On Evangelicals and Mormons Discussing the Issues

Some of you may have read comments by Ed Enochs on the other board. I asked Mr. Enochs if he would like to say something about ways that mormons and evangelicals can work together. Below is his response. I believe that his answer is interesting and revelatory concerning the potential for entente between the LDS and evangelical communities. While I obviously disagree with some of his conclusions, his view is interesting nonetheless.

“Dear LDS Friends,

I have been asked by Steve Evans to share with you my thoughts as to how Evangelical Christians and members of the LDS Church can work together towards understanding each other. I will do so gladly, since the Bible, God’s exclusively inerrant, inspired and infallible Word exhorts us to; “Sanctify the Lord God in our hearts and always be ready to give an answer to everyone that asks us for a reason for the hope that is in us” (1 Peter 3:15).

I would like to first of introduce myself, my name is Lee Edward Enochs and I have been an Evangelical Christian for almost 20 years. I have had the blessing of have been educated at some of Evangelicalism’s most respected universities and graduate schools. My singular focus and purpose in human existence is to give glory to God and proclaim the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the World, who died on the cross and rose again from the dead to give us life eternal.

I believe in attempting to work towards understanding one another, it is of paramount importance that we discuss the issues that divide us, in a loving and coherent manner, without using hostile and unnecessary language that only serves to widen the divide that is between us (1 Corinthians 13).

I believe it is also fundamentally important when Evangelical Christians and Mormons get together to discuss the issues of theology that divide us that we realize that there while we use the same theological terminology such as “God”, “Jesus Christ”, “Exaltation” and etc., there is a vastly different semantical meaning between the LDS and the Evangelicals on these important terms. For example, when LDS use the term “salvation” there is not a one to one correspondence with what we believe and what the LDS believe.

For example, when LDS use the term “salvation” there is not a one to one correspondence with what we believe and what the LDS believe. Another vastly important issue that Evangelicals and LDS need to know about their theological differences, that they are not one and the same and there are only three possibilities that we can conclude about the differences between the LDS and Evangelical Christianity and they are as follows:

1) LDS theology is true and all other options are untrue.

2) Evangelical theology is true and all options are untrue.

(or)

3) Evangelical theology and LDS theology are both equally erroneous and another option is true.

The logical law of non contradiction conclusively demonstrates that two mutually exclusive theological propositions cannot simultaneously true in the same way at the same time. Therefore, when Evangelicals and LDS speak to one another, it is of paramount importance we keep a logically coherent understanding of the nature of truth to be able to proceed to any degree of certainty in these discussions. I want to tell you I love you all and I would like to discuss these things with you in the future my LDS friends.

Sincerely in Jesus Christ,

Lee Edward “Ed” Enochs
Executive Director,
Conservatives for California

Ed also had this to say:

“I think there are some things that we Evangelicals and you LDS can agree on in the areas of morality, civic duty and the traditional family unit. There is no question that many LDS families are hard working and love one another very deeply. There is no question that the LDS love their country and see service in the armed forces as a sacred duty. I commend the LDS faith for their hard work and dedication towards a better America and the preservation of the traditional family unit.

President Hinckley’s speech against pornography at the general conference this year was excellent and I fully concur with him on this terrible vice. I want to say that the vast majority of Mormons that I know are very ethical and nice people. I love you all so very much! I have a lot of disagreements with you on some major theological issues such as the reliability of Joseph Smith, the BOM, God, Salvation, eternal progression and etc, but as far as being a nice and loving people, you guys can’t be topped!”

———————

Please be respectful and courteous in your comments. I must admit, I had been hoping that Mr. Enochs spent more time discussing our similarities rather than our differences, but perhaps our failure to do so is in itself instructive.

Comments

  1. Very odd that in the 3rd paragraph he suggests discussing issues without trying to widen the gulf between us, yet in the 1st paragraph he has already done just that, very carefully implying that all scripture outside of the Bible is not the word of God.

  2. It’s a little strange, I’ll admit. In my mind, though, what’s even more strange that a topic of coming together would instead result in a discussion of issues that divide us. Strange, and sad, considering that we really do have so much in common.

  3. Sorry for the kneejerk first post there. I do have a question, just for my own understanding. At first glance, Ed’s list of three options seems valid. We could argue about the choice of the word “untrue”, but I will let that slide for the moment. Also, there are probably LDS people on this blog that might have a more fuzzy view of truth and the exclusivity implied in the list, but I think that the majority of Mormons would agree with the logic of the list.

