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

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Minuscule Mormonism: Satan's Most Dangerous Tool?

Recently I was in the office of a local minister, a very sharp and interesting man with many accomplishments in his ministry. I was there to participate in a low-key discussion with him and some of the very good people in his congregation. He wasn't shy about sharing his opinion that one of Satan's most dangerous tool in this crazy world happens to be Mormonism. In fact, it might be Satan's most dangerous deception of all. Not atheism, not totalitarian governments that shut down Christianity, not lust, greed, pornography, or any of the much bigger religions who teach dangerous doctrines he disagrees with, but minuscule Mormonism. While this was certainly a great ice-breaker to get our conversation going, it left me really puzzled. How can a religion that teaches people to believe in Jesus Christ and seek to follow Him be the most dangerous deception on the planet, as he also put it?

I understood where he was coming from a little better shortly after he allowed me to read a few verses from the Bible to respond to one of the many charges that had been made about our faith and our alleged non-Christian status. I explained that I wasn't reading these to disprove his faith or to convert others to ours, but to show two of his followers, sincerely worried about the souls of their Latter-day Saint parents, that it's possible for a person to believe some of the allegedly non-Christian doctrines of the Mormons while sincerely accepting the teachings of the Bible. He had just railed against our belief in the premortal existence and the idea that we are spirit children of God with divine heritage, and had said that the Bible does not teach that we are offspring of God--he had used that word, offspring. In explaining how a Latter-day Saint could believe such things, while sincerely accepting the Bible and the Jesus of the Bible, I read from Romans 8:14-18,38-39 which speaks of us being children of God and if children, then heirs, even "joint-heirs with Christ" with "glory which shall be revealed in us." I then read Heb. 12:9,10 which teaches that God is the Father of our spirits. Then when I was able to read more, I added Acts 17:28,29, which emphasizes that we are "his offspring" . . . "the offspring of God." If I were trying to be nasty, I would have reminded people that he had just denied that we are the offspring of God, but I was trying my best to be tactful, and only wanted to score the point that it's possible to accept such a doctrine while also sincerely accepting the Bible, recognizing of course that there are various possibilities for how one interprets any verse, as I explained. One can say our doctrine there is too literal, but to say that it is part of what makes us non-Christian seems like a stretch.

Well, I thought I had laid out a brief but potentially reasonable and biblical case for mortals being actual children of God, the Father of our spirits, in Whose image we are created and Whose offspring we are, etc. His response, though, was to explain that my few minutes of teaching helped confirm his point of just how dangerous the deception of Mormonism was, for Mormonism had been so deceptively crafted that many parts of it could sound and look biblical--all part of a clever, Satanic scheme to lure people away from the truth.

As for Mormonism being Satan's most clever deception, I can think of a few fine points the Master Marketer overlooked. For starters, it seems like Satan would have been a little smarter to leave out the stuff that even we Mormons really struggle with.

Well, less than 1% of the earth's population with a tiny little rag-tag team of 19-year-old kids sharing Books of Mormon and telling people to quit smoking, start reading scriptures, pray with their families, live better lives, and turn to Jesus--and we're the most dangerous deception on the planet, Satan's most deadly tool. Take that, Hollywood!

28 comments:

Michemily said...

I just think that's weird that they thought the simple reading of scriptures straight from the Bible was manipulative. It just goes to show that even the easiest words of God need the Spirit with them. And the fear that the minister's followers had for their parents because they believe they are offspring of God seems so silly. If my parents believed that they should smoke marijuana, beat people, and commit suicide to reach complete nirvana, I might be concerned. But offspring of God? To me, it's a beautiful bit of doctrine shared with many other Christian sects.

Anyway, you did what you could. I hope they will at least be able to look back and say, "Well, that guy didn't seem too crazy . . ."

Jeff Lindsay: said...

