaud your mission and do enjoy your sight, but too much time with this stuff can warp your sense of truth as easily as any whitewashed propaganda. That said, I know you strive for balance and I appreciate that.

  5. March 27, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    John,

    I think you might be overstating the effects of these groups, their campaigns and materials just a little bit.

    These organizations are usually run by zealous evangelicals, who, quite frankly are bigots. I know that’s a strong word, but these groups and people usually attack Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses , homosexuals and atheists with the same type of zeal.

    Their zeal, passion and hatred bleeds into the presentation of the materials they publish, be it DVD’s, pamphlets or books. The presentation of their message is less than professional with wild accusations, conclusions and judgements.

    I think that they are not taken seriously because of the over the top message and the way it is presented. Lots of CAPTIALIZED, bold and italicized passages for emphasis, just in case, I the reader miss their convicting significance. The presentation, documenation and format is hardly academic and is most often written by those without a college education. I agree that blinders are not good, but I also note that in life I have a limited amount of time to devote to reading and at some point i must use discretion on how I use that time. And while I am open to all points of view, I don’t waste my time on poorly constructed, low quality materials.

    In my line of work, people send me A LOT of conspiracy materials that are written in the same fashion. The minute I see the sloppy presenation, grammar and documentation, I simply throw them away. I feel overwhelmed as it is with the legitimate news sources I have to keep up on daily, I don’t have time for crackpots.

    I would imagine that most Church members are the same. They see the hack job presentation, the disengenous claims of love and objectivity and disregard the materials.

    The greater threat to testimonies and belief are the secular, acadmic analysis of Church history. Doc is right- the evangelicals know more obscure dark history, but they don’t have as much breadth as even the correlated spoon fed member.

    If anything, these groups strengthen the institutional Church by providing an over-the-top, tangible, disengenuous adversary. We Mormons have a wonderful persecution complex and these guys simply reaffirmm that. They might as well burn Hawns Mill to the ground again while passing out those DVD’s in the minds of many Saints.

    Anyway, just my two cents.

  6. March 27, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    As a demonstration of this principle of credibility-

    Two weeks ago I was in Vegas for NASCAR weekend and we spent Saturday Night having fun on Fremont Street (way better than the strip, by the way). There was a large crowd- thousands and thousands of people- shoulder to shoulder.

    In the crowd were some evangelicals with signs similar in size and fashion to those we see at General Conference- but they were addressed to the general public on Fremont Street engaging in rampant hedonism.

    No one took them seriously. People laughed at them. Took pictures with them while swilling their beer. I talked with one lady to get her story. She was from Northern Nevada and came down on the weekends to “preach”. “How many souls saved?” I asked. None yet. She was their as a witness against the sinners and didn’t care if any repented and came back. She was their to be a witness. She wanted people to revile and taunt her.

    The message of these guys down in Arizona is just like the woman on Fremont Street. Over the top. Tough to take seriously. And not actually for those it is aimed at, but for sanctimonious self-aggrandizement.

  7. John Dehlin
    March 27, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Matt — I definitely think offense would be a motivator, but I do think fear is also a significant one. LDS leaders generally (when I talk to them) speak of testimonies and faith as “fragile.” They are probably right. To me, the question is….how do we make people’s faith less vulnerable to this type of stuff?

    Doc — I actually think that the stuff that Evangelicals or I or even anti-Mormon sites deal with are quite basic. Think about it. Things like: First Vision (multiple versions), Translation of the Book of Mormon (stone in hat), Endowment Ceremony (Masonic link), Polygamy (the most common association w/ Mormonism) etc.

    These are not obscure, tangential topics. They strike to the core of Mormonism, and are extremely basic. Also, I don’t think that they have to be viewed as dark. If these topics are dark, then Mormonism itself is dark.

    I’m coming to not see these topics as dark any more — and I’m starting to think that as long as we see them as dark, we will never have the confidence that we should have, allowing us to really stand up and be proud of who and what we are.

  8. Equality
    March 27, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    “LDS leaders generally (when I talk to them) speak of testimonies and faith as “fragile.” They are probably right.”

    Not to threadjack, but this is an interesting point, John. I have often wondered why an LDS testimony should be so fragile. If it is based on truth, and is based on the “sure witness” of the Holy Ghost which, incidentally, is supposed to provide a more lasting impression even than seeing an angel, why would a testimony be fragile? Why would it not be able to withstand a discussion with a church critic or a visit to a non-correlated web site. I’m not trying to be snarky, really. I do wonder about this. Ordinary knowledge obtained through normal epistemological methods (i.e., thinking, observing, experimenting, and so forth) do not seem to be as fragile as “knowledge” obtained through the application of Moroni’s promise. Why is that? I know 2+2=4. I don’t need to constantly worried that I might encounter some anti-math website and suddenly lose my knowledge that 2+2=4. If the church is “true,” it seems to me, those with a testimony could fearlessly read “anti” literature and mingle with so-called apostates. That the church works so hard to keep the members from being exposed to ideas and information not run through the correlation machine, in the name of protecting fragile testimonies, makes me wonder about the solidity of the foundation of the “knowledge” that comprises a Mormon testimony.

  9. TOm
    March 27, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    John and all,
    I was going to offer something similar to Doc. I really believe there is much truth to a categorization offered by Dan Peterson (I know that is probably a bad word to many).
    LDS in church learn an A history and doctrine. It is sometimes called a “whitewashed history” and it is virtually entirely faith affirming. Truth is conveyed in this history along with some overly simplistic characterizations.
    In a video like the one to which you refer, one may learn a B history and doctrine. It would be inaccurate to call it a non-whitewashed version because in truth it is white-washed from an evangelical perspective. Truth is conveyed in this history along with some overly simplistic characterizations.
    Finally folks like Dan Vogel and Dan Peterson are familiar with a C history and doctrine. This is something it takes a lot longer to appreciate, but it includes all the truth in both A and B above.

    So I want to take exception to the idea that our critics know more about our history than we do. The truth is our critics know enough about our history to do damage to some LDS and that is why being more educated is important.

    I watched the video in question about 2 weeks ago. I was somewhat disappointed when I did not receive one on my door or car on Sunday. One of the things that I suspect most folks here can agree with is that one could produce a similar video and invite similar thinking such that those who follow along will reject non-LDS Christianity as ridiculous (even unbiblical). And to be honest atheism is regularly presented by LDS and non-LDS in a way that makes atheism seem ridiculous.

    Here is an interesting Blog by John Morhead, an evangelical Christian who I doubt embraces such simple views.
    http://johnwmorehead.blogspot.com/2007/02/jesus-christjoseph-smith-video_10.html

    Charity, TOm

  10. John Dehlin
    March 27, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    TOm,

    I totally agree. Especially with this, “…one could produce a similar video and invite similar thinking such that those who follow along will reject non-LDS Christianity as ridiculous (even unbiblical).”

