Responding to Rocky Hulse's Critique of the Moroni 8:18 Campaign

 

Introduction

My screen shot of the Hulses from one of their videos
My screen shot of the Hulses from one of their videos
Rocky Hulse of Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach has written an explanation of why he disagrees with Christians claiming they agree with the Moroni 8:18 campaign on his Facebook page called “'I agree with Moroni 8:18': No. No, I don’t!” Moroni 8:18 is a passage in the Book of Mormon (BM) that simply says, “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” Many Christians, whether they claim to agree with it or not, have jumped on this to ask LDS why they don’t agree with their own scripture. Current LDS teaching is that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man… I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345 [pre-2002 editions]).

On August 18th, 2011 (8:18), many Christians used this date to post on their Facebook walls and other places that they agree with Moroni 8:18, and wonder why Mormons do not. The intent was to open up some dialogues with Mormons concerning the nature of God, and how they need to repent of their God who is an exalted man. The call is to trust, not simply the unchanging God of the Book of Mormon, but ultimately the God of the Bible. This We Agree with 8:18 campaign was the brain-child of Aaron Shafovaloff, who works with Mormonism Research Ministry and is also a board member for our ministry—Courageous Christians United.

Since Shafovaloff asked for some defense, I am writing this response to Hulse. This article will demonstrate that Hulse’s attack on the 8:18 campaign is inconsistent with his own practices, lacking biblical basis, is an appeal to authority, a confusion on the nature of truth, and divisive to the Body of Christ. I have been grieved at the un-Christlike statements being leveled at Shafovaloff, my brother in the Lord, by many individuals, and Hulse’s article fuels that fire. This is a fire that needs extinguishing.

Inconsistency

Hulse claims that one can use LDS sources to show how Mormons are inconsistent. So when he uses LDS sources, he simply uses them to his own advantage. For example, when he started each of his TV shows on Mormonism, he favorably quoted Brigham Young. Husle said, “As always on this program we like to give a couple quotes that we think legitimizes what we do here. And the first one is from Brigham Young, and he said, 'I say to the whole world, receive the truth, no matter who presents it to you. Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test'” (e.g., see here). Hulse continued to use that passage from the LDS Journal of Discourses (JD) 16:46 (which by the way, Young thought of his own sermons as scripture in 13:95) to get LDS to do what he wants them to do. Hulse claimed, “We believe these quotes justify what we do.”

On the surface, anyone would naturally think that Hulse agrees with what Young said. However, Hulse is quite emphatic that he will not agree with any Mormon scripture. He says, “From the perspective of agreeing with Mormon scripture, I take exception. I believe it is wrong to agree with that which is known to be false. Spiritual truth is not contained in any Mormon scripture. Period!” Later he says, “There is no question that Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon and he is known to be a false prophet and false teacher. Why then, would I agree with anything that he wrote purporting to be spiritual truth?”

So at this point, one has to wonder, first of all, was Brigham Young’s statement a “spiritual truth”? If not, why not? Should it be called a natural or false truth? What in the world would that be? I will return to this point latter under the discussion of the nature of truth.

Second of all, how is what Hulse uses for his purposes in the JD deemed false if he uses it to “justify what we do”? It seems pretty clear that Hulse is caught in an inconsistency. He implicitly agrees with the JD quote--that we should agree with the truth wherever we find it--but he cannot agree with what the 8:18 crowd is doing.

Lacking Biblical Basis

Hulse critiques the support for 8:18 on the basis of Paul debating the Epicureans and quoting the pagan writers in Acts 17. Hulse argues, first of all, that Paul used their writings not to prove the truth of what they wrote, but to confirm the truth of the Bible. Then Hulse claims that if Paul were to claim they spoke the truth, then he would be endorsing the false god Zeus. Hulse implicitly agrees with a quote from a Let Us Reason Ministries article called “Paul’s Mars Hill Appeal”, which said, “What [Paul] quoted was directly opposing the view of the Epicureans. Here Paul is citing poets who they respected and brilliantly turned it on their idolatry they now practiced. …If Paul meant they were actually God’s offspring He would be agreeing with the gods of Greek philosophy. He did not!”

