Conservative Evangelicals & Liberal Mormons: Are They Really Similar In Ways?

Ray catholicism, christianity, church, evangelicals, inter-faith, LDS, liberal, Mormons, politics, religion 36 Comments

The following quotes are excerpted from an article written in 1989 and quoted by the Fundamental Evangelists Association.  (The entire article is an interesting look into the factions within evangelism.)  I was struck by the concerns expressed within a couple of the statements and simply want to explore them here as they relate to Mormonism.  (The higlighted parts are my emphasis.) 

“Calling the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.” This was the ecumenical theme of the Second International Congress on World Evangelization, held July 11-20, 1989 in Manila, The Philippines. Commonly referred to as the Lausanne II Conference, it was publicized as being one of the most, if not THE most, important and influential meetings ever held by evangelicals. It was indeed big – 4,336 in attendance. It had a large geographical representation (190 nations), more than the United Nations. And, it was costly – 10 1/2 million dollars.

What every believer needs to know, and what this report will document, is the fact that, in the name of “evangelicalism,” extreme pressure was exerted to break down Scriptural walls of separation between truth and error, and to build bridges of understanding and cooperation with the enemies of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

In the name of evangelicalism, the apostate ecumenical movement (WCC, NCC, CCC, etc.) was promoted. In the name of evangelicalism, cooperation with those who preach a false gospel (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, etc.) was advocated. And, in the name of evangelicalism, the dangerous doctrines of the Pentecostal-charismatic-power evangelism movement were openly advocated for the very first time in any major evangelical gathering.

Many dangerous ideas are being “slipped into” the evangelical movement today, and this liberal idea that “social action” is a necessary part of “The Gospel” is one of them. Older evangelical leaders have either forgotten or choose to ignore what the ecumenical emphasis on “social action” really involves. Of course, most younger evangelicals are simply unaware of the past activities and present deceptions of ecumenical liberalism, but they need to be informed and warned lest they fall into the ecumenical trap.

To understand what is really happening today, it is essential to know the tactics of religious liberalism in the past. Most religious liberals in bygone years were very bold in their repudiation of the fundamentals of the Christian Faith. Since they didn’t believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures; since they denied the virgin birth and deity of Jesus Christ as well as His sinless life, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, and personal return; and, since they denied the existence of a real heaven and a real hell, they obviously could not preach the one true Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. Their teachings and programs centered around the supposed betterment of mankind and working toward a “Kingdom-of- God” society on earth, produced by human efforts.

The gospel these early religious liberals preached became known as the “Social Gospel” in contrast to the historic, Biblical, personal Gospel which has always been preached by true believers. In those early days, no informed believer and no genuine liberal even claimed that their messages were two parts of the same gospel-all recognized that these two gospels were opposites and Bible-believers correctly held that the “social gospel” was a false gospel to be repudiated.

The “issues” identified in these quotes are:

1) Working with religions whose doctrines are different than one’s own (and Mormonism isn’t even mentioned, probably because they couldn’t fathom 20 years ago that even the most liberal evangelicals would have any association with us);

2) Placing emphasis and actual resources on social issues and concerns and not focusing exclusively on the word of God.

My questions concerning theses statements are simple, but a bit counter-intutitive:

A) Do conservative and liberal Mormons differ in the same way as these statements lay out for conservative and liberal evangelicals?  In other words, are Mormons divided along these same lines – particularly with regard to inter-faith cooperation and “The Social Gospel”? 

B) Is it ironic that conservative evangelicals are concerned about losing their unique status by “compromising” with more liberal denominations and movements, while liberal Mormons are the ones who seem to be most upset that their Church has partnered with more conservative evangelicals in efforts like Prop. 8?   Are liberal Mormons like conservative evangelicals in this regard – not wanting political partnerships to move their religion further from their own position?

