A Mormon-Evangelical Rapprochement?

November 24, 2004 | 193 comments
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I’m a little behind — I just saw this fascinating article (via Speak Up For Truth). The title of the story alone (on BeliefNet) speaks volumes: “‘We Have Sinned Against You’: A leading evangelical speaks at the Mormon Tabernacle and says evangelicals have spread lies about LDS beliefs.”

The article describes a November 14 meeting called “An Evening of Friendship” which focused on shared beliefs among church members and Evangelical Christians. Speakers included the well-known Christian philosopher Ravi Zacharias. The part which may have gotten the most attention, however, was the brief talk by Fuller Theological Seminary president Richard J. Mouw, where he apologized for the tendency of some Evangelicals to spread false information about the church. At one point, Dr. Mouw said:

I am now convinced that we evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community. Indeed, let me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: we have sinned against you. The God of the Scriptures makes it clear that it is a terrible thing to bear false witness against our neighbors, and we have been guilty of that sort of transgression in things we have said about you. We have told you what you believe without making a sincere effort first of all to ask you what you believe.

What an unusual and welcome statement! And it is certainly a pleasant surprise — a story in the Deseret News (available here) notes reactions among church members.

I’ve gone on the record previously — a year ago today, in fact — to express my doubts about any Mormon-Evangelical alliance. My trepidation was and is largely based on the track record of bad blood between Mormons and Evangelicals. I continue to have doubts about the possibility of an alliance, and I don’t think that one statement by one Evangelical leader is enough to balance the lengthy and problematic history. But if that statement, combined with other recent shifts like the publication of How Wide The Divide, really expresses a new outlook — and it will be interesting to see how Dr. Mouw’s statement is received in the Evangelical community — then perhaps we can hold out hope for a Mormon-Evangelical rapprochement at some foreseeable future date.

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193 Responses to A Mormon-Evangelical Rapprochement?

  1. Adam Greenwood on November 24, 2004 at 4:02 pm

    I too am cheered.

    I think, Kaimi W., that you should also consider as data points the success of groups like Evangelicals and Catholics Together. The evangelical animosity towards Catholics has a deeper and longer pedigree than their hostility to us. But it is now evaporating.

  2. Clark on November 24, 2004 at 4:08 pm

    It might be that there is a perception that secularism (meaning areligosity) is a greater threat and that what binds us in common values and common beliefs is much more than what divides us.

  3. J. Stapley on November 24, 2004 at 4:14 pm

    The whole, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” thing, eh.

  4. Wilfried on November 24, 2004 at 4:36 pm

    We will need to see much much more before it can become convincing. I speak from the viewpoint of Mormons in international perspective. Yes, it is gratifying to see representatives of other religions respect us here in the heart of Mormondom. Where we invite them to speak in the Tabernacle and the relation is totally different. But when I think of the way nearly all religious leaders consider and treat Mormonism in the rest of the world…

    Areligiosity as a greater threat? Again, from an international perspective (and from my experience), areligiosity (as a movement on the social level) has never been a real threat to us, on the contrary. Areligiosity is often the consequence of deep disappointment with long established religions, esp. Catholicism. We sometimes forget that in the 18th century secularizing trends were less against religion as such than against that one particular Church and its abuses since centuries. Fresh alternatives to religion were welcomed by secular thinkers. Even today as a Mormon I experience much more understanding and sympathy from a-religious persons than from members of established churches.

    And a last but more delicate thought: diplomatic openings from the other side can also be a way to oblige one to tone down idiosyncrasies and weaken certain “offending” doctrines. How far can we go for the sake of being recognized and appreciated? Binding with others and Ecumenism is also a way to lose oneself.

  5. Keith on November 24, 2004 at 4:37 pm

    Kaimi,

    I think there really is a possibility for at least a more peaceful coexistence, and in some areas and in some endeavors for genuine friendship. Mouw’s comments are typical of many evangelicals (though not all) recently. Only a few years ago the Rock Canyon Assembly of God (in Provo) issued a public repentance/apology similar to Mouw’s. Some time after this (and unrelated to their statement) the sign outside their church was vandalized. Saints in the area (on their own and also at the request of the local Stake President) helped pay for repairs.

    Bob Millet and others (under the auspices of the Richard L. Evans Chair of Christian Understanding) have done a great deal. So I’m a little more hopeful.

    Of course, I am taken back sometimes at the intensity of the bad feelings some express. One thing it makes me want to do is try to identify with those who feel this way and find out what causes it. Not simply the reasons Evangelicals will say we aren’t Christians (though this is some of it), but also why there is this tradition or why they feel the need to attack so vehemently.

    When I teach my world religions course (and others, of course) I make a real effort to get folks to see where we might be doing similar things to those of other faiths in what we say and do and in our general attitude. I always like to cite President Hinckley when he says “We are greatly misunderstood and I fear much of it is of our own making” (April Conference 2000).

    I understand your cautious optimism. But I do think things are getting better.

  6. Mephibosheth on November 24, 2004 at 4:51 pm

    Mouw’s comments spark an evangelical backlash:

    http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=19612

  7. Clark on November 24, 2004 at 5:01 pm

    I suspect that even if many Evangelicals and Mormons are seeing each other in a better light, and being a little more polite about our theological differences, there are many who are not. There’s still a lot of people who’ve been exposed to the shrill propaganda of anti-Mormon materials. Some of that stuff really is hateful and doesn’t just portray us as deluded or mistaken but as outright threats to civilization. I always joke about The Godmakers and the conspiracy portrayed in it of Mormons taking over government. But all jokes aside, there are people who believe that stuff, who believe we are following the devil, and so forth.

    I suspect we’ll be able to dialog with more thoughtful educated Evangelicals. But there are a lot of people out there who don’t exactly fit that description.

  8. Adam Greenwood on November 24, 2004 at 5:22 pm

    I am disgusted (I choose that word advisedly) that when prominent evangelicals try to distance themselves from the bigotry they’ve shown earlier our response is to go find other evangelicals who help us keep our victims’ mentality. It’s bad enough that his own people reject their efforts. Must we too?

  9. Clark on November 24, 2004 at 5:35 pm

    Adam, I don’t think recognizing that there are people who don’t like us somehow is maintaining a victim’s mentality. But let’s not be pollyannas with rose colored glasses on and think there is somehow a new era and everyone are friends. I wish it was like that, but there still are big divisions.

    Personally I think both sides are maturing intellectually. We don’t define ourselves in terms of what we are not. We also don’t feel the need to play up the apostasy and put down other religions to feel good in our religion. Compare this to even a decade or two ago. (Although there I think the victims of Mormon hyperbole were Catholics more than Protestants)

  10. Kaimi on November 24, 2004 at 5:47 pm

    It is an interesting data point that there is an apparent backlash that can be found in many places as well:

    http://www.aomin.org/Mouw1.html
    http://www.baptistboard.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi/topic/1/2563.html?
    http://www.rightnation.us/forums/index.php?showtopic=60608&st=20

    I don’t think that this necessarily constitutes continuing to believe that we’re victims; it does go the the question of whether Dr. Muow’s statements were representative or outlier.

  11. Adam Greenwood on November 24, 2004 at 6:23 pm

    It depends on the occasion. Being aware that some evangelicals don’t like us is fine. Trying to raise awareness of it in response to an Evangelical attempt to put aside differences is not. It’s a small thing to do.

  12. Matt Evans on November 24, 2004 at 6:26 pm

    Adam,

    We’re not victims and I don’t believe any of us desire to foster a victim’s mentality. It’s important to me, however, to hear the word on the street and not limit my information to the mouths of diplomats. I, for one, am interested to know how Mouw’s comments are received by evangelicals and will check out the bulletin boards where they’re being discussed.

    [NOTE: I wrote this right after Adam's comment posted, then left to fix my kids dinner. I came back and clicked "submit," only to find intervening comments.]

  13. john fowles on November 24, 2004 at 6:58 pm

    My wife and I attended this event. Mouw’s presentation was the highlight of the evening, to my mind. Still I tend to agree with both Wilfried and Matt (sorry Adam). It doesn’t matter much if Mouw makes such a grand gesture if Prestonwood Baptist Church (and all the other baptist churches in Dallas) is still showing The Godmakers on Wednesday night to its youth group at least once a semester. In spite of the actual practice of the evangelicals, however, it was very nice to hear this from Mouw.

    Adam, if Latter-day Saints harbor a victim mentality, then it is for very good reason.

    As for Ravi Zacharias’s presentation, I was a little disappointed. It was a hellfire-and-damnation type of presentation with fast talking, lots of yelling and dramatic gestures. It made me realize that, yes, this is his profession, to make presentations like this. After the very conciliatory words of Mouw, one of the first things that Zacharias said was that significant differences remain in doctrine that can’t be ignored, then laid into a long exposition on how man is fundamentally evil (has an “evil heart”), complete with graphic examples of the rape of an eighteen-month-old baby in some Asian city. He stated, if you will just read the Book of John, you will understand this teaching of Jesus (i.e. that man is fundamentally evil) and that, because of this truth, only Christ’s grace can save us and nothing we can do can have any effect on our salvation. In other words, he gave a presentation on Jesus Christ but did so in a way to tell all of us Mormons that we weren’t Christians (this is reading between the lines of his talk). In spite of that underlying message, though, I still think that it was positive for the Church to invite him, if for no other reason that to show that we are willing to hear him out on his views of Jesus Christ and the Atonement. The question that remained in my head as I left (particularly in light of his assertion that “if you would only read the book of John” you would understand these things) was–has he read the BoM? (There is, after all, much to learn about the Atonement in its pages.) Whereas the majority of Latter-day Saints have indeed read the Book of John (and find no contradiction between its doctrines and teachings and LDS faith), I wonder if Zacharias or his colleagues have ever actually read the whole BoM.

  14. john fowles on November 24, 2004 at 7:07 pm

    Also, Zacharias has written the preface to a book that defines the Church as a cult and has said himself that the Church is a cult. That type of thing can’t be ignored or forgetten merely because he gets some time in the tabernacle.

  15. whatever on November 24, 2004 at 7:25 pm

    i was raised a southern baptist. one sunday a year was devoted to “cults” where the lessons in sunday schools across the convention studied this topic. every single year, 90%, if not all of the attention, focused on mormonism. i wouldn’t be surprised if that continues to be the case.

    from what i can tell, mouw did not say that mormonism is not a cult, nor did he say that evangelicals are wrong about their criticisms of mormonism. rather he apologized that some of those criticisms of mormonism told by evangelicals have included misrepresentations.

    i do, however, find it interesting how many comments above deal with whether or not evangelicals “like” mormons. i would think that most people could see that “liking” each other really has little to do with the issue at hand.

  16. Ben Huff on November 24, 2004 at 7:26 pm

    I think it’s really wonderful that Mouw has shown the courage to acknowledge the problems in relations between Mormons and evangelicals. If there is backlash, it is a testimony to the importance of Mouw’s very public statement — a testimony of its power to build real friendship. I don’t think it’s inappropriate to recognize that there will always be some uneasiness in the friendship. Neither side should lose track of the distinction between what we agree on and what we disagree on. However, Mouw used Joseph Smith’s own words to speak of Christ, thus (it seems to me) rejecting the influential idea that we worship a different Jesus. We don’t worship a different Jesus; we worship the same Jesus in a different way. Mouw has announced that the time for such misrepresentation has past, and I think he is right, and I think there really is a broad shift in community sentiment and perception, a shift that he represented in what he said.

    Mouw chose words from Joseph, of course, that aligned particularly closely with the language of contemporary evangelical discussions of salvation and grace. Clearly he wants to emphasize points of Mormon teaching that align with evangelical teaching, and we need to be careful that while accepting the friendship of Mouw and others of similar sentiment, we don’t distort our teachings. Mouw says (about half-way down), “I do believe that there are elements in Mormon thought that if emphasized, while de-emphasizing other element[s], could constitute a message within Mormonism of salvation by grace alone through the blood of Jesus Christ . . . I will work to promote that cause.”

    It is only Mouw’s duty as a friend to encourage us to believe what he regards as the saving truth, and to let go of error. It should be one of our goals in friendship to explain to him that we already believe in salvation by grace, and hence do not need to change our beliefs, but actually have a more correct understanding of grace which we would be glad to see him take up with us. I think the Book of Mormon’s unique account of the change of heart (perhaps the primary work of grace) that leads to a new life in Christ (that is, salvation) is its most exciting teaching.

  17. J. Stapley on November 24, 2004 at 8:32 pm

    I come to this topic from a very personal perspective. I went to high school in Missouri, home of the Assembly of God church. In fact, my best friend in high school was a member of it. I have one major criticism of the teachings of evangelicals about Mormons/Catholics/Homosexuals: They promote hatred and prejudice.

    I know from conversation that my friend’s parents actively worried that I would somehow corrupt their son. (this, in spite of an attempted adherence to WoW, Chastity, etc., which was in harmony with their faith but not a common course of action in rural MO). Years after we graduated, he confessed to being taught to hate. He thought I was an anomaly (for being likeable!).

    There can never be an excuse for this. But there are benefits – a phrase from conversations with my Midwestern catholic or gay acquaintances often sound like, “Oh, they hate us too�. There is a shared feeling of community that arises in mutual persecution. We might as well be friends, if we are all going to hell together!

  18. Philocrites on November 24, 2004 at 8:46 pm

    I approach the question of Mormon-Evangelical relations from an odd perspective: I think about whether I would rather be a religious minority in a Mormon-dominated society or in an Evangelical-dominated society. (Few of you are likely to ever confront the strange dilemma of being a Mormon in a Unitarian-dominated society, unless you attend Harvard Divinity School.) And on this unhappy question, I much prefer the thought of Mormon hegemony. Mormon culture can be bland, but many, many Evangelicals just come across as mean. (Being a religious liberal in Utah is one thing, but I hear it’s just plain miserable in the Bible belt.)

    I figure that either the Mormons, the Assemblies of God, or the megachurch Evangelicals (or all of ‘em!) will grow rapidly enough in the next few decades to leave a pretty big and unmistakable mark on American culture. I’m not personally thrilled about the rates of growth, but if I had to hope that one of your groups flourished at the expense of another, I’d pick Mormonism in an instant.

    My LDS sister and her once-Evangelical boyfriend flew to Salt Lake from Chicago for the Mouw-Zacharias event at the Tabernacle, but I haven’t yet heard their reactions.

  19. ronin on November 24, 2004 at 9:19 pm

    I have on occasion, with a close friend, attended a local, non-denominational, Evangelical Church. While even i n very liberal Ann Arbor, Mi, I still felt the sting of the words, when I was told, by some well-meaning folks in that Congregation, that I was the member of an “evil, God-less cult”, and that our Prophet Joseph Smith was —-(fill in the blanks here).
    I think that a lot of folks, or should I say, the majority of folks in Evangelical congregations, probably never have interacted with a LDs person, let aside having read the BOM, and hence, they tend to believe whatever untruths that are fed to them by their Church leaders and opinionmakers.

  20. Matt Evans on November 24, 2004 at 9:36 pm

    I just read all of the comments from two of the threads Kaimi linked to. No one addressed Mouw’s point at all. Mouw apologized for evangelicals who misrepresented Mormon beliefs, but the participants apparently thought he apologized for disagreeing with Mormon beliefs. One great participant was decidedly protective of Mormon beliefs, repeatedly taking people to task for misrepresenting Mormon positions. Sadly, she was pestered off the board. The thread ends with this exchange:

    Donna: Glad you thought of that Elnora, I completely missed it.

    Elnora: I read several books including The God Makers (A shocking Expose’ of what the Mormon Church really believes), written in the 80′s. One of the co-authors was a member of the Mormon church for 19 years. It has a lot of information about their history, beliefs and teaching with footnotes to sources.

    Donna: I’ve seen that book and wondered if it were any good. I’d like to read that. I haven’t actually read up on mormons till now, just saw the video series at church.

    Elnora: Donna the book is old but it has a lot of good information in it. You may be able to get one cheap at a used bookstore.

    May God bless the ministry of Rev. Mouw.

  21. Rob Briggs on November 24, 2004 at 10:22 pm

    [Thot bubble: Careful now, careful, don't say anything you'll have to take back. These airwaves are monitored by the FCC . . . ]

    Yes, I sincerely wish that God bless Doctors Mouw & Millet in their efforts.

    As for the @#$*-for-brains Evangelicals who are contra them, for all I care they can FO!

    [Thot bubble: Oh, yes, that was good; you kept it all together & didn't say anything you'll regret . . . ]

    Sorry, folks, but there’s a part of me that does not forget the evangelical hate campaigns of the 19th century which nearly drove us out of existence nor the fact that the internet is full of the same stuff here in the 21st.

  22. GM Jarrard on November 25, 2004 at 12:43 am

    The basic problem with the Evangelicals has to do with priestcraft — the paid ministry. Read Acts 19. When Paul and his companion arrived in Corinth he interfered with the idol-making industry of a Greek named Demetrius, a silversmith. A returned missionary in our ward labored in the Independence, Mo. area and reported of an elegant area in KC where the nicest homes were owned by tele-evangelists. The growth of the Church attacks them where it hurts — in the pocketbook. No amount of talk or understanding will change that fact of life. As the Clintons are wont to say, “it’s the economy, stupid.

  23. Adam Greenwood on November 25, 2004 at 1:04 am

    No, that’s just not true of all Evangelicals as a class (most of whom are not paid ministers, obviously) and I refuse to believe that it’s also true of every professional evangelical minister. We complain about Evangelical prejudice and stereotypes but, lo, in our own eye . . .

  24. Jonathan Green on November 25, 2004 at 1:14 am

    President Hinckley mentioned the Evangelical meeting that was held in the tabernacle in his talk on Sunday. The SC and GA stakes held a satellite-coordinated regional conference, with the prophet giving the final talk. Pres. Hinckley was very appreciative of the apology that had been offered and commended people on all sides for working to mend rifts. Then he mentioned one of the Evangelical preachers, saying that he had spoken very eloquently about Christ, but that the preacher did not have a good understanding of the Atonement.

    That seems to me to sum up the situation pretty well: we want cordial relations with everyone, but there remain some fundamental differences between Mormons and Evangelicals with regards to the very basics.

    Adam, it’s clear from a number of your comments made on several threads that you are sympathetic to the Evangelicals. If you haven’t already done so, you should consider a post sometime on what resonates with you about them. I have different sympathies, but I would like to read your explanation.

    Wilfried, I have to disagree with you concerning the relative susceptability of areligious and established religious societies to the gospel. We might meet resistance or even a bit of persecution from the state church in some places, but our message is more likely to be simply ignored where religious life has atrophied. Compare our rates of growth in countries with strong Catholic traditions–in South America, for example, or the Phillipines–with the work in post-religious Europe. Or do I not read you correctly?

  25. Peggy Snow Cahill on November 25, 2004 at 2:57 am

    Wow, cool that someone actually reads my blog! Thanks for linking!

    I was very excited to see that article, that’s why I posted it, and as a former Southern Baptist myself (I left because they were teaching anti-Mormon stuff, even though I believed it at the time, but it left a bad, bad taste in my mouth; you know, offensive to the spirit!) I recognize that it will not be an easy thing even learning to coexist with Evangelicals, let alone actually coming to any agreement. But it speaks volumes, to me, that even one leader could admit to the lies that they teach. It causes a small rift in their armor, that the missionaries can use to find a way into the hearts of those who have been raised to believe we have horns, and all that other crap. It is so much easier to convert most agnostics than an ultra-religious Evangelical, and this may be a way in to soften those hearts toward the message of the Gospel.

  26. Wilfried on November 25, 2004 at 8:02 am

    Thank you, Jonathan, for you remark and question on areligious persons versus believers in their relation to Mormonism. There are two aspects to it.

    In my comment n° 4 I was referring to the attitude of tolerance towards Mormons. My experience has been that areligious persons, or persons loosely tied to their Church, will show greater understanding and respect for minority religions than staunch believers of a major Church. That’s also obvious in the literature about Mormonism (I’m speaking from the European perspective, but I guess it would not be too different elsewhere). Attacks against our “cult” usually come from avowed Catholic and protestant corners. More neutral, even sympathetic accounts are written by people not deeply engaged with their Church. They feel no need to be apologetic.

    Another matter is conversion rates. As Peggy just said in a previous comment: “It is so much easier to convert most agnostics than an ultra-religious Evangelical”. My inquiry among Mormon converts (published in BYU Studies) showed that too: most converts had already drifted away from their religion and were (sometimes without realizing it) searching for something else, even if they called themselves agnostic or atheist. I would not be surprised that in Latin America or the Philippines many of our converts would fall in the same category. Our relative lack of success in Europe has, according to me, less to do with the perceived areligiosity of the overall population than with our failure in missionary approaches. The Jehovah Witnesses baptize ten times more than the Mormons. People convert to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. There is a sizeable portion of the population hungering after religion as statistical studies show. Do we meet up to the challenge? See “Trends in LDS Church growth” and other documents on http://www.cumorah.com

  27. whatever on November 25, 2004 at 8:40 am

    i find it fascinating that in a thread about evangelical misrepresentation of mormonism, a post like J. Stapley’s (number 17) stands without comment. evangelical teachings “promote hatred and prejudice”? fascinating. one could just as easily make the same comment about the teachings of the Mormon Church (and let’s keep in mind there is one Mormon Church, but no one Evangelical Church), though i can only imagine what reaction that would provoke from those here.

  28. Ronan on November 25, 2004 at 8:48 am

    In Baptist Press, Mouw has outlined the dilemma facing many Evangelicals (link at United Brethren): he doesn’t believe all this Book of Mormon/Joseph Smith/Temple stuff, but when his friend Bob Millet tells him that his only salvation is the “grace of Jesus”, then he simply cannot dismiss Mormons as “damned”. I was once asked by an Evangelical what I would say at the gate of heaven to justify my entrance. I told him that I would say that I am a sinful man whose only hope was the grace of God through Christ. He told me I was lying, that I would mention all my good Mormon deeds.

    The greatest sin is exactly what Mouw said – no-one asks us what we believe.

  29. Blake Ostler on November 25, 2004 at 11:16 am

    In my conversations with Evangelicals I have found that they don’t ask us what we believe and really don’t care because they believe that we are deceivers from the beginning. Those who do listen to us end up very frustrated because we’re all over the place with our beliefs — there are as many LDS views of grace as there are LDS. Those with whom I have interacted are primarily academics and philosophers who complain that they are dealing with a moving target. They do their best to characterize what LDS believe, but even making that attempt they find that no matter what they say we always respond, “well, good try but not quite.” A part of the problem is that they have been working within a tradition that demands a very clear response for centuries — so one can say what shade of Calvinist or Arminian one is and why. They are experts at proof-texting the Bible. So they have their reasons for not asking or caring what we believe. Generally it is because they truly don’t love us as Christ commanded (and they can join the very large crowd of us who are working on learning love) and others try but don’t find any solid ground on which to stand.

    However, the lurid judgments with which they judge Joseph Smith and other church leaders are truly un-Christian. Here they are looking in a mirror and they shall be judged as they judge – indeed, I have already so judged them in this very post!

  30. J. Stapley on November 25, 2004 at 3:55 pm

    whatever: my comments were based on my empiricism. I probably should have qualified my comments by saying that I have had many great relationships with people of evangelical faiths. And though my experience and emotion cloud my judgment, I think it is a reasonable conclusion that things like the Godmakers do teach people to hate (or at least loathe). Prejudice is a natural consequence of hate. And while I uphold the right of individuals to hate, I can still be sickened by it. I would feel the same way about a Mormon family who would not let there kids play with the Catholic family down the street.

  31. gaymormonchef on November 25, 2004 at 5:01 pm

    It’s certainly nice to be nice; apology accepted. I worry, though, that Catholics/Evangelicals/Mormons, in their misguided quest to persecute the common enemy, are all headed toward the theological middle: ecumenical mediocrity. What ever happened to standing (alone) on a hill? Interfaithism is a murky pond. Wanting to be loved is a bitch.

  32. whatever on November 26, 2004 at 11:33 am

    J. Stapley, my point was exactly that – that the empiricism of others could come to completely opposite conclusions about evangelicals. as well, the empiricism of others could generate conclusions of Mormonism that, i’m sure, most here would find repellent. i’m not too generally impressed by most people’s experiences serving as the basis for conclusions about such large topics as “the french,” or “african americans” or “evangelicals.” sadly, personal experience seems to form all too much of the basis for logic and argumentation on the internet.

    i find it particularly interesting that you say evangelical teaching regarding homosexuality produces hatred and prejudice. such a comment demonstrates how little you understand about evangelicalism, and perhaps even mormonism too. as i said before, there is one mormon church – and it has a particular teaching about homosexuality. there are some 60-odd million american evangelicals (not to mention the hundreds of millions more throughout the world) who are members of dozens and dozens of evangelical denominations and churches. if you think those dozens and dozens of evangelical churches and denominations have one shared position on homosexuality (let alone on predestination, adult baptism, or spiritual gifts) then you have a lot more personal experiences with evangelicals to, well, experience before you can be much of an authority on the subject.

    you bring up the Godmakers. are you aware of how many people even watch this video? and are you certain that hate and prejudice are what people take from their viewing of the video? if so, does this mean that mormons learn hate and prejudice from the temple video and from ensign articles about other faiths and from the regular general conference speeches about being the one truth church? the sword cuts both ways if it cuts at all.

