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Blame the Victim Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
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October 6, 2021 9:32 pm

Blame the Victim Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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October 6, 2021 9:32 pm

Jana Riess makes a call for more Mormon dissenters in January 2019–Eric and Bill discuss this article.

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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, 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. There was an article on the website. It was written by Jana Rees, the same Jana Rees that has in the past called for more Mormon dissenters. And I would say in this piece that she wrote on January 15, 2019, she is certainly fulfilling that calling, at least in her own personal life. I wonder, Eric, how much criticism Jana Rees is going to be allowed to give regarding how the leadership is handling the Church nowadays before she becomes a victim herself and finds herself perhaps being disciplined for some of the things that she's raising. Because this article that we're going to go through today titled How Mormons Handle Doubt Blame the Victim certainly is not a very flattering critique of a devotional that was given at BYU Hawaii on January 13, 2019. So she writes this just two days after this devotional was given. We want to go through this because you and I have listened to the devotional that she is talking about. So we have listened to this talk where she opens up by saying in this piece, this week Elder Dale G. Renlund and his wife led a devotional for young adults at BYU Hawaii, that would be Brigham Young University Hawaii, a university of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The topic was doubt, which is an important and timely issue in Mormonism.

And it is. It's a very important issue in Mormonism because we are not only hearing this among many members of the Church ourselves, but we are also hearing more and more talks about this subject, which tells us that this is something that the Church leadership feels needs to be addressed. How they address it is what Jana Rees finds problematic, and she thinks this talk that was given by Mr. and Mrs. Renlund certainly is indicative of perhaps what Jana Rees sees as a complete misunderstanding and false accusation against those who have, in her opinion, some serious and worthy doubts about some things within the Church. Now the talk is only 33 minutes long. It's not a very long devotional talk.

That's probably pretty par for the course. But there were a lot of statements in there that I could see a person like Jana Rees cringing when hearing some of these things. So she starts off by saying how she's trying to find something good in this, and that's how she actually begins the piece.

What does she say? I was raised to try to find something good to say first, so here goes. I appreciate that this devotional acknowledges that leaving the Church is rarely about just one thing. Rather, it's often catalyzed by a complex mixture of intellectual, social, and spiritual issues.

And that is true. We have rarely ever found anyone who has left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints simply because one thing bothered them. It's usually puzzle pieces. And as these puzzle pieces start getting put back into the whole picture of Mormonism, it becomes apparent that there's something definitely wrong here. Some things bother some Mormons that don't bother other Mormons. That's why when people ask us, what's the one issue I can bring up that will hopefully get a Mormon to realize Mormonism isn't true? Our answer is, well, it all depends on the Latter-day Saint. Some things bother one that don't bother another, and so you have to kind of figure that out in talking to the individual yourself.

That's probably the best way to come to that conclusion. It seems in the past decade that the Church has been working overtime trying to come up with ways to get people to not doubt, because so many things that are found on the internet show that Mormonism has many problems. And the Church tried to, a few years ago, come up with a group of essays called the Gospel Topics Essays, and these essays dealt with some of the issues that we know about, but a lot of Latter-day Saints didn't know about.

Joseph Smith's polygamy, and the First Vision accounts that were contradictory to each other, and the Book of Abraham issues. And so they've come up with answers, but I think maybe the Church leaders didn't realize that this was going to cause a lot of people who didn't have any doubts before those essays came out to all of a sudden have doubts. And we've sat with people who have said they're leaving the Church. Why are you leaving the Church? Well, they didn't doubt before 2013, but all of a sudden now they're reading these essays and they no longer believe it.

So what do I do? That's a question we've actually had given to us. That's an amazing thing that the Church, in this talk that was given by Dale Renlund and his wife Ruth, is trying to do the same thing, but are they maybe protesting too much? Well, it's interesting that you brought up two of three specific issues in this talk that were causing this one individual, that we're going to get to eventually, to doubt his Mormon faith.

And I think you're absolutely right. There were a lot of Latter-day Saints, and we have talked to some of them ourselves, who didn't seem to have huge problems with Mormonism until they found out that the Church was admitting to a lot of these problems that they had heard about. How many times have we talked to Latter-day Saints in the past when we bring up a troublesome topic would readily brush us off by saying, oh, that's not true, that's just anti-Mormon lies, and that's often how many would phrase that. But yet when they were compelled to go to these Gospel Topics essays, hopefully to get answers to affirm that they were nothing more than anti-Mormon lies, and then they find out, wait a minute, the Church is admitting to the very same thing that perhaps people like us at MRM or Sandra Tanner or others who were involved in ministry to the Mormon people had been saying all along. And as we've often commented on this show, when a Latter-day Saint is given a problem to look at from an outside source, it usually affects them much more than if they were to hear that problem discussed, let's say, in a Gospel doctrine class. It's much easier on the Latter-day Saint when he hears about the problems within the confines of his own people, but not so easy when they hear about these problems coming from someone else who is not a member of the Church, because the first question obviously that comes up is, how come this person knows this and I didn't know this?

