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Need for Mormon Dissenters Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
October 5, 2021 9:31 pm

Need for Mormon Dissenters Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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October 5, 2021 9:31 pm

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

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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, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism.

Our thanks to Adams Road Band for that musical introduction. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. We're looking at an article that was published by a Mormon blogger by the name of Jana Rees. It was titled, Why We Need Mormon Dissenters. In this piece, and I might mention again that this came out in April of 2018, so if you're wondering why a Latter-day Saint is using the word Mormon to describe members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it's because, for one, this was written before that mandate came down, basically in August, and again in October of 2018 by the 17th President of the Church, Russell M. Nelson. But I might also add, though, I wouldn't be surprised if Jana Rees be in the dissenter that she is.

She'll probably continue to use that word depending on the context, because in this piece I think she is pointing to herself as being one of those few dissenters in the Mormon Church, and she even gives some examples of when she has done that in her past. But we're discussing the point that she makes about majority thinking, and how sometimes it's easy to join the majority simply because they are the majority. And the point I was trying to raise is, there's sometimes a very good reason why the majority thinks a certain way. Now certainly the majority can be wrong, but when she says in her piece, majority thinking, quote unquote, tends to be wrong because it didn't actually involve much thinking at all, we didn't have to think, and have is in italics. We just went along to get along as humans do. In the process we ignored any information that didn't support the majority view. And yes, that can happen.

Yes, that does happen. But I think this is a little bit simplistic, because many times there's a reason why the majority thinks the way it does. And I think the majority oftentimes thinks the way it does, because they do exactly what she says they should do later on in a couple of paragraphs away from this particular paragraph that I just read. She goes on to talk about this book, and this is where the title of her piece comes from. It was a book written by a Berkeley professor named Nemeth, I think is the way she pronounces her name. It's titled In Defense of Troublemakers, the Power of Dissent in Life and Business.

And here's what Janna Reese brings out. She says, dissenters, according to this author, Nemeth, says, help us to be better thinkers because they make us actually look at evidence more closely. We ask harder questions.

We're open to fresh strategies to solve problems. And I would agree with that statement at face value. If we are looking to the evidence in order to draw a conclusion, yes, then I think dissension is absolutely essential. My question is, though, is that what a lot of people really do? Because a lot of the dissension we have in our culture today, I don't see as being based on evidence.

It's based more on subjective feelings and what makes me feel good and what makes me feel good, you should just tolerate and put up with. And who cares what you think, even though the way the majority may think on this particular issue has been a big help to society for centuries. Now, all of a sudden, that's supposed to be turned on its head. And I think we need to be very careful about this. Now, I understand that Janna Reese is bringing this up in a Mormon context. And I would agree with her that there are a lot of things that Latter-day Saints tend to think only because that's what the Church tells them to think.

I agree that the evidence should guide them. But is that what we actually see within the context of Mormonism? Because as I brought out yesterday, evangelicals during the 19th century who were criticizing some of the things that Joseph Smith were bringing about, raised red flags to them who took the Bible seriously when it came to religious faith, something that Mormons themselves should take seriously given the fact that the Bible is a part of their standard works also. But yet, many Latter-day Saints reject that evidence that evangelicals have been trying to show members of the LDS Church that their worldview is inaccurate is ignored. I think another thing that we need to consider is that dissenters are not necessarily dissenting because they're hateful or because they want to ruin somebody's life.

And so, as I mentioned yesterday, what we're trying to do at MRM is we're trying to get out complete information. Wouldn't a person want to know if he or she were wrong about their presuppositions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? If they don't, we have nothing more to discuss. But if they're willing to entertain the possibility that they could be wrong, and I would hope that we as Christians would also entertain that possibility.

I think we ought to take a look at all worldviews, even the competing worldviews, and then ask which one is the best one as far as where the evidence goes. And we want to go in that direction, and so I think we need to understand, just because you're asking hard questions or because you disagree with somebody else doesn't mean that you hate them. Yeah, I think what Jana Rees brings out in her piece also, she talks about the fact that even within the Mormon Church, and we know this to be true, that criticizing some of the standards that have been a part of Mormon thought since its beginning is sometimes looked upon as being negative. And I understand what she's saying, because she says that in one of the paragraphs. She says, but in fact, the quote, do not criticize rule, tends instead to stop the conversation before it's even started, because fewer ideas are offered, and the ones that people voice are the same old, same old thing.