  33. Rob Briggs on November 26, 2004 at 3:24 pm

    Dear Whatever,

    If you wasted some time looking up hate literature & hate sites on the web, you’ll find considerably more (I suspect it’s on the order of 10 to 1 but that’s only a guess) directed at Catholics & Mormons than Protestants or Evangelicals. Why is that? Why do evangelicals make a fetish of demonizing Catholics & Mormons (to name only a few)? Why not the converse?

  34. Clark on November 26, 2004 at 3:38 pm

    you bring up the Godmakers. are you aware of how many people even watch this video? and are you certain that hate and prejudice are what people take from their viewing of the video? if so, does this mean that mormons learn hate and prejudice from the temple video and from ensign articles about other faiths and from the regular general conference speeches about being the one truth church?

    On my mission in Louisiana, most Evangelical churches regularly showed the Godmakers and advertised the fact. And yes, I am fairly certain that a lot of hate results from it. After all we are talking about a film that outright distorts and fabricates things about Mormons and ends with a conspiracy theory of us taking over America.

    I honestly can’t think how believing one is the true church comes close to anything in the Godmakers. Have you seen the Godmakers? Saying that the Godmakers is on par with General Conference is akin to saying that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is on par with Buber’s I and Thou. I’m really shocked that someone would think that the Godmakers isn’t hateful.

    I find it unintentionally funny. But I tend to find funny most conspiracy theories. It is only when one takes a step back and recognizes that people buy into anti-semeticism, anti-Catholicism, or anti-Mormonism and act on it that one starts to realize the effects of hate speech.

    Now I think we err if we think all Evangelicals buy into these views. And to that I tend to agree with Adam. However what is sad is how many do. Even if they don’t make up a majority of Evangelicals they make up such a large population that they have a very negative effect on people. Further, I think many of us who grew up in areas without many Mormons have experienced the effects of this hate speech.

  35. whatever on November 26, 2004 at 4:12 pm

    i haven’t seen the Godmakers. and that was part of my point – as someone raised in the southern baptist church, i yearly encountered teachings about mormonism (as i wrote in comment #15). however, i never once saw the Godmakers nor ever heard about it being shown at my church. from what i knew, it was something that people had watched in the 70s but did so no longer. i don’t doubt that some evangelical churches, particularly in the hotbeds of the Bible belt, must still watch the Godmakers. but some evangelical churches also speak in tongues – yet this certainly doesn’t represent the majority of evangelical worship or belief.

    as i mentioned in comment #15, while i never saw the Godmakers growing up a southern baptist, i did yearly experience sunday school lessons about the mormon church. i have no doubt that said lessons contained misrepresentations and untruths even as they likely also got some things right. however, i also have no doubt that the regular articles in ensign about the beliefs of other faiths aren’t any more incorrect (or more correct, for that matter). for instance, the other day i did a quick search of “evangelical” on lds.org and found an article (which unfortunately i can’t find again today) from ensign informing me that evangelicals believe in predestination. this will certainly be news to the vast majority of evangelical denominations which rejected such a teaching several centuries ago. despite these inaccuracies, i don’t believe that hate is either the cause or the effect of misteachings, though certainly ignorance is.

  36. Clark on November 26, 2004 at 5:39 pm

    I don’t think most Mormons get too concerned about some mistakes about LDS theology. As you say, we have more than our fair share of misunderstandings of other religions out of ignorance. I think the unfortunate assumption that all Evangelicals are Calvinists is one. Some of the things said about Catholics are others. And as I said earlier, there have historically been things said especially of Catholics that I consider very unfortunate. However you just don’t hear those things anymore.

    However, I think you’d be surprised by how many Mormons have encountered anti-Mormonism. I tend to agree it has an unfortunate tendency to cause an overreaction. I suspect it is similar to what sometimes happens for any minority experiences bigotry. Even if the bigots are a small group relative to the whole, they have an effect well beyond that size.

    Also, as most Mormons have experienced, the problems with anti-Mormonism go beyond mere doctrinal ignorance into things that are very, very meanspirited.

    Like Adam I think we ought to try to move beyond this. And I think Pres. Hinkley has done a lot in that regard, even to perhaps the point of reducing our proselytizing program’s effectiveness. But I think it will end up being as beneficial to us to avoid that victim mentality as it is to help us contribute to the greater good of society.

    At the same time though, I think some people don’t realize what many Mormons have experienced. I’ve literally had people feel for horns on my head. Yeah, that’s some ignorant hick from Louisiana. But the things communicated to the congregations of many mainstream Evangelical groups in Louisiana were breathtaking. Likewise I’ve seen such things in many, many places I’ve been. Most missionaries I know have many tales of such things.

    What is worse is that most Bible bookstores I’ve visited tend to sell anti-Mormon materials that aren’t simply focusing in on doctrinal disagreements, but do move I feel into that level of bigotry that would be called racism were it not about a religion. Perhaps some of that is ignorance of the bookstore owners, but I feel a lot goes well beyond mere ignorance.

  37. Larry on November 26, 2004 at 8:18 pm

    My mother’s family were and are evangelicals. We had to stop family get-togethers at Christmas and any other time of the year because of their constant railings against Mormons. My mom was essentially cut out of her mother’s will because her mother didn’t want any of her money going to those filthy Mormons.
    The evangelicals preach heavy against us in a hateful way and I don’t have to look far to see the evidence.
    Now here I am going to introduce some controversy from our standpoint. We do not accurately portray the Gospel to others. We do get caught up in “works” to the point that we really ignore what the Gospel teaches.
    Alma 33:16 says:For behold, he said: Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou hast bestowed upon them because of thy Son.”
    A few verses on it teaches in v19 that: “Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live”. The turning to Christ is the point.
    We ask ourselves where do we differ from the evangelicals. In the end we don’t as much as they make out. They have gone astray because they deny the ordinances and the authority. As far as believing in Christ, and trusting in His grace, they are bang on. They miss on the obedience side because they deny the ordinances and the authority.
    I have often wondered why we ignore a scripture in John that states: “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
    Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:28-29) This is what Alma 32 and 33 are all about. When we have a testimony like Lehi or even some semblance of it, i.e. partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Life, we then “want” to do, which is a natural consequence of having the Spirit.
    There is more to this scripture than we give credence.since: “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” Matt.6:27 It doesn’t matter in the end what we “do”, it hasn’t a snowballs chance of getting us into the Celestial Kingdom
    It is the turning to Christ that is the key. So now we have common ground. How it is handled is most important.

  38. ronin on November 26, 2004 at 9:15 pm

    well, anti-Mormonisn doesnt coem solely from the Evangelicals
    I have experienced much more animosity from members of teh academic left , and from folks who identify with the liberal-left side of the political spectrum. I changed jobs recently, and I was amazed by the hostility i experienced when I told folks i dont drink coffee becasue I was a member of the mormon Church – I had to withstand a lot of sarcastic and hateful comments – the immediately assumed that I was a wife-beating, homophobic, even more right-wing than James dobson, and Rush Limbaugh. Similar comments were made to me by a guy who is training to become a Minister in the Unitarian universalist Assn Church – I guess for him, it was OK for him to hate me and my Church, becasue we are a bunch of ‘rightwing SOBs”!!!!!

    I t hink we have to worry more about the hostility from the left , and the liberal-left, becasuse they are overly represented in the mainstream media and in academia, where they can influence a lot more people, religious or not, to form a very negative opinion about our Church and what we believe.

  39. john fowles on November 26, 2004 at 9:24 pm

    whatever,

    the things Clark is talking about are very real and hateful. Pointing to an inaccuracy in an LDS article that generalizes about evangelicals’ beliefs about predestination doesn’t even come close to the things that are being discussed on this thread, the Godmakers being a prime example of the genre. A lot of the stuff that is being discussed here basically equates Latter-day Saints with David-Koresh-type cults and warns of the real physical, mental, spiritual danger of associating with such devilish people as the Mormons.

    It is uncommon to hear hate preached from the pulpit in a Latter-day Saint church. In fact, I could almost say that it never happens, at least from an official standpoint (there might be the occasional random member who includes some kind of epithet in a talk or something). The teaching that the Church has a corner on truth cannot be equated with the affirmative anti-Mormon agenda of the evangelical churches. It is apples and oranges. If the evangelicals were simply teaching that Latter-day Saints have some truth but not the whole truth (which is what the Church teaches about evangelicals) then I personally would have no problem with that at all. But I grew up in Dallas and there learned that that is definitely not what evangelical churches in general are teaching about Latter-day Saints. On the whole spectrum of protestantism, from Episcopalians to the most unaffiliated of free church baptists, the teachings about Mormonism are not only majorly distorted (as Clark discussed above) but also affirmative in their animosity and all the more shocking because in many cases, it is the official doctrine of the churches, and not just the backwater prejudice of a random individual. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon at all to hear hate being preached in a baptist church, if the subject-matter of the day’s sermon happens to be the devilish Mormons. Having grown up in Dallas, you are going to have a hard time convincing me that this is an inaccurate observation on my part.

  40. J. Stapley on November 26, 2004 at 9:36 pm

    whatever: I can’t really add more than clark has written. I concur with what he said. I will, after rereading my posts, however concede that my verbiage was over generalized. To lump all evangelical faiths together is not appropriate.

  41. Ethesis (Stephen M) on November 26, 2004 at 10:58 pm

    All I can say on this topic, beyond the comment I left about an LDS widow who was the victim of a hate crime (and that evaporated 12 hours after I left it) is what my daughter had to say:

    http://ethesis.blogspot.com/2004/10/here-is-essay-from-heather-my-daughter.html

  42. Clark on November 26, 2004 at 11:22 pm

    Just to add, I’ve had many excellent discussions with Evangelicals. I link to several Evangelical blogs on my own blog. And I heartily repeat that not all or perhaps not even most Evangelicals are like this. Further, I think one can disagree doctrinally without getting into the mean-spirited anti-Mormonism. The New Mormon Challgenge is one example. So too is How Wide the Divide.

    But the issue really can’t be said to be doctrinal misunderstandings. Heavens, most members have significant doctrinal misunderstandings. What bothers me is the mean spirited rhetoric that sees us as an evil threat. That truly hurts after a while. So I look with hope towards that changing. However I think for me to believe it I’ll need more than a few voices.

  43. Matt Evans on November 27, 2004 at 12:45 am

    Because all of the anti-Mormons I’d ever met were, and all of the anti-Mormon literature I’d ever read written by, born-again “Christians,” I had assumed that other Christian denominations took a more measured tone towards us. A few years ago, while driving home from church on Route 62 in Concord, Massachusetts, I stopped at a Lutheran church because I was interested in making some friends who were religious but not Mormon. (Nearly everyone I knew at the time was Mormon or areligious). It was clear their meetings were over from the nearly empty parking lot, but I went in, read the announcements on the bulletin board, and wandered around looking for the few people whose cars were outside. When I walked passed their library I stepped inside, and noticed a shelf labeled “Mormonism” with five or six books. Each book was a prototypically anti-Mormon. The only title I remember was “Answers to the Cultist at Your Door.” (I happen to remember that title because I owned it myself.) Seeing what kind of books they bought and shared made me feel unwelcome, and I slipped out of the building without having spoken to anyone.

    I still wish I had more friends who were religious but not Mormon.

  44. Ethesis (Stephen M) on November 27, 2004 at 8:19 am

    “I’ve had many excellent discussions with Evangelicals.”

    Good point. Most Evangelicals I’ve known were good people.

  45. john fowles on November 27, 2004 at 11:10 am

    Matt, trust me, there’s no lack of official anti-Mormonism in Lutheranism. Take that from someone who has a lot of experience with the Lutherans (I served my mission in the heartland of Lutheranism, East Germany).

    Also don’t think that “liberal” Anglicans are any different. Just try going to England and getting genealogy records from a parish there. They use a very simple litmus test: they offer you coffee and if you turn it down, they turn you right out because they don’t want to give any names to devilish Mormons for use in the devilish temple worship.

    Clark, Ethesis: I know it’s obligatory in discussions such as this to emphasize the point that it is possible to have excellent discussions with Evangelicals and that most Evangelicals are good people. I add my voice to that. But it doesn’t address the larger issue of official evangelical teachings about Latter-day Saints. Mouw’s speech was a very late first step in the right direction (because his is an official voice).

  46. john fowles on November 27, 2004 at 11:23 am

    Adam, I’ve been thinking a lot about your apparent closeness to Evangelicals, or their beliefs. I can understand why you would have this attitude towards Catholics, but I wonder what it is about Evangelicals that gives you this feeling. To that extent, I second Greene’s suggestion that you devote a post to it. One thing to remember in this discussion on this thread is that even though anecdotes of hate from Evangelicals to Mormons abound, they are really not the basis of these comments. Rather, the problem is the official stance of these churches. As whatever points out, there a hundreds or thousands of different denominations within the Evangelical umbrella, and they all espouse different points of doctrine–whatever used the example of predestination: some evangelical sects believe it, some do not, and some believe in their own convenient forms of it. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this point applies to teachings about Mormons. Perhaps the one point of “doctrine” that all Evangelical denominations (this is not speaking of each and every Evangelical, but rather of the official doctrine of each denomination) are united on is that “Mormons” (oh they love this word as it disguises our true nature as members of the Church of Jesus Christ) have a false gospel with a false prophet worshipping a false Jesus and are a cult from the devil.

  47. Jack on November 27, 2004 at 2:00 pm

    I got kicked out of the “New Life Club” (a non-denominational christian club at my highschool) for being a mormon. Most of the kids were good friends of mine and, I think, felt pretty bad about the decision which was put to vote by an intimidating club president who mantained control of the group by frequently quoting his pastor.

  48. J. Stapley on November 27, 2004 at 2:05 pm

    I played bass guitar for Young Life for all 4 years. There were many who did not like this.

  49. Adam Greenwood on November 27, 2004 at 3:24 pm

    John Fowles et al,
    What you say is true, but I still have hope because of (1) thinks like Dr. Mouw’s apology and (2) the fact that evangelicals have a good and rapidly improving relationship with the Catholic church (though there are still remnants of prejudice) though twenty years ago the vitriol they directed at Catholicism outweighed anything that gets directed at us now.

    It would help my post if you explained why you can understand a rapprochement with Catholicism.

  50. Noel on November 27, 2004 at 3:31 pm

    Interesting comments regarding Evangelical/Mormon relationships. Some time ago a local LDS member went to the local Minister’s fraternal to organise a christmas carol night. The ministers were reluctant to do so as they felt the LDS beliefs were outside the parameters of christian beliefs. LDS do use social occassions to get an opportunity to come and talk. Christians do not generally try to poach other christians at such events. This is why we have interdenominational religious education in state schools once a week in our state, the teachers from all denominations do teaching and the topics are broad enough so as not to offend each other. My wife even has a couple of LDS kids in her classes.

  51. Rob Briggs on November 27, 2004 at 4:39 pm

    Noel: “This is why we have interdenominational religious education in state schools once a week in our state, the teachers from all denominations do teaching and the topics are broad enough so as not to offend each other.”

    Noel, which state? Surely this is not in the secular classroom?! Here (California) the local grade school offers “religious education” for those with an interest. But the classroom is a portable trailer which is parked at the curb right at the school boundary. In other words, it’s a form of “accomodation” but it does not take place in the school classrooms. I’d be surprised if it were otherwise in other states. Does the ACLU know of this?? ;->

  52. Noel on November 27, 2004 at 4:50 pm

    This is in the State of Queensland, Australia. Part of the Education Act is that there be so much religious education every week. Once each denominations had there own teachers, now they have amalgamated and teach a curriculum that is acceptable to all. JWs and Moslems run their own. If you want your child to not attend any class, you can request that.
    The Queensland Teachers Union has objected sometimes prefering a comparitive religion type of course.
    My wife attends seminars run by the catholic church attended by members of all denominations.

  53. whatever on November 27, 2004 at 5:10 pm

    john fowles, teachings about mormons or any other faith in evangelical churches is not doctrine. evangelicals have a very narrow or limited doctrine, which is certainly a difference from the mormon church. yes, there is a doctrine of salvation which implicitly takes a position about the fate of non-evangelicals. however, such a doctrine doesn’t pinpoint any particular faith(s), but instead generally divides the world into the saved and unsaved – just as the mormon church and any other exclusivist faith does.

  54. john fowles on November 27, 2004 at 5:51 pm

    whatever, alright, so nevermind my use of the word “doctrine.” I was not referring to anything so innocent as a simple doctrine that gets applied to Mormons in the same way that it gets applied to all non-Evangelicals. Rather, I was speaking of the specific teachings of evangelical denominations about Latter-day Saints. For example, when the preacher of a big baptist church in Dallas devotes his Sunday sermon to Mormons and why they are evil, if that is not a “doctrine,” then it is at least a teaching that surpasses a mere equal application of the doctrine that everyone except the evangelicals will be damned.

  55. Wilfried on November 27, 2004 at 5:56 pm

    Whatever: “… divides the world into the saved and unsaved – just as the mormon church and any other exclusivist faith does”.

    It seems on the other hand that one of the true wonders of Mormonism is the dynamyc combination of considering itself as “The Only True Church” and being tolerant to and in the long run inclusive of all others. Article 11: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” And next the whole doctrine of baptism and salvation for the dead. No condemnation of those individuals who believe otherwise — and a blissful future potentially open to all.

  56. Jonathan Green on November 27, 2004 at 6:44 pm

    Since you’re all here, a few quick responses.

    Adam, thanks for considering a post about your position towards Evangelicals. You’ve written before about setting the limits of debate when you post, and this might be a good time for it. I’m interested in what you have to say, and I think it would be fair to rule out any discussion along the lines of “No! Adam should hate Evangelicals!” or even “But when I was a teenager in the Bible Belt…” from the outset. There are other threads for those comments.

    Wilfried, thanks for the link to cumorah.com. It makes for eye-opening and sobering reading. Even if I don’t agree in all respects, I agree enough that I’m almost ready to concede your point. I’ll hold off on the official surrender for a thread where it’s on-topic, however.

  57. Ivan Wolfe on November 27, 2004 at 7:42 pm

    Wilifred -

    That link to Cumorah.com was great. The article on retention and inactivity corresponds with my own experience preaching to Laotions (lots of quick baptisms – some missionariesin the 1970s had hundreds of converts. Activity among Lao members in my mission was near 1%).

    But that’s likely another thread entirely.

  58. Ethesis (Stephen M) on November 28, 2004 at 12:15 am

    Clark, Ethesis: I know it’s obligatory in discussions such as this to emphasize the point that it is possible to have excellent discussions with Evangelicals and that most Evangelicals are good people

    I just thought I needed to note it, since I was linking to an example of a school teacher allowing kids to hound my daughter, swear at her while screaming, and let it keep up until someone from outside of the class intervened.

    On the other hand, I suspect that the link didn’t get used, so it didn’t matter, and my post about the widow who lived around the corner from me before we (and she) moved, where her house was spray painted with ugly anti-mormon slogans, that post evaporated a while back.

    But there is a lot of down right direct ugliness (though I should also add that her block started a neighborhood watch in response to what happened to her, though the police failed to properly report it as a hate crime).

    Unlike Elder Faust, I’ve had job offers withdrawn due to religion. Twice. It was a bitter experience the second time, especially watching my wife cry.

  59. john fowles on November 28, 2004 at 5:50 pm

    Ethesis, that is truly sobering. I am sorry to hear that it happened to you. Is there any consolation in the thought that our pioneer ancestors (they are all of our ancestors in faith even if not in genealogy) had it worse still than even that?

  60. Mark Mason on November 28, 2004 at 9:02 pm

    I noticed the article as well. I find it very interesting that not only is Mr. Mouw accepting that Latter-day Saints might not be understood in the Christian world, but also his comments are causing a stir.

    Mark

  61. Ethesis (Stephen M) on November 28, 2004 at 9:05 pm

    Ethesis, that is truly sobering. I am sorry to hear that it happened to you. Is there any consolation in the thought that our pioneer ancestors (they are all of our ancestors in faith even if not in genealogy) had it worse still than even that?

    I’m always aware that people had (and have) it worse than I.

    If nothing else, I haven’t been reduced to eating orange peels as I lay myself down to die. (“My Dad talked about a friend of his from Burundi. The man left for his field one day and returned to find all of his neighbors, all of his friends, and all of his family dead in ethnic violence. Only his mother in Tanzania was alive, so he began to walk East towards the coast. He had little or nothing and eventually failed of his strength and fell down to die. As he lay there, he saw some orange peels that someone had thrown on the ground. He ate them and recovered his strength and lived. That is hardship of the type that I am grateful to God that I have not had to live through. “)

    It is just that with all the evil and hatred in the world, there are also people of good will.

    Though my favorite encounters are always the ones with the people who tell me they hate me because I’m LDS and then go on to ask for a favor since they couldn’t find anyone else who could help them and they don’t have any money … (I’m thinking of two specific instances as I type this, of course I helped both of them).

    Well, not my favorite, just the ones with the most irony.

    But I feel for the poor city manager North East of Dallas who was run out of town for being LDS, or the master chef who was burned out of Archer County for being LDS (and he was rather inactive to boot).

    Mixed feelings all around.

  62. Charles on November 29, 2004 at 10:33 pm

    After visiting grandparents out on the farm and away from all the bloggernacle, I was pleasantly surprised to see this post. I was also happy to note that my wife pointed this article to me and I made a reference to it on mine, http://job21-3.blogspot.com/2004/11/dont-panic.html#comments.

    I’m just peachy that I scooped T&S.

  63. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 3:57 pm

    Dear Evangelical and LDS

    by Lee Edward Enochs
    Executive Director
    Conservatives for California

    As many of you know, a considerable controversy has arisen in conservative Evangelicalism due to a joint Evangelical and Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints dialog held last weekend (November 13-14) in Salt Lake City Utah.

    Many conservative Evangelicals have been greatly alarmed by statements that were made there by certain Evangelical leaders, especially those of Dr. Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary of Pasadena California.

    As an Evangelical Christian who has been involved in close friendships and dialog with members of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints over the last 20 years, I must state publicly that Dr. Mouw’s statements in no way reflect Evangelicalism as a whole and I must now publicly say I disagree with many of his views regarding Evangelicalism’s views on the LDS Church.

    If you want to read his comments for yourself and in their proper context I would ask you to personally contact Dr. Mouw for yourself. Out of respect for his office as President of Fuller Theological Seminary, I have not posted them here.

    I want to state publicly and for the record, that I have no personal animosity towards Dr. Mouw. From all accounts that I have heard, he is a dedicated believer.

    I also now must publicly state that I and other conservative Evangelicals have a great disagreement with Fuller Theological Seminary’s President Dr. Richard Mouw’s statements and later clarifications on Evangelicalism’s understanding of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints. Once again, I would like those interested in knowing the exact things Dr. Mouw said at last weeks controversial meeting at the Mormon Tabernacle, please contact him for yourself. Now, leaving the Dr. Mouw controversy I would like to take this time to explain in a simple manner what Conservative Evangelical Christians have generally held to be true about the LDS Church.

    What Conservative Evangelicals Generally Believe about
    The LDS Church and Joseph Smith

    First of all, I want to state publicly that I love my Mormon (LDS) friends very, very much. I have spent my entire adult life, building friendships with the LDS church. I love LDS members with the entirety of my being. I however, have to say that I must stand with the historic Evangelical Christian church is disagreeing with the teachings of the LDS church.

    Historically, Conservative Evangelicals in no way support any of the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints. We do not support their claim that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God or that the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price and Doctrines of Covenants are in any way the Word of God.

    For some good books on the authority and inspiration of the Bible from a conservative Evangelical perspective please read:

    1) Inspiration and Authority of Bible
    by Benjamin B. Warfield published by Puritan and Reformed Books.

    2) Inerrancy by Norman Geisler. Zondervan Publishers, Grand Rapids Michigan.

    3) A General Introduction to the Bible
    by Norman L. Geisler, William E. Nix. Moody Press, Chicago IL.

    Some other great books that summarize what Evangelicals believe are:

    1) Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem.

    2) Systematic Theology by Charles Hodge.

    3) Christian Theology by Millard Erickson

    4) Systematic Theology by Louis Berkof.

    5) What is an Evangelical? by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

    Conservative Evangelicals do not believe the LDS claim that the true Christian church apostasied from the faith and was restored by Joseph Smith.

    Conservative Evangelicals do not believe that the LDS religion is a true church on the basis of their view of God, salvation and their view of authority.

    Conservative Evangelicals, in keeping with the historic Christian Church have always believed in the doctrine of the Trinity and reject the LDS claim that the godhead is made up of three distinct gods.

    I personally think that the LDS need to come out in an official capacity and state exactly what they believe about the nature of God. If they do not in fact believe that God was once a man and that men may become gods in the same way God the father is a God, then they must do so in an official capacity. I suggest that if possible, President Hinckley do so. Too many of their older publications and writings suggest that they have taught that God was once a man and was exalted to godhood and that we can become gods ourselves in the same manner.

    Evangelicals believe in the exclusive existence of only one true and living God (Isaiah 43:10, 44:5-6, 45:5, 1 Kings 8:60).

    Evangelicals believe in the historic Christian doctrine of the Trinity. We believe that within God exists the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    We do not believe in three separate God’s but one.

