Did I Just See A Mormon TV Ad?, Or Can Division Actually Be a Good Thing?

The Mormon church in the last few years has tried to rebound it’s image by releasing an ad campaign attempting to make the religion seem more every-day-people and not so Utah-desert-dweller. They’re even sponsoring ads on you tube!

This is something you’ll likely not see from Christians. Not because we’re not trying to make ourselves cool again, but because we’re not united enough. If you google “mormon” you’ll see the LDS church has an official website. This isn’t something you’ll find in Christianity because there is no official Christian church.

I’m sure some Christians secretly dream of unity, because then we could full on assault the world (in love) unified. I, however, actually think our division can be a good thing.

First of all I’m glad there aren’t advertisements on television trying to convince the public that Christianity isn’t wacky. But mostly I think the power of Christianity is in it’s guerrilla-ness. Advertising campaigns may be trusted by corporations but the message of Jesus is something that works more organically. Slower, yet, but much deeper and more potent.

Maybe this seems totally wild but I actually the different versions of following Jesus are a good thing. Rather than a totally uniform version, which can seem like a cult (I’m not calling Mormonism a cult, but it’s happened), people who’ve met Jesus over the ages have all struggled to figure out what it all means and arrived at different conclusions. I think that’s a good thing.

What do you think of a religious advertising campaign? Do you wish there were a Christian church similar to how there’s the Mormon church? Do you think the divisions are a good thing?

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32 Responses to Did I Just See A Mormon TV Ad?, Or Can Division Actually Be a Good Thing?

  1. Ma77 says:

    I agree with you about the guerrilla-ness. When Christ comes to you, it is very personal and individual.

    We have the Mormon billboards up all over our fair city.

  2. Carolyn says:

    I think the divisions would be fine – ministering to different people in different ways – if we didn’t tear down the “other” people. But we do. So many of these groups want to be “right” to the exclusion of all others. Sad.

    I do not wish we had a church that had a headquarters somewhere with people issuing press releases saying, “this is what we are going to believe now”. It isn’t needed. The Bible is a great instruction manual all on its own.

    I don’t have a problem with the Mormons advertising that they are like everyday people, if that is what they want to do. I’m not sure if that factors into my decision to bring the young Mormon men who show up on my doorstep a drink of water or not.

    I don’t like Christian advertising that much anyway. On any given day, we get a slick mailer from one of the nearby churches telling us why we need to come hear their new “series”. It all seems very corporate and very Hollywood at the same time.

    Super serious question here: why is it that when a group that says Jesus is Lord – but that add something to that – we don’t call them Christians. That is what most people do with Mormons. (I try not to – the nice boys that show up on our porch pray with us and say “in Jesus name, Amen” even though we have told them we won’t be going to their church). Some people do this with the Catholic church. I suspect if some of the other Christian churches in any of our neighborhoods published what they believed, we could get into a heated discussion that they are turning Christianity into a “Jesus plus ______” religion too. Would we then not call them Christians? Where is that line drawn? I would greatly appreciate some input because I find this all very confusing.

  3. David says:

    What do you think of a religious advertising campaign?
    I think it is fine if it is God. I used to like the “Isn’t it time to go back?” ones that ran for the Lutheran church.

    Do you wish there were a Christian church similar to how there’s the Mormon church?
    There are, they are called denominations.

    Do you think the divisions are a good thing?
    If they are God, yes! Most of it is just religion and philosophy; you can add Islam and Buddhism to that group as well.

    The problem with unity is that man’s unity; getting along and being tolerant is not biblical unity. To have biblical unity, it must be in the Spirit. (Ephesians 4) Unity in the Spirit is what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have. There are no opinions, no misunderstandings, none. The problem with religion for the most part, is that it is not in the Spirit. It is no different than a retail marketing plan.

    FYI – The definition of a cult, is a group or organization that denies the deity of Christ (that He is God). The Mormon church is a cult by that definition. What is unfortunate is that the word “cult” also seems to mean a small group of whack-jobs that drink Kool-Aid. The question is this. “Is Jesus God?” That is the dividing line.

