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Unorthodox Doctrinal Discussion orthodox and unorthodox Christians only - A forum to discuss/debate theological doctrines not accepted by mainstream evangelical Christianity (eg. full preterism, unitarianism).

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Old 15th May 2012, 01:44 AM
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Evangelicals talking to Mormons

This weekend, an article appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune titled, New guide advises Evangelicals on how to talk to Mormons. The article was about a new book written by Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Back in 2004, Richard Mouw introduced Ravi Zacharius, who spoke at the Salt Lake Tabernacle. His introduction included an apology on the behalf of Evangelicals. From the article:
"Weíve often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of members of the LDS faith," Mouw said that Sunday night. "Itís a terrible thing to bear false witness."
The article points out that a number of his colleagues and fellow believers were outraged at his words.

I suggest for anyone wanting to discuss this article to read it in entirety: New guide advises Evangelicals on how to talk to Mormons | The Salt Lake Tribune

Here is an excerpt that I think contains the crux of the article.


In the book, Mouw argues that understanding Mormonism isnít just about being nice, itís a Christian mandate.

Too often, Evangelicals pick up little-taught LDS beliefs ó such as humans becoming gods or having their own planets ó and put them at the center of Mormon theology, rather than at the periphery.

"If in our attempts to defeat them we play fast and loose with the truth by attributing to them things they donít in fact teach," Mouw writes, "then we have become false teachers: teachers of untruths."

Mouw spells out the doctrinal differences between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and historical Christian faiths: the nature of God and Jesus, the nature of the Trinity, nonbiblical Mormon scriptures and the rejection of the creeds. He rejects these positions.

Yet the Fuller president also grapples with what to think about Mormon founder Joseph Smith.

Evangelicals generally view Smith as either a lunatic or a liar, but neither category adequately explains to Mouw how Smith could launch a movement that produced so many good people who share many of his values. The same argument could be applied to Muhammad and Islam.

Mouw arrives at what could be seen by many Evangelicals as a radical idea: He recognizes "the positive workings of God beyond the borders of orthodox Christiainity."

Such respect, he believes, is the beginning of a "careful engagement with other religious perspectives."
I thought that this might lead to an interesting discussion. My hope is that rather than get bogged down in arguing about whether or not a central teaching of Mormonism is that humans may become gods and get their own planets, that we focus on several other ideas presented in the article. One idea from the article is in Mouw's words. "If in our attempts to defeat them we play fast and loose with the truth by attributing to them things they donít in fact teach," Mouw writes, "then we have become false teachers: teachers of untruths." The other idea that I see in the article that I thought might be worth discussing is the idea of seeing "the positive workings of God beyond the borders of orthodox Christiainity."
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Old 15th May 2012, 02:42 AM
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I'm all for people being reasonable. However I have to wonder if this new-found rationality is coming out about just b/c social conservatives are being forced to swallow their pride and vote for a Mormon.
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Old 15th May 2012, 06:41 AM
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One of the things we need to realise is that unlike evangelicalism which is a communion based on a common theology Mormonism is a cult that has specific beliefs they have an organisation that propagates these beliefs, and you know to say that Mormons have done away with their doctrine of exaltation (that is "As God is Man may become.") is just incorrect, the entirety of Mormon theology is centred on exaltation and eternal progression. I'm not sure Mouw has his facts correct.
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Old 15th May 2012, 07:09 AM
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Excellent OP

... that we focus on several other ideas presented in the article. One idea from the article is in Mouw's words. "If in our attempts to defeat them we play fast and loose with the truth by attributing to them things they donít in fact teach," Mouw writes, "then we have become false teachers: teachers of untruths."

I understand your point. I also understand that it is important to engage in the entirety of LDS beliefs in both past in present to gain an accurate perspective. In other words, one can't "cherry-pick" or "sweep under the rug" theology or ideology from either perspective.


The other idea that I see in the article that I thought might be worth discussing is the idea of seeing "the positive workings of God beyond the borders of orthodox Christiainity."

I also understand the point made here. IMO I don't feel it is proper for me to limit the realm in which God works. I also believe that God doesn't call on us to be "good" or "positive" (IMO man-made social constructs that are entirely subjective) but to follow His commands and truths.
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Old 15th May 2012, 08:03 AM
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I just watch and see which one hates.
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Old 15th May 2012, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by skylark1 View Post
This weekend, an article appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune titled, New guide advises Evangelicals on how to talk to Mormons. The article was about a new book written by Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Back in 2004, Richard Mouw introduced Ravi Zacharius, who spoke at the Salt Lake Tabernacle. His introduction included an apology on the behalf of Evangelicals. From the article:
"Weíve often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of members of the LDS faith," Mouw said that Sunday night. "Itís a terrible thing to bear false witness."
The article points out that a number of his colleagues and fellow believers were outraged at his words.

