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

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Concerned Christians' New Rule for Mormons Only:
Links to JeffLindsay.com No Longer Allowed

In a crushing blow to the LDS cause and my ever-frail ego, ConcernedChristians.com has issued a new rule that only applies to LDS posters (and presumably to pro-LDS cronies and Mo' wannabes): links to JeffLindsay.com, FARMS, and FAIRLDS will no longer be allowed on their religious discussion boards about Mormons. And it's my own fault, darn it, for foolishly admitting that I have not been divinely authorized as an official spokesman for God and His Church. If only I had been a little less humble!

The rule has been posted in their Announcements section as "A New Rule for Mormons" and was also posted in a forum for discussing the inferiority of Mormonism.

Here is the declaration from one of their Mormon forums:
After discussion between the Discussion Board administrators, the following rule is now posted in the Announcements Forum:

Although Jeff Lindsay, FAIR and FARMS are considered reliable sources for LDS apologetics to many, most or all Mormons, they all have disclaimers that they don't have the proper authority to officially speak on behalf of the LDS church. Subsequently, they are merely giving their opinions.

On this, the Concerned Christians Discussion Board, we're only interested in discussing Mormonism based on what official LDS authorities (General Authorities), past or present, have had to say regarding LDS history, beliefs, doctrines, practices and the Four Standard Works. According to the Mormon religion, they are the only ones qualified to speak on such subjects.

Therefore, links to Jeff Lindsay, FAIR and FARMS or any other unofficial LDS sources, which don't have the proper authority to teach or clear up any misunderstandings on LDS history, beliefs, doctrines, practices and the Four Standard Works, are no longer acceptable.

Mormons tells us that if we want to know the truth about Mormonism, go to the source. Very well. The GA's are the source, not unofficial apologists giving their opinions.

Hopefully, this will help eliminate some confusion in future discussions.
Ah, now that's the spirit of enlightenment!

It's NOT that they are afraid of anything -- they just want to make sure that only "official" pro-Mormon information is used to defend the faith. It's all about intellectual integrity, you see. Authoritative and reliable anti-Mormon information presumably encompasses a much larger variety of sources (in fact, anything goes, as long as it advances the anti cause). My only beef is that they should also have specified that LDS defenders also may not rely on such non-canonized sources as the National Academy of Sciences, the Biblical Archaeology Society, the encyclopedia, the dictionary, CNN, the Journal of American History, or the American Journal of Human Genetics.

In fact, if LDS claims of divine origins are to be taken seriously, the honest seekers of truth at ConcernedChristians.com would be entirely justified in demanding that LDS defenders only provide tangible evidence delivered directly from God by the angel Moroni to the faithful administrators of that site, preferably accompanied with a dramatic miracle such as increasing ad revenues by 100,000% that week. Then, and probably only then, will they admit that there might be grounds to open their minds and their list of allowed reading materials regarding LDS claims.

Well, maybe it's too late, but if it would help my friends at ConcernedChristians.com, I was really just kidding when I said that my writings weren't guaranteed to be 100% infallible, authorized, and pure LDS doctrine. Now will you let people cite my writings? Please??

30 comments:

Mormanity said...

One more thing: I'm sure that our fearful foes recognize that General Authorities also have opinions - or do they seriously think we believe that all statements from all leaders are canonized doctrines? Given that General Authorities do have opinions, when we find writings from General Authorities that provide insightful analysis and evidence for the LDS position, I suspect that our Overly Concerned Christians will recognize that such writings are also just opinion, and will ban them as well. Look guys, stick with incontrovertible evidence delivered by Moroni - it's the only logical thing to do.

Brian Duffin said...

It's about time that our 'friends' at Concerned Christians recognized the authority of our 'General Authorities', right? :-)

A group so engrossed in hate for true doctrine and love of filthy lucre will soon surely balk at the quotations of anything but the Bible. Truth, for some, is an irritating prick against the soul.

Schuyler said...

