On Caliban Mischief
On Caliban Mischief1
With this issue, we change our name to The FARMS Review since
we do more than publish commentaries on books.2 There are other changes. Although
we will continue to feature review essays more often than traditional book
reviews, we will now begin to provide some brief book notes. These will, we
hope, call the attention of the Saints to a literature they might otherwise
not notice. Some of these briefly mentioned items may receive a more detailed
examination later. This introduction also marks the first time that someone
other than the founding editor of this Review, Daniel C. Peterson, has provided
the introduction. Some of his introductions and his review essays have been
memorable. I doubt that my efforts will approach the wit and wisdom that have
been the hallmark of previous introductions.
For fourteen years this Review has, among other things, included responses to
secular and sectarian anti-Mormon literature. Providing these responses, contrary
to what some may imagine, is only a small part of the publication effort that
appears under the imprint of FARMS. I believe we have served the kingdom well
by doing so. Unfortunately, this has led some to imagine that FARMS is a kind
of Latter-day Saint equivalent of their own unsavory operations, whatever they
might be. This is a mistake, and it rivals the misunderstandings critics have
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Only a few anti-Mormons seem to have read the literature published under the
FARMS imprint. Some even boast that they have not read the literature they criticize.
I have tried to change this by begging several “countercultists”
to read and comment on some essays. I have even provided them with copies of
some essays or issues of this Review. My efforts to force-feed countercultists
have, however, failed. They eventually admitted that they had not read what
I had sent. This is understandable, if not excusable, since they are busy lecturing
in Protestant churches on, or ironically perhaps illustrating, what they call
“Counterfeit Christianity.” We seem to face not a declining hostility
from fundamentalist/evangelical sources, but a veritable menagerie of incorrigible
Bearing False Witness
Thus far no book-length studies of the fundamentalist/evangelical countercult
have appeared. In June 2003, Douglas Cowan, an assistant professor of religious
studies and sociology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, will publish
Bearing False Witness?3—the title of which indicates something of his
assessment of the countercult. The contents of this important book should shame
morally serious evangelicals. It may earn for him among countercultists a reputation
as a dreaded “cult apologist.” Since I have seen only a prepublication
copy of Cowan’s book,4 I will provide merely a brief précis.
Cowan’s assessment of the anti-Mormon portion of the countercult movement
fully supports what Latter-day Saints know about it.5 However, Cowan advances
significantly beyond Latter-day Saint understandings of the industry as a whole
and offers intriguing explanations for both the existence and dynamics of the
countercult movement. Latter-day Saints will no doubt find discussions of their
favorite anti-Mormons in Cowan’s book, including, among others, Ed Decker,
Bill Schnoebelen, Dave Hunt, James White, Robert A. Morey, Ron Rhodes, James
R. Spencer, Hank Hanegraaff, John P. Morehead, Anton Hein, Matt Slick, Alan
W. Gomes, Robert M. Bowman, Gordon R. Lewis, John Ankerberg and John Weldon,
Gretchen and Bob Passintino, Bob Larson, Richard Abanes, and, of course, the
late “Dr.” Walter R. Martin.
Cowan describes the constant, sometimes bitter, and always amusing internecine
struggles that take place among countercultists. He also calls attention to
the similarity of background assumptions and goals of countercultists, while
noting, naturally, vast differences in their competence, intellectual capacities,
and honesty. He points out that John P. Morehead6 and Craig Blomberg7 as well
as, of course, Carl Mosser and Paul Owen,8 have made some efforts to raise the
intellectual bar for countercultists. In the final chapter of his book, Cowan
wonders if Mosser and Owen will make careers out of their anti-Mormon sentiments.
There is some evidence that they are moving in this direction. Mosser, with
Blomberg and Beckwith, participated in a countercult conference titled
“Christians in a World of New Religions,” held at Biola University
in La Mirada, California, on 24-25 January 2003. This gathering of countercultists
was sponsored by Concerned Christians and Former Mormons (Jim Robertson),9 Standing
Together (Gregory Johnson), the Evangelical Ministries to New Religions, and
the Christian Apologetics Program at Biola University. Some of the anti-Mormons
scheduled to perform at this conference included Kurt Van Gorden, Bill McKeever,
Gregory Johnson, Robert Bowman, Cky Carrigan, Tal Davis, and Richard Abanes.10
Since, as Cowan demonstrates, internecine quarrels are a major feature of the
countercult, it would be wrong to assume that these fellows agree on the details
of how to attack the Church of Jesus Christ. And some of these countercultists
may resent, if they understand the arguments, the criticism directed at their
version of anti-Mormonism by Mosser and his associates.
We have included in this issue an essay responding to a bizarre journalistic
history of the Church of Jesus Christ fashioned by Mr. Richard Abanes, who is
a countercult journalist, as well as an accomplished singer and dancer. His
650-page book, entitled One Nation under Gods, contains nearly 150 pages of
endnotes and five appendixes. It appears, at least on the surface, to be serious
scholarship.11 From our viewpoint, however, it is propaganda that has, for the
most part, been borrowed from previously published anti-Mormon literature or
from the array of Web sites currently providing grist for the anti-Mormon mill.
Abanes seems to have been troubled by an unfavorable review of his book written
by Jana Riess for Publisher’s Weekly, the leading publishing industry
trade journal. In her review, Riess described the Abanes book as follows:
This heated diatribe by Abanes (whose previous books have attacked the New Age
movement, the occult and Harry Potter) falls squarely into the category of agenda-driven
exposé;. “The history of Mormonism is rife with nefarious deeds,
corruption, vice, and intolerance,” he writes. “So far the
fruits of Mormonism have included lust, greed, theft, fraud, violence, murder,
religious fanaticism, bribery, and racism.” Abanes’s tirade is virtually
indistinguishable from the anti-Mormon literature of the past, except that he
seems convinced he is revealing “new” information to readers who
have been dangerously ignorant of the horrifying dark side of, say, the Osmond
Abanes countered by claiming that Publisher’s Weekly should have provided
a favorable review since others had already done so. To support this claim he
quoted the promotional blurbs he had secured from his friends that appear on
the dust jacket of his book. These were provided by Sandra Tanner of the anti-Mormon
Utah Lighthouse Ministry, by Hank Hanegraaff of the anti-Mormon Christian Research
Institute, and by Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic Magazine and a friend
of Abanes.13 In addition, he discovered that Riess had become a Latter-day Saint
in 1993 and insinuated that she could not provide an impartial appraisal of
his book. He thus implies that, unlike Riess, those anti-Mormons who provided
promotional blurbs for his book are fully qualified, unbiased, impartial truth
Our review of One Nation under Gods is signed by “Rockwell D. Porter.”
