Friday, December 29, 2006

Embracing the inevitable

I have diligently written this blog for months now. Catholic Deacon is a blog orginating from behind what KRCL, an independent community radio station in Salt Lake City, has for years called the Zion curtain. In that time I have posted nothing on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known more popularly as the Mormons for their belief in the Book of Mormon as another testimony of Jesus Christ. So, it is nice to direct readers to the always thoughtful Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, who writes over on On the Public Square: Observations and Contentions about Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's potential bid for the presidency of the United States in 2008. As most of you know, Governor Romeny is an active and faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Fr. Neuhaus' post takes the form of a critique of an article written by Jacob Weisberg of Slate.com in the Financial Times. Mr. Weisberg's article is, indeed, very uncivil and quite ill-considered. I must also state that, like Fr. Neuhaus, I do not endorse Mitt Romney for president, nor do I have a favorable view of foundational LDS beliefs. Mr. Weisberg describes these beliefs as the "whoppers of Mormonism". A concise overview of these "whoppers" are "that Joseph Smith, directed by the angel Moroni, unearthed a book of golden plates buried in a hillside in western New York in 1827. The plates were inscribed in ‘reformed’ Egyptian hieroglyphics—a non-existent version of a language that had yet to be decoded with the help of the Rosetta stone. Smith was able to dictate his translation of The Book of Mormon by looking through diamond-encrusted decoding glasses and burying his face in a hat". Along with Neuhaus, I also welcome the efforts by "very intelligent Mormons who are doing serious intellectual work to move their tradition toward a closer approximation of Christian orthodoxy".

I relate here something I never tire of repeating to catechumens and candidates: the mysterium fidei is not something unknown because it is unknowable. It is known only because God has deigned to reveal it. While these mysteries, which are truly beliefs of faith, which is a gift from God, they are not demonstrable by unaided natural reason. But this is not to concede that these beliefs are unreasonable. In other words, they are not only impervious to critiques rooted solely in reason, they are reasonable in their own right and give deep insights into the order of creation. One does not have to bracket reality to embrace Christianity. The central mystery of our faith, the mystery of the Triune God, is a good example. The Church does not propose for belief that 3=1. If that were the case the Trinity could be rejected as illogical and we could move on to the next possibility. Without belaboring this difficult point, it is another thing altogether to propose the Book of Mormon as an accurate, literal history of pre-Columbian America between 400 BC and 600 AD, when all evidence disproves such a fantasic proposal.

What Weisberg writes, as Neuhaus points out, indicts all religion and leads to conclusions far beyond what his arguments can support. Additionally, Fr. Neuhaus provides the link to a very thoughtful critique of the LDS Church that he published in March 2000, entitled Is Mormonism Christian?.

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