SUU's Mormon-themed ad campaign raises questions
Education » Does recruiting based on religion undermine diversity and sound policy?
By Brian Maffly
The Salt Lake Tribune
Southern Utah University's recent ad campaign frames its Cedar City campus as a place that supports Mormon cultural values, raising questions about whether a public school should play on faith to recruit students.
In recent years, SUU has burnished its image as a traditional liberal arts and sciences college providing private school-caliber baccalaureate education for the price of public-school tuition. The small Cedar City school markets heavily in the urban Wasatch Front, often featuring women and people of color on billboards on the sides of buses.
Dean O'Driscoll, SUU's vice president for university relations, said the Mormon-themed campaign supports this broader message, portraying SUU as an intimate campus where students enjoy close attention from full-time faculty. SUU spent $12,000 on six ads in April and May portraying it as an ideal setting to prepare for a mission -- the two-year proselytizing tour of duty many college-age Mormons serve -- in the Deseret News ' "Mormon Times" section.
But as a legal matter, publicly-supported institutions ought to steer clear of favoring one religion, race or gender over others, except to address the continuing effects of past discrimination, said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
Noting that Latter-day Saints have enjoyed a favored status in Utah, he found the SUU ad "troublesome" and recommended the state's public schools avoid religious pitches without commensurate efforts to recruit Baptists, Catholics and members of other non-Mormon faiths.
Otherwise, "you very quickly cross the line from affirmative action to outright pandering to the dominant forces of society," Nassirian said.
"Is the point of education to bring together like-minded people?" he asked. "The whole point is to bring together people who have different perspectives, different backgrounds. You are best prepared if you have that kind of experience."
Last year, Utah Valley University placed several different ads in the "Times," but without the religious references, although one ad invited prospective students to attend a devotional at the affiliated LDS Institute.
"We used 'Mormon Times' exclusively as a means of reaching an out-of-state audience, and it served that purpose well for us. We don't target faiths with our advertising," UVU marketing director Brad Plothow wrote in an e-mail.
Student recruitment strategies targeting Mormons drew fire last winter after the president of a Wyoming community college sent letters to 1,000 high school students from local Mormon families, encouraging them to enroll at the publicly-funded Northwest College in Powell.
"As an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am quite familiar with the advantages that Northwest College and Powell have to offer LDS students in particular," wrote college president Paul Prestwich in the Feb. 5 letter, which accompanied a letter from the local LDS stake president. The letters played up the college's transfer agreements with Brigham Young University and Powell's Institute of Religion, one of the seminaries the church operates near many public colleges but are not part of the schools.
The college quickly ended religion-based recruiting in response to a community outcry. SUU monitored the discussion and officials decided religion-based recruitment letters would be permissible at SUU, but only if they included students of other faiths and not just Mormons, O'Driscoll said.
So far, the school has not sent out any such letters.
SUU is led by president Michael Benson, who is from a prominent Mormon family. Benson, a professor of modern Middle Eastern history and former president of Snow College in Ephraim, is the grandson of the late Ezra Taft Benson, the LDS Church's 13th president.
The SUU ad features a well-groomed youth from Sandy named Ryan Copeland sporting a Thunderbird red T-shirt morphing into the dark blazer and tie, the standard attire associated with male missionaries. The words "LDS" and "Mormon" don't appear.
"Going to SUU was the best thing I could've done to prepare for my mission," the ad says, quoting the student. "I got away from home and grew up. I gained Church leadership experience at Institute. I made friends who encouraged me to go."
Because SUU is small, it affords leadership opportunities that Utah's larger urban universities cannot guarantee, O'Driscoll said. He noted one-fourth of SUU's 8,000-strong student body attends the Institute and about 230 freshman, or 18 percent of the class, leave school on LDS missions each year.
"Those numbers are just too large to ignore," O'Driscoll said. "It is a smart marketing decision to reach the potential students and their parents in a single publication for a reasonable price."
But others question whether public schools should spend public money to cast themselves as faith-promoting.
"We are talking about a public school that appears to have a specific interest in recruiting one religious community, a community that is well represented to begin with," said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "It seems odd to have public funds spent to recruit students from one religion, arguing that this will be good for their religious faith."
Religious recruitment letters sent by NWC raise concerns
Written by Tessa Schweigert
Thursday, February 25, 2010
A letter written by Northwest College President Paul Prestwich and mailed to 1,002 Mormon students earlier this month was intended to generate interest in the college. The letter has indeed accomplished just that — but likely not the kind of interest Prestwich originally had in mind.
Within weeks of their postmark date, the recruitment letters have caught the attention of a national publication, local media, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Wyoming office and the Northwest College campus community.
In a letter posted on college letterhead and mailed by NWC, Prestwich identifies himself as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and highlights the “remarkable opportunities for LDS students” at Northwest College.
The envelope also included a letter on church
letterhead from Fred Hopkin, president of the Cody Wyoming Stake, describing the
student ward’s offerings.
Separation of church and state
For some, the recruitment letter raises serious concerns about the ethics of a publicly funded college’s recruitment of students on the basis of faith.
“Should you be recruiting anyone on the basis of the compatibility of their faith with the campus’s culture?” asked Steve Thulin, Northwest College professor of history.
Some would say that when it comes to a public institution, the answer is absolutely not.
“The issue really is one of separation of church and state, and the use of resources at a public institution to target a particular faith — regardless what faith it is,” said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
Nassirian emphasized that it doesn’t matter what brand of faith the college is targeting — public institutions should not be in the business of marketing themselves on the basis of religious affiliation.
While Nassirian represents a national organization, his concern is shared locally.
Some have questioned the legality of the college’s religious recruitment letters.
Thulin, who teaches NWC students about Wyoming’s Constitution, noted that Article 7 Section 12 mandates that secretarian tenets and doctrines will “not be taught or favored in any public school or institution” established by the Constitution.
“It is inappropriate to target one group at the exclusion of other groups, especially when we are a public institution,” said Charlotte Patrick, an adjunct communications professor who has worked at NWC for 44 years.
Neither Patrick nor Nassirian sees a problem with Prestwich identifying himself as an LDS church member, but rather, the way he disclosed his beliefs.
“He is entitled to his particular beliefs,” Nassirian said. “He doesn’t need to keep that a secret.”
Rather, the issue is that the president of a public college is selectively targeting students of faith for recruitment, he added.
