Orders of Submission

Review of essays on Mormonism. Southern Baptist Journal
of Theology
9/2 (Summer 2005): 1–81.

Orders of Submission1

Reviewed by Louis Midgley

     We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro
and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their
craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking truth in love, we must grow
up into him who is the head, into Christ.

Ephesians 4:14–5 (NRSV)

     Mormon missionaries don’t evangelize, they proselytize.

Carl Mosser2

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)—currently the
single largest Protestant denomination in the United States—holds the
dubious distinction of being, among all sizeable factions, the most directly
involved in consuming, as well as producing and marketing, countercult propaganda,
including anti-Mormon materials. Since the SBC is essentially an alliance
of at least potentially independent congregations, the actual consumption
of such propaganda depends somewhat on the disposition of individual pastors.
It is, therefore, difficult to gauge the propensity of congregations to yield
to a parade of perverted passions. It is much easier to assess whether there
are signs that the increasingly centralized SBC bureaucracy is making an effort
to restrain, rather than promote, the consumption of countercult anti-Mormonism
by its affiliated congregations.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, which
claims to be the flagship seminary of the SBC, publishes the Southern Baptist
Journal of Theology
(SBJT) quarterly. This journal appears to be the primary
“scholarly” platform for opinions consonant with current SBC ideology.
The summer 2005 issue of the SBJT
was devoted to Mormonism.3 I will compare and contrast the essays
in this issue of the SBJT with the
host of materials prepared and marketed by the SBC in 1998 on the faith of
Latter-day Saints.

The SBC holds annual meetings in different cities. These gatherings of representatives
(called “messengers”) of Baptist congregations affiliated with the
SBC are regularly accompanied by evangelizing efforts. From 9 through 11 June
1998 the SBC gathered in Salt Lake City for its annual meeting. SBC officials
put together plans for what they called Crossover Salt Lake,4 which was intended to include, among
other things, much door-to-door “soul harvesting” and “church
planting.” Latter-day Saints were clearly the targets for these “witnessing”
efforts. The materials prepared by SBC officials for that meeting, as I will
demonstrate, were borrowed from or produced by those in the countercult movement
and thus were stridently anti-Mormon.5 I wish to determine,
if possible, any signs that the anti-Mormon proclivities of SBC officials
(and those they consider their ideological allies) have moderated since their
1998 meeting in Salt Lake City. But before setting out a comparison of what
was included in 2005 in the SBJT and
what was distributed in 1998, I will demonstrate that there are good reasons
for seeing the views set out in the summer 2005 issue of the SBJT as representative of the current official stance of
the SBC.

Stephen J. Wellum, the editor of the SBJT, provided the introduction
to the summer 2005 issue of the journal.6
Wellum works under the direction of Russell D. Moore, the journal’s executive
editor.7 Moore responded to a question
in a section entitled “The SBJT Forum: Speaking the Truth in Love”
(see p. 70), which I will examine in detail later, in which he strives
to describe how evangelicals can best “engage Latter-day Saints with historic
Christianity” (see pp. 70–72). The editor in chief of the SBJT
is R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of the Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary. He is described in the biographical note on his Web page “as
a leader among American evangelicals” and as “the reigning intellectual
of the evangelical movement in the U.S.” In addition, the Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary is portrayed as the “flagship school of the Southern
Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.”8
It seems unlikely that the views found in a publication over which Mohler has
ultimate control would deviate appreciably from the official position of the
SBC. It thus appears reasonable to ask if this issue of the SBJT represents
a lessening of hostility among officials of the SBC toward the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. In order to make such an assessment, it is necessary
to examine the stance taken by SBC officials in 1998 toward the faith of the
Saints. We also need to understand what has impelled some Baptists to adopt
such a viewpoint.

Nine-Eleven in Salt Lake City

Jan Shipps, a liberal Methodist who has made a minor career out of assisting
journalists anxious for copy when a “Mormon” issue seems to be newsworthy,9 has provided a useful description of
the 1998 SBC venture into Utah. I will borrow from her account of Crossover
Salt Lake in an effort to allay suspicion that I might have embellished or
exaggerated either what was planned or what actually happened before and during
the SBC meeting in Salt Lake. Reporting soon after that 9–11 June
meeting, Shipps indicated that,

judging by the half-dozen reporters who called [me] for information before
leaving to cover the SBC in Salt Lake City, neither Mormon-Baptist common
ground nor Mormon growth was the main object of interest. What they wanted
from me was a prediction about what might happen when these formidable religious
behemoths faced off against each other in the very shadow of the Mormon temple.10

Shipps pictures a tense setting. Southern Baptists in large numbers were
about to confront Mormons in Salt Lake City—a terrible titan about to
tangle with an awful adversary on its home turf. She neglected to indicate
what she told those journalists who asked for her predictions. Instead, she
pointed out that

every reporter headed to Utah to cover the story seems to have been aware
that the Baptists would be spending up to $600,000 on local evangelism before
and during the convention. They knew that, in the weeks leading up to the
conclave, radio and TV spots, huge billboard displays, and direct mailings
to 400,000 Utah residents had been preparing the ground for the Baptists to
launch a pre-convention mission blitz the weekend before the convention opened.11

What Shipps described as “the main event”—an “evangelical
onslaught” or “mission blitz”—was Crossover Salt Lake.
This evangelizing effort would, among other things, include “an all-out
Sunday offensive in which Baptist missionaries planned to proclaim their message
of salvation as they knocked on (presumably Mormon) doors all along the Wasatch
front.”12 Shipps indicated that
the “press packet prepared by Baptist Press—the SBC news bureau”—made
it clear “that Southern Baptists regard Mormonism as a form of counterfeit

The expression “counterfeit Christianity” might have been suggested
to Shipps by a book fashioned for the SBC meeting in Salt Lake entitled The
Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism,
14 which
is a collection of anti-Mormon essays written by Norman Geisler, Francis J.
Beckwith, Ron Rhodes, R. Philip (Phil) Roberts, and Sandra (and Jerald)
Tanner.15 This book was marketed by the SBC,
along with other anti-Mormon materials prepared by the Interfaith Witness
division of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), to those messengers attending
the annual meeting in Salt Lake. The content of the SBC materials was clearly
not designed to appeal to Latter-day Saints; it was Baptists who seem to have
constituted the target audience. The tone of much of what they prepared for
Crossover Salt Lake was, from a Latter-day Saint perspective, somewhere between
insulting and vicious. What seems certain is that SBC officials very much
wanted Baptists to believe that the faith of the Saints is “a form of
counterfeit Christianity.”16

Shipps noted that prior to the convention various journalists “published
articles portraying the imminent combat in heated prose” that they hoped
or expected would take place when Baptists arrived in Salt Lake. But Shipps
reported that “the expected confrontation failed to occur.”17 After all this planning and publicity,
and despite the advance public relations hype, there was no religious mayhem
in Salt Lake. Instead, the planned Crossover Salt Lake was a fizzle; there
were no real fireworks and few public confrontations between Baptists and
Latter-day Saints. The Saints were, as expected, courteous, while Baptist
missionaries were timid; they did not distribute to the Saints the anti-Mormon
tracts and books or the slick video that had been generated for their meeting
in Salt Lake City. They merely invited those they contacted to give an SBC
congregation a try, especially if they were unhappy with the church they currently
were attending or did not have an affiliation. As expected, the Saints made
a serious effort to be gracious, nonconfrontational hosts to the Baptists
who turned up in Salt Lake City.

Displayed with other SBC literature at the meetings were pallets of the two
anti-Mormon books offered to those attending the meeting. None of the literature
produced by the SBC for Crossover Salt Lake set out a version of Baptist faith
for the Saints. SBC officials seem, instead, to have had all those anti-Mormon
materials prepared for consumption by Baptists who turned up in Salt Lake. SBC
officials borrowed rhetoric from the anti-Mormon segment of the countercult
in an effort to inoculate Baptists so they would be not led astray by the faith
of those they were about to encounter in Salt Lake City. This endeavor appears
to have been an attempt at “boundary maintenance”—that is, an
effort to keep the faithful from straying (or fighting among themselves, which
has been known to happen)18 by conjuring
for them a grand contest taking place just out of sight in which Holy Knights
are encountering Diabolical Monsters. Be that as it may, the SBC anti-Mormon
literature was not addressed to the Saints—its purpose was to indoctrinate
Baptists and not to convert the Saints.

The “Mormon” Monstrosity Unmasked

In addition to The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism, another book, with the title Mormonism Unmasked,19 was marketed to those who attended
the 1998 SBC meeting in Salt Lake. Shipps reported that the SBC “printed
12,500 copies of . . . Mormonism Unmasked, which put the ‘puzzle’ together to picture a pseudo-religion
which threatened evangelical Christianity.”20
This book was the project of Roberts, who was then directing the Interfaith
Witness division of the NAMB. He also assisted in the production of a slick
video entitled The Mormon Puzzle,21 which was widely distributed
by the SBC before and during the meeting in Salt Lake City. Roberts thanks
various people at Broadman and Holman, the SBC publisher, “for the adroit
and unusually fast way in which this book was produced,” as well as Sandra
Tanner and Tal Davis “for working so quickly under the time constraints
under which this book was produced.” Though Roberts is listed on both
the cover and the title page of Mormonism Unmasked as the author of this book, six of the ten chapters
were actually written by Sandra Tanner (3, 4, and 9) and Tal Davis (1, 5,
and 7).22

Though both The Mormon Puzzle and Mormonism Unmasked
attack the Church of Jesus Christ and the faith of Latter-day Saints, the
book is less irenic than the video. However, they are both well within the
genre of aggressively adversarial “evangelism” that is typical of
the countercult industry; they are not what one might expect from officials
in a respectable, sophisticated, mainline Protestant denomination. Latter-day
Saints seem to have ignored Mormonism Unmasked. Critical attention was, instead, focused more on The Counterfeit
Gospel of Mormonism,
23 on the widely distributed video, and
on the accompanying packet of anti-Mormon literature.24

In addition to the sinister mask on the cover of Mormonism Unmasked
and the lurid title setting the tone, the back cover declares that this volume
will “lift the veil from one of the greatest deceptions in the history
of religion.” Roberts claims to have demonstrated that “Mormonism
is a fabricated and artificial form of Christianity. It is a new religion produced
by the false prophet Joseph Smith.”25
Other similar highly adversarial packaging sets the stage for the actual contents
of this book. Readers of Mormonism Unmasked are promised, with much florid
rhetoric, that within the pages of this book they will learn how to “expose
and put an end to their false teachings” (back cover). However, the book
does not spell out exactly how Baptists who are inflamed by what they find in
Mormonism Unmasked are “to put an end” to LDS teachings.