    That’s why I called them hypocritical. I also think that they are supremely ineffective.

  11. TOm
    March 27, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    John,
    I just read your post. I liked the “not dark” part.

    I do not know what to think about “fragile testimonies.” I may in fact have a somewhat “fragile testimony,” but for whatever reason I have never been convinced I could explain the BOM and its production via Dan Vogel or Grant Palmer.

    It seems to me that non-LDS, some of whom likely have motives that at their core are good, have determined the most effective means of separating LDS from the CoJCoLDS. Those effective ways exist because of whitewashed history AND I believe a large number of folks with Stage 3 Faith. Part of moving past Stage 3 Faith is encountering things that challenge our presuppositions and many LDS are shielded from this. Still much of the reason testimonies are so fragile is that there is a concerted effort to find and utilize effective methods to damage them.

    Now, the Godmakers was a not too effective. My wife will never pay attention to what she thinks is “anti-Mormon” because she watched the Godmakers and thought it was ugly and dishonest. Since the Godmakers there have been things that worked and things that didn’t. Those that work are repeated, enhanced, and encouraged. So I would suggest that part of the fragility is a product of this vetting of methods.

    I would like to mention three things that I think are interesting and worth keeping in mind.

    1. Some Christians like Bart Ehrman as they move beyond stage 3 faith cease to be Christians. Some Christians like William Lane Craig as they move beyond stage 3 faith grow into later stages of faith as Christians.

    2. Anti-Catholicism is quite effective for the same reason our critics are. Recently a prominent Catholic apologist said that Protestant Bible studies were a “4-lane super highway out of the Catholic Church.” Do I believe he thought those departing did so because faith in Catholicism is ridiculous (or even fragile)? No. He believes that Protestants have developed effective methods for destroying faith in Catholicism. (I personally believe that Catholicism stands farther above Protestantism as a reasonable belief structure than Mormonism stands above Catholicism).

    3. Books like The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel have had huge impacts on Atheists, Agnostics, and non-Christians. I have read this and another book by Strobel (given to me about 1.5 years ago by a Concerned Christian who distributed videos on 25Mar BTW). Informed atheists will not “fall” for his apologetic because of the things Strobel leaves out. There is some strength in his position, but it is not near so strong as Evangelicals and former Atheists think it is.

    Is Christianity, Catholicism, and Atheism as “fragile” as some of the above 3 things might lead us to believe? I do not think so. What is effective gets repeated and certain folks move in different directions all the time.

    Charity, TOm

  12. March 27, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    I agree that videos such as this DVD is not very effective against members that are well within “the fold”. But, the people who can be affected by this DVD are potential converts and perhaps less active members.

    When I look at my own exit story and those of others in the DAMU who were well within the fold, evangelical anti- approaches had nothing to do with our leaving. For most of us, it was books written by Mormons or ex-Mormons, and original documents written by believing members.

    So, potential converts in America are likely to listen to what people like them have to say, namely evangelical Christians. Whereas active members are more likely to listen to what people like them have to say (fellow Mormons or people who used to be Mormon).

    By the way, I have so far watched about half of this video online. I think they did well by sticking to direct quotes from LDS leaders, and left the obscure ones alone like Adam-God doctrine that most Mormons would not recognize. I think really what they have been focusing on is the ways Mormons and evangelicals differ in their interpretation of biblical verses. I have not yet got to the parts about the First Vision and archaeological evidence.

  13. Proud Daughter of Eve
    March 27, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    I don’t know if it’s that testimonies are so fragile so much as people themselves tend to be fragile and full of self-doubt.

    That said, the purpose of this video, the disingenuous nature of the distribution (the “fake” LDS packaging, the leaving of it on cars parked on private property and the leaving of it on doors like junk mail) deeply offend and anger me. If I find one (doubtful because, thankfully, Canada seems to have a smaller, less vociferous population of antis) I think I shall take great pleasure in smashing it.

    You are welcome to discuss your religion with me. You are welcome to discuss my religion with me. You are not welcome to sneak around like a thief and leave your ugly thoughts of what you think I believe lying around, disguised as something coming from a source I would trust.

    If you’re not Mormon or you’ve left the church that’s your choice and your path. Please allow me the same freedom you seek for yourself, to believe as I feel directed by God.

    And at least have the strength of character to do what you feel you have to do up front. I have more respect for the guy who dressed up like a devil (red face paint, pitchfork and all) and stood outside the Hill Cumorah Pageant than I do those who seek to tear down the faith of others but evidently cannot stand up for their own.

  14. jesse farias
    March 27, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    As a former Mormon I appreciate the opportunity to evaluate a presentation that has a goal to question, critique or challenge my views pertaining to God and His plan of salvation for mankind. As a Christian I cannot ignore the fact that Jesus makes some strong and serious claims that many will find incredible and even unacceptable. In light of this reality I’m perfectly comfortable and welcome each and every opportunity to follow Peter’s advice when he taught “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have . . .” [1 Peter 3:15; NIV], such is the life of a witness for Christ.

    Even so I must confess that I have never been in favor of the sensationalistic approaches often taken by anti-Mormon groups (i.e., picketing LDS General Conferences or Temple dedication sites). This is not witnessing or evangelizing for Peter also advises us on the approach we are to take saying, “. . . But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience . . .” [1 Peter 3:15-16] This is why I could never support any so called evangelical group that takes an approach that demeans and disrespects the beliefs of another.

    Having said that- I equally disapprove of what I view as a highly subjective and emotional approach often taken by LDS missionaries who hope to proselyte many to a higher level of truth as it relates specifically to an understanding of the mission of Joseph Smith and an appreciation for the veracity of the Book of Mormon. These two topics require more than the simplistic ‘Moroni promise’ approach [see Moroni 10:3-5] LDS missionaries diligently teach all truth seekers they encounter to follow when discerning truth.

    My problem with the Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD is not the content—I believe the LDS beliefs that are challenged should be responded to and clarified—by the way I was very impressed with the quick and thorough manner in which FAIR responded to this DVD. What I don’t approve of was the secret and hush approach many evangelical Christians took to distribute it. Other than that I believe it provides an acceptable venue to launch further discussion regarding the claims of Mormonism. However, it has been my personal experience that most LDS resent having to give an explanation for their religious claims and often play the persecution and intolerance card when pressed to give an answer.

    Once again, some of the tactics used by some evangelical Christians to proselyte LDS members are terribly offensive. However, not all of them are lacking substance or academics as one of your bloggers observes. I believe a better approach to engage and proselyte Mormons can be used. I further believe the LDS member should relish the opportunity to correct the misguided and misinformed; after all it was Joseph Smith Jr., who stated that God told him to join none of the existing churches of his day “. . . For they were all wrong . . .” and further stated that Jesus told him “. . . That all their creeds were an abomination . . .” [see JS 2:19ff] hence, creating a need for a restoration of all things.

