Episode 21: Aaron Shafovaloff and Evangelizing Mormons

In this episode we interview Aaron Shafovaloff, Evangelical man on the street with a camera. Aaron’s ministry is focused on converting Mormons to Evangelical Christianity. The panel and Aaron discuss the difference between Christian and Mormon beliefs, why Mormons need to be saved, methods of evangelizing, critical thinking, supernatural thought and whether or not Mormonism is a cult.

Aaron’s ministry: http://www.mrm.org/
Aaron’s theopedia project:http://www.theopedia.com/Main_Page
Aaron’s pet project: http://www.mrm.org/god-never-sinned
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: http://www.carm.org/
Aaron’s YouTube channel:http://www.youtube.com/user/aaronshaf2006

Episode 21

70 comments on “Episode 21: Aaron Shafovaloff and Evangelizing Mormons”

  1. AB Reply

    I appreciate the host(s) willingness to listen to what Aaron had to say and let him explain his point of view. Bright fellow.
    I especially thought his point about why Christians should(do) continue good works past the point that you know you are saved.

    That said, I am one of those mormons turned agnostic. The lie for me in the church was so big that I was forced not to take anything else in my life for granted. It would be great for me to find that Christianity could stand up to the same scrutiny that I put mormonism through. It didn’t. I’m still searching, however, and I’m happy.

  2. AB Reply

    I appreciate the host(s) willingness to listen to what Aaron had to say and let him explain his point of view. Bright fellow.
    I especially thought his point about why Christians should(do) continue good works past the point that you know you are saved.

    That said, I am one of those mormons turned agnostic. The lie for me in the church was so big that I was forced not to take anything else in my life for granted. It would be great for me to find that Christianity could stand up to the same scrutiny that I put mormonism through. It didn’t. I’m still searching, however, and I’m happy.

  3. Aaron Shafovaloff Reply

    Thanks for having me on, John. An hour goes by fast. If I may, I’d like to point people to William Lane Craig’s lectures here. The second and third parts of his Easter lectures give some evidences for the historicity of the resurrection of Christ, and he has some series of lectures on the cosmological argument, teleological, and moral arguments for God.

    Also, the woman I was speaking with “in my car” was out of state (we were talking over the phone), lest anyone think something creepy and inappropriate was going on!

    And since this is a moment for shameless self-linking, allow me to point people to a project just uploaded last night: jod.mrm.org. The site is an effort to increase the ease of linking and reading of the Journal of Discourses. It’s in beta and probably doesn’t work well in IE for now.

    Thanks again,

    Aaron

  4. Aaron Shafovaloff Reply

    Thanks for having me on, John. An hour goes by fast. If I may, I’d like to point people to William Lane Craig’s lectures here. The second and third parts of his Easter lectures give some evidences for the historicity of the resurrection of Christ, and he has some series of lectures on the cosmological argument, teleological, and moral arguments for God.

    Also, the woman I was speaking with “in my car” was out of state (we were talking over the phone), lest anyone think something creepy and inappropriate was going on!

    And since this is a moment for shameless self-linking, allow me to point people to a project just uploaded last night: jod.mrm.org. The site is an effort to increase the ease of linking and reading of the Journal of Discourses. It’s in beta and probably doesn’t work well in IE for now.

    Thanks again,

    Aaron

  5. Bridget Jack Meyers Reply

    Why would the presence of a woman in your car be an indication of something creepy and inappropriate?

    Anyhow, it was nice to learn more about you, Aaron. I find it interesting that you’re the same age as me and you got started studying Mormonism in 1998, the same year I did.

    I know that we disagree on a lot, but over time you’ve won respect from me on a lot of levels. If the entire counter-cult ministry had always been more like you, I doubt I would have all of the complaints about it that I do now (though I’d still have some). I like to think of you as my evil twin on the other side of the evangelical spectrum on how to approach Mormons. Or perhaps you’re the good one and I’m the evil one. Only time will tell!

  6. Bridget Jack Meyers Reply

    Why would the presence of a woman in your car be an indication of something creepy and inappropriate?

    Anyhow, it was nice to learn more about you, Aaron. I find it interesting that you’re the same age as me and you got started studying Mormonism in 1998, the same year I did.

    I know that we disagree on a lot, but over time you’ve won respect from me on a lot of levels. If the entire counter-cult ministry had always been more like you, I doubt I would have all of the complaints about it that I do now (though I’d still have some). I like to think of you as my evil twin on the other side of the evangelical spectrum on how to approach Mormons. Or perhaps you’re the good one and I’m the evil one. Only time will tell!

