Jesus Christ / Joseph Smith DVD Distribution Conceived and Carried out by a Broad Consortium of Churches, Ministries and Non-Profit Organizations
Salt Lake City, UT (PRWeb) March 30, 2007 -- Since its founding in 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has insisted that it alone represents true Christianity and that all other churches professing the name of Christ are part of a "Great Apostasy," that has incorporated corrupt doctrine and practices. (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:19)
Latter-day Saints believe that there is much of value to be found within other religions and denominations. We respect many of their religious leaders, both ancient and modern. The Latter-day Saints believe we have additional truths to offer the world. We do not believe we are the sole source of truth and we embrace all truth. While we believe the LDS Church contains the "fullness" of the gospel, we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ may be found in many Christian denominations.
Latter-day Saints see the apostasy as a very early event in Christian history (probably within the first one to two centuries of the Christian era). The lack of agreement among modern Christian denominations is evidence that modern Christians are victims of the Apostasy; they are not responsible for its occurrence, or the mistakes made by earlier leaders in response to it. The Latter-day Saints believe that without divine revelation, the effects of apostasy cannot be overcome by human effort, no matter how well-intentioned. Thus, no fault for the apostasy lies with any modern Christian group or leader.
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Numerous churches, ministries and para-church organizations have now come together as part of a consortium ("Good News for LDS") to produce and distribute a DVD presentation that answers this accusation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The consortium here tries to pretend that they have been accused or attacked by the Latter-day Saints. The Saints do not attack other faiths—they share their own beliefs.
The DVD contains no analysis of early Christianity, or the evidence for an apostasy as understood by the LDS. Instead, they merely describe their own version of Christianity, assume that it represents the only original biblical Christianity, and contrast it unfairly with a caricatured and distorted version of LDS beliefs. The LDS understanding and data on the apostasy and its effects are not even mentioned by the video.
Members of the consortium frequently receive questions about the differences between Biblical Christianity and Mormonism. This DVD was created to inform people with questions about the differences between the two faiths.
The press release—like the DVD—pretends that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not Christians. The DVD only succeeds in comparing the producer's version of Christianity with a caricature of LDS beliefs. As an attempt to genuinely inform, it fails.
The groups standing behind this DVD are well aware that members of the LDS Church are sincere about their beliefs. "It is not our desire to belittle those beliefs. In fact, we would be the first to defend the right of every Latter-day Saint to share their faith with others and we hope that they will allow us the same courtesy to clarify our beliefs," said Randy Gavin, spokesman for GoodNewsForLDS.org.
Latter-day Saints do not object to Mr. Gavin or anyone else sharing their beliefs. They do object to Mr. Gavin's group presenting itself as the ones to explain what Latter-day Saint beliefs are. Mr. Gavin and the others responsible for the DVD are not experts on Latter-day Saint beliefs. They are incapable of even describing those beliefs in a way which is acceptable and recognizable to a believing Latter-day Saint.
If Mr. Gavin does not wish to belittle Latter-day Saint beliefs,
- his group should refrain from telling Mormons they are not Christians.
- his group should quote LDS leaders in context, rather than distorting what they say for polemical purposes.
- his group should allow Latter-day Saints to describe their own doctrine.
- his group should not present reenactments of sacred LDS temple ceremonies in their DVD, which any informed person knows Latter-day Saints will find deeply offensive.
Since Mr. Gavin's group has caused offense—even if unintended—an apology is due both to the Latter-day Saints and those whom his group has misinformed about LDS beliefs, history, and doctrine. They should take the necessary steps to correct the misrepresentations which they claim are unintentional. Other non-LDS Christians recognized ahead of time how offensive the DVD would be to members of the Church, but Mr. Gavin seems to have ignored their opinion also. See here.
Why Mormonism? Many of those involved with this project were once members of the LDS Church. At one time, they believed very strongly that Joseph Smith was a true prophet sent by God to restore Christianity to the earth. When they realized that their presuppositions were not true they had to make some extremely difficult life-changing decisions. This product includes many of those difficult issues with which they had to wrestle.
It is easy for some to automatically assume that those who disagree with the premises of the LDS Church are motivated by hatred and are therefore "anti-Mormon;"
The term "anti-Mormon" does not mean that a person hates Mormons. "Anti-" simply means that they are opposed to the Church, and attack its teachings, leaders, and goals.
The Anti-Defamation League is not a Mormon group, and they clearly understand that the DVD is an anti-Mormon work—it is designed to attack the Church and its beliefs:
- The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned the distribution of an anti-Mormon DVD...This is the same kind of plain, old-fashioned Mormon-bashing that Jim Robertson and his group have been spewing for over a quarter-of-a-century....It was wrong then, and it's wrong now. off-site
however, "It is our hope that thoughtful people will look beyond the name-calling to carefully examine the areas of belief that separate the LDS Church from the biblical norm," said Pastor Floyd McElveen, a member of the consortium,
It is not name calling to label anti-Mormon activity for what it is. Pastor McElveen continues to label the LDS Church as beyond "the biblical norm"—does he believe this is name calling, or merely a descriptive term? Pastor McElveen employs a double standard when he refuses to acknowledge that his work is anti-Mormon, while in the same breath insisting that Mormonism is non-biblical.
To read more:
"In our experience, we have found that many people have a very limited understanding of what Mormon leaders have actually taught. Because this is true even within the LDS Church, some Mormons might feel that much of what this DVD contains is fabricated. For this reason great pains have been made to document the statements it contains." The historical statements in the video Jesus Christ / Joseph Smith are taken directly from LDS publications, Joseph Smith's teachings, and speeches given by those who are recognized as authorities in the LDS Church.
Pastor McElveen hides the fact that many of the statements taken from Church leaders or scriptures were quoted out of context. The words were not fabricated, but the meaning and import was. If viewers are as ignorant about LDS teachings as Pastor McElveen claims, then the DVD had a responsibility to provide the proper context. It failed to do so.
Either Pastor McElveen is ignorant of how Latter-day Saints understand their own scriptures and writings, or he is deliberately distorting them. In either case, he is not well suited to helping others understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Examples of misrepresented quotation in the DVD:
The making of this DVD is an act of love and has been placed into peoples' hands so that they too can carefully examine the truth claims of the LDS Church. Just as we respect the right of Mormon missionaries to come to our doors and share what they believe to be true with us, we hope that members of the LDS Church will respect the right of their neighbors to come to their door through this medium and share what they have found to be true.
Latter-day Saints welcome the opportunity to hear others' sincere testimonies of Christ and their beliefs about God.
However, the GoodNewsForLDS distributors specifically instructed their distributors not to discuss the DVD with their LDS members, but to simply leave the DVD in the hopes that they would watch it unaware of its source or intent. See: here.
Latter-day Saints do not want to hear their own beliefs distorted by those who have been misled by the DVD. We all have the right to share what we believe; we do not have the right to define, distort, and interpret others' beliefs.
Such behavior is not an act of love.