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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : A Mormon and Evangelical Dialogue in Denver: A Summary » A Mormon and Evangelical Dialogue in Denver: A Summary

A Mormon and Evangelical Dialogue in Denver: A Summary

Seth - November 3, 2008

Living out in Colorado, I don’t get to attend too many Mormonism-related events. But the last couple months have been pretty good out here. First, I was able to attend a screening of “Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons” (more on that in another post), and just last week, Regis University in Denver held a Mormon-Evangelical dialogue between Mormon Dr. Robert Millett and Evangelical Rev. Gregory Johnson through its Institute of the Common Good. Having just read the book they co-authored – “Bridging the Divide,” I jumped at the chance.

Most people know that the relationship between Mormons and Evangelicals has often been rough, if not downright ugly. Often exchanges between adherents of both faith traditions devolve into caricatures, insults, and personal contests.

Robert Millet and Greg Johnson are part of a movement to change this. The first big breakthrough in Mormon-Evangelical relations came with the publication of “How Wide the Divide?” by Mormon professor Stephen Robinson and another Denver Evangelical – Craig Blomberg. This book is required reading for anyone interested in the general debate between Mormons and Evangelicals. Although the authors took a lot of flak from their own people for “fraternizing with the enemy” the book is a model of respectful, but convicted debate.

“Convicted dialogue” was the term used by Millett and Johnson at last week’s event – held in the beautiful Regis University Chapel. The idea of dialogue suggests the respectful exploration of the beliefs of another. The problem is when such dialogue becomes so respectful that we become unwilling to disagree about anything. We take the stance of “everyone is correct” and avoid confrontation.

Unfortunately, the end result of “everyone” being right is that ultimately no one is. Millett and Johnson have both been accused by hardliners in their own faith, of taking exactly this stance – being unwilling to call out the other on the heresies and falsehoods of their faith. Robert Millett reported at the event how he has lost 30-year friendships with some of his Mormon colleagues over his friendship with Rev. Johnson. Greg Johnson, for his part reported a similar backlash from his Evangelical colleagues. I also happen to know from my own debates online, that Millett is often regarded as the sneaky architect of some sort of theological Trojan Horse whereby those Mormons will ambush Evangelical Christianity.

Both Millett and Johnson explained that while they take great pains to be respectful of each other and truly understand each other’s beliefs, they take equally great pains to avoid compromise on essential doctrines. Both remain committed to the core beliefs of their own faith and are not afraid to disagree with each other when it is important to do so. Millett does not deny the essential narrative of the Great Apostasy any more than Johnson acknowledges LDS claims to Priesthood authority. Both are “convicted” of the rightness of their position. Thus the term “convicted dialogue.”

The central point of the event at Regis Chapel was not to have a “debate” in the normal sense of the word. The goal was not for one side to win. Both said that they hoped no one would leave the event saying “our guy really gave it to that other guy” or vis versa. The point of the event was so Millett and Johnson could model how a Mormon and an Evangelical can have respectful and friendly conversation without “giving away the store” on doctrinal distinctions.

The starting point was the personal friendship. Both Millett and Johnson emphasized that personal friendship was the ideal starting point for real dialogue. The reason is that such exchanges must be founded on trust. Johnson had to trust that Millett was honestly portraying his own beliefs. I would second this, and point out that nothing kills an interfaith conversation quicker than accusations that someone is being dishonest about his or her own faith. In this instance, both Millett and Johnson emphasized their trust in the other.

From this starting point, Millett noted that you can learn an awful lot about another religion through civil dialogue. He stated that while he was fairly well-read before embarking on this exploration of Evangelical Christianity, he has read an awful lot more since. He also stated that a true process of dialogue results in you feeling a sense of responsibility for your counterparts on the other side. You often end up coming to the defense of the opposing faith when you hear it being misrepresented. Millett finished by pointing out that learning about another faith and debating it forces you to learn a lot more about your own religion.

With preliminaries out of the way, Johnson and Millett moved into a few selected “debate” topics. Forgive me if I focus more on Millett’s words than on Johnson’s words. Johnson gave a very eloquent account of himself and his faith. But I’m a Mormon who has been trying to do something that Millett has been doing on a larger scale. I was looking for some inspiration and cues. So my notes cover Millett better than Johnson. Hey, I never claimed to be unbiased.

