Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

In Praise of Baptists

Today I had lunch with an outstanding Christian who is Baptist. We were at a Mexican restaurant, sparsely populated while we were there. Before we began eating, he very naturally and politely asked if I would like him to say grace before we ate. While I usually don't pray publicly in such settings - fear of being "too religious" or something like that - it was truly refreshing to have a short prayer with him. His prayer sounded much like the kind I would offer - similar language and tone, closing in the name of Jesus Christ. And it just felt very comfortable and pleasant. While we were discussing a number of legal and organizational matters, we also discussed social and religious issues. I was pleased with his ability to comfortably discuss faith in God.

I've had similar experiences with other Baptists. While some Baptists have been taught that we are terrible non-Christians, and some Mormons have had negative encounters with anti-Mormon Baptists, when we sit down and talk as friends, we're likely to find that we have a lot more in common that we thought. Some of the finest Christians you'll find with high values and remarkably "LDS" views can be found among our Baptist brethren.

Speaking of prayer and Baptists, I gave the opening prayer at the kick-off meeting of the Christian Coalition in Atlanta, Georgia (I think it was held in Decatur). It was a group of about 200 people, I think, and some media types. I was invited to do so by someone who I believe was a Baptist, and who probably didn't realize I was LDS. While I later became inactive in the Coalition (feeling they were too based on promoting Republicans per se), I did enjoy associating with the heavily Baptist group. Marvelous people, just like the Mormon Baptists I've known (the Baptist in some people often doesn't leave after conversion to the LDS Church, which is just fine - adds to the interesting diversity of the Church).

Now let me say that one of the most impressive and patriotic Americans I've ever read about was a Baptist minister who gave his life in the twentieth century for the cause of liberty and the Gospel. He was a true Christian martyr and a fearless defender of truth and liberty. I had no idea just how inspiring this man's life was until I read his biography this year at the request of my youngest son. Can you guess this minister's name? Hint: The name will immediately evoke controversy. Second hint: he was murdered in a foreign country while serving with the US armed forces over 50 years ago. And his murder involved an amazing cover-up. Any guesses?

10 comments:

J. Stapley said...

John Birch? I don't know much about him; however, the onymous society is rather sketchy.

My experience with baptists has been a mixed bag. Probably more negative than positive, but definately some stellar indaviduals.

john f. said...

I am often hard on Evangelicals based on terrible experiences with their intolerance, bigotry, and hatred. But with that necessary disclaimer mentioned, I also admit that I have also had numerous positive experiences such as the kind you mentioned, although these come very widely interspersed among the negative.

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

I am not able to view the comments thread on the previous post. I had addressed a few posts to Mr. Brown, but I had to wait several hours to check on his replies. I am guessing that the comments section was edited for content, and I am just apologizing if I played a part in it. What happened?

john

John W. Redelfs said...

With J.Stapley, I too would guess you are referring to John Birch. I don't know much about him, but I know quite a bit about the John Birch Society that was named after him. I am not a member, but I am very sympathetic with their world view.

As for Baptists, I was raised a member of an American Baptist congregation and converted to the Church of Jesus Christ when I was a senior in high school. I agree with you about how compatible Baptist teachings are with true Christianity as taught by the Church. I had to give up very few of my former religious convictions when I became a Mormon. All Mormonism did was add to what I already believed.

With that said, my mother did not convert with me. And because of my conversion she became a real "expert" on Mormonism. Over the years she became very anti-Mormon. I assume her drift in that direction was facilitated by discussing Mormonism with evangelicals within the Baptist tradition.

I think it is important for Mormons to remember that evangelicals exist in most traditional Christian denominations, but they are not the majority in the more mainstream denominations. For instance, American Baptists were primarily mainstream Protestant back in the 50's and 60's when I belonged. Southern Baptists, on the other hand, have always been more fundamentalist and are much more influenced by the evangelical movement that has so hated the Mormons.

cayblood said...

Was going to say John Birch, but everyone beat me to it.

Mormanity said...

Offensive comments aren't welcome.

Mormanity said...

I'm surprised that a certain complainer doesn't get it. I've stated my comments policy clearly: comments with links to offensive sites will be deleted. Comments with profanity will be deleted. My site is not here to generate traffic toward the dark side.

