The “Cult” Slur is a Slanderous Leftist Tactic

I’m a racist, sexist, homophobe.

At least that’s what I learned — much to my shock — when I arrived at Harvard Law School in 1991.  It’s not that I believed that whites were superior to other races, that men were superior to women or that gays were lesser human beings.  Instead, I was opposed to affirmative action, thought the Leftist view that gender was nothing but a “social construct” was both bizarre and unscientific, and believed same-sex sexual activity was immoral.  According to various postmodern social texts, each of those positions made me the moral monster they claimed I was.

It didn’t take me long to figure out the tactic and learn to laugh it off.  Here’s the pattern: Take a common and inflammatory slur, expand the definition far beyond its common meaning, then use the slur as loudly and often as possible.  It has incredible power, creating the “when did you stop beating your wife” rhetorical dynamic that puts its target in an outraged defensive crouch from the beginning of the conversation.

Do you recognize the pattern in Robert Jeffress’s attack on Mitt?  First he uses the term “cult” without qualification.  Then, when called on it, he retreats to the utterly obscure and artificial academic distinction between a “sociological cult” and a “theological cult” but maintains the core slur.  (Of course it turns out that the definition of “theological cult” is so broad — like the Left’s definition of “racist” — that it can fit any religious faith you don’t belong to or believe in.)  Make the slur.  Redefine the slur.  Maintain the slur.  It’s textbook.

Let’s be very, very clear about what happened here:  For the sake of temporary partisan advantage in a Republican primary, a prominent pastor issued an inflammatory religious attack against the Republican frontrunner.  At the same time, he revealed his position as partisan, not principled, because he quickly added he’d vote for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama.  (I suppose his religious truth changes after Super Tuesday).  Then, when called on his blatant, disingenuous partisan attack he retreats behind — and tries to create — a Mormon/Christian theological battle, presenting himself as the defender of the faith.

I agree with this statement, from Pastor Steve Cornell:

I recommend that we (as Christians) discontinue the use of the label “cult” and explain our differences in more helpful ways. By using more clarifying and less pejorative terms, we can avoid unnecessary alienation.

And this:

Finally, as for the pastor’s preference for one would lead “biblically,” I am not sure what he meant. But I am sure that there are different understandings of what the term “biblical” means or how to apply it. It may have been better for him to say, “I’d prefer a president who takes the Bible seriously”? We can be sure that many heard the preference for a president who leads biblically as a desire to impose Christianity on the nation. There are much better ways of expressing concerns and preferences than the ones used by the pastor. We simply cannot waltz into the public square unleashing terms and labels without more thoughtful reflection on how those terms will be heard.

This is exactly right.  If we are going to discuss the role of Mitt Romney’s faith in this election (and such a discussion — at some level — is proving unavoidable), let’s begin with this question:  Which of his actual religious beliefs will have negative implications for the decisions he’ll make as president and the way he’ll lead this country?  Why do you believe this?

I can think of a lot of positives from his faith: His faithfulness, his integrity, his respect for life and family, his clear perception of evil (such as the jihadist threat), his commitment to excellence, and his desire for justice.

Are there negatives?  I don’t think so . . . except that it might be tough to find good coffee in the White House.  So if you do visit, be sure to bring your own cup.

 

  • http://www.popehat.com Ken

    Yeah, but even though I disagreed with you on the same-sex thing, I was totally more a monster than you were.

    • David French

      Perhaps, Ken. If I knew it was a contest, I would have seriously ratcheted up my intensity!

  • Michael

    Mr. French, I’m fine with Christians voting for non-Christians (including Mitt) provided that they believe that the candidate they’re voting for is actually the best one for the job. But what I find very disturbing is how your numerous posts and articles are blurring the very important line between Christianity and Mormonism.

    You want to get past “cult”? Fine. How about heretic? Or is that “slur” too “pejorative” for these sensitive times? You know, Jesus was such a leftist when he said that he hated the “heresy” of the Nicolatians. And Athanasius and Augustine were such post-moderns for calling Arians, Donatists, and Manicheans heretics. Maybe “idolater” will suffice–nah, let’s just leave it at “faith.”

    Let’s be very, very clear about what’s been happening here: For the sake of temporary partisan advantage in a Republican primary, a prominent lawyer and commentator (and PCA man) has taken it upon himself to get rid all “non-technical” distinctions between Mormons and Christians. Mitt’s Mormon beliefs are only “allegedly” false according to this big-shot Harvard (ahem) lawyer. Moreover, he insists, Mitt and other Mormons may well be Christians he urges, pulling out a verse from Romans, and at any rate, in the public sphere, they’re just as good (maybe even a little better).

    The real post-modern sleight is on your part Mr. French, with your inclusive rhetoric and oh-so-typical refusal to make distinctions, except the cute fact that Mormons don’t drink coffee.

