The Mormons’ Heavenly Mother

Mormon author Warren Aston writes about that religion’s other deity:

It is Gospel Doctrine 101 that we are the children of God. Our spirits are the children of a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother in the most literal sense possible. We have within us the genes of Godhood, the potential to develop and grow into the glorious, exalted beings they are. We lived with them before coming to earth to gain physical bodies in their likeness, male and female.

God’s whole work is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life, bringing us back into God’s presence, redeemed and sanctified through our obedience and discipline. The laws and covenants that mark our progress on that journey home comprise the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The framework for that journey, and much-needed support, is provided by the Church.

When Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Twelve spoke some years ago in General Conference about the heavenly home-coming that the obedient can look forward to, he noted that our Mother in Heaven would surely have a role.

via Meridian Magazine – The Other Half of Heaven: Debunking Myths about Heavenly Mother – Meridian Magazine – LDS, Mormon and Latter-day Saint News and Views.

Mr. Aston goes on to criticize some of his fellow-Mormons for not emphasizing the Heavenly Mother as much as she deserves.  Notice the other Mormon doctrines we see here:  We have the genes of Godhood and will grow into deities ourselves, just like our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.  We are redeemed and sanctified by our “obedience and discipline.” The Gospel of Jesus Christ consists of laws.

Does any of that sound like Christianity? But notice the potential for popularity today.  Postmodernists would love the notion of a Heavenly Mother and the promise that we get to be gods ourselves.

Spiritualizing the election

I am astonished to hear how so many Christians are talking about the election.  They are interpreting the Obama victory as a sign that America is no longer a Christian nation, struggling to understand how Christians could have been denied the victory, questioning God’s will and raising questions of theodicy, and on and on.  May I remind everyone that Christians were not defeated, even in the most literal level.  The candidate evangelicals became so spiritually invested in is not a Christian.

Perhaps the real spiritual significance of the election is that Mormons were denied their Constantinian moment.

Billy Graham's site removes reference to Mormons as a cult

Evangelicals and Mormons together:

Shortly after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney enjoyed cookies and soft drinks with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham on Thursday at the elder Graham’s mountaintop retreat, a reference to Mormonism as a cult was scrubbed from the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

In a section of the website called Billy Graham’s My Answer there had been the question “What is a cult?”

Answer: “A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith.”

“Some of these groups are Jehovah’s Witnesess, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spritualists, Scientologists, and others,” the site continued.

No longer. On Tuesday, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association confirmed that page has recently been removed from the site.

“Our primary focus at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has always been promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Ken Barun, chief of staff for the association, told CNN in a statement. “We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”

via Billy Graham site removes Mormon ‘cult’ reference after Romney meeting – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs.

What will happen if Romney gets elected president?  Will politically-oriented evangelicals wanting to cozy up to the president welcome Mormons into their big ecumenical tent?

(Note:  Billy Graham is nearly 95 years old.  I doubt that he is supervising his website.  I’m not blaming him for this.  He did, however, seem to endorse Romney after their meeting.  I suspect his organization just scrubbed the website accordingly.)

UPDATE:  Todd points to more considerations here.

Voting for a Mormon

Christianity Today has a forum in which three different Christian thinkers discuss whether or not a Christian should vote for a Mormon.  I am happy to say that Lutherans are represented this time.  The estimable Mollie Z. Hemingway applies the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms to the issue and does so in a particularly lucid way.  In light of our discussion about the apocryphal “wise Turk” quotation (which she cites as “apocryphal”), she includes another pertinent quotation from Luther that appears to be better attested.  (I’ll try to track down that source.)  She deals with the nonsense that the president is some kind of national pastor and concludes:

Voters should remember that support for any political candidate is support for the exertion of authority in the earthly realm and not leadership in the spiritual realm.

Luther explained that every Christian is a citizen in two kingdoms—a spiritual realm and an earthly realm—but even non-believers are citizens of the earthly kingdom. In one, God’s Word is preached, the sacraments are administered, and sins are forgiven. God works through other means, such as natural laws, physical causes, and history, in the earthly realm.

Luther said that while reason cannot fathom the mind of God, it’s a tool given by God for managing civic affairs. “Christians are not needed for secular authority. Thus it is not necessary for the emperor to be a saint. It is not necessary for him to be a Christian to rule. It is sufficient for the emperor to possess reason,” he wrote.

In the spiritual realm, the gospel—the free forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus—prevails. By contrast, the earthly kingdom runs on compulsion, law, and force. That contrast between gracious forgiveness and law is the reason that, in Luther’s mind, Christians should not seek to put the church in charge of the temporal government or otherwise work through compulsion.

That’s not to say that the two realms must be or are in conflict. In fact, they should serve each other. The spiritual realm informs and supports the civil realm by preaching the gospel. Secular rulers serve the spiritual realm by preventing chaos.

It is entirely possible that in the next few months, the country will have its first Mormon President. No matter which man wins the office, it’s vitally important that Christians understand that his authority is limited to the secular realm and he should not be viewed as a spiritual leader.

via Is There Anything Wrong With Voting for a Mormon … | Christianity Today.

 

Mitt Romney, when he was a pastor

Mormons do not have ordained clergy, as such, but lay people step into that role in local congregations and church hierarchies.  Mitt Romney shepherded his local flock and was over the other Mormon congregations in the Boston area, serving as “bishop” and “stake president.”

The Washington Post has an interesting and surprisingly sympathetic account of when Romney was, in effect, a pastor.  He comes across as being staunchly orthodox (in the Mormon sense) while also “pastoral,” helping some of his people get around some of the church’s regulations and trying to help the poor.  At the same time, the piece gives us an inside view of the Mormon religion that is rather unsettling from a Christian perspective.

See Mitt Romney, as a leader in Mormon church, became a master of many keys – The Washington Post.

Christian pastors, how much of what this article describes resonates with what you have to do?  What are the differences in how you exercise your office and what Romney did?

Mormonism as the fourth Abrahamic religion

In a New York Times op-ed piece, David V. Mason admits to being a Mormon and most emphatically NOT a Christian:

I’m about as genuine a Mormon as you’ll find — a templegoer with a Utah pedigree and an administrative position in a congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am also emphatically not a Christian.

For the curious, the dispute can be reduced to Jesus. Mormons assert that because they believe Jesus is divine, they are Christians by default. Christians respond that because Mormons don’t believe — in accordance with the Nicene Creed promulgated in the fourth century — that Jesus is also the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Jesus that Mormons have in mind is someone else altogether. The Mormon reaction is incredulity. The Christian retort is exasperation. Rinse and repeat.

I am confident that I am not the only person — Mormon or Christian — who has had enough of the acrimonious niggling from both sides over the nature of the trinity, the authority of the creeds, the significance of grace and works, the union of Christ’s divinity and humanity, and the real color of God’s underwear. I’m perfectly happy not being a Christian. . . .

Being a Christian so often involves such boorish and meanspirited behavior that I marvel that any of my Mormon colleagues are so eager to join the fold.

In fact, I rather agree with Richard D. Land, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, who calls Mormonism a fourth Abrahamic religion, along with Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Being set apart from Christianity in this way could give Mormonism a chance to fashion its own legacy.

Christianity, you’ll recall, had to fight the same battle. Many early Christians grew up reading the Torah, living the law, observing the Sabbath and thinking of themselves as Jews. They were aghast to find that traditional Judaism regarded them as something else entirely.

In addition, these Christians had to defend their use of additional scripture and their unconventional conception of God and explain why they were following a bumpkin carpenter from some obscure backwater. Early Christianity’s relationship with non-Jews was even worse. Roman writers frequently alluded to rumors about the cannibalistic and hedonistic elements of early Christian rites. One after the other, Christians went to the lions because they found it impossible to defend themselves against such outrageous accusations. They did eat flesh and drink blood every Sunday, after all.

Eventually, Christianity grew up and conceded that it wasn’t authentic Judaism. Lo and behold, once it had given up its claim to Judaism, it became a state religion — cannibalism notwithstanding — and spent the next 1,700 years getting back at all the bullies who had slighted it when it was a child.

Eventually, Mormonism will grow up. Maybe a Mormon in the White House will hasten that moment when Mormonism will no longer plead through billboards and sappy radio ads to be liked, though I suspect that Mr. Romney is such a typical politician that, should he occupy the Oval Office, he’ll studiously avoid the appearance of being anything but a WASP. This could set back the cause of Mormon identity by decades.

Whatever happens in November, I hope Mormonism eventually realizes that it doesn’t need Christianity’s approval and will get big and beat up all the imperious Christians who tormented it when it was small, weird and painfully self-conscious. Mormons are certainly Christian enough to know how to spitefully abuse their power.

via I’m a Mormon, Not a Christian – NYTimes.com.

Read what Justin Taylor has to say about this.

HT:  Paul McCain


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