C) Is it ironic that these conservative evangelicals react to social efforts of other evangelicals in much the same way that liberal Mormons plead for the Mormon Church to stay out of social and political issues – and is there a conflict between liberal Mormons echoing the conservative evangelical call to abstain institutionally from involvement in the political arena while advocating for the Social Gospel focus of liberal evengelicals?  Is the liberal Mormon community attempting to have its cake and eat it too, at least in regard to this issue? 

Discuss.

Comments

comments

Comments 36

  1. At first, I didn’t understand this post…I thought, “Why would *conservative* evangelicals match well with *liberal* Mormons when Conservative evangelicals are against a ‘social gospel.'”

    But I guess if “Social Gospel” means prop 8, then I guess I see why…

    no, wait, I still don’t really understand it.

    Liberal Mormons (I don’t speak for all liberal mormons, and I probably don’t speak for any, haha) do not reject social gospel. They do not reject inter-faith cooperation. They reject how and where the church has gotten involved. For example, mum’s the word when it comes to torture, but somehow the church can mobilize at full speed against gay marriage or the equal rights amendment. The church can mobilize itself with the most socially conservative causes and religious groups (who have honestly never been good friends with the church), but pays little attention to socially liberal causes and religious groups. If things were opposite, and the church were moving in a “progressive” or “liberal” direction, or allying with liberal entities, then I think you’d see a Liberal Mormons on that bandwagon (and Conservative Mormons crying foul). But I doubt you’ll ever have to worry about that.

    I sincerely doubt that when conservative Evangelicals repudiate “social Gospel” that they are repudiated the evangelical use of political power to work to ban gay marriage/preserve traditional marriage. I think when they repudiate the social gospel, they are repudiate what liberal denominations of any church tend to *actually* mean with a social gospel — welfare and “socialism” (whatever that happens to mean for a given generation.)

    See, that link says things like:

    Today, it is important to recognize that liberals are still preaching the same false “social gospel” even though they have slightly modified the label and now refer to it as “social action,” “social concern,” or “social justice.” However, whatever label it may wear, it is still the same man-made program which, under careful scrutiny, turns out to have the same dangerous, unscriptural basis as that of humanism, socialism and communism. No wonder, then, that religious liberals have always been and continue to be among the best friends socialism and communism have ever had.

    which make it clear to me. I even win this game of rhetorical bingo, since they make a direct link to the “social gospel” being socialism in evangelical clothing.

  2. at this time I would have to evoke my catch-all disclaimer: I don’t speak for all liberal Mormons and probably don’t even speak for any :p.

    That being said, I don’t really know. I look at it more as a socially liberal vs. socially conservative thing, so I can’t really say if people who are socially liberal (and that’s why someone would oppose inter-faith excursions with the goals of Prop 8) would also be economically liberal (even though that’s kinda what we see with the parties…disregarding things like libertarianism). I would say that when I first learned about things like the United Order and the Law of Consecration, my interest was piqued and I thought that the church should emphasize things like this more instead of bandying around the Republican party. But it was never something I seriously considered or thought that the church should (seriously) take as a direction to go in.

    But I bet (ooh betting is not good) that more liberal Mormons would support such a move than a move to ban gay marriage. 😀

  3. not to mention that liberal Mormonism need not even be related to political liberalism (of a social or economic sense). I kinda got off track there. In a religious sense, these liberal Mormons would be trying to loosen the bands of orthodoxy and control…so on a completely non-political dimension, you’d still see that they wouldn’t align well with Conservative evangelicals, who highlight inerrancy and a literalist interpretation.

  4. The problem is that the LDS Church started out radical and then got progressively more boring as the 20th century progressed in an attempt to assimilate with the rest of the culture.

    So I guess it comes down to what you mean by conservative.

    By “conservative,” do you mean advocating the existing status quo and accepting this work of assimilation?

    Or do you mean some return to our first origins? Such a move could be called “conservative” in a technical sense. But it would appear very, very radical to everyone else.

