The Cult of Rick Perry

Disheartening.  Profoundly disheartening.

That’s the word I would use to describe the kerfuffle over Robert Jeffress and his comments on Mitt Romney and Mormonism, as well as the strange, confused, often-angry conversation that has followed.  I’ve been too buried in diapers and onesies to participate, but now that I sit down to write, I feel only discouragement — as a conservative and as an evangelical Christian.

Let’s be clear.  However often we forget it, this is the first question we need to answer: How do we communicate the grace and the truth of the gospel in this situation?  How, in this environment and these circumstances, do we be a people defined by Jesus Christ and his kingdom?

There is nothing gracious or compassionate in diluting the truth.  However much the world might implore us to believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth, or that each person can define the truth for herself, or that any person who calls himself Christian must therefore be a Christian, we reject all of these claims.  We speak the truth clearly, because the truth clarifies and liberates and heals.  Mormonism professes to be a recovery of a pristine original Christianity, the Christianity of Jesus Christ.  We disagree.  Mormonism explicitly rejects the Christianity of the great western creeds.  We affirm them.  We believe that the Holy Spirit guided the church into those creeds as the right and best interpretation of the Scriptures.  So Mormonism, in our view, is neither Christianity in its original sense nor in its traditional, historical sense.

Words have meanings.  It is not hateful or arrogant or superior to delineate the boundaries of a religious tradition.  It is necessary.  It’s necessary because otherwise that tradition will cease to exist as such.  If you cannot say This is Christian and This is not Christian, then everything is up for grabs and sooner or later there will be no such thing as a Christian tradition.  We view the preservation of that tradition as the protection of God’s revelation.  So we define Christianity in terms of its essential beliefs, practices and commitments.  Mormonism does not, in our view, match that definition.  I can explain further in another post.

Robert Jeffress

But that does not mean that Mormonism is a cult.  That does not mean it’s legitimate to attack a presidential candidate because he is not a Christian by the proper historical standards.  And it does not mean that it’s okay to manipulate religious audiences for partisan political gain.  In other words, it does not mean that it’s okay for evangelicals to act in the ways they’ve been acting.  What kind of witness does this give to the world?  What kind of witness does it give to Mormons?

Is it permissible to include a candidate’s faith in our assessment of that candidate?  Absolutely.  The Constitution prohibits a “religious test,” but that merely means the government cannot exclude a candidate by law because of his or her religious affiliation.  It does not mean that a voter cannot assess a person’s faith and whether it would shape his actions in office.  True faith shapes everything the person of faith does.  Some religions are so offensive to the True and the Good and the Beautiful that they would, in effect, disqualify a candidate from my vote.  I would be uncomfortable, for instance, having a Satanist in the White House.  And some religions are so manifestly absurd that I could not respect a person of that faith enough to vote for him.  I could not vote for a person who worshipped the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Mormonism falls into neither of those categories.  Mormons uphold the personal, family and social values I hold dear.  In many ways, the Mormon church has done so much more strongly and consistently than the American evangelical church.  Even in the face of verbal and physical attacks, Mormons have stood fast on abortion and the definition of marriage.  Mormons are deeply ethical, deeply patriotic, and deeply committed to life and family.  Mormons also make arguments for their specific beliefs, and how their beliefs reflect the original meaning of the scriptures, that would surprise many evangelicals with their power.  How many of my fellow evangelicals know, for instance, that Mormons defend their view that “As God now is, man may be” with reference to the Early Church Fathers’ teaching on theosis?  I interpret the Greek teaching of deification differently, but the point is: if you didn’t know that Mormons justify their teaching of “becoming Gods” in this way (and know that the Mormon teaching regarding God’s past has greatly modulated over time), then you’re (I’m sorry) not very well informed on what Mormons believe and why they believe it.

The question then is whether specific Mormon beliefs would lead a President to behave or respond in ways that concern us.  I’ve seen no credible argument that Mormon differences from traditional Christian theology would lead Mormons to act differently than traditional Christians in the Oval Office.  We know Mitt Romney’s commitments on ethical and political matters.  We don’t need to speculate on how a finely-cut (albeit important) theological difference might make Mitt mishandle a national crisis.  We can judge his commitments and his character on the basis of his record and his platform.

I agree with Robert Jeffress that it’s important to have a leader who honors biblical principles — and I believe that Mitt honors the principles of love and grace, life and family, wisdom and stewardship just as well, if not better, than candidates like Rick Perry.  I know many people who know Mitt and they all, every single one, speak in the highest terms of his integrity and his moral commitments.  He was not always pro-life, but he appears to have sincerely seen the light on the issue, and ever since then he’s stood up for pro-life causes even in the face of withering criticism from the overwhelmingly liberal Massachusetts electorate.

I also believe that God blesses a nation that honors Him, but I see no evidence that America has fared better — materially or spiritually — under born-again believers than it has under others.  Should we have voted for Carter over Reagan because he was/is an evangelical?  Nations that honor God are blessed because they live according to values and principles that bring life and healing and flourishing.  Mormons have inherited those values and principles from the Christian tradition — a fact for which we should be grateful, since Mormons have fought with conservative evangelicals on every major moral/cultural issue in the last few decades.

I don’t blame Dr. Robert Jeffress — not much, at least.  Evangelicals in general have been systematically misinformed about Mormonism through books like Walter Martin’s The Kingdom of the Cults.  Jeffress was repeating what he had heard all his life.  He believes he’s defending the salvific truth.

I blame the Rick Perry campaign.  If you believe that they had no idea what Dr Jeffress intended to say, then you must not follow politics much.  This was calculated, and executed as intended.  Whether Perry himself knew what was coming, of course I cannot say.  But you can be confident his campaign knew.  With their support in free-fall, and anxious to reestablish themselves as the Romney-Alternative for evangelicals, they used a pastor proxy to say that Mitt’s a “cult” member and that no Christian, given a good Christian alternative candidate, should vote for him.  You can also be sure that the Perry campaign is, even as we speak, speaking with evangelical luminaries and trying to line up their support and keep the Mormonism critique going.  They want Perry to be The Evangelical Candidate, and they’re doing so by posing themselves over against The Mormon Candidate.

