Episode 99: The God Makers Reviewed

John is joined by Nathan, Nyal, Tom, Chris, Brian and Zilpha to view the film “The God Makers” and provide their review.

Also listen to our podcast interview with Ed Decker.

Episode 99

29 comments on “Episode 99: The God Makers Reviewed”

  1. Ian Reply

    Listening to todays podcast reminded me of an anti-mormon book I read early into my mission (some 24 years ago). The book had the usual arguments against the church… polygamy, seer stones, gold digging, etc… One of the strangest things it claimed was that the headstones for Joseph and Hyrum were kept inside an LDS temple (I forget which) and that mormons worship them. Once I read the claim I discounted everything else that was contained in the book as being lies. I have never come across this claim again and I don’t remember the name of the book. Has anyone else heard of this?

    • Starbase Kolob Reply

      Perhaps someone should make an updated version of The Godmakers but have it 100% accurate and not so shocking or cheesy. What do you guys think?

  2. Paul Reply

    Your credibility as reason-based people is based on your accuracy. About the divorce comments: The CHI (1999 version) is unequivocal: “No priesthood officer is to counsel a person whom to marry. Nor should he counsel a person to divorce his or her spouse. Those decisions must originate and remain with the individual.” I think everyone agrees that the CHI reflects the current understanding of the leaders of the church and represents official church policy. Any involvement of bishops in advocating divorce does not reflect church policy. I personally feel that one is far more likely to see divorce suggestions from extended families than bishops.

  3. Paul Reply

    Your credibility as reason-based people is based on your accuracy. About the divorce comments: The CHI (1999 version) is unequivocal: “No priesthood officer is to counsel a person whom to marry. Nor should he counsel a person to divorce his or her spouse. Those decisions must originate and remain with the individual.” I think everyone agrees that the CHI reflects the current understanding of the leaders of the church and represents official church policy. Any involvement of bishops in advocating divorce does not reflect church policy. I personally feel that one is far more likely to see divorce suggestions from extended families than bishops.

    • Glenn Reply

      Paul,

      Your comment reminds me of a courtroom scene from the movie “A Few Good Men” when Kevin Bacon tries to invalidate the ‘unofficial’ (yet, nevertheless, completely active) practice of ‘code red.’ Kevin Bacon asks Noah Wiley to show him where code red is listed in the official marine handbook of instructions (let’s call it the MHI). It’s not there. But then Tom Cruise cross examines, and asks Noah to show him where the mess hall is listed in the MHI. It’s not there either.

      Cruise: You mean that in all your time on base you never had a meal?

      Noah: Nope, three squares a day, sir.

      Cruise: I don’t understand. If it wasn’t in the MHI, how did you know where to go to eat?

      Noah: I guess I just followed the crowd at chow time.

      I used to play this clip to my Folklore 101 students on the first day of class to show them that despite official declarations, unofficial practices carry just as much (if not more) weight in everyday life.

      Bottom line, I think the panelists’ credibility as reason-based individuals is pretty safe. They were each just stating what they have observed over several years — some with differing observations even — and each asking questions and forming speculative opinions, much like yourself.

      But perhaps the most important point of all is this one very valuable lesson that we can take away from Brother Bacon — don’t mess with Tom Cruise. Ever.

    • Rich Rasmussen Reply

      I have had personal contact with two family members who’s two bishops encouraged divorce to an apostate male spouse, both in 2008. I agree not church “policy,” but defiantly church practice IME.

      • Paul Reply

        Hi Glenn and Rich, I do appreciate your comments. I believe you when you say that common practices often ignore official church policy. I have seen disasters in my family’s life due to local leaders ignoring the CHI.

        • Fanson Reply

          Then, Paul, one must ask: Why did you post your original comment if your personal experience validated the panel’s assertions?

          • Paul

            Hi Fanson,
            I don’t think I did a good job of expressing myself. I’ll try to summarize my feelings. In the case of a spouse leaving the church, official church policy is to do no harm to the marriage and to support the marriage. My point is that in my opinion the official church policy is the decent and correct thing to do. If a bishop acts at variance to official church policy, is the resulting action the church’s fault or the bishop’s fault? I would say the latter.

            I know that local leaders often act at variance with official policies. Some of these don’t seem to impact people very much, but some of these failures have gigantic negative impact.

