Comparing Religious Observance: Mormons and Jews

Jeff Spector Jews, Mormon, new order mormon, orthodox, religion 49 Comments

I thought it would be interesting to map the religious observance of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and the Jews. I’ve recently heard some podcasts and read some posts talking around this issue, so I thought, since I have at least one foot in each religion, I might give it a try.

BIG, GIANT DISCLAIMER: This is very GENERAL. It is not meant to apply to everyone. Some areas may be different for an individual. I am willing to discuss where you think I might have gotten it wrong, but please realize the GENERAL nature of it all.

First a few paragraphs of explanation.

The LDS faith is a relatively young (180 years old) religion and is governed from a very centralized structure. Judaism, on the other hand, is much older (anywhere from 6000 to 3500 years, depending on who you ask and what you consider the start of Judaism).  Since the destruction of the Temple, it is very decentralized and there are only a few groups with any kind of centralized structure.

I divided the tables along the different groups of Judaism and overlaid Mormons to it. So definitions of the various groupings are in order.

Judaism

Orthodox – The strictest of the Jewish divisions. They are divided into three distinct groups:  Modern Orthodox Judaism and Haredi Judaism, and Hasidic sects. Also important in those divisions is where the Jews are Ashkenazic (mainly from Northern and Eastern Europe) or Sephardic (from Southern Europe, Africa and the Middle East). They follow different Rabbis and different interpretation of the Law. They are the most conservative of the Jewish groups and believe they follow the laws as given anciently. Women are held in a traditional role and do not openly participate in the worship services or have any role as a worship leaders. Priesthood, while largely ceremonial plays a role in worship services

ConservativeThis group represents the largest group of Jews and the name can be deceiving.  It does not imply conservatism as applied to politics, but it is an effort to “conserve” Jewish tradition through modernization of its teachings and practices. Begun in Germany in the 1850s, it strives to apply modern principles but traditional in practice.  More liberal than Orthodox, it has no central leadership or specific declaration of belief. It would rather be known as Masorti or Traditional Judaism because of the confusion over the name conservative. Women have a much larger role in this movement and are allowed to be Rabbis, Cantors and perform all the rites of the faith the same as men. Priesthood, while also ceremonial, plays a role in Worship services

Reform – Traces its origins to the early 20th century in Europe and the US. It is the most liberal wing of the faith and values autonomy, modernity and universalism. The reform movement in Judaism challenged many traditionalist Jewish doctrines, adapted or eliminated practices, and introduced its own theological and communal innovations. It was the first group to offer full participation to women in its leadership and religious worship. Priesthood usually plays no role in worship services.  Orthodox Jews do not even recognize the movement as being Jewish.

Mormonism

Conservative – Those Mormons who fully embrace the faith, its teachings, practices and traditions. They may adhere to traditions which might not have real scripture basis and have a very strict interpretation of Sabbath practices, scripture study and prayer.  They follow the words of the leaders as closely as possible. There may be little to no questioning of doctrines and practices. They try to do everything possible to lives the Gospel fully as they understand it. Very active.

Middle of the Road – Fully embraces the faith, its teachings, practices and cultural traditions. May question certain traditions as relevant in modern times and might be flexible on Sabbath adherence such as TV viewing, clothing (not wearing Sunday clothes all day). They might have a lot of questions about gospel doctrine and past practices but general manage to have a strong testimony. Active in Church and callings.

Liberal – These folks might embrace the gospel fully but with big questions about certain beliefs. They might also reject certain doctrine as being not fully explainable or in line with scripture or history. They question the words of leaders and apply those things which they understand have real value to their lives. They might reject some “advice” or teachings.  Most liberal Mormons still attend some or all Church meetings, but do not always find satisfaction in the meeting content or the lessons. The gamut ranges from active to very less active. Less sure of the one true nature of the LDS Church. Might be known as New Order, Cafeteria or Buffet Mormons.



