Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Mormon Redux

I wrote briefly last week about my experiences meeting with Mormons over the past 3 years - and have since lost that post. Not that it needs to be repeated in detail here, but generally it was a positive experience to listen to their faith first-hand, to dialogue with someone else who is very committed to his faith, and to think more deeply on the Catholic truths I hold so dear.

I won't attempt to give the kind of detail that a couple dozen meetings gave us the opportunity to explore, but I will pick a few points worth mentioning. Bear in mind that my comments are reflective primarily of those particular missionaries who visited with me.

Mormonism is agnostic towards history.
The history that has taken place since the LDS church began is not what I'm questioning (at least not right now). What I mean is that whenever questions were asked as to whether or not the history in the Book of Mormon ever took place, it was strongly affirmed by the missionaries, despite being unable to provide any evidence whatsoever. When I mentioned that non-Mormon archaeology (and even some Mormon archaeology) provides absolutely no support for Mormon claims, something like, "We don't put our faith in archaeology" was stated. That's fine, because neither do I - but I would be rather distraught to find that nothing in the Bible at all had any outside verification. Which leads to ....

Mormonism is doubtful towards reason.
The ultimate truth claim for the Mormon towards the Book of Mormon (BOM) is to read it and see if it produces a 'burning in the bosom'. If this is all we have to determine the veracity of Scripture - I'm sorry, but God help us. How many passages in the Bible don't produce this burning sensation? Furthermore, how many non-Scriptural works have the power to move us deeply? Not to belittle great and inspiring literature, but it's not on the same plane (or even the same type of writing) as Sacred Scripture. I don't doubt that a Protestant understanding of Scripture has permeated and influenced how Mormons treat Scripture. To know, first of all, what Scripture is, we must have an outside authority to speak on its behalf. As a Catholic, this one is a slam-dunk. If I were non-Catholic, I would be twisting myself into knots to try and explain how it is that the Catholic Church's authority can be trusted to have decided the canon of Scripture, but then cannot be trusted on any other significant matter.

Mormonism is absolute in its conjecture.
Mormons make several absolute truth claims based on flimsy evidence. To be fair, they often acknowledged (at least in their words) that if these claims fail, then the LDS church is false. I think they are trying to model themselves on St. Paul, where he speaks of Christians as to be pitied more than any other if the resurrection is false. Back to the claims. Joseph Smith's experiences that led to the "Restoration" are utterly unnecessary if there was not first an utter and complete "Apostasy". Mormons will trot out several passages speaking of a falling away in the Church as evidence that Jesus predicted this Apostasy. What they don't do, however, is look at any of the passages where Christ promises to be with His Church always; where Jesus promises that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church; etc. They are willing to argue that Jesus' promises regarding the Church weren't good enough to keep it together - but that somehow a man who lives 1800 years later will be able to do a better job of it than Jesus Himself.
Mormons are willing to speculate that 'sealed' marriages will last for eternity, despite Jesus' clear words that marriage will not exist in Heaven.
The Book of Mormon is accepted as utterly true (down to the word), despite numerous revisions over its 170 year history. To restate a point, the history in the BOM is accepted as true, despite no outside evidence, nor any connection to any known group of people. It's a fictional story that cannot be verified in any way.

Anyway, I don't intend to turn this completely into an apologetics blog (especially if nobody else decides to pursue it in that direction).

Until I'm moved to string this out further, I remain,

Cyrano

2 Comments:

Blogger Joseph Smith, Jr. said...

Interesting blog. Enjoyed reading it.

Sincerely,

Joseph Smith Jr.
secrets of the mormon church
http://www.whatismormonism.com

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 7:54:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph Smith, Jr. said...

Interesting blog. Enjoyed reading it.

Sincerely,

Joseph Smith Jr.
ex-Mormon
http://www.whatismormonism.com

Saturday, January 14, 2006 7:32:00 PM  

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