In response, just because Paul’s ultimate goal was getting his crowd to believe the Bible doesn’t entail that he did not also agree with what the pagans had written. Hulse simply begs the question that agreeing with some statement is equivalent to endorsing their false god. How does that follow? For Paul to endorse the pagan truths--“for in Him we live and move and have our being” and also “for we are also his offspring”--simply points out that making graven images is inconsistent with these truths. But in Hulse’s mind, they can’t be truths, since they are from pagan sources. Again, there is no good argument here why individual statements in pagan sources cannot be true. Hulse just has an immediate emotional reaction against anything pagan. There is nothing wrong with emotional reactions against paganism, but when that takes the place of good reason, then we don’t have any reason not to agree with the pagan statements.

Similarly, the 8:18 crowd also wants to confirm the truth of the Bible. They are not content to simply let LDS work out an inconsistency between the BM and current teaching all by themselves. The 8:18 crowd wants LDS to see that the BM is true when it agrees with what the Bible has always taught (e.g., Psalm 90:2). Just like Paul did not endorse his current audience’s false god, the 8:18 crowd doesn’t endorse the current LDS false god. Both Paul and the 8:18 crowd are drawing on truths from non-biblical sources that their current audiences should accept, and those truths are consistent or “on par” (to use Hulse’s language) with the Bible.

Next, Hulse argues,“Believing that spiritual truth can be contained in Mormon scripture is to believe that truth can come from error; it cannot. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Co. 6:14). Mormonism is a false teaching. Period!” The argument is extremely weak. “[T]ruth cannot come from error,” seems to be a reference to an errant source. But that is commonly known as the genetic fallacy. But just because I learned 2+2=4 from a witch doesn’t entail it is not true or that there are not any good reasons to believe it. Similarly, just because an individual like an LDS may come to hold 8:18 doesn’t entail that it is not true or there are no good reasons to believe that truth.

As for 2 Corinthians 6:14, legalistic fundamentalists often like throwing this verse out when they want other Christians to stay away from something they don’t like (e.g., music, democrats, clothing, dancing, certain scientific theories, etc.). Hulse uses this verse to scare people away from discovering any truth in the BM. Recall that the same author of this 2 Corinthians passage was the same individual who agreed with pagan sources in Acts 17 as well as 1 Cor. 15:33. Further, Matthew 5:45 is clear that we have at least the sun and rain in common with the unjust, so I don’t think that Hulse is being fair in using this passage. The context of the 2 Corinthians passage is simply talking about purity and not being corrupted by that which is unclean (cf. vs. 17). The passage has nothing to do with abstaining from seeking truth or wisdom outside the Bible, including pagan sources. I am not being unequally yoked if I believe or agree with the Satanic Bible that “dogma… is necessary (50),” for example, since Satan can go to hell as far as I am concerned.

Finally, the Apostle Paul was in agreement with the Prophet Amos who used and agreed with moral principles found within nature that the Gentiles were held responsible with. Amos preached to the Gentile nations that did not have the Old Testament. Nonetheless, they, like the pagans Paul addressed, should have known better. This should not surprise us, since Psalm 19 and Romans 1 is very clear about the knowledge of God revealed clearly to all in nature and outside the Bible. God is omnipresent, and His truth lightens everyone that comes into the world (Jn. 1:9). Proverbs tells us that wisdom cries out from the streets (1:20) and we are instructed to go and learn a lesson from the ant (6:6). It is simply beyond belief that unbelievers could not codify some of these natural principles into false scriptures or at least authoritative writings (e.g., the Code of Hammurabi).