This is not, of course, the author’s real name. This essay was written
by Latter-day Saint scholars from several disciplines, none of whom, for various
reasons, are eager to be known as having given attention to this aggressively
marketed, tendentious, and somewhat poorly edited, rather breezy 650-page diatribe. [Note: In January 2015 Midgley identified this author as himself and Davis Bitton. The author’s name has been updated accordingly.]
One could complain about lacunae, distortions, and slanting on virtually every
page of One Nation under Gods. The book is presented as history, but it is actually
a lengthy rant about what Abanes calls “the cult of Mormonism.”
The Saints, he imagines, are now striving to “appear Christian”14
when he is certain that they are not. In a rather bizarre passage, he insists
that “the LDS hierarchy will have to at some point, once and for all,
completely sever its ties with Christianity. Only by taking such an approach,”
he opines, “will Mormonism be able to forever distance itself from the
‘cult’ label and claim for itself some degree of legitimacy and
integrity in the eyes of many religious researchers, especially those adhering
to the historic Christian faith.”15 It should be noted, though, that Abanes
seems unwilling to grant “some measure of legitimacy and integrity”
to Buddhists,16 even though they make no claims to being Christians. Abanes
may merely bearguing that, if the Saints do not come to adopt his theology,
whatever it may be, he and his countercult associates will continue to
assert that the Church of Jesus Christ is not Christian but is a “cult.”
Is it possible that Abanes does not know that there is a shift among countercultists
away from branding as “cultists” those one wishes to ridicule? He
apparently did not notice, for example, that Richard Ostling, a religious journalist
whom he quotes and cites, describes the word cult as “that slippery and
all-purpose slur aimed at marginal faiths”17 and thus avoids that label
when writing about the Church of Jesus Christ. More thoughtful critics of the
church have begun to recognize the question-begging and conceptual ambiguity
involved in the polemical use of the label cult and have substituted other expressions
such as “new religious movement”—a much less polemically potent
label—to identify their targets and to avoid some of the embarrassing
problems associated with the use of highly charged vocabulary.18 But, of course,
even those who have tried to move beyond the use of crude labels have been adamant
about the Church of Jesus Christ not being “Christian in any very useful
or theologically significant sense.”19 Countercultists, it seems, may
drop a pejorative label but still retain the substance of their prejudices.
And please notice that even when they have moved away from labeling those they
attack as cultists, they have proudly retained for themselves the label countercultist.20
The Great Cult Scare
Three years ago, in a bookstore on Queen Street in Auckland, New Zealand, I
noticed a handsome coffee-table book, printed on coated paper, entitled Cults.21
I could not resist purchasing it. Michael Jordan22—not the basketball
player—had graced this large-format, 144-page book with 139 sometimes
stunning color photographs, accompanied by brief descriptive passages. I noticed
that he had included a section entitled “Quakers and Mormons,” in
which he explains that one “Joseph F. Smith” founded in 1830 “an
evangelical missionary sect” after receiving “visionary inspiration
from the ancient prophet, Mormon.”23 And “like the Quakers, he also
espoused the practice of glossolalia, and instructed his followers to do so
through highly organized ritual during which the individual would stand and
pray in silence.”24 I never previously knew that I have been speaking
in tongues when I pray. A sidebar informs the reader that “on the death
of Brigham Young they adopted the son of the founder, also called Joseph Smith,
as their leader and rejected most of Young’s non-Christian doctrinal innovations.”25
Jordan provides brief descriptions and photographs of Christian Scientists,
Raelians, Manichaeans, Charles Manson, Essenes, David Berg’s Children
of God (or Family of Love), Soka Gakkai, Knights of Columbus, the Unification
Church of the Reverend Moon, Voodoo, Scientologists, Opus Dei, Albigensians,
Druids, all kinds of Satanic sects (including the one started in 1856 by Eliphas
Levi),26 Rosicrucians, and on and on. There are, however, some surprising lacunae.
For example, Jordan fails to mention the Way International and the Falun Gong.
Jordan indicates that the purpose of his book is to probe “the workings
and mentality of cults” and also “to examine some of the personalities
who invent and build off-beat religious movements.”27 But if cults are
merely “off-beat religious movements,” then “how does religion
relate to, and differ from, the cult”?28 Jordan notices that dictionaries
provide “at least two definitions of the word cult. Primarily it is a
system of religious belief, a formal style of worship. Only secondarily is it
a sect or an unorthodox or false religion.”29 The primary definition is,
of course, grounded in the original use and meaning of the word. Jordan seems
to know this. If, as he maintains, “a cult provided the mainstream form
of worship for a community” in the ancient world and “religion was
part of the nuts and bolts of earthly existence to the peoples of the ancient
world,”30 then it follows that, whenever we label something a cult, we
can substitute the word religion. Indeed, our word cult comes from the Latin
cultus. From the agricultural sense of this root, we obtain common, useful words:
We thus cultivate arable land (hence agriculture), and we have a culture. Or
we can become cultured; we cultivate this and that. A variety of apple like
a Pacific Rose is an especially good cultivar, and so forth.
Thus, though the word cult was until rather recently a harmless, even useful,
word and remains so in a number of academic disciplines, the word was given
a radically different, highly pejorative meaning by ranting preachers, with
uninformed journalists trailing behind. And we have subsequently had a series
of cult scares beginning in the 1960s. When and why did cult take on its current
secondary meaning of “unorthodox or false religion” rather than
identifying the “mainstream form of worship for a community”?31
Jordan, of course, has no idea. His Cults is merely a slick potboiler pandering
to the popular fascination with cults and religious exotica.32
It is only recently that anyone bothered to identify who, when, and why someone
launched the vulgar secondary meaning of the word.
