Cults, Culture

Quote of the Day

Fundamentalists of any religious, political, or other kind of persuasion typically hold a number of things in common. One commonality, at least from the little I have observed over the years, is mentioned in a post about fundamentalist colleges (read the post here) and it’s my quote of the day.

 For if a strong voice speaks with apparently authority for long enough it will eventually be accepted as the voice of truth.

In some fundamentalist circles, this could be amended to read “For if a loud voice speaks…long enough” A key component to persuading the gullible and disillusioned is the mere appearance of authority.

Αυτω η δοξα

 

Cults

The Clouds of False Prophecy Still Hover

As you might expect, the followers of Harold Camping, the latest false “end-times” prophet, are offering mixed feelings about their leader’s failed prophecy. One follower, Gary Vollmer, claims that this was a “spiritual judgment” and that “there is no more salvation.” Others are no doubt wondering how they will recover from the financial ruin into which they have plunged themselves.

Tom Evans, who is a board member of Family Radio, hopes that FR will repay all those who gave their money to the organization. Yeah, I’ll hold my breath on that one. Organizations that are built by false prophets are not terribly concerned with the lives they ruin so long as the donors keep giving. They’re leeches who suck the lifeblood out of the unsuspecting and gullible and leave them alone to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. So, while I hope and pray that Camping and his lemmings have had a major reality check and will repent, I am not terribly hopeful.

(via NPR)

Αυτω η δοξα

Cults

Faith-Force

Drop by TBN and it won’t take long to hear something disagreeable. I did just that this morning. I stopped by, just to hear what was going on, and Creflo Dollar was “preaching” from Hebrews 11. In reference to v.3, I almost thought he would actually present a good understanding of the text. But, I should not have hoped so much. Here’s the verse:

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (KJV; I think that’s the translation he uses)

His explanation, one which he declared was one should never forget, was that which brought everything visible in the world into existence was that which was invisible.

Ok, with you so far.

That which is invisible (and the referent in v. 3) is the faith force!

AHHHH!!!

My assumption, which could possibly be wrong, is that he reads this verse under the presumption of “decreeing faith” that is so essential to Word-Faith theology. I didn’t bother to listen further (probably should have) to hear this fleshed out, but my suspicion is I would have been equally disappointed.

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

Books, Cults, Reviews

Book Review: The Mormon Mirage

The Mormon Mirage: A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church Today by Latayne C. Scott

Amazon ǀ CBD ǀ Barnes & Noble

I want to thank the kind folks at Zondervan for this review copy!

The Mormon Mirage is divided into two parts. Part one describes the author’s reasons for leaving the Mormon church. She addresses the major theological and historical issues that proved untenable in her investigation into the claims of the church. These issues are lumped into the following categories: her “apostasy” from the Mormon church, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, Mormons and revelation, the Mormon pantheon, and salvation and exaltation. Part one occupies the majority of the book as it deals with the various foundational tenets of the Mormon worldview. Part two is all-new material, in which the author lays out nine pivotal issues and challenges facing the Mormon Church today.

Of the books I have read that address Mormonism (or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, hereafter referred to as LDS), they almost always deal primarily with the religion’s theological and historical shortcomings (crucial areas to be sure). I enjoyed that Scott dealt with these issues in her book, but I was glad to read the first major section of the book that dealt with the founder of the Latter-Day Saints: Joseph Smith the man. Scott ably recounts many details of Smith’s life such that the reader has a suitable understanding of him as a person before trying to understand the religious movement he started. If you want to better understand a religion, you must study its founder.

This book, unlike many in the genre, reads more like a historical narrative than an apologetics text, and that’s a good thing. She factually weaves together the various strands of Joseph Smith’s life and exploits with subsequent church leaders’ efforts to maintain and expand the Mormon Church’s girth and influence. Scott creates a telling tale of the church that on the one hand would shine its light of family values and societal goodwill, and, on the other would prefer to keep its most sacred rites and darker moments of its history shrouded in mystery.

For those who are versed in LDS theology and history, Scott’s book may not provide information previously unknown to them, yet it will serve to remind and reinforce the reader’s recollection of the serious pitfalls of the claims and teachings of the LDS church. However, for those whose knowledge of LDS is less expansive, Scott’s book will serve as an excellent primer. This does not imply that The Mormon Mirage is strictly or explicitly a beginner’s guide, but it is geared toward those who are not scholars (p. 11). Do not be deceived, however, for this is no summary of Mormonism or a mere comparison of the LDS church with orthodox Christianity (though those elements are inherent in this type of work). Scott seeks to reveal Mormonism for what it is—a church that is founded on perverted theology and historical claims that are fictional at best.

Though Scott has thoroughly exposed the fundamental doctrines of Mormonism to be tenuous, she does so in a tone that is borne out of compassion and concern for her Mormon friends and family. Her exposé throughout is erudite and you can often sense a frustration in her words. Few statements capture this sentiment like the question she poses regarding the Book of Mormon: “Why can’t the Mormons own up to the fact that the Book of Mormon is a fraud”? (p. 90) This is one of the great qualities of the book—the author’s perspective. As an evangelical Christian, I enjoy reading books that address cults and false religions from a biblical perspective, but often times they are written from the perspective that would be identical to mine—an outsider looking in. Certainly this a good and necessary thing, but the perspective of a convert from the religion/cult at hand always offers insight that would not otherwise be known. They possess knowledge and experiences that come only from being a participant in the goings-on of these kinds of organizations.

To be sure, Scott is not the only one to have “apostasized” from the LDS church and publish her experience, but hers is a deeply personal work that not only discloses the fundamentals of Mormonism, but urges the reader to consider the merits of the church’s claims and evaluate for oneself its trustworthiness. Personally, it is more revealing to hear from a former insider than one who can only examine the church externally. Not having read the previous two editions I cannot comment on the changes and updates made for this third edition. But whatever the changes, I am confident that this edition will be a helpful guide both to those who belong to orthodox faith traditions and wish to know more about the LDS church and to those who are outside orthodox faith traditions or a not a part of any faith tradition and wish to know more about the LDS church.

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

Bible, Cults

Mormons and the Bible

I have long been convinced that the LDS church is, at best, a perversion of orthodox Christianity; at worst, a deceptive and manipulative instrument of Satan.

Amid all the clamor of the LDS church to present itself as a “Christian” church, consider this quote from LDS scholar Robert Millet:

“We love the Bible and cherish its messages. But the Bible is not the source of our doctrine or authority, nor is much to be gained through trying to ‘prove’ the truthfulness of the restored gospel [i.e., Mormonism] from the Bible. Ours is an independent revelation.” – quoted in The Mormon Mirage: A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church Today by Latayne C. Scott, pp. 103-04.

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason