Hiding Your Beliefs

A Different Jesus” by Robert Millet (a Mormon scholar) and published by Eerdmans (an Evangelical publishing house) is attacked by many Evangelical Christians who say Millet is presenting a deceptively inaccurate picture of Mormon belief. I have not read the book, but I did read this interesting, sympathetic and insightful review on Dave’s Mormon Inquiry which says that if you really want to know Mormonism from an unbiased perspective, Millet’s book and “How Wide the Divide” are two good books to start with. In another post, “The Curriculum of Understanding“, I asked readers for suggestions on books to learn about their faith from the inside — rather than reading an unsympathetic analysis. This book sounds like a such a good book for Mormonism.

And as you can imagine, many Evangelicals attacked the book and they even attacked an Evangelical scholar, Richard Mouw, for his sympathy to Millet’s Evangelical friendly Jesus. Mouw, in Millet’s book’s afterword, says he feels Millet is sincere and does not fall into the common perception of Mormons:

The most common charges along these lines are that LDS leaders are so eager to be accepted as a mainstream religion that they are deliberately misleading us about their actual beliefs and that when Mormons utter Christian-sounding words, such as that “Jesus died for our sins,” they are using the words in very different ways than do we in the Christian tradition. (p. 179-80.)

Ouch, that is me. I have lived with Mormons and had several of Mormon acquaintances over the years and I still feel they hide their beliefs so as to not be judged. And I have always felt they hide them for good reason — because they are pretty bizarre; “Bizarre” like Scientology’s outer space people and Orthodox Christianity’s doctrines of “Daddy-god and Child-god are the same person” and “Innocent blood is the only thing that cures” and “God loves the smell of blood”.  Heck, every religion has bizarreness. But heck, we all hide our beliefs — I know people who hid the belief that Obama is a Muslim or Global Warming is a myth or that they think buying lottery tickets is a good gamble.  See my post on “Kinds of Weird” to think a little more about why we would hide our beliefs or our actions.

I wanted to expose my bigotry and ask on Dave’s Mormon Inquiry if it isn’t true that Mormons hide their beliefs, but the post’s comments are unfortunately closed.

Question for readers:

  • Do you hide any beliefs?  How weird are you?
  • Do you think Mormon’s hide their beliefs?
  • Can you suggest “Curriculum of Understanding” books?



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

10 responses to “Hiding Your Beliefs

  1. startingtolearn

    It seems that it’s pretty tough to for Mormons to hide their beliefs when all of their scriptures, lesson manuals, magazines, etc. are readily available at their website, http://lds.org

  2. Is there a difference between hiding and selective revelation? There are certain things which only make sense when they are rooted in the foundations of other beliefs. So I think that it practical, and even prudent, to withhold information at times to avoid misconception. And if I am trying to make friends with my neighbor, is it not likely that I would point out our similarities, and downplay or fail to mention our differences?

    The question of what Mormons believe, and what they are hiding, may not even be valid. A religion of that many followers and approaching 200 years of history is probably not monolithic in belief.

    Similarly if you were to ask a Christian what happened on Judgement Day, and she replied that the good people went to heaven and the bad people simply ceased to be, you could not rightfully accuse her of hiding the fact that Hell awaits the unsaved. She might believe Hell to be only a metaphor, and still be Christian.

    That said, I am selective about which beliefs I reveal, and I am very weird in my own ways. 🙂

  3. I’m very weird, and I broadcast my weirdness freely.

    Anyway, I think Wise Fool makes a good point about hiding beliefs versus selectively revealing them. I don’t advertize my agnosticism at work or volunteer activities, but I don’t know if this constitutes “hiding” it or simply refraining from revealing it.

  4. @ starting to learn: Most people don’t look on the web.

    @ TWF: I totally agree with your fine comment.

    @ Ahab: I think we know when we are hiding. We hide when we feel we could get hurt, we are not revealing because we don’t want to hurt others. Maybe that distinction helps a little.

    But the question is, Ahab, do you tell everyone that you cross-dress? 😉

  5. Cross-dress!? SABIOOOO!!!

  6. I couldn’t help myself. I just felt like being naughty. 🙂

  7. exrelayman

    I presume that cross-dress is preparing for a crucifixion?

  8. @exrelayman,
    Well done — apparently you need a minimum of clothing for that.

  9. Wiley Fox

    I can answer your question definitively about whether Mormons hide their beliefs. I had a Mormon friend who told me everything that they are allowed to tell. He was a “priest”. They are instructed which things not to discuss, usually like, “Never discuss what happens in this room,” of the Mormon Tabernacle. One room is for baptizing the dead, as recent news has reported the anger of Jews over Mormons baptizing Holocaust dead, including Anne Frank. Now there is a suit about it. If the Jews knew what was actually involved in the ceremony, I am sure they would be even angrier. Most recent news is that they now forbid Mormons to disclose the identities of those they baptize.

  10. @ Wiley Fox,
    I agree, to me, Mormons hide a lot — way too much.

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