The “Mormon Matters” Theology

Back on October 29, 2011, I wrote a post attempting to summarize the “Theological Liberal” narrative “as it saw itself” and therefore tried to write about it in a wholly positive way as best I could.

But that post really only touched on the points of Liberal Theology that are considered the most positive aspects and are typically trotted out for public consumption.

As I did this post on John Dehlin, the thought occurred to me that my understanding of Liberal Theology came substantially from my time at Mormon Matters. The three biggest influences were Clay Whipkey and John Hamer – the two “open” theological liberals that didn’t mind talking about their beliefs – and John Dehlin himself, who is not as open, but not exactly closed either. John, in particular, pointed me to Karen Armstrong’s book, which taught me quite a bit. (See also my comprehensive response to her book.) Continue reading

Why Did You Resign (from Mormon Matters)? – Side #1 vs. Side #2 and the We Attack / You Defend Model of Dialogue

football-hike-600x250In my last post I talked about the inherent imbalance in negative and positive posts on Mormon Matters. Even if there were equal numbers of them, the types of negative posts had a lot more emotional punch than the positive ones because negatives always have more inherent punch than positives.

In this post, I want to expand on this idea a bit by asking the question “whose side are you on?”.  What do we even mean by “sides”?

And since this is a long post, I should let you know that I issues challenges to John Dehlin and Sunstone at the end, once I’ve laid the foundation for my case.

There Are No Sides. Let’s Build Bridges Instead.

One of the cultural tenets of Mormon Matters (and often even the Bloggernacle as a whole) is that we do not have sides. We are all Mormons whether culturally or by belief. I have already expressed my concerns with this aspect of Bloggernacle culture, at least in some cases. Further, it’s only true when it’s true. John Dehlin would regularly talk openly about “believers and unbelievers alike”, though the preferred language is to speak of “spectrums” of belief (a term I find misleading at best, as many factors of belief are literally off or on). [1] Continue reading

John Dehlin’s Comprehensive List of Reasons He Doesn’t Believe in the LDS Church

John Dehlin“Doubt those who encourage you to doubt your doubts” — John Dehlin on his Facebook page, attacking President Uchtdorf’s talk. Mar 25, 2014

John Dehlin recently put together a comprehensive list of what he sees as all the issues with the LDS Church. He of course titled it “A Comprehensive List of Reasons Why People Leave or Stop Believing in the LDS Church” so as to position it as a helpful attempt to teach the Church how to stop people from leaving. However, as I read through the list, it’s not really clear to me how this document could ever be helpful in that regard since it makes no helpful suggestions at all and simply reads like an anti-Mormon tract.

Consistent with my policy of not advancing anti-Mormon tracts – intended or otherwise – like this, I am not going to be linking with it. Normally I make an exception for John because I at least believe he is well intended in what I see as a desire to reduce pain in the church through reduced ‘exclusion.’ (I am intentionally using that term the way John uses it – which really means fewer people feeling uncomfortable and therefore making their own adult choice to no longer participate with the LDS church.) But I’m still not really in favor of collecting every potential faith-breaking issue all in one place like this. I do, after all, still believe in the importance of belief itself when it comes to religion.

Does John Encourage Disbelieving the LDS Church?

I know John claims he is not trying to get people to disbelieve. I think this is true in limited a sense. If you really want to believe, I have no doubt John will not push you personally towards disbelief. And I think John doesn’t really see belief as in-and-of-itself some sort of evil. Continue reading

The Value of Transparency? My Discussion So Far with Kate Kelly

Okay, I guess I set myself up for this. :-(

So I sort of waded into the discussion / argument on this post about Ordain Women. In those comments I mentioned that I have a dear friend that is believing LDS and has felt supportive of Ordain Women. She had asked me to contact Kate Kelly and ask her about her beliefs. (Presumably because I have experience with making the questions increasingly pointed until I either get an answer to my real question or the person refuses to answer.)

I made the mistake of mentioning this in the comments and attempted to run a middle ground between Hunter and Geoff’s points of views on Ordain Women. I have no doubt that a person can be a believing member of the Church — even in the most common and classic sense — and also support Ordain Women.

However, the big question we are asking here is if Ordain Women is actually being run by people that don’t believe the LDS church has a restored — through angels — priesthood in the first place. Nothing Kate Kelly has said to date has given me any reason to suppose she doesn’t and in fact she comes across very believing to me. But I also know that its easy to use misleading language and that many often do just this. So I really wanted to ask her directly, but I am prepared to take her word for it one way or the other.

I was actually live chatting with Kate for a brief moment. I wrote up for here my reasons for why I feel tranparency on her beliefs mattered as the leader of a public movement but did say that if she just wasn’t comfortable talking about her beliefs, I’ll accept that and leave her alone.

I wanted to show the argument I made to her, so I’m posting our conversation (which is like 99% me) here. [Edit: Kate made only three quick entirely public statements, so I felt there was not the slightest confidence being betrayed. The choice to show the conversation publicly was a choice to show my words publicly. But since I’m not being Bloggernacled on the fact that I made “Kate’s prive words public” I am going to humor this very strange attack and remove Kate’s words entirely and just summarized what happened for her side since this changes not a single thing in the post.] Continue reading