Dialogue or A Widening of the Road ?
The warm winds of Laodicea blow through the church even now. Laodicea means mans opinion, men ruling. Men, who do not want to adhere to the Scripture fully, but only in part. One of the facets of Laodiea is that you become blind and not know you're blind, even when others point it out.
Craig Hazen's News Report on the Mormon Tabernacle event gave an update on the effort to dialog with the Mormon leadership. Said “It was surreal to see Evangelicals worshiping in Spirit and Truth at the center of Mormon power and influence. It was a tremendous reminder that the Triune God of Scripture will ultimately triumph and that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Speaking on Ravi Zacharias “In my view the rank-and-file Mormons would not
have found anything controversial in it. However, those LDS who had a more
finely-tuned sense of theology (very rare among Mormons, even in their
leadership) would have recognized some pointed challenges on sin, salvation, the
nature of God, and the state of the human heart.
What exactly is going on here? What was the goal of this event? Does Hazen comments give us a sense of mission accomplished? How does this event remind us every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord? For those who have not made the right decision now, when that day comes it will be a day too late.
Are we to believe that we are seeing a change of heart in the LDS church by their leaders? Are they going to reform the church? Personally I do not think that is what is taking place. While not being on the inside we can only go by the statements released by the news services and of those who are the inside.
Robert Millet spoke, “We have two strong faith traditions who traditionally are prone to conflict working together,” Millet said. “This is a great occasion where people who share common moral values can come together and address the significance of Jesus Christ.”
Is this what this is all about? According to the Mormon side it is. What are they working together towards?
Robert Millet, Chair of Religious Understanding at Brigham Young University said, “that this event will unite many believers around the nation through the spirit of Jesus Christ.” (Article By Partick Duong)
Richard Mouw has also written the forward to Mormon
Robert Millet’s book “A Different Jesus?: The Christ of Latter Day Saints”
by Erdmann publishers. Which is listed in a number of CHRISTIAN bookstores even
before its release. The foreword and afterword by Richard J. Mouw
Mouw seems to be indifferent to Mormonism having a Different Jesus, Gospel and Spirit-- his viewpoint is as like gazing from the ground up.
Robert Millet holds The Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding at BYU. He travels with Greg Johnson of Standing Together ministries around the country speaking to evangelical and LDS groups. “He and Johnson met with Zacharias in Atlanta last summer, and Zacharias assured Millet he will say nothing to offend his hosts.” (It is reported that the First Presidency did not ask for assurances that Zacharias will refrain from criticism of the LDS faith, he decided this on his own.)
Can the gospel not be offensive to those in opposition to it? Not according to the Bible. You can’t speak in generalities. Zacharias was not there to teach Christians but to reach those who are bound by another Jesus and another gospel. To do this you must take more to them than a teaching of your beliefs, you must pull down the strongholds the enemy has built (1 Cor.10:3-5). By allowing himself not to address the Mormon teachings directly Zacharias was left with a one sided sword.
In this article Greg Johnson, a Baptist minister who is hosting Zacharias in Salt Lake City says that, “this is one more step to forging relationships between people of other faiths.” Many of us had not had a problem being friends or have acquaintances with “other faiths.’ Salt Lake Tabernacle opens doors to other faiths[http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/53113 ]
The Bible teaches there are no other faiths, but there are other religious beliefs. To say this in their context gives an eerie feel to it all. There is one faith delivered once to all the Saints. We can see where Standing Together ministries is coming from with Johnson when he says “It is possible to have meaningful relationships with people of other faiths,” Johnson said. “ We share common moral values and can learn from one another's beliefs and teachings.”
Is there an agenda beyond what we see? From the Mormon side --- Beehive to Standing Together Ministries and BYU's Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding for helping bridge the gap between Latter-day Saints and evangelical Christians. The groups co-sponsored an “Evening of Fellowship” Nov. 14 at the Salt Lake Tabernacle to allow these two branches of Christianity to celebrate what they have in common. During the meeting, Fuller Theological Seminary President Richard Mouw apologized for evangelicals' characterization of Latter-day Saints as non-Christian. If such good will starts spreading across America, who knows what could happen next? (“Beehives and Buffalo Chips,” The Daily Herald, Saturday, November 20, 2004.)