            Because this kind of problem has very serious consequences for many, I would like to suggest that an episode be created that explores how how this happens in the church. How often do local leaders act contrary to policy? What does church leadership do about local leadership failures? Why and under what conditions do local leaders feel free to freestyle? What are the historical factors that contribute?

          • Fanson

            YOU WROTE
            “My point is that in my opinion the official church policy is the decent and correct thing to do. If a bishop acts at variance to official church policy, is the resulting action the church’s fault or the bishop’s fault? I would say the latter.”

            MY RESPONSE
            I concur.

            And making the CHI were available to the general public – let alone the entire LdS Church membership – would bring in the dynamic of public accountability and scrutiny of rogue Bishop behavior in this regard.

            Done. Easy. Fixed.

            So one wonders: Why isn’t CHI Volume 1 publicly accessible and available? The official justification ( “might decide they don’t need to go see their bishop … It made much more sense to reserve that volume for leaders.” see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handbook_(LDS_Church)#cite_note-online-1 ) is, to me, unconscionable and wrong headed.

            Do you concur?

    • Fanson Reply

      That’s awesome Paul – great to know!

      However, I’m scratching my head wondering how the average Mormon is going to know that given the fact that such close wraps are kept on the CHI.

      And, since the CHI is only sporadically referred to, let alone read, by most Bishops (if at all) even if it is there I wonder how many Bishops know, let alone practice this policy. I think all the anecdotal evidence about ExMormons whose spouse was counseled by their Bishop might suggest that the answer is: very few.

      BTW, these issues (though not the divorce issue specifically as I recall) were all discussed in a prior podcast (see http://mormonexpression.com/2010/09/episode-84-the-church-handbook-of-instructions-for-dummies/ )

      Finally, I’m trying to get my hands on a 2010 edition of CHI Volume One – either paper or Adobe Acrobat. Can you help me out?

  4. Eliza R. Snitch Reply

    I love the description of “Legacy” as “Mormon porn.” One of my favorite moments at BYU was in a film class, where we discussed whether church movies were pornographic, or designed to incite an unwarranted emotional response. The consensus seemed to be yes.

  5. cam Reply

    Because the church relies solely on lay clergy, without any professional training, to counsel members on extremely important, serious issues, they are complicit when the results “backfire.” It is a slap in the face to any trained therapist, social worker, psychologist, or professional clergy member, to think that a random guy in a suit can flip through a few pages in a handbook and be qualified to give advice to people in crisis. And it is irresponsible for the church to allow it. Would any of us go to a doctor who was untrained, but looked through medical books to give a diagnosis? I know. Inspiration, laying on of hands, etc. Hmmmm. How is that working out in reality? I’m just sayin.

  6. Fanson Reply

    Well speaking as an Evangelical I felt that what was sorely missing from the panel was the presence of a knowledgeable Evangelical voice of reason to clarify and represent how modern Evangelical Mormon Studies Scholars view Ed Decker in general and this film in particular. I think that the inclusion of Aaron Shafovaloff, Bridget Jack Jeffries, or Chris Smith would have been a big help at several points in the discussion.

    To start with, to suggest, or even imply that Ed Decker still has a lot of influence or credibility in today’s Evangelical discussions of Mormonism is, honestly, laughable. In fact, from my vantage point, his biggest critics are no longer Mormons but other Evangelicals AND for all the reasons that your panel articulated nicely.

    I would offer my own review of “The Godmakers” film on Amazon as Exhibit A (see http://www.amazon.com/review/R1LYUCXCJ6L1VV/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm ) and the following quotes from Wikipedia as Exhibit B:

    “Decker’s work has attracted criticism not only from Latter-day Saints,[3] but also from religious scholars of other faiths.[4]

    Jerald and Sandra Tanner and Bob Passantino have said that his writings grossly misrepresent Mormonism, and thereby dilute his message and offend Mormons without attracting them to evangelical Christianity. The Tanners, themselves prominent critics of the LDS Church, have noted what they contend are inaccuracies and errors in some of Decker’s works.[5]

    [3] According to Michael Griffith, “Even as anti-Mormon books go, The God Makers is one of the worst, most inaccurate attacks on Mormonism ever written.”Michael T. Griffith. “Another Look at The Godmakers”. (http//ourworld.cs.com/mikegriffith1/id114.htm; retrieved 2006-09-24)

    [4] Says Massimo Introvigne, “the second book and film are worse than the first: they include an explicit call to hatred and intolerance that has been denounced as such by a number of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish organizations.” Introvigne, Massimo (1994) “The Devil Makers: Contemporary Evangelical Fundamentalist Anti-Mormonism”, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 27 (1), 154.

