Posted on Leave a comment

Future of Mormon History (Part 5 of 8)

What does the future of Mormon history look like?  Steve Pynakker is the evangelical host of Mormon Book Reviews.  He and I sat down to talk about recent events that surprised us, as well as what the future of Mormonism might look like.

Steve:  what does the future of Mormonism look like to you?

GT:  I’m a historian, not a future teller.

Steve:  Okay, based on history, so I, what do you think? You know the history and you know the history of religion and stuff like that. Do you have any inkling of where you think this is going? Do you think there might be some kind of turn that you wouldn’t have expected, something down the road that you didn’t see coming?

GT:  I mean, it’s like my March Madness bracket. I’m terrible at picking.

Steve:  Yeah, Loyola beat Illinois today.

GT:  Yeah, I saw that.

Steve:  That busted a lot of people’s brackets.

GT:  Just the stuff that’s happened in the last five years has been a surprise to me: two hour church, now, instead of three. That’s been a surprise.  What they’re doing the Salt Lake temple is horrible, if you ask me, and the Manti temple. I’m very disappointed to hear about that we’re killing our own history. Why would you do that? I think President Hinckley would be rolling in his grave to find out what we’re doing there, to take out those beautiful murals that we spent so much time and effort and money on. To me, that’s very disappointing. But I’m not the Prophet. That’s above my paygrade.  The combining of elders and high priests, I would never have predicted.  I remember, I walked in late to that meeting with my son, and I was like, “Did they just dissolve the High Priest’s quorum?”  The guy said yes.  I was like, “Wow.” So, President Nelson’s definitely got his surgeon’s knife out, and he’s cutting out what he thinks is garbage. I don’t know. I wouldn’t have predicted many of the things that President Nelson has done. I have no idea who’s following [in his footsteps]. We don’t have any other surgeons in the quorum, so, maybe it won’t change much. But, yeah, future telling us is very hard.

Look into your crystal ball and tell us what the future of Mormonism looks like.  What do you predict?  Check out our conversation….

What does the future of Mormon History look like? Tell us!

Don’t miss our previous conversations!

556: Are Faith & Intellect Compatible?

555: Why Start Gospel Tangents?

554: Difference between Evangelicals & Protestants

553:  Background on Rick

Posted on Leave a comment

Are Faith and Intellect Compatible? (Part 4 of 5)

Some people don’t like the academic study of the Bible and think the two are incompatible.  That’s not the case with Steve Pynakker, evangelical host of Mormon Book Reviews, and myself.  We’ll talk about some of the biblical stories that cause us to struggle.  Does that help strengthen faith?

GT:  Patrick[Mason] is one of the nicest people that you can meet, and I think he acknowledges most of the problems with Church history. I think the world of Patrick. Patrick’s a good guy. I think Patrick’s fair. But one of the things Patrick said was, there’s kind of this narrative, especially in the ex-Mormon communities of, “Hey, if you study Church history, you’re guaranteed to lose your testimony.” Patrick said, “That’s just not true. For one, I know all this stuff, and I’m a believer.”  I would put myself in that category, too. It’s not a given that you have to lose your testimony. If you study the Bible. I mean, there’s lots of problems with the Bible with the Exodus story. Did Moses even exist?  We’ve kind of touched on that. I’d like to get more into Biblical commentary and that sort of thing. I did that with Colby Townsend earlier, and we got into a lot more than I expected with that interview. There are lots of people who know the issues of the Bible, of the Book of Mormon, of Church history, of Mountain Meadows Massacre, that still believe.  So, it just feels like a false narrative that, “Oh, if you study Church history, I’m compelled to disbelieve.”  I mean, I acknowledge there’s lots of problems. The Mountain Meadows Massacre is one of the worst. I would say it is the worst chapter in Mormon history. Probably the second worst is the Mark Hofmann bombings. I think the Church is more of a victim in that, than they were in Mountain Meadows. But, if we look at the Crusades, all of us, if we’re Christians, we, in a sense, bear that terrible atrocity.

GT:  There’s lots of stuff, lots of skeletons in everybody’s closet, whether you’re Muslim or Jewish.  When I look at the stories of the walls of Jericho, and how the Jews, they walked around seven times and then killed every man, woman, child and animal. I mean, that’s genocide. How can we, as Christians, or Jews or Muslims, how can we defend that? That’s terrible. That’s not what Christ taught. That’s terrible. So, I don’t care who you are, if you’re a student of the scriptures, whether it’s the Bible, the Book of Mormon, whatever, you’ve got to deal with these issues.

GT:  I look at Abraham. One of the most appalling things–we talk about Abraham, the father of monotheism. He was the original Moses, in a sense. The fact that he sent out his wife, Hagar and child to go die in the desert, that’s appalling to me.  Then as Christians, we’ve been conditioned to say, “Oh, but God had a plan and [Issac] was supposed to be the guy, not Ishmael.” I mean, if you really look at that, I think those there’s some serious spiritual problems that you have to deal with, no matter what your background is.  You can still choose to believe and in some cases, it is a choice. But, I guess the Article of Faith, I’m trying to remember which one it is, “We believe all things…” Let’s see, I’m going to butcher it, now. I had it a second ago.  Seek after the good things:  Faith, virtue, love, charity, kindness, humility, diligence. Indeed, we follow the admonition of Paul. Seek after the good things. I’m not going to defend Abraham sending Ishmael out to die in the desert with Hagar.   I’m not.  To me, no Christian would do that.