    Of course, Armand Mauss takes a different view on this. His thesis was that the LDS assimilated for the first half of the 20th century by becoming pretty-much mainline in views (centrist politically) and that the move to align with the Christian Right since the 1960s has been a bit of a backlash to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the culture.

  5. Ray, this post is either a major reach or else you just totally misunderstand what is going on in that evangelical conflict (which is still raging today). The post-modern or Emergent movement in Christianity is about a return to the Social Gospel. Former pastor Brian McLaren characterizes the idea when he says that “the kingdom of God is at hand” is actually Jesus calling us humans to convert the Earth into the kingdom of God through charity and Christian living rather than waiting for the Second Coming to destroy our enemies.

    BTW, the LDS church’s current ecumenicism is nothing like the stuff that document was railing against. Social and political issues like Prop 8, gambling, porn, drugs, abortion, etc. are not what the Social Gospel means at all. The Emergent movement is pushing for Christians to abandon the Prosperity Gospel, speak out against war and social injustice, share their abundance with the poor, etc. The mainline churches view those ideas as apostate for the reason they say is relying on human ability to do God’s work instead of trusting in God to do it according to His will.

  6. I have a related item. I had lunch with John Dehlin. John Dehlin suggested that it was a mistake for modern Mormons to down play what he calls “19th century doctrines” (as he interprets this, this means teachings about how Jesus was conceived, locations of the garden of Eden, belief in a large geography model for Lamanites, belief in 19th century views of the universe, etc.) He believed this is part of what makes Mormons “special.” (his word 🙂 )

    I had a similar conversation with John Hamer that was almost exactly the same via an email exchange.

    Interestingly, neither of these gentleman believe in any of those doctrines personally. They also are ardent critics of some/many current Church teachings, anything from being “the one true Church” to the Church’s stance against gay marriage.

    I guess I was left with the impression that they were selective in what they felt Mormons should emphasize and what Mormons should give up. Old disproven teachings that have no modern value were looked upon positively, core theology like “one true church” not so much.

    I’m still not sure what to make of this. I know enough to know that there is more going on that is visible on the surface.

    From a certain point of view, I think this agrees with what Ray is suggesting: liberal Mormons advocating that Mormons don’t meld with other Christian views. (i.e. advocating discredit doctrines or older ones not as much emphasized but have some historical basis.)

    But I don’t think that is the whole picture because of the selective doctrines criticized as well.

  7. “Andrew, are you saying, then, that liberal Mormons would embrace a return to earlier Mormon socialism?”

    Maybe not exactly like that, as it really didn’t work well at all the way Joseph organized it. It is interesting to note that there is a group of young Mormon activists who are beginning to explore ideas like that. Something along the lines of building an “intentional community” where they essentially live the law of consecration. However, that is going to the full extreme. If the church were to simply speak out against global injustice or corruption amongst friends and allies (they have no problem offending “enemies” like the gay community, but refuse to call out conservative greed and corruption), and encourage the voluntary redistribution of wealth (maybe something like a heavy emphasis on extremely generous fast offerings)… I think that would be really well received amongst liberal Mormons.

  8. #7 addendum:

    What I’m trying to say is, on the surface it might seem like advocacy for not being ecumenical (i.e. against moving away from past doctrines that were distinctly different from other Christians) but if you factor in removing belief in being a restored Church (or at least downplaying it considerably) this suggests otherwise.

    What I’m saying is, I think there is more going on here then with the conservative vs. liberal evangelicals, even if it seems similar but in reverse at first glace.

  9. Bruce,

    When John talks about “downplaying” early doctrines, he isn’t talking about continuing to support them as being valid. He is only saying that the way in which LDS try to sweep bizarre teachings of the past under the rug actually sets us up for shock when we discover the bizarre idea was once considered a core principle. I think the idea is to say, “Yes, we did used to teach that but we have progressed beyond it now.” That would be simultaneously owning up to the weirdness without treating things so literally. It is a progressive view and would probably not work out too well for a large portion of the church.