  7. Tim Reply

    I’d like to point out that if you concede that God created the earth and everything in it, getting a donkey to talk is really not that difficult for Him.

    There were a couple of issues conflated in that question. 1) stuff that’s hard to believe. 2) Stuff that can’t be historically proven. 3) Stuff that has been historically disproven.

    Aaron stated that he is fine with God speaking through a seer stone and I’m sure he’s fine with any miraculous event described in the Book of Mormon being possible. An appropriate analogy between Balaam’s ass and the historical problems in the Book of Mormon would be a lack of donkeys in the ancient Near East, not the miracle of one that talks. Perhaps if Balaam was riding on a talking llama you could show the parallel between the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon.

  8. Tim Reply

    I’d like to point out that if you concede that God created the earth and everything in it, getting a donkey to talk is really not that difficult for Him.

    There were a couple of issues conflated in that question. 1) stuff that’s hard to believe. 2) Stuff that can’t be historically proven. 3) Stuff that has been historically disproven.

    Aaron stated that he is fine with God speaking through a seer stone and I’m sure he’s fine with any miraculous event described in the Book of Mormon being possible. An appropriate analogy between Balaam’s ass and the historical problems in the Book of Mormon would be a lack of donkeys in the ancient Near East, not the miracle of one that talks. Perhaps if Balaam was riding on a talking llama you could show the parallel between the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon.

  9. Oz Reply

    Just when I thought the memories of serving a Mormon Mission in the Southern States were fading away…particularly the frustration of the ROUND AND ROUND arguments, of being told how mislead I was for putting faith into miracles of revelation, gold plates or whatever. And then you ask them to explain their faith towards the miracles of the Bible and they will give the same types of answers/logic that a Mormon gives to explain away the specific topic. Round and Round.

    And the Isaiah 43:10 as being a shock to Mormon theology…sample conversation from the mission…no lie this was almost daily!!

    Evangelical: “I want you to read Isaiah 43:10, its a shock to Mormon Theology.”

    Elder Oz: “I believe that…and 43:11, and 43:12, and 43:13, and on and on.”

    Evangelical: “No you don’t!!”

    Elder Oz: “Ok, you know my interthoughts and heart, have a great day!”

    Excuse my flashbacks guys, I lost myself for a moment. Great Podcast, and I’m glad that Aaron is not one of those “Street Screachers.” They truely ruin it for all of you, and it must be very frustrating to work through.

    I’m curious what Aaron’s thoughts are about someone like Richard Mouw of the Fullmer Theological Seminary? He has held numerous, friendly interfaith dialogues with the Mormon church. I saw one of his presentations where he lays out the various attack methods that are used against the Mormon church. Do you feel his respect or friendliness towards the church hurts or helps relationships between Evangelicals and Mormons?

    Good job guys and thanks Aaron for being so open!

  10. Oz Reply

    Just when I thought the memories of serving a Mormon Mission in the Southern States were fading away…particularly the frustration of the ROUND AND ROUND arguments, of being told how mislead I was for putting faith into miracles of revelation, gold plates or whatever. And then you ask them to explain their faith towards the miracles of the Bible and they will give the same types of answers/logic that a Mormon gives to explain away the specific topic. Round and Round.

    And the Isaiah 43:10 as being a shock to Mormon theology…sample conversation from the mission…no lie this was almost daily!!

    Evangelical: “I want you to read Isaiah 43:10, its a shock to Mormon Theology.”

    Elder Oz: “I believe that…and 43:11, and 43:12, and 43:13, and on and on.”

    Evangelical: “No you don’t!!”

    Elder Oz: “Ok, you know my interthoughts and heart, have a great day!”

    Excuse my flashbacks guys, I lost myself for a moment. Great Podcast, and I’m glad that Aaron is not one of those “Street Screachers.” They truely ruin it for all of you, and it must be very frustrating to work through.

    I’m curious what Aaron’s thoughts are about someone like Richard Mouw of the Fullmer Theological Seminary? He has held numerous, friendly interfaith dialogues with the Mormon church. I saw one of his presentations where he lays out the various attack methods that are used against the Mormon church. Do you feel his respect or friendliness towards the church hurts or helps relationships between Evangelicals and Mormons?

    Good job guys and thanks Aaron for being so open!

  11. Aaron Shafovaloff Reply

    Good analogy, Tim.

