The Allure of Mormonism-Get Under the Surface

I’m thinking of writing a blog post about this topic, and thought why not start a thread. I also thought of titling this “the facade of Mormonism”, but thought that was uncharitable, even though it captures the point.

Anyway, I was looking at the videos that the LDS Church released last week. You can view the “Introduction to Mormons” videos here.

Now, there are clear critiques that can be leveled against each video, besides the heavy reliance on testimony. But when an outsider looks at them, chances are they’ll think “wow, this seems nice and makes so much sense! They have apostles, prophets, seventies, temples, etc, just like in the Bible!”. That’s probably how I thought when I decided to join. If anything, it causes you to be curious. And that’s really the “allure of Mormonism”; it seems nice on its surface. Where did the apostles and prophets go? Look, we have those, our Church is led by a prophet just like Noah, Moses, Abraham, Peter, etc! Where did the temple go? Look we have temples just like in the Bible!

The problems then start once you go “deep”. Once you get under that surface that you see in the new videos, you begin to wonder if it really is so clear cut and a “true” restoration. An LDS friend of mine recently told me that she doesn’t want to go “deep with it” because she knows there are difficulties, and she prefers to focus on the basics, especially since all her family is LDS. It seems like the doubts that Mormons express all come from going under the surface allure and really investigating, more than during their “investigator” period prior to baptism.

Nothing demonstrates this further than the issue of Prophets in the LDS faith. I was reading the MormonThink page “Prophets After Joseph Smith”, and it really captures what many that become disillusioned with Mormonism think.

The Surface

Yes, we have prophets just like you read in the Bible. The Church of Jesus Christ is led by a modern day Prophet, someone just like Abraham, Noah, Moses, Peter, Paul, etc. Also, his counselors and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles (see, we have 12 apostles just like the New Testament Church!) are Prophets, Seers, and Revelators. The Heavens are open, we have an open canon of scripture, God still speaks to His oracles just like He did anciently.

The Reality

The Prophet doesn’t really function like the Biblical ones. He doesn’t even function like Joseph Smith. Gone are the days of speaking of profound revelations, visions, angelic ministrations, etc. If they do happen, you’re told that they don’t speak of it, since it’s too sacred. Gone are the days of using the seer stone, rod of Aaron, etc for revelation. Gone are the days of new scriptural texts and further canonized scripture (i.e. the open canon that is extolled). The revelation on the priesthood, allowing blacks to be ordained after a previous restriction, is nowhere to be found. Instead, there’s an “official declaration”. Same goes for plural marriage. The 15 Prophets, Seers, and Revelators seem to not be doing anything different than what the leaders of various other churches, with their “non-prophets”, do. The thing that draws one in, having modern day prophets just like the Biblical ones, seems to falter once we go under the surface.

My blog post “Is The Prophet a Prophet” also refers to two articles that go further into that issue. It really is what started my doubts of the LDS faith, whether the prophets function as prophets, or just like any other non-prophet man, that may be well-intentioned, even inspired, but not a prophet per se. If anything, he’s a prophet only because he is sustained as such (which reminds me of something Hinckley had said, I believe the MormonThink article mentions it).

SO, some may wonder why, if Mormonism has allegedly “weird” beliefs, do people join. It’s because the surface presentation seems nice (especially the heavy emphasis on families), and seems to point to Biblical ideals and concepts that many may believe to have been lost. But once you get under the surface, things aren’t as Biblical and ideal as they seemed to have been, which causes the doubts that seem to be increasing.

Read your blog. Great reading. Many thanks for your insights.:thumbsup:

The LDS Church uses PR to create a specific image, that is meant to be attractive, and evoke a positive emotional response. PR firms manage image. It’s no different than Joseph Smith, nothing has changed. Just, he managed his own PR, which history shows, failed. People didn’t buy it then, we don’t buy it now.

If you got it, you don’t need it.