To “Pillory or Imprison Heretics”

One rather candid reviewer of Mormonism Unmasked reveals the kind of emotional excess this book might
generate: “I am a conservative Christian,” the Reverend Dr. Daniel
J. G. G. Block, who describes himself as a Lutheran pastor as well
as a retired US Air Force chaplain, explains, “who heartily agrees with
Mr. [Phil] Roberts that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is
not an orthodox Christian denomination.” That much, of course, could
be expected. But the Reverend Block then adds the following curious comment:
“On a purely personal basis, some small part of me yearns for the good
old days when the orthodox were allowed to excommunicate, pillory or imprison

Salt Lake City and the State of Deseret (now Utah), like Kirtland, Ohio; Independence,
Missouri; and Nauvoo, Illinois, began as a place of refuge from the bigotry
and persecution that was often aided and abetted by Protestant preachers who
passionately believed, of course, that they were doing God a favor by assaulting
the Saints. It was, however, also in the preachers’ own self-interest to picture
the Saints being led by sinister, demonic forces. And it must not be forgotten
that, in those idyllic days, in addition to being pilloried and imprisoned,
heretics were occasionally even burned. (Both Protestants and Roman Catholics
did such things back then.) Granted, those pillars of respectable Illinois society—the
Carthage Greys—did not burn Joseph Smith. Instead, they lynched him. Those
“good old days” also included, when the picture is properly fleshed
out, various crusades and inquisitions, neither of which constitutes an enviable
instance of Christian charity or even civility. So much for Reverend Block’s
reverie. As his remarks illustrate, the content of Mormonism Unmasked
seems capable of agitating some rather malevolent passions even in one who appears
to be an otherwise genteel pastor.

Garbling LDS Beliefs

It would be tedious, as well as unnecessary, to expose all the excesses and
garbling in Mormonism Unmasked. However, I cannot resist quoting one or two examples
from what can be found on virtually every page. After having granted, with
much understatement, that “Christians sometimes have varied
regarding the millennium—whether
it’s literal or whether Christ will precede or follow the Christianization
of the world,”27 and
then after misconstruing Latter-day Saint views on such matters as the future
appearance or return of the Messiah, as well as on the resurrection, the judgment,
and the millennium, Roberts announces that “secretive and magical are
the best ways to describe the Mormon view of both the millennium and scripture.”28

Mormonism Unmasked was not written
to present to the Saints an attractive version of Baptist ideology. Instead,
it is adversarial—a kind of debater’s handbook to be used by those who
wish to attack the faith of the Saints. It fits securely within what can be
called the confrontational mode of bashing typical of the countercult industry
since its invention in the 1960s by Walter Martin.29
Among the amusing and also distressing aspects of Mormonism Unmasked, if the scrambling of the faith of the Saints is overlooked,
are the so-called witnessing points found at the end of each chapter.30 These are tips on how to seduce the
Saints with sophistry and guile.

In an effort to set out some of the differences between the faith of the
Saints and the faith of competing factions within contemporary conservative
Protestantism, Roberts grants that “Mormonism teaches that Christ provides
a form of salvation for all.”31 The
Saints, of course, believe in a potentially universal rather than in a strictly
limited atonement. On this issue the Saints are unlike the more radical Calvinists
who insist that Jesus atoned only for the sins of those saved at the moment
of creation, when all of space and time, and everything that could possibly
take place in human history, was created out of nothing, but did not redeem
those many who in the instant in which they were created were also damned.
The Saints affirm, instead, that all are moral agents and hence may choose
to accept the merciful forgiveness of their sins offered by the Lord. But
this is not what Roberts seems to have in mind. Instead, he claims that “Mormonism
teaches that even if a person does not believe, he or she will be saved.”32
The assertion implies that Latter-day Saints believe that there is a universal
salvation from sin—without faith—available for all. “Mormonism
has devised,” according to Roberts, “a system where belief is not
necessary for salvation.”33 This is utter nonsense; it is so thoroughly
wrong that it must constitute not a mistake in understanding a subtle point,
but an intentionally false witness against the faith of the Saints. Nothing
more can be said about it.

The Saints do not believe, and have never taught, that there is any salvation,
including both justification and sanctification (or deification), apart from
the atonement provided by Jesus of Nazareth—the Messiah or Christ. In
the Book of Mormon, Moroni taught (and Latter-day Saints believe) that, “if
ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are
ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood
of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your
sins, that ye become holy, without spot” (Moroni 10:33). When the Saints
covenant to take upon themselves his name and thereby become his seed or children,
in addition to being justified, they are also offered the merciful gift of sanctification
(or deification). Becoming holy is the ultimate gift of God made possible through
“the shedding of the blood of Christ.” What may confuse Roberts, if
he is confused rather than lacking probity, is the Latter-day Saint belief in
a universal resurrection. But this is hard to believe since he insists, much
like the Saints, that “it is clear that the Resurrection, according to
the Bible, is both for the just and the unjust (Acts 24:15).”34
When Roberts is not busy attacking the faith of the Saints, he also appears
to believe in a universal resurrection.

Never Proselyting Christians, Merely Evangelizing the Heathen

SBC officials produced and marketed for Crossover Salt Lake an acutely flawed
literature bashing the faith of Latter-day Saints. In addition, those materials
circulated by the SBC were either dependent on or actually generated by well-known
countercult anti-Mormons.35 The
packet of materials prepared for Crossover Salt Lake and the two anti-Mormon
books (supported by the slick video) might be seen as part of a defensive
effort—by a brand of Baptists. Was the confrontational and adversarial
mode of apologetics directed in 1998 by the SBC to their own communicants
rather than to the Latter-day Saints? But if so, could not SBC officials have
engaged in boundary maintenance in a somewhat less militant, outlandish way?

There are, of course, some striking differences in content between the faith
of Latter-day Saints and the beliefs held by various groups of contemporary
conservative Protestants. Instead of focusing on these, Baptists (and others)
seem inclined to insist on what are bizarre stereotypes of the faith of the
Saints. The Saints have never taught that there is any salvation from sin
(or from mortality) other than through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Encountering
what seemed to me to be both hostile and mistaken opinions espoused at Crossover
Salt Lake concerning my faith made me wonder why SBC officials turned what
are clearly matters of subtle interpretation into the charge that the Saints
“teach a different person of Christ.” Whatever the dissimilarities, which
I am not at all inclined to deny or downplay, but to stress, these do not
involve a “different person” but rather different understandings
of Jesus of Nazareth. Baptists (and other conservative Protestants) appear
unwilling to grant this.

Why do conservative Protestants routinely set forth inaccurate, sometimes
bizarre, and often highly offensive opinions about the faith of the Saints?
This behavior, I believe, is linked to a need to justify to themselves efforts
to evangelize the Saints. In Mormonism Unmasked, Roberts, who was at the center of much of Crossover
Salt Lake, offers an explanation of how they view evangelization, which may
help explain their use of what the Saints see as numerous perverse misrepresentations
of the faith of the Saints. He explains that “to evangelize means merely
to share the good news that Jesus died for the sins of the world.”36 To share this message with whom? His
answer: with those who are not aware of it or who reject this message.

Evangelicals complain that “Mormon missionaries don’t evangelize, they
proselytize.”37 Unlike Protestants, Latter-day Saints
have always overtly engaged in proselyting; our mission is to everyone. We
take our message to those who are already churched. We have never distinguished
between proselyting those who are already in some sense Christians and evangelizing
the heathen. This explains in part why the Church of Jesus Christ is seen
as a threat by Protestant preachers and also helps to explain why SBC officials
fashioned anti-Mormon propaganda for the annual meeting in Salt Lake City
in 1998.

Given their own understanding of missions and evangelizing, it seems that
those who are anxious to evangelize the Saints—that is, to attack the
faith of the Saints—must insist that the Church of Jesus Christ is not
Christian because it “teaches a different work or atonement of Christ.”38 The Saints must be pictured by conservative
Protestants as heathens so that they can justify their evangelizing efforts
to fellow Protestants; the Saints must be portrayed as pagans. Doing this
demands efforts that are, from the perspective of the Saints, adversarial
or confrontational precisely because what must be shown is that those being
evangelized are not Christian at all.

Despite all the muddled, offensive stuff in Mormonism Unmasked,
it actually has one virtue—it contains language that explains why those
who see the Church of Jesus Christ as a challenge or a threat must claim that
the Saints worship a different Jesus,
have a different gospel,
a different atonement, and so forth. If Latter-day Saints are to be “evangelized,”
they cannot be portrayed as profoundly heretical Christians since Protestants
claim to witness and not to proselyte. The faith of the Saints must be attacked
root and branch and not merely corrected. This may explain why even some moderate
evangelicals refuse to acknowledge that the Saints believe that Jesus of Nazareth
is our Lord and Savior and that he atoned “for the sins of the world.”

Since the 1998 SBC meetings in Salt Lake were essentially open to the public,
it was possible for Latter-day Saints to view what went on. The speakers insisted
that Baptists never proselyte fellow Christians even when they consider their
faith inferior or deeply flawed.39 Instead,
they claimed, they are only seeking the unconverted—that is, those who
are not Christian as they understand that label. This explains why, under
their own informal rules, Latter-day Saints must be pictured as essentially

If conservative Protestants are, it seems, to operate under their own understanding
of missions, to witness to fellow Christians, even of an inferior brand, would
be proselytizing (or “sheep stealing” from another denomination’s
fold). This helps to explain why the SBC has adopted the outlandish rhetoric
of the anti-Mormon element of the countercult movement. It also explains why
countercultists have fashioned what are, to the Saints, distressing slogans
and stereotypes—that is, why they are busy “bearing false witness.”
Getting clear on this matter helps to clarify what motivates the sectarian anti-Mormonism
simmering on the margins of the evangelical movement.

