interpretation errors – by their fruits ye shall know them


Mormonism is fascinating. I don’t think I know enough about it but I absolutely adore the weirdness of the bits with which I am familiar. Here are some personal highlights:

  • A US citizen, Joseph Smith, was visited by an angel who took him to some golden plates with ancient writing on them that only he could translate.
  • Using these plates, he completed the Book of Mormon, which the god God of the Christians told him he was to use to re-establish Christianity with the correct doctrine.
  • The original Mormon teachings included polygamy but as this was against against US law, they dropped it at the end of the 19th century.
  • When Mormons marry and get ‘sealed’ in a temple, they believe they are bonded to their spouse for eternity. Yikes.

My favourite thing about Mormonism is the beautiful illustration it provides for the malleability of basic Christian doctrine, and just how easily people will accept whatever superstitious faith they are born into. Because it freaks other Christians out. Most of them don’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, they think he was a heretic, and, therefore, Mormons aren’t proper Christians. But Mormons adhere to all the same teachings as the rest of Christians, they’ve just added some bits on (like every other brand of Christianity, but blinkering comes with your free pass to heaven).

It gets worse. Speaking of false prophets, Jesus apparently said:

A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.

So, we have Mr Smith in the 1820s claiming angels have told him only he can deliver the true doctrine to Christians. He has sex with a few women and claims that the god God says men should have more than one wife. He is so clearly a false prophet and 200 years later, the bad fruit will be rotting for all to see!

Except, there are 14 million loyal Mormon church-goers. They are faithful, law-abiding, moral citizens. They evangelise on bicycles in nice suits, with their clean-cut all-American decency just shining out for all to see. They are the moral envy of every mainstream Christian denomination in the US. And they are a ‘false’ church built on an interpretation error of the infallible word of the god God. How on earth did that happen?