I had never browsed the concernedchristians.com website, but I did find out where the form letter came from we have been receiving from members wanting their names removed from the records of the church.

What I found were many people who had mis-information about church doctrine condeming members for belief we don't even hold. It's too bad they don't focus on the doctrine of Christ summarized by the 4th article of faith.

Because the Lord has seen fit to reveal more doctrine to His saints, we are criticized by those who don't understand. All things are spiritual and must be discerned by the spirit. I think that's why Christ said: "Don't cast your pearls before swine."

What really irks me is these people believe the world was created out of nothing. I heard one state that the entire creation had to be 6-24 hour periods otherwire bee's wouldn't have been around to pollenate trees resulting in the death of all plant life. That's man's reasoning...Yet when revealed scripture teaches that we are literally sons and daughter of God and hence can become like him, they balk.

I'm sure they removed your links because they correctly summarized these kind of descrepancies and challenged their fallacious beliefs.

Schuyler

Anonymous said...

I can see why whese these anti-Mormons are "concerned" - but where do they get the "Christian" label? What cowards and hypocrites!

Ryan said...

"There are two reasons for everything: the reason that sounds good and the real reason." -- Me, AFAIK

Sounds good: Not officially authorized to speak for the Church/declare doctrine

Real reason: General authorities don't usually stoop to debunking run of the mill standard issue anti. Requiring a GA's voice in those matters neatly eliminates any meaningful response... perfect!

The last time there was anti material damaging enough to warrant a GA's involvement was James E. Talmage at the turn of the century. I really wish I remembered where I read this, but basically he was such a powerful and impeccable writer that he "permanently laid to rest" many of the prevailing accusations against the Church at that time.

Ryan said...

<rant>
Remind me again who authorizes anti-mormon writers as official spokespeople for "concerned Christians" everywhere? Or to declare Mormon doctrine? I'm amazed at some of the things people think I believe.
</rant>

Stephen said...

Bless your heart, to be excluded by name. ...

Todd said...

I smell a rat.

Essentially, they can now reference questionable quotes from Journal of Discourses, but not religion professors from BYU whose outlet is F.A.R.M.S. who are most capable of answering their questions (if it really is answers they are looking for) Hmmm.

Suggestion: the LDS church has an official organ of approval for texts. All church manuals, magazines, courses, etc. pass through this committee. It is, of course, correlation. This greatly enlarges the content that can be drawn on to provide insight to articles in church magazines and manuals.

This has opened up to LDS defenders the ability to call "foul" when they do otherwise that quote a "correlated" resource, and to insist that they include information found in correlated sources, because they are "official."

It does make the task of the defender a little harder, as we will have to make our information directly from correlated sources, but that rigor won't kill us.

Todd

Daniel Peterson said...

Par for the course, I'm afraid. What silliness.

Dave said...

My first reaction: Christian apologists can be such blockheads. They are finally starting to realize it (the last to know?), as evidenced by banning things like science and Mormon responses from their boards.

My second reaction: Well, they are basically a Christian missionary outreach outfit (non-profit but with a price on every piece of merchandise, interesting). LDS missionaries -- our outreach program to Christians (and everyone else) -- are themselves restricted to a very limited official reading list. Evangelism seems to require a fairly narrow range of thinking and reading.

Maybe they should rename their site "Closed-Minded Christians." Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I wouldn't waste my time on sites like this. This group and other anit-mormon groups seem fairly well convinced that they are the only ones that know the truth about God, Christ and the Gospel. Only the Spirit of God can change their hearts to recognize the truth of all things. I like to have open discussions on religion only if it doesn't lead into an all out arguement on who's right or wrong. Intelligent and respectful discussions will work only if both sides will learn from each other and accept each other's opinions on a subject. And we as Mormons have to be careful too and respect their beliefs. We should be great examples of Christ-like behavior even towards those who are against us.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what the previous Anonymous said. It's usually not worth the time or effort in dealing with people who aren't willing to listen and/or converse in a climate of mutual respect.