It isn't any one doctrine, but the fear that Mormons really are a Satanic cult that leads good people to worry about us when they've been given loads of anti-Mormon arguments. I'm glad they care, though I think the cause of the concern is misplaced.

The whole God Makers thing, for example, is designed to prey upon emotions and make people very afraid about who we are. The minister thinks the God Makers is an accurate, fair, and godly work. He's way off on that--it's a vicious, deceptive, and manipulative work.

John Jackson said...

It is appropriate that Christ's church faces the same accusation He Himself faced. They said He was of Beezlebub. By the prince of devils did He cast out devils. He responded that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand, and called them to consider whether Satan would cast out Satan.
Likewise, we can ask if the teachings of this church bring us to Christ, or take us from Him. Do they invite living a Christlike life? Do they cast out Satan, when we live these teachings? I say they do. And, more than that, I find this one of the few churches on the face of the earth that does not say simply placing an allegiance to Christ on our lips, alone, is enough. This church does not say lie a little, take advantage of thy neighbor, and, in the end, God will beat you with a few stripes, but you will be saved. It is ironic, then, that of all the churches on earth, one that teaches the keeping of His commandments more than most -- and therefore trully bringing people to Christ -- it is ironic that this church should be accused of being of Satan.

John J. said...

. . . just as it was ironic that Christ was accused of being of Satan.

davidsonlaw said...

Perhaps this is a little off point, but I found it odd that he chose to broach the subject with a guest in his office like that. I suspect that were the tables reversed, and he were sitting in your home, you wouldn't have started the conversation with a condemnation of his personal (professional?) beliefs.

Dan Olsen said...

And we're called intolerant... :-)

openminded said...

How many centuries has it been now?

And Christians don't realize how different the bible is to everyone.

"The spirit" isn't going to create any consensus on the matter, either. It's a shame it's given that much credibility when even in Mormonism, vastly different conclusions come through the Spirit (i.e., splinter sects like the FLDS).

To make things better, some respond with "they are
receiving a false spirit," even though the other side is saying the exact same thing and with just as much credibility.

K. Ray Johnson said...

Such hostile encounters are usually disingenuous. As Joseph Smith related,

"And if they supposed me to be deluded [they ought] to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me"

Creek said...

Well said, John Jackson.

Many years ago, I confessed with my mouth that I was a sinner and I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I felt very warm and fuzzy. How awesome to be saved and avoid eternal damnation by saying a few sentences.

Now I believe there is MUCH more to being a Christian. I don't buy into sola scriptura or sola fide. Unfortunatey, my friends who are still Evangelicals think I'm in a cult (Catholic...the same folks who put the Bible together). They really thought I was nuts for moving to Utah. They said those darn Mormon missionaries will knock on my door every day (nevermind that the Bible says something about reaping the harvest).

The fear of Mormons is based on arrogance and ignorance. Two traits that Christ would frown upon.

Bob Blaylock said...

«His response, though, was to explain that my few minutes of teaching helped confirm his point of just how dangerous the deception of Mormonism was, for Mormonism had been so deceptively crafted that many parts of it could sound and look biblical--all part of a clever, Satanic scheme to lure people away from the truth.»

  This is a very odd argument, indeed.  You quoted passages from the Bible which rather explicitly support beliefs which are held by Mormons, but which are not held by the gentleman with whom you were having this discussion.  If these beliefs are lies from Satan, then one can only conclude that the Bible itself contains Satanic lies.

Bookslinger said...

Davidsonlaw: You have to read the previous blog entry to get the bigger picture.

From the other entry, I surmise that Jeff knew up front he was invited to give the Mormon point-of-view to the two concerned parishoners, even if Jeff wasn't specifically told up front it was going to be a Mormon-bashing session.

Jeff's pretty level-headed and quick-on-his feet, so I doubt he took much offense. With his experience being a bishop, I'm sure he's also pretty good at diplomacy.

