Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (the school I currently attend), has posted an interesting commentary on his web site, "From the Salt Lake to the Jordan River." (This post was originally printed in the Summer 2005 issue of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, pp. 70-72) In it, he says:
To understand the draw of Mormonism, evangelicals should read the works of Latter-day Saints who explain why they love their religion. Some LDS intellectuals who have concluded, to their regret, that Joseph Smith constructed from his own mind the narrative of the Book of Mormon and the "translation" of the Book of Abraham are instructive here. Grant Palmer's An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, for instance, warns that his conclusions are not for children or new converts. Demonstrating the roots of the Book of Mormon in the nineteenth-century world of King James Bible, freemasonry, occultism, and frontier Americanism; Palmer nonetheless remains a committed Mormon--because he loves the social and theological vision of the LDS culture. Likewise, Coke Newell, a convert to the LDS church in his late teens, lays out why a drug culture vegetarian would find the LDS church compelling. In so doing, he glories in the ancient mysteries of Mormon cosmology and eschatology: from a God and a Goddess who produce offspring to a future in which deified humans rule a vast cosmos. Newell makes clear that he isn't simply convinced by Smith's claims; he is convinced because he loves the picture of reality they portray.
This should come as no surprise to evangelicals who have read the Apostle Paul's revelation of the roots of human idolatry in the first chapter of Romans. Fallen humans have affections and inclinations that they then prop up with beliefs, convincing themselves that their systems are true. This could not be clearer with Mormonism, which is in reality little more than an Americanized version of a Canaanite fertility cult. With this the case, evangelicals should take more than a scattershot approach to knocking down Mormon claims (although this is necessary). We must also present a counter-story to the Mormon story: one that resonates with the beauty of truth and holiness.
While I am not sure how Moore can compare Mormonism with a Canaanite fertility cult, his article is thought provoking when considering how we should witness to Mormons. Check out what he has to say and see what you think.
(Originally posted at the A-Team Blog: http://ateam.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2005/12/30/1554958.html )
posted at 7:30 PM