Controversial Paper Critiquing Popular Mormon Podcast Published

 
Gregory L. Smith, author of controversial new article. Courtesy of Gregory L. Smith

Gregory L. Smith, author of controversial new article. Courtesy of Gregory L. Smith.

The Interpreter Foundation, a recently launched online Mormon scholarly enterprise, has released a controversial paper at the heart of a recent scandal in Mormon academia. The paper, written by Gregory L. Smith, critiques the online effort of John Dehlin and his influential Mormon Stories podcast series. The article, which was slated to be published a year ago in the Maxwell Institute’s flagship publication, the Mormon Studies Review, was subsequently scrubbed in the fallout of the scandal. Months of online speculation concerning the article’s contents preceded its publication.

The publication of the paper comes somewhat sooner than anticipated, in what appears to be an effort to combat unauthorized online sources from leaking the paper’s contents. “Because certain people on the Internet have started posting and discussing extracts of Gregory L. Smith’s review of Mormon Stories without his permission,” says the foundation’s webpage, “we have decided to post the article now, a bit ahead of schedule.”

The paper, titled “Dubious ‘Mormon’ Stories: A Twenty-First Century Construction of Exit Narratives”, is, according to the Interpreter website, “in its final stage of editing, and still has to undergo a final proofreading and correlation of footnotes. This will be completed in the next few days, after which these files will be updated with the final version.”

According to Daniel C. Peterson, a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at Brigham Young University and editor of the foundation’s periodical Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, the paper is “substantially unchanged from the form in which it was submitted to the late Mormon Studies Review.”

In the paper, Smith criticizes Dehlin’s work as proprietor of Mormon Stories, partially for being less than forthright in fully explaining his intentions with his podcast interviews. Gathering his data from podcast interviews, Facebook comments, blog posts, and other predominantly online material, Smith argues that Dehlin is frequently uninformed of the often controversial material he discusses with interviewees, and that he promotes views hostile to the foundational beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Smith likewise offers a sociological exploration into the world of ex-Mormonism and those who experience de-conversion from their former faith.

Many, primarily on Internet message boards and blogs, both before and after publication of the paper, have accused Smith of crossing a scholarly line into the realm of ad hominem attacks against Dehlin. Dehlin himself, before reading the article, called the paper a “hit piece”, based on reports sent to him by a sympathizer within the Maxwell Institute. Smith has likewise been criticized for caricaturing Dehlin and misrepresenting his efforts with Mormon Stories. What’s more, according to Dehlin, the paper distracts from more important issues related to Mormons struggling to maintain their faith. “There are thousands of sincere LDS church members and former members who are struggling with their faith and/or their church-related experiences,” Dehlin said. “I believe that they are in desperate need of better empathy and support, and that they should be our collective focus.”

In response to these criticisms, Smith continues to argue for his scholarly integrity. “Ironically, it has been Dehlin and his supporters who have resorted to ad hominem before and after publication. They seem unwilling to accept that I am writing about poorly-reasoned ideas and claims . . . not character or personality,” Smith said. “I look forward to them engaging the substance of my argument, if they can. The claim that authors who support Church leaders and LDS doctrine use ad hominem seems a transparent attempt to avoid addressing the evidence.”

Dehlin himself remains optimistic for the trajectory of Mormon Stories. “I have no substantive response to Greg Smith’s article other than to say that as I move forward with Mormon Stories, it will be with a renewed commitment to constructive dialogue centered around helping those in need.”

Also released with “Dubious ‘Mormon’ Stories” is a supplementary article titled “Return of the Unread Review”, wherein Smith chronicles his experience leading up to and following his dismissal from the Maxwell Institute and the publication of the paper.

A PDF of the manuscript of the paper is available for free download on Interpreter’s website, here: http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/. Now readers can judge for themselves whether Smith offers cogent criticisms of Dehlin’s work, or whether accusations of ad hominem attacks by Smith are justified.

*Note: The author, Stephen Smoot, is also an Editorial Consultant for Interpreter. However he wrote this article as a writer for the Student Review and not as an official spokesman for Interpreter.  