It wasn’t really a debate format. Both sat at a table and discussed a few pre-selected core topics. It was apparent that at least part of it was scripted. Perhaps this is because both have been doing so many of these events across the nation (I believe they mentioned having done more than a dozen such events) – so things just naturally settle into a pattern. So it had the feeling of one of those LDS Priesthood training broadcasts where they conduct a mock Correlation Meeting or Priesthood Interview. But it was still quite good and this didn’t prove to be a distraction in the least.

The first topic was the ever-present “Are Mormons Christian?” question.

Millett started by remarking that religion is always based on relationships. Christianity in particular is based on a relationship with Christ. Millett then declared the strength of his own relationship with Christ. He said he didn’t see how, in light of this relationship, he could be called “not Christian.”

Johnson responded by pointing out two things:

First, it was the Mormons who started it with Joseph Smith calling the creeds of all other religions “abominations” and their professors corrupt. This bold stance of the LDS Church being the “ONLY” true Church is very confrontational, and hurts a lot of feelings among other Christians. So Mormons should not be surprised if Evangelicals want to hit back a bit.

But secondly, and more importantly, Mormon theology became increasingly radical from its founding up to Joseph’s death and beyond. Johnson pointed out that Mormonism simply is very, very different from the rest of Christianity. This makes it very hard for other Christians to include Mormons in the designation.

Greg Johnson had an interesting aside from a conversation he had with the aforementioned Stephen Robinson. He asked Dr. Robinson “Am I Christian from your perspective?” He said that Robinson was rather evasive on this point, but eventually explained”

“Well, it’s like this. You’re like a 60-watt light bulb and I’m a 100-watt light bulb.”

I think most people reading this know where Robinson was trying to come from, but Johnson pointed out that if Mormons expect Evangelicals to be flattered by this kind of talk, they’ve got another thing coming.

For his part, Millett had an interesting aside of his own. He remarked that in all his studies of Mormon history and historical criticisms of Mormonism, he never sees early critics of Mormonism questioning whether the religion was “Christian” or not. The question seems to have never arisen for the simple fact that everyone – even the most vehement opponents of the Mormons – just ASSUMED that Mormons were Christians. It never came up.

Millett then asked rhetorically when this particular criticism of Mormons as “not Christian” arose. He answered “I’d date it to the 1960s.” There was a bit of a murmur from the audience on this particular point (my suspicion is that most of them were Mormon, although nobody really checked).

At this point, the discussion moved to Greg Johnson’s point that Mormons started the whole confrontational stance when they called all other churches “abominations.”

Millett responded that you have to understand the context that Mormonism arose in. Most of the surrounding religious climate in that part of frontier America (and probably much of the United States) was a sort of “high Calvinism” where God was being relentlessly described as remote, implacable, and impassive (I would also add unknowable). Millett suggests that Joseph’s extreme claims were primarily a response to that theological climate.

This brings up an interesting point when one considers that the theology of Christianity at large has lost a few of its harsher aspects as it has traversed the 20th century. It seems to suggest that the term “abomination” may not be as applicable to today’s Christian churches as it was to those of Joseph’s day. Something to think about anyway.

Millett also brought up a point that I have heard elsewhere – the idea that when Joseph called the creeds of traditional Christianity “abominations,” he was not so much attacking their teachings, as he was attacking the way creeds were being used – as a muzzle on a living God, and a club to drive away those who do not conform to certain theological standards. Blake Ostler made this same point a few months ago over on New Cool Thang – that the “abomination” is not so much the theological content of the creeds, but rather the fact that “creeds” exist in Christianity at all. A quote from Joseph Smith seems apropos:

“Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their Church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammelled.”
(Joseph Smith in History of the Church 5:340)

Johnson did have a response to the idea that Protestants are somehow silencing God by denying revelation. Johnson asserted that Protestants DO NOT believe the heavens are closed, but they do believe the canon of scripture is closed. So Protestants do generally believe in continuing revelation – usually they make it a personal matter or a more open matter of something that is available to the “Priesthood of all believers” as they term it. I would add on my own that, in my experience, Evangelicals do not believe that the Priesthood is passed through a formalized ecclesiarchy, but rather that the functions of the Priesthood and all its gifts are available to ALL true believers of Jesus Christ (who they identify as the only High Priest of Melchizedek). Just an aside…

At this point, Johnson moved the conversation on to the question of grace vs. works. The question obviously being whether Mormons really believe that it is Christ’s grace alone that saves them, or whether they believe that their works also save them.