Yeah, there's a lot of truth to that. And people become intimidated, and they don't want to ask these questions because they don't want fingers being pointed at them by their peers. In the next paragraph, though, she goes on to quote this. She says, allowing debate and criticism led to significantly more, not fewer ideas, says the author.

And that's the author of the book, from which she gets the title of her piece, a book titled In Defense of Troublemakers, The Power of Dissent in Life and Business. So yes, debate and criticism does lead to significantly more and not fewer ideas. It gets people to think about certain things. But what needs to be kept first and foremost is, are we trying to find out what is actually true?

Not what necessarily makes us feel better. Truth claims need to be true. But many times truth claims, we find, are not necessarily true. And should those type of quote unquote truth claims be challenged?

I would say yes. The problem that we have in a fallen world is you have a lot of very sincere, very intelligent people on both sides of an issue, which sometimes makes it very difficult to draw a conclusion. You would hope that you could take all of the evidence, which is kind of hard because who really has time to examine all of the evidence that is out there?

None of us really are able to do that. But we do have certain people that we trust, and so we'll tend to lean towards them. And this happens on both sides of the fence here.

I admit that. There are certain scholars that I place much more emphasis in than, let's say, other scholars. I certainly don't have a lot of faith in Mormon scholars for some of the conclusions that they draw. But when she says at the end of the piece, so Mormons, bring on your dissenting voices. Let your divergent opinions be known in your church meetings, lessons, and potlucks. Politely, of course, we're still Mormons, she says. And I would say, you know, I'm not against that at all. But I would think that even as a Latter-day Saint, by the fact that you are a Latter-day Saint, have certain guidelines and parameters that you're supposed to stay within.

And it's when the individual goes outside of the boundaries of those parameters that I think those dissenting voices should be criticized. Because you're getting away from the foundational teachings of the LDS Church. And as I mentioned in another broadcast on this subject, a lot of the young Mormons that I'm hearing, who are wanting to break away from the social mold of their elderly leaders, are going off in a direction that I don't see even their own scripture supporting. I would say, wait a minute, the very fact that you're Mormon is supposed to be because you believe these foundational teachings that are taught in your standard works.

And now you're embracing a lifestyle or some kind of social issue that's going on and is quite popular now. But you're defending it without having any of the evidence. And in this case, I would say the evidence would be what does your scripture say?

You're ignoring all that. And so I would argue your dissenting voice in this area needs to be exposed as being in error if your foundation, your standard works, are supposed to be believed to be true. In the old days, there was no internet. And with no internet, there was not the ease of being able to find out the information to be able to hear what all the dissenters are saying.

Today, we have the internet. We have atheist dissenters of Mormonism. We have evangelical Christian dissenters of Mormonism. We have liberal Mormons who are dissenting as perhaps some of what Jana Rees is doing here. And so we need to understand for many Latter-day Saints in the old days, they could just be the ostrich putting their head in the sand. And it was not easy to leave Mormonism.

The culture that they lived in, the family structure, just be simpler not to change. But now with all this information, Latter-day Saints who are listening to us right now are going to have to make a decision. Is Mormonism true or is it not true? Don't get angry at the information that's being presented.

Refute it. Go and find out what is actually true, and then follow again where the truth is leading. I think overall in this article that she's written, I think we can agree with the general idea that yes, Mormons are going to need Mormon dissenters. If nothing else, if Mormonism is true, it should make you stronger in your faith.

You should not be scared to take a look outside the box. What we do as a ministry is really doing what Brigham Young said we should do. And it was Brigham Young who said that we should take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test. We've done that, we don't think it does stand the test, and because we have a genuine concern for the Mormon people, we are presenting those red flags that Janna Reese talks about regarding the cookbook, which started this whole article. But I want to make sure we make it clear that we have something to offer in return.

Whereas the atheists will have nothing, there still is a God, there still is authority in the Bible. It may not be the way that Mormonism has taught you, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you're thinking of leaving Mormonism, consider the truth claims of the Bible and what it has to say, and then make your determination based on what is true. As with most Christian organizations, Mormonism Research Ministry depends on the generous financial support of friends like you. If you like what we do and how we do it, would you consider helping MRM meet its financial obligations? Merely go to our website, At the right, you'll see a donate button. Click there and follow the instructions. MRM is a Christian nonprofit 501c3 organization, and your gifts are tax deductible. Not only that, they are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support of this ministry.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-13 17:37:55 / 2023-08-13 17:43:33 / 6

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