Wednesday, November 24, 2004

"We Have Sinned Against You"

A leading evangelical speaks at the Mormon Tabernacle and says evangelicals have spread lies about LDS beliefs.
By Richard Mouw (beliefnet)

I know that I have learned much in this continuing dialogue, and I am now convinced that we evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community. Indeed, let me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: we have sinned against you. The God of the Scriptures makes it clear that it is a terrible thing to bear false witness against our neighbors, and we have been guilty of that sort of transgression in things we have said about you. We have told you what you believe without making a sincere effort first of all to ask you what you believe.

We have made much of the need to provide you with a strong defense of traditional Christian convictions, regularly quoting the Apostle Peter’s mandate that we present to people like you a reasoned account of the hope that lies with in us—but we have not been careful to follow the same Apostle’s counsel that immediately follows that mandate, when he tells us that we must always make our case with “gentleness and reverence” toward those with whom we are speaking. Indeed, we have even on occasion demonized you, weaving conspiracy theories about what the LDS community is “really” trying to accomplish in the world. And even at our best, we have—and this is true of both of our communities—we have talked past each other, setting forth oversimplified and distorted accounts of what the other group believes.

Wow! As convert since 1978, who was previously a member of a Southern Baptist church, and who heard vast amounts of that anti-Mormon stuff, this is amazing! (Can't help but wonder if they'll finally figure out that Catholics are Christians, too!! Maybe if we can figure out who's in God's Army, there can be more cooperation in the world against the forces of the adversary, and less "friendly fire" amongst ourselves, which must sadden our Father in Heaven, and bring glee to Satan's forces.)

Summary below, but read the whole thing here.

For the first time in 105 years, non-Mormons mounted the pulpit at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Nov. 14. The event, dubbed an "Evening of Friendship," was organized by Standing Together, a network of 100 evangelical churches trying to improve relations with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Historical animosity dating back to the founding of the LDS Church has heightened in recent years between the two groups, particularly in the 1990s, when high-profile evangelical leaders said that Mormons are not Christians and the Southern Baptist Convention held one of its annual meetings in Salt Lake City, partially with the goal of converting Mormons to evangelical Protestantism.

In what the Deseret News referred to as "stunningly candid" comments, Fuller Theological Seminary president and Beliefnet columnist Richard J. Mouw apologized to Mormons for evangelicals' tendency to distort the truth about Latter-day Saints' beliefs. "Let me state it clearly. We evangelicals have sinned against you," Mouw said. The speech is making the rounds among surprised and generally pleased evangelical and Mormon groups.

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