 

 

33 comments

  1. Really interesting. I’m only about half way through Smith’s article, but it’s raised some interesting questions/observations, especially as someone who gravitated to Mormon Stories when I was in the midst of a faith crisis. Ironically, it seems like the people who get the most hurt (I don’t say that diminutively) are those who are the most attached/faithful to their leaders. I’ve noticed that usually, people who approach Joseph Smith’s/or any other leader’s words from a distant, intellectual perspective take a much lighter blow when they find out about the less savory truths of church history. Those like me, who relied heavily on assurances from their leaders and the their ostensibly lesser distance to God, are those who are deeply shaken and end up “leavetaking.” The irony is that the people who are “less obedient” intellectually end up having more resilient faith. But only half way through I’m also convinced that Dehlin is far less rational than he appears. Aside from Mormon Stories, I think we’ll see an evolution in the church (and already are) toward being more open to skepticism. We desperately need open dialog addressing many of the issues Dehlin attempts to tackle in Mormon Stories (and also FAIR and NAMI). I’m learning how to express disagreement in a constructive way in church, and I’ve actually had really positive results from both sides of the pulpit. I think the real issue is that everyone is assuming that we have to maintain this status quo, when in reality 99% of people have the same questions and really, really want to talk about them. Until we start doing that in church, I think we’ll continue to make false assumptions about each other to our own detriment. Also, we have to remember this is all taking place in Utah, which is where all of our weird obsessions with perfectionism and a very rigid cultural identity are severely heightened. In my experience, people in or from non-Mormon Belt communities tend to be much healthier and more capable of dealing with difficult intellectual issues.

  2. Busy Busy Busy /

    Does Smith not realize that Dehlin is not a scholar of Mormonism and should not be treated like one? For those of you who do not know (and Smith does not seem to know this either), Mormon Stories is a series of recorded interviews with specialists, authors, and Mormons with unique experiences who can help shed some light on topics typically avoided by Church leaders. The taboo nature of the discussions puts many Mormons immediately on the defensive but what should be kept in mind is that controlling the overall narrative of Mormon Stories is Dehlin’s personal engagement with difficult topics. The fact that thousands of other people are deeply interested in exploring those same topics with people who will not simply tell them to read the scriptures more, pray more, go to the temple more, etc. or through the embarrassingly unconvincing articles published by FAIR and FARMS, neither of which are peer reviewed. Any pretense to hold Dehlin’s interviewing up to professional standards is as pointless as is Smith’s attempt to pigeonhole Dehlin as dangerous dissident. Smith’s paper is also a year behind the times making claims that do not reflect the current status of Dehlin and Mormon Stories.

    • Yeah. How unfair of Smith to apply scholarly standards to Dehlin’s material when Dehlin has never stooped so low! And how lazy of Smith not to continuously update his review to accommodate Dehlin’s moving target.

      • Busy Busy Busy /

        Tracy, I don’t care how solid you think you are, you, like everyone else is subject to perpetual adaptation to life situations and revision of previously held beliefs. Listen to Dehlin’s podcasts. He invites some authors and scholars to address issues the issues he feels more keenly interested in. If Smith has a problem with what Dehlin’s interviewees have to say, he should take it up with them. If Smith feels like Dehlin should invite more apologists in for a show, he should make the request. If he thinks Dehlin is a peer in need a being reprimanded, then we can all have a good laugh at Smith for placing himself at the same level as the sweet but bumbly Dehlin. He has also entirely misunderstood the Mormon Stories project, though he obviously fears its potential.

    • So which of FAIR’s articles do you think needs improvement or are you just repeating a trope?

      • Busy Busy Busy /

        I think this might be a good starting point.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GfFTry88JM

        That’s an hour and a half of educated men rambling off one inane hope after another. Their most common argument is that there still might be an inkling of a possibility of sorts that we’ll still find something that could seemingly verify the existence an irrelevant/obscure element of BoM culture, natural world, etc., so clearly it must not be made up. It’s embarrassing. It’s not convincing. No one outside of their club will back them on this nonsense.

        • Josh /

          Whatever, dude. “irrelevant”, “obscure”, “embarrassing”, “not convincing”, “nonsense”. Care to make an argument rather than throwing negative words at things?