“We are using taxpayer dollars to promote the recruitment of students affiliated with one particular religion,” said Patrick.
It is entirely appropriate for a privately-funded school, such as a Catholic college, to recruit students based on their religious preferences, Nassirian said.
“Appearance of preferential treatment is perfectly fine at a Catholic school,” he said. “There’s nothing odd, noteworthy or irregular with a private school targeting students based on religious affiliations. When it comes to public instutions, the issue becomes more vexing.”
Prestwich responded to the concerns and indicated that, even as a public institution, it is appropriate for the college to let prospective students with a religious background know about faith-based organizations at Northwest College and in Powell.
“We need to think of them in a holistic way,” Prestwich said.
Prestwich said the intent of the letter was to let students know about the community resources that may be important to them.
“Clearly, the goal of the letter is to recruit students to Northwest College, and let them know that if they come, there is support beyond just the college,” he said.
The 1,002 students who received the letter are Wyoming high schoolers enrolled in an LDS program already, and the college was simply giving them information about opportunities they may be interested in at NWC and Powell, Prestwich said.
“Students are more likely to succeed in an academic sense if they can be included in organizations within the college and external groups in the community,” Prestwich said.
The information about faith-based organizations helps students determine “whether Northwest College is the right fit for them,” he said, noting that the campus becomes their home.
The college offers a student club fair each year that features booths with faith-based groups, and letting them know about these clubs as they are choosing their college may help students make their decision, he added.
“Whether a student is LDS or another faith or non-religious, our hope is that we can share enough information to help them choose what college is best for them,” Prestwich said.
However, concerned Northwest College student, Joseph Hanson, believes that recruitment efforts should be strictly focused on academics and athletics. It is wrong for the college “to target a specific group based on religion,” he added.
The issue prompted Hanson to file a complaint with the Wyoming office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last week.
“I don’t think they should be using them (LDS students) as a resource pool,” said Hanson, who is an NWC sophomore.
Other students and faculty members who Hanson spoke with share his concern, he said.
“Nobody was happy ... they all said it was wrong to use (religion) as a contact method,” he said.
Prestwich said he is planning to hold open
forums for students, faculty and staff this week so they can discuss the matter.
Representatives from the Northwest College admissions office contacted Prestwich to write the letters, and they say it was just a recruitment tool — one that the college has used before.
In the past, the college has had a good relationship with religious organizations such as the LDS Student Institute and the Catholic-based Newman Center, said NWC Registrar Brad Hammond.
The LDS church has supplied the college with a list of potential students in the past.
“We would send out general packets, and they (ward leaders) would follow up with letters,” Hammond said.
The college lost touch with some of the Mormon and Catholic religious leaders, and Hammond said NWC has sought to rebuild that relationship.
Hammond said the college also plans to work with Campus Ventures, a Christian campus ministry, and the Newman Center to mail out letters to other religious students. As to the content and wording of those letters, “we haven’t gotten to that point,” Hammond said.
Hammond said the admissions office does not see the letters as a violation of church and state.
“We’re not recruiting them for their religion;
we’re recruiting them to come to Northwest College,” Hammond said.
Enrollment management plan goal: diversity
“Part of our enrollment management plan is to recruit a diverse student population,” said West Hernandez, admissions manager.
Indeed, the plan includes a strategy “to attract and admit a quality and diverse student body” and a goal to “increase diverse student population.”
In the plan, an action listed to achieve this goal is to “partner with local churches, NOWCAP, Headstart and local businesses.”
Some at the college, including Prestwich, interpret that to mean religious diversity as well as ethnic diversity.
“I don’t read that goal as one that’s just limited to ethnic diversity,” Prestwich said.
Prestwich added that the college has worked with a variety of international student agents, including one who works with LDS students from Asia. The students want to attend a school that serves Mormon students with a student ward, or congregation, and the agent typically helps them attend colleges in Utah. Prestwich said the college recently sent a letter to Asian students with an LDS interest that was “very similar” to the letter sent to Wyoming Mormon students.
Recruiting students based on religious affiliation for recruitment is not without precedent among public universities and colleges, according to an “Inside Higher Ed” article about the situation at Northwest College. In an effort to improve diversity, schools have reached out to churches with significant black or Hispanic students, according to the article.
Others interpret Northwest College’s 2007-10 enrollment management plan to align with this practice, meaning that the college will work with local churches only to recruit Hispanic students.
In the college’s accreditation process, NWC is expected to have a proportion of local minorities, said Thulin.
The plan’s aim for diversity was purely in regard to recruiting local minorities, such as Hispanics, he noted.
“In no sense was that ever intended to be ‘religious diversity,’” Thulin said.
He added, “I would have a problem with any marketing plan that has as its premise that the religion of a person was the point of our marketing efforts.”
In the enrollment plan, local churches are considered as an avenue to reach Hispanic students, not a way to recruit students of a certain religion.
Rather, churches would help NWC get in touch with potential students so they can receive a general recruitment packet.
The college’s board of trustees does not generally review the institution’s recruitment efforts, said Jim Vogt, board president. Given the nature of the letter and the response to it, Vogt said board members will certainly discuss it.
“What this has raised and continues to raise is going to be reviewed,” Vogt said Tuesday. “I’m sure we’ll discuss it — there’s no question about it.”
Vogt said he had spoken to Prestwich about the letter, “and he was open and honest about it.”
Vogt acknowledged that the use of college letterhead raises some questions about judgment.
“It’s one of those things that happened, and now
we have to deal with it,” Vogt said.
Inclusion of other faiths
The letter has caused some to question how the school should inform students about religious opportunities. One suggestion is to include various religious resources in a single letter sent to students of different faiths.
“We talk to prospective students about general (religious) resources in other ways,” Prestwich said.
Because this was a specific segment of students, the letter sent to LDS students was marketed for them, Prestwich said.
“We knew exactly what our market was, and the letter was tailored for that,” he said.
He said the college started with faith-based organizations that are recognized with student groups.
Faculty member Patrick said if religion is involved with recruiting, she’d like it to be all-inclusive with a line such as:
“We invite and encourage students of all faiths or no faith to attend Northwest College.”
“I’m respectful of all beliefs and respectful of the right people have to not believe,” she added.