Make no mistake.  “Cult” is an explosive term, and they knew what they were doing.  Some have tried to walk that language back and say that Mormonism is a “cult” in the theological but not sociological sense.  That’s nonsense.  James Emery White, for instance, defines a “cult” as “a religious group that denies the biblical nature of God, the full divinity of Jesus Christ, and that we are only saved through His atoning death on the cross through grace.”  By that definition, anything other than Christianity, and arguably anything other than Protestant evangelicalism, is a cult.  Richard Land argues that “cult” has a specialized sense in Baptist circles, referring to sects that claim to be Christian but are not Christian.  Yet the point is: the Perry/Jeffress camp were not addressing the Southern Baptist Convention.  They knew full well that the American people associate “cult” with poisoned Koolaid and the Branch Davidians and Charles Manson.  The implication is that Mitt Romney is a cult member, and we all know cultists are unstable, weird, irrational and subject to control.

This, in my view, was a shameful slander of a good man on the basis of his religious beliefs, and a shameful manipulation of religious language and religious sentiments for the advancement of a political campaign.  It was divisive, destructive, and misleading.  I’m sorry that it was self-proclaimed evangelicals who did this.  There was nothing gracious about it.  It harmed the witness of the church, not because the world hates it when we “speak the truth boldly” but because it showed evangelicals with partisan political commitments stooping to personal religious attacks in order to help their guy.

I warned in an earlier post about a “subtle blurring of the lines between the church and the state amongst Perry and his devotees” — and took a lot of grief for it — but this is what I was talking about.  When one candidate becomes The Evangelical Candidate, then the witness of the evangelical church becomes tied, for better or worse, to the actions of that candidate.  That is not in the interest of the kingdom of God.  Just as Romney does not present himself as a representative of Mormonism, Perry should not present himself as a representative of Evangelicalism.  But he’s doing so in order to attract the support, votes and money of evangelical conservatives.

The future of our country is at stake.  We live in exceptionally perilous economic circumstances.  The economy has foundered, and the basic economic structure and the cultural resources that made the American economy so remarkably successful have deteriorated.  We need a President who can make government lean and efficient and recreate the circumstances for a flourishing private sector.  Presently, Romney and Perry are essentially in agreement on life, family and culture issues.  Both have impressive economic records.  While I think we need Romney’s skills and experience, Perry and Romney would both be vastly better than Obama.  We don’t need to be dividing Republicans on religious lines, and pitting evangelicals over against the Mormons who have fought alongside them on issue after issue.

Anita Perry, Rick’s wife, complained yesterday that Perry has been “brutalized” in the mainstream media because of his faith.  And yes, for a variety of reasons, so he has.  In this case, however, it was the Perry campaign that brutalized an honorable Republican candidate for his faith.  I hope that gives Rick Perry some food for thought.  The kingdom of God is more important than the presidency, and this was one case of groping for the latter by harming the former.

 

 

 

About Timothy Dalrymple

Timothy Dalrymple was raised in non-denominational evangelical congregations in California. The son and grandson of ministers, as a young boy he spent far too many hours each night staring at the ceiling and pondering the afterlife.
 
In all his work he seeks a better understanding of why people do, and do not, come to faith, and researches and teaches in religion and science, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, the origins of atheism, Christology, and the religious transformations of suffering

  • E L Frederick

    The doctrines of the LDS Church do not meet many people’s definitions of traditional “creedal” Christianity. (Keeping in mind that there Creeds didn’t come until several hundred years after Christ and the Apostles) However, I have yet to find in my New Testament where exactly Christ or his Apostles lay out what exactly is “Christian” and what is not “Christian”.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, does believe in the Bible. They talk of Christ, they rejoice in Christ, they preach of Christ, they prophesy of Christ, and they write according to the prophecies, that their children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26) I would think that it would fit the bill of “Come follow me” in the New Testament.

    According to the latest Pew Poll on Religion: “On questions about Christianity – including a battery of questions about the Bible – Mormons (7.9 out of 12 right on average) and white evangelical Protestants (7.3 correct on average) show the highest levels of knowledge.” as well as “Mormons are the highest-scoring group on questions about the Bible.” (http://pewforum.org/Other-Beliefs-and-Practices/U-S-Religious-Knowledge-Survey.aspx)

    While that may not fit with a “traditional creedal” definition of Christian; I would hazard to guess that it would be acceptable to Christ. After all, it’s Christ who determines who is his follower; I wouldn’t put too much stock in Dr. Jeffress (Luke 6:42) opinion.

    • PHIL

      one should research the Gospel/s/ to find to find answers to the first question you pose to us believers \ others

  • http://www.debatingobama.blogspot.com Gregmetzger

    Very well said. Glad to see the clarity from you on this. As you know, I felt much the same way about The Response gathering and was disappointed that many missed the significance of that, but glad on this one that so many evangelicals are wise to what Perry Camp is up to.

  • Mike D’Virgilio

    It’s a shame that the word Evangelical has come to be synonymous with every stripe of Protestant Christianity. When I became a Christian in the late 70s, there was a distinct meaning to the word, and evangelical was different from fundamentalist. No longer. Every fundy is considered an Evangelical now, and it’s a shame. Protestants who are vehemently anti-Mormon, or anti-Catholic for that matter, are generally fundamentalists, and as such much more narrow, dogmatic, absolutist and anti-intellectual than your average evangelical who is not a fundamentalist.

    I don’t consider Mormons Christians, because they cannot and do not affirm the Nicene Creed, but they are some of the finest people you could ever know. I’d vote for a Mormon anytime if he/she were a principled classically liberal conservative. Is Romney such a conservative? I’m not really convinced, but that is the only issue that will determine my vote. Of course if it’s Romney vs. Obama, there is no question who will get my vote.

    • DougH

      So does that mean that all the Arian Christians – enough of whom existed that the turmoil the debate caused was serious enough for a Roman emperor to convene the Council – weren’t actually Christians at all. Were they pagans instead of heretics?

    • Lance in TX

      So, all of the “Christians” before the Nicaea Council are not Christians? That is over 300 years of Christians that you just excluded from Salvation because they never had the Creeds to follow.

