"Bishop Romney," Ctd.

A reader writes:

I of course do not know who your ‘Mormon reader’ isand therefore how involved with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the reader actually might be but s/he gets a number of points wrong:

1)  Latter-day Saints are not, nor do they consider themselves to be, polytheists.

2)  Latter-day Saints do not reject ‘Salvation by Grace,’ though clearly their understanding of such is closer to a Catholic than to a ‘New Calvinist’ (your Mormon reader’s term) one:  access to the grace of Christ requires both belief and the exercise of free will to access that grace through sacraments/ordinances and obedience to Christ’s teachings.

3) Though the Book of Mormon clearly rejects Biblical infallibility, it nowhere contradicts Biblical literalism, reinforcing the literal nature of many parts of the Bible which have come to be seen as figurative by many Christians.  In fact, Latter-day Saints are amongst the most literal of Bible believers; for example, they accept the literal reality of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, the Noachic flood, the existence of Job, etc.

4) LDS bishops do not ‘interview’ and ‘approve every person in their Ward boundaries…who wishes to convert to Mormonism and be baptized.’  This is the work of full-time missionaries, and bishops are actually prohibited from interfering in this process.  A bishop may ‘interview’ a potential convert, but this is only to get to know the future member of his congregation.  Readiness for baptism is an issue determined exclusively by the missionaries.  Bishops do conduct baptismal interviews for ‘children of record’eight-year-olds who have at least one member parentin their wards.

5)  Bishops do not interview ‘every single member’ of their congregations yearly.  Church handbooks recommend that annual interviews occur for young men and women between the ages of 12 and 18, for whom a bishop has especial care, but other ward members may go years without being interviewed by their bishop.  Recommends to enter an LDS temple must be renewed every two years, but not all adult Latter-day Saints hold a current temple recommend, and, for those who do, these can be renewed by meeting with one of the bishop’s counsellors.

6)  Bishops naturally are considered to have a clear understanding of Latter-day Saint theology, but they are not official spokesmen for the Church.  Most stakes (dioceses) have trained Public Affairs Specialists who fulfil this role in their local areas, and the statements of (even) bishops and stake presidents are not considered authoritative proclamations of doctrine.

In short, I suspect that your ‘Mormon reader’ has been disaffected from the Church of Jesus Christ for some time and is perhaps not the most reliable source of information in this regard.

Actually, when you examine this, there isn't a great deal of dispute here. Mormonism's view of the Trinity does speak of "individual Gods". Some view this as polytheism. Mormons view the Bible as literal in many respects but also assert that it contains errors. Its view of grace is distinct from fundamentalist Protestantism. And a Bishop would indeed be in a position to explain Mormon theology in great detail, as my first Mormon emailer wrote.