    But is it really fair to expect evangelical Christians to not challenge these claims? As I see it, just as it is not ‘non-Christian’ to believe all non-LDS churches are wrong and their creeds an abomination—I also believe it is not ‘anti-Mormon’ or ‘non-Christian’ to say the LDS church is wrong and its teachings an abomination—

    John, I thank you for providing such a venue as this where thoughts and convictions can be exchanged in a friendly, respectful and Christian manner.

  15. Beijing
    March 27, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    Is putting DVDs on cars significantly different than going door to door? Is a DVD that says “your religion is unbiblical” significantly different than a 3rd discussion that says “your religion is apostate”?

    I think the LDS are getting a taste of their own medicine here. If you’ve got tens of thousands of missionaries telling others they’d be better off as members of your religion, don’t be surprised when tens of thousands of DVDs show up trying to convert you.

  16. March 27, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    That’s a good point, Beijing. They have the right to hand out these DVDs and we have to tolerate because it is not principally different than what we do to others. But I don’t have an obligation to like it.

    By the way, it was Samuel the Utahnite, a pretty strident DAMU blogger, who first confronted the evangelical effort.

  17. Doc
    March 27, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    John,
    I am not arguing that these topics are not important or basic. Your have my full agreement there. Knowing these things is indeed a key to mature faith. But can you tell me that a mature faith is what these Evangelicals are showing?

    I am arguing that anyone can paint a picture of anything using selective facts to make it as positive or as negative as they like. I am quite certain a picture of myself with every unflattering choice, every wart, every flaw, and every bad decision I ever made, perhaps embellished with slight innuendo, could be selctively layed out before anyone on this site and lead to my villification and denunciation based entirely on the “truth”.

    You could also give a whitewashed picture of every good thing I ever did at my funeral and some people might even admire me. Is either the entire “truth”. I would argue no.

    So I am not buying that what evangelicals know about Mormonism is any more important than what they do not know. They, like so very many others in this world, Mormons included, are merely confirming their own prejudices. It is human nature. But for any of us to move beyond stage 3 thinking(thanks Tom), we have to work things out much more completely. We have to challenge our thinking and suppositions. We have to be tried and tested in the refiner’s fire.

  18. March 27, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    Well, I’ll be interested to watch, when it comes around. But I’m an insatiable gourmand.

    I do think it unfortunate that such efforts can’t be more imaginative and constructive. Isn’t there some practical way to make use of this campaign? I was thinking maybe something like distribution using a combination frisbee and DVD that the kids could toss around at the park after we watched the movie.

  19. Sam B
    March 28, 2007 at 7:31 am

    Beijing and Hellmut,
    This is fundamentally different than what Mormon missionaries do. Whether or not you like it, the missionaries are there in person to respond and be responded to, as are Jehovah’s Witnesses and even the Baptists who went to Salt Lake a number of years ago. This is fundamentally different than leaving a DVD on a car. They can do it, sure, but it speaks poorly of what they think of their message. Were they to knock on my door and offer me the DVD, I probably wouldn’t take it (with Netflix, I don’t feel like I need to own DVDs anymore), but I’d be happy to engage them in conversation, as I would any other religious proselytor who came around. But inasmuch as the distributors of the DVD don’t seem to care for conversation, I’m not interested in engaging them.

    They do, presumably, have the right to do this, but it reflects poorly on the producers and distributors.

    (I know, not every missionary listens, yada yada yada, but I stand by my generalizations.)

  20. tytus
    March 28, 2007 at 8:15 am

    For anyone interested in getting a clear picture of the nature of the issue, here’s the full video:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4749149421363242834

    It can be viewed side by side with the FAIR response, here:

    http://www.josephsmithdvd.org/

  21. Wes
    March 28, 2007 at 8:19 am

    John,

    You said this about the so-called anti-mormons – “I feel that they are inaccurate, deceptive, and most importantly, EXTREMELY hypocritical.” I think these are accurate descriptions of the Mormon church leadership. You know as well as any of us the tactics the church uses to whitewash their history. They use fear, intimidation, and outright lies to deceive people about their beliefs. And the hypocrisy of it all is when church leaders lecture us on the importance of integrity. Can you believe that? Mormon leaders lecturing anyone on integrity? Worst of all when it comes to the church are the ad hominen attacks. Instead of addressing issues, they attack the messengers personally. They question their motives. They accuse them of some great sin, etc., etc… ad naseum. You know the drill as much as any of us.

    You talk of members being “well-versed in being able to discuss and justify” mormon doctrine. How you can justify some of these doctrines? I won’t rehash them because you know them, probably better than me. John, do you realize that if you were alive in Utah in the 1850s and were doing the important work you are now doing, Brigham Young would have saw to it that your throat would be cut from ear to ear? How can these things be justified?

    I am ranting so I will stop. The people distributing these DVD are doing it because they feel they need to inform people of a dangerous organization. I previously had not heard about this DVD but now I am going to get a copy. Keep up your work – it is important.

  22. Beijing
    March 28, 2007 at 10:42 am

    Sam B, FAIR has already created a response. So there is a conversation.

    That’s funny that the main difference you see is that the LDS present their message in a more engaging manner than the evangelicals. The under-the-windshield-wiper method does come across like selling pizza or car washes. But the door-to-door method comes across like selling pest control or vacuum cleaners. That’s a superficial difference.

    The fundamental similarity is that both sides market their religion in a manner that tears the other religion down. That is tacky, and both sides are equally guilty of it.

  23. March 28, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Just because someone created this DVD and put it on my windshield doesn’t mean I have a moral obligation to watch it. It’s a piece of junk mail.

    Just because I’m a designer doesn’t mean I have a moral obligation to open mail from design (or anti-design) organizations. It’s absurd to insinuate that anyone who throws this away without watching it is morally dishonest.

  24. March 28, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Beijing,
    That’s just not true. The Church’s fundamental message is about Jesus Christ and the Church, NOT about other churches. That might not be what you and others hear, but that’s what the message is. The object of this DVD is about our church, not theirs.

  25. Equality
    March 28, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Oh, please, Rusty. beijing is right. The Church’s fundamental message is NOT merely about Christ and the LDS Church–it’s that Christ is literally the head of the LDS Church, which is, according to LDS scripture, the “only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” Other churches, according to canonized LDS scripture are all abominations. The ONLY way to the celestial kingdom, where God and Jesus dwell, is through the LDS church. Remaining in another church, even one that teaches belief in Christ, will only get you to the Terrestrial Kingdom, at best. You will be numbered with those who were blinded by the craftiness of men, etc. D&C 76 and 123. To say that the message Mormon missionaries bring is about the LDS church and not about the churches to which their investigators belong is ludicrous.

  26. John Dehlin
    March 28, 2007 at 11:08 am

    That’s true, Rusty. I wasn’t meaning to imply dishonesty. But I do still feel like a major motivator in the “collect and destroy” method is fear. I should also add that fear has a place — sometimes fear is productive, and sometimes fear is not productive.

