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Yeah, that's a problem, especially when every GA gets a big red chair.

Dave, your seeming antagonism toward Church leadership never fails to get me down. I wish you'd cut them some slack once in a while. That goes for FARMS too--I still simply cannot understand your crusade against them. Defending against agenda-driven attacks from a defensive agenda is understandable and does not merit moral condemnation. Ad hominem statements have their place when defending against doctrinal or historical attacks because--and as a lawyer you must know this (although, granted, you might be transactional)--the bias of a witness, or in this case, a critic of the Church, matters and colors the analysis of that person, so pointing that out is relevant; it is a valid aspect of an argument against often far-reaching and tenuous criticisms. Moreover, FARMS is able to defend the Church while being funny; this is one of Daniel Peterson's strengths--sure, Dan Vogel might not like it when Dan mocks the tin-factory hypothesis or other aspects of his tortured attempt at "debunking", but I don't see why that should get you up in a huff.

Anyway, so now we're worried about the big red chairs in the Conference Center? If FARMS earns your approbation by its techniques, what does your criticism of the big red chairs earn? Is it really very different than the FARMS approach?

Also, those who are on a crusade to make the point that Latter-day Saints are not Christians might fairly be characterized as anti-Mormons. I am not sure why this seems a controversial claim to you. It is a fair description, Dave, considering that making the claim that Latter-day Saints aren't Christians entails ignoring the very clear doctrines of the Church and its overwhelming and central focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. To make a philosophical disagreement about trinity theories (yes, they are all just theories worked out by churchmen and academics over the ages) into the basis for the claim that Latter-day Saints aren't Christians reveals that underneath what seems an academic categorization is an anti-Mormon sentiment. You must see this. To say that Hindus aren't Christians is not anti-Hindu, but to say that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aren't Christians is anti-Mormon. This deals with the sum and substance of what the Church is and believes.

The term "anti-Mormon" has two meanings. First, it means anyone who is opposed to the LDS church. In this sense, there are plenty of anti-Mormons. But the second meaning, which is a semantic parallel to the term "anti-Semite," describes people who engage in acts of vitriolic hatred, or even proto-genocide, toward the church.

As far as I can tell, there are really quite few (although not zero) anti-Mormons in the second sense. So the first definition would probably make the term more useful. Unfortunately, the emotional weight of the second meaning is so much greater than that of the first that it bleeds over. So I think it's really unacceptable to use the term "anti-Mormon" when you're not describing someone engaged in actual acts of persecution -- because your audience will emotionally experience the statement as involving persecution.

Is theological disagreement with the LDS Church persecution? Obviously not. Is belief that acceptance of some creed or other is a necessary condition for inclusion in the Christian world persecution? No, it's just definitions. Is disrupting a young couple's wedding in order to advertise an antagonistc website persecution? I think so. Is calling Gordon B. Hinckley a rapist in a film persecution? Definitely. So, there are anti-Mormons in the world, but I think people who simply write about theology and history shouldn't count...

. . . . unless their purpose in writing is to destroy or discredit the Church, rather than mere academic interest. This is where the FARMS approach comes in, refusing to ignore that someone's bias and inferable intentions matter in what they write about the Church and its reliability or the soundness of its analysis.

John, the problem is that bias or even an intention of convincing people not to be Mormon isn't the same as actual persecution. It's not anti-Semitic in the hate-speech sense to claim that the Law of Moses was fulfilled with the coming of Christ. And it's not anti-Mormon in the persecution sense to claim that Joseph Smith was a false prophet. These kinds of ideas, as well as the intention of convincing people not to be Mormon, fall squarely under the first category of anti-Mormon but not the second. We need a different word for these kinds of people, a word that isn't inappropriately tainted with genocidal implications.

There is definitely a distinction between the types of "Anti-Mormons" that we run into.

There are those that disagree with church doctrine. I do not agree with catholic doctrine, and I may point that out in a discussion forum. That does not make me anti-Catholic. If I were to activly engage in going out finding catholics and catholic discussion boards and spent a fair amount of time showing them they were wrong.

These actions in my mind would denote a level of anti-catholocism. Would doing this make me anti-catholic? Or for me to be considered anti-catholic, would I have to write a book saying that catholics are of the devil and go and protest at the catholic church on Sunday?

Ian, good point. I am definitely not anti-Catholic. I actually really like the Catholics, their religion, their church, and their doctrines, even many that I think are entirely superfluous or even apostate (judged on NT Christianity). Thus, any doctrinal disagreements I would have with them over the nature of the godhead or the meaning of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper would not make me anti-Catholic. I am delighted when I see faithful Catholics, but that doesn't mean I won't also be willing to bear my testimony to them about further light and knowledge.