    Oz, Mouw seems to assume that what BYU professors tell him represents mainstream or traditional Mormonism. I think he’s wrong for implying that Lorenzo Snow couplet theology shouldn’t be engaged. I also think he’s bought into the notion that only “official” Mormon “doctrine” should be engaged. I argue elsewhere that that’s not a pastoral or loving approach to a religion that so proudly extends beyond the scope of its canon.

    As for criticizing street screeching, I’m probably vulnerable here to the accusation of hypocrisy, especially if someone considers all assertive street preaching (or holding web site signs) that include public denunciation of Mormon sins “screeching”. When I use the term “screeching” I’m not criticizing sign-holding per se or assertive street preaching that calls Mormons to repentance per se. What I want is the Conference screechers to be more communicative, to preach a more intelligible, substantive message, to get rid of the stupid unedifying jeers and snide jokes at those walking by, etc. If Mormons are going to be offended, then at least let it be by a message clearly communicated.

    Take care!

    Aaron

  12. Aaron Shafovaloff Reply

    Good analogy, Tim.

    Oz, Mouw seems to assume that what BYU professors tell him represents mainstream or traditional Mormonism. I think he’s wrong for implying that Lorenzo Snow couplet theology shouldn’t be engaged. I also think he’s bought into the notion that only “official” Mormon “doctrine” should be engaged. I argue elsewhere that that’s not a pastoral or loving approach to a religion that so proudly extends beyond the scope of its canon.

    As for criticizing street screeching, I’m probably vulnerable here to the accusation of hypocrisy, especially if someone considers all assertive street preaching (or holding web site signs) that include public denunciation of Mormon sins “screeching”. When I use the term “screeching” I’m not criticizing sign-holding per se or assertive street preaching that calls Mormons to repentance per se. What I want is the Conference screechers to be more communicative, to preach a more intelligible, substantive message, to get rid of the stupid unedifying jeers and snide jokes at those walking by, etc. If Mormons are going to be offended, then at least let it be by a message clearly communicated.

    Take care!

    Aaron

  13. Randy Reply

    Don’t know how long Aaron will field questions. But here’s a try. I am a disillusioned Mormon become agnostic skeptic (humanist if you want). I still am in full fellowship with the church for various reasons but there is one thing the Mormon church always addressed that conventional Christianity has not to my knowledge. How do they reconcile a loving God excluding His true gospel of Jesus Christ to such a large portion of the population? Are they just damned to hell simply because they were born in the wrong country?

  14. Randy Reply

    Don’t know how long Aaron will field questions. But here’s a try. I am a disillusioned Mormon become agnostic skeptic (humanist if you want). I still am in full fellowship with the church for various reasons but there is one thing the Mormon church always addressed that conventional Christianity has not to my knowledge. How do they reconcile a loving God excluding His true gospel of Jesus Christ to such a large portion of the population? Are they just damned to hell simply because they were born in the wrong country?

  15. Mark Reply

    Worst podcast ever… Wow the interview was nauseating.

    His arguments were conflated, hypocritical, illogical, and just outright dumb.

    I am an ex-Mormon and I love these pod casts. One of my favorites was the interview with Melanny Cowley.

  16. Mark Reply

    Worst podcast ever… Wow the interview was nauseating.

    His arguments were conflated, hypocritical, illogical, and just outright dumb.

    I am an ex-Mormon and I love these pod casts. One of my favorites was the interview with Melanny Cowley.

  17. Aaron Reply

    Randy, on the above link William Lane Craig talks about the challenges/problems of religious pluralism, under the five part “Religious Pluralism” series. My personal beliefs aren’t really defined on the issue. I only know some general principles that relate:

    – God judges people against the light that they have been given (cf. Romans 2).

    – Humanity is viewed with a very pessimistic attitude in the Bible. The whole world is generalized as being idolatrous. (cf. Romans 1 & 3)

    – There are scattered stories in the Bible of people not in the visible covenant community of God that God seems to have had a special hand of favor on.

    – If anyone is going to be saved (with or without conscious belief in the gospel), they don’t deserve it, and it will be upon the basis of the blood of Christ.

    – The body of Christ should urgently get the gospel out as many unreached people as possible.

    I know that’s not as clear as we’d like it to be, but the Bible, in my opinion, doesn’t address the issue with a lot of clarity. I think Mormonism thrived on capitalizing on such grey issues at the expense of abandoning more basic fundamentals of Christianity. Perhaps a more fundamental question to think about is whether you think anyone at all deserves to go to hell for sinning against all-holy God. But even that is hard to think about if you don’t believe in God or don’t have a sense of holiness. So I would take a look at William Lane Craig’s arguments for the existence of God.

    Take care!

