Three Theological Questions About Christianity, Orthodoxy, and the LDS Church

Yesterday the Daily Caller highlighted an excerpt from Jake Tapper’s interview with Rick Warren.  In light of Mitt Romney’s all-but-inevitable nomination, he asked Warren, “Are Mormons Christians?”  Here’s Warren’s response:

“The key sticking point for evangelicals and actually for many is the issue of the trinity,” Warren said. “That’s a historic doctrine of the church — that God is three in one. Not three Gods, one God in father, son and Holy Spirit. Mormonism denies that. That’s a sticking point for a lot of Catholic Christians, evangelical Christians, pentecostal Christians because they don’t believe that. Now, they’ll use the same terminology. But they don’t believe in the historic doctrine of the trinity. And people have tried to make it other issues, but that’s one of the fundamental differences.”

But let’s think about this for a minute.  Is this really where pastors want to circle the wagons?  I have three questions:

1.   Is Warren’s statement correct as a defining characteristic of Christian belief?  In other words, is the creedal belief in the Trinity the dividing line between Christian and non-Christian?

2.  If it is correct, where does that leave the millions and millions of members of Catholic and Protestant churches who, frankly, don’t have the slightest clue about the Trinity?  I’ve been in church my whole life and can barely remember any in-depth studies of the nature of the Trinity.  In fact, responses to questions about the Trinity depend directly on the way the questions are asked.  Phrase the Trinity question one way, and it appears that rank and file Christians have sharply divergent views from Mormons.  Phrase it a different way, and there’s remarkable unity.  This suggests a great deal of uncertainty.

3. If creedal belief in the Trinity is the defining characteristic, and we don’t want to exclude from Christianity the millions of Catholics and Protestants who don’t know what the heck they believe, is the real dividing line then “creedal belief in the Trinity and/or attendance at a church holding a creedal belief in the Trinity?”  But that can’t be it, can it?  After all, our church’s theological righteousness is not imputed to us as individuals.

I think Warren was answering a different question than the one Jake Tapper asked.  Tapper asked, “Are Mormons Christians?” not “Is Mormon theology historically orthodox?”  Here’s my shot at answering the latter question: “No, LDS theology is not orthodox.  In fact, like other church movements in the 19th century, it was a direct repudiation of what it believes to be the theological error of the orthodox, institutional church as embodied not just in the creeds but also historical practices.  It was attempting to restore Christianity to what it perceived to be core truth.”

But what about Tapper’s actual question?  Isn’t that the question that’s truly interesting?  After all, “orthodoxy” isn’t really that much of a popular concern compared to the core identity as a Christian.  Here’s how I’d answer Tapper:

Jake, a Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ.  Romans 10:9 says that if you confess with your mouth that ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.  Christian identity is not defined by categories but instead by that simple confession and belief, and only God knows who has made that confession and who has that belief.  I don’t know whether any given member of the Mormon church is a Christian any more than I know whether any given member of my own church is a Christian.  That’s not to say that doctrine doesn’t matter — it does, greatly — but a person can be in error on important doctrines and yet Christ has called them to that core confession and belief.

One final note: I’d argue that our view of salvation — whether Arminian or Reformed — is of enormous consequence, going directly not only to the nature of God but also how we understand each moment of our lives, yet I rarely hear anyone seriously ask, “Are Methodists Christian?”  Perhaps that’s not so much because the theological differences aren’t real and profound but because we’ve made our historical peace through shared understanding of our faith in Christ.  Perhaps its time that we make that same peace with Mormons.

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  • robine

    Thank you for this wonderful article David. You and Nancy certainly go above and beyond regarding the LDS faith! We are indeed Christians!

  • Marilyn Brennan

    It is a complicated question, I understand, as I see there are several ways to look at the issue. Thank you for your views on this. As a Mormon, my views on Jesus Christ are vital in my daily life, my heart and my church life. This is my personal “mainstream” the way others’ Christian beliefs are in their lives. My love for and faith in Christ appears to have a different slant than theirs; however, if they only knew, we have much in common.

  • Matthew Wallace

    David, I agree with your proposed answer and also agree that the answer didn’t truely answer the question asked. However, I don’t see your analogy of asking “Are Methodists Christians” as appropriate. When I once was a methodist, we frequently recited The Apostles’ Creed, Doxology, and others that give clear statements about the Church’s stance on the Trinity and salvation, even if the doctrines, beliefs and practices of the congregation didn’t always follow suit. As for Mormons, all we are ever told by their elders and evangelists is generalities about Christ and the dual authority of The Bible and Book of Mormon while deeper digging reveals these generalities as a facade that shields the unknowing from the true core of their faith. This presentation allows Mormons to be accepted in mainstream society and even been seen as a Christian denomination.

    In short, there are many types of Christian congregations that stand on Romans 10:9, and members may make that profession or they may not. However, when a religion doesn’t even stand on the verse to begin with, how are they comparable?

    All this being said, I appreciated your essay your wrote a while ago on why evangelicals should not fear voting for a mormon for the Presidency. I agree that a Mormon’s morals compare to a Christians and that Mr. Romney’s are surely far greater than countless “Christian” politicians. I shared that article on my facebook wall for all my fellow baptists to read. I have been pulling for Mr. Romney since ’08 and will do so this year.

    Thank you for your work,
    Matthew Wallace

    • Marcus Aurelius

      Well ordered answer that, Mr. Wallace. If we base our vote on theology, we know that does not reflect well upon the current Whitehouse. I’ve been to a Bible School which seeks to prepare one solely to go overseas and reach lost villagers. The Trinity was one of the required elements people are presented with, and essential for those teaching them to comprehend.
      Unless Christ be raised from the dead, our peaching is in vain. Christ told Mary(and the reader), ” Do not cling to me, for I HAVE NOT YET RETURNED TO THE FATHER…tell the others I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
      This crucial, pivotal moment at His tomb, shows the unique meaning of 2/3rds of the Trinity. Without it, you can even placate Muslims.
      Yet this does not mean we should not elect Gov. Romney. I too supported his first run for President.

      • Lee

        Dear Marcus, I am fascinated by your answer. I am a Latter-Day Saint, and I spoke on this very scripture in church last East Sunday. We believe every word. What bemuses me is how that verse can be used to demonstrate the Trinity. To me it says the opposite: The Father is separate from our Saviour, since Christ was returning to Him. And Jesus says specifically that our Heavenly Father is both His father and our father, implying that He and we are distinct from God the Father.
        However, I think the differences between us are less strong than might be thought. In John 13 Jesus teaches us to become one with Him as He is one with the Father. There is a oneness between Christ and the Father that is deeply significant (and perhaps incomprehensible), and that we can only reach towards as we immerse ourselves in Christ and yield ourselves to him and the Father.