I've been told that some people would like to see me as a bishop's counselor. (I could never be a bishop.) Even then, as a counselor, I'd have to learn how to hold my tongue instead of telling people what I really thought of them.

Shawnie said...

This is a great account of how anti-Mormonism works. It isn't about truth. It's about enmity and sustaining enmity. It comes from a competitive agenda against the fastest growing religion in America. This minister wasn't interested in truth, or making liaisons, he was interested in casting a taboo so strong that his young parishioners would never consider opening their minds to what Mormonism really is.

Anonymous said...

It's all about fear - that's the essence of real anti-Mormonism. People can disagree with logic and love and not really be "anti-Mormon." The anti mentality is more like a mental illness. More like politics than reason.

openminded said...

Actually, fear is a big factor in many forms of persuasion resistance.

In studies done by social psychologists on inoculation, a method of conferring resistance by giving a person a weakened argument and the time to refute it in order to resist stronger opposing arguments, threat level has been consistently and positively correlated to resistance.

In other words, the more threatening an argument is (whether the argument counters their belief, etc), the more resistant people are to it.

This is highly proven through research (spent hours researching it myself for my college class research paper).

For this pastor, he may invoke fear (and therefore, threat) by showing how Mormons will go to Hell for their beliefs. If the people he inoculates accepts his message (whether as logical or emotionally sound, though logic is more effective), then they will resist persuasion to, say, accept Mormonism as true (or Christian, or able to save, etc.)

Likewise, it threatens Mormons to hear that everything they believed in and everything they've been involved in is a lie. And so they are very likely to resist even highly logical attacks to their beliefs.

Same with Muslims, Jews, atheists, etc.

Persuasion, as I loathed to find out, is highly, inescapably political. Logic isn't even half the story, though cognitive dissonance is an effective persuasion strategy.

Chris said...

@Jeff: I never read The Godmakers (and don't ever plan to), but on my mission I read The Truth About The Godmakers and loved it. It quotes from the first book then demonstrates why the passage is wrong, taken out of context or misleading. I don't think your friend from this entry would read it, but it really explains why The Godmakers is a load of hogwash.

It's almost impossible to teach these types of people about the truth about the Church, because they come into the meeting with an agenda to show how you're wrong, brainwashed, etc. I think you did your best to stay non-combative, and that's probably the best that could be done.

Weston Krogstadt said...

This minister's thinking is actually very common. You would think after the September 11th attacks, and all the craziness being inflicted on the western world by Islam, that rational people would chose Islam as Satan's most dangerous tool (if one was to pick a specific religion rather than an act, like pornography)?

I'm still surprised by how many people still claim Jews are evil and satanic. Old habits die hard I guess.

Mateo said...

While there are certainly a lot of false accusations that are slung at the church by those that don't understand it, this is not something that is only the LDS church deals with.

The LDS church gets attacked by mainstream Christianity because it isn't mainstream christian. It's a rather different creature in a lot of ways. Religion (whether it's intended to have this effect or not) gives people a lot of ammunition for strengthening their "us vs them" mentality. It shouldn't be much of a surprise that other religions will look at mormonism this way.

To be fair, most LDS members have some rather similar outlooks of other religions. I don't know how many times I heard people bag on catholicism in Zone meetings and District meetings or even during stake conferences on my mission. Also if I remember right the book, "Mormon Doctrine" insinuated rather heavily (in it's first edition) that the catholic church was the great and abominable whore of the earth that the scriptures refer to at times.

Basically what I'm saying is that people persecute the church because they don't understand it. This isn't a "satan is hardening the hearts of people against god's message" sort of thing, by that logic one could say that Islam is god's chosen religion because look at how much people in the US bag on it!

Rich said...

Mateo,
I was with you until your last thought. It is a tool of Satan, it's called contention. Anytime he can "stir up the hearts of men" to contend one with another, he is certainly winning a battle.

openminded said...

Rich,
Seems like the devil got a hold of God pretty well in the OT, then.

