Skip to comments.A leading evangelical says evangelicals have spread lies about LDS beliefs
Posted on 10/19/2009 3:14:37 PM PDT by Notoriously Conservative
For the first time in 105 years, non-Mormons mounted the pulpit at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Nov. 14. The event, dubbed an "Evening of Friendship," was organized by Standing Together, a network of 100 evangelical churches trying to improve relations with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Historical animosity dating back to the founding of the LDS Church has heightened in recent years between the two groups, particularly in the 1990s, when high-profile evangelical leaders said that Mormons are not Christians and the Southern Baptist Convention held one of its annual meetings in Salt Lake City, partially with the goal of converting Mormons to evangelical Protestantism.
In what the Deseret News referred to as "stunningly candid" comments, Fuller Theological Seminary president and Beliefnet columnist Richard J. Mouw apologized to Mormons for evangelicals' tendency to distort the truth about Latter-day Saints' beliefs. "Let me state it clearly. We evangelicals have sinned against you," Mouw said. The speech is making the rounds among surprised and generally pleased evangelical and Mormon groups. We reprint the remarks below.
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.
A guy who lives outside the state of Utah, getting his info through biased sources, spent maybe a few hours doing his research, appoints himself the expert on Mormon-Evangelical relationships and history.
It’s like a guy who never left Miami Beach writing the book on how to hunt elk in the Rocky Mountains.
Waste of skin.
Paul tells us in Galatians (I think it’s Galatians) that we are not to believe any angel or man who gives us another gospel. That is exactly what happened to Joseph Smith. We are not to believe that angel or Joseph Smith. All the LDS that I know (quite a few) are awesome people, good in their nature, servers, and believers in God. But I believe they have been duped and I pray for them.
Way to go, NC...Either you succeeded in turning back the clock to 2005 in order to report this "breaking news"...or BeliefNet is just a "tad slow" in its reporting...
Now why is the date on this post Oct. 19, 2009?
As a Christian I would be ashamed if other Christians bare falsely against Mormons, but never ashamed, nor will I apoligize for believing Joseph Smith and his cohorts were nothing but charlatans and liars. Mormonism a cult which leads those away from The Truth which is Yeshua.
Very good point. Fuller has been drifting toward the liberal perspective for several decades. It was only a matter of time until it wouldn’t matter what the “gospel” is, as long as we hold hands and sing kum-by-yah.
False alarm. Just a Fuller guy doing what Fuller guys do: compromise, buckle, betray, equivocate.
I can only imagine how that is done.
A couple of comments. Because of the nature of what evangelical Christianity is, I would always be a bit circumspect about anyone who purports to speak for it. Its not the kind of thing that any one person can speak for.
As for the big divide between Mormons and the Christian world, its no secret, its very simple. We accept the Bible as being the basic text of the faith; the famous scriptures telling us to accept no other will always be the dividing line. Mormons have factored that in or rationalized it somehow, we haven’t.
Does that prevent me from seeing mormons as being allies in the great culture wars, which are at heart wars of faith and civilization? Not at all. They are proving themselves to be allies again and again. You know a man by his fruit, and that applies to mormons as well as anyone else.
What does strike me, and others can feel free to comment, is that there seems to have been a shift in mormon thinking toward the Christian world. In recent years there seems to be a new desire on the part of mormons to be considered by the Christian world as brothers in the faith. I don’t remember that from years before, they were always very happy to stand apart and I never noticed any desire to be considered “one of us”. So that seems new. Maybe its precisely because of the culture wars that, finding ourselves on the same side of so many issues, some of the attitudes begin to soften.
But while we see you guys as cultural and political allies, and generally nice folks, it doesn’t change the theological issue. And what “false witness” Mouw is confessing to, I’m not sure. He should probably speak for himself. The points of disagreement aren’t a secret. They haven’t changed and probably won’t change. That shouldn’t prevent good people from standing together in the political and philosophical world when they find themselves in agreement. And it shouldn’t prevent people of good will from acknowledging one another as friends and neighbors.
Even if I think your theology is a bit crazy. If you know how to barbecue I’ll still be over.
“Dialogue” is the hobgoblin of straying minds.
Your link does not go to the article.
Of course not. Why would NC link to a 2004 article if NC places the date on the article as Oct. 19, 2009?
“What does strike me, and others can feel free to comment, is that there seems to have been a shift in mormon thinking toward the Christian world. In recent years there seems to be a new desire on the part of mormons to be considered by the Christian world as brothers in the faith. I dont remember that from years before, they were always very happy to stand apart and I never noticed any desire to be considered one of us. So that seems new. Maybe its precisely because of the culture wars that, finding ourselves on the same side of so many issues, some of the attitudes begin to soften.”
We shouldn’t be surprised, “even Satan disguises himself
as an angel of light”.
I am more than happy to be on the same side when it comes
to political or cultural issues. That doesn’t mean mormonism
is Christian (it isn’t). Nor does it mean I don’t like
individual mormons (I do).
Fuller has continued to move in the liberal direction
theologically. It doesn’t surprise me that they can’t
distinguish that which is Biblical from that which is not.
Anyone who claims to be a “leading evangelical” isn’t.
Thank you for fulfilling prophesy. Joseph Smith was told by the Savior that his name (Joseph Smith’s name) would be known for good and evil. You know his name for evil, and I know his name for good.
I believe that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, like Moses and Noah. To this very day, they make fun of, and tell lies about, Moses and Noah. Nothing new under the sun.
Jesus Christ is the Head of my Church. I am not ashamed of the Gospel. Jesus Christ is my personal Savior and I love Him and try my best to serve Him. The Plan of Salvation was instituted by God the Father. The Holy Ghost tells me this is True. I love my Church.
So very sad.
Joe Smith was simply a con man and a sheister who was shot escaping from jail. No martyr story; no nothing else. Just a guy who was in religion for the money; just a flagrant chump.
Joe Smith is the antithesis of a "prophet". He was a whackjob phoney "snake oil salesman" at best.
God told us to us "beware of false prophets". Joe Smith is just one of them. So easy to spot.........
“We accept the Bible as being the basic text of the faith; the famous scriptures telling us to accept no other will always be the dividing line. Mormons have factored that in or rationalized it somehow, we havent.”
There’s a scripture in Deuteronomy warning not to add or take away from the Book. So, according to you, the entire New Testament should be disregarded.
We Mormons believe in the Bible, too (King James version). When I read the Bible, I feel the Holy Ghost telling me it is Truth. Likewise, when I read the Book of Mormon, the Holy Ghost tells me it is Truth.
Actually, FReeper, you do not have a clue what we Mormons believe. If you did, you would repent for calling us non Christians, etc., as Jesus Christ is everything to us. He is our Savior, Redeemer, and Soon Coming King, and we love Him with all our Hearts. We thank Heavenly Father for giving His Son to save humanity from our sins. And the Holy Ghost seals this in our hearts with power and authority.
I will grant you, though; we are a peculiar people.
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