    For a full treatment of the historic doctrine of the Trinity I suggest that those reading this blog read the following good books;

    1) The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief by James R. White. (Can be ordered through Amazon.com)

    2) The Trinity: Evidence and Issues by Robert A. Morey. (Can be ordered through Amazon.com)

    The Evangelical view of Salvation

    Evangelicals see the LDS faith as teaching that salvation comes through a process of good works and personal faith. In the same manner that we reject the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox view of synergistic justification and support forensic, monergistic justification, we reject the LDS view of salvation as well (Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16, Ephesians 2:8-10 and Titus 3:5-6).

    We reject 2 Nephi 25:23 which says that, “It is by grace that we are saved after all we can do.�

    For a full treatment of the Evangelical Doctrine of Justification (salvation) I encourage everyone to read the following two books;

    1) The Doctrine of Justification: An Outline of its History in the church and of its Exposition from Scripture by James Buchanan, The Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, PA: 1991.

    2) Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification by R. C. Sproul, Baker Books, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1995.

    As an Evangelical Christian who loves members of the LDS faith, I want to say that I have absolutely nothing against the LDS. I love you with deep sincerity. I however, cannot compromise my convictions about the teachings of your faith tradition. I do not believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I do not believe any of the Mormon Scriptures are the Word of God. I do not believe the true Church of Christ fell away from the faith and Joseph Smith restored it. I believe the Bible alone is the Word of God and nothing else. I do not believe the LDS religion is a true church and possesses the any authority by Christ. I do not believe in the LDS conception of God, Salvation, Authority, the Temples, Joseph Smith or any other teaching. I in no way support or defend any teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints in any way whatsoever. I encourage all members of the LDS religion to examine the teaching of their faith and see if these things are so. I love you, Dr. Mouw and all those who may disagree with me.

    Two thousand years ago, a unique man named Jesus Christ of Nazareth emerged from the chaos of human existence with a profound message of hope and human redemption. Jesus Christ claimed to be the Son of God, lived a perfect life, performed incredible miracles, proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God and ultimately died on the Cross for the sins of humanity and rose again from the dead to give anyone who would sincerely turn from their sins and place their faith in Him eternal life.

    “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

    Sincerely in Jesus Christ,

    Lee Edward Enochs

    http://www.conservativesforcalifornia.com/

    edenochs@yahoo.com

  64. theologianx on December 3, 2004 at 3:59 pm

    Fuller President Apologizes to Mormons in Error

    James White

    One of the key developments of late that has caused many to question the validity of at least some of the evangelicals who spoke in the LDS Tabernacle in Salt Lake City has to do with the fact that some, such as Richard Mouw of Fuller Seminary, have chosen, whether out of ignorance or hubris, to attack all of those who have ministered in proclaiming the gospel to Mormons for years and indeed decades. His comments in the Tabernacle were not only an implicit endorsement of the defensive posture of FARMS and others (can you hear them rejoicing?), but a blanket condemnation of anyone who would approach Mormonism as a false religion that condemns its followers with a false God, a false Christ, and a false gospel.
    For the sake of context and for those who have not been following the discussion, Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (yes, I graduated from Fuller in 1989 with an M.A. in Theology) was one of those who spoke in the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City recently. His comments were brief, but have set off a firestorm of response simply because he chose to follow the path laid out by Mosser and Owen: make friends with the Mormon leadership by shooting in the head all those who have ministered to Mormons for years before you. It is evidently a successful strategy. Here is the key section of his comments:

    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. We have not been afraid to argue strenuously with each other, but our arguments have been conducted in a sincere desire genuinely to understand each other-and in the process we have formed some deep bonds of friendship. I know that I have learned much in this continuing dialogue, and I am now convinced that we evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community. Indeed, let me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: we have sinned against you. The God of the Scriptures makes it clear that it is a terrible thing to bear false witness against our neighbors, and we have been guilty of that sort of transgression in things we have said about you. We have told you what you believe without making a sincere effort first of all to ask you what you believe. We have made much of the need to provide you with a strong defense of traditional Christian convictions, regularly quoting the Apostle Peter’s mandate that we present to people like you a reasoned account of the hope that lies with in us-but we have not been careful to follow the same Apostle’s counsel that immediately follows that mandate, when he tells us that we must always make our case with “gentleness and reverence” toward those with whom we are speaking. Indeed, we have even on occasion demonized you, weaving conspiracy theories about what the LDS community is “really” trying to accomplish in the world. And even at our best, we have-and this is true of both of our communities-we have talked past each other, setting forth oversimplified and distorted accounts of what the other group believes.

    Now, of course, the question is, who is the “we” for whom Mouw assumes to speak? It surely is not me, nor fine folks like Jerald and Sandra Tanner, or Bill McKeever. So who is it? Well, there surely have been those who have weaved conspiracy theories into their books. I have been openly and consistently critical of the excesses found in such books as God Makers II. I have criticized the sensationalism of many works produced on the subject of Mormonism, and have refused to engage in such behavior in the writing and publishing of two books on the subject, and in public debates with LDS apologists. But it seems clear that Mouw has fallen into the same trap that ensnared Dr. Blomberg not so long ago: that of thinking that LDS scholars at BYU define Mormonism. And because of this very narrow exposure to a very narrow spectrum of LDS belief, Mouw has denounced many who have a thousand times his experience and knowledge of Mormonism as having dishonestly misrepresented the Mormon people. Excuse us, please, if we point out that it is Dr. Mouw who owes the apologies here.
    Nowhere does this come out more clearly than in a response Mouw has written in his own defense given the furor over his comments in the Tabernacle. Here we find a situation where, if LDS apologists are honest and open and above board, they will have to confess that it is Mouw who is ignorant of LDS theology and who is, in fact, operating on a very narrow, non-mainline foundation. Here we see, clearly, the result of ignoring the prophets and apostles and going on the basis of BYU professors as the definitive voice of Mormonism (a mistake being made by a number involved in the Johnson/Millet group). [N.B.: there is no question that the views of BYU and other scholars are important in looking ahead to developments in LDS theology: but BYU professors are not General Authorities, and it is simply ridiculous to ignore Salt Lake's own assertions regarding what is, and what is not, authoritative so as to pick and choose what you will and will not allow to be "orthodox" Mormonism]. In trying to give examples of how evangelicals have “lied” about Mormons, he cites over-simplification in Walter Martin’s writings, and then specifically names Dave Hunt as well. And then he writes,

    On a more technical point, I have received emails in the past few days where evangelicals have said that Mormonism teaches that God was once a human being like us, and we can become gods just like God now is. Mormon leaders have specifically stated that such a teaching, while stated by past leaders, is something they don’t understand and has no functioning place in present day Mormon doctrine. Bob Millet has made the same point to many of us, and Stephen Robinson insisted, in the book he co-authored with Craig Blomberg, that this is not an official Mormon teaching, even though it can be found in non-canonical Mormon writings. The Ostlings, in their book on Mormonism, reported that Mormon leaders insist that the idea that God is omnipotent, omniscience-and much unlike what we are or could ever be-is more accurate than the simple notion that we are all becoming gods like God the Father is. A number of LDS writers have been formulating the “becoming God” theme in terms that are common in Eastern Orthodoxy: that “we shall be like Him” in the sense of I John, but that we will never be Him.

    Are there Mormons who today are embarrassed by the unified, consistent teaching of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and the LDS leadership all the way through Bruce R. McConkie on the topic of God’s status as an exalted man? Yes, there are. Is there the slightest question that it is official LDS theology that God was once a human being like us, and that we can become gods just like God now is? Most assuredly not. Mouw seems to believe Stephen Robinson and Bob Millet are the new Academic Prophets of Mormonism. I am sure Richard Mouw has been far too busy over the years to talk to literally thousands of believing LDS all over the Southwestern United States. But if he had done so, he would be in a far better position to speak to these issues. His very limited exposure has led him into clear and easily documented error.
    I provided 76 pages of original source documentation on the LDS doctrine of God in my 1997 work, Is the Mormon My Brother? Unlike Dr. Mouw, I took the time to order the material in light of the official teachings of the LDS Church regarding their own view of authority, Scripture, and revelation (for some reason, BYU did not appear as an organ of revelation in their own writings). It is one of the most amazing displays of ignorance of primary sources I’ve seen for Dr. Mouw to make the claim that the “eternal law of progression,” the concept that man is the same species as God (those are the words of Stephen Robinson in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 2:548-550), the idea of progression and advancement, “has no functioning place in present day Mormon doctrine.” Such a statement should, if they would be willing to speak the truth, elicit a torrent of counter-documentation from LDS themselves, for their writings are filled with the centrality of this belief, not just historically, but today as well. Mouw does not understand the Temple, its rituals and its purpose. His knowledge is based solely upon his interaction with individual Mormons who represent the bleeding edge of Mormonism’s scholarship, a group of people intent upon seeing Mormonism accepted in the “mainstream,” and as such, not currently representative of the vast majority of believing, practicing, temple-going Latter-day Saints. Some believe that they represent the future of Mormonism. Maybe so. We, like the god of the Open Theists, cannot say. But that is hardly relevant to Mouw’s denunciation of the many ministries and ministers who have given so much over the years to present the gospel to the LDS people, for we cannot be held accountable for representing a Mormonism that does not yet exist! Mouw claimed that “we” have lied about the Mormons, and the example he provides in reality demonstrates that it is he, not “we,” who is misrepresenting the official teachings of the LDS Church, and that based upon his conclusion that BYU professors, not the General Authorities of the LDS Church past and present, define Mormonism.
    From 1992 to 2001 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints printed and published under the copyright of the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a Student Manual titled Achieving a Celestial Marriage. This manual was used to introduce LDS to the concept of celestial marriage, its importance, and indeed, its centrality, to the LDS concept of a godly and proper life. It is beyond the realm of possibility that either Robinson or Millet could be ignorant of its existence. Surely, a student manual produced by the LDS leadership for the teachings of its own members regarding the central act of celestial marriage qualifies as having a “functioning place in present day Mormon doctrine” (even if some at BYU don’t think so). And what do we read in this manual? The beginning of the work says it all:

    God was once a man who, by obedience, advanced to his present state of perfection; through obedience and celestial marriage we may progress to the point where we become like God.

    Proclaiming the divine potential within man, John Taylor once wrote, “Knowest thou not that thou art a spark of Deity, struck from the fire of His eternal blaze, and brought forth in the midst of everlasting burnings.� (The Mormon, 29 Aug. 1857). Elder B.H. Roberts stated, “Man has descended from God; in fact, he is the same race as the Gods. His descent has not been from a lower form of life, but from the Highest Form of Life; in other words, man is, in the most literal sense, a Child of God. This is not only true of the spirit of man, but of his body also.� (Course of Study for Priests, 1910, p. 35). Can you see the implications of these two statements as they relate to you and to your eternal destiny? Elder James E. Talmage did. He declared, “…in his mortal condition man is God in embryo. However….any individual now a mortal being may attain the rank and sanctity of godship….� (Articles of Faith, p. 529). How is this possible? What course of action will bring this potential to fruition? As you study this lesson, look for the answers to these questions.

    POINTS TO PONDER

    God Became God by Obedience to Law

    It was late afternoon as we sat in my office, but I felt the time had been well spent. He sat silently now, obviously contemplating the ramifications of the things we had been discussing. We had talked of God, of how he had become God, and of what that meant in terms of our own exaltation. Finally he spoke.

    “What is this law of exaltation of which you keep speaking?”

    “Well, it involves the whole of the gospel law. Everything required of us by God is associated with this law, but the major crowning point of the law which man must obey is eternal marriage. Therein lies the keys of eternal life, or, as the Doctrine and Covenants puts it, ‘eternal lives.’ In other words, an eternal increase of posterity.”

    “Then what you’re saying is that God became God by obedience to the gospel program, which culminates in eternal marriage.”

    Through Obedience to Law We Can Become Like Our Father in Heaven

    “Yes. Do you realize the implications of this doctrine as far as you are concerned?”

    “I think so. If God became God by obedience to all of the gospel law with the crowning point being the celestial law of marriage, then that’s the only way I can become a god.”

    “Right. And it is the law that assists us in reaching that potential. It tells us what we must do to gain the ultimate freedom. In fact, it is by obedience to law that we have progressed to our present position.”

    “You mean we have always been governed by law?”

    “Always. You are an eternal being. You were never created and you cannot be destroyed, but you can advance, progress, and develop by obedience.

    “Then Hamlet’s question ‘to be or not to be?’ is not the question?â€?

    “Right, not in the ultimate sense, at least. Order means law, and that law is the law of the celestial kingdom. Any who come unto that kingdom must obey that law. (See D&C 88:24-29.)”

    “But I thought godhood meant freedom. If I have to do things to become God, am I really free?”

    “You have got it wrong. It was the Savior who said, ‘If ye continue in my word,’ that is, obey the law, ‘ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ (John 8:31,32.) So by obedience to law, we learn truths by which we become free — but not free from the law. Can you see that?”

    “I think so. I can be a god only if I act like God.”

    “Exactly right. Can you imagine the state of the universe if imperfect gods were allowed to spawn their imperfections throughout space, if beings who did not have law under their subjection were free to create worlds?”

    “I guess that would be pretty disastrous. But I’m not sure I see why celestial marriage becomes the crowning apex of this progression. Marriage doesn’t seem directly related to the creation of the universes.”

    “Oh, but don’t be limited by your mortal perspective. God himself has declared his own reasons for existing. Remember, he said, ‘For this is my work and my glory….’ ”

    “I see his purpose is ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’ ” (Moses 1:39).

    “Which involves giving birth to spirit children and setting them on the road to exaltation. And if that is to be done, you must have an exalted man and…”

    “An exalted woman.”

    “Exactly, an exalted man and woman who have been joined together in an eternal marriage. If this man and woman were obedient to all gospel laws except celestial marriage, what would be the result?”

    “They still could not be gods. Now I understand. Celestial marriage is the crowning ordinance of the gospel.”

    “Right,” I said with a smile. “And with that comment I think we can end the discussion.”

    One hardly need expand upon such statements, but some others in the work include:

    The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that man is an eternal being, made in the image and likeness of God. It also holds that man is a literal child of God and has the potential, if faithful to divine laws and ordinances, of becoming like his heavenly parent. These truths are generally well understood by Latter-day Saints….Less well understood, however, is the fact that God is an exalted man who once lived on an earth and underwent experiences of mortality. The Prophet Joseph Smith refers to this as “the great secret.â€? (Times and Seasons 5:613 [15 Aug. 1844]. See also Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345.) The progression of our Father in heaven to godhood, or exaltation, was strictly in accordance with eternal principles, “for he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.â€? (D&C 88:22.)…By definition, exaltation includes the ability to procreate the family unit throughout eternity. This our Father in heaven has power to do. His marriage partner is our mother in heaven. We are their spirit children, born to them in the bonds of celestial marriage.
    The Lord would have all his children attain exaltation, but men must have their agency. Only those who subscribe by ordinance and by faithful adherence to covenant are worthy of “a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.� (D&C 132:19.)

    This section is followed by one titled “God was once a mortal man,� and again, we find the LDS Church falling back, not upon her Scriptures to teach her people, but the King Follett Funeral Discourse. Subtitles include “He Lived on an Earth Like Our Own� and “He Experienced Conditions Similar to Our Own and Advanced Step by Step.� This is followed by another section, “God is Now an Exalted Man with Powers of Eternal Increase,� with a subtitle, “Our Father in Heaven Lives in an Exalted Marriage Relationship.� Under this section Melvin J. Ballard is quoted:

    No matter to what heights God has attained or may attain, he does not stand alone: for side by side with him, in all her glory, a glory like unto his, stands a companion, the Mother of his children. For as we have a Father in heaven, so also we have a Mother there, a glorified, exalted, ennobled Mother.” (Melvin J. Ballard, as quoted in Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard, pp. 205-6.)

    Now, again, it is not necessary, for those who have studied the writings of the LDS leadership, to belabor the point. Those who know Mormonism know how vitally central to LDS theology the entire concept of progression and exaltation is. Just one other quote, this time from one of the sources Mouw relied upon, Stephen Robinson, from the above cited article in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

    The Father, Elohim, is called the Father because he is the literal father of the spirits of mortals (Heb. 12:9). This paternity is not allegorical. All individual human spirits were begotten (not created from nothing or made) by the Father in a premortal state, where they lived and were nurtured by Heavenly Parents. These spirit children of the Father come to earth to receive mortal bodies; there is a literal family relationship among humankind. Joseph Smith taught, “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves� (TPJS, p. 343). Gods and humans represent a single divine lineage, the same species of being, although they and he are at different stages of progress. This doctrine is stated concisely in a well-known couplet by President Lorenzo Snow: “As man now is, God once was: as God now is, man may be� (see Godhood). . . . The important points of the doctrine for Latter-day Saints are that Gods and humans are the same species of being, but at different stages of development in a divine continuum, and that the heavenly Father and Mother are the heavenly pattern, model, and example of what mortals can become through obedience to the gospel (see Mother in Heaven).

    Finally, Mouw notes the use of terms like “omniscient” and “omnipresent” in the writings of LDS scholars today. Once again, even a few meetings with the faithful of Mormonism would have helped him to understand that Mormons use our terminology without adopting our meaning. When a Mormon speaks of “eternal lives” they are speaking of God’s power of procreation—a far cry from what an evangelical means when we speak of “eternal life.” And the careful reader of the above citation from Achieving a Celestial Marriage will note the presence of the term “universes,” rather than our normal “universe.” When it comes to omniscience, possibly Stephen Robinson could have explained to Mouw his use of the term in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, where, after stating that “Latter-day Saints perceive the Father as an exalted Man in the most literal, anthropomorphic terms” (2:548) he wrote, “Latter-day Saints also attribute omnipotence and omniscience to the Father. He knows all things relative to the universe in which mortals live and is himself the source and possessor of all true power manifest in it. This is part of what it means to be exalted, and this is why human beings may safely put their faith and trust in God the Father, an exalted being” (2:549). Does Mouw really wish to suggest that omniscience of a limited category (this particular universe over which Elohim rules, but not all universes where the multitude of previously exalted LDS gods rule) is parallel to Christian belief in omniscience?
    Mouw’s statements are unscholarly because, ironically, they represent the view of so much of the “academy” today. The irony is that many in academia today consider apologetics beneath them. They view it as an unscholarly arena that anyone can master in a brief period of time. What is there really to know about Mormonism anyway? Who needs to read all those dusty books? The BoM is hardly worth the time of a true scholar to study! Read the Ensign? Stand upon a street corner and dialogue with LDS missionaries? There are ETS papers to prepare and inter-faith dialogues to promote! All one must do is have lunch with some colleagues (please note the term!) from BYU and you will be up to speed in no time! So, a methodology that would be dismissed instantly in any other field (personal anecdotes as a foundation for determining the theology of a religion rather than the published statements of the official leadership) is utilized here because, as all true academics know, apologetics does not require work and study over time. It is not like being a New Testament scholar or something really challenging like that!
    Let’s make sure we are very clear on what has taken place here. A rather liberal evangelical scholar, president of a rather liberal evangelical seminary, has become acquainted with some rather liberal (in the LDS spectrum of things) LDS scholars. As a result of this interaction, he has joined other evangelicals in speaking in the LDS tabernacle (a truly unusual opportunity, to be sure). Despite having little or no first hand knowledge of LDS theology proper, let alone knowledge gained from the practical interaction that comes with doing apologetics on a regular basis over time, Dr. Mouw has chosen to denigrate, based upon his own ignorance of the issue, all of those who have sacrificed and ministered in the preceding years and decades to seek to bring the gospel to that very same city and to the very audience to whom he was speaking. In doing so, he did inestimable damage, but primarily to those Mormons who will not hear a clarion call to believe because those who would have been used to deliver it are so discouraged they do not make the effort any longer, or, because those LDS involved in seeking to hinder the proclamation of the gospel to the Mormons use his comments (as they have used so many evangelicals over the past few years, either willingly or deceptively) to create another barrier to the truth.
    Now, I need to mention at this point that many of the evangelicals who have aided the Mormons in blunting the call to repentance and faith insist that the beliefs of the bleeding edge of liberal Mormon scholarship are, in fact, the future of Mormonism, and that given the changes we have seen in emphasis and approach in the past three decades or so, we should no longer see the General Authorities as defining Mormonism, but the left wing of BYU. We surely have seen major changes in Mormonism’s marketing of itself over the past decades. Its growth has slowed, and many see some real weakness in a closer look at the numbers. The missionary approach has changed as well. Mormonism’s core is extremely susceptible to post-modernism and we may well be seeing the result. We do not know where Mormonism is going to end up in thirty or forty years. All of these things are quite true, but they also have precious little to do with the current situation in regard to Mouw’s statements. He “apologized” for what has taken place in the past. He gave as an example the accurate, proper presentation of the past and current LDS doctrine of God, derived from LDS sources. If Mormonism someday adopts a different view of God (to its epistemological destruction), then it will be necessary to accurately represent that new view. But this has not yet happened. So, in the past, it has not been Richard Mouw who has accurately represented LDS beliefs, but myself and the Tanners and Bill McKeever and everyone else who has labored for decades to bring the message of Christ to the Mormons. We cannot be held accountable to represent a Mormonism that does not yet exist: we can only speak to what is officially taught now, and that by those who are the representatives of their religion (not by our choosing, but by the choice of the LDS Church itself). I will thank Dr. Mouw to apologize to the LDS people for himself, not for those of us who have taken the time to actually study the writings of the leaders of the LDS faith, understand their beliefs, and accurately represent them. We have done so because you cannot proclaim the true God and the true Christ and the true gospel over against Mormonism’s falsehoods while lacking truth in your understanding and representation of their beliefs.
    The past number of years have been very hard on the LDS people. Radical, wild-eyed KJV Only “street preachers” have spewed hatred at them, ending all meaningful witness at the Conference. Reputation seeking evangelicals have handed their souls to FARMS and done inestimable damage as a result. And now, even as the reports of Ravi Zacharias’ comments have been mainly positive, he has to be preceded and followed by this kind of outlandish commentary. I truly pray God will place upon the hearts of His people to share the life-giving message of the true God with the LDS people in the regular pathways of life, for it seems that He has closed many of the former means of reaching them in our day.

  65. Adam Greenwood on December 3, 2004 at 4:22 pm

    I take no exception to Mr. (Dr.?) Enochs’ statement (and I admit that I do not see that it is at all inconsistent with Dr. Mouw’s apology). It seems to me that any real rapprochement will acknowledge the very important differences between our beliefs and the beliefs of evangelicals.

    James White, on the other hand . . .
    Though he is correct that Mormons have and do believe in deification, I do not believe that was the substance of Dr. Mouw’s apology. I think he was apologizing for the lies, deceptions, and scurrilities that have been addressed at us some by people like James White and even more by their followers and fellow-travelers.

  66. David King Landrith on December 3, 2004 at 4:27 pm

    I am very impressed by the content and tone of Mr. Enoch’s statement. If all evangelicals wrote and felt like he did, I don’t think there would be any need for an apology.

  67. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 4:30 pm

    Dear LDS Friends,

    As I read your comments on the possibility of a reapproachment between LDS and Evangelicals, I am sorry to say that Fuller Seminary President Dr. Mouw’s statements at the Mormon Tabernacle did incomprehensible damage between the two faith communities. Dr. Mouw in no way is the spokesperson for the more than 60 million Evangelical Christians who reside in this country, (most of us which were the deciding factor in getting president Bush re-elected) He is merely the president of a very liberal, left leaning seminary that is not indicative of Evangelicalism in America whatsoever.

    As a conservative, well connected, Evangelical Christian, I can tell you that I know almost all the scholars involved in this dialog controversy and I have spoken to many Evangelicals who are against these dialogs, and there is no question there is a firestorm of outrage against what Dr. Mouw said at the Mormon Tabernacle.

    In no way do Evangelicals support any LDS claim that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

    In no way do we Evangelicals support any claim that the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrines and Covenants are the Word of God.

    In no way do we believe in the LDS claim of their restoration of the Gospel, the necessity of LDS Temples, the doctrine of eternal progression or any LDS doctrine whatsoever.

    Contrary to what many LDS believe, the Evangelical church is not weak and apostate. We are very strong as this last presidential election conclusively demonstrates.

    We believe in Jesus Christ, the Trinity, Salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone and that the Bible alone is the Word of God.

    There are more than 50 million more Evangelicals than LDS in this country alone and we are a mighty force of the truth in the World, contrary to what you may have been taught.

  68. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 4:31 pm

    Well, there you have it, everyone. As theologianx points out, BYU can’t be taken to represent what Mormons believe, but that is okay because we have theologianx to do that for us.

    I actually think that both theologianx and Enochs miss Mouw’s point entirely. I would venture that Mouw in no way supports or sympathizes with actual LDS beliefs. He is surely as convinced that all Latter-day Saints are going to hell as is Enochs and theologianx. What Mouw was saying was that tirades like theologianx’s have been very un-Christian all these years, if for no other reason than that they run afoul of the Christian Golden Rule. Mouw was apologizing for behavior such as theologianx which tells Latter-day Saints what they believe rather than asking them what they believe. If you ask any random Latter-day Saint about the Adam-God theory, which seems to be the central bete noire for theologianx, you will not get a theological exposition citing the Journal of Discourses or second-hand recorded sermons of John Taylor (what Mouw described as “non-canonical” Mormon sources for good reason). Rather, most Latter-day Saints will say the same thing that Mouw attributed to us (revealing that it is not just a cabal of BYU Professors creating such spin): we have heard of it but don’t understand it and don’t think that it is official doctrine. As for the progression principles, Mouw was actually quite accurate that most Latter-day Saints, from my perspective, take it to mean we will “be like him” with the full implications of that statement. As Mouw pointed out, this idea is not without biblical basis.

