| I sent the following comments to post on John Morehead's blog on "Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith Video: Professional Polish on a Counter-Cult Apologetic Misfire." Unfortunately Morehead never allowed them on his blog. Instead he took another SHOT at my ministry without mentioning it or me by name. In the summer of 2005, he wrote a very demeaning article toward his confrontational brothers and sisters, which was published in Cornerstone Magazine. I was clearly mentioned in this article, but not by name.
February 28, 2007
Rob Sivulka’s Comments on John Morehead’s Blog on the Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD
As another Christian philosopher and ethicist, I do not agree with John Morehead putting this info up on the internet prior to its intended release date. Morehead makes this out to be a matter of “justice” to divulge information to the LDS community at this time. Justice is often, though not always, measured by consequences. The consequences here are: 1) he offends his Christian brothers, and 2) more LDS are likely not to watch the video as a result. Morehead appears not to care about the former and he appears to deeply care about the latter being accomplished. As a result, it strikes me that he does not follow the apostle’s command to live at peace with all men as far as possible (Rom. 12:18), and to not give offense in anything so that the ministry may not be discredited (2 Cor. 6:3, NASB). What is possible here is for Morehead to submit to most of his Christian brothers, and postpone his article until after the release of the DVD.
The second result of Morehead’s action seems more troubling than the first. Whether Morehead realizes it or not, he is actually dissuading LDS from viewing the video who would have actually watched it without his blog warning. The situation is similar to one neighbor M spilling the beans on a surprise intervention for a handful of drug-addicted neighbors X, Y, and Z. The rest of the neighbors A, B, C, and D have gone to great lengths to pull the intervention off, since they firmly believe this is what will best work for X, Y, and Z. After all, A, B, C, and D have experienced success with it before in other neighborhoods. But M firmly believes that most will adversely react to the intervention, and thus believes it should not be attempted. In fact, M attempts to endear himself even more to X, Y, and Z by alerting them to A, B, C, and D’s intentions. M has been trying for years to make inroads of friendship with his needy neighbors, but so have A, B, C, and D. The latter though are actually willing to do something that even M admits will positively affect “some” actually for the better. M on the other hand has never experienced any drug-addicted friends ever reforming their habits… or at least none that anyone knows about. The victory that M rejoices over is simply that he’s not offended any needy neighbors. He even avoids language that typify X, Y, and Z as “addicts.” Instead, he refers to them as simply “a unique culture.” A, B, C, and D have victories of reformation, simply because they are willing to offend for a higher purpose. As a result of M’s actions, A, B, C, and D have trouble trusting M again with information. They find him a hindrance to that which is ultimately good.
Another problem with Morehead’s critique is that he doesn’t read carefully. The title of the DVD is not “Jesus Christ vs. Joseph Smith;” it’s “Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith.” A “/” is quite different from a “vs.” Perhaps if he had this problem, others will too, and perhaps the DVD would be better entitled “Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith,” but the producers can never guarantee perfect perceptions by their audience.
I also have a problem with Morehead’s blog being so hypocritical. He writes through an “impersonal” means against something that he deems as “impersonal.” If he can have recourse to these means, why can’t others through a DVD distribution? (By the way, as Russ East of Utah Partnerships for Christ pointed out to me, it seems absurd to dismiss all the impersonal ministry that goes out over the TV and radio.) And more generally and importantly, if Morehead can warn LDS about this, then what’s the problem with some ministers wanting to warn LDS with this DVD? These ministers don’t have a problem with warning in itself, but Morehead hypocritically warns against warning.
I imagine Morehead thinks that Jesus, as well as his apostles and prophets, did not know as much as the scholars that Morehead references, who tell us not to disrupt “sacred narratives.” As a result, Morehead again hypocritically disrupts the sacred narrative of traditional Christianity, and creates defensiveness within the body of Christ. It is fine for Morehead to do this, but if that is the case, why can’t those who want to follow the example of Christ, and His apostles and prophets do the same thing with this DVD distribution?
Morehead also seems shocked that Christians would dare call a false prophet what he is. He supposes that this is just too much for LDS sensitivities. This certainly may be true for some LDS who aren’t ready for it, but Christians have every reason to plant the truth and to trust God with the increase. Other LDS, as past examples abundantly show, are interested why others regard Smith as a false prophet. The DVD is ready to assist these individuals with all sorts of well documented reasons. No matter what stage an LDS individual is at, they are still in the image of God and have a mind to think with. As such, they are forced to deal with the truth, and this is what makes them culpable at judgment day. They aren’t the overly sensitive machines that Morehead supposes they are, incapable of appropriately dealing with inconvenient truths.
Morehead also cites John Bracht as saying, “Mormon proselytizing efforts have not been appreciably affected.” This is an easy scientific claim to verify or debunk. For more on this, please click HERE. For Bracht and Morehead, it simply seems that they are too theoretical. They need to look at the facts.
R. M. Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
University of Utah
Rio Salado College