    Also I ask Ed to forgive my relative ignorance of other denominations. I do think that I understand well enough Evangelical complaints against LDS theology, and I am not looking for an explaination of that.

    With that taken care of, here is my question for Ed. What is the Evangelical notion of a true church? Option #2 in your list seems to encompass a wider variety of claims than option #1 since there are many different Evangelical denominations. If any one of them is “true” in the way being discussed, aren’t others that are different from it then “untrue” given the exclusive claim to truth being made? Can one Evangelical church be true and another untrue?

    Finally, assuming that the logic of options 1, 2, and 3 is inescapable, is it helpful to set such thinking aside and look at ways that we can work together to do good in the wider world? Though our theologies differ substaintially and we will probably try to convert one another until the Second Coming, we have much in common. Would a “demilitarized zone” in which we can work together in an organized fashion be helpful or would it do more harm than good somehow?

  4. I might go off on a bit of a tangent here, so please excuse me. I’m cranky.

    I don’t have a problem with people believing that they are part of the only true church. I was brought up in such a system, and depending on how the word true is used, I agree with it. The problem that I have is that most Evangelicals today have a clear political aim: to make others behave in accordance with their religious views by legal force. Many Mormons also share this goal, especially in Utah.

    So when someone is operating from the frame that they have all the truth, what is the point of “dialogue”? Clearly, true believer must understand that dialogue can only serve the him in his attempts to have others see things his way. Ed acknowledges at the outset that the Bible is “exclusively inerrant, inspired, and infallible”, which is fine (in spite of occasional internal contradictions). But if he is typical of evangelicals today, he likely considers his political application of those teachings equally infallible.

    I have always considered myself game when confronted with an opportunity for dialogue or even debate. But if I have learned one thing in the past several months, it is that political and religious debate is a waste of time. In fact, I think that politics and religion are becoming one and the same. People believe in their candidates the way they believe in their religions. Appeals to facts or logic will not sway people anymore (at least to my way of thinking!). Why do I waste time on such dialogue? Why am I wasting my time on this forum? Do I really have a shot at changing anyone’s mind?

  5. Dear LDS Friends,

    You LDS guys are wearing me out tonight! :)

    I have been non-stop for four hours on two different LDS blog spots. I love you guys.

    There are many different denominations and expressions within the Evangelical faith, yet there is a “unity within diversity” wherein, all true Evangelicals believe in certain doctrines that define them as Evangelicals, or the word is the rendered nonsensical.

    Historic Evangelicals agree with the historic creedal formulations of the trinity as proclaimed in the Nicean, Athanasian and Chalcedonian creeds: one God, three distinict persons who share the same substance or essence of being. Ontologically, three in one.

    Historically, what separates Evangelicals from Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, irrespective of our denominational affliation is our adherence to the Protestant Reformational soteriological formulation known as “Sola Fide” wherein a condemned sinner is justifed before Almighty God who alone is Holy, by God’s sovereign grace through our faith in the person and redemptive work of the risen Lord Jesus Christ alone.

    Evangelicals also believe in the unique authority, inspiration, infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible alone.

    While there is varation in some of our beliefs, what makes us “Evangelicals” is adherence to these fundamental beliefs.

  6. Steve —

    You should really trackback to the Times and Seasons thread from here.

  7. Ed —

    You’re awesome! I can’t believe how much you’ve managed to contribute to the various conversations. I logged on tonight and found I’d already missed lots of the discussion, so I’m just sitting back and watching, but I wanted you to know that your considerable efforts are appreciated.

  8. Pheo–

    When I get into a discussion about religion, politics, or any other arena of the “I’m right, you’re wrong” variety, there are three outcomes that I consider successful:

    1) I convince the other party of the correctness of my position
    2) I become convinced of the error of my position, and adjust my beliefs to what I consider to be the correct position
    3) Both parties remain firm in their convictions, but both parties understand the reasons for the other party holding that conviction.

    A good 95% of the time, the result is (3). Sure, I want (1) all the time, but for the most part, I’m happy to understand what the root of my difference of opinion with others is. I like to be able to say, “If I believed X like he does, then sure, I’d think Y as well.” In the process, hopefully, I will have learned something about why I believe what I do as well.