  69. theologianx on December 3, 2004 at 4:38 pm

    Dr. Richard Mouw’s Comments at the LDS Tabernacle

    To all who are disturbed my my comments at the Tabernacle:

    I am pasting below the text of my actual comments at the Tabernacle event.

    The critical concerns raised are threefold, and I will offer at least an attempt at clarification regarding each: Some of this will be a repeat of specific things I have already written to some of you.

    First, some folks have asked who the “we” is that I apologized on behalf of when I said that that “we” evangelicals have sinned against Mormons by bearing false witness against them. I certainly did not mean to imply that every evangelical has sinned in this regard. Suppose I were to address an African-American gathering and say that we whites have sinned against you blacks. Who would deny that this is a correct assessment? But who would think that I was speaking about and on behalf of all white people?

    There is no question in my mind that there has been a discernible pattern of sinning against LDS folks in this regard. I could show, for example, how Walter Martin oversimplified Mormon teachings in his much-read books. But here is an obvious example of more recent vintage: when Dave Hunt writes a whole book whose main thesis is that Mormonism is Satanic in its inspiration and practice, I think this is bearing false witness. On a more technical point, I have received emails in the past few days where evangelicals have said that Mormonism teaches that God was once a human being like us, and we can become gods just like God now is. Mormon leaders have specifically stated that such a teaching, while stated by past leaders, is something they don’t understand and has no functioning place in presentday Mormon doctrine. Bob Millet has made the same point to many of us, and Stephen Robinson insisted, in the book he co-authored with Craig Blomberg, that this is not an official Mormon teaching, even though it can be found in non-canonical Mormon writings. The Ostlings, in their book on Mormonism, reported that Mormon leaders insist that the idea that God is omnipotent, omniscience-and much unlike what we are or could ever be-is more accurate than the simple notion that we are all becoming gods like God the Father is. A number of LDSwriters have been formulating the “becoming God” theme in terms that are common in Eastern Orthodoxy: that “we shall be like Him” in the sense of I John, but that we will never be Him.

    Another point: I have been told by many evangelicals that Mormons believe that the atoning work of Jesus Christ was accomplished in Golgotha and not at Calvary. Bob Millet has demonstrated from Mormon writings this this is not true-if the Cross had not occurred, he says, we could not be saved.

    Here, for example, is how the LDS writer Glenn Pearson described the requirements for salvation in a popular Mormon book of the 1960s:”There has to be down payment of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Who has a broken heart and contrite spirit? One who is stripped of pride and selfishness. One who has come down in the depths of humility and prostrated himself before the Lord in mighty prayer and supplication. He has realized the awful guilt of his sins and has pled for the blood of Christ to be made a covering to shield him from the face of a just God. Such a one has made the down payment.”

    In none of this am I saying that Mormons are “orthodox Christians.” But I do believe that there are elements in Mormon thought that if emphasized, while de-emphasizing other element, could constitute a message within Mormonism of salvation by grace alone through the blood of Jesus Christ. I will work to promote that cause. Most of you will disagree with that approach. But at the very least admit that we have not always been fair in our wholesale condemnation of Mormonism as simply a false religion.

    Second, some folks are upset about what they took as a call from me for evangelicals to join in the celebrations of the bicentennial of Joseph Smith’s birth. I can see how people heard me say that we evangelicals should join in “celebrating” Joseph Smith’s birthday, but that is not what I intended to say. Instead I said that I hoped that many evangelicals would participate in those events that would allow us all to “pay special attention to Joseph’s life and teachings” during this year.

    I was thinking and speaking too much as an academic on this one, and I know that doing so created unnecessary confusion. For example, I am going to take part in a special conference at the Library of Conference, where I will respond to an LDS scholar’s views on the contribution of Joseph’s theology. Those are the kinds of events where there can be critical give and take, and I see this bicentennial year as a time when we evangelicals can try to sort out the good from the bad in Joseph’s thought. There are some of his writings, for example, that sound quite orthodox, and others–such as the King Follett Discourse–that have views that are far removed from anything in the Christian traditon.

    But ordinary evangelicals do not have opportunities to engage in those kinds of serious theological panels–thus I was talking too much as an elitist! At the same time, I would think this would be a wonderful opportunity to put on some events in Utah, perhaps in cooperation with local LDS folks, where people talk together about some basic themes in Joseph’s thought. In our quiet dialogues, for example, we–evangelicals and LDS together–find many of his earliest statements to come close to a traditional Reformation (and Epistle to the Romans!) emphasis on salvation by grace alone, the unique substitutionary work of Christ on the Cross (and not just in Golgotha) and so on. The statements from D&C that I quoted, for example, sound straight out of an evangelical sermon. My own view is that instead of arguing primarily about the things we find offensive in Mormonism, it would be good to spend some time reflecting together about what we mean when we both say that Jesus alone saves,. and that he paid the debt for our sin on Calvary.

    For the record: I do not believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God; I do not accept the Book of Mormon as a legitimate revelation; I do not believe that temple baptism saves; I do not believe that all people will be saved. And it is precisely because of this that when my good friend Bob Millet says that his only plea when he gets to heaven is “the mercy and merit of Jesus Christ,” I want to respond by saying with enthusiasm, “Let’s keep talking!”

    I hope this helps a little. I am deeply sorry for causing distress in the evangelical community. I make no apology for wanting to foster gentle and reverent dialogue with Mormon friends. But I want people to be upset with me only about things I really meant to say–and I failed on this occasion, on one important point, to make my case clearly enough. Blessings!

    Opening remarks, Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City
    Sunday evening, Nov. 14, 2004

    Richard J. Mouw

    It is difficult for me to find adequate words to express how thrilled I am to be here this evening. Here we are, evangelical Protestants and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gathered together in this Salt Lake Tabernacle, for an event that is described as “An Evening of Friendship.” I am not being melodramatic when I say that this is surely an historic occasion. To be sure, there have long been friendships between some evangelicals and some LDS folks. But they have not appeared on the public radar screen. Our public relations between our two communities have been-to put it mildly-decidedly unfriendly. From the very beginning, when Joseph Smith organized his church in 1830, my evangelical forebears hurled angry accusations and vehement denunciations at the Mormon community-a practice that continues from some evangelical quarters even into this present day. And I think it is fair to say that some Mormons have on occasion responded in kind. Friendship with each other has not come easily for our two communities.
    But in recent times things have begun to change. Evangelicals and Mormons have worked together on important matters of public morality. Here in Utah, the Standing Together ministry has been willing to take some considerable risks in countering the more aggressive and disruptive evangelical attacks against the LDS church. And Pastor Greg Johnson’s well-attended dialogues with Professor Bob Millet have done much to model a new spirit of frank but friendly exchange about important faith topics. And now this evening we are experiencing the gracious hospitality of the LDS leadership, who have welcomed us all into this meeting place, which has played-and continues to play-such an important role in the life of the Mormon community.
    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. We have not been afraid to argue strenuously with each other, but our arguments have been conducted in a sincere desire genuinely to understand each other-and in the process we have formed some deep bonds of friendship. I know that I have learned much in this continuing dialogue, and I am now convinced that we evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community. Indeed, let me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: we have sinned against you. The God of the Scriptures makes it clear that it is a terrible thing to bear false witness against our neighbors, and we have been guilty of that sort of transgression in things we have said about you. We have told you what you believe without making a sincere effort first of all to ask you what you believe. We have made much of the need to provide you with a strong defense of traditional Christian convictions, regularly quoting the Apostle Peter’s mandate that we present to people like you a reasoned account of the hope that lies with in us-but we have not been careful to follow the same Apostle’s counsel that immediately follows that mandate, when he tells us that we must always make our case with “gentleness and reverence” toward those with whom we are speaking. Indeed, we have even on occasion demonized you, weaving conspiracy theories about what the LDS community is “really” trying to accomplish in the world. And even at our best, we have-and this is true of both of our communities-we have talked past each other, setting forth oversimplified and distorted accounts of what the other group believes.
    I have formed some wonderful friendships with Mormons in the past few years. These friends have helped me to see the ways in which I have often misinterpreted Mormon thought. To be sure, as a result of those conversations I also remained convinced that there are very real issues of disagreement between us-and that some of these issues are matters of eternal signficiance. But we can now discuss these topics as friends And tonight many more of our friends have come together in this place for a very public and large-scale “Evening of Friendship.” God be praised!
    In just a month and a half we will greet the year 2005, which marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith. During this year there will be many occasions to pay special attention to Joseph’s life and teachings, and I hope many in the evangelical community will take part in those events. But this evening we are not here to talk about Joseph Smith, but about the One whose birth we will celebrate again just before the bicentennial year of Joseph’s birth makes its appearance. This is the One about whose birth we sing-in words, I should add, that many of us love to hear sung by that great choir that sings these words in this Tabernacle-”the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
    What a wonderful thing it is that we can meet together to talk about the Lord Jesus and about who he is and what he has done on our behalf. There is much here to talk about. I personally take great encouragement from words that Joseph Smith uttered on the occasion of the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April of 1830: “we know,” Joseph said, “that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.” And then he added: “And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, and we know also that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength.”
    I greet you this evening in that spirit-as one who wants more than anything else to love and serve God with all my might, mind and strength, in the power made available by the amazing grace that sent the Lord Jesus to Bethlehem’s manger, and to the Garden of Gethsemane, and to the Cross of Calvary, where he shed his blood to pay the debt of our sin-a debt that we could never pay on our own. This is the spirit in which Ravi Zacharias is going to speak to us this evening-the spirit of devotion to the One whose name is above every name, the One who alone is mighty to save, and before whom someday every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that he is Lord to the glory of the Father. May this wonderful “Evening of Friendship” point us all to that great day. Thank you and God bless you.

  70. J. Stapley on December 3, 2004 at 4:41 pm

    Ed Enoch: I liked the tone of your first post better than the second. I imagine we could be friends.

    As for your second post: 1) I don’t expect you to believe what I believe (or remotely support it) in order for us to be friends.

    2) The whole 60 Million of us/Mighty Force thing was kind of lame. What are you trying to say? I’ll bet you the vast majority of those folks have no idea what they believe, but are socially evangelicals (a la Alan Wolfe’s Transformation of American Religion), though you could easily dispute my assertion.

  71. martinlutherlives on December 3, 2004 at 4:46 pm

    As I have read critical remarks about theologianx and Mr. Enochs’ comments, I think it takes a lot of courage for these guys to come into a LDS chat room and bear testimony to their beliefs with rationality and coherence. Contrary to what the LDS gentleman just said, theologianx and Mr. Enochs have not been on a “tirade” they have in a very articulate and sensible manner expressed their Evangelical theological beliefs eloquently. It is time to make a stand and say that while you might not agree with their beliefs, not all Evangelicals who disagree with LDS theology are “out to get” the Mormon church. They are just simply standing up for what they believe, and are not on a tirade.

  72. David King Landrith on December 3, 2004 at 4:50 pm

    Mr. Enochs

    You are correct in noting that both Mormons and evangelicals are predominately Republican and generally more active in politics than others

    And I don’t see any problem with your pointing out what you feels the differences are between Evangelicals and Mormons. Moreover, I find your characterization of the differences to be generally accurate, even though they are clearly explained from an evangelical point of view (what other point of view are you supposed to have?). Basically, the disagreement pits post-reformation and post-American-Independence interpretations of the Bible against elements of official and unofficial (though prevalent) LDS doctrine.

    I’m not familiar with what you may have said outside of this forum, but from what you’ve said here, you do not seem represent the type of Evangelical leader who is spreading lies about Mormons. Nevertheless, surely you are aware that many Evangelical leaders do spread lies about Mormonism. Why does acknowledging this and apologizing for it do incomprehensible damage?

  73. kathleenedwards on December 3, 2004 at 4:52 pm

    I fully agree with martinlutherlives. Mr. Enochs and theologianx were not on a tirade at all. Since when is simply expressing themselves a “tirade”?

    Just because a person disagrees with Mormon history and doctrine does not necessarily they are mean spirited people. The Evangelicals have a lot of good things, intelligent things to say about the LDS faith. Please, stop name calling against the Evangelicals. Many of them have raised the intellectual calibre of this chat room up infintely more than before.

  74. David King Landrith on December 3, 2004 at 5:00 pm

    martinlutherlives: Contrary to what the LDS gentleman just said, theologianx and Mr. Enochs have not been on a “tirade” they have in a very articulate and sensible manner expressed their Evangelical theological beliefs eloquently

    I don’t represent this blog in any sense (I sense a collective cringe at the mental image I’ve just created), and I don’t want to start a flame war, but I am personally quite pleased to see participation from evangelicals in this thread.

    If other people haven’t come out and said this, it is perhaps because we are used to seeing representatives from many, many different points of view express their views openly here at T&S—although this fact may run contrary the perception that many have of Mormons and their opinions.

    At any rate, I don’t think that anyone here wants to exclude evangelicals from this thread.

  75. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 5:01 pm

    I want to say to all my LDS friends that I come in the name of love.

    I come in the name of Jesus Christ.

    I come with no anger or malice in my heart. I simply come with the love of Christ and what I believe to be thr truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Two thousand years ago, a unique man named Jesus Christ of Nazareth emerged from the chaos of human existence with a profound message of hope and human redemption. Jesus Christ claimed to be the Son of God, lived a perfect life, performed incredible miracles, proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God and ultimately died on the Cross for the sins of humanity and rose again from the dead to give anyone who would sincerely turn from their sins and place their faith in Him eternal life.

    We teach that the Bible is God’s written revelation to man, and thus the sixty six books of the Bible given to us by the Holy Spirit constitute the plenary (inspired equally in all parts) Word of God (1Corinthians 2:7 14; 2 Peter 1:20 21).

    We teach that the Word of God is an objective, propositional revelation (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 2:13), verbally inspired in every word (2 Timothy 3:16), absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible, and God breathed. We teach the literal, grammatical historical interpretation of Scripture which affirms the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis present creation in six literal days (Genesis 1:31; Exodus 31:17).

    We teach that the Bible constitutes the only infallible rule of faith and practice (Matthew 5:18; 24:35; John 10:35; 16:12 13; 17:17; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15 17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20 21).

    We teach that God spoke in His written Word by a process of dual authorship. The Holy Spirit so superintended the human authors that, through their individual personalities and different styles of writing, they composed and recorded God’s Word to man (2 Peter 1:20 21) without error in the whole or in the part (Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16). We teach that, whereas there may be several applications of any given passage of Scripture, there is but one true interpretation. The meaning of Scripture is to be found as one diligently applies the literal grammatical historical method of interpretation under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (John 7:17; 16:12 15; 1 Corinthians 2:7 15; 1 John 2:20). It is the responsibility of believers to ascertain carefully the true intent and meaning of Scripture, recognizing that proper application is binding on all generations. Yet the truth of Scripture stands in judgment of men; never do men stand in judgment of it.

    God
    We teach that there is but one living and true God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5 7; 1 Corinthians 8:4), an infinite, all knowing Spirit (John 4:24), perfect in all His attributes, one in essence, eternally existing in three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14)—each equally deserving worship and obedience.

    God the Father
    We teach that God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity, orders and disposes all things according to His own purpose and grace (Psalm 145:8 9; 1 Corinthians 8:6). He is the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1 31; Ephesians 3:9). As the only absolute and omnipotent Ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Psalm 103:19; Romans 11:36). His fatherhood involves both His designation within the Trinity and His relationship with mankind. As Creator He is Father to all men (Ephesians 4:6), but He is spiritual Father only to believers (Romans 8:14; 2 Corinthians 6:18). He has decreed for His own glory all things that come to pass (Ephesians 1:11). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1 Chronicles 29:11). In His sovereignty He is neither author nor approver of sin (Habakkuk 1:13; John 8:38 47), nor does He abridge the accountability of moral, intelligent creatures (1 Peter 1:17). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own (Ephesians 1:4 6); He saves from sin all who come to Him through Jesus Christ; He adopts as his own all those who come to Him; and He becomes, upon adoption, Father to His own (John 1:12; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Hebrews 12:5 9).

    God the Son
    We teach that Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, possesses all the divine excellencies, and in these He is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father (John 10:30; 14:9).

    We teach that God the Father created according to His own will, through His Son, Jesus Christ, by whom all things continue in existence and in operation (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15 17; Hebrews 1:2).

    We teach that in the incarnation (God becoming man) Christ surrendered only the prerogatives of deity but nothing of the divine essence, either in degree or kind.

    In His incarnation, the eternally existing second Person of the Trinity accepted all the essential characteristics of humanity and so became the God Man (Philippians 2:5 8; Colossians 2:9). We teach that Jesus Christ represents humanity and deity in indivisible oneness (Micah 5:2; John 5:23; 14:9 10; Colossians 2:9).

    We teach that our Lord Jesus Christ was virgin born (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23, 25; Luke 1:26 35); that He was God incarnate (John 1:1, 14); and that the purpose of the incarnation was to reveal God, redeem men, and rule over God’s kingdom (Psalm 2:7 9; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:29; Philippians 2:9 11; Hebrews 7:25 26;
    1 Peter 1:18 19).

    We teach that, in the incarnation, the second person of the Trinity laid aside His right to the full prerogatives of coexistence with God, assumed the place of a Son, and took on an existence appropriate to a servant while never divesting Himself of His divine attributes (Philippians 2:5 8).

    We teach that our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through the shedding of His blood and sacrificial death on the cross and that His death was voluntary, vicarious, substitutionary, propitiatory, and redemptive (John 10:15; Romans 3:24 25; 5:8; 1 Peter 2:24).

    We teach that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead and that He is now ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He now mediates as our Advocate and High Priest (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:38 39; Acts 2:30 31; Romans 4:25; 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1).

    We teach that in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, God confirmed the deity of His Son and gave proof that God has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Jesus’ bodily resurrection is also the guarantee of a future resurrection life for all believers (John 5:26 29; 14:19; Romans 1:4; 4:25; 6:5 10; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23).

    We teach that Jesus Christ will return to receive the church, which is His Body, unto Himself at the rapture, and returning with His church in glory, will establish His millennial kingdom on earth (Acts 1:9 11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13 18; Revelation 20).

    We teach that the Lord Jesus Christ is the One through whom God will judge all mankind (John 5:22 23):

    a. Believers (1 Corinthians 3:10 15; 2 Corinthians 5:10)

    b. Living inhabitants of the earth at His glorious return (Matthew 25:31 46).

    c. Unbelieving dead at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11 15).

    As the Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), the Head of His Body the church (Ephesians 1:22; 5:23; Colossians 1:18), and the coming universal King, who will reign on the throne of David (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:31 33), He is the final Judge of all who fail to place their trust in Him as Lord and Savior (Matthew 25:14 46; Acts 17:30 31). We teach that on the basis of the efficacy of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the believing sinner is freed from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day the very presence of sin; and that he is declared righteous, given eternal life, and adopted into the family of God (Romans 3:25; 5:8 9; 2 Corinthians 5:14 15; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).

    God the Holy Spirit
    We teach that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, eternal, underived, possessing all the attributes of personality and deity including intellect (1 Corinthians 2:10 13), emotions (Ephesians 4:30), will (1 Corinthians 12:11), eternality (Hebrews 9:14), omnipresence (Psalm 139:7 10), omniscience (Isaiah 40:13 14), omnipotence (Romans 15:13), and truthfulness (John 16:13). In all the divine attributes He is coequal and consubstantial with the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19; Acts 5:3 4; 28:25 26; 1 Corinthians 12:4 6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; and Jeremiah 31:31 34 with Hebrews 10:15 17).

    We teach that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to execute the divine will with relation to all mankind. We recognize His sovereign activity in creation (Genesis 1:2), the incarnation (Matthew 1:18), the written revelation (2 Peter 1:20 21), and the work of salvation
    (John 3:5 7).

    We teach that the work of the Holy Spirit in this age began at Pentecost when He came from the Father as promised by Christ (John 14:16 17; 15:26) to initiate and complete the building of the Body of Christ, which is His church (1 Corinthians 12:13). The broad scope of His divine activity includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ and transforming believers into the image of Christ (John 16:7 9; Acts 1:5; 2:4; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:22).

    We teach that the Holy Spirit is the supernatural and sovereign Agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit also indwells, sanctifies, instructs, empowers them for service, and seals them unto the day of redemption (Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Ephesians 1:13).

    We teach that the Holy Spirit is the divine Teacher, who guided the apostles and prophets into all truth as they committed to writing God’s revelation, the Bible. Every believer possesses the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation, and it is the duty of all those born of the Spirit to be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit (John 16:13; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 5:18; 2 Peter 1:19 21; 1 John 2:20, 27).

    We teach that the Holy Spirit administers spiritual gifts to the church. The Holy Spirit glorifies neither Himself nor His gifts by ostentatious displays, but He does glorify Christ by implementing His work of redeeming the lost and building up believers in the most holy faith (John 16:13 14; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:4 11; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

    We teach, in this respect, that God the Holy Spirit is sovereign in the bestowing of all His gifts for the perfecting of the saints today and that speaking in tongues and the working of sign miracles in the beginning days of the church were for the purpose of pointing to and authenticating the apostles as revealers of divine truth, and were never intended to be characteristic of the lives of believers (1 Corinthians 12:4 11; 13:8 10; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:7 12; Hebrews 2:14).

  76. David King Landrith on December 3, 2004 at 5:07 pm

    Mr. Enochs,

    I think that this is an appropriate place to talk about the topic at hand, which concerns issues relevant to Dr. Richard Mouw’s Comments at the LDS Tabernacle. I don’t think that this is an appropriate place to witness to people. As Mormon’s we don’t even bear our own testimony to each other in this forum. It would be more appropriate to provide a link to content that you think would be useful.

  77. Adam Greenwood on December 3, 2004 at 5:10 pm

    Like Mr. Landrith, I am pleased to see courteous christians of the evangelical persuasion here. I’m also at a loss to understand how Dr. Mouw’s statement harmed attempts at friendship or weakened the evangelical witness.

  78. Keith on December 3, 2004 at 5:15 pm

    I have to admit that I’m a bit surprised to hear Ed Enochs call Fuller Theological Seminary a liberal theological school. Compared to what? I took classes at the Claremont School of Theology and heard folks from Fuller lecture often, saw the courses they taught, books they used, etc. Fuller was very conservative by comparison.

    I really don’t think Mouw was seeing any kind of unity coming to pass. I do think he was apologizing for simply misrepresenting Latter-day Saints. Nothing in Ed’s post seems to me to misrepresent what we believe, or present it in a mean-spirited way. The differences Ed brings out in his post are fundamental differences. If you believe one side of what he describes you are LDS; if you believe the other, you are Evangelical.

    Now, given those differences, would you (Ed Enochs) still say there are no other grounds on which we agree? And even you say there are no grounds on which we agree, would you then say those differences are so large that any kind of rapprochement is impossible? Even a getting together to work on social, moral issues with which we may have similar concerns?

    This is where Latter-day Saints are puzzled sometimes. We know there are things we disagree about–real differences. It’s the refusal to countenance us at all–even when there may be things we agree with and social issues we could work on and good will we might spread–that we don’t understand.

  79. J. Stapley on December 3, 2004 at 5:16 pm

    While I appreciate the affirmation of anyone’s faith (heaven knows, how often I have “born my testimony� to deaf ears). Ed, your last post was such an affirmation.

    I would love your engagement in the conversation, not just your affirmation as an outsider speaking in. It almost seems as if you are delivering a canned affirmation as if it were a dare from your evangelical friends as a testament against us.

  80. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 5:17 pm

    What bothers me about both matinlutherlives and kathleenedwards is that they don’t appear to have read the comments on this thread. Also, they, like Enochs and theologianx seem to miss Mouw’s point. He was not defending Latter-day Saints or supporting their views but merely apologizing that evangelicals have been so mean to us for the last 175 years. Both martinlutherlives and kathleenedwards will have a hard time convincing me that evangelicals have not been largely mean-spirited towards Latter-day Saints throughout the years. One of the reasons they will have a hard time doing it is because I grew up in Dallas and saw that mean-spiritedness from evangelicals on a daily basis. Add the fact that baptist churches down there are literally showing the Godmakers to their youth groups and how can you come to a different conclusion?

  81. martinlutherlives on December 3, 2004 at 5:31 pm

    In attempting to evaluate all the LDS ‘ responses made towards
    theologianx and kathleenedwards there is much to say.

    Evangelicalism does not have one centralized academic institution like the LDS has with BYU. We Evangelicals have hundreds of colleges across the United States of America.

    In comparison to Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, there are many, many more conservative Evangelical Seminaries and Bible colleges in comparison to Fuller Seminary which is definitely more conservative than Claremont Grad School of Religion, which is considered by mainstream Evangelicalism to be out of the bounds of orthodox Christianity since it supports homosexuality and such liberal things.

