Saturday, 21 August 2010

Is Mormonism Surplus to Requirements?

Years ago I held a job selling encyclopaedias (yes that encyclopaedia). Of course we didn’t carry all 32 volumes around, instead having samples from each main section bound into one volume. When I began with the firm I had to do a residential course to learn the benefits and features of the product at a sort of Merchandise Training Centre (MTC). We learned a script that told the story of the encyclopaedia and its benefits to the potential purchaser and learned, often through role play, to deal with questions and objections we might possibly meet. Finally, with a special book tucked under our arm, we went into the world to prearranged meetings with people in their homes, people who had expressed an interest through advertising, events and referrals from existing customers.

As I was looking again at the new Mormon missionary lessons it struck me how the process isn’t so very different. A sales force is trained in presenting the product, role play is used, a script is memorised and representatives learn how to answer questions and deal with objections. They then go out into the world with a book under their arm to prearranged meetings with people who have answered an ad, been to an open house or temple opening and signed a visitor’s book.

After financial considerations (which were always important) the key to the whole presentation for the customer was always whether there were benefits in accepting the product that were not available in other products making similar claims. In the same way, Mormons encourage their contacts to believe that there are benefits in being a Mormon that are not readily available in other organisations making similar claims.

The Book of Mormon in particular is presented in such a way as to lead their investigators to infer that it has answers not found elsewhere. In a list headed “The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul” missionaries present the special benefits of having the Book of Mormon. But is the Book of Mormon so singular in its ability to satisfy man’s curiosity about the big questions? Decide for yourself whether Mormonism is so special or whether it is surplus to requirements. Here are the questions as they appear in the lessons and the answers to be found in any good Bible. I am sure any good Bible scholar could add many more references:

The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul (As Does the Bible)

1. Is there a God? Romans - 1:19 Psalm 19:1-3

2. What Does Jesus Expect of me? - 1 Peter 2:1 John 6:28-29

3. How can belief in Jesus Christ help me? - Acts 16:31 John 3:15-16

4. Is there a Life after Death? - 1 Corinthians 15

5. What is the Purpose of Life? - John 17:21-23

6. Why does God allow evil and suffering? - Genesis 3:17 Romans 2:5

7. Does my infant need to be baptised? - Mark 16:16 Acts 2:38

8. Does God know me? Matthew 6:25-34

9. Does God answer prayer? - Psalm 65:2; 145:18-19

10. How can I find peace and joy? - John 16:33; 14: 27; 15:11

11. How can my family be happier and more united? - 1Timothy 3&5, Colossians 3:18-25. Ephesians 6:1-4

12. How can I balance my family and career? - 1Timothy 3&5, Colossians 3:18-25. Ephesians 6:1-4

13. How can I strengthen my relationship with my spouse? - 1Timothy 3&5, Colossians 3:18-25. Ephesians 6:1-4

14. How can I avoid the evils that threaten my family? - 1Timothy 3&5, Colossians 3:18-25. Ephesians 6:1-4

15. How can I avoid sin? - Colossians 3:1-17 Ephesians 6: 10-20

2 comments:

  1. I LOVE this Mike! Although I don't agree with the notion that the "test" of the "true church" is that it answers all your big questions all cut and dry, which mormonism sort of purports as one of the *most* important ways to tell the church is true these days (like in those ads that show the mormon.org chat window with the missionary saying something like, "I had questions that nobody else would answer, like what is our purpose, etc."

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  2. Thanks Carla and, yes, I agree with you. One of the marks of a cult is the claim, usually implied rather than directly stated, that it has all the answers. Mormonism certainly fits into this category. As to the quote from mormon.org maybe the missionary wasn't asking the hard questions. Or perhaps s/he was too easily satisfied with the answers given.

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