By the encouragement of Aquinas on his blog, I just listened to Craig Blomberg’s lengthy presentation – all of it except the Q&A time at the end.
With his wife receiving a doctorate in missiology, I would ask her if this is the only way to do missions in America in 2008.
Confrontation is not acceptable? It doesn’t work?
And an evangelical wing within Mormonism?
Should this be encouraged and fostered in the ongoing dialogue?
And how do we identify the evangelicalism within Catholicism?
From Fr. Jay Scott Newman, Pastor of St. Mary’s [Roman] Catholic Church, Greenville, South Carolina:
Perhaps not coincidentally, Fr. Newman’s associate, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, is a Bob Jones alum.
Thanks for listening, Todd. Since I don’t know you, I can’t tell if your various questions are a gentle way of rejecting my ideas, an oblique support for them, or if you are actually asking for information.
Craig, I appreciate your moments here. I am still struggling with some of your ideas, especially this idea of an evangelical wing within Mormonism. My undergrad degree was in missions. I cut my missiological teeth on reading Hesselgrave. And I don’t think this should be the encouraging direction for gospel contextualization.
Mormonism is a culture. No doubt about this. I love the culture . . . steeples . . . Sunday dress . . . Sabbath rest . . . hymn singing . . . KJV Bibles . . . Family evenings . . . Boy scouts . . . alcoholic free zones . . . Republicanism . . . and I can go on and on.
But I believe the effectiveness and integrity for authentic gospel change comes from the outside when a Mormon converts to the God of historic evangelical Christianity. The convert ought to be encouraged to breathe the new fresh air in the new, glorious light.
So Todd, your position would be that it is necessary for a Mormon to leave the LDS Church in order to be Christian – correct?
Seth, I think God can convert a man or woman within a Catholic, Mormon, or Baptist church building.
But I am very interested to see what happens afterward.
I gotta go – a family carnival at our church building tonight, but I will be back.
Thanks for the clarifications! I agree entirely concerning the ideal. But at the moment far more evangelicals are converting to Mormonism (or at least joining their church) than vice-versa. So I think it’s worth asking the question if another method can be tried simultaneously. Hesselgrave has had a wonderful career but he is now quite elderly and most evangelical missiological discussion on contextualization has moved well beyond him. I was in Oxford in August for the World Evangelical Alliance on Contextualization and the discussion today is really between C-4 and C-5, neither of which David was ever much approving of. David Barrett suggests there are 10 million C-5 Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim believers in Jesus in the world, who, rightly are wrongly, have not formally left those major world religions and indeed are bringing more and more folks to faith in Jesus from within. If that can be done, surely it can be done within the LDS, who, as offshoots of Christianity, share so much more doctrinally with us.
But at the moment far more evangelicals are converting to Mormonism (or at least joining their church) than vice-versa.
Craig, I would be interested to see the latest American statistics on this, though the thought would not overly surprise me. The American evangelicalism seems to be so much more vast and broad in its easy and open profession than American mormonism. So I would think it easier for the one to siphon from the other.
Yet in the I-15 Corridor, I think the opposite is true. Very little cultural evangelicals are just jumping into Mormonism. But I am finding there are many, at one time cultural LDS, who are filling the larger evangelical churches. And regarding them, they find an oasis beyond what they have experienced when in the “fulness of the gospel.” In fact, some become genuine freedom fighters, contending for truth with love.
Here is another question, Craig. I notice that there were “believers” within Judaism (John 12:42), but aren’t these the very kind of believers that we do not want existing within Buddhism, Islam, and Mormonism, etc.?
And secondly, another side thought, do they, these “believers” within other existing faith groups, want the Christ who does actually divide people even in the closest of human relationships? Ultimately, who would it be, if it came down to this – Christ or their friends and family and all the treasures of their culture?
Todd, you ought to read Robert Millett and Rev. Greg Johnson’s book “Bridging the Divide” (if you haven’t already). In Appendix B, Rev. Johnson talks about the challenge of missional evangelism in Utah. Here’s an excerpt:
“I remember hearing from a Utah Christian leader during the Fall of 2000 that at best Protestant Christianity was roughly 2% of the population of Utah at the beginning of the 1900s, and as I calculated by rough estimations the presence of Evangelical Christianity in Utah 100 years later, I realized that our presence remained no greater than 2% of the population. In other words, in a state with a population of 2.5 million people, around 60% of the population are Mormons and 20,000 are Evangelical.