Religious Bigotry in the American Past and Present
Philip Jenkins, who is a professor of history and religious studies at
Pennsylvania State University, recently enhanced his now thriving publishing
career and launched something of a scandal with a book entitled Pedophiles and
Priests.33 He has subsequently turned his attention to what he calls the
“anti-cult” movement.34 In what amounts to “the first full
account of cults and anti-cult scares in American history,”35 Jenkins
shows that public panic over fringe or new religious movements did not
begin in the 1960s, when the late Walter Martin’s ranting became popular
along the margins of conservative Protestantism and the countercult, as we now
know it, was born. Instead, many of the images and stereotypes used against
a variety of new religions “are traceable to the mid-nineteenth century
when Mormons, Freemasons, and even Catholics were vehemently denounced
for supposed ritualistic violence, fraud, and sexual depravity.”36
The recent book by Abanes shows that these charges have not gone out of fashion
Jenkins demonstrates that “Baptists, Quakers, Pentecostals, and Methodists”
were also once pilloried and persecuted in much the same way that Latter-day
Saints are, though they were not labeled cults. “Apparently the first
book title to use the word [cult] in its modern [secondary pejorative] sense
was the 1898 study of Anti-Christian Cults by A. H. Barrington, an Episcopal
minister in Wisconsin.”37
Jenkins holds that the novel, polemical use of the word cult has been cultivated
by factions of Christians who consider themselves authoritative gatekeepers
of the orthodox religion. “Already by the 1920s, the word ‘cult’
had acquired virtually all its modern freight: it described small religious
groups with highly unorthodox ideas.”38 He sketches a process by which
new or marginal religious groups, if they survive initial hostility, enter the
religious mainstream. Thus,
While it is possible still today to find books attacking these sects in the
standard anticult language, this literature has become more scarce and is usually
confined to the shelves of fundamentalist Christian bookstores. In fact, any
writer today describing Mormons or Christian Scientists as cultists would
immediately be marked as an unreconstructed fundamentalist.39
In an ironic way, at least when dealing with the vast bulk of sectarian anti-Mormonism,
Jenkins might be right. Why? For the most part it is “unreconstructed
fundamentalists,” and not presumably genuine evangelicals, who target
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These Caliban tend to staff
the agencies of what is now widely known as the countercult movement since the
term anticult is now mostly set aside for secular rather than sectarian religious
bigotry. Jenkins, however, underestimates the scope and tenacity of the Caliban.
When the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention officially came to embrace
and promote anti-Mormonism, the Saints were faced with the propaganda resources
of a wealthy, large, tenacious institution. This challenges the notion that
over time some new religions, if they weather an initial storm, even in their
uniqueness, become part of some presumed Christian mainstream.
Jenkins shows that, even though the first use of the word cult in its current
pejorative sense can be traced no further back than 1898, it is wrong to “assume
that the idea of cults is relatively modern; in fact it has deep roots in American
history.”40 From the beginning, marginal religious groups were reviled,
persecuted, and harassed by their larger, more powerful rivals. Even though
the specific terminology has shifted over time, the underlying substance of
religious bigotry has remained remarkably similar. Though his study of sectarian
religious warfare in American history and of contemporary anticult activity
is valuable, Jenkins has not appreciated some recent developments. He is, of
course, aware that sociologists have, in part for reasons I have already set
out, tended to shift away from talking about cults to the somewhat more neutral,
less pejorative label “new religious movements.” But he seems unaware
that even those he labels unreconstructed fundamentalists—those Caliban—have
also tended to abandon for polemical purposes the use of the previously harmless
word cult. They also seem to have followed sociologists in substituting new
religious movement for cult in their polemics, but only partially and not even
consistently. They have, however, somewhat ironically, adopted the label countercultists
to describe themselves, even when at least a few of them have more or less ceased
to employ the label cult. They blast away at the faith of those to whom, for
theological reasons, they refuse to grant the name Church of Jesus Christ. Here
we face some incoherence, if not legerdemain.
When we encounter the mischief of the sectarian countercult, we are not witnessing
a performance by some of the king’s players. Instead, what we face are
often quite brutish, vulgar types right from the streets. These Caliban, as Douglas
Cowan has amply demonstrated, strut on their little stages—pretending
to have expert qualifications or even sometimes sporting phony credentials—while
they pose as staunch defenders of the orthodox religion. They are not the pure
in heart who long for or are open to further light and knowledge, but instead
are mere mercenaries in the business of selling something. Their audience is
primarily not the Latter-day Saints, but their easily frightened fellow fundamentalists;
their function is thus the maintenance of their own sectarian boundaries.
Some have done well by taking over from or imitating the late Walter Martin,
the veritable father of the sectarian countercult—the now departed but
not entirely forgotten Iago of that business.41 But, as Cowan has shown, there
are many others, some even less principled, who are scrambling to take his place.
I trust that these brief remarks about the Caliban will have signaled my low
opinion of the countercult industry as a whole and of the anti-Mormon faction
in particular. But I do not imagine that countercultists are entirely representative
of conservative Protestants, some of whose scholarly opinions I rather admire.
Countercult Notions Seep into Serious Evangelical Scholarship
I am pleased that some evangelical and other scholars now employ a social analogy
to describe the Trinity. I rather like this understanding of the divine
economy, and I believe that other Latter-day Saints do as well.42 Some Protestant
writers seem willing to grant that what is now thought of as the “orthodoxy”
of Nicea, and later Chalcedon, was actually preceded by a plethora of heresies,
that is, by a variety of somewhat different ways of understanding divine things,
each of which presumably had its roots in the Bible. One evangelical author
put it this way: “Heresy is the mother of orthodoxy.”43 After the
point when, the Saints believe, the prophetic lights went out,44 what is now
known as the “orthodox” doctrine of the Trinity was forged in the
heat of fierce controversies between competing understandings of language found
in the Bible. By contrast, the idea of a social trinity is not unlike LDS understandings.
I am also attracted to the so-called openness-of-God views of writers like Clark
Pinnock, John Sanders, Gregory Boyd, and David Basinger.45 By various means
these writers challenge crucial elements of classical theism in much the same
way and for some of the same reasons that Latter-day Saints do.
