Are We “Anti-Mormons”?

Preston temple

Following the peaceful and successful Christian witness at the Mormon British Pageant held at the Mormon temple in Lancashire (right) and led by this ministry (see previous posts for reports) the inevitable and inevitably amateur response has appeared on the internet.

The usual name-calling has been going on, one favourite being “protesters,” which brought a smile to the faces of happy Christians peacefully engaging Mormons in conversation and handing out literature to passers-by. The inevitable, “anti-Mormon” label came out of course and I want to share some thoughts about that.

The Oct. 1997 issue of the liberal Mormon Sunstone magazine (Vol. 20:3, Issue 107) carried an amusing article about alternative names for “Anti-Mormons.” (Comments in brackets are my own, of course)

Sceptics (And this is a bad thing because…?)

Gentiles (Mormons consider themselves the new Israel)

Mormon-detractors

Counter-Mormons (That’s anti-Mormons to the rest of us)

Anti-Christs (At least we know now what Mormons think of honest critics)

Mormophobes (It isn’t an irrational fear but a healthy scepticism – see 1 above)

Nehors (Nehor is an obscure Book of Mormon character who led an apostate sect)

Avatars of Satan (An avatar is an incarnation of a deity; see comment on temple “minister” below)

Challengers (Fair comment. So stop name-calling and meet the challenge)

The unconverted (Christians? Unconverted? Interesting insight)

Contra-Mormons (pro-Christians)

Post-Mormons (Thank goodness that’s behind us then)

Unwashed heathens (Lets not dignify that…)

Ignorant fools (Mt.5:22)

Tannerites (Sandra Tanner and her late husband Jerald, former Mormons, are the most influential critics of Mormonism in the 20th century)

O Benighted Ones (We are getting into the realms of Twilight here, surely)

Dysfunctional pseudo-Christians (Pardon me? I can dress myself)

Friends of other faiths (FOOFS) (To Mormons other churches are “other faiths,” a telling fact since churches are Christian so what does that make Mormonism except “another faith?” Gal.1:8-9)

Friends of opposing lifestyles (FOOLS) (See Mt.5:22 again)

Patrons of opposing philosophies (POOPS) (snigger)

Acquaintances of negative theological interests (ANTIs)

The Gentile Liberation Front (see 2 above)

CsOTMC (Critics of the Mormon Church) (I can live with that)

Objectivity-challenged Mormon commentators

and, “persons in straw hats who sit upon lawn chairs in the full sun all day long and distribute perversely negative literature about the LDS church at the exits of parking lots of LDS temple open houses, who are otherwise harmless…” (I have never owned a lawn chair in my life, although I do have a straw hat)

Childish, isn’t it? And, of course, you can’t ascribe this sort of infantile nonsense to every Mormon you meet. On the other hand, it is not entirely atypical. If this kind of “critical” response was put on a spectrum most, if not all Mormons would fit on it somewhere.

The Mormon Great Game

Typical of the response of Mormons to criticism is to attempt to isolate critics from the mainstream of Christian thought and even civilised society. This is done by labelling critics “anti-Mormon,” defining them in terms of their relationship to Mormonism rather than by their faith, and ascribing to them base motives far removed from those of true, good-hearted Christians.

Mormonism’s critics are portrayed as holding to beliefs that are peculiar even to other Christians, as having problems with Mormon theology that most other Christians would not have. There is a history to this kind of approach, represented by such Mormon books as Offenders for a Word,How Wide the Divide and Are Mormons Christians?

Further, in an attempt to legitimise theology that is peculiar to Mormonism, and alien to historical, orthodox Christianity, Mormons seek first to redefine what are often settled issues for the Christian Church; the nature of God, the nature of man, the person of Jesus, the nature of sin, the significance of the cross, the means of grace and salvation, the work of the Holy Spirit, the reliability of the Bible and the eternal destiny of the saints.

This way they create something more in their own image and call it Christianity. They then compare the views of Christian apologists looking critically at Mormonism with this chimera and represent these apologists as though they are out on a limb as far as most Christians are concerned. I call this the Mormon Great Game.

Christian, Evangelical and BiblicalCross

Anyone reading literature produced by Christian critics of Mormonism, indeed reading this blog, will readily see that these thoughtful critics usually stand squarely within the Evangelical Christian tradition when it comes to doctrine. In challenging Mormon thought they represent accurately the problems most Christians would have with Mormon theology.

Christians would have real problems with the Mormon teaching that God is an exalted man, Jesus his literal physical Son; man an eternal being; sin something we pick up from influences around us; the cross simply the place where Jesus died; salvation as something you earn; the Spirit one of three distinct gods; the Bible as unreliable and godhood the ultimate goal for every believer deemed “worthy” of exaltation. All Mormon teachings, none squaring with historical, orthodox Christianity.