  • Larry

    Tim … I was disheartened to read your piece. You made some rather good and helpful points … but promptly ransacked the facts in order to make your primary point, namely, that Romney is a victim of ham-fisted evangelicals under the manipulative Machiavellian Perry. As a Romney supporter (apologist?) your efforts are understandable … as an impassive, neutral arbiter though your words fall far short of the mark.
    First you take umbrage with the usage of “cult” to describe Mormonism. Tim, it IS a cult … by any meaningful measure. Allow me … Cult: “a system of religious or spiritual beliefs, especially an informal and transient belief system regarded by others as misguided, unorthodox, extremist, or false, and directed by a charismatic, authoritarian leader.” Well, that rather tidily describes Mormonism … if you accept its own record that is. According to Mormonism’s writings, God is from another planet and who, overtime, evolved into God. That he had physical relations with Mary which resulted in the birth of Christ (the brother of Lucifer). That Jesus was not born God but became God. That we have always been … coexistent with God (coeternal) and may one day, ourselves, evolve into a God. That Jesus hung out in the America’s following His resurrection and ministered to “the sheep you know not of”. The Christian church was an utter failure and that Moroni delivered Gold Tablets (which were conveniently returned) to Joseph Smith who then launched his career as the great prophet. So tell me … how have we been misinformed? This makes scientology look credible and John Travoltas failed film, “Battlefield Earth” a veritable epistle. You don’t reform or modify a cult … you abandon it. Further, you do its adherents no service by avoiding the obvious and ugly truth about its beliefs.
    Yet you insist that Mormonism falls into none of these categories. Further you insist that they not only uphold personal, family and social values but in a fashion more apparently and consistently than evangelicals. What proof of this do you have Tim? Mormon commercials? Against, whom or what do you index your findings? More to the point, by what strength do they (Mormons) enjoy this virtue? I’m under the impression that the Holy Spirit animates this desire and ability in the lives of believers … or is it merely the effect of a belief system absent the presence and power of Christ?
    You state “Even in the face of verbal and physical attacks, Mormons have stood fast on abortion and the definition of marriage. Mormons are deeply ethical, deeply patriotic, and deeply committed to life and family”. You’re speaking homogenously of Mormons as if these traits are universal, but selectively about evangelicals as if their errors are typical. That’s quite a double standard Tim. It would appear that you’re arguing from assertion. Not a great way to arrive at truth.
    Now on to Mormon apologetics. You state “How many of my fellow evangelicals know, for instance, that Mormons defend their view that “As God now is, man may be” with reference to the Early Church Fathers’ teaching on theosi”.” I did. Many others do. It’s hardly esoteric knowledge Tim. We also know that their effort in doing so is both erroneous and disingenuous. It is an effort to make Mormonism appear orthodox without abandoning its spurious claims. Few know this better than former Mormons … you may wish to chat with them or read about their treatment of Mormon doctrine. You also state that “Mormon teaching regarding God’s past has greatly modulated over time”. Why? Tim, why modify the truth if it is the truth? If such fundamental teachings require modification (or more precisely, obfuscation) then it’s clear that it is founded upon deception and grave error. You don’t modify a cult … you abandon it. Finally, in regard to the nature of Mormonism you state “. Evangelicals in general have been systematically misinformed about Mormonism through books like Walter Martin’s The Kingdom of the Cults. Jeffress was repeating what he had heard all his life. He believes he’s defending the salvific truth”. Please, Tim, where precisely have we been misled. Can you explain where our beliefs converge. I am familiar with the efforts of FAIR in this regard. They provide answers as ambiguous and obfuscating as possible. It is a laughable effort in gaining credibility. Here is a link to their efforts: http://fairmormon.org/Countercult_ministries/Tower_to_Truth_Ministries/50_Questions_to_Ask_Mormons . Do you find that at all compelling, believable or genuine?
    As I have stated before, I do not believe that Mitt’s Mormonism disqualifies from office. I have never believed this, though I do not suggest that others have no business making, or offering such an assessment. Mitt clearly has not been a great adherent of it any way. As proof I merely point to his several stances on abortion. If he were a strict adherent, based upon your observations of Mormonism, he would have always been, rather than sometimes, pro-life. Additionally, he would never have played so instrumental and proactive a roll in furthering the aims of proponents of Same Sex Marriage as he did while governor.
    Like you, I too agree that “We know Mitt Romney’s commitments on ethical and political matters”. Consequently, I find him a most unsatisfactory choice for my party’s nomination. Of course, I will support him if he is, but I hope adamantly that he is not. I’ve grown weary of holding my nose while voting.
    Concerning Perry (for whom I have no certainty … but a real, though fading curiosity about), a candidate whose evangelicalism no more qualifies him than Mitt’s Mormonism disqualifies him; you make some rather explosive accusations. You said “I blame the Rick Perry campaign. If you believe that they had no idea what Dr Jeffress intended to say, then you must not follow politics much. This was calculated, and executed as intended. Whether Perry himself knew what was coming, of course I cannot say”. What evidence are you in possession of Tim to offer this very incendiary charge against a candidate and fellow believer? I am hoping it’s substantial … and verifiable. Otherwise you may well have libeled brother (or are accused evangelicals judged differently … with greater suspicion?).
    Further you state “But you can be confident his campaign knew. With their support in free-fall, and anxious to reestablish themselves as the Romney-Alternative for evangelicals, they used a pastor proxy to say that Mitt’s a “cult” member and that no Christian, given a good Christian alternative candidate, should vote for him. You can also be sure that the Perry campaign is, even as we speak, speaking with evangelical luminaries and trying to line up their support. They want Perry to be The Evangelical Candidate, and they’re doing so by posing themselves over against The Mormon Candidate”. Wow, again, I’m not asking you to risk assets by revealing sources, but please substantiate this charge Tim, you offered it with absolute certainty and ferocity.
    Finally, you state “Anita Perry, Rick’s wife, complained yesterday that Perry has been “brutalized” in the mainstream media because of his faith. And yes, for a variety of reasons, so he has. In this case, however, it was the Perry campaign that brutalized an honorable Republican candidate for his faith. I hope that gives Rick Perry some food for thought. The kingdom is more important than the presidency, and this was one case of groping for the latter by harming the former”. Well, Perry is clearly wearing the black hat here and so he and his wife are afforded little compassion. Indeed, you seem only to suggest that he (a) deserves it and (b) that you hope he learns his lesson. Yes Tim, the kingdom is clearly more important than the presidency … do you really think you did it a service with you post?

    • Joe Canner

      Cult: “a system of religious or spiritual beliefs, especially an informal and transient belief system regarded by others as misguided, unorthodox, extremist, or false, and directed by a charismatic, authoritarian leader.”

      1. Informal and transient: How long does a “cult” have to exist and formalize its beliefs before it can graduate from being a cult? 200 years isn’t long enough?