And when there is mutual respect, we can both learn. Many of my friends are evangelical Protestant (and not anti-Mormon), and they can teach us much about what it means to try to live the way that Christ lived, to study the Bible, and to listen to the Spirit.

And here's one positive thing about the new rule: At least they acknowledge we believe the Bible!

Anonymous said...

President Hinkley said to avoid conflict with these people...he said to avoid conflict period.

Bruce R. McConkie stated in his book, "Mormon Doctrine" that the Catholic Church was the whore of Babylon spoken of in the Book of Revelations.

The church made him retract this statement, instead clarifying that all churches that do not teach the doctrine of Christ are said whore.

Ergo, you are arguing using the Philosophies of Men on a Satanic website.

Gee. How helpful.

And yes, that was conflictive, but, fortunately the gospel tells us that we don't have to be perfect, merely strive for perfection.

The scriptures are clear...when the Second Coming comes, most Christians will be a minority and most of the population will no longer believe in Him. While there will be other churches, watch many (most) of them weaken or die in the face of the unmitigated (and boring) chaos that is to come. Then again....watch the same thing happen to our church too.

Gloriously fun isn't it?

Fortunately, the church is true, and listening the the Prophet will help....wasting time arguing with people that voted for...oh...wait....er....never mind. Sorry.

:)

Mormanity said...

Right - I agree it's often a waste of time to argue on such boards. I've never posted anything over there. But i do applaud those who strive to correct the mispresentations of others, seeking not to argue but to help those sseking for the truth to see past the smoke and recognize the light. That's consistent with D&C 123.

Walker said...

Fine by me.

Just hold them to it. I'd better not EVER see anything by C.S. Lewis (a mere storyteller!)



Billy Graham, Billy Graham. So he loves Christianity--he's just a fellow who some journalist thought would be a good anti-communist figure. What would he know about Christianity anyway?

Every Christian college is off-limits. What do professors know about the great "I Am" anyway?

Even Paul is an unfit spokesman according to their standards (all he's got for him is a self-proclaimed apostleship--his buddies didn't even see the same vision he did Acts 9:7)

I think you get my drift...I don't really feel this way, but if they want to play dirty...

annegb said...

I'm with Todd.

Walker said...

Annegb and Todd are dead on. Now they can take anything they want out of context. And now, no one can call them on it, since anyone who would dare must be an "apologist." McCarthyism here we come!

They've performing a power grab on the information of Mormonism. As though a historian were to say, "Don't read anyone's histories but my own, for I am the only one who could possibly interpret them."

Bad scholarship, bad religion.

zerw1n said...

Just yesterday my bishop, his executive secretary and I went to visit a member who, after his baptism last 2004 was never to be seen. Apparently he was bombarded by his "Christian-Born Again" famiy members by anti-mormon claims that are as old as the church itself. He said he wanted to meet with us because he had questions about masonry, the black curse, the bible, bom, archaelogical evidence, etc. mostly old news. It is truly difficult to discuss his "questions" when he already has a bias. We realized this during the discussion so we tactfully didn't elaborate on some issues anymore since he won't open his mind on our answers anyway. We're inclined not to go back and answer his "other questions" since we feel it would be a useless excercise. I guess those people at concerned christians have the same mindset.

Shadow Spawn said...

Take it as a compliment.

Your insights and "come-backs" must have really been bustn' their chops over there for them to take such a step.

To anyone not blinded by hate the move is pretty transparant.

Schuyler said...

Zerw1n makes a good point. I've seen new members bombards by relatives and friends with anti-mormon literature. It's like throwing a little lamb to the wolves. They don't stand a chance. Home and visiting teachers -- for that matter all ward members need to vigilant in helping new converts develop a stong and lasting testimony. It's too back these groups seek to destroy one's faith in Christ rather than build it.

Schuyler said...

One other thing. When I was a young missionary, we told a woman her experience with her pastor where she accepted Jesus as her Savior was not correct. She had real faith in Christ. Up to that point she had accepted gospel message. After that point she began to question everything and refused to listen to the Gospel message. This happened decades ago, but it still pains me that I might have caused someone to question or even lose their faith in Christ.