I suggest for anyone wanting to discuss this article to read it in entirety: New guide advises Evangelicals on how to talk to Mormons | The Salt Lake Tribune

Here is an excerpt that I think contains the crux of the article.


In the book, Mouw argues that understanding Mormonism isnít just about being nice, itís a Christian mandate.

Too often, Evangelicals pick up little-taught LDS beliefs ó such as humans becoming gods or having their own planets ó and put them at the center of Mormon theology, rather than at the periphery.

"If in our attempts to defeat them we play fast and loose with the truth by attributing to them things they donít in fact teach," Mouw writes, "then we have become false teachers: teachers of untruths."

Mouw spells out the doctrinal differences between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and historical Christian faiths: the nature of God and Jesus, the nature of the Trinity, nonbiblical Mormon scriptures and the rejection of the creeds. He rejects these positions.

Yet the Fuller president also grapples with what to think about Mormon founder Joseph Smith.

Evangelicals generally view Smith as either a lunatic or a liar, but neither category adequately explains to Mouw how Smith could launch a movement that produced so many good people who share many of his values. The same argument could be applied to Muhammad and Islam.

Mouw arrives at what could be seen by many Evangelicals as a radical idea: He recognizes "the positive workings of God beyond the borders of orthodox Christiainity."

Such respect, he believes, is the beginning of a "careful engagement with other religious perspectives."
I thought that this might lead to an interesting discussion. My hope is that rather than get bogged down in arguing about whether or not a central teaching of Mormonism is that humans may become gods and get their own planets, that we focus on several other ideas presented in the article. One idea from the article is in Mouw's words. "If in our attempts to defeat them we play fast and loose with the truth by attributing to them things they donít in fact teach," Mouw writes, "then we have become false teachers: teachers of untruths." The other idea that I see in the article that I thought might be worth discussing is the idea of seeing "the positive workings of God beyond the borders of orthodox Christiainity."
A lot of people fairly represent the truth and are accused of not doing so. Mr. Mouw is human and he was never LDS; he may not know as much about Mormonism as he thinks he knows. I do not attempt to defeat Mormons nor do I encourage anyone else to do that. My concern is with presenting truth.


My question is, "Do the following two verses matter to some Christians and not to others?"

8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1

Yes, God works outside Christianity when He regenerates sinners! And He brings His purposes to pass no matter what Satan does.


Titus
3For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
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Old 15th May 2012, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by skylark1 View Post
Too often, Evangelicals pick up little-taught LDS beliefs ó such as humans becoming gods or having their own planets ó and put them at the center of Mormon theology, rather than at the periphery.
It is the center of Mormon theology. It is the purpose of LDS life. It is not something peripheral.


To follow Christ is to become more like Him. It is to learn from His character. The Savior invites us to learn His gospel by living His teachings. Ancient and modern prophets described it with three words: ďKeep the commandmentsĒónothing more, nothing less.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency
From an October 2005 general conference address.
Becoming Like Jesus Christ - Liahona January 2009 - liahona

"You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power."
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 346-47

" 'It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God,' the inspired word continues, 'and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did.' The Father is a glorified, perfected, resurrected, exalted man who worked out his salvation by obedience to the same laws he has given to us so that we may do the same." (LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.64, LDS Collectors Library '97 CD-ROM)

LDS Scripture, Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1
39 For behold, this is my work and my gloryóto bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Eternal life in Mormonism is becoming a God.


Doctrine and Covenants 132
"1Ė6, Exaltation is gained through the new and everlasting covenant; 7Ė14, The terms and conditions of that covenant are set forth; 15Ė20, Celestial marriage and a continuation of the family unit enable men to become gods;"
Doctrine and Covenants 132¬[bless and do not curse]

"The family is the most important organization in time or in eternity. Our purpose in life is to create for ourselves eternal family units."
Joseph Fielding Smith, in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, p. 13; or Ensign, July 1972, p. 27


"The most important things that any member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ever does in this world are: 1. To marry the right person, in the right place, by the right authority; and 2. To keep the covenant made in connection with this holy and perfect order of matrimony -- thus assuring the obedient persons of an inheritance of exaltation in the celestial kingdom." Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 117-118
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Old 15th May 2012, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Xpistis sopheiaX View Post
I'm all for people being reasonable. However I have to wonder if this new-found rationality is coming out about just b/c social conservatives are being forced to swallow their pride and vote for a Mormon.
I think that Dr. Mouw's comments sound very similar to what he said when he introduced Ravi Zacharius at the Salt Lake Tabernacle in 2004. Then, he said that he had been involved in discussions with LDS for the past half dozen years.
"On a personal level, over the past half-dozen years I have been a member of a small group of evangelical scholars who have been engaged in lengthy closed-door discussions about spiritual and theological matters with a small group of our LDS counterparts."

