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Need for Mormon Dissenters Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
October 4, 2021 9:29 pm

Need for Mormon Dissenters Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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October 4, 2021 9:29 pm

A 2018 article written by Mormon blogger Jana Riess is the topic of discussion.


Answering Mormons Questions by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson deals with 36 commonly asked questions by your LDS friends and neighbors. It's a great resource for Christians who want to share their faith with friends and loved ones.

Be sure to pick up your copy today at your favorite Christian bookstore. In 2009, 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, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. It was titled, Why We Need Mormon Dissenters. And as I mentioned yesterday, this was a piece that was posted in April of 2018. And so if there's any Mormons out there wondering why she uses the word Mormon, this would be, of course, before Russell M. Nelson, the 17th president of the church, came out with this mandate that you are no longer supposed to describe members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Mormons. So don't falter on that.

That would be silly. As I mentioned yesterday, I think she's making a good point, but I think you run into the danger of hypocrisy on both sides of this issue. She starts off her piece by talking about how she bought a product called an Instant Pot. Now, my wife has one of those.

They're great products. But she said, along with this, she bought a cookbook to help her understand how to use it. And two of these cookbooks, she says, were terrific, and the third was, well, awful. And the reason why she bought this particular cookbook, she says, is because on Amazon, it had a thousand five-star reviews, and naturally, the reviews were very positive about this cookbook. And she says this statement, she says, I figured all those people couldn't possibly be wrong, right?

Right? She says, write twice, and then she says, wrong. And she mentions how in her haste to purchase the cookbook, amidst an overwhelming number of choices, she ignored some potential red flags.

And then she gives a couple of reasons for these red flags. The book was self-published, and the author had no prior experience writing cookbooks or particular expertise in, you know, she says, actually cooking. And I brought out the point yesterday that when I read that paragraph, the first thing I thought about was, what about the Book of Mormon?

It was self-published, and it was put together by an author who had no real prior experience in theology, except maybe a backwoods theology, a 19th century backwoods theology, which of course, in many areas can be very questionable. And yet many Mormons have just bought into what he says about his quote-unquote cookbook, aka the Book of Mormon. And when red flags were raised by Christians at the time this book comes forth, of course, a lot of Latter-day Saints ignored those red flags that were being voiced by Christian critics of the LDS faith, and are still being voiced today, even by us, you and me, Eric. We are still throwing out a lot of these red flags regarding the Book of Mormon, and Mormons, many of them don't seem to care. And she raises this whole issue of, well, the majority has to be right.

Well, think about it. She's trying to say that the majority could be wrong, and of course, many Mormons look at us being in the majority, let's say, when it comes to the evangelical view of the Christian faith, certainly we do outnumber the membership of the Mormon church, which is certainly large, but certainly is not comparable to how many claim to be evangelical Christians. The majority is not always wrong, though, and I think she's trying to bring out a point, and I understand her point, that the majority can be wrong, but in many cases, would you say the majority is always wrong?

And I don't think even Janna Reese would go that far, but let's take a case in point. The great majority of people would argue that the earth is round, but yet you have an ever-growing number of people who think the earth is flat. Now, would we take those flat earthers seriously? I personally don't, because I don't think their view answers a lot of questions about how our earth operates. But still, would we argue that, well, just because most people think the earth is round, that's got to be questioned?

No! And I would say the reason why it shouldn't be questioned is because there's evidence to support that position. There's evidence. The bottom line should be for all of us is, what is true? What is truth? And it goes back to that question that I've asked many Latter-day Saints over the years. Does it honor God to believe something that is false?

And I find in my experience that even most LDS people would say, no, it doesn't honor God to believe something that's false. So there's really the goalposts that we are shooting for. What is actually true?

What conforms with reality? Now, I mentioned the fact that there are many more evangelicals than there are Latter-day Saints. And you brought up, as we were discussing this show, what about Muslims? There's a lot of Muslims out there who think they're right, and they are an ever-growing number, but does that make Islam correct?

Would you say yes to that? No, absolutely not, and in fact, Jesus says in Matthew 7, verses 13-14, "'Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many, for the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.'" Bill, I think many people, including many people who call themselves Latter-day Saints, are affected by the culture we live in. And the way that this culture works is, I mean, what you believed 30 years ago, what you believe today, and what you believe 30 years from now might not be the same in your own lifetime just because of what people around you are saying. I think we have to be very careful that we don't allow what other people think, or what the majority of people think, to somehow make that into truth. Truth is very narrow, and Jesus said that there are going to be many people who are not going to be able to go to heaven because the road to destruction is wide. And I think the secular people out there, the media, everybody else will want you to believe a certain way, and they could very well be leading you in a wrong way. And so what is the basis for truth? Yesterday we said that the Christian holds to the Bible. We believe the Bible tells us the very clear foundational truths of how this world came to be, of how we can be saved from our sins today, and how we can go to heaven.

