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  • Jennifer Roach

Evangelicals


I grew up as an Evangelical and even though I moved away from that identity, it's the culture I was raised with. Think: California fast-growing mega-church with lots of young people, loud music, activities nearly every day of the week, casual dress. I learned a lot of good things there and also was spiritually-starved nearly to death there. Like most other Evangelical churches, they were modern-day-Gnostics (it didn't really matter what happened to/with your body, all that mattered was that you had correct beliefs, which they would instill in you) and I heavily paid that price.


Also, Evangelicals HATE Mormons. I should compile a list of all the things I was taught as a young person about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My current favorite: All women in the church hate their religion so much that they secretly want to commit suicide. This was said, over the pulpit, at my Evangelical church. (I know I still haven't told you the full story of how I got from THAT to this....it needs to sit inside me for a bit longer.)


My most current reminder of how much Evangelicals hate Mormons comes from 2 very well respected leaders. I'm actually not sure that either currently labels themselves Evangelical (its a word that's falling out of fashion. Good riddance, I say) but they are both very influential in the Evangelical world and both prolific authors - Scot McKnight and Ruth Tucker.


I read Ruth's, "From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Christian Missions" as a 17-year-old Moody Bible Student and it did exactly what I needed it to do: It made my world bigger than just my California Evangelical church. There was a whole wide world out there of people trying to follow Jesus that I never knew about. I also wrote a graduate level paper about Ruth's trials at Calvin College. Scot McKnight did the same thing for me, decades later, in terms of learning to understand early church history. He wrote about a historical issue (that has long left my memory) on his blog, and I gave some smart-aleck comment that was clearly situated in a 21st century read of the 1st century. Scot taught me, firmly but kindly, that I didn't know what I was talking about and I needed to learn how to understand history in a charitable way, or I would never understand it. He made my world bigger in terms of being able to access history.


So it was with great disappointment that these two published a anti-Mormon post this week. Ruth wrote it, and Scot put it on his blog. Ruth is a fantastic writer and researcher, but you wouldn't know it from this post. It's meandering, and not factually correct at several points.


It's not that I am upset with them for writing/publishing this. It's 1 blog post that caused a stir, and now everyone is on to something else. But it is a perfect example of how Evangelicals think about Mormons. In most of their minds, Mormons are a bona fide cult, and no discussion is even needed. That's what I thought too....up until very recently.


I wish there was a more robust interest in actual dialogue between the 2. There are some very interesting intersections that I don't think either group realizes (why would they - they are siloed most of the time), and some very interesting differences that should help any thinking person consider what their true beliefs actually are.





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