Text of Dr. Mouw's introduction
That would mean that he has been involved in these discussions since 1998, or for the past 14 years. So, I do not think that in his case that the quoted comments are applicable concerning a new found rationality coming about due to a likely Mormon presidential candidate. I noticed that several other papers elsewhere in the country reprinted this article. For them, and for their readership, I suspect that the interest in the story is larger due to Mitt Romney's candidacy.
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George MacDonald

Last edited by skylark1; 15th May 2012 at 06:27 PM. Reason: fix link
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Old 15th May 2012, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by progmonk View Post
One of the things we need to realise is that unlike evangelicalism which is a communion based on a common theology Mormonism is a cult that has specific beliefs they have an organisation that propagates these beliefs, and you know to say that Mormons have done away with their doctrine of exaltation (that is "As God is Man may become.") is just incorrect, the entirety of Mormon theology is centred on exaltation and eternal progression. I'm not sure Mouw has his facts correct.
I also questioned the idea of it being a little taught LDS belief that men may becomes gods. That is why I asked in the OP that we not focus on this - because I thought that it might take over this thread. I think that it is the caricature that is presented in sources such as the Godmakers to which LDS might object. I wouldn't call it a peripheral teaching, but at the same time I don't think that LDS spend their time teaching or talking about some day when they have their own planet, or plotting to take over God's rightful place. I came across a blog psot by Juanita Brooks (who is LDS, but admits to being an unorthodox LDS) that I think is worth reading and offers some insight. Here is an excerpt, but it is best to read the whole post.
So, yes, as I understand it, it is a traditional Mormon teaching that human beings can become gods, but in the same spirit that children can grow up and become parents without displacing the priority and sovereignty of their own parents.

This doctrine is viewed as heresy by the rest of the Christian world. Itís also one of the boldest claims Mormon doctrine makes, so it has been the subject of a great deal of sensationalism. Anti-Mormon ministries that were most active in the 1980s (but continue to this day) love to sensationalize this idea. The most egregious of the anti-Mormon movies, The Godmakers, focused in on this idea, helping in part to promote the cartoonish sensationalization that Mormons believe in getting our own planets, which Iíve never heard anyone discuss seriously.

Perhaps in response to this sensationalization, LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley appeared to distance himself and the Church from this doctrine in interviews given in 1997 and 1998. This and evidence that the concept of godhood is less frequently addressed in talks by LDS Church leaders than it was a few decades ago have led Mormonismís most perceptive observers to wonder if the doctrine is being deemphasized.

Do Mormons believe people can become gods? | Ask Mormon Girl
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There exists a mystery in the world, and in all the looks of itóa mystery because of a meaning. There is a jubilance in every sunrise, a sober sadness in every sunset. There is a whispering of strange secrets in the wind of twilight and an unknown bliss in the song of the lark.

George MacDonald
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Old 15th May 2012, 06:14 PM
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I also thought that the following from the article was worth discussing:
Morehead spends a lot of his time doing just what Mouw recommends: He talks to Mormons, a lot of them. And he believes the reason many Evangelicals avoid talking with Mormons is "fear."

These Christians, he says, are afraid any discussions between the two groups will somehow compromise their own Christian faith, lend legitimacy to a group they believe is a cult or even persuade them to convert. Besides, Morehead says, many Evangelicals believe there is nothing of religious value in Mormon teachings.

Itís easier for Evangelicals to take a defensive posture, he says, arguing that their responsibility is to convert Mormons, not listen to them.

Sometimes it does seem to me in reading this board, as well as other sites online, that Christians are afraid of finding anything good concerning Mormonism. Instead there seems to be a constant tension and hostility that exists that make good faith dialogue nearly impossible. FWIW, I don't think that good faith dialogue means that one need agree with one another.
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There exists a mystery in the world, and in all the looks of itóa mystery because of a meaning. There is a jubilance in every sunrise, a sober sadness in every sunset. There is a whispering of strange secrets in the wind of twilight and an unknown bliss in the song of the lark.

George MacDonald
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