My daughter who recently took a world religion class asked if Mohammad could have received revelation from God? My answer was maybe some of it, but the the fullness.

It seems to be we should spend more time finding common tenents with all religions and build from there rather than trying to destroy someones existing faith.

Bookslinger said...

Schuyler,
I had many genuine religious experiences prior to investigating the LDS church. I've had to give up none of them. If I used to believe any religious falsehoods back then, they've just dissipated away, and I don't miss them.

I believe the Lord grants as much of his gospel to people as they are willing and able to accept.

There was a day 34 years ago when I was standing in a non-denominational church, and I "accepted Christ as my savior." And why not? He was my savior then and is now. That was the moment when I first came to believe in him as Son of God the Father, and savior, and that belief was later confirmed with a great outpouring of the Spirit.

Those experiences led me to the true church, and even more parts of the Gospel.

Do we, as Latter-day Saints, know "everything?" Of course not. Brigham Young, as prophet, said "We're only learning the ABC's of the Gospel." Joseph Smith said there is much to be learned after this life.

Pres Hinckley has said, probably quoting Brigham Young, "Bring all the truth you have with you, and we'll give you more."

Jeff said...

Jeff,

With all due respect to you and your efforts, I can completely understand why they would make such a rule. (Although, I myself think that sort of rule is in itself very flawed and unfair.) The problem with FAIRLDS, FARMS, and your own site is that they are Apologetic at such a simplistic level that they fail to critically analyze all the evidence.

They provide an answer here, or there, and there is much correct in what you say, but the problem is that all of these sources contradict each other and even themselves by their pride and often naive assumptions. I really don't mean to come down on you hard. You've helped me find answers in the past, but I must read everything you say with a few grains of salt because your agenda seems to be slanted so extremely that it sometimes brushes the truth of a matter under a rug in order to prove a point.

It is good, I admit, to always take everything with a grain of salt, and search elsewhere to find second and third witnesses before you believe what someone says, but for these sites, it is especially so, in my opinion. Not because you intentionally mislead, or necessarily say something erroneous, but because you do not give the big picture, and create misconceptions through a lack of thorough information. Even if you are very careful in how you do this, the end result, is that some less informed Mormon comes away after reading your response, and they use that to combat against a statement they hear, and in so doing, they end up telling a mistruth like: Joseph Smith wasn't a money digger. Or, Joseph Smith only attended three Masonic meetings, and they had very little influence on the Church. (Just as examples). Faithful Latter-day Saints should have no problem knowing the full evidence behind these serious statements. And, there is usually nothing wrong, unwholesome, or disturbing about such things, once they are investigated properly.

The Anti-Mormons give compelling evidence, and the Apologists often try to deny things, when in reality they do not have enough evidence to deny such things, but should instead keep both possibilities open and demonstrate how it could be a positive, and not a negative thing, if the evidence is indeed true. In an age with information so quickly at our fingertips, it is so easy for investigators to hop online and find out all sorts of things. By the way, I am a convert, and while I believe the "milk before meat" concept is important in many cases, (even if its against Jewish Kosher law), I think the Internet as a searchable media, is a place where people can beg specifically for the Meat, and if you don't ever give it to them, they will eventually starve.

The result? Many people (including a few personal friends of mine) fall away from the Church because they feel they have been deceived, or betrayed by other people. With a higher level of frank honesty and openness up front, would they have still fallen away? Perhaps. But, maybe they would have fallen away before being baptized, before receiving the Melchizedek priesthood, before being Endowed, and the condemnation and hardship they face would be far less. But, perhaps they would not have fallen away, because their young interests in the Gospel would have caused them to triumph over these problems by their own determination to understand and learn and pray.

So... Again, I see why this type of rule would be created by "Concerned Christians", and yes, you do bring it upon yourself.

~Jeff D., a "Mormon Gnostic"

Walker said...

