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Dave, I think this is a good direction for the LDS community to go in helping bridge the divide between our respective faiths. Your concluding suggestion is a good one. Still, it is distressing to see these types of links on the Saddleback website.

Or, equally distressing to see these types of links on the SBC website.

It still seems an honest "dialogue" is really only a monologue.

Nice post, Dave. I will be pleased if this is a recurring feature.

Spot on. Thanks for the mental process adjustment. I served as a missionary among the Baptists and I could have used more advice like this back then!

Without even going to the links to see what they say, I wonder if Guy Murray thinks that what the Baptists write at the links he cites is not what they honestly think?

I really enjoyed this post. I always find I get a lot out of something when I really try to see it from the perspective in which it originates. No straw men. Thanks for the fishing break.

Ann,

I do believe that what is written on those types of links are in fact what the authors think, and probably a great many other evangelicals. My only point, probably inartfully expressed, is that I appreciated and agreed with Dave's post.

I agree we need to have a better understanding of our evangelical friends. Yet, it seems like the education efforts or understanding efforts are one sided. I am unaware of LDS adherents picketing and yelling religious obscenities outside of evangelical religious gatherings. Hence my comment, it seems like it's still a monologue rather than a dialogue.

It wasn't until I attended a non-LDS religious school for my M.A. that I realized HOW MUCH our own beliefs resemble those of evangelicals, specifically the Methodists. Even though JS may have had privelaged access to heavenly hosts, I think he still borrowed much from what was going on around him in constructing his theology. Furthermore, it is apparent that many of our own tenets utilize vocabulary similar to our orthodox friends, but mean something different. One example: 1 Peter 1:10 -- "C&E made sure" for them is NOTHING like it is for us. Others exist as well.

The Baptists for me have been the most quizzical. It seems like many evangelical denominations are ambivalent regarding the Mormon church, but the Baptists seem to take the cake when it comes to Mormon derision and diatribe. It seems to me that Baptists are the most fearful of "cults" (a word which I think just means "I don't like your religion") and therefore are the most outspoken of our critics. Have any of you experienced this for yourselves?

Personally, I think it best that I never debate religion with a Baptist. My father is an ordained minister in the SBC, and is extremely abusive of my choices in religion, especially after I became inactive in the LDS Church and then became active again. I find that I have a hard time keeping my temper in the face of that kind of attitude, it's like all I can hear is my father telling me that I'm doomed to hell. I haven't spoken with him since I became active again.

I'm neither Baptist nor for that matter LDS, but grew up among Baptists and count many among my friends and family so was interested to read your excellent analysis.

I believe one key to understanding why many conservative Baptists behave rather badly when it comes to various other Christian denominations, including Mormons, Roman Catholics and more, has to do with their traditional understanding of the Bible as a closed and infallible canon. In other words, a conviction that once God had spoken to humanity through the books of the Bible, that was the end of revelation for all time.

That does not mean that a Baptist does not believe God works in individual lives through the Holy Spirit. But it does mean that all those actions are in accordance with and flow from His will as recorded in scripture.

So any denomination the accepts continuing revelation and new revelation, as Mormons have commencing with Joseph Smith and continuing through the current president and prophet, has the effect of a fingernail scratching across a blackboard. Something similar is true for the Roman Catholic Church with a Pope who as the vicar of Christ also is capable of receiving revelation that over the centuries has shaped a church with many elements that cannot be tracked directly to the Bible, at least in the Baptist view.

Liberal Christians who suggest that the Bible is not infallible and therefore not necessarily the perfect, complete and only source of all knowledge needed in faith and in life also are singled out for scorn.

My own Quakers do not fare especially well either.

Could I disagree with one minor point? You suggest that most Baptist congregations are not served by professional clergy. That may once have been the case. All that was necessary was to receive a call (from God via the Holy Spirit) and a congregation or congregations willing to endorse you and if you could keep the folks in the pews awake you were in business. I think you'd find that by now most Baptist clergy are graduates of at least one of the countless seminaries that serve the dizzying number of branches of Baptistdom and do consider themselves full-time professionals within their calling.

Of course this is over-generalization, too. There are many middle-of-the-road Baptists and many liberal Baptists to whom much of the preceding does not apply.

As you pointed out, it is very difficult to generalize about Baptists.

Right on, Gooch. Thanks for sharing. I applaud your faithfulness.

all I can hear is my father telling me that I'm doomed to hell

Well, if all the Mormons go to hell, how bad a place can it be? Save me a seat, bro.

It wasn't until I attended a non-LDS religious school for my M.A. that I realized HOW MUCH our own beliefs resemble those of evangelicals, specifically the Methodists.

That's very, very true. I grew up in a Methodist offshoot denomination, and the theology I learned there is remarkably similar to LDS theology in many ways. Of course, there are differences in some of the basics (such as continuing revelation and the nature of the trinity). But that denomination, for example, placed a strong emphasis on sanctification (also referred to as holiness), the idea that our goal is to become like Christ. Back when I was investigating the LDS church, I came across a lesson on that subject in an old Relief Society manual, and it could have been taken directly out of one of the Sunday school lessons I had studied ages ago. Methodism is Arminian rather than Calvinistic, so there isn't the emphasis on "faith only" or "once saved, always saved" that you'll find in some of the more Calvinistic denominations.

But even among some Calvinists I see things that are remarkably LDS-like. I was reading Warren's book in the library the other night, and I read a part where he defended the "saved by faith alone" doctrine. But then he also said that while it's God's grace alone that gets us to heaven, it's what we do on Earth that determines what we do when we get there. So maybe we aren't all that far apart after all.

To add to what has already been said, I'd point out that just as not all Baptists are alike, neither are all evangelicals. There is an extremely wide range of theological beliefs and social practices.

And although there is no equivalent belief of continuing revelation, American evangelicalism is changing. Twenty, thirty years ago, the common evangelical belief taught was that those who die without having come to know Christ as their personal savior were doomed to hell, period, it was that simple. It was that belief that kept me from joining an evangelical church when I became an adult (although I was an actively participating nonmember), and that led in part to my study of LDS belief. Nowadays, though, evangelicalism (or at least parts of it) is moving away from that. I heard Billy Graham say a few months ago that it isn't up to us to judge whether, for example, Muslims are going to make ti to heaven, that that is God's judgment to make. He would not have said the same thing in the '50s.

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