Millett referenced 2 Nephi 2:4 where it clearly states that “salvation is free.” Therefore, Mormons can also be said to believe in “free grace.” However, this doesn’t mean that repentance is not needed. He explained that faith in Jesus is a total trust and reliance on the Savior. BUT, this faith will always manifest itself in repentance, and the ordinances associated with repentance (such as baptism and the sacrament). The ordinances and actions are the outward manifestation of an inward covenant with God.

They also manifest in a life of righteous works. He referred to Jesus statement “if ye love me, keep my commandments.” To repeat, it seems clear that from this event and from other things Millett has written, righteous works are asserted to be the natural outgrowth of an inward conversion. Millett concluded by stating that salvation, divinization, resurrection, forgiveness – all of these are things that he cannot do for himself and he relies completely on Christ to do them for him.

Millett then quoted 2 Nephi 25:23 – “it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do.”

This verse is often read by both Evangelicals and Mormons as making 100% of our best efforts a prerequisite for salvation. Millett said this is, in his view, and incorrect reading of the scripture. In light of numerous other Book of Mormon passages on grace, Millett feels this verse could accurately read “it is by grace we are saved IN SPITE of all we can do.”

Johnson responded by asking Millett just how representative his own read of 2 Nephi 25:23 is of Mormons in general or Mormon authorities.

Millett responded by admitting that Mormons have not always read this verse the way he does. But he pointed out that Mormons are still in the process of discovering the full extent of their own existing grace theology. He noted that we’ve only started seriously using and studying the Book of Mormon – as a Church – since the 1970s when President Kimball made it a focus, followed, of course, by President Benson. Since then, the Book of Mormon has been a major centerpiece of all Gospel conversation and study in the LDS Church.

As we have been forced to ponder and grapple with the powerful “grace theology” contained in the pages of the Book of Mormon, our beliefs as a Church have been forced to change as well. Evangelicals have sometimes suspiciously viewed this change as an attempt by Mormons to downplay their differences and pretend to be “just like you.” But Millett claims the movement has more to do with the rediscovery of the Book of Mormon rather than an attempt to ingratiate ourselves with Evangelicals.

Millett then had a question for Johnson. He asked if the Evangelical over-emphasis on the grace end of the equation doesn’t lead to a problem of “anti-nomialism” (anti-commandments).

Johnson responded that as wonderful as Christ’s gift to us is, any gift can be devalued. Clearly a true conversion will change the heart and lead to good works. If you are living in blatant disregard of Christ’s commandments, then you are trampling on the gift that Christ provided for us. Such disregard evidences that a person was not really “saved” to begin with. He gave an example of a pastor who was having an illicit affair and when asked about it, claimed that his questioner “didn’t get it” because “I’m saved.” Johnson called this approach “cheap grace” or “grace-gone-wild” (I’ll have to remember that one…).

Johnson concluded with a line that I think is worth remembering:

“We are saved by grace alone, but grace is never alone.”

Now the subject of whether God was once “a man” and whether we can become gods.

Millett referred to a statement by Jeffrey R. Holland when he was asked if he believed the “Godmakers narrative.” He responded “I don’t know about all that planetary stuff” but said that we do believe in – line upon line – becoming like Christ. Holland delineated a distinction between what we know and what we don’t.

Millett did point out that the idea of theosis (divinization) isn’t new and was taught by the early Christian fathers (and is still taught by the Eastern Orthodox Church). He hastened to assure Johnson that we will always worship the same being – God the Father.

Johnson responded by pointing out that even if the early Christian fathers taught theosis, they certainly never taught that we are ontologically the same as God (the “same species” to put it in layman’s terms). He also pointed out the problem that Mormonism has in conflicting with “Jewish monotheism” as found in the Old Testament (all those verses about there being “one God only”).

