Thursday, August 29, 2013

Nauvoo: What Loomed in 2002 -- Nauvoo: It is 2013 What Happened?

Fear of a Mormon return/Illinois town's fundamentalists feel threatened by giant temple 

Dennis J. Carroll, Special to The Chronicle
Monday, April 29, 2002 (SF Chronicle)

Nauvoo, Ill. -- At fundamentalist church gatherings in this bend of the Mississippi River, Rocky and Helen Hulse paint a menacing specter: legions of impeccably groomed Mormons pedaling house to house on bicycles, robbing anyone at home of their immortal souls.
They sound the alarm because of a $30 million temple to be dedicated June 27 in this farm town of 1,100 that is also a revered historical and religious site for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon founder Joseph Smith is said to have received many of his revelations in Nauvoo. The town's early history is intertwined with church scripture and doctrine; many Mormons can trace their family histories directly back to the area.
In the three-state region around Nauvoo, fundamentalist churches have prepared their flocks for what they see as an army of Mormon invaders who will attend the temple's open house beginning May 6.
"The pastors know they are going to lose people to the Mormons, and they want their people warned," said Colleen Ralson, who runs the Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center, a storefront exhibit and clearinghouse that counters the Mormon presence in town.
"The temple is an insult to Christianity," said Rocky Hulse, a former Mormon who wants to "educate" his fellow born-again Christians about Mormonism.
He recently spoke to more than 200 people packed into the First Christian Church in Dallas City, Ill., about 15 minutes down Highway 96 from Nauvoo. "The Mormons aren't bad people," he said. "They are just deceived people."
While only 250 or so Mormons live in the region, their influence exceeds their numbers. The expected influx of up to 300,000 visitors at the completed temple worries some that 150 years after they were driven out, the Mormons will again seek to dominate the area's economy, culture and politics.
"Many feel that the Mormons will reoccupy the town," said Ralson, noting that Mormons had bought the hardware store and turned it into a Latter-day Saints bookstore. They also own the town's largest hotel.
For their part, the Mormons have tried to avoid arguments.
"It serves no purpose," said Ann Orton, a spokeswoman at the Nauvoo Visitors Center, run by the Mormons. "We believe what we believe, and they believe what they believe. Hopefully, there is common ground so we can be good neighbors."
While they are neither Protestants nor Catholics, the Mormons say, they are Christian.
The church is treating the Nauvoo temple dedication much as it did the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Orton said. "This will not be a proselytizing event," she said. "There will be no big push for baptisms or conversions. This will be a soft, neighborly approach."
Dean May, a social historian and Mormonism specialist at the secular University of Utah, said the Nauvoo temple was of enormous importance to the Mormons. "They regard its rebuilding much like the Jews would the building of a temple in Jerusalem," or, even more accurately, he said, "like rebuilding the synagogue in the Warsaw ghetto."
Mormons fleeing persecution in Missouri arrived in Nauvoo in 1839. Work on a temple began in 1841, and the town soon expanded to about 20,000 people, exceeding Chicago at the time.
But as the town grew, so did the unease among its neighbors. In 1844, a mob broke into the jail in Carthage, Ill., and killed Smith and his brother, who were being held on suspicion of destroying an anti-Mormon newspaper in Nauvoo.
Within two years, the Mormons were forced to leave town, and Brigham Young led the party west to Utah. In 1848, a fire believed to be arson destroyed much of the Nauvoo temple. In 1850, a storm leveled what was left. The temple's stones were scavenged for other buildings.
The Mormon settlement is now a registered historic landmark, similar to places like Nevada City, with restored buildings and interpretive exhibits.
Like all Mormon temples, the new structure will be used only for special ceremonies and not for regular worship. With an exterior entirely of limestone from Alabama, the 55,000-square-foot temple stands 165 feet tall. Atop the cupola is a golden statue of the Angel Moroni, who Smith said had appeared to him as a teenager and called him to work for God. Interior features include a baptismal font resting on 12 limestone oxen, representing the 12 tribes of Israel.
The area's evangelical churches, meanwhile, see menace rather than grandeur.
The Hulses and a national ministry that serves many of these churches are focused on keeping their followers away from Mormonism.
The Hulses, who moved recently to the area specifically for this task, have been going from church to church, attempting to warn that Mormonism is a cult with secret handshakes, blood oaths and bizarre rituals.
In sessions that can last more than four hours and draw as many as 600 people, the Hulses humorously recount their own conversions to Christianity, then tear into one Mormon teaching and ritual after another.
The Harmony Bible Church of Danville, Iowa -- of which the Hulses are members -- took out a full-page ad in a regional newspaper, questioning the Mormon teachings and prompting a holy war of words in the letters to the editor columns.
Nauvoo Mayor Thomas Wilson said the temple construction had prompted Mormons to begin buying up more property in the area. "A lot of people are leaving because of this," Wilson said. "I think they got some pretty good prices for their property." He also expects a surge of new Mormon settlers, especially retirees.
Wilson said there were not many job opportunities for people with young families to support. "Either you're a farmer . . . or you're a farmer," he said.
Ralson of the Christian Visitors Center insists it's not just what the Mormons teach that has her upset. "It's their attitude," she said. "Their arrogance: 'This is my town -- I will do what I please.' "
Orton, meanwhile, asks for tolerance. "In the United States of America, we should all be able to worship as we choose," she said. "We would support them in the ways they worship, and we ask that they do the same for us."