    I think (3) is the outcome that Steve is hoping for with this post — not that any of us will change our religion, but that we will find ways to talk with each other so that we can move forward instead of retreading the same ground over and over.

    I agree with your perception that more and more the voices in the political arena in this country are increasingly from people who find (1) to be the only acceptable outcome.

  9. One problem is that the notion of LDS theology is vague. Given that our understanding is incomplete (thus continuing revelation) for much of what I’d call LDS theology I’d say (3) is the proper answer. Indeed I think our theology of an open canon entails that. By that I don’t meant that I think LDS theology false. Far from it. Those who know me know I defend a fairly orthodox and conservative strain of LDS thought. It is just that I am rather humble in my ability to know all truth. What is more important to me is knowing my savior in terms of a relationship.

  10. Ed Enochs says:

    One of the difficulties I am finding in my discussions with LDS is that there is no consensus of opinion as to what exactly LDS theology is.

    It is hard for us Evangelicals to know where you LDS stand since often times we quote from Joseph Smith and we are told that that was not official church doctrine on eternal progression or whatever.

    It’s hard for us to know whose right or wrong. Is Joseph Smith, B. Young, Bruce McConkie, Robert Millet, Stephen Robinson or Gordon B. Hinckley?

    We are now being told that while many LDS believe they can become “gods” just like their heavenly father” the LDS church never taught it, despite Joesph Smith ‘s “King Follet Discourse or the couplet made by Lorenzo Snow, which says, as man is, god once was and as god is man may become”

    Now Gordon B. Hinckley has said that the BOM has never taught that you can become “gods” (TIME Magazine 1997). Who are we to believe, Joseph Smith who is your leading prophet or some other guy….?

  11. Ed: While the King Follete Discourse of Joseph Smith elucidates how Jesus follows in the path of The Father and follows in his glory, it does not say the same for us.

  12. Bryce, you’re right — #3 was the outcome I was most hoping for. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like too many people are interested in that option.

  13. Bob Caswell says:

    Ed,

    If you’re familiar with Robert Millet, then I’m sure you’re familiar with his attempts to clarify LDS doctrine. I admit – as a Mormon – that knowing our doctrine can be a bit like “nailing jello to a wall”. But I can also admit that it doesn’t really bother me that much. I suppose it has to do with the possibility of finding truth in every aspect of our lives. You, I’m sure, have found plenty of inconsistencies spewed forth from our leaders. This, to me, is marvelous. It illustrates an environment in which the basis of gospel truth is laid out with the flexibility of each and every one of us having the ability to work out our own salvation (an elusive term, I agree, but nonetheless appropriate here) with our Creator. If doors represent “contained” doctrine, then we have only a few closed with the vast majority left opened. I love Mormonism for all the doors it leaves open while still keeping closed those that should be.

  14. Dear LDS Friends,

    One of the biggest issues that I think cause problems when Evangelicals and LDS speak to each other on theological issues, is the Evangelical misunderstanding of what official doctrine is in the LDS church. (what is authority and what is not)

    Many of us treat LDS theology as though we were dealing with historic Roman Catholicism. We have felt that every time Joseph Smith and Brigham Young have spoken in times past, their every saying became official LDS doctrine. And now, after listening to President Hinckley, the 12, the 70, LDS theologians, Bishops, Stake Presidents and friends speak, it appears this is just not the case.

    It appears that just like there is an “ex cathedra” or official teaching of Roman Catholicism made by the Pope and then there is just his mere conjecture, the LDS believe there are different degrees of authority in the sayings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

    I personally do not care what Walter Martin, Ed Dekker and other hard-line Evangelicals have said about the LDS church, I want to go straight to the source myself. I am beginning to see that there is a big difference between what I have been taught that the Mormon church believes and what you guys are actually saying.

    I have been speaking to Mormons for over twenty years and I do not know what your church officially teaches.

    Sincerely in Christ.
    Ed

  15. The problem is Ed that the whole Evangelical approach to theology doesn’t really appreciate vagueness at all whereas, as I see it, an acceptance of a vague notion that becomes more and more clear is fundamental to Mormon theology. Evangelicals try to treat Mormon theology as if Mormons conceived of theology the way Evangelicals do. Yet it just doesn’t work, as you say.

    If you keep trying to understand Mormonism from within an Evangelical framework which emphasizes clear unambiguous statements one must commit to, then you’ll never understand Mormon theology.