        Does that resonate with you?

  • Tom W

    The core teachings of the LDS are vastly different thanwhat is taught in the Bible. Have you read what they teach? Do you know what they claim the nature of Christ to be? What about the fact that there is a god for our world, but they too work towards being a god of their own planet? Not exactlywhat Christ spoke of, nor what is spoken of elsewhere inscripture that is non-LDS based. As far as Romney is concerned, I can only say I would prefer someone with bis background than someone who worships, if at all, where hate is the main teaching ala Jeremy W.. Lets not go into individuals, that is futile, but the basics of LDS teachings are that those who profess to be christians are part of the abomination, not a part of their more perfect religion.

    • Laura

      Tom… I would ask you to re-consider your comments. I think you may have read what other people say we believe. Having grown up as an Evangelical and converting to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as an adult, I am the first to acknowledge that we have differences. However, I would challenge you to get information from the source . And that is vastly different than getting information from an Evangelical whoe claims to quote LDS “sources”. Such sources are often either false, inaccurate, unreliable or taken out of context. If I want to know what you believe, I ask you. I don’t ask my Bishop to tell me what you believe. In addition, if you will open your mind (just slightly) you’ll see that we have much more in common than we have different. For example: Salvation through Jesus Christ, building our lives on principles of faith, repentance, and sharing the love of Christ with others. I hope you have a great day.

      • Dotty

        Thank you, Laura — very well said!

        • Steve

          Well Tom, Im Mormon and in your Defense we do believe what u stated.
          They are Doctrines of the Church that we learn about at certain stages, however the truth is members of other churches can say its wrong, but honestly they have no Basis for what they say… The bible does not TEACH what is to come in the after life but heaven… What we do there the Bible does not teach, We Mormons believe we have continuous revelations that teach us those Doctrines, no matter if you or anyone else chooses to believe them is on the individual… However our Fundamental teaching is Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, all Churchs have Doctrines that others dont agree with or we would have only 1 Church in the whole world.

    • TimShawSr

      This is not a teaching of the church that everyone will get their own planet. Unless you take for your authority broadway plays. What the church teaches is what Jesus taught “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” Matt 7:48 (An alternative translation of the greek to the word perfect implies finished, or fully developed.) We believe we are the spiritual children of our Father in Heaven. Once we obtain a resurrected body as Jesus has, we will have a perfect physical body. However, spiritual perfection was also commanded by Jesus, and is a process which we believe will take much time beyond this life. Like all children, we have the capacity to become like our Father once we have completed Jesus’ commandment. This does not mean we will be equal with the Father, he will always be God Almighty, greater in Glory, as will Jesus. But, Jesus said “In my Father’s house are many mansions, I go and prepare a place for you.” What that means exactly, I don’t know.

    • Arm

      Tom, it is not my intention to turn this into a theological discussion, but to reply or correct your misunderstandings of the believes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints. I will address only specifics that you mention, not statements like “The core teachings of the LDS are vastly different than what is taught in the Bible.” Latter Day Saint (in the New Testament the word, Saint refers to a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ) teachings regarding Christ:
      He is the creator of the world and is the Savior of the world and all mankind and the only begotten Son in the flesh of God the Father. He is our Redeemer.
      Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. Jesus suffered and was crucified for the sins of the world, giving each of God’s children the gift of repentance and forgiveness. Only by His mercy and grace can anyone be saved. His subsequent resurrection prepared the way for every person to overcome physical death as well. These events are called the Atonement. In short, Jesus Christ saves us from sin and death. For that, he is very literally our Savior and Redeemer. In the future Jesus Christ will return to reign on earth in peace for a thousand years. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and He will be our Lord forever. God the Father, Christ the
      Son and the Holy Ghost make-up the Godhead. http://mormon.org/jesus-christ/

      Do Latter-day Saints believe that they will “get their own planet”?
      No. This idea is not taught in Latter-day Saint scripture, nor is it a doctrine of the Church. This misunderstanding stems from speculative comments unreflective of scriptural doctrine. Mormons believe that we are all sons and daughters of God and that all of us have the potential to grow during and after this life to become like our Heavenly Father (see Romans 8:16-17). The Church does not and has never purported to fully understand the specifics of Christ’s statement that “in my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2). (“Mormonism 101: FAQ“, Newsroom, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, lds.org)
      A search of LDS.org, which includes all of the church lesson manuals, all talks given in church conferences, and all magazines published by the LDS church shows that there are no instances—zero—where the caricature that Latter-day Saints will become “gods of their own planets” or “get their own planet” is taught. As for who is or who is not a Christian, I will leave it to the author (Jesus Christ) of the Faith to say.
      Thank you for your sincere interest.

      Tom you said: “LDS teachings are that those who profess to be christians are part of the abomination, not a part of their more perfect religion.”
      From Latter Day Saint 13 Articles of Faith: 11 We claim the aprivilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

      • Steve

        I just gotta say this is making me mad seeing this kinda talk on here… IM MORMON AND we do believe if we inherit the Celestial kingdom we will create worlds and childeran to live on them…. It is a church teaching, ill send you a direct link to a page on LDS.ORG http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-fundamentals/chapter-36-eternal-life?lang=eng

        This is true Doctrines, so we dont need to sugar coat what we believe.

        • Calvin

          Steve, I hear what you’re saying, but I think there might be some disagreement on exactly what constitutes “doctrine”. We don’t base talks or lessons on the idea of creating or running our own planets. You’ll never hear a general conference talk on the subject, for example, and it’s not because anyone is trying to keep something secret. Rather, that idea of creating our own planets is just one aspect of what some believe eternal life might be like.

          • Steven

            Steve, Calvin — (first, I am also Mormon) — I think the point here is, this concept of “creating worlds” is far beyond this life and is not pertinent to our present mortal life situation. For that reason, it’s not focused on in general conference, etc. The basics of Faith in Christ, Repentance, the Atonement, Baptism, serving others, humility, etc. are far more important.

            Second, there is a lot of misunderstanding that can come from this concept of “creating worlds” when it is worded in the way many critics of the LDS faith like to put it. The point is — we believe we can become like our Heavenly Father. It says in Romans 8:16-17 “16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
            17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
            That is the point. We believe that scripture. The details of how that life will be, exactly, we can surmise only by understanding who Heavenly Father is now, and is not something that we completely know (in fact we know very little) but we know it is a joyous and happy and wonderful existence, and one we all ought to aim for!

    • Lee

      Tom, I posted a comment to Marcus Aurelius above, about what we Latter-Day Saints believe about the Godhead. I hope it might help you to understand a little more fully. We believe every word of the Bible. The scripture that Marcus posted was a good example about how a verse can be seen in a different way.

