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.