    Aaron

  18. Aaron Reply

    Randy, on the above link William Lane Craig talks about the challenges/problems of religious pluralism, under the five part “Religious Pluralism” series. My personal beliefs aren’t really defined on the issue. I only know some general principles that relate:

    – God judges people against the light that they have been given (cf. Romans 2).

    – Humanity is viewed with a very pessimistic attitude in the Bible. The whole world is generalized as being idolatrous. (cf. Romans 1 & 3)

    – There are scattered stories in the Bible of people not in the visible covenant community of God that God seems to have had a special hand of favor on.

    – If anyone is going to be saved (with or without conscious belief in the gospel), they don’t deserve it, and it will be upon the basis of the blood of Christ.

    – The body of Christ should urgently get the gospel out as many unreached people as possible.

    I know that’s not as clear as we’d like it to be, but the Bible, in my opinion, doesn’t address the issue with a lot of clarity. I think Mormonism thrived on capitalizing on such grey issues at the expense of abandoning more basic fundamentals of Christianity. Perhaps a more fundamental question to think about is whether you think anyone at all deserves to go to hell for sinning against all-holy God. But even that is hard to think about if you don’t believe in God or don’t have a sense of holiness. So I would take a look at William Lane Craig’s arguments for the existence of God.

    Take care!

    Aaron

  19. Devin Reply

    The only time I feel inclined to defend Mormonism is when it is attacked (or challenged) by another belief system.

    I would never reference a site to discredit Mormonism if that site was religion based. Although there are aspects of Mormonism that might seem a little crazier (like no archaeological evidence) than other forms of Christianity, evangelicalism always seemed crazy to me.

    Just on a different note… I believe the Mormon concept of grace and works are changing and so this tactic will prove more and more difficult to them. I believe that many Mormons do in fact believe that the grace of God enables them to work out their salvation (which really isn’t anything different than what Aaron seems to be doing).

    One more thing… my departure from religion ended up not really having to do with Mormonism. I had no desire to be lumped into a belief system like Christianity when someone like Bush called himself a Christian.

    I suppose I had one more thing to say. I do not believe you could actually find very many atheists out there, that when pressed, they would admit there is a possibility of supernatural things. I consider myself an atheist based on likeliness not certainty (even though I am almost certain). I also choose to believe in a naturalistic framework based on predictability. Religion has proved time and time again to fail in predicting anything in life; therefore, it will likely fail in proving anything in death.

  20. Devin Reply

    The only time I feel inclined to defend Mormonism is when it is attacked (or challenged) by another belief system.

    I would never reference a site to discredit Mormonism if that site was religion based. Although there are aspects of Mormonism that might seem a little crazier (like no archaeological evidence) than other forms of Christianity, evangelicalism always seemed crazy to me.

    Just on a different note… I believe the Mormon concept of grace and works are changing and so this tactic will prove more and more difficult to them. I believe that many Mormons do in fact believe that the grace of God enables them to work out their salvation (which really isn’t anything different than what Aaron seems to be doing).

    One more thing… my departure from religion ended up not really having to do with Mormonism. I had no desire to be lumped into a belief system like Christianity when someone like Bush called himself a Christian.

    I suppose I had one more thing to say. I do not believe you could actually find very many atheists out there, that when pressed, they would admit there is a possibility of supernatural things. I consider myself an atheist based on likeliness not certainty (even though I am almost certain). I also choose to believe in a naturalistic framework based on predictability. Religion has proved time and time again to fail in predicting anything in life; therefore, it will likely fail in proving anything in death.

  21. Steve Martin Reply

    “I had no desire to be lumped into a belief system like Christianity when someone like Bush called himself a Christian.”

    Oh brother.

    Give me a break.

    Like you are perfect and worthy…or like anyone is.

    Who do you think Christ died for? Just the Leftists of the world?

  22. Steve Martin Reply

    “I had no desire to be lumped into a belief system like Christianity when someone like Bush called himself a Christian.”

    Oh brother.

    Give me a break.

    Like you are perfect and worthy…or like anyone is.

    Who do you think Christ died for? Just the Leftists of the world?

  23. Devin Reply

    It was actually the straw that broke the camel’s back… I’m not even an American. But, when listening to the Christian rhetoric around the war in Iraq, my balancing act ended and I said enough.

    Thankfully, I don’t believe Jesus died for anyone. However, I expect that my belief that Jesus loved and cared for people eventually led to my disillusionment with religion – I left religion to be a better person. So far, so good.

  24. Devin Reply

    It was actually the straw that broke the camel’s back… I’m not even an American. But, when listening to the Christian rhetoric around the war in Iraq, my balancing act ended and I said enough.