I have enjoyed some of the work of Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson.46 In his history
of Christian theology, Olson does not hide, downplay, or explain away the fact
that many highly influential Christian theologians—Augustine being
a prime example—borrowed categories from pagan sources, especially from
Neoplatonism (and Stoicism). Nor does Olson seem to privilege the speculation
of Augustine and Calvin. He therefore does not insist that their opinions are
necessarily the key to reading the scriptures.47 Latter-day Saints, besieged
by fundamentalist critics who insist that they speak for historic, trinitarian,
orthodox, biblical Christianity (as if there had always been one fixed set of
teachings), can learn from Olson’s latest book, written from an Arminian
rather than from an Augustinian/Calvinist (or what Olson tends to call monergist)
perspective. Olson describes the diversity of opinion among Christians then
and now on a host of crucial issues.48
Of course, he insists that there is a kind of underlying unity behind all this
conflict and diversity. But the unity he finds is the kind that is constituted
by, in his controlling analogy, the different, contrasting pieces that make
up a mosaic—hence The Mosaic of Christian Belief. Olson does not press
his analogy of a mosaic unity. Instead, he holds that much of the diversity
of beliefs is on presumably secondary matters. But it is unclear what distinguishes
the primary from the secondary. There is, Olson asserts, a loose kind of consensus
on what he labels key issues, bare essentials, fundamental beliefs, the core
of beliefs. But he struggles to identify what constitutes this core. His celebration
of the range of diversity renders problematic his rhetoric about a core. Olson
enthusiastically endorses Across the Spectrum,49 a useful book setting out the
“diversity of views that comprise evangelicalism.”50 The authors
of this book, of course, insist that “evangelicals are united in their
commitment to the core beliefs of historic Christianity as expressed in the
ecumenical creeds.”51 And they also claim a “common ground”
or “center” around which contrasts over a wide range of issues are
currently being debated. They indicate that these “core beliefs,”
which they do not identify, are shared by evangelicals “over against non-evangelicals
and/or non-Christian perspectives.”52 But they also grant that “there
is, of course, no universally accepted definition of ‘evangelicalism.'”53
This is obvious, and I therefore suspect that those with a radical Calvinist
ideology are not likely to accept varying views on the issues considered in
Across the Spectrum nor on what constitutes historic Christianity. Rather, they
would minimize or deny much of the diversity that others see as part of the
umbrella of competing contemporary evangelical beliefs.
Even with the vast range of opinions that he describes, Olson does not believe
that everything that anyone has ever believed is part of what he considers “authentic
Christianity.” Along with his notion of a diverse mosaic,54 he strives
to limit the range of permissible diversity. “Without that unifying core
of ideas anyone and everyone who claimed the label Christian and appealed to
Jesus Christ and the Bible would have to be accepted as truly and equally Christian.”55
To grant such a notion would make Olson a target for fundamentalists on the
fringe of conservative Protestantism. Instead, he appeals to what he calls “the
Great Tradition of the Christian church’s unified teachings stretching
from the second century into the twentieth century (but especially formulated
in the crucial stages of the first few centuries and the sixteenth century when
the reformations took place).”56 This so-called Great Tradition “help[s]
us determine which beliefs matter the most and which are secondary or even further
removed from the heart of Christian faith itself.”57 How does Olson identify
key elements within the vast mosaic of completing beliefs – the “bare
essentials,” without which there would be no meaning at all in the mosaic?
How can one identify this Great Tradition in the midst of the vast diversity?
Olson asks: “What is the Great Tradition? Where is it found? What does
it include?”58 His answer is revealing: “The Great Tradition is
a relatively nebulous phenomenon.”59 Are there any answers? There is,
it appears, at least one—it is the dogma that everything that God could
possibly reveal is already found in the Bible alone. This he calls the sufficiency
of scripture. But the Bible has to be interpreted, and it is precisely this
fact that has generated the diversity he describes. The nebulous notion of the
sufficiency of scripture is unfortunately invoked to denounce the faith of the
Olson’s own views are staunchly Arminian since he rejects the notion of
a limited atonement—one that saves only those predestined to salvation
at the very moment of creation—and allows, instead, that anyone who genuinely
and fully responds in faith to the gospel can be justified. He is, on this and
some other issues, I believe, currently in a minority and on the defensive,
especially among fundamentalist/evangelical preachers. His book is a celebration
of diversity at least in part, I believe, in an effort to warrant his own “heresies”
in the face of radically contrasting and competing Calvinist dogmas. Those he
labels fundamentalists—that is, those who insist on “militantly
enforced doctrinal uniformity”60—tend to anathematize his approach
to theology. But Olson unfortunately borrows the label cult from countercultists,
which they invoke in order to enforce a uniformity that he eschews. Be that
as it may, it turns out that the beliefs that go beyond the diversity Olson
cherishes do so by flaunting the dogma of the sufficiency of scripture. This
dogma, he claims, “helps distinguish counterfeit forms of Christianity
such as the cults from groups and movements that differ from each other in secondary
ways but equally affirm the core of apostolic Christian ideas.”61
Olson then takes a gratuitous jab at the Church of Jesus Christ: “Mormons
appeal to the Bible and Jesus Christ (as well as their own additional sources)
to promote their own . . . denials of God’s transcendence
(wholly and holy otherness).”62 So it appears that, for Olson, unless
one subscribes to the notion that God is a kind of wholly transcendent, impassive
First Thing, one is a counterfeit Christian. What happened to the give-and-take
between God and human beings that can be seen on virtually every page of the
Bible? As Olson explains elsewhere, Christians eventually borrowed heavily from
elements of Greek philosophy. It was from such categories that they fashioned
the notion that God is a “simple substance, completely free of body, parts
or passions, immutable (unchangeable) and eternal (timeless). He (or it)
is everything that finite creation is not.”63 Put another way, the God
of classical theism is ganz anders or “wholly other.” With half-understood
pagan categories, Christian theologians eventually set out their understanding
of the attributes of God; these constitute the substance of classical theism.
God is thus pictured as Being-Itself—the ground of finite things, and
hence something like the nontemporal and nonspatial First Thing about which
Greek philosophers speculated. Why must the notion that God is wholly other
define authentic Christianity?
Olson also explains that “more conservative Protestants have generally
feared that any belief in or practice of continuing revelations from God
might lead into cultish aberrations such as the unusual beliefs held by certain
sects on the fringes of Christianity that are based largely on ‘new prophecies’
delivered by modern religious leaders breaking out of the mainstream of traditional
Christianity.”64 But Olson is aware that Wayne Grudem, a prominent contemporary
evangelical theologian, “promotes belief in continuing revelation through
modern-day prophecies.”65 What distinguishes Grudem’s rejection
of various forms of cessationist ideology—since he passionately insists
that something like divine special revelations are or ought to be present today66—from
the aberrations of so-called counterfeit Christianity about which Olson complains?