I definately emphasis the family and community bit. Let’s face it, many of us attend parishes where we don’t know anyones name, that offer NO activities outside of Mass for parishoners to engage in, and have no families of our own. The happiness of the Mormon community can look almost painfully appealing.

My experience the first year as a Catholic was one of the most painful times of my life. But the fruit of that experience was that I was able to really focus on my faith in God, to really learn more about Him and how to trust Him, and lean on Him for peace. One of the things that occurs in Mormonism is that, as soon as a person is baptized, they are given a calling. They are quickly placed in a position where they’re building relationships with fellow members and being kept busy. There is something about that that’s alluring, especially when you’re trying to navigate new waters. But don’t be fooled into believing that they are all so happy in their communities, or even in their families. They are no different from anyone else. They just have leaders pulling them all together to do stuff more often. And don’t think there aren’t plenty of them who grumble about that, either. :sad_yes: A lot.

I know what you’re saying though, and it can be lonely for sure. Just gotta keep praying and never stop looking for opportunities to serve, and find fellowship.

All I can say is shame on those parishes and shame on the members of those parishes for allowing it to happen. I love my parish. We have a great community and do stuff together all the time. I can’t imagine it any other way. Don’t look to the priest to be the party planner. It is the community that must make it a community; welcome newcomers, plan events, start Catholic singles clubs, youth groups, Bible studies, pot lucks, etc. Just make it happen.

I am under the opinion that Joseph Smith was called to form a ministry within the Catholic Church, and the sin of hubris instead lead him to found his own competing religion. It is the legitimate good works and social support that lead people to join, rather than merely good advertizing.

Nearly every Mormon I’ve met is very friendly and welcoming (though they still have their fair share of jerks). In a state that is largely irreligious, I find myself hanging out with Mormon 20-somethings occasionally as our external values are very compatible. However, my faith in God comes first, and I will not venture near the local chapel.

One of my friends got sucked into the fold. It is frustrating, because their community of support is so strong, that he has made some important progress, finding better employment and will eventually be going back to school. Previously, he was working too few hours, dropped out of school, and barely making it. On the other hand, he left behind a nominal Catholic faith, in favor of the false Mormon faith. The Mormons have a simultaneously positive and negative influence.

Our current parishes are simply not set up to provide this support, nor should they be expected too. The parishes are set up to provide universal access to the Holy Eucharist, with Catholic members participating in a diverse mix of secular and civic organizations. The Catholic Church is not a mere social club, but simply part of the bed rock of human civilization.

If Mormonism were a community of support within the Catholic Church, it would be an amazing structure. A place for those without direction in life to seek authentic guidance in living a holy and productive life. A place for families coordinate support for each other. Similar organizations seem to exist, such as Opus Dei, but I just wish Joseph Smith stuck to traditional Christianity to do his good work, rather than lead millions to a vaguely polytheistic pseudo-Christianity.

This is very true. It really is up to the community, however I’d venture to say that more often than not, there really aren’t many activities for adults in many Catholic parishes, especially religious education outside of RCIA. Luckily, living in a city with lots of Catholic congregations, there are many options and activities, including tons of service opportunities (I remember at the LDS ward, we’d talk about helping out at the Catholic soup kitchen up the street :D). So, I do think more Catholics need to be aware of such needs and help create the community with the rest of the community, instead of just going to Mass and running out before the recessional hymn is over ;).

I just discovered the “parish pastoral council”, similar to the LDS ward council. Time for me to start getting involved in that.

the allure is unmistakable. I do not see so many anymore, but the lds church used to have the most and heartwarming commercials.

If you listen to their leaders, they sound just like any run-of-the-mill protestant…except they have a prophet…

they have the highest % of Boy Scouts…

No drinking or smoking…

Absolutely tight knit and the most camaraderie,

The allure is strong…

then, they have their hooks in you. And they hope you never dig too deeply, or, if you do, you are so far in that you fall for their weak apologetics.

But, for the true intellects, and those who have not succumbed, the digging will show you how false it is.