Jeff D.,

I can agree with you on some points, but I disagree with others.

The result? Many people (including a few personal friends of mine) fall away from the Church because they feel they have been deceived, or betrayed by other people.

Absolutely. Hard to agree more. We must keep Benjamin Franklin's quip about Deism in mind though: THo a doctrine (or historical fact) be true, tis not useful. I just had an experience with this yesterday. It's quite easy to go overboard with the frankness approach, overboard to the extent that even stalwarts are thrown off-guard. While they probably won't leave the church over the matter, you end up misleading them by emphasizing a point that really is minor. Even historians can gossip historically speaking.

"The Anti-Mormons give compelling evidence, and the Apologists often try to deny things, when in reality they do not have enough evidence to deny such things"

I'm sorry to hear that you've read B-grade scholars. The good ones (meaning bonafide scholars with P.h.Ds in American history) are quite frank. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Ron Esplin, and most of all (in my opinion) Richard Bushman to name a few. ALl of these are believing people who accept believing history.

My total experience with these scholars (which has been more than a little--being a research assistant in the Mormon historical dep't at BYU) is that they don't pull punches. Without exception, I have always been able to find SOMEBODY who could address my concerns (which have long since become more obscure than the old Mormon chestnuts).

Just a point on your examples of Masonry and money-digging. It's not enough to simply point out both possibilities. We need to have a PERSPECTIVE, know what to make of money digging. Was it as big of a deal as we think? Willard Chase and Josiah Stowell were both Christians in good standing. Masonry is similar: thorough research ought to dispel anyone's concern about Masonry's real effect on Mormonism. Yes, Joseph was involved, he gave the Masonic distress cry, etc. The straightforward evidence, however, is that contemporary Mormons thought much less of the correlation than we do. George Q. Cannon said that Masonry as a thing right here or there. Joseph Fielding claimed that Joseph described Masonry as a "stepping stone." Also, History of the Church, which is relatively good, despite the editorial errors of first-person, notes that Joseph only received the more superficial York rite.

My question is: who WOULD the concerned Christians accept? Journal of Discourses? Who's going to be doing the research besides MOrmons? It's the nature of the animal and by banning these scholars, they are denying the nature of the debate. By outlawing FARMS, FAIR, and jefflindsay, they've all but eliminated the Mormon scholarly response.

Anonymous said...

I had an interesting experience the other day. A family came to my door saying they had were taking a religious "survey" when in reality they were proseltizing (sic) their particular faith. They weren't Jehovah's Witnesses, but I was unable to figure out (and they were a bit cagey when asked) what denomination of Christianity they represented.

Anyway, they had a little booklet which heavily quoted Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (wish I had some of his other quotes from that work handy when talking to them.) He said he would drop by some papers explaining what Mormons really believed. I had obviously been deluded you see. Turns out the evidence was from a book called Kingdom of the Cults. I discovered it was not exactly the most unbiased work I have ever seen. Hehe.

Seemed like the "evidence" was there and they didn't want to hear anything else. I expect that y'all are doing the same thing, and they would prefer to do battle against people who are, as a group, mostly deceased.

Frank said...

Walker said - "By outlawing FARMS, FAIR, and jefflindsay, they've all but eliminated the Mormon scholarly response."

- No. They've eliminated the cop out of "that's not doctrine" or "so and so doesn't speak for the church."

The squealing on this thread is the fear that, when left to only the words of the GAs or Prophets, things become much more difficult to defend. Without the spinners, the yarn becomes unraveled.

Walker said...

Frank wrote: "The squealing on this thread is the fear that, when left to only the words of the GAs or Prophets, things become much more difficult to defend. Without the spinners, the yarn becomes unraveled."

Who's spinning here anyway? You're right, though, when you say that the "that's not doctrine" rationale is generally weak sauce and ought to be used as a last resort. Its main problem is that is halts inquiry. There's little of the good old fashioned historical neo-Rankean research of finding out "the way it really happened."