Seth Carter, director of the local Campus Ventures, said the group is willing to work with the college to craft a recruitment letter. He also would be comfortable with a letter that was all-inclusive for a variety of religions.
When he first heard about the letter, Carter said he was frustrated — not necessarily because LDS students received the letters when Protestant students had not, but because he dealt with a separation of church and state issue with the college recently.
Last summer, Carter joined other local faith leaders in signing a letter to the Tribune editor that criticized Legislator Dave Bonner, R-Powell, for his votes related to issues such as abortion.
Following the letter, Northwest College received negative feedback because of Carter’s signature on the letter.
While Campus Ventures is a privately-funded organization, some residents were concerned that NWC was endorsing or funding Campus Ventures.
A college representative met with Carter to discuss it and asked that in future cases, Carter clarify that Campus Ventures isn’t under the NWC umbrella.
“They weren’t upset, but had a problem with the semantics. They wanted me to word it differently so that it was obvious I wasn’t employed by the college,” he said.
Carter said he understood the concern with separation of church and state — so he was surprised to see Prestwich’s letter.
“It’s an interesting contrast with this letter of a religious nature sent on college letterhead,” Carter said.
Chasing the dead: genealogy and the art of recruitment
By Dan Waddell
Monday, 24 August 2009
Ask most lay people what they know about the Mormon Church, or the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints to give them their official title, and the chances are the first subject they will mention is polygamy, despite the practice of taking more than one wife being officially renounced around 120 years ago.
They might also mention the odd famous Mormon, like The Osmond family, or The Killers, whose image seems to belie a religion that forbids alcohol and caffeine. Then there’s Mitt Romney, failed challenger to Senator John McCain for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, and whose Mormon faith was believed to have hampered his cause.
The occasional celebrity aside, it’s staggering to think how little we know about what is the fastest growing church on the planet, with a global membership of more than ten million followers. The church itself does little to dispel the air of secrecy that surrounds it, quietly going about its professed business of saving souls.
What few people know is that the Latter-Day Saints aren’t only interested in the living - they also seek to recruit the dead. Even fewer know that this belief, a church doctrine no less, has fuelled the present genealogical boom, which has seen unprecedented numbers of us casting back through time in search of our family roots.
The Mormons are morally obligated to track down as many of their ancestors as possible and convert them to their faith vicariously in a temple ceremony, a ritual they know as proxy baptism but is also known as Baptising the Dead.
To help their members in their ancestral quests, the church has spent millions of dollars sending teams of men and women across the world to access as many records as possible, from behind the veil of communist China to the remote islands of the Pacific, as well as being granted access to the archives of other churches and faiths. Never in the history of organized religion has a doctrinal belief produced such an ambitious, elaborate and expensive undertaking
The result of this mass pursuit is the closest we will get to a catalogue of the dead; billions of birth, death, marriage, baptism and burial records, stretching back hundreds of years, making it the most exhaustive and complete archive extant. Its official name is the International Genealogical Index and the good news for genealogists is that it’s all available online, regardless of one’s faith, and it’s all free. Millions of us are able to go to www.familysearch.org, type in a name and kickstart our search, or help locate that elusive missing ancestor.
Seeing the success of the IGI, rival websites have sprung up, seeking to challenge its superiority, but few of them are free at the point of use, and few of them have the same worldwide reach. However, their presence means that an unprecedented amount of records and indexes are available at the click of a button. Never has it been so easy to find out so much about our ancestry from the comfort of our home, and for that we have to thank the Mormons and their belief in claiming the dead.
The practice is not without controversy. Most of us are happy to make use of the genealogical resources provided by the LDS church while being unaware about their real purpose. Yet when people of other faiths are made aware that these records may be used to convert their ancestors to Mormonism by proxy baptism, the response is different. The religious right in the US are hardly President Obama’s natural supporters, but when it was revealed last year that his deceased mother had been converted by proxy baptism, they rose in anger, seizing the chance to denounce an organization they see as no better than a cult.
Closer to home, two Irish Catholic bishops wrote to the national library in Dublin recently registering their disquiet that official records were being handed to Mormon researchers and subsequently "misused", meaning that dead Catholics were being converted to Mormonism.
Jewish groups have been even more vociferous in their condemnation. Controversy first reared when it was discovered that many Holocaust victims had received proxy baptisms. As a consequence, the LDS church, somewhat chastened by the row, agreed to remove the name of the baptized victims from their records and agreed to refrain from baptizing deceased Jews unless they were direct ancestors of LDS members.
The public response from the LDS to most criticism of is one of quiet bewilderment. They quote bible scripture to justify proxy baptism, and point out they believe that in the afterlife people have the free will to accept or reject the church’s approach.
"We believe that baptism by immersion is an earthly ordinance that can’t be performed after this life so it is necessary to accomplish this ordinance for those who never had the opportunity while in mortality," a spokesman for the LDS church said. "If one of my posterity desired to baptise me a Catholic or Baptist after my death, I would view their action as a true act of love and devotion. Why would I take any offense?"
BRIDGING THE DIVIDE OR BLURRING THE LINES?
An Evaluation of Greg Johnson’s Approach to Dialogue with Latter-Day Saint Scholar Robert L. Millet
By Cory Anderson
“Bridging the Divide: The Continuing Conversation Between A Mormon And An Evangelical” is, for the most part, a published transcript of a dialogue between Gregory C.V. Johnson (formerly an Evangelical pastor in Utah and now head of a ministry in Utah called “Standing Together”) and Robert L. Millet (Professor of Ancient Scripture and former Dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University). This article seeks to provide an evaluation of the dialogue between these two men to determine if the dialogue is creating clarity or confusion over the differences between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons/LDS Church) and Evangelicals. It is this author’s opinion that the lines of distinction between Mormons and Evangelicals are being blurred by Greg Johnson’s ongoing dialogue with Robert Millet. The following critique is offered in the hope that Greg Johnson would change his approach to interfaith dialogue by being clearer about the truth.