    • Michael Taylor /

      The folks at FAIR operate under the assumption that the BofM is an ancient document, an assumption that would only be taken up by a believer. A purely secular scholar would naturally reject the BofM as ancient because he would also reject the supernatural means by which we got the book. So what would be the point of peer review when the “peers” don’t share the same criteria for judging truth? This is like asking a biologist to do a peer review of the gospels’ resurrection narratives.

      • Busy Busy Busy /

        Archeology, genetics, linguistics, and other academic disciplines do not require a consideration of the supernatural. So if apologists feel they have a strong argument sustaining the premise that BoM culture really existed in the New World, why would they not offer it up to peer review? If you find something worth arguing, why keep it from the rest of the (academic) world? The artifacts, the genes, the language, and the rest should speak for themselves without the crutch of the supernatural.

  3. I have a really hard time believing anyone can take Greg Smith seriously. Dehlin and the collective Mormon Stories communities are far from perfect, but to have this kind of critique published in an “academic” journal is like watching a Mormon shoot himself in the foot. The church desperately needs the kind of thing that Mormon Stories has done, and Smith completely fails to understand the audience and needs that are being met.

  4. Drew Emmick /

    John Dehlin is an incredible human and has saved many lives (literally) through his integrity, empathy and love. This includes my own. For many, the role he has played in casting a light on the impact of faith criseses to one’s mental health surpasses anything contained in these papers. He is and should be commended by any community he’s touched for his efforts, especially the church he belongs to.

  5. As a gesture toward legitimate journalism, it should perhaps be noted by SR editors that Smoot is an “Editorial Consultant” for the Interpreter Foundation.

    • Thanks for the information Jon. Not at all surprising. I think the church is going to have to stop such shennigans if they want to be taken more seriously.

  6. Michael Taylor /

    Tal,

    Thanks for your perspective. I’ve been a longtime Mormon Stories listener myself. I I agree with most of what you say, especially that I think we’re seeing more room for healthy skepticism in the church. I do have to disagree with you however, about this “all taking place in Utah, which is where all of our weird obsessions with perfectionism and a very rigid cultural identity are severely heightened”. I don’t know, I grew up in Southern California in the 80′s and 90′ (and well, I guess you could still include that in the BofM-belt), but the gravity of social and theological orthodoxy was just as strong there as it is here in Utah. I’d even have to say the same for certain wards I encountered on my mission in Brazil. It seems like we can’t get away from (although I don’t know if we’ve really tried) the fact that our missionary efforts spread Utah culture along with Mormon theology. To my chagrin and to yours as well, I’m sure, the two seem locked at the hip, which I think really presents a challenge to the spread of the gospel in certain parts of the world. I guess I’m really not too hopeful that any geographic locale in the world can produce the kind of openness that we would need to tackle the tough issues in more formal church settings.

    Michael

  7. Factual error here:

    “wherein Smith chronicles his experience leading up to and following his dismissal from the Maxwell Institute and the publication of the paper.”

    Smith, so far as I can tell, was never employed by the Maxwell Institute.

    • Stephen Smoot /

      It’s not an error. I confirmed with Smith himself that he was officially hired, “contract and everything”, to work for the Maxwell Institute as an associate editor of the Mormon Studies Review. He also was given an official letter of dismissal by M. Gerald Bradford, head of the Institute, upon being fired.

  8. I read the paper and agree with it. Mormon Stories is many things, but a balanced look at the lives and faith of Latter-Day Saints is not one of them.

  9. The articles are an interesting look at a curious and at times contradictory movement. I would strongly encourage people to read them before commenting on them.

  10. Rick Anderson /

    I’m about halfway through Smith’s paper, and so far I don’t think I’ve seen any examples of ad hominem arguments. Can anyone provide examples of such arguments from the paper? (I get the impression that the term “ad hominem” is sometimes being used by people who don’t know what it actually means.)

  11. sprsprt /

    Smith’s article is not a “hit piece” as Dehlin called it before he read it. It’s an expose.
    It’s telling that Dehlin’s response when he heard someone might be criticizing him was to immediately try to quash the criticism and silence the criticizer. If he was intellectually honest he would answer criticism with rebuttal, not attempts at censorship. But Dehlin is not intellectually honest. He is determined to lead as many members out of the church as possible all while proclaiming that he’s only being open, honest, and fairminded. His actions in this affair give the lie to his protestations.

