Thursday, May 11, 2006
"I Could Not Believe It Myself" -- Mormonism is True?
Today Meridian Magazine posted it's "Myth of the Month." This month is H. Wallace Goddard's "I Could Not Believe it Myself." His article is an excellent example of how many Mormons understand Joseph Smith and their own faith, contrasting it with traditional Christianity. Here is how it begins:
Nancy and I recently saw the movie Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration at the visitors’ center in Nauvoo. It was a wonderfully appropriate setting for experiencing Joseph’s life, service, troubles, and martyrdom! Mercifully the lights did not come up quickly at the end of the production. Those of us who know and love Joseph Smith were working to staunch the flow of tears and to regain our composure.
I loved the movie.
Yet I wondered how those who do not already know and love Joseph might react. What claim does the movie make on a stranger’s interest or faith? Would a non-believer wonder if Joseph’s only claim was his amazing capacity to tolerate persecution with apparent good cheer? Certainly many or most of God’s prophets have suffered persecutions. But so have quacks and fakers.
I suggest we test Joseph’s claims by his fruits. One important fruit is the character of the people who follow him. Any demographer can tell you that the Latter-day Saints are a peculiar people — high in education, morality, charitable giving, and longevity. And the Church continues to grow at a rate that is either disturbing or satisfying — depending on your orientation.
In my view there is an even better fruit to test: Doctrine. Did Joseph Smith give us nonsense doctrine as many suggest? Are his teachings a mass of confusion, a hodgepodge of speculations and inventions? Do his teachings make a mockery of God in heaven?
Or did Joseph Smith deliver the most coherent, sensible, defensible, and breath-takingly gracious doctrine taught on this earth in almost two millennia? Let’s test him. If he is truly a prophet, he can stand the test. If he is not, the evidence will be clear.