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

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Beware Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

Such a fascinating story in the comments of the last couple of posts, where we encounter a classic example of a wolf in sheep's clothing. Yes, it is easy to misjudge a person. I though Corey/CB was sincere, and wasted plenty of time trying to answer his questions. But he wasn't looking for truth, wasn't looking for answers, wasn't a new member of the Church, but was posing as all that in order to create an opportunity to attack the faith of some members by regurgitating worn-out anti-Mormon arguments. Slick. But easily exposed, thanks to Indy's help. Glad Corey/CB 'fessed up and showed his true colors (not much choice except to retreat into silence).

Guess I'm better off dealing with strangers who follow me on the dark streets of downtown Atlanta at night than I am in dealing with anti-Mormon deceivers. The former resulted in a fine adventure and the possibility of forming a real friendship with a sincere and decent homeless person, while the latter just wasted my time. But I remain perplexed at the "end justifies the means" mentality of some of our critics, even those who purport to be following Christ. Maybe somebody is following a different Jesus.

On the other hand, several of you that disagree with the Church have been respectful and open, allowing real discourse to occur. I appreciate that, and do not want to suggest that all or even most critics of the Church are "anti-Mormon deceivers" or wolves in sheeps clothing. Some of you may even be sheep in wolves clothing, and then there are a few ordinary sheep who have just wandered into some dark paths - and we hope you come back soon.

34 comments:

Bookslinger said...
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SyzdaBee said...

Mormanity comment "attack the faith of some members by regurgitating worn-out anti-Mormon arguments." Cory's stuff these past couple of days has indeed been making me think of Proverbs 26:11.

Anonymous said...

Note to Cory:
See Proverbs 26:11

SyzdaBee said...

In case anyone hasn't accessed the following site, or if you need a little pick-me-up concerning all this anti nonsense:
Go to Fairlds.org -> Topical Guide -> Apologetics -> "The Impact of Mormon Critics on LDS Scholarship" by Michael R. Ash.
What a great article! I hadn't thought before about how those folks help us, but after reading this article, I say "Bring it on!"

Anonymous said...

I didn't actually read the link to FAIRLDS, but assuming it is about how anti-Mormons strengthen us or somesuch, I can totally attest to that. About a month ago, my best friend got into the anti-Mormon stuff (he is a non-member, thinks he is helping me). At first I really had the poorest of ways to refute the stuff he was shotgunning, so I was forced to do some intensive research. If anything, I feel I have been strengthened by the experiance. I know that when I go on my mission I'll have a huge fighting chance against people who dish out the anti-Mormon stuff.

Their attacks do indeed make us stronger.

Cory Brenner said...

Nope... not me... sorry...

Mormanity said...

On the other hand, I want to cut Corey some slack. We have reason to believe that he's been through some pretty rough experiences - that doesn't justify anything, but it may provide insight into the reference frame he's operating from. I'm also convinced that he is at least sincere in his mistaken belief that the Church is horrible.

He exercised poor judgment in posing as a Mormon, and may even be regretting that backfired effort. I hope he might learn something through all this - and perhaps even be willing to reconsider some of his mistaken hostility toward the Church. It's not what he thinks it is.

Bookslinger said...

Here's a suggestion if people still want to correspond with Cory.

Cory created another alias, "Andy", and created a new blog at:
http://whatdoisaytomywife.blogspot.com

I have nothing against aliases since I'm using one myself. :-)

That way, Cory can still maintain his anonymity, and he can use that blog as a forum for his views, and post whatever links he wants.

I'm sorry if I quoted the wrong guy thinking it was Cory/Andy.

Anonymous said...

Just to clear this up in my mind, is Cory Brenner the same person as Cory/Andy?

Mormanity said...
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Mormanity said...

It's much more than just simply showing bad judgment in posing as a member to get a platform to raise sincere objections. It's despicable dishonesty and malice. Look at the lies he has told, and the maliciousness that he has shown against us in the data reported by Indy.

