The Salt Lake Tribune published an interesting article yesterday about the public image of the LDS Church. They reported at the Mormon Media Studies held at BYU this week, Professor Terryl Givens (a Mormon) from the University of Richmond in Virgina made a very enlightening comment on how the Church is not being taken seriously in a theological sense.
According to the article from the Salt Lake Trib in a 2007 survey, Mormons were ranked amongst the “least liked faiths” along with the Buddhists and Muslims.
Professor Givens told his audience that he had broken the history of the Church down to three eras. The beginning stages, the polygamy era and when the Church began going mainstream in American society. He said one of the main problems with the image of the Church is how they’ve presented themselves. Are they separate or are they mainstream Christian? “Mormons”, he said, “are still characterized by that kind of schizophrenia”. He said you could see Smith’s going back and forth with the Articles of Faith.
For those of us in ministry the issue is simple. It comes down to the doctrines of Christianity and the doctrines of Mormonism. The Book of Mormon is either a fraud or it’s from the mouth of God Himself. (As a side note, interestingly enough, the topic for the Capstone Conference being held at the Salt Palace in March 2011 will be on the Book of Mormon.)
For me it all goes back to what was going on in Jerusalem in 600 BC. When you look at the historical evidence it would be impossible to accept the Book of Mormon as truth and still hold onto a Judeo-Christian faith.
As a simple example, did you know the scrolls were kept in a certain section of the temple? The temple was separated into three sections or areas, if you will. If Nephi and his brothers really went back into Jerusalem to retrieve “the writings of their fathers” they would have to go through more than just one “guard” to get what they wanted.
The scrolls were held in a vaulted chamber (known as the Chamber of Hewn Stone) within the temple from where the Great Assembly presided and ruled. Getting to the temple to retrieve any scrolls or letters would’ve been more of an ordeal than going through one person. Before you get to the temple itself you must also go through the sentinel house where you would go to be cleansed before you could get close to the temple. There are many other details as you can imagine. The Book of Mormon and the Bible are so vastly different there’s no way the story from Joseph Smith is plausible.
I agree with Professor Givens, the Church is always playing a defensive game of catch-up. But the bottom line is this. The Mormon Church doesn’t talk about the Bible or the details of Jesus. This is a sign there’s something wrong. Christianity on the other hand, goes into minute detail about Him and can give explicit descriptions of the who, what, where, when, why and how. When the Church tries to do the same thing, their focus is always upon their church, not God.
Christians are duty bound to expose lies and tell the truth. The professor’s insight on how the Church has allowed outside influences to determine the legitmacy of the Church is spot on. When you have to keep changing your story there’s something amiss. We’re always praying those in the Mormon Church will reject the claims of Joseph Smith and accept the true teachings of the real Jesus of the Bible.
At the end of the article the Trib quoted Mr. Givens as saying; “”Pratt’s attitude seemed to be Christendom was a ship about to sink and Mormonism had the lifeboats,” Givens said. Pratt resisted the impulse of most Mormons to head back to the foundering ship. “Where Mormonism will steer its boat in the 21st century is not yet clear.””
This is an prime example of the problem in Mormonism. Not sure where you’re going, not sure how you’re getting there and not sure what will happen once you get to where you’re going. How very sad to live a life like that.
Christianity has and always will be the same. There’s no such things as a “floundering ship” and nothing about man being deified. Matthew 16:18.
1 Cor. 1:18