Hearing from Mormons and Ex-Mormons

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For my post today, I just briefly wanted to comment a bit on the response I received from yesterday’s piece where I described why I was researching Mormonism.

In the roughly 24 hours since I made the post, I not only got a lot of comments on social media but have been contacted by at least a half-dozen people privately, mostly ex-Mormons who are now Orthodox but including one Mormon who is considering leaving the LDS church. This has been particularly surprising because the overall reach of the post in terms of number of web hits has been relatively low compared to my more “hot button” pieces. So this tells me that there is definitely an interest in the topic of exploring Mormonism from an Orthodox Christian point of view.

I’ve gotten a lot of good book recommendations and have been pointed to some interesting websites, as well. One thing that especially interests me is how active and vigorous the intellectual world of Mormonism is. The LDS have plenty of scholars who are ready to defend their distinctive faith.

A few of the responses I’ve gotten have included nearly dire warnings that even exploring what Mormonism believes could be very dangerous. I understand the caution. But it’s also true that Orthodox Christians have been learning about non-Orthodox religions since the first century, mostly as a way to understand the people around them and to communicate Jesus Christ to them better. I don’t think there’s anything to fear from learning.

I myself have been reading about non-Orthodox and non-Christian religions for many years. Indeed, it was this exploration which initially led me into the Orthodox Church, became the basis for the Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy podcast and book, and has confirmed me again and again in my Orthodox faith ever since.

Every belief system, even in its errors, reveals something about the human soul and its desires. Let’s be like St. Basil’s bee, who goes from flower to flower and takes whatever she finds useful and makes from it sweet honey. And let’s also remember that members of other religions are not our enemy. The devil is our enemy.

6 comments:

  1. If you’re at all inclined to TV drama(or have the time for it), you might be interested in seeing how Mormonism is portrayed in “Hell on Wheels,” particularly in the second-to-last season. The whole series is worthwhile, I think, as it touches on so many aspects of the post-bellum “reconstruction” which reverberate loudly in American culture even today, the very existence of the series itself being an echo in and of itself, of course. Anyway, the series took a lot of flak from LDS community.

  2. When I lived in SLC my Mormon neighbors gave me a video of a former Roman Catholic priest who had become so enthralled with anti-Mormon literature (and eventually Mormon literature) that he left the priesthood for Mormonism. A few years later, when he had returned to the Roman Catholic Church, I heard thie priest talking about it on Catholic Answers. To say the least, he was embarrased by the whole thing. There is quite an extensive literature that has been produced by the Tanner’s ministry on Mormonism and its credibility problems: http://www.utlm.org

  3. I like your example of st. Basil’s bee! While we don’t agree with the Mormon beliefs, they are very involved in their faith and family. They focus on being a community. They tithe a lot. They live out their beliefs and are strongly convicted in those beliefs.

    -Have they also been suffering the loss of membership like other christian religions?

    -How are we as Orthodox living out our faith, tithing, encouraging fellowship within our churches? Are we as committed to our faith? Are you doing all that you can to live out the faith?

    – What are they doing to keep their members in the faith and active? Are there any positive things that they do to have active members or is it all done out of fear of displeasing God or the elders?

    I want to learn how or why they claim to be christian. Some of them do and I see sunday school lessons by them about christ. Or do they believe he was a good man but not God? And how does this play into Joseph Smith? Or did they just add on the Jesus part?

    For the people warning you, we have to be strong in our own beliefs. God is bigger than Satan. We cant give satan that much power. What do you think, Father? For anyone concerned, pray for protection before reading and add more study of the Orthodox faith, if any of you are concerned. And obviously talk to your priest.

    Reading everyone’s comments on FB reminds me that mormons are “our neighbor” who we are called to love. Yea, we don’t agree with their beliefs but they are still people and we have to remeber that before saying something about them.

  4. If you write this book, I’d love to see a chapter or appendix on engaging Mormons who may not have a clear idea of what their own beliefs are. I am seeing more and more that Mormon missionaries and ordinary Mormon adherents fall back on very Christian language and uncontroversial theological categories. Some do it intentionally to avoid the appearance of heterodoxy, but many do it because they honestly believe that this is just another version (albeit the “best” version, in their view) of mainstream Christianity.

  5. I was raised a Greek Orthodox and was converted to Mormonism by my future husband in my very young years. Mormons believe all that Christians believe in with the exception that you can only be saved if you are a Mormon and you accept their teachings and their prophet Joseph Smith, hence their very active and successful missionary program. All other churches and religions are false and theirs is the only true church. I have long ago gone back to my Greek Orthodox Church roots and have realized now in my later years how mislead I was. Mormonism is considered to be a cult by many churches and I know this is true because I lived it for many years. They brainwash you, intimidate you and drill into you their beliefs and Mormon doctrine. You must accept their church or you will not attain their very highest of kingdoms, the celestial kingdom.

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