There are 11 thoughts on “Defending the King and His Kingdom”.

  1. That is a very good tip particularly to those new to the
    blogosphere. Simple but very precise info… Thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read article!

  2. I very much appreciate Marsha’s kind remarks. Her comment open an avenue for three points I wish to make:

    1. Those who know me best will affirm that I am constantly revising even as an essay goes to the press (or is posted). One reason is that I see my essays as gifts I wish to place upon the altar in the hope of finding favor with God. I realize that this gives an intensity to what I write that troubles some readers. But I cannot do otherwise. Marsha’s remarks have caused me to read again “Defending the King and His Kingdom.” I am, I must admit, not entirely dissatisfied with that essay.

    2. I was drawn to begin posting on a message board, something I have resisted for several reasons, when someone pointed out that this “Defending the King” was being criticized. What I discovered is that the complaints were not against the soundness of my arguments or evidence. Instead, the complaint was that my essay was either calculated to erase the fragile faith of troubled Latter-day Saints, or would have that impact. Some seemed annoyed that I had not acknowledged the pain some troubled the Saints experience when they encounter what is currently available wholesale on the Internet about LDS history, or that I did not endorse the decision of those who have lost faith in God. My intention, of course, was to offer the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only real balm for all of us who face a troubled and disconsolate world and who have experienced our own rough and tumble encounters with the darkness we all in different ways eventually face during our earthly probation. Put another way, only God can save us–from both death and sin.

    3. Message boards (and perhaps also blogs and even lists) do not seem to me to be good places to learn. They are, instead, venues in which some harmless socializing takes place, or, if so inclined, one can indulge an appetite or feed an addiction to opine, and hence blast away at the faith of the Saints. They are not, however, good places to acquire new information or deepen one’s understanding. Some of what gets posted is an effort to punish the faithful. I wonder how many of praying rather than preying on others.

  3. I think you had posted a link to this on the MDD board, for me to read, Dr. Midgley. I read some of it, but not all, but came across it, again, today and could not stop reading. This is really quite an amazing piece. Very thoughtful and thought provoking.

    I just wanted to say that there are all kinds of so called “Cultural Mormons”. I do understand what you mean about anti-Christs, especially, if they truly no longer believe in Christ. But, some, who are still in the church, or on the peripheral, may yet recover their faith and should not be discarded or labeled too quickly.

    I did very much enjoy reading your piece. It was very inspiring. Thank you.

  4. I like Dr. Midgley. I remember reading an article in US News and World Report, some years ago, breathing the same spirit as the The Jesus Mysteries. The author was trying to unhinge Jesus from reality. I remember the dark spirit it emanated.

    Jesus lives, the gospel is true. Joseph Smith didn’t lie to us, and I am not ashamed of it. In the near future we are all going to find that out.

    Keep up the good work Dr. Midgley. I have talked to you on the phone, and would enjoy meeting you in person someday.

    Merry Christmas

  5. I very much appreciate the comments on my sermon. I don’t recognize Janice, but I appreciate her kind remarks, And, yes, Robert Smith has it exactly right in calling my essay a sermon, and also in indicating that it was (perhaps) too narrowly drawn. Let me explain both why it was a sermon and why I gave my pleadings their distinctive focus. It was drafted and was ready to serve as the “Editor’s Introduction” to the now cancelled issue of the Mormon Studies Review. Professor Peterson provided an introduction to what I had written, and he has used that nice essay to introduce the first volume of Interpreter. So the cancelled issue of the Review had an introduction to the introduction. My sermon was an attempt to respond to the subtle hints that the remarkable publication that Professor Peterson started in 1989 was about to be shut down in what now seems to have been an unexplained “change of direction” at the Maxwell Institute.

    In part this explains my remarks about honoring Elder Maxwell’s name and following his prophetic admonitions. My initial contact with Elder Maxwell came when I was a freshman at Utah’s other university, and he was a mature and able mentor for some young kids just out of what they still call “high school.” Subsequently I had conversations with him, with witnesses, about his strong support for our efforts to sustain and defend the Kingdom.

    Ted Vaggalis (supported by Neal Rappleye) has grasped the main point I was striving to make about our–that is, the Saints–duty to God in this disconsolate world. I am hoping that Ted will soon complete an essay he has been threatening to write that deals with a similar topic.

    I am somewhat aware of my friend John Morehead’s problems with various sectarian countercultists. We witnessed some of that at a meeting we both attended at the now defunct Salt Lake Theological Seminary. It was for both of us quite an experience sitting there hour after hour with Bill McKeever, Reverend Kurt Van Gorden, and other belligerent folks, not one of whom troubled themselves to introduce themselves to me. At the end of a full day of talk about how best to drag Latter-day Saints into some brand of conservative Protestantism, it was for me stunning to hear the opinions of those who were not countercultists who just turned up at that meeting hoping to learn something about Mormon things express their envy of the Saints. Several complained that they did not know a single Protestant outside of their own congregation, while the Saints had potential friends wherever the moved or visited. I saw nothing that day to indicate that any new friendships were being formed, since the folks there that day did not introduce themselves to each other. (My wife and I have lived in Germany, France, Austria and, of course, New Zealand, and we have immediately had a story of friends in each location.) And yet there had been talk that day about the need for Protestants to befriend Saints as a way of pulling them from their presumably terrible pagan ways.