  16. john fowles says:

    Ed, have you read the Book of Mormon? If you want an idea of LDS doctrines (there is no “theology” so to speak, since we resort to a different source for our knowledge about God, namely, that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ and saw with his eyes that they are two different beings with physical bodies), then the Book of Mormon itself is an excellent source. The whole of the Book revolves around a people’s effort to worship Jesus Christ and to learn his doctrine. Reading the Book of Mormon is an essential step to understanding official LDS doctrine.

    I understand your frustration with some of the differing and sometimes conflicting statements of various church leaders over time. You were accurate in saying that everything that Joseph Smith ever said is not necessarily “doctrine,” as many of your Evangelical friends believe. And that goes for living prophets today. This is something that can be frustrating for Latter-day Saints too, as Bob points out above (and if you read the archives of this blog you will get a much deeper sense of that, although I would venture that it is not really typical of the body of the Church in general). Still, despite this frustration, most Latter-day Saints who even perceive this frustration seem to realize that the benefit of having living prophets providing relevant, modern guidance from God far outweighs any quibbles about minor points of doctrine that come into the scene as a result of a prophet or apostle voicing an opinion that is then taken by the Church as doctrine. In some cases, it might be just opinion rather than doctrine, although from my personal perspective, even at those times when it is just opinion, it is still of very high value considering the insights that these leaders have into the concept of Christian living and their life experience in the Gospel.

  17. john fowles says:

    Quick disclaimer: I put the word “theology” in quotes above for a reason. I mean what I said, there is no LDS “theology,” but I meant it in the sense that Clark already stated in the preceding comment, i.e. no LDS “theology” in the same way that evangelicals use that word, and hence the quotation marks. Of course there can be an LDS theology, a study of the system of our faith and examinations about the nature of God. But because of our adherence to living prophets, continuing revelation, and the vagueness or ambiguity (as Clark points out) that both of these things imply (i.e. we are continuing to learn more through such revelation about an eternity so broad and mind-boggling that past, codified statements are not sufficient), a static “theology” like that in evangelicalism or Catholicism just can’t be a possibility for us. This is not to say that the nature of God or his plan is changing, but that our level of revealed knowledge with regards to it is changing, and we can change our lives and systems to coincide with increased knowledge about God and his plan (e.g. the 1978 revelation on the priesthood–the Church changed its ways after receiving higher knowledge about the practice of not allowing blacks to hold the priesthood).

  18. Dear LDS Friends,

    As you know many of my Evangelical friends and I are rejecting the acrimonous tendancies of our ecclesiastical forefather and are attempting to engage in cordial discussion with the LDS on certain points of theology that trouble us. One such point of seeming irreconciable contrast is the LDS conception of God. Evangelicals very concerned that in the final analysis the LDS are believing in polytheism.

    As you know some LDS scholars in attempting to explain the Mormon understanding of exaltation, or becoming like god, are pointing to the Eastern Orthodox view on Theosis.

    One particular work cited by LDS Scholars is
    The work in question is Jordan Vajda, “Partakers of the Divine Nature”: A Comparative Analysis of the
    Patristic and Mormon Doctrines of Divinization,
    master’s thesis, Graduate Theological Union at the
    University of California, Berkeley, 1998, republished under the same title as Occasional Paper No. 3 by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (Provo, Utah, 2002).

    In this work, Father Vajda notes that the writings of the early Church fathers clearly express a belief in the divine potential of human beings – that we can become “gods” through the grace of Christ and partake in the divine nature. In his introduction to the FARMS
    publication, he states:

    The historic Christian doctrine of salvation —
    theosis, i.e., human divinization — for too long has been forgotten by too many Christians, despite the fact that this teaching is a part of that common inheritance — first millennium Christianity — that unites Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians

    I have been personally thinking a lot about the recent development in LDS theology that argues that their conception of “exaltation” is similar to that of the “Theosis” view of historic Eastern Orthodoxy.

    As a guy who has spent considerable time in debate with the Greek Orthodox Church in the recent past, I know for certain the the followers of Eastern Orthodoxy would be aghast to learn that some LDS theologians are using their concept of “Theosis” to explain their conception of eternal progression and
    exaltation.

    Rev. Fr. George C. Papademetriou on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America official website is highly unfavorable toward the Mormon church, so it is very odd to see some LDS scholars using the Eastern Orthodox Theosis view to explain their own doctrine of eternal progression.