      “Do not cling to me, for I HAVE NOT YET RETURNED TO THE FATHER…tell the others I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”

      He used it to demonstrate the Trinity. To me it says the opposite: The Father is separate from our Saviour, since Christ was returning to Him. And Jesus says specifically that our Heavenly Father is both His father and our father, implying that He and we are distinct from God the Father.
      However, I think the differences between us are less strong than might be thought. In John 13 Jesus teaches us to become one with Him as He is one with the Father. There is a oneness between Christ and the Father that is deeply significant (and perhaps incomprehensible), and that we can only reach towards as we immerse ourselves in Christ and yield ourselves to him and the Father.

      You made a comment about us having our own worlds that is commonly used by those who misunderstand our doctrine. There have been those (in and out of the church) who have extrapolated our doctrine of eternal progression to say that we will become equal with God. That is not our doctrine. He will ALWAYS be our God. Christ will ALWAYS be our Saviour. We become more Christ-like only because of the merits of Him who is mighty to save.

      The best summary of our doctrine of eternal progression and become Christlike (and “gods”) is given by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:

      “The command ‘be ye therefore perfect’ is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him – because we can prevent Him if we choose – He will make the feeblest and filthiest among us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature …. a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though , of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness.”

      That is a perfect description of Latter-Day Saint doctrine, and I believe it with all my heart.

      Lee Sheppard

      • Kay

        I had never read these words by C.S. Lewis. I appreciate your sharing them here. It speaks the truth and calms the conversation.

    • Joel Cannon

      Tom, it feels like you either do not understand LDS doctrine or the Bible. I find them very consistent. Here is a recent blog written by my wife on this specific topic. I encourage you to give it a quick read.

    • Terry

      Tom…I appreciate your honesty and politeness. However, I must offer a correction to your statement that Mormons”…work towards being a god of their own planet.” Being “a god of your own planet” is charge I have yet to find a quoted LDS source for. While we do believe that man’s potential to be come a god (small “g”) is a possibility, such a calling would be by God’s authority and under His direction. Even the Bible hints that such an event may occur when it states that we can become “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” (paraphrasing, and sorry, I don’t have the reference at hand). I don’t know of any LDS person who is actively “working towards” it, however. (I’m certainly not! People who have accused me personally of seeking such a thing have received my standard reply to the effect that “I plan on getting right on it as soon as I get this blankety-blank leaky faucet in the bathroom fixed”.) We (LDS) see it as something God will decide on, and thus readily leave that decision up to Him. With that belief stated, God is still, and will always be, God–the greatest of all. No one is ever going to take His place.

      Hope this has clarified the matter for you.

  • Garry Moss

    I don’t agree that Mormon beliefs are not orthodox. I looked up the word in the dictionary which essentially defined it as “correct.” I think the final verdict is going to be out on that until we all get on the other side and find out for sure. Mormons do believe in the trinity, just not in the same way as other Christians do. Mormons believe in God, the Father, His son, Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost who are one in purpose for which there is biblical support for that view.

  • Jed Merrill

    Isn’t it possible that the Bible supports more than one interpretation of God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, all of whom Mormons believe in? Mormons believe in God in the same sense that Stephen did when he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ on His right hand in a vision. Mormons believe in the Godhead in the sense that Christ was baptized, the voice of the Father was heard from Heaven, and the Spirit descended as a dove–three separate beings. Sure it robs the Trinity of a bit of the mystery by saying they are three separate beings united in purpose instead of some divine ventriloquist, but it makes some sense doesn’t it? Finally, Mormons believe God is knowable and that he is just as capable of revealing his will today as he was in Christ’s day or the time of Moses, whether to us individually or to a leader of the Church. Is any of this really, truly unorthodox? If so, Mormons may be right to question “Orthodoxy.”

  • Jeff

    There was a great series of articles in First Things about whether Mormons are Christians (one of the articles is here: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/09/003-is-mormonism-christian-31). It seems correct to say that they do not subscribe to the Nicene Creed, which for many, is the core statement of Christian doctrine. But, for what it is worth, if Mormons want to refer to themselves as Christians, I am happy to include them.

    Further, to the extent such an argument is made to say, “Mitt Romney is Mormon; Mormons aren’t Christian; non-Christians shouldn’t be president,” then I think the argument is nonsense on stilts.

  • Bill Bell

    The day will come when some will look past the gates and say to someone on the inside’ “How did you get into Heaven? You’re a Mormon, not a Christian.” And then Jesus, whom they won’t recognize will say, “My child, that was not for you to decide.”

  • TimShawSr

    I appreciate David French’s thoughtful reply to Jake Tapper and Rick Warren’s discussion. I live close to Rick Warren’s church and have several friends that go to his church. I have always been impressed with him, and the clarity and the practical application he demonstrates when he teaches about the life of Jesus. I have always found him to be very inclusive, loving and open to all, as I believe the Savior is. Therefore, I was very shocked to hear his reply to Jake Tapper’s question. I know Rick Warren always places great emphasis on the show me by your fruits you are a Christian by how you live your life. “By their fruits you shall know them.” We Latter-day Saints are well known for trying to do our best to live the teachings of Jesus, in our families, our communities and being of services to those in need around the world. And, if anyone knows a member of my church well knows we each strive to have a very personal “testimony” born of faith and personal experience that Jesus, because of his wondrous gift of grace is our personal Savior and is the Son of Almighty God. So for him to judge our Christianity on whether we follow 3rd and 4th century creeds just amazed me that he would make such a statement.

    But in answer to Rick Warren’s concern let me make just a few points. (It’s my desire to give an explanation to explain why Mormon’s do not accept the Creeds spoken of, it is not my wish to offend anyone. I ask your forgiveness in advance if I may do so unintentionally. I simply want to increase understanding) As we all know the bible was kept from the people for well over a thousand years, under penalty of death. When the printing press came along there was no way to hold the flood gates closed. The bible flooded the earth. As people read the New Testament they came to believe the church of the day bore little resemblance to the church of the 1st century, of Jesus’ day. So the reformation began as people attempted to reform the existing church, and then create churches that looked like the one in the 1st century.

    We know that the changes in the church began after the Apostles were each martyred and John was no longer showing himself to men; because arguments began to appear in the church concerning the nature of God. There was no such confusion when Jesus was among the people or when the Apostles taught. LDS people believe the New Testament makes it very clear that the Godhead consist of 3 separate and distinct individuals (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost, we believe all three are rightly called a God), as demonstrated at the time of Jesus baptism, every time Jesus prayed to his Father in private of in secret, Jesus was always telling the people He was there to do his Father’s will, and in the Garden as he suffered for our sins, He spoke to His Father. On the cross why would he say “My Father, why has thou forsaken me?” if he were the Father, how could he forsaken Himself (there are many examples). But, they are so close in mind and will they are as one, as described by Jesus in the great intercessory prayer in John 17. His hope is that his Apostles and all that believed on their words would be one with Him as He is with the Father. I know these just seem too commonsensical, but I have heard people tie themselves into rhetorical knots trying to prove the Trinitarian concept through these examples. But, it is so clear. Then ultimately, after he was resurrected he says to Mary, “Touch me not for I have not ascended to my God, and your God.”