The answer is that, despite his insistence that the gift of prophecy is or should
still be present among Christians, Grudem will not allow prophets to supplement
what is found in the scriptures—he remains locked into the Bible-alone
ideology typical of Protestantism.
God might, Grudem grants, give some “specific directions to individual
persons,” but the dogma of the sufficiency of scripture “guarantees
that God will not give any new revelation in this age that adds to the moral
standards that he requires for all Christians to obey during the church age.”67
Suppose, though, we grant that something like this may be true. Would it not
still be possible for God to provide additional sacred writings that assist
us in understanding his will and ways? Or that help us overcome misunderstandings
we have of his original revelation even as that is set forth in the Bible? Grudem
does not think so. Why? For one thing, he opines, “we have certainty that
the Bible is from God,” but he does “not think that in this age
anyone can ever have the certainty that such additional directions are from
God.”68 For Grudem, the “sufficiency of scripture” means that
the Bible contains everything that God intends his people to ever have. What
follows from this dogma is that it is only in the scriptures that “we
are to search for God’s word to us” and thus not in continuing revelation.69
And, he adds, “it also reminds us that God considers what he has told
us in the Bible to be enough for us.”70 Oh really? How do we know this
to be true? Because the Bible tells us? Or because God has subsequently revealed
this to prophets outside the Bible? It turns out that the notion of the sufficiency
of scripture is a slogan that plays a role among some Christians. And it had
its beginning in the Reformation quarrel with Roman Catholics.
And it also turns out that this maxim strips from God the possibility
that he can and will provide genuine guidance, instruction, correction, information,
or further light and knowledge that is of any genuine substance or significance.
In addition, despite Grudem’s proof texts, the notion of the sufficiency
of scripture is itself not biblical.71 But Grudem, like countercultists blasting
away at Latter-day Saints, begs all the crucial questions: “The sufficiency
of Scripture reminds us that we are to add nothing to Scripture, and that we
are to consider no other writings of equal value to Scripture. This implication
is violated by almost all cults and sects. Mormons claim to believe the Bible,
for example, but also claim divine authority for the Book of Mormon.“72
Grudem’s dogmatic objection to the Book of Mormon turns out to be an extension
of his objections to Roman Catholic reliance on what they call tradition. But
this form of anti-Catholic rhetoric is not consistent with Roger Olson’s
more subtle treatment of the role of tradition in both Roman Catholic and Protestant
thought. For Olson, if there is no tradition to guide us on at least fundamental
issues, anything goes, since the Bible can be made to say just about anything.
Rather than relying on the Bible alone, Olson is in thrall to what he calls
the Great Tradition, which he thinks at least helps to fix the norms of Christian
I have drawn attention to some remarks by evangelical theologians to indicate
that even among an elite of conservative Protestants there is a borrowing and
imitation of common inauthentic countercult objections to the faith of
Negotiating a Surrender or Building Bridges?
I admire those who are skilled at building bridges of understanding with those
of other faiths, whether secular or sectarian. I have undertaken some of this
myself. My endeavor has always been to present the faith of the Saints
as clearly and fully as possible to anyone who seemed willing to listen. My
experience has been that the least receptive to my efforts have been those with
Protestant fundamentalist leanings.
Recently, countercultists and a few morally serious evangelicals have expressed
the belief that the Saints are making an effort to gain their approval by emphasizing
our commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior74 and that the Saints thus
want to be included in their club. This has led some evangelicals to imagine
that they are conducting a kind of interfaith dialogue with the Saints. Some
have thought that the way to have a conversation with the Saints—what
they wrongly imagine to be an interfaith dialogue—was by publishing a
book complaining about our noncreedal worldview or by attacking the Book of
Mormon, even while refusing to use the name Church of Jesus Christ on theological
grounds. These individuals started out with a measure of goodwill among at least
a few LDS intellectuals, much of which they now seem to me to have squandered.
Other more mature and sophisticated evangelicals, however, seem to have initiated
a private conversation with some Latter-day Saints. They seem to sense that
public attacks on the faith of the Saints will not accomplish their goal, which
is, I suspect, the evangelization of the Church of Jesus Christ. They may hope
that with private, civil conversations they can begin a discreet process
much like the one that led to the eventual negotiated surrender to evangelicals
by Seventh-day Adventist leaders, which began in the late 1950s.
Massimo Introvigne, much like Philip Jenkins, argues that new religious groups,
“if they are not destroyed by initial opposition,” may “move
slowly towards the mainline.”75 The reason is that pejorative “labels
like ‘cult,’ ‘heresy’ or even ‘religion’
do not correspond to any intrinsic essence of a group or movement,” but
instead they “are politically negotiated.” And at some point this
“may involve a dialogue with traditional opponents.” According to
Introvigne, some private negotiations resulted in the inclusion of the Seventh-day
Adventist movement within the larger evangelical movement or as another divergent
element under the evangelical umbrella.
Adventist intellectuals started a dialogue with Evangelical anti-cultists (and
notorious anti-Mormon) Walter Martin in the 1950s. Martin was gradually persuaded
that Adventists were not a cult, and was later instrumental in making them more
or less accepted by the Evangelical community. The dialogue started privately
by a few Adventist intellectuals was later endorsed by the Adventist leadership.
Introvigne supposes that, with the publication of How Wide the Divide? “something
similar to the Adventist-Evangelical private dialogue of the 1950s is now beginning
between Evangelicals and Mormons.” The question that remains, according
to Introvigne, is whether the Brethren will “pay attention to and somewhat
sponsor this dialogue.” Are the Brethren prepared, Introvigne asks, “without
compromising the integrity of the LDS faith or changing any doctrine, to present
this faith to the world taking into account that a certain kind of missionary
style is particularly offensive to Evangelicals and other Christians in general?”76
Introvigne is not sure whether the current private conversations will bring
the Church of Jesus Christ “into the Christian mainline, thus further
marginalizing anti-Mormonism and reducing it (as is contemporary anti-Adventism)
to a small, lunatic fringe.” Those evangelicals who now seek such a conversation
may assume that what the Saints believe is in flux and also that we desire or
somehow need their approval or acceptance—perhaps to avoid anti-Mormon
antics—and hence that we can and will adjust our beliefs (or what Carl
Mosser calls our “worldview”) to satisfy their demands.