Comments

comments

Comments 49

  1. @Jeff
    I really liked the post. In all honesty, I wish you did more posts about Judaism as compared to Mormonism more often. I really enjoy learning about the Jewish culture, religion, and heritage.

    I think it’s pretty hard to group people in any religion/tradition, so I recognize the task for what it is – a hard one! Here’s my analysis:

    I found myself not sure where I fit in. When I read the paragraphs under Mormonism, I felt that I was surely in the “liberal” camp (even though I consider myself “Middle of the Road”). But when I looked at your tables, I felt like I was in the “Middle of the Road” group. I think that part of the reason is that you have closely associated orthopraxy with orthodoxy. I appear in every way to be a “Conservative” Mormon in practice, but my beliefs and hence testimony varies wildly. I admit there is certainly correlation, but I have learned to separate the two. In other words, my beliefs do not cause my actions like they do for a conservative Mormon. If I were to put together the list, my version of the “Middle of the Road” Mormon would be one who has varying levels of belief in the doctrines/leadership/etc. but chooses to remain a fully/mostly invested member.

    My grouping would probably look more like this:
    Conservative Mormon: believes and practices all aspects of the church.
    Middle of the Road Mormon: may not believe all/any, but still practices all/most aspects of the church.
    Liberal Mormon: believes little to nothing, and practices little to nothing in the church.
    Struggling Mormon: believes all, but practices little to nothing (yes they do exist, I’ve met them).

    In this breakdown, I think the pool of “Middle of the Road” Mormons would be quite a bit larger.

  2. Do all (or even some) “conservative Mormons” actually wear Sunday clothes all day?

    Good heavens. What flakes we are down here in Far Southwest Deseret.

  3. #1 jmb275,

    Certainly that is the hardest part of the groupings because one size never fits all. I hesitate to equate Liberal Mormons with believing and practicing little to nothing in the Church because I know many who are liberal in their thinking but middle of the road in their practice. I like the Struggling category and I agree with you on that but it didn’t seem to fit the analysis I was trying to make. I do not know many struggling Jews in the same vein as struggling Mormons.

    And I do think the middle of the road is the largest part of the “active” members.

  4. #2, Thomas,

    Yes, I’ve known them. And I know one family who went almost apoplectic when they found out that Sunkist Orange Soda had caffeine. They never read the label. The brother found out during a Priesthood lesson I taught years ago. And he was beside himself.

  5. Jmb,

    “In all honesty, I wish you did more posts about Judaism as compared to Mormonism more often.”

    You like my Judaism more than my Mormonism,….. 🙂

  6. #4 re: Sunkist orange soda:

    Funny. A few weeks ago, my 8-year-old daughter’s class had a Saint Patrick’s Day party, in the course of which one of the moms’ allegedly famous Green Punch was served.

    It was disclosed by said mom’s daughter that the Green Punch contained Mountain Dew, and that Mountain Dew contains caffeine.

    There are two other LDS kids in my daughter’s small class. One girl immediately broke out crying in mortification about having consumed caffeine. Yea verily, there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were her pains.

    (I pause here to interject: Who on earth thinks it’s a good idea to jolt up second-graders with Mountain Dew, Word of Wisdom or not? They’re climbing the walls as it is….)

    Now, my own interpretation of the Word of Wisdom is No Tea or Coffee. My abstaining from Mountain Dew would insult the shades of several generations of West Virginia ancestors. I have been known to have a Coke on occasion, although I do try to limit myself to several gallons per week. (Reminds me — I need to make an appointment with my dentist. A molar’s starting to ache.)

    But I was thoroughly proud of my daughter’s response to her guilt-stricken friend. She proposed that the three LDS kids have a “silent prayer” of repentance. So a prayer circle of three small Saints, arms folded, ensued in mid-Saint Patrick’s Day party, absolution was evidently given, and the party proceeded to the renewed enjoyment of all.

  7. In general, I think that is a good comparison. There would obviously be cases where some groups or families cross over or overlap certain things.