  4. Bernard Shuford says:

    David – that’s your definition of a cult. It’s definitely NOT the Merriam Webster definition. I think it’s terribly inappropriate for us to insist on using “Christian” definitions of words that the majority of the world interpret very differently. When fundamentalist Christians call Mormonism a “cult”, they’re meaning that they don’t believe in Jesus as God, but the REST OF THE WORLD hears “they’re a bunch of weird idiots that don’t deserve the protection of freedom of worship because they’re going to burn down the White House.” As well, the use of the word is typically INTENDED to be insulting, and there’s absolutely no need in us insulting Mormons. Even if we disagree with them.

    • David says:

      Well, I am not known for being politically correct. I don’t really care what the mainstream thinks, they write their own definitions every day (IE: TEA Party = racist). That is the technical definition that is taught in seminaries and Bible schools. Like many words, we want to stop using them because they evolve (IE: “cool,” “gay” etc). In the 80s it was cults (groups claiming to be Christian, but denying that Jesus was God, the occult (IE: horoscopes, Ouija boards etc., and non-Christian religions such as Islam, Buddhism and the like. It appears that you are saying this is just another denomination that Al Sharpton doesn’t agree with? I don’t see it like that, and MW is not an authority on definitions, they are a reflection of current word usage. I think Urban dictionary is probably more up to date.

      • Chris says:

        Seminaries and Bible schools did not invent the word “cult” nor its definition. They only define it to their particular standards and from their particular perspective. By your definition Judaism would be a cult because they deny the deity of Christ, but Judaism precedes Christianity, and Christianity springs from it. A religion may be wrong in your or my view, but that doesn’t make it a cult.

        There are religions and there are cults. Cults are often inspired by a single charismatic leader. By that definition Christianity is a cult. And it was actually considered so by the Romans in Jesus’ time.

        If you want to re-write the dictionary definition so that when you look up the word “religion” it simply says: “Christianity”, then you might as well do away with the word *religion* because it would be redundant.

      • Bernard Shuford says:

        John – I stand in sincere and strong disagreement with Mormon beliefs, trust me. I know the bizarre factor. I’m not defending their beliefs. I simply get very tired of Christians telling the world “you’re a cult if you disagree with me”, knowing full well that the word “cult” is perceived as a slap in the face. Christians redefine the word as though they own the definition, just like we do with a lot of other words, rather than using the correct language.

        Mormon beliefs about God and Jesus Christ are very wrong. Following those beliefs does not result in salvation of the soul. The same is true of Islam. The same is true of Buddhism. The same is true of Hinduism. The same is true of atheism.

        But use of insulting language is not necessary in order to say that. A lot of arguments between Christians and those who reject Christianity are brought about by provocative and insulting language used by Christians, even though the particular words are not necessary to either sharing the Gospel or loving the people we are sharing it with. We aim to shock, we aim to provoke fear, we aim to control emotions.

        We’re jealous of the Holy Spirit and His power to convict the heart, and we seize all available methods to try to do His job for Him, since we don’t think He’s really able to do it for himself.

      • Carolyn says:

        Amen.

        I’m confused though. Why do the young men who show up on our porch to share a glass of water with us concluded their prayers for us “in Jesus name” if they don’t believe in His deity? They are mainstream Mormon, from the congregation down the street. I feel like I have missed something.

      • Bernard Shuford says:

        Carolyn – It’s complicated, apparently. From “mormonbeliefs.org”, which may or may not be “mainstream”…

        “As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

        He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill….”

        They are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They see Jesus Christ as very important. I don’t think that any “good Mormon” would flat out say “Jesus is not God”, at least based on what I read above. However, the Christian position that they don’t believe in the deity of Jesus is apparently based in our disagreement with their position regarding the origin of God, and thus, of Jesus. It appears to me that we largely believe that “their god” is not “our God”. Much like the complicated distinction between “Jehovah God” and “Allah”.

        I suspect that most Mormons would be totally baffled by the suggestion that they do not believe Jesus is God.

        That’s just my opinion, and I’m sure I’ll get some heat for it. Well, it’s not JUST my opinion, it’s based on some things I read. I didn’t just make it up.