      2. misguided, unorthodox, extremist, or false: On some points, true enough. Do they get credit for other beliefs that are none of these?

      3. directed by a charismatic, authoritarian leader: Are you referring to Joseph Smith? He’s been dead for a while now…

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks for this comment, Larry. I enjoyed our conversation that followed on Facebook. All the best.

      -Tim

    • Mike Sage

      Mormonism is neither “transient” nor “informal” – and exactly who is the (living) authoritarian, charismatic leader you are referring to? Your argument doesnt even come close to fitting your OWN definition of a cult, which is suspect at best. Nice try. #FAIL

    • Chris

      Larry, by the definition of the word ‘cult’ that you referenced; I could easily argue that any form of Christianity is a cult. Imagine if the word “cult” was around during the time of Jesus. I’m certain that the 12 disciples and all of the earliest followers of Christ would have been immediately labeled a cult, and Jesus of Nazareth their whackjob cult-leader. That is, in fact, how it played out. How is your use of the definition any different?

    • Mike Farley

      Larry, you provided the following definition of “cult”: “a system of religious or spiritual beliefs, especially an informal and transient belief system regarded by others as misguided, unorthodox, extremist, or false, and directed by a charismatic, authoritarian leader.” Are you oblivious to the fact that this definition could also be applied to Christianity in general? I would suggest that our efforts are better directed to helping one another follow in the footsteps of Christ, to follow his example and teachings, than to presume that we are in a position to judge who is Christian and who is not. Your demonstrated arrogance, and that of far too many Evangelicals (as well as many Mormons, Catholics, and others) does not promote the cause of Christ–it turns people off to Christianity and religion in general. So, “do you really think you did [Christ's cause] a service with YOUR post?”

    • Russ

      I am a Mormon by choice. I care not what Jeffress or Perry or Huckabee thinks about my belief in Jesus Christ and salvation that comes in and through the Savior along. Their opinions have no effect on my faith.

      I have always defended the rights of the so called Evangelical Christians to be “evangelical.” In many ways I have admired their willingness to promote faith. However, this recent attack on Romney has revealed to me a dark hypocrisy in the Evangelical movement that is troubling. Not only did Jeffress attack Romney and Mormonism in a very un Christian manner, he, without a hink of irony, proudly proclaimed his “Christianity” with an arrogance that was shocking. mmShockingly, with very few exceptions, Evangelicals rose up to defend Jeffress.

      The left has always attacked Evangelicals as bigoted, narrow-minded and exclusionary. I have always resisted those stereotypes. However, after watching this Jeffress/Perry affair, I am beginning to believe the left may be “right” (at least respecting Evangelicals.)

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        I’ve actually seen very few evangelicals defend Jeffress. Most seem to believe that he overstepped. According to a recent LifeWay Research poll, for instance, over 70 percent of pastors think that they (pastors) should not endorse candidates from the pulpit.

        Jeffress represents a version of the Southern Baptist Convention that is dwindling and dying out. Within a generation, I believe it will be almost entirely gone. Evangelicals have gotten a pretty bad education on Mormonism, I’m afraid. They often like Mormons as people and yet believe Mormonism is a cult. One slice of evangelicalism, at least.

        -Tim

  • Charles Cherry

    What about Romney’s (and by extension, Mormonism in America) efforts to pass himself off as a Christian? Should we pile on Perry and let the lies and deceit of the Mormons go unnoticed or unchallenged?

    • http://www.wheelercreek.com Tom Wheeler

      As an active Mormon, I attend church each Sabbath and partake of the sacrament (communion) each week, in remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ for my sins. In doing so, I attempt to renew sacred covenants to keep the commandments and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

      I teach sunday school classes each week – last Sunday we covered the book of Romans from the New Testament. And I also teach a daily early morning seminary class for high school students, covering the Old Testament this year. I am not a paid minister, these activities are in addition to my full-time job as a website developer.

      I am doing everything I know of to “pass myself off as a Christian”.. and will continue to do so. Sorry it doesn’t meet your standard, but I can assure you I follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

    • DougH

      They are only “lies and deceit” if Mormons don’t consider ourselves to be Christian. We do, so they aren’t.

  • G. Kyle Essary

    Tim,
    There are parts of this piece that are very good, and others that leave me so confused. You rightly say both that Mormonism is not a cult, and also that it is not Christian. I agree completely; whereas we are both monolatrist, they are polytheistic and we are not. Whereas we believe that God is the immaterial Creator of all things material, they believe that gods are material, and within an eternal universe. Those are radical differences that cannot be reconciled (and there are many more) and thus I’m in agreement that Mormonism is a completely separate religion.

    Yet how do we discuss these differences. The average person in the pew may not be aware of them, and as Christian ministers and educated laypeople, we need to educate the flock. Due to Romney’s position as a frontrunner, the people in the pews are asking questions, “Is Mormonism like Episcopaleanism? Are they just Baptists who have a few extra books of Scripture?” We must discuss these differences so that they realize that Mormonism is not Christian in either a biblical or historical sense.

    Yet they insist that they are Christian and in our excessively tolerant culture, we must accommodate to the terminology of the individual. So how do you suggest we do this? Yes, “cult” is a bad term for it. They are radically different, established, not given to brainwashing or anything like that. On most political issues evangelicals Christians and Mormons stand side by side…but we are not the same faith. We pray to very different conceptions of God. We hold to very different revelations of God (both revealed and discerned through natural theology). Your article makes these points, but beyond criticizing Perry, it never gets to the point about how we are to communicate our differences.

    • DougH

      And why does the post need to discuss how we “communicate our differences”? Whatever additional requirements there might be to be a Christian beyond Paul’s “Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” they are irrelevant when it comes to a political campaign – there, the questions need to be about moral teachings, rather than theological ones. And I haven’t heard any complaints from conservative Protestants about the LDS Church’s teachings in that regard.

      • G. Kyle Essary

        You ask, “why does the post need to discuss how we ‘communicate our differences’”? Well…because that is what the whole issue is about. Robert Jeffress has faced most of the scorn not from Christians for misusing his pastorate (which would be my criticism), but for this quote:

        “Mitt Romney’s a good moral person, but he’s not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity.”

        The purpose of the quote was to show that Mormonism is distinct from Christianity (something Tim obviously agrees with), but he used the term “cult” which was controversial. Mormonism and historic Christianity (the one practiced by Catholics, Orthodox, Mainliners and Evangelicals which agree on the core issues) are very different, and in our culture saying someone is not a Christian who claims to be a Christian simply doesn’t work anymore (due to our views on tolerance and allowing others to define themselves).