Millett didn’t have much response to this point, but merely suggested that theosis is something that Evangelicals haven’t really looked at closely enough (which he said is admitted among Christian theologians). Basically saying “check out your own scriptures on theosis and get back to us.”

At this point, we moved to a Q&A session where Millett and Johnson fielded questions the audience had written on index cards. One of the questions asked “do you find it harder to talk about this stuff with people on the opposite side, or with your own people?” Millett and Johnson were rather impressed with this question and responded that in many ways, it is harder for a Mormon to talk candidly about his faith with another Mormon and vis versa.

That’s honestly, the only other question I remember (except that one of them was about Romney) because… well… Millett read and answered MY question, and my ego won’t allow me to remember much else besides that.

So here’s my question.

My Evangelical friend Tim over at the blog LDS & Evangelical Conversations (you should check it out – it’s a nice blog) made a comment during one of our debates on the topic of grace vs. works that kind of stuck with me. Here it is:

“If Mormons would acknowledge that their own doctrine teaches that salvation is by grace and exaltation is by works, this argument would disappear.”

“Salvation” meaning resurrection and a kingdom of glory, of course, and “exaltation” meaning the Celestial Kingdom, in case you were wondering.

Millett picked up on the distinctions between the words immediately, but rejected the premise. First off, he said he didn’t think that such an acknowledgment would put the debate to rest at all. But then he contended that both salvation and exaltation are – in a Mormon context – reliant on grace.

My question referenced two Book of Mormon verses. The first was 2 Nephi 25:23 which Millett had already covered. The second was Moroni 10:32:

“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”

To me, this seemed like a possible statement that maximum effort is required to “earn” grace.

Millett dealt with this verse by pointing out that what it asks for in the first part of the equation, is for us to accept Christ and love him. It is a matter of doing what Christ himself asks of us in Matt. 22:37 (love God with all your heart, might, mind and strength) and can be done in a way consistent with Matt. 11:28-30 (take his yoke upon us). I’m a little fuzzy on exactly which verse Millett cited, so I may have got this one wrong.

In any case, Millett emphasized that “salvation” and “exaltation” are merely words with different emphases. Salvation is an individual affair, while exaltation is a family affair. But BOTH are a matter of grace. Millett pointed out that neither of them are dependent on his own works.

That ended the formal event. I had a chance to talk to Robert Millett in more detail after the event and follow up on my question. He struck me as a very nice guy and was very kind to devote some time to my questions.

I asked him in the context of whether Mormons are “saved by grace” if the mere fact that a lay Mormon has to go through a series of temple recommend interview questions – all intensely focused on righteous works – doesn’t present your average Mormon with a powerful symbol of salvation by works.

Millet agreed that this was definitely a powerful piece of symbolism for your average saint and could very easily lead to a perception of salvation by works rather than by grace. But he re-emphasized that Mormons are still becoming comfortable with their own grace theology and have not fully internalized it yet. But we are making progress. In the meantime, he felt that mistakes of doctrine persist among lay Mormons.

This approach struck me as coming from a plea he made to Evangelicals in “Bridging the Divide.” Our Church is still quite young and hasn’t had much time yet to mature. In terms of the early Christian timeline, we Mormons aren’t even to Nicea yet. He asked Evangelicals to be patient with us and give us a little time to find our own feet. He also expressed a great deal of optimism for the future of Mormon belief.

With that, I concluded the evening.

I think what Millett and Johnson are doing is fabulous. I would encourage everyone to read their book (it’s a pretty easy read) and check out Standing Together Ministries. If you get a chance to attend one of these dialogue events in your neighborhood, I’d encourage you to do so.

20 Comments »

  1. Comment deleted by admin. If you would like to read the cut-and-pasted points made in this comment please go to mormonsarechristian.blogspot.com.

    Comment by Mormons Are Christian — November 4, 2008 @ 2:19 am

  2. I attended an event like this several years back in Southern California, but I was not impressed. Millet represented the LDS side, but I can’t remember who took the Evangelical side. Chances are, it may have been this same Dr. Johnson.