The first major problem with their dialogues is that Greg Johnson makes several statements that give the impression that Robert Millet, and other Latter-Day Saints, are our Christian brothers and sisters and not ensnared in a cult. In the chapter “Imagine What God Could Do!” Greg Johnson states,
“Indeed, to my Mormon friends and my own Evangelical community, just imagine what
God could do if we would just let Him! Is it possible that the Lord of the universe might work
a miracle that would allow us to reach out to each other, not as enemies to be conquered, but
rather as brothers and sisters in common love of Jesus Christ? Yes, I hear you: I know we
are not there yet. Yes, I know there are important doctrinal matters for us to discuss and
clarify. Yes, I realize we may never achieve complete doctrinal harmony. I do believe,
however, in a big God and would like to believe that in a world that grows increasingly hostile
against traditional values and morals, we Evangelicals and our LDS friends could achieve
significant things together if we were more united in biblical truth.” (152 Italics mine)
Are Mormons our brothers and sisters? Do we have a common love of Jesus Christ? How can Mormons be our brothers and sisters when their belief about Jesus Christ is in error? It’s questions such as these that Johnson needs to answer in order to clarify what he believes about the LDS Church. Johnson not only gives the impression that Mormons are our brothers and sisters, but he also accepts the view that Mormonism is not a cult when he states,
“I agree completely with Ken Mulholland, the former President of Salt Lake Theological
Seminary, that a more appropriate statement defining Mormonism today is not that it is a ‘cult’
but that it is a culture. The term cult, no matter how carefully you define the word, is clearly
pejorative and only causes offense to Mormons when used to label them. Perhaps such a label
makes things easier for us Evangelicals when explaining what Mormonism is to our children
and teens by simply calling it a ‘cult’, but I would counter that such a caricature is too
simplistic and too dismissive.” (171-172)
Again, what does Greg Johnson mean when he refers to Mormonism as a culture, and not a cult? Mormonism definitely fits the theological definition of a cult in that the LDS Church denies the historic orthodox doctrines of the Christian faith. It seems that a better way to speak of Mormonism, at least in the state of Utah, is that it is a cult with a culture. In regards to the term cult being “pejorative” and causing “offense to Mormons”, one wonders if the Apostle Paul had the same concern about being “offensive” given the way he spoke of the false teachers living in his day (Gal. 1:6-10; Phil. 3:1-4, 17-18; 2 Cor. 11:1-5; 1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 Tim. 2:17-18).
Johnson gives further hints concerning his beliefs about Mormons when he says,
“But we also know, as C.S. Lewis once stated, that there are many people even outside the
ranks of Christianity who are being led by God’s ‘secret influence’ to focus on those aspects
of their religion that are in agreement with Christianity and, as he said, ‘who thus belong to
Christ without knowing it.’” (128-129)
What is Johnson implying in this use of C.S. Lewis? Are we really to believe that some Mormons “belong to Christ without knowing it”? Are we to believe that Millet belongs to Christ without knowing it? On what basis can such a claim be made? While C.S. Lewis was a great Christian author, even his views are subject to the Word of God. Where in the Bible is the idea found that a person can believe false doctrines concerning God, Christ, sin and salvation and still “belong to Christ without knowing it”?
In an attempt to encourage Evangelicals to communicate with Mormons by using gentleness, Greg Johnson gives the impression that Mormons are our brothers when he says,
“So to the Evangelical community I would ask that we be more empathetic of the
Mormons’ feelings when we attempt to share with them where we think they are wrong.
Remember the message of Proverbs 18:19: ‘A brother offended is harder to be won than a
strong city; and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.’” (107-108)
Again, is Johnson implying from his use of Proverbs 18:19 that Mormons are our brothers? How can this be so? What about all the doctrinal differences? In a section of the dialogue where the audience is given the opportunity to ask questions of Millet and Johnson, one individual asks if Johnson thinks Mormons can be saved Christians. In reply Johnson says,
“If you were to ask me if my friend Bob Millet is a saved Christian, I would have to answer
that I do not know for sure. But I can say that it is entirely possible that he and other Mormons
could be saved Christians in that they have a sincere and genuine relationship with Jesus
Christ. Now, before you get nervous and suppose that I am heretical, there are fundamental
doctrines of Mormonism that I see inconsistent with historic orthodox Christianity. I would
not say that the differences between our two faith traditions are minimal. They are not. As an
Evangelical I would not encourage a person who claims to be a Mormon Christian to remain
where they are; if I had my way, as we suggested earlier, Bob Millet would embrace the
Evangelical faith. But Christianity is, above and beyond everything else, all about
relationships, particularly one’s relationship with Jesus Christ. And only God and the
individual can know about that. So to be specific to your question, it is conceivable to me that
a Mormon could be as saved as someone who got saved at a revival meeting, because
ultimately I cannot truly know anyone’s heart, but I would be very cautious in saying this
because enough of traditional Mormon doctrine as I was taught it and understood it is not
consistent with what we call Christian orthodoxy.” (89-90)
In this quote, Johnson makes several disturbing statements. First of all, it is difficult to understand how a person like Millet can be saved and not hold to the doctrines that are found within “historic orthodox Christianity.” How can Johnson hope that Millet would come over to the Evangelical faith, where orthodox doctrine is found, and yet if he does not, Millet may still be saved? The basis for this seems to be Johnson’s optimistic belief that sincerity is more important than correct doctrine. There is no reason to question the sincerity of Millet’s faith in the false Jesus of Mormonism, but it should be clear that it is possible to be sincerely wrong and not have salvation as a result of believing in a false Jesus (2 Cor. 11:1-3).
Secondly, what’s disturbing about this last quote is that Johnson asserts that only God and the individual can know if men like Millet have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Is this notion that only God knows the heart found in scripture? It is certainly true that only God knows the heart perfectly (1 Sam. 16:7; Ps. 44:21; 139:23; Rev. 2:23), but it is also true that we are called to discern truth from error (1 Thess. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 4:1-3) and that we can know the heart by what comes out of the mouth (Mt. 12:34-37; Mk. 7:21-23; Lk. 6:43-45). An example of this is found in the ministry of the Apostle Paul who stated that those who preach a false gospel were damned (Gal. 1:6-9). Was Paul judging the heart? No, Paul was judging what he heard from false teachers. When the gospel is false, the person or group teaching a false gospel cannot be in a relationship with the Jesus of the Bible. While a person may have sincerity of heart (Rom. 10:1-2), the fact remains that believing correctly about Jesus and the Gospel is essential for salvation (Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; 2 Cor. 11:1-4; Gal. 1:6-9).