GT  Whether or not I have a testimony of polygamy, which I don’t, that’s just appalling behavior. There’s lots of things that every Christian, I think, if you’re a serious student of the Bible, you need to look at and come to grips with. You can’t just say, “Oh, it compels me to disbelief.” Maybe it does. If you’re happier outside of a church, I don’t want you to be miserable. You shouldn’t be miserable. Maybe Christianity is not for you. But there are a lot of good and bad things with every church, with every institution.

GT:  I actually like wrestling with these dilemmas. But, it’s not for everybody. I’m sure there’s probably some people that are like, “How can he attack the story of Abraham?” But I’ve got problems with that story.  I’ve got big problems.

Steve:  And you should.  I think that those are things that I’ve struggled with, as well. I mean, there’s many things in the Old Testament, and there’s even things in the New Testament. Even Christopher Hitchens said, “You think the Old Testament is bad, well, Jesus gave us hell,” the concept of hell. It’s like, “Oh, boy, that’s a good point, Chris, yeah, point taken.” So, that’s the thing about having a real, challenged faith.  If your faith is never challenged, and your view of faith is basically what you were taught as a child, and you never wrestled with it… We should wrestle with God every day. That’s part of the faith journey.  It actually strengthens us. When you’re not wrestling with him, and–you’re absolutely right about everything. He said, “You got to wrestle with that.”

What are some of the stories in the scriptures you struggle with?  Do you think studying Church history is a ticket out of a testimony?  If so, how do you explain all the Mormon scholars who still believe?  Are faith and intellect compatible?  Check out our conversation….

Are faith and intellect compatible?

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Steve!

556: Are Faith & Intellect Compatible?

555: Why Start Gospel Tangents?

554: Difference between Evangelicals & Protestants

553:  Background on Rick

Posted on Leave a comment

Differences between Evangelicals and Protestants? (Part 2 of 5)

Mormons, myself included are often clueless, about protestants and evangelicals?  What’s the difference?  I asked that question to Steven Pynakker, host of Mormon Book Reviews, and he gives his best answer.

GT:  You’ve got your Catholics. You’ve got your Protestants. You’ve got your evangelicals, and I don’t really understand what’s the difference between a Protestant and an evangelical.  It just seems like the evangelicals are the more missionary-minded and the Protestants may not be.  Is that a good definition?

Steve:  Yeah, so I think the best way to look at it is that within Protestantism every single protestant denomination has what you could call an evangelical/charismatic wing.  Some evangelicals are charismatic. All charismatics are evangelicals.  So, you’ll have churches within, even the Church of England. You have evangelical churches in the Church of England, in the Episcopal Church or Anglican Church, as they call in England.

Steve:  So, throughout all Protestantism, you have this evangelical streak.  Now, what essentially happened is, for instance, the protestant churches that Joseph was dealing with, I would say they were definitely evangelical.  The mainline churches were all what we would call evangelical today.  As modernism entered into the church in going into the 19th into the early 20th century, what you had was a modernist-fundamentalist or conservative split in every single church.  So, you then have mainline Presbyterians, which is the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which is the liberal one.  But then you have the Presbyterian Church in America, which is conservative and evangelical.  You have that same pattern in almost every denomination where you have a liberal mainline church and then it’s conservative offshoot.  So, they might still have Lutheran in their name or Presbyterian, but the mainline has those names, but then there’s evangelical ones that are very similar in their name.  Then, from that, you had the charismatic renewal movement, which happened in the 60s and 70s and that caused kind of a different paradigm shift, where then it went from being associated with a denomination to individual churches starting on their own and maybe affiliating with each other in loose confederations, or those parent churches starting smaller churches and growing them throughout the country, like Calvary Chapel did in 70s, which is big in California and such.  So, that’s kind of the difference is that protestant is the old line. We call it the main line, but really it’s the old line and now evangelicalism is the ascendant part of protestant Christianity. And evangelical is appropriate because they’re trying to evangelize.  Does that kind of answer it?

GT:  When you say charismatic, I think of Pentecostals speaking in tongues, people with kind of raucous clapping in church and maybe drums and guitars and things like that.  Whereas protestant mainline would be more subdued worship services.  Is that kind of a fair breakdown of how that is?

Steve:  All those conventions are breaking down and basically what happens is even with your mainline churches you have a situation where the evangelical, the traditional churches now have contemporary service and traditional service every Sunday morning.  So, many of them are doing that.  I guess the biggest difference is that Pentecostals came out of Southern California, Azusa Street around 1906 and these were basically poor people, black people as well as Armenian.  The Kardashian family comes from the Pentecostal movement, just so you know.

Who knew the Kardashians would become part of the conversation?  How do you define the difference between evangelicals and protestants?  Check out our conversation….

Sometimes it’s hard for Mormons to know difference between protestants and evangelicals.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Steven.

553:  Background on Rick