Continuing the Onslaught?

Craig Blomberg and Stephen Robinson, in their famous conversation,40 did not deal with the question of whether
Latter-day Saints are Christians. This seems to have been an important reason
that their book did not receive a positive response from countercultists,
who wanted Blomberg to deny that the Church of Jesus Christ is Christian.41 In 1998, Blomberg claimed that the
bulk of the comments from evangelicals in response to How Wide the Divide? had “been quite positive and encouraging, but
a minority, almost exclusively emerging out of the countercult industry, has
at times proved quite critical.”42 This is an understatement.
Blomberg was assailed by countercultists who claimed that he had caved in
to Stephen Robinson.43 Blomberg’s immediate response was that
he did not grant that the faith of the Saints is Christian, and he soon published
an essay spelling out his stance. His conclusion was that “the claim
that Mormonism is not Christian is neither intolerant nor extreme nor uncharitable.”44

Blomberg also responded to comments by countercultists about his conversation
with Robinson. His remarks set out forcefully what he thinks of the faith
of the Saints. He praised, if not the packaging, at least the content of Mormonism
. He claimed that, “in quality
of response” the “pride of place” “must now be given to
Dr. Roberts’ new book [Mormonism Unmasked] and a very nicely produced accompanying video entitled
The Mormon Puzzle.”45
In a detailed summary of Mormonism Unmasked,
Blomberg reports that the book

begins with a fictitious but realistic scenario of how two Mormon missionaries
might lead nominal Christians into their church. Roberts then proceeds to
outline the image Mormons wish to market, setting the stage for the need for
true Bible-believing Christians to be able to give a compelling response to
the LDS. Next Roberts turns to a brief history of Joseph Smith and the founding
of the Mormon church, replete with all of the historical contradictions in
Smith’s writings and failures in his moral character. Roberts then addresses
the various distinctive doctrines of the LDS faith, stressing that at their
core the Mormon doctrine of God is polytheistic, the Jesus of the LDS is not
the same Jesus as found in the New Testament, the road to exaltation is filled
with a burdensome demand of obeying commands and performing numerous good
works, and the additional “Scriptures” beyond the Old and New Testaments
of the LDS reflect Smith’s increasing departure from orthodoxy and contain
both internal contradictions as well as both unverified and falsified historical
claims, vis-î-vis external sources. Closing chapters deal with distinctive
Mormon eschatology, the contrasts between biblical and LDS priesthoods and
temple ceremonies and suggestions for how Christians can lovingly but clearly
witness to their faith and to the inherent implausibility of the LDS gospel.46

Mormonism Unmasked, The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism, and Is the Mormon My Brother? are, according to Blomberg, marred by “sensationalist
titles,” and their “cover blurbs make it unlikely that many actual
Mormons will begin to read this literature.”47 He
wrongly claims that

Evangelical Christians are used to basing hermeneutics on authorial intent,
going back to what original founders and authors of sacred writings said and
meant in their original contexts, and so it is difficult often for us to grasp
this completely inverted hermeneutic of the LDS. As a result, Roberts’ work,
like so many of his predecessors, will simply be dismissed as irrelevant by
people of Stephen Robinson’s stripe because it continues to parade and rebut
statements of previous LDS authorities that are no longer necessarily believed
by all in the church.48

Roberts was not, Blomberg grants, entirely happy with How Wide the Divide?
The complaints by Roberts were (1) that Robinson does not speak for Latter-day
Saints, (2) that significant elements in the faith of the Saints were
neglected in that book, and also (3) that “the irenic and courteous
dialogue” that Blomberg had with Robinson “is simply out of place.
When Christianity confronts a ‘cult,’ more consistent and combative evangelism
is instead the primary order of the day.”49 However, it appears that Phil Roberts
himself is nothing if not combative.

Still, Blomberg insisted that “what makes Roberts’ book and video stand
out from the pack is that without ever saying so, they refute each of these
three points themselves!” And “Robinson features as one of the two
most prominent LDS spokesmen interviewed in the video, and several extracts
from that video are quoted in prominent places in Roberts’ book. Clearly,
Robinson is being taken as representative of the current church and its leadership.”50 Blomberg also claims that the SBC video
matches the

exact sequence of the chapters of How Wide?, including at times mirroring
the outline of the discussion within a given chapter. But neither book nor
video, with rare exceptions, ever footnotes or documents in any way their
repeated indebtedness to other Christian authors. Documentation is almost
exclusively reserved for LDS sources. Finally, in ways often untrue of their
predecessors, Roberts’ book and video give significant and sympathetic press
to current LDS perspectives. In fact, numerous excerpts of the video come
from the LDS church itself and portray Mormonism as highly attractive to many

“If a recurring fear of critics of How Wide? has been that giving
Robinson equal time might in fact lead some readers to judge the case for Mormonism
more compelling than the case for Christianity,” Blomberg insists, “the
same must surely be said of Roberts’ [SBC] video.”52
Blomberg does not see this as a weakness since what he calls “speaking
the truth in love,
like acting with justice and grace, demands that we present
as objectively accurate perspectives on all competing worldviews as possible.
We then simultaneously make the most compelling case we can for our own worldview,
and Roberts’ book excels in this respect.”53
But not from my perspective.

“The Strange Work of Love”

The Saints are often told by our critics that the Bible warrants attacks
on the faith of others and hence on our faith. Had not Paul urged the Ephesians
to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)? Without directly citing the language
he borrowed from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Blomberg asserts that Unmasking
is both true and loving. He
also insists that, unlike Latter-day Saints, who he imagines wait passively
for their leaders to shift their beliefs this way or that, evangelical beliefs
constitute a “worldview” grounded in, if not entirely derived from,
the Bible alone. Evangelicals “are used to basing hermeneutics on authorial
intent, going back to what original founders and authors of sacred writings
said and meant in their original contexts.” But Blomberg, in this instance,
lifts a phrase out of context (from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians) to justify
something that is neither true nor loving.

Paul seems to have been urging those who received his letter to fulfill their
calling as disciples of Jesus and thereby to cease being blown about, much
like contemporary warring sectarians, by every breeze of doctrine. There should,
instead, be unity even with a diversity of divine gifts within the community
of Saints. Paul also seems to advise those who have chosen to follow Christ
to mature in their conduct one to another, to serve him as their master by
learning to speak to each other truth
in love, something the Ephesians may not have been inclined to do. The often
amusing internecine battles both within the countercult and among evangelicals
generally over the proper understanding of the Bible illustrates just such
a war over doctrine, where various winds blow this way and that, depending
on the ideological orientation of preachers and also the tastes of the audience
to which the diatribes are directed. Would not Paul’s advice, I wonder, apply
to contemporary quarreling sectarians? From my perspective, an appropriate
application of Paul’s admonition would be for all who genuinely wish to follow
Jesus Christ to strive to honor the one they claim as their Lord and Savior
by ceasing to speak, listen to, purchase, or publish hateful commentary directed
at the sincere faith of others. Unfortunately, it is necessary to point out
that books attacking the faith of the Saints, while larded with insidious
falsehoods, insults, and rhetorical violence, are also bathed in the self-flattering
language of love.54

The SBC in Salt Lake City in 1998 promulgated what I believe are untruths about
the faith of Latter-day Saints. They also justified what they did as an act
of love. Perhaps without actually following Paul Tillich, a famous German-American
Protestant theologian, officials of the SBC assume that “it is the strange
work of love to destroy that which is against love.”55
Seven years have now passed since that unfortunate Crossover Salt Lake debacle.
With the publication in 2005 of an entire issue of Southern Baptist Theological
devoted to “Mormonism,” we have an opportunity to see
if the official SBC understanding of the Church of Jesus Christ has deepened,
matured, or moderated. Have SBC officials managed to jettison some of the countercult
calumny about the faith of the Saints? Are there signs of substantial shifts
in the SBC trajectory on this matter?

A Verdict in the “Forum”

Wellum, the author of the editorial that introduces the collection of essays
on Mormonism in the SBJT, avows that the purpose of these essays is “to encourage all of us
[evangelicals] to take seriously the challenge of taking the gospel, in love,
humility, and conviction, to our Mormon friends and neighbors” (p. 3).
Professor Wellum, who serves as editor of this journal, assumes that he speaks
for “historic, biblical Christianity” (p. 2) or for the orthodox
biblical version of Christian faith. This, of course, is to be expected. He
steadfastly opposes “a cult or a contrary religion” (p. 2)
with “different gospels” (p. 3). Mormonism “proclaims
another Christ and a false gospel” and operates with an “alien worldview”
(p. 2, emphasis in original). This language sets the stage for the usual
aggressively adversarial polemic against the Church of Jesus Christ.

The most directly polemical essays in this issue of the SBJT are included in what is called “The SBJT Forum: Speaking the Truth in Love” (pp. 70–81).
Five authors respond to questions posed by the editors of the SBJT
concerning the seeming challenge posed by the Church of Jesus Christ and how
best to respond to it. In an editorial headnote introducing “The SBJT Forum” (p. 70), which is a regular feature
of this journal, Russell D. Moore56 indicates that five
“significant thinkers,” including himself, R. Philip Roberts,57 Robert
Stewart,58 John Divito,59 and
Richard Abanes,60 “have been asked specific questions
to which they have provided written responses” (p. 70). The goal
was to produce a “unified presentation” on “topics of interest”
(p. 70).

Moore responds to the question “How can evangelical Protestants engage
Latter-day Saints with historic Christianity?” He charges that the Church
of Jesus Christ “is in reality little more than an Americanized version
of a Canaanite fertility cult” and claims that those confronted with
the challenge of the Mormon cult “should pay attention to Paul’s proclamation
of the gospel to a cultural milieu that closely resembles Salt Lake City:
the pagan enclave of Ephesus” (p. 71). What this entails is that
the evangelical “must not back away from the sad reality that Mormonism
is not even remotely Christian”
(p. 71, emphasis in original).