This notion that sincerity is enough and that God alone knows the heart is a view that Johnson seems to share with his friend Dr. Richard Mouw from Fuller Seminary who said,
“At the same time, though, as I’ve gotten older I’ve found it increasingly difficult to draw
sharp lines in my own mind about who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’. And this, too, I get from the
Bible. God alone will judge the human heart in the end. He works in mysterious ways. It
seems to me that anyone who believes strongly in God’s sovereignty is going to live with a lot
of mystery on this subject.”
Where does Dr. Mouw get this from the Bible? Good question! He goes on to make the following statement regarding what he calls his “spiritual hunches”:
“But I hold out for divine generosity. And for me, this hope has to do with very specific
cases. Here is one. I have a rabbi friend who is now very old. He has often sent me friendly
notes about something I have written, and on a number of occasions he has told me that he
prays for God’s blessing on my work. I have a spiritual hunch about how things are going to
end up for this rabbi. I would not be surprised if, when the final encounter comes with his
Maker and he sees the face of Jesus, he will bow in worship, acknowledging that Jesus is the
One whom he should have named all along as the Promised One of Israel – and that the Savior
will welcome him into the eternal kingdom.
One wonders why this rabbi friend of Dr. Mouw’s would get to heaven if Cornelius still needed a relationship with Jesus Christ even though he was “devout and god-fearing” (Acts 10:2)? One wonders why Paul would feel so much sorrow and unceasing anguish in his heart for his own people if they were all going to make it (Rom. 9:1-3). Why would Paul desire his own people to be saved if he had a ‘spiritual hunch’ about their acceptance before God (Rom.10:1)?
How does all this relate to Mormonism and the dialogues between Millet and Johnson? In his book, Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport, Richard Mouw likely spoke of Robert L. Millet when he said,
“I have a Mormon friend, a scholar, with whom I have some very interesting theological
conversations. He doesn’t fit my stereotype of what a Mormon should believe. He tells me, for
example, that in recent years he has fallen in love with Paul’s letter to the Romans. When I
push him about what that love comes to, he says things that sound very good to me. At the
heart of his relationship to God, he tells me, is his profound sense that he is a sinner who is
saved by grace alone, with a salvation that is made possible only through the substitutionary
atoning work of Jesus Christ at Calvary.”
While it is uncertain if Mouw was referring to Millet, it would not be surprising given that after Mouw published “Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport,” he wrote the foreword and afterword to Robert L. Millet’s book “A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.” In his comments regarding Millet, Richard Mouw said that,
“As an Evangelical Christian I want more than anything else that people – whatever
disagreements I might have with them on other matters – know Jesus personally, as the
heaven-sent Savior who left heaven’s throne to come to the manger, and to Gethsemane, and
to Calvary, to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. I also know that having a
genuine personal relationship with Jesus Christ does not require that we have all our theology
straight. All true Christians are on a journey, and until we see the Savior face-to-face we will
all see through a glass darkly.
But I also believe with all my heart that theology is important. There is a real danger for all
of us that we will define Jesus in such a way that we cannot adequately claim the full salvation
that he alone can provide. I think that an open-minded Christian reader of this book will sense
that Bob Millet is in fact trusting in the Jesus of the Bible for his salvation. That is certainly
my sense. And this is why I find it especially exciting to be in dialogue with him and other
LDS friends about what it means to have a theologically adequate understanding of the person
and work of the One who alone is mighty to save.”Italics mine.
Having read numerous books authored by Robert L. Millet, this author finds it extremely difficult to understand how Richard Mouw can make the outlandish comments that he has regarding the salvation of Millet. Millet’s theological syncretism of faith and works that is found throughout his writings cause him to fall under the anathema of Galatians 1:6-9 because he has a different gospel and a different Jesus (2 Cor.11:1-3). Perhaps the driving force behind Mouw’s willingness to embrace Millet as a brother is not the theology of Millet, but simply that Mouw has a ‘spiritual hunch’ much like he did with his rabbi friend that he described in Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport. Unfortunately, a hunch, no matter how spiritual Mouw thinks it is, does not bring someone into the kingdom of God.
The second major problem with these dialogues is that Greg Johnson’s approach does not seem to have precedence in the New Testament. What is the approach? According to Robert Millet, “Greg and I have likewise chosen not to push too vigorously the hard buttons, to focus unduly on matters that divide us most directly” (98). In light of this, how can truth be made clear in the dialogues? When Johnson speaks of the purpose of the dialogues he states:
“That is to say, we are two men of two different faiths, historically hostile to each other, who
are building a bridge of friendship and dialogue between us in the hopes that improved
communication can lead to increased understanding of each other’s faith, reduced
confrontationalism, and an improved ability to share the hope the resides in us in a way that is
both respectable and gentle (1 Peter 3:15). Of course Bob and I could do this privately without
writing a book or by presenting our national dialogue, “A Mormon and an Evangelical in
Conversation,” (which we have done now 50 times as of this writing) but it is our desire that
our model of what Dr.Richard Mouw of Fuller Seminary calls “Convicted Civility” would be
replicated in individual Mormon/Evangelical relationships throughout the world” (xxvi
From this quote we can see the real purpose of the dialogue is not to convince, but rather to present a model of dialogue to the world. When a person in the audience asked Greg if he was being too kind to Millet, he responded by saying,
“The point I’m trying to make is that Bob Millet in not my enemy. I repeat: he’s not my
enemy. Nor am I Bob Millet’s enemy. And even if Bob were my enemy, I have been
instructed by Jesus to pray for my enemies. We have enemies out there, to be sure. Satan is the
arch-enemy. Immorality and indecency and abuse and brutality – these are our enemies. And
we both agree on that. And so, I don’t feel the need to debate him, put him down, embarrass
him, because this is not the heart of Jesus. A confrontational approach to spiritual
conversations is not in any way more Godly or effective, in my opinion, and I believe 1 Peter
3:15 reminds us of the need to answer correctly, but to do so with gentleness and respect.
Having said this, however, I do believe that I have asked and continue to ask Bob, both in
private and during our public dialogues, some very difficult questions about the nature of God,
the place of Grace in Christian salvation, the Mormon concept of apostasy and restoration, the
person of Joseph Smith and his credibility as a prophet, and about the historicity of the Book
of Mormon among other things.” (70-71).