    To illustrate — how often, when non-anti-Mormon flyers are distributed in a church parking lot, do we not only take down the one on our cars, but go around and take them off all the cars in the lot?

    I know that some of the motivation may be offense, but I still maintain that a decent part is fear — and that we ought to consider figuring out a way to strengthen the members against the potential threat — which I’m sure the brethren are thinking about. Vs. trying to hide or protect out of fear.

    We must find a way to build strength and confidence in our beliefs and culture.

  27. Equality
    March 28, 2007 at 11:21 am

    “We must find a way to build strength and confidence in our beliefs and culture.”

    Wow, John. This hits me like half of two tons of bricks. What if the beliefs and culture do not warrant strength and confidence? Not all beliefs and cultures do, after all. False beliefs, for example, ought not to be strengthened but replaced with truth. Unhealthy cultures ought not be propped up, but transformed into something healthy. To the extent that Mormon beliefs and culture are threatened, one question to ask is whether the beliefs and culture are being weakened as a direct consequence of people not defending against unwarranted attacks or whether, by contrast, the beliefs and culture are intrinsically weak and vulnerable, having an illusion of solidity that can only be maintained through denial and ignorance (i.e., refusing to confront information regarding the endemic weaknesses).

  28. March 28, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Equality,
    You’re right, when someone makes a choice, they’re also choosing to exclude everything but the choice that was made (when I choose to buy a chocolate cupcake I’m excluding all the other flavors of cupcakes available). Good catch.

  29. John Dehlin
    March 28, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Equality,

    “What if the beliefs and culture do not warrant strength and confidence?”

    My answer: you lose the beliefs and culture that do not measure up. That’s (in my opinion) what we did with polygamy, the old temple ceremony, blacks & priesthood, etc.

    For me, it’s a purification process that would be God-sanctioned.

  30. Wes
    March 28, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    John,

    What about losing the beliefs that treat women like they are second class citizens? What about the practice of covering for abusers and treating the victim like they did something wrong for coming forward? What about the practice of attacking anyone who points out truth instead of addressing issues? What about the practice of using shame and guilt to control people? I think the Church should lose some of these beliefs. Yes, some of the other issues have been discontinued but the Church still lies about their prior practice.

  31. John Dehlin
    March 28, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Yep. Let’s lose all those.

  32. Wes
    March 28, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    I am glad you agree. BTW, I listened to the DVD on google and I think it is well made and the information sounds accurate based on the totality of what I know about the mormon church.

  33. Equality
    March 28, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Rusty said: “You’re right, when someone makes a choice, they’re also choosing to exclude everything but the choice that was made (when I choose to buy a chocolate cupcake I’m excluding all the other flavors of cupcakes available). Good catch.”

    We were discussing the seller, not the buyer. So, your analogy fails for that reason. If someone sets up shop and simply sells chocolate cupcakes, the cucake vendor is not making an explicit statement concerning the relative value of vanilla, lemon, or strawberry cupcakes. But the LDS Chruch is like a chocolate cupcake vendor that makes disparaging comments about other cupcake flavors and represents to potential cupcake consumers that chocolate cupcakes are the “one true cupcake” and all other cupcakes are abominations. And, to carry the analogy back to what beijing was saying, the evangelical Christians distributing the DVDs would be like the strawberry cupcake vendor taking umbrage at the aspersions cast upon strawberry cupcakes by the chocolate cupcake vendor so the strawberry cupcake vendor strikes back by trying to persuade those who have believed on the words of the chocolate cupcake vendor that, in truth, chicolate cupcakes are not the only true cupcakes and strawberry cupcakes may, in truth, have some redeeming characterstics that at least some who have limited themselves only to chocolate cupcakes might find palatable.

  34. March 28, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Let me help you out, Rusty. We are talking about verses 18 and 19 of the Joseph Smith Story:

    18 My object in going to ainquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
    19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all awrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those bprofessors were all ccorrupt; that: “they ddraw near to me with their lips, but their ehearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the fcommandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the gpower thereof.”

  35. March 28, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Sorry, I forgot to remove the footnotes after pasting.

  36. TOm
    March 28, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    When any of Wes’s unsavory things happen in the church, I agree with John lets lose them.

    Also, while I am a fan of “one true church” in a post Vatican II Catholic sense for the CoJCoLDS, I am not a fan of “Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus” in a Pius X (pre-Vatican II) Catholic sense for the CoJCoLDS.
    I see within McConkie’s writings on “second chance” and “fair and just opportunity” and most importantly the practice of Temple ordinances for ALL non-members including Sealings and Ordinations; a need to acknowledge that Celestial glory is possible for all non-members (even apostates BTW). In light of our Temple practices (which I think are pointed to from the D&C) I believe the D&C must be read to state that those who have had a “fair and just opportunity” to accept the CoJCoLDS and instead remain in a different church will not receive a “second chance” to accept the fullness and receive Celestial glory. BUT those who are not members of the CoJCoLDS at the conclusion of their lives who have not had a “fair and just opportunity” will still be able to make post mortal decisions that result in receiving Celestial glory.
    So, I am a fan of also losing the interpretation of our beliefs that Equality does not hold, but things LDS should.

    It should also be noted that Joseph Smith claimed that God said their “CREEDS” were an abomination not “Other churches, … are all abominations.” Joseph Smith at other times was quite negative upon creeds not for what they taught, but for the limits they placed upon God and our understanding of Him.

    Another thing that I think should be noted. The Catholic Church speaks a great deal about how supernatural public revelation ended and they follow “Tradition.” This is an important Catholic belief, but even with this very high reverence for “Tradition” Catholic/Christians beliefs have developed. This development was RADICAL during the first few centuries of Christianity. The ideas and philosophies of atheism also develop (though I have studied this much less). Things like “strong atheist,” “weak atheist,” “local atheist,” and “universal atheist” are relatively new terms.

    LDS within our first century and three quarters have had some fairly radical developments as well, but not more so than what one would find in Early Church History. And LDS do not reverence “Tradition” in the same way. AND LDS believe that leaders and all members may receive revelation (though not all can direct the church through revelation). But with the presence of revelation and the absence of “Tradition” (and very little Creedal formations either) we have tremendous freedom to lose what we should lose and develop what we should develop. This will be a process.

    Now, some may object that we do not have such freedoms as individual members. There have been SOME examples of times when these freedoms were curtailed for sure. But there have been some very promising things as well. I would again suggest that folks like John can run a site like this and folks like Ostler can expound upon theological positions and folks like Nibley can rail against problems he sees in the church. These people and not their site, theology, and railing are the reason that they are met with “love, understanding, and support” where others sometimes appropriately and sometimes inappropriately (IMO) receive less understanding.