This is wholly lacking in criticisms of the Church, I find. There aren't critics applauding Latter-day Saints' faith choice. Instead, they are basically saying that Latter-day Saints are stupid to believe the things they do, and here is the evidence to prove it.

John, in all fairness, there is not a small number of Mormons who think that Catholics are "stupid" for believing some of the things they do. Does that make them anti-Catholic?

I don't think so. But I also wonder if that is an accurate statement.

Seventh-day Adventist literature re Catholics would be anti-Catholic in the same way that the treatments being discussed here are anti-Mormon. Also, I grant that there have been some LDS writers who have espoused an anti-Catholic view--but they were pre-Vatican II.

John, I don't think you are taking the loose and informal style of blog writing into account when you line up my metaphors in your sights. Anti-Mormons don't really hide behind trees, so my phrase is just a colorful way of saying the FARMS Review (notice how I distinguish them from plain old FARMS) thinks there are many anti-Mormons out there. I don't see why that is a controversial statement. And my big red chair comment isn't even metaphorical: their chairs are big and they are (if I'm not mistaken) red.

Furthermore, I don't see what is objectionable about the claim that it is sometimes difficult to determine whether talks, articles, or statements made by senior leaders are "official" statements (whatever that means) or just personal thoughts.

It would be unfortunate if anything I say here "gets you down." Not my intent. But I don't really think it is accurate to say that I exhibit "seeming antagonism toward Church leadership" or a "crusade" against FARMS (and I think you meant the FARMS Review)." Occasional disagreement is not a crusade. I'll bet even you disagree with the FARMS Review from time to time.

Dave, out of curiosity, would you say that say Sally Denton's various sensationalist and poorly researched "exposes" would be anti-Mormon? I'd agree that it would be silly to call Will Bagley anti-Mormon, although he definitely has an ax to grind, especially with regards to Brigham Young.

It sounds like you want anti-Mormon mainly defined in terms how how honest the investigation is.

Mormons have never recognized any other denomination's baptism as a valid Christian baptism. The LDS teach that the mainline Christian denominations have no priesthood authority to perform valid ordinances; that authority was lost in the great apostasy and was restored only to the LDS.

From their earliest days, the LDS rebaptized converts to the LDS church, who had previously been baptized in mainline denominations. The mainliners eventually responded, "if you think our ordinances are invalid and if your authority to perform ordinances comes from 'restoration' rather than 'apostolic succession' like ours, that means your ordinances are fundamentally different from ours, and we cannot treat your ordinances as functionally equivalent to ours." I fail to see why this should be annoying.

Reciprocity has to go both ways. If the LDS want their baptisms to be accepted by mainliners, they have to accept the mainline baptisms. If the LDS are doctrinally bound not to accept the mainline baptisms, there is no cause for complaint or annoyance when the mainliners say "sorry, we are doctrinally bound not to accept LDS baptisms."

Beijing, they don't reject LDS baptisms on the authority issue, if I understand it correctly. Rather, they reject LDS baptism because they claim we don't believe in Jesus Christ. That is what is annoying, in my view, although I was not the one to write that--you'd have to ask Ian what he meant.

John F, the LDS understanding of Christ and how to properly follow Him is inseparable from the authority issue. Mainstream Christian churches do not "claim we don't believe in Jesus Christ"; they claim that LDS people understand Christ in a very different way, and follow Him in a very different way than they do. And any LDS person will tell you that's true! The LDS do understand Christ differently (more completely, more accurately) and they do follow Him differently (more correctly, via proper authority, via continuing revelation)...and that's exactly why they're LDS and not some other Christian denomination.

I recommend reading the following Methodist study guide to understand why Methodists don't accept LDS baptisms. The guide also links to the Presbyterian statement on the same subject.


If you read the whole thing, it becomes clear that they are not stupidly chanting "you don't believe in Jesus", but they are taking a serious look at LDS doctrine and taking stock of the basic, essential ways in which the LDS church has chosen to differentiate itself from mainstream Christianity. The LDS can't have their cake and eat it, too. You can't have unique doctrines and have others say that your doctrines are fundamentally the same as theirs.

Failing to distinguish personal opinions and revelation is problematic. After all, we have an obligation to follow revelation but not personal opinion. Furthermore, real people get hurt when they follow bad advice maskerading as divine revelation.

The Catholic Church has solved this problem by clearly marking the statements of its leaders. Mormon leaders are eschewing responsibility by shifting this burden to the members.

