Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Comment on anti-Mormonism reposted from The Orthosphere

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http://orthosphere.org/2013/07/22/my-life-among-the-mormons/


Addressed to 'Bonald' - author of the main posting.

You are experiencing what I have found many times when writing about Mormons: that there is a negative prejudice against Mormonism among serious mainstream Christians.

Neutrality is not possible – of course – therefore when approaching the subject of Mormonism there will inevitably be prejudice: either positive or negative. What we observe here is that the prejudice is negative.

Given this negative prejudice, and in relation to religious evaluations, it is likely that whatever evidence is examined, that prejudice will be confirmed. Mormons are assumed guilty until proven innocent, and – as usual in such situations – cannot prove themselves innocent. The prejudice frames the discourse, as prejudice does.

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Now, what is interesting is why mainstream Christians should bring this prejudice to the table – why do Mormons attract this? Is there any sound reason? Any *good* reason? And I don’t mean the reasons for anti-Mormon prejudice which people use in public discourse and to excuse themselves – I mean the *real* reason.

(There are some groups where there are sound and good reasons why – from common sense and common experience – in approaching them a negative (suspicious, judgmental) prejudice is appropriate – but not Mormons, surely? And if Mormons – by such criteria, who will be exempt from negative prejudice?)

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Surely, on the surface and with common sense criteria and from hard facts widely known, Mormonism should be approached with a *positive* prejudice – on the assumption that it is likely to be good, to be wholesome, to be Christian – and that mainstream Christians (if they want to engage with Mormonism) should not be putting it on trial – but rather engaging in a conversation where the reasonable hope is to discover a friend and ally.

This is what I did – since before I was a Christian convert I have regarded Mormonism as Christian, indeed one of the very best of Christian denominations, and I still do – although now I know a great deal about Mormonism from five years of reading, research and devotional study – but done with a positive prejudice, on the assumption that I was dealing with a friend and ally, until shown otherwise.

Yet such is the anti-Mormon prejudice, that Mormons are regarded by many – probably most – serious mainstream Christians as covert demons or brainwashed dupes – as we see in many of these comments.

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I personally find this very distressing and painful.

Why? Most obviously it is distressing to see people I regard as exemplary Christians (in the primary sense of Christian, which is faith in Christ as Lord and Saviour, people who are exceptionally devout, and who display the Christian virtues to an admirable degree) continually (and indeed gleefully, aggressively) pilloried by other Christians.

This is a horrible thing to behold, provoking pity, sadness, and horror.

But secondly I fear that it imperils the souls of Christians who engage in it, and the denominations who encourage it. Not merely from the encouragement of resentment, pride, hatred etc – but even more from the distortions it introduces to mainstream Christianity, and the failure to learn theological, devotional and moral lessons that ONLY Mormonism can teach to the rest of Christendom.

Failure to learn these lessons from Mormonism may be the death of Christianity in the West – since Mormonism is doing fine, doing more than fine – while the rest of Christendom is in serious travail.

Maybe that is a root of the problem? Mormonism is doing too well – leading to resentment fuelled by envy? Whatever the reason for such widespread and entrenched anti-Mormon prejudice, I feel sure the *real* reason is a bad one, since it encourages, brings out and reinforces such bad qualities in those who display it.

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In sum, I am seriously distressed by the prevailing anti-Mormon prejudice among serious mainstream Christians, and would love to see it replaced by pro-Mormon prejudice and an attitude of wanting to know more about what enables Mormonism to resist secular modernity so happily, and so effectively – especially in relation to those crucial domains of marriage and the family.

Mormonism is, for me, a litmus test issue in terms of seriousness about the future of Christianity: but the test is for mainstream Christians. If anybody is on trial here, it is not Mormonism but mainstream Christianity in the West.

Sadly, perhaps tragically, Mormonism is a test which most serious mainstream Christians fail spectacularly.


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