 © Copyright 2002-2014  Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved. —Permission is granted to reproduce, provided content is not changed and this copyright notice is included.

Monday, August 19, 2013

As a Christian ministry on August 18th or any other day, we do not agree with Moroni 8:18 in the Book of Mormon!

I agree with Moroni 8:18": No. No, I don't!

by Rocky Hulse

August 2011

With the best of intentions, there are a few ministries today that set out using a verse of Mormon scripture (Moroni 8:18) to get Mormons to question one of their foundational beliefs: That God was not always God. I would not argue with the use of the verse to make that point; I believe Moroni 8:18 does make this point when compared with the Mormon doctrinal position of God today compared to the time the Book of Mormon was printed. The problem with these well meaning individuals is that they have labeled this approach as: “I agree with Moroni 8:18.” From the perspective of agreeing with Mormon scripture, I take exception. I believe it is wrong to agree with that which is known to be false. Spiritual truth is not contained in any Mormon scripture. Period!
The foundation upon which Christianity is built is God’s inerrant word, the Bible. From the Bible, we are repeatedly warned to beware of false prophets1 and false teachers2.  Is there any question within the community of ministries that witness to the Mormon people that Joseph Smith was a false prophet? Without question, the answer is: No! Is there any question within the community of ministries that witness to the Mormon people that Joseph Smith was a false teacher? Without question, the answer is: No! Is there any question within this same community that the Book of Mormon is an additional book of inspired scripture. Without question, the answer is: No, it is not scripture; it is a book of fiction.
The Title Page of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon lists the following statement: “BY JOSEPH SMITH, JUNIOR, AUTHOR AND PROPRIETOR.” There is no question that Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon and he is known to be a false prophet and false teacher. Why then, would I agree with anything that he wrote purporting to be spiritual truth? The supporters of the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign,” then chime in with, “What about Paul’s use of the Greek poets in Acts 17.” The creators/supporters of “I agree with Moroni 8:18” are following this premise: “There are those today who use Acts 17, Paul’s Mars Hill encounter with the Greek philosophers to prove that truth is found elsewhere, and the Bible is not the only place that contains spiritual truth.”3  This approach is flawed on two major counts in that they are saying: (1) Paul believed truth was found in the Greek philosophers; (2) spiritual truth is contained in Mormon scripture. They are wrong on both counts.
I encourage you to go and read the full article, Paul’s Mars Hill Appeal, written by “Let Us Reason Ministries,” provided in footnote (3). It is well written and I agree with the writer. I will provide some excerpts from that article to support my position; however, my minor quotes do not do justice to the complete article.
(1) Paul believed truth was found in the Greek philosophers:
In Acts 17:28, Paul quotes the Greek poet Epimenides, in his work, Cretica: “for in Him we live and move and have our being,”. He also quotes the Cilician poet, Aratus, in his work, Phaenonlena 5: “for we are also his offspring.”
Quoting from Paul’s Mars Hill Appeal: Paul used another pagan source to confirm the truth of the Bible, not the reverse, he was showing them how their own poets had some knowledge (though corrupted) of the God he is speaking to them of that they do not know. If he was saying their poet spoke truth then he would be endorsing Zeus a false god, the very thing he was trying to prove to them….What he quoted  was directly opposing the view of the Epicureans. Here Paul is citing poets who they respected and brilliantly turned it on their idolatry they now practiced. Paul has made a case that as men we have a necessary dependence on this God they do not know or see. He inserted their own poet’s statements as an added incentive to consider that their worship was wrong. He juxtaposed what was said in the past for what is being practiced in the present. If Paul meant they were actually God’s offspring He would be agreeing with the gods of Greek philosophy. He did not! This is poetry quoted, not doctrine, nor Scripture….He uses their poets point for a similarity of what he is conveying that is wrong, not what is right. Paul is using their own poet against their idolatry. He is not condoning their poet’s words as truth equal with the Bible’s revelation but dismantled their own view by using it as a similar point to present the Bible’s revelation.” (emphasis mine).