        So instead of simply criticizing Jeffress (and ultimately the Perry campaign), I would like Tim to offer a suggestion as to how we should refer to Mormonism whenever they claim “we are brothers in Christ” or “we are Christians just like you.” That would be very helpful and move the conversation forward instead of digging the trenches deeper.

        • G. Kyle Essary

          Furthermore, what’s actually wrong about the content of Jeffress’ quote from Tim’s perspective. I’d be interested to hear that as well. Here it is again:

          “Mitt Romney’s a good moral person, but he’s not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity.”

          1. Tim agrees that Romney is a good moral person.
          2. Tim agrees that Romney is not a Christian, and says it in the above post: “we define Christianity in terms of its essential beliefs, practices and commitments. Mormonism does not, in our view, match that definition.”
          3. Tim agrees that Mormonism is not Christianity (see above)
          4. Does Tim disagree that Mormonism has always been considered a cult by mainstream Christianity? Not really, he disagrees that it is a cult, and so do I, but has it usually been referred to as a Christian cult within Christianity? Yeah, it has.

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            Thanks, Kyle. Very helpful.

            -Tim

        • DougH

          As you rightly point out, there’s actually two issues, whether the LDS Church is Christian, and whether it is a cult. The problem is that the first should have no business being a political issue, and the second only to the extent that questions about it *don’t* deal with theological issues. What Jeffress essentially did was stand up at the Values Voter Summit and tell the audience that it needed to ignore a candidate’s values and focus on his theology. And if the plain reading of his words seems a bit harsh, at best he meant that, all else being equal, you should choose a candidate based on his theology as indicated by his church membership – “He may be as good a man as I am, but I’m a Christian and he isn’t, so vote for me and not him.” In this regard, his clarification that his use of the word “cult” was theological rather than sociological didn’t make things better. That is the kind of tribalism that can lead to Lebanon if it doesn’t tear this country apart.

          As far as I’m concerned, the proper response from any Mormon candidate who is asked if he is Christian, is: “Yes, I’m a Christian. So what? There have been many immoral, wrongheaded politicians that were Christian. As a politician, judge me by my character and policies, not my theology.”

  • http://patheos.com MikeinMemphis

    I am a 52 year old Mormon who has lived in the South for 16 years of my life in three different states.

    I pay a real tithe to my church of 10% every month on my gross income. I do not smoke, drink, take drugs or chase women and never have. I have never expected anyone to take care of me, practiced self-reliance, and went to college for nearly 12 years to better myself and provide for my family. I believe I have the respect of my colleagues who are mainly physician educators and the respect of the medical residents and students I teach at a large medical school.

    Two of my five children are in the US army. One of them is
    a highly decorated special operations soldier who has received several wounds in ten years of combat since 9-11 protecting Americans from people who would dearly love to kill Americans just because of their country of birth and that they are infidels.

    I do community service, pay my taxes, try to live the golden rule. I have done a great deal of clinical work for free and helped improve the lives and health of many people.

    I have never voted for a Democrat, feel ashamed of Harry Reid as a Mormon, and despise abortion.

    Yet my 16 years in the South among the many devout has taught me that any self-professed, self-righteous, “born-again” Evangelical can feel superior to me, engage in self-righteous mockery of my beliefs, and can tell me with a sure loook in his or her eye that I am member of a cult and will surely go to hell unless I accept Jesus Christ as he or her believes in Him.

    I spent two years as a full-time missionary for the Mormon faith in Scandinavia on my own time and nickel. I spent thousands of hours knocking on doors and speaking to a largely mocking population of atheists and seculars who hated any type of Christianity.

    Do you honestly think that one jackass preacher in Texas or all the self-righteous “Christians” I have run into in the South can persuad me to leave my faith and all the good works it encourages me to do?

    My faith in the Savior does not encourage me to feel superior to others. I have never told another human being in my life that they are in a cult or will go to hell if they do not change their current path.

    I leave that up to the Savior and his judgements. I trust His words more than I do the words of some person giving me his interpretation of Jesus’ words.

    • Ivan

      Outstanding post, Mike!
      I have yet to hear ANY accurate criticism of my faith (LDS) from so many who say they are Christians, yet who are far too ready to condemn. How they expect to win hearts and minds is beyond me. As a 6 year convert from nondenom at 26 years old, I know I am exactly where Christ wants me to be. Sure, others can have a relationship with Him and not be members of my faith, but if I ever preech to someone, it is to add to the light they have, not take a way or diminish, much less condemn or ridicule. Remember when the rich man asked Christ what he could DO to have eternal life, and Christ basically told him to follow the 10 commandments. After replying that he already did, Christ told him he could be perfect if he gave up all that he had to follow Him. The point is that these are indeed works. I would further submit that only a person with a sincere love of Christ and deep abiding faith could DO such things. The very characteristics required of a person (humility, patience,longsuffering, temperance, charity, selflessness, etc.) to accomplish such works are not to be found in any other kind of person. What we are asked to do and attempt to do are not what saves us (No one of any understanding in this church believes otherwise). It is the kind of person we become in the process. That is, Christlike, humble and faithful followers of Christ in word and in deed, so that when we stand before Him, he will say “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into my rest.” What we do is in faith and love of our Savior. They can call it wrong, or whatever they want, but there is nothing on earth like knowing you are forgiven and can walk uprightly with clean hands and a pure heart. It is only through Christ that any of this is possible. I pray and hope that the added attention the church is getting now will finally bring up and put to rest many of the misonceptions and outright lies, but if not, so be it. The church will continue and all will eventually be revealed. In the mean time, there is still much common ground that can be built upon if pride and the resulting bigotry are not given place.

      That being said, the stakes in this election are too high to play this foolish game Jeffres, among others, insists upon. America is a reflection of its people. Who we are as a people is ultimately more important than who they (politicians) are. So, whomever wins this election, it will not fix much if we refuse to be a poeple worthy of such blessings as liberty. At least a people who want and strive to be. There is no other way.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        I think the more thoughtful evangelical criticisms of Mormonism are found in books like “How Wide the Divide,” “Claiming Christ,” and “The New Mormon Challenge.” Mormons reading the latter two in particular will not always feel like they’re getting a fair shake, but they’re at least thoughtful and scholarly.