    • David French

      In invite you to find one single post I’ve ever written in more than five years of public advocacy for Mitt that I’ve ever gotten rid of all “non-technical” distinctions between Mormons and evangelicals. Find one. Please. (There’s 2,860 posts on EFM, so happy reading!)

      Until then, even us Harvard (ahem) lawyers can spot straw man arguments a mile away.

  • Terry

    David, excellent reply to what Michael (ahem) posted. As an avid reader of EFM for years now, I can state that you have made it very clear to readers that there are vast differences between Mormon doctrine and Evangelical doctrine. That you have chosen not to make a judgement about whether Mormons are Christian or not, should be taken by others for exactly what your no comment approach means: you are leaving that particular judgement up to God–the best choice, in my opinion. You have also stated, in effect, that politically, the Mormon and Evangelical moral compasses are pointing in the same direction. Keep up the outstanding work!

  • Michael

    Sure, I used a bit of hyperbole–but this poor 2L can spot a red herring when it jumps in his lap–perhaps you haven’t done away with all such distinctions (as in every single one), but I don’t think I need to do any more searching than I already have. I provided a few examples from your recent posts where you’ve blurred the lines. For example, you’ve said that 1. that Mormons aren’t a “cult” (though you never bother telling us what they are, except for a “faith”); 2. that Mormon’s may well be Christians (if they confess Jesus as lord, this is something they claim to do, as you well know); 3. that their beliefs are only “allegedly” false. As far as I’ve read (and I may well be wrong) all I’ve seen from you is that you “disagree” (perhaps in the way that some folks disagree with the oxfordian view on Shakespeare) with Mormonism, not that it’s objectively false or that it is a “doctrine of demons” as Paul says in 1 Tim. 4.

    So are Mormons, and I mean Mormons who actually believe what Mormonism teaches, Christians? Are their beliefs just “allegedly” false? If you answer that they aren’t Christians, what are they? Just members of some “faith”? Should I stop calling their beliefs heretical? Is calling them that leftist tactic?

    Dear brother, I’m not trying to “unnecessarily alienate” Mormons nor am I trying to pick a fight with you–I’m writing with the hope that you’ll give up the language of equivocation (e.g., “allegedly” false beliefs) and take up a more forthright approach–one that says: “Look, Mitt believes in a false religion, but I still think he’s the best man for the job which is why I, as a Christian, am going to vote for him and why other Christians should too.”

    Love,

    • David French

      Michael, I would take very great care in your certainty about what Mormons believe. I would guarantee that you’d state what you think is Mormon theology, then immediately several LDS readers will tell you that you’re quite misinformed about their beliefs. You are expressing certainty about something I seriously doubt you know well.

      The condition of any person’s immortal soul — especially one who professes faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior — is not yours to know. You don’t have a window into Mitt Romney’s heart (or anyone else’s, for that matter). Perhaps when you get a bit older, you’ll understand that. Or perhaps not. Robert Jeffress hasn’t learned his lesson.

      • Michael

        Dear David,

        You’re putting words in my mouth. I didn’t say anything about where Mitt’s soul will go. You’re right, ultimately I don’t know. Only on the last day will that be revealed. But I do know that false doctrine leads people to destruction. See for example 2 Peter 2:1-3 or 1 Tim. 4:1-5.

        You’re also quite right to say I don’t know much about Mormon theology, but I do know that they do not believe in the Trinity. That’s enough for me.

        If I recall, you are (or were at least) an elder. An elder in Christ’s Church “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” You have failed to do this by your agnosticism regarding very basic doctrines of the the true faith. I urge you, please stop!

        When I do grow old, I hope that I do not forget these things, or become ashamed of the Gospel.

        • Jonesy

          Michael, thus far you’ve expressed three certainties about Mormons (in your mind): (1) We’re heretics/cultists/etc., (2) we don’t believe in the Trinity, and (3) you don’t know where Mormon souls will go.

          First, do you believe there’s a place besides hell for heretics and cultists?

          Second, we do believe in the Trinity. We don’t believe the concept in the same way you do, but we certainly believe in God our Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.

          “That’s enough for me” doesn’t show much care for, or desire, to understand Mormons. Too bad. In a world that’s trying to destroy those that love God and live moral lives, we’d be stronger as allies.

        • Kris

          Michael, David is correct. You are wrong. my guess is David has studied enough LDS doctrine that he can see there “is something there”.
          Evangelicals know who Jesus Christ is. Latter-day-saints know EXACTLY who Jesus Christ is. It would do you well to find out EXACTLY who you are fighting and arguing against.
          Thanks

  • Michael

    >>That you have chosen not to make a judgement about whether Mormons are Christian

    All that I can say about this is that it is miles away from the way that Christians should deal with false teaching and that you should stop doing it, especially because you have such influence. I don’t need to get into a complicated theological debate to show this either. Mormons don’t worship the Triune God–that’s heresy. The Bible teaches that there is one God who eternally exists in three persons and the Church has stood on that ground ever since the question came up.