    FYI, John Dehlin has changed in his approach to things so you might take care in quoting him on stuff like that. That lunch was about a year ago, right?

    One thing both John and I agree upon today is that while not everything the church does works well for everyone there is definitely a large portion of people for whom it works really well the way it is now. The new struggle within Mormonism is not going to be on trying to change the church organization to be more liberal. It will be centered around the difficulty of creating space for all the shades of Mormon to find peace according to their own unique needs.

  10. “He is only saying that the way in which LDS try to sweep bizarre teachings of the past under the rug actually sets us up for shock when we discover the bizarre idea was once considered a core principle”

    That was not my impression in context, but I may have misunderstood. That is definitely not what John Hamer suggested to me. But John and John have radically different views from each other. So I will stand corrected at this time.

    “FYI, John Dehlin has changed in his approach to things so you might take care in quoting him on stuff like that. That lunch was about a year ago, right?”

    Good point. I don’t want to be held accountable for my views that are a year old either.

    “One thing both John and I agree upon today is that while not everything the church does works well for everyone there is definitely a large portion of people for whom it works really well the way it is now. The new struggle within Mormonism is not going to be on trying to change the church organization to be more liberal. It will be centered around the difficulty of creating space for all the shades of Mormon to find peace according to their own unique needs.”

    Clay, I’m estatic to hear you say. We have some real common ground on this now. Actually, it might be nearly all common ground now.

    My original introduction to the bloggernacle concerned this very issue.

    “It is a progressive view and would probably not work out too well for a large portion of the church.”

    Well, you might be right, but I think you are wrong about this. Maybe you are right for the oldest generation who probably still takes some of these items as gospel truth. And I am not against them believeing that so long as they don’t teach it in Church that way. (I have rarely seen this problem in the last two decades, at least not in a highly active ward like the ones I’ve been in.) But now I’m thread jacking, so never mind. 😛

  11. I probably should have said “I went to lunch with a more liberal Mormon” and avoided names. I have a hard time remembering to do that because I think in terms of the people. So I apologize to everyone if I misrepresented John Dehlin’s views.

  12. On the other hand, I’m sort of glad I used a real name. It allowed me to be corrected. If I had been generic, no one would have had a basis for correcting me. Just think, I apparently carried an incorrect view of what someone said for a whole year.

  13. “Andrew, are you saying, then, that liberal Mormons would embrace a return to earlier Mormon socialism?”

    You could call me a liberal socialist Mormon, but I’ve learned the hard way that comparing The United Order, The Law of Consecration, or any other Mormon doctrine to “socialism” will open a colossal can of worms with Mormon conservatives. 🙂

  14. I wish there was a way to not use terms like “conservative” and “liberal” in this manner. Because of their use and misuse in the political realm, they have become less descriptive and more pejorative in nature. And I hate to see them used in context to religious principles.

    I realize that “social action” is seen in the political arena as a “liberal” idea, but I see it in the religious sense as a “gospel idea.” In other words, I cannot see how anyone can miss Jesus’ admonitions to “love one another,” “doing good to all men,” and “when you’ve done it unto the least of these…” So, I am surprised that anyone professing to be a follower of Christ would object to a “social action agenda.” Certainly, in the LDS Church, we are more than encouraged to serve each other and the greater mankind.

    I guess then I would say that those folks at that Evangelical conference who thought otherwise were way out of touch with basic Gospel principles.

  15. Well, I could be wrong, too, but know John a little better than a lunch 😉 Specifically in the list of items you mentioned, the conception of Jesus thing is an odd point. It was in Mormon Doctrine, but I have no frame of reference for how common that view was. It was certainly a surprise when I heard about it, but even as a TBM I thought it was kooky. As for “locations of the garden of Eden, belief in a large geography model for Lamanites, belief in 19th century views of the universe”… I think a lot of faithful Mormons still do hold those views. At least I know a lot of Mormons who are wary of evolution, believe that natives from the Sioux down to the Mayans were Lamanites, and firmly believe that Adam-Ondi-Ahman in Missouri is a relocated Eden (isn’t that an official church tourist site for that reason?)

    That is at least the way folks seem to feel when they are in the comfort of Mormon company. I think a lot of people hang on to all sorts of odd unchallenged ideas, in religion or not, until they are absolutely forced to confront their reasons and justification for belief. Its a human thing.

  16. #16:

    Clay, I don’t disagree with anything you are saying.

    Go back to my original post and the point was that I came away with a certain view that “liberal Mormons” (or at least two of them) didn’t want Mormons to be ecumenical but then also a view that they did. The point was that they actually had a nuanced view that wasn’t really one or the other, even if I couldn’t figure it out.

    With your clarifications, all of what I said wasn’t true or no longer is for you and John, at least. You are now advocating Mormons stick with Mormonism but accommodate differences better. Golden.

    This suggests the LDS Church sticking with necessary doctrines like “one true church” and then be accommodating on things like evolution vs. young earth creation, where the garden of Eden is located (or if Joseph really taught that as a revelation or not), and forms of conception. Also, they should accomodate people, as best as possible, that disbelieve the “core doctrines” (however they determine that) but want to be culturally involved. (How to do that is an entirely different issues, of course.)

    If I understand and summarized what you just said correctly, I’m in complete agreement with you.

  17. Re 7:

    even though I know that this has been straightened out and kinked, etc., I have to say that I’m ambivalent about the ideas in it. Not because I’m neutral, but because I could see really strong feelings either way.

    On the one hand, I’d think that the church should play up these kinds of doctrines because they make the church special. The modern church is…stale. Dull. Boring. After coming to various places on the bloggernacle that aren’t afraid to jump into deeper stuff, that kinda made me just a tad bit more interested (but it failed in making me believe it any more, so don’t think you’re too incredible). Church, on the other hand, is sterilized beyond belief.

    but even still, I can see a more malignant reason (well, malignant depending on your position.) I think, beyond the church being stale, that mainstream Christianity as a whole is incredibly stale. So, if I ever rail against ecumenicalism, it’ll be because I dislike the church racing to the lowest common denominator over the title of “Christian.” I admit I wouldn’t care much if the church accepted that it’s not really Christian in a historical or traditional sense at all (and this whole “We follow Christ = Christian *wink wink*” thing…if that helps you sleep at night…) but more of a fourth Abrahamic religion…or a second Christianic religion…and if it were to do so, who knows? Maybe we’d see some really cool stuff eventually? As it currently is, I see the church on a slow and steady collision path with utter sterility in the far future.

    But all is not lost! As I said, I could also find reasons to conjure up reasons against such a thing…and such reason would be that these old doctrines are, at their core, quite unpalatable, even if they are uniquely Mormon. Finding out about the location of the Garden of Eden was close to one of the first things that made me say, “Are they serious? Do they seriously want me to believe this?” The first thing I remember having to do with all of my critics in lunchtime discussions (more like beatdowns) about the church was say, “Guys, don’t raise anything from Mormon Doctrine, Journal of Discourses, etc., — all of that isn’t canon.” I was really surprised when I had said in a seminary class, “I really dislike Bruce R. McConkie for all the carp that he’s said and written that makes my church life so much harder,” and the seminary instructor was shocked that I could speak so poorly of a general authority! It scared me that people still held such people in such esteem.

    I think that all of this theological thoughtplay is possible because people don’t take this stuff as seriously anyway. I once read a quote (which I can’t find; the internet has failed me) that looked at the discovery of the mundane origins and meaning of the Pearl of Great Price illustrations. The writer of this essay noted that everyone had expected a mass migration out of the church, but saw, in the end, nothing. The conservative members had figured another accommodating way to believe in a somewhat literal manner, but the liberal members didn’t leave en masse because they never believed in the literal nature or origin of the scriptures. So, for people like these, what’s the difference between, as you say, an “discredited doctrine” or an “old disproven doctrine” and “core theology”? It seems that the core, as it has developed and chiseled down over time, is…remarkably stale.