But a lot of people are going to disagree with us. They're free to disagree with us, but we have reasons for why we believe the way we do. And that same foundational truth claim really holds for the Mormons, as we mentioned, too. They have the standard works, and that's supposed to be the basics for their rule of faith. And of course, as I also mentioned, they also have modern-day Revelation, which certainly muddies the waters.

But here's the problem that I see. Janna Reese, in reading a lot of her pieces, I think she goes off into a direction, especially when it comes to some of the cultural, social norms that are being challenged in our society today. The same question for her is, I was raised for any young Mormon who is criticizing their church because they're holding on to these old-fashioned views, and they need to modernize. My question is, how are you getting this unless you are doing it by ignoring the foundational truths upon which your church was founded, which is the standard works? And I ask the same question of professing Christians who are wanting to go off in these directions, too. I don't find them using their own written scriptures to support their positions, unless they're taking some verses and ripping them from their pages, and taking them, of course, out of context.

I think Janna Reese is a bit guilty of that. I think a lot of young Mormons who are not agreeing with some of the things that their church has taught traditionally since the beginning, and again, these are in the social areas. Our culture is having a very strong pull, not only in the Mormon Church, but also, I would say, within the Evangelical Christian community as well. And I would challenge our own in the same way.

Is what you're saying defended by the scriptures that are the foundation of your faith? If you have to twist the scriptures in order to give it a reading that was not meant by the author, then you are just as guilty as the young Mormon who's wanting to get away from the social norms that their church has been putting upon them, and I would say that to Janna Reese as well. She talks about this book that was written by a Berkeley psychology professor. Now, when I saw Berkeley, immediately I thought, oh boy, that sounds like problems to begin with.

His name was Charlene Nemeth, I think is perhaps how this person pronounces their name. The book is titled In Defense of Troublemakers, the Power of Dissent in Life and Business, and of course, that's where Janna Reese gets the title of her piece, Mormon Dissenter. She gets it from this subtitle of this book. She mentions how quick we are to disbelieve or even attack dissenters who express a different point of view, and Reese says, I see this a lot at church to be candid. Okay, I can understand that, but should some beliefs of these dissenters, are the beliefs of some of these dissenters to be exempt from criticism, or in this case, aka attack? That's a good word to, you know, I think is included a little bit of hyperbole, because sometimes these views need to be critiqued.

And I don't see a problem with that, and I do see a problem if we are to invoke logical fallacies in order to go after some of these positions that we may not agree with. She says in the next paragraph, not that Mormons are unusual in this way, people aren't generally very open to changing our beliefs and will go out of our way to only expose ourselves to perspectives that confirm those beliefs. I would agree with her on that statement, and I think that does happen in both of our traditions, whether it be the Mormon tradition or the Evangelical tradition, yes, you can find that happening. And she adds on to what you just read, this parenthetical statement, this is what Mormons would call seeking out only faith-promoting materials. Now, it's interesting because what we do here is considered to be a negative by many Latter-day Saints, and when I go out to a temple open house and I try to hand out newspapers or talk to people about Mormonism as people come for the only time many of them will ever get to visit a temple when they have this open house, a two-, three-, or four-week invitation to the public to be able to come and see the inside of the building before they close it for only those who have temple recommends, and I've been to over 20 of these, oftentimes the Latter-day Saint authorities will call the police on us and will try to harass us and try to not allow us to be where we can be on public property. In fact, we'll sometimes even have well-meaning Mormons who come up and want to shake our hands and thank us for being there. That, well, I'm so glad that you're here, as if somehow allowing us to be on public property is going to make Mormonism more or less true.

I mean, what we're trying to do is do what Janna Reese is saying here. We might be outsiders, but we're dissenting on what Mormonism is all about as far as its truthfulness and its truth claims, we disagree with them, and so we would agree with her in the sense that we ought to listen to all sides and make the best idea win. That's what I understand when she says that many Mormons would call seeking out only faith-promoting materials. I think it's important for Mormons to consider these other sources, including what we do here at MRM. She has a lot of other good things to say in here that I think are worthy of discussion, so what I'd like to do is to continue this conversation looking at Janna Reese's article titled, Why We Need Mormon Dissenters, that was posted in April of 2018. I think there are some things that can kind of go both ways in this, and she tends to be very critical of majority thinking, and that's how we're going to continue our show tomorrow, looking at that particular paragraph. But at the same time, let me leave you with that.

Sometimes there's a reason why the majority thinks a certain way, and that can't be ignored just because we want to have a different point of view. 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 02:05:26 / 2023-08-14 02:11:11 / 6

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