Why didn't the Church tell me about this? And so you're right, the Gospel Topics essays, I think, were supposed to alleviate a lot of these problems, and instead what we are finding is that it actually caused problems for a lot of Mormons who didn't seem to have any beforehand. Let me keep reading the article that says, the problems begin at the start of the talk with a childish cartoon about a young man who is cast adrift when his boat capsizes. He's eventually picked up by a kindly old fisherman who hauls him to safety and gives him water and crackers. Rather than being grateful for this life-saving measure, the young guy immediately begins to complain. The water he's been given isn't Evian or Perrier, and the boat is in poor condition.

And we should say that those words Evian and Perrier were actually mentioned specifically in the talk. He's not convinced it is seaworthy. He devolves into a full-on toddler-esque meltdown 12 miles from shore, insisting that he be let off.

The saddened fisherman obliges, leaving the guy again in the middle of the ocean, and this time there is the ominous specter of a circling shark. And that's true. If you watch this video as they are talking, you can see exactly what Jana Rees has explained here. She's not incorrect in giving that assessment of the cartoon. But the problem I find, though, is really the Mormon, according to their doctrine, still has the obligation of basically doing the swimming to shore. The boat gives the impression that everything is taken care of by sitting in the boat. Of course, the boat is the Church.

The fishermen, as it's explained by Mrs. Renlund, are the leaders of the Church. And that would make it sound like, okay, stay in the boat, everything will be fine. But you know, I don't view Mormonism that way. I still look at it as that individual basically still has to do his own effort, still has to do his own swimming back to shore. And as we have often mentioned to Latter-day Saints, it's kind of like this idea of having to swim to Hawaii, which ironically, this is where this talk is given. It's like going from San Diego to Hawaii. A Mormon may swim farther than I can possibly swim, but the fact is we're both going to drown. It's an impossible task.

And that's why we've always looked at the Mormon gospel, as they call it, as being an impossible gospel, one that cannot be attained. Does the boat really help? Well, that's where they're giving the instruction.

But what's the instruction? Basically, in my view, it's still to be metaphorically swimming. Yes. The article goes on and says, The parable the Renlunds explain is about the Church and those who doubt it. These doubters remove themselves from the safety of the boat because they can't see beyond their complaints that this or that element is not to their liking. And we might mention that this boat metaphor is the same metaphor that Jeffrey R. Holland used several years ago. He also was encouraging members to stay in the boat.

Well, does that not give you the impression that a lot of people are jumping out of the boat in order to give this kind of an explanation? They have a serious problem right now, folks, and the problem is is because of their own history. It's because of their own doctrines. I'm sure there are a lot of doctrines that trouble some Latter-day Saints. I would think this perfectionist doctrine that we've been talking about bothers a lot of Latter-day Saints. But in my experience, I find what seems to bother most Latter-day Saints is its own history. Because if the history is found to be troubling or problematic, it tends to, in many cases, point right back to the founder of the Mormon movement, and that's Joseph Smith.

Now, Renlund, at the end of his talk, is going to act as if, I've read everything. I've read all the Joseph Smith papers, I've read the book Saints, and it just firms my testimony. And when I was listening to that with you, I commented to you, boy, I certainly don't get that impression reading this new history book called Saints. When I read that, it shows me that Joseph Smith was, in fact, just another individual who didn't really know what he was doing, and making all sorts of stupid mistakes. The talk is definitely against the doubters in the church and trying to get them to quit doubting, but it's fascinating that Mormonism is based on doubting the Christian message that was original, because all of the church's authority was lost soon after what's called the Great Apostasy, and so the Mormon is told you can't trust the churches because they don't have the priesthood, they don't have the authority to be able to give you proper baptism and a proper way to get to the celestial kingdom and become God.

And that, to me, that is the issue, what you just mentioned. The presupposition that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God has to be accepted. You're not allowed to doubt that one thing. You can doubt Christianity, you can doubt Islam and atheism and everything else, but you cannot doubt Joseph Smith. You raise a good point, because while they are condemning doubt in the church itself and basically attacking the person who has the doubt and giving them some ulterior motives for that doubt as if they want to doubt and they want to leave the church, you're right. When the missionaries usually are giving the lessons to an investigator in their home, and this investigator has a Christian background, what are the missionaries trying to do in their message?

They're trying to place doubt in what they believe to be Christianity in order for them to exchange those beliefs for beliefs in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pastor, could your congregation benefit from a presentation that explains the differences between Mormonism and New Testament Christianity? MRM's Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson would be honored to come to your church. Whether it's a single crash course or a weekend symposium, hundreds of churches have benefited from their fully documented and easy to understand PowerPoint lessons. If you'd like to schedule MRM at your church, simply write us at contact at Again, that's contact at
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-13 11:01:15 / 2023-08-13 11:06:48 / 6

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