  18. Andrew S, I think you gave a good nuanced view of a) how my perceptions were probably right for some, if not John, and b) how a seeming contradiction isn’t so contradictory once fully explained. A liberal Mormon can be against ecumenical movements for the Church without it going against their core beliefs as a “liberal theist” after all.

  19. “So, for people like these, what’s the difference between, as you say, an “discredited doctrine” or an “old disproven doctrine” and “core theology”?”

    Well, obviously, for them, there is no difference. That’s the whole point. You see, I am a firm believer that the believer gets to decide what the believer believes. 😛

    What I mean is, it’s a problem for someone that doesn’t believe any of it to explain to someone that actually does or wishes to: “You should look at it this way. You should believe this, but not that.”

    The issue isn’t that the “unbeliever” isn’t honestly trying to be helpful, and might even be helpful in many cases. The issues is that the “unbeliever” has no real feel for what works and what doesn’t because they lack the personal involvement that the “believer” has with the doctrines in question. Thus the “unbeliever” is fully dependent upon feedback from the “believer” to even comprehend what is going to turn out to be a “core” vs. “non-core” doctrine in the first place.

    I suppose I’m sensitive on this subject precisely because I’ve seen some “liberal Mormons” (probably the wrong term here) really push hard on believing Mormons about what they should or shouldn’t believe but never even take the time or have the desire for feedback on why their suggestions will or won’t work.

  20. yeah, I would definitely say that what you wrote in 7 wouldn’t be outright outlandish if I heard about it. So even if John isn’t the one with that view, I can definitely say though that you’re not crazy (at least, not from this :p)…you didn’t just make up this position from nowhere. I don’t know if it’s the majority opinion, but it’s (I hope) not a completely fringe outlook.

  21. Re 20:

    I had missed this. But it’s interesting.

    When I look at the church, I have to look at it in a few contexts. When I look at it in the way characterized in post 7 (you should believe *see old doctrine* and not *see new doctrine*), I’m taking an artistic view of the church. Like perhaps an anthropological view of it. So really, when I’m in this mood, it doesn’t matter what works and what doesn’t. It’s about an aesthetic.

    Of course, when I look at the church in a practical context, then it’s a lot clearer why things have become the way they are, why certain doctrines didn’t become core and others did. The church, from a practical standpoint, has been doing a good job of building its house on a rock. But a practical context is…I dunno…somewhat dull. The church as a practical entity doesn’t really appeal so much to me, because I could be practical *outside* of it and then not accept *anything* that need be outlandish.

    I think it’s unfair to say that the unbeliever necessarily “lacks the personal involvement that the believer has with the doctrines in questions.” When it comes to certain doctrines, it may be that the unbeliever was personally involved, and that’s what wrecked him in the end and made him an unbeliever. So, naturally, as they pick up the pieces of their faith (whether to make a stained glass window and stay or throw them away and leave), they are going to have their ideas on what should be core (what may have prevented their crisis) and what shouldn’t. I think this is when the different liberal elements of the church diverge — I mean, really, Affirmation is going to have problems with the church’s traditional view on gender (a core view and a strong one for practical considerations) because that core view is the thorn in their paw. They could be (or at least they believe) they could be faithful if but for this stinging pain.

  22. “Like perhaps an anthropological view of it. So really, when I’m in this mood, it doesn’t matter what works and what doesn’t. It’s about an aesthetic.”

    Wow, I think you just explained one of the conversations I’m thinking of. I’m almost certain this was the point of view being taken. Thank you for the explanation.