Here we have a rabid anti-Mormon pretending to be a convert who is struggling with his testimony. Elsewhere he appears to be posing as someone whose wife is leaving the Church. When confronted with allegations about his deception, he boldly denied it and then began talking just like the alleged ex-mormons do in their forums. I say alleged because Corey's tactics raise real questions about those who make rather outlandish statements about their experience in the Church. How many of them are real? Perhaps most, but there certainly have been a lot of people, like those in the "ex-mormons for Jesus" movement, who never were Mormons after all.

Look at this portion of Corey's quote from a recent post:

In my short time with this church I can not tell you guys how many times I have heard people say to me, "Oh, don't worry about "that" -- no one really takes that part very seriously." I have heard MANY people tell me exactly the SAME thing. These are ward members that I talk with after church. I can't find three people who believe exactly the same stuff about this religion. One tells me "this is the important thing" the other tell me "oh, that's not important, the important thing is this."

I like that this church gives us a lot of leeway to interpret things, but where is the core. What one thing is help immutable among all members?

Again, sorry to disapoint but I'm not a member of these RfMs or whever you all think is out to get you. I'm just a guy who showed up hoping to find some answers but what I found was fear, accusation and confusion.

Not a very welcoming fellowship.


Wow, that sounds just like the whining we hear about alleged ex-Mormon's experiences in the Church. "No questions allowed." "They didn't really believe all that garbage . . . " "Forced to turn my brain off." "Nothing but warm feelings - no logic at all."

This episode should teach us a couple of important things: among our critics are true enemies who believe any lie or deception is justified to attack the Church, and there are hypocrites posing as sincere investigators, members or ex-members who seek to defame the Church through their rantings.

Anonymous said...

Corey's real complaint about the Church boils down to anger about its policies on sexual morality, and homosexuality in particular. For those critics who have sincere intellectual objections to the Church, and there are many, Corey's actions do you a disservice by reinforcing the old stereotype that ex-Mormons or anti-Mormons ultimately oppose the Church because of sin in their own lives or discomfort with the commandments iof the Gospel. That stereotype, however, was not created ex nihilo, but on the basis of experience. It does NOT apply to all, perhaps not even most, but I've seen it apply to MANY of those I've known who have fallen away from the Church or showed the strongest reactions against it.

BYU Gestapo said...

Jeff said: "On the other hand, I want to cut Corey some slack. We have reason to believe that he's been through some pretty rough experiences - that doesn't justify anything, but it may provide insight into the reference frame he's operating from. I'm also convinced that he is at least sincere in his mistaken belief that the Church is horrible"

Bravo Jeff!

I know I called Cory an idiot earlier for acting the way he did, and frankly I hold to it. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't be willing to sit down with him and answer his questions if he was sincere.

A little more of that kindness I think would go a long way towards more civility in the various Mormon forums of discussion.

Bookslinger said...

Yes, Cory Brenner is Cory/Andy. Andy is an alias he used elsewhere with the same modus operandi, but slightly different story.

I deleted the cross-post (first comment in this thread) after giving time for the regulars to see it. Since Jeff gets an email every time someone posts here, he has it journaled. I didn't want Google to pick it up.

BYU-Gestapo, Why don't you get a Blogger ID? I don't think you have to submit an email addy to get one. You'd have control over what is said in your name, and have the ability to delete posts.

Anonymous said...

What's odd about all this, and particularly the "What do I say to my wife" blog, is that if you want to find things to criticize about the Mormon church, it isn't necessary to make things up.

I say that as a faithful member of the church.

Bookslinger said...

In addition to my own personal problems, the "surface" reasons why I left the church in the late 80's were personal offenses from rank-and-file members, some local priesthood leaders, and some problems in the missionary program and its leadership.

("Raising the Bar" came 20 years too late in my opinion.)

As I look back, all those things could have been resolved had I stuck around, and trusted someone enough to seek solutions. But, being hurt by some people in positions of authority, I didn't trust anyone. And being unrepentant of my own sins, I didn't have the Spirit to guide me. That's what I call the "double whammy."