    Schools such as the Master’s College, BIOLA, Wheaton, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theologcal Seminary, the Moody Bible Institue, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dallas Theological Seminary, Westminister Theological Seminary, Multonomah Bible College, Bob Jones University, Philadephia College of the Bible and many, many more Evangelical grad schools and seminaries are infintely more conservative than the left leaning, anti-inerrancy, pro-woman pastor Fuller Theological Seminary of Pasadena California.

  82. Keith on December 3, 2004 at 5:48 pm

    “In comparison to Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, there are many, many more conservative Evangelical Seminaries and Bible colleges in comparison to Fuller Seminary which is definitely more conservative than Claremont Grad School of Religion, which is considered by mainstream Evangelicalism to be out of the bounds of orthodox Christianity since it supports homosexuality and such liberal things.”

    I went to the Claremont Graduate School. The School of Religion supports homosexuality? Never saw the school itself supporting it or condemning it. The Claremont school of Theology (though associated with the Grad school) is a different institution, by the way.

    The list of schools listed as more acceptable, give us a clearer notion of what conservative means for you and what it means for others. Would you agree that there could be more moderate, even perhaps liberal schools (or persons) that would still fit under the umbrella of Evangelical?

  83. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 5:48 pm

    I want to say that i have many LDS friends. I do not want to come across like I am mean towards the LDS. But I do have to say that many LDS have a misconception as to what we Evangelicals are and what we believe.

    Contrary to what many LDS believe. We are not apostate. We have not fallen away from the faith once and for all delievered to the saints (Jude 3).

    I cannot agree with some Evangelicals treatment of the LDS in the past any more than it is not my fault if some distant relative of mine back in the early 1800′s owned a slave.

    I can only stand for myself. I can only say that I am greatly offended when I hear LDS missionaries tell me that my faith is apostate, that we have no authority to minister, to baptize and administer the ordiances of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I do not wish to offend any LDS friend, but I simply do not believe there is any objective evidence that the Mormon Church restored the Gospel, that my church fell away all because some young guy said he saw an angel in a grove in upstate new york.

    Just because Joseph Smith said he saw an angel in a grove who gave him some golden plates, does not mean it happened. A lot of religious people like Mohammed, Sung Yung Moon, David Koresh and others have claimed to be prophets without evidence.

    I am not trying to be mean, but I simply do not agree with Joseph Smith and Brigham Young having many wives, claiming that the Bible has errors in it, the Evangelical Church is apostate, that god was once a man and became a god, and that we can become god’s too.

    I am not trying to be mean at all. I am just trying to bear my testimony as well. That I believe in Jesus Christ and I am not apostate contrary to what many LDS missionaries have told us Evangelicals as well.

  84. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 5:51 pm

    Enochs, I doubt anyone here thinks you’re trying to be mean. I also don’t think that Mouw’s apology incorporated the type of witnessing that you are doing. He explicitly stated that he was apologizing on behalf of evangelicals for how they have treated us; he was not apologizing for evangelicals’ beliefs regarding the falsity of Mormonism.

  85. Adam Greenwood on December 3, 2004 at 5:52 pm

    We appreciate the courtesy and civility that our Evangelical visitors have shown. We also appreciate their expositions of basic conservative evangelical beliefs. However, given the focus of this board and the length and thoroughness of the expositions we have already recieved, further attempts to expound on evangelical beliefs are inappropriate.

    On the same lines, further attempts to attack evangelical beliefs would also be inappropriate. We direct interested disputants to the ZLMB board:
    http://pub26.ezboard.com/bpacumenispages

  86. J. Stapley on December 3, 2004 at 5:57 pm

    Ed. This is much better. How about a couple points:

    I can only say that I am greatly offended when I hear LDS missionaries tell me that my faith is apostate, that we have no authority to minister, to baptize and administer the ordiances of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Any more offended than I could be by someone lumping Joseph smith with � …Sung Yung Moon, David Koresh and others have claimed to be prophets…�?

  87. kathleenedwards on December 3, 2004 at 5:58 pm

    Seems like Adam Greenwood and this LDS chat room desires to suppress all Evangelical comments and dissent. If you are going to make comments about the LDS/Evangelical dialog thing from the LDS side, please know we evangelicals are more than capable to defend ourselves with eloquence and love.

    We are merely trying to answer with love and in a calm manner what we believe are misconceptions by by Kaimi Wenger.

  88. Steve Evans on December 3, 2004 at 6:00 pm

    Ed, I like your comment a lot, because all too often on both sides of the mormon/evangelical divide we devalue the faith of the other. You don’t have to agree with Joseph Smith; you don’t have to believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. You’re not less of a person for not being a Mormon, (although you might like it :) ). At the same time, Mormons shouldn’t feel superior for professing those beliefs, either. We’d all benefit, I think, from just thanking God that we both at least read the Bible and love it, even if we’re taking a few different lessons from it. Can you imagine the benefits of being able to view your evangelical or mormon friends through the lens of commonalities rather than differences? It would be great. Not only that, we’d become peacemakers, rather than dividers.

    The word “apostate” is loaded with meaning, and clearly it’s a term that can be used in a derogatory way. It’s just rough way of saying that we disagree, in this case, and I think everybody should stop throwing it around.

  89. J. Stapley on December 3, 2004 at 6:02 pm

    I started to add to my last point but Steve, most eloquently explained what I wanted to get at.

  90. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 6:03 pm

    kathleenedwards, I recommend you read the comments on this thread.

  91. edenochs on December 3, 2004 at 6:03 pm

    I agree with kathleenedwards. It very much appears that this LDS chat room wants to suppress honest and articulate Evangelical comments.

    All I am saying is that we Evangelicals have been persecuted by the LDS as well. Every time a LDS missionary comes to our door and tells one of us 60 million Evangelicals in this nation that Joseph Smith came to “restore” the gospel and the Church that fell away, they are persecuting the Evangelicals who take great offense that we have apostasized.

  92. Kristine on December 3, 2004 at 6:05 pm

    Kathleen, this isn’t a chat room, it’s a blog, which means, in part, that we try to keep discussions somewhat focused on a particular question. It doesn’t always happen that way, as natural discussions meander, but all Adam is trying to do is limit the discussion a little bit, to focus on Dr. Mouw’s remarks and the reaction to them, rather than open things up into a free-for-all on differences between Mormons and Evangelicals. We don’t want to suppress dissent, and we’re happy to have you state your views *on the topic at hand.*

  93. Jim F on December 3, 2004 at 6:07 pm

    Why assume that because Adam has asked that responses stick to the topic at hand, namely Mouw’s apology to LDS for some past behaviors, that he or T&S is trying “to suppress all Evangelical comments and dissent”? Evangelical comments on that topic are quite welcome, but witnessing isn’t really a comment on that topic. Had Kaimi written a post witnessing that Evangelical beliefs are apostate, then Evangelical witnesses, explanations, and defenses would be appropriate. However, since he did not, they are not. Just as LDS attacks on evangelical beliefs are not relevant–as Adam also pointed out in responding to John Fowles.

  94. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 6:08 pm

    Enochs wrote Every time a LDS missionary comes to our door and tells one of us 60 million Evangelicals in this nation that Joseph Smith came to “restore� the gospel and the Church that fell away, they are persecuting the Evangelicals who take great offense that we have apostasized.

    If you think that that is persecution, then your “witnessing” on this thread will have to count as persecution too.

    I think you are missing the point. Adam is not trying to suppress evangelicals defending their faith. There are other threads on this blog where you can write long expositions about your doctrines. This particular thread is discussing Mouw’s statements and what they might mean. I think it is very disingenuous of you and kathleenedwards to accuse this blog and those who run it and contribute to it of being suppressive of evangelical views. There just isn’t any evidence of that either on this thread or on other threads.

  95. martinlutherlives on December 3, 2004 at 6:08 pm

    I agree with the two Evangelical contributers. Why do the LDS want to suppress the Evangelical point of view? Why does Mr. Greenwood wish to halt them from speaking their mind if they do so in a gracious manner even if they disagree?

    Is this still America? Can a man disagree with someone anymore?

    I think the discussion is going well. Enochs is not doing anything wrong. Let Enochs speak. Free Enochs!

  96. martinlutherlives on December 3, 2004 at 6:09 pm

    maybe I did not understand, i thought you meant Enochs had to go entirely.

  97. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 6:10 pm

    I don’t think martinlutherlives is reading any of the comments here.

  98. J. Stapley on December 3, 2004 at 6:11 pm

    …they are persecuting the Evangelicals who take great offense that we have apostasized.

    Ed, I will differ no on your choice of words. By choosing the term “persecution� you are embracing the politically correct dogma that evangelicals fought so hard against in the 80’s and 90’s.

  99. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 6:17 pm

    Dear LDS Friends.

    I personally am in contact with Dr. Mouw, Pastor Greg Johnson and Dr. Craig Hazen and many of the people who organized the LDS Tabernacle event. I have organized three of these events myself. I have spoken in a Mormon ward and stake. I am intimately involved in this entire controversy with Mouw. I thought you LDS would want to hear from an Evangelical who is involved not second hand knowledge. I recieved three separate e-mails from Mouw last week alone on this matter. I am just trying to point our to Kaimi Wenger
    that many, many Evangelicals did not agree with his comments and Dr. Mouw is under an onslaught of criticism right now over his comments. The Evangelical world is up in arms over the issue of him speaking such things in the temple. I thought you would want to hear from some one involved at a close level from the Evangelical perspective.

  100. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 6:18 pm

    I meant tabernacle not temple sorry

  101. Adam Greenwood on December 3, 2004 at 6:19 pm

    Some of Mr. Enochs remarks have been illuminating. He says that Mormons are persecuting him when they come proselyting and telling him that some of his current beliefs are mistaken. Given his definition of persecution, do you see why he would be upset at Dr. Mouw’s apology—apologizing for persecuting the Saints is tantamount in his mind to apologizing for trying to witness evangelical beliefs to the Saints.

    I don’t believe that the understanding of persecution that Dr. Mouw had in mind, but if he did, well, I’d be upset too if I were an evangelical.

  102. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 6:20 pm

    Ed, I am very curious as to how you can possibly be misunderstanding everyone’s comments here to such a large extent. People are indeed interested in your views about Mouw’s apology, but that is precisely the point: this particular thread is about Mouw’s apology and not theological differences between Latter-day Saints and evangelicals. Noone is trying to suppress your proselytizing; it’s just that evangelical theological doctrines are not the point of this thread.

  103. Adam Greenwood on December 3, 2004 at 6:21 pm

    John Fowles,
    I dont’ believe it’s Mr. Enochs who’s been crying censorship and suppression.

  104. J. Stapley on December 3, 2004 at 6:22 pm

    I thought you would want to hear from some one involved at a close level from the Evangelical perspective.

    We would. For me, I would like to know what is so controversial about him apologizing for the uninformed hate-speech (e.g.,The Gomakers). I’m not reading anything more into it than that.

  105. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 6:23 pm

    Lastly, I have been to General Conference and heard Gordon B. Hinckley speak in person, I have been to BYU and spoken to Dr, Millet on a fe different occasions. I have tried to do what I can to have a good testimony among the LDS. All I am merely pointing out that Dr. Mouw is not in the mainstream of conservative Evangelicalism. I love you guys and I mean no offense. I have more problems with Dr. Mouw than you LDS folks.

  106. Adam Greenwood on December 3, 2004 at 6:23 pm

    Don’t you mean The Chessmakers?

  107. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 6:24 pm

    Adam, Enochs wrote I agree with kathleenedwards. It very much appears that this LDS chat room wants to suppress honest and articulate Evangelical comments.

    Thus, he is saying the same thing as martinlutherlives and kathleenedwards.

  108. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 6:25 pm

    OK, I understand now. I thought I was getting kicked off completely for no good reason. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

  109. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 6:26 pm

    I don’t think Enochs, martinlutherlives, or kathleenedwards are going to respond direcly to anyone or engage seriously in this discussion.

  110. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 6:29 pm

    let’s forget who said what, I understand the purpose of this chat room now. I am sorry I misunderstood. I can give you references from good standing LDS in Southern California about the sincerity of my love for the LDS. I am in good standing with the Bishop and Stake President of my local area. I do not want to start a conflict with you my LDS friends. I am very concerned with Dr. Mouw that’s all.

  111. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 6:30 pm

    Dear Mr. Fowles,

    I appeal to your duty as being a good LDS neighbor to me, not to insult me here on this chat room. I will answer any question given to me.

  112. J. Stapley on December 3, 2004 at 6:34 pm

    Ed: How about questions #86 & 104

  113. Gordon Smith on December 3, 2004 at 6:34 pm

    Ed,

    Can you answer the question so many have been asking: why does an Dr. Mouw’s apology offend you?

    He said: “We evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community. Indeed, let me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: we have sinned against you.” Is it not true that “evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community”? Or is there something else in his speech that you found controversial?

  114. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 6:34 pm

    Enochs, I have not violated my Christian duty to you (“love thy neighbor as thyself,” a work that Christ expects of his followers) by pointing out that this blog is not suppressing you. I am glad to see that you will engage actively in this discussion. What do you think of the idea that Mouw is merely apologizing for the way evangelicals have treated Latter-day Saints over the years and that he is not defending or supporting any LDS beliefs?

  115. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 6:43 pm

    My Dear LDS Friends,

    Let me start off this post by apologizing for myself. I am sorry if I misunderstood you. I love the LDS church with the entirety of my being and soul. My life is your life, my food is your food and I would gladly lay down my life for my LDS friends in a heart beat.

    I have no calms with the Mormon Church when it comes to the love I have experienced from you. I disagree with your theology and beliefs but I love you.

    The difficulty with Dr. Mouw is a very “in house” one. It would be similar to how you would view an ex-communicated BYU professor speaking for you.

    We conservatives have grave problems with Fuller Seminary and do not want anything to do with it. We are offended because many LDS think he spoke for all Evangelicals and he did not.

    He said several things at the Tabernacle that did not represent all evangelicals especially when he did not clarify himself about who he was apologizing for and that we evangelicals should celebrate the 200 year anniversary of Joesph Smith, somthing ourageous for us Evangelicals, something Mouw latter apologized and clarifed.

    Essentially, I want to say that Mouw does not speak for us anymore than that Quinn guy, the former BUY history professor speaks for you.

    I love you guys and I will always love you.

  116. Clark on December 3, 2004 at 6:45 pm

    If we define persecution too broadly it seems to lose meaning. It seems that there is a fundamental difference between films like the Godmakers, still being shown, and simply witnessing what one believes about ones own religion. I certainly don’t mind when Evangelical friends disagree with me on theology. Nor does it bother me if they think me apostate or vice versa. Where I think many Mormons are hurt is when we are told we are devils or worshipping the devil, or that we worship a different Jesus (not just that we believe different things about the same historic figure) and so forth.

    So I think we have to be careful with terms. If a Mormon or an Evangelical can’t handle that someone disagrees with them, they may indeed take offense. And certainly there are people like that out there. However just as Evangelicals state that they often feel persecuted by the name calling of some of the Secular Liberals the past few weeks due to the election, and complain about misinformation, I think Evangelicals ought consider whether they are doing the same thing.

    I say that recognizing that Mormons hardly have pure hands in all this and have done our share of persecuting as well. I’ve gotten quite angry and some Mormons in Utah who won’t let their children associate with non-Mormons for instance. I’d note that the church leaders have condemned such activities. One wishes for similar condemnation by Evangelical leaders. One hoped that Dr. Mouw’s comments were a step in that direction. Instead what I hear is a justification of current persecution by suggesting that merely believing differently from an Evangelical is persecuting them…

  117. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 6:45 pm

    I am sorry for my misspelled words, this is all coming hot and heavy for me.

  118. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 6:47 pm

    Enochs, can Mouw possibly have been speaking for evangelicals more broadly when he apologized that a characteristic technique of evangelical dialogue towards Latter-day Saints has been to misconstrue what Latter-day Saints believe (hence Mouw’s use of the biblical “bearing false witness”). I for one would hope that many, many evangelicals share this sentiment of Mouw’s.

    I can very much understand that one of the main things that offended you in Mouw’s words was that evangelicals should celebrate the anniversary of Joseph Smith’s birth. That was perhaps indeed unwarranted, and, even if a sincere personal position of Mouw’s, perhaps shouldn’t have been attributed to all evangelicals.

  119. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 6:48 pm

    (if I were an evangelical I wouldn’t want to celebrate JS’s birth.)

  120. Clark on December 3, 2004 at 6:48 pm

    Regarding your last comments, will you speak to the issue Mouw brings up? i.e. intentional misrepresentations? I’ll certainly condemn misrepresentations by Mormons of Catholic, Evangelical or other beliefs. Indeed I frequently have. I’m just very confused and disturbed that some Evangelical (usually those of a conservative stripe) do not.

  121. Gordon Smith on December 3, 2004 at 6:56 pm

    Ok, I think I am getting some clarity on this.

    What Mormon’s heard from Dr. Mouw in the Tabernacle: “We evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community. Indeed, let me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: we have sinned against you.â€? Mormons cheer.

    What Evangelicals heard from Dr. Mouw in the Tabernacle: “In just a month and a half we will greet the year 2005, which marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith. During this year there will be many occasions to pay special attention to Joseph’s life and teachings, and I hope many in the evangelical community will take part in those events.” Evangelicals complain.

    Probably too simple, but that seems to capture the basic problem.

  122. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 6:56 pm

    Regarding #86 and 104

    I want to say I reject the GodMakers as well. I want to stand for a very loving and scholarly approach in this matter with the LDS.

    In my ref. to Sun Yung Moon, Mohammed and Koresh that they all said they saw an angel or god similar to Joseph Smith, that they claim shows their religion to be true.

    I am saying that just because a person says he saw an angel does not mean he in fact did so.

    Anyone can make that claim.

    I have studied LDS theology since i was a teenager and i see no evidence to persuade me that Joseph Smith saw an angel, God the Father and Jesus Christ.

    Another big, big problem we conservatives have with Mouw is that we feel that he does not understand LDS theology carefully.

    When you say “God”, Jesus Christ, Salvation, exaltation and etc, you mean something entirely different than what we do.

    We believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, you don’t, our conception of God is diffrent than yours, Mouw fails to make that point well enogh for us.

  123. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 6:59 pm

    Dear Sirs,

    Let us address each other as Mr. or you can call me “Ed”, let’s not call each other Enochs, it is too confrontational, Let’s rise above the de-humanization of the internet and love and respect each other.

    I am a person. Let’s love another as Christ loved us.

  124. john fowles on December 3, 2004 at 7:08 pm

    Ed, if you take issue with the Godmakers, then I’m just curious as to what you have to say to the many pastors who are showing it to their youth groups across the bible belt? From your posture so far on this thread, I could imagine that your words would closely resemble Mouw’s words in the part where he apologized for calculated misrepresentation (“bearing false witness” which is literally a sin under the Ten Commandments) and appealed for better communication. If you would take a similar position on that note, then does that imply that, in truth, you were just shocked at the ecumenical tone of Mouw’s words, particularly his suggestion that evangelicals participate in celebrations of Joseph Smith’s birth?

  125. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 7:15 pm

    Dr. Mr. Fowles,

    I think that it is important to understand the way the Evangelical churches are independant of each other. We have no outside authority telling us what we can and cannot do. I do not support the film the “godmakers” and a lot of other Evangelicals do not either.

    I represent a new brand of conservative Evangelical. Intellectual and kind in approach, but very conservative in theology.

    I am sorry for the “godmakers” I do not support it whatsoever.

    Sincerely in Christ,
    Ed

  126. Keith on December 3, 2004 at 7:17 pm

    “I want to say I reject the GodMakers as well. I want to stand for a very loving and scholarly approach in this matter with the LDS.”

    Ed, I think this sort of thing is exactly the kind of thing Mouw wants as well, and the kind of thing (the GodMakers) he was apologizing for.

    “Another big, big problem we conservatives have with Mouw is that we feel that he does not understand LDS theology carefully.”

    I can see how this could be a matter of concern. I suspect, however, that he has had some study of Latter-day Saint thought and that some of this comes from interaction with LDS folks at gatherings here and there (I think there may have been a class or a kind of seminar at Fuller). You seem to have studied with Latter-day Saints some, is that right? I think that would make what you say more legitimate–you’ve heard from LDS (not from someone else’s representation) what it is we believe. I think the phenomenon of not letting someone else present what they believe, rather than simply taking someone else’s presentation, or immediately taking what I think they mean, is the kind of thing Mouw was saying has been done too often and for which he was apologizing. There will be plenty to disagree with, but Mouw (and I think you and I) wants us disagreeing with the real thing, not a false representation of it.

  127. Frank McIntyre on December 3, 2004 at 7:19 pm

    Ed,

    OK, glad we cleared that up. We all dislike the Godmakers. We also understand that Evangelicals don’t believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet. As for who is doing a disservice, I think the Godmakers did far more damage than Mouw in terms of your mission of converting LDS people to Evangelical Christianity.

    Movies and books along those lines discredit your work by association. I think this is far more damaging that Mouw’s tepid acknowledgement of the role of Joseph Smith. No one seriously thinks that most conservative Evangelicals appreciate Joseph Smith. Kaimi (the thread’s author) is actually fairly suspicious of Evangelical-Mormon hugathons. In fact, probably very few Mormons in the world know anything about Mouw or care in the least what he said. But even as a young boy growing up outside of Utah, I knew that there were these people telling lies about my Church in a movie called the GodMakers. And I knew that some of the Church’s in the area were screening this movie. Inasmuch as anyone associates those liars with evangelicals, that is very bad public relations for you. I know that they are not your fault and not your church, but they are hurting you just the same.

    You have a sincere desire to show that you are a friend to LDS people and so wish to bring them to what you believe to be true. Welcome to the party. We all want that, though we disagree about truth. Far and away the people that are most hurting your effort to do that are the rabid Godmaker-style anti-Mormons who call themselves evangelical Christians. They poison the well so badly that many Mormons are not going to be interested in your message. This is the real thing evangelicals should be concerned about. Not Mouw.

  128. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 7:30 pm

    Dear LDS Friends,

    I cannot defend what some of my Evangelical brethren have done to the LDS in times past or even now. All I can do is act for myself.

    I want to throw down the gauntlet here and right now against any Evangelical who does not love his or her LDS neighbor. I oppose this mean spirited Evangelical approach as much as I do Mouw.

    All I want to know is what the LDS church truly believes, I hear from so many LDS so many diffrent things. Some say god was once a man and we can become gods others say no we can’t.

    Some LDS have told me we are saved by grace alone in Christ alone, others have said we are saved by our works.

    I want to stop this fighting and get to the points, the real points that divide us.

    your friend,
    Ed

  129. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 7:32 pm

    If anyone is interested in an example of my style in this respect please see my personal blog at:

    http://sabbathfreedom.blogspot.com/

  130. Kathleen Edwards on December 3, 2004 at 9:50 pm

    I was very impressed with the Evangelical scholar that was on this chat site awhile back, does anyone know how to get a hold of him? What was his name again? Where was he from?

  131. tommysmith on December 3, 2004 at 9:52 pm

    He was a very articulate young man whoever he was!

  132. J. Stapley on December 3, 2004 at 10:15 pm

    Ed: Thank you for laboring with us while we worked out our communication. And thank you for the acknowledgement of your position vis a vis the LDS Faith.

    As for where the Mormon church stands, that can be a little bit more difficult as there is a long tradition of dynamism. While I think that current Orthodoxy (as indicated by general conference, etc.) and the vast majority of the members will attest that we are only saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, they will mostly add that we must qualify for the grace. This is not to far distant than where you are at, I believe: in order to have the grace and be “saved� in the evangelical sense, one must be “born again�, thus qualifying for the grace (for this reason the evangelical would assert that I as an LDS don’t qualify for the grace). The Mormon position is that we qualify in a different manner.

    As for the nature of God, there is a much greater diversity in the Mormon church. There are those, like me, who believe that no human being will attain “Godhood� and be a “Father in Heaven�, basing beliefs on Scripture and Joseph Smith. However, many others in the Faith believe that we do progress to Godhood. Correct me if I am wrong anybody, but I believe that there is no official position of the Church.

  133. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 10:27 pm

    would like to first of introduce myself, my name is Lee Edward Enochs, and I have been an Evangelical Christian for almost 20 years. I have had the blessing of have been educated at some of Evangelicalism’s most respected universities and graduate schools. My singular focus and purpose in human existence is to give glory to God and proclaim the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the World, whoe died on the cross and rose again from the dead to give us life eternal.

    I believe in attempting to work towards understanding one another, it is of paramount importance that we discuss the issues that divide us, in a loving and coherent manner, without using hostile and unnecessary language that only serves to widen the divide that is between us (1 Corinthians 13).

    I believe it is also fundamentally important when Evangelical Christians and Mormons get together to discuss the issues of theology that divide us that we realize that there while we use the same theological terminology such as “God”, “Jesus Christ”, “Exaltation” and etc., there is a vastly different semantical meaning between the LDS and the Evangelicals on these important terms. For example, when LDS use the term “salvation” there is not a one to one correspondence with what we believe and what the LDS believe.

