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And just so no one draws unwarranted conclusions from my general comments, I certainly am not saying that Tim at LDS&EC or Todd at Heart Issues are "anti-Mormon." Far from it. I believe I have, in the past, ventured the opinion that there are maybe half a dozen true anti-Mormons in the world. I now suspect that underestimates the total, but even now I wouldn't add too many zeroes to that guess.

I remember when the Ravi Zacharias/Richar Mouw show went to the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake. Reporting on the event, Christianity Today made a snide reference to Paul at the Areopagus. Here's the text of a letter I sent them back then; I stand by my observation:

"Your news report (CT January 2005) about Ravi Zacharias's preaching at the Mormon Tabernacle failed to suggest any possible benefits for Evangelicals. Instead you invoke images of "Paul at the Areopagus" and focus on Evangelical criticism of the conciliatory comments that Richard Mouw made to Mormons. Evangelicals interested in witnessing to Mormons need to realize that people like Mouw are far more likely to succeed than scurrilous films like the Godmakers, or those who resurrect some 19th century sermon by Brigham Young and insist that it represents current LDS belief. Had Mormons in Salt Lake expected Zacharias to preach to them of the evils of Mormonism, or the special place in hell reserved for Joseph Smith, they would not have let him near the Tabernacle. Instead, because of people like Mouw, Mormons (and I am one of them) are happy to listen to what Evangelicals have to say."

Dave, your comparison of Jews and Samaritans to Evangelicals and Mormons is very appropriate. It is astounding that the Evangelicals don't see their relationship to us in this way and act according to biblical precedent of how Jesus treated the Samaritans.

As for Mormons, we also need to learn from the comparison. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Jewish Priesthood couldn't help the beaten Jew. The Priest and the Levite both pass by without offering their help. One possible interpretation -- a christological interpretation -- of this is not that they were void of compassion or caring but that their priesthood, being derivative of the Old Law, did not have power to save the fallen man (and indeed the Old Law itself could be seen as hindering any such aide, at least in the case of the Levite, due to proscriptions on coming into contact with dead bodies, prompting an abundance of care when encountering a body that might be dead). The Samaritan, on the other hand, was able to and did help the fallen man. In such a cristological interpretation, which was common among the early Church Fathers such as Irenaeus and Origen, the Samaritan is Jesus Christ as the person who can and does save fallen man.

This reading bodes well for Mormons in a comparison of Jews/Samaritans to Evangelicals or other creedal Christians/Mormons. Mormons must continue to be willing to follow the example of the Savior, who is depicted as the Good Samaritan in this parable, and help and care for those who despitefully use them, much the way Evangelicals abuse and despitefully use Mormons (think about the political arena, for example -- ever ready to rely on Mormon moral support [and money] for certain pet causes but not willing to vote for a Mormon as President).

I don't read many evangelical blogs but it has been very interesting to follow Article VI Blog. The blog is mostly from a political perspective but its primary blogger, John, is very critical of his fellow evangelicals and their hangups over Romney and the "Mormon question."

Unfortunately, he seems like the exception.

Good stuff Dave.

The most enticing thing I could think of would be to demonstrate that you and the members of your congregation are genuinely more Christian than Mormons are. That means you are generally more kind, more charitable, more forgiving, more merciful, etc. And then somehow demonstrate that you have a better personal relationship with Christ than Mormons already have -- either through the spirit you emanate or through the serenity and joy that exudes from you.

The worst thing is to be an anti-Mormon jerkwad. But obviously the latter is much easier than the former...

Yeah, why would Christians "attack" Mormons just because Joseph Smith reported "I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right, (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong"? Silly reason to be critical of Mormonism, isn't it?

Ooohh Bob. Tell me more! I am no interested in joining whatever church you belong to! (grin)

Doh ! That should be "now" (I gotta start checking my comments...)

Thanks for the link to my blog and you're specific reference to me as not an anti-Mormon.

In the context of this post, I wouldn't mind being referred to as a "good anti-Mormon". I am not shy about saying that I think Mormonism is wrong and I think the LDS would be wise to move away from it.


Mark Noll - definitely anti-mental laziness (something we could all agree upon). :)

Bart Erhman - definitely anti-biblical inerrancy (most all LDS biblical critics can agree on this). Maybe I should start another blog called "Heart Issues in regards to biblical criticism"

Craig Blomberg - definitely anti-traditional evangelical apologetics (most all LDS agree in their dislike of this, too)

Yet it is an enigma to me. Here is my question for the "How Wide the Divide?" theme:

How many LDS apostles are presently putting in print that they are in alliance with any one of the fundamental doctrines of historical/conservative evangelicals and Christian fundamentalists? Do they even desire this?

In theology-nature of God and creative works, Trinity, bibliology, anthropology, harmatiology, doctrine of eternal punishment, soteriology, ecclesiology, etc.

There seems to be a lot of disagreement even among LDS over the pushing of how wide is the divide.

It's interesting to note that Evangelicals are appealing to biblical passages such as the one you have mentioned, to defend the legitimacy of engaging with Mormons in a non-combative and non-condemning manner against those to continue to prefer a more confrontational approach. For example, Craig Blomberg and Gerald McDermott have recently, in talks and interviews, examined the interactions that Jesus and Paul have with ‘outsiders’ in the New Testament and noted that when Jesus and Paul speak to those outside their faith community they took a gentle and intimate approach with respect and friendship.

That's very interesting and maybe even encouraging, Aquinas.

Aquinas, now I can immediately think of a passage asserting where the biblical elder must be gentle and patient. That is excellent and crucial. May God help any evangelical minister from turning into a quarrelsome Fox News Commentator. It might create a lot of attention and high coverage on public venues, but how does that reflect God?

But as evangelicals should pursue respect, peace, and friendship, they should never be intimidated by hesitating to proclaim absolute truths in this pluralistic society. To be pushing the divine truths of heaven is to be involved in the most intimate and faithful of relationships.

Dave, my concern is that where evangelicals might pull themselves out of one ditch, they swerve across the road and totter in the other ditch.

We are such a needy people, and daily need the Lord's grace.

Todd, I agree. I know there are some who feel, unfortunately, that they must be disagreeable in order to advocate truth, but I do not feel anyone must choose between the two.

By the way, this post and others like it has caused me to write some thoughts of my own which became much too long for a comment and so I posted it here.

What an ingenious topic, Dave. I will have re-read your article when I have a little more leisure before I respond substantively. My apologies but I did not want to miss the opportunity to congratulate you.

I think the bad anti-Mormons are more fun than the good ones.

Bravo, Dave. I have nothing much to add, except that in my mind, the words "good" and "anti-Mormon" form an absolute oxymoron when combined in the same phrase. I have good Evangelical friends who love to talk with me about Jesus Christ and the gospel, but none of my friends who I would consider good have as a major goal to persuade me that my religion is wrong. I have a Muslim roommate who has some issues with the church, and whenever we talk about religion he tries to convert me to Islam, but even he isn't trying to get me to believe that Mormonism is wrong. Like you said at the beginning of your post, anyone who wastes their lives being "anti" anything is doing just that--wasting their lives. And that's an optimistic view.

I would caution that smugness is an unattractive quality in someone, no matter what the religion.

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