        Like I said, I believe they are very wrong as to what they believe. I am simply, as a human being who has struggled MONSTROUSLY with the finer points of religion and salvation, SENSITIVE to the fact that good, honest, HUMAN BEINGS just like me are wrapped up by birth, culture, teaching, and other environmental factors in religious systems that are terribly wrong, and once the human psyche is guided at a young age into a particular belief system, changes are VERY difficult or even virtually impossible without SERIOUS help from God the Holy Spirit. For a Christian to belittle a Mormon over these finer points of theology is no different than an atheist mocking a Christian for believing that Jesus Christ REALLY DID rise from the dead. It’s a spirit of intellectual and religious superiority rather than a spirit of genuine love. These are PEOPLE we’re dealing with. People who are often confused. People who don’t understand. People who WANT to do what’s right. People who WANT to know God. People who want to honor the parents that, for whatever reason, God gave them to. I mean, if the whole world should really be fundamentalist Christians, the easiest way would be for all non-Christians to be barren and only fundamentalists have babies who grow up to be basically like Mom and Dad. But God doesn’t do it that way, and yet somehow He loved the whole world enough to send Jesus to die for their sins.

        We need to start loving Mormons. We need to start loving atheists. We need to start loving homosexuals and lesbians. We need to start loving Muslims.

        At this point, we’re a lot better at arguing amongst ourselves about exactly how wrong those people are and just how hot hell will be for them than we are living out Jesus to them.

        At least, that’s my experience.

        Which doesn’t have much of anything to do with Charlie’s post or question. Sorry, bro.

      • Bernard Shuford says:

        David – It’s not about political correctness. That’s just another buzzword.

    • David says:

      When I studied in seminary and in Bible school, we used some of Josh McDowell’s books. The Cults, The Occult, Non-Christian Religions (Including Judaism) – they are surly still available. In the 80s that’s how is was broken down, at YWAM 10 years ago, that is how it was broken down. The word cult has evolved, but in Christianity those who deny Christ is God, are that. They certainly are not a sect of Christianity. Webster’s is not the authority on the meanings of words. There is bias there too…

  5. John says:

    “What do you think of a religious advertising campaign?”
    It would depend on what they are advertising. If it is any more than spreading the word about an event or services, it is denying the power of God. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him”. You seeker friendly people need to read that again..

    “Do you wish there were a Christian church similar to how there’s the Mormon church?”
    No, the Mormon church is a well oiled business machine. Dave is correct, you cannot be a Mormon and be a Christian. That said, the Mormons certainly have a higher moral standard than a lot of so called “Christians” I know, and Bernard. there is a difference between stating the truth and being mean to someone. If you ever study Mormonism’s beliefs you will find they are quite bizarre and have nothing to do with the Bible.

    “God the Father has a wife, through whom he procreates spirit children.”
    “Implicit in the Christian verity that all men are the spirit children of an Eternal Father is the usually unspoken truth that they are also the offspring of an Eternal Mother. An exalted and glorified Man of Holiness (Moses 6:57) could not be a Father unless a Woman of like glory, perfection, and holiness was associated with him as a Mother” (Mormon Doctrine, 1977 ed., p. 516)

    “God is not a uniquely eternal being. All spirit is self-existent matter and is eternal (without beginning or end). Such “matter (called intelligences) sometimes becomes organized into a spirit being through birth to celestial parents. Then that spirit is born through human parents on earth. Like all people, God took this course and eventually reached Godhood.God would stop being God if intelligences stopped supporting him as God.”
    (D&C 93:29, 33; Abraham 3:18-23; Mormon Doctrine, 1977 ed. p. 751)

    Do you think the divisions are a good thing?
    No, divisions are proof that the “author of confusion” is “lord of this world”. True Christianity is hard to find and getting scarcer by the minute. Charlie, I am curious where I might find examples of how “people who’ve met Jesus over the ages have all struggled to figure out what it all means and arrived at different conclusions.” is a good thing. Do the Apostles seem like a cult to you? I think they had a pretty uniform idea of Jesus. When they gathered in the upper room to wait for the Holy Spirit, “they were all of one accord”.

    • Bernard Shuford says:

      My reply above SHOULD have been here. Sorry. Threaded comments are sometimes tricky to get to behave properly.

  6. Chris says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Bernard’s comments to Carolyn.

    I’m in conversation right now with a woman who is a Lesbian Pastor and is very involved in gay rights issues in and out of the church. She, and others with similar experiences to hers, have been on the receiving end of “ugly” Christianity, the kind we talk about here, for so long that to her the idea that a person could simultaneously believe that someone might possibly be in a sinful situation, and still love her without reservation is a paradox so unresolvable, and goes against so much of her experience that only God could make sense of it. Platitudes like “love the sinner, hate the sin” don’t cut it. This woman, and many like her see and hear only judgment and condemnation, not from those from without the church, but from those within.

    • Bernard Shuford says:

      It’s a very hard tangle to be in, on both sides. We have defenses to keep ourselves from disbelieving our own convictions, and they build fences and bunkers to help protect their own sanity. Most of us who so easily and readily pronounce someone else to be in a horrible sin have never been truly tempted in that regard.

      I see many times, though, that it becomes a very different issue when it’s our own kids :) :) :) At the point where a strict, fundamentalist Christian is confronted with a child who becomes a Muslim or comes out of the closet, that parent is confronted with a true question of loving that person. In the abstract, we claim to “love the sinner, hate the sin” while we actually hate them both, based on our actions. We’re frail and human and our efforts to love someone who does something we feel is horribly wrong are often complicated by our own failures. That shows up in our “discussions” about Mormonism, too. We belittle the people, we trivialize their beliefs, and we pontificate about our doctrinal superiority while mocking their genuine convictions, then claim that we “love sinners”? Really??

      Love does not equal the approval that many want it to. Some believe that to love is to approve and affirm fully. I don’t see that in the way that Jesus loves. Neither do I see it in the way a parent loves. So I believe that it is possible for a Christian to love like a flood of pure water, and it’s based on knowing Jesus, the guy who wrote the book on love, like crazy. Most of us – me included – can only love like a trickle. I see the flood of love that is Jesus and realize that He is still pure and holy, while my trickle of love is muddy, slow, easily dammed up, and seemingly of no consequence at all. I screw it up. I get it wrong. I make those who don’t know Christ feel pushed away. I make those who do know Christ feel ashamed of me because I screw it up.

      But there is a flood of love. A flood of grace. Grace that was purchased by the blood of the very one who is the flood of love. That flood reminds me that, even though I have been forgiven, my mud is no less dirty than the mud of the Mormon. I can’t say “Lord, I’m cleaner than he is!” because my righteousness is nasty Tampons compared to the purity of the flood of grace that is Jesus.

      I’ve got a freaking long ways to go, and I don’t believe that Mormon doctrine is right, but one thing I’ll fight against is Christian spiritual bullying.

      I gotta shut up before I make a buncha enemies, which, well, goes pretty strongly against what I’m “preaching” here, so I guess I haven’t even gotten that right.

    • Carolyn says:

      Chris, when I graduated from college (a fundamentalist Christian college) I got my first social work job working with HIV/AIDS clients. They knew what college I had attended – it was just across town – and they were very suspicious of me. I really had to work at proving myself. Getting them to understand that we didn’t have to agree on everything for me to work hard for them was tricky, but God led me through it. I am a better person for it. I hope they benefited as well.

  7. theoldadam says:

    Mormonism is a cult.

    They do NOT tell you, or give you everything, but only when you are invested more and more do they reveal to you the “true” Mormon practices. This is in the definition of a cult.

    They are not really even a church. Thet are religionists who do NOT believe Jesus to be full deity. They believe tyhat God began as a mere ‘man’. They believe that they can elevate themselves by their obedience to Godhood. And that is just for staters.

    Don’t let them fool you. They are leading people away from Christ and His gospel for the forgiveness of sins into a life of ladder-climbing, self-focused, man-made religion.

    That’s the truth of it.

  8. jeff says:

    You are all wasting a lot of time trying to come up with answers which you will never come up with. You will be dead and gone and the conversation will continue. Why don’t you spend your time creating something that will benefit everyone long after you are inspiring the daisies?

    • John says:

      Jeff, one of the problems with spiritual issues is that they don’t get discussed. I can see where you’re coming from, but I find it interesting how others react to certain topics, including your reaction. It is frustrating that so many topics seem unresolvable (Bernard, is that a word?). Anyway, I for one would be interested to hear what you would suggest we create that would benefit everyone.

  9. Chris says:

    Jeff, do you learn from others or did you acquire all of your wisdom in a vacuum.

    Most of us here that contribute to the conversation do not have it all figured out, as do you, and so we engage in an effort to learn from one another. Most of us know that we probably have some aspect of our theology wrong at some point or another. We have things to offer and bring to the table, but hopefully we also come to learn. Perhaps theological thinking isn’t your cup of tea. In that case I suggest you just keep quiet and read as you might just learn something you haven’t thought of all by yourself.

  10. Bernard Shuford says:

    We discuss because we are interested in God and because we care about the answers. Not because we think we HAVE all the answers. We “argue” because truth is of concern to us, and we help each other find more and more truth. Not because we hate or because we want to waste time. Even Jesus sat down in the temple to discuss the Scriptures, and we’re hard pressed to find any better example, period.

    • John says:

      And if I might add, Bernard, we believe it is possible to find the absolute truth, not just a collection of opinions. It does require some effort, however.

      • Bernard Shuford says:

        I believe it is possible, though I think it rarely happens as definitively as some might think. I believe the search for that truth is long, hard, and rarely simple, as you say. Most of us are at different places in our search, and the act of believing in Christ does not result in a blanket revelation of all absolute truth, nor is it necessary to know all that truth in order to come to the Saviour.

        I see these discussions as HUGELY profitable in all our “searches” for truth. Keep digging.

  11. Jeff says:

    Some of you have spent way too much time in the shallow end of the pool. This sounds more like a “Bash the Mormons” discussion than any sort of theological discussion. Some of you are starting with the answer you prefer and then trying to come up with the question that fits. Even to the point of deciding which dictionary is best. And then you need to bash me for pointing out what a waste of time it is to bash the Mormons or anyone else that has a different take on spirituality. I agree we don’t have the “truth” figured out and will all be inspiring daisies before we do. A little less bashing along the way would make your theories worth considering and seem less like a rant.

    • John says:

      I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but, so far I have not put forth any theories. Secondly, people are always going to be offended when we speak the truth. In addition, with regard to Mormons, the problem is their trying to identify themselves with Christians. If you study the Mormons’ history, you will find it quite mind boggling. If you believe the Bible and there is a hell, then the proof of love is that you would try to convince someone if they are lost before its too late. When you do not because you are afraid to offend or risk hurt feelings, that is not love, its cowardice.

    • Chris says:

      “Some of you have spent way too much time in the shallow end of the pool.”

      So take us to the deep end.

      What is it you call “bashing?” Is simple disagreement bashing? If you disagree with Mormonism you are bashing. If you disagree with Jeff you are bashing.

      BTW, I don’t think *we* will be inspiring daisies. Our bodies may, but *we* may be elsewhere.

  12. This is a lovely, lively discussion, but we’ve been having it for 8 days now. Where is Charlie?

  13. Joanne says:

    Charlie, You definitely provoked some thought and discussion with this posting. That, I think, is a good thing. I’m a born and raised Catholic, very active in my Church. However, from the ages of 18 to 32, I explored Christianity. I knew that I was a Christian but didn’t know why I was Catholic, except for family history. I went to churches of various denominations and questioned people of all faiths (I still do that). I take Bible study classes with my church as well as with the local Methodist church. I enjoy the different perspectives that each brings. The one thing that I have found through my own wanderings is that there is good and evil in this world. But throughout most faiths I have found that the truly good people all hold to the one basic tenet of ‘Love God and your neighbor as yourself’, no matter what there name for God is. With that said I’m climbing down off of my soap box. Bottom line….diversity in religion is good because it provokes thought, otherwise we’d all be zombies. The problems come in when there is intolerance and extremism.

  14. Not advocating Mormon teaching in any way, I personally like the Mormon ad where this dude owns a chopper shop and wears biker clothing, and says, “there’s not anything in the Bible against fixing motorcycles.” Someone in the Mormon advertising department got the clue that the Leave It To Beaver culture of the predominantly white anglo-saxon religious organization is not effective in this culture. So, they decided a biker would be more appealing. Again, my opinion is that this is another religious organization along with mainline religions that are inaccurately portraying the message of Jesus. And I do not think it fair to bash Mitt Romney when there are other candidates with their own version of Institutional religious goodies.

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