Be assured the Mormon church will milk this event for all its worth. Is this what this whole thing is about to break down the walls? To work together as if there are no differences because of moral issues that face us. I’m sorry but this is not in any shape or form right. in fact this is a compromise of greatest proportions.
What Happens when Division becomes Unity?
We are being told If we can focus on a common denominator we can be in unity. Having a common cause, a PURPOSE to do good by our WORKS. We can rally together united in our faith[s] despite any differences for the common goal of moral issues. In fact you can rally together even with moral atheists and humanists if this is the intent.
One Mormon newspaper it had this to say, it “was heralded as the beginning of a new era to replace one of mistrust.”
Maybe Mouw will get a humanitarian award for his attempt to unify us by the liberal side of the church who cheers his statements and efforts. Since many already believe in new ways; God’s doing a new thing is the rallying call of the ecumenist's, without ever looking to see if this is what it says in Scripture.
Are we now going to see a new ECT called EMT Evangelicals and Mormons Together? This is already the direction they seem to be headed, just consider what they are doing. Are we now obligated to return the favor because of what has taken place? Are Christians now going to open the doors to Mormons speaking in our churches? Would you be surprised? as long as visible representatives compromise they will move the dividing line further over to our side until it vanishes away.
Greg Johnson of Standing Together ministries has an orthodox statement of faith, yet he also says on his website- his philosophy of inter-faith dialogue is that “honesty and civility lead to relationships of integrity.” While friendships are built by relationships this is not necessary with the intent for evangelism to occur. What they are promoting is what is called friendship evangelism. What about the necessity to evangelize those who have another Jesus?
Mormon Robert Millet spoke of the historical significance of the lecture. “We have two strong faith traditions who traditionally are prone to conflict working together,” Millet said. “This is a great occasion where people who share common moral values can come together and address the significance of Jesus Christ.” (http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/53124 )
“It is possible to have meaningful relationships with people of other faiths,” Johnson said. “ We share common moral values and can learn from one another's beliefs and teachings.”[Source: http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/53113 ]Salt Lake Tabernacle opens doors to other faiths NewsNet Web Reporter - 20 Oct 2004 By AMBER GILES)
Tobin Dixon, Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Utah, encouraged people of all faiths to come with an open mind and willingness to learn. (ibid.)
I'm wondering, what can we learn that would be beneficial from “a faith” that claims to
be the true Christian church and is NOT. Mormons say they have the fullness of the
gospel and Christianity does not. Now we have a new way, friendship-- people can keep their truth and accept
the additional truth the Mormons offer.
“If we allow theological differences to prevent us from joining hands in facing some very challenging social crises, evil will win out in the end,” Millet said. (Evangelist to speak at Tabernacle Saturday, September 11, 2004 By Carrie A. Moore Deseret news)
No, it is evil that will win if we continue down the road of compromise toward this false unity whose purpose is to affect moral issues in society. A motive of uniting on moral or social issues by having common moral values does not make unity, Jesus Christ does.
Greg Johnson, a Baptist minister hosting Zacharias in Salt Lake City says that, “this is one more step to forging relationships between people of other faiths.”
Many of us had not had a problem being friends or have acquaintances with “other faiths,” as they call them. But we can see where Standing Together ministries is coming from and this does not seem to be spiritually healthy.
To not correct false doctrine taught publicly (home to home by missionaries and by TV) is a neglect of Paul’s admonishment to Timothy about being an evangelist: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). Let me correct the other flawed argument presented. We are not saying the Mormon’s are bad people, what we are saying is that there are no good people (us included), for there is no one good but God, at least according to Jesus (Matthew 19:17; Romans. 3:9-).