Moore informs his readers that they “must remember” that they do
“not convince Mormons with rational arguments alone” (p. 71).
“We need not just ask whether Mormons believe things that are untrue and
dangerous; they do” (p. 71). Instead, those confronting Latter-day
Saints must find ways of demonstrating that “deep within their hearts,
Mormons know that Joseph Smith is a fraud” (p. 72).61
Assuming this to be the case, “evangelicals should take more than a scattershot
approach to knocking down Mormon claims (although this is necessary)” (p. 71).
What he calls “proof-text[ing] argumentation” will not necessarily
conquer “this kind of deception. . . . It does mean presenting
the big picture of Scripture” (p. 72), which he distinguishes from
“the irrational ‘burning in the bosom’ of our Mormon missionary friends”
(p. 72). He insists that the experience of Jesus’s disciples on the road
to Emmaus (Luke 24:32) was not “the anti-propositional relativism of postmodern
epistemology” (p. 72), as if either of these have ever been an element
in the faith of Latter-day Saints.

“Nothing Much Has Changed”

In what turns out to be the crucial showpiece of this issue of the SBJT
(pp. 72–75), Roberts
was asked by its editors to respond to the following question: “Can you
provide any reflections on recent dialogue that has taken place between some
evangelicals and Mormons?” (p. 72).62 Roberts claims to know exactly what
is going on, and he believes it is not good news for evangelicals. He indicates
that in 1998, when Crossover Salt Lake was about to take place, he “encouraged
Dr. Paige Patterson, then president of the Southern Baptist Convention, to
write President Hinckley. With a bit of my involvement,” Roberts boasts,
“he did so speedily and enthusiastically” (p. 75).63 The
core issues, as one might expect, given the SBC enthrallment with countercult
rhetoric, were “disagreements about Jesus Christ” (p. 75).
President Hinckley was invited to meet with Patterson and to thrash out these
disagreements in “a respectful and personal conversation in a private
setting at any time and place” (p. 75).

Patterson, who is president of Southeastern Baptist Seminary, suggested that
President Hinckley and his counselors could be guests at this institution
for this proposed interfaith dialogue on whose Jesus is the real biblical
one. Roberts laments that “Dr. Patterson has not received a reply from
President Hinckley” (p. 75). For Roberts, the failure of President
Hinckley to respond to Patterson’s call for a debate—along with several
other developments, which he describes from his perspective—is a significant
indication that evangelicals are not about to evangelize the Church of Jesus

Contrary to the enthusiastic expectations that have arisen among a few evangelicals
following the conversation between Stephen Robinson and Craig Blomberg and the
subsequent meetings between a few evangelical and Latter-day Saint scholars
held annually since then, Roberts sets forth a number of reasons why he believes
that “nothing much has changed in Salt Lake City” (p. 73). Some
evangelicals seem to believe that they are part of a conversation in which they
are gradually evangelizing the Church of Jesus Christ. They expect (or at least
hope) that radical changes in what the Saints believe will soon flow from these
conversations. “What’s going on in Salt Lake City?” Roberts asks.
“Are Mormons coming to their theological senses? Is there a doctrinal seismic
shift afoot akin to what occurred with the Worldwide Church of God just a few
years ago when that group renounced their heretical views and embraced evangelical
theology? While I hope so, in my opinion, a more sober assessment demonstrates
that this is hardly the case” (p. 73). Since his preferred mode of
evangelizing is combative and confrontational, Roberts is rightly skeptical
of the efforts of Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, and
his associates, and also of Gregory Johnson, who operates Standing Together
Ministries in Lehi, Utah.64

Negotiating Surrender?

The goal of Mouw and his associates is to negotiate with some LDS scholars
and then eventually with the Brethren, who they hope can be talked into making
shifts that will turn the Church of Jesus Christ into another evangelical
denomination. What fuels this illusion is the story that is told about the
shift from what they consider a cult to an evangelical denomination that took
place in one faction of the Worldwide Church of God after the death of Herbert W.
Armstrong (1892–1986).65 This
event provides evangelicals with a model for shifting from efforts to evangelize
individual Latter-day Saints to evangelizing the entire Church of Jesus Christ
through meetings first with a few key LDS scholars and then eventually with
the Brethren. They look to what they claim took place in the Worldwide Church
of God, which I believe they misunderstand and misrepresent, and also to certain
shifts in the ideology of Seventh-day Adventists, as a model for their efforts
to move the Brethren away from Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon that will
eventually, they hope, lead the Church of Jesus Christ to seek membership
in the National Association of Evangelicals.

Greg Johnson, who has been involved in facilitating meetings between Latter-day
Saint and evangelical scholars, brought J. Michael Feazell, currently senior
advisor to Joseph Tkach Jr., the pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God,
to Salt Lake and showed him around. The stridently anti-Mormon people at Living
Hope Ministries, whose preferred mode of evangelization of Latter-day Saints
is the attack video, saw an opportunity to produce a video on the Worldwide
Church of God entitled Called to Be Free.66

Preaching in the Tabernacle and the Aftermath

One of Johnson’s projects was bringing Ravi Zacharias, who heads a lucrative
international ministry,67 to Utah to give a series
of speeches aimed at evangelizing Latter-day Saints. One of these talks was
delivered on 14 November 2004 by Zacharias in the Tabernacle in Salt
Lake City. “This unique event,” according to Phil Roberts, “apparently
was the brainchild of ‘Standing Together’—an ad hoc ecumenical Mormon-evangelical
alliance led by former LDS member and Baptist pastor, Greg Johnson” (p. 72).
This is inaccurate. Standing Together Ministries is not, as Roberts claimed,
an “ecumenical Mormon-evangelical alliance,” but merely Johnson’s
effort to evangelize Latter-day Saints.

Johnson somehow managed to have Zacharias address an evangelical rally in
the Tabernacle. Zacharias gave one of his typically flamboyant stump speeches.
Phil Roberts complains that he “avoided the particulars of just how and
in what ways the Jesus Christ of evangelical thought differed or contrasted
with the Jesus of Latter-day reckoning” (p. 73). This, he grants,
might have been excusable. What annoyed Roberts were the introductory remarks
by Mouw,68 who “came to the
podium to make a surprise statement. He proceeded to apologize and offer lamentations
on how Mormons and the teaching of Mormonism had been abused, misrepresented,
and caricatured by evangelicals, particularly those involved in counter-cult
ministries” (p. 73). Mouw described for those gathered in the Salt
Lake Tabernacle how a group of evangelicals, which includes Greg Johnson,
have been meeting twice a year “over the past half-dozen years”
with some LDS scholars. Then he announced that he is “now convinced that
we evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices
of the Mormon community.” He added that, “indeed . . .
we have sinned against you. The God of the Scriptures makes it clear that
it is a terrible thing to bear false witness against
our neighbors, and we have been guilty of that sort of transgression in things
we have said about you.”69

According to Roberts, evangelicals responded to Mouw’s comments “in
various ways, ranging from mild approbation to disappointment and rage”
(p. 73). Mouw, again according to Roberts, defended his remarks by “stating
that he knew of only two persons that he had in mind when he apologized and
those were the late Walter Martin, author of The Kingdom of the Cults,
and Dave Hunt, Christian apologist and author” (p. 73).

When pressured by his critics, Professor Mouw identified Martin and Hunt
as prime examples of evangelicals guilty of having offended both God and Latter-day
Saints by flagrantly bearing false witness against them. Contrary to what
Roberts claims, however, Mouw did not appear to indicate that he was able
to identify only two persons for whom he was apologizing. Instead, he gave
two well-known, striking examples of disreputable behavior against the Saints
by evangelicals. He could, I believe, have mentioned Phil Roberts too, had
he been aware of his anti-Mormon diatribes. The irony is that in October 2003
Ravi Zacharias had allowed his name to appear as general editor of the most
recent edition of Walter Martin’s dreadful book.70

Roberts argued that the hope that the Latter-day Saints are about to renounce
the historical foundations of their faith and become just another evangelical
denomination is misplaced since “nothing much has changed.” He argues
that Greg Johnson and Richard Mouw and his team of evangelicals have been
used by those he calls “LDS public relations moguls” (p. 74)
in an attempt to make the Church of Jesus Christ appear “more mainstream”
and “even distinctly evangelical” but “without giving away
anything of substance” (p. 74). Roberts then asks the question:
“Do any of these developments carry the hope of possible change?”
His answer is “Not at all” (p. 75). The reason is that “at
the present time, LDS church leadership displays no indication of making doctrinal
adjustments” (p. 75). (On this issue, Roberts is clearly right.)
Instead, “they are doubtlessly desirous to see impressions altered, though.
This desire,” according to Roberts, “is evident in the amount of
time and money spent on trying to gain acceptance from mainstream Christianity”
(p. 75). On the latter issue, Roberts is wrong. He makes the same mistake
that Mouw and his associates make. The Saints have no desire or need for an
evangelical seal of approval. Evangelicals should remember—we proselyte.

When the Saints object to countercult distortions, Roberts takes this as evidence
that they are “trying to gain acceptance from mainstream Christianity,”
by which he means approval from one noisy faction of conservative Protestants.
Such has never been the case. But misunderstandings on this issue fuel the illusions
held by both those who engage in confrontational evangelizing and those who
think that they are about to negotiate a surrender by engaging in civil conversation
with a few Latter-day Saints. To the extent that Phil Roberts can be taken as
speaking for the Southern Baptist Convention, it seems clear that no mellowing
has taken place since the debacle in Salt Lake in 1998 that he helped to engineer.71

Some Moderation?