    As you know, “Theosis” in Eastern Orthodoxy, means deification or divinization, where there is a call for the individual to become holy and ultimately be in union with God. This process begins in this life and is ultimately consummated at a Orthodox believers resurrection wherein he or she receives their glorified body. Athanasius wrote:

    “For He became man that we might become divine;
    and He revealed Himself through a body
    that we might receive an idea of the invisible Father;

    and He endured insults from men
    that we might inherit incorruption.”

    Paragraph 54: Athanasius: Contra Gentiles and De
    Incarnatione (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971).

    The statement by St. Athanasius of Alexandria, “The Son of God became man, that we might become divine” in the minds of the Eastern Orthodox believer ontologically (relating to essence or the nature of being), does not mean a person can become a God or even another god. It ultimately means a believer will partake in the energies of God. It means a believer will become in union with God in the fullest capacity.
    It implies a restoration of all things in Christ, where the believer is finally free from his mortal body and will enjoy absolute perfect mystical union with Christ.

    The Eastern Orthodox are staunchly loyal to the
    Trinitarian Creeds reflected in the Athanasian Creed the Nicene Creed of 325 A.D. and that of The Chalcedonian Creed of 651 A.D. and see the creedal formulations of the Ancient historic church to be authoritative.

    However, the LDS are generally vehemently against the creeds as Joseph Smith History 1:19 states.

    It would appear that the LDS believes that in the
    “godhead” that there are three separate or distinct gods as Doctrines& Covenants 130:22 states:

    “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as Man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”

    also:

    “The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings who constitute one Godhead. Generally speaking, the Father is the Creator, the Son is the Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost is the Comforter and Testifier” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism)

    It would seem that the LDS doctrine of eternal
    progression which states that there has been an
    infinite regress of spirit beings who later receive mortal bodies and are ultimately exalted is vastly different than the Eastern Orthodox view since the Eastern Orthodox are Trinitarian and do not see themselves as going through the same process to become a being like the ontological Trinity.

    Even if it is true that the LDS church no longer
    believes or has never taught that men may become
    ontologically distinct “gods” as Gordon B. Hinckley suggested in that 1997 Time article, the LDS in their conception of “eternal progression” and “exaltation”,have in mind something radically different than the
    Eastern Orthodox conception of “Theosis”.

    In Gospel Principles, the LDS basic theology manual we read,

    1978 Ed.: on page 290 we find, “We can become Gods like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation.”

    1997 Ed.: on page 302 we find, “We can become like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation.”

    In my mind, even if the LDS do not believe in the
    process of eternal progression where an eternal spirit being becomes ontologically a “god” like their heavenly father. They are hard pressed to explain how they cannot become precisely the same “god like being” as our heavenly father. The doctrine of “eternal progression suggests that our heavenly father was once a spirit being just like us, progressed and became a “god”.

    It seems like a contradiction in LDS theology to say that there is now a limitation on all other spirit beings from becoming a “god” in the exact ontological way as God the father before them. What prohibits them from becoming just like our heavenly father since ultimately the Father was a spirit creature just like they were?

    “He [God] is our Father–the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being. It appears ridiculous to the world, under their darkened and erroneous traditions,that God has once been a finite being;” (Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses, v. 7, p. 333)

    The Gods who dwell in the Heaven…have been redeemed from the grave in a world which existed before the foundations of this earth were laid. They and the Heavenly body which they now inhabit were once in a fallen state….they were exalted also, from fallen men to Celestial Gods to inhabit their Heaven forever and ever.” (Apostle Orson Pratt in The Seer, page 23)

    Anyways, those are some of my thoughts on the matter of Theosis, Eastern Orthodoxy and the Mormon Church.

    God bless you,

    Ed Enochs

  19. 1) LDS theology is true and all other options are untrue.

    2) Evangelical theology is true and all options are untrue. (or)

    3) Evangelical theology and LDS theology are both equally erroneous and another option is true.

    Given the conflicts in Evangelical theology I’ve observed …

    I really think that when Paul talks about the organs of the body, and how each needs the other, or when (in Hebrews) he writes of how God communicates to each age, but in Paul’s age through his son, Jesus Christ, we are getting closer to a better grasp of what is true, and how “true” true is.