To bring this back into perspective, are we not allowed to be zealous for the truth as you are for friendship? Telling the truth does not have to be condescending or intentionally insulting ones beliefs. But there is a need to face facts--we are not in a discussion about fashion, or the weather. This is about the eternal lives of souls, heaven or hell in the balance. Mormon’s do not know the consequences of what they believe, they need to be told. I believe God’s word for this is Jude 1:21-23: “keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Yes love can be strong when necessary.
On Ravi, “his overarching message -- that Jesus Christ is the answer to the longing in all human hearts -- was one that resonated with both evangelical Christians and Mormons. “When you get the Son, you get the way, the truth and the life,” Zacharias said.
This is all true, but they heard his message in a completely different way. Sisters Sylvia and Liz Wilcox, who are members of the LDS Church, said they were impressed with Zacharias' message.” It was beautiful,” said Liz Wilcox. “I loved the focus on the unity. They did a beautiful job of finding common ground.” (Mormons hosts non-LDS preacher Casper Star Tribune, 11/19/04)
Ravi Zacharias did not concentrate on who the Jesus of the Bible is compared to the Jesus of Mormonism, so how could it have the impact it would normally have when putting the straight stick next to their crooked one. This proves one must be more specific in their evangelistic effort because the Mormons did not get it. Mormons use the same terminology we use but pour a different meaning into the words. They filter the words through their own belief system. If falsehood is not confronted with the truth side by side, will those who have a different definition of terms understand? Apparently they do not.
Zacharias had a private meeting with the First Presidency on Friday morning. This would do more good than any speech he gives to any group of Mormons. Unless the president of the Mormon church who is the mouthpiece of God on earth (like the Pope for the Roman Catholics) changes his mind and rejects all that has come before him there will be no reform. It is the president and the prophet whom the church entrusts its leadership to. The LDS Church President can make a pronouncement on a subject, and it will be regarded as “divine revelation” to the church. So any kind of meetings with other Mormons who do not have this position are compromise
Greg Johnson says “While individuals should not compromise their faith understanding simply to be a peace with others, we surely can learn from the Bible that we are to love those who are different than we are, even theologically different, and that doing so does not suggest that we accept their teachings or views.”
This is what we have been saying. But this also insinuates that because we have strong disagreements love is not involved. This is a very one-sided assessment. The straw man argument is that if you speak against their beliefs, you’re an anti-Mormon. No, we are for the Mormons as people but are rejecting their belief system and showing why it is not what Jesus Christ said.
Love is not open-mindedness tolerance or open-ended acceptance. Biblical love is to be our motivation for sharing. It has knowledge based on God’s Word. It proves all things, and approves of only those things that are in agreement with the will of God. Romans 12:9-10 tells us “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” When you understand Jesus, you value the truth, and how crucial it is for us to uphold it. For His nature has truth as well as love. True love is not silent when people are being misled. Those who have been delivered from error know the value of the truth that was told to them, because they were set free by it. Genuine love does not rule out correction, it speaks the truth (Ephesians 4:15), and will want to bring correction to those caught in falsehood. The Scripture is to be used for correction and rebuke, as well as comfort, and building up. One of the facets of love is to rejoice at the truth, but only those who pursue the truth or are in the truth can rejoice over truth. We need to identify the falsehood spread using Jesus’ name, if we who know the truth do not tell them, who will? That is love, to care enough to speak the truth and not be involved in “seeker sensitive apologetics.” The great commission is done by holding to the two great commandments that all the law hangs on, to love God first and then people. And this is what cult evangelism is all about.
One cannot be a Christian without agreeing with the main tenets of our faith. By these we endeavor to maintain the unity of the Spirit given to us; it is the doctrine that unites us all. We are not to fellowship with with those of a different doctrine. There is a new Jesus being offered today to make peace with all religions. The spirit of our age is forging “tolerance” which wants to synthesize all the different religions to be in unity. You cannot say we will overlook the differences and be friends to work together for moral issues uniting together with WORKS. This is finding a mutual ground based on the lowest common denominator.
A New Way?