    Charity, TOm

  37. TOm
    March 28, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    That should be that Equality does not hold but thinKs (not “things”) LDS should hold.
    Sorry, TOm

  38. wes
    March 28, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Tom,

    I appreciate your progressive views and agree to a point. But I must point out that you are completely out of step with your fundamentalist brothers in SLC at the COB. Hopefully your bish is not reading your blog entries.

  39. Equality
    March 28, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    TOm,

    I am disappointed that you said nothing at all about cupcakes.

  40. March 28, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Equality,
    Our primary message is of Christ and salvation. Their primary message is that we’re wrong. That’s fine and all but their message RELIES on ours while ours doesn’t rely on theirs (if we disappear they do too, however if they disappear we continue without incident). In fact, our doctrine leaves room for them to be saved whereas theirs doesn’t leave any room for us to be saved.

    But I guess it just comes down to what you want to hear. When I hear our message I don’t hear “everyone else is wrong” like you seem to. I hear “we can be redeemed through Christ.”

  41. Equality
    March 28, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    TOm,

    I was not expressing an interpretation of what I think LDS people (including myself) SHOULD think but was rather pointing out what I think LDS scripture teaches. Presumably, those who profess belief in the divine inspiration of such scripture would say that they believe it. I actually think that, on this point, I would prefer it if LDS people did not think this way. It would be better, IMO, if they thought more like you, TOm, on this point.

    It is true that only the creeds are deeemed “abominations.” It is subject to interpreation whether the terms “creeds” refers only to official creeds or refers more generically to the beliefs espoused by members of other churches. It is also noteworthy, however, that the “professors” of the creeds are deemed “all corrupt,” that the doctrines they teach are the “commandments of men,” and that they deny the power of godliness. So, while you are technically correct that only the creeds are abominations, anyone who professes the creeds is deemed “corrupt.” I guess all of our non-Mormon Christian friends should feel gratified that we think of them merely as corrupt, rather then abominable.

  42. Equality
    March 28, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    I wish we could edit our comments here. Obviously, I meant “term ‘creeds'” rather than “terms ‘creeds'” and I meant “rather than abominable” instead of “rather then abominable.”

    Rusty,
    I’m afraid I don’t understand what you are saying. Are you saying that the group that is distributing the videos has only one purpose: to get people out of Mormonism? They don’t have an alternative religious system that they are trying to sell to those who leave the Mormon fold? So, going back to the analogy, are you saying this group is not trying to sell people on strawberry cupcakes but is only trying to get people to stop eating chocolate cupcakes?

    I am still not sure I understand how the Mormon message of a restoration of the one true church of Jesus Christ does not depend upon the idea that all other Christian churches are in a state of apostasy. I thought that was basic Mormon doctrine. Is this another example of the schism between Internet and Chapel Mormons?

  43. March 28, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Equality,
    What I’m saying is that the message of this DVD is clearly “don’t eat chocolate cupcakes” rather than “try strawberry”. It would be a completely different conversation if they were distributing DVD’s that had their own message of Christ (that assumed that we and all other religions are wrong).

    But what I really don’t understand is why do you care so much that members of our church destroy these DVD’s? Do you believe that they have a moral obligation to watch them (just because someone put them on their windshield)? What percentage of the LDS membership would have to watch the DVD for you to feel good about the situation? Is there really anything that could happen that would cause you to sit back and say, “wow, the Mormons handled that one just right. My opinion of them and the Church is better than it was before.”? And is there anything that the Church has done in the past that you indeed thought that?

  44. March 28, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    Rusty, you are attributing the best to your own group and the worst to outsiders. The evangelicals would, of course, say that their effort is about bringing you to Jesus.

    TOm, to many non-Mormons the postmortem temple ordinances are problematic. Saying, well after you are dead you will be a Mormon anyways, at least if you have any sense, is an arrogant imposition from the view point of many believers.

    That’s why we have the annually recurring uproar among Jews over temple ordinances for their relatives.

  45. March 28, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Often times in order to get someone to subscribe to your service, when that means that they have to give up their old service, it helps to show why the old service is inadequate. Mormon missionaries run into this problem all of the time. They don’t just want to bring people to Christ. If that were the case they might just share a scripture or leave a prayer upon the homes of those people who say they already know Christ or are already saved. But, they don’t, because they think they know Christ better and can bring these people even closer to Christ than they can get in their current churches. In other words, they send the message that their church/baptism/beliefs aren’t good enough. They teach about the apostasy, etc.

    Both Mormons and evangelicals want to bring people to Christ, and both think that the approach of the other group isn’t good enough. Both try to show their potential converts why their current approach isn’t good enough in the hopes that people will loosen their grip on their current religion so that they can receive the new religion.

  46. Mike
    March 28, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    I remember something like the “leave the DVD at the door” approach many years ago in one of my midwestern wards. Everyone was given (or purchased?) a VHS tape produced by the church. We were to write a brief testimony on a card, place it in a bag, and then let the missionaries distribute them. Missionaries left them with people who seemed like promising prospects, or just leave them on the doorknobs of homes where the spirit told them to.

    It was at least 20 years ago, and the details escape me now after all this time. I’d actually forgotten this lame attempt at ‘missionary work’ until hearing of the DVDs in Arizona.

  47. bronx
    March 28, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    “If members were adequately prepared regarding our factual history and doctrine, and were well-versed in being able to discuss and justify it, not only would this DVD initiative be a non-event, but it likely would not have have ever been initiated. It might even become a missionary opportunity. Instead, sadly, we have to pull out the “religious discrimination and bigotry” card as our only real response, and then try to gather and throw away as many of the DVDs as possible before folks actually view them.” – John

