Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Criticisms of the Mormon faith and the LDS Church, my assessment of which have validity and which do not, a rough draft

Criticisms I do not consider to be reasonable:

Evangelical Christian claims that "the Mormon Jesus" is a completely different individual than the Jesus that they know.  Used as the primary basis to argue that we are not Christians, are not "saved", because our savior is a fictional being with no power to save, because he does not exist.

Claims that the Mormon lifestyle is burdensome and restrictive.  Actually, Mormonism is what you make of it.

Claims that the Mormons will hound you if you try to leave.

Claims that Mormons are inhospitable to their non-Mormon neighbors.

Claims that First Vision accounts contain significant contradictions.

Claim that Utah is a place of stiffing morality, state legislature is a theocracy.

Claims that gay people are being hurt, not just by flawed aversion therapies tried at BYU decades ago, but that they continue to be hurt by church practices today.

Claims that City Creek was an inappropriate use of church funds.  Complaints in general of how the church spends money.  Anecdotal claims have been made those in need are being turned ways by bishops, I haven't seen any such instances.

Claims that the BoM has been significantly changed.

Attempts to prove Joseph was capable of producing the BoM, from the sheer power of his intellect, his fertile imagination, and the library resources of his frontier surroundings.

Conspiracy theories that have Sidney Rigdon knowing Joseph prior to when history says they met, late in the year of 1830.  That have him colluding with Joseph to produce the BoM, and stealing some "second Spaulding Manuscript".  Solomon Spaulding's family knew nothing of the existence of any "second manuscript.


Criticisms I consider to have some merit:
Specific to the temple:

Jesus said there would be no marriage in heaven.  Matt. 22:30, Mark 12:25.  There is no way his statement can reasonably be interpreted as only pertaining to the "less valiant".

The temple, both the endowment ritual, and the procedure for obtaining a recommend, are instruments of dominion.  Albeit effective instruments.  They do a very efficient job fostering payment of tithes, and heeding other recommend requirements.  Active Mormons would not be nearly as compliant without it.

Very effective indeed.  The temple would appear to be the only mechanism left in this decadent society giving engaged couples a reason to wait until marriage.  Those who don't wait, and don't lie about it, face a serious social consequence when the are wed in what is regarded in the Mormon community as an inferior "civil wedding".  These inferior weddings were once the official practice of the church (Community of Christ edition of the  Doct. & Cov., chapter 111).

Exclusion of family from temple sealings.  Refusal to cancel temple sealings for (female) widows.  Hurtful doctrine: children are considered sealed to man they never knew, who died before they were born, not to actual (biological) father, the man who raised them.

Plagiarized Masonry.  Thankfully some of it has been removed.

The temple endowment contains two brief mentions that "a Savior will be provided".  That is the extent of which it teaches salvation by the atoning sacrifice of a savior.  The whole things fits more with the Old Covenant, than the New Covenant.  The church often pays lip service (for lack of a better term) to the concepts of grace and atonement, while teaching obedience and worthiness.

The temple has created the impression among non-Mormons that there significant things going on within the church that we are concealing from the world.  A perception that we are a people with something "wrong about us" is pervasive.  Thus non-Mormons primarily trust ex-Mormons for information.  The ex-Mos will (supposedly) reveal all the deep dark secrets.  People think if they ask a Mormon about Mormonism, they will get a white-washed sales pitch, with high-pressure tactics to get them to convert, and with significant information deliberately concealed.

No recommend without a full tithe = signs and tokens being sold for money.

Men and women both are given robes that serve a specific stated purpose: the robes are for officiating in the ordinances of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood.  Yet the men never don these robes to officiate in ordinances, and the women do not officiate in ordinances at all.  That includes temple workers, hey officiate over the ritual, but they do not wear the robes.  Only the temple patrons do.

The temple promotes the notion that "temple worthy" members are living up to some standard of righteousness.  As opposed to the true doctrine taught by the rest of Christianity, that we are all hopelessly depraved sinners, trusting in a savior, to grant us a place in the Father's kingdom, that we could never deserve on our own good merits.


Criticisms I consider to have some merit:

The Miracle of Forgiveness.  Terrible book!  Despite it's title, it is actually a warning not to sin, because obtaining forgiveness is supposedly so difficult.  Giving this to someone seeking penance from religious authority will cause intense despair.