By way of response the following is offered. First, the New Testament describes false teachers as “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18) and not our friends. Who are the enemies of the cross of Christ? In the context, anyone who adds anything to the sufficiency of the death of Christ on the cross is considered an enemy of the cross (Phil. 3:1-11). When works of any kind are joined to faith as a necessary requirement for salvation, then the gospel has been perverted and the cross of Christ diminished. The Apostle Paul wrote the entire book of Galatians to confront the false doctrine of the Judaizers who believed that in addition to faith in Jesus Christ, upholding the requirements of the law was also necessary for salvation. Paul and others sharply condemned such teaching and those who taught it (Gal. 1:6-9; 2:15-16; 3:1-3; 5:7-12; Rom. 4:1-12; Acts 15:1-11).
In a similar manner, Robert Millet and the LDS church teach a syncretistic view of salvation in that faith in Jesus Christ and works are needed to gain salvation. When Johnson says Millet is not his enemy, he is not in line with how the Bible depicts false teachers. A biblical response to false teachers is found in Jude 3 where we are told to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” In this regard, Mark Driscoll was correct in saying,
“Not only must God’s people personally believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, but they also
must publicly contend for it. This is because the gospel is under continual attack by Satan, the
‘father of lies’ (Jn. 8:44), and a seemingly endless army of false teachers, false prophets, false
shepherds, and false apostles, whom he sends to wage war against the church. The New
Testament letters model a warrior’s battle cry, declaring that heretics are: dogs and evildoers
(Phil. 3:2), empty and deceitful (Col. 2:8), puffed up without reason (Col. 2:18), given to
mythical speculation and vanity without understanding (1 Tim. 1:3-7), products of a
shipwrecked faith (1 Tim. 1:19), demonic liars with seared consciences (1 Tim. 4:1-2),
peddlers of silly myths (1 Tim. 4:7), arrogant fools with depraved minds (1 Tim. 6:3-5), the
spiritual equivalent of gangrene (2 Tim. 2:14-18), foolish and ignorant (2 Tim. 2:23), chatty
deceivers (Tit. 1:10-14), destructive blasphemers (2 Pet. 2:1-3), ignorantly unstable (2 Pet.
3:16), and antichrists (1 Jn. 2:18).
In our day of pluralistic, postmodern, perspectival politeness, the terse language of Peter
and Paul seems narrowly intolerant, as if they had never been enlightened by taking a
philosophy class at a community college from a long-haired, self-medicated grad student.
Nonetheless, the truth is the truth, and Peter, Paul, and many of the faithful who have
followed Jesus on the narrow road of truth have seen their blood spilled by those who were as
brotherly as Cain for contending for the truth.”
From what is mentioned above, it does not appear that Johnson is correct about false teachers like Millet being our friends. As believers we have an enormous responsibility to contend for the faith.
Johnson is also incorrect in saying that Jesus says to “pray for our enemies”. Jesus actually said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). While Jesus never said specifically to pray for our enemies, he modeled this when he hung on the cross (Luke 23:34). It should be noted that loving our enemies, or praying for them, does not take away the fact that Jesus still refers to them as our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48); something Johnson seems unwilling to do. While we are called to love our enemies, it must not be forgotten that in the broader context of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to “watch out for false prophets” (Matt. 7:15-23) such as Millet. Loving our enemies does not negate the necessity of contending for the faith (Jude 3) and speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:14-15).
The clear teaching of the Old and New Testaments is that we are to protect the flock from false teachers and put to the test those who claim to be prophets (Deut. 13:1-5; 18:14-22; Acts 20:28; 1 Jn. 4:1-6). Nowhere are we encouraged to have an ongoing dialogue with known false teachers or false prophets where the goal is not evangelistic in nature but rather exists to help people see that we can actually have a nice, friendly dialogue and try to understand each other better. In commenting on this propensity for dialogue, Dr. John MacArthur says,
“After years of neglecting to defend the faith, many evangelicals now simply refuse the
duty. They have become uncomfortable with the whole idea of militancy in defense of the
truth. They have in effect embraced the postmodern axiom that dialogue is morally superior to
debate, a conversation is inherently more edifying than a controversy, and fellowship is
always better than a fight.”
Where would the Christian church be today if it wasn’t for the Early Church Fathers and their defense of the Christian faith against the false doctrines of Gnosticism, Ebionism, Docetism, Modalistic & Dynamic Monarchianism, Arianism and Appollinarianism to name a few? What would have happened to the Christian faith if the Early Church Fathers took a view similar to Johnson and simply dialogued in order that the world could see how to dialogue? The Early Church Fathers such as Athanasius, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Novatian and Irenaeus are just some of the men who left us volumes of literature showing us how they defended the faith against heresy that opposed the “church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).
Secondly, Johnson insinuates debating is wrong and something Jesus would not endorse because it is “not the heart of Jesus.” While deliberately embarrassing or insulting someone is not the best approach, Jesus engaged in confrontation and was willing to speak rather directly to those who taught false doctrines (Matt. 23; Jn. 5:36-47; 8:31-59; 10:22-39). Further examples of Jesus’ approach are seen lived out through his disciples in the book of Acts where they witnessed to religious unbelievers by arguing, reasoning, and vigorously refuting false religious viewpoints from the Scriptures (Acts 9:20-22, 27; 17:1-4; 18:1-4, 27-28; 19:8). It seems that Johnson assumes one cannot answer with “gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15) and at the same time debate in the same way the disciples did in the book of Acts. Johnson fallaciously suggests that a debate must consist of put downs and attempts to embarrass the person with whom we are debating.
Having listened to many debates, this author can testify to the ability of many Evangelicals to communicate the truth in a clear, compelling, and loving manner so that the doctrinal distinctions are properly explained, and the lines are not blurred between Mormon and Evangelical beliefs.
Thirdly, on his website for his ministry called “Standing Together”, Greg Johnson defends his model for “dialogue” citing Acts 17:16-34 where Paul is in Athens speaking to the philosophers of the Areopagus. Johnson believes this is exactly what he is doing in his dialogues with Millet. However, it should be noted that Paul’s approach in dealing with people who use and abuse the scriptures was to reason, debate, and prove Jesus is the Christ. It should also be noted that Paul sought to evangelize the Athenians, not to “model” how to dialogue without the intent to convince. Robert Millet and Greg Johnson have made it clear that they are not trying to convince each other, but Paul’s model was different in that he took a spiritual discussion with the Athenians and turned it into an evangelistic opportunity. Paul’s approach comes from the fact that we are ambassadors of reconciliation and that this necessitates imploring people who do not know Christ to be reconciled to God (Ezek. 3:16-21; 33:1-9; Acts 18:5-6; 2 Cor. 5:18-20). Since Greg Johnson is not “imploring” Millet to come to the real Jesus to be reconciled, then how is his so-called ministry even biblical?