According to the official Mormon web site, there are over seventy thousand full-time Mormon missionaries around the world today, as well as the almost 15million ‘lay members’ to whom the aphorism “every member a missionary” applies (For more on how Mormon demographics don’t add up see the Mormon Chapbook). They are calling on our neighbours with their message of families, temples, extra-biblical revelation and the rest, and insist that, unlike their detractors, they are simply proclaiming their message and sharing what they believe.

Mormons; Tearing Down the Walls

First Vision 2However, in “teaching what [they] believe to be the teachings of Jesus Christ”, as one correspondent insisted, they do not themselves simply present their view. Their message is grounded in the doctrine that all other churches are in apostasy; their creeds an abomination, believers corrupt, their practices ungodly and their ministers without authority (Joseph Smith, History 1:19).

The first lesson given by Mormon missionaries emphasises the corrupt, apostate nature of Christian churches. Mormonism is presentedimmediately as a restoration of truth and authority “after centuries of spiritual darkness.” An integral part of their message is an attack on established Christian churches; tearing down the walls of established truth.

In light of this, I suggest their familiar cry, “why do you have to tear down other people’s beliefs?” is breathtakingly disingenuous. In presenting Mormonism, they inevitably tear down the faith of Bible-believing Christians everywhere. If we are “anti-Mormon” what does that make them?

Many Mormon books have been written about, and web pages dedicated to, the defence of Mormonism against those who criticise it. There are also publications ‘correcting’, in light of Mormon beliefs, ‘apostate’ Christian beliefs and practices and educating people in the ‘restored’ Mormon gospel. All of them compare Christianity unfavourably with Mormonism.

The Book of Mormon Book of MormonStarts the Game

The Book of Mormon, said by Joseph Smith to be, “the cornerstone of our faith,” itself is scathing in its attack on the Christian Church, “predicting” a universal apostasy and condemning Christian churches in the strongest terms:

1 Nephi 13

24 And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book [the Bible] proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God…

…26 And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away…

…28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.

But these plain and precious truths, lost through the corruption of the great and abominable church, would be restored:

35 For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious [The Book of Mormon]; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb [through Joseph Smith]….

…38 And it came to pass that I beheld the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the book of the Lamb of God, which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew, that it came forth from the Gentiles unto the remnant of the seed of my brethren [the Lamanites, or American Indians].

39 And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true.

40 And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records [The Book of Mormon], which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first [The Bible], which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved. (Words in square brackets added)

Mormon Leaders Play the Game

Mormon leaders have, over the years, been scathing about the churches. In this same section of the Book of Mormon the writer goes on to talk about “the great and abominable church [being] the mother of harlots” Mormon apostle, Bruce R McConkie commented:

Speaking of harlots in the figurative sense, he (Nephi) designated the Catholic Church as ‘the mother of harlots’ (I Ne.13:34; 14:15-17) a title which means that the protestant churches, the harlot daughters which broke off from the great and abominable church, would themselves be apostate churches.” (Mormon Doctrine, 1958, pp.314-315)

Now doubt there about where Mormonism stands in relation to the Christian churches. Speaking in 1893 the Mormon prophet John Taylor said:

We talk about Christianity, but it is a perfect pack of nonsense…Myself and hundreds of the Elders around me have seen its pomp, parade, and glory; and what is it? It is a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbol (sic); it is as corrupt as hell; and the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century” (Journal of Discourses, vol.6 p 167)

Mormons Play the Game in Secret

Up until 1990 the Mormon temple endowment ceremony portrayed a Christian minister as in the pay of the devil! He was made to look corrupt because he preached for money (see Luke 10:7; 1 Cor.9:7-12 esp.v11); His message of an invisible God “so great he can fill the universe, ye so small he can dwell in your heart” (a grotesque caricature) was mocked mercilessly. This portrayal was only removed after strong and repeated protests from outraged Christians and some Mormons who felt increasingly uncomfortable with it.

If Mormons are permitted to ‘apologise’ for, defend and spread their views by casting Christianity in such a poor light I fail to see any justification for Mormon complaints about works that closely and critically examine Mormonism. We might justifiably claim to be simply defending our own faith against Mormon critics calling at our doors. Instead of manufacturing labels for honest critics I suggest they should use their time and energy bringing honest answers to honest questions. Anti-Mormon? I don’t think so.

5 thoughts on “Are We “Anti-Mormons”?”

  1. I thank you for this post. I recently returned from Manaus, Brazil after serving for two years as a missionary of the LDS church. I prayed often earnestly seeking inspiration to better follow Jesus Christ and to help those around me. I cannot think of any better way I could have spent that period of my life. I felt closest to God and Jesus Christ when I was serving others and teaching them about the tremendous sacrifices that were made in their behalf by the Son of God. I encouraged all to keep their precious testimonies of our Savior and taught them how this light could grow.