No matter how I looked at our situation in Utah, again and again I felt something was wrong, something needed to change, God and His church could surely do better, and that it was time for the Evangelical church of Utah to take a long hard look at itself in the proverbial mirror and ask itself some pretty tough questions… There is a growing sense among many Evangelical pastors and churches that indeed it is time to change our methods, change our strategy, change our perspective…”
I guess you can agree with that or not if you like. But I do know that the approach of organizations like Mormon Research Ministries, for instance, is NOT effective with me. Really, all such organization convince me of is that, if I were to leave Mormonism, there are much better places I could go to than “those Evangelical jerks.”
I realize that that’s not a fair statement at all. I don’t think you Todd, are a jerk. Neither do I think that of many that I know. But realize that the counter-cult community has become your public face to most Mormons.
I would suggest that the “your-religion-sucks” missional approach has gained less than stellar success in creating new Evangelical Christians.
I wasn’t suggesting that the ex-Evangelicals were the best group to create an in-house renewal movement. I was just pointing out (the statistics are from Barna and Gallup) that we are dramatically losing the conversion contest. I’m delighted for everyone who joins Evangelical churches, esp. in Utah, but for those who don’t can we do anything else? It would, in fact, be the Bob Millets or Stephen Robinsons or Camille Fronk Olson’s I’d want to support as C-5 LDS believers. I don’t expect that you’ll agree. But thanks for listening and interacting.
Greg, Craig, and Seth:
Hey, I have got a story for you, guys. I had read Stephen’s book a long while back. But listening to Craig’s presentation, I reheard the bicycle illustration by Stephen and also Craig’s alteration to that story.
This particular story was emailed to me last week from a brother in our church family. But I left it at the office. I will submit it tomorrow in the thread for your consideration.
I generally like the parable of the bicycle. But it’s got one rather large problem.
It makes it sound like we are all just adding pennies and nickles to our jars, and come judgment day, Christ’s main function will be to “top us off.”
I don’t think that is a correct read of the whole of Book of Mormon scripture. Neither does Robert Millett, who specifically rejected the “topping us off” idea when I recently heard him speak.
Now, I suppose you could do a few things with the idea that the little girl gave daddy a hug and a kiss as a part of the process. That could symbolize one or two things….
Then again, maybe I just need to realize that any given analogy can only be taken so far.
What brought this parable to mind Todd?
I really enjoyed listening to the presentation you made Craig. Growing up LDS in the Bible Belt of the Rockies (near Conifer, Colorado) having all of my friends give me Bibles and brochures but later be embarrassed by the “God Makers,” then moving to Provo as a teen and becoming best friends with an Evangelical Pentacostal has definitely shaped my views of interfaith dialog. The approach of Standing Together has definitely been a positive one in my book and I look forward to more of that type of evangelizing.
Todd and other Evangelicals, I’m not sure if you are aware of MormonConferences.org (it hasn’t made it into the sidebar links), but I try and include all the scholarly presentations on Mormon Studies there. While I seem to have a fairly good informant base of LDS members who let me know about events, I know I’m not getting enough of the interfaith dialog events, or presentations like the one Craig gave at the Denver Seminary.
I don’t link to counter-cultist events (unless done in such a way that a Mormon attending the event would say, “Yeah, I feel like my beliefs have been treated charitably and been represented accurately”) or non-scholarly events, but I would really like to be made aware of other presentations on Mormonism by scholars to get more Mormons and others to these types of events.
Hi Kent. I will look up the link. I think I might have been there once before.
Seth, the parable has been on my mind continually since I reheard the story.
Ok, so here is a story sent to me last week by a good brother in my church family:
A man dies and goes to the gates of heaven.
St. Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates and says, ‘Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.’
‘Okay,’ the man says, ‘I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, & loved her deep in my heart.’
‘That’s wonderful,’ says St.Peter, ‘that’s worth two points!’
‘Two points??’ he says. ‘Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service.’
‘Terrific!’ say’s St.Peter.. ‘That’s certainly worth a point.’
‘One point!?!!’ ‘I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.’
‘Fantastic, that’s good for two more points,’ he says.
‘Two points!?!! ‘Exasperated, the man cries. ‘At this rate the only way I’ll get into heaven is by the grace of God.’
‘Bingo! 100 points! Come on in!’
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Is. 64:6
Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Ro. 3:24-26
And the exciting thing was to hear Stephen Robinson several years ago say that he accepted my revision of his parable of the bicycle!