    Thankfully, I don’t believe Jesus died for anyone. However, I expect that my belief that Jesus loved and cared for people eventually led to my disillusionment with religion – I left religion to be a better person. So far, so good.

  25. Devin Reply

    After a little bit of thought I think it would be unfair for me to say that “my departure from religion ended up not really having to do with Mormonism.” True, I can credit my straw to the Christian rhetoric coming out of the US. However, I think the larger issue for me was the deferment from the prophet to the US President as knowing what was right for the country. If there was ever a time for a prophet to be a prophet it would be during times of war – like seems to be evident in both the Bible and Book of Mormon.

    Mormonism can be considered an American Religion. Not only has it aligned itself with the concept of the “American Dream” it has zionized the country as well. It was easier and easier for me to distance myself from Mormonism as it seemed more and more in line with US politics (particularly the Republican party).

  26. Devin Reply

    After a little bit of thought I think it would be unfair for me to say that “my departure from religion ended up not really having to do with Mormonism.” True, I can credit my straw to the Christian rhetoric coming out of the US. However, I think the larger issue for me was the deferment from the prophet to the US President as knowing what was right for the country. If there was ever a time for a prophet to be a prophet it would be during times of war – like seems to be evident in both the Bible and Book of Mormon.

    Mormonism can be considered an American Religion. Not only has it aligned itself with the concept of the “American Dream” it has zionized the country as well. It was easier and easier for me to distance myself from Mormonism as it seemed more and more in line with US politics (particularly the Republican party).

  27. Mike Reply

    Your use of Isaiah against Mormon teachings is misplaced. God the Father is the God we worship, he has placed his Son as our intercessor and declared Him God also. With this divine investiture of authority Christ speaks and acts as the Father, as if he were the Father. Christ was the God fo the Old testament, It was he who spoke to Moses on the mountain. It was he who interacted and led and directed all of the prophets. Christ explained his relationship with the Father in the intercesory prayer:
    “21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
    22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
    23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
    Those of us who keep our covenants and receive all that the Father hath, and sit upon His throne (Rev 3:21)are not replacing the Father, any more than Christ replaced His Father. They share in his work, and add Glory to the Father.

  28. Mike Reply

    Your use of Isaiah against Mormon teachings is misplaced. God the Father is the God we worship, he has placed his Son as our intercessor and declared Him God also. With this divine investiture of authority Christ speaks and acts as the Father, as if he were the Father. Christ was the God fo the Old testament, It was he who spoke to Moses on the mountain. It was he who interacted and led and directed all of the prophets. Christ explained his relationship with the Father in the intercesory prayer:
    “21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
    22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
    23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
    Those of us who keep our covenants and receive all that the Father hath, and sit upon His throne (Rev 3:21)are not replacing the Father, any more than Christ replaced His Father. They share in his work, and add Glory to the Father.

  29. Betsy Reply

    I appreciated Aaron’s participation in the podcast. He seems like a really nice guy with honorable intentions. With that said, I’m not digging the Evangelicals’ concept of God. Also, you sound just as smug as any Mormon when you get into your own beliefs. I know, I know…everyone thinks they’re right and everyone else is wrong. I wonder if we can all ever get to the point where we can all just admit that WE DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING. So much of Christianity has become so convoluted over the last thousand years or so, that to say that you KNOW anything is just kind of ridiculous, don’t you think? Ugh. Okay, off my soap box. Keep up the good work, guys.

  30. Betsy Reply

    I appreciated Aaron’s participation in the podcast. He seems like a really nice guy with honorable intentions. With that said, I’m not digging the Evangelicals’ concept of God. Also, you sound just as smug as any Mormon when you get into your own beliefs. I know, I know…everyone thinks they’re right and everyone else is wrong. I wonder if we can all ever get to the point where we can all just admit that WE DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING. So much of Christianity has become so convoluted over the last thousand years or so, that to say that you KNOW anything is just kind of ridiculous, don’t you think? Ugh. Okay, off my soap box. Keep up the good work, guys.

  31. Polygamy Porter Reply

    I did not a reason to listen to more than 10 minutes of the podcast.

    One suggestion for Aaron.

    Get a damn tripod if you are going to be doing street video interviews.

    Or at least a monopod.

    I watch about 1.5 seconds of shaky video.

    Seriously, people will take your videos more serious if you shoot a level steady capture.

    Now whether people will take the message seriously is to be see.

