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I’ve made a new post to the evangelicals-Mormons discussion group. Find the original, complete with any typos I’ve corrected below (but without added links), here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/evangelicals_and_lds/message/3815.
Sorry for the long delay in responding. Though the discussion has probably moved on without me, I thought I’d take a moment to respond anyway. Rather than try to address each point made by you [a Mormon group participant named Linda] and others who responded to my initial query and follow-up remarks, I’m going to back up and talk about a more basic concern I have.
You’re right, I’ll admit, that I’m not considering converting to Mormonism. A primary reason I’m not is the same reason I am not considering becoming Roman Catholic or joining any of the contemporary (some evangelical) groups professing present-day access to direct divine communication: God has inspired (“breathed out,” as the Greek literally translates, and “breathed in” to our mundane realm, as the English “inspired” emphasizes) a written revelation, necessarily infallible given the nature of the one who inspired it (incapable of dishonest, deceptive, or misleading communication, Titus 1:2, Numbers 23:19), wholly sufficient to equip me to believe and behave rightly (2 Timothy 3:17), and certain to have been preserved in sufficient purity to continue serving that equipping function, since God’s words, once uttered, always achieve their intended purposes (Isaiah 55:11). Any humans claiming special authority to replace that revelation, or to reinterpret it against its plain sense (grammatical meaning in context), seem to me to place themselves at cross purposes with God. This being a dangerous place to put oneself, I prefer to keep my distance.
(I don’t mean by the preceding to place the LDS church on a level with the Roman Catholic church or certain evangelical groups. Were I to reject Scripture’s unique authority and join a group claiming present-day access to direct divine communication, I would have to join one of these non-LDS groups, since they have, so far as my current knowledge of relevant evidence indicates, a better claim to historical continuity with the primitive church, and are less at variance with the plain sense of Scripture.)
Just so you know, part of my reason for seeing value in dialoging with Mormons is that I’ve so often found Mormon political and social values consonant with my own. Though what I know of the Mormon understanding of God and creation does not comport with what I understand Scripture to teach, in this-worldly conduct Mormons as a group seem often to do a better job adhering to Scripture’s guidelines than large numbers of professing evangelicals. This is a wild generalization, of course; but to whatever extent it is true to fact, it implies that evangelicals can learn something of value from Mormons, even as they seek to persuade Mormons that evangelicalism is nearer the truth than Mormonism.
David M. Hodges