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Need for Mormon Dissenters Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
October 3, 2021 9:26 pm

Need for Mormon Dissenters Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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October 3, 2021 9:26 pm

A 2018 article written by Mormon blogger Jana Riess is the discussion topic for 3 days.


Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect.

And now, we hope you enjoy this repeat broadcast. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry.

With me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. I'm looking at an article that came out on April 25, 2018. It's not a new article, but there's some things that are in this piece that I think are worthy of discussion. It was written by Jana Rees, and if you've listened to this show for any amount of time, you know that we have in the past talked about some of the things that Jana Rees has written. This one happens to be titled, Why We Need Mormon Dissenters.

She raises some issues that I think are quite valid, and I think very truthful. But I'm going to say at the onset, Eric, that when you start getting into this area, there is definitely hypocrisy on every side, and I think we have to admit that. Starting off in discussing this piece, I think we have to ask ourselves, where do we get what we believe? Why do we believe it?

We would call this epistemology. Christians have historically gone to the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, as our standard rule of faith. The Mormon Church has something very similar.

They have the standard works. But we also know that in Mormonism, it goes beyond that, because not only are the four standard works—the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price—the written authority for members in the LDS Church, they also have Latter-day Revelation. I think this is what makes this whole issue much more stickier for a member of the LDS Church. And this is where I find some problems in some of the things that she's saying, although I have to say I do agree with a lot of what she is trying to get across in here. And what she's basically asking is for more members of the LDS Church to start raising their hands in the fashion of a Captain Kirk wondering why God needs a starship, okay? I think that's a great question.

If he's really God, why would he need something like that? And it's that asking questions that she recognizes can get you in trouble if you're a member of the LDS Church. As Christian believers you mentioned the Scripture, which again is the Old and New Testaments, and that is what we believe that Christians should use to be able to have the foundation for whatever it is that they're believing, whatever they're proposing. In Mormonism, as you mentioned as well, the Mormons do have the standard works as well as the teachings of their leaders, but how many Latter-day Saints when we're out talking on the street actually know their Scriptures that well? How many of them really base their belief system on the actual Scriptures and are not just going with what they've been taught since primary on, and I'm not saying that they don't read their Scriptures, they certainly do, they read the Book of Mormon regularly, but when it comes to dialoguing on these issues, rarely do we find Latter-day Saints who can support themselves using their own Scriptures. In fact, some Mormons just want to throw their hands up in the air and say, well, I'm not a Scriptorian, as a way to try to get out of it, because they're saying, well I don't know the Scriptures that well, you seem to know the Bible pretty well, I'm just not going to debate with you because I don't know what it is exactly I can use to support what I'm telling you is true. What's interesting is the title of her piece is Why We Need Mormon Dissenters, and I want to bring out the fact, as I said earlier, this was written in April of 2018, so this was before 17th President Russell M. Nelson's mandate that you should no longer use the word Mormon, and as we have in the past given credit to Janarese, she is one of the dissenting voices that questioned that directive, and basically said in another piece that she wrote that what Russell M. Nelson did by coming out with this new directive is she basically rebuked past Mormon leaders who use those now forbidden words like Mormon, Mormonism, and LDS, even when describing the Church or describing members as individuals or collectively, she recognized that. Are many people listening to her?

I would probably say they're not. I would say probably most of the faithful, quote unquote, are going to do exactly what Russell M. Nelson says, which of course causes us a lot of problems because it shows that this man really has too much power that he can all of a sudden change the direction of the Church and completely ignore all the times that past leaders were using those words without any consequence or rebuke whatsoever. All of a sudden now, because Russell M. Nelson doesn't like it, that changes everything?

See, for us as outsiders, folks, we find this troubling. They don't even have history as a precedent for them. Russell M. Nelson just throws history out the window. And I do give credit to Janarese for raising that issue in a piece that she wrote, but let's look at what she says in this piece.

This is called, Why We Need Mormon Dissenters, and remember again, she wrote this before Russell M. Nelson said you should not use the word Mormon to describe members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She begins her piece, A few months ago, I bought an Instant Pot, which yes, has revolutionized my life, and three new cookbooks to help me understand how to use it. Two of those cookbooks were terrific, and the third was, well, awful.

That cookbook was full of errors, had few helpful instructions, and no illustrations, and was organized in an incomprehensible way. So why did I buy it? Because it had more than a thousand five-star reviews on Amazon. I figured all those people couldn't possibly be wrong, right? Right?