The attempt that proponents of the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” use to validate their use of Mormon scripture and saying they agree with it as Paul agreed with the Greek poets, is an improper exegesis of the Acts 17 text.  Using Moroni 8:18 to show that Mormon doctrine is false is a worthwhile tactic; however, to agree with Moroni 8:18, giving it the validity of spiritual truth is wrong and is directly opposite of Paul’s use and intention at Mars Hill.
(2) Spiritual truth is contained in Mormon scripture:
Believing that spiritual truth can be contained in Mormon scripture is to believe that truth can come from error; it cannot. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Co. 6:14). Mormonism is a false teaching. Period! We are repeatedly warned as seen in footnotes (1) and (2) concerning those who would bring forth false teachings. There is no question that Joseph Smith, and all he produced, fits those Biblical warnings.
Part of the problem with the  “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” is a foundational ignorance that is sometimes displayed by those who are involved in ministry outreach to Mormons, but were never members of the Mormon Church themselves. Those who were never Mormons themselves, have studied greatly, and have done a great work in the Mormon community; however, all the reading and studying in the world cannot replace the first hand experience of having lived Mormonism. I spent 33 years on active duty in the United States Navy, 20 years of that time riding Navy ships at sea. Reading every available book or periodical about life at sea cannot bring a person to the reality of what it is like to sail aboard a modern naval vessel at sea.
These well-meaning individuals supporting the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” fail to consider the basic reality that Mormonism uses a different dictionary than the rest of the English speaking world. Mormonism’s definition of many religious terms does not match that of Mainstream Christianity. This failure stem’s from not having a Mormon indoctrination foundation. They approach the words of Moroni 8:18 from their English definition, vice their Mormon definition; this is a flawed baseline position. Even though the premise of this is to show that Joseph Smith’s concept of God in 1830 was more closely aligned with Christianity, and definitely doesn’t align with his later pluralistic teaching of multiple gods, and God being a changeable being, non-exMormons do not take into account the indoctrination aspect of the cult culture, nor the misuse of words.
The word “God” used in Moroni 8:18 does not reflect the God of the Bible. The word “God” in Mormonism, really means “Heavenly Father,” and is an exalted man who once lived on another planet in another universe and lived, died, was resurrected, and was exalted to Godhood and eventually became the God of this universe. That corrupted concept contains no spiritual truth as contained in the Bible.
The words: “changeable, unchangeable, and eternity,” all have a time component tied to them that does not exist in Christendom. Since Mormon doctrine has Heavenly Father existing in a previous world where he rose through the concept of “Eternal Progression” through eons of time to achieve Godhood and then create this universe for the “exaltation” (meaning the achievement of Godhood by those who are deserving Mormons) of his children he procreated to inhabit this earth, the words: “changeable, unchangeable, and eternity” only pertain to the dispensation (timeframe) of this universe, not time immemorial.
