Monday, August 6, 2012

Mormons And Context

I was listening to a testimony of a Mormon convert. He spent 2 years as a missionary in Alabama. Right in the middle of the bible belt. Some of the things he said struck me. He would routinely go through about 15 bible passages and interpret them in such a way as to make people beleive they were teaching some of the Mormon distinctives. It is not surprising that they can find some passages that they find useful. Almost any doctrine can find some support in scripture if you look hard enough.

What did surprise me is later on in his testimony he talked about reading the passages in context for the first time. For example, 1Cor 15:40-41 was one of his proof texts. He said he had never read the entire chapter of 1 Cor 15 before. I know the Mormons would not encourage that. Still I would expect that many of the protestants he encountered would make him do that. I know I was taught that as a protestant. If somebody quotes something in scripture that does not seem right the first thing you should try is reading the the verse in context. So how does somebody go door to door in Alabama using this technique and have nobody ask him to read those passages in context? What are they teaching these guys?

Mormons do know how to get Christians off balance. They challenge a ton of things that modern Christians are not used to having challenged. Where does the bible say Jesus is God? Where does it say we won't become gods? I remember being trained in how to witness to a Jehovah's Witness and struggling with some of these things. Mormons raise another big question. Why do we accept the bible and not the Book of Mormon? A huge question protestants almost never ask. So all this is good. Defending the faith is positive if it gets us to do some research. The curse becomes a blessing.

Too often people just respond by just assuming these questions have no good answers. They must have done their homework. They must have discovered a real issue with the Christian faith. So we let it win. We don't give up our faith but we let it damage our faith a bit.

That comes from lacking that inner certainty that we have the truth and there must be some mistake this person is making. If we believed that then we would at least make enough effort to uncover basic exegetical errors. I means the devil is the father of lies but at least make him work a bit to come up with a good one. Don't let him get away with a lie that can be exposed by just reading the entire chapter in question. Reading the passage in other translations is good too. Looking up the key words in the dictionary. These are the things that sowed doubt in one Mormon missionary's heart and he is now a Catholic priest. But he did them himself. No Christian suggested them to him. One woman happened to produce an NIV rather than a KJV when asked if she had a bible but that is it. I thought protestants would have more biblical fight than that. I know Catholics would likely be worse but they could not be much worse. If the heart of the bible belt can't point out when a verse is so obviously being taken out of context then that is scary.

1 comment:

  1. There is a famous saying: "Prooftext without Context is [often] Pretext".