Appeal to Authority

Having been LDS himself, Rocky seems repulsed by the idea of agreeing with anything Mormon. As a result of this baggage, he assumes that there is no truth in anything Mormon that he could agree with. To do so in his mind is to give validity to the Mormon Church. Further, he seems to generalize the 8:18 crowd as never living as Mormons, who obviously don’t know how to really deal with the LDS mindset. He says,

“Part of the problem with the ‘I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign’ is a foundational ignorance that is sometimes displayed by those who are involved in ministry outreach to Mormons, but were never members of the Mormon Church themselves. Those who were never Mormons themselves, have studied greatly, and have done a great work in the Mormon community; however, all the reading and studying in the world cannot replace the first hand experience of having lived Mormonism. I spent 33 years on active duty in the United States Navy, 20 years of that time riding Navy ships at sea. Reading every available book or periodical about life at sea cannot bring a person to the reality of what it is like to sail aboard a modern naval vessel at sea.

These well-meaning individuals supporting the ‘I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign’ fail to consider the basic reality that Mormonism uses a different dictionary than the rest of the English speaking world. Mormonism’s definition of many religious terms does not match that of Mainstream Christianity. This failure stem’s from not having a Mormon indoctrination foundation. …[N]on-exMormons do not take into account the indoctrination aspect of the cult culture, nor the misuse of words.”

Hulse goes on to tell us that he knows that Mormons really won’t have a problem anyway with 8:18, since it becomes reinterpreted according to the Mormon lens. This lens simply imposes current Mormonism onto 8:18. In effect, Hulse is claiming that given his insider knowledge, no Mormon is going to struggle with fitting 8:18 into their worldview.

In logic, we call this the fallacy of appealing to authority. Hulse is the enlightened one, since he has been on the inside and he knows better than all the rest of those in the 8:18 crowd.

There are at least three problems here. First, I personally know a number of former Mormons who have participated with or at least approve with the 8:18 campaign (including no less than Sandra Tanner of Utah Lighthouse Ministry). Are they now not as competent as Hulse? They have insider knowledge as well, but they think that 8:18 may be valuable for at least some LDS, including those who have been fully indoctrinated family members. Second, the 8:18 crowd is not as ignorant as Hulse paints them. One doesn’t need insider knowledge to realize the heavy indoctrination LDS go through. Third, Hulse’s authority is not on par with the Prophet Amos and the Apostle Paul, and we have already seen how they believed God could use truths from outside the Bible (regardless of the immediate source) that unbelievers should believe.

Confusion on the Nature of Truth

Hulse, as already stated, has said, “Spiritual truth is not contained in any Mormon scripture. Period!” He goes on to affirm that he uses LDS sources all the time for his purposes, but says, “What I will not do is agree with any quotation from Mormonism as being spiritual truth on par with the Bible. No part of Mormonism, even if plagiarized from the Bible, has a foundation of spiritual truth.” In fact, Hulse says that “to agree with Moroni 8:18, as if it were spiritual truth, is blasphemous.”

I agree with all the passages in the BM directly quoted from the King James Version of the Bible. I put those on par with the Bible, since they are actually from the Bible. So according to Hulse's logic, I am doing something "blasphemous."

Further, what is really meant by putting 8:18 on par with scripture? Does it mean that we think 8:18 is really scripture? No. But we still think it is a divine truth, since all truth is God's truth. 2+2=4 is not scripture, but it is still truth. John 1:1 is not more true than 2+2=4, and Ps. 90:2 is not more true than Moroni 8:18. So in that metaphysical sense, they are all on par. They are all truths that ultimately come from God, who is the giver of all good things. The Bible is the written revelation foundational for our judgments concerning other so-called later revelations. Galatians 1:6-9 is clear about that. This is an epistemic sense of priority.

So we do in fact put 8:18 on a metaphysical, not epistemic, par with the truth in the Bible, and we also put the KJV direct quotations in the BM on metaphysical par with the Bible. Hulse confuses a metaphysical sense of priority with an epistemic one, and then claims that those who put any LDS source on par with the Bible are “blasphemous.”

Further, he even claimed that simply agreeing with Moroni 8:18 is giving “validity to Mormon scripture as equal with God’s Scripture, the Bible.” Again, “equal” in what sense? As truth (metaphysically) or as the means by which to judge whether the Bible or any other revelation is true (epistemically)? Hulse doesn’t seem to be aware of this distinction, and as a result, he falsely assumes the worst of those involved in the 8:18 campaign when they put 8:18 “on par” with what is revealed in the Bible.