But some of the language in the summer 2005 issue of the SBJT suggests a certain moderation. Richard Abanes, for
example, insists that evangelicals should not indulge in mocking their Mormon
adversaries (p. 80). Citing Ephesians 4:15 and 2 Timothy 2:24–26—he
reads these verses as warranting countercult activities—Abanes urges
his fellow anti-Mormons to follow the strictures found in these passages that
seem to him to require that one approach the unbeliever both “in love”
and with “gentleness and respect” (p. 79). He laments that,
“unfortunately, these . . . two passages often take a backseat
to what becomes,” for evangelicals, “an overriding aim of witnessing—that
is, making sure that someone realizes he is wrong” (p. 79). Abanes
is generous; he grants that “Mormons are not
always ‘lying’ or ‘dodging the issues’ or ‘seeking to deceive.’ It is,”
he admits, “true that some Mormons resort to such tactics” (p. 80).
He gives no examples. And he skirts the issue of the scandal of misrepresentations
aimed at the faith of the Saints by his countercult associates. He was trained
as a countercultist by Walter Martin and has remained, he insists, loyal to
Hank Hanegraaff, who wrested control of Martin’s Christian Research Institute
from those clearly dedicated to the interests of the late master countercultist.
Abanes has never taken responsibility for the excesses and clumsy lapses found
in One Nation under Gods, which is his own primary attack on the faith of the
Saints. Apparently no apologies are necessary since only a few cosmetic changes
appear in the second edition.

Robert Stewart is a bit less irenic. He advises his readers that “the
question of what is ‘official’ Mormon doctrine is sometimes merely a smokescreen
intended to divert attention away from problematic Mormon beliefs” (p. 77).
Since his mode of evangelizing is adversarial, he advises his readers to force
the Saints to take a position; do not let them slide around awkward questions.
Demand that they support their views biblically (p. 77). The goal in confronting
the Saints is “to make the individual Mormon speak for himself, and [to]
insist on logical consistency and biblical support” (p. 78). What
Stewart recommends is more bashing with proof texts lifted from the Bible. John
Divito, who explains how he came out of Mormonism, repented of his sins, was
born again, and now pushes his understanding of the Bible, is in the same mold
as Stewart.

Defending a Worldview

The summer issue of the SBJT also includes interesting essays by Francis Beckwith,72
Paul Copan,73 and Carl Mosser74 setting
out and defending their version of classical theism. These essays essentially
extend (or in Beckwith’s case defend) the ideology that was set out in The
New Mormon Challenge
in 2002.75
They are, therefore, moments in a continuing polemic launched by some evangelicals
who begin with a dogmatic “Christian” worldview—God created
the world, including space and time, out of nothing. These essays may indicate
that the SBC has adopted this polemic, if not the strikingly more irenic spirit
of the essays published by Beckwith, Mosser, and Owen in 2002. It is, I believe,
likely that Beckwith, Copan, and Mosser have found in the SBC an ally for
their efforts to meet what they consider the challenge posed by the faith
of the Saints. If so, these essays do not provide an indication of possible
shifts in the understanding of Mormon things that might have taken place within
the SBC since 1998.

But the essay by Chad Brand76 (described in the SBJT as teaching theology at the Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary and also as an associate dean of biblical and theological studies
at Boyce College) provides a rather clear indication of how those affiliated
with the SBC currently understand the Church of Jesus Christ. The faith of
Latter-day Saints, we are assured by Brand, “seems like such a strange
thing to evangelicals” (p. 4).

Mormon people, on the other hand, appear normal by contrast; in fact, as
for appearance, they seem quite attractive, moral and family oriented, and
committed to their faith. But it is the faith beliefs and churchly
not their lifestyle, of the Mormons that are so off-putting.
Odd practices, such as secret temple proceedings, baptisms for the dead, sacred
undergarments, and deep secrecy as to the leadership structure at the top
of this oligarchical (episcopal?) organization . . . have caused
orthodox Christianity generally to consider the LDS “church” a cult.
(p. 4)

Brand has striven to figure out “how Mormon leaders have been able to
charm to their cause people whose theological worldview is (apparently) quite
different from that of the LDS,” since “evangelicals generally consider
Joseph Smith, Jr., to be a charlatan, a rascal, and a sexual deviant”
(p. 4). His explanation is curious; he believes that it has something
to do with the decline of Calvinism (and especially belief in predestination)
in America (pp. 5–6) and also with the rise of Protestant efforts
to recover New Testament Christianity (p. 7). Joseph Smith is said to
have attracted a following like other “populist movements” (p. 7).
His “church” was part of a “village enlightenment” (p. 10)
that opened the horizon for little people. And, Brand adds parenthetically,
“people were also fascinated with Joseph Smith’s discovery of an ancient
book” (p. 8). But, according to Brand, “the Mormon appeal today”
is radically different (p. 10). No longer are the Saints pictured “as
polygamist, authoritarian, agrarian, and dour” (p. 10). Now, instead
of appearing as gloomy dupes, the Saints appear “suburban, happy, family-oriented,
and successful” (p. 10). “Since about 1990,” he claims,
the faith of the Saints is “the distillation of the best of the American
dream” (p. 10). This shift in the public image of Mormons has been
coupled with a “new apologetic in the face of traditional Christian theology”
(p. 10), which Brand associates with Hugh Nibley and others who have
pounded away at, among other things, the old Augustinian tradition (pp. 10–11).

But Brand also notices efforts by a few of the Saints to identify for evangelicals
common elements shared by both communities (p. 11). From his perspective,
the problem is that the Saints still “argue that the Creeds of the early
church got it wrong,” while evangelicals, of course, find “good
reason to be guided by the decisions made in the trinitarian and christological
debates” that led to the various creeds, even though “evangelicals
would contend that the only source for our theology is the Bible alone”
(p. 11). He grants that, “if Mormons can increasingly come back
to Scripture—true Scripture, that is, and not the latter-day revelations—there
is hope that one day Mormons . . . will be led to reject the unbiblical
accretions of their own theology” (p. 12). What Brand calls a “dialogue”
with the Saints “is important as we seek to woo intellectuals and other
in the LDS faith to a more biblical model” (p. 12). It is unclear
whether he has in mind efforts to woo the entire Church of Jesus Christ or
merely individual Latter-day Saints.

Unlike Chad Brand, Francis J. Beckwith is familiar with some LDS literature
and has actually been involved in exchanges with Latter-day Saints. Beckwith’s
essay is a spirited response (pp. 14–30) to critical comments on
The New Mormon Challenge made by David L. Paulsen.77 While defending his
involvement with attempts to meet the “challenge” posed by the Church
of Jesus Christ, Beckwith is willing to “grant to Paulsen that some traditional
Christians in their contacts with Mormons have not often conducted themselves
in ways that are consistent with the theological virtues articulated in Scripture.
For this,” Beckwith indicates, he is genuinely “embarrassed and
sorry” (p. 24). In addition, Beckwith sets out reasons for his embarrassment
at some anti-Mormon literature (see
pp. 29–30). He also describes being “appalled” by certain
“behavior” from his “fellow evangelicals” (p. 29).

Beckwith acknowledges only that some anti-Mormon literature is reprehensible. Virtually
all of it is reprehensible, including the bulk of the contributions to the
summer issue of the SBJT. Why,
I wonder, would Beckwith and Mosser, who are certainly familiar with the literature
distributed by the anti-Mormon portion of the countercult, join with those
whose essays manifest indifference to truth? Put another way, why is it that
those who are, in Beckwith’s words, “concerned with both the acquisition
of truth as well as sharing the power of Christ’s love” (p. 30),
stand together as co-belligerents with bigoted, caustic, uninformed, and essentially countercult

Beckwith, like Mosser and Mouw and others, sees their endeavors as part of
what they call an “interfaith dialogue.” However, this is actually
a debate that they believe must take place with Latter-day Saints over radically
conflicting worldviews.78 Writing
essays and having civil meetings with some Latter-day Saint scholars, they
seem to believe, is a way of responding to “the new Mormon challenge.”
The Saints must, they insist, enter into this debate. And, when defeated in
this intellectual battle, the Saints must surrender. It is not, from their
perspective, possible to end their campaign by the Saints demonstrating in
both word and deed that we put our trust in Jesus of Nazareth as our Lord
and Savior.79 Instead, we must accept their dogmatic
theology; we must be wooed or hounded into abandoning the Book of Mormon and
into adopting their version of classical theism, or the war of words must

Beckwith and his associates should understand that neither the Saints nor the
Brethren are about to surrender to their ideology. In addition, any genuine
effort on their part to put a damper on the excesses of countercult anti-Mormonism
only makes them targets of abuse. Beckwith and his associates can do nothing
to put an end to countercult anti-Mormonism. Instead, they issue, in somewhat
less belligerent ways, orders of submission to some version of creedal Christianity.

With Neither Truth nor Love

Contemporary conservative Protestants struggle against divisiveness. They
do so in part by insisting on both the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Bible.
However, this does not put a lid on contention. It may even exacerbate it.
One reason is that those who interpret the canonical texts, though they advance
their interpretations with much passion, are not themselves infallible. In
addition, they tend to be what early Latter-day Saints called “formalists”:
they reject the possibility of additional divine special revelation.80 There need not be and can never be,
from such a perspective, any additional genuinely prophetic witness or clarification.
But the fact is that theological fads and fashions wax and wane. And within
conservative Protestant circles there are a host of competing opinions about
the proper understanding of divine things, each of which is presumably grounded
in the Bible alone.81

Currently the dimming and shifting of Protestant confessional loyalties is
resulting in a lessening of competition within and between Protestant denominations.
Older denominational loyalties have been replaced by a continuum stretching
from tiny congregations to huge megachurches often with no fixed or traditional
denominational ties. This development has not, however, reduced the level
of competition and contention among individuals and factions. The reason is
that access to the religious market place is open to competing entrepreneurs
who often operate without even a semblance of denominational oversight or
control. These and other developments tend to blur or erase older loyalties
and ideologies. Striking out on their own, preachers vie with each other for
prominence and resources and followers. Parachurch agencies, independent ministries,
and outreaches compete with each other and with older and newer denominations
for a share of the religious market. Some “evangelists,” beginning
with the old radio ministries, have become celebrity figures who draw support
away from established churches.