    At any rate, by the 3rd century, there were arguments among the people concerning the nature and origins of Father and the Son. If there had been one with apostolic authority among them he would have spoken and the matter would have been settled, but there was not. So, Emperor Constantine, a recent covert with no ecclesiastical authority calls a confab of all the bishops. They hammered out the Nicene Creed (325 AD). It is a political compromising document. It was just confusing enough in its language that anyone with a differing opinion could look at it and find his belief in it. But more disputations occurred in the church so another confab was held in 500 AD and the Athanasian Creed an even more confusing document was produced. This is when the concept of the Trinity was fully developed.

    As a Latter-day Saint, I simply don’t understand how someone who believes in the underpinnings of the protestant movement accepts the creeds as a statement of their faith, when the facts of the loss of the authority of the holy apostleship, the general apostasy, and the laying of the foundations of the church which they were trying to reform are well established by the time of 325 AD and certainly 500 AD. This is why Latter-day Saints do not believe in the creeds. We believe a reformation was not sufficient to reestablish the church of the 1st century, but a divine Restoration (requiring Jesus himself to reestablish the church) was required to restore the church as it existed in the 1st century. (Please refer to this link for more information: http://mormon.org/restoration/)

    So given these facts, I am in full agreement with David French that a much better definition of who a Christian is found in Romans 10:9. I love David French’s heart. We need to go easy on people and to be careful not to make sweeping generalizations, not condemning whole groups of people. Ultimately we are not the judge; the Savior is the judge of our hearts. His warning to us was “Judge not that ye be not judged, for with that judgment with which ye judge ye shall also be judged.” Matt 7:1-2

  • Laura

    Thank you. Thank you for seeking for common ground rather than looking for ways to divide. I am so grateful for your willingness to love as Christ would rather than sit in judgment. I become so frustrated by people using doctrine as a weapon with which to beat each other down. Christ’s teachings can unite us if we will allow others to believe His teachings and not agree on all the details. I sometimes view the participants in this argument and think, “How does God view us? Is He looking for ways to strike us out? Or is He encouraging, pleading, us, cheering us to Home plate?” So… how should we view each other?

  • Virginia

    I particularly love the saying, attributed to Martin Luther, which compares the Kingdom of God to “a besieged city surrounded on all sides by death. Each man [and woman] has his place on the wall to defend, and no one can stand where another stands, but nothing prevents us from calling encouragement to one another.” I’m grateful for the encouragement of good men and women like the Frenches.

  • Steviedore

    I think all “Christians” conclude that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior, the Lamb of God. However, after the passing of the apostles in the early church, and after bearing the persecutions of the Roman empire. Finally professing Christians were allowed to exist, but there were divisions in Christendom, mainly between Trinitarian and non-Trinitarians, such as the followers of Arius. The conflict brought about the eventual Nicene Creed upon the insistence of Constantine, after plenty of dispute and bloodshed. These disputes carried on for centuries afterwards. So my question, as for defining the essence or personality of God in these machinations over time, where did God stand on the issue? Was anything lost in the process?

    That was a question that was taken to prayer, and that prayer was answered. That is my belief.

    I cannot judge a persons heart, I only know what is in my heart. I do believe that God can reveal Himself and His will at any time and/or place according to His wisdom.

    God is the author of morality. Morality is not of any one belief or creed, it is a universal law.

    Within the context of a presidential race, I will choose the candidate with the best ideas, who has the skill and character to move a nation, and whom I believe is moral, just and good. A leader who emanates what is good about humanity, and one who understands we are a nation of men, and we are under God. But also has the wisdom to know that we all may approach God in different ways, but we should nonetheless united as citizens…. and we are allowed our own opinions.

  • ccr

    Thank you, Frenches, for your efforts to promote Christian kindness, acceptance and efforts for our God-inspired country among moral and religious peoples.

  • Debbie

    The Mormon are not a Christian faith. They do not believe that Jesus is The Christ, the Son of God. They believe that he is a god. But what is wrong with a Mormon being the president, there have been many non Christians as our president? What is different between a Mormon being president and a non believer as president?

    • DougH

      I’ll agree with you about whether someone’s public belief in Christ is important when it comes to performance as president (not much – we’ve had nonbelievers that were fine presidents, and believers that weren’t so good).

      For your statement that we Mormons don’t believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, there’s this from one of the visions recorded in the Book of Mormon:

      13 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.

      14 And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?

      15 And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.

      16 And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?

      17 And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.

      18 And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.

      19 And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!

      20 And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.

      21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!

    • Lance in TX

      Debbie,
      Can you please tell where you were told that we do not believe that Jesus is The Christ, the Son of God?

      Everywhere in our doctrine we state over and over that Jesus is The Son of God, The Christ, Our Redemer and Saviour and that there is no other way back to God, The Father, except through the Mercy and Love of Jesus Christ, The Son of God.

      Please see the page on our beliefs about Jesus Christ at http://mormon.org/jesus-christ/

      The first paragraph states:
      Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of God. He is our Redeemer. The Holy Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ’s mother was Mary, His father on earth was Joseph, that He was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, and labored with Joseph as a carpenter. When he turned 30, He began a three-year ministry of teaching, blessing, and healing the people of the Holy Land. He also organized His Church and gave His apostles “power and authority” (Luke 9:1) to assist in His work.

      Go to the source (www.moron.org or http://www.lds.org) if you want to know what we believe. Don’t turn to your pastor/priest/etc…

    • Adrian de Bruyn

      You are entirely correct Debbie. It seems that a lot of people are equating Christianity as being nice middle class people. No doubt there are a lot of Mormons who are just that. But that does not take away from the statement God, the Maker of heaven and earth, made that beside Him there is no other God. Tell that to a Mormon and he/she will try and modify that. The study material from Rose Publishing will draw the division quite sharply.

  • Cary

    It is my understanding that at the time the doctrine of the trinity was discussed and voted on by the so-called leaders of the church, They also came up with the idea for a Pope, The leader of the church. If the Trinity idea is a true doctrine, which most christian churches acknowledge, why not the idea for the pope? Why does only the Catholic church place the Pope into leadership? It makes perfect sense. If one doctrine is true how can the other not be?