Jesus too, when he was overturning all those tables.

Of course, this is given that there is contention, which is evidenced because it was either explicitly stated or implied in those situations.

Tool of the devil? Or a tool that can be used for good or for bad?

Papa D said...

Fwiw, there's a big difference between "contention" (which implies actual combat), contentiousness (a spirit of contention) and verbal disagreement. I think the idea in, "Contention is of the devil" speaks more to contentiousness and active, combatitive contention than it does to verbal disagreement - which is unavoidable and actually necessary, imo. After all, "There MUST needs be opposition in ALL things" - and that opposition must be expressed to be true opposition.

We all understand that disagreements are not bad, in and of themselves - and neither is expressing them. I hope we can differentiate between disagreeing and being disagreeable - which, I think, is the heart of contentiousness.

Anonymous said...

Shawnie, Can you please show where you get this:
"It comes from a competitive agenda against the fastest growing religion in America. "

I have not heard that we are the fasting growing religion in America. In fact, I have heard we are not.

Mateo said...

@ rich,
You're welcome to that interpretation of contention. I don't see how it's a thing of Satan though. take this for example (kind of a weird story but cool) http://i.imgur.com/f8LxV.jpg There is contention from the point of view of the fish, but not so much for the human viewing thing thing. Contention is just a product of different ideas being placed in proximity. It seems silly to say that the "devil" causes it.

When you have mormonism and Catholicism next to one another they inherently clash. They'll always have "contention" until either they ignore any differences or one or both of them change their viewpoints. They can't both be correct and viable explanations.

While it's possible that satan is trying hard to keep people away from the LDS church it's also equally possible (based on how much persecution a church receives) that he's fighting even harder to keep people from praising Allah, here in the US.

Mateo said...

http://i.imgur.com/f8LxV.jpg
Sorry. I'm a noob with HTML.

Mateo said...

Trying one more time. :P

here!

Anonymous said...

some of the comments were interesting, though I don't agree that Islam is inflicting anything crazy on the "West"--
Mateo, your last paragraph of your last long post is brilliant--

I am LDS, and I stopped worrying about anti-Mormon stuff years ago, but I've had these same sorts of conversations with ministers; we had a Baptist minister in our home (feeding him dinner with his family) who lambasted us thoroughly over the meal--

LOL!

But, actually, ministers like this do frighten me.

However, I thought the original post was that the greatest threat to the world was "MINISCULE" Mormonism, which I thought was a new way of labelling . . . unprofound or unenlightened Mormonism--

Mormons who just 'get by'; Mormons who are just in it for the social and cultural . . . Mormons who don't study the Book of Mormon intently; Mormons who think that chosen means 'better than'--

that is what I thought Mormanity meant, and so I was surprised; I do believe that possibly . . .

Mormonism poorly lived might be one of the greatest threats to the world--

borderline Mormons, Mormons who worry more about getting into BYU and getting a good job than they do about establishing the Kingdom of God--

and then I saw that I had missed the point--

MarkS said...

The minister riding both sides of the Biblical argument reminds me of a Muslim we were teaching. He told us that Christ was a perfect man, a prophet, but not the son of God, and it said so right in our Bible! When I responded that the Bible didn't say that, he replied "See, this is evidence how corrupted your Bible has become."

MarkS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mateo said...

@ mark

"The minister riding both sides of the Biblical argument reminds me of a Muslim we were teaching. He told us that Christ was a perfect man, a prophet, but not the son of God, and it said so right in our Bible! When I responded that the Bible didn't say that, he replied "See, this is evidence how corrupted your Bible has become.""

Was he referring to the New testament? I'd imagine he was talking about the old testament, but perhaps I'm incorrect. LDS members make these same sorts of generalized mistakes. If you were to base the church's stance off of what a random member thinks you would have all sorts of ideas that don't at all agree with what the church leadership teaches.