A while back I did a post called The Faith of Abraham where I discussed the considerable challenges surrounding the story of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice Isaac. I have been in conversation recently with a blogger from Wheat and Tares about this story because it really bothers him — to the point where he has come up with ways to discount it as truly having come from God. As the discussion went on we agreed to ‘take it public’ because its such an interesting topic for discussion. His response to my post is found here. He then posted it on W&T today.
One thing I’ve long believed is that this story largely defines the difference between what it generally means to be “conservative” vs. “liberal” when it comes to religion. Maybe I’m over emphasizing this, but this tends to be a pretty good litmus test. Further, this particular story and the discussion that follows is a fairly straightforward example of why I self-identify as a “conservative” despite being quite literally 25% atheist and only 75% believer. Those that know me know that I believe that liberal theology is a rational non-starter. It doesn’t even make it out the rational gate for me and this is a great example of why.
Summary of Liberal Friend’s Argument
First, let me summarize his argument, though I hope you’ll all go read his full post yourselves. Continue reading
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
In 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).  Continue reading
As I mentioned in my last post on John Dehlin, he is hesitant to say too much about what he really believes, likely for fear it might undermine his cause. Even in the comments on my recent post there were some that claimed that wasn’t the case. But recently there seems to have been a change on this front for John. Here are some recent quotes from John.
Ordaining women….LGBT rights…..historical acknowledgment/candor — those are all very important steps for the LDS church that have the potential to dramatically improve the lives of latter-day saints across the globe. I acknowledge this from the outset.
But from where I sit, they are all merely window dressing to the real issue.
Is the LDS church really what it claims to be — “…the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased?” Continue reading
“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