Bob Millet and Greg Johnson Dialogues
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Bob Millet and Greg Johsnon
One thing that bothered me about Bob Millet and Greg Johnson's TV show last night was the ending. Greg said, "Remember, it's *not always*... uhh", and then he asked Bob for what the phrase was they like to end the program with, and Bob said, "[It's] just as important, *way more important* in fact to win a friend than to win an argument." And then Greg simply said, "So winning the argument *isn't always* the victory there." They need to make sure what their phrase is, since there are many people like myself who are concerned that the Bob & Greg agenda is to exalt friendship to a place it was never meant to occupy. Jesus seemed to treat argument more importantly than winning friends with the Pharisees, for example (cf. Mat. 15:1-14; ch. 23).
[Rob to Timothy:] I heard you last night call in. I'm still not getting how Millet gets out of God's command to reproduce prior to the fall, and since ought implies can, why couldn't Adam and Eve reproduce prior to the fall? Do you get it?
[Timothy to Rob:] No reason for why they could not have children before the fall has ever been given by any official Mormon source so far as I know. It is simply asserted, without proof, on the authority of the BoM and PoGP passages. At one point Millet at least implied that it was not because of any actual physical inability or disability, but because of their state of naive innocence. In other words, it took sin to figure out sex. The whole doctrine is just pure nonsense.
First, you really do have two contradictory commands. Millet tried to play this down by saying the command not to eat was really not a commandment but a statement of fact that consequences would follow eating the fruit. But the consequences were not simply contingent facts, cause/effect relationships, like, "Step off this cliff, you'll go down." The consequences were not only loss, ruin, broken relationship, etc. They included punishment, imposed not merely by the nature of things, but by God, personally. A just God does not punish the non-guilty. Adam and Eve were punished, and most certainly, therefore, were guilty. Objective guilt is not the result of eating fruit, but of violating a direct command. God gave them a commandment not to eat that fruit. Had there been no such commandment there would have been no guilt for eating it, and therefore no punishment. Moreover, had there been no actual commandment not to eat the fruit, then their eating it would not have been sin, and could not possibly have brought sin into the world, as affirmed in Rom. 5:12. The Fall, then, if real in any sense, would have been purely chemical.
Second, because there were two contradicting commands, they were "living in sin" no matter what they did. Millet tried to explain the absence of punishment for their sin of omission in not having children as due to the fact that they could not have any children. Since they could not do it, they were not guilty. But later he implied that the reason they could not have children before the Fall wasn't a matter of actual inability at all, but naive innocence. It besmirches the character of God to say He would give a commandment to Adam and Eve and never explain to them what was necessary for them to do in order to keep that commandment. What's more, there is the implicit assumption that they had no sexual drives that would be stimulated or aroused by the sight or touch of the other. Sexual arousal is not sinful, nor the result of sin. So even if they had not been told how to fulfill the commandment to have children (given before the Fall, Gen. 1:28) they most assuredly would have discovered it if the only factor inhibiting it were "naive innocence." So, Millet's explanation of why they were not punished for breaking, by omission, the supposedly more important commandment to have children, but then were punished for breaking the lesser commandment (which he had earlier implied wasn't really even a commandment), is just pure hogwash.
[Rob to Timothy:] And did you really understand his take on Lewis reaffirming the BM "falling upward"?
[Timothy to Rob:] Lewis taught the biblically sound principle that the glorified state of the redeemed will be greater and more glorious than the state of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. That is far from stating that they could not possibly have been elevated from their Edenic state if they had never sinned. But that is the spin Millet puts on it, wanting to make it a justification for saying the Fall brought about benefits. It did not. God brings about benefits, in spite of the Fall. Is redemption a benefit? Yes! Would we need redemption if not for the Fall? No! But we have no reason to say that fall and redemption was the only means by which God could have elevated Adam and Eve above their Edenic state. That would be mere speculation. To say they certainly would have been so elevated is also speculation. But it certainly is reasonable. Sin and sinning were not required to make their freedom real and their choices meaningful, but only the possibility of such. And there is no reason to assume that the possibility of sin made sin inevitable. That would be to justify sin, and sin would be no more sin. There is no natural explanation or justification for the appearance of sin. Why couldn't they have obeyed God perfectly? And why should we think perpetual endurance in such perfect obedience, when they could at any time choose otherwise, would not have warranted and been rewarded by greater glory than their original state? That the glory of the redeemed in eternity is greater than the Edenic state simply does not justify the idea that the Fall was a good thing that brought benefits. Millet also quoted the passages from 2 Ne. 2 and Moses 5 which teach the impossibility of doing good or having joy without having sinned or experiencing misery. Nonsense! There is no such logical necessity whatever. It is all reasoning from the present state of things under sin, projected back onto original creation and eternity. And if true, of course, it would constitute sin an eternal necessity, and prove God a (former) sinner. More nonsense
[Rob to Timothy:] I was also upset about his last statement about how it's always better to win a friend rather than an argument. Greg affirmed this is what "we" say, but then Greg said something different when he said, "It's not *always* better to win an argument rather than winning a friend."