All truth is God’s truth. Every truth is ultimately a divine truth, regardless of the immediate source. If you doubt that, then what truth isn’t God’s truth? So if I find truth from an unbeliever, I thank him or her, but more importantly, God gets the ultimate thanks. That does not entail everything the unbeliever believes is true, and thus it is also not an endorsement of him or her. The unbeliever still needs to repent and submit to Christ.

Divisiveness

Calling the 8:18 crowd “blasphemous” for agreeing with the spiritual truth contained in the BM and putting, not the BM, but that particular verse on par with Bible is really not conducive for unity among the brethren, let alone giving one’s brothers and sisters in Christ the benefit of the doubt. The 8:18 crowd are sincere believers who want to make a difference for the cause of Christ, and see more Mormons in the kingdom of God. The 8:18 crowd hardly even uses this method. They simply utilize it as a tool on particular occasions where they think it is warranted. They don’t even demand that everyone has to confront Mormons like they do. It is simply a different method of reaching the lost.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, micro-managers want to tell everyone how to do things. These guys want to regulate and promote their preferred method of reaching out to Mormons. As a result, these regulators end up putting God in a box. They assume God can’t work in some way they are not comfortable with. This means it is either their way or the highway… even going so far as to call one’s brethren “blasphemous” if they do things they don’t like!

This sows discord among the brethren. I cannot even begin to tell you how much controversy this has caused among those that utilize “stranger” or “confrontational” evangelism with Mormons! Confrontational evangelists have had in-fighting before, but never have I seen anything like this, and I have been a missionary to Mormons for almost 30 years now! Typically, the in-fighting is not among confrontational evangelists, but the in-fighting is within the Church—between the confrontational evangelists and those who evangelize exclusively within the confines of established friendships.

Since God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), and since the Body is made of various members, each gifted in various ways (1 Cor. 12-14), it should not surprise us that God oftentimes works in ways we are not used to. Given that there are many well-respected believers who claim to utilize 8:18 for the glory of God (including former Mormons), given that we are to walk in humility, knowing that we often don’t see as clearly as we think we do, and given that the arguments against 8:18 are “straining at the gnat,” we ought to be more gracious toward our brothers and sisters who support 8:18.

Conclusion

Since LDS are still people made in God's image, they still partake of common everyday truth and grace. Again, Mat. 5:45 says, "[H]e maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." So we should expect that Mormonism gets it right in some areas. Even a broken clock is right at least twice a day. Mormons are right to hold we shouldn't abuse our children, for example. That truth doesn't originate from them. It originates from God from who is the Truth. But suppose I came to learn that truth from a Mormon, being raised by them. Am I no longer entitled to believe it is true? Or am I somehow validating Mormonism if I agree with them? Of course not! So the source of my immediate knowledge of a particular truth is quite different from the ultimate source of truth itself or my ultimate source of knowledge, since all good things ultimately come from God. God can use whatever immediate source to bring about whatever He wants (e.g., think of Baalam’s jackass or using King Cyrus as an anointed one).

So I think a reaction to even that statement about LDS and child-care shows how overly sensitive some of these in the anti-8:18 crowd are. I get that and I sympathize with that, especially with those like Hulse who used to be Mormon. My ex-Mormon wife tends to think in this overly reactive way, but she would never tell others that they could not use 8:18. Unity is more important for her.

Nonetheless, we are called to be charitable to LDS and respect them. It is just difficult to do that if one thinks there is nothing of value to them, including all their beliefs.

So I will extend grace to my overly reactive brothers and sisters, letting God take His time with them, and not forcing them to witness like I do. But I ask these brothers and sisters for the same grace to trust God with the way we use truth from not just the Bible, but also outside it. We both have the same goal, viz., we want Mormons to repent. Let’s pray for each other and focus our energies on getting people to come to heaven with us, particularly since people are going to hell every minute. Let’s not give the devil a foothold to waste anymore time on fighting amongst the brethren.