    Like the vid of you asking mormon conference goers what they think of (their)god once being a sinner(since according to their theology god was once a man).
    I don’t understand where you were going with that… when most of them say it is a good thing that god was once a sinner it kinda takes away your fire…

  32. Polygamy Porter Reply

    I did not a reason to listen to more than 10 minutes of the podcast.

    One suggestion for Aaron.

    Get a damn tripod if you are going to be doing street video interviews.

    Or at least a monopod.

    I watch about 1.5 seconds of shaky video.

    Seriously, people will take your videos more serious if you shoot a level steady capture.

    Now whether people will take the message seriously is to be see.

    Like the vid of you asking mormon conference goers what they think of (their)god once being a sinner(since according to their theology god was once a man).
    I don’t understand where you were going with that… when most of them say it is a good thing that god was once a sinner it kinda takes away your fire…

  33. Aaron Reply

    I have a tripod, but I forget to bring it sometimes. Heck, mine was stolen at the North Gate of Temple Square just this past Thursday! I thought it was too ironic not to post…

  34. Aaron Reply

    I have a tripod, but I forget to bring it sometimes. Heck, mine was stolen at the North Gate of Temple Square just this past Thursday! I thought it was too ironic not to post…

  35. Swearing Elder Reply

    My main question was about how effective evangelical preaching to Mormons is and I was interested to hear his vague answer — “I’ve impacted a few lives.” I’m sure he has and I don’t doubt Aaron’s sincerity at all.

    However, for me, I can’t ever imaging being swayed into another religion after having left belief in Mormonism.

  36. Swearing Elder Reply

    My main question was about how effective evangelical preaching to Mormons is and I was interested to hear his vague answer — “I’ve impacted a few lives.” I’m sure he has and I don’t doubt Aaron’s sincerity at all.

    However, for me, I can’t ever imaging being swayed into another religion after having left belief in Mormonism.

  37. InvisibleChurch Reply

    Guys – This, along with the John Dehlin, BoA and NOM episodes, was IMO one of the top three or four best ME podcasts you’ve done. Congratulations.

  38. InvisibleChurch Reply

    Guys – This, along with the John Dehlin, BoA and NOM episodes, was IMO one of the top three or four best ME podcasts you’ve done. Congratulations.

  39. Randy Reply

    Why do people have to be so negative? Isn’t it simply interesting just peeking inside the head of someone like Aaron? Even if you find his logic and belief system silly, repulsive or whatever, just getting the perspective of someone like Aaron was worth the journey.

    Keep up the good work guys!

  40. Randy Reply

    Why do people have to be so negative? Isn’t it simply interesting just peeking inside the head of someone like Aaron? Even if you find his logic and belief system silly, repulsive or whatever, just getting the perspective of someone like Aaron was worth the journey.

    Keep up the good work guys!

  41. Josh Reply

    Growing up with a Mormon mother, a Methodist father,  Baptist friends, and now happily married to a Church of Christ woman in the proverbial “Bible Belt” I have heard all the arguments before against Mormonism.  I have also heard a number of arguments against different denominations of Christianity from other denominations of Christianity. I cannot count the number of people of different Christian denominations that I have worshipped God with and I cannot believe that there is only one path to God.  I believe Aaron is doing God’s work just as much as I believe Mormon missionaries are doing God’s work.  Just remember if it hadn’t been for the birth of a Jew, who as the Son of God, who was then killed by his brothers, but ultimately raised from the dead 3 days later none of us would be having this conversation right now.

  42. Josh Reply

    Growing up with a Mormon mother, a Methodist father,  Baptist friends, and now happily married to a Church of Christ woman in the proverbial “Bible Belt” I have heard all the arguments before against Mormonism.  I have also heard a number of arguments against different denominations of Christianity from other denominations of Christianity. I cannot count the number of people of different Christian denominations that I have worshipped God with and I cannot believe that there is only one path to God.  I believe Aaron is doing God’s work just as much as I believe Mormon missionaries are doing God’s work.  Just remember if it hadn’t been for the birth of a Jew, who as the Son of God, who was then killed by his brothers, but ultimately raised from the dead 3 days later none of us would be having this conversation right now.

  43. Brock Sampson Reply

    I also really enjoyed the interview. I found myself arguing out loud with Aaron a few times while listening to it in my car!

    I’m another one of the (poor misguided) former-mormons gone agnostic/atheist and the path that lead me out of Mormonism was through learning about logical fallacies, occam’s razor, the scientific method, logic and reason. When I applied these principles to Mormonism, I realized that it was superstition, magical-thinking, and mysticism that was keeping me in. The same things that make Mormonism “False”, also makes any other “supernatural” based belief system false.