It is safe to say, however, that Latter-day Saint intellectuals enjoy conversations
with those of differing faiths, especially when the tone is civil. And there
is nothing in principle wrong with seeking to build some bridges with civil
evangelicals. I could, of course, enjoy such conversations with evangelicals,
especially if they were held in Newport, Rhode Island, or the Bay of Islands,
New Zealand, or some other pleasant place, and if someone else would pay my
way. I would not, of course, be interested in or authorized to negotiate a surrender,
though I would not mind baptizing some evangelicals.77
Conversational civility in such situations, though not to be undervalued, can
easily be misunderstood. Some evangelicals may have wrongly assumed that an
interfaith dialogue is beginning to take place with Latter-days Saints that
will eventually lead to radical changes on our part that in turn will make it
possible for evangelicals to count the Saints as members of their club. But
we are not about to modify our faith to fit evangelical notions of Christian
orthodoxy. Instead, we earnestly seek for others to have a more adequate understanding
of our faith. If some evangelicals now imagine that they can somehow accomplish
with the Church of Jesus Christ what they managed to negotiate with Adventist
leaders, they have not begun to understand the faith of the Saints.
And, it must be added, little is gained from conversations with those of a competing
faith when they are in an attack mode. Carl Mosser and his associates seem to
me to have failed to understand this. So, from a Latter-day Saint perspective
(which is what counts on this issue), what they have produced is a somewhat
better informed, less abrasive, and more refined version of what we have faced
from the beginning.
A Gentle Reminder
When I hear it said that Saints should not respond to either our sectarian or
secular critics, I am reminded of a line from Leo Strauss, who complained about
the stance taken by those who, when faced with an intractable enemy of truth
and virtue, “unhesitatingly prefer surrender.” Strauss did not think
such a stance was demonic—”it has no attributes peculiar to fallen
angels,” nor is it even “Neroian. Nevertheless one may say
of it that it fiddles while Rome burns. It can be excused by two facts; it does
not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns.”78 Many
of the Saints seem satisfied to sit in a kind of stupor of thought while our
critics seek to impede the growth of the kingdom. To ignore this fact is to
place one’s head in the sand. Are we not under an “imperative duty”
to defend the kingdom (D&C 123:7, 9, 11)? Have not the Saints been warned
that “there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints,
which depends upon these things” (D&C 123:15)? Are we not warned that
these are not to be counted “as small things” (D&C 123:15)?
Editor’s Picks, by Daniel C. Peterson
As we have done for the past several years, we now list those texts or items
treated in the present issue of the FARMS Review that we feel we can recommend
to our readers. The sheer fact of recommendation is the crucial thing; the inescapably
subjective rankings below might have varied somewhat with different atmospheric
pressure, a better night’s sleep, or a less sugar-rich breakfast menu.
My opinions rest, in some cases, on personal and direct acquaintance with the
materials in question. In every instance, I have fixed the rankings after reading
the relevant reviews and after further conversations either with the reviewers
or with those who assist in the editing of the Review. But the final judgments,
and the final blame for making them, are mine. This is how the rating system
**** Outstanding, a seminal work of the kind that appears only rarely
*** Enthusiastically recommended
** Warmly recommended
So, in the hope that this list might be useful to busy readers, here are the
items that we feel we can recommend from the present issue of the FARMS Review:
**** Terryl L. Givens, By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture That Launched
a New World Religion
**** John A. Tvedtnes, Brian M. Hauglid, and John Gee, comps. and eds., Traditions
about the Early Life of Abraham
*** M. Gerald Bradford and Alison V. P. Coutts, eds., Uncovering the
Original Text of the Book of Mormon: History and Findings of the Critical Text
** Raphael Jospe, Truman G. Madsen, and Seth Ward, eds., Covenant and Chosenness
in Judaism and Mormonism
** Hugh Nibley, Abraham in Egypt
** John L. Sorenson, Mormon’s Map
* Donald W. Parry, Harmonizing Isaiah: Combining Ancient Sources
* Thomas R. Valletta, gen. ed., The Book of Mormon (and New Testament) for Latter-day
Finally, we wish to express our gratitude to the reviewers for their efforts
in evaluating the items that we have asked them to examine. Shirley S. Ricks,
our production editor, did most of the real work in getting the reviews ready
for publication. Alison V. P. Coutts, the director of publications for FARMS
and for the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts,
offered useful comments and criticism. Additional thanks go to Andrew Livingston
for our new cover design, to Elizabeth W. Watkins for her insightful observations,
to Paula Hicken for directing the source checking and proofreading, to Amy Spittler
and Jacob Rawlins for their typesetting skills, and to Julie Dozier, Tessa Hauglid,
Ellen Henneman, David Pendleton, Linda Sheffield, and Sandra Thorne for their
competent assistance. We are indebted to each of them for their contributions.
- Caliban is an allusive name used by William Shakespeare in The Tempest
to identify a disposition or human type. This name seems to me to fit at least
some of the anti-Mormon zealots in the countercult movement. The word mischief
currently identifies a playful malice, but it once had a more ominous meaning,
identifying a harm that, if not assuaged, could kill.
- For example, we have even included a review of literature on chiasmus. See
John W. Welch, “How Much Was Known about Chiasmus in 1829 When the Book
of Mormon Was Translated?” in this number of the FARMS Review, pp. 47-80.
- Douglas E. Cowan, Bearing False Witness? An Introduction to the Christian
Countercult (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2003).
- I have, however, examined Cowan’s dissertation entitled “‘Bearing
False Witness': Propaganda, Reality-Maintenance, and Christian Anticult
Apologetics” (Ph.D. diss., University of Calgary, 1999), which provided
the groundwork for his book. I am also familiar with a number of his published
and unpublished essays. With the late Jeffrey K. Hadden, he edited a series
of insightful articles on Religion on the Internet: Research Prospects and Promises
(New York: JAI, 2000).
- Cowan’s treatment of the anti-Mormon element of the countercult is
excellent even if it lacks some of the historical grounding and rich and subtle
detail found in the remarkable study of literary anti-Mormonism by Terryl L.
