Mormon Neo-Orthodoxy and Modernity
Just today, I got a curious article in my inbox for Mormon articles from the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship…bear in mind…this title’s a long one: “A Mormon Neo-Orthodoxy Challenges Cultural Mormon Neglect of the Book of Mormon: Some Reflections on the “Impact of Modernity””. I’m not making this up.
I got this in my mail because I have google scour the internet for things about Cultural Mormons…and you know, this seems right up my alley…It’s speaking directly to my neglect of the Book of Mormon and how I think modernity should impact it in that way. Yes, a diatribe against us wishy washy nonbelievers and how the church can rise against us.
Anyway…I was reading through it, and although I got the gist of a lot of what I was reading, I must admit that I wasn’t too particularly willing to invest the amount of time I would need to fully analyze this. So, I took a stroll over to Mild-Mannered Musings, where Chris took much more succinct (and therefore instantly better) notes.
And Janice from a Sunstone panel about the same issue gives us the sound bite:
Orthodoxy is not a useful term, was repudiated by JS. Better than Traditional Mormon Orthodoxy and MNO are the labels “humanistic Mormons” and “redemptive Mormonism”.
Ah, yes. As I was reading, I basically got the gist that the “Traditional Mormonism” that is spoken of is a humanistic Mormonism…while the Neo-orthodox Mormonism that is spoken of is a redemptive Mormonism. The former, which is claimed to be where the church has moved in response to secularization, represents the idea that Jesus Christ as a person is an ideal to be followed — and we can see that Mormons do place some backing on commandments, laws, and works.
On the other hand, the Neo-orthodox Mormonism (or redemptive Mormonism) puts the focus back on faith and grace, by focusing (supposedly) on Christ as the Savior — so his perfection isn’t the ideal, but is something that we cannot attain or hope to attain with more effort, so we just need to go for grace.
…it seems to me I already do not like this Neo-orthodox Mormonism that much, but if redemptive Mormonism is to mimic Neo-orthodox protestantism (as claimed), I could see how redemptive Protestants would feel more at ease with a Mormonism that focused more on grace. After all, many groups cry out about how Mormons focus too much on works, on the necessity of ordinances, etc., And the idea is that we can become more orthodox and have the protestants love of and be more focused on salvation…if only we get back to the Book of Mormon and its roots!
But what gives me a bad taste in my mouth about redemptive Mormonism or protestantism is this idea that we are all just no-good terrible people (OK, I can take that part)…and that the way to fix this is through some catch-all grace. At least with humanistic Mormonism and an idea of works, there is this idea that one can try to progress to a better ideal. Trying to improve yourself, if you have the right goal in mind, is just a smidge better at producing good consequences for the rest of us than just saying, “Oh, lol, I pray and hope that I’ll be accepted.” Of course, then again, if your idea of righteousness is eliminating rights of others, maybe you should reconsider.
Eh, I got nothing. This article didn’t go as well as I thought it would.