        Excellent final paragraph, by the way.

        -Tim

        • http://www.patheos.com MikeinMemphis

          Tim,

          Thanks for the fair response in return. I am somewhat embarrassed that I did use my speller first; however, you get the drift of my thinking.

          I have read two of the books you suggested. They had good points and were more fair that what is usually communicated in the news or casual conversations.

          You are correct that Mormonism is different from traditional or historical Christianity in certain topics. Perhaps the most telling difference is in the acceptance or non-acceptance of the Nicene Creed and its associated versions. No question at all that those in the Mormon faith believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are separate beings, united in one holy purpose but still separate. And that we literally are the spiritual offspring of God the Father. That belief is definitely heresy in Catholic and Protestant orthodoxy.

          I spent two years pointing out repeatedly where the New Testament states very clearly in numerous verses that God the Father and Jesus Christ are physically separate beings. Didn’t make a dent in folks with traditional Christain beliefs rooted in the 325 or 381 A.D. councils pronounced by men three hundred years distant from the Savior’s life.

          The other area of major difference concerns the notion of ancient vs. modern revelation. If you accept that everything God wanted to make known to us is contained in the Bible, especially the New Testament, regarding the life and mission of Jesus Christ (which is an act of faith itself, not a fact)then there is no need for further communication, counsel, or comfort for our times.

          Granted much of the human condition never changes, but still, we exist in a world today that those in Bible times could never imagine. Many of our challenges are different.

          The Mormon faith says that for much of the unchangables in human nature, the Bible gives us essential truths to guide us. But is there not more God could give us to aid us in our modern world of confusion and conflicting information to find our way back to the Savior? Could this additional information prove to be of great assistance in our quest for spiritual and temporal salvation?

          As a 19-21 year old Mormon missionary, I did not know enough about the Bible, theology, the great controveries of religious thought, or the endless splintering of denominations into more and more fragmented churches.

          All I knew was to teach certain ideas and principles and ask the person whom I taught to approach God in prayer and ask Him.

          Quite a novel idea, don’t you think? I have never in my life tried to teach anyone to believe what I believe just on the certainity of my words. Instead, I have encouraged them to ask God themselves.

          That is what the Mormon faith does. That is a major reason why every year Mormons increase in the hundreds of thousands. One of the reasons why major Protestant denominations are shinking and withering on the vine here in the most faith believing part of the United States is that the preachers do not have enough answers for their members. And they do not encourage people to find out for themselves. If they did, they would rapidly find themselves out of a job.

        • Ivan

          Thanks.

          I have actually read two of those and have the related DVD discussion from How Wide the Divide. These types of discussions are great. I have no problem agreeing to disagree and still be friends. I harbor no ill will or judgment to those with differing understandings. I also do not think disagreement is the same as incessant critisism or condemnation. When I have discussions with my Evangelical friends, I often find they have to bite their lip to keep from saying something they don’t want to. I feel for them. I know they have no ill will toward me and I appreciate the restraint, but I must admit, I truly understand it. I know that if they are sincerely and humbly trying to follow Christ out of love, reverence, and gratitude for Him – they have light and I have no place to condemn them. The only time I truly fear for a person is if what they believe leads them to or facilitates evil, or if it truly stifles their ability to grow(not necessarily religious). What fruit does their belief system yeild? Interestingly enough, my wife is not LDS. I actually converted after we were married. It could have been a deal breaker if she did not see the 180 degree changes in me. She is no longer hostile to the church and knows, at least, that God is there, too. It is not always easy, but we both believe that our love for Christ must come first and foremost, then each other. She knows my heart and I know hers. She is sincerely trying to follow Him, as am I. For the most part, all I seek to be is a blessing to my family and fellow man – the kind of man, in word and deed, that can help my wife stay close to God, the kind of father that can help bring his kids to know God, and the kind of friend/neighbor that can help my fellow man to know that there is a God who loves us. The rest is out of my hands. His grace is sufficent for all of His imperfect followers. His love can breech any barrier.
          I know that this post is not directly related to the election, but I think that by offering some personal insight to a mormon mind and heart, aside from any doctrine, some may see than there is actually much more that we share in practical day to day concerns, including political.

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            Excellent comments, Ivan. Thank you,

            Tim

    • Chris

      Best. Reply. Ever.

      I’m also LDS in the South, just moved here (US Army). I’m from California, where Mormons are welcomed as normal people just about everywhere. But immediately after taking my first steps on Georgia ground the anti-Mormonism hit me like a brick. I am shocked. Regardless, I try to brush it off with humor. I remember a girlfriend I once had, who was a member of The Church of Christ. I remember she broke up with me, sobbing, because, as she put it, “I cant end up marrying someone who is destined to spend eternity in Hell”. /chuckle

      • Lance in TX

        One of the non-denominational Churches where I live (actually it is a Calvanist Church, but it does not call itself that) has done some pretty bad things towards the LDS community here. They have classes on how to “bash the Mormons” (our best friend’s daughter left that Church because of it), encourages the members to throw things on the missionaries (they have to carry two shirts with them all the time, red slurpee is their favorate), and they have even run them off the road while on bikes (the members screamed at them as they did it).
        I don’t find that very “Christian”… But that is ok.. We are growing faster than they are. :)

    • Terry

      Very good post! As a Mormon myself, for years I have experienced the same uppity-ness (invention of new word intentional)from self-professed born-again “Christians” who, for some reason, think that they can do a better job than God in judging my character and beliefs and whether or not I’m a candidate for hell. I hold nothing against those types of people, however. As Tim stated, they are merely repeating what they have been taught.

      As far as I’m concerned, the entire debate of whether or not Romney would be a suitable candidate for president, and someone whom the Evangelical community could feel good about supporting, boils down to this: does Romney’s compass on moral issues and his stance on what is best for this country, align with the Evangelical moral compass and stance?

      I believe the two make a very good fit.

  • Lance in TX

    Very well written article. Thank you for pointing out where we justify some of our beliefs (Yes I am an LDS convert!!). Most people don’t! I appreciate that you have talked about us in a very reasonable way.