I'd really like to get on the some of the ex-mormon forums and try to let people know that their concerns can be answered. I tried, and was told that solutions/answers of the pro-church sort were not welcomed.

Anonymous said...
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Daniel Peterson said...

I should have been at the meeting, but, for certain reasons, was not. And I've heard nothing about this alleged incident.

But I would caution anybody against taking the account given above as absolutely the final truth about whatever may have happened. Other accounts might describe the situation differently. And, of course, President Samuelson isn't here to give his side of the apparent exchange, to balance that of his anonymous detractor(s).

Incidentally, for what it's worth, I've known President Samuelson somewhat since a year or two prior to his arrival at BYU. In my experience, he's a strong and decisive personality, but he's scarcely the incarnation of evil.

Anonymous said...

ps - i agree w/ book of mormon indy that "raising the bar" came much too late (though perhaps the reason it wasn't raised sooner was to try our faith?). i also believe things such as the restriction of priesthood ordination to blacks came much too late, if it needed to happen at all.

my question is, what other church policies in retrospect may have been "inspired" later than they probably should have. i have faith in our church leaders, especially the prophet. and in theory, when proclaiming doctrine they cannot mislead the church (though in my opinion there has not really been much *doctrine* proclaimed in the last 150 of the church's 175 year history). but when discussing POLICY, are the church leaders infallible? i don't believe this includes local leaders, even while performing the labors over which they are assigned. im not sure if it even pertains to the general bishopric. but for the prophet and the church as a whole, is it possible that policy that has changed should have changed sooner, and that things that have remained the same (so far) need to be changed already?

just my thoughts. anyway, i really appreciate your blog, jeff. your patience and general consideration always impress me.

Anonymous said...

thanks daniel, i appreciate your response, and i agree, people should be wary of trusting that account. i certainly am. but if possible i would like to know more about it. too bad you weren't at that meeting.

what seems possible is that the two women who posted such responses took samuelson's words, which may have been "strong and decisive," and let themselves be overly offended because they are already having issues with gender roles in the chuch and are looking for opportunities to attack the GAs, however small they may actually be.

i must say the first lady seems sincere and worried, while the second woman seems more questions and instigating. then again, haha, what if the two women were the same person and he/she was just pretending this all happened to "save us" from the evil byu president and his empire, the church.

Anonymous said...

I, too, would not necessarily believe something posted anonymously (or even not anonymously), and I don't know anything about the individual involved to even have an opinion (which doesn't stop me from posting).

On the other hand, if we believe that anyone acting under priesthood authority — and that goes for everyone from the prophet down to the home teacher — is always acting out of inspiration, we're likely to become disappointed at best. There are reasons we have both Scripture and the Holy Spirit — and it's up to us to seek guidance from our Heavenly Father when someone with authority doesn't seem to be saying what is right. Yes, we have a church that is run by inspiration, but that doesn't mean we're supposed to be blind followers!

It's things like the alleged behavior (again, I don't know if it's true) that have turned off too many people to the church. In terms of how they affect the testimony of others, judgmentalism and hypocrisy are probably two of the greatest sins.

LisaB said...

Just have to second the "anti's actually help" idea. In my recent crisis of faith, the anti's I encountered online at first beguiled me. It bugged me that everyone with questions is assumed to have sinned in some way. Well duh, we ALL sin in some way. That doesn't negate their concerns. However, over time, a pattern of behavior began to emerge that made me more wary of those who criticize the church publicly. A couple instances were personal email interactions.

I've also seen ex mormons throw out some "quote" on a discussion, then remove it when asked to substantiate it or provide a source. But too late, of course. 'Cause by then hundred of people had read it.

A friend of mine had a similar experience on an anti site. Even as a former Mormon, her more moderate view of a situation discribed on an ex-mo discussion was removed. In fact, the whole entire original post was removed 'cause she was spot on.

I wasn't "gone" for long and never completely, but must say that these close encounters of the anti kind have had as much if not more to do with my returning to full activity in the church than some of the more positive experiences and rememberances that have also contributed to my return. "By their fruits..."

