What’s This Mormon Thing?

Hostile Anti-Mormon posts subject to editing or deletion

Pre-conceived Notions

Posted by JLFuller on June 19, 2008

“We used to have on the front of the Old Testament syllabus at Duke* a cartoon and it showed a young man lying on the floor thumbing through his scriptures and his wife was standing over him and he’s saying to her ‘Go away, leave me alone. I’m looking for a biblical text to support my pre-conceived notion!’ Roger R. Keller, Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding at BYU  www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2003_Grace_of_Apologetics.html

 

In his piece, Dr. Keller takes from the Book of Mormon: He quotes 3 Nephi 11: 29-30: “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the Spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine that such things should be done away.”

 

I think refusing to consider the other side of the story is not a doctrinal thing – it is a form of non-verbal violence. Non-verbal violence is similar to passive-aggressive behavior or more accurately sabotage. The perpetrator’s behavior in effect is communicating a willingness to breach the minimum decorum we expect from each other. That is, I will trust and honor you and be trustworthy in return. In our discussions here, refusing to accommodate another persons most sacred beliefs and in fact denigrating them publicly, is defacto aggression. It is an anger response. That is not to say we all have to agree with everyone else, we just have to accommodate the legitimacy of their closely held beliefs. The real world effect of such destructive behavior is the diminution of the bond that makes communities work. Notice again I am not talking about doctrine. The focus is behavioral. We may all have differences of opinion and consider one element of fact as more persuasive than another and come to entirely different positions. That is to be expected. But what we cannot do, and must not do, is reject the other persons right to have his position respected and given due consideration.  

 

If I use the term pro-social, most people understand what that means. If I use the term anti-social, they understand that too. Overt hostile words are anti-social. Most people understand that to be a bad thing and they understand why. But there are some who insist that because they have a right to make such comments that it is a good thing too. To those people I ask “good for whom?” Good for the recipient of your brutish behavior? Is it good for you to just get it off your chest? I don’t see any benefit in alienating people you disagree with. What is it you hope to accomplish? Do you think the other guy is listening? Do you think other readers/listeners are impressed? No my friends, there is a better way. It is more challenging but it works where other methods fail. The other way is Christ’s way. Gal 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith..”

 

I came across a fellow writing on his blog recently, lamenting that only 2500 or so of his denomination at any one time ever took a week off to go to another city and witness. Mormons, on the other hand, had 50,000 to 60,000 people serving two year missions and they paid their own way. The difference I suggest is adherents to his denomination and others who follow that example are quite willing and anxious to openly attack other denominations with whom they disagree. I suggest that by their behavior they repel the Holy Spirit when they do so. Notice I said nothing about doctrine – only behavior.

 

Many years ago, four California Highway Patrol Officer were gunned down by two killers. Asked why they killed the officers, one commented “Because they got stupid. They deserved it”. The killers based their behavior on weaknesses they perceived in others. The officers did not intend to use deadly force against the killers unless there was no other way and their thinking dictated how they responded. I have often heard “killer” type comments made by others when they are talking about Mormons and others they disagree with. In essence, “We talk about them this way because…”  You can fill in the rest.

 

* Duke University, Durham North Carolina

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6 Responses to “Pre-conceived Notions”

  1. jackg said

    JLF,

    When the Holy Spirit bears witness, is it only a feeling we need to look for? Should we abandon all reason to this “feeling”? Should we discount the biblical text all together?

  2. JLFuller said

    You ask a good question Jack. Are you sure your understanding of the biblical text is accurate?
    I think that is where the Holy Ghost comes in. I think it is a matter of whether you are living your life according the Gospel as you understand it. In my mind it is how clear the connection is.

