I read Joel Campbell’s (Mormon Media Observer) article on MormonTimes about Focus on Family pulling an interview with Glenn Beck after an anti-mormon group posted an opinion at Christian News Wire, that criticized it. The problem? What else? Mormons are, in their opinion, not Christian. In fact, words like “cult” and “false religion” were thrown around.
Nothing much new here, really. I’m quite used to that kind of mudslinging. And, to be fully honest, I don’t really care that much how people, who themselves don’t behave in a Christian way, rate my beliefs on their arbitrary scale of orthodoxy. It did remind me of a thing I have a problem with, though.
Following is a snippet of a real conversation with a “Christian” that I have had several times. It usually happens when religion comes up – and since I do try to bring up something that I can use as a bridge to introduce my faith into the dialog, it fairly reliably does come up. Individual words may vary, but the basic drift of the conversation is 100% authentic:
Me: I believe in Jesus Christ. In fact, I have a testimony from the Holy Ghost that he lives; he is my Savior and I have a personal relationship with him.
The “Christian”: No you don’t.
I think I know what I believe in. I have a personal experience with it.
You have a different Jesus.
I think that the New Testament only talks about one Jesus. He is the one I believe in.
No you don’t, you believe in “Mormonism”.
If you mean the Book of Mormon, yes, I believe that it is from God and testifies that Jesus is the Christ. Actually, it was the Book of Mormon that convinced me of the divinity of Jesus, and his power to save me.
You can’t have anything besides the Bible.
And so on…
Now, I have no problem with the natural fact that people don’t necessarily believe in the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith’s testimony. Again, I know by experience, by originally rejecting the Bible’s testimony of Christ, that it doesn’t come so easily. Furthermore, I have no problem with people, who can’t believe that we have a living prophet and Apostles today. However, when they tell me, that I don’t really believe in Christ – they know all about the Mormons – it does rile me up, because they’re in fact calling me a liar.
This reminds me of an exchange in Mark’s ninth chapter, in verses 38 – 40. The disciples had met someone casting out devils in Jesus’ name, and they had forbidden him. Jesus said, “Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a amiracle in my bname, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is aon our part. ” In case you didn’t RTDA, the Underground Apologetics claimed in their opinion: “to promote a Mormon as a Christian is not helpful to the cause of Jesus Christ”. In other words, when a Mormon talks about how he came to accept Jesus as his Savior, it is not helpful (Beck’s being LDS was not mentioned in the article – a sore point to the group; it wasn’t a Mormon promotion piece, it was about how valuable a gift Christ’s Atonement is for us).
At least personally, I never consider a believer an enemy or even a rival, unless she goes around spreading lies about me. It’s true that we tell people we teach, that the Christian denominations are in general apostasy (and, again, I can see that they may not agree). However, we don’t disparage anyone’s personal belief – or if some LDS people do, they go against what they have been taught by the prophets.
Early this year I was reading an article about Mitt Romney’s speech about religion, and I checked the comments. In one comment, someone said, “I don’t trust the Mormons. I don’t even trust the Mormon Tabernacle Choir when they sing.” In other words, Mormons supposedly are liars.
My point here is, that while there is nothing wrong with being open about your beliefs, there is definitely something wrong with disparaging those of others. And it’s one thing to be critical of doctrines you disagree with, and another to come right out and call me a liar. If you want to exclude me from an exclusive club because you don’t like my Church, fine. Just don’t tell me that I don’t know what I believe in.
By the way, I am no great fan of Glenn Beck’s. Nor am I a great fan of Dobson’s Focus on Family, for that matter. But in the interview Beck related an experience I could definitely relate to.