    After all, John stated that it does not yet appear what we shall be, that is, all the statements about how we will be joint-heirs with Christ, and how we will see him as he is, for we will be like him, etc.; all of those statements aside, we really don’t know what that all means — “we” meaning those who have walked and talked with Christ, been taught of him for forty days following his return to earth, and who are visited by angels and who speak with God and Christ in vision — that “we” which John uses in talking about himself and the Church.

    That implies that we are certainly as children, seeing through a glass darkly, and that the truth is vague to us, in many important ways.

  20. This thread is pretty much the opposite of what I had in mind. Consider it a failed experiment, y’all.

  21. Steve,

    I bet you would have more luck inviting a Muslim on board to discuss likenesses and differences. So much bad history between Mormons and Evangelicals to overcome.

  22. I think you’re right, sadly.

  23. I am sorry that I did not provide for you folks what you want. I am essentially a conservative Evangelical who is interested in apologetics and furthering the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  24. I know, Ed. It’s OK, believe me. Perhaps in the future we will all seek to accentuate our similarities rather than our differences. Until then, we’re glad you came by.

  25. Well, now that we’re admitting this is a failed experiment, let me provide a nit-picky point of information for Ed. I am pretty sure that the doctrine of exaltation is not clearly spelled out in the Book of Mormon, unless you count Christ’s words of “What manner of man shall ye be? Even as I am.”

    Interestingly enough most LDS ideas that seems strange or offensive do not have their origin in the Book of Mormon (and aren’t even mentioned in the book), but rather in the Bible, and are generally further clarified in the D&C or PoGP. Baptism for the dead is an example, polygamy is another, and the structure of the celestial kingdom would be in the list as well.

    I think that evangelicals would have more of a problem with the manner in which the book came forth through a living prophet than the words in the book itself. Not that there aren’t parts that would be controversial, but most of the seemingly unique “Mormon” theological ideas that are criticized by those that are opposed the to LDS church simply aren’t in there. They are in the Bible.

  26. Bryce,

    Thanks for your comments. I have found outcome (3) (mutual understanding, but no one changes minds) to be quite rewarding. However, there is a fourth outcome that has become way too common: People understand how they are in error, and persist in the belief. That is, people today are capable of an unbelievable degree of cognitive dissonance. Consequently, your three outcomes of debate/discussion (all positive outcomes) are less and less likely and the cost of debate just gets too high.

  27. rJ, just ’cause it’s a failed experiment, that doesn’t mean I wanted to just throw down and air our grievances….

  28. Steve and Ed,

    I didn’t mean to ruin things (yet again) but to point out what I think is a common misunderstanding. That being that we get all these “wacky” ideas from the Book of Mormon. I’m not even disputing whether the ideas are wacky or not. I certainly don’t mean to offend, just to inform. This was the comments of Ed’s that prompted my post:
    Now Gordon B. Hinckley has said that the BOM has never taught that you can become “gods” (TIME Magazine 1997).

    My point is not to dispute the doctorine of exaltation. It is just to say that it isn’t taught in the Book of Mormon as far as I can tell, and neither are many other uniquely Mormon beliefs. I thought this might be interesting information for Ed, and I certainly didn’t mean it as a put-down or attack. If I offended anyone I am sorry, sometimes it is hard to judge intent in a forum like this.

    Though this discussion hasn’t accomplished it’s purpose I have found it informative, and I’d like to thank Ed for the time he took to respond to my question.

  29. 1 John 4:7-8
    1 Corinthians 13
    Dear LDS Friends,

    I am not sure exactly what this site and the other one is all about. I do want you guys to stay in touch with me. If you want an Evangelical’s perspective on something please do not hestitate to contact me:

    edenochs@yahoo.com

    Sincerely in Jesus Christ,
    Ed

  30. Speaking of the Book of Mormon, when I was on my mission, we had a group of antis who came to the Hill Cumorah Pagent and were handing out pamphlets where they hoped to save members by quoting the Book of Mormon to them. They had obviously not seen the pagent, because the passages they were using were rather prominent in it.

    But it was kind of fun. They were of a “once saved, always saved” and “once saved, never sin” school, and were lying as I came up on them. I think whoever summoned me there expected me to bash with them, instead I read the pamphlet and suggested that they might do better if they realized the pagent and it were the same. They were harmless, though we did discuss their theological problems vis a vis the obvious sin they were committing and their belief that to be saved meant to never sin again.

