Institute

What’s Wrong With The Mormon Church?

Martin Luther hanging the Ninety-Five Theses

Martin Luther hanging the Ninety-Five Theses

Introduction:
Today is October 31st, “Reformation Day”.  It was on this day 494 years ago that Martin Luther nailed “The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” (commonly known as “The Ninety-Five Theses”) unto the door of The Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. “The Ninety-Five Theses” is widely regarded as the primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

And while readily acknowledging that I’m no Martin Luther, it is with a hopeful spirit for reformation in our lifetime that I offer these Ninety-Five Theses to a modern church that, in my opinion (as well as in the opinion of many others) is badly in need of it. More

If I were “Mope” (Mormon Pope) Revisited

If I were “Mope” (Mormon Pope) Revisited

You know . . . “It’s good to be the Mope!”

Near the end of my last blog I made some pretty bold statements:

“…I see some good things in the LdS Church and I see even more in Mormon Culture. There’s also much – particularly in the former – that, in my opinion, is really, really bad and needs to change. Never-the-less I’m just crazy enough to believe that there must be a way to keep the good and jettison the bad…

However, to get there from here the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from my perspective, must reform. And THAT, at least for me, is still a work in progress. That’s to say, it’s a work in progress for me because while I think I have an idea as to what end state might look like, I know that I’m not alone in this vision and I find the ideas and thoughts of others often more interesting than my own – hence the need for ongoing dialog.”

At this point you’re probably wondering, “Sounds interesting but exactly what kind of  ‘reform’ are we talking about? And what kind of ‘end state’ do you have in mind Mr. Smarty Pants?”

Fair enough. More

My Father’s Way

My Dad thinks I should keep my recent de-conversion to myself.  He thinks I should close my mouth, go back to church, walk the walk and just be a member, while inside I go on thinking and believing whatever makes me happy.  That is what he does.  I wonder if it isn’t the most Mormon thing about him.

The LDS Church isn’t exactly dishonest.  It is political.

I mean that in the worst way.  The Mormon church is out to make friends and if it has to fudge the facts a bit here or obfuscate the truth a bit over there, well, that seems to be the price of being the ‘true‘ church in a disbelieving world.

A bit of uncomfortable doctrine on the shelves, like eternal progression or polygamy?  Nothing a careful choice of words can’t smooth over.

Consider one example from the Pearl of Great Price Student Manual for the Institute and BYU course Religion 327 (copyright 2000):  On pages 28-29 the manual covers the history of the book of Abraham ending with the story of the discovery and subsequent return to the church of papyri fragments.  No discussion is made of the studies performed on those papyri nor the resulting discovery of a disconnect between what Joseph Smith claimed the papyri said and what we actually know that they said.  What we do get is the following paragraph:

The book of Abraham is an evidence of the inspired calling of the Prophet Joseph     Smith.  It came forth at a time when the study of the ancient Egyptian language     and culture was just beginning.  The scholars of the 1800s had scarcely begun to     explore the field of Egyptology, and yet, with no formal training in ancient     languages and no knowledge of ancient Egypt (except his work with the Book of     Mormon), Joseph Smith began his translation of the ancient manuscripts.

If you read the two paragraphs together you get this implication:  The church has fragments of the papyri and because of that there is evidence of Joseph Smith’s ability as a translator.  Now, to be clear, the manual does not actually say that.  The two paragraphs are separate.  But in the gaps between, in the place where a more honest description would explain that many scholars, LDS and other, have studied the papyri and have found clear evidence that these are the papyri Joseph Smith used, yet no evidence that his “translation” was accurate, that is where this manual lies.

This is just one of many examples of official obfuscation in Church publications and communications.  Meanwhile, the scriptures tell us that the truth sets us free.  But in order for it to set us free we have to know the truth in all its imperfection and complexity.

Which makes me wonder as many have wondered before me:  Why is the Church so afraid of the unwashed truth?

I want to be free and that is why, unlike my father and unlike the Church itself, I am not comfortable tucking my own beliefs safely inside myself.  To me that feels like prison.