I wonder if this is the same way that Satan/ opposition are necessary and turned to good by God. We know to prize the good sometimes only after having experienced the bitter.

Bookslinger said...

Due to all the complexities of the scientific and historial arguments which are used to attack and defend Mormonism, I think only a minority of people on earth are in a position to study the matters and make reasonable conclusions on their own.

Very few of us are high level scientists and historians who know all the details of the evidences for and against the Latter-day Saints.

Very few people across the world have the access or the learning to comprehend all the issues at stake.

I am compelled to believe that God loves every one of his children equally. He loves the scientists and the scholars. He loves the people who have access to vast libraries of learning.

And he loves poor people as well as rich people, unlearned people as well as learned, the lowly and meek as well as the high and mighty.

How are the unlearned and the poor who are scattered across remote areas of the globe supposed to obtain access to all the information and learning to make their own conclusions in these matters?

Is the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to depend on people getting advanced scientific degrees and studying vast volumes of data and history?

If God wants the unlearned and poor to accept his Gospel, and his correct religion, not false religions, then how are those people to figure it all out?

Should the church with the best salesmen win? Should the church who sends out the most or the first missionaries win?

If God respects the unlearned and poor as much as the esteemed scientists and historians, what mechanism is there for the former to discern spiritual truth and embrace that which God wants them to have?

Personal revelation. Pure and simple.

Personal revelation is available to all, bond and free, young and old, learned and unlearned, rich and poor, men and women, the high and the low, the mighty and the weak.

Personal revelation is not based on income, IQ, social status, geography, lineage, or academic degrees.

Personal revelation is based on things attainable by literally everyone: personal righteousness, seeking for truth, reading or listening to scripture, prayer.

Personal revelation is the key to Truth (with a capital T) that is available to every human being.

That is how God gets his message across. That is how God is not a respecter of persons in regards to learning, IQ, income, geography, class, status, opportunities, etc. That is how God doesn't need the best salesmen or convincers.

That is the bedrock upon which Jesus told Peter that he would build his church. Matt 16:17-18.

17: And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (petros, small rock), and upon this rock (petra, bedrock) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The LDS are not the only church to point out the difference of petros and petra and that the latter bedrock refers to the revelation Peter received in the previous verse.

I encourage all seekers of truth to study as much as they are able, but that the finally arbiter of capital T Truth is God, and to seek Him above all else, and all necessary things will be revealed as fast as we are able to receive them.

Samuel said...

I am really a new member...well have been one for a couple of years anyway. I personally believe we need to defend our faith the best way we can. That to me means being informed. I talk to members all the time who have never heard about all the incredible evidences of the divine nature of the BoM, such as chiasmus, the location of Nehom, etc. It is remarkable how much information helps!!! -Sam

Bookslinger said...

Apologetic information, and all physical, archealogical, and historical information and evidence is good.

However, as Jeff often points out on his web site and on this blog: physical evidences are not intended to prove the Book of Mormon to be true, only to illustrate it's plausibility.

The only conversion that counts is a spiritual conversion, based on a testimony received by the power of the Holy Ghost. Physical evidence should not be the basis for someone's spiritual beliefs or religious committment. Nor should lack of physical evidence preclude a testimony.

In my opinion, apologetic information serves mainly to remove the obstacles, often placed by the naysayers, so that a spiritual testimony may be sought and obtained.

The naysayers look at certain physical evidence, or lack thereof, and say the church "can't be true." Apologists point out additional evidence, or reinterpret the other evidence, to show "yes it can be true, and if you'll pray about it, you can know."

Anonymous said...

If the BYU president is being accused of what is posted----it should be forwarded to the Church leadership ASAP. There should be an immediate investigation. Maybe it will be found that the woman is nuts. Or maybe it will be found that the BYU president needs Prozac.

Anonymous said...

Rather than discuss President Samuelson and speculate----

I wrote him a letter this evening containing the things said about him.

I hope he replies.

Anonymous said...
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myzjmrb said...

Just pathetically silly.

Mormanity said...
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Mormanity said...