  • Kay

    I have read these and am very glad there are so many good people under God, never mind all the rest of it. I am thankful for this honest discussion.

  • Flyaway

    In our church we sing songs and believe in this way:

    Father, we adore You. Lay our lives before You…

    Jesus, we adore You. Lay our lives before You…

    Spirit, we adore You. Lay our lives before you…

    and Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me….

  • http://www.eacology.com Eric

    Nice overview. With Romney now having the nod this is going to become such a major issue. I think its rediculous that evangelicals are making an issue of the trinity and a number of other theological points, as if they own the rights to the title of Christian. I wrote an article on this too to try to help some folks see the fine lines of the issue so they could speak intellignetly about it: http://www.eacology.com/2012/02/are-mormons-such-as-mitt-romney.html

    Eric

  • http://blurberts.blogspot.com Todd

    Thank you for another excellent article. I can’t say enough positive comments to sufficiently express my gratitude for the Frenches and for their great examples. They consistently look for the good in others and try to build upon common faith and values rather than trying to divide and conquer (it’s always easier to point out the negatives than it is to point out the positives). Thank you again!

    I would like to share with you a wonderful talk about Jesus Christ titled “His Grace Is Sufficient.” This talk, given by an excellent LDS speaker named Brad Wilcox, is one of the better talks that I have ever heard about Jesus and His love and His amazing grace: His Grace Is Sufficient. Regardless of your particular Christian denomination there is much to be learned from this video. I eagerly shared it with my wife and children because it is such an important message.

  • Lady Anonymous

    Christianity is not Mormonism. Period. The beliefs of the Mormon church DIRECTLY contradict everything in the Bible (the one not modified by the LDS church). Please do not be fooled by those who say that Christians and Mormons believe the same things. They may use some of the same terms that Christians do when it comes to salvation, grace, etc., but their DEFINITION of those things are very different from those who call themselves Christians. Dig deeper. Find out the truth for yourself.

    • Lance in TX

      First…
      We don’t modify the Bible. We use the King James Version. Not any other version. As a matter of fact, that is the only version that is approved by the leadership of the Church. So, let’s get that one out of the way.

      Our beliefs do NOT contradict “everything in the Bible”. Perhaps you should learn a little more about us FROM US and not from your pastor/priest/etc…

      There are a number of differences:
      1) We do not believe in the Creeds that were created in the 3rd and 4th century under the order of Constantine and those that followed him after he died. We believe in the 1st century Christian beliefs.
      2) We do not believe in the Trinity as defined by the Creeds. We believe in the Godhead as it is defined in the Bible: God The Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Ghost.
      3) We believe that God still talks to His children, as he did in ancient days, through Prophets He chooses on this Earth.
      4) We believe in continued revelation.
      5) We believe that only way of salvation is through Jesus Christ, as stated in the Bible.

      Please take a look at http://www.mormon.org and/or http://www.lds.org to find out what we really believe. I am not asking you to convert, but I am asking you to be honest and look at us with an open mind.

    • Mike Bennion

      Dear Lady Anonymous,

      I am a Mormon. I use the King James Version of the Bible and have been known to read the RSV and several other versions as well. I find remarkable agreement between LDS beliefs and the Bible. I have studied both the Old and New Testaments all my life and am conversant in the soul sustaining truths therein. I also read the other LDS Standard works. I read the scriptures daily and have committed many of them to memory.

      I do not intend to get into a Bible bash with you, but I am puzzled by your assertion. Perhaps you could show me which scriptures in Mormonism do not accord with Bible teachings.

      Now, lest you think I am unaware of Orthodox and heterodox interpretations of the Bible, let me explain. I am a graduate student who just completed my comprehensive exams on American Religions, (which I passed, by the way) In preparation for that examination I read somewhere between 60-75 books on various religious historical topics, including works by and about Jonathan Edwards, Anglicanism, Puritanism, Evangelicalism, Arminianism, Pietism, Methodism, Presbyterianism, The Churches of Christ, The AME Church, the Baptists, the Shakers, the Adventists, the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Transcendentalism, Unitarianism, Universalism, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Christian Science, Judaism, and Islam. My son, is completing a PhD in the same subject and we correspond regularly on the topic. He teaches religion at a University in California.

      I would recommend two books that have been most enlightening to me. “America’s God” by a fine Evangelical scholar, Mark Noll and “Sacred Borders,” by David Holland (2011).

      Now, would you like to enlighten me about those inconsistencies between LDS theology and the Bible?

    • Deb

      By all means, dig deeper. But go to the source. It is not for people outside our religion to say what we believe. I think the commens posted here demonstrates that there are differences between what people think we believe and what we actually believe. Do not get your information from someone who is knowingly or unknowling peddling recycled distortions about our beliefs. The actual beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are indeed in harmony with the Bible. However, it is true that there are many detractors who claim otherwise. There is a whole cottage industry out there waging a campaign devoted to making you afraid of us. Some even go so far as to supposedly quote church leaders and even appear to cite where the “so called” quotes came from. I have gone to the trouble of referencing the cited materials, only to find so called quotes taken grossly out of context and rearranged to be wildly misleading. While these authors claim to be protecting you from us, their own obviously intentional deceptions beg the question, “who will protect you from them and their deceit?” Some knowingly perpetuate these falsehoods about us for profit and others are merely regurgitating the lies they’ve been told or “sold”. In either case, they are bearing false witness. At the very least they are spreading gossip. Be careful. Both behaviors are condemed in the Bible. I think we can all agree on that. It is the “father of the lie” who is trying to divide and conquer the followers of Jesus. Go to mormon.org or lds.org to get the truth of the matter and do not buy into the lies being circulated. Compare what you read there with what the Bible actually says. Let us use our common sense here. We wouldn’t be foolish enough to believe Barack Obama’s distortioned attempts to define Mitt Romney as a political candidate. Neither should we let opponents of his religion define his belief in Christ.

  • Dave in Colorado

    Dear Lady Anonymous, you have the right to have your own opinion. I have the right as a Latter-day Saint to profess my faith in Jesus Christ. I thank the Frenches for reaching out with love. The only person whose opinion really matters about whether or not I am Christian is the Savior Jesus Christ. I try to follow His teachings each day. I have a dear cousin who is a Baptist minister in South Carolina. He tries to follow Jesus as I do. And we are both okay with each other. I have dug deeply. I have felt the Savior’s love in my life. I have seen the fruits of the Gospel in the way my kids have turned out. My wife and I have a blessed marriage of 26 years centered on Jesus Christ. I have been born again through his redeeming love.

