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The thing I found most interesting in this essay was the point that LDS intellectuals (and PR people?) like to select friendly non-LDS scholars and spokespeople who will tell us how great we are--or at least won't talk very much about how awful they think we are. I wonder why this is? Do we actually need this kind of strange affirmation for something?

I guess I don't see the problem. Church PR is designed to (surprise) promote the Church. What's bad about that?

It seems to me that they are somewhat misleading. First off only Midgley panned The New Mormon challenge as "anti-Mormon." I think it still unfortunately gets our views wrong quite often. But it was an important first step and not anti-Mormon. (Unlike the site where the essay you link to is found.)

I do agree that there is an odd need by some members for affirmation. I think we're still insecure in certain ways. Unfortunately so. One hopes we can move past it. But I think that a valid criticism. Having said that though after reading this essay one sees the same phenomena among certain evangelicals, i.e., the insecurity of needing to have their criticisms accepted by Mormons. I think both sides can offer respect without offering acceptance.

I think LDS need to stop calling every disagreement anti-Mormonism. Let's keep that label for those intentionally misrepresenting us rather than simply disagreeing.

I found the essay interesting. As someone who has lived in both evangelical and LDS circles, I think the apology was both welcome and sincere.

One of the reasons for current state of dialog is the serious misunderstandings that evanglicals have about what we believe. Go into any evangelical bookstore, and you'll see dozens of books about Mormonism, and all or just about all of them are either inaccurate or misleading. Many if not most evangelicals have never heard anything about Mormonism (if they've heard anything at all) other than the distortions. And even ones who are inclined to give us the benefit of the doubt will have an impression of the Church based on the misleading teachings.

Of course, the situation in reverse isn't much better. There's very, very little (if any) official LDS teaching about what our non-LDS Christian brothers and sisters believe, and similarly few publications written from an LDS perspective on what others believe. But over the years I have heard many, many statements made in Gospel Doctrine classes and elsewhere that indicate most LDS have no clearer an understanding of non-LDS Christianity than the others do of us.

Just a few examples: I have heard Mormons say that non-LDS Christians believe God is a blob. I have heard Mormons say that non-LDS Christians believe that God doesn't have emotions. I have heard Mormons say that non-LDS Christians believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are the same person (and a few do, but it is a view that is considered heresy according to the traditional creeds). I have heard Mormons say that non-KJV Bibles teach non-Biblical views (they're the same Mormons who believe that LDS in other countries use translations of the KJV rather than the same Bibles that Protestants and others use). I have heard many Mormons wildly distort the "saved by faith alone" position of many Calvinists. And the list goes on.

In other words, the misunderstanding is on both sides, and probably about equally. I think the reasons for the misunderstanding are different (more a matter of misinformation on their side, ignorance on ours). And I think that we do have something of a persecution complex too, as has already been mentioned. Any challenge to our beliefs is viewed as anti-Mormonism, even if it isn't.

It's too bad, really, that we often are more interested in defending our point of view rather than listening to what others have to say. The fact is that we all have plenty we can learn from each other.

Nice comment, Eric. After writing this post, I was so embarrassed that I didn't own either How Wide or Mormon Challenge that I actually stopped by my local Christian bookstore and picked up a copy of The New Mormon Challenge. I noted that in the "Other Religions" section of the store, five of the fifty titles on the shelf were about Mormonism. The tone varied from New Mormon Challenge, a fairly scholarly work, to Mormonism 101, a responsible but popular effort to define and contest Mormon beliefs, to one called Mormonism's Temple of Doom.

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