Wrong. In my haste to purchase a cookbook amidst an overwhelming number of choices, I ignored some potential red flags, like that the book was self-published, and the author had no prior experience writing cookbooks or particular expertise in, you know, actually cooking. I just went with the crowd of five-star reviewers, some of whom I am convinced must have been paid. Well, let's discuss this, because as reading this portion at the beginning of her piece, I was struck with a memory that I had. It was during the Mormon Miracle Pageant. I can't recall what year specifically it was, I probably have it written down somewhere, but I remember talking with an LDS woman on the streets, and she kind of waved her arms to all the people that were there at the time. And this was before the pageant started, naturally, and a lot of the people hadn't even gotten there yet.

But there were still quite a few, you know, maybe a thousand or so people were probably already there. And I remember her saying to me, could all these people be wrong? And I looked at her, and I'm thinking, like, you've got to be kidding me, right?

But she was serious. Could all these people be wrong? Of course, my answer was, well, yes, of course they could be wrong. And I think they are wrong.

But she was doing exactly what I think Jana Rees is criticizing here. And I can understand that, because just because you have a majority of people, and in this case write a positive review about a product, doesn't necessarily mean that their perception is correct, although they would argue that the reason why they're giving it a good review is because they have had a good experience with this individual product. But going on to the last portion of what you read there, when she says, in my haste to purchase a cookbook amidst an overwhelming number of choices, I ignored some potential red flags, like that the book was self-published, and the author had no prior experience writing cookbooks or particular expertise in, you know, actually cooking.

Now when I read that, what do you think came to my mind? The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon was self-published, and it was self-published by an author who really has no prior experience on theology, he has no formal education, he has no real in-depth knowledge of hermeneutics, or anything like that that you would think would be necessary in order to properly understand what a text may be saying, so he has no particular expertise in, you know, theology, and so he self-publishes a book, and look at how many people join him in his conclusion, at least what he's telling them, that this is a translation of ancient scripture. Now I would think flags would go up on that piece of information alone, but obviously Jana Rees doesn't agree with me on that, because I assume, her being a faithful Mormon, that she probably does believe that the Book of Mormon is an ancient word translated into English from the Reformed Egyptian, even though there's no evidence to really support that premise. That's an interesting point that you're making, and when she says, in my haste to purchase a cookbook, amidst an overwhelming number of choices, I ignored some potential red flags, and then came up with the illustrations that you just talked about, and how many people have not taken a look, a very detailed look, at the problems of Mormonism, they accept it because they grew up in the church, or because all their friends are LDS, or whatever the reasons are, how many ignore potential red flags? Well wouldn't you say that the 19th century Christians, living at the time of Joseph Smith, when he brings forth the Book of Mormon in 1830, saw these red flags, and saw what Joseph Smith was teaching, and you have to understand, folks, there were critics of Joseph Smith's new work early on, even though the Book of Mormon, in my opinion, and in the opinion of even many Mormon scholars, certainly sounded more like it contained the views of the Protestants of the day, rather than modern Mormons in the 21st century, because a lot of the really strange teachings of Mormonism, they don't start coming about until later on. Usually, some people would say, probably beginning with 1835, up until the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, that's when we see a lot of really strange doctrines coming forth from Joseph Smith, and then it carries on after Brigham Young takes over, after the death of Joseph Smith. Brigham Young goes really off the theological rails, and red flags were popping up all over the place among the majority of professing Christians in 19th century America. And yet they, in my opinion, were probably very correct in their criticisms of what Mormons were being led to believe. Now, does Janna Reese want to take our concerns seriously, or is she doing, and this is where I think the hypocrisy goes on both sides, or is she much rather wanting to be a Mormon and ignore a lot of the concerns that Christians have been raising since the Mormon Church was founded in 1830? I don't care if a book has a thousand five-star reviews, as she mentioned.

She went ahead and bought it, but we don't know where those five-star reviews are coming from, if what it has inside is just junk and it's not a good book, then it ought to be rejected. We have a good friend of ours who has now passed away, Peter Barnes, who used to use this phrase on a regular basis, so I memorized it. Air will always run from truth, but truth will never run from air. If there are a number of dissenters to a certain way of thinking, a spiritual way of thinking, as Mormonism is, then maybe what we're saying here on this show and what our website is all about ought to be taken seriously, and if what we're saying is wrong, then it needs to be shown to be wrong rather than just not listening to it at all. But how many Latter-day Saints have I talked to who won't even consider the evidence because they don't want to possibly lose their faith? If their faith is in air, wouldn't they want to know what we have to present?

And I think that's the issue. We're basically asking the question, which is the same question that Pilate asked. What is truth?

Isn't that what we should be shooting for? How do we arrive at a truthful conclusion? And this, I think, in a fallen world can sometimes be very difficult. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-14 13:51:26 / 2023-08-14 13:57:01 / 6

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