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.
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 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.