John Morehead sounded off in favor of this new way, he stated: “I believe it was entirely appropriate for Mouw to apologize for misrepresenting Mormonism, because we have. Evangelical polemics on Mormonism seem more interested in attacking 19th century Mormonism rather than understanding and responding to 21st century Mormonism and a religion that is in a state of flux (as are all religious traditions). ... I believe a more fruitful approach is to understand new religions (including Mormonism) as an unreached people group, and to utilize a cross-cultural missions model.
Many do not understand what calling them an unreached people group and utilize a cross-cultural missions model means. First I would like to make a correction to this; they are not unreached but a very reached people group. They are not like some religion or culture in a 3rd world country or forbidden place. In fact the very reason the Mormons would allow this event is because they know of the effect our evangelistic efforts have had, not because of healing hurt feelings or misrepresentations. In fact they have found it increasingly difficult to explain themselves in light of so many ministries presenting biblical truth, therefore a switch in their strategy was necessary. They have let certain men think they are initiating this change of policy by speaking of friendship for a new era has taken place.
Joseph Smith himself said in the official Doctrine and Covenants (71:7) “Wherefore confound your enemies; call upon them to meet you in both public and in private, inasmuch as ye are faithful their shame shall be made manifest.”
The fact is, the Mormon religion has always been in a state of flux, any former revelation can be discounted by a new one officially spoken. But what is concerning is watching the evangelical left also in a state of flux, participating in the new paradigm. As Moorehead so clearly put it in his letter, “I am encouraged by the Temple Square event, because it is yet another example that a new paradigm is emerging among evangelicals in response to new religions. The confrontational counter-cult methodology has seen its day, and God is doing a new thing. I am glad that you are a part of it, and that God is pulling together a growing network of evangelicals.”
Where have we heard this language before? Using a New Age term to explain his own view of what is now taking place is revealing. To say such a thing and not have any biblical basis for it exhibits a shuffling of principles that were once based on the apostles teaching. A more humanistic approach is accepted in its place, friendship common goals, morals in society.
Their collection of 19th century sermons are written with “thus saith the Lord” from their living prophets. Remember it was Brigham stated: “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Does Mormonism now reject the writings of their prophets? I think not. Why should we.
To say we are answering to a Mormonsim of the past is far from the truth. As stated in the prior article numerous modern quotes and literature besides their own recent TV ads. Mormon President Ezra Taft Benson (from 1985-1994) wrote of “the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pg. 53) This is not a quote from the 1800's and neither are the numerous other statements against Christian teaching and the Bible.
Many have become tired in the battle only to retire to the comfort of a more liberal approach while trying to hold onto a sliver of what they once did. Relinquishing ourselves to make friends and be in united on social concerns is not an answer. Forging alliances with those who have attacked Christianity from the beginning and have not expressed one iota of remorse seems to make the point all the more apparent. Let these men call for repentance from the Mormons as they did to the evangelicals. If they do not, it will be made known what has taken place. That indeed God has allowed them to embrace a “new thing” to override the old thing, the Scriptures.
Bridging a Great Divide
Greg Johnson’s Standing Together ministries recommends reading the book, “How Wide the Divide?” Written by Robinson and Blomberg to better understand this philosophy of outreach. This makes it clearer what these men are attempting, having religious discussions to forge common ground.
Robinson says, “Indeed, my part of this book represents only the views of one Latter-day Saint, though I hope a credible one. I do not speak in this volume for the LDS Church, only for myself” (How Wide the Divide? 1997, p. 14). Blomberg likewise states, “We each speak officially for no one other than ourselves.”
Then it really does not matter what they have to say, does it. Because it does not affect any true change in the overall Mormon church. Can Millet be a spokesman for the church if he is not an apostle or prophet, this would only be his own opinion.
The book “How Wide the Divide” basically calls the many differences a semantic problem. Both authors try to calm each others words toward one another, we have misunderstood what is being said. Sound familiar. It is this same approach touted today.
They polish up the religion an lo and behold we can befriend them. Well its not that easy to dismiss over 170 years of sordid teaching from their history.
