In our last blog entry, we considered just what might happen if the political journalistas in the media who come out of the woodwork every two to four years did what an indignant Brigham Young University professor's demands of them. It was a humdinger and it actually makes me smile. The apostasy at hand might really get a beating then.
Mr. Lane Williams, the professor I refer to, believes that the political press ought to be taking to task the evangelical Christian countercult movement for bearing what he calls "false witness" against Mormonism. He thinks the current crop of Presidential wannabes like Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin and others should somehow be coached into taking a stand against what he perceives as mean-spirited religious bigotry. He passionately believes that for Christian researchers (such as myself) to call the Latter Day Saint Church a cultic movement that teaches unorthodox heresy and has open dreams of American theocracy is somehow a "false witness" about his faith - not to mention his horribly misunderstood employer.
Now this would no doubt delight some indignant Mormon apologists to no end. They would delight hearing a Jon Huntsman or a Ron Paul give them an indignant yet malleable soundbite their publicists could use to take such "False Witnesses" to task with. For them, hearing public figures of this stature take a position against "religious bigotry" would certainly be a faith-building and heartening spectacle. I concluded my blog entry observing that this kind of public spectacle is nothing any perceptive Mormon apologist, not to mention LDS leader, really wants to have done.
Light shone on the carefully groomed image of Mormonism will show the dust, cracks and awkward signs of extensive shoring and reinvention it has done for over a century all too plainly. The polished patina that decades of LDS public relations have spread over it would quickly be revealed for what it is .. a veneer for an sectarian cultic movement that itself has been responsible for false witness about Christianity for over a century, preaching heresy out of an apostate mindset that reckons itself to be "the Restoration" of true Christian faith.
There is one little detail Mr. Williams has inconveniently overlooked, however.
Perhaps the media might, just might, as it is often wont to do, go places with their questions that Mr. Williams might not want them to go. Any good media-savvy public figure knows that a spin cycle can only be sustained so long and that eventually, momentum gets lost and friction causes it to stall and then become irreversibly slowed to a stand still. And Mormonism's flight before the cameras under the harsh klieg lights of objective examination stalls really quickly, so it instead follows the flight paths of least resistance by busily occupying itself in a self-proclaimed mission of proclaiming its "restored gospel," deftly avoiding controversy or too close attention to its sharper edges by fielding heartwarming commercials, service projects by LDS Cub Scouts, and inviting people to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing at Christmastime.
What might happen is that someone in the media might actually start asking the following reworked questions, inspired by the one Williams originally suggested:
"Do you think Mormonism has borne false witness against evangelical Christianity according to the countercult movement?”
"Do you believe that these Mormon doctrines about men becoming gods over their own planets are really what historic, orthodox Christian faith believes?"
Where do we see the Christian faith prior to the birth of the LDS church in 1830 teaching us that we may become gods? When has that bizarre truth claim ever been a part of the doctrine and a practical pursuit established as historic Christian faith? These are not simple "differences" but vast gaping chasms in the very fabric of Mormonism that are never explored. Heavens to Murgatroyd, those are worth asking, Mr. Williams!
Therefore, asking Presidential candidates if Mitt Romney's version of "Christian belief" actually twists and distorts Christian truth claims is a claim I'd love to see Wolf Blitzer discuss on "The Situation Room" or watch Elisabeth Hasselbeck on "The View" throw that piece of meat out for her cronies to chew on.
Perhaps another question along the same vein might actually be asked of Mr. Romney:
"When does he expect to become a god .. before or after the 2012 Presidential election?"
It's a fact of life that American presidents have to be voted into office by a notoriously fickle, partisan electorate full of people who have the power to deny them that for any one of a million reasons. That's such a messy and earthy reality no presidential aspirant can ignore. Ah, but such carnal concerns are beneath the reign of the supreme being known as Elohim in Mormonism, or more warm fuzzily, the "Heavenly Father" According to Mormon teaching, He actually calls all "worthy" LDS people to become actual gods just like He is, to become "exalted" beings who achieve actual divinity and rule over an actual literal, planet somewhere in the cosmos as part of His "Plan" for humanity. It would be interesting to ask Mitt this question in a town hall meeting.