Our chief offender violated my policy again yesterday with another link to his offensive site. And he has continued to be insulting and has used this blog to attack the Church on topics completely unrelated to my posts.

Sorry - but you comments are no longer welcome. I don't want to give you any more attention or any more bandwidth. I don't want your name mentioned on my site. Your approach is more that of a vandal spraying graffiti on the side of my home than it is of someone willing to engage in civil conversation on the topics I post about.

Allowing comments on a blog is a privilege, not a right. Off-topic or off-color comments can be and should be deleted. Don't whine about censorship - do you accept random offensive graffiti sprayed on your car or home? Do you allow Mormons to post pro-Mormon pages on your Web site?

Today I solicited the help of a third party to monitor this blog when I'm at work to simply delete any comments from our chief offender. If you see his remarks, don't respond here, and don't mention his name. Persona non-grata, unless, of course, he repents and becomes civil, and cleans up his Web site. This, ultimately, is the message of the Gospel to all of us sinners: repent and get not just a life, but Eternal Life. But you need to start repenting fast, if only to become a more civil human being.

Please, you're giving your fellow anti-Mormons a bad name. Many of them are actually civil and have posted some thought-provoking on-topic comments - but yours are no longer welcome. Please e-mail me when you're willing to change and be more respectful and we can try again.

Mormanity said...

Oh, I almost forgot:

Yes, our mystery Baptist is indeed Captain John Birch. I'll prepare a post a little later about his amazing life. Quick overview: As a young man, he was filled with a desire to serve God and bring the Gospel to others. Getting into the ministry proved to be difficult, but he found an opportunity to go to China to preach. He learned Chinese quickly, fell in love with the people and they fell in love with him, and he began bringing many souls to Christ. He was there during a time of war, and that's where the story gets really interesting. I've rarely read of such heroism as shown by this brave young man. More on this later....

Bookslinger said...

"Good Baptists", etc.

My grandfather was a devout Presbyterian. When I joined the LDS church in the early 80's, he was "concerned" and tried to kindly convince me of the error of my ways.

I admired the sincerity and humility in which he approached the matter. His efforts were like what Joseph Smith said the preachers of his day "should" have used if they supposed him to be deluded.

My grandfather's sister was another story. Her response was derision and scorn, contemptuously citing the anti-Mormon rhetoric she had picked up. She cited nothing but twisted truths, mis-characterizations and outright lies.

My grandfather sent me a copy of the anti-Mormon book "Will the Saints Go Marching In?". Out of courtesy to him I read it. Even having been in the church only a few months, I could answer all the challenges of the book, and see through their tactics of half-truths, twisted truths, and mis-characterizations.

The funniest part of the book was at the end describing how a couple of "former Mormons," with the help of this anti-Mormon preacher, "accepted Jesus as their savior" and THEN they finally felt "the burning in the bosom." What made it hilarious was that there was a chapter in the book that _denounced_ the concept of "the burning in the bosom."

Later on I learned that many Mormons indeed haven't "accepted Jesus as their Savior" as the Bible and Book of Mormon teach us to do. Some members are merely "cultural Mormons", and although they may outwardly live the gospel, they haven't internalized it and had a true change of heart.

Therefore, I can easily envision a well-meaning non-Mormon Christian teaching a MINO (Mormon in name only) and leading them to a legitimate experience that they haven't as yet had in the true church. And I can see how that would be confusing to the person and lead them to think the church wasn't true because they didn't have that experience in the church.

My experience with "less than valiant" missionaries was a dramatic lesson in how one can grow up in the church and reach the age of 19 and older and not have an understanding of the Gospel, much less having internalized it.

Bookslinger said...

I sometimes am amazed that many of the evangelicals and fundamentalists don't see the things they have in common with us. Things like continuing revelation, walking by the Spirit, miracles, gifts of the Spirit. Though "mainstream Christians" talk about miracles, and answered prayers, they usually don't mean it in the biblical sense, but in a toned down "virtual" sense.

But Mormons, fundamentalists, and many evangelicals do believe in the Biblical accounts of miracles, revelations, and spiritual gifts.