Understanding these two concepts helps to better understand where those of us who disagree with the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” are coming from. In our modern English vernacular, it appears that Moroni 8:18 reflects Biblical teaching. From the dictionary of Mormonism, it does not. So, to agree with Moroni 8:18, as if it were spiritual truth, is blasphemous.
In a local context, using the  “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” may cause some Mormons who are not fully indoctrinated to question their concept of God, and may appear to be a victory; however, in the bigger picture, to agree with the Book of Mormon is to pour fuel on the fire of the Mormon Public Relations machine that is trying its best to morph Mormonism in the minds of Christendom as just another Christian denomination; it is not.
Do not misinterpret my support of using Mormon scripture, the writings or sermons (talks, as they are called in Mormonism) of Mormon Prophets and Apostles, Mormon periodicals (Ensign, Era, Young Woman’s Journal, etc.), or Mormon Church produced materials (Sunday School manuals, Priesthood Manuals, Relief Society Manuals, BYU Religion course manuals, etc.), to counter the false teachings of Mormonism. I fully support the use of these materials, and I certainly quote from them on a regular basis in all facets of our ministry (Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach (MMMO)). What I will not do is agree with any quotation from Mormonism as being spiritual truth on par with the Bible. No part of Mormonism, even if plagiarized from the Bible, has a foundation of spiritual truth. Mormonism’s foundation is centered in Joseph Smith, a known false prophet and false teacher that the Bible gives us stern warnings about, as seen in footnotes (1) and (2). Anything therefore that emanates from Mormonism cannot, and is not, spiritual truth!
Another point that those who were never Mormon have no exposure to, and a true ignorance of, is the dogmatic indoctrination points that are spewed out upon family members when they dare to challenge Mormonism and attempt to share with their family the truth of God’s word as found in the Bible. Until you’ve stood toe-to-toe with your father, your mother, your brothers or sisters, and had them emphatically regurgitate the Mormon doctrinal points and proof texts, and call you a “Son of Perdition” if you don’t come back to the fold of Mormonism, you truly don’t “get it.” Believe me, “I get it!” I’ve been there, done that.
The bonds of Mormonism are so strong, so all encompassing, that reason, especially in the “family member leaving Mormonism” context, does not exist. In an emotional setting, a family member discussing why Mormonism is false with a Mormon family member, reason and good judgment are usually left by the wayside. In this type of setting, to use the phrase “I Agree With Moroni 8:18”, would be the equivalent of saying “I agree with the Book of Mormon.” It matters not that the context was to use Moroni 8:18 to disprove the current Mormon concept of the Godhead, all that is heard in the diehard Mormon is an agreement with the Book of Mormon. The indoctrinated Mormon brain shuts down and no reasoned, thoughtful argument can, or will be heard. I’ve been there more times than I care to remember, and only those who have been there can understand this awful predicament; nor have suffered the heartbreak the eventual end of the discussion/argument brings.
Using any verse in the Book of Mormon to disprove Mormonism is a worthwhile venture and a tactic I approve of and use myself. However, to use a verse of Mormon scripture, or a quote from a Mormon leader, or quote from a Mormon periodical, stating that you agree with that statement by placing it on par with the Bible as spiritual truth, is BLASPHEMOUS!
Use Moroni 8:18 all you like to disprove the false teaching of Mormonism. However, to agree with Moroni 8:18, is to give validity to Mormon scripture as equal with God’s Scripture, the Bible, and that is something that only those ignorant of the full scope of Mormonism would do. They do not understand the damage they are doing to those of us who are trying to witness to Mormon family members.

1 De. 13:5; 18:22; Is. 9:15; Je. 2:8; 5:31; 14:14; 23:16; Eze. 13:2; 22:28; Ho. 9:7; Mi. 3:5; Zep. 3:4; Zec. 13:3; Mt. 7:15; 24:11; Mk. 13:22.
2 Mt. 5:19; 15:9; 1 Ti. 1:7; 4:2; 6:3; 2 Ti. 4:3; Tit. 1:11; 2 Pe. 2:1.

Rocky and Helen Hulse

Rocky and Helen Hulse
Defending Christianity From Mormon Doctrine