    When the Apostle Paul dealt with false doctrine he said: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven [such as Moroni perhaps?], should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”

    Paul’s response to those who preach false doctrine: “God Damn You!” Yours is “What I don’t do is try to characterize and condemn Mormonism.” (the quote is from your facebook). But maybe Paul was “utterly dreary and unproductive” (ibid.) when he went off on these rants.

    I live in an apartment complex with a number of Mormon families. For me to follow your example and get all agnostic about whether they’re Christians or not would keep me from telling them the truth about the Gospel. I’m afraid that this will be the effect your teaching on those without the discernment to see that Mormonism is a heresy.

    • Jonesy

      Michael,

      It may surprise you, but not every who has read the Bible walks away with the same theological conclusion. Mormons read the Bible–a lot. We believe in the Bible. We believe the Bible supports our conception of the Trinity (and our other beliefs) more than it supports yours. We each believe the other is on a less ideal spiritual path. But, we both love Jesus Christ. We love God, our Heavenly Father. I understand you don’t believe my faith has the same value as yours (based on your perception that my faith in the Trinity is ill conceived and thus invalid). I can live with that. I understand your passion for your beliefs. I’m glad you are passionate. I hope they help you maintain your virtue and goodness throughout life.

      I think our great mistake is to think that zealously attacking each other will help either of us. Christ brought people to him at times through sharpness, but more often with understanding and love. If you believe Mormons have gone astray, I think love and understanding will help your cause more than using terms that compare me to Jim Jones. We live in a world with many divisions. The world is becoming less accepting of any religion and our values are literally becoming illegal as secularists control our world more every day.

      We have real disagreements about theology. In politics we agree on everything. And we need each other. I think David’s approach is enormously helpful to our mutual goals.

      David, thank you very much for your love and understanding–even if you think we’re on the wrong spiritual path.

  • Lance in TX

    Michael,

    Warning: This is REALLY long… But I had to say it.

    First, let me say that I am LDS. I was not born into the LDS Church, I am a convert. I grew up Episcopal (baptized), Presbyterian, Protestant, and Catholic. I fell away from all of them (by age 16) because of the inconsistencies they had and that all of them said they were the “true” Church and that all the others were false, even though they used the same Bible (although they did not agree on many points). I was introduced to the LDS Church by my girlfriend (who later became my wife). My mind was open and willing to listen. What I found was a consistent doctrine that answered all my questions, explained many of the issues I had with the other Christian religions and has brought me back to Jesus Christ. I am now sealed to my wife and children for all time and eternity. I would not walk away from it for any reason!

    You mention that Mormonism is a heresy. I have to ask if you have looked into the history of whatever version of Christianity you follow. I ask this because every Evangelical/Protestant Christian Church was formed from heresy by breaking away from the Catholic Church (or another Protestant Church) because the founders of those religions believed that they had to correct some part of the doctrine that had gone astray. They even went as far as removing books from the only Bible canonized by the Council of Nicaea: The Catholic Bible. Which books were removed has become pretty standard but there are still some minor differences. They have changed doctrine from the Catholic Church as was defined by the Nicaea Council (if you want I can document many of the changes, but I think that is something that you should look into yourself. It means more if you find it instead of being told). There are Christian Churches that have bowed down to public and social pressure and accepted things that the Bible states are sinful and embraced them. Some have even gone further.

    Do I condemn them like many other Churches do to us? No. I can say that I don’t agree with them and that I would not join them, but I am not one to judge if they are Christian or not. That is 100% between Jesus Christ and each individual person. Since I have become LDS, I have attended many Churches that say they are Christian Churches: Evangelical Churches, Catholic Churches, Non-Denominational Churches, even a Messianic Jewish Synagogue. I have found many things missing from them (from my point of view). But if they bring people to believe in Jesus Christ and have them try to emulate His life and follow His teachings to the best of their ability, then I am Happy and Thankful for them! Everyone has to come to Jesus Christ his own way and in his own time. Everyone is at a different level of understanding in the Gospel.

    Do I judge people? I don’t judge people as to what I believe is in their hearts. I cannot see into them. I do judge people’s actions and how they treat other people. This is what we are told to do by Jesus Christ Himself. Does someone behaving how I feel they should not be mean they are not Christian? Nope. I have no idea and it is not for me to judge. That will be for Jesus Christ to do.

    It is true that the LDS Church does not believe or follow the Creeds that were created during the 3rd and 4th Century after Christ’s death and resurrection. We follow the Church as we believe it existed during the 1st Century after Christ’s death and resurrection. We are a restoration Church instead of a protestant Church. We believe in the Bible (King James Version) as being the best translated version available (It has been translated multiple times and there are differences between them). We believe that Jesus Christ is our ONLY way back to God, our Heavenly Father. We believe that Jesus Christ paid for our sins through his suffering and death. We believe that Jesus Christ broke the bonds of death for ALL men (All past, present, and future) by rising from the dead. He is our mediator and savior. We believe that the Book of Mormon is NOT a replacement for the Bible but is an additional testament of Jesus Christ and by reading it along with the Bible can bring you closer to Jesus Christ. We study the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Book of Mormon equally. We believe that there is a living Prophet on this Earth at this time, as there were in ancient times, who helps teach us about and direct us toward Jesus Christ and who helps to guide us through the trials and struggles of the modern day (Word of Wisdom, Preparedness, Anti-pornography, etc). We believe that every man, woman, and child on this Earth can ask for personal revelation and guidance from God (our Heavenly Father) through Jesus Christ and God will answer our prayers.

    If you want to say we are not Christian, I guess that is for you to say, but be careful about judging someone else’s heart. I KNOW I am and that I am following the one and ONLY Jesus Christ.

    • James

      Lance,

      Do you believe that Jesus is God? In other words, is Jesus Creator or created?

      • Lance in TX

        James,

        We believe Jesus created this Earth and all that we have. He did this through the power and authority of God. We believe there is only 1 God. That is God, our Heavenly Father. We believe that he created all of us including Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are all part of the Godhead and act as ONE in Purpose and Authority. This is 100% supported by pre-Nicaea Christianity and the original Greek and Hebrew sources. (BTW: Did you know the Nicaea Council was called for by a Pagan to collect the religion power into a single religious governing body that he could control?? Read the early Church history of the 3rd and 4th Century and the history of Constantine I, the Nicaea Council, and the political struggles of that time).

        This is what we believe. I know you believe they are all three parts of a single entity that has no body or form, except when you are talking about Jesus Christ. The whole “mysterious trinity” never made sense to me. NO offense intended to those that do understand it. The Creedal Trinity is one of the reasons I fell away from the other Churches that I belonged to. The LDS Church, to me, makes more sense and is more consistent. Just my PERSONAL opinion. Too many places in the Bible that Jesus talked to His Heavenly Father, by name, and others heard God’s voice while Jesus was in front of them and He was not talking.

        I am sure the next question will be something like “do you believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers”? It has been asked before. We believe that we are all literal brothers and sisters. That does include Jesus, Satan, you, me, everyone. Again, this is supported by the Old Testament and the New Testament. Satan rebelled against God and was cast out with 1/3 of God’s creations. Jesus was God’s first born and chose to follow God in all that he does. Where do you believe Satan came from? I have never gotten a clear answer from any non-LDS people.

        This is not the right forum to explain what we call the Plan of Salvation. It explains everything from pre-Earthly creation until Final Judgment. I normally don’t give out my email address on blogs, but I would be happy to talk to you (or anyone else) about it off this blog. My email is flyingbeefhead@yahoo.com. For all those that might want to send me hate mail over this, it does not bother me. That is what the ‘delete’ checkbox is for.

  • David

    Thanks for the great article David!

    Michael, I understand where you are coming from and I would respectfully disagree with you. I like Pastor Cornell’s statement from the article:

    “There are much better ways of expressing concerns and preferences than the ones used by the pastor. We simply cannot waltz into the public square unleashing terms and labels without more thoughtful reflection on how those terms will be heard.

  • Robin

    Thank you David! You are an island of peace and calm. Thank you! and Lance, that was well said! Michael, I appreciate that you feel so passionately, but use the Savior as your example. He loved everyone, and He told His disciples that if ‘those others’ weren’t against Him, then ‘they’ were with Him. We may be different than you, but we are with you in our love for and belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior, the only Savior of the world.

  • Aaron

    Thank you, Michael, for stating what needs to be stated, even when overwhelmingly opposed.

    Michael points out the trinity, and that’s enough for me, too, but perhaps not enough for others. Another point on which Christians must stand or die is “faith alone.” Mormons, according to a few conversations I have had with them (some using some service like “contact a mormon” on their website) affirm that Jesus Christ is their savior. That’s all fine and dandy until a little more drilling is done. Getting to the bottom of it, they believe that Jesus Christ is an excellent example, and since he’s not God, he can’t actually save anyone by himself.

    The Christian faith has stood firm on the fact that faith in Jesus Christ is faith that he will save you from your sins through substitutionary (vicarious) atonement. Of course, this assumes that you have sins.

    The Mormon “faith” is not Christian faith, and to call it so is a lie. Why one would lie in such a way, I’ll leave to you to decide, but please don’t discard political popularity as a motive.

    The term “cult” has been used frequently to describe the Mormon heresy as an expedient to avoid having to say all that has been said and so much more. The bottom line of investigation says that Mormonism is a cult religion and damnable. God, in his infinite mercy, has perhaps deigned to confuse some “Mormons” into believing in Jesus Christ (not just his existence, but his salvific, vicarious atonement) to their salvation, much to the chagrin of their leaders.

    All that to say: please, Christians, don’t dice words when it comes to discerning salvific faith from non-faith. Don’t confuse the unwitting by willingly disguising heresy as plausible, excusable, understandable, or “nearly” accurate; for it would be better for a millstone to be hung around your neck and be cast into the sea when you knowingly do this.

