Category Archives: Discussions

Have Mormons Come to Believe in Divergent Gospels?

Orthodox and progressive Mormons are expressing the gospel differently in their private lives and the public square. This evening we will have a conversation that might just help us communicate better in the coming year.

This Faith Again event is in association with the Utah Citizen Summit, Village Square, and Living Room Conversations


Friday, January 5, 2018  |  7:30-9:30 pm

Location : 

Home of Elizabeth and Mark England
1194 S. 500 E., SLC, UT

Please come in the back door if you arrive late.

The Discussion: 

Recently, two prominent Mormons spoke in the national media. Senator Orrin Hatch was quoted as saying, “Mr. President, I have to say you’re living up to everything I thought you would. You’re one heck of a leader. We’re going to keep fighting to make this the greatest presidency we’ve seen not only in generations but maybe ever.”

The very same week, Stephenie Larsen, a founder of Encircle LGBTQ+ Resource Center in Provo, said the following in a national interview: “I grew up Mormon—learning that that’s the #1 thing that Christ wants us to do—is to love others. And so I think that when we put that first, all the other problems fall out of the way.” About the work at Encircle, she added, “People get to be who they are, and they’re honored for who they are—and I think that’s the basis of spirituality.”

While Brother Hatch’s statement is baffling (if not offensive) to many left-leaning Mormons—as well as never-Trump conservative Mormons, Sister Larsen’s statement is also baffling (if not confusing) to many right-leaning Mormons. In both cases, we might ask: Is that really in line with what Jesus taught or would teach today?

That’s a hard conversation to have, given the depth of our different feelings about Christ and his message. Is it okay that we disagree and believe different things about the gospel? Can thoughtful, good-hearted people reach different conclusions about the degree to which the gospel message can or should evolve?

If so, can we at least have a conversation about this? (And if not, to what degree has the larger American polarization reduced our ability to have these conversations as brothers and sisters of the same faith?)

This evening we will give it a try—not attempting to convert—but to understand more deeply. Inquiry into different conclusions and feelings will be welcome. Contrary to the perception of dialogue “not making anyone uncomfortable,” often the most crucial dialogues make everyone a little uncomfortable. If we’re going to successfully be members of the same faith family then we dearly need to make space for challenging conversations about our honest disagreements.

About Jacob

Jacob has been involved in red-blue dialogue for nearly 15 years, and has relished his opportunities to work with disagreeing collaborators at the Village Square and Living Room Conversations. He is currently on the board of the National Coalition of Dialogue and Deliberation. Like many, Jacob is increasingly concerned that the conditions are deteriorating in which civil dialogue is even possible, with a civic-social ecosystem arguably threatened as our physical ecosystems. His work is dedicated to promoting conditions where we can re-engage the conversations we desperately need to be having a human family (for more on Jacob’s work, see his blog.

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