    I am, of course, because I try to be a missionary as often as possible very much interested in what John calls “religious migration” out of Protestantism. But I don’t expect Protestants to consciously strive to make that easy. It is, however, remarkably easy for anyone to transition out of their present faith, as Robert Smith has pointed out. The Saints are constantly doing their best to draw those who have gone missing back into the Kingdom of God. I would be pleased if my sermon, in which I responded to recent statement of his unfaith, would cause him to turn or return unto Christ, put away his current opinion that there is little reason to believe in God, or to believe that there even was a Jesus of Nazareth, or that it is silly to believe that one person must die because others have made mistakes. Such a one, I am confident that John will agree, despite our differences, is a blind guide for anyone seeking further light and knowledge and hence the Kingdom of God.

  6. There is a sad irony in the responses to Professor Midgley’s essay. Rather than focus on his main point, the responses were directed towards the desire of the responders to cultivate a policy of helping people to cope with their disenchantment. I do not doubt that people do on occasion suffer as they try to work through their responses to accepting or denying religious belief. And it may be necessary to help them cope. But that was not the point of the essay.

    Professor Midgley has directed our attention to the fact that Latter-day Saints are always confronted with the loyalty problem. We live between two worlds, the world of faithful obedience to God’s commands, and the world that is governed by the idea that reason alone is the one thing needed for the good life. This profane world imposes its demands on us daily and it makes resistance to its demands costly, in terms of esteem, wealth, and power. It is tempting to try to find an accommodation between these two worlds, but to do so is to give oneself over to the profane world and to abandon God. This seems to many to be extreme. But it is nonetheless the truth of the choices placed before us. We should not see in our intellectual pursuits the way to make the Gospel more worldly. Instead, it should be to make clear the nature of these two worlds we face and to see that there are good grounds for seeing the Gospel as the one thing needful.

    To suffer is part of what it is to be a human being. It reflects the deep import of the choices we find ourselves compelled to make as we face the conflicting demands of loyalty. So, we do not serve people well when we reduce their choices to being merely matters of preference. Instead, we must face up to the importance of the choices before us, and we do that only if we are aware of the claims made by the views we deliberate about. Professor Midgley’s essay does just that. He reminds us of the power of the Gospel to affect our lives, to make demands on our loyalty, legitimate demands, and in seeing this our decisions do not become easier. But they do become substantial, as befits human beings and children of God. It is in this that our lives become worth living.

  7. A very nice sermon by a beloved mentor of mine, but perhaps too narrowly drawn.
    Most Mormons will never see it, just as they have never seen an issue of Dialogue or Sunstone, and could probably not care less. Most of those who self-identify as “Mormon,” whether active or not, do not even have temple recommends, and many do not bother to pay tithing or to abide by many other demands of the faith. Many of them will come around sooner or later, but Elder Holland has wisely counseled that we not be particularly demanding of them. Indeed, we have seen some Saints leave the faith only to later return in all humility. We need to be very tolerant of divergent points of view and faith traditions — including those of our former coreligionists.
    Unlike Lou, I never saw Dialogue as “a genuine Latter-day Saint academic journal,” but as a forum for legitimate discussion and genuine dialogue. When it turned into Monologue I was deeply disappointed, but simply moved on.

  8. I find this interesting as an Evangelical for a couple of reasons. First, in my experience in the past as a part of the Evangelical counter-cult, after leaving this community I was treated rather harshly by some, almost as an apostate, the very type of concept that counter-cult persons decry in the ways various new religions can treat their former members. So here we have someone who has critiqued the Evangelical counter-cult acting in ways very much like them in an apologetic against those from his own religious community Secondly, in my presentation at Sunstone earlier this year I noted that religious communities often make it very difficult for members to migrate to other religious communities after having difficulties in their own religious groups. I suggested that religious communities might consider the demographics and challenges related to religious migration and work to make these journeys easier. Our Transitions resource for former Mormons was designed as a positive way to try to accomplish just this, and it was very well received by many at Sunstone. While I doubt that Mr. Midgely will be able to step back and see such dynamics being played out in his response, my hope is that others in the LDS Church, and perhaps its leadership, can.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

All comments are moderated to ensure respectful discourse. It is assumed that it is possible to disagree agreeably and intelligently and comments that intend to increase overall understanding are particularly encouraged. Individual authors are given the option to disallow commenting or end commenting after a certain period at their discretion.

Close this window

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This