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October 10, 2007

Comments

sylvia

It'd be funny to think that some of the angry letters might come from fellow Mo's....

Carolyn Miller

Very nice indeed! (applause)

David

You mention that Harry Reid is a lifelong member of the church, yet I've read from several sources including Wikipedia that he is a convert.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Reid#Background_and_family_life

David

You mention that Harry Reid is a lifelong member of the church, yet I've read from several sources including Wikipedia that he is a convert.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Reid#Background_and_family_life

Tona

The "Dummies" story with the provost is very telling... ouch. I wonder if it is Scientologists or 7th Day Adventists writing in. I can't envision too many Mormons who curl up with XnC, unfortunately. I will be curious to see what the flapping is about, I think this is tremendously fair, reasonable and well-done. I'll put my money on the part about us being Christian, and I wonder if in so arguing letters-to-the-editor will concede the point about Unitarians and J-O Pentecostals.

Carrie K.

This is such a hard issue. I have known many Mormons who have a personal relationship with Jesus, and I believe they are Christians. But I do have reservations about calling all Mormons Christians - though I usually do not bring them up because I am so tired of people being hateful in the name of religion, and I never want to be perceived that way.

First question has to do with the fact that polygamy was originally a part of Mormon doctrine, but was later repealed by a Prophet. As a Christian, I believe the Bible is infallible, and anyone who tries to change doctrine is not a prophet. I guess my question is this: how do you put your trust in a religion when the core doctrines can be changed by subsequent Prophets?

My second question has to do with The Pearl of Great Price, which I understand is considered Scripture by Mormons. (This is what I was told by friends who are Mormon, whether or not this is standard theology, I don't know. Please correct me if I'm wrong.) To my understanding, the Pearl of Great Price was originally an Egyptian papyrus that Joseph Smith purchased and then claimed to have translated into the Book of Abraham, or the Pearl of Great Price. In later years, after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, the papyrus was translated by Egyptologists and found to contain funerary texts regarding the interrment of Egyptians. Why would The Pearl then stil be considered Scripture? And what troubles me even more is why Mormons would still consider Joseph Smith a great prophet and consider his Book of Mormon to be accurate scripture when he was proven to either have been grossly mistaken or lying to his followers?

Again, please do not interpet these questions as a reason for me to doubt your Christianity. I believe you love Jesus - in fact, until I read this post I had no idea you were Mormon, and it doesn't change the way I feel about your blog or reviews or your writing. These questions have been rattling around in my head for a long time, and I've never found an opportunity to ask them of a Mormon in a non-confrontational way.

Those questions embody the main reason I have a problem considering all Mormons as Christians.

As far as the electability of Mitt Romney, I am bothered by something that may just be hear-say, and so maybe you can clear this up. I was told (and I'm not sure about the infallibility of the source) that temple Mormons swear to uphold the tenets of the Mormon faith over the Constitution of the United States. I understand placing God above a candidate's duties as president, but I have a problem with placing any one specific religion or denomination over the Constitution. I hope I expressed that accurately. Again, this is something I've been thinking about since Romney announced his candidacy.

I hope that I have asked my questions in such a way that my intentions are not to judge, but to understand.

ChaplainCharlie

I cannot believe that a person of your education and experience really cannot understand why Christians do not consider Mormons Christian. As was explained to me by Mormon fellow chaplains, you do believe in Jesus as "savior" but only as a person showing/enabling you to save yourselves. Further, so very remote from Christianity is the fact that Mormons believe they are the spirit children of "Our Heavenly Father" who birthed them through human parents and that as Mormons they can die, go on to heaven, etc. where they have sex with their spirit consorts and create worlds of their own and children to worship them. These are only a few of the reasons Christians in no manner consider Mormons Christian.

Michael DeGroote

Dear Carrie K.,

I hope that you and Jana don't mind if I give a few responses to your excellent questions. I will try to be brief.

First a preamble of sorts:
Anybody can make a definition of something that includes or excludes other people. For me, I think that we would all do much better if we used a behavioral rather than a doctrinal standard to judge whether this or that person or group is Christian. It is healthier for us if we use Christ's method for determining if we are Christian: "By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one toward another" (John 13:35) Such a standard puts the focus on the beam in our own eye rather than the mote in another's eye. After all, it doesn't make us any closer to Christ if we determine how wrong somebody else is.

Your Question #1 on polygamy, doctrine, and changing:
Your question seems to hinge on a confusion between doctrine and practice. The practice of plural marriage ceased in 1890. The Lord has very often given certain practices that he later revoked. You may recall, for example, what Peter and the early Church confronted with the fulfilling of the Law of Moses. Your argument could have been used by people back then to reject Jesus outright.

Your Question #2 on The Pearl of Great Price and translation:
The Pearl of Great Price is an amazing book--bringing testimonies of Christ together from Moses, Abraham, Matthew, and Joseph Smith. The book within the Pearl of Great Price that you refer to is "The Book of Abraham." That book was translated by revelation to Joseph Smith. There exists a puzzling notebook that has the full text of the Book of Abraham in one column and characters from one of the Egyptian Papyrus in the other. This is about all we know. Some people unfriendly to the LDS Church have stated with unfounded confidence that the notebook was what Joseph used to translate the book. It appears to me to be more of an attempt by Joseph's associates to reverse engineer the Book of Abraham to decipher the Egyptian language. Both views, however, are merely speculation--and can hardly rise to the level of proof either way. You need to understand, however, that most Mormons haven't worried too much about these sort of questions. The source of our testimony of the scriptures and of the calling of Joseph Smith as a prophet does not come from "flesh and blood" but from our Father in Heaven. The best way to determine the truth of the Scriptures is to "ask of God." (James 1:5, also Moroni 10:3-5 in the Book of Mormon) You can find more about the Book of Abraham at http://farms.byu.edu or at http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Abraham_papyri:FAQ

question #3 on the Constitution and the Temple
The best way, perhaps, to answer this is to ask you "Do you love Christ more than the Constitution?" I hope you do. The fact is, the more people love God, the more likely they are to uphold the Constitution. Mormons believe that the Constitution was inspired of God (although it is certainly not scripture, its base principles come from God and belong to all people). By the way, I can't recall the constitution being mentioned in any form in the Temple.

I hope this helps you understand a little bit. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am more concerned that people understand what we believe rather than accept what we believe. I appreciate you asking these questions and wish you all success.

Warm Personal Regards,
Michael De Groote

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