    My problem with the fireside was that it was billed as a Mormon and Evangelical having a conversation about the similarities and differences between LDS and Evangelical doctrines, when in fact, it was really a conversation about how cool and novel it was that an LDS and Evangelical could converse about the similarities and differences between LDS and Evangelical doctrines. In other words, rather than spending most of 90 minutes actually talking about the supposed topic at hand, the two participants spent a good 75 minutes wallowing in the supposed novelty of their being able to have the conversation, rather than just HAVING THE DAMN CONVERSATION. Then, for the last 10-15 minutes, the two finally started to talk substance, only to run out of time just as things might have started to get good.

    I distinctly recall Brother Millet insisting that the LDS membership was “ready” for the sorts of open, frank religious conversations that he often had with his Evangelical palls. But the way he used his time at the fireside seemed to belie his claims. I left with the impression that Millet most certainly didn’t believe LDS audiences were ready for frank conversation with Evangelicals, since he dared not spend much time diving into the issues in front of his audience. Millet seemed to be engaged in so much paternalistic handholding with his co-religionists that I found myself saying, “Do we really need to be treated like little children here?” (And perhaps the answer is “yes,” though I’d like to think not). The Evangelical pastor lobbed some obvious softballs at him concerning Brigham Young’s past statements not all being doctrine, and I swear it was as if Millet was walking on eggshells, aghast that his fellow Mormons might have a testimony meltdown as he answered the question honestly. (This exchange should have happened within the first 5 minutes of the fireside, rather than at the very end).

    I’m glad you had a good experience, and I hope that all these years later, with much of the novelty potentially gone, Millet and Johnson are really having substantive conversations in the presence of LDS audiences.

    Aaron B

    Comment by Aaron Brown — November 4, 2008 @ 2:52 am

  3. As a relatively minor point, Mormonism was defamed as non-Christian in the 1830s and 1840s (the period I know). Orthodox clergy called it atheism, while others defamed it as anti-Christian fanaticism. It’s worth remembering that all along American Protestants have tended to define Christianity as including only American Protestantism–I’d be more curious when they included Catholicism within the pale than when (ostensibly) they left Mormonism outside it.

    As a relatively major point, I’m all for ecumenicism, and count people of all faiths as friends and potential friends. I don’t believe ecumenicism needs to come at the expense of heightening neo-Orthodoxy within Mormonism. Joseph Smith spent his life attacking Calvinism–while I don’t think we should attack anymore, I’m not persuaded that we need to reimagine our historic faith as a version of Reformed Christianity.

    Comment by smb — November 4, 2008 @ 5:30 am

  4. [...] Seth at Nine Moons has posted his experience at the event. A Mormon and Evangelical Dialogue in Denver: A Summary Filed under: Latter-day Saints, evangelical, greg johnson, interfaith dialogue, lds, mormon, [...]

    Pingback by Mormon and Evangelical Dialogue in Denver « Summa Theologica - Interfaith Dialogue — November 4, 2008 @ 6:07 am

  5. Hi Aaron B.

    My recollection of the time allocation was that they spent the lesser portion of their presentation on introducing the concept of having friendly conversations. It couldn’t have been much more than 30 minutes (which perhaps for you would still be to long). After that, about an hour was spent on debate topics and the final half hour on fielding question.

    I think it is safe to say that a bloggernacle die-hard is unlikely to find a lot of “new material” in these debates. I’ve been debating with Evangelicals online for the past year and I found little that I hadn’t heard before (although there were some tibdbits here and there). So if you go to one of these events hoping to “boldly go where no man has gone before” I imagine you will be disappointed.

    I think you have to look at what they are doing as more of a Dialogue 101 for ordinary Mormons and Evangelicals – not as an advanced course in apologetics for internet-warriors.

    I would also point out Aaron, that it really is not Millet’s job to challenge the Mormon attendees. If it’s anyone’s job, it would be Johnson’s.

    In any case, I think that these events fill a niche that is not served by other existing Mormon-Evangelical exchanges. More confrontational models of interaction are plentiful and readily available for those who wish to seek them out. Very few people are doing what Millet and Johnson are doing.