    • Lance in TX

      Aaron,

      You are incorrect about our faith. We believe that we are saved through Jesus Christ and that He is the one that has saved us through His blood atonement. That we cannot be saved without Him! I don’t think you really understand what we believe, even though you have had “a few conversations” with LDS.

      We believe that His atonement paid the price for our souls and saved us from our sins. You make a statement “Of course, this assumes that you have sins”… Are you saying some of us don’t have sins? Are you sinless? As far as I know, the ONLY sinless person that has existed on this Earth is Jesus Christ. We ALL have sins and Jesus Christ has paid for them with his blood. He is the ONLY one that could do that. Remember the woman caught in adultry and what Jesus said to those that wanted her stoned. Keep that in mind before you throw stones at us.

      You really do not understand our belief in Jesus Christ and the Godhead. You sound like you have only listened to half of it. This seems to be a common problem when many Evangelicals/Protestants look at the LDS Church. They only listen to the parts they WANT to and completely ignore the rest. Or they listen to just enough to “prove” their pre-concieved ideas of what we believe. Or they listen to their Pastor/Priests and Anti-Mormon people/sites. If you really want to understand what we believe, Why not sit down with two of our missionaries and a current member and listen to the full Plan of Salvation? Come to our Church meetings a couple of times and listen to what we believe. I take my children to other Christian Churches so they can learn more about other Christian religions. I am not afraid that they will fall away! But I have heard over and over that Evangelicals/Protestants would never step foot in a LDS Church… Why? Are you afraid you will hear something that makes you want to find out more? Are you afraid you will burst into flames? That you will be “damned to hell”? Is your faith that weak? Or what????

    • David French

      Aaron, you also know that salvation by “faith alone” is a subject of serious dispute not just between many Catholics/Protestants/Orthodox but also within protestantism itself? For example, I grew up in a denomination (before I became PCA) that most definitely did not believe in salvation by faith alone (the Church of Christ, by the way) and strongly believed that works were necessary for salvation. Yet if a member of the Church of Christ ran for office (a church that rejects the creeds and believes it “restored” the First Century Church after more than a thousand years of error), you would not see any of this controversy.

      Now, to be sure, many Churches of Christ are abandoning these beliefs (uh oh . . . continuing revelation?) but it is the bedrock reality of their founding and the prime reason that I left it as soon as I was out on my own.

      Your statement of “faith alone” is of course one of the prime characteristics of Reformation Christianity. It’s a statement I agree with wholeheartedly, but many streams of Christianity do not, have not, and will not.

      And, by the way, there’s a strand of Mormon thought (called “neo-orthodox” by some commentators) that essentially adopts the Reformation formulation of the nature of man, the nature of God, and the nature of saving faith. The phrase “Mormons believe . . .” opens one up to grotesque generalizations that are more often than not shot through with inaccuracy. I’ve never once in five years of working publicly for Mitt seen one of the vociferous critics of Mormonism on our sites state the faith’s beliefs in a way deemed accurate by leading Mormons.

  • Michael

    >>The Phrase “Mormons believe . . .” opens one up to grotesque generalizations that are more often than not shot through with inaccuracy. I’ve never once in five years of working publicly for Mitt seen one of the vociferous critics of Mormonism on our sites state the faith’s beliefs in a way deemed accurate by leading Mormons.

    Yes you have. I accurately characterized that they do not believe that God, as revealed in his Word, has eternally existed in three persons, one in their essence (homooúsios), distinct in the working. This doctrine, which I referred to as the Trinity in my earlier posts is an absolute bedrock doctrinal issue. Mormons (like the Arians of ages past) do not worship the Triune God asdefined above. And they agreed with me on this though I freely admit that they desire to appropriate the term trinity (just as they desire to appropriate the terms Jesus, faith, Scripture, etc.).

    I haven’t made some “grotesque generalization,” I have stated the truth. Your refusal to own up it is unconscionable–I adjure you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop leading your readers astray.

    • Lance in TX

      Michael,

      You are wrong in your statement above about how you characterize our beliefs and we, LDS, believe you are wrong in how you interpret the “Trinity” as it is found in the Bible (but we don’t think you are going to hell for that! Unlike how you feel about us). Please state exactly where in the Bible the Greek word homooúsios is used. It is non-scriptural. It was placed in the Nicene Creed by the Nicene Council. I think you need to actually look up the History of what happened during the Nicene Council and the following Councils. It is really pretty interesting.

      I know you will probably not look at anything I send since you are so set in your ways and your mind is so closed to anything new, but here are some things to look at.
      Here is a link to the Britannica entry for homooúsios: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/270595/homoousios
      Please read the history.
      Another great site to learn from is: http://www.fourthcentury.com/
      Take a look at the “Early Christian Councils” link on the left. But the whole site has quite a bit of good stuff on it.
      Here is one from the Maxwell Institute that is good readying: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=12&num=2&id=360
      Yes it is from BYU, so I guess that immediately discredits it. right?

      One thing you seem to forget is that many people read and interpret the Bible differently. That is why there are different Churches. That is why all the different Protestant (That means Protesting if you did not know) faiths were formed. They were protesting what they felt was wrong in the Catholic Church. They read the Bible and interpreted it DIFFERENTLY than the Catholic Church. BTW: That is heresy. So if you follow a Church that is not the Catholic Church and is a Protestant Church, then you are following someone that committed heresy! (Does that make you a member of a “cult” as well??? Remember, “throwing stones”…)

      The LDS Church is not a protestant Church. It is a Restoration Church.

    • Lance in TX

      Re your comment to David: I adjure you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop leading your readers astray.

      Did you ever think it might be YOU that is leading readers astray? Has Jesus Christ Himself stood in front of you and told you that YOUR version of Christianity is the ONE AND ONLY and that everyone else (especially LDS) are not following Him correctly and are damned? Has Jesus Christ blessed the Nicene Creed? It was created over 300 years after his death and resurrection. If the Church that the Nicene Council set up (The Catholic Church) was so wrong that all of these protestant churches had to be formed, are you 100% sure that anything the Nicene Council did was 100% correct? You cannot have it both ways.

      I think you are sounding like the Pharisees of old and telling everyone how you should worship. I have not done that nor has David. We do not believe the same doctrine, but we can agree that each person has to find his own way to worship Jesus Christ.

      Believe what you want. It is your right! But please do not condem others for believing the way they do. That is between them and Christ.

    • Lance in TX

      You also stated: And they agreed with me on this though I freely admit that they desire to appropriate the term trinity (just as they desire to appropriate the terms Jesus, faith, Scripture, etc.).

      I have to say you pretty arrogant to say we “desire to appropriate…” Who made you the gatekeeper of these words, ideas, and beliefs.

      WOW! You should be working for Caiaphas! But remember, even Saul converted to the truth.

    • Sterling

      I may as well state that I am LDS as well, here.

      First, I think the article is great, and I appreciate your comments in this thread, David. Lance, I love how clear you were able to lay out the general Mormon beliefs.

      Michael, we can argue about what we believe, but it is obvious that you will not accept our definition of ‘Christian’. Apparently, the fact that we Mormons, in general, reject the idea of a Trinity of 3 in 1 shapeless, formless being is enough in your to condemn us to ‘Non-Christian’ status. Fine. That is your belief. We can lament the fact that you will be unrelentingly fixed, but we can respect that. After all, no amount of persuasion is going to reverse the idea in my mind that homosexuality is a damning behavior.

      From what I have seen on this site, the main crux of what is being noticed is that while the difference in beliefs between Mormons and Protestants can appear starkly contrasting, the values we embrace are not. I believe the argument (and I apologize, David, for putting words in your mouth) made here is that the unqualified use of the perjorative term ‘cult’ in this instance in unwarranted. It’s one thing to believe that all Mormons are going to Hell and to want to express that. I obviously don’t agree with that assessment, but I accept it as your opinion. Your belief. Fine. However, to people who are generally uninformed regarding our actual beliefs, the pastor’s use of ‘cult’ will undoubtedly conjure up images of weirdos in dark robes, maybe lit by candlelight, with evil conspiratorial plans.

      I appreciated Anderson Cooper’s followup with the pastor so he could describe why he said the word ‘cult’, descibed in the article above, correctly, I think, as an “utterly obscure and artificial academic distinction between a ‘sociological cult’ and a ‘theological cult’”.

      You may disagree with our beliefs, sir, but can we recognize what this is for mere ‘name-calling’ that does not help the conservative cause? I am not afraid of ‘perjorative slurs’ (God knows Mormons have been called worse), but at least the definition be qualified. I am merely afraid that (1) the general uninformed public will view my Church as what it is not, and (2) the general uninformed public will view a prospective, strong candidate with moral values as having ulterior, evil motives.

      My wife had ‘friends’ growing up who couldn’t play with her at her house, all because they were Baptist; she is Mormon. The more we scream about the HUGE differences between our religions and why the other is going straight to Hell, the more we shy away from Christian values.

  • anchan

    Michael,

    I served a mission in Japan for my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I spent my entire 18 months teaching mostly about Jesus Christ to people who knew very little–almost nothing about Him. Our 7 year old neighbor boy asked us one day if we were Christian missionaries. When we told him we were, he raised both arms above his head and lolled his head to one side with his tongue sticking out to show us what he knew about Christians. It was a little shocking, and a very good reminder about what most of the world understands about Jesus Christ. We should never, never forget that if we are to proclaim Christ to the world, we need to expend our strength in that cause. Choosing to condemn people on this forum endlessly for their perceived false doctrines will not bring more people in the world to follow Christ.

    There are proper forums for theological disagreements among all religions. Political forums in the United States of America are not among them. Period.

    A word of counsel from one missionary to another: you will have more success if you simply go out and talk about your religion with others, including members of my faith. Share your faith and testimony without arrogance, and you will make new friends–maybe even converts. Your need to “prove someone wrong” is combative and not done in the spirit of love. Christ possessed charity, which “Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, Believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth….” (I Cor. 13:4-8) “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:” (Timothy 1:5)

    “And he said, ‘He that shewed mercy on him.’ Then said Jesus unto him, “Go, and do thou likewise.” (Luke 10:37)

    • Irene Slack

      I like how you explained about the Mormon church.
      But why can’t other churches just take care of how or
      what they believe? And stop talking about what our church
      believes.?.. Why are they so interested in our beliefs? …
      One reason they do not want to loose any of their members,
      that is their livelyhood, keeping food and rent in their lives…
      Lets all shut up and get on with what really matters in this race for the
      Presidency…. It is not about religion, but we certainly need the one who
      believes in God the Father and his son Jesus Christ..I AM PROUD TO BELONG TO THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS…

  • Deena

    Wow, Michael. Do you have any idea how nasty you sound? Ever heard you can’t catch flies with vinegar? Well, you can’t scream people back into line, either.

    If anybody does join the Mormon Church because Mitt becomes President, it will be because of posts like yours, not because of anything Mitt does. A good friend of mine joined the Mormon Church, after her mother’s pastor came over and told the mother that her daughter would be going to hell if she became a Mormon. Along with a bunch of other ranting. After that, my friend had her mother’s blessing to get baptized Mormon, since his behavior was such a poor contrast to the behavior of the missionaries and her daughter’s Mormon boyfriend.

  • http://ClearNoteChurch.com Joseph Bayly

    I am a pastor. The Mormon “faith” is a cult. Whether or not his stating it was motivated by political opportunism doesn’t change the fact that he is right. And it ought to be stated publicly.

    • Lance in TX

      So, your Church follows the writings of Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (http://clearnotechurch.com/about-us/what-we-believe) who was a confessed Calvinist who followed the Westminster Confession of Faith, a Reformed confession of faith. The Calvinists follow the early leader John Calvin and continued the reformation that Martin Luther started (who was excommunicated from the Catholic Church for heresy). This means that John Calvin was, by extension, a heretic as well. So, do you claim you are a heretic or a believer in the only true Church? In the days of the reformation, the breakaway Churches were called many things including “cults” and “false Churches”. Remember the adulterer and those that wanted to stone her to death and what Christ said to them.

      Which Bible do you use? The Catholic Bible? If the Bible as defined by the Council of Nicaea was infallible, why don’t you use it? After all that was the version that was defined as being perfect when the Creeds were created, but instead you use a version that was modified by men about 1200 years after the Council of Nicaea because they believe they knew better? But what happened to it being infallible? Do you not see the contradiction in your beliefs and your statements?

      I started to go through the 13 points of your faith on your website (listed above), but I did not feel that this was the right forum for it. But let’s just say there are many places that contradict each other, at least how we would see them. Do I call you a “cult”? No. I am glad you found Christ in your Church. Just don’t throw stones at mine lest those stones come back to haunt you at a later time.

  • Trooly

    I just feel a need to make one clarification about the nature of God and what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe. This is a direct quote from scripture accepted by “Mormons:” “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” And, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”

    As was discussed before in these comments, though separate distinct persons, they are one in purpose, thus being called one God. Though all humans are spirit sons and daughters of God the Father, Jesus Christ is the “only begotten in the flesh.” This means that while we have a mortal mother and father who parented our bodies, the father of Jesus Christ’s physical body (and only Jesus’) is God the Father. Saying that Jesus and Satan are brothers is only in reference to their spirits. Satan rejected the Father’s plan and was cast out of heaven before the creation of the earth, never to receive a physical body.

    If you want to know why I’m a Mormon, you can search for my profile at http://www.mormon.org. I’m pretty sure I’m the only Trooly on there.

    • Lance in TX

      Thank you for stating that clearly.

  • Stan

    David I had to chuckle at your last line because I don’t think Mitt will get rid of the coffee. :)

    • Lance in TX

      Actually, there is nothing that says we cannot have coffee in our presense, just that we are not to drink it. I would think that coffee would be allowed in the White House since he knows that there are mostly non-LDS people there and that is their choice (agency) if they want to drink it. I just know that Mitt and Ann will not be drinking it.

      It is the same way with Tea and Alchohol. I am sure they will be served in the White House as well, but Mitt and Ann will not be having any.

    • Irene Slack

      IF EVERYONES SINS WOULD SMELL THERE WOULDN’T BE ANY OF YOU SO CALLED CHRISTAINS IN CHURCH… LETS SEE YOU CAST THE FIRST STONE…

    • Irene Slack

      WHAT SOME ONE WANTS TO DO IS THEIR
      OWN BUSINESS… NOW YOU ARE GOING TO
      BRING UP MITT GIVING UP COFFEE… WHAT A
      SIMPLETON MIND SOME PEOPLE HAVE.