[Timothy to Rob:] I am very concerned about the presuppositions on which Bob and Greg's relationship is built, and which we are supposed to swallow as justification for their relationship and their taking it on the road and to the airwaves. It is an ungodly, worldly definition of love that says love must never offend, and that the beloved's sense of being loved must define the relationship. But that is essentially what we were told on the first broadcast. Was Jesus guilty of being unloving every time the Pharisee's took offense? If I loved you and you were an idolater I would owe it to you to tell you straight up, "You are an idolater, and idolaters will be punished for eternity in hell." What kind of "friendship" is it, how deep can it be, if it cannot bear up under the truth? If Bob really loved Greg, he could hear that from Greg and not take offense. And he could tell Greg he thought the same about him. And if Greg really loved Bob he could hear that from Bob as well. True friendship doesn't avoid or downplay hard truths. And avoiding the hard truths does not produce true understanding, but confusion, even deception.
Their repetitious statements that they did acknowledge that they still had doctrinal disagreements, even serious ones, is no help, so long as it is never acknowledged and affirmed that those differences are so serious as to actually exclude one or the other of them from the pale of Christianity, and from eternal life. Failing to say that, or to say otherwise, eliminates any possibility of true understanding. And I cannot believe that either one of them is really unaware of that. So they both agree that they cannot convert the other, and that they are not there to "win" by converting the other. Big deal. The fact remains that BYU prof and Church Public Affairs (Manager of Outreach and Interfaith Relations) Millet is there on the job, and is there to win. The win is not to convert Greg or any listener to Mormonism---that can come later. The win is simply to get people to think Mormonism is a species of Christianity. Yes, they have serious doctrinal differences. So do Baptists and Lutherans. So if Baptists and Lutherans can disagree and both still be Christian churches, why can't Mormonism disagree and still be a Christian church? Assuming Millet to be an informed and committed Mormon, then saying Bob and Greg both believe in Christ, but simply with some serious doctrinal differences, is just a flat out lie. Neither Millet nor any other true blue Mormon believes in Christ. They believe in a mythological construct, into which they have incorporated some biblical data, mostly historical, but excluded other biblical data, and added a mountain of not merely extra-biblical data, but anti-biblical data. It's not just "additional information," but contrary information over against the Bible's information. The fact that they have tagged their mythological construct with the Bible's name for the true Deity does not make them worshipers of Christ in any sense of the word or the Word.
[Rob to Timothy:] I'm happy that Millet is on a Christian show in which almost all the viewers are Christians so that Millet can get evangelized by people like you!
[Timothy to Rob:] I have no illusions of being able to evangelize him. They control the microphone, for one thing. I had to be almost rude just to get out what I wanted to say. I doubt it will be long before they stop taking my calls.
May God bless!
"We desire that they might know us not as their enemies but as their friends." -Standing Together Ministries, Fall 2004 Newsletter
"As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God..." -Romans 11:28
"Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?" - Psalm 139:21
"Love your enemies..." -Matthew 5:44
Even pagans love their friends... what is supernatural and Christ-like about that? Really, tell me, what is so special about loving one's friends? Isn't that an easy thing to do, especially if you minimize the truth and suppress your burning jealousy for the glory of God?
Wouldn't it be awesome and Christ-exalting if we loved them while openly acknowledging that they were enemies--not friends--of God and the saints according to the gospel? THAT is a balance that I think Christ would be honored by. Yes, my Mormon neighbor, you are my enemy, and you are an enemy of God, but I will love you as Christ loved me, and I will extend a hand of mercy to those like you until God ends his patience with the earth. I will not be "quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting... opponents with gentleness." (2 Timothy 2) And surely the correction and authoritative teaching that Paul encourages isn't contradictory to kindness.
May God have mercy on all our flawed methods of ministry,
Here's another twist to the whole "contradicting commandments" issue. I wrote earlier that, "It besmirches the character of God to say He would give a commandment to Adam and Eve and never explain to them what was necessary for them to do in order to keep that commandment." I also should have added that it would fly in the face of Mormon scripture as well. In 1 Nephi 3:7 we are told, "...the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." On the one hand, if the only way by which they could accomplish the commandment to bear children was by violating another commandment, then you have contradicting commandments, and God tempting them to sin---something the God of the Bible simply does not do (James 1:13). On the other hand, if there was a way to accomplish the commandment to bear children without violating another commandment, well then you have solved the problem of contradicting commandments, but you still have the problem of them violating, by omission, the commandment to have children, and yet not being punished for it. If there was a way prepared for them to accomplish that commandment, as Mormon scripture affirms, then Millet's argument that they were not punished for breaking it "because they could not keep it" falls apart completely. If there was no such way prepared, then we're back to contradicting commandments, not to mention, violation of the principle set forth in 1 Nephi 3:7.
Let Us Reason Ministries' comments: Can Two Walk Together Unless They Agree?
R.M.S.'s comments: Evangelical Seminary's Outreach to Mormons does not Bridge the Gap
Speaking of C. S. Lewis and his take on the Fall, he said,
I mean the pursuit of knowledge and beauty, in a sense, for their own sake, but in a sense which does not exclude their being for God's sake. An appetite for these things exists in the human mind, and God makes no appetite in vain. We can therefore pursue knowledge as such, and beauty as such, in the sure confidence that by so doing we are either advancing to the vision of God ourselves or indirectly helping others to do so. Humility, no less than the appetite, encourages us to concentrate simply on the knowledge or the beauty, not too much concerning ourselves with their ultimate relevance to the vision of God. That relevance may not be intended for us but for our betters--for men who come after and find the spiritual significance of what we dug out in blind and humble obedience to our vocation. This is the teleological argument that the existence of the impulse and the faculty prove that they must have a proper function in God's scheme--the argument by which Thomas Aquinas proves that sexuality would have existed even without the Fall. The soundness of the argument, as regards culture, is proved by experience (Learning in War-Time, emphasis added).
I haven't seen Greg and Bob's TV dialog yet, but I have seen the "conversation" program they do together. I'd like to make some comments to put some additional perspective on this.
I'm writing as a friend of Greg, from the days when he served a nearby church. We've retained a good rapport even as Standing Together has developed its approach. So I want to defend Greg where he deserves it. For example, Standing Together sponsors some excellent events for the Christian community, such as pastors' prayer gatherings and strategic conferences. I feel that Greg has always listened to me and given me plenty of fair opportunity to voice contrary opinions. To be fair, it should be noted that Greg took some heat publically last year as the coordinator for the National Day of Prayer in Utah County for NOT allowing Mormons to participate. Greg did not back down. So he is not without an understanding of boundaries. His approach to Mormonism is not ecumenical.
Having said that, I don't agree philosophically with Greg's public engagement of Mormonism. I don't doubt Greg's motives. He genuinely wants to see Mormons come to real saving faith in the real Jesus. He honestly believes that he is changing the relational climate in Utah in a positive way that will lead to conversions. The question is not about motives, but methods. I don't think the Greg and Bob "conversations" are wise. I don't think Operation Lovingkindness is wise. I supported the Ravi Zacharias meetings because I knew Ravi would say something significant (which I believe he did). But I declined Greg's invitation to sit on the platform at the Tabernacle with other pastors, because I felt this would send the wrong signals.
Now, it has been suggested that Greg's approach is an outgrowth of the Bridges philosophy of evangelism to Mormons. As one of the key contributors to Bridges, I don't think there is a necessary link. For one thing, several of the other Bridges contributors are also very uncomfortable with Standing Together. True, both Bridges and Standing Together emphasize the relational context of witness. But Bridges seeks to be culturally discerning. Greg's approach, while relational, is (in my opinion) less than discerning. Cultural discernment in this case would recognize the one-way nature of dialog with Mormons, and the tendency of Mormonism to turn even the mildest welcome into proof of their truth claims.
But here's my main critique, and I haven't heard anyone else say it: Greg has assumed that the sort of witness that takes place in a personal setting (which Bridges encourages) can be translated successfully into a public setting. In my view, this is a serious confusion of categories. There are so many differences between a private relationship on one hand, and a public and institutional one on the other. I'm not sure whether Greg has thought this through. FIRST, in a private dialog, if something I say is misunderstood, I can probe the level of understanding, and correct the misunderstanding, by further discussion with my friend. But if I say something in a public setting that is misunderstood (say, from the pulpit of the Tabernacle, or to a reporter for BYU NewsNet), then that misunderstanding is cast into the open and spreads like leaves in the wind. I cannot go back to each person who heard those remarks to assess the nature of their misunderstanding or to make clarifications. SECOND, private civility and public civility are not the same thing. I can challenge my wife (or a close friend) about an issue in private, with kindness and respect, in a way I would not do in a public setting. Regardless of how kind and polite I was being, I would not choose a busy restaurant or the lobby at church to tell my friend that he has a problem with body odor. I would not announce in a microphone that his zipper is down. In other words, it's not appropriate to hold a friend accountable in public in the same way I would approach him in private. So Greg's dialog with Bob on the public stage is not really a valid model of a civil discourse between real friends. Simply for the reason that it is public, there's no way it can model the depth of confrontation true friends sometimes have. THIRD, a private dialog cannot be manipulated and co-opted for ulterior purposes the way a visible, public relationship can. I don't think there's any question that many Mormons are making political and proselytizing hay over their new-found "friend" status conferred by Standing Together.
Is Greg teachable about such things? Some of my colleagues in ministry doubt that he is. After all, he seems to be getting plenty of positive feedback from people he values. I chaired a meeting last December where some local pastors asked to meet with Greg to air our concerns about the Tabernacle event. Some of us suggested to Greg that he needed to be more careful about his boundaries, and to try harder to be accountable to the body of Christ. At first I didn't think Greg paid any attention. But he later came back to me outlining an accountability structure designed to give input to his ministry through a series of advisory groups. He asked me (and I agreed) to serve on a group that would be a watchdog against potential compromise. As of yet, it remains to be seen whether these groups will be implemented, and if so, what effect they will have and whether they will be heard. But at least Greg seems to be willing to consider input - at least from people that he believes are supportive of him personally.
In the end, I'm not sure how hopeful to be. A lot of that depends on how serious Greg is on following through with accountability measures. I do think the dialog this whole thing generates about strategic methods and philosophy of evangelism is helpful to the body of Christ in Utah. I have friends and people I respect on all sides of these strategic issues, and there is much to be learned from one another, so I hope we can keep this dialog civil and fair.
Wasatch Evangelical Free Church
We were in _____ over Thanksgiving. I was surprised to discover Lee Stobel on the TV ["Faith Under Fire"] there and a quick debate between a Mormon and a Christian. I wrote Lee later and told him I don't think it's a good format. The Baptist preacher was not successful in exposing Mormonism even though he made some good points. Mormonism puts people behind the camera who are very smooth "PR" people. They know how to easily confuse a crowd about our doctrines. And secondly, you can never count on them to be honest. The Mormon in that mini-debate was not an honest man by what he said. So without strong documentation, it is just a gracious sounding Mormon soul giving his word against a Christian who either exposes a lie or lets it go. It does not look good either way! If it took Walter Martin and Van Hale two cassettes to hammer this out, we can be sure it is a greater task than this man from Lehi [Greg Johnson] will accomplish in a few minutes. In my opinion, it does more harm than good as it really gives Mormonism a platform to make their best case.
[Note from editor:] Anonymous was unaware of Bob and Greg's weekly TV show. But I submit that it looks like even their prolonged TV show is not doing a good job at hammering these issues out, because "hammering" isn't the point. The point is to show Christians and LDS how to talk with one another about their faith in terms of *manner* and not really *substance*. The unfortunate result in the public eye is, Mormonism doesn't really appear half as crazy as we originally thought it was! And even more unfortunately, this allows the unsuspecting viewer to be more open to being carried away into the LDS Church by one's "burning in the bosom".
Last night's show (3-15-5) was again painful to watch. The primary reason for that is that Greg continues to let Bob get away with too much. Many points can be raised here, but I'll reserve my comments for a few points. At the beginning of the show, a written question was posed to Bob about whether humans are born with a divine nature or not. He assumed the question was asking whether man is basically good or prone to evil, and if the former, then man must be born with a divine nature... especially since he was born a spirit child of God prior to this mortal life. Bob then claimed that the Scriptures don't talk much about this. Instead they focus on man's fallen nature. Then Bob claimed that we could lose our divine nature if we persist in sin. Greg then simply switched to talking about the image of God.
This was all hopelessly confused. Greg should have asked what is meant by a "nature" anyway, and if God and man do in fact have the same nature. Greg should have also challenged Bob to cite where the Scriptures *ever* say that we are born with a divine nature. If such is the case, then how could man have even fallen in the first place since having the same nature as God would imply man's infallibility as well... unless of course God is really a fallible being after all? There also should have been a discussion on how the *fallen* and *new* natures, as well as the image of God, are all quite distinct from a *human* and a *divine* nature. Now perhaps the questioner meant for Bob to answer it in the way that he did, but Greg should have at least informed the audience of what is going on with this very loaded theological term.
It was also disappointing to watch Greg not call Bob on his view of the atonement beginning in the garden. Greg almost seemed to eventually go along with Bob's view. Just because Jesus sweated "*as it were* great drops of blood" (Lk. 22:44, emphasis added) is no reason to think that our sins began to be laid upon Him then or that God even began to be "appeased" then. And also, just because Jesus feared the separation and wrath of the Father being laid upon Him is no reason to think that that separation and wrath was actually laid upon Him in the garden. The Bible simply says our sins were borne by Him "on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). That's why Paul preached "the cross" as the power of God for those being saved (1 Cor. 1:18), and said that we should *only* glory in the cross (Gal. 6:14). Greg mentioned the 1 Cor. 1:18 passage, but then after Bob gave his take on the atonement beginning in the garden, Greg began to talk about how the Passion encompasses more than simply the death of Christ. That's true, but again why think the separation and wrath laid on Christ (which resulted in the atonement) happened somewhere other than the cross? Greg never again pressed this point with Bob. They talked about what each tradition emphasizes, but they never agreed on a point of disagreement here.
On the subject of limited or unlimited atonement, Greg probably upset the Reformers watching by not pointing out to Bob and the audience that just because the Bible and even the Doctrine and Covenants teach that "Christ died for all", this is not a sufficient reason to treat the phrase outside the context for which it is specified. Reformers would argue that "all" is too broad a term to provide specific content. Even "all men" is too broad. When God said that He will never again destroy "all flesh" (Gen. 9:11 and 15), we understand the context doesn't literally mean all flesh since Noah, his family, and certain animals were spared. Similarly, when the Bible says that Christ died for all men it should be understood that He only died for the world of the elect. (I'm not advocating limited atonement here. I'm simply pointing out a *basic* argument that needs to be taken into account here.)
The last thing I'll mention is the issue of whether Christ died for literally all sins or not. The subject of the infamous "blood atonement" doctrine taught by Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses came up. Here a supposed prophet of the Lord taught that
[t]here are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, whereas, if such is not the case, they will stick to them and remain upon them in the spirit world.
...I do know that there are sins committed, of such a nature that if the people did understand the doctrine of salvation, they would tremble because of their situation. And furthermore, I know that there are transgressors, who, if they knew themselves, and the only condition upon which they can obtain forgiveness, would beg of their brethren to shed their blood, that the smoke thereof might ascend to God as an offering to appease the wrath that is kindled against them, and that the law might have its course. I will say further; I have had men come to me and offer their lives to atone for their sins.
It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit. As it was in ancient days, so it is in our day; and though the principles are taught publicly from this stand, still the people do not understand them; yet the law is precisely the same. There are sins that can be atoned for by an offering upon an altar, as in ancient days; and there are sins that the blood of a lamb, of a calf, or of turtle doves, cannot remit, but they must be atoned for by the blood of the man. That is the reason why men talk to you as they do from this stand; they understand the doctrine and throw out a few words about it. You have been taught that doctrine, but you do not understand it (4:53-4).
Greg didn't have enough time to read this quote, but he rightly asked Bob, "Why wasn't the blood of Christ enough for all sins from a Mormon perspective, and what were those sins?" Bob simply dismissed the idea of man having to shed his own blood for certain sins by saying that the blood of Christ was enough for all sins, except for the unpardonable sin, which is the sin of premeditated murder! Greg then challenged Bob that early Mormon rhetoric talked of murder and adultery as unforgivable sins. Bob then started talking about some supposed period known as "The Mormon Reformation" in which the LDS needed some fiery sermons or "revival rhetoric" to get them into shape. But nonetheless Bob said that it is not a doctrine of the LDS Church that there is any other atonement than the atonement of Christ. Bob justified these early sermons as figurative language, since we aren't going to find too many examples of them being literally carried out. Bob then said that Christ did in fact atoned for adultery.
Now why should we believe Bob on the atonement for adultery when 1) the LDS prophet Young clearly said that if you find your wife in bed with your brother, that should you
put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God[?] ...There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it (Journal of Discourses 3:247).
2) Even if Young was somehow wrong here, the Doctrine and Covenants says that adultery is forgivable... but only once! If one "repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive; But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out" (42:25-6). So how could Christ atone for these subsequent acts of adultery?
And 3), Bob willingly acknowledges that he doesn't speak in any official capacity for the LDS Church.
A further problem with this whole topic is that Greg should have pressed the point of "sins" (plural) that Young said Christ didn't atone for. Bob only mentioned one, viz., the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost, which D&C 132:27 states is the sin of murder and D&C 42:18 says there is no atonement or forgiveness for it "in this world, nor in the world to come." (This is definitely not the "gospel" [i.e., the good news] for all the murders that have ever lived. This goes against 1 John 1:7-9, which says that Christ's blood cleanses us from all sin. This also goes against the fact that certain murderers in the Bible--Moses and David--were declared righteous and honored as examples of faith [Rom. 4:4-8 and Heb. 11:24-40].)
Young also said that for those who
left this church for whom there is no chance whatever for exaltation, but if their blood had been spilled, it would have been better for them... and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it. Any of you who understand the principles of eternity, if you have sinned a sin requiring the shedding of blood, except the sin unto death, would not be satisfied nor rest until your blood should be spilled, that you might gain that salvation you desire. That is the way to love mankind (Journal of Discourses 4:219-20).
Young also taught that there was supposed to be "death on the spot" for a white guy mixing his seed with a Negro (Journal of Discourses 10:110). The rationale for this was that it was "the ownly [sic] way he could get rid of it or have salvation" (Wilford Woodruff's Journal, January 16, 1852).
Young wasn't the only LDS Prophet to teach the doctrine of blood atonement. Joseph F. Smith also clearly taught it (about a hundred years after the so-called "Mormon Reformation"--perhaps this Joseph F. Smith period should be considered "Mormon Reformation II"). He said,
Are you aware that there are certain sins that man may commit for which the atoning blood of Christ does not avail? Do you not know, too, that this doctrine is taught in the Book of Mormon?
...Just a word or two now, on the subject of blood atonement. What is that doctrine? Unadulterated, if you please, laying aside the pernicious insinuations and lying charges that have so often been made, it is simply this: Through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Salvation is twofold: General--that which comes to all men irrespective of a belief (in this life) in Christ--and, Individual--that which man merits through his own acts through life and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.
But man may commit certain grievous sins--according to his light and knowledge--that will place him beyond the reach of the atoning blood of Christ. If then he would be saved he must make sacrifice of his own life to atone--so far as in his power lies--for that sin, for the blood of Christ alone under certain circumstances will not avail.
...Joseph Smith taught that there were certain sins so grievous that man may commit, that they will place the transgressors beyond the power of the atonement of Christ. If these offenses are committed, then the blood of Christ will not cleanse them from their sins even though they repent. Therefore their only hope is to have their own blood shed to atone, as far as possible, in their behalf. This is scriptural doctrine, and is taught in all the standard works of the Church (Doctrines of Salvation 1:133-36).
Finally, in their book, The Mormon Kingdom, Vol. 2, Jerald and Sandra Tanner factually document many individuals who were put to death because of this crazy doctrine. So if this is accurate, then Bob's argument fails about the assumed intended and obviously figurative language of blood atonement.
Evangelicals and LDS seeking common ground (3-18-5)
'Bob and Greg' on Easter morn (3-18-5)
March 14, 2005
To Whom It May Concern:
The purpose of this letter is to voice our strong support for Pastor Greg Johnson and the fine work he and his staff are accomplishing at Standing Together ministries.
We affirm the vision and mission of Standing Together. Furthermore, we believe Standing Together has become a catalyst for uniting the Christian community in Utah for greater spiritual impact, and we are proud to stand in support of Greg and his ministry.
We also acknowledge that through Greg's leadership, we have been afforded precious opportunities to establish genuine relationships with other Christian leaders in Utah and to more effectively reach our LDS friends and neighbors and others outside the Christian faith with the love of Jesus Christ. We have seen good fruit in our lives and in our ministries, partly due to the efforts of Standing Together ministries.
As ministers dedicated to building the Kingdom of God in Utah, we have recently witnessed a disturbing increase in criticisms of Greg Johnson and of Standing Together ministries. We realize that no human being is perfect and Greg Johnson may, at times, make mistakes. In such instances we have seen a true spirit of humility in Greg that gives us confidence in his integrity and teachability.
Although we acknowledge that positive, spirit-filled, life-giving criticism has its place and can often be used to help us become even more effective in our ministries (Proverbs 9:9) we know all too well the damage that misplaced, personal or vindictive attacks from divisive people can cause.
Our desire is to publicly denounce the recent unfounded and troublesome criticisms of Greg Johnson and his ministry. These criticisms are readily identifiable as malicious, baseless and personal in nature. We stand with Greg - as our brother and fellow pastor -- and condemn these assaults as unproductive and frivolous in nature. We understand that there is a price to pay for impact, but we are determined to not let Greg Johnson stand alone under such reckless attacks.
We feel strongly that the body of Christ does not need to be further divided by misinformed critics and their slanderous accusations. Sadly, many of these assaults appear solely aimed at undercutting the excellent ministry of Greg Johnson and Standing Together ministries. We do not feel that God is honored by these misguided and personal attacks. For the sake of the Kingdom in Utah, we implore those who would waste Greg's time with irresponsible and mean spirited attacks to restrain yourself from such inappropriate practices in the future.
We have urged our brother, Greg Johnson, to disregard such misplaced criticisms in light of Titus 3:10-11 which states:
"Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. 11 You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned." NIV
Finally, in the spirit of Nehemiah, we have encouraged Greg to press ahead and continue the great work God has called him to. We are united in his vision and committed to him as a friend and as a brother for greater spiritual impact in Utah.
As Nehemiah told his attackers: "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?" (Nehemiah 6:3 NIV)
Standing Together with Greg Johnson,
Bill Young, Senior Pastor, The Rock Church
First of all, I am an ex-temple Mormon. I have studied Mormonism, both as a Mormon and as a Christian. Mormonism is heretical on just about every topic. My wife and I have been used by the Lord to lead many Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and others to the Lord. I wonder if all of these people would have come to Christ if they had heard Johnson and Bob M dialoguing?
As far as Standing Together goes, I am horrified by this selling out of our Lord and Savior. This is not some "friendship game" we are playing; souls are going to heaven or Hell. How many Mormons have come to Christ because of this dialogue? How much opposing doctrines have been discussed and compared to the Bible?
Ravi gave a good talk, if it had been at a Christian church, but as I understand it, most Mormons (because of the terminology barrier) thought it was wonderful. Personally, I was deeply disappointed in Ravi, whom I have always considered an excellent teacher. I used to go to Billy Graham conferences when I was a Mormon, and because of the terminology barrier, I left thinking how wonderful the messages were.
As far as where the atonement took place (garden or cross or both), I don't recall Jesus ever saying "take up your garden and follow me".
As far as I can tell, the score for Standing Together is Mormons 100; Christians 0.
So much for my two cents.
In HIS love,
Families Against Cults of Indiana, inc.
I wonder if Pastor Bill Young could elaborate further upon the accusations made in his letter. Specifically, what are these "unfounded and troublesome criticisms", and more specifically, who exactly is speaking these criticisms?
While I would agree that criticism (not just positive) has its place and can be useful, I also know that it is so very easy to take ANY criticism of our person or actions as negative, whether it was intended as such or not.
Scripture tells us to speak the truth. As such, if there are those who are maliciously and unjustly attacking Greg Johnson, then Pastor Bill should tell us, so that we can stand with him and Greg. However, if there is truth to the critical comments, then it is equally important for us to consider them, and Greg's actions and ministry, in light of Scripture, to see if these things are so.
Psa 33:4 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.
In His Service,
The topic of Tuesdays show (April 12, 2005) was salvation. Overall, I thought the show was OK (slightly good). Millet dodged two important questions of vital importance. One was posed by Greg about some statements made in The Miracle of Forgiveness by former LDS Prophet and President Spencer W. Kimball. Millet interpreted Kimball's statements to mean being pointed in the "right direction" in regards to repentance and forsaking sin. Kimball's words do not allow for this interpretation. Kimball explicitly says that trying is "not enough"; we must forsake the sin entirely or else all of our former sins will come upon us. Kimball's words speak directly against the type of free grace Millet seems to be promoting.
The other was a question that I posed. I called into the station and talked with a woman there who wrote my question on a sheet of paper, and it was later given to Bob. The question was, "How could LDS general authorities, and BYU faculty (whom all hold temple recommends I am assuming) associate with apostates (like Greg Johnson) and people who actively oppose the LDS faith (like Ravi Zacharias) when the temple recommend asks about these?" I am assuming that an answer of "yes" to either of these questions prevents one from getting, or keeping, a temple recommend. The temple seems to be a requirement for LDS salvation. Well, Bob took interpretative liberties (or just plain lied) when he said that, the temple recommend is referring to groups like the one in Manti, Utah (I think he was referring to The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). So only those who leave the Mormon church and join an offshoot group are apostate? The problem is, many of the people in that Manti church (and other fundamentalist churches as well) have never been LDS. So they are apostate and someone like Greg is not? Also, Bob never addressed associating with those who actively oppose the LDS faith. The caller who came after my question was a former Mormon (apostate) and mentioned how while he was LDS he was under the impression that those who left the faith were apostate (among other things he said). I have learned to trust Bob Millet about as much as Joseph Smith.
Greg did seem to stand up for an evangelical position during the course of the show (I was surprised by this). An LDS caller voiced his frustration how evangelicals often times mention how they and Mormons "worship a different Christ". Greg wet on to say that the historic Jesus that Mormons and Evangelicals are talking about are the same, but the theological questions of who is this person are two separate things. He quoted II Corinthians 11:4 and said that the bible does mention false Jesuses and false teachers.
David Whitsell's point about Bob Millet "associating" with apostates is a mute one. The temple recommend question reads as follows:
Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
I don't see the word "associate" anywhere in there. Millet can honestly answer "no" to the question, keep his recommend, and "associate" with anyone he chooses - as long as he doesn't support or agree with their apostate beliefs.
Thank you Mike for your reply. I did not have a temple recommend (nor do I have one now). I do not know how I would go about getting one either.
Actually, I had 2 questions that I asked the girl at on the other end of the phone. She then wrote the question (actually there were two questions) in a concise sentence format but somethings got left out. I actually asked two questions. One question was about associating with people who actively oppose the LDS church, and I asked another about associating with exmormons or apostates. This response only seems to address those who actively oppose the church (antis). I do not have a major problem with it other than to say "affliate" does seem to be a synomoym with "associate" although "affliliate" seems to be a bit stronger. I am willing to grant to an LDS person that the two words can have different meanings.
However, Dr. Millet's response seems to assume the same understanding that I had. He seems to challenge the "who" and not the symmantic range or the words "associate" and "affiliate". He took it to mean that the temple recommend is referring to groups like the one in Manti (I think he was referring to the True and Living Church of Jesus of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). The problem with his answer is this: that group is not actively opposed to the LDS church and some of its members have never been part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (and the same would hold true for other fundamentalists Mormons).
I would really like to get my own copy of the temple recommned, and I would also like to here further explanation on this topic.
Also, I have noticed a disturbing trend in your dialogues. I have noticed that other groups (like the Branch Davidians and fundamentalist Mormon groups) have been "bashed" and labeled a cult. I think the same courtesy should be granted to other groups, that you are granting to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Either they are all cults, including the LDS, or none of them are (I really do not like the word "cult" because it is too vague).
Again thank you for your response and I hope to hear from you soon!
Hi David - thanks for writing.
Assuming you are not LDS, you cannot obtain a temple recommend for yourself of course. But if you're curious about the requirements to obtain one, you can read the temple recommend questions on the following anti-Mormon website:
I agree that Bob Millet's response to your question sounded as if Bob doesn't consider Greg an apostate - which from the Mormon perspective is not true. We consider all who leave the Church to be apostates. In fact, we consider all "traditional" Christians to be apostate in the general sense that modern Christianity has forsaken the organization, doctrines, and practices of the New Testament Church. So although your original point about Mormons "associating" with apostates is not valid, your point about Bob attempting to define the meaning of "apostate" is a good one.
I'm not sure what you meant by the "disturbing trend" in my dialogs. You lost me with the "courtesy granted to other cults" thing so I have no reply to that.
Thanks again for writing.
Mike. ...The point about the disturbing trend was Bob and Greg have been taking shots at other groups that are not Evangelical and are not LDS. Like, the Branch Davidians and Mormon Fundamentalist groups.
On the May 10th, 2005 show, Bob was asked if it's true that Mormon women have to be submitted to their husbands in order to get out of the grave. Bob went on to talk about how submission goes both ways as Ephesians 5:21 states, and that salvation unto Christ is a very personal thing, but the husband and wife are still dependent on each other in order to remain together as a marital unit in the afterlife. Then Bob said there is a teaching about the resurrection being a priesthood ordinance that he didn't know much about it.
I find this hard to believe, especially since Bob is a temple Mormon. And for that reason, I suspect Bob just didn't want to talk about it. For a lot of this information, see http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/resurrectwife.htm.
Bob then went on to say, "There are no spiritual gifts or blessing available to men in the LDS faith that are not available to women." Amazing! And what about the priesthood? Obviously LDS don't offer the priesthood to women. Greg said that as an Evangelical, he does think there are different gifts of authority given to men in the Church that are not given to women, but Bob just let this go and they went to the next question.
Bob and Greg announced tonight (May 24th, 2005) that for practical reasons relating to how busy they are, they will no longer be having a weekly TV show even though they are still open to doing more TV shows down the road.
This discussion folder will still be open to post information concerning Bob and Greg's dialogues, since they continue to work together in various venues.
Tracy Tennant's article
Bob and Greg's new book
East Valley Tribune--Mormon, Baptist respect differences in faith (5-2-8)
Church Executive--Mormons and Evangelicals cross religious barriers (5-14-8)
New blog critical of Standing Together
Hug One Another (4-19-11)
Here's the dialogue I had with the reporter Eric Peterson who wrote the preceding article:
Hi Rob I was just reading an interesting article you wrote about LDS/Evangelical friendship groups and whether or not efforts at bridge-building might be compromising critical evangelical beliefs.
I was wondering if you could talk with me a little bit about some of those concerns. I also had spoke with Greg Johnson and his opinion was that confrontational evangelists feel marginalized because they realize their influence has weakened in comparison to the advances made by evangelicals who aren't as confrontational.
If you have 10 or 15 minutes today or tomorrow and would like to give me a call my contact info is below. Thanks!
Eric S. Peterson
Sorry I got this late. I'm on vacation and won't be back home until tomorrow. I'll try to call you when I get back. In the mean time, you might also be interested in [this MormonInfo.org's dialogue page concerning Millet and Johnson's dialogues, this, and this.]
BTW Eric, I don't think bridge-building compromises the Christian Faith or beliefs. The problem is how it is done. There is a reason why the Bible warns about taking the false prophet into one's home/church (2 John 10, 11). There are many (probably most evangelical) pastors in UT that are against what Greg is doing simply because the venue isn't appropriate. Kurt Van Gorden, director of the Utah Gospel Mission, has documented individuals who have come to Greg's dialogues with Bob Millet and have converted into Mormonism. That's why there's no one doing counter-cult ministry that is for what Greg is doing.
As for whether we feel marginalized, it depends on the context. For example, we felt the backhand of Richard Mouw when he apologized for the way we've treated Mormons and never spoke positively of all the various counter-cult ministries doing work for years here in UT. But we don't feel marginalized in general. Greg's probably feeling marginalized now, since the Biola University spring break mission trip, which has been working with Greg for years is no longer working with him simply because they've decided that his ministry is [not] really a mission, but a fun "get-to-know-you-and-your-beliefs" time. I look at my stats everyday on my MormonInfo.org, and it sure doesn't appear to me that I've been marginalized. Again, it appears to me that Greg's being marginalized by most of the evangelical pastors in UT. Sure Greg's made the news by doing big events, but we aren't seeing the conversions from his ministry. We see LDS saying, "Oh that's so nice how similar we are," but we don't see serious challenges to the LDS faith that would cause LDS to convert to traditional Christianity.
The fact is that the body of Christ utilizes all sorts of approaches in sharing the gospel. Some are softer than others. Some are harder than others. Nonetheless, a balanced Christian is going to welcome all approaches that genuinely challenge people with the gospel. It's just that most Christians I'm aware of don't think Greg's approach actually accomplishes this, and in fact actually hurts the cause of the gospel.
Hope this helps!
As a fellow Biola alum and member of EMI [Evangelical Mormon Interaction?] for several years, I am familiar with who you are the ministry that you are doing. I don't mean to criticize nor be over defensive, but I have to tell you that I was hurt by the words that I read from the article...
Having been involved with the ministry for a couple years... I prayed that God would direct the plans for the spring break trip I would lead the following school year.
Greg Johnson has been an incredible mentor to many in our "EMI family." Without Greg's longstanding relationship with Dr. Millett, BYU, and the LDS church we would not have had any connections nor opportunities in Utah whatsoever. Because of the groundwork provided by Greg, several Biola students have made lifelong and life changing friendships without LDS students throughout the state.
It breaks my heart that you cited Biola intentionally breaking off ties with Standing Together. The spring break trip, which I co-lead, was the first trip we planned that was not necessarily "hosted" by Greg's ministry, but he played an integral part in providing tangible means for our team to be the hands and feet of Christ in Utah. This "break" from Greg was not so much an intentional decision as it was a convenience for our week's schedule.
Again, I apologize if this seems overly defensive I just wanted to let you know that not all of the Biola, EMI, or evangelical circles have written Greg Johnson's work as ineffective. As with any fallen person desiring to do God's will, he has made mistakes but God is continuing to use his work and heart for Truth in Utah for the kingdom.
[I replied:] "Without Greg's longstanding relationship with Dr. Millett, BYU, and the LDS church we would not have had any connections nor opportunities in Utah whatsoever." Seriously? After all the many years Biola has been coming up to Utah, they wouldn't have "any connections nor opportunities in Utah whatsoever" without the guidance of Greg? Come on!
Then you said, "Because of the groundwork provided by Greg, several Biola students have made lifelong and life changing friendships without LDS students throughout the state." Are you aware that I started the Biola UT spring break trip? Greg's involvement didn't come until about 7 years later. I am thankful for the Biola students that have moved to Utah, but it wasn't all Greg's doing. In fact, some that I know who are living up here now are not in favor of what Greg's doing.
I also never stated that Greg "hosted" the team, and am aware of his involvement. All that was stated in the article was that Biola has stopped working with Greg. The reason you claim is different from the reason given by 2 sources I got on the subject. So if Greg can claim us poor confrontational evangelists are feeling marginalized, then perhaps he needs to look in the mirror and the same made be said of him. I will tell you that most of the pastors I know here in Utah are not in favor of Greg and think that he is doing more harm than good.
[She replied:] Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Again, I want to let you know that I am not trying to come at you with any bitterness or anger. For the most part, I was just surprised to see Biola's split from Standing Together stated in such indefinite and harsh terms.
I did know that you started the trips to Utah and am grateful for the opportunity that you have created for Biola- especially considering that I am one of those students whose lives have been changed through these trips and will be making the move to Utah myself in a few weeks.
Please know that I am speaking for myself and not for Biola, the ministry, nor the greater evangelical population in regards of my opinion on Greg. But I do know that Greg's heart is see Christ move in Utah: LDS and evangelical communities alike. There is something to seeing the body of Christ stand together and if we can't agree in ministry strategies the least we can do is pray for wisdom for each other and ourselves. I am confident that you are doing the same and praying for clarity for Greg as he is still a moving force in Utah. Likewise, I have been praying for your ministry since I saw one of your posts in the EMI folder on Bubbs my freshmen year.
Again, I really hope that I haven't offended you. The prompting to write you came from a place of sadness and feeling of responsibility for cutting ties--especially after the ways God has used Greg in my life, both personally in breaking my heart for Utah and for my involvement in the ministry.
[I replied:] Thanks...! I don't doubt your heart or Greg's. And I'm not saying that there's nothing good about Greg. Greg has rightly called attention to the way we communicate is *often* just as important as what we communicate. And again, I'm all for friendship evangelism (I want more Christians to move to UT for that very purpose; it cannot be minimized). The problem is that the majority of pastors here think Greg's doing more harm than good in the specific way he's doing his outreach. For example, Pastor Ross Anderson in Roy is a good friend, who is all about friendship evangelism, but doesn't like what Greg's doing with Millet.
I felt that sadness of cutting ties--the ties that Biola cut with me when they went a different direction. I dealt with it and accepted the emphasis shift, but then again, I think Greg is the wrong guy for the job. There are better ways and people to follow with friendship evangelism that are more challenging and less dangerous to the Christian community as a whole.
Religious experts open up LDS, evangelical dialogue (6-13-12)
"We're going to offer each other a civility that's based on our respect for one another, our friendship and courtesy of our Christian faith," said Johnson.