    If it was just about being Christian, let’s look at three of the previous Evangelical/Christian Presidents:

    Carter: Well, where did he take our Economy?
    Clinton: Anyone have a blue dress and a cigar?
    George W Bush: He ran up huge social programs
    Barak Obama: Enough said on this one

    We need to look at the VALUES of the person, not their religion. I have voted for Non-LDS Christian politicians before and I would in the future, but only if they have the same values as me. But people need to remember the example set by Jesus Christ and the women caught in Adultry. Who can cast their stones towards the LDS Church? Who can take the responsibility of judging us (lest ye be judged..)? I think more Evangelicals need to re-read their Bible and study the lessons in it a little more before they open their mouths. I am not saying this about ALL Evangelicals.. I know MANY that are Incredible, Honest, and Valued people! They treat me and our religion with grace and understanding. And then there are those….

  • SueB

    I know that you, Tim, were trying to do a service to Romney with your post, and I appreciate that. A couple of things continue to really bother me about this whole thing. First, in my view, those who insist that a Mormon is not a Christian are putting themselves above the Savior and judging when they do not know that person’s heart. (See 1 Samuel) If you must try to label Mormons, try saying that they are not creedal Christians. You will find no argument.

    Second, Evangelicals approach this assuming that their theology is the right one. Many, from that viewpoint, feel justified in proclaiming that Mormons are not Christians. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also feel that their theology is the right one, yet it is rare that you will find a Mormon out there loudly proclaiming that Evangelicals are not Christian. Why can’t we stop the finger-pointing and labeling?

    • http://www.ourbusinesshero.com Keith Price

      Sue, you have to understand that this is a site FOR evangelicals. And ABOUT the next president of the United States.

      You can wish Tim and others would post a defense more in line with what Mormons believe. But that is

      1) asking too much of a site like this; and

      2) would drive away any chance at all of influencing other evangelicals towards Romney.

      That discussion doesn’t belong here. This site is not for defending Mormanism or doing any kind of missionary work. This site is solely for helping evangelicals that being a Mormon should not disqualify Mitt and in fact that Romney is the best man for the job.

      What Tim did in this article took great courage and I applaud him.

      Let’s not try to turn this site into a discussion on the merits or flaws of Mormonism.

      Instead, let’s get Mitt Romney elected as President of the United States in 2012!

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        Thanks, Keith! :-)

        -Tim

    • Nayajja

      SueB, I am a Mormon, and I agree with you.

      If someone says I am not a “creedal Christian” (I would define a “creedal Christian” as a believer in the theology of the nature of God as defined by the Nicene and subsequent creeds) I would say indeed I am not. If someone says that there are important theological differences between Mormons and creedal Christians, I certainly would agree.

      If someone says he believes that the creedal Christians have it right and that Mormons have it wrong, I would acknowledge his belief and would not demonize him for it. After all, I believe the opposite and would hope he would not demonize me for it.

      But if someone says I am not Christian, because I do not believe in an interpretation of the New Testament reached by a convention held over 300 years after Christ’s mortal life, then I ask, which do you want me to believe–the words of Christ and his apostles in the Bible or the words of a group of theologians deeply influenced by Greek philosophy? And I ask, in trying to understand what Christ meant when he said he and is Father were one, why take as your central text the consensus of the group at Nicaea rather than Jesus Christ’s sublime prayer to his Father in John 17?

      If I as a Mormon acknowledge our differences, why do I have no problem acknowledging that a sincere evangelical is a Christian? Because he or she, like me, believes that Jesus Christ is our Savior.

      “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Acts 11:26 I doubt those disciples had spent a lot of time on the distinctions that troubled the folks in Nicaea 300 years later.

      “And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.

      “And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” Luke 9:49-50.

      In the political, social and moral battles of our day, fellow Christians should be unified, even if we believe our denominational brothers and sisters are subject to theologically erroneous doctrinal beliefs.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      What I said, Sue, is that I do not believe that *Mormonism* is the same thing as *Christianity* in its original or traditional forms. I’m just sharing my own conclusions after some study of the matter, but others are free to come to other conclusions. I did not judge the salvation of any individual.

      Also, I don’t *assume* that my theology is the right one. That’s putting the cart before the horse. I hold to the theology I do because I believe it is right. I do not believe something and assume it is true. I seek out the truth to the best of my abilities, and then I (humbly, fallibly) believe in it. If I thought that Mormon theology were the better interpretation of scriptures, then I would convert to Mormonism. The fact that other people believe their theologies are true does not relieve me of the responsibility to seek out the truth to the best of my abilities, relying always upon God and his Spirit. It ought to provoke some humility and charity, but I can still say — humbly and charitably — that I believe the truth is X and not Y. Isn’t it okay that someone disagrees with you?

      Evangelicals engage in the “Is Mormonism Christian?” conversation because Mormons consistently claim to be Christian. That’s your prerogative, but you cannot advance an argument into the public sphere that Mormonism represents original Christianity and then object when people have the temerity to disagree. As people who stand in the stream of historical Christianity, we have to preserve the faith we have inherited, and so it’s important to be clear with people about what essential Christianity is and is not. But as several commenters have noted, this post was really taking as a point of departure the fact that we have differences of opinion over the essence of Christianity. That’s fine! It’s then going on to say that evangelicals are frequently misled about Mormonism, that Mormons and evangelicals share many fundamental Christian values, that evangelicals need have no compunction over voting for a Mormon, and that evangelicals ought not to attack Mormons as ‘cult’ members. Asking for more is basically asking me to abandon my beliefs, but I’ve come to those beliefs through long seeking and finding and being found. Let’s just agree to disagree on what original or essential Christianity is, and build from there.

      -Tim

      • SueB

        Tim et al,
        All I was trying to say is that “can’t we just quit trying to categorize each other?” and if others really need to label Mormons please try “non-creedal Christians.” I’m not asking anyone to change what they believe is true. I apologize if that was not clear.

        • Ivan

          Yeah, non-creedal does not have the same hostile connotation. It’s not so redhead stpechild locked in the basement and fed through a hole. LOL

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          I can use non-creedal Christians for the sake of amicable conversation between evangelicals and Mormons, but it doesn’t really represent the whole of what I want to say. I do believe that Mormonism is not only non-creedal but not apostolic Christianity — but that’s okay, I don’t need to reassert that every time I use a term. So non-creedal Christians is fine.

          I don’t think that categorizing is such a bad thing, as long as we do it graciously and humbly. For creedal Christians, at least, it’s important to preserve the purity of doctrine. Imagine that a sect arose that claimed to represent pristine Mormonism but rejected some of what you and all Mormons had, up to now, understood as essential to Mormon theology. Then suppose that some Mormons found that new sect attractive, and families were being split along sectarian lines, etc. Under those circumstances, I don’t think it would be at all wrong for Mormon leaders, and Mormon apologists, and even ordinary Mormons, to talk about what essentially is and is not Mormon faith. Saying that this sect is not *truly* Mormon would be an important part of affirming what you consider to be the essential claims of the LDS church, and preventing people from falling into dangerous misunderstanding.

