Sunday, May 29, 2005

If you can't say something true...

One thing I've noticed is that people can be pretty cavalier in spouting information that they really know nothing about. It's a general principle that seems to be multiplied when applied to the LDS faith. For instance, consider this gem from "Father Jack":

Gnosticism implies that Christian history is an imprisoning antiqueish (sic), structure, unnecessary, and that Jesus is not God, nor, certainly, a Savior. Gnostics were an elitist sect who believed in arcane knowledge to save souls their own, human way. They wanted some apocryphal ("hidden") gospels to be part of the Bible, which is Brown's agenda, saying these unreliable, sometimes unrational (sic) accounts are necessary for holiness....Mormons in the last century similarly said there was an alternative revelation--to Joseph Smith in New York, which alleged that so-called "lost Israelite tribes" continued via native American Indians to present-day Mormon lineages. And, Jesus wasn't divine or eternal. Thus, Mormons are not Christians. [emphasis added]
From what I understand about gnosticism, the first part of what he said was true. But it's like he couldn't resist the temptation to use it as a jab at "Mormons." To be nitpicky:
  1. "similarly" implies that the message of the Mormons was somehow akin to the gnostic gospels, or to the message of The Da Vinci Code, depending on what you attach it to. Not true.
  2. "alternative revelation" again implies that Joseph Smith's revelations were an alternative to Christianity or the belief that Christ is our God and Savior. Contrariwise, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon totally testify of Jesus Christ's divinity and eternal nature.
  3. "continued via native American Indians to present-day Mormon lineages" -- Is he saying that Mormons are claiming to be descendants of Nephites? He's totally off the mark.
  4. "And, Jesus wasn't divine or eternal" -- See point 2. The entire LDS faith is centered around Jesus Christ, and the belief that He is our God. In fact, the official name of the LDS Church is: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Unlike Father Jack's "Catholic Church," we actually take on the name of Jesus Christ, like He told us to! Yet, I've noticed that many non-LDS people prefer to call us "Mormons" so they don't have to deal with this truth.
Anybody who knows what the LDS faith is all about couldn't possibly have made this sort of mistaken claims. Yet this religious leader has no qualms about making unsupported statements like this. It certainly doesn't give the man much credibility. Whether it's because he's making it up (which I doubt) or because he's getting his information from an unreliable source (more likely), it still makes me hesitate to believe whatever else he has to say. It's just so easy for people to just say something bad about the LDS faith and assume that nobody will know any better, since their audience isn't LDS.

Real scholars aren't immune to this syndrome, either. Carl E. Olson and Sandra Miesel wrote The Da Vinci Hoax in order to use a scholarly and fact-filled approach to debunking the claims of The Da Vinci Code. Yes, the mistaken claims of The Da Vinci Code are so numerous that people have written fairly sizeable books about them. I finished reading The Da Vinci Hoax this morning, and I found it for the most part very informative. It was nice that on most of their points they provided sources that you could follow to verify what they were saying. They also told you (when possible) where Dan Brown (the DVC's author) got his ideas, revealing that most of the information came from a selective interpretation of already-flawed information from two different books. But I digress.

Despite the generally truthful and factual nature of the book, the authors couldn't help using it to make a jab at the LDS faith. After describing the general gist of Gnosticism, page 70 states:
The appeal of secret knowledge and the promise of elite techniques for harnessing the spiritual realm make gnosticism appealing to a diverse range of cultures and peoples, from second-century Valentinians to the medieval Cathars of France to the nineteenth-century followers of Joseph Smith and modern-day New Agers.
So they're saying that the reason people join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to gain some kind of "secret knowledge" and "elite techniques," and they imply (but stop just short of actually stating) that we have some kind of mystical, non-Christian view of the world, and that we use the gnostic gospels or something. Of course, they offer no reference source for this allegation. Then, in the very next sentence, they launch into a paragraph about the Heavens Gate cult. Frankly, I find the association insulting.

I guess I just wish that people would get their facts straight before acting like what they say is "Gospel Truth."
Post a Comment