I am not aware of any factual basis for the allegations that some have made about President Samuelson and don't think this is the place to discuss them. They are completely off topic.

Having often been on the receiving end of accusations, I know how easy it is for one's comments and actions made in good faith to be distorted into something that appears evil to others. Let's not rely on hearsay and speculation to impugn the character of leaders. If somebody made an insensitive remark to someone on the sensitive issue of diapers and babies, then I'm sorry, but even the finest humans have some rough edges in some areas.

why me said...

I am kind of new to the Mormon internet community. During the past several months I have read many posts and posted many comments. I have read the pro's and the con's when it comes to the churh. I have to admit when I first discovered all that was written about the church on the internet it came as a complete shock to me.

Although I am inactive, before my experiences on the internet, I never questioned the truth about the church, I just couldn't live it.

But reading all the negatives caused me to go into a 'semi-coma'. During my bouts of consciousness, I would feel like crap because of what I read or was reading. But after awhile I did gain my composure and began to reflect and criticaly think about what was being written on both sides of the wall. And it has not been easy.

Since I am inactive, I cannot say what I think about it all but I do believe that the church will need to have special classes to counter the anti's. I don't know how this can be done but it will need to be done so that members can get some support and rebutal to the arguments. Difficult to go it alone, I think.

For me the church rises and falls on the book of mormon. I have not yet seem proof that the anti's have proven their case against it. Much theory...much speculation but no 'conviction' in a 'court of law'.

I do not know if there will be any winners but I hope so. I am alittle tired of the ping pong game. My neck hurts from moving my head one way to the other.

I suppose that it all comes down to faith in the end.

I have not proof read this post. Forgive any mistakes or missed words...

Bookslinger said...

Why me: I hope you can find answers to your questions. But I also suspect that you haven't revealed all of your stance on the LDS church. I'm not accusing you of deception, but I think you've left out some relevant things.

You came along the same time that Cory got "caught", so that raises a red flag right there. You're asking similar things. Maybe you are sincere, or maybe you're doing a better acting job than Cory.

Yes, it does come down to faith and testimony. All religious leaders and movements have had lies told about them. The fact that Mormonism has been growing and spreading makes it a prime target for slander and attacks. If the church is true, OF COURSE there will be people set up to oppose it, and OF COURSE there will be those pointing out the failures of individual members and weaknesses in the church's response.

And whether true or not every organization has its flawed individuals, every organization has victims of those flawed individuals. And like everywhere, some victims will blame the organization instead of the perpetrators. And like everywhere, some victims won't find healing for their suffering because they try to change others instead of changing themselves.

Why would you believe the anti stuff on the internet any more than the pro stuff on the internet? Everyone, pro and anti, has the opportunity to twist things, take things out of context, lie, and withhold further clarifying information.

I started reading the anti stuff on the web when I came back to church too, but I found that _all_ accusations fall under one of these categories:

1) Twisted-truth, only partly true, or taken out of context.
2) completely false.
3) It's true, but it's a "good thing" not a "bad thing".
4) The accusation is true, but that was a failing (or false opinion, whatever) of a/an individual(s), not church policy.
5) The accusation is true, but further light and knowledge has been received to correct the situation and move forward.
6) The accusation is true, but the item in question is no longer promulgated, and not required for salvation.

I know a longtime faithful member of the church who was raped by a church member when she was young. She also had problems of getting people to believe her. But she knew the sin was on the head of the rapist. She knew that the people who wouldn't believe her were just ignorant and imperfect humans.

Go to the source! Go to church, go to the Gospel Essentials class, read the Book of Mormon, read Gospel Principles (free hard copy at church or read it online at www.lds.org).

why me said...

Thanks Indy for your comments. Of course you are right about what you said. And yes I am sincere in my posts. My posts represent my opinions and understandings and of couse I haven't told everything. But what I wrote is from the heart.

I am much more relaxed now then when I first read the anti stuff. I do attend alittle more of the meetings now. I have two active daughters and I am divorced.

Thanks for your post. No I am not that fellow Cory. I came a little too late to the blog to read his posts. Take care in Indiana...