    While there may be antiquity and popularity on the side of Christianity, these are both logical fallacies. There is no more empirical evidence on the side of Christianity than for Mormonism. When Christians argue with Mormons over theology, it is essentially the equivalent of two Lord of the Rings fans arguing over which one better understands the Silmarillion. Without Tolkien to resolve the debate, either/none of them are right.

    That said, the Bible is “true” in the sense that it was the religious text of an actual people, unlike the fictional Nephites or Jaredites. But if that is the standard, why arbitrarily choose the Jew’s text? Why not the Koran, or any other ancient religious text?

    If your answer is something along the lines of “because I felt that it was true, etc…” then honestly, your answer isn’t any better than the Mormon who prays about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Confirmation bias is a power thing…

    (hopefully that wasn’t to “ranty”! I actually really enjoyed the interview Aaron, and I thought that you did a spectacular job. You were very articulate with your ideas. Good job man!)

  44. Brock Sampson Reply

    I also really enjoyed the interview. I found myself arguing out loud with Aaron a few times while listening to it in my car!

    I’m another one of the (poor misguided) former-mormons gone agnostic/atheist and the path that lead me out of Mormonism was through learning about logical fallacies, occam’s razor, the scientific method, logic and reason. When I applied these principles to Mormonism, I realized that it was superstition, magical-thinking, and mysticism that was keeping me in. The same things that make Mormonism “False”, also makes any other “supernatural” based belief system false.

    While there may be antiquity and popularity on the side of Christianity, these are both logical fallacies. There is no more empirical evidence on the side of Christianity than for Mormonism. When Christians argue with Mormons over theology, it is essentially the equivalent of two Lord of the Rings fans arguing over which one better understands the Silmarillion. Without Tolkien to resolve the debate, either/none of them are right.

    That said, the Bible is “true” in the sense that it was the religious text of an actual people, unlike the fictional Nephites or Jaredites. But if that is the standard, why arbitrarily choose the Jew’s text? Why not the Koran, or any other ancient religious text?

    If your answer is something along the lines of “because I felt that it was true, etc…” then honestly, your answer isn’t any better than the Mormon who prays about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Confirmation bias is a power thing…

    (hopefully that wasn’t to “ranty”! I actually really enjoyed the interview Aaron, and I thought that you did a spectacular job. You were very articulate with your ideas. Good job man!)

  45. Vin Reply

    Brock states, “The same things that make Mormonism “False”, also makes any other “supernatural” based belief system false.”

    I agree. I would’ve liked to see the podcast address this topic in depth. I’m a believing Mormon (albeit liberal/unorthodox/non-traditional), but I can’t see Aaron’s (or anybody else’s, for that matter) arguments being any more persuasive. They all ultimately rely on leaps of faith, “antiquity and popularity”, and unexaminable assertions.

    Anyway, despite my gripe, I also thought Aaron represented himself well.

  46. Vin Reply

    Oh, another thing that might help Aaron understand the typical LDS’s aversion to faith-challenging material:

    What if you knew of a book that had destroyed several of your friends’ faith in God? Now imagine that these friends are generally intelligent and critically thinking people. Then imagine that this book received so much attention that it was being preached against across many evangelical churches because it was so potentially damaging.

    Would you read that book without hesitation? Knowing that your belief in Christ might be destroyed, and as a consequence, your salvation?

  47. Vin Reply

    Oh, another thing that might help Aaron understand the typical LDS’s aversion to faith-challenging material:

    What if you knew of a book that had destroyed several of your friends’ faith in God? Now imagine that these friends are generally intelligent and critically thinking people. Then imagine that this book received so much attention that it was being preached against across many evangelical churches because it was so potentially damaging.

    Would you read that book without hesitation? Knowing that your belief in Christ might be destroyed, and as a consequence, your salvation?

  48. Aaron Reply

    “Would you read that book without hesitation? Knowing that your belief in Christ might be destroyed, and as a consequence, your salvation?”

    I can partly understand the psychology here, but ethically I think it is shallow.

    My answer is yes, absolutely. Not only would I read such a book, I already do read such books. The only faith worth having is a vulnerable faith. The only faith that can honor God is a vulnerable faith. If a book’s content is so powerful as to destroy the faith of my friends, that should cause me to want to read it all the more, not less. If someone has compelling arguments to make against Christianity, I want to hear them, not suppress them. And I think that’s the only reasonable approach with any set of beliefs or philosophical commitments.