    Comment by Seth R. — November 4, 2008 @ 8:35 am

  6. I understand what you’re saying, Seth, but it really misses my point. I wasn’t looking for new material, from my perspective, or an “advanced course in apologetics.” I just wanted an evening in which the bulk of time was devoted to what was advertized.

    I agree that what Millet and Johnson are doing (or trying to do) is potentially valuable, and like I said, it may be that they are doing it better now than then once were. But the “confrontational model” of interaction I’m looking for is realy just a frank, open conversation that gets to the point, and really helps LDS people understand the issues. The evening I attended there was very little real discussion of the topic, as opposed to discussion about how great it was that it was possible to discuss the topic.

    AB

    Comment by Aaron Brown — November 4, 2008 @ 8:52 am

  7. Also, I never said it was “Millet’s job to challenge the Mormon attendees.” Any challenging queries or topics on the LDS side are naturally going to be raised by Johnson. And that’s the point — if you’re going to have an open conversation with a religious competitor, then you have to be prepared for your “opponent” to frame historical or doctrinal issues in a hard way that will inevitably lead you to engage the discussion in a way you wouldn’t if you were just speaking in house with LDS audiences. I suspect we don’t disagree here. It just felt like Millet wasn’t really ready, or didn’t think his LDS audience was really ready, to experience such an interchange, except in a very small dose at the end preceeded by an endless set up.

    AB

    Comment by Aaron Brown — November 4, 2008 @ 8:59 am

  8. Nice job Seth, thanks for the review and thanks for posing my statement to Millett.

    Comment by Tim — November 4, 2008 @ 10:16 am

  9. Very interesting article, Seth. Thank you for sharing it here. I think “Bridging the Divide” (or some form of it) would be a valuable tool for missionaries. I know we could have used it in the bible Belt.

    Comment by David T. — November 4, 2008 @ 10:39 am

  10. This approach struck me as coming from a plea he made to Evangelicals in “Bridging the Divide.” Our Church is still quite young and hasn’t had much time yet to mature. In terms of the early Christian timeline, we Mormons aren’t even to Nicea yet. He asked Evangelicals to be patient with us and give us a little time to find our own feet. He also expressed a great deal of optimism for the future of Mormon belief.

    This is a bit of a copout since we’re not an original faith but share much of Christian belief. Thus much of traditional Christian theology is stuff we can utilize. (Either by drawing distinctions or accepting it) You can see this for instance in many of Blake Ostler’s books which draws on a lot of theological work of others.

    That we don’t take such things serious says much more about our intellectual pursuits rather than the youth of our faith.

    Comment by Clark — November 4, 2008 @ 2:37 pm

  11. [...] Moons on Mormons and Evangelicals: the Millett and Johnson [...]

    Pingback by Mormons and Evangelicals : Mormon Metaphysics — November 4, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

  12. Seth,

    Regarding Salvation & Exaltation: I have found it very helpful to talk about how different the expectations I have for heaven may be from those of other Christians. Without a paradigm shift, we end up speaking past each other. Mormons believe that the afterlife is full of purposeful work and that this life is training for that purposeful work. We are sent to earth to freely choose to be about God’s work rather than serving selfish interests. As a result, salvation ends up being about my desire for Christ to mediate and heal my relationship with God and others whom I’ve hurt (and to heal me too). Christ will save me from the pain of my fractured relationships just as quickly as I ask him to do so (as long as it is sincere and I truly give him my life).

    Salvation is not just a heavenly reward, it is to be experienced in the here-and-now; it is a state-of-being, having all of my relationships mediated through Christ (giving life to all those relationships). Kingdoms of glory are not “rewards” for individuals who do a good job in this life, they are representative of the state-of-being of resurrected individuals who have demonstrated trustworthiness with the gifts they have been given. In Mormonism, the priesthood is not a feather in the cap (to quote Nibley), rather it is a burden, a joyful burden which yokes us to Christ, but a burden all the same.

    In the next life, God isn’t going to be passing out trophies and keys to mansions, he is going to ask us to continue on the apprenticeship program we started in this life. Those who have shown themselves to be trustworthy with a few things, will be given more work to do. Exaltation is just different degrees of work and responsibility.