The mormon church needs to fire it’s PR firm. Just sayin :shrug:

I, for one, would be really interested in reading a blog about the subject.

What does PR stand for?

Has anyone ever read “Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest” by Eric Shuster? I’m reading it, and I’ll definitely be doing a review of it. I’m only at the beginning, and already things don’t really make sense, and don’t seem to be providing a compelling reason for a Catholic to become LDS.

For example, in the beginning, they (Shuster and his wife) share their conversion story. One odd part was when their son got seriously sick and went to the hospital. Their LDS neighbors came over, along with the missionaries, and gave him a healing blessing (presumably the “administering to the sick” ordinance done with oil). They expressed dismay because “no one from our Catholic parish had come to visit us during the crisis, even though we had identified ourselves as Catholic on the hospital paperwork”. Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but I work in a hospital. Just because you check off “Catholic” or “Jewish”, etc on the paperwork (or if the nurse asks you), doesn’t mean that they automatically contact the local house of worship to let them know. Indeed, I’m puzzled why they didn’t inform their parish priest and request that he come over and give their son the Anointing of the Sick sacrament, you know, since they were identifying as Catholics, and the point in all of this is to show how “Catholic” they were prior to becoming LDS (i.e. talking about being raised in Catholicism, having an undergrad degree in Catholic theology, being a former nun, etc).

It seems to me that many LDS, and those that become attracted to it also have a pragmatic view of things, which is something that’s frequently said. “well, everyone seems happy, look at all the good they do, Joseph Smith proclaimed Christ is the Son of the Living God, so it must be from God”. This is an idea that is seen throughout the small portion of the book I’ve read so far, and again goes back to the topic of the thread, that many seem attracted to the surface appearance of the LDS faith.

Anyway, just wanted to share that. I haven’t gotten into the meat of the book yet, but so far, I’m not impressed.

Public Relations.

Thank you! :thumbsup:

If you haven’t seen it…

I read it. Seemed the hubby and wife team did not really understand much of anything. Their conclusions were not based on reality. It is as if, for example, that they never truly understood the Trinity. They also never truly understood the Eucharist. These re just two examples of the things they got wrong. Like the lds church, they say just enough right stuff to sound good, but too much wrong stuff to be believed.

Plus, they seem to not really understand the lds beliefs.

So, they left a Church they never understood to go into a church they truly do not understand, and then wrote a book about it.

Go figure

This is really interesting Steve. My parish is an ‘elderly’ one that has been allowed to stagnate. We now have a new priest who is much more dynamic, and we are one of the pilot parishes for Crossing the Threshold initiative which is aimed at resting catholics to re-engage. I loved your post and so’s not to derail the thread would you PM me some of the activities that you mentioned. We are starting to grow slowly, the initiative mentioned is making us look at our parish and what it needs. But suggestions from anywhere would be gratefully accepted.

OK - so exploring the PR vs reality a bit…

I have a friend from work here - he’s very fully LDS. We have lunch at times together. The warm and fuzzy vernier was stripped off when I relayed an experience where something somewhat miraculous happened dealing with my now-adult past foster child. My past foster child is still a mess - frequently in jail, but I was expressing to my Mormon friend how odd it was the God seemed to go to great lengths to help my past foster child out of a potentially harmful situation. I asserted that God must have a big plan for this person, and I looked forward to seeing how that will unfold. My Mormon friend said that the real reason my past foster child was given any help was only so that God later could rub it in his face. “See!” my friend said that God would say to my past foster child, “I tried to help you and you just threw it all away!” My friend’s demeanor changed dramatically during this episode, but it did at least let me know what he thinks about the true nature of God.

Would you say this is a common theme, then? The appearance of a wonderful experience, but then later find out God is mostly vengeful? Does this vengeful God scare people into behaving a certain way??

As I understand it the hospital is not allowed to contact anyone regarding your hospital stay. HIPAA rules are rather stringent about these issues aren’t they?

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