In any case, if you find scholarly responses based on degrees from legit universities to be spin, I would assume that you have a superior knowledge of the given field. You've given no examples of this "spin" (which spin, from my extensive/critical reading of the sources) is sparse indeed. And the majority of the response does not rest on the rationale you've given. In fact, your rationale ("that's not doctrine") is the C-grade apologetics that some members engage in. With all due respect, you need to get caught up on your Mormon scholarship. In fact, 90% of the real apologetics rest on real language and historical skills.
I've had some quite obscure questions and difficult-to-answer questions myself. Considering that I work as a sort of Mormon historian myself, that's no small feat. Mormon scholarship is far better off than you portray it. I would simply suggest that you show us your academic credentials to question these scholars responses or tone down the rhetoric. Simply having a mind doesn't mean that it is qualified to comment on every topic under the sun.

Jeff said...

Walker,

You seem to be saying that academic credentials are somehow important in being able to properly "defend the faith" or answer questions, and that they somehow legitimize what is said or give it a higher authority. This seems ridiculously opposed to the whole idea of Joseph Smith's calling as a Prophet, and the old Temple notion of Satan employing trained preachers to do his work. In matters of discussing doctrine and defending the Church, everyone is on an equal playing field unless they are a General Authority or otherwise given a specific stewardship over us.

Walker said...

Not quite. (See D&C 93:53)

Let's face it: skills (the scriptures call them "gifts") are important to carrying out any work of the church. MANY things are important to carrying out the work. The scriptures say that to some people it is given to teach the word of wisdom, others, to believe on their words, and yet others have faith. Who am I to say that a knowledge of history/language is somehow less important in the Lord's eyes when Joseph Smith went to so much work to learn Hebrew and when the Lord himself commands that we do the same?

I'm not implying that FARMS has some kind of holy office. However, on the other hand, we should not assume that secular training disqualifies them from speaking on the matter--which is exactly what concerned christians have done.

Suddenly, scholars of Hebrew and Greek have become second-class citizens in the eyes of concernedchristians. I'm all for having the equal playing field, allowing everyone to utilize their particular contributions. Shutting out anyone's consecration is done only at our collective peril.

russ said...

"Frank said... Walker said - "By outlawing FARMS, FAIR, and jefflindsay, they've all but eliminated the Mormon scholarly response."

- No. They've eliminated the cop out of "that's not doctrine" or "so and so doesn't speak for the church."

The squealing on this thread is the fear that, when left to only the words of the GAs or Prophets, things become much more difficult to defend. Without the spinners, the yarn becomes unraveled."

You completely miss the point. Jeff Lindsay, Fair, Farms, and other LDS websites have not been asked by the LDS Church to officially represent the Church. These websites are authored and run by LDS members who put things up on their own time and do so voluntary without GA oversight or approval.

They do their best to make sure that post is consistent with the official doctrines of the Church but mistakes can occur and opinions expressed are theirs alone.

Should LDS say that websites like "Concerned Christians" officially represent the non-LDS Christian position? If so than than all we need to do is find mispresentations and outright lies they make and from them declare non-LDS Christianity false as a result.

I wonder if the "Concerned Christians" will start removing non-official LDS sources like the JOD? I doubt it.

The problem that I find with their policy is they want to completely eliminate any scholarly LDS response to any criticism they make. LDS GA are not going to respond to them nor should they. They have more important things to do than waste time with trivial websites that 99.999% of the public don't care about. Members like Jeff Lindsay give these websites more than enough to handle. Sure its good they want to use official LDS sources but its also easy to abuse official LDS sources by citing material that is either out of context, insert meanings into the quotes that where never intended, or card stack material that lead to their desired conclusion.

They can do whatever they want with their website but their policies probably will only lead to fewer LDS visiting it and mislead those people who are not LDS in believing a false version of the LDS faith. Which is fine with me. I believe in the version of Mormonism that the Mormons believe. Not weird versions that exist in the minds of non-LDS. If a man says that my wife is ugly and the woman he is referring to is not my wife, why should I be offended or care?