    The way I view God’s blessings is that his arms are full of gifts to give me, but I refuse to receive the gifts based on my inability to give up sin and receive his life into mine. In the afterlife we will be the one who says, “This is all I can handle right now, I can’t take any more glory/responsibilities.” Right now you couldn’t pay me enough to be the president of the U.S., I’m just not ready for that kind of responsibility or power. I think the afterlife will be full of people accepting power and responsibility at very different rates.

    So, am I an Evangelical Mormon?

    Comment by Kent (MC) — November 4, 2008 @ 2:55 pm

  13. With regard to your question–I have long contended that if a person choses to disregard Christ, he can find salvation in the teletial kingdom (my reading of D&C 76). Even that comes with grace filled gifts of the creation of the spirit, creation and opportunity in this world, resurrection and creation of the kingdom of inheritance (I am sure I am missing something). That kingdom is likened to the stars. Accepting Christ and repentance through Christ, an easier road than paying for your own sins (D&C 19), takes you to the Celestial. A kingdom likened to the sun. The grace of God provides the foundation. The mercy of God builds a mansion. We show up with a folding chair and hope to be allowed to sit in a corner. He then gives us the house.

    Comment by David — November 5, 2008 @ 8:23 am

  14. I think the Church’s PR campaign is going to do wonders in the next 12 months about teaching people that Mormons believe in Christ and this should help Romney make a run in four years. For example the new project, Reflections of Christ, is incredible. A photographer from Mesa created all these amazing photographs of scenes of Christs life. They created a DVD and a cool sounding CD to go with it. Check out their slide show on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oteno81QzzQ

    Comment by Patrick M — November 6, 2008 @ 11:15 am

  15. I used to go into a Born Again Christian bookstore to talk with the owner. I enjoyed are conversations and one day he lent me a copy of one of these dialogues that had occurred at Boise State. I was so excited because I love Bob Millet and I think this is awesome!!

    Comment by LibbyAnne — November 6, 2008 @ 12:44 pm

  16. Thanks for posting this recap Seth. Very interesting, and you bring up some ways of looking at LDS teachings on salvation & exaltation that I had never thought of before. It also reminds me of how much I miss Greg. I hope he does one of these conferences in the Seattle area sometime so I can attend.

    @ #12 Kent M: I had a professor in the religion department at BYU who had attended Young Life and Baptist youth groups as a teenager (though he was raised LDS) and was regularly tempering his teachings with evangelical commentaries and views of things. I called him my Evangelical Mormon friend… so, are you an evangelical Mormon? You very well could be.

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers — November 13, 2008 @ 4:28 pm

  17. Thanks Bridget. Like I said, I don’t really think I gave Greg an entirely fair hearing because I was so focused on what Millet had to say. Maybe you could correct that if you ever get a chance to attend one of these.

    Kent, on your question of “Evangelical Mormon” you might find a few of the reviews of “How Wide the Divide?” pretty relevant (some of them directly tackle the question of whether Robinson makes too many concessions to Evangelicalism). Here’s the link to a blog post compiling them:

    To How Wide the Divide Graduates

    I’d actually recommend this resource to anyone who is interested in this area.

    Comment by Seth R. — November 14, 2008 @ 2:37 pm

  18. Thanks for the recap, Seth. Sounds like an interesting discussion.

    Comment by Chris Smith — December 1, 2008 @ 1:52 pm

  19. Sorry to come late to the coversation, but I wanted to say that I agree with Aaron B. I also attended a So Cal version of this event (in 2005 I believe), and literally the first 70 of the 90 minutes was taken up by jokes and smiles and guffaws about how amazing it was to have a an Evangelical preacher and a Mormon professor and all these Mormons and Evangelicals together in one room (the stake center was filled to the back, probably 800 people attended, including probably 200 or so Eveangelicals). I’m glad to know the era of self-congratulation may be over, and that substantive conversations may be happening.

    Comment by Jonathan "Skip" Edwards — June 23, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

  20. [...] Seth at Nine Moon posted reflections on a similar Johnson-Millet event held in Denver in 2008. Be the first to like. Like Unlike Be Sociable, Share! [...]

    Pingback by A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation: Idaho Falls Edition | Times & Seasons — June 14, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

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