    [5] Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1993). Problems in The Godmakers II. Salt Lake City, UT: UTLM”

    The other recurring problem in this podcast – though I thought the irony was amusing, and at points maddening – was how modern Biblical Theology and Evangelical thought and culture was represented.

    Unfortunately, the majority of panelists can’t seem to shake their Mormon indoctrination and seem to believe that the LdS approach to Biblical interpretation and epistemology are identical to their Evangelical counterparts when nothing could be further from the truth! Not everyone in Christianity is a fundamentalist, a literalist, and/or a dogmatist.

    For example, John Larsen, I love and respect ya buddy but we’re not all young earthers who believe that the world is around 6,000 years old based on the Genesis narrative. Nor do we all believe that the Genesis account should be taken 100% literally. You’re over generalizing when you make these claims in podcast after podcast – and, of course, you know that when one over generalizes one is ALWAYS wrong!
    (old joke but a good one that last line!)

    And, yes Virginia, there IS an objective standard for Biblical Orthodoxy within Christianity: The Creeds.

    Based on the creeds Evangelicals are able to divide doctrine into “essential” and “non-essential” categories. (see http://carm.org/essential-doctrines-of-christianity ) Now one need not acknowledge the creeds, nor even know them at all, but Theologically speaking they contain the summation of established and acknowledged sound interpretation in the same way that the body of Talmudic books do for the Jews – they work like “guard rails” that one must stay between in order to be considered “orthodox”.

    Finally, the closest thing that we Evangelicals had on the panel was – believe it or not – Nyal. He corrected stated that the Mormon Church teaches another Christ and another gospel and, therefore, can’t be considered “Christian” any more than someone who redefines Joseph Smith as a 19th Century space alien secretly transported to earth to prepare the world for the arrival of the mother ship and The 7-Habits as the gospel would be considered “Mormon”.

    Theologically speaking this hijacking and defining of Christian terms, forms, and rites to mean something completely different is what defines the “divide” between the two camps. And this is why Christians take umbrage at Mormons claiming to be what they clearly are not.

    Other than that I thought that this was an awesome podcast. And I agreed with the panel far, far, far more than I disagreed with them.

    And I think that we can all agree that the sooner the dated, overly sensationalized, imbalanced piece of amateur propaganda known as “The Godmakers” film is retired, the better for us all.

  7. Fanson Reply

    Well speaking as an Evangelical I felt that what was sorely missing from the panel was the presence of a knowledgeable Evangelical voice of reason to clarify and represent how modern Evangelical Mormon Studies Scholars view Ed Decker in general and this film in particular. I think that the inclusion of Aaron Shafovaloff, Bridget Jack Jeffries, or Chris Smith would have been a big help at several points in the discussion.

    To start with, to suggest, or even imply that Ed Decker still has a lot of influence or credibility in today’s Evangelical discussions of Mormonism is, honestly, laughable. In fact, from my vantage point, his biggest critics are no longer Mormons but other Evangelicals AND for all the reasons that your panel articulated nicely.

    I would offer my own review of “The Godmakers” film on Amazon as Exhibit A (see http://www.amazon.com/review/R1LYUCXCJ6L1VV/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm ) and the following quotes from Wikipedia as Exhibit B:

    “Decker’s work has attracted criticism not only from Latter-day Saints,[3] but also from religious scholars of other faiths.[4]

    Jerald and Sandra Tanner and Bob Passantino have said that his writings grossly misrepresent Mormonism, and thereby dilute his message and offend Mormons without attracting them to evangelical Christianity. The Tanners, themselves prominent critics of the LDS Church, have noted what they contend are inaccuracies and errors in some of Decker’s works.[5]

    [3] According to Michael Griffith, “Even as anti-Mormon books go, The God Makers is one of the worst, most inaccurate attacks on Mormonism ever written.”Michael T. Griffith. “Another Look at The Godmakers”. (http//ourworld.cs.com/mikegriffith1/id114.htm; retrieved 2006-09-24)

    [4] Says Massimo Introvigne, “the second book and film are worse than the first: they include an explicit call to hatred and intolerance that has been denounced as such by a number of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish organizations.” Introvigne, Massimo (1994) “The Devil Makers: Contemporary Evangelical Fundamentalist Anti-Mormonism”, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 27 (1), 154.