  3. jackg said

    JLF,

    Thanks for responding, and I do appreciate your article. Your appeal to treat others with respect regarding their most sacred beliefs is commendable. You are LDS, and I am not. We have a different set of sacred beliefs which seem at times to be diametrically opposed. Is it safe to assume that as LDS you believe that I must be LDS to be saved in the Kingdom of Heaven? I’m trying to avoid false assumptions but, as a former LDS and missionary, I wanted to bring the message that I then believed to be true to every one because I believed they needed it. As a former member, I have that same desire: to bring LDS to the knowledge of what I believe to the truth regarding Jesus Christ and His gospel. I completely understand that you are against arguing. Without trying to be facetious, I wonder if you see debate as arguing, as well. I guess my fundamental question is this: taking into consideration that both an LDS member and former LDS member believe their message to be the truth, and both parties are concerned about the eternal condition of the other, how can they dialog without becoming emotional (which generally leads to attacks and the “defacto agression) and arguing? Again, I am not trying to be facetious, but am asking an honest question. Are we to avoid evangelizing all together? How can one evangelize and avoid the pitfalls of bringing in contention? How do you see this problem addressed? I want to evangelize LDS, but I do want to avoid all the negatives your article highlights.

  4. JLFuller said

    Jack
    You and I are not going to agree on doctrine. Your vieews are the man-made kind. The holy Ghost converted me – not another human being. You can’t ever trump that – ever. If you served a mission and later left the Church, you apparently know at least as much as I do, so doctrinal questions become a wasted effort. But that is the minor point. The major point is how we approach each others sacred views. It is about behavior. If I can’t talk about sacred experiences to another person without being defamed then I don’t want to talk. Evangelizing Mormons just isn’t a profitable venture for you, among most Mormons anyway. The only way it works is for you to find some disenchanted person who has chosen to not live the Gospel for whatever reason and approach them with another view point. Being a respectful friend brings people close together. I can tell you that standing in front of Temple Square dragging a B of M on the sidewalk on a string says more about the perpetrator than those he offends. It really is about behavior and respect. It is not about doctrine. Anyone wanting a fight will not find one with me. They just don’t have the horsepower.

    Jack, I am a retired parole officer. I have seen evil up close and personal. It has a stink about it. The look in the eye gives it away. The quiet of Satans whisper is louder than the cry of his angels. I am familiar with it. The difference between the quiet voice of the Holy Ghost and Satans charm screams at me. It is unmistakable. There is no power on earth that can make me forsake what God has confirmed to me. I am the only person who can do that.

  5. jackg said

    JLF,

    I used to be correctional officer, now I serve as a chaplain in a Christ-centered recovery program. I’m sure I have not experienced the evil you have, but have seen my fair share.

    I echo your words for myself, “There is no power on earth that can make me forsake what God has confirmed to me.” I’m certain you saw my post on mormon coffee with regard to my experience in response to your comment.

    I agree that those who drag BOM at conference are revealing more about themselves. My return-missionary son once asked me, “I’m not going to see you at conference with signs, am I?” Of course not. So, here’s a scenario I would like your views on: we’re meeting for soft drinks and burgers, would the discussion of our belief systems come up? If so, what would be the parameters? Actually, could we ever sit down and chat together?

    One last question (and I’m not trying to start something): don’t you consider your second and third sentences to me are on the verge of being disrespectful and condescending? I have been converted by the Holy Spirit and not man, and I don’t believe my views to be the “man-made” kind. I’m just curious. Anyway, I don’t generally post in the evening much later than now. Looking forward to your response.

  6. JLFuller said

    Jack
    No, my comment was not aimed in your direction. I sent you an e-mail apologizing for not editing that part. Old eleven thumbs here. I think a good deal of the understanding of historic Christianity is based the Creeds which I believe to be erroneous. I think you understand what I mean. That is what I mean when I say man-made – such as the nature of God.

    BTW, some of my heroes are recovering addicts. I believe these people often make more personal progress on a bad day than I do on a good one. Did you work at Point of the Mountain? One of the most powerful men I know was a pastor at the penitentiary. He provided a lot of parolees with a decent place to live and another opportunity to get their lives on track. It was a privilege to work with Prison Ministries. I feel strongly about those people. They do God’s work.

    I don’t see any reason why you and I and others could not be good friends. I even know people who are not Mormons. Would religion come up at lunch? I don’t think I would bring it up, in any doctrinal way at least. I need time alone to compose what I am thinking about and contemplate it. I can’t talk off the cuff very well. It doesn’t allow me time to edit out my goofy ill-considered stuff. I really do solicit the Holy Ghost when I write. I often have to get myself right before I can sound cogent.

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