The fact that Johnson, after all his dialogues with Millet, is not having an impact upon him in convincing him that his beliefs are in error is evident when one considers that Millet recently said,
“At the same time, I have never been more convinced than I am right now that The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a distinctive contribution to make to the world, a
unique voice to be heard at the religious roundtable, and singular insights to be offered to
honest seekers of truth regarding our lives before we were born, the purpose of life here, and
the nature of life hereafter. Latter-day Saints have principles to teach concerning God’s
eternal plan for the family that would revolutionize how people view marriage and children
and how such principles operate to bring peace and security and healing into troubled homes
I am a Latter-day Saint because I believe in God the Eternal Father. I am a Latter-day Saint
because I believe in the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ. I am a Latter-day Saint because I
believe in the truthfulness of the Bible. I am a Latter-day Saint because I believe that sins are
forgiven, hearts transformed, natures changed, and the dead resurrected through the infinite
and eternal atoning sacrifice of Christ. I am a Latter-day Saint because I believe that God
called upon Joseph Smith to restore priesthood authority and many plain and precious truths
that had been lost. I am a Latter-day Saint because I believe that the keys of the kingdom of
God have come down in rightful succession (buy the laying on of hands) from Joseph Smith to
the present day. I am a Latter-day Saint because I believe the Book of Mormon is the word of
God: it feeds my soul just as the Bible does; reading 2 Nephi lifts my spirits as much as
reading the Gospel of John. I know holy scripture when I read it.
I am a Latter-day Saint because I know these things to be true, know them in a manner as
powerful as that I know I live. I have not invested my life in a religious enterprise just because
of some emotional attachment to lofty ideas, some warm and fuzzy feeling, but rather as a
result of divine investiture to me of eternal truth, saving and sanctifying truth. I have not
chosen to cast my lot with the Mormons simply because I like being with the people (although
I do enjoy sociality with the Saints immensely), but rather because the Spirit of the Living
God has graced me with a witness that burns like fire within my soul, a witness from God
Almighty that affirms that what those Mormons are about is right and true and good. I am
willing to give my life for that witness, and I am willing to go to my death, if need be, as a
sign of gratitude and love to a gracious and truth-revealing God.” Italics Mine.
Once again, if the goal of interfaith dialogue is not to do our part to convince and hopefully see people reconciled to God, then it’s no wonder that Millet remains unconvinced. If Johnson does not even have as a goal the aim of reaching Millet, then he is not following the approach of Paul, nor any other New Testament author.
The third major problem with Greg Johnson’s approach to dialogue is that it fails to really get at the truth. In Bridging the Divide, Millet and Johnson tackle numerous questions from each other concerning such things as the creeds, the only true church, the fall of Adam and Eve, the nature of God, and works righteousness to name a few. While Johnson asks Millet some good questions, Johnson typically accepts the answers Millet gives without further probing. The effect Johnson’s failure to probe deeper is that Millet ends up leaving an impression with the uninformed reader that LDS and Evangelical doctrines are not that different. Perhaps one of the strongest examples of this is found in their dialogue over the fall of Adam and Eve where Johnson asks Millet,
“What is the condition of men and women before God? What is the nature of human
beings? Mormonism has a teaching that has troubled us Evangelicals, the idea that the Fall
was a good thing. As I recall, one of your early leaders called the Fall a ‘fall upward.’ The idea
that the Fall is a ‘fall upward’ is troubling to biblical Christianity. The Bible says that the Fall
was a horrible event, a moment of separation and death between God and humankind with
horrible consequences. Bob, how could the Fall ever be considered good? The Bible teaches
us that all human beings are sinners and that none of us does good. What is the LDS
perception of the nature of human beings?” (40-41).
Millet’s response is a surface level reply in that he refers to the effects of the Fall on humanity and that the LDS view of the Fall is “remarkably optimistic” and “part of God’s eternal plan” (42). Perhaps this surface-level response from Millet is the reason why Johnson commented the way he did in the introduction to Bridging the Divide by saying,
“I remember that there were about 250 Latter-Day Saints in attendance, and I listened as Bob
gave three messages that evening, one about the Fall, one about New Birth, and the final one
about Being Saved by Grace. Several times that night, I remember thinking that Bob could
easily teach these messages in a Christian church minus the Book of Mormon references”
A surface-level message about the Fall of Adam and Eve may sound Christian, but it is imperative to dive below the surface and uncover the details of the LDS doctrine. This is something either Greg Johnson does not have the ability to do because he does not actually know what the LDS church teaches regarding the Fall of Adam and Eve, or for the sake of “building bridges,” he has deliberately chosen not to engage Millet over one of the most significant doctrinal differences between Mormons and Evangelicals. In fact, instead of probing deeper with a follow-up question regarding the LDS doctrine of the Fall, and lovingly challenging Millet, Johnson turns the entire subject matter into a discussion about the differences within the Christian faith between Reformed and Arminian theology (44-45). In doing so, Johnson makes it appear that we all have so many differences, but nothing of the magnitude that would warrant the label cult. Surely the differences “in house” due to our differing theological systems are not the same as the differences that exist between Evangelicals and the LDS Church. It seems as though Greg Johnson does not see the differences as that significant, nor does Robert Millet, who summed it all up when he said, “We are not far off doctrinally when it comes to discussing the effects of the Fall and the need for divine assistance” (46). This could not be further from the truth.
One wonders why Johnson did not ask Millet further questions related to the Fall of Adam and Eve that would have brought out the differences and forced him to explain what the LDS church teaches. For example, Johnson could have asked about the following quote from Ensign magazine where it was stated that,
“President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972) said: ‘I never speak of the part Eve took in
this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin....This was a transgression of the law, but not a
sin...for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!’”
In Preparing For Exaltation, an LDS teachers manual for 12 to 13year olds, the following comment is made regarding the Fall of Adam and Eve,
“The decision of Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit was not a sin, as it is sometimes
considered by other Christian churches. It was a transgression – an act that was formally
prohibited but not inherently wrong (see Dallin H. Oaks, in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 98;
or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 73). The Fall was necessary for us to progress toward exaltation. We
have to experience mortality to become like our Father in heaven, and Adam and Eve fulfilled
their mission to make this possible.”