For some, if no exterior enemy is in sight, aggression is turned inward and
congregations disintegrate. The remedy often employed by preachers is to find
ways of marshaling and directing malignant passions toward a morally blameworthy
exterior agent. This option opens the door for countercult attacks on what are
pictured as a demonic other that threatens authentic Christian faith.
Often attacks are justified by appealing to some passage lifted out of context
from the New Testament. We are often told that language in the Bible warrants
such vicious, shameless attacks on the faith of others because, for example,
Paul urged the Ephesians to speak “truth in love.” This is, of course,
utter nonsense. Paul was clearly urging those who received his letter to cease
being blown about by every breeze of doctrine. Instead, he advised those who
follow Christ to grow up unto him and to serve him as their master by learning
to speak to each other truth in love—something the Ephesians, like
contemporary quarreling sectarians, seemed inclined not to do. They should,
instead, strive to honor the one they claim to serve by ceasing to publish,
purchase, or listen to hateful rubbish.

The Powerful Passion to Destroy

As is well-known, James Madison was deeply concerned about what he called
the “mischiefs of faction.”82 Controlling
these “mortal diseases,”83 in Madison’s estimation,
is necessary to protect republican liberty and avoid civil war. What is not
as well-known is that, for those, like Madison, who thought deeply about the
hazards to republican regimes, and who sought remedies for “this dangerous
vice,”84 the primary examples of the violence
of faction flowed from “a zeal for different opinions concerning religion.”85
One only has to reflect on the current conflicts in Lebanon, Northern Ireland,
or Iraq to see what Madison was getting at. He argued that religious differences,
if at all intense, may result in virulent sectarian controversy; such violent
conflicts potentially threaten the liberties, lives, and properties of minorities,
as well as the stability of regimes. Madison flatly rejected the excessively
optimistic, naive notion that the moral sentiments of the faithful would somehow
act as a restraint on sectarian animosity; he argued, instead, that conscience
“is known to be inadequate in individuals: In Large numbers, little is
to be expected from it. Besides, Religion itself may become a motive to persecution
& oppression. —These observations,” according to Madison, “are
verified by the Histories of every Country.”86

The unhappy fact is that the American regime, which was in large measure designed
to protect the rights of competing religious minorities, has not always been
either willing or able to do so. Nefarious manifestations of hatred often born
of religious passions are, unfortunately, common elements in the story of sectarian,
adversarial zeal, even in Madison’s hopefully moderate America. We must never
forget that Latter-day Saints were forced to flee from place to place and were
eventually driven out of the United States into a refuge in the wilderness;
they certainly did not plan on ending up in the barren desert they eventually
turned into a Deseret (which is now, of course, known as Utah).

The Larger Picture

Madison’s opinions on the source and impact of partisan zeal and potential
factional warfare might be seen as exaggerations. But if so, not by all that
much. When competing faiths are involved, one can easily find numerous instances
where the combination of religious zeal and political ambition has eroded
or wiped away moral restraints. One of the larger though perhaps lesser known
instances of this combustible mix can be seen taking place in the 1200s when
the Mongol hordes that had swept west over Asia eventually reached Europe.
Much as with other worldly empires, their utterly ruthless leaders seem to
have thought (or at least said) that they were doing God a favor by demanding
submission from everyone who stood in the way of their lusts and their illusions
of potency and power. Extermination awaited those who refused their demands;
all must become their vassals or suffer horrendous consequences. The famous
Mongol “orders of submission” presented to their European adversaries
were, of course, backed by the sword. We should not be astonished by their
audacity, for they imagined themselves, like many before and since, as rightfully
commissioned to subdue the world.

But those Mongol chiefs were not the only ones who embraced such illusions.
The fact is that those busy guiding empires, not excepting those presumably
sacral or priestly, have routinely pictured their enemies as Diabolical Monsters
worthy of what they were about to endure, and themselves as Holy Knights authorized
and empowered by God (or nature) to accomplish the task of subduing a supposedly
demonic enemy. It turns out that, whatever it is that is behind talk of a
jihad, it is not merely a recent Muslim
aberration. Within Christendom one has only to turn to the various Crusades
and Inquisitions to see something like this ideology at work.

If one is tempted to think that various efforts to weed out heretics or suppress
dissent or subdue and hence enlighten the heathen (or deal with potentially
powerful internal factions) reflect merely a Roman Catholic vice, one has
only to remember that, if Rome burned an allegedly heretical Giordano Bruno
on 17 February 1600, nearly half a century earlier (on 27 October
1553) in Geneva, with John Calvin’s approval, the Spaniard Michael Servetus
was burned as a heretic. Pogroms are an old story. One reason is that Christian
faith in much of Europe was once profoundly merged with political regimes.
The links between bishops and kings were what eventually brought both into
disrepute. Secularists pounded away at faith in God primarily because clerics
and princes were seen as a single corrupt enemy. In Europe, churches still
tend to be under government control and hence beholden to state power long
after those regimes have become thoroughly secular.

In addition, the links between priests or preachers and princes was crucial
to the warfare that once afflicted Europe. When armies, even under a religious
banner, tasted blood, it was difficult to restrain the urge to pester poor peasants
or otherwise seek for glory. This eventually put all regal regimes in mortal
danger. Among both Protestants and Roman Catholics the practice of tyrannicide,
often backed by understandable if not commendable moral outrage, eventually
turned into regicide. Now, with the decline and demise of such regimes, we tend
to call this sort of thing terrorism. We also end up having to use fire to fight
fire. We currently see ever larger portions of the world turned into an extension
of the lamentable Arab-Israeli conflict, with all that this signifies and portends—and
always with at least latent religious overtones.

An American Brand of Bigotry

Not all manifestations of bigotry and hatred flowing from religious passions,
or appealing to religious sentiments for justification, have held aloft a
sword or firebrand. And, of course, some of the more violent elements of sectarian
animosity have been toned down. Such atrocities as lynching and cross-burning
have decreased. We cannot forget that, even where a kind of “free market”
for competing faiths has been given a measure of constitutional protection,
flagrant religious bigotry once led to the exodus (or expulsion) of an entire
people from the confines of the United States. The Saints were thus forced
to travel through a hostile wilderness in an effort to find a place of refuge
and thereby escape pernicious and persistent persecution.

Spoken and written acrimony from within conservative Protestant circles is
often justified as “speaking the truth in love,” where it is clear
that what is done is neither true nor compassionate, at least from the perspective
of those on the receiving end. Churlishness in conservative Protestant circles
now tends to be papered over with proof texts lifted from the Bible; the fist
is thus covered in a thin veneer of rhetorical velvet. One has only to glance
at the ever-growing scoria found in the slag heap of sectarian anti-Mormon
literature, currently including a spate of slick anti-Mormon videos,87 to see that this is the case.

Anti-Catholic propaganda constitutes a sizeable portion of countercult endeavors,
and, for the most part, sectarian anti-Mormonism is not the work of Roman
Catholics. Instead, anti-Mormonism has been primarily the province of conservative
Protestants, including the pastors and preachers—often self-credentialed
critics—who tend to constitute the countercult.88 The market for the products generated
by the unseemly countercult—including printed materials of various types,
tapes and videos, speaking engagements in Protestant pulpits, radio and television
programming, picketing and protesting, and, most recently, Web pages, boards,
and blogs—fortunately is still somewhat limited by the marginalized
status of the countercult within the conservative wing of American Protestantism.
Competition between agencies and individuals tends to limit the number of
financially successful providers. And the countercult is a business and hence
must generate revenue. Countercultists vie with each other for a niche in
this loathsome market.89 In addition, the often litigious personalities
drawn into the countercult culture have often turned against each other. This
has resulted in some ugly internecine battles among countercultists struggling
to define exactly the correct religious ideology as they compete with each
other for scarce resources. Fortunately the countercult is, as I have demonstrated,
with one rather glaring exception, still marginal in conservative Protestant
circles. And it has, to this point, had only a slight impact on scholarship.90 Countercultists constantly complain
about their lack of standing within the larger components of conservative
Protestantism. This offers a ray of hope that the malignant passions that
fuel anti-Mormonism, if they are not likely to disappear, will continue to
be constrained to the margins of contemporary conservative Protestantism.

Of course, one can only long for the day when shame will lead the lion not
to seek to feed on the lamb. I do not expect to see this soon, however.


1.   See Eric Voegelin,
“The Mongol Orders of Submission to the European Powers, 1245–1255,”
Byzantion 15 (1940–41): 378–413.
I have borrowed the title of my essay from something I read well over forty
years ago.

2.   Carl Mosser,
“And the Saints Go Marching On: The New Mormon Challenge for World Missions,
Apologetics, and Theology,” in The New Mormon Challenge: Responding
to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement,
ed. Francis J. Beckwith, Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen (Grand Rapids, MI:
Zondervan, 2002), 68.

3.   This issue includes
an editor’s introduction, four essays, and responses to specific questions
by five other authors. There are an additional thirteen brief book reviews
that, except for the review of Robert Millet’s A Different Jesus? The Christ
of the Latter-day Saints
(pp. 95–96),
do not address Mormonism (pp. 82–97). The entire issue is currently
available free at www.sbts.edu/Resources/Publications/Journal/Summer_2005.aspx
(accessed 9 October 2006).

4.   The plans and
supporting materials were fashioned by the Interfaith Witness Division of
the North American Mission Board (NAMB). Until 1997 the NAMB was known as
the Home Mission Board (HMB) to distinguish it from the International Mission
Board (IMB).

5.   For details,
see Daniel C. Peterson, “‘Shall They Not Both Fall into the Ditch?’ What
Certain Baptists Think They Know about the Restored Gospel,” FARMS
Review of Books
10/1 (1998): 12–96.

6.   Stephen J. Wellum’s
remarks are entitled “Editorial: Evangelicalism, Mormonism, and the Gospel”
(pp. 2–3).

7.   Russell D. Moore
is listed as dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary, where he is also senior vice president for Academic Administration
and a professor of theology. In addition, Moore is the executive director
of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement (see p. 70
of the SBJT under review for details).
Henry was editor of Christianity Today for many years.