    • Busy Busy Busy /

      Smith’s effort to oust Dehlin as false prophet, a new Korihor, or a by-the-book “anti,” offers essentially nothing by way of relevant research to the intellectual community of scholars of Mormonism and its only use in the Mormon community is to further stigmatize people who question and feel angry and betrayed by the answers to their questions. The closest Smith comes to a relevant find is his critique of Dehlin’s survey – it has a fairly clear bias toward Dehlin’s favorite issues and did not incorporate the important principle of random sampling – but I don’t recall Smith requesting that someone pick up the task of conducting a more respectable one. Then again, he never gives disaffected Mormons’ thoughts any fair consideration at all, he simply uses them to bolster his claim that Dehlin is not really Mormon (a premise made clear by the title of the paper). In fact, Smith calls for no action from his reading public besides joining him in thinking that Dehlin is “poisoning the well.” The irony of this paper is that it confirms discussions in Mormon Stories groups on the lack of tolerance shown towards people who doubt; Smith is as guilty as Dehlin of ‘cherry picking’ in order to create a comfortable narrative; and most striking irony of all is that should Smith decide to apply the same methodology of critique to Joseph Smith, Jr. that he gave John Dehlin the paper would essentially read the same. People, you don’t have to like Dehlin, you don’t have to think he’s a good guy, you don’t have to listen to Mormon Stories, join a Mormon Stories online group, or encourage anyone else to either, but I think we would all be a lot better off if, at the end of these 98 pages, Smith had, instead of throwing mud at Dehlin, maybe tried to understand how people use Mormon Stories and what it might actually mean to their self-perceived spirituality. He could have even started with a respectable survey.

      • Michael Taylor /

        I think there is a lot of intolerance happening on both sides here; from committed believers and doubters alike.

    • The problem with this piece of “journalism” by an apologist is that he says Dehlin never read the article. How in the world does he know this? The paper was circulated before it was officially released. If the church or this publication wants to be seen as intellectually honest these kind of problems need to be addressed

  12. For any one interested in Dehlin’s oh-so benevolent response, here it is:

    http://mormonstories.org/moving-forward/

  13. Orwell /

    Here’s an interesting perspective on Smith’s (and FARMS) type of apologetics:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2013/03/wheat-and-tares-apologetics/

  14. Noel /

    “substantially unchanged from the form in which it was submitted to the late Mormon Studies Review.”

    What does “substantially unchanged” mean here?

    “Dehlin himself, before reading the article, called the paper a ‘hit piece’, based on reports sent to him by a sympathizer within the Maxwell Institute.”

    Is this accurate? Was there not an intermediary between the sympathizer within the MI and Dehlin?

  15. As as someone who takes a very critical look at the modern corporate LDS church and who runs an alternative LDS related blog, I am very conflicted over this controversy.

    I must say that I am shocked at the amount of criticism Greg Smith gets for his paper.

    Everything he presents in it is dead on.

    Show me one thing is says that is not true.

    The content of his paper is all based on statements Dehlin has made, or, interpretations based on statements and actions of Dehlin, that do not require the intelligence of a rocket scientist to arrive at.

    The cold hard truth is that Dehlin is maskarading around as an unbiased Mormon just wanting to try to understand church history and doctrine better, by interviewing people.

    He does this while, in fact, he has totally rejected the doctrine and authority of the church and simply wants to use his platform to expose the LDS membership to the disparaging and disruptive historical and doctrinal information that has caused his own crisis of faith.

    Dehlin knows that if he is officially cut off from the church, he will loose much of the demographic that he wants to infect.

    I personally applaud Dehlin for making this faith challenging information available because I believe that it needs to be made available, however, I question John’s integrity. I question the way he positions and markets himself and his associated organizations.

    John values and fights for his membership in the church primarily because he needs it to keep attracting the people he wants to influence and he knows that a large portion of potential listeners will pass on the opportunity if John has the stigma of being X’d.