    [5] Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1993). Problems in The Godmakers II. Salt Lake City, UT: UTLM”

    The other recurring problem in this podcast – though I thought the irony was amusing, and at points maddening – was how modern Biblical Theology and Evangelical thought and culture was represented.

    Unfortunately, the majority of panelists can’t seem to shake their Mormon indoctrination and seem to believe that the LdS approach to Biblical interpretation and epistemology are identical to their Evangelical counterparts when nothing could be further from the truth! Not everyone in Christianity is a fundamentalist, a literalist, and/or a dogmatist.

    For example, John Larsen, I love and respect ya buddy but we’re not all young earthers who believe that the world is around 6,000 years old based on the Genesis narrative. Nor do we all believe that the Genesis account should be taken 100% literally. You’re over generalizing when you make these claims in podcast after podcast – and, of course, you know that when one over generalizes one is ALWAYS wrong!
    (old joke but a good one that last line!)

    And, yes Virginia, there IS an objective standard for Biblical Orthodoxy within Christianity: The Creeds.

    Based on the creeds Evangelicals are able to divide doctrine into “essential” and “non-essential” categories. (see http://carm.org/essential-doctrines-of-christianity ) Now one need not acknowledge the creeds, nor even know them at all, but Theologically speaking they contain the summation of established and acknowledged sound interpretation in the same way that the body of Talmudic books do for the Jews – they work like “guard rails” that one must stay between in order to be considered “orthodox”.

    Finally, the closest thing that we Evangelicals had on the panel was – believe it or not – Nyal. He corrected stated that the Mormon Church teaches another Christ and another gospel and, therefore, can’t be considered “Christian” any more than someone who redefines Joseph Smith as a 19th Century space alien secretly transported to earth to prepare the world for the arrival of the mother ship and The 7-Habits as the gospel would be considered “Mormon”.

    Theologically speaking this hijacking and defining of Christian terms, forms, and rites to mean something completely different is what defines the “divide” between the two camps. And this is why Christians take umbrage at Mormons claiming to be what they clearly are not.

    Other than that I thought that this was an awesome podcast. And I agreed with the panel far, far, far more than I disagreed with them.

    And I think that we can all agree that the sooner the dated, overly sensationalized, imbalanced piece of amateur propaganda known as “The Godmakers” film is retired, the better for us all.

    • G Reiersen Reply

      Fansom, I appreciate your comments and the fact that Evangelicals tend to distance themselves from “The Godmakers” because of its exaggerations and distortions. What I cannot agree with you about is that Evangelicals have any better justification for denying that Mormons are Christians than Mormons do for denying that Evangelicals are Christians. It seems very highly probable to me that if it were possible to go back in time and find out what the earliest Christians actually believed, both Mormons and Evangelicals would be equally dismayed and amazed at how much difference there is between their current doctrines and what the earliest Christians held to be true.

      • Fanson Reply

        Thank you for your comments.

        However, what evidence can you produce to support your assertions?

        I would point these to support mine:
        1) The New Testament
        2) The Creeds
        3) The body of extra-Biblical evidence contained in Church History
        4) The body of evidence in Mormon History
        5) The consistency of Religious Studies scholarly consensus over the entirety of Mormon History

        As Richard and Joan Ostling summarized nicely in “Mormon America” (hardly a polemic work by any stretch, and a work that has been praised by LdS Scholars for it’s balance and objectivity):

        “…it is ‘surely wrong’ to see Mormonism as a Christian derivative in the way that Christianity is a Jewish derivative, because the LDS faith is ‘in radical discontinuity with historic Christianity.'”
        (Richard Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, “Mormon America”, p. 324)

        Personally, I believe that Richard Land the head of Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has closest to accurately defining Mormonism’s relationship to Christianity when he said:

        “I think the fairest and most charitable way to define Mormonism would be to call it the fourth Abrahamic religion — Judaism being the first, Christianity being the second, Islam being the third, and Mormonism being the fourth. And Joseph Smith would play the same character in Mormonism that Muhammad plays in Islam.”
        (see http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1675308,00.html#ixzz19rWsck5O )

        And the parallels between Mormonism and Islam is both fascinating an remarkable. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Islam )

        Further, the LdS Church insistence that it is “Christian” is a fairly recent development in Mormon History – the turning point appears to be the David O. McKay Presidency during the 1950’s and 60’s.