  • Paul

    Lady Anonymous…. I would challenge you to defend the Nicene and other creeds with the same Bible you say is contradicted by the beliefs of the Mormon church. You’ll quickly find it to be a difficult task because the creeds were built largely on ideas found no where in the Bible. An honest contemplation of what the creeds describe leads many people to realize that the loving God they imagine and have faith in is not the one described by the creeds. And why would we expect the creeds to get it right? They were the end result of two or three centuries of debate about the nature of God, all of it occurring long after the inspired apostles of the early Church were dead.

  • Oracle

    @LadyAnonymous (and anyone else claiming Mormons arent Christian):

    Ever heard of the Bible? You should probably read it sometime. Included therein, lies a myriad of passages that define what a Christian is. Lets just break it down real simple so you understand.

    According to the teachings of ‘mainstream’ Christianity, and the Bible itself, there is only one qualifying act to be considered a Christian – according to the Bible:

    1) Faith in Jesus Christ (“For whoever will call upon the name of The Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

    See how easy that was? No need to argue over the Nicean concept of the Trinity that Evangelicals and Catholics hold so dear (never mentioned by Jesus, nor in the Bible). No need to cite differences in baptism practices, or other ordinances. No need to debate the idea of modern revelation. It’s all irrelevant when considering WHO IS A CHRISTIAN.

    I would LOVE to hear a conversation between Christ and a newly deceased Mormon, through the ears of the typical Evangelical who refuses to accept Mormons as Christians. I think it would go a little like this:

    Christ: “Hey, welcome to Heaven. Ive got a few questions for you before we proceed”
    Dead Mormon Guy: “Sure thing, my Lord and Savior. What would you like to know?”
    Christ: “First of all, your profile indicates that you accepted me as your personal Lord and Savior, prayed often, donated time and money in charitable contribution toward your fellow man, obeyed my commandment to love your neighbor, was generally a law abiding, good person, raised a family in love, and apart from a few hiccups which we will cover later, generally lived a good, honest life.”
    Dead Mormon Guy: “Well thank you for the kind words and recognition. I am sorry for any transgressions and areas where I failed to do my all.”
    Christ: “Oh well we will cover those, as I stated. The good news is that I sacrificed myself to make up for your shortcomings to help you live a peaceful, eternal life in Paradise”
    Dead Mormon Guy: “Oh Jesus thank you. I love you.”
    Jesus: “Well, I do have some bad news, however”
    Dead Mormon Guy: “Oh?”
    Jesus: “Well yes, you see, you are not a Christian”
    Dead Mormon Guy: “Uh…, but -”
    Jesus: “Yeah you see a few hundred years after I died some guys were arguing over the whole Godhead thing and really couldn’t agree. But finally they determined that I, my Father, and the Holy Ghost were to be forged as one being, one deity. Apparently because you are Mormon and didn’t subscribe to that, I’m going to have to ask you to leave”
    Dead Mormon Guy: “but -”
    Jesus: (pulls lever, opening a trap underneath the Dead Mormon Guy. Its glowing red and burning hellish flames violently rise up out of it. He falls in, screaming in horror as he plunges to his eternal, fiery death. Jesus lets out a maniacal laugh and pulls the lever again to close it)
    Jesus: “Next!”

  • Steve

    Im kinda stumped on the responses im seeing here… I mean i see people saying Mormons Believe this, and then i see Mormons saying, no We dont believe that…
    Im Mormon, very well rehearsed on Most Doctrines of the church… I see some saying Mormons believe they will make planets when they die and I see Mormons saying no thats no Doctrine… Well Both are wrong, Our LDS church does teach if we inherit the Celestial Kingdom we will make childran in the after life and worlds for them to live on.

    http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-fundamentals/chapter-36-eternal-life?lang=eng

    However no Christian can deny or prove that its wrong or right. The bible does not teach what we will do in the afterlife but live in Heaven. Well no one has a real answer to what heaven really is… What its like, except its perfect.
    I kinda always tell people the Mormon Doctrine is Kinda Close to the Movie: What Dreams May Come.. We make our own perfect place… But most christians wont accept our Doctrines and we dont care, we just wanna tell you that Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important gift someone can have. The Doctrines behind that may differ but our Hearts should focus solemly on God, Chartiy and Love.

  • Liz

    Arm and Steve both have legitimate links and quotes regarding the deification of man. ( http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-fundamentals/chapter-36-eternal-life?lang=eng and http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormonism-101 ) I think it is safe to say that exactly what happens during “eternal life” has not been well clarified. I am a Mormon and tend to think that it is certainly possible we would have our own world with our own children, because God wants us to be like Him as much as possible, but that that we would always be subject to Him (as a very good father would always have more experience and deserve the respect of his children.) BUT I also think it is a vain topic to discuss as we have enough work to do here on earth to follow his will and become even a fraction of what He is. For a good discussion on the topic, and examples of real quotes by church leaders I suggest: http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_the_nature_of_God/Deification_of_man/Gods_of_their_own_planets

    For the nature of God, and Godhead v. Trinity, it could be argued that no christian is a monotheist at all, strictly speaking, and that the LDS view of God is a very complex idea–one that has no real term to describe it. Another good article on the topic: http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_the_nature_of_God/Polytheism

  • Gene

    As a former Baptist and a LDSer (o: I am amused by the comments here.
    There are so many really dumb comments and so many good comments here it would take an hour to respond to all of them.
    I couldn’t care less who thinks I am Christian.
    The Bible clearly tells us that God spoke down from Heaven as His Son(Christ) was being baptised,Christ spoke upward and asked Heavenly Father FORGIVE
    THEM as he hung on the cross,Christ prayed to himself in the “GARDEN”?
    C’mon give me a break ! Lets us create man in our image..remember that in Genesis ? God talking to himself ? Sheeez.
    As for the oneness— goals, looks,perfection, and love.
    Let us just concentrate on loving each other and elect a clean living ,brilliant,
    great problem solver guy by the name of Mitt Romney!

  • Natalie

    I’m glad that there is a rebuttal to Rick Warren’s response. But we ALL must remember we are not electing someone to “PREACH” to us about their religion or their beliefs on it. What we are trying to do is to make America great again.
    Obama claims to be a Christian but I seem to doubt that. We all need to join together Evangelical Christians, Catholics, and LDS. Mitt isn’t going to be debating Obama about Salvation by Proxy, Celestial Planets where women are perpetually pregnant, or what kind of underwear they wear. They will be debating on our debt, millitary, health care, energy, foreign policy, and job creation.

    Can we all join hands and agree to disagree? We have a lot more in common than we think. If we allow ourselves to point out each other’s religious fallacies then Obama achieves his objective of polorizing the “religious” community and WE ALL LOOSE!!!!! THINK ABOUT PEOPLE….