    If John had been doing what he is doing now at the time that the September Six were going through their ordeal, John would have been the very first one led to the chopping block.

    does anyone disagree with that?

    When comparing how the church dealt with Paul Toscano and the relatively mild things he had done to fall from grace, compared to what John Dehlin has done, one can only shutter at the lack of justice.

    If the Mormonstories fiasco proves anything, it is that the church has greatly backed off of the rigid and relentless witch hunts that they used to conduct with the intent of protecting the church membership from apostates.

    If ever there was a text book definition of an apostate, Dehlin is it.

    It appears that the church is no longer on the offensive.

    Rather they are on the defensive.

    Their new policy in dealing with high profile apostates within the church is to stand down and try to love them into softening their attacks.

    It appears that Dehlin has achieved a state of immunity.

    The brethren have learned that the fallout from the old fashioned damage control that they used to conduct resulted in more damage to the church.

    Communities of angry excommunicated Mormons are now organizing and waging warfare against the church and their influence is formidable.

    Gone are the days when the church could neutralize and marginalize someone by excommunicating and humiliating them, and not have to worry about any blow back and serious fallout from doing so.

    The fact that Dehlin has a connection high up in the church that is running interference for him and that LDS apologists can become casualties in their attempt to defend the church against the likes of a Dehlin, marks a significant tippingpoint and a real game changer.

    The dynamic of the Internet certainly plays into this phenomena.

    It seems to me that the church is now in a position where they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, in regard to how they deal with internal antagonists.

    If they cut people off for promoting false doctrine and highlighting non-faith promoting history and doctrine, it comes back to haunt them.

    If they allow insiders like Dehlin to continue destroying faith while enjoying the credibility of church membership, like a wolf wears sheep’s clothing, the fall out will continue to be astronomical.

    • Busy Busy Busy /

      Here are a few examples of how Smith misquotes Dehlin in his attempt to villainize him: http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=28634

      • Busy..

        And I thought the length of my comment showed passion! LOL

        I visited your post at Mormon Discussions and I am impressed with your lengthy critique of Greg Smith’s critique of how critical John Dehlin has been of the Mormon Church.

        I am not going to lie.

        I did not read your whole diatribe.

        I didn’t even read most of it.

        I am clearly not as invested in this issue as you are.

        I am not a member of the church. I am not an angry exmo, or an an angry doubting member or a blissfully happy but incensed card carrying member.

        In a sense, I just don’t have a horse in the race, in the same sense that you and many others do.

        Nevertheless, having been a member of the church, and still being passionate about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, with a firm belief in the divine mission of Joseph Smith and the literal authenticity of the Book of Mormon, I am nevertheless interested in what is taking place in the world of Mormonism and I care deeply about my brothers and sisters in and out of the church.

        If I were to invest the time in reading your whole diatribe, I would no doubt feel compelled to write a CRITIQUE of your CRITIQUE of Greg’s CRITIQUE of how CRITICAL John is of the church. LOL..

        .. that would take many hours and I don’t have time to invest in such a project. Apparently you have the luxury of sitting in front of your computer reading and pontificating all day long. I am TRULY envious of your situation.

        In my next life, I want to be more like you in that regard.

        My challenge in the initial comment that I made was to show me one thing Greg’s paper says that is not true about John.

        While I appreciate all the work you went to over on the other chat board, I suspect your efforts in creating your diatribe were not inspired by my challenge and in fact was probably written before you saw my challenge.
        I would still love to see just one statement from the article that is categorically not true, posted in this forum, if you have the time and inclination to extract it from your thesis.

        Further observations-

        In the beginning of your critique, you accuse Gregg of making his attacks against Dehlin, the man, rather than Mormon Stories.

        I agree with you but fail to see your point.

        For all intents and purposes, Dehlin IS Mormon Stories and he controls much of the outcome.

        He is the interviewer.

        He controls who gets on his program and he usually controls the questions and the voice inflection and empathy he projects as the interviewer and the whole spirit of the interview.

        He largely controls the environment and the outcome.

        In that respect, the man is orchestrating the outcome of what Mormonstories is accomplishing.

        I believe his responses to the comments of the interviewers have a powerful effect on the adoring audience that John has acquired.

        John is anything but neutral and unbiased.

