The mask becomes the face

I’ve mused about Mormons many times, and particularly about their recent “nobody here but us Christians” posture.

The Mormons are relentlessly nice people. I once lived and worked in the southwest, where they are particularly prominent. It’s not as idyllic as it sometimes appears, but they’re pretty “good people” as far as anyone is “good people.”

But the “nobody here but us Christians” posture? I’m not buying it. “Christian” has some objective content, and a group that cannot affirm the Nicene Creed, as can’t the Mormons, fails to make the cut. But they’re nice. Really.

Lifeshmoo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shmoo

Scott McCullough surprised me today, though, by suggesting both promise and peril in the doctrinal flexibility of a Mormonism, born in the most sectarian “God told me you’re all wrong and we’re right” mentality, that now wants to wear a mere Christian mask:

[A] group with this degree of flexibility in doctrinal development, one that feels the pressure to adapt to a certain kind of American mainstream, represents a tremendous opportunity for traditional Christians. To put the point from the evangelical side: The mask eventually becomes the face, and if evangelicals can induce them more and more to mask themselves in the trappings of traditional Christianity, they might more and more become traditional Christians. To put it from the Mormon side: Who is to say that God does not act in the ambient culture, that the church could not learn from those around it—provided of course that God ratifies any new teaching through the prophets?

That’s the hope. I recall that the Worldwide Church of God (i.e., Herbert W. Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong‘s baby) split into factions after Herbert’s death, one faction becoming essentially Evangelical Protestants, the other doubling down on all the really wrong stuff. So sects and what Evangelicals used to call “cults” aren’t necessarily stable.

The peril is summarized in a synechdoche: “In the parking lot afterwards, the conservative Catholics I was with wondered: What will the Mormons think about gay marriage in thirty years? ”

I penned this, coincidentally, on the second anniversary of one of my most pointed prior posts.

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

What Hubris Hath Wrought: ISIS and a Christian-Free Iraq

America spent $25 billion training and arming those same Iraqi security forces that are collapsing like wax before the ISIS flame. How many of our soldiers died or were maimed for this cause? But you know, how could America have anticipated that all the money in the world, and the most sophisticated military technology, would not be sufficient to defeat an ideologically motivated enemy? How were we to know?

Oh, wait.

Meanwhile, the efforts of America, the biggest Christian nation on earth, continues to shower blessings on its Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq. Christianity has been present in Mosul since the second century. It no longer is …

Think about it: Christianity in Iraq survived the coming of Islam, it survived everything that history threw at it. But it did not survive the war the imperial Christian hegemon, led by a conservative Christian king, threw at Iraq in the name of democracy. We overthrow a secularist monster on the pretense that we were going to destroy al Qaeda, and now Iraq will be divided largely between Shiites loyal to our enemy, Iran, and Sunni berserkers who are more fanatical than al Qaeda. Eighteen hundred years of history did not exterminate Christianity in Iraq. The last 11 years, in which the do-gooder United States of America unleashed the demons biding their time in the desert, did.

Nemesis is upon us. But as if to perfect the tragedy, it does not fall upon those guilty of hubris, the US leadership, but upon innocent Iraqi Christians. Herodotus, you should be alive at this hour.

(Rod Dreher)

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.