Evangelicals engaged in dialogue do not expect to reconcile these different views, but hope to find beliefs that they all accept.
Mouw said he has seen a growing emphasis by Mormon scholars on beliefs they share with evangelicals, such as salvation through Christ alone and a focus on atonement and the Cross. He said prominent evangelical church leaders have been meeting with Mormon leaders in recent years "at fairly high levels."
Mormon leaders have complained that critics take obscure or outdated teachings and describe them as core doctrine. The church cast aside the teaching of polygamy in 1890, and in 1978, abolished the barrier that kept those of African descent from full participation in the church. Last week, even before Jeffress' remarks, Michael Gerson, an evangelical and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, called conservative Christian criticism of the LDS church "unhinged" in an op-ed in The Washington Post.
Richard Bushman, an emeritus professor at Columbia University, who is a leading historian and is Mormon, said he was encouraged to see that many non-Mormons have condemned Jeffress' comments.
"To my way of thinking, that means that what I would call the tolerant majority thinks this language is really out of bounds," Bushman said.
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