Robinson’s argument is that Mormons tend to identify all evangelicals with the fundamentalist Anti-Mormons. “Though unfortunate, it would be fair to say that the average Latter-day Saint honestly believes the average Evangelical to be mean-spirited and dishonest-mean-spirited because, as Prof. Blomberg has pointed out, we tend to identify all Evangelicals with the fundamentalist anti-Mormons who incessantly attack us, and dishonest because these so-called anticultists always insist the LDS believe things we do not in fact believe” (p.11).
Calling Mormon researchers dishonest, calling anyone whom he disagrees with as ill-informed, mean-spirited and extremist. He calls evangelical apologists that actually know what they are talking about “rabid anti-Mormons” “tell whoppers about us” “misrepresent my beliefs,” “extreme fundamentalists.” This is generalizing those who have worked tirelessly being friends to Mormons by bringing them the truth. If this means we believe in the core teachings of the Bible and are willing to defend them to those who bring another gospel, than I for one will wear that badge. This unfortunately shows a grave misunderstanding on his part, not ours.
If we are to apologize for something should we not be privy to the details we are apologizing for? What exactly are these misrepresentations of beliefs, the lies and abuses that the Mormons have voiced that these men now have taken their side on? Please let us know what they are and how this is proven?
Even as I was preparing this article a Mormon ad came on the TV saying that their prophet restored the fulness of the gospel. What has Mouw and his associates done when this continues unabated even after their epic meeting. It appears this compromise is one sided.
It is Mormonism attacked Christianity first and it still continues. All one has to do is read the many quotes of their own founder, prophets and apostles and it becomes clear that there is no misrepresentation on our part but theirs. Cannot those who spoke these statements be representative of them without someone coming later to wash them in fabric softener. I’m sorry, but they need to do some serious house cleaning them-selves. President Brigham Young of whom their university is named after said that the “Christian God is the Mormon's Devil...” (Journal of Discourses, Volume 5, p. 331). John Taylor said that Christianity was “hatched in hell” (Journal of Discourses, Volume 6, page 176) and “a perfect pack of nonsense...the Devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work...” (Journal of Discourses, Volume 6, page 167). In our generation Professor at BYU Kent P. Jackson said that Satan sits as head of Christian churches (Kent P. Jackson, “Early Signs of the Apostasy,” The Ensign magazine, Dec. 1984, pp.8-9). He is not saying anything different than his other Mormons predecessors. They want to hold to Brigham Young and the other prophets, but disavow their teachings sermons from the Journal of Discourses.
We are not allowing these men to apologize for those who have a ministry to Mormons? They have apologized for our giving the truth to Mormons! This is outrageous. Light has become darkness. These men need to apologize for misrepresenting what the majority of those in ministry are ACTUALLY doing. Do these men actually know how thick the veil of deception is and what it takes to get people out? Does their concern lay with people exiting counterfeits or with our making peace with them?
We keep hearing that there are discussions that focus on key theological differences between evangelical Christianity and Mormonism. However, do we hear if the Christian beliefs are right and the Mormon side is wrong? Someone is right and someone is wrong. Or are these discussions only to mend the hurt feelings that are perceived by Mormons? There is no real dialogue if it does not forge toward an admission of being wrong and bring repentance. Should we not be asking the Mormons to apologize and remove their condescending anti-Christian comments of their prophets, apostles, and presidents. Since when do we embrace people of another religion that claims to be the true Christianity, and we, as Christians have missed the truth because in we only have the Bible?
Alas, the Mormons have found a man (and men), as a weak link to listen to their convoluted double talk. Now Mouw and others are willing to convince the majority of evangelicals to come along in their anti-evangelism campaign. How Machiavellian.
In the end we will see that this event has helped the Mormons immensely, this has given them a greater platform for publicity of which they can cleverly take advantage of. While some may be taken in to this new method of peace, those who understand the issues will not.
We will continue to pray for them and witness to them as we are supposed to because we love them, and our God is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond what we ask.