    • Lance in TX

      Natalie,

      Thank you for your comments! I agree 100%. We are not voting for a Pastor/Bishop (depending on if you are LDS or not :) ) we are voting on a President. I am LDS and have been since 1992. I have voted for non-LDS Presidents and don’t have a problem with that.

      We need to all work together like we all did for Prop 8 in California and for Same-Sex Marriage all over the country. How quickly most Evangelicals forget that we all, Catholic/Evangelical/and Mormon, stood side-by-side on this issue all over the country. How quickly most Evangelicals forget that LDS have voted for Evangelical/Protestant nominees in the past in HUGE numbers without any reservations about their religion. How quickly most Evangelicals turn on those that have supported them over the years.

      I do take issue with a couple of statements you said:

      1) Salvation by Proxy: There is no “Salvation by Proxy”. Everyone has to choose Jesus Christ on their own. I think you mean Baptism by Proxy and that is not the same thing. The Bible says that EVERYONE must be baptized by water and fire. When we baptize someone by proxy, we don’t MAKE them LDS. We are fulfilling their requirement of baptism and they have to CHOOSE to believe in Jesus Christ as their Saviour. The reason we believe in Baptism by Proxy for the Dead is because you have to be baptized by someone who has the authority to baptize you (as Jesus had to be baptized by John the Baptist and NO ONE ELSE), and because of 1 Cor 15:29 “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead”. Christians alive during the time of Christ knew about baptizing for the dead and participated in it. It was lost during the 3rd and 4th Centuries after the Apostles died and truth started to be lost.

      2) “Celestial Planets where women are perpetually pregnant”: We believe that those in the Celestial Kingdom will be able to maintain their marriages if they were sealed on the Earth by proper authority in the Temple (while alive or after death). We also believe that those people will be able to continue to have families and children. We will have perfected bodies and will not just be floating around as spirits. We will have the same loving feelings as we have here as husband and wife. That does not mean that everyone will have children and does not mean that they will be “perpetually pregnant”.

  • Bryan

    Your complete defense of Romney is making you look like a politician. You know you are being just a little deceptive with your answer because Mormon deny the god ship of Jesus.

  • J. Morales

    David, I’ll have to admit I’m not very familiar with Mormon doctrines. My understanding is that they differ in some important ways. Are they Christian? I leave that for God to judge in that I do agree with you that people can differ on areas of doctrine yet still be “Christ followers”. All of that said, I don’t appreciate you making light of the Trinity.

    If memory serves, that is one of the parts of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, which I believe is a great summation of the most basic fundamentals we need to be Christian. I don’t think you can make sense of the NT without believing in the Trinity. I mean, who exactly was Christ if you don’t accept the Trinity? The concept is confusing and I’m sure you can sow even more confusion by wording questions differently, but it is still an important core concept. To be honest, I’m not sure where Mormons stand on it but I don’t think it’s helpful to make light of the Trinity.

    • Lance in TX

      J. Morales (and others):

      Here are a few links that explain some of what we believe. I hope you take the time to read them. Ponder them. Pray about them. That is all we ever ask of people: Read, Ponder, and Pray. If they are true and you are listening, your heart will be touched by the Holy Ghost and He will testify to you that they are true. I hope this helps you understand our beliefs a little more. Really good sources of information are the LDS websites: http://www.mormon.org and http://www.lds.org.

      Jesus Christ, Our Savior: http://www.mormon.org/jesus-christ

      This article was written in March 1988 “Comparing LDS Beliefs with First-Century Christianity” and was written by Daniel C Peterson and Stephen D Ricks. It is really a good article: http://www.lds.org/ensign/1988/03/comparing-lds-beliefs-with-first-century-christianity?lang=eng&query=trinity

      Here is a great article written in July 1987 asking “Is the LDS View of God Consistent with the Bible?” This was written by William O Nelson: http://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/07/is-the-lds-view-of-god-consistent-with-the-bible?lang=eng&query=trinity

      This is a talk given by President Marion G Romney (First Conselor in the First Presidency) on Feb 5, 1978 titled “Jesus – Savior and Redeemer”: http://www.lds.org/new-era/1984/04/jesus-savior-and-redeemer?lang=eng&query=trinity

      The Trinity, Godhead, Living God. This is a talk given by N. Eldon Tanner (one of our GAs) in October 1978: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1978/10/a-basis-for-faith-in-the-living-god?lang=eng&query=trinity

      Here is another talk given in April 2007 about our beliefs that was given by Gary J Colman (one of our GAs): http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/04/mom-are-we-christians?lang=eng&query=trinity

      • J. Morales

        Lance,

        Pardon me, but I think if you looked at the Bible, put aside the Book of Mormon, pondered, and prayed; I would hope that the Holy Spirit would lead you to a more Evangelical faith. Personally, I attend the Assemblies of God – http://ag.org.

        Regardless, I really don’t want this to turn into a theological debate. It’s fair to say that there are differences between Evangelicals and Mormons. However, David primarily speaks to politics and in politics are goals are aligned and thus it is a good idea to work together. In politics I will work with the atheists, the Mormon, the Catholic, the liberal, the neoconservative, whomever, that has similar enough goals.

        David made a lot of good points but erred in (in my view) in downplaying the Trinity. We may not spend as much time talking about it as other concepts but it is an important part of our beliefs.

        • J. Morales

          ^our goals, not “are”. Sorry.

        • Lance in TX

          J. Morales,
          Let me give you a little history of me. I have not always been LDS, so I do have more knowledge than you think I do. I grew up in a very strongly Episcopal family. My mother helped fundraising and helping with renovations on our Church building. I was baptized Episcopal. We were very good friends with the Priest. I was an altar boy (no, nothing happened). I studied the Bible all the time. As I studied the Bible and listened to the Priest, I realized he did not have the answers to my questions and he could not easily explain what I was asking. My first marriage was in that Church (since divorced and remarried after becoming LDS). After my parents got divorced, my mother went to the Presbyterian Church and the Episcopal and my dad went to a different Episcopal and Catholic Church. I went to a Catholic High School. I attended all of these Churches. This further caused me to doubt the teachings because NO ONE could clearly answer my questions. I quit organized Church. When I started dating my current wife, she said she was going to have the LDS Missionaries come over for dinner sometime. I said whatever, ok. So I met them. They actually had the answers I was looking for. I was AMAZED! I wanted to learn more. After they were done with the 6 lessons (they now do it differently), I was ready to become LDS. I studied the Bible again with my new understanding and it all made sense! I studied the Book of Mormon and it all agreed with the Bible. It was incredible. I became LDS. My wife and I were later married and sealed in the Temple. I would not give up anything that I have learned. I had an open mind and open heart and felt the love that Jesus Christ has for me through the LDS Church and it made SENSE!
          So… I have studied the Bible. I truly have. Only the LDS Church makes sense to me, so I have no doubt that I will remain LDS the rest of my life and eternity.
          Now, I agree with you about working with other religions in politics. I don’t choose who I vote for because they are LDS. I would ****NEVER**** vote for Harry Reid. I could never vote for him. I am not voting for Romney because he is LDS. It is nice that he is, but that is not the reason. I have voted for people of other Christian religions and I have never had a problem doing that. I will work hand-in-hand with any other religion that shares my values.
          I thank David, Nancy, and everyone else at EFM for their open minds and their warm hearts. Their ability to work with LDS members despite the theological differences is an example for other Evangelicals, Catholics, etc. They are also an example to other LDS who might not wish to work with Evangelicals because of how they have been treated (I have plenty of stories of my own in this area).
          I also want to thank you for being reasonable towards us and not rude, crude, etc. Too many people want to do nothing but fight and call each other names. That is now how Christians are supposed to act.