Hellmut, perhaps that's because the responsibility is the members' ultimately.

How can you socialize people from childhood to obey the prophet when half the stuff the man may utter will be personal opinions?

Either you demand unconditional obedience (Hinckley: Do anything that the Church asks you to) or you empower your followers to determine the difference between personal opinion and revelation. Demanding that the members do both is contradictory. It burdens the members with obligations that cannot be reconciled.

Mormon leaders need to take responsibility one way or the other.

"Beijing, they don't reject LDS baptisms on the authority issue, if I understand it correctly. Rather, they reject LDS baptism because they claim we don't believe in Jesus Christ. That is what is annoying, in my view, although I was not the one to write that--you'd have to ask Ian what he meant.
by: john f. "

I made no posts regarding this actually.

Beijing Said: "Mainstream Christian churches do not "claim we don't believe in Jesus Christ"; they claim that LDS people understand Christ in a very different way, and follow Him in a very different way than they do."

I would have to disagree with you on that point. One might say that SOME mainstream christian chruches do not claim that we believe in Jesus Christ.

I have been in many discussion forums and read many things and SOME mainstream Churches do teach that we beleive in a different Christ.

Oh, and it doesn't bother me that other churches don't accept our baptisms. If they do it solely on the beleive that they think that we don't beleive in Christ, then they do it out of ignorance. But I honestly don't see why they should necissarily accept our baptisms.

Ian and John F., I think we're talking past each other.

There is a big difference between mainstreamers saying (1) "LDS don't believe in Christ" versus (2) "LDS believe in a different concept of Christ than we do; we think that concept does not describe the real Christ whom we worship."

I agree with you, Ian, that mainstreamers do say (2). However, John F. attributes (1) to them. And I think that's not fair to the mainstreamers. Fundamentalists sometimes say (1). Getting fundamentalists and mainstreamers mixed up is also not fair to the mainstreamers.

All I'm saying is that the LDS themselves say the flipside of (2). That is, LDS people say, "Mainstream Christians believe in a different concept of Christ than we do; we think that concept does not describe the real Christ whom we worship." Because LDS say that, they should not be annoyed when mainstreamers agree with them that the LDS concept of Christ and the mainstream Christian concept of Christ are very different.

Are you sure about "but I'll happily sign on to the idea that one's political actions and votes shouldn't be determined by one's religious views,"???

I think I'd be a much happier (and richer) man if the policicians held to their religious views (i.e., Don't steal, don't kill, etc.) than the turds we have now.

Doesn't the "real Christian" follow "let your light (which includes religious views) so shine..." which would determine their political actions?

I myself think a true anti-Mormon is a fairly rare bird (if not quite an endangered species).

As a non-Mormon, I think that you are way too optimistic. When I was at UCLA law school in the early 80s, I noticed that people felt free to express animosity against Mormons in a way that would have been socially impermissible against other religions. I don't think that liberal "anti-mormonism" has abated over the last 25 years.

But what is "anti-mormonism"? I think I can make a suggestion about what it might be. I think that it involves a question of motivation. In general, where you find charity being absent, you find prejudice.

So, as a Catholic, I don't find it "anti-catholic" for a Mormon or other Protestant to deny the Immaculate Conception or the office of the Papacy. We can disagree about that kind of thing without bigotry.

Of course, we can also disagree about that kind of thing with bigotry. Hence, when somebody I'm talking to starts mentioning the Inquisition, pedophilia or Giordano Bruno, I know I'm dealing with a bigot, because, all things being equal, those kinds of subjects contain buried appeals and buried assumptions. Most people don't know the actual history of the Inquisition, they just know it's a bad thing which embarasses the Catholic church.

We live in a Protestant culture, which has a history of anti-catholicism that gets expressed in certain conventional ways. One historical trope is to ascribe deviant sexual behavior to Catholic religious. This trope recurs periodically over the centuries. Consquently, the hammering on the pedophilia scandal, as bad as it is, fits into this "off the shelf" prejudice, which may explain the legs this story has and why the many stories about pedophile teachers and Methodist ministers don't get the same attention. (I was hearing Catholic priests are pedophile jokes before 2001.)

So, with respect to "anti-mormonism", I would suspect someone of being an anti-mormon bigot if they started playing up on polygamy, clannishness and secrecy. Those are the tropes that are played against Mormons and appeals to those ideas would probably involve an unfair attempt to "poison the well" in a way similar to deploying the Inquisition card is used against Catholics.