A good follow-up question from Johnson regarding the LDS distinction between sin and transgression would have been quite appropriate, but Johnson seems content to leave the reader and the listening audience in the dark. When one understands that the Fall of Adam and Eve in Mormon doctrine is intricately connected with the doctrine of Eternal Progression, it’s baffling that Millet is let off so easy by Johnson. Why is there no serious engagement over the theology found in the LDS scriptural references to the Fall of Adam and Eve (2 Nephi 2:22-25; Moses 5:11)? Why is there no questioning over the issuing of two commands by God (Genesis 1:28; 2:17), but the need for Adam and Eve to violate the one in order to uphold the other? These are serious theological issues, but Johnson does nothing to help the audience and his readers understand that the divide between Mormons and Christians is very wide on this subject. Instead of helping to bring clarity, Johnson is blurring the distinctions between Evangelicals and Mormons through his dialogues. In doing so, the LDS Church is presented as being not that different from Evangelical churches. Surely it is advantageous for the LDS Church to have an Evangelical like Greg Johnson make them look like another Christian denomination in the eyes of the world and now among Evangelical churches by the continuation of these dialogues.
When it comes to witnessing, it is the responsibility of every believer to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), and to provide an answer to everyone who asks, but “with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15). Scripture further says to “be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:5-6). It is our desire to be the “salt and light” that Jesus called the church to be (Matt. 5:13-16). As believers we want to carry on the Great Commission he entrusted to us by faithfully “making disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20). In our desire to reach the lost, the truth should never be watered down or softened.
While the Bible is clear on our mission to reach the lost, the Bible also makes it clear that when the truth is being undermined by false teachers, we are to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). Greg Johnson, rather than contending for the faith, embraces an unbiblical method of dialogue that may in fact be considered an unequally yoked relationship with a false teacher (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1). For the sake of the truth it is essential that Greg Johnson rejects his present approach in order to embrace the call to contend for the faith by publicly speaking the truth to Robert Millet and exposing the false doctrines of Mormonism.
 Robert L. Millet and Gregory C.V Johnson, Bridging the Divide: The Continuing Conversation Between A Mormon and an Evangelical (Rhinebeck, New York: Monkfish Publishing Company, 2007).
 Of the false teachers infiltrating the Galatian church the Apostle Paul said they are ‘throwing you into confusion’ (1:7; 5:10), ‘trying to pervert the gospel of Christ’ (v.7), ‘damned’ (v.9), false brothers’ (2:4), ‘bewitching’ the believers (3:1), ‘zealous to win you over’ (4:17), ‘agitators’ (5:12) and he hoped they would ‘go the whole way and emasculate themselves’ (5:12).
 Richard J. Mouw, Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 85.
 Robert L. Millet, A Different Jesus: The Christ of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005).
 Richard J. Mouw, “Afterword,” in A Different Jesus: The Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005), 183. It should be pointed out that prior to Mouw writing the foreword and afterword to Millet’s book, he was invited in November 2004 by Greg Johnson and Standing Together Ministry, to speak at the LDS Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. During his address, Mouw said, “I am now convinced that we evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community. Indeed, let me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: We have sinned against you. The God of the Scriptures makes it clear that it is a terrible thing to bear false witness against our neighbors, and we have been guilty of that sort of transgression in things we have said about you. We have told you what you believe without making a sincere effort first of all to ask you what you believe…Indeed, we have even on occasion demonized you…” (Cited by James R. White, Fuller President Apologizes to Mormons in Error, www.aomin.org/Mouw1.html).
 Mark Driscoll, “The Church and the Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World,” in The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, ed. John Piper and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2007), 133-134. Biblical references have been inserted by the author of this paper into this quote, though they were supplied in the footnotes of the original.
 John MacArthur, The Truth War (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 99.
 Johnson’s use of 1 Peter 3:15 raises four concerns: First, I find it interesting that Johnson seems to take 1 Peter 3:15 as the priority text in dealing with the subject of interfaith dialogue and this to the exclusion of other texts in the New Testament that speak of how the early church engaged the cultures around them (See Acts 9:20-22, 27; 17:1-4; 18:1-4, 27-28; 19:8 for the many places the first disciples reasoned, debated, and vigorously refuted religious Jews). Second, it seems Greg Johnson imports his own meaning into the words “gentleness and respect”. In other words, he has his idea of what “gentleness and respect” look like in dialogue, but this is again to the exclusion of the Acts narrative where we read a proclamation of the Gospel that does not seem to fit Greg’s definition of “gentleness and respect”. Third, the context of 1 Peter 2:11-3:15 is not speaking directly to the issue of how to engage a false teacher in dialogue. It would be wise for the reader to take careful note that the context begins with Peter’s admonition in 2:12 to “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us”’ Peter then gives multiple examples of how believers who are suffering unjustly at the hands of the pagans are able to glorify God. He speaks of suffering at the hands of the authorities (2:13-17), slaves suffering at the hands of masters (2:17-20), wives at the hands of husbands (3:1-6) and how husbands should treat wives (3:7). In the midst of this, Peter reminds his readers that Jesus is the example we are to follow in suffering unjustly (2:21-25). All of this naturally leads Peter to make his comments in 1 Peter 3:15. Fourth, while 1 Peter 3:15 does not seem to apply directly to the dialogue between a false teacher and a believer, a more appropriate text to review would be 2 Peter 2:1-22 where Peter speaks of false teachers directly.
 Robert L. Millet, What Happened to the Cross (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2007), 206-207.
 “The Fall of Adam and Eve” (Ensign, June, 2006), 49.
 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Preparing for Exaltation (Salt Lake City, Utah: 1998), 13.
 Two passages Johnson should have discussed at this point are Romans 5:12 and 1Timothy 2:14. In both texts, Paul gives the impression that what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden was a sin as well as a transgression. This is brought out in the King James Version, which the LDS Church recognizes.
 The context of 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 is not about marriage relationships between believers and unbelievers as many today have wrongly assumed. While principally 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 can apply to marriage, the context is about separating from unions with false teachers. I think it would be wise for Greg Johnson to ask himself whether his is an unequally yoked relationship.
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CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX