Just before my wife and I went on vacation last week, My wife happened upon a book titled, Cults: Secret Sects and False Prophets, by Robert Schroeder [London: Carlton Books, 2007]. This book was purchased by a local college library, and my wife, who is also a college librarian wonders whatever possessed that school to buy such a BAD book.
All in all, pages 44-45 of this book is a typical, anti-Mormon screed, full of all manner of errors. Unlike the Church, Mr. Schroeder capitalized the d in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Perhaps this is the least serious error.
Reading the entry under “The Mormons,” I learn that the Church was founded by Joseph F. Smith [Really? Isn’t Joseph F. Smith the nephew of Joseph Smith, Junior–without the middle initial?], who, in 1827, “claimed to have received visionary inspiration from the ancient prophet, Mormon” [Wow! I was under the impression that it was his son, Moroni, who visited him–in 1823!]. Mr. Schroeder informs the hapless reader that the Book of Mormon “was intended either to replace the Bible or to be accepted as a bona fide part of Christian scripture.” Can’t he decide? Or is it that he thinks the confusion rests on the Latter-day Saints? A simple perusal of LDS-unique Scriptures would be clear about the purpose of the Book of Mormon, two of them are listed on the title page:
1. To “show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers,”
2. “And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD” [Emphasis in original].
A third purpose is stated by the Lord in D&C 20:11:
“Proving to the world that the holy scriptures are true, and that God does inspire men and call them to his holy work in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old” [Emphasis mine].
It gets worse. Schroeder informs the benighted reader, “Like the Quakers, [Smith] also espoused the practice of glossolalia….” While President Kimball and others have reported experiences not unlike Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, my wife advises me that Schroeder’s description is more descriptive of Pentacostal “praying in tongues” than anything in LDS rituals. She should know; she was born in a Pentacostal family. Her father was an Assemblies of God Pastor, and both of her parents graduated from an Assemblies of God Bible school (It is now a regionally accredited university.); and she was strongly encouraged to obtain her “prayer language” (I do hope I got that phrase right!). For the record, I am agnostic on whether there are authentic “gifts of the Spirit” given to non-Latter-day Saints. Certainly, in theory, the Holy Ghosts could influence people in that manner–at least temporarily. Thus, I generally assume authenticity unless I have solid evidence to the contrary.
Joseph Smith “enjoying” 80 wives is also news to me. From the Ancestral File, I only counted 33 wives who were sealed during Smith’s lifetime–and I saw no solid evidence (There are some stories, but nothing substantiating them.) of any sexual relations with any save Emma.
Then there is the weird–and wrong statement that the Church–after Brigham Young’s death–“adopted” Joseph Smith’s son as leader and “rejected most of Young’s non-Christian doctrinal innovations.” Leaving aside the fact that Schroeder is wrong in his assessment of Brigham Young’s teachings, he confuses one offshoot–The Community of Christ–for mainstream Mormonism.
Of course, no anti-Mormon screed is complete without implying sinister violence. Schroeder claims, “Attempts to leave the Mormon Church necessitates excommunication and frequently result in abuse and intimidation.” How silly! If somebody wants out, all that is needed is for that person to write a letter to the local Bishop requesting that their names be deleted from the rolls of the Church, or for two member of the Church to write a statement as witness to a verbal request.
What is irksome is that Schroeder’s book is typical of anti-Mormon books, bearing only the loosest connexion to what living, breathing Latter-day Saints experience every week.
What is more annoying is how “ministers to the cults” try to bully us into admitting that such portrayals are accurate! I recall one instance when one anti-Mormon told me of a claim in The God Makers [Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1983] that the Church forces a divorce whenever members marry non-members, and accused me of lying when I told him–truthfully–that my Ward’s entire Primary presidency at the time were married to non-members!
And they expect us to NOT get angry when accused of lying about our beliefs and practises?!?