    I’d place myself in the Liberal or Reform group, yet the things I hold on to I still have strong opinions and are committed to…so I don’t think reform or liberal must mean “wishy washy” or “not valiant”.

    However, with Mormonism, there is only one church with authority and teachings from SLC. If others like myself are liberal…we just have to deal with it…there is no congregation I can go to and have meetings with other liberals. We just have to attend the meetings that are run by the Orthodox, and internalize our differences. There aren’t options for somewhere else where priesthood is not emphasized, and women aren’t involved in running the meetings, right?

    In the Jewish faith…do the liberals have their own synagogues to go to where women are a part of running those meetings?

  8. “I like the Struggling category and I agree with you on that but it didn’t seem to fit the analysis I was trying to make. I do not know many struggling Jews in the same vein as struggling Mormons.” I wonder if this is not a byproduct of the holocaust. There is nothing in Mormonism that even remotely compares to that. It seems that the struggle among Jewish people is to retain identity even if belief differs (Jewish guilt?).

    I have to think I’m middle of the road based on this list, with some leanings both directions from there.

    Great post, Jeff! And I agree with jmb about loving your Jewish-themed posts. It’s just because you have expertise in an area we don’t.

  9. middle of the road Mormon I guess, but I do like the term Liahona Mormon. Whilst many of Mormonisms requirements are fairly easy to follow, I have a huge amount of respect for Orthodox Jews who have not compromised.

  10. Hawk, #8

    “I wonder if this is not a byproduct of the holocaust.”

    Yes and no. There was plenty of lapse Jews before the Holocaust. Read: much of my family on both sides. I imagine for some who were directly involved or had family involved, it was a trial of their faith unlike any other. I also imagine also that reaction falls in two categories much like we see in Church and with other groups. Some feel totally abandoned by God and some feel closer to God.

  11. Heber,

    “In the Jewish faith…do the liberals have their own synagogues to go to where women are a part of running those meetings?”

    Yes, you will find some conservative and reform congregations that have both women Rabbis and Cantors.

  12. Love this post. One difference I’ve noted over the years is that in Mormonism there is huge institutional centrality. The varieties of Mormons do not have their own places to worship, as the branches of Judaism do. Imagine orthodox and reform Jews in the same shul / synagogue, with the same rabbi and same rabbinate. Also, the Jewish world does not have anything to compare to the tremendously centralized and hierarchical structure of organized Mormonism. There are bodies of affiliated rabbis in the different branches who confer on doctrinal and social issues, etc., but if you don’t like one rabbi or temple, you can shop for another within the same branch of Judaism, or for another branch altogether. Scholarship too–differently received in the different communities. As is diversity of thought in interpretation and commentary.

  13. I think the next post I do on Judaism will provide more detail on Orthodox Jewish practices because of the parallels to both the Pharisees and church practice.

  14. Jeff, I too think you should do more posts on Judaism. Conservative Rabbi David Wolpe is one of my most favorite people to listen to concerning the Bible. I’ve often posted Wolpe’s opinions on my blog, as well as Orthodox Rabbi Lawrence Schiffman from NYU. I love their perspectives. As a lifelong Mormon, I don’t think I can fully articulate a Jewish perspective, so I really appreciate your insights there.

    Thanks for helping me understand the difference between Conservative and Reform Judaism. I’ve known for years there was a difference, but didn’t exactly understand what the difference was.

  15. a mormon friend sent me your jew-mormon comparison chart. first, you misspelled some words. the biggest error was number one on the chart-that jews believe we have the only true religion. it is THE true faith for jews-not for everyone else. all gentiles have the noahide covenant-that’s seven rules all gentiles have to abide by. they are- belief in one God, no blasphemy, no murder, no sexual immorality, respect of non-human life, establishment of a court system, and no theft. to learn more, try googling noahide covenant. if you’d like to learn more about the religious differences between judaism and christianity try outreachjudaism.org or jewsforjudaism.org. one giant difference is revelation-all other religions claim one person says this. jews receive a mass revelation-millions gather at mt. sinai and hear directly from God Himself and see a manifestation of His presence with the fire and clouds and hear the shofar.

