Mormanity gets plenty of comments from critics with tactics that I sometimes consider to be “anti-Mormon” (e.g., off-topic posting of a long-list of alleged beliefs mischaracterized in ways meant to shock and confuse). Disagreeing with us and having objections to LDS beliefs does not necessarily make one “anti-Mormon,” but when the goal is simply to attack and to throw out numerous objections without engaging in real dialog, then “anti-Mormon” begins to be more apt. And when a critic appears to be creating deliberate confusion about our beliefs, I tend to find the effort worthy of the “anti-Mormon” moniker that is, admittedly, often abused – but also often deserved. There is rarely any value in attempting dialog with those employing such tactics.
The tactic of creating confusion about LDS beliefs is often done by contrasting “Christian” belief with some mischaracterized LDS belief. This can be done in lengthy diatribes, but it can also be done in a short drive-by postings or list of bullet points, like the “Mormonism vs. Christianity” list at the disreputable MormonCult.org.
One critic who has come on this blog recently to post a lot of standard anti-Mormon stuff recently gave us an interesting example of a brief attack aimed at creating confusion. It came in response to another person’s comment that mentioned the Holy Spirit. Here is the attack:
What do you mean when you say “Holy Spirit”?
LDS – “A spirit man. He can only be at one place at one time… ” (Mormon Doctrine by Bruce McConkie, p. 359.)
according to the Bible, the third person of the Trinity/Triune God (Acts 5:3-4).
Ah, sweet dichotomy. In typical anti-Mormon style, LDS doctrine is succinctly misrepresented and then “contrasted” with “Christian” doctrine. This person, who has “studied” the Church for a long time and has had numerous encounters with Mormons, surely knows that we believe that the Holy Ghost is the third person of the Godhead. He surely knows that we fully accept Acts 5:3,4 and every other biblical statement about the Holy Ghost. And he surely knows that we believe that the power and influence of the Holy Ghost can be everywhere and fill the immensity of space. True, we have difficulty with some aspects of the post-biblical doctrine of the Trinity, for which some man-made formulations offer imponderable metaphysics that go far beyond the Bible (or in our view, clearly contradict the Bible and earliest Christian belief), including the concept of all members of the Godhead being utterly immaterial and not being located in any one place. So we think in terms of the Holy Ghost having power and influence that can be everywhere at once, while our critic thinks that the Person himself must be everywhere at once. Fine – I can accept the difference. It’s a distinction in metaphysics and interpretation of scripture, but he presents it as if it is slam-dunk evidence that we reject the Bible. He does it in a way that I feel is aimed at deliberately creating confusion. It is looking for an argument rather than looking to understand, which I find to be essential anti-Mormonism (but in a relatively gentle form).
This person surely knows that we believe that the Holy Ghost is the 3rd Person of the Godhead. The “question” he asks is not intended to understand more or engage in discussion, but simply to attack. Further, his misleading and sloppy quotation from Bruce R. McConkie excises information to create a bone of contention. McConkie clearly explains that the Holy Ghost is the 3rd person of the Godhead and that His influence and power can be everywhere. Here is the beginning of McConkie’s actual entry on the Holy Ghost: “The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a Personage of Spirit, a Spirit Person, a Spirit Man, a Spirit Entity. He can be in only one place at one time . . . though his power and influence can be manifest at one and the same time throughout all immensity.
“He is the Comforter, Testator, Revelator, Sanctifier, Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit of Promise, Spirit of Truth, Spirit of the Lord, and Messenger of the Father and the Son, and his companionship is the greatest gift that mortal man can enjoy. . . . “(Mormon Doctrine, p. 359)
We may differ on metaphysics, but there is no real basis for claiming that our beliefs regarding the Holy Ghost are non-Christian or non-biblical, in spite of the deceptive appearance he creates. This little lecture won’t change the behavior of this critic, of course, but I hope it will remind us that some of the questions we get are offered by people with no interest in understanding the answer. And answering would be a complete waste of – oops, what have I done??