        Prior to that Mormons not only did not want to be known as Christians but were hostile to Christianity as these quotes demonstrate:

        “Christianity…is a perfect pack of nonsense…the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century.”
        – Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.167

        “Where shall we look for the true order or authority of God? It cannot be found in any nation of Christendom.”
        – Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 10:127

        “What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world”
        – Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270

        And this is just a minuscule sampling of the quotes from Mormon Leaders that I could produce in this regard. As stated previously the grand arch of Mormon History does not support your case and does support mine.

        And the Wikipedia article on the history of the Mormon shift AWAY FROM Christianity in the 19th Century TO Christianity in the late 20th Century is rather a good overview and starting point on this topic:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Christianity

        Again, thank you for your comments.

      • Fanson Reply

        Thank you for your comments.

        However, what evidence can you produce to support your assertions?

        I would point these to support mine:
        1) The New Testament
        2) The Creeds
        3) The body of extra-Biblical evidence contained in Church History
        4) The body of evidence in Mormon History
        5) The consistency of Religious Studies scholarly consensus over the entirety of Mormon History

        As Richard and Joan Ostling summarized nicely in “Mormon America” (hardly a polemic work by any stretch, and a work that has been praised by LdS Scholars for it’s balance and objectivity):

        “…it is ‘surely wrong’ to see Mormonism as a Christian derivative in the way that Christianity is a Jewish derivative, because the LDS faith is ‘in radical discontinuity with historic Christianity.'”
        (Richard Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, “Mormon America”, p. 324)

        Personally, I believe that Richard Land the head of Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has closest to accurately defining Mormonism’s relationship to Christianity when he said:

        “I think the fairest and most charitable way to define Mormonism would be to call it the fourth Abrahamic religion — Judaism being the first, Christianity being the second, Islam being the third, and Mormonism being the fourth. And Joseph Smith would play the same character in Mormonism that Muhammad plays in Islam.”
        (see http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1675308,00.html#ixzz19rWsck5O )

        And the parallels between Mormonism and Islam is both fascinating an remarkable. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Islam )

        Further, the LdS Church insistence that it is “Christian” is a fairly recent development in Mormon History – the turning point appears to be the David O. McKay Presidency during the 1950’s and 60’s.

        Prior to that Mormons not only did not want to be known as Christians but were hostile to Christianity as these quotes demonstrate:

        “Christianity…is a perfect pack of nonsense…the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century.”
        – Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.167

        “Where shall we look for the true order or authority of God? It cannot be found in any nation of Christendom.”
        – Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 10:127

        “What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world”
        – Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270

        And this is just a minuscule sampling of the quotes from Mormon Leaders that I could produce in this regard. As stated previously the grand arch of Mormon History does not support your case and does support mine.

        And the Wikipedia article on the history of the Mormon shift AWAY FROM Christianity in the 19th Century TO Christianity in the late 20th Century is rather a good overview and starting point on this topic:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Christianity

        Again, thank you for your comments.

      • Fanson Reply

        Thank you for your comments.

        However, what evidence can you produce to support your assertions?

        I would point these to support mine:
        1) The New Testament
        2) The Creeds
        3) The body of extra-Biblical evidence contained in Church History
        4) The body of evidence in Mormon History
        5) The consistency of Religious Studies scholarly consensus over the entirety of Mormon History

        As Richard and Joan Ostling summarized nicely in “Mormon America” (hardly a polemic work by any stretch, and a work that has been praised by LdS Scholars for it’s balance and objectivity):

        “…it is ‘surely wrong’ to see Mormonism as a Christian derivative in the way that Christianity is a Jewish derivative, because the LDS faith is ‘in radical discontinuity with historic Christianity.'”
        (Richard Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, “Mormon America”, p. 324)

        Personally, I believe that Richard Land the head of Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has closest to accurately defining Mormonism’s relationship to Christianity when he said:

        “I think the fairest and most charitable way to define Mormonism would be to call it the fourth Abrahamic religion — Judaism being the first, Christianity being the second, Islam being the third, and Mormonism being the fourth. And Joseph Smith would play the same character in Mormonism that Muhammad plays in Islam.”
        (see http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1675308,00.html#ixzz19rWsck5O )

        And the parallels between Mormonism and Islam is both fascinating an remarkable. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Islam )

        Further, the LdS Church insistence that it is “Christian” is a fairly recent development in Mormon History – the turning point appears to be the David O. McKay Presidency during the 1950’s and 60’s.