    Since being home I have had the opportunity to study more intensively the Jewish and Islamic religions. I have developed a deep respect for those who practice other faiths. I admire all who exhibit diligence in keeping what they interpret as the commandments of God. I do not seek to detract or tear down the faith of others. Joshua puts it plainly when he says that we must choose this day whom we will serve. I believe that all who dedicate themselves to serving God, and display the necessary self discipline and perseverance will receive the peace of God. There is no feeling that can adequately substitute the knowledge that one is living in accordance with the commandments of a loving Heavenly Father.

    In conclusion, I thank you for your blog. You bring up many valid points. Comments by members of the LDS faith that are made purposely to cause contention were not made wisely. May we rejoice in Christ by loving him and serving others.

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  2. I am an Ex Mormon. born to LDS parents.
    I never had a testimony of the church and never wanted one as I had doubts from an early age.
    The final staw for me was when a friend told me and my sister that a girl she knew from another ward, had been sealed in the temple and her Husband died two weeks later, she could never be sealed to another man. Whereas if she had died there would be no limit to the women her husband could be sealed to.
    I learnt by default that polygamy will be the norm in the Celestial kingdom. I decided there and then that i did not want to go to Mormon heaven.
    I stopped going to church in 1984 and married a Non Mormon in 1987. We are still married.
    We have two children and when they were young my TBM Dad tried to guilt trip me into sending them to church, saying they were missing out.
    I did let my Mum and Dad take my kids to church, my son was never interested but my daughter aged 13 enjoyed it and went for a year . I even had to tolerate my home teacher smuggly asking me how I would feel if my daughter asked to be baptised??? I remember thinking how horrified i would be!!! but answered politely that I would respect her decision.
    My daughter was never baptized as she came home from church one day and announced that she didnt want to go again as she found the teachings so sexist, I told her I respected her decision.
    She later studied Anthropology and Comparative Religion at Uni dont know if this is related to having a Mormon Mum and a Catholic Dad or not.
    in 2009 my Dad once again told me that i should be going to church and with tears in his eyes spoke of how Joseph Smith suffered in Carthage Jail and died for me so that I could have the Gospel. I replied by stating the facts of why Jo and his Bro happened to be in Jail and asked him why I should think more of Joseph Smiths life than the Men ,Women and Children that lost their lives in the Meadow Mountain Massacre? Needless to say my Dad was very upset by this., and I felt guilty for months for upsetting him and resolved to keep my mouth shut in future.
    My name is still on Church Records which is hypocritical of me as I find the teachings and history of the church deeply disturbing .
    Am I Anti Mormon ? I prefer to think I have seen the Light.

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  3. Having read the posts above I feel for all of you. This journey of life has many twists and turns and can be lonely when we have principles and values that other people under value because the materiality aspect of life.

    As human beings we want to be part of a group of similar minded people..Mormon doctrine seems to have a lot of perfect answers for everything. Where are we from?, why are we here? and where are we going? As a convert at age 9, the family angle was appealing. I loved my mission at 19 and it was a spiritual journey, I healed the sick, I baptised and I ministered and it all felt wonderful. But since then having delved into the discourses of Brigham Young and the Church archives, it is clear that the church history has been edited and so have the teachings and the structure of the church, in fact it is nothing like the church that Joseph Smith set up and quite frankly it is built on fraud, lies and deception and yet even though the Book of Mormon was made up, countless wonderful people embrace it and do good works and gain a level of spiritual connection with God. I have left but I recognise that it is one of many schisms of religion that may help some people begin their path towards enlightenment. God will reach you no matter how badly constructed the religion is. Don’t mistake the religion for God though. The religion is only a medium for teaching principles of faith, light and truth.

    God is love, each person can connect directly into the divine and communicate with the light. Each of us has the divine spark within us that can ignite the light and light up the darkness.

    Jesus Christ might not at first appeal to a Muslim reader or the Jew or a subscriber to the Gunth or the Buddhist, but this humble man reaches out to the world with a divine message and says, I forgive you, I love you, no conditions, no strings attached, love one another and forgive one another.

    There never has been peace on earth and there is not now, but can anyone disagree that this has to be the way forward for humanity if we are to make any progress as spiritual beings and take our rightful place in the Universe.

    Why can’t all creeds, religions, philosophies and agnostics take on board and recommend to their followers to forgive each other and to love their neighbour as themselves?

    A perfect world is really that simple, but it starts with one person at a time. You have to change yourself to change the world.

    Thank you for reading this.

    Light up the Dark

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    1. Hey there Slade thanks for the comment, and thanks for “feeling for us”, good feeling is never a bad thing.

      Jesus of course offers love to all, but only those that accept him as their Lord and Saviour, it is however altogether possible that people can act with good intention carrying out works in His name without Him even knowing who they are (Matthew 7:23)

      Our concern is for the Mormons that this is what is happening, we do this ministry with love and good feeling towards them (and you if that is what you are) and while we can often be seen as the horrible anti-Mormons, that is at least, not our intention.

      thanks for dropping in.

      Like

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A UK Evangelical Blogging On All Things Mormonism

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