    I AGREE IN PART, YOU JOIN ANYTHING AND DECLARE YOURSELF A MEMBER – YOU SHOULD BE SCHOOLED IN IT’S CANON, LAWS, HISTORY, ETC… AND AT LEAST, IN PART, EDUCATED AT SOME LEVEL OF IT’S BELIEFS. THE CHURCH HAS VOLUMES OF CHURCH HISTORY READILY AVAILABLE TO ALL AND EACH SHOULD TAKE IT UPON THEMSELVES TO BE FULLY AWARE WHAT THEY ARE GETTING INTO AND HAVE STRONG CONVICTIONS BEFORE DOING SO. YOU SHOULD ABOVE ALL UNDERSTAND WHAT THE ORGANIZATION IS IN THE FIRST PLACE, AN ORGANIZATION WHERE LEADERS ARE VOTED OR ELECTED IN, OR AN ORGANIZATION WHERE THE LEADERS ARE CHOSEN BY GOD. IF YOU HAVE ‘ANY’ DOUBT IN THE ‘CHOSEN’ PART – WHY JOIN? SHAME ON ANY OF US WHO TERMINATE OUR MEMBERSHIP FROM ANY ORGANIZATION DUE TO BEING “OFFENDED” BY SOMETHING WE DIDN’T FULLY UNDERSTAND IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    THE TROUBLE WITH THESE KIND OF ATTEMPTS FROM BITTER EX-MORMONS (DISTRIBUTION OF CD’S) IS THAT IT TELLS HALF-TRUTHS, LIES, AND MISCONCEPTIONS. WE ARE FOOLED INTO BELIEVING SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN CALCULATED AND DESIGNED TO SPECIFICALLY DECEIVE US. THEY SELL IT AS “TRUE FACTUAL CHURCH HISTORY” WHEN IN ACTUALITY IS NOTHING LESS THAN ONE BITTER MAN/WOMAN’S OPINION BASED ON HIS POINT OF VIEW WHICH IS ROOTED IN ONE OR TWO BAD EXPERIENCES HE/SHE HAD WITH THE CHURCH OR ONE OF IT’S LEADERS. SO WHY CAN’T WE GO TO THE CHURCH OR LEADER INVOLVED AND ASK THAT THEY FULLY DISCLOSE WHAT HAPPENED? BECAUSE IT’S CONFIDENTIAL THAT’S WHY AND NONE OF ANYONE’S BUSINESS! THE CHURCH RECEIVES SO MANY BLACK EYES BY MAINTAINING INTEGRITY AND CONFIDENCE OF IT’S MEMBERS, EVEN IF IT MEANS THEY LOOK BAD DOING IT. I WOULD ASSURE ANYONE, IF THE CHURCH OPENED THEIR ASSUMED “SECRET” BOOK OF MEETING NOTES MOST EX-MO’S WOULD BE SO EMBARRASSED AND ASHAMED FROM THE REAL TRUTH. UNFORTUNATELY, IT WOULD ALSO EMBARRASSED AND SHAME THEIR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS – AND I BELIEVE THAT IS WHAT THE CHURCH IS MORE CONCERNED OF.

    JOHN, HOW CAN YOU DOWNPLAY THAT “RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION AND BIGOTRY” AS OUR ONLY REAL RESPONSE? WHAT OTHER RESPONSE IS THERE? HAD THE MORMON CHURCH DONE SOMETHING LIKE THIS TO ANY OTHER CHURCH DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT KIND OF MEDIA COVERAGE WOULD BE ALL OVER THIS? THERE WOULD BE SUCH AN UPROAR WORLDWIDE AND “RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION AND BIGOTRY” WOULD BE NICE WORDS COMPARED TO SOME OTHER WORDS THAT WOULD BE USED AGAINST US.

  48. Equality
    March 29, 2007 at 5:27 am

    Rusty said: “But what I really don’t understand is why do you care so much that members of our church destroy these DVD’s?”

    Equality says: I don’t. Never said I did. I do think that it’s wrong for someone to take it upon himself to take the DVD that was left on someone else’s car or doorstep. That’s a choice each recipient should be able to make for him- or herself. I don’t care if any Mormon or anyone else for that matter ever watches the DVD.

    Rusty said: “Do you believe that they have a moral obligation to watch them (just because someone put them on their windshield)? What percentage of the LDS membership would have to watch the DVD for you to feel good about the situation?”

    Equality says: See my response to first question. Anywhere from 0% to 100%, although I don’t know if I’d really feel good. I really couldn’t care less. The point of my comments was that I disagree with those who are arguing that there is a substantial difference between the religiious motivations and goals of the people distributing the DVDs and missionary-minded Mormons.

    Rusty said: “Is there really anything that could happen that would cause you to sit back and say, ‘wow, the Mormons handled that one just right. My opinion of them and the Church is better than it was before.’? And is there anything that the Church has done in the past that you indeed thought that?”

    Equality says: Sure. On my blog, http://www.equalitysblog.typepad.com, I have a section called the 96 Theses, in which I offer 48 constructive crticisms of the church along with 48 suggested ways to improve the church. So, there are at least 48 things the church could do that would cause my opinion of Mormonism to be better than it currently is. I’m sure I could think of more. As for the past, sure. I think the initial response in my area to Hurricane Katrina was a wonderful and marvelous thing. I’m not sure how this is relevant to the conversation we were having about the relative differences between the proselytizing actviities of the evangelicals and the Mormons, though.

    Peace,

    Equality

  49. TOm
    March 29, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Here goes.

    1. The idea that the D&C in no way demands that those who die as non-Mormons will not be in the Celestial kingdom is far from radical. I have radical views and this is not one. I asked our Stake Patriarch last night. As I was beginning to explain about what the D&C said, I could see him already gearing up to correct this mistaken understanding. He and I agreed. And as I said, McConkie provides the ideas for this and he is certainly not some liberal fluff mister (like me). We went on to talk about how I do not believe God has ABSOLUTE foreknowledge AND I do not believe that God has no time. I do not believe he, his wife, or the other fellow their agreed with me; but I have no fear of future reprisals for these views.
    2. On the Creeds: Joseph Smith said, “I want to come up into the presence of God, and learn all things; but the creeds set up stakes, and say, ‘Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further.’” This is in my opinion the key to how he understood their “abomination.”
    The professors of said Creeds I think can be taken in two ways. First, it is clear that Creeds served a very non-LDS purpose. Arius lost at Nicea in the first hour he was able to speak. For the rest of the council the question was not “Is Arius correct?” it was “How do we define orthodoxy so nobody can be a Arian?” These “professors” who rejected scriptural ideas only, who rejected other orthodox ideas because Arius and his party could embrace them, and who ultimately formed a Creed designed to exclude Arius and his views; were corrupt.
    Alternatively (or in addition to this), the professors of creeds in Joseph Smith’s day were significantly different than what we have today. There have been three insightful LDS writings that point to how Protestantism (and even Catholicism) have changed from the time of Joseph Smith. Most pertinent to this in my opinion is the movement from an immutable, impassible God to a God who TRULY loves. This view and the strict predestination view especially (but not exclusively) when either is misunderstood by either LDS or their adherents is most problematic IMO.

    More later perhaps.

    Charity, TOm

  50. March 29, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    One thing I wonder is, for the door hanger videos, what method did they use to determine what areas got “videoed” They got videos in the ward next to ours last sunday, apparantly, but not in our ward. (I wonder if it is an economic difference or something…)

  51. March 29, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Maybe proximity to the temple.. That ward is closer than ours…

  52. jesse farias
    March 30, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    Bronx wrote: “. . . SHAME ON ANY OF US WHO TERMINATE OUR MEMBERSHIP FROM ANY ORGANIZATION DUE TO BEING “OFFENDED” BY SOMETHING WE DIDN’T FULLY UNDERSTAND IN THE FIRST PLACE.”

    Bronx, I believe one thing you overlook is that such a full understanding [regardless of the religious organization] is acquired over time in a person’s life. For instance, the acquisition of this full understanding involves a process and a personal commitment to that process. Hence the words of Isaiah “. . . Precept upon precept; line upon line . . .” [see Isaiah 28:10; KJV] serve to encourage the one seeking a fuller understanding to remain expectant and that eventually over time enlightenment will be experienced—but not without personal investment and trust.