    Another vastly important issue that Evangelicals and LDS need to know about their theological differences, that they are not one and the same and there are only three possibilities that we can conclude about the differences between the LDS and Evangelical Christianity and thy are as follows;

    1) LDS theology is true and all other options are untrue.

    2) Evangelical theology is true and all options are untrue. (or)

    3) Evangelical theology and LDS theology are both equally erroneous and another option is true.

    The logical law of non contradiction conclusively demonstrates that two mutually exclusive theological propositions cannot simultaneously true in the same way at the same time.

    Therefore, when Evangelicals and LDS speak to one another, it is of paramount importance we keep a logically coherent understanding of the nature of truth to be able to proceed to any degree of certainty in these discussions.

    I want to tell you I love you all and I would like to discuss these things with you in the future my LDS friends.

    Sincerely in Jesus Christ,

    Lee Edward “Ed” Enochs
    Executive Director,
    Conservatives for California

    http://www.conservativesforcalifornia.com/

  134. J. Stapley on December 3, 2004 at 10:35 pm

    Ed. It can be a little more complex though. Would you not agree that there are mutually exclusive camps under the “evangelical umbrella”?

  135. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 11:04 pm

    I agree that there are many bogus and fradulent people out there that claim to be “Evangelical” but are in fact far from the historic Evangelical faith proclaimed by Martin Luther and John Calvin and adhered to by over one hundred million Evangelicals world wide. The Evangelical faith has a long and storied history and we are unified as to the doctrines of the trinity, salvation by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, the Bible alone is the world of God and the need for us to live a godly life. If anyone does not adhere to these doctrines than we conservatives do not really see them as “Evangelicals” at all.

  136. Matt Evans on December 3, 2004 at 11:12 pm

    Ed: If anyone does not adhere to these doctrines then we conservatives do not really see them as “Evangelicals� at all.

    Hi Ed, welcome to Times & Seasons. It’s nice to have someone who is willing to discuss differences respectfully. I have a question about your last comment, as I don’t have a good feel for how various Christian groups view each other. Do conservative Evangelicals like yourself believe that those who “claim to be Evangelical” will be saved, even though they do not adhere to the important doctrines you list? In other words, is belief in those doctrines necessary to salvation?

  137. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 11:22 pm

    I think there are some things that we Evangelicals and you LDS can agree on in the areas of morality, civic duty and the traditional family unit.

    There is no question that many LDS families are hard working and love one another very deeply. There is no question that the LDS love their country and see service in the armed forces as a sacred duty.

    I commend the LDS faith for their hard work and dedication towards a better America and the preservation of the traditional family unit.

    President Hinckley’s speech against pornography at the general conference this year was excellent and I fully concur with him on this terrible vice. I want to say that the vast majority of Mormons that I know are very ethical and nice people. I love you all so very much! I have a lot of disagreements with you on some major theological issues such as the reliability of Joseph Smith, the BOM, God, Salvation, eternal progression and etc, but as far as being a nice and loving people, you guys can’t be topped!

    i will post this in the other LDS folder too.

    With love in Jesus,
    Ed

  138. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 11:32 pm

    To answer your question, I do believe there are “essential” doctrines that all people irrespective of their particular cultual-sociological backgrounds must believe in order to be saved and they are as follows; (not all people will have full understanding of these things, but when confronted with these truths they cannot deny them)

    1) They must believe in the existence of only one true and living God.

    2) They must believe that God is holy, and that mankind sinned against God and that sin has separated us from God.

    3) They must understand and believe that their good works and human effort cannot save them, but that salvation is by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone who died on the cross and rose again from the dead in order to give them eternal life through faith in His name and repentance from their sins.

    4) A person cannot deny the doctrine of the Trinity and be saved. One God, three distinct persons within that one God. (They do not have to have a full understanding of the Trinity, but the Holy Spirit will not produce a contrary belief in a true Christian.)

    I believe these doctrines are as C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity” as he put it. (by the way I am glad they sell that Lewis book in the BYU bookstore).

  139. Ivan Wolfe on December 3, 2004 at 11:35 pm

    Ed -

    In regards to requirement 4:

    What is your stance on the evangelical movement called “social trinitarianism”?

  140. Ed Enochs on December 3, 2004 at 11:48 pm

    Ivan,

    Thanks for your question. I am a complete proponent of the historic “Latin” version of the Trinity as espoused by Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther and all other orthodox adherents of the historic Christian faith. Even more importantly, I believe the exclusively infallible, inerrant, authoratative and inspired Word of God clearly teaches the traditional western or “latin” version of the Trinity or “tri-unity of God” in counter distinction to the “social trinitarianism” you refer to.

    social trinitarianism appears to blur or blend the distinction between the distinct persons within the Godhead which the Sacred Scriptures say are distinct but share the same essence or substance as God the Father. social trinitarianism appears to be a form of dynamic monarchis, or more commonly known as “modalism” wherein there is only one person within the Trinity who expresses himself in three modes of being, Please correct me if I am not articulating the social trinitarianism view correctly.

  141. HD on December 4, 2004 at 12:43 am

    I have had the blessing of have been educated at some of Evangelicalism’s most respected universities and graduate schools.

    Ed, where have you been educated?

  142. Clark on December 4, 2004 at 12:49 am

    Ed, that isn’t really social trinitiarianism. However it is true that various people have critiqued Cornelius Plantinga over its orthodoxy. Basically Social Trinitarianism simply reverses the relationship between the hypostasis and the ousia in the Trinity. (Short answer) So if anything it is much farther removed from modalism or blurring the persons than normal Trinitarianism. The main objection is over the ontology of the ousia.

  143. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 12:53 am

    I attended Biola University, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago and the Master’s Seminary

  144. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 12:56 am

    I need to look into the issue of Plantinga’s beliefs, I do not deviate from historic Trinitarianism though.

  145. Gordon Smith on December 4, 2004 at 12:57 am

    Ed, I notice that you share an IP address with tommysmith, kathleenedwards, martinlutherlives, and theologianx. Are you all part of the same congregation … or the same family? The coordination of your appearance on this site was obvious, but I am just curious about the thinking behind that. And why the others are making bizarre comments like those that appear in #130 and #131 above.

  146. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 1:14 am

    you had to be here for that, there were a lot of people chiming in when we evangelicals thought we couldn’t say anything. We cleared that all up hours ago. I have been here for hours its time for me to go to bed, i love you guys. good night.

  147. Rob Briggs on December 4, 2004 at 1:27 am

    Mr. Enochs: “I believe it is also fundamentally important when Evangelical Christians and Mormons get together to discuss the issues of theology that divide us . . .”

    Actually, I think that’s part of the vast problem: We get together to discuss what DIVIDES us instead of the huge areas of agreement that UNITE us.

    Still, Mr. Enochs, I liked the tone of your post.

  148. john fowles on December 4, 2004 at 10:52 am

    J. Stapley: you are also overlooking the difference between the LDS and evangelical conception of what being saved means. On one hand, a mere evangelical perspective of being saved by the grace of Christ alone fits perfectly for LDS belief. For example, even those in the telestial kingdom are “saved” in the naked evangelical sense–they are resurrected and receive this glory but it is only by the pure grace of Christ, since they have not “qualified” for something greater through adherence to ordinances performed by priesthood authority. Because the LDS concept of salvation is much more nuanced than the evangelical conception of it (i.e. the LDS concept of the Spirit World pretty much encompasses the evangelical heaven/hell dichotomy, but that, like this life, is also only a temporary station before the resurrection and final judgment), the LDS doctrine(s) of salvation can fully incorporate the evangelical sense of being saved. On the other hand, the fuller view of salvation that LDS doctrine contains is entirely inimical to core evangelical teachings (i.e. the LDS belief that all people will be resurrected in order to be judged of their works in the flesh or the idea of three kingdoms of glory). But I agree with you that the grace of Christ alone can bridge the gap through the unconditional resurrection and even in the conditional judgment according to works, because even those who inherit the celestial kingdom will need to rely on the grace of Christ (through the continual process of repentence, forgiveness, and enduring to the end during mortality) to make up the difference in what was expected of them and what they have actually done. Still, those who do inherit the celestial kingdom will have “qualified” for it by virtue of the ordinances performed and the forgiveness of their sins through repentence enabled by the Atonement.

    Ed, you mentioned that there are many evangelicals who are “bogus and fraudulent” because they “are in fact far from the historic Evangelical faith proclaimed by Martin Luther and John Calvin and adhered to by over one hundred million Evangelicals world wide.” What do make of the idea that Luther and Calvin themselves differed on these views and that, historically, if I am not mistaken, Lutherans and Calvinists battled it out in bloody wars in north/western Europe over these issues? Also, do I understand you correctly in saying that we are saved by the grace of Christ alone, but there are indeed a few things that we have to do on our part, namely believe the four items you listed, before that grace applies to us? If that is a correct restatement of your position based on what you have written, then I think there is definitely more common ground than you are allowing for, because in order to qualify for that grace that alone saves us, both Latter-day Saints and evangelicals, if you have accurately reflected the evangelical position, believe that we as individuals figure into the equation by having to do something from our end to “qualify” for that grace: Latter-day Saints believe that faith, repentence, baptism and the receipt of the Gift of the Holy Ghost accomplish this; evangelicals believe, according to what you have written, that believing the four items you mentioned qualifies one for the grace. In one sense, the LDS view actually relies more on the grace of Christ than does the evangelical view. That is because Latter-day Saints believe that the grace of Christ is effective to save even those who have not qualified themselves, but these people receive a lesser degree of salvation; yet it is still salvation.

    Clark and Ed: Ed mentioned his strict adherence to “the historic “Latinâ€? version of the Trinity as espoused by Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther and all other orthodox adherents of the historic Christian faith.” Clark actually incorporated the terminology of the ideas propounded by some of these thinkers, stating that “Basically Social Trinitarianism simply reverses the relationship between the hypostasis and the ousia in the Trinity. (Short answer) So if anything it is much farther removed from modalism or blurring the persons than normal Trinitarianism. The main objection is over the ontology of the ousia.” Neither the philosophers or reformers the Ed mentioned nor the philosophies or theologies that Clark mentioned are actually “biblical” in the sense insisted on by Ed. What makes Ed’s list of people any more reliable than Joseph Smith? The fact that they were philosophers or doctors of theology? So Ed’s view of the teachings of the bible is that they can only be understood by a philosopher or doctor of theology? And the terms Clark used, although common in theological discussions trying to make sense of an ambiguous Bible, are not biblical either. They are invented by men after the fact to try to express an interpretation of biblical passages or concepts. At the very best, it is a vocabulary that excludes the “ordinary” reader of the Bible and believer in Jesus Christ; at the very worst, it affirmatively alienates such, since the terms are indeed quite alien and aritificial. And so, because of this construct required to interpret the Bible according to the evangelical perspective, I am reminded of R. Douglas Phillips’s words in the Introduction to Nibley’s The World and the Prophets:

    It is thus abundantly clear that the whole philosophical theological enterprise, however well intended, is incompatible with the existence of continuing revelation. For that reason, there can never be a theology, a systematic theology as such, in the true Church, and thus we should be overwhelmingly grateful for our living prophets.

    (vii)

    My point with this is that Ed is right in that very significant aspects of our respective beliefs divide us. One of the main things is the LDS belief in living prophets that is inimical to evangelical belief that the word of God stopped with Constantine’s compilation of the Bible in circa. 325 A.D. In other words, no one, particularly Mouw, is trying to conflate LDS and evangelical beliefs or maintain that the two are not mutually exclusive of each other; but that does not mean there is not common ground that can provide a basis for a friendship and cooperation (though, in my opinion, not ecumenicalism, which implies a retreat from certain claims to truth and/or authority) in the life issues that we face everyday.

  149. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 12:06 pm

    Dear LDS Friends,

    One of the biggest issues that I think cause problems when Evangelicals and LDS speak to each other on theological issues, is the Evangelical misunderstanding of what official doctrine is in the LDS church. (what is authority and what is not)

    Many of us treat LDS theology as though we were dealing with historic Roman Catholicism. We have felt that every time Joseph Smith and Brigham Young have spoken in times past, their every saying became official LDS doctrine. And now, after listening to President Hinckley, the 12, the 70, LDS theologians, Bishops, Stake Presidents and friends speak, it appears this is just not the case.

    It appears that just like there is an “ex cathedra” or official teaching of Roman Catholicism made by the Pope and then there is just his mere conjecture, the LDS believe there are different degrees of authority in the sayings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

    I personally do not care what Walter Martin, Ed Dekker and other hard-line Evangelicals have said about the LDS church, I want to go straight to the source myself. I am beginning to see that there is a big difference between what I have been taught that the Mormon church believes and what you guys are actually saying.

    I have been speaking to Mormons for over twenty years and I do not know what your church officially teaches.

    Sincerely in Christ.
    Ed

  150. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 12:08 pm

    Mr. John Fowles, you are a very bright and articulate man. Maybe you need to be one of the leaders being involved in these discussions between Evangelicals and LDS.

  151. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 6:35 pm

    Dear LDS Friends,

    As you know many of my Evangelical friends and I are rejecting the acrimonous tendancies of our ecclesiastical forefathers and are attempting to engage in cordial discussion with the LDS on certain points of theology that trouble us. One such point of seeming irreconciable contrast is the LDS conception of God. Evangelicals very concerned that in the final analysis the LDS are believing in polytheism.

    As you know some LDS scholars in attempting to explain the Mormon understanding of exaltation, or becoming like god, are pointing to the Eastern Orthodox view on Theosis.

    One particular work cited by LDS Scholars is
    The work in question is Jordan Vajda, “Partakers of the Divine Nature”: A Comparative Analysis of the Patristic and Mormon Doctrines of Divinization,
    master’s thesis, Graduate Theological Union at the
    University of California, Berkeley, 1998, republished under the same title as Occasional Paper No. 3 by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (Provo, Utah, 2002).

    In this work, Father Vajda notes that the writings of the early Church fathers clearly express a belief in the divine potential of human beings – that we can become “gods” through the grace of Christ and partake in the divine nature. In his introduction to the FARMS
    publication, he states:

    The historic Christian doctrine of salvation –
    theosis, i.e., human divinization — for too long has been forgotten by too many Christians, despite the fact that this teaching is a part of that common inheritance — first millennium Christianity — that unites Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians

    I have been personally thinking a lot about the recent development in LDS theology that argues that their conception of “exaltation” is similar to that of the “Theosis” view of historic Eastern Orthodoxy.

    As a guy who has spent considerable time in debate with the Greek Orthodox Church in the recent past, I know for certain the the followers of Eastern Orthodoxy would be aghast to learn that some LDS theologians are using their concept of “Theosis” to explain their conception of eternal progression and
    exaltation.

    Rev. Fr. George C. Papademetriou on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America official website is highly unfavorable toward the Mormon church, so it is very odd to see some LDS scholars using the Eastern Orthodox Theosis view to explain their own doctrine of eternal progression.

    As you know, “Theosis” in Eastern Orthodoxy, means deification or divinization, where there is a call for the individual to become holy and ultimately be in union with God. This process begins in this life and is ultimately consummated at a Orthodox believers resurrection wherein he or she receives their glorified body. Athanasius wrote:

    “For He became man that we might become divine;
    and He revealed Himself through a body
    that we might receive an idea of the invisible Father;

    and He endured insults from men
    that we might inherit incorruption.”

    Paragraph 54: Athanasius: Contra Gentiles and De
    Incarnatione (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971).

    The statement by St. Athanasius of Alexandria, “The Son of God became man, that we might become divine” in the minds of the Eastern Orthodox believer ontologically (relating to essence or the nature of being), does not mean a person can become a God or even another god. It ultimately means a believer will partake in the energies of God. It means a believer will become in union with God in the fullest capacity.
    It implies a restoration of all things in Christ, where the believer is finally free from his mortal body and will enjoy absolute perfect mystical union with Christ.

    The Eastern Orthodox are staunchly loyal to the
    Trinitarian Creeds reflected in the Athanasian Creed the Nicene Creed of 325 A.D. and that of The Chalcedonian Creed of 651 A.D. and see the creedal formulations of the Ancient historic church to be authoritative.

    However, the LDS are generally vehemently against the creeds as Joseph Smith History 1:19 states.

    It would appear that the LDS believes that in the
    “godhead” that there are three separate or distinct gods as Doctrines& Covenants 130:22 states:

    “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as Man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”

    also:

    “The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings who constitute one Godhead. Generally speaking, the Father is the Creator, the Son is the Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost is the Comforter and Testifier” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism)

    It would seem that the LDS doctrine of eternal
    progression which states that there has been an
    infinite regress of spirit beings who later receive mortal bodies and are ultimately exalted is vastly different than the Eastern Orthodox view since the Eastern Orthodox are Trinitarian and do not see themselves as going through the same process to become a being like the ontological Trinity.

    Even if it is true that the LDS church no longer
    believes or has never taught that men may become
    ontologically distinct “gods” as Gordon B. Hinckley suggested in that 1997 Time article, the LDS in their conception of “eternal progression” and “exaltation”,have in mind something radically different than the
    Eastern Orthodox conception of “Theosis”.

    In Gospel Principles, the LDS basic theology manual we read,

    1978 Ed.: on page 290 we find, “We can become Gods like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation.”

    1997 Ed.: on page 302 we find, “We can become like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation.”

    In my mind, even if the LDS do not believe in the
    process of eternal progression where an eternal spirit being becomes ontologically a “god” like their heavenly father. They are hard pressed to explain how they cannot become precisely the same “god like being” as our heavenly father. The doctrine of “eternal progression suggests that our heavenly father was once a spirit being just like us, progressed and became a “god”.

    It seems like a contradiction in LDS theology to say that there is now a limitation on all other spirit beings from becoming a “god” in the exact ontological way as God the father before them. What prohibits them from becoming just like our heavenly father since ultimately the Father was a spirit creature just like they were?

    “He [God] is our Father–the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being. It appears ridiculous to the world, under their darkened and erroneous traditions,that God has once been a finite being;” (Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses, v. 7, p. 333)

    The Gods who dwell in the Heaven…have been redeemed from the grave in a world which existed before the foundations of this earth were laid. They and the Heavenly body which they now inhabit were once in a fallen state….they were exalted also, from fallen men to Celestial Gods to inhabit their Heaven forever and ever.” (Apostle Orson Pratt in The Seer, page 23)

    Anyways, those are some of my thoughts on the matter of Theosis, Eastern Orthodoxy and the Mormon Church.

    God bless you,

    Ed Enochs

  152. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 7:06 pm

    One more thing, I am not very well aquainted with whose blog represents the conservative LDS position or the more liberal, can someone tell me the difference between this site and the other one? That’s why I have posted the same thing on both.

    Sincerely in Jesus Christ,
    Ed

  153. john fowles on December 4, 2004 at 7:19 pm

    Ed, I’m sorry that the ambiguity of the LDS position on the issue of eternal progression and becoming like God bothers you so much. It does not, however, bother most Latter-day Saints, who do not see it as an impossibility and who certainly don’t see it as contrary to anything in the Bible. In fact, the Bible could go either way on this, so why is there any reason to think that the impossibility of becoming like God is more supported in the Bible than the possibility of it?

    As for Eastern Orthodoxy, most Latter-day Saints don’t think of it at all; however, something that most Latter-day Saints think of a lot is the idea that the Restored Gospel incorporates many teachings of Early Christianity that are de-emphasized or completely ignored today in the rest of Christianity. Some LDS scholars might try to deconstruct the accuracy of this idea, but regardless, most Latter-day Saints believe it is true and find support for the Restoration in this idea (as did Joseph Smith). In fact, that is why it is called the Restoration.

  154. Steve Evans on December 4, 2004 at 7:25 pm

    Ed, neither blog represents the LDS positions, because as you’ve mentioned those positions are always somewhat elusive. But BCC would seem to appeal to a more liberal-minded, sophisticated, and good-looking constituency. This site is more for conservative, nerdy ugly ducklings.

    I kid! I kid! We’re all pretty ugly.

  155. john fowles on December 4, 2004 at 7:28 pm

    Ed, from my perspective they’re both pretty “liberal” on doctrine although this blog has some “conservative” permanent bloggers. Both conservative and liberal commenters comment on both but it has been observed that more of the commenters here are conservative than at BCC.

  156. J. Stapley on December 4, 2004 at 7:48 pm

    I don’t disagree with your analysis of Theosis. And as for the Mormon concept of exaltation, I can speak for my beliefs, which are not the official position of the church (There isn’t one). If I may elucidate them:

    1) In Abraham 3:18&19 we read “Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal. And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.�

    2) Joseph Smith taught in the King Follet discourse “…yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and â€?Scriptures inform us that Jesus said, As the Father hath power in Himself, even so hath the Son power — to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious — in a manner to lay down His body and take it up again.â€? and later “What did Jesus do? Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds come rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of his Father, and inherits what God did before.â€?

    3) The term “god�, as used by many (especially in the 19th century) has a lot of different connotations most of which were disparate in concept from the status of The Father.

    From these we gather that Jesus is in a distinct category of “intelligence� that is disparate from than all of us throughout the eternities. We gather that Christ and The Father follow in the same line of exaltation. We are excluded from this progression because we are eternally different from Christ (we don’t have the capacity to do it). We are “joint heirs� with Christ as Paul says, and while some have termed such exaltation as becoming god it is a different godhood than The Father (al a Moses being god to Pharoah). If one is not omniscient or omnipotent like the Father, I can definitely see how one could progress for eternally (if we take it that God is infinite).

  157. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 8:18 pm

    Maybe you can answer this question;

    I have always been told by many LDS missionaries that we can become “gods” in the next life.

    I have also been told by missionaries that temples are necessary because they seal people with their wives and family members for eternity.

    If there has been an infinite regress of finite spirits in the pre-existant spirit realm who subsequently become gods of their own worlds are they still somehow connected to their families in the after life since each male child has the potential to become a god?

    It is also difficult to understand how there can be an infinite regress of finite beings that become gods without conceptualizing that there was somehow a first god.

  158. john fowles on December 4, 2004 at 8:30 pm

    J. Stapley, I think that stating that there isn’t an official LDS position on exaltation is a little too strong. There is indeed an official doctrine and it stems from the scriptures. Exaltation means salvation in the celestial kingdom–a life with God in God’s world, essentially. But you are perhaps right in the idea that there is no official LDS position on exactly what that “eternal life” will look like: whether we will literally become Gods just like Heavenly Father (i.e. creating our own worlds and eternal posterity in the form of spirit children who will need a mortal test if we want them to inherit the same thing that we have, etc.), or whether we will simply become like God in the sense of being cleansed from all sin and “perfected” in Christ (which, actually, is not exclusive of the former), or something else (innocuous angels floating around singing eternal praises?).

    Actually, J., I would guess that many (most?) Latter-day Saints actually believe the first; just because evangelicals take strong issue with such a belief doesn’t mean that it is wrong or to be shied away from (or that it is antithetical to anything in the Bible–it isn’t). As has been duly noticed, major differences exist between the two faiths; this could very well be one of the unreconcilable ones, but so what? That does not mean that there is not substantial basis for common ground and working together on myriad issues and just downright being friends (and friendly) with each other.

    There is no reason to back down from such a belief in exaltation just so that we are more acceptable to evangelicals. It is something that makes us unique, and it just might be true (many believe it is true and who’s to say that it’s not?). I am sometimes surprised to see Latter-day Saints backing away from this perspective based on the argument that such a belief somehow diminishes Christ’s superiority over us. I find that puzzling, considering what we know about Jesus’ role in making such exaltation possible. I don’t have the answers, but I want to point out that there is nothing, really, that precludes this type of belief in exaltation, either in exclusively LDS scripture, or in the scriptures that Latter-day Saints share with evangelicals and other Christians (i.e., the Bible). True, there is much that is inimical to this view in the writings of post-Biblical philosophers and theologians, but that is not scripture. . . .

  159. J. Stapley on December 4, 2004 at 8:34 pm

    Ed:

    I have always been told by many LDS missionaries that we can become “gods� in the next life.

    I’m sure there are missionaries that believe like you think they believe and there some that think it is a different godhood (a la #154)

    I have also been told by missionaries that temples are necessary because they seal people with their wives and family members for eternity.

    They do.

    If there has been an infinite regress of finite spirits in the pre-existant spirit realm who subsequently become gods of their own worlds are they still somehow connected to their families in the after life since each male child has the potential to become a god?

    I agree, I don’t buy into this.

    It is also difficult to understand how there can be an infinite regress of finite beings that become gods without conceptualizing that there was somehow a first god.

    I know, but I also find it hard to figure our where the tradition Christian God would come from eiher.

  160. john fowles on December 4, 2004 at 9:00 pm

    J., you stated that you don’t buy into the idea posited by Ed that If there has been an infinite regress of finite spirits in the pre-existant spirit realm who subsequently become gods of their own worlds are they still somehow connected to their families in the after life since each male child has the potential to become a god?

    I am confused about what you mean by not “buy[ing] into this.” Is it that you take issue with the possibility that children of god can attain Godhood as the objective of exaltation? (I think you made clear in # 154 that you don’t believe this concept.) Or is it that you have a different understanding of the sealing power and how it binds families together in eternity?

    Ed wrote It is also difficult to understand how there can be an infinite regress of finite beings that become gods without conceptualizing that there was somehow a first god.

    (1) I agree, it is very difficult to understand for us with the limitations of our finite minds–but does that mean that it cannot true?