8.   Both passages
are quoted from www.albertmohler.com/bio.php
(accessed 31 August 2006). The faculty and enrollment figures for Southern
Baptist seminaries make this remark look a bit padded.

9.   For a collection
of her observations on Mormon topics, see Jan Shipps, Sojourner in the
Promised Land: Forty Years among the Mormons
(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000).

10.   Jan Shipps, “Submission
in Salt Lake,” Religion in the News
1/2 (1998): no pagination. Religion in the News is published online by the Leonard E. Greenberg Center
for the Study of Religion in Public Life, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.
See www.trincoll.edu/depts/csrpl/RIN%20Vol.1No.2/salt_lake.htm (accessed 1 September

11.   Shipps, “Submission
in Salt Lake.”

12.   Shipps, “Submission
in Salt Lake.”

13.   Shipps, “Submission
in Salt Lake.”

14.   See The Counterfeit
Gospel of Mormonism: The Great Divide between Mormonism and Christianity
(Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1998). This collection
of essays has some quirks. For example, the first chapter appears to have
been substantially plagiarized by Norman Geisler from an earlier work by Sandra
and Jerald Tanner. For the grisly but amusing details, see Danel W. Bachman,
“The Other Side of the Coin: A Source Review of Norman Geisler’s Chapter
[in The Counterfeit Gospel. . .],”
FARMS Review of Books 12/1 (2000):
175–213. Six other essays in the same issue of the Review (see pp. 137–353) respond to each chapter in
The Counterfeit Gospel.

15.   The Tanners, who are not
Baptists, have for many years operated a mom-and-pop anti-Mormon bookstore
in Salt Lake City under the title Utah Lighthouse Ministry. They have published
an anti-Mormon newsletter entitled the Salt Lake Messenger. Jerald Tanner passed away 1 October 2006.

16.   Shipps, “Submission
in Salt Lake.”

17.   Shipps, “Submission
in Salt Lake.”

18.   According to Shipps, “Submission
in Salt Lake,” one of the more memorable instances of internecine squabbling,
if not entirely a factional power move, within the SBC took place in 1985,
when the “moderates,” then more or less in control of the denomination,
were ousted by “conservatives” in a hostile takeover. More than
40,000 “messengers” attended the meeting in 1985, while a mere 8,000
turned up in Salt Lake. See Nancy T. Ammerman, Baptist Battles: Social
Change and Religious Conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention,

rev. ed. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1995), for an account
of the controversy in 1985 and its outcomes.

19.   See R. Philip Roberts,
Mormonism Unmasked: Confronting the Contradictions between Mormon Beliefs
and True Christianity
(Nashville, TN:
Broadman & Holman, 1998). It should be noted that the title selected by
Phil Roberts for his screed is not original, since the same title was employed
much earlier. For details, see Louis Midgley, “A ‘Tangled Web': The Walter
Martin Miasma,” FARMS Review of Books
12/1 (2000): 381 n. 28. It is quite likely that neither Roberts nor his publisher
knew of these earlier items with the same name.

20.   Shipps, “Submission
in Salt Lake.”

21.   See The Mormon Puzzle:
Understanding and Witnessing to Latter-day Saints
(Alpharetta, GA: North American Mission Board, Southern
Baptist Convention, 1997).

22.   For these details, see
Roberts, “Acknowledgments,” in Mormonism Unmasked, vii. His own bibliography, posted on the MBTS Web page,
however, describes Roberts merely as coauthor and contributor to Mormonism

23.   See the series of essays
devoted to this book in the FARMS Review
12/1 (2000): 175–213.

24.   Daniel C. Peterson has
critically examined The Mormon Puzzle
and the other items in the package of anti-Mormon literature. See his “‘Shall
They Not Both Fall into the Ditch?'” 14–17 (where the contents
of the SBC package of materials are described and evaluated). Peterson does
not include a response to the rather tasteless, acrimonious, inflammatory
countercult anti-Mormon propaganda found in The Counterfeit Gospel
of Mormonism
and in Mormonism

25.   Mormonism Unmasked, 155.

26.   The Reverend Block’s identity
and remarks are taken from an Amazon.com reader’s review of Mormonism Unmasked
(accessed 28 December 2005).

27.   Mormonism Unmasked, 119, emphasis added.

28.   Mormonism Unmasked, 128.

29.   See, for example, Midgley,
“A ‘Tangled Web,'” 371–434; and Midgley, “Anti-Mormonism
and the Newfangled Countercult Culture,” FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 271–340, for critical commentary
on Walter Martin.

30.   Mormonism Unmasked, 26, 44, 62, 94, 116–17, 132, 151.

31.   Mormonism Unmasked, 93.

32.   Mormonism Unmasked, 93.

33.   Mormonism Unmasked, 85.

34.   Mormonism Unmasked, 85.

35.   For example, in 1998 the
SBC used Mike Reynolds and Robert McKay, both of whom were then employed by
the SBC (which at that time operated the countercult agency called Utah Missions,
Inc., in Marlow, Oklahoma). The SBC also made use of Sandra (and the late
Jerald) Tanner of Utah Lighthouse Ministry in Salt Lake City to assist in
the preparation of their anti-Mormon propaganda.

36.   Mormonism Unmasked, 155–56.

37.   Mosser, “The Saints
Go Marching On,” 68. I have not been able to determine when the distinction
between witnessing and proselyting entered contemporary conservative Protestant
circles. This distinction, whatever one might think of its usefulness in putting
the lid on “sheep stealing” among Protestant denominations, has
no warrant in the New Testament, where a proselyte was
a stranger who had become a Jewish convert. The followers of Jesus—Paul,
for example—”proselyted” or recruited these pious “God-fearing”

38.   Mormonism Unmasked, 84.

39.   In addition, it was distressing
to witness Rauni Higley (and her husband, Dennis), both former Latter-day
Saints, blast away at their former faith, while drawing considerable applause
from obviously appreciative “messengers” assembled at the SBC meetings
in Salt Lake City.

40.   See Craig L. Blomberg and
Stephen E. Robinson, How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in
(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity,

41.   It is noteworthy that the
latest project of Living Hope Ministries, notorious for their deeply flawed
attack videos, will produce another video that will, they claim, answer “clearly,
credibly, and concisely” the question “Is Mormonism Christian?”
See “Update on the New Project” available at www.lhvm.org/email/2006-09-a1.htm
(accessed 12 September 2006). Those at Living Hope Ministries insist
“that once you move beyond the double-speak and muddied terminology,
the essential doctrines of historic Christianity are rejected by Mormonism,
and vice versa.”

42.   Craig Blomberg, review
of Mormonism Unmasked, by R. Philip
Roberts, Denver Journal: An Online Review of Current Biblical and
Theological Studies
1 (1998): no pagination;
see www.denverseminary.edu/dj/articles1998/0200/0212.php
(accessed 1 September 2006).

43.   James R. White—who
specializes in debating with Roman Catholics, who has written two flawed anti-Mormon
books, and who has blasted away at fellow Protestants who are not, in his
estimation, sufficiently Calvinist—claims to have published “the
first full-length book to interact with” How Wide the Divide? However, Blomberg insists that White’s Is
the Mormon My Brother? Discerning the Differences between Mormonism and Christianity

(Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1997) was a completed manuscript before he
learned of How Wide the Divide? According
to Blomberg, White “was then able to go back and intersperse a variety
of comments and footnotes superficially interacting with our book.” Blomberg
also claims that The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism
“is an even more direct and intentional response, with four of its five
chapters matching the topics and sequence of the four main chapters of How
(Scripture, God, Christ, Salvation).”
See Blomberg, review of Mormonism Unmasked.

44.   See Craig Blomberg, “Is
Mormonism Christian?” in The New Mormon Challenge, 332.

45.   Blomberg, review of Mormonism
. Blomberg was, however, annoyed
that neither the book nor the video mentions his conversation with Stephen
Robinson, “even while clearly borrowing our sequence of topics, echoing
many of the identical arguments I introduced in the portions of the book I
authored and responding to many of Robinson’s distinctive approaches (while
referring only to an interview with Robinson, excerpts of which were featured
in the video).”

46.   Blomberg, review of Mormonism

47.   Blomberg, review of Mormonism

48.   Blomberg, review of Mormonism

49.   Blomberg, review of Mormonism
. Roberts mentions confrontation
and evangelization and says nothing about learning from the other and improving
one’s understanding by engaging in a conversation.

50.   Blomberg, review of Mormonism

51.   Blomberg, review of Mormonism

52.   It seems at least possible
that the initial response by Baptists (especially those indoctrinated by the
countercult) to the SBC video fashioned by Phil Roberts was that it presented
Latter-day Saints and their faith in a far too positive light. If this was
a serious concern of those in the NAMB and among SBC officials generally,
some damage control was necessary. This may explain why Roberts in a matter
of a few weeks hurriedly rushed Mormonism Unmasked into print in an effort to provide SBC messengers with
much more stridently anti-Mormon propaganda.

53.   Blomberg, review of Mormonism
emphasis added.

54.   Recent examples include
the following books: Wilbur Lingle, Approaching Mormons in Love: How to
Witness Effectively without Arguing
Washington, PA: CLC Publications, 2005). Lingle is described on the cover
of this book as a “World renowned Expert on Mormonism.” Still another
such book is David L. Rowe, I Love Mormons: A New Way to Share
Christ with Latter-day Saints
(Grand Rapids,
MI: Baker Books, 2005). This screed is actually endorsed by Craig L.
Blomberg, as well as by David Neff, senior editor of Christianity
and Ken Mulholland, founding president
of the Salt Lake Theological Seminary. For the crucial details on both of
these books, see the booknotes in the FARMS Review 17/2 (2005): 494–98. See also Mark J. Cares,
Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons, 2nd ed. (Milwaukee, WI: WELS Outreach Resources [Wisconsin
Evangelical Lutheran Synod], 1998).