  • Stan

    That is true Lance, Mitt and Ann I’m sure believe in agency because of their Christian belief.

  • Ben

    Hi!

    Thank you, Mr. French, for your comments, and everyone for your insights.

    I find discussions about theology just fascinating. I don’t intend to throw any stones, but I would like to ask some questions. After reading some of the posts, I read this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_cosmology. It’s wikipedia, of course, and may misrepresent Mormon belief. I’m not claiming to know what Mormons believe. I’m simply asking for clarification. Could anyone professing the LDS faith please tell me if anything there is inaccurate? Thanks for taking the time.

    One major question I have is about the beginning, not of the Earth, but of the Universe or pre-Universe. How did it all begin? If God was once a man, who through eternal progression became God, who created God? Do Mormons believe that we, all of us, have always existed?

    My conception of the beginning, maybe it’s wrong, is that there is a mystery. That one thing existed from all time–God–and then ex nihilo made you and me. I think you and I, humans, can be explained only through resort to the unexplainable, the eternal being(ness) and power of God. But I think the wikipedia article seems to indicate that humans and God are the same, in the sense that we have always existed. That strikes me as a lot of mystery. Then, why was God so special? Why did he, of all the intelligences, go on to become what he became? Coincidence? Was there a pre-God that marked Him to be God? And if time stretched ever back, how did time begin (not in the God-created Earth/Universe, but wherever the eternal intelligences were). What moved God to instigate things? (I mean to create spirits, etc, all, I think pre-time).

    I hope this isn’t too confusing. I’m just wondering about this idea presented on wikipedia that we have origins, “intelligences,” that are equal with God the Father. Was chance alone what made Him God?

    One related thing. In my conception of the pre-time existence, there was a sovereign and all-powerful architect. But, in my reading of Mormon pre-Universe, I just see coincidence. God the Father just happened to emerge as the best of the “intelligences.” Perhaps the inference is that it could have been someone else. God was just, I’m not sure, the strongest, wisest, or best. That seems to make God the Father “less,” somehow, even if I can’t exactly articulate why, than in my conception. Not as high, not as absolute, not as incontestable, not as completely other. Does any of this make sense?

    Again, I hope you don’t get the impression that I’m attacking you. I think there are some things we can’t know. But I think we can and should ask questions and can know some things. Cheers!

    • Trooly

      I read most of the article you linked. It has some errors (some of them significant), but it is mostly accurate. I am an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While we are not discouraged from seeking increased knowledge about God, we are taught to focus on the basics that will bring us peace in this life and keep us on track to return home to God. Those basics are best summed up in one of our statements of belief, The Articles of Faith. The fourth Article of Faith states, “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” In my own life, I have often wondered about the true nature of God and my relationship to Him. It is good to seek to know Him, and I know that He hears and answers prayers and guides us to receive the knowledge we seek. Those answers usually come a little bit at a time. I don’t know everything, but I do know that God loves us! Everything else is secondary to that.

  • http://patriothq.com Michael Bailey

    While I find all of these arguments interesting and amusing, myself being raised a Baptist, I also find it interesting and amusing that neither the writer being examined in this article, nor the writer of this article, nor the commenters upon the article have mentioned the following:

    Article VI, Paragraph 3, Constitution of the United States says,
    “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; BUT NO RELIGIOUS TEST SHALL EVER BE REQUIRED AS A QUALIFICATION TO ANY OFFICE OR PUBLIC TRUST UNDER THE UNITED STATES.” (emphasis added by me)

    I am religious to a degree, and very conscientious in my interpretation and practice of Christianity, but the central issue is this one: What are the qualifications to hold the office of the Presidency? Clearly, whether someone is Mormon, Baptist, Catholic, Muslim, Satanist or Atheist mattered not one whit to the Framers of our Republic. Though they themselves seem to have been men of faith, holding regular prayer breakfasts and other frequent prayers as an assembly while crafting the Constitution, they EXPLICITLY FORBADE the qualification of someone for Office under the United States by religious Test.

    This should be our measurement, that of our Constitution. If such was done for every question of government that we find before us, we would be far better off, both as a Nation and as a People. Performance of the Office is a separate issue, and may be dealt with by petition, impeachment, voting the officeholder out, or in the case of the President, by term limits if nothing else.

  • http://deleted fuster

    Michael Bailey—–having every right to run for office and to hold office does not in any way conflict with the right of the citizenry to cast their votes in the ugly or bizarre or ignorant or unintelligent manner that best pleases them.

    Should Mr French announce his candidacy for president and run on the

    “I’m a racist, sexist, homophobe.” platform, not only would immediately rocket to third place in the GOP nomination contest, but, should he fail to secure the nomination, he would likely still receive millions of write-in votes and a Rush Limbaugh endorsement.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X