  49. Aaron Reply

    “Would you read that book without hesitation? Knowing that your belief in Christ might be destroyed, and as a consequence, your salvation?”

    I can partly understand the psychology here, but ethically I think it is shallow.

    My answer is yes, absolutely. Not only would I read such a book, I already do read such books. The only faith worth having is a vulnerable faith. The only faith that can honor God is a vulnerable faith. If a book’s content is so powerful as to destroy the faith of my friends, that should cause me to want to read it all the more, not less. If someone has compelling arguments to make against Christianity, I want to hear them, not suppress them. And I think that’s the only reasonable approach with any set of beliefs or philosophical commitments.

  50. Aaron Reply

    I just started to get into the Mormon Expressions (I am an avid Mormon Stories listener) and I heard of Aaron (ironically my name too), so I definitely wanted to hear this interview. I could write an entire essay on this interview on what I heard, but I think I can break it down into a few small parts. Here I go:

    1) Aaron is right that Evangelical Christians get thrown into a monolithic group with the angry protesters at General Conference. These street preachers are known as Independent Fundamentalist Baptist. Many of them believe almost every kins of Christian/non-Christian is hell bound (except for them, of course) including the Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists (although some are 5 point Calvinists), Eastern Orthodoxy, and major theologians like John Wesley. They believe that evolution is an evil religion and atheists can only commit immoral acts. So, with that said, it becomes clear why the street preachers at General Conference are so antagonistic.

    2) Aaron said Mormons are cultish because they don’t like to listen to/read information that is critical to their beliefs. Then Aaron back tracks when it is pointed out that several Evangelicals do the same thing and called it a human problem. That begs the question then. Is Mormonism cultish or has humanistic flaws because it is full of humans?

    3) Faith versus evidence is very tricky because faith tends to be very subjective (even my own faith is). The same beliefs and reasons to believe that Aaron provided I have heard from Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Scientologists, and even Pastaferianism. Many of the Mormon beliefs have close ties with esoteric Judaism, so there is as much reason to believe in Mormonism as Evangelical Christianity. There are also many reasons to doubt both religious beliefs. To me, faith is a gamble or wager. I read one book by Bernard Haisch called THE GOD THEORY, who said his idea that there is a God is a wager he has taken. In the end, every Mormon (including myself) has taken a wager that there is some truth behind Mormonism. Aaron has also take the same wager with Evangelical Christianity. I feel neither holds all truth.

    4) One of the biggest things that many people are blind to (although some of the comments show that people do notice this) is that Mormonism is still growing, changing, and trying to find its place in the world. I see this as our views on Grace have changed over time. I think it is important to note that Mormonism of today is not the same as 100 years ago, nor will it be the same 100 years from now. This makes critiquing Mormonism on theological grounds a huge challenge (that and there is no Mormon Systematic Theology).

  51. Buffalo Reply

    To hear Aaron blithely talking about how God wants to be famous and to do it he killed nations and little children is a little shocking. How can you worship such an insecure, bloodthirsty tyrant? And how is this message superior to the LDS one? Why would anyone want to worship your God?

  52. Major Bidamon Reply

    Intersting tidbit from the church handbook (from the sacrament section) … “Those who bless and pass the sacrament should dress modestly and be well groomed and clean. Clothing or jewelry should not call attention to itself or distract members during the sacrament. Ties and white shirts are recommended because they add to the dignity of the ordinance. However, they should not be required as a mandatory prerequisite for a priesthood holder to participate. Nor should it be required that all be alike in dress and appearance. Bishops should use discretion when giving such guidance to young men, taking into account their financial circumstances and maturity in the Church.”

  53. Zèle Chyrème Reply

    I love how Protestants refer to themselves as “orthodox” or “traditional” Christians, and better yet just Christians. They seem to have somehow missed the fact that the Catholic and Orthodox churches predate them by a millenium and a half, or so, and constitute a large majority of Christians in the world; and the fact that Protestants themselves are a mess of divergent sects having emerged from a mixture of modernist, individualist, doctrinal innovations, a compensating recourse to Bible fetishism, and the political will to autonomy from Rome of certain feudal lords, as well as from the clergy of the then up-and-coming rival bourgeois class… I mean these guys will say that Joel Osteen’s infomercials promising suburban wealth are Christian, but not the Pope, lol. Also, what might our friend here think of this: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html ?

  54. Zèle Chyrème Reply

    In the words of Tertullian:

    “The Son of God was crucified: there is no shame, because it is shameful.
    And the Son of God died: it is wholly credible, because it is unsound.
    And, buried, He rose again: it is certain, because impossible.”

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