    (2) Is the concept of the Trinity (three in one and all that) any easier to understand? Outside of the writings of post-Biblical thinkers (which includes the Creeds) is there anything in the Bible that necessarily precludes a belief that the Father and the Son are separate personages? You can point to scriptures that could support the three in one hypothesis, but those same scriptures don’t necessarily require such a conclusion; indeed, they may just as easily support the notion of separate beings united in purpose.

    (3) Even if Latter-day Saints do believe what you posit (J. Stapley, for one, does not seem to and there is indeed much flexibility in LDS belief on these particular points, though not on the points of three degrees of glory and the basic fact of exaltation), why should that preclude Mouw’s apology for the tactics amounting to bearing false witness employed by evangelicals to disparage Latter-day Saints? That is, after all, what Mouw was doing–he was not adopting or supporting any LDS doctrines, but rather just appealing for evangelicals to be nicer.

    In other words, Mouw is suggesting, even if (1) Latter-day Saints do believe in the idea of becoming God and (2) evangelicals fundamentally disagree with this point of doctrine (if it really is LDS doctrine), why should evangelicals have to resort to calling Latter-day Saints satanic or otherwise demonizing them based on this belief. Instead, evangelicals can disagree in a constructive way, much as you are doing on these blogs. I still don’t see how Mouw’s apology, if this is what he is saying, could cause you offense. After all, you are already employing such a vision in the way that you are insisting on the biblical questionability of such a supposed LDS doctrine of exaltation.

  161. Ivan Wolfe on December 4, 2004 at 9:33 pm

    I say – ten (or more) cheers for Ed!!!

    I doubt I’d do as well or be as gracious if I found myself the sole Mormon representative on a evangelical blog (even one that was a nice as we at T&S are).

  162. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 10:11 pm

    The Issue of Proper Biblical Interpretation in understanding the Trinity is of paramount importance.

    In attempting to understand LDS interpretation of Scripture, I would be interested in understanding the hermeneutics steps which LDS use to reach their theological beliefs.

    I have been bewildered by the way some LDS missionaries and friends of mine have attempted to defend their doctrines by practicing “eisigesis”, or a reading into a text a foreign interpretation of Scripture not intended by the author or appealing to some church authority to get his or her interpretation instead of simply exegeting the text with some ration methodology of literary interpretation used by all people in attempting to understand a piece of literature.

    I have sen this in many cases by LDS such as their attempt to prove from the Book of Ezekiel chapter 30-38 that the “two sticks” refer to the BOM and the Bible and not the literal nations of Israel and etc, the author of Scripture was really referring to in the proper context.

    In historic Evangelicalism we have generally discarded a subjective or allegorical methodology of biblical interpretation for what is known as the “grammatical-historical” hermeneutic that attempts to understand a given text of Scripture in it’s proper grammatical and historical context and attempts to discern what genre of literature is being employed by the various authors of Sacred Scripture. The Grammatical historical method of biblical hermeneutics was employed by John Calvin and Martin Luther, following the literal approach utilized by John Chrysostom and the Antiochene school of Biblical exegesis that attempted to extract the literal context of Scripture as opposed to the Alexandrian or Allegorical, i.e., “spiritualized” methodology seen in the subjective works of Origen or even Augustine of Hippo.

    Another aspect of proper Biblical hermeneutics is the component disciplines of Biblical studies known as Biblical criticism which is broken into different parts;

    1) Higher criticism- concerns the authorship, dates, backgrounds and sociological-cultural issues related to a book of the Bible, asks and answers the questions; (a) who wrote this book? (b) when was this book written? (c) what is the background of the author of a given book of Scripture?

    2) Lower criticism-concerns the textual transmission by which a book or passage of Scripture gets to us? or, not having the original extant Old and New Testament books in hand. how reliable is the textual transmission of the OT and NT passage under analysis? How many extant manuscripts of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek Scriptures to we have to study?

    3) Biblical criticism-is a study of a given book or author of Scripture and attempts to isolate the various teachings or themes used by a given author of Scripture without attempting to incorporate the theology of external biblical books into the theology of a given book.

    4) Systematic Theology- attempts to process and systematize all the doctrines of the Bible in a coherent manner after the above discipline have been employed.

    5) Genre Criticism- asks the basic question of what particular literary device is being used by the author of sacred Scripture? Is the book or passage of Scripture straight forward historical narrative? Is it a wisdom book like psalms or proverbs? Is it an metaphorical passage that conveys a deeper truth such as Jesus’ parables or use of “I AM” sayings in the Gospel of John?
    or is it an apocalyptic passage or book of Scripture as seen in the Book of Revelation or the minor prophets such as Daniel?

    6) Canon Criticism-simply asks the question of how the church came to the consensus of the 66 books that generally make of the Biblical canon. Asks questions about the Apocrypha, psdeupigrapa and other external books not accepted as canonical by the historic church. (The additional Apocrypha books were not deemed canonical by the Roman Catholic Church until the council of Trent in 1545)

    When these hermeneutics steps are properly utilized I believe we can derive the historical doctrine of the Trinity from Sacred Scripture.

    1) The Scriptures teach there is only one true and living God. (Isaiah 43:10, 44:4, 45:5, Deuteronomy 6:4, 1 Kings 8:60 and John 17:3).

    2) The Scriptures teach that there is a plurality of individuals within God. (Genesis 1:26. 3:22, 11:1-8, Matthew 28:19-20, 2 Corinthians 13:14).

    3) The Scriptures teach and refer to each member of the Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as being God. (Many many passages of Scripture call the Father God, the Son God and the Holy Spirit God.

    4) The only deduction one can properly and consistently make with this data given to him or her is to state that the Bible teaches that there is one God made up of three distinct persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as being God.

  163. J. Stapley on December 4, 2004 at 10:27 pm

    Indeed, kudos to Ed!

    john fowles: I am confused about what you mean by not “buy[ing] into this.�

    Looking back I was a little vague (I had to run to the ward Christmas party). I don’t buy into the “everyone a god of their own world thing�. I interpret the revelations as saying that the Earth will be the Celestial abode of the exalted. Everyone there will be bound to everyone else (and those married to their spouses) via the sealing power. The same sociality that exists here will exist there, yadda yadda.

  164. john fowles on December 4, 2004 at 10:34 pm

    Ed wrote In historic Evangelicalism we have generally discarded a subjective or allegorical methodology of biblical interpretation for what is known as the “grammatical-historical� hermeneutic that attempts to understand a given text of Scripture in it’s proper grammatical and historical context and attempts to discern what genre of literature is being employed by the various authors of Sacred Scripture. The Grammatical historical method of biblical hermeneutics was employed by John Calvin and Martin Luther, following the literal approach utilized by John Chrysostom and the Antiochene school of Biblical exegesis that attempted to extract the literal context of Scripture as opposed to the Alexandrian or Allegorical, i.e., “spiritualized� methodology seen in the subjective works of Origen or even Augustine of Hippo.

    This is still just your choice of interpretive method. There is nothing that requires this method, and under other methods, people are free to come to other conclusions.

    You mention the importance of historical context in interpretation of the scriptures. I suggest that most Latter-day Saints have no problem with considering the historical context of a scripture in its interpretation. I personally certainly place a lot of importance on it and thus very much appreciate the writings of FARMS.

    I find your emphasis on historical context in exegisis interesting in light of the well-known evangelical claim to biblical inerrancy and the forced interpretation of

    Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 10:38 pm

    Dear LDS Friends,

    Another such issue that I have wondered about when dealing with the LDS is the issue of the Sabbath.

    Throughout the annals of Church history there have been a myriad of debates over theological issues that have often divided Christians from each other. Such division is highly unfortunate since the preeminent virtue of Christianity is love (1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:7-8). However, on the other hand, God’s infallible Word, tells us to; “Earnestly contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Thus, in the Bible, we see an inspired tension wherein we are instructed by God to love one another yet also stand for the truth.

    In a postmodern world where objective, propositional truth and morality is now considered to be irrelevant and relative by the vast majority of Americans, it is difficult and somewhat strange to many people including well meaning Evangelical Christians, to stand up for what one believes and to actually believe in something. Thus, when a theological controversy arises from time to time in the church, many if not most Christians, shirk back and are wary of being involved in debates over matters of Christian doctrine.

    However, once again, we have the testimony of Scripture and church history that it is often necessary to be involved in theological debate over issues that are important concerning the teachings and practices of Christianity.

    The question of mandatory Sabbath Keeping is one such issue that Christians must take a stand on. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of Sabbatarianism (or mandatory Sabbath keeping) in certain circles of American Evangelicalism. There are some Christians who believe that every believer must strictly observe Saturday or Sunday as the Sabbath and instruct other believers in Jesus Christ to do the same, often under the warning of divine punishment if they do not oblige and keep a form of Sabbath Keeping.

    In this brief paper, I will attempt to explain what Sabbatarianism is and seek to demonstrate that I believe it is contrary to the teachings of the Bible in a simple manner that the average Christian can comprehend.

    Sabbatarianism

    Simply put, Sabbatarianism is the view that the Old Testament command to observe the Sabbath is a non abrogated creation and Sinai ordinance that is universally obligatory for all people in all places and at all times, to observe. Or, to put it even simpler, there are Christians today that believe that God requires everyone to observe either Saturday or Sunday as the Sabbath.

    Sabbatarians believe that Sabbath observance is a divinely mandated “creation ordinance� that God instituted at the inception of creation and requires of all peoples at all times irrespective of their chronological time period or cultural-sociological background.

    “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work, which God had created and made� (Genesis 2:1-3).

    Sabbatarians also believe that the Fourth of the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai as mentioned in Exodus 20, is still enforce today and restated for all people within the non-negotiable moral law of God.

    “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy; Six days shall thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou salt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath and hallowed it� (Exodus 20:8-11).

    St. Thomas Aquinas, who along with Augustine of Hippo, was the preeminent theologian of Roman Catholicism wrote in his Catechism regarding the Sabbath,

    “The Jews kept holy the Sabbath in memory of the first creation; but Christ at His coming brought about a new creation. For by the first creation an earthly man was created, and by the second a heavenly man was formed: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availed any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”This new creation is through grace, which came by the Resurrection: “That as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, so shall we also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” And thus, because the Resurrection took place on Sunday, we celebrate that day, even as the Jews observed the Sabbath on account of the first creation.â€?

    Sabbatarianism can be broken down into two different categories; 1) Strict Sabbatarianism and 2) Semi-Sabbatarianism.

    1) Strict Sabbatarianism- A view that maintains that the Sabbath is to be strictly observed on the Seventh Day of the Week, or Saturday. The most prominent religious organization with members that adhere to this view is taught by many of the Anabaptists in counter distinction to the teachings of John Calvin and Martin Luther during the Radical Reformation movement of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is also the position of such groups as the Seventh Day Adventists.

    2) Semi-Sabbatarianism- is the view espoused by many Christians that the universally obligatory seventh day Sabbath assertions and prohibitions mentioned in the Old Testament have been divinely transferred to Sunday and that all people everywhere are required by God to keep Sunday as the Sabbath. Adherents of Semi-Sabbatarianism maintain a view that is essentially the same as Strict Sabbatarianism but transfers its demands from Saturday, the seventh day of the week to Sunday, the first day of the week. (Please see F.R. Harm’s article on Sabbatarianism in the, “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology�, edited by Walter A. Elwell, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984, page 963).

    I am well aware that many Christians believe that we must keep the Sabbath today since they believe that it was a non abrogated creation ordinance. I believe this is a misunderstanding of Scripture and misunderstanding of the continuity, discontinuity issues pertaining to the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament and the Old Covenant and the New Covenant as revealed in Jesus Christ.

    I believe divine revelation progressed from the Old Testament writings and was ultimately finalized, clarified and culminated in the New Testament revelation of the grand person and redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Regarding Sabbath keeping in the New Testament. There is no passage of Scripture in the New Testament that clearly and conclusively demonstrates that a New Covenant believer in Jesus Christ during this present church age, is commanded by God to keep the Sabbath on either Saturday or Sunday. On the contrary, when dealing specifically with the issue of observing days, the apostle Paul, in Romans 14 clearly states it is an issue of individual conscience. I am also well aware that many Sabbath Keeping brothers and sisters sees what the Apostle Paul is addressing in Romans 14 and Colossians 2 as additional “Sabbaths� and festival days that some Jewish believers commanded Christians to observe above and beyond the obligatory Sabbath that God requires all believers to observe. However, upon careful reflection on the arguments being made for mandatory Sabbath keeping, I believe Sabbatarianism in all its forms, is utterly unconvincing and is contrary to Scripture.

    I say this because nowhere in the New Testament are Christians commanded to keep the Sabbath on either Saturday or Sunday. Sabbatarianism cannot then, just be arbitrarily or subjectively assumed to be carried over into the New Covenant. There must be clear and demonstrative evidence from the pages of the New Testament that God calls the Church to observe the Sabbath. We must not intermingle the commands given by God to the Jewish community in the Old Testament with God’s commands to the Christian Church in the New Covenant. The Jewish community of the Old Testament and the Christian Church of the New Testament and New Covenant are two diametrically different entities. Old Testament Israel and the Christian Church that was founded on the Day of Pentecost in the Book of Acts chapter 2 are not synonymous entities. There is a clear demarcation outlined in Scripture between the Old Testament Jews and the Christian Church revealed in the New Testament era in Jesus Christ. In the same manner that the Old Covenant is not to be confused with the New Covenant and Old Testament Israel is not to be confused or synthesized with the Christian church, we cannot compel Christians and non believers in this different Biblical economy, to adhere to commands given by God to the Jews in the Old Testament era.

    As God told the prophet Jeremiah, a newer and better Covenant was to come.

    “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no moreâ€? (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

    The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of this New Covenant;

    “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins� (Matthew 26:28).

    “And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for manyâ€? (Mark 14:24).

    “Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for youâ€? (Luke 22:20).

    The Apostle Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit about this New Covenant as well;

    “In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Meâ€? (1 Corinthians 11:25).

    “who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away� (2 Corinthians 3:6-7).

    The Sacred writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews wrote of this New Covenant as well,

    “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judahâ€? (Hebrews 8:7-8).

    “In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish awayâ€? (Hebrews 8:13).

    “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance� (Hebrews 9:15).

    “To Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel� (Hebrews 12:24).

    The Apostle Paul spoke of a new “dispensation� of the grace of God;

    “That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Himâ€? (Ephesians 1:10).

    “If indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you� (Ephesians 3:2).

    It is my firm commitment that the Bible teaches that we are under a New Covenant and operate within a new dispensation wherein the Sabbath laws are not mandatory or obligatory for believers in Jesus Christ to fulfill as a matter of obedience. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that the Christian church has to keep the Sabbath, or keep a form of the Sabbath period.

    What is the Sabbath?

    The New Catholic Encyclopedia cites the following helpful information about the definition and prescriptions required under the Old Testament Sabbath;

    (Heb. shabbath, cessation, rest; Gr. Sabbaton; Lat. Sabbatum).
    The seventh day of the week among the Hebrews, the day being counted from sunset to sunset, that is, from Friday evening to Saturday evening.

    Prescriptions concerning the Sabbath

    The Sabbath was a day of rest “sanctified to the Lord” (Ex., xvi, 23; xxxi, 15; Deut., v, 14). All work was forbidden, the prohibition including strangers as well as beasts as well as men (Ex., xx, 8-10; xxxi, 13-17; Deut., v, 12-14). The following particular actions are mentioned as forbidden: cooking (ex., xvi, 23); gathering manna (xvi, 26 sqq.); plowing and reaping (xxxiv, 21); lighting a fire (for cooking, xxxv, 3); gathering wood (num., xv, 32 sqq.); carrying burdens (jer., xvii, 21-22); pressing grapes, bringing in sheaves, and loading animals (II Esd., xiii, 15); trading (Ibid., 15 sqq.). Travelling, at least with a religious object, was not forbidden, the prohibition of Ex., xvi, 29, referring only to leaving the camp to gather food; it is implied in the institution of holy assemblies (Lev., xxiii, 2-3, Heb. text), and was customary in the time of the kings (IV Kings, iv, 23). At a later period, however, all movement was restricted to a distance of 2000 cubits (between five and six furlongs), or a “sabbath day’s journey” (Acts, I, 12). Total abstention from work was prescribed only for the Sabbath and the Day of Atonement; on the other feast-days servile work alone was prohibited (Ex., xii, 16; Lev., xxiii, 7 sqq.). Wilful violation of the Sabbath was punished with death (Ex., xxxi, 14-15; Num., xv, 32-36). The prohibition of work made it necessary to prepare food, and whatever might be needed, the day before the Sabbath, hence known as the day of preparation, or Parasceve (paraskeue; Matt., xxvii, 62; Mark, xv, 42; etc.). Besides abstention from work, special religious observances were prescribed. (a) The daily sacrifices were doubled, that is two lambs of a year old without blemish were offered up in the morning, and two in the evening, with twice the usual quantity of flour tempered with oil and of the wine of libation (num., xxvii, 3-10). (b) New loaves of proposition were placed before the Lord (Lev., xxiv, 5; 1 Par., ix, 32). (c) A sacred assembly was to be held in the sanctuary for solemn worship (Lev., xxiii, 2-3, Heb. text; Ezech., xlvi, 3). We have no details as to what was done by those living at a distance from the sanctuary. Synagogue worship belongs to the post-Exilic period; still it is probably a development of an old custom. In earlier days the people were wont to go to hear the instructions of the Prophets (IV Kings, iv, 23), and it is not unlikely that meetings for edification and prayer were common from the oldest times.

    Further Arguments Against Sabbatarianism

    The contemporary Sabbatarian either in the strict or semi form is generally not consistent in their demands for others to keep the Sabbath. They generally are arbitrary and subjective as to what aspect of the Sabbath prohibitions they choose to observe and attempt to compel others to observe. To those who are Reformed Semi- Sabbatarians and seek to compel others to keep the Sabbath, I ask you, why should we not keep the entire Old Testament Sabbath and not just some aspects? I ask you do you travel more than a mile from your house on Sunday to attend church? Is this not a violation of the Sabbath? Do you go to restaurants or other businesses on Sunday? Does not this violate the Sabbath prohibition against working? Aren’t you encouraging others to break the Sabbath by having them work for you? If you are going to try to observe the Old Testament Sabbath and then attempt to bind men and women to keep your understanding of the Sabbath, please be consistent, and keep all of the Sabbath! I do not buy this “kinder and gentler� version of the Sabbath offered by Reformed and other Semi-Sabbatarians who arbitrarily compel others to observe the Sabbath, yet for no good reason leave out aspects of the Old Testament Sabbath for new Covenant purposes. Please produce the New Covenant manual for Christian Sabbath observance and clearly demonstrate from the pages of the New Testament what parts of the Sabbath we are to keep and what things we can choose not to observe. Please show some consistency in your Sabbatarianism if you require others to observe your understanding of the Sabbath.

    There is No Evidence in Scripture that Early Church Observed the Sabbath

    “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight� (Acts 20:7).

    “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come� (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

    “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpetâ€? (Revelation 1:10).

    Once again there is absolutely no evidence that the early church observed the Sabbath. They clearly met for worship on Sunday. There is no evidence from the pages of the New Testament that God transferred the requirements of the Old Testament Sabbath to the New Covenant any attempt to do so is to engage in arbitrary and untenable inferential eisigesis upon the New Testament teaching. To practice “Eisigesis“, means to read into a text, or seeing things in the text that may not really be there. I am afraid that those who attempt to argue that God requires Sabbath Observance on Sunday’s are engaging in unsubstantiated eisigesis, the very antithesis of exegesis, or extracting from Scripture the true meaning of a text. For an individual to offer compelling argument for Semi-Sabbatarianism, he or she must carefully delineate New Testament passages of Scripture that clearly and unambiguously demonstrate that the early church observed Sunday as the Sabbath. Subjective and arbitrary appeals to church history or ones denominational tradition will not suffice. In keeping with the legal axiom, “He who asserts must prove.� Those who say that the New Testament teaches Strict Sabbatarianism or Semi-Sabbatarianism must prove this with clear exegesis. If the Early church was compelled by God to observe the Sabbath, why then did the early church in the formulations declared at the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15, not include any mention of the Sabbath in its moral prohibitions?

    All the Ten Commandments except the Sabbath Prohibition Still in Force

    The Sabbath command is the only one of the Ten Commandments that is not restated in the context of grace in the New Testament. This is a significant omission if it is supposed to be practiced by Christians today. Rather, the New Testament sanctions the first day of the week for Christian worship—a day, which Paul himself practiced. The reasons for this are obvious. It is the day Christ arose, thus initiating the first day of the week for Christian celebration. Jesus’ first post-resurrection appearances were on Sundays, thus establishing a pattern of expecting his presence on the first day of the week (cf. Mark 16:2; John 20:19, 26). Sunday is also the day the Holy Spirit baptized the disciples into the body of Christ (Acts 2:1-4; cf. 1 Cor. 12:13)—providing the birthday of the Christian church. Thus, it became the practice of the apostolic church to meet on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). In the last book of the New Testament, John the apostle was meditating on Sunday, the “Lord’s Day,� when he received a vision of Christ (Rev. 1:10), showing that the practice continued for many decades after the time of Christ. Indeed, the Christian church has continued this practice from the first century to the present.� (By Dr. Norman Geisler (from his book When Cultists Ask, Baker Books, 1997)

    Before someone accuses me of antinomianism, (The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace. The belief that moral laws are relative in meaning and application as opposed to fixed or universal), I am not saying that all of the Ten Commandments have been abrogated or abolished. I am arguing that the God does not require people under the New Covenant to keep the fourth commandment, which states,

    Ex.20:8-11. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy; Six days shall thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shall not do any work, thou, nor thy son, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath and hallowed it.

    In regards to the Law of God, I would generally maintain the traditional Reformed “third use� of the Law. Wherein the Law of God, which does not save a person, but in fact condemns a person and is used as a “school master� by God to point one to Christ, is the normative standard of morality of all people today. Lutheran Scholar Dr. John Warwick Montgomery writes,

    The Third Use is an essential Christian doctrine for two reasons. First, because love — even the love of Christ — though it serves as the most powerful impetus to ethical action, does not inform the Christian as to the proper content of that action. Nowhere has this been put as well as by the beloved writer of such hymns “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” and “I Lay My Sins on Jesus”; in his book, God’s Way of Holiness, Horatius Bonar wrote:

    But will they tell us what is to regulate service, if not law? Love, they say. This is a pure fallacy. Love is not a rule, but a motive. Love does not tell me what to do; it tells me how to do it. Love constrains me to do the will of the beloved one; but to know what the will is, I must go elsewhere. The law of our God is the will of the beloved one, and were that expression of his will withdrawn, love would be utterly in the dark; it would not know what to do. It might say, I love my Master, and I love his service, and I want to do his bidding, but I must know the rules of his house, that I may know how to serve him. Love without law to guide its impulses would be the parent of will-worship and confusion, as surely as terror and self-righteousness, unless upon the supposition of an inward miraculous illumination, as an equivalent for law. Love goes to the law to learn the divine will, and love delights in the law, as the exponent of that will; and he who says that a believing man has nothing more to do with law, save to shun it as an old enemy, might as well say that he has nothing to do with the will of God. For the divine law and the divine will are substantially one, the former the outward manifestation of the latter. And it is “the will of our Father which is in heaven” that we are to do (Matt. 7:21); 50 proving by loving obedience what is that “good and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2). Yes, it is he that doeth “the will of God that abideth forever” (1 John 2:17); it is to “the will of God” that we are to live (1 Peter 4:2); “made perfect in every good work to do his will” (Heb. 13:21); and “fruitfulness in every good work,” springs from being “filled with the knowledge of his will” (Col. 1:9,10).

    Secondly, the doctrine of the Third Use is an essential preservative for the entire doctrine of sanctification. The Third Use claims that as a result of justification, it is a nomological fact that “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). A man in Christ has received a new spirit — the Spirit of the living God — and therefore his relation to the Law is changed. True, in this life he will always remain a sinner (I John 1:8), and therefore the Law will always accuse him, but now he sees the biblical Law in another light — as the manifestation of God’s loving will. Now he can say with the psalmist: “I delight in Thy Law” and “0 how I love Thy Law!” (Ps. 119;cf. Ps. land 19). Only by taking the Third Use of the Law — the “law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2) — seriously do we take regeneration seriously; and only when we come to love God’s revealed Law has sanctification become a reality in our lives. Ludwig lhmels made a sound confession of faith when he wrote in Die Religionswissenschaft der Gegen wart in Selbstdarstellungen: “I am convinced as was Luther that the Gospel can only be understood where the Law has done its work in men. And I am equally convinced that just the humble Christian, however much he desires to live in enlarging measure in the spirit, would never wish to do without the holy discipline of the tertius usus legis.” The answer to antinomianism, social-gospel legalism, and existential relativism lies not only in the proper distinction between Law and Gospel, as C.F.W. Walther so effectively stressed, but also in the proper harmony of Law and Gospel, as set forth in the classic doctrine of the Third Use of the Law. (The Suicide of Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, Inc., 1970),428.

    I believe that all the Ten Commandments are in force today except the Sabbath command, which was abrogated, in the New Covenant. Each of the rest of the Ten Commandments have been restated as being obligatory in the progressive revelation of the New Testament as seen in this diagram here.