        I believe he clearly has an agenda and it transcends what he claims that it is

        If one wants to understand what MormonStories is all about, one needs to understand who Dehlin is, what his beliefs are, what motives him and what his personal agenda is.

        The only way to determine these things is to scrutinize what John does and says.

        I believe that is the spirit and intent of what Greg was attempting to do. He did it from his vantage point because that is the only vantage point he has.

        Was he guilty of surgically identifying only the comments John made that verify the points he want to make about John?

        Of course he was. That was the purpose of the article. So what?

        I see things almost exactly the same way Greg does with regard to MormonStories, and I am an apostate!

        Yet, beyond that common view of that particular situation, I have virtually nothing in common with Greg. We do not share the same religious beliefs and I was incredibly offended when he took it upon himself to challenge the folks at the Firm Foundation for their belief that the Book of Mormon people were inhabitants of North America rather than South America. http://www.firmlds.org/feature.php?id=25

        I really don’t resonate with anything else Greg has previously written. I mention this only to clarify that I am not defending his Dehlin “hit piece” because I am a personal friend, or for any other reason than the fact that I believe he is sincere and correct in his perception of what John is trying to accomplish with MormonStories.

        I can appreciate the fact that you see John through different eyes than Greg and I do.

        I don’t discount that your perception is valid to you, and I don’t think you should question that Greg’s perception about John is valid to him and others, like me.

        You also accuse Greg of having the motive to “destroy Dehlin’s reputation and whatever influence he has in the Mormon community.”

        Again I must agree with you and again I must ask, what is your point beside pointing out the obvious?

        It is a long standing tradition in biblical Christianity for shepherds to guard the flock. That involves identifying those who are trying to damage the church and destroying their credibility with the sheeple.

        That is all Greg is trying to do.

        I realize that it is unusual and politically incorrect to quote from the New Testament when on a forum like this where the precepts of men rule the day, but I am going to do it anyway.

        Here is what Paul said to the elders of a church in Acts 20

        “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

        For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.Therefore watch…”

        I believe that people like Greg and his associates at the Interpreter are simply trying to be good shepherds of the flock, trying to protect the members of the church from the grievous wolves that have entered the flock.

        Interestingly, the LDS apologists spending 99% of their time fending off the wolves on the outside when the most damage is being done by the wolves on the inside.

        This shepherd/wolf theology is actually how Utah Mormonism began.

        Brigham Young emerged triumphant over Sidney Rigdon and others to lead a large portion of the church during the succession crisis in Nauvoo and he used the above theology to do it.

        Years later Brigham used the Shepherds and Wolves theology to justify his actions.

        ” The brethren testify that brother Brigham Young is brother Joseph’s legal successor.

        You never heard me say so. I say that I am a good hand to keep the dogs and wolves out of the flock. —” (Brigham Young 1860)

        Frankly, I think many of the apologists and members of the church are quite perplexed and distraught about the fact that the brethren, everyone from John Dehlin’s Stake President to the top guy in the Ivory tower, have neglected their sacred duty to act in their stewardship’s as protectors of the flock.

        The “hit piece” on Dehlin is one frustrated elder’s attempt to warn the sheep that are not being warned by the primary shepherds of the flock.

        Let me attempt to simplify things.

        (I can do this because I am a simple minded country boy and largely uneducated person)

        There are three public foundational beliefs that members of the church are supposed to have in common along with a fourth unwritten belief.

        1- A belief that God lives
        2- A belief that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God
        3- A belief that the Book of Mormon is a true, literal history of an ancient people that Christ visited.

        The fourth, un-canonized belief is as follows:

        4- The belief that the current prophet of the Church is infallible in the sense that God will not allow him to lead the saints astray. Therefore don’t question or speak ill of him, just shut up and do what you are told.

        Okay… how does John do with his report card and see if you really qualified for membership in the only true church.

        I am paraphrasing what I have interpreted John to be saying in many of the podcasts that I have listed to.

        1- He has publicly stated that he questions the existence of God and that if God does exist, he is something quite different from what Mormonism teaches.

        FAIL!

        2- He does not believe that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and he is critical of many of Joseph’s teachings and actions, including the uninspired boinking a14 year old girl.