    I believe many who join the LDS Church do so expecting to grow in their understanding of God and a host of other life changing LDS gospel truths. They expect to be challenged and stretched as they take on this “new life”. However, what new believers in the LDS Church (seasoned ones as well) don’t expect to find in this understanding process are historical findings that compromise one’s integrity to maintain belief in what once was believed as an inspiring and exclusive doctrinal truth. And many LDS individuals experience such an encounter well after investing a lot of their heart, time, and energy to a cause they truly believed was true.

    In light of this—I don’t believe there is any “shame” in terminating ones membership from any religious institute, especially when an adherent discovers historical findings that cause one to question the claims and character of its leader. Where is the “shame” in committing to something or someone you thought to be true and inspired of God only to discover later that that which you embraced as truth was a modern, revised, and even an embellished version of the truth? Many who leave the Church do so because they are unable to reconcile the two.

    Regarding Mormonism I hear John Dehlin saying lets deal with the historical findings related to Joseph Smith in a manner that openly and honestly attempts to reconcile the two (past with the present). Doing so might absorb some of the shock and awe–

  53. Equality
    March 30, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    bronx shouted: “HAD THE MORMON CHURCH DONE SOMETHING LIKE THIS TO ANY OTHER CHURCH DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT KIND OF MEDIA COVERAGE WOULD BE ALL OVER THIS?”

    How many Book of Mormons (or is it Books of Mormon?) has the CoJCoLDS flooded the earth with?

    I mean, nobody would be offended by what it says in First Nephi 14, would they?:

    9 And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil.

    10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.

    You’re either with us or you’re with the great whore of all the earth. That’s the message in the book we are currently attempting to flood the earth with. Really, it is astonishing to see people in a church that claims to be the only one on earth authorized by God to seal things on earth and in heaven, and that has as its stated mission the conversion of every human being, living and dead, to its gospel, get so exercised when people who don’t share their views do a little “missionary work” of their own.

  54. bronx
    March 30, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Comment by Equality — March 30, 2007 # 55

    Yes, we flood the earth w/the BOM and INVITE others to receive it by “choice”.

    GOSPEL does not = CHURCH

    Many people from many denominations will be saved (and many Mormons won’t be saved) because of their faith in Christ and their submission to Him as Lord and Savior.

  55. mentalgymnast
    March 31, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    Equality (#8),

    Many members of the church haven’t received the sure witness of the HG at the point in time when they come into contact with those things that could trouble their faith. The church leaders know that, wouldn’t you think? I don’t know that the church really has any concern about those that have received the undeniable witness. But there are many that haven’t yet, including those that are investigating the church.

    I’m assuming that you’ve personally had the witness of the HG so that there really isn’t anything out there that would sway your beliefs in the core truth claims of the LDS Church. Am I mistaken in this assumption? Not everyone is in that position, however. Of course the church would want to protect, where they are able to do so, the individuals who have not yet received that divine witness to the truth.

    I think that this is also (at least partially) the motivation of those that would take the DVD’s off of the cars of the unsuspecting and chuck them.

    BTW, I’ve seen the DVD online and there are things in the production that would trouble a person who has not received a witness of the truth, or who’s faith is on stony/shallow ground for one reason or another, or who has not had/spent the time and resources to weather the storm of doubt and come out the other end of the storm with a different but stronger/resilient faith.

  56. April 1, 2007 at 4:27 am

    The normal defintiion of testimony is knowledge. You either saw the car accident or you didn’t. If you did, you know what you saw. If you didn’t, no one should be able to get you to say that you did.

    So, the question needs to be: do those with a “testimony” really have knowledge?

    Is a feeling knowledge?

    And does that knowledge really encompass everything from what happened 150+ years ago to a farm boy in upstate New York to what will happen to us all when we die?

    I can’t help asking these questions . . .

  57. Molklorist
    April 1, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Did anyone else get the sense that Ballard was responding directly to some of the accusations made against the church in this DVD?

  58. Molklorist
    April 1, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    Sorry — I should qualify what I just said. The comments Ballard made in the Sunday mormong session of conference today — they seemed to me to be a tailored response to the accusatins against the Book of Mormon in the Jesus/Joseph Smith DVD. I wish Ballard wouldn’t have said what he said to the effect of “I cannot fathom how anyone could accuse us of worshipping a differernt Jesus.” I wish he would come out and talk about the differences between traditional biblical interpretation and modern “revealed” interpretations. I think it was implied in things he said, but I wish it were more explicit so that the take-home message isn’t simeply “yes, Mormons are Christians, there are no differences.”

  59. April 1, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    I think it was implied in things he said, but I wish it were more explicit so that the take-home message isn’t simeply “yes, Mormons are Christians, there are no differences.”

    I am not sure if such a statement would have been accurate. We don’t believe in the Nicaean creed but traditional Christians do. We also don’t believe in the saving grace of the atonement. Traditional Christians do.

    There are substantive differences in the image of Christ in Mormonism and traditional Christianity. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but we should have the courage of our convictions. Otherwise the restoration becomes meaningless and our members become confused.

  60. Molklorist
    April 1, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Exactly. That’s why I wish the conference talks would focus more on those differences. As it was, I felt that the take-home message was “Mormons are Christians, there are no differences” and, like you, I don’t think that is an accurate picture. I would like to see those substantive differencs more openly discussed and justified to give us and our children a greater courage in our convictions. I found myself breaking into the middle of the talks to point things out to my kids that I wish the speakers were pointing out themselves.

    I just recently discovered this Mormon Stories blog, and I can say that the podcasts and messages I have read so far certainly made watching conference more interesting for me this year.

  61. tytus
    April 2, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Molklorist, If Ballard was responding directly to some of the accusations made against the church in the DVD, we better be willing to believe in modern revelation, because his talk was on paper, submitted, and translated weeks before the DVD hit the streets.

  62. Equality
    April 2, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    mentalgymnast (#57) said:
    “Many members of the church haven’t received the sure witness of the HG at the point in time when they come into contact with those things that could trouble their faith.”

    Equality says:
    I thought every faithful member was washed totally clean of all sin and was justified by the atonement of Christ upon baptism and, just after baptism, was given the gift of the Holy Ghost. Each week, the member with a repentant heart who takes the Sacrament is renewed in the faith. It seems to me, that most active members of the Church who say they have a tesimony of the gospel believe they have received that testimony from the Holy Ghost. And there are statements from church leaders that say the testimony that comes from the Holy Ghost is more sure and solid than knowledge obtained any other way. They are not referring to the Second Anointing or “more sure word of prophecy,” by the way. It is the ordinary rank-and-file member of the church with a testimony that I was referring to in my comment in #8. Why would their testimony be damaged by a video that contains falsehoods? If the Holy Ghost is their constant companion (and isn’t that a promise directly from God), how could such be deceived by a silly little video? If it doesn’t contain truth, that is.

    mentalgymnast said:
    “I’m assuming that you’ve personally had the witness of the HG so that there really isn’t anything out there that would sway your beliefs in the core truth claims of the LDS Church.”