Givens; see The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of
Heresy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
- Morehead is, among other things, the president of Evangelical Ministries
to NewReligions (EMNR), a consortium of countercult agencies. He has urged these
agencies to clean up their act. In a controversial move, he invited Douglas
Cowan to address an EMNR convention in an effort to inform countercultists of
the seriousness of the problems they face. Cowan’s address at the EMNR
conference held in Louisville, Kentucky, on 21-23 February 2002, is entitled
“Apologia and Academia: Prospects for a Rapprochement?” and was
available online at c.faculty.umkc.edu/cowande/emnr2002.htm as recently as17
March 2003. Cowan described his experience at the EMNR convention in an address
entitled “Reflections on Louisville: The Christian Countercult in Conversation,”
a paper he read at the meeting of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR)
held in Salt Lake City and Provo on 20-23 June 2002. This paper was available
online at www.cesnur.org/2002/slc/cowan.htm as recently as 17 March 2003. My
correspondence with Morehead suggests that he has in mind merely cosmetic changes
in the countercult, and my suspicion is that he and his associates will reject
the substance of Cowan’s book.
- For a sample of his evangelical ideology, see Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen
E. Robinson, How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation
(Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1997).
- See Francis J. Beckwith, Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen, eds., The New Mormon
Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement (Grand
Rapids, Mich., Zondervan, 2002). See reviews of this book by Kevin Barney, John
A. Tvedtnes and Matthew Roper, Blake T. Ostler, and Barry R. Bickmore in this
number of the FARMS Review, pp. 97-258; and reviews by David L. Paulsen,
Benjamin I. Huff, Kent P. Jackson, Louis Midgley, and Kevin Christensen in FARMS
Review of Books 14/1-2 (2002): 99-221.
- See, for example, the Web site of the Scholarly and Historical Information
Exchange for Latter-day Saints for several sets of correspondence between
Jim Robertson (and CCFR representatives) and others, available online at www.shields-research.org/Critics/CCoM.htm
as recently as 17 March 2003.
- The program for this conference could be accessed at www.emnr.org/conference.html
as recently as 17 March 2003.
- See the review of One Nation under Gods, by Richard Abanes, in this number
of the FARMS Review, pp. 259-72.
- Jana Riess’s review of One Nation under Gods was found online at www.abanes.com/pwattack.html
as recently as 17 March 2003. In its original presentation for Publishers
Weekly, the review appeared with three other basically favorable reviews of
books on Mormonism, two of which were not authored by Latter-day Saints.
- Richard Abanes indicates that he is on the editorial board of this magazine,
which is published by the Skeptic Society—founded and headed by Michael
Shermer. See www.skeptic .com (as recently as 17 March 2003) for details on
Shermer and his Skeptic Society.
- Richard Abanes, One Nation under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New
York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002), 391.
- Ibid., 400.
- See Abanes, “Buddhism,” in the most recent edition of Walter
Martin’s The Kingdom of the Cults, ed. Hank Hanegraaff (Minneapolis,
Minn.: Bethany House, 1997), 301-20. Abanes also contributed chapters
on the so-called “New Age Cults,” and “The Apocalyptic Cults,”
to Martin’s book, as well as stinging criticisms of Pentecostal/Charismatics
such as Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, Morris Cerullo, and Kenneth Hagen. Ibid.,
333-49, 403-21, 495-516.
- Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise
(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999), xx.
- See, for example, Carl Mosser, “And the Saints Go Marching On,”
in The New Mormon Challenge, 410-11 n. 1.
- Ibid., 66.
- In 1982, when Walter Martin and others hatched the consortium of countercults
now known as Evangelical Ministries to New Religions, their undertaking was
called Evangelical Ministries to Cults. This name seemed too abrasive and was
changed in 1984, but the change was cosmetic, since they continue to emphasize
the label countercult to describe their endeavors.
- Michael Jordan, Cults: From Bacchus to Heaven’s Gate (London: Carlton
Books, 1999). This may be a slightly different edition of Cults: Prophecies,
Practices and Personalities (London: Carlton Books, 1996).
- Some of Michael Jordan’s often heavily illustrated books include Gods
of the Earth: The Quest for the Mother Goddess and the Sacred King (London:
Bantam Books, 1992); Encyclopedia of Gods: Over 2,500 Deities of the World (London:
Cathie, 1993); Witches—An Encyclopedia of Paganism and Magic (London:
Cathie, 1998); Islam: An Illustrated History (London: Carlton Books, 2002);
Myths of the World: A Thematic Encyclopedia (London: Cathie, 1993); Nostradamus
and the New Millennium: A Guide to the Great Seer’s Prophecies (London:
Carlton Books, 1998); Eastern Wisdom: The Philosophies and Rituals of the East
(London: Marlow, 1998); Mary: The Unauthorised Biography (London: Weidenfeld
& Nicolson, 2001), which has been issued under the title The Historical
Mary: Revealing the Pagan Identity of the Virgin Mother in February 2003, and
- Jordan, Cults (1999), 44.
- Ibid., 45.
- Ibid., 85. Eliphas Levi (born Alphonse Louis Constant), a former Roman Catholic
priest, in 1856 turned the previously harmless Jewish and Christian pentagram
into a ridiculous Satanic symbol.
- Jordan, Cults (1999), 6.
- Ibid., 9.
- But others see him differently. Hence the following: “Michael Jordan
is not only an expert in ancient religions and mythology,” according to
his literary agent, who points out that he has written “such works as
Gods of the Earth and the Encyclopedia of Gods, but he has also completed a
substantial amount of work on natural history including Plants of Magic and
Mystery  and a comprehensive Encyclopedia of Fungi  found in Europe
and the UK. He has also been a television presenter and is best known as the
face of Mushroom Magic, which he also wrote . He is the country’s
leading mycologist and is greatly respected in both of his chosen fields.”
This blurb was available online at www.watsonlittle.net/author.asp?authorId=96
as recently as 17 March 2003.
- See Philip Jenkins, Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).
- See Philip Jenkins, Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American
History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).
- Ibid., dust jacket.
- Ibid., 49, citing Arthur H. Barrington’s Anti-Christian Cults (Milwaukee:
Young Churchman, 1898).
- Jensen, Mystics and Messiahs, 69.
- Ibid., 68. Jenkins has just published a book entitled The New Anti-Catholicism:
The Last Acceptable Prejudice (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). As
the subtitle indicates, Jenkins does not understand either the extent or the
acceptability, even in otherwise polite society, of the vivid and even rabid
expression of anti-Mormon sentiments.