Now Mr. Romney might assure us that his church's policies will never influence his guidance of the state, the same way John Kennedy said the Papacy would not run America. While we may want to take his word at face value (because we like to be nice people who do so out of polite courtesy), skeptical people knowing the LDS propensity for high level political brinksmanship and activism know all too well that there needs to be more questions asked about how Romney's faith informs his moral and ethical decision making. It's not unfair to ask if someone who believes that they are a literal, actual god-in-waiting is going to exhibit a genuinely impartial subjection to far more mundane American political principles, like loyalty to the Constitution and the separation of church and state. It is no secret that the founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, had unashamedly open political ambitions that were dominated by Latter Day Saint religion and for a time he controlled a virtual theocracy in his day happily energized by his church's membership. Things like political and religious dissent and freedom of the press became an intolerable background noise which led him and his Mormon leaders to take the law into their hands and did not exactly endear them to pioneer America .. and the response of 1840's Mormonism in Illinois to those who opposed their beliefs and practices should not be forgotten today as a cautionary tale.
I'd like to see the imaginative news editor with spine enough to ask these questions of Mr. Romney. I'd recommend he get a Pulitzer if he dared to press them to him. I think the American electorate deserves an answer to that one among many questions. This belief is one of the worst kept secrets of Mormonism and sharp producers and reporters in the political media will realize that the LDS Church's deceptive dodge of examination of this finer point of their theology is indeed a point worthy of journalistic exploration. The media's abysmally shallow perspective and lack of visceral fortitude (or "lack of a pair" as some might say) on touching off genuine controversy about religion in the political circle prevents this. They have enough fun trying to gauge Rick Perry's shadowy ties to the Religious Right and getting the extent of them so wrong, I don't expect them to be too doing much about exploring Mormonism's godmaking.
And while Mr. Williams would possibly blow a gasket believing this line of query to be another assailing of "false witness", it's actually a most cogent and reasonable one to ask of Romney since the LDS Church has long believed and taught the deification of men. All "worthy" Mormons know this well. Mr. Romney, being of this elite group of LDS social order, is not ignorant of this foundational LDS tenet either and neither (wink wink) is Mr. Williams. They just won't talk about it publicly among heathen "Gentiles" who they would reckon are unable to handle this truth claim.
To highlight how hidden in plain sight this doctrine is, review the following bit of research supplied by researcher Aaron Shafovaloff:
These three current LDS church training manuals quote the late Mormon "prophet" Spencer W. Kimball as teaching that good LDS people are divinely created by "Heavenly Father" with the capacity to become a god.
"Each one of you has it within the realm of his possibility to develop a kingdom over which you will preside as its king and god. You will need to develop yourself and grow in ability and power and worthiness, to govern such a world with all of its people."
(“The Matter of Marriage” [address delivered at the Salt Lake City Institute of Religion, Oct. 22, 1976], 2).
Latter Day saints argue that Kimball's teaching here was either misunderstood, distorted or at the very most, misguided. They assert that such a teaching is completely unknown to the LDS body politic, and that such a nefarious claim is the work of "anti mormons" out to discredit the church. But so you can see how this blasphemous assertion is firmly embedded in LDS teaching online click the following links below here:
Doctrine and Covenants 130 -- Teacher Resource Manual (This is for the training of LDS teachers who instruct high school level youth in LDS settings.)
“Chapter 4: Teaching Children: from Four to Eleven Years,” A Parent’s Guide, 23 (This manual is provided to LDS parents for the teaching of their younger children. They even put the quote under the section, "Teach Children to Accept and Understand Their Gender Roles")
Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual (a manual written for college students, despite the domain its hosted on).
Now these teachings are plainly accessible on the Internet for anyone to read, as well as proof that Mr. Romney's charitable foundation donates millions of dollars to the LDS Church to help promulgate these bizarre and unbiblical beliefs.
Nowhere throughout the two millenia of church history can it be found that the Christian Church taught that Christians are gods in embryo, ready to become rulers over their own kingdoms and planets. The Apostles Creed, the New Testament and none of the church fathers or theologians of the first several centuries ever truly embraced this self-aggrandizing dogma.
And yet Mr. Williams and Mr. Romney want us to believe that their religion's unbiblical and warped view of God is derived from the Christian faith that has stood for two millenia? We beg to ask just who is bearing "false witness" here? Methinks it has nothing to do with the countercult community.
To quote the Old Homey, the Lord don't play that ..
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. ..
For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.
Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
Isaiah 45:5-6, 18-23.
There's only one God who will ever control our destiny, and it's not Joseph Smith.
Nor will it be Mitt Romney even in his own neck of the cosmos. He might be President some day, but he will never be a god, no matter what his carefully hidden convictions assert. Nor will any other Mormon.
They will all bow their knees before Him, who the New Testament shows is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Mormons and Joseph Smith will be rather rudely surprised ..