Only Genesis and Questions for Mormonism
John C. Rankin
(January 4, 2013)
Mormonism, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” is the most numerically successful religion born in the United States. It grew out of 19th century millenarian Protestantism, but at every turn it has introduced novel and unbiblical ideas. Its three scriptures, The Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price, do in fact supersede their preferred use of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, in authority for the faith.
I have only had a few conversations with a Mormon on the subject of the Mormon faith. Their leaders eschew it, despite the depths of a shared humanity we all have. I have met with some business leaders in their midst, and other Mormons too, but they prefer to speak of “values,” and not the specificity of the Mormon religion, its doctrines and practices.
So, in 2012, I sought to have a radio dialogue with an approved leader. Their website provides no phone contact information, but finally, in a series of email communications, I reached the Director of Community and Interfaith Relations at the Salt Lake City headquarters. In the end, they demurred, citing a review of my website materials. And at the time, there was nothing on the website about Mormonism. But the motto, at that time, was prominent at the top of every page: The Power to Love Hard Questions. The truth is that Mormonism is a most iron clad religion, permitting no dissent from within, nor any questions from without. These questions unearth issues they do not wish to discuss publicly. And if perchance I am wrong, or if matters change, I always welcome mutually accountable questions. Thus, rooted in the content of Genesis and the Power of True Assumptions (Second Edition) [available at johnrankinbooks.com]:
- How does the Mormon Church, in its unique post-biblical scriptures and other documents, understand and base itself in the storyline of creation, sin and redemption?
First, in terms of the biblical nature of the Creator:
- How does the Mormon Church understand the Hebrew nature of Yahweh Elohim?
- Does the Mormon Church believe that God the Father was once a man, that “perfected men” can become gods of equal stature, and that the Elohim refers to many gods (including God the Father and God the Mother)?
- How then does the Mormon Church understand the triune nature of Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
- How does the Mormon Church understand the nature of checks and balances on power within its church, and within civil society?
Second, in terms of the biblical nature of communication, revelation, living in the light:
- How does the Mormon Church understand the revelation of the one true Creator in its post-biblical scriptures and other documents?
- How does the Mormon Church understand their founding and authoritative prophet Joseph Smith’s dialogic relationship with God?
- How does the Mormon Church operate in terms of transparency in church polity and finances?
- How does the Mormon Church understand Joseph Smith’s reputation for occultic practices, and as “occult” means hidden?
Third, in terms of the biblical view of human nature:
- How does the Mormon Church understand human nature in its post-biblical scriptures and other documents?
- How does the Mormon Church understand men and women as intrinsically equal to God the Father and to Jesus?
- How does the Mormon Church, and its post-biblical and other documents, understand the origins of the African peoples?
Fourth, in terms of the biblical definition of human freedom:
- How does the Mormon Church understand human freedom in its post-biblical scriptures and other documents?
- How does the Mormon Church understand human freedom within its church and within civil society?
Fifth, in terms of the biblical love of hard questions:
- Does the Mormon Church understand an unlimited freedom to pose hard questions of Yahweh Elohim, of Jesus, and especially of church leadership and one another?
Sixth, in terms of the biblical view of human sexuality:
- How does the Mormon Church understand the nature of male and female?
- What does the Mormon Church truly believe about polygamy, especially as Joseph Smith declared it to be a revelation of God?
Seventh, in terms of the biblical view of science and the scientific method:
- Can Joseph Smith withstand the falsification scrutiny of being a true prophet?
- How does the Mormon Church understand the place of science and the scientific method in authenticating the claims of its post-biblical scriptures and casino documents, e.g., archeological research and DNA tests of the lineage claims of the Lamanites and Nephites?
Eighth, in terms of the biblical nature of verifiable history:
- Can the post-biblical scriptures and other documents of the Mormon Church withstand the scrutiny of verifiable history in its claims?
- Did Joseph Smith and his claims about the Golden Plates truly withstand checks and balances in accountability and the eye-witness historical verifiability ethos of the Bible?
- Joseph Smith, like Muhammad, claims that his revelation came to his inner person alone. How does this square with how Scripture came to the biblical prophets who lived in the checks and balances of covenant community, as governed by the Holy Spirit, and who made no such claim?
Ninth, in terms of the biblical nature of covenantal law?
- How does the Mormon Church understand covenantal law?
- Relative to church polity, how does the Mormon Church understand the difference between how Samuel honored the Mosaic covenant with Joshua’s consent of the governed ethos, versus the pagan top-down authority wielded by King Saul?
And tenth, in terms of the biblical nature of unalienable rights:
- How does the Mormon Church understand unalienable rights, within its own polity and civil society?