    Rev. Fr. George C. Papademetriou on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America official website is highly unfavorable toward the Mormon church, so it is very odd to see some LDS scholars using the Eastern Orthodox Theosis view to explain their own doctrine of eternal progression. Talk about a group that had quite the leadership problems in the United States, not to mention a real doctrinal problem as each country should, at some point, organize its own orthodox Church (i.e. there should be an American Orthodox going on here rather than colonies of all the other various Orthodox Churches — and the Greek Orthodox in America almost splintered on that point not too long ago).

    Made me grateful for our leaders.

  31. Ed et al,

    I appreciate your comments and those of many others here. I do believe we sometimes need to discuss the differences we share in order to better understand our common belief. Once we understand some of those doctrinal differences and they are explained to us by each side, it is important to also discuss in depth our commonalities.

    I believe the 3 options you gave are incomplete. The third is probably the closest but it all depends on your use of “truth”.

    We just completed a lesson on truth. While truth is often used for absolute, unchanging knowledge, there is the common application of it when members of the LDS church proclaim this as the “true” church. We have never denied that any other church does not have some degree of truth. Overall, we accept that all churches have some degree of truth. We simply believe that we have more of it. We in now way claim that our gospel is complete. But we do believe, for various reasons (which include prophets, BoM, and revelation, etc), that we have the fulness of the gospel as God has given it to man.

    I understand these doctrinal differences do not put us in opposite views, but rather a parallel view. The may not match other evangelicals but they have the same destination in mind.

    When President Hinkley counseled us to stand together, I feel that it is our duty to put some of the doctrinal differences aside, and focus on the actions that those doctrines call us to when they intersect. That is why these dialogues are so important.

  32. Ed,
    A few posts back you went on at length regarding progression of man and the possibility of godhood. These are some thoughts I have had on the subject.

    Your description of the “theosis” is similar to my understanding of the Tao in my studies of eastern philosophy and religion. The Tao says that when we walk the path and die we will return to merge with the true source of all. It sounds similar to the “theosis” description that through exaltation we will be unified with God.

    What is the purpose of exaltation? I don’t believe it is the same as evolution. Evolution is an on-going process that constantly requires the subject to change but has no end goal in sight. Exaltation has the goal of perfecting us to our most perfect state. To me, if God is perfect, that would be one way of reading our progression leading to godhood. This may not include a polytheistic view. Instead we may be perfected as God, through God.

    The shoot from the hip theologist in me also looks at it from a familial role. Good parents want the best for thier children, usually they also want their children to achieve the same status (not always worldly) as they have. If God is our father and perfect, as we believe He is, then we can assume his goal for us is to become like him. This makes sense to me and I believe may be a foundation for our understanding of the exaltation = goodhood discussion.

    The misunderstanding comes when we try to examine what this means exactly and what the process is for achieving this goal. Like most things in the next world, we only have a few clues as to what the spirit world and the next step in our exaltation will be.

  33. Ed Enochs says:

    Dear Mr. Evans and My LDS Friends,

    Last week I was asked by Steve Evans to contribute to your great blog site. I am not sure if that went the way Mr. Evans wanted, so I do not know if It is ok with your moderators for me to respond to Charles’ and all your other statements. If I get the “ok” I will. I want to respect the wishs of the leaders here. If I am permitted to write here, I promise to do so with respect and love for you my awesome LDS friends.

    Sincerely in Jesus Christ,
    Ed

  34. Ed, you should feel free to respond to any of these comments as you see fit — this is a public forum. However, I would remind all of the commenters that the original goal of the thread was to try to find and build upon commonalities rather than differences.

    With that in mind, I would issue the challenge to all participants to try and make this exercise as constructive and harmonious as possible. To all, I would say: if it’s clear that your comments will only emphasize our differences rather than draw us together, the value of such comments is questionable.

  35. Steve “the Hammer” Evans has spoken . . . so let it be written . . .

    so shall it be done!

    —EDITED BY SITEOWNER

  36. Ed Enochs says:

    Wow, I feel I have been allowed to pass the sentry Balder, in Norse Mythology who stood post at the enterance of the Rainbow Bridge of Aasegaard.

    I am honored and privelaged to be able to enter in your discussion.

    Diffrences between the LDS and the Evangelicals?

    The things that BYU, Utah and the LDS has going for it is that your women are beautiful, the cost of living is cheaper in Provo than Southern Cal where I live and BYU has had more Evangelical quarter backs make the NFL than us Evangelicals. Does this make me bitter? Yes, but God is still working with me.