    Equality says:
    The first part of this sentence is a valis assumption, at least insofar as the term “witness of the HG” is commonly understood in believing Mormon circles. The second part of your sentence is a conclusion that does not necessarily (and in this instance, in fact, does not) follow from the first.

    mentalgymnast said:
    “I think that this is also (at least partially) the motivation of those that would take the DVD’s off of the cars of the unsuspecting and chuck them.”

    Equality says:
    I agree that may be their motivation. In the words of Neil Peart, “those who know what’s best for us must rise and save us from ourselves.” I get it.

    I’ve seen the DVD also, and agree there are things that could be troubling to people who know only the correlated church version of historical events. There is also a lot of sanctimonious biblical proof-texting that I think most Mormons would be able to shrug off quite easily.

  63. Molklorist
    April 2, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    “…we better be willing to believe in modern revelation, because his talk was on paper, submitted, and translated weeks before the DVD hit the streets.”

    Choose your own response:

    a. Thank you Tytus — the proof I have been looking for for so long!!!

    b. Are you sure it’s only weeks — I’m pretty sure I heard that talk before.

    Cheers.

  64. mentalgymnast
    April 2, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    Equality (#64) says:
    I thought every faithful member was washed totally clean of all sin and was justified by the atonement of Christ upon baptism…

    MG: yes…

    …and, just after baptism, was given the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    MG: yes…

    …Each week, the member with a repentant heart who takes the Sacrament is renewed in the faith.

    MG: yes…

    …It seems to me, that most active members of the Church who say they have a tesimony of the gospel believe they have received that testimony from the Holy Ghost.

    MG: they may believe that and in some cases that may be true…

    …And there are statements from church leaders that say the testimony that comes from the Holy Ghost is more sure and solid than knowledge obtained any other way.

    MG: yes…

    …They are not referring to the Second Anointing or “more sure word of prophecy,” by the way. It is the ordinary rank-and-file member of the church with a testimony that I was referring to in my comment in #8. Why would their testimony be damaged by a video that contains falsehoods?

    MG: because they may have not received the “baptism by fire” that the scriptures refer to. Their testimony may not be based upon the sure foundation of an undeniable witness of the Spirit.

    …If the Holy Ghost is their constant companion (and isn’t that a promise directly from God), how could such be deceived by a silly little video? If it doesn’t contain truth, that is.

    MG: I don’t know that the HG is a constant companion for a majority of the members of the church. Maybe an occasional companion. Do you honestly think that the HG is constantly with all baptized members of the church simply because they’ve jumped through the hoops of receiving the ordinances? C’mon.

    So…back to your #8, I think the church knows that there are many members who could be negatively impacted by anti-mormon propaganda because they are not securely grounded in the faith.

  65. April 2, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    “So…back to your #8, I think the church knows that there are many members who could be negatively impacted by anti-mormon propaganda because they are not securely grounded in the faith.”

    Or, the church knows there are many members, regardless of their personal spiritual experiences, who may be negatively impacted by any information not strictly controlled and disseminated by the correlation committee of the church, because most people can only maintain a “testimony” if they are shielded from the truth. Perhaps. It’s just a possibility. I could be wrong.

  66. mentalgymnast
    April 2, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    Equality (#64) says:

    The first part of this sentence is a valis assumption, at least insofar as the term “witness of the HG” is commonly understood in believing Mormon circles.

    MG: I assume you meant “valid”. Then you have received the “baptism by fire”? Is the HG your constant companion? Again, do you think that the HG is a constant companion for a majority of members of the church? Whether this is or isn’t the case would play an important part and be a factor in whether or not a person could be duped by faulty or incomplete information wouldn’t it? Has this been a factor for you personally in being able to discern truth from fiction?

  67. Jessawhy
    April 3, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    My family got this DVD on their doorstep, and so did their newly converted LDS neighbors. The Mission Pres asked the missionaries to go to the new members and investigators homes and ask if they could “dispose of” the DVDs for them. So, the neighbors obediently obliged. Then later, they felt their inteligence and even their agency had been insulted so they asked my dad (Home teacher and friend) to bring his copy over and watch it with them.
    They were shocked, as both are new to the battle about Mormonism, but handled it well.
    I sent my dad the link to FAIR with the response, and he said it helped a lot, but I think the call for dispoal from the Mission Pres was crazy. People have the right to watch the DVD and learn the truth.
    I find it interesting that my biggest issue with the church right now (representation and influence of women) is completely missing from the DVD (from what I can tell from the FAIR response). Is this a similar issue in other Christian churches?
    I am also surprised that the DVD was only distributed in AZ, when it was a production made in UT.

  68. Paula
    April 3, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    According to the Deseret News, the DVD is going to be distributed in Utah, as well as other places with a high concentration of LDS folks. I think what your SP did was silly– it just called attention to the DVD. Not that it’s a great thing for a new convert to receive, but wanting to take it away just highlights it.

  69. Equality
    April 4, 2007 at 7:55 am

    “They were shocked,”

    What is it these new members were shocked at, I wonder? It wouldn’t be the historical information about Joseph’s polygamy, the multiple First Vision accounts, and the lack of archaeological support for the Book of Mormon, would it? Those things are all covered by the missionaries before a new convert is baptized, aren’t they? As the apologists like to tell us, “everyone knows” all that stuff those crazy “antis” put in their books and videos. What’s there to be shocked by? Or were they shocked that there are evangelical Christians who think Mormons worship a different Jesus or misinterpret the Bible? That’s kind of common knowledge, isn’t it?

  70. Jessawhy
    April 4, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    I don’t know why they were shocked. The only quote I heard was about how people should just preach their own faith, not go around knocking down someone elses.
    They are really new members, and I don’t know the missionaries did or did not cover with them by way of preventatively airing out the Mormon closet. My guess is very little, which is why the Mission Pres asked for all the DVDs to be disposed of.

  71. Mayan Elephant
    April 5, 2007 at 2:07 am

    i hesitate to say this on a friendly blog, but, here goes, is it just me, or are the missionaries being used as tools/pawns in this game?

    with less media hype at the time of my mission, i didnt have to do things like this. i have huge sympathy for the missionaries that are charged with such an assigment. all i had to do was deliver a families are forever video to a few people. this seems tougher to pull off.

    as a side note, i saw our local missionaries in an extended conversation with a homeless person today. bad memories. really bad memories.

  72. Steve
    April 10, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    As a former LDS person and now an Evangelical Christian. I do not think the point of the DVD is to get Mormons to leave the LDS organization. The thrust of the issue is about coming to know the true Jesus Christ. And what the true teaching of Jesus Christ are all about.

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