        Prior to that Mormons not only did not want to be known as Christians but were hostile to Christianity as these quotes demonstrate:

        “Christianity…is a perfect pack of nonsense…the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century.”
        – Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.167

        “Where shall we look for the true order or authority of God? It cannot be found in any nation of Christendom.”
        – Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 10:127

        “What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world”
        – Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270

        And this is just a minuscule sampling of the quotes from Mormon Leaders that I could produce in this regard. As stated previously the grand arch of Mormon History does not support your case and does support mine.

        And the Wikipedia article on the history of the Mormon shift AWAY FROM Christianity in the 19th Century TO Christianity in the late 20th Century is rather a good overview and starting point on this topic:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Christianity

        Again, thank you for your comments.

      • Fanson Reply

        Thank you for your comments.

        However, what evidence can you produce to support your assertions?

        I would point these to support mine:
        1) The New Testament
        2) The Creeds
        3) The body of extra-Biblical evidence contained in Church History
        4) The body of evidence in Mormon History
        5) The consistency of Religious Studies scholarly consensus over the entirety of Mormon History

        As Richard and Joan Ostling summarized nicely in “Mormon America” (hardly a polemic work by any stretch, and a work that has been praised by LdS Scholars for it’s balance and objectivity):

        “…it is ‘surely wrong’ to see Mormonism as a Christian derivative in the way that Christianity is a Jewish derivative, because the LDS faith is ‘in radical discontinuity with historic Christianity.'”
        (Richard Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, “Mormon America”, p. 324)

        Personally, I believe that Richard Land the head of Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has closest to accurately defining Mormonism’s relationship to Christianity when he said:

        “I think the fairest and most charitable way to define Mormonism would be to call it the fourth Abrahamic religion — Judaism being the first, Christianity being the second, Islam being the third, and Mormonism being the fourth. And Joseph Smith would play the same character in Mormonism that Muhammad plays in Islam.”
        (see http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1675308,00.html#ixzz19rWsck5O )

        And the parallels between Mormonism and Islam is both fascinating an remarkable. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Islam )

        Further, the LdS Church insistence that it is “Christian” is a fairly recent development in Mormon History – the turning point appears to be the David O. McKay Presidency during the 1950’s and 60’s.

        Prior to that Mormons not only did not want to be known as Christians but were hostile to Christianity as these quotes demonstrate:

        “Christianity…is a perfect pack of nonsense…the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century.”
        – Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.167

        “Where shall we look for the true order or authority of God? It cannot be found in any nation of Christendom.”
        – Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 10:127

        “What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world”
        – Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270

        And this is just a minuscule sampling of the quotes from Mormon Leaders that I could produce in this regard. As stated previously the grand arch of Mormon History does not support your case and does support mine.

        And the Wikipedia article on the history of the Mormon shift AWAY FROM Christianity in the 19th Century TO Christianity in the late 20th Century is rather a good overview and starting point on this topic:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Christianity

        Again, thank you for your comments.

      • Fanson Reply

        Thank you for your comments.

        However, what evidence can you produce to support your assertions?

