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I have not had many positive comments to say about Mormon blog posts of late, but I do appreciate and agree with this entry. Instead of elaborating or postulating, I'll merely comment with a hearty "Amen!"

I did a write-up on this Trib article over at Mormon-Evangelical Conversations:

How Do We Talk to Each Other When We Don't Even Know Who We Are?

I basically make the point that neither the Mormon, nor the Evangelical faith traditions have a solid enough theological identity for a "Mormon Vatican II" to be a foreseeable possibility.

Mormons are not careful about the progression of their own orthodoxy, and Evangelicals are so divided about theirs. I'm just not sure that our two traditions can really communicate on much more than a person-to-person level.

I only just became aware of Mouw's article at BeliefNet and was not aware of the corresponding discussion in the LDS community as well. As I've looked at some of it on the Internet it is clear that unfortunately much hostility remains between evangelicals and LDS. I believe Mouw sincerely offered his thoughts and suggestions to LDS leadership, but perhaps its time for such dialogues to move beyond leadership and the scholars and into the neighborhoods of Utah and beyond. I have been privileged to be part of neighborhood potluck discussions between Mormons and evangelicals in Utah, and I know this is taking place elsewhere. In order to move forward we must redouble our efforts in such attempts at hospitality and dialogue in order to truly understand, to develop relationships, and to exhibit the character of Christ in our ways of being in the world.

Given how systematically most Evangelicals misrepresent LDS doctrine and history, I doubt there's much demand for clarifying misperceptions.

While I share your general skepticism I think one must note that there are some very intellectual Evangelicals. (Evangelical, as others noted, is a pretty broad category) Those Evangelicals like things to be clarified - indeed they often get frustrated with us because we're so comfortable philosophically with quite vague concepts.

"And why is it always Mormons that have to do the explaining, given 500 years of Protestant disagreement and confusion?"

Amen, Dave.

As long as evangelicals interest in Mormonism remains vaguely pathological, I'm not sure how much "moving forward" is possible or even desirable.

"And why is it always Mormons that have to do the explaining, given 500 years of Protestant disagreement and confusion?"

perhaps because the rhetoric of possessing the 'true doctrine' in evangelical circles does even come close to the prevalence of such rhetoric in mormonism.

in mormonism we are constantly referring to 'the true doctrine', but nobody seems to have a clue as to what that even is.

Having personally engaged in debate with a certain breed of Evangelical, I can assure you, narrator, that the notion of one-true doctrine hood is not limited to Mormons. In my experience, Evangelicals are as convinced of their own rightness as we are (often moreso). As both branches lean heavily on experiential proofs (testimony earning and being born again) I don't find this particularly surprising.

"perhaps because the rhetoric of possessing the 'true doctrine' in evangelical circles does even come close to the prevalence of such rhetoric in mormonism."

I agree with John C. I think Evangelicals are every bit as strident on these issues as Mormons are.

"I agree with John C. I think Evangelicals are every bit as strident on these issues as Mormons are."

Agreed whole-heartedly. Mormons are much more willing to concede that other people have different beliefs and not bother them about it. Evangelicals, on the other hand, use name-calling, Bible bashing, and social outcasting on a regular basis.

As an example of this, I used to think that the argument that the U.S. was a "Christian Nation" had mostly to do with ethics and moral philosophy. It seemed a way to say the country was built on a religious history based on Christian ideals. For Mormons it didn't go beyond this and could include religious people of any faith. However, the Evangelicals proved time and again they meant something completely different. For them it was a matter of theological purity that tangentally had to do with morals and ethics. Although I stil hold on to my Conservative beliefs and hopes, my view of the "Religious Right" ranks just beneath the Talaban.

I refuse to have dialogue with Evangelical Christians until they start exhibiting more Christian attitudes and honest intelligence; and not just toward Mormons. At least Mormons have picked up friendly dialogue with Muslims and Jews without underlying antagonism. Richard Mouw has always come off to me as condescending rather than an equal, such as telling Mormons what they should do.

So to return the favor of giving advice, I say grow up and then we can talk. On the other hand, I think that Mormons and Catholics could have some really good discussions. Not sure why there isn't more of that going on, other than perhaps neither feels especially threatened by the other at least in places such dialogue would take place.

Mormons are much more willing to concede that other people have different beliefs and not bother them about it. Evangelicals, on the other hand, use name-calling, Bible bashing, and social outcasting on a regular basis.

Some Mormons. I've heard lots of Mormons bashing other beliefs - often when they don't even have a clue what the beliefs actually are. Think of slamming of the whole born again experience within Mormonism or the idea of the Trinity.

Is Jettboy ever condescending?

Hmmm . . . I don't think so. He always lays out exactly what he is thinking. I can respect that. Seriously. I can understand Jettboy more clearly than Mouw on this theme of dealing with dialogue.

Yet Clark needs to write a post on the paying of evangelical elders. My wife deals with this on almost a weekly basis by ignorant LDS. People usually ask her the questions when I am not around.

"Think of slamming of the whole born again experience within Mormonism or the idea of the Trinity."

Yes, but do Mormons typically write whole books on the subject? If they do write books on the subject, are they ever specific to religious denominations(I will concede perhaps Catholicism)? Do Mormons use these differences of theology as a main "Witness" tool other than the fact that Mormons do believe different things? Usually when a Mormon is intolerant of other's beliefs it is among themselves. Very rarely is it confrontational except when provoked.

I believe Evangelicals are insecure of themselves and their faith. That is my explanation of why they always seem to have such a high priority on attacking those who are not them, instead of focusing on Jesus Christ and their own beliefs. Again, Catholics as an institution don't seem to have that much of a theological mean streak. That is why I think if Mormons and other Christians are to start any kind of inter-faith diaglogue it would be Catholics with the most promise.

(Jettboy, I am thankful for the words by Jesus in John 10 that make me secure. It is impossible to break that security. Absolutely nothing can threaten that. Right? Sometime you and I should get into a discussion on Mormon and evangelical belief in security.)

Ok, I will be quiet, Dave, rather than carry this out with Jettboy on your blog.

Thanks for dropping in, Todd. We can certainly say that the "dialogue" theme has produced some nice books, and it does nurture the hope that the LDS-Evangelical interface can be characterized by conversation rather than stark disagreement. But there will always be plenty of vocal disagreement to go around.

I have to laugh every time I hear the word "dialogue" in this kind of context. It is always a sanitized way of saying that two sides who normally don't speak to each other are about to speak to each other, get very angry and frustrated, and label each other "stiffnecked" or "going to hell".

It's like John Bytheway's joke that spouses don't have "arguments", but instead have "discussions".

However, if even one side forgets itself and its doctrine for about an hour and finally succeeds in understanding the worldview and terminology of the other, then it is a success, because that's what it should do.

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