R. M. Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
August 29, 2011


Add Comment
Connie Raddon says...
"Thanks, Rob! Very clear points. I appreciate that you didn't slander or attack the Hulses, either. I was a Mormon for 40 years. Mormonism taught me that there is a God and that there is life after this earth. I still believe both of those things. Of course, as a born again Christian, the Bible has cleared up many false understandings I had ABOUT those things. I use the 8:18 method as often as I use others. I have about 5 approaches that I personally prefer. It has been as effective with Mormons as any other approach has been. I recently (on August 18th) had quite a long conversation with a Mormon friend as a result of my Moroni 8:18 post. We talked about other things once the conversation started. I am grateful for learning any approach that will easily start a non-confrontational conversation with a Mormon. Thank you Aaron, and thank you Rob for this response." (8/29/11)
joey ferguson says...
"I want to be on record saying thank you for this well thought out response to the Hulse approach. I have Mormon friends that I cherish, and I love them as family. I never want to disrespect them, or anyone for that matter. I was brought out of the LDS faith after 25 years. I never ever thought I would leave. It was because I wanted to prove to my non mormon family that the church was true. I used LDS sources, such as the Journal of Discources and it was throught LDS sources that I was set free from the bondage I did not even know I was part of. If I can reach just one LDS using Moroni 8:18, I will dance for joy.
I clearly do not believe the Book of Mormon to be inspired or true. Large parts of it that have been copied right out of the Bible are true, Joseph Smith stole them. It is their own leaders words that will condemn the LDS faith. Thank you for letting me speak and share my voice with yours. God bless you and all you do, and Aaron, I love you brother.
Joey" (8/29/11)
C. Roberts says...
"Well-said, Rob. The objection is a little surprising to me. It seems like a misplaced zeal based on the very confusions you outlined. Given what the BoM is - a mostly cut & paste job of many chunks & bits of KJV strewn around in a shoddy manner in the context of the fanciful telling of an imagined history of New World events - it seems to follow that its theology is mostly agreeable while its overall literary coherence is amateurish & its history entirely mythical. If Mormons built their entire religion, from first to last, upon the BoM alone (no other works, no later prophets' teachings, etc.), then it would be a different church altogether, one with doctrinal beliefs much closer to historic Christianity but one still wasting a lot of spiritual energy & emphasis on a long made-up history." (8/29/11)
Rob Sivulka says...
"Ya Clint, that church would be the Community of Christ (or the former RLDS Church)!" (8/29/11)
JohnD says...
"Ok we have an issue here with anyone pointing a finger and doing the exact action that he is accusing, listen Christians we are on the same team any disputes should have been private in the first place and second one mans outreach is between him and G-D if a Christian believes it is wrong you do not attack the Christian you approach the Christian with love and lot's of grace, I have been attack for the way i witness I graduated from the Way of the Master college and then studied Paul's witnessing techniques and listen to the Holy Spirit to approach the subject, and I was always accused of witnessing with out love for the lost, but the fact that I was witnessing showed some love when the accusers did not witness at all.
My point is - Christians need to watch how they behave in front of non-Christians - and stop being hypocritical I believe there is scripture that points out the one that judges is also doing the exact thing he is judging interesting huh Grace my friends Grace, have a bless day, we all make mistakes lets try and not do it again!" (9/1/11)
Arthur A Haglund says...
"i really appreciate your pointing out the fact that the Hulses are great mote lookers with beams in their own eyes.
It appears that their whole goal is to gain glory for THEIR work, instead of realizing that GOD is the one who gets glory. One plants, one waters, and each of those are nothing but God who gives growth, providing the seed was sown in good soil.

Instead of humility, they show themselves to be overbearing giants of pride.

I originally hated the , "ALL truth is God's truth" idea, but it is really true.

If any person came and said, There is only one God, ALL Christians would say, AMEN, what a truth!
Now, when the person says they are muslim, or Jehovah's witness of mormon, the Hulses stance that they want us to take is reject truth, to show we are not they..