        I would point these to support mine:
        1) The New Testament
        2) The Creeds
        3) The body of extra-Biblical evidence contained in Church History
        4) The body of evidence in Mormon History
        5) The consistency of Religious Studies scholarly consensus over the entirety of Mormon History

        As Richard and Joan Ostling summarized nicely in “Mormon America” (hardly a polemic work by any stretch, and a work that has been praised by LdS Scholars for it’s balance and objectivity):

        “…it is ‘surely wrong’ to see Mormonism as a Christian derivative in the way that Christianity is a Jewish derivative, because the LDS faith is ‘in radical discontinuity with historic Christianity.'”
        (Richard Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, “Mormon America”, p. 324)

        Personally, I believe that Richard Land the head of Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has closest to accurately defining Mormonism’s relationship to Christianity when he said:

        “I think the fairest and most charitable way to define Mormonism would be to call it the fourth Abrahamic religion — Judaism being the first, Christianity being the second, Islam being the third, and Mormonism being the fourth. And Joseph Smith would play the same character in Mormonism that Muhammad plays in Islam.”
        (see http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1675308,00.html#ixzz19rWsck5O )

        And the parallels between Mormonism and Islam is both fascinating an remarkable. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Islam )

        Further, the LdS Church insistence that it is “Christian” is a fairly recent development in Mormon History – the turning point appears to be the David O. McKay Presidency during the 1950’s and 60’s.

        Prior to that Mormons not only did not want to be known as Christians but were hostile to Christianity as these quotes demonstrate:

        “Christianity…is a perfect pack of nonsense…the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century.”
        – Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.167

        “Where shall we look for the true order or authority of God? It cannot be found in any nation of Christendom.”
        – Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 10:127

        “What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world”
        – Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270

        And this is just a minuscule sampling of the quotes from Mormon Leaders that I could produce in this regard. As stated previously the grand arch of Mormon History does not support your case and does support mine.

        And the Wikipedia article on the history of the Mormon shift AWAY FROM Christianity in the 19th Century TO Christianity in the late 20th Century is rather a good overview and starting point on this topic:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Christianity

        Again, thank you for your comments.

  8. Fanson Reply

    And, at the risk of being accused of over staying my welcome on this discussion thread I just wanted to add that I hope that those Mormons who are still convinced that Sandra Tanner carries a pitchfork, has horns and hates Mormons reconsider that stance.

    I’ve gotten to know her via Facebook over the last couple of years and I have found her to be one of the sweetest, kindest, and – to my utter surprise and delight – funniest women that I’ve ever known!

    If you can picture your sweet old grandmother – the one with the sense of humor that leaves you in stitches with her insightful yet hilarious observations on life – you pretty much have Sandra.

    And the fact of the matter is that she really, really, really loves Mormons. Were that not true she would have moved out of Salt Lake City years ago and shut down the whole Utah Lighthouse Ministry operations.

    To bring it back around to this podcast, please consider these facts about the work of Sandra and Jerald Tanner:

    “On occasion, the Tanners have publicly challenged irresponsible critics of Mormonism.

    The Tanners were among the first public critics of forger (and later, murderer) Mark Hofmann. Though Hofmann’s “discoveries” of important Mormon documents often appeared to bolster the Tanners own arguments, Jerald Tanner had, by early 1984, concluded there was significant doubt as to the Salamander Letter’s authenticity, and “to the astonishment of a community of scholars, historians and students, published an attack on the so-called Salamander Letter”.[6]

    By late 1984, Jerald Tanner questioned the authenticity of most if not all of Hofmann’s “discoveries” based in large part on their unproved provenance. (The Tanners concur with Hofmann, however, in contending that the LDS church’s apparent inability to discern the forged documents is evidence against church leadership being divinely inspired.)

    The Tanners have also debunked false claims circulated by Christian evangelist Ed Decker in his support of the misrepresentations of the LDS Church found in films such as The God Makers.”
    http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Jerald-and-Sandra-Tanner

  9. Hermes Reply

    I agree with everyone who points out that people who live in glass houses have to be careful throwing stones. That being said, I am really grateful for frank critics like Ed Decker, Martin Luther, and the earliest Christian “heretics” (sometimes retroactively defined). Their mere existence constitutes a clear challenge to the lie that there is “one truth” existing pure and unchanging through time. In coming to grips with that challenge, I renewed (and completely changed) my religious outlook on life, ending up estranged from Mormonism and farther than ever from evangelical Christianity (I see them as two sides of the same coin, honestly: they both insist that the most important things in life depend on reading fairy-tales as history, a proposition I have proven false so many times in my own experience that I do not see how I could ever believe it again, no matter how much I might want to). As long as people try to create impossibly perfect dogma, you will find me cheering on the heretics, not because they are right (since they are usually just as kooky as those they censure), but because the invitation to doubt that they provide is instrumental in helping communities avoid the kind of perfect faith that leads to awful theocratic utopias like those created by Jim Jones, Brigham Young, and the Ayatollah Khomeini.