55.   Paul Tillich, Love,
Power and Justice
(New York: Oxford, 1954),
49. This is one of the more striking expressions in the rhetorical repertoire
of Paul Tillich (1886–1965), the famous German-American Protestant theologian.
Tillich glossed language once employed by Martin Luther in his Heidelberg
Disputation of 1518. Luther made a distinction between what he called the
opus alienum Dei, which kills
the carnal in the believer, and the opus proprium, which brings to life a new being. Tillich modified
for his own purposes the meaning of what Luther had written by substituting
the English word strange for
the Latin cognate of alien and
the word love for God, and then by adding the idea that there is a crucial
and legitimate aspect of what Tillich understood as “love”—that
is, what he thought of as this strange kind of love that involves the destructive
exercise of power here below.

56.   Russell D. Moore is Albert
Mohler’s chief assistant at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

57.   Phil Roberts is currently
president of the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. For additional biographical
information, see www.emnr.org.
Click on “Our Board,” and scroll down (accessed 4 August 2006).
See also MBTS Web page at www.mbts.edu/About/index.htm
and click on “about the president” (accessed 4 August 2006).

58.   Robert B. Stewart is an
assistant professor of philosophy and theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological
Seminary. For additional biographical information, see www.emnr.org. Click on “Our
Board” and scroll down (accessed 4 August 2006).

59.   John Divito, currently
a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is a former Latter-day
Saint who also seems to work for Bill McKeever’s Mormonism Research Ministry
(p. 78).

60.   Richard Abanes (see p.
79) began his career as a Broadway singer/dancer. He now makes his living
writing books for those on the margins of conservative Protestantism. He is
the author of, among many other potboilers, the widely sold One Nation
under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church

(New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002, rev. 2003), and Becoming
(Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2004). For commentary on
Abanes, see Rockwell D. Porter, “A Dancer/Journalist’s Anti-Mormon
Diatribe,” FARMS Review
15/1 (2003): 259–72; and Louis Midgley, “On Caliban Mischief,”
FARMS Review 15/1 (2003): xv–xviii.

61.   He recommends, for this
purpose, Grant Palmer’s An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins. Palmer is portrayed as one who “nonetheless remains
a committed Mormons—because,” according to Moore, “he loves
the social and theological vision of LDS culture” (p. 70)—that
is, he is merely a cultural Mormon. Consulting Palmer in an effort to understand
the faith of the Saints is not entirely unlike consulting Robert Price—who
doubts that there was even a Jesus of Nazareth and who is essentially an atheist,
but who enjoys the wonder of what he believes are mere myths and the spectacle
of Christian worship—or the retired Anglican Bishop John Shelby Spong
for an understanding of conservative Protestantism. Phil Roberts also appeals
to Palmer for polemical purposes (see p. 75). See reviews of Grant Palmer’s
An Insider’s Views of Mormon Origins by
Davis Bitton, Steven C. Harper, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Louis Midgley in FARMS
15/2 (2003): 257–410, and another review by James
B. Allen in FARMS Review 16/1
(2004): 235–85.

62.   Phil Roberts had his remarks
published in the fall 2005 issue of the Midwestern Journal of Theology
under the title “What’s Going On in Salt Lake City?” This article
can be accessed from the Midwest Baptist Theological Seminary Web page by
going to www.mbts.edu/Resources/Journal/index.htm
and clicking on the title of the essay under “Downloadable Articles”
(accessed 4 September 2006). The version in the Midwestern
Journal of Theology
is superior to what
appeared in the SBJT. For example,
in the SBJT version of his essay,
Roberts mentions “Grant H. Parker.” This has been corrected to “Grant
H. Palmer” in his own magazine. I quote and cite the SBJT
version, which I silently correct where necessary.

63.   Roberts reproduces nearly
two hundred words from a letter sent by Paige Patterson to President Gordon B.
Hinckley challenging him to a “true dialogue among faiths” (p. 75).

64.   For Greg Johnson’s Standing
Together Ministries, see www.standingtogether.org
(accessed 5 September 2006).

65.   The standard explanation
for what has taken place in the Worldwide Church of God since the death in
1986 of Herbert W. Armstrong, its founder, is J. Michael Feazell’s The
Liberation of the Worldwide Church of God
Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001). Feazell speaks for one of the factions of Armstrong’s
followers that remained loyal to Joseph W. Tkach, who in 1986 took over as
pastor general of the church until his son, Joseph W. Tkach Jr., replaced
him in 1995. Under his watch, the Worldwide Church of God made the changes
necessary to satisfy critics and in 1997 was admitted to the National Association
of Evangelicals. Feazell’s account of these schisms and shifts in Armstrong’s
“radio church” has been endorsed by leading evangelicals. This account
of the shifts in Armstrong’s movement from “cult” to full evangelical
respectability provides the model for what some evangelicals hope to accomplish
through conversations with Latter-day Saints. What actually took place in
the empire that Herbert W. Armstrong amassed was something on the order
of the collapse of Enron. One faction was able to keep the name and a bit
of the wealth by backing away from Armstrong’s more bizarre ideas.

66.   This seventy-four minute
video recounts the developments within the primary faction of Herbert W.
Armstrong’s once hugely successful radio ministry and can be ordered at www.lhvm.org/wcg.htm (accessed 4 September
2006). It is marketed by Greg Johnson’s Standing Together Ministries in cooperation
with Living Hope Ministries. For two complimentary accounts of how Greg Johnson
was instrumental in getting Joel Kramer and Scott Johnson at Living Hope Ministries
involved in producing the video entitled Called to Be Free, which
tells of the changes that took place nearly a decade ago in the Worldwide
Church of God, and of how this video can be used to evangelize Latter-day
Saints, see Scott Johnson, “Making All Things New: A Miracle of Modern
Reformation,” in an electronic version of a newsletter circulated by
the Living Hope Ministries entitled The Fieldworker, which
appeared in spring 2004. See www.thefieldworker.com/spr04txt.htm#a4 (accessed
12 September 2006). Essentially the same story is told in considerable
detail by Joseph Tkach Jr., pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God,
in a “Member Letter,” dated December 2004, that was sent to all
the pastors of his church. See www.wcg.org/caribbean/memberletter1204jt.htm
(accessed 12 September 2006). For details, see www.standingtogether.org.
Then go to “In the News,” and scroll down to the comment on the
Worldwide Church of God, Standing Together, in Salt Lake, dated 11 December

67.   For further information
on Ravi Zacharias, see the book note on his book The Real Face of Atheism
in the FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 370.

68.   For details, see Louis
Midgley, “Cowan on the Countercult,” FARMS Review 16/2 (2004): 401–3.

69.   Richard Mouw, “Response
to Criticism of Richard Mouw (We Have Sinned against You),” available
at www.standingtogether.org/responses_mouw.doc (accessed 2 December 2004,
but no longer available).

70.   See the book note on Walter
Martin’s The Kingdom of the Cults, Ravi
Zacharias, gen. ed. (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2003), in FARMS
17/1 (2003): 362.

71.   For a Baptist assessment
of what is found in the summer issue of the SBJT, see Jeff Robinson, “SBTS Journal Examines Mormon Challenge to Christianity,”
Baptist Press [BP] News, 23 September 2005. See www.bpnews.net/printerfriendly.asp?ID=21713
(accessed 5 September 2006).

72.   Francis J. Beckwith, “Sects
in the City: Mormonism and the Philosophical Perils of Being a Missionary
Faith” (pp. 14–30).

73.   Paul Copan, “Creation
ex Nihilo or ex Materia? A Critique of the Mormon Doctrine of Creation”
(pp. 32–54).

74.   Carl Mosser, “Evil,
Mormonism, and the Impossibility of Perfection Ab Initio: An Irenaean Defense” (pp. 56–68).

75.   See Beckwith, Mosser, and
Owen, eds., The New Mormon Challenge.

76.   Chad Owen Brand, “The
Mormon Appeal, Yesterday and Today” (pp. 4–13).

77.   See David L. Paulsen, “A
General Response to The New Mormon Challenge,” FARMS Review of Books 14/1–2 (2002): 99–111.

78.   For evidence of an obsession
with something called a “worldview,” see Carl Mosser and Paul Owen,
“Mormonism,” in To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian
Worldview; Essays in Honor of Norman L. Geisler,
Francis J. Beckwith, William Lane Craig, and J. P. Moreland
(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004), 324–46.
For a brief commentary on this book, see the book note in the FARMS
17/1 (2005): 356–57.

79.   See Carl Mosser and Paul
Owen, “Mormonism,” in To Everyone an Answer, 327–31.

80.   For details, see Louis
Midgley, “The First Steps,” FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): xxxviii.

81.   For a description of some
of the competing opinions currently found among conservative Protestants,
see Midgley, “Caliban Mischief,” xxiv–xxv.

82.   On 22 November 1787, Madison
wrote in a New York City newspaper under the pseudonym “Publius”
what is known as the Tenth Federalist. See The Federalist, ed. Jacob E. Cooke (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University
Press, 1961), 58 and 61.

83.   The Federalist, 57.

84.   The Federalist, 56.

85.   The Federalist, 58.

86.   James Madison, Notes
on the Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787,
ed. Adrienna Koch (New York: Norton, 1969), 76.

87.   See the items being produced
by Living Hope Ministries. See www.lhvm.org
(accessed 8 September 2006).

88.   For a detailed account
of the countercult industry, see Douglas E. Cowan, Bearing False Witness?
An Introduction to the Christian Countercult
(Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003). For Latter-day Saint commentary on Cowan’s
book, see Louis Midgley, “Cowan on the Countercult,” FARMS
16/2 (2004): 395–403; and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel
and David M. Whitchurch, “Assessing the Countercult,” FARMS
17/1 (2005): 311–35.

89.   Secular anti-Mormonism, by contrast,
tends to be financed by wealthy backers who seem willing to indulge an expensive
ideological hobby. See Louis Midgley, “The Signature Books Saga,”
FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 361–406, for details. The one exception
among sectarian anti-Mormon agencies might be what is known as the Religious
Research Institute. Luke Wilson’s operation seems tied to the resources of
a wealthy patron.

90.   For a brief description
of some exceptions, see Midgley “On Caliban Mischief,” xxiv–xxxii.