  16. Liz,

    Thanks for participating in Mormon Matters. We appreciate it. One unique characteristic of Judaism that I have observed over my lifetime is a diversity of belief and practice. So, I do not think that there is a definitive set of rules or guidelines about what all Jews believe. It was one of the key conundrums I had as a kid growing up. Too many “right” answers.

    So I will be happy to explore the web site you recommend. But I am not sure what you mean by errors in my charts. As for misspellings, I am sorry for that. I am happy to correct any misspelling you might point out to me.

  17. #15, MH,

    One of the great things about Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament is that typically they spend a lot less time on the more violent parts of the OT and much more on the grandeur of God’s interaction with His people and what it means. Sometimes as Mormons, we focus on the negative parts and the attempt to repent to get back to God. Rather than the relationship we have with God.

  18. #12 – Joanna, I’m interested in the distinctions between Orthodox and Reform Judaism in terms of their places of worship. Is this possible because there is no ‘prophet’ there is only a series of different rabbi’s and communities? How does this work in practice, i.e. do they compete, argue or tolerate? I know I have heard talk of ‘reform Mormonism’ from some quarters and I wonder whether this is possible without people being willing to be excommunicated. I suspect that the organisational centrality you allude to among Mormons would result in the official exclusion of ‘Mormon’ groups that try to organise worship services/meetings and/or buildings.

  19. #19, there is really no comparison between the difference of Orthodox and Reform groups. It is like night and day. I remember the first time I was in a Reform Synagogue for a friend’s Bar Mitzvah and thinking it seemed more like a Church than a Jewish synagogue. Up to that point, I’d been mainly in Conservative congregations and a few times in an Orthodox Synagogue. The Conservative and Orthodox services were very similar. The liturgy was pretty much the same and the manner in which the services were conducted was mostly the same. The major different between Orthodox and conservative was that in the orthodox women sit in the back behind a curtain.

    The reform congregation was very different. Most men did not wear Yarmulkes (head covering). The liturgy was very different. The tunes to the prayer ( most prayers are chanted) were different, the tunes to the songs were different and it was more relaxed. Their Bar Mitzvah service was on Friday night rather than on Saturday morning.

    Some reform congregations have organs, choirs and other “churchy-like things.

    There is nothing comparable in the Mormon Church!

    As far as historical Rabbis, they are revered in Judaism in much the same way that the prophets and apostles are in our church. The old Rabbis and sages are quoted, studied to the nth degree, argued about, etc. The Talmud is basically the words of these Rabbis and Sages.

    In modern times, Rabbis, as the spiritual leaders are much like pastors and minister at various Churches. They are hired and fired like pastors depending on their skills, advice and religious understanding.

  20. Oh, as I stated in the OP, Orthodox do not recognize the reform movement as being Jewish. In fact, I was watching a TV show with 3 Rabbis, one from each group. The Orthodox Rabbi would not look at or speak directly to the reform Rabbi, who was a woman. Double trouble!

  21. Thanks Jeff, that is really helpful. I am aware that there is not anything like this in the Mormon Church yet but I have heard from some that they would like a Reform Mormonism. My ponderings are on whether a Reform Mormonism is desirable or possible?

  22. I think the biggest problem in the Church today has to do with this exact subject.

    As mentioned above, I think the biggest group in the Church today is BY FAR composed of the middle of the road/liberal groups (if we include ALL 13.8 million members). I also think this is increasingly prevalent among the youth/young adults. They are much more likely to accept that there may be more than one True Church, who think that rules about white shirts/earrings/tattoos/etc are quaint and more of a generational as opposed to doctrinal thing, who don’t “get” the interpretation that Coke is a hot drink, and many, many other things.

