An intellectual approach toward Mormonism and other religions

I recently received a random comment on my myspace from a non-mormon who saw a comment I made about a youtube video about Mormonism and was impressed with my ability to “balance intellect with (my) faith”.

I thanked him for the compliment and expressed my appreciation of intellectuals like him who form and express bold ideas and opinions while still being chill about it. Below is an excerpt from my response:

“It’s nice to find people, regardless of their faith, who consciously choose to build on common ground and shared values and goals, as well as take a mature and friendly approach toward having an open and intellectual conversation of philosophy and theology.

As there is a lack of intellectuals who actually take the time to study and understand their own beliefs, let alone the religions and beliefs of others (mormons included), fellow intellectuals should bridle their passions and enjoy a healthy exchange of views and ideas, instead of attacking one another.

As I’m sure you agree, one who is confident in their ability to make up their own mind and decide for themselves what is truth and what is error has no need to fear investigating and understanding what others believe. Fear to attend a meeting or read a book, is a good indicator that a person is insecure in their ability to not be manipulated, swayed, or mislead. This is another strength that should be celebrated among intellectuals.

While I watched a bit of it, I have yet to watch the entire PBS special on Mormonism. I did enjoy what I had the opportunity to view. It did seem as though it took a pretty good unbiased approach toward Mormonism… taking well thought out and clearly expressed views from multiple sources, mormon, historical, non-mormon, etc. I found it interesting to see the reaction among fellow Mormons, as to me, their comfort with such an approach and discussion of their religion serves as an indicator of the strength and confidence of their testimony.

A book I have started but yet to finish that I think you might enjoy is Richard Lyman Bushman’s “Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling”. From my understanding, it is a fairly comprehensive intellectual review of the teachings and life of Joseph Smith Jr.”

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4 Responses to An intellectual approach toward Mormonism and other religions

  1. bellapirate8507 says:

    is religious tolerance a realistic goal? This is a huuuuge topic. I agree with garrettmyler though, usually people just dont know about other religions. But maybe people know, they just dont care? I am totally accepting of other peoples religions. Every one has a right to their own religion, who are we to stop them?

  2. Jeff says:

    i feel no need to have to attend someone else’s church to be accepting of them. im the kind of guy who just lets others do what they wish. i dont need to go to someone else’s church to show them i approve. i approve of all good people in all places whether i fully understand their beliefs or not

  3. garrettmyler says:

    Jeff: In my own experience, I have found most people (mormon or not) are largely unfamiliar with the basics of other relgions, and by my own judgment, are too casual to take a careful analysis of their own accepted dogma. For me, a strong indicator of this is whether or not they have attended churches outside of their own. It’s one thing to study hinduism or Catholisism in a comparitive religion course, and other to attend a Hindu temple or Catholic mass.While I stick by my “bold statement”, I seriously appreciate an alternative viewpoint on this blog.

  4. Jeff says:

    i think there are quite a few “mormon intellectuals” who study other religions as well as our own… thats quite a bold statement garrett.

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