  10. Swearing Elder Reply

    I love how this film, so hated and feared by Mormons who have never seen it, was so quickly dismantled by a few people who are simply not afraid to look at things for what they are.

  11. Anonymous Reply

    I listened to this episode while riding my bike.  Obviously I’m late in commenting.  Furthermore, since I was on my bike I had no ability to take notes — so my recollection may be in error.  Finally, since I was cycling fast (> 33 kph) and next to a busy road, there was a lot of noise — so I may have missed some commentary, or not heard correctly.  Please accept my apologies, in advance, for any omissions or incorrect recollections I might make.

    What I *thought* I heard was a lot of discussion about Ed’s claim that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon) promotes divorce in families where one of the spouses is a non-Mormon or an ex-Mormon.

    It sounded like there were members of the panel who were saying things like “that was an exaggeration,” “the church doesn’t really do that,” “the church doesn’t do that anymore,” and “it depends on the bishop.”

    I’d like to take issue with *all* those comments by pointing out that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints actually *mandates* divorce when the couple were married in the temple, and one of them later resigns, has their name removed, or is excommunicated.

    I reiterate — the church *mandates* divorce in those cases.  In fact, the church (not the local Bishop) requires divorce in those cases, and the decision is unilateral, unconditional, and comes straight from Salt Lake City.

    Whenever a person is excommunicated, resigns, or has their name removed from the rolls, the church *automatically,* *unilaterally,* and *unconditionally* cancels all temple ordinances — including temple sealings (marriages) to spouses *and* children.  From the church’s point of view they are implementing the ultimate divorce.  If the other spouse remains a member of the church, then from *their* point of view they’ve been divorced with regard to their “eternal marriage.”  From *their* point of view they will share “eternity” with some other guy (or gal).

    The church doesn’t *have* to do that.  There’s no scriptural precedent.  Clearly they do it out of the evil/meanness of their corporate hearts.  It’s a policy that’s intended to drive fear into the heart of the member spouse.  It’s a policy that is clearly intended to divide families and, in the process, break apart families.  It is, without question, one of the most anti-family acts of any major religion in America.

    Even if no families were driven to get *civil* divorces (and many, many do) as a result of the church’s behavior, they are (as I said) unilaterally and unconditionally divorced with regard to their temple marriage.  And, remember that the D&C (section 132) says that the temple marriage is the only one that really matters.

    I have no idea if Ed was thinking along those lines.  I’ve never seen “the God makers,” and don’t really have any interest in doing so.  Just the same, I think people need to recognize the extraordinary anti-family policy that the church uses in cancelling temple sealings.

    I was a life-long Mormon who eventually apostatized and resigned from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  When I resigned the church unilaterally divorced me and my wife (our temple marriage).  It caused *enormous* concern for her, because she remained in the church.  [In spite of the church, we remain married.]. 

    Look, I don’t believe in the Mormon Church’s stupid/silly/absurd sacraments, ordinances, and “priesthood power.”  The Mormon Church is a con, and it’s run by con men.  Evil, nasty, bad little men who screw average people out of their money.  I couldn’t care less if the LDS Church decided to cancel my “temple blessings” except for the fact that all my extended *family* are Mormons and canceling the “temple blessings” has an enormously negative impact on them because they believe in this absurd religion.

    The Mormon Church *knows* this, and they institute this putative policy in *order* to get Mormons to cajole their “wayward” family members into staying in the church (cults do the same thing, which is just one reason why a lot of people consider the Mormon Church to be a cult). 

    Okay, that’s about all I have.  Ordinarily I ride with some really intense rock — the louder, faster, and more intense it is, the better my time.  I have to say, though, that this episode had me peddling at nearly record speed.  I kept cranking the gears harder and harder, hoping *somebody* would point out the obvious.  Perhaps someone did, and I just didn’t hear.  Or, perhaps this cult is harder to escape than people think.  Apparently, even those who leave Mormonism still have a problem seeing the Mormon Church for the damnable organization it really is.

    Duwayne Anderson
    Author of “Farewell to Eden: Coming to terms with Mormonism and science”

  12. Eric Reply

    “Nearly 30 years have gone by and we are still talking about the same things.”

    Story of my life.

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