- Jenkins, Mystics and Messiahs, 4.
- See Louis Midgley, “A ‘Tangled Web': The Walter Martin
Miasma,” FARMS Review of Books 12/1 (2000): 371-434.
- On 29 March 2003, Daniel C. Peterson delivered a paper on social trinitarianism,
“Mormonism and the Trinity,” at a conference entitled “God,
Humanity, and Revelation: Perspectives from Mormon Philosophy and History,”
held at the Yale Divinity School, 27-29 March 2003.
- Roger E. Olson and Christopher A. Hall, The Trinity (Grand Rapids, Mich.:
Eerdmans, 2002), 2.
- See Hugh W. Nibley, When the Lights Went Out: Three Studies on the Ancient
Apostasy (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2001).
- See especially John Sanders, The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence
(Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1998), but also the essays included
in Clark H. Pinnock et al., The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the
Traditional Understanding of God (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1994);
and David Basinger, The Case for Freewill Theism: A Philosophical Assessment
(Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1996). For a somewhat more accessible treatment
of the topic, see Gregory A. Boyd, God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction
to the Open View of God (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2000). Also of interest
is Clark H. Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness (Grand
Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2001). I wish to thank David Paulsen for calling
this remarkable book to my attention.
- See, for example, Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson, Twentieth-Century
Theology: God and the World in a Transitional Age (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity,
- See Roger E. Olson, The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of
Tradition and Reform (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1999).
- See Roger E. Olson, The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of
Unity and Diversity (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2002). There are also
two intriguing series of books setting out this diversity of opinion among evangelicals
on various presumably “secondary” issues. See, for example, from
Zondervan in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Wayne A. Grudem, ed., Are Miraculous Gifts
for Today? Four Views (1996); Melvin E. Dieter, ed., Five Views on Sanctification
(1996); Dennis L. Okholm and Timothy R. Phillips, eds., Four Views on Salvation
in a Pluralistic World (1996); Wayne G. Strickland, ed., Five Views on Law and
Gospel (1996); William V. Crockett, ed., Four Views on Hell (1997); C. Marvin
Pate, ed., Four Views on the Book of Revelation (1998); James P. Morehead and
John M. Reynolds, eds., Three Views on Creation and Evolution (1999); Darrell
L. Bock, ed., Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (1999); Steven B. Cowan,
ed., Five Views on Apologetics (2000); J. Matthew Pinson, ed., Four Views on
Eternal Security (2002). Some titles in the competing series by InterVarsity
in Downers Grove, Illinois, include Robert G. Clouse, ed., The Meaning of the
Millennium: Four Views (1977); David Basinger and Randall Basinger, eds., Predestination
and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom (1986); Donald
L. Alexander, ed., Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification (1989);
Gabriel Fackre, Ronald H. Nash, and John Sanders, eds., What about Those Who
Have Never Heard? Three Views on the Destiny of the Unevangelized (1995); Edward
W. Fudge and Robert A. Peterson, eds., Two Views of Hell: A Biblical and Theological
Debate (2000); James K. Beilby and Paul R. Eddy, eds., Divine Foreknowledge:
Four Views (2001); Gregory E. Ganssle, ed., Four Views on God and Time (2001).
- Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues
in Evangelical Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2002). Olson’s
endorsement is found on the cover. This book consists of eighteen chapters describing
competing evangelical beliefs; an appendix discussing twelve additional issues
was available for downloading at www.bakeracademic.com/acrossthespectrum as
recently as 17 March 2003.
- Boyd and Eddy, Across the Spectrum, 6.
- Ibid., 7.
- Ibid., 8.
- Ibid., 7.
- The meaning of a mosaic does not need, nor is it dependent upon, a core,
though the individual pieces may have what could be called family resemblances.
- Olson, Mosaic of Christian Belief, 32.
- Ibid., 33. Notably, by beginning in the second century, Olson seems to have
excluded the century of Jesus and the apostles.
- Ibid., 32.
- Ibid., 33.
- Ibid., 32.
- Olson, Story of Christian Theology, 57.
- Olson, Mosaic of Christian Belief, 85.
- Ibid., 86.
- See Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, rev.
ed. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2000). His analysis of the biblical materials
that support the idea of the prophetic gifts among authentic Saints is at least
as exhaustive as that of any Latter-day Saint.
- Ibid., 257.
- Ibid., 258.
- Grudem cites 2 Timothy 3:15; James 1:18; and 1 Peter 1:23. These
passages he feels provide the necessary biblical grounds upon which the notion
of the sufficiency of scripture can be made to rest. But none of these make
reference to the New Testament or restrict God to what is currently found in
the Bible. Why? No reference in the New Testament to the scriptures can possibly
refer to the New Testament, which was not then in some cases even written or
assembled or made into the Christian canon.
- Grudem, Gift of Prophecy, 263.
- Olson, Mosaic of Christian Belief, 99-105.
- I have heard talk since the late 1940s that the Saints have felt a need
to emphasize Jesus. This seems to me, as I look back, to have been an effort
by the faithful to counter what I have come to call cultural Mormonism. This
essentially secular ideology emphasized, in its most thoughtful form,
a kind of then trendy life-affirming optimism, a faith in an inevitable human
progress, and hence a faith in man in the face of the abundance of moral evil
in the world. When some of those on the fringes of the Mormon intellectual community,
who often have the ear of the media, proclaim that they can see no place for
a redemption from sin, is it any wonder that the Saints have emphasized Jesus
as the Messiah, Lord, and Savior? This is a reaffirmation of the faith and not
a radically new departure. What is new is a turn to the Book of Mormon for more
than a sign that the heavens are open once again.
- Massimo Introvigne’s review of How Wide the Divide? was available
on his Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) Web site: www.cesnur.org/testi/morm_02.htm
as recently as 17 March 2003. All subsequent quotations from Introvigne are
from this source.
- A large concern of fundamentalist/evangelicals is the Latter-day Saint missionary
endeavor. It is seen not as witnessing to the heathens but as proselytizing,
or “sheep stealing.”
- I have no interest in debates with countercult Caliban in which points are
presumably being scored.
- Leo Strauss, Liberalism Ancient and Modern (New York: Basic Books, 1968),