  23. I am checking in and catching up:

    Just in the interest of full disclosure, I wrote this post with my tongue lodged firmly in my cheek. I definitely am on the “liberal” side of the Social Gospel. I have studied with Harvey Cox, who wrote “The Secular City” and was a leading advocate of Liberation Theology in his prime. (He might be still; I haven’t kept current in that field.) Also, I had another question in the original post, which I deleted right before publishing it. It essentially asked if it was proper even to use terms like “conservative” and “liberal” in discussions like this – if using those terms undermined our ability to discuss these issues effectively.

    I’m glad the inherent conflict in the wording of my questions is being addressed in the comments.

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  25. On the one hand, I’d think that the church should play up these kinds of doctrines because they make the church special. The modern church is…stale. Dull. Boring.

    If you’ll forgive the risk of further misrepresenting people in absentia 😉 I think this is pretty close to the position of my brother (John Hamer) who was mentioned briefly as having a similar-but-different position to the other John. I’ve heard my brother talk about how the church’s evolution the past few decades has been all about “delete, delete, delete” — delete or downplay everything that somebody out there finds strange and unpalatable, add little or nothing in its place.

    And, as Andrew points out, it’s a little like nipping the buds off a once-vibrant tradition, leaving it sterile.

    But, as Bruce correctly notes, you’re talking to a bunch of people here whose attachment to Mormonism is essentially personal and cultural, so believers can take it with a grain of salt…

  26. CL said:

    “I’ve heard my brother talk about how the church’s evolution the past few decades has been all about “delete, delete, delete” — delete or downplay everything that somebody out there finds strange and unpalatable, add little or nothing in its place.”

    That might be one way to look at it. Another way is to say, “refine, refine, refine.” The Church is trying to focus on the MOST important aspects of the gospel and leave the less important things to the side. It’s not like they have repudiated any of those things or made them impossible to find out about.

  27. Just a side note on the references to the LDS church being boring. Since when is it supposed to be entertaining or exciting or whatever. This isn’t show biz. Sorry but a bit of the Calvinist in me came out. Or maybe it was memories of my mother’s gentle guiding hand.

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  29. re 28:
    Jeff, I think that in some ways, the church *does* come to refine, refine, refine. I mean, when I saw the church’s recent approach to gender in that infamous Proposition, it seemed very much like they were refining things that had developed over a long time. I mean, once it was a case where the church shakily said, “Well…uhh…it’s something that can be changed” (and BYU had its experiments), but now the church more confidently puts its position, “Regardless of what science says, here is where *we* stand and this is why.” Regardless of whether I or anyone else agrees with it, it seems like it has refined the core doctrine and it polishes nicely.

    That being said, that’s not what you usually hear about. I mean, this refinement that we saw was mostly the result of what the church saw was a matter of grave importance (at least, grave enough to jump into actions). In the everyday order of things, we don’t see such excitement and refinement. We see the basics. It seems very sterile.

    What you said last intrigued me. “It’s not like they have repudiated any of those things or made them impossible to find out about.” Well…I think the latter, if anything, is because the internet is so vast and uncontrollable.

    Re 29:
    It need not be show biz. But at some point, people will decide that they can just join any old protestant church if everything uniquely mormon will get deleted (or refined) away. ;). I like to think that at least some of the allure of the church is because it’s different and more interesting than the rest of things.

  30. I just don’t understand what’s so wrong about being a liberal. I mean where would we all be if a certain liberal named Martin Luther didn’t want to take a stand against the church?

  31. Jeff — that’s an interesting alternate take on it. It’s possible that I may have misrepresented John Hamer’s position and I’m just mixing it with my own.

    I think a better way to state what I mean is to look at the Book of Mormon map which we drew as children and he posted here as Lost Hemisphere. Even if the belief is false, there’s something sad about rejecting it since (at one point) it was part of what it meant to be Mormon.

  32. E – ““Liberal” is not a word I would ever think of to describe Martin Luther!” Yet, he certainly advocated radical change to the status quo.

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