Sunday, November 01, 2009

Why Must Mormonism Be Steeped in Such Deception? --

I was just not going to do this. I was having a relaxed Sunday today and was trying to enjoy a positive Sabbath devoted to the things I believe in, rather than some kind of death spiral with the issues that depress me and make me angry.

I was reading what seemed like such a positive article about evangelical dialogue with Mormons in Christianity Today:

And then I just had to come across this statement:

"The LDS scriptures teach a plurality of gods (in the Book of Abraham, though Mormons reject the label polytheistic) and the millennial prospect that human saints will be "made equal with" God.

Smith asserted other radical beliefs in an 1844 discourse shortly before he was assassinated while running for U.S. President. He revealed "the great secret" that God the Father "was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man," and that humans will progress to "become Gods … the same as all Gods have done before you." His discourse was transcribed by four aides, published by the church, later included in its compilation of his teachings, and officially reaffirmed thereafter.

Mouw believes such thinking "has no functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrine," based on statements from Millet and church leaders. He also noted that in How Wide the Divide?, Robinson said these controversial beliefs are not official doctrine and were never incorporated into Mormon scriptures. But LDS officialdom has never repudiated Smith's tenets."

Now, Richard Mouw is president of Fuller Theological Seminary, and I have no reason to believe that he's either an idiot or has a hearing problem, so I have to take this statement at face value and assume that it's an accurate reflection of what Robert Millet and other "church leaders" have probably told him.

Now, anybody who has read the latest Joseph Smith manual and keeps up on General Conference talks and reads the Ensign knows that the idea that we have abandoned either the doctrine of exaltation or of God having once been a man is pure fantasy. This is doctrine that we may dissemble about in public ("I don't know that we teach that anymore"), but both are central elements of LDS theology, as much as many might wish that they would go away.

I just have to think about Elder Ballard's commencement address at BYU suggesting we don't practice polygamy and that the question should just go away (we do practice it and it won't go away), and it makes me wonder why Mormonism must always be steeped in such deception about its doctrines, history, and practices. This deception just seems so endemic to everything we communicate, whether it's Joseph Smith and his wives, General Authorities and their "living allowances" (i.e. their salaries as paid ministers), polygamy, the First Vision, Thomas B Marsh and the cream strippings myth, and I could just go on and on. The LDS church was deceptive about polygamy from the very beginning, until the 1850s, and is still deceptive about the extent of post-manifesto polygamy, which continued into the mid 20th century.

Why can't we just tell the truth? Why is it invariably those who are closest to us that are the most deceived? If God is truly behind this work, what is it we are so afraid of?


Karl Christen said...

You hit the nail on the head in your the article you linked to from NOM, and I get so sick of the deception as well. I have a father who thinks the early church history, the peculiar nature of the Church is what made it great. But when you strip away the peculiar doctrine, then why stay a member.

BTW, after reading Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, I'm wondering how much influence that Masonry had on Joseph and his beliefs, especially the belief that we can become like God. I know most of that book is purely for fun, but Dan does tie in some interesting "truth" from time to time.

Anonymous said...

I can't figure out what LDS doctrine is. Can anyone? It's a maze with more twists and turns than a roller coaster.

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