Monday, 20 July 2009

Mormons in crisis find online refuge - Salt Lake Tribune

Now here is an interesting development. An “unofficial”  (aren’t they all) Mormon site aimed at helping church members struggling with doubt and disaffection. StayLDS.com is heavily moderated to cut out anti-Mormon stuff which is fair enough so don’t go there looking to put any cats among any pigeons. We are seeing an increasing number of Mormons who are settling for what they can get, trying to find that middle ground where the Mormon Church is neither “all true” nor “all false”. Its rather like finding out that there is no heaven, life after death, truth in the gospel story but still going to church because of the good bits. All the more reason to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with Mormons who don’t need to settle for what they can get because Christ died for sinners to bring us to God.

“Among the strategies offered for finding middle ground: accepting imperfection from the church, it's members and leaders; staying focused on people not doctrine; supplementing spiritual needs with outside sources from other traditions; treat orthodox Mormons with respect; choose the parts of church life that work for you and ignore the rest; let go of the idea that the church is either "all true" or "all false."

Mormons in crisis find online refuge - Salt Lake Tribune

10 comments:

Seth R. said...

Of course, Protestantism doesn't have this problem.

I don't think it needs to be a case of Mormons "settling" for a "watered-down" version of the faith. It wasn't that way for me anyway.

For me, it was a rejection of the inherent idolatry of the existing Mormon neo-orthodox position in favor of a theology that looks to God rather than to our own personal insecurities.

Conservative Mormonism and Christianity alike are both erroneous projections of human insecurities onto God.

We need inerrant Bibles and inerrant prophets apparently.

Why?

Because unless God gives me that 100% guarantee, I might have to grow up a little, act like an adult, and maybe even grapple with a little uncertainty in life.

And if he doesn't give me what I want - right now - by golly, I'm leaving!

Horrors.

I haven't "settled" for anything.

I've just found a better faith. That's all. Something I can really get excited about rather than all the theological nose-wiping inherent in conservative Mormonism and Christianity.

Mike's 4 Tea said...

Seth

There is a sweet irony in your identifying "conservative Mormons" as opposed to - "liberal Mormons?"

The whole apostasy/restoration story is based on the claim that such splits in the Christian Church made restoration necessary. Who will restore Mormonism I wonder?

But you can't have the penny and the bun. If prophets and apostles represent the only official account of Mormonism and they are conservative where does this leave Mormon freethinkers? Are progressives more authentic than conservatives? if so where does that leave the claim to prohetic leading since the prophets have never condoned the agenda of liberal Mormons?

It is a dilemma and one that is causing problems for many even if not for you. Hence the web site. In the Christian world we would say something along the lines of, "Someone has set up a ministry to help Christians who are struggling with doubt", and we would celebrate it perhaps. Can independent Mormons set up a ministry without the blessing of the prophets, the support of the priesthood and the "authority" to minister?

I like your mature attitude Seth but can you see how it would be problematic for your church and for other Mormons?

Seth R. said...

I thought that's what FAIR was. It functions fairly the same way.

Mike's 4 Tea said...

FAIR exists to restore Mormonism?

Seth R. said...

No, I was responding to your remark about independent ministries set up to help struggling Christians.

It seems to me that FAIR is essentially the same thing. And it operates without any hint of disapproval from LDS leadership.

Mike's 4 Tea said...

In the broadest terms, Mormonism is a fundamentalist religion, authoritative and controlling. Traditionally it defines itself in very doctrinally specific terms and speaks constantly of "official sources" and priesthood.

You might, therefore, think it counterintuitive for the Mormon leadership to "allow" such organisations as FAIR, let alone smile upon them. But that is where the Mormon Church is clever.

You see such "unofficial" channels serve the purpose of comforting the Saints by confounding critics (as they see it) and wrestling with the knottier problems of Mormon theology and history (which are legion) without the church having to officially "own" anything FAIR says or does.

Every good Mormon knows the mantra, "that is not official doctrine because it isn't in the Standard Works" and so the leadership doesn't even have to get out of bed to tell people that FAIR isn't official Mormonism.

On the other hand, if FAIR comes up with copasetic arguments and evidences it does the Mormon Church no harm that they are associated with Mormonism in people's minds. This is the best example I have seen of having the penny and the bun.

Seth R. said...

I guess.

Just seems prudent to me. I think it's a generally good stance for the leadership to have.

Mike's 4 Tea said...

I saw a Mormon missionary today, strangely he appeared to be alone in a car, and I couldn't help thinking that he will be making promises about prophetic leading that the Mormon Church can't possibly keep. By that I mean that anyone becoming a Mormon today will find that organisations like FAIR get quoted more than "the Brethren" and seem to be at the cutting edge of making doctrine.

As in increasing number of these organisations come along I wonder how long the Mormon Church can go on promising an open canon while working from a closed one; claiming to receive "daily gudiance" by revelation when there is no evidence of it and characterising Christian churches as apostate because of a lack of leadership while themselves abroggating responsibility to people like FAIR.

It seems to me that Staylds exists because it has to to fill the needs of disappointed Mormons. As they rightly say, Mormonism is a culture in Utah and some other parts of the USA (though thankfully not here in the UK) and that is hard to get over when the religion that defines your culture lets you down.

Seth R. said...

I guess I just don't see it as a disappointment, or "settling for less."

I see it as something better. Just the process of learning more about God as you grow older.

Mike's 4 Tea said...

I see the world and my faith in the same way Seth. It just surprises me to see a Mormon taking this view and suspect many don't.

I take what you say about learning more about God but what does the story teach us about Mormon prophets? What is coming from them to reassure people apart from more of the same? If there was evidence of the prophetic - surely that is what Mormons want and are not seeing?

When I was a Mormon I didn't think about it, perhaps because it was a period of great growth and excitement, but today I think I would be asking questions.