Mormons do a horrible job of including those whose lifestyles are at serious conflict with church standards.  The church does not accept people as they are, then work with them to improve.  Far too many people feel that they must either get in line or leave, so they leave.  Where people are actually leaving in droves: the high number of youth raised in the church, who no longer consider themselves to be Mormons in their adult lives.

Catholic families will retain Catholic identity, even through generations of minimal church participation.  Vs. Mormons finding entire families completely out of the church in three generations.  Going from a devout couple, to inactive children who may or may not self-identify as Mormons, to grandchildren who have not been baptized and know nothing of the beliefs of the church.  If those grandchildren feel a need for religion in their lives, they are unlikely to turn to the religion of their grandparents (unlike Catholics).

Use of  I Cor. 15:40 as a proof text heaven will be composed of three kingdoms.  Passage is actually about the physical bodies we will have in the resurrection.  Telestial is a made up word.

Deliberate Utah laws against the father, making Utah a destination for pregnant women seeking to evade father's rights.  LDSFS ran TV ads in the past, encouraging unwed pregnant girls to give their babies up for adoption.  Thankfully this has been discontinued.

Disregarding the fact that adoption to two non-blood relatives takes the child not just away from biological parents, it robs two entire families of the association with their family member.

"Sustaining" appears to be a process of democracy or common consent, but is really a loyalty oath.  If you vote "no", it does not reflect against the person you are "voting" against, it reflects against you.

"Raising the bar".  Elder Ballard: "We cannot send you on a mission to be reactivated, reformed, or to receive a testimony. We just don't have time for that".

Need to register with membership number in order to view webpage with online ward calendar.

A pop up screen specifically instructs ward clerk not to give membership record printout to member

Mormon leaders will not sit down and show those they disagree with the faults in their reasoning.  Instead they "pull authority", teach a Mormon version of papal infallibility, and threaten disciplinary action.  "You will change your mind on doctrine, because those in authority over you are ordering you to change your mind", is simply not persuasive".

Old Testament thinking: belief that sin makes someone unclean, spirit will not enter an unclean temple, steps must be taken to make ones self clean again.

JS teaching that you can become elect.  By New Testament definition, the elect are those born predestined to salvation.

The church right to oppose masturbation, pornography, homosexuality, and alcohol, but misguided in tactics to oppose these evils. Pornography use is considered a reason to break up a marriage.

Obedience, if for no other reason than to show God that we are obedient.

Use of funerals to proselytize to a captive audience.

Members of prominent families enjoy special access to top church leaders, while the vast majority are only allowed to communicate with them through local leaders.  Even letter writing is considered improper and chastised.
example: Steve Benson meetings with Elder Oaks
example: Pres. Monson at the funeral for Marie Osmond's adopted son (suicide)
example: Elizabeth Smart meets Pres. Hinckley

Mormon culture only recognizes the hierarchy as a source of truth, ordinary members attempting to introduce new insights into the church are rejected.

Suspicion of study groups, para-church organizations (Sunstone), and other religious activities outside the institution of the church.  An Evangelical telling others that he's starting his own ministry will receive encouragement.  A Mormon telling his peers he intends to do something similar will immediately be suspected of trying to start something against the church.

Blessings can or must be earned, shovel analogy in relation to tithing, Doct. & Cov. sections, the Lord bound when we do what he says

Victims of Jackson County expulsion told their unfaithfulness was the cause (Doct. & Cov. 100, 101, or in that range?).  This continues today, if you're not getting anything out of classes or partaking the sacrament, there must be something wrong you you.

Liberty has been mistaken for license, Jesus turned the water into wine, Mormons have turned their wine into water (Isa. 1:22).  Holy emblems are defiled by being thrown away, when they should be passed until all that has been blessed has been consumed.

Children, too young to gain anything from sacrament meeting, attend and partake of emblems (sanitary issue!) that have no meaning to those not yet baptized.  In other churches, "Sunday School" is held at the same time as the main worship service, and contains material that young children enjoy and are educated by.

The priesthood defers to government in determining what constitutes a legitimate marriage.  A couple legally divorced but still sealed in the temple, and other couples together with no government recognized married, are all regarded as living in sin.

Praying because the clock says it's time to pray.  Fasting because the cullender says it's time to fast.  Fasting and prayer should be done according to need.  To pray before bed, when nothing happened that day that merits discussion with God, is empty ritual, vain repetition.

Nauvoo polygamy is indefensible.

The Book of Abraham is indefensible.