I cannot deny truth, and when Satan deceives, he always uses truth, otherwise nobody would fall for his deceptions!

So, when a servant of Satan comes with partial truth, we are able to stand on that and build more truth, moving their error out and leading them to salvation, for God's glory, not our own." (4/22/13)
Fred W. Anson says...
"First, let me say that this is a stunningly thoughtful, articulate, reasoned, and diplomatic analysis and critique Rob. Thank you.

I hope that you and the other readers will forgive me if I'm not as diplomatic.



I was both a supporter of the initial 8/18/2011 campaign that Arron S. launched and organized a smaller "grass roots" campaign the following year for the following 8/18/2012 "Mormon 8:18" event.



I also watched in unbelief at the unjustified and unmerited vitriolic response to the 2011 event that the Hulses unleashed on Aaron and those of us who participated. The basic, often not to subtle, tone and content of these attacks was, "We have the truth and you don't so you'd better comply with our opinion and perspective or you're in gross error!" I would hope that the reader would see what a dangerous stance this is for any fallen human being to take.

Were I to fall into such arrogant error I would hope that other Christians would love me enough me enough to confront me am graciously as Rob has here - and I would hope that I would love them enough to humbly receive such kind correction and repent.



And speaking as a recovered member of a Mind Control Cult I must take exception to Mr. Hulse's stance that: a) No truth can come from a group in error, and; b) No one can truly understand such a group without having been a member.



As many Cult Experts have pointed out all errant groups must contain SOME truth or no one would join them. As Christian author Don Basham once noted, and I'm paraphrasing, "The devil always takes 10% truth and mixes it with 90% lies - it's the 10% truth that he uses as bait to get you to swallow the 90% lie."

One need only refer to Satan's Temptation of Christ in the gospels (see Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; and/or Luke 4:1-13) or the temptation of Eve (see Genesis 3) to see how this works. This dynamic has also been noted by many others.

Further, there's no shame or error in appealing to that 10% truth in order to expose the 90% lie. As Rob has amply demonstrated in this article, it's done by Christians all the time - and has been throughout Church History. In not only did the Apostle Paul do so on Mars Hills (see Acts 17:16-33) but Jesus Christ did so with the Woman at the Well (see John 4:1-39).

As for needing to belong to a group to fully understand them - it's nonsense, utter and complete nonsense! When I recount my experiences in the group that I was in (see http://mormonexpression.com/blogs/2011/08/22/my-life-as-a-mind-control-cultist-part-1/ ) to former members of other Mind Control Cults I see heads nodding in agreement and a knowing look in their eyes. Then when we start digging into the nitty gritty details we soon discover that our two groups - whatever they may have been - were very much alike and only varied in the details. I often joke that although I was never Mormon in name, for the most part, I've been a Mormon in deed.

What's more those varied details can be easily learned simply by studying the group's literature, listening to their lectures, learning from other Christians who have studied the group, talking to former members, attending some of their meetings, and engaging current members - in other words by immersing yourself in their culture in ways that are safe. As they say, "This ain't hard son!" Or as one Ex-Mormon said so well in my case:

"Mr. IT [my alias on PostMormon.org] did something even more remarkable. He is a nevermo with Mo relatives. He went directly from unaffiliated to apostate without experiencing all the pain and surreal experience of being a member."
-- "HikerR" (Posting on PostMormon.org 2007-11-26)

So in summary and in closing, ironically, while the Hulses point a finger at those they see as being in blind error and denial they've failing to see the four fingers pointing back at the person who is really in denial and blindness - at least in regard to past and future Moroni 8:18 Day campai" (4/26/13)
Arthur Adam Haglund says...
"Evidently, this has been dormant for nearly a year, and with no new drama, Drama must be dredged up and remade, so attention will go to the Drama Queens.
http://mormonhomeevening.blogspot.mx/2013/11/why-sttack-ministry-mormon-outreach-and.html
Posted Feb 21, 2014" (2/27/14)