    1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

    “Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth as there are many gods and many lords), 6yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live� (1 Corinthians 8:4-6).

    “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent� (John 17:3).

    2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

    “But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throneâ€? (Matthew 5:34).

    “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).

    “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgmentâ€? (James 5:12).

    “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.� Ephesians 4:29).

    3. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above,
    or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.

    “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen� (1 John 5:21).

    5. Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long.

    “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right� (Ephesians 6:1).

    “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord� (Colossians 3:20).

    6. Thou shalt not kill.

    “knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers� (1 Timothy 1:9).

    “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death� (Revelation 21:8).

    7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

    “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[nor sodomites, 10nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God� (1 Corinthians 6:9).

    8. Thou shalt not steal.

    For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness”You shall not covetand if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:9).

    “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need� (Ephesians 4:28).

    9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies� (Matthew 15:19).

    He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “”You shall not murder,’ “You shall not commit adultery,’ “You shall not steal,’ “You shall not bear false witness.â€? (Matthew 19:18).

    10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

    “And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).

    “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7).

    Summarization of Arguments Against Sabbatarianism

    1. The New Testament does not teach it (Romans 14:1-5, Galatians 4:10 and Colossians 2:16-17.

    2. The Early church met on the first day of the week and encouraged others to do also. There is no textual indication that they observed this day as one and the same thing as the Jewish Sabbath. (Acts 20:8, 1 Corinthians 16:2 and Revelation 1:10).

    3. The Jerusalem Council did not command it (Acts 15).

    4. The Sabbatarian position does not properly interpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament.

    5. If the Sabbath commands and prohibitions were transferred from Saturday to Sunday and God requires Christians now to observe Sunday as the Jews did Sunday, where does it specifically say this in the New Testament Canon of Scripture?

  165. john fowles on December 4, 2004 at 10:41 pm

    Also, Ed, you maintain that the evangelical approach is the “proper” approach but never explain why it is the “proper” approach aside from the fact that evangelicals have “chosen” it of late. That is circular argumentation. Did Jesus mandate that particular exegetical approach to the world and only the evangelicals are making good on that command? That would be one way out of the circular argument for you. But I’m not aware of the passage in the Bible that makes that claim and under biblical inerrancy, such a command would have to be directly in the Bible (i.e. it couldn’t come through the inspiration of a prophet subsequent to the Bible). I don’t think philosophers or even the Reformers count as conveying a non-biblical command of Jesus. That is, I don’t think that would be a valid proposition under a regime of biblical inerrancy and totality; on the other hand, Latter-day Saints would have little trouble believing that such a command could come from Jesus to mankind through some individual living after biblical times. That is because Latter-day Saints are open to the possibility of continued revelation.

  166. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 10:55 pm

    Dear LDS Friends.

    I have included that rather long discussion on the Sabbath to show how Evangelicals generally use hermenutics, the science of objective Biblical interpretation.

    I am not utilizing any other method of interpretation of Scripture than that which generaly used by all inerpreters of a given piece of literature.

    I believe you are using the same epistemological faculties and interpretation skills in attempting to read my comments posted on this blog.

    1) First you attempt to see what style of writing I am using and then you attempt to follow what I am saying.

    I do not think it is rationally justifiable to appeal to an arbitrary method of hermenutics, we should use the methoid that all people inantely use to read other normal pieces of literature such as the mail, newspaper a blog, a poem and etc., we first find out if it is straight forward narative, or a metaphor and then go from there.

    I believe the principles of literary hermenutics are innate and epistemologically inscribed within our cognitive thinking processes. In the same way we learn naturally how to critically think and look at the world in a rational-objective sense we can utilize these critical falculties to rationally interpret a piece of literature.

    God bless you,
    Ed

  167. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 11:03 pm

    Dr. Alvin Plantinga, Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame has conclusively demonstrated in his seminal books on epistemology that there are properly basic cognitive beliefs all humans have about the world, that need no rational justification such as the belief in your existence, the existence of the external world, the existence of form and order in the external world.

    Within the form and order of the external world, epistemologically speaking, there are certain truths that are self evident such as coherent rationality, this is utilized in reading a piece of literature and is not arbitrary. We use these skills in everyday use i am asking that we use these skills in attempting to read and understand the Bible in ints proper context. It is most certainly not “circular” argumentation.

  168. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 11:17 pm

    Also, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), has demonstrated in his works that there is rational justification for certain a prori or pre-held presuppositions about the world we perceive. One such certitude Kant refers to is the issue the “Transcendental critique” wherein there are properly basic beliefs about the world that must be pre-asserted about the world as the foundation of all rationality without which reality which coherency about reality will instantaneously become nonsensical and arbitarry as the nihilists like Sartre and Nietzche argue for.

    Furthermore, Thomas Reid a Scottish philosopher and contemporary critic of the skepticism of David Hume’s enlightnement rationalism demonstrated in his “common sense” realism epistemology that there are things in life that are based on probability which we make daily decisions on. Sir, it is of a probable nature that we use the same interpretive skills in reading and comprehending all pices of literature with that of the Bible.

    I am not lapsing into arbitrary subjectivism when appealing to the “grammatical -historical method of Biblical hermenutics” i am simply saying we should read the bible like we do everything else and not lapse into appeals to authority or subjective interpretation because some external ecclessiastical authority be it Calvin, Luther or Joesph Smith tells us to.

  169. Clark on December 4, 2004 at 11:22 pm

    I’m not sure everyone would agree with Plantinga’s views on epistemology and certainly not the notion of “self-evident.” I enjoy reading Plantinga a great deal, but I think some latch on to him a tad more than is warranted. (Pardon the pun)

    The assumption that there is a self-evident completely non-subjective way of reading texts seems to me to be a huge assumption that is tremendously problematic. I simply don’t buy most conservative Evangelical hermeneutics.

  170. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 11:29 pm

    I mean isn’t it self refuting to say that you don’t believe in something you are using right now to read and understand my writing?

    You have to maintain there are at least some basic (even if a little) things we all maintain in understanding something we read right?

  171. Ed Enochs on December 4, 2004 at 11:37 pm

    For Example: in the sentence: Ed sees the dog.

    Don’t we all attempt to identify the conponent grammatical parts of the sentence, don’t we try to find the direct object, the verb, (person doing the action) and the indirect object?

    All peoples everywhere have language, all people every where use the basic components of grammar, some like Finnish are more difficult, but grammar is discernable. Without which learning another language would be impossible.

    There is a normative process to reading and learning that transcends culture and religion that all human beings at all times use in every day life.

    That is why communication is possible, we can communicate because we use the same rational faculties to speak or write to each other, I believe it s possible to identify these communication methods in the Bible and get the basic understanding of the bible without appealing to esoteric methods of interpretation.

  172. john fowles on December 5, 2004 at 12:04 am

    Enter deconstruction. Ed, you are going to have a very difficult time with these hermenuetical and transcendental subjective idealist arguments in this crowd.

  173. Ed Enochs on December 5, 2004 at 12:05 am

    what’s your e-mail John? I would like to maintain contact with you, you are a bright guy.

  174. john fowles on December 5, 2004 at 12:09 am

    Thanks Ed. I would welcome further discussion. I am at john dot fowles at gmx dot net.

  175. Ed Enochs on December 5, 2004 at 12:11 am

    Mr. John Fowles,

    Please e-mail me. I like your arguments and scholarship. I am retiring from this cyber dialog for the weekend.

    edenochs@yahoo.com

  176. Chad Too on December 5, 2004 at 1:09 am

    Ed,

    You neglected to cite your source in #160 thusly:

    Montgomery, J.W., The Suicide of Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, Inc., 1970).

    Since they aren’t your words, it’s only fair to note where they come from.

    Large blocks of cut-and-paste also tend to make the discussion feel more like a lecture. I’d much rather hear your thoughts, your mind, your heart. Then, and only then, may we “reason together” (Isaiah 1:18).

  177. Jonathan Green on December 5, 2004 at 4:02 pm

    Ed, when you get back, maybe you could discuss a couple of things you’ve written elsewhere.

    Here (http://www.fchornet.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/03/10/40502b5669df1) is a link to an article in the Fullerton College Hornet about the Campus Crusade for Christ. There’s a letter to the editor, which reads, “I agree with Rachel and the Campus Crusade for Christ message. I am against the tendancy of many who would want to supress her constitutional right to freedom of speech.
    ed enochs, student, fullerton college.”

    Did you go back to Fullerton this spring for more school after attending Biola, Moody, and Master’s? Or is this some other Ed Enochs–wouldn’t that be just the darndest coincidence?

    The other letter (http://california.deanforamerica.com/node/view/2274), which is linked to your e-mail address, comments on the San Francisco Young Democrats endorsement of Howard Dean, “I do not want to offend Govenor Dean, but his speech in Iowa really disillusioned me beyond belief. It showed me the dark side of the man. I cannot support you Dr. Dean.”

    Now that you’re running a website that prominently displays Ronald Reagan on the front page, how do you feel about your dalliance with Dean back in January? It sounds like you were really thinking of supporting him until he gave that speech.

  178. edenochs on December 5, 2004 at 8:34 pm

    Hi Jonathan,

    I do not usually comment on what is posted on Sunday’s, but I have to respond to your comments. They will be breif because I am at church awaiting my evening service.

    I am a Fullerton Resident and I lived right across the street from Fullerton College, I am a life long learner and perpetual student of all sorts of courses in theology, philosophy and etc and love taking classes of all sorts and I took an astronomy course earlier this year at Fullerton College. I also want to take courses at Fullerton College in film production and such. So yes I did attend Biola, Moody and Master’s but I have over 35 units or random courses at Fullerton College as well.

    As for the Howard Dean thing, I have no idea how that got associated with my website. Everyone, that knows me that I am as staunch as a Republican as humanly possible and I have many LDS members as friends that can testify to my conservative credentials. So however Howard Dean got connected with my site in behond human comprehension!

    Let’s please stay away from the this personal attack stuff and stick to theological issues.

    Well, I have to get back to church and worshipping God. Please help me stay faithful to God, I have to take Sunday’s off from this kind of thing

    Sincerely in Jesus Christ,
    Ed

    I

  179. john fowles on December 5, 2004 at 9:22 pm

    Ed wrote Well, I have to get back to church and worshipping God. Please help me stay faithful to God, I have to take Sunday’s off from this kind of thing.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t the long argument that you posted above (# 163) regarding the Sabbath argue against Sabbath observance? Partcularly when you write 5. If the Sabbath commands and prohibitions were transferred from Saturday to Sunday and God requires Christians now to observe Sunday as the Jews did Sunday, where does it specifically say this in the New Testament Canon of Scripture? This makes it sound like honoring the Sabbath day (whether Saturday or Sunday, or any other designated day) is not a priority for evangelicals. So that makes me curious as to your desire to keep the Sabbath by refraining from commenting on what is posted on Sundays.

  180. Rob Briggs on December 5, 2004 at 11:42 pm

    Ed, hello to a fellow Fullertonian. I have lived in north Fullerton for 25 years. We’re just a couple short blocks away from Fullerton EV Free and have friends who attend and minister there. I’ve also taken many classes at the Fullerton College altho not this quarter. Both my wife, Linda Briggs, or son, Jared, are taking classes there now. If you happen on to them on campus, say hi to them.

    Best,

  181. Jonathan Green on December 6, 2004 at 12:04 am

    Thanks for the clarification, Ed. Just trying to understand your perspective. The more serious objection was raised in the comment above mine by Chad Too. When you get a chance, you might want to see what you have to say abou it.

  182. Ed Enochs on December 6, 2004 at 1:08 am

    Dear LDS Friends,

    I can see how you think my desire for worship only on Sunday’s appears like Sabbath Keeping. But, I am only trying to keep Sunday as a day where I am not caught up in the give and take of internet debating. Like Romans 14:1-5 says, some people honor one day more than others, some honor every day the same let each person be convinced in his own mind.”

    I sometimes get caught up in the dehumanization that cyber debating and such can bring a person into, and it is unhealthy for me personally to not have a break from it. So for me it is not an issue of sabbath keeping, it is more of a need to have peace and sanity of mind, to hang out with my church family, to worship God with my family, to recieve instruction and worship the living God. My sole desire in life is to be well pleasing to God. So, sometimes an Evangelical apologetics, theology and political junkie like me need to step away from it all and pray and seek God for guidance. The only way I can manifest the true love of Christ in dealing with LDS or whatever comes my way is to spend time daily in prayer and attend worship with my church body twice a week.

    I want to tell you guys that I sincerely love you with the love of Jesus Christ and this love can only come forth in my life to others if I spend time in initimate communion with God through prayer, meditation reflection, Bible study, instruction from pastors and wisdom from the Almighty. Sundays are my main days for that, not out of Sabbath Keeping but love for God and care for my soul’s well being in Jesus.

    With Sincere love in Christ,
    Ed Enochs

  183. Bryce I on December 6, 2004 at 3:43 pm

    For anyone interested in some more evangelical reaction to Richard Mouw’s comments, I asked my evangelical homeschooling friends for their opinions last night. Responses have started to come in.

  184. Ed Enochs on December 6, 2004 at 6:06 pm

    “But examine everything carefully, host fast to the truth.”

    (1 Thess. 5:21)

    Hi LDS Friends,

    Something I really want to discuss with you is the issue of verfication of the truth of the LDS faith.

    I have spent the last 20 years in intensive study on apologetics and the greatest difficulty I have with the LDS faith is not the people whatsoever, most LDS I have met of these years since I first came into contact with the concept of the Mormon religion through reading a Sports Illustrated article while I was in high school about the superstar BYU football quarter backs Gilford Neilsen, Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco and Ty Detmer.

    While I do not agree with any aspect of LDS theology, there are two absolutely undebatable truths about the Mormon religion;

    1) Your women are across the board more beautiful than ours for some inexplicable reason.

    2) BYU has had better quarterbacks than Evangelical schools.

    But as for how you folks go about demonstrating that the Mormon faith and the Book of Mormon is true, I have been perplexed greatly. It seems very subjective. Help me out guys. —Ed

  185. Ed Enochs on December 6, 2004 at 6:26 pm

    I have information from the most promiment Evangelical leaders in America on the Mormon/Evangelical dialog and Dr. Mouws statements at the Tabernacle.

    I have been in contact with Mouw, Johnson and Hazen as well as Ravi Zacharias’ ministry.

    The debate stems on Mouw’s statements exclusively to most Evangelicals.

  186. J. Stapley on December 6, 2004 at 6:44 pm

    Sadly we can’t claim all great BYU quarterbacks as Mormons. However, there might be some truth to beautiful women thing. All of my non-lds friends that visited me at BYU (when I was there) couldn’t believe that the girls on campus were real…I have heard some argue that this is a blessing of the covenant ;)

    As per LDS epistemology: without delving too far (I have to run in a sec) I think it is safe to say that there is a high degree of empiricism. Such that when confronted with information that is confounding, members often fall back to their experiences within the framework of the faith that show tangible effects like answers to prayer (i.e., revelation), fruits of the gospel, etc..

  187. Ed Enochs on December 6, 2004 at 6:55 pm

    The things that BYU, Utah and the LDS has going for it is that your women are beautiful, the cost of living is cheaper in Provo than Southern Cal where I live and BYU has had more Evangelical quarter backs make the NFL than us Evangelicals. Does this make me bitter? Yes, but God is still working with me.

    Then again, we do not have a school as big as BYU and the catholic church has Notre Dame.

    USC was an Methodist School at one time does that count?

    Your friend,
    Ed

  188. a random John on December 6, 2004 at 8:08 pm

    Ed,

    Obviously you are not aware what used to be a staple of Utah (if not Mormon) culture, the BYU co-ed joke. Thankfully I haven’t heard one of those in a while.

    You might however be interested in what Mark Twain had to say about Mormon women, and his plan to convince the Mormon men of the wrong they were committing:

    I had the will to do it. With the gushing self-sufficiency of youth I
    was feverish to plunge in headlong and achieve a great reform here–until
    I saw the Mormon women. Then I was touched. My heart was wiser than my
    head. It warmed toward these poor, ungainly and pathetically “homely”
    creatures, and as I turned to hide the generous moisture in my eyes, I
    said, “No–the man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian
    charity which entitles him to the kindly applause of mankind, not their
    harsh censure–and the man that marries sixty of them has done a deed of
    open-handed generosity so sublime that the nations should stand uncovered
    in his presence and worship in silence.”

    Though offensive, it is classic Twain.

    As for the football, I am pretty sure that it has no eternal significance.

  189. Ed Enochs on December 6, 2004 at 8:09 pm

    What Happened to an Evangelical on His Way to General Conference

    (Or a Bag of Doritos and the Existence of God)

    LDS Friends,

    Please let me know what you think of this ok?

    “On the other hand, it is evident that man never
    attains to a true self-knowledge until he has
    previously contemplated the face of God.”

    John Calvin
    Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 1.

    “without the God of the Bible, the God of authority,
    the God who is self-contained and therefore
    incomprehensible to men, there would be no reason in
    anything. No human being can explain in the sense of
    seeing through all things, but only he who believes in
    God has the right to hold that there is an explanation
    at all.”
    Dr. Cornelius Van Til
    “Why I Believe in God”

    “And you may ask yourself, Well…How did I get here?”

    “Once in a Lifetime”
    The Talking Heads

    “For since the creation of the world His invisible
    attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the
    things that are made, even His eternal power and
    Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans
    1:20)

    On the road to Utah, I inevitably had to pass
    through Vegas. Despite my certain predication for
    losing money via the one armed bandit, I was in search
    for pristine shrimp cocktails and superior prime rib
    from Sin Cities multiplicity of all night buffets.
    However, to my eternal chagrin, my car conked out
    square dab in the desert, several miles outside of
    Barstow near the base of the Soda Mountains.

    Then, wiping some frenzied gnats from my face, out of
    the corner of my left eye I saw a rather decrepit and
    haggard looking coyote scurrying about and I kicked
    the dirt in disgruntled disdain as I contemplated
    making the heat drenched trek to the next semblance of civilization.

    However, while standing around languishing in the arid
    desert, I had a momentary insight on the nature of
    reality and the existence of Almighty God.

    A crumpled and empty bag of Doritos blew past my feet
    in the swirling desert wind, and beads of perspiration
    dotted my forehead as I introspectively looked past
    the cactus laden horizon, towards the formulation of
    the cosmos.

    As I stood in the desert for once, without the
    creature comforts of the technological media and
    consumer orientated American digital empire to drown
    out my cognitive thinking processes, my rationale for
    believing in the existence of God followed this line
    of thinking:

    I believe that the existence of God is self evident to
    all and not illusionary, since the Almighty has
    affixed via creation the nature of humanity and the
    Word of God, tangible and objectively verifiable
    evidences to substantiate the viability of faith in
    God in counter distinction to other epistemological
    and ideological options.

    “For in him we live and move and have our being.”
    (Acts 17:28)

    Take the crumpled bag of Doritos, (a product of the
    multi- nationalist Frito-Lay corporation by the way) I
    believe that discarded item of trash can demonstrate
    the existence of the God of historic Christianity.

    If a man finds himself alone in the desert with only
    the hollowing wilderness to his left and to his right
    and a crumpled bag of Doritos at his feet, the
    question must be asked; “How did that bag get here?”

    One may postulate the existence of the bag of Doritos
    on exclusively naturalistic grounds, that the
    discarded bag of chips (if you call Doritos real
    food)was once petroleum that was extracted in liquid
    form the bowels of the earth, then manufactured into a disposable bag,
    in turn was filled with Doritos, then sealed, gathered and shipped off
    to a sore by a massive network of machinery. Then the Doritos were
    purchased by a person who ate the chips and tossed the bag to the
    ground.

    The bag of Doritos in turn, blew in the wind, tumbled
    on the desert ground and ultimately arrived at his
    feet.

    All these basic facts are true enough, but they do not
    answer the essential epistemological and metaphysical questions
    surrounding the ultimate origin of the earth and it’s reality that gave
    birth to the petroleum that was extracted to form the bag of Doritos.
    that blew in the wind and ultimately landed at his feet.

    Some Observations Regarding the Bag of Doritos:

    “It is the function of the wise man to know order.”

    -Aristotle

    The existence of the bag of Doritos demonstrates as
    well, the existence of an objective reality guided by
    the universal and transcendent laws of logic.

    The existence of the bag of Doritos demonstrates that
    reality has a definite form and order since one can
    identify that there is an actual bag of Doritos at his
    feet and not something else.

    The logical law of identity demonstrates Everything
    that exists has a specific nature. Each entity exists
    as something in particular and it has characteristics
    that are a part of what it is.

    The fact that we can identify that there is a bag of
    Doritos at his feet and not something else
    demonstrates self evidently that: We find ourselves in
    a physical world with an objective reality.

    The fact that the bag of Doritos exists demonstrates
    that human beings exist and can differentiate its form
    from other objects.

    The bag of Doritos in turn demonstrates humanities
    existence, the existence of an external world and the
    existence of an objective reality that is guided by transcendent laws
    of
    logic.

    There is a causal, complementary, parallel, or
    reciprocal relationship or correspondence between the
    bag of Doritos and the existence of a external and
    objective world and reality it finds itself in.

    1) The bag of Doritos exists.
    2) I can recognize the Doritos.
    3) Therefore I and the objective world exist.
    4) I can distinguish the Doritos from other things.
    5) Therefore laws of logic exist.

    The existence of the bag of Doritos demonstrates the epistemological
    certitude of 1) My existence 2) The existence of an objective world
    that
    is real and not illusionary and 3) The existence of tangible and
    objective laws of logic from which I can differentiate the bag of
    Doritos from other things.

    A skeptic may posit that that the bag of Doritos, the
    objective world and the laws of logic are illusionary
    but will instantaneously contradict himself when he acknowledges the
    existence of the Doritos and in turn acknowledges his or her own
    existence and the existence of the external world wherein the Doritos
    finds it’s existence in. When the person distinguishes the Doritos
    from
    other things he will acknowledge a transcendent logical law
    demonstrating that such a body of laws exists as well.

    Thus skepticism of the existence of objective reality
    and logic will only lead to self contradiction. For
    one cannot deny his or her own existence and the
    ability to distinguish themselves from it without at
    once acknowledging his existence thus leading to an contradictory
    infinite regress or absurd denials. (Ad
    Infinitum)

    The crumpled bag of Doritos leads to the existence of
    God and the truthfulness of the historic Christian
    faith in the following manner. The bag of Doritos
    conclusively demonstrates The existence of the
    objective world and objective reality governed by
    objective laws of logic.

    However the mere acknowledgment of objective reality
    and logic does not answer the question of how these
    things got here.

    Mere observation of the workings of the universe does
    not answer the question of origins and why all things
    grow old and die.

    I will postulate here that without the existence and
    sustaining power of the God of historic Christianity
    then we are led to an infinite regress of questioning
    of our origins. The existence of Almighty God is of
    an epistemological necessity and can be argued for transcendently.

    The transcendental argument for the existence of God ,
    takes the position that it is impossible for any
    authoritative rationality (including an atheist’s) to
    emerge from matter. Thus, the existence of God must be
    assumed in order to deny God’s existence, which means
    that the atheist’s position is self-contradictory.

    The transcendental argument argument for God’s
    existence shows the necessary preconditions for the
    possibility of rational thought or meaningful
    discourse, for God is the author of all rational intelligibility. For
    God is the one who created the world and the reality that governs it.

    For without the God of historic Christianity humanity
    would be trapped in an infinite regress of questions
    regarding the origin and meaning of our existence.
    But God has spoken from the whirlwind of contradictory
    opinions and has demonstrated His existence due to the impossibility of
    the contrary. For without God we cannot know how we got here, what our
    purpose is and where we are going.

    Fortunately God has revealed the knowledge of Himself
    and the meaning of human existence in His absolutely
    inerrant, inspired, authoritative, self-attesting and
    self authenticating Word, the Holy Bible.

    God has revealed the knowledge of himself in His Word
    and differentiated Himself from all the false gods and
    ideas about truth held by unbelievers by giving
    evidences of the Bible’s truthfulness such as the
    miracle of fulfilled prophecy and the glorious
    resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I believe in the existence of Almighty God because
    God’s inspired and perfect Word declares so. It is
    impossible for anything to be contrary to the truth of
    God’s existence and He has differentiated Himself from
    all other religious and ideological options by raising
    His Son from the dead, declaring to the world that
    Jesus Christ is Lord.

    That is how a crumpled old bag of Doritos declares to
    me the glory and grandeur of Almighty God.

    “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus
    is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you
    may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

  190. John Scherer on December 7, 2004 at 3:18 pm

    Has anyone read the report from Craig Hazen on Dr. Zacharias’ website about the ‘Evening of Friendship’:

    http://www.rzim.org/faqs/newstext.php?id=63\

    It is interesting to me how a report about this “Evening of Friendship”, attacks us, for being a church of “power and influence”, and implies that we have no idea what we believe. Odesn’t seem very friendly.

  191. Ethesis (Stephen M) on December 7, 2004 at 3:31 pm

    Well, to bring this thread to a close, I’m linking to a SSM post …

    http://left2right.typepad.com/main/2004/12/the_politics_of.html

    An area where there is some convergence.