  • JS

    Good points in the article and I, as a Mormon, I appreciate that it is coming from someone who disagrees with me theologically yet has the sense to not place us in so fundamentally different categories.

    I have heard much about the distinctions of the trinity — and have studied it at the university level — but have never really been able to sort out the differences or interpret the languages of the ancient creeds. I’d say Mormons believe in a trinity even if not the creedal trinity. I seem to recall a Social Trinitarian model as close.

    My simple test for a definition of Christian is “Would Jesus Christ himself qualify as a Christian?” For me, if the definition is based on creeds from the first few centuries AD then Christ wouldn’t becuase they didn’t even exist yet. This is to say that the term “Christian” pre-dates the creedal pronouncements so cannot be defined by them.

    The simplest definition (as David’s hypothetical to Tapper demonstrates) is merely that if one’s heart, intent, and action (whenever possible) is inline with Christ’s then they are Christian. Under this definition certainly Christ himself is Christian.

  • Patrick

    David,
    I’m glad you engaged Jake Tapper’s question and Rick Warren’s answer to it, but at least one of your three premises is faulty. You point out that millions of people who call themselves Christians “don’t have a clue” about the Trinity, not least because many Christian pastors do not often talk about that doctrine, but ignorance of a doctrine does not say anything for or against its validity. Mainstream Christian theology has long regarded the Trinitarian nature of God as a “mystery” anyway; that is why we tend to speak of it using flawed but still helpful analogies, like the way Bishop Patrick allegedly explained it to Irish druids using a shamrock. Sometimes, simplifying Christianity down to “follower of Christ” can be a cop-out (It’s all well and good to say that, but the selfsame Jesus whom we’d all say we follow did abrogate divine perogatives to himself and did say things like “whoever has seen me has seen the Father”. Warren may have meant to say that our understanding of God should as much as possible mirror Jesus’s own).

  • Bill Sr.

    Could it be that we simply need to look to discover the works, love, and fruits evident from ones endeavors in order to consider them a viable Christian and not necessarily their theology once they have acknowledged Christ as their savior?

  • Glenn

    Sheeesh! Lighten up folks!

  • Lavlatte7

    You asked if the notion of the trinity is really where pastors circle the wagons and the proposed that millions of Christians really don’t know anything about the trinity. I would have to strongly disagree with this assertion. The trinity is where most pastors circle the wagons and disagreeing with this tenent of Christianity can largely mean entire abandonment by an evangelical church community. Many Christians would even go so far as to say that if you don’t believe in the trinity, then you are not a Christian.

    Two million persons are vacating the Christian church, as a whole, each year. For some, their reason to leave is in regard to this very issue. Disagreement with the notion of the trinity as being a logical, foundational doctrine is exactly why I left as well. Once I left, the wagons essentially abandoned me and I have been left to defend my turf on my own. So be it. I define myself as a Christ follower in my heart, but no longer socially identify as a Christian because public proclamation of Christianity culturally means that you self-identify as being a trinitarian, which I am not.

    Just my two cents as this has been my experience! Thanks for the post and the read!

  • Jen Street

    You make many good points, and I would say to your last statement that Christ calls us to, “live peaceably with all, so far as it depends on us (you)”. With that said, I do not believe that “living peaceably” means that we are called to embrace those in other faiths with significant theological differences as “brothers” in the strictest sense of the gospel. You said it yourself, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no one gets to the father but through the son. Christianity is the belief in and worship of a man, Jesus Christ. No one supersedes Jesus to get to God. Yes, theology based on biblical principles is key, but I’m not going to embrace a person from another religion as my “brother in Christ”. I’ll treat them as a brother and serve them as Christ tells us to, but I won’t falsely associate myself with them in that way. I do not know much at all about the Mormon faith and will not speak as to such, but last I checked, Methodists believe in Jesus as the son of God and as one-third of the trinity.

    My response to your call; I guess it depends on the underlying meaning behind the call to make peace with the Mormons. I can’t only assume this is politically related and that this is a call for Christians to embrace a Morman candidate as beging “Christian enough” to pass for endorsements’ sake or something along those lines. I actually find it more insulting (I am generalizing here) that we as “Christians” vote based upon a title rather than someones personal character. That stinks of Pharisee to me, sorry. I haven’t seen evidence yet that Mitt Romney shares the same beliefs and concerns in life as I, as a Christian, do, so to me, his Mormonism is negated anyway by him simply being himself. But I believe your comment about not knowing the heart of another to be golden, and that is how, I believe, we should judge each other period, regardless of which ring of life we are speaking of. I don’t presume to know another’s heart and do not want presumptions made about mine, and can only, at best, judge a person by the things they speak and do, with hopefulness that the best among us are able to align the two as much as possible.

  • Greg D

    Mormons not only deny the centuries old orthodox view of the Trinity, but they also deny the existence of hell. They also ascribe to the belief that one is saved only by works rather than by God’s grace. These three issues, along with several others help define orthodox Christianity. By definition of creedal or orthodox Christianity, Mormons are NOT Christian. But, if you take belief alone in Jesus as the litmus test for defining a Christian, then you must ask… which Jesus does one believe in? For even the demons believe in Jesus. The same can be said for Muslims and Buddhists who all believe Jesus existed and was either a prophet, a great teacher, or a combination thereof. Mormons believe in the Jesus of the Bible AND the Book of Mormon? And, the Book of Mormon tells quite a different story about who Jesus was and is. I think it is only fair to measure any belief of Jesus against the Bible as the authority for determining who Jesus is and what defines a Christian. And, although Mormons are generally very good people, they fall short in their understanding of who Jesus is. I only hope I am wrong. Because I would love to see Mormons come to find the true Jesus of Scripture. And, I know God can pierce through their spiritual deceit and draw them to Himself. I hope to someday call my Mormon friends… my brothers in Christ.


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