        FAIL!

        3- He clearly believes that the Book of Mormon is a myth and that there is no legitimate historicity to it.

        FAIL!

        As you can see, from my point of view, John does not qualify for membership.

        The truly amazing thing is that John values his membership and wants to remain in the church. Why!

        Even more astounding than that is the fact that the brethren have allowed John to continue spreading his gospel of doubt while using the credibility of being classified as a member in good standing… go figure!

        As I have been pondering this discussion and viewed a few of your posts on the other chat board, I find a fascinating dynamic at play here between people like you and me who have strong opinions about how the church should be governed even though it isn’t any of our damn business.

        Let me share with you the convoluted dynamic I am seeing in the positions that you and I have taken on this topic.

        I invite you to respond and correct me where you think my perceptions are wrong:

        YOU-

        have studied the controversial things about the history and doctrine of church and have concluded that the restored gospel and the restored church is not true.

        Hence you want everybody in the church to learn this information and leave the church except John.

        John needs to be in the church right now because he is playing an important role in the church.

        His role is to educate people with his podcasts and destroy faith and facilitate people in exiting the church.

        John should stay in the church until everyone else has left… then he can come out.

        Conversely-

        I-

        Have studied the same controversial things about the history and doctrine of the church that you have, and concluded that the restored gospel is true even though the current corporate church is stumbing a little bit.

        I want members of the church to have the agency of staying in the church if that is where they think they should be.

        Included in that agency, I think unsuspecting members of the church should have the right to stay in a relatively insulated environment where they are not exposed to information they do not want to hear.

        I think people like John should not have the opportunity to “blindside” first timers to his site that naively visit his site and listen to his podcasts under the illusion and delusion that John is a faithful and active member of the church.

        I don’t think John qualifies as as a believing and faithful member of the church. If the shepherds don’t have the gonads to extract him from the church he should provide a disclaimer on his websites that says something like this:

        “Attention, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter days Saints, Beware, this site contains controversial information that could be damaging to your faith”

        Watcher

  16. Craig /

    I wish dehlin luck in setting up his new church and reading the soon to be created ‘church of dehlin stories’ website. I think my first post there will be about what a great guy he is but he needs to be more transparent about what the ‘awesome social benefits’ he is getting are.

  17. Fusion /

    Watcher,

    I am with you 100%. As a seeker of truth no matter where I may find it, I came across Rock Waterman’s podcast on Mormon Stories last year. Rock, as always is thoroughly interesting to listen to. But as i listened to subsequent podcasts, and a video with the guy who left the church and is now a born-again christian…the feeling intensified inside. My heart said something is not right with this character (Dehlin) who purports to be a seeker of the truth. After some more study on the subject, my mind concluded with my heart a few months ago and I discontinued listening to his ill-intentioned sneakiness.

    I am very puzzled how someone who doesn’t believe in something can be obsessed with it after this self-realisation. I personally, if I came to a conclusion like that, would spread my wings and fly as far away from the offending lie as possible! It makes no sense that he would do what he is, but it does make sense to the dark side- wolves work in this manner from the beginning of human existence. As an ex-catholic I have never once entertained the thought of spending a minute of my time anywhere near their structure including their websites, chapels, whatever! Why wouldn’t John just up and disappear if he had good intentions? There are cruises to take, vacations to be had, hobbies to discover, family time to be spent, heck even potatoes to dig, money to be made…whatever. If Zion is false and worth nothing, and the whole thing is a lie, why spend time on anything but Babylon?! A very strange concept.

    As one who is clearly not one of the church-at-large, but one on the sidelines with a tonne of hereticism pumpin through my veins, I in much the same vein as you, Watcher, am PASSIONATE about the Gospel of Jesus Christ as restored by Joseph Smith…and there’s no other way for me. No matter, what happens with the corporate church, my faith began with and ends Jesus. And the Book of Mormon. The JST Bible. The Pearl of Great Price. D&C (the authentic bits, anyway). There is no way to deny the very real Gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days!

    I don’t know Greg Smith, and probably would disagree with everything he says but I appreciate immensely what he has done.

    Watcher, thanking you likewise.

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