          I guess I’m trying to give a sympathetic picture and help you to understand why creedal Christians find it important to defend the boundaries of Christianity. It’s not about judging the outsider and condemning falsehood. It’s about affirming what is true and protecting what is sacred and valuable, and serving people who are better off knowing and believing the truth than believing something false. That’s, I think, how evangelicals see this.

          God bless,

          Tim

          • DougH

            I can’t disagree with you on how “mainstream” Mormonism would react. The truth is that just that has happened, and I flinch a bit whenever I hear a news story about “Mormon fundamentalists” because those groups are no more Mormon than Protestants are Catholic. But that isn’t the same as saying that they aren’t *Christian.* As best I know, at the height of the Wars of Reformation, when Catholics and Protestants were killing each other in job lots and claiming that their enemies were all bound for Hell, they didn’t deny each others Christian status.

      • Twig57

        All SueB was trying to say is that if someone says they’re a Christian and they’re trying to follow Jesus Christ as their Savior, to claim that they’re NOT Christian is a form of judging them. The scripture she was referring to says that “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” She wasn’t trying to “convert” anyone. She was asking that we stop trying to label others.

        I thought that was pretty clear.

      • Lance in TX

        Most people do not know the history of the Christian religion. They don’t know whenthe Bible was put together or how it was put together. Most don’t know where the Creeds came from or the political history behind them. Most don’t know that there was more than 1 group during that Council and there were arguments for YEARS and that it was ordered by a Pagan for political reasons.

        Most just know what they are told on Sundays and that is only scratching the surface.

        I a convert to the LDS religion. I studied before I converted. I have done an incredible amount of study since then. I am 100% sure of my faith and in my Savior Jesus Christ and that He died for my salvation.

        I have studied the 1st-3rd Century Christiantiy and I believe the LDS Church is the closest there is to the church that was on the earth at the time Christ was on the earth.

  • knows economics

    Not a bad article if facts don’t matter.”Stands fast on abortion”-author might aquaint himself with Romney and (his) mother’s position on abortion.The Kennedy/Romney debate all over internet.Romney was to the left of Kennedy and one reason
    Romney didn’t vote for Reagan was Reagan’s pro life position.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I’m well familiar with Romney’s past on the life issue. At one point in his career, Romney was personally pro-life, but thought laws should give women the choice. But Romney has indeed stood fast (note that my comment was in the present tense) on abortion ever since his conversion over the stem-cell issue. Remember that he held to his position on embryonic stem cell research in a state that was overwhelmingly hostile to his position, in the face of a very hostile state legislature, and even though his wife suffers from multiple sclerosis. This was not a conversion of convenience. It was a conversion of conscience.

      I don’t know why we hold it against a person that he was, many years ago, not yet convinced of our position. He was persuaded, saw the light, and he’s stood fast ever since then. He has had great support from pro-life organizations because he was steadfast on the issue as a governor. In some ways, given his past, he will have to be even more consistently pro-life than others would, who might be able to get away with compromise because there are no questions about their loyalty to the cause.

      You mentioned “facts” in the plural. Now that I’ve disposed of the first supposed error, were there more? What was that you were saying about facts mattering?

      -Tim

  • K.G,

    I had some thoughts on this essentially well-meaning article, but SueB beat me to the punch. I don’t know if I can explain why Timothy’s assumptions are somewhat offensive, but here goes. When I hear “Christians” pontificating who is and who is not Christian, or what interpretation of the Bible is or is not the true one, or that belief in 4th century creeds is essential to salvation, I guess I want to ask, every so respectfully, Who died and made you God? After 2000 years and according to a Harvard study, 33,000 different ways of being Christian, what gives evangelicals or Southern Baptists or whoever the authority to be the arbitor of God’s truth and judge others whether they be a true Christian or a cult or anything? As a LDS I studied the Bible four years with SoBapt. evangelicals. They were fine and decent people, but the places where their understanding and a literal reading of the Bible diverged greatly. Taken on their own assumption of sola biblia, their beliefs simply cannot be true. And yet they dare to assume God’s judgment throne and judge others. It’s very perplexing, actually.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      K.G., I’m not making *assumptions* when I say that I do not believe Mormonism is essential or original Christianity. I’m stating *conclusions* from my own research. This was not the place to provide a full-throated defense (or any defense, really) of those conclusions, because that was not the point of the article. You’re completely free to disagree with those conclusions; I do not doubt that you can reasonably disagree. Or do you believe there is no truth of the matter? Or that we as creatures of God should make no effort to discern between truth and falsehood? How far down this road do you want to go?

      I’m not judging the salvation of others, and I certainly make no pretense to god-like infallibility. Assessing whether religious tradition X is consistent with Christianity in its original or traditional forms is neither arrogant nor presumptuous. It’s the kind of discernment to which all reasonable people are called — not to mention scholars of religion like myself. But can’t we, every now and then, just agree to disagree over the theological matters and agree to work together on the pragmatic matters?

      On another note, and in all kind sincerity, do you have a link for that Harvard study? I’m skeptical.

      -Tim

  • http://www.ourbusinesshero.com Keith Price

    Tim, Thank you for your post. You walk a very difficult path and I impressed with your resolve and your ability to separate what is clearly a deep and meaningful religious belief from the qualifications of a man for president who also has deep and meaningful religious beliefs that differ from yours.

    While it looks like you did not satisfy many evangelicals I think you articulated well the differences and similarities as you see them.

    I’m curious to know…

    How effective has this site been in helping persuade evangelicals to consider Romney and set aside the religious differences?

  • CK

    Tim, thank you for this article,and for fighting against the ridiculous slur of “cult” and even though you don’t believe that I am technically a Christian, according to evangelical beliefs, I know I am, according to the Bible. I also believe that you are a Christian, but I will let Jesus Christ decide for sure who is actually following Him. I do have something to say about those who believe Mormons aren’t Christians, from my point of view as a Mormon:
    So let me get this straight; Because Mormons don’t believe in the Nicene Creed, which is not part of the Bible, where a bunch of men (politicians and religious leaders, not prophets inspired by God