As for whether the argument that "Mormons aren't Christians" is "anti-mormon", I think it depends on the motivation of the speaker. Mormons are definitely not Nicene Christians, but is that enough to read Mormons out of Christianity? I don't know, but as far as I'm concerned, ya'll are just another bunch of whacky Protestants, which I guess makes you Christian.

Am I anti-mormon due to my website (a collection of secular mormon related news, including sexual abuse by members)?

I would really like to know.

Not by my definition, Darren. I note you have a "charity work" category too.

Peter, thanks for the Catholic perspective. It's an eye-opener to see things from someone else's corner.

I really appreciate Peter's comments. It ties "anti" anything with bigotry. That resonates with me. If someone says Mormons are not Christian because that is all they have ever heard and that is what their pastor says, then they are basing their views on bigotry and are inherently anti-Mormon. If someone has studied the theology and concludes that Mormons are not christian then they are not bigoted and not anti-Mormon

What about charity factor? Mormons may believe that the concept of the Trinity is false, but they would never in 1000 years say Trinitarians are not Christian. Mormons are simply asking for the same treatement. And, no, we don't believe in a "different" Jesus as we say the same things about him that others do: He was born the Son of God, He taught moral truths, He suffered and died for the sins of humanity, He rose from the dead to bring resurrection, He will return as King of Kings and Judge of the world. We also see Jesus Christ as the light and life of the world that only through faith in him can anyone be saved.

To reject that as a proper definition of "Christian" is to be either ignorant of what Mormons believe or extremist sectarian. It is true that we have different ideas about Jesus Christ than most mainstreamers officially accept, but thre are plenty of Christians (Borg comes to mind) who could be defined as less Christian than Mormons are. A belief in Jesus Christ is more than just theology for Mormons, but it defines our very lives as much as any mainline Christian. To deny that Mormons are Chrisitans is to do more than argue theology. It is an insult, and those who refuse to acknowedge the Mormon self-identification know it!

Beijing, I am fairly convinced that it is (1) and not (2). Growing up as a Latter-day Saint in Dallas, the buckle of the bible belt, can do this to you.

LDS define Jesus as a literal spirit child of the Father and our spiritual brother, while mainstream Christians define him as co-eternal with the Father, and the human manifestation of God among men. It's NOT the "same Jesus." He does, for LDS, have the exact same role, but the LDS understanding of his nature is not at all like mainstream Christianity's.

"LDS define Jesus as a literal spirit child of the Father and our spiritual brother, while mainstream Christians define him as co-eternal with the Father, and the human manifestation of God among men."

I will concede that the first part is different from the mainstream Christian, but I refute that LDS don't believe the second part even if the meanings behind the descriptions might be slightly different.

I define Anti-Mormon by the vibes the people give me. I had a great friend in high school who was a born-again Christian. We had many, many late night talks about our religious beliefs. He had learned about Mormons at his church, and was often interested in talking about the differences in our theology. He would show me passages from the Bible that in his mind clearly disputed our doctrines. He was not shy about expressing his his own interpretations of these passages. Today he is a full-time missionary who travels to other countries preaching about grace and salvation found in Christ Jesus.

He was a very dear friend. We played charades and pictionary, made funny home videos, watched silly British t.v. shows, went Christmas carolling, and talked for hours at a time. He was always kind and funny and friendly and happy and fun to be with. I always felt like he really loved me, in the way Christ would have us love each other, and I felt the same way about him. (It was definitely not a romantic relationship, but a really nice platonic relationship.)

He was well-versed in his own theology, and fairly well-informed about LDS theology. He felt they were incompatible, and that his was correct. But I would not describe him as Anti-Mormon. I would describe him as a wonderful Christian, who believed his own doctrines, and correctly recognized that they were not the same as my doctrinal beliefs.

Now for an alternate example. Fast forward 15 years. Now I'm married and a mom of several kids. We moved into a new neighborhood, and a neighbor introduced herself. We found out we had some things in common, she invited me to go walking with her, to join her women's group, to have our children get together to play. (This was all within the first 5 minutes of our conversation.) Then she asked what church I belong to. I told her, and she instantly tensed up, looked very awkward, hastily ended the conversation, and has never once spoken to me again, in the two years that I have lived in this house. I could be wrong, but she strikes me as an Anti-Mormon.

In short, I don't care what people think about my beliefs. They are welcome to think they are wacky and false. But to me, the label Anti-Mormon is about their attitudes and behaviors towards me personally. Can we agree to disagree? Can we find common ground? Can we still love each other and be friends? I think the real Christians (both LDS and non-LDS) show themselves by how well they follow Christ's example.

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