    Your friend,
    Ed

  37. Ed,

    Here’s a problem I have observed with LDS people (including myself) and I’ve wondered if people in other religions struggle the wame way, and what can be done about it.

    Mormons and evangelicals both assert, more or less, a claim to unique truth. Let’s set aside the question of whether those claims are accurate, and focus on the problems that can arise for adherents of a religion that makes such claims.

    It has been my experience that people can make their membership in their church, rather than their personal discipleship, the most important aspect of their religious observance. This might even be worse for mormons than for others, because of our emphasis on some obvious behaviors, like drinking and smoking. I don’t smoke, therefore I am better than my neighbor who does, etc. I find that the temptation to become a Pharisee is often present, at least with me.

    Our church teaches us to study the scriptures, and we will find the answers. Often that works, but sometimes it just makes us Pharisees even more insufferable, because we can now quote chapter and verse as we justify ourselves.

    Here are my two questions for you: Do evangelicals struggle in the same way? If so, what do you guys do about it?

  38. hey guys, please check out my essay on the doritos and the existence of God on the Times and Seasons blog, God bless you—Ed

  39. CB, I think there is something to that, although I should add that “Church” for Evangelicals would entail something other than it does for us, since they simply don’t view the organization of church the way we do. (We’re much closer to the Catholics in that regard)

    For a Mormon though, belonging to the church is wrapped up into accepting the Grace of Jesus Christ. The whole basis of a lot of Protestantism is the denial of there being any essential ordinance or authority between man and God. Thus they view the ordinances as non-essential signs of our faith. We view them as essential expressions of our faith.

    That’s a big difference. (Not that I was going to focus on differences, but still…)

    The common ground, and this is probably what you were getting at, is that it is all to easy to focus on a set of beliefs rather than a set of activities we engage in. But of course most important to both faiths is that direct relationship with God that is more important than belief or act. And it is quite possible for people in both groups to forget what faith is and get caught up in the trappings by putting doctrine ahead of faith.

    I’d actually say that most anti-Mormonism, ends up being a manifestation of that. Likewise, among Mormons “Bible bashing” and often even apologetics falls into the same trap.

  40. Davis Bell says:

    Damn it, kids! All I wanted was for us to sit down and have a nice dinner together, and before I know it you’re squabbling and fighting like always!

  41. Marcus Coffey says:

    Dear Readers of Common Consent,

    I am not sure if you have heard of the incredible controversy taking place on the
    “Times and Seasons” LDS blog concerning the congenial but conservative Evangelical scholar Ed Enochs but I would look into it and defend him over there. Looks like some uptight LDS gave him the boot in a diagraceful way. The man is a scholar and a gentleman and I think he should be heard without being repressed. I want to start a campaign, “Free Ed Enochs”.

    When the history of Evangelical-Mormon interaction is finally written, there should be a volume written on the young and emerging voice that is Ed Enochs let’s free him that he might speak again.

    Marcus Coffey

  42. Marcus,

    If they’re mistreating him, that’s a shame. But I know some of the people at Times and Seasons, and they’re a pretty good lot. Hopefully we can all see eye-to-eye somehow.

  43. Marcus, out of curiosity, what’s your connection with Ed, besides an IP address?

    Ed was politely asked to keep his comments on topic at Times and Seasons, a forum devoted to exploring *Mormon* thought. People were patient with several somewhat meandering expositions of evangelical thought, only vaguely related to the topics at hand. He was then, somewhat less politely, asked to adhere to the comment policies of Times and Seasons, or not post there.

    For your information, there are several people who have been asked not to post at T&S anymore because their comments were off-topic, disruptive, or rude. Ed’s not getting special treatment.

  44. Nicely said Kristine.

  45. faithdefender says:

    Hello all! Is mormonism even close to christianity?

  46. Hi Faithdefender,

    You’ve come a long way (Australia) to ask that question! Here’s the brief answer: Mormons consider themselves to be Christians. Some Christians don’t consider Mormons to be Christian; some do. So, if you have to guess, say that we’re Christian.

    Thanks for visiting!

  47. Faithdefender says:

    Just to let eveyone know my last post on here was removed. it was full of facts and proved mormonism is a cult. and i was not rude.

  48. Wow, facts. Nobody’s ever told us facts before.

  49. Ed Enochs (the one and only) says:

    Hi guys, hope all is well.

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