    The hierarchy of the Church is almost exclusively composed of conservative members who self-select out other conservative members to be leaders. They also expect every member to have this same form-of-thought. If someone doesn’t agree with their opinion (ie. whether having an earring is doctrinal or opinion), the general attitude is that the person is in apostasy and ignoring the prophet. So conservatives make little to no room for others. This necessarily leads to conflict. Current solutions to this include:

    – “Tucking your tail” – I would include myself in this group. I follow all of the “rules” regardless of how meaningless I think some of them are. I go to church and mostly just sit silently, ignoring all of the issues I have. I do this for the sake of conformity and not wanting to “rock the boat” with my family, neighbors, kids, etc. I still have various callings. I still go to my meetings. But, over time, this isn’t an adequate solution.

    – “Dropping out” – The current activity rate for the Church as a whole is under 50%. The rate for young adults in Utah is around 20%. I doubt the majority of these 80% think the Church is “wrong”, or don’t believe in the core doctrines, but I think they just feel there’s no room for “non-orthodox” thought. Since they don’t have the kids/neighborhood ties to keep them going, it’s easy for them to drop out

    As fas a solution, I don’t think there is one in the Church’s current model. In the decades it takes to get to a leadership position that actually has any impact on Church policies as a whole, the orthodox folks have self-selected out. Anyone who might help the change has never attained a position where they can actually do anything.

    My prediction: unless something is done to solve this root conflict, the Church will continue to see declining activity rates, declining baptism rates, and will stabilize around 18-20 million members as the non-traditional are increasingly purged.

  23. I am sure that CoC is that to a certain extent, which is why I asked about the relations between reform judaism and orthodox/conservative judaism. I am trying to figure out if the Church can/should trying to maintain a tight control of the core group or whether some increasingly gentle approaches to dissidents might be favourable. I am genuinely un-decided.

  24. Are there studies done why so many religions follow this path around different versions of the religions (Orthodox/Middle/Reform)?

    It seems to me an interesting pattern, perhaps part of human nature or personality groupings.

    I know some of my catholic friends swear by Orthodox…they love the fact it is viewed as “pure” and unchanged by man. The liberal catholics would love to have a “pure” catholic church…the reality is, they can’t find it (or so they say).

    This seems common among all religions…and becoming more noticeable in Mormonism. Of course, as you stated in the OP…Mormonism is relatively new.

    I just wondered if learning from other religious patterns might give Mormons an idea of what to expect in the future as a natural evolution of things, and that perhaps we’re not as “peculiar” as we think.

  25. #26 heber13

    Regarding your last sentence about the natural evolution of things and our “peculiarity”, I happened to post my thoughts on this under the Muhammad thread just before I looked at your comment. I won’t repeat them here, but you could see them there.

  26. Mike S – “I follow all of the “rules” regardless of how meaningless I think some of them are. I go to church and mostly just sit silently, ignoring all of the issues I have. I do this for the sake of conformity and not wanting to “rock the boat” with my family, neighbors, kids, etc. I still have various callings. I still go to my meetings. But, over time, this isn’t an adequate solution.” I would like to question the assumption that life should be free from inner conflict, that your religion can’t be something you wrestle with for your entire life (whether you made that assumption or I just inferred it from what you said). Victor Frankl suggested that this is something that Americans in particular seem to be uncomfortable with; we tend to view it as “normal” to have equilibrium, but as a psychologist he said that internal conflict is the normal human state. When you look back through the majority of time, our current freedom of religion and many choices of how to worship is a relative unique thing. Most humans have had to deal with differences between their own feelings and what society required through mandated religion through their entire lifetime.

  27. #28: Hawkgrrl wrote: Victor Frankl suggested that this is something that Americans in particular seem to be uncomfortable with; we tend to view it as “normal” to have equilibrium, but as a psychologist he said that internal conflict is the normal human state.

    I like the thought that we should have peace and avoid constant internal conflict with our religion…

    but it seems to me we are taught to do this. The struggle with the natural man as the enemy to God seems to teach us to always be on our guard that we should be wrestling with these things constantly, and to stop wrestling could mean we are complacent to accept our current state when we should be striving for perfection.

    It seems conflict is a part of our religion.

  28. I cannot imagine a dilution of the doctrine or practice as a means of accommodating some folks. I imagine all the splinter groups as a result of some disagreement in that way. I suspect anything like that would have to be schism.

    One thing I am unsure about is how seriously the GAs take this issue of 2/3 of the Church being less active. And that for some, the Church is just no longer relevant in their lives. They cannot possible just chalk it up to sin.

  29. Jeff, I actually think they could if they wanted to. I’m not sure they do in actuality, but it seems to me that there has been enough rhetoric that supports the position you mention, namely that being offended = sin, not enjoying church = not spiritually prepared = sin, sin = sin, doctrinal disagreements = not following brethren = not having faith – sin. I know this is simplistic but I sense that it is possible to make the leap that the 2/3 are inactive because they are sinners.

  30. I would bet that the GAs absolutely look upon the issue of inactivity in the Church as sin as Rico describes – but it makes sense. The GAs are all orthodox, conservative members and this is the mindset that you need to “rise” to that level. Their mindset necessarily requires that the problem lies with the individual and NOT the institution. To question the institution would be “not following the Brethren” or “not supporting the Prophet” by nature of the orthodox mindset required to get to that point – and that just wouldn’t be “right”.

    Thus, the Catch-22. The majority of members are becoming increasingly disenfranchised as evidenced by activity and retention rates. The GAs come up with increasingly strong calls to support the institution. The orthodox already believe this. The other people become increasingly disenfranchised (whether they are still “active” or not), making the remaining members even more orthodox on average. The net result, decreasing activity levels and decreasing convert rates, which we’re already seeing.

  31. Mike S,

    I think you’ve got it right. Rico as well. But, what I find hard to believe is that many of these GAs were Bishops, Stake Presidents, etc who had more “normal” contact with members who struggle for a variety of reasons. In some cases, they knew people personally and knew the kind of people they were. So, if they were struggling historically or doctrinally, they would still know the kind of person they were. Andsin would not be so readily used as a reason. At least I would HOPE so.

    But, maybe, you get into a groupThink mode? And, after being a GA for 20, 30 or 40 years, you kind of lose some personal touch with the issues individuals face.

  32. I also think the doctrine that the church will never fall into apostasy again from now to the 2nd coming of Christ reinforces the confidence that orthodox members have in any group breaking away would not be considered valid, since it goes against doctrine.

  33. ##30 and 31:

    “They cannot possible just chalk it up to sin.”

    “Jeff, I actually think they could if they wanted to.”

    Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
    “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

    I need much more practice believing impossible things, but I’m working on it.

  34. Jeff:

    I agree that they were bishops and stake presidents and etc. But think in your experience (at least mine). Who was the most likely to be chosen as a bishop or stake president in your area? In the vast majority of my 40+ years, it has been from the “orthodox” pool of members in a geographical area. So the selection starts there. A stake president is going to pick a bishop who asks “How high?” when he says jump, not someone who asks if it makes sense to jump. And the pool narrows from there as the hierarchy continues.

  35. Mike S,

    Well, there are guys like Rico that prove otherwise, so I am not totally without hope at least in that regard. And experience is always the best teacher, so I am also hopeful there as well.

    I’m sure you know that when you get into upper leadership positions, your eyes become open to a whole new world you never dreamed possible as a lay member. This happened to me 1 1/2 years after I joined the Church and hasn’t stopped since. Though I haven’t had a significant leadership position in a while. I live through my wife, who does.

  36. “I sense that it is possible to make the leap that the 2/3 are inactive because they are sinners” Agreed. Of course, let’s not forget that 100% of humanity are sinners. I think a church that wants unanimity among leadership is like a corporation that favors groupthink; eventually, they find themselves saying, “We have a great product, if only those stupid customers would realize it. Yes, those customers sure don’t get it.” It’s easier to think of the product as a pearl not to be cast before the undeserving swine (customers/members).

  37. I would like to question the assumption that life should be free from inner conflict, that your religion can’t be something you wrestle with for your entire life (whether you made that assumption or I just inferred it from what you said).

    I actually really like this Hawk. In one sense, I am LDS because it brings me peace. But on the other hand, I truly have to work diligently for that peace. My spirituality ebbs and flows, and at times I find myself struggling to “fit in” and at other times revelling in not “fitting in.” Jonathan Haidt in “The Happiness Hypothesis” seems to suggest that it is exactly the struggle that brings us happiness (provided it does not completely dictate our lives for too long).

  38. Hi all:

    #32: Yup, this is my observation too. Some might say, thought, that Mormonism is a young religious tradition. It took thousands of years for Judaism to grow into different institutionalized movements, right? Although from the beginning I suspect Judaism probably had a more favorable disposition towards scholarship, commentary, and disagreement than Mormonism, which contributed towards robust theological diversity and then different movements. Mormonism, in my experience, tends to have a more black or white, in or out orientation.

    #23, and following: I don’t see C o C as an LDS reform movement.

    #20: Yup, Jeff, I’ve been to some pretty church-y reform synagogues. but my husband’s folks started a reconstructionist shul, and those folks tend to de-protestantize and re-yiddify judaism in truly lovely and inclusive ways. i’ve even been to one reconstructionist havurah (a worship group smaller than an organized synagogue) with bongo drums at service. that was in austin, texas, after all.

  39. JB,

    “Although from the beginning I suspect Judaism probably had a more favorable disposition towards scholarship, commentary, and disagreement than Mormonism, which contributed towards robust theological diversity and then different movements. Mormonism, in my experience, tends to have a more black or white, in or out orientation.”

    No truer words were ever spoken. While the LDS encourage scholarship (” Glory of God is…..), it is faithful scholarship. While Jewish scholarship is really all over the map. Hence the expression “two Jews, three opinions.” The Talmud is nothing, if not a running argument between learned Rabbis who comment on various scriptural, doctrinal or practical concerns.

    I also view the gospels portrayal of the Jews in a very different light than most church members. While most members look at encounters with the pharisees, et all and say, ” How dare them argue with our Lord.” I just look at it as “Jews having a discussion.”

    I am sure your husband can relate.

  40. #42: Jeff

    “While the LDS encourage scholarship (” Glory of God is…..), it is faithful scholarship”

    Very true. It is kind of like a drug study sponsored by the drug companies. If the results support the company’s blockbuster drug, they are published widely. If the results don’t support the drug, the results of the study are buried. If a drug researcher tries to publish bad results, they are blackballed by the company.

  41. Actually, I do think there is some scholarship that bucks the trend of the “faithful” scholar. It usually deals in historical information with a different spin, but does not enter the realm of doctrine, so is it not too threatening. It is generally, “everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, as long as it’s ours.”

    Even Joseph, who maintained that folks could decide for themselves, dealt with true dissenters in a swift manner.

  42. “Even Joseph, who maintained that folks could decide for themselves, dealt with true dissenters in a swift manner.” Not swift enough in some cases! (thinking of John C. Bennett here).

  43. only one complaint as i look over the comparisons. i personally identify more along the lines of “middle of the road” or “liberal” (truth be told i actually prefer the term “canonical”) but scripture study is incredibly important to me. and the graph implies that liberal Mormons don’t bother with it. so a point that allows for that reality would be nice.

  44. andrew,

    Please see the disclaimer. One size will never fit all situations. I respect that you might not line up 100% in any particular category.

  45. I’ll read any comparison between Judaism and Mormonism – it’s all so interesting to me. Great, easy to read, table comparisons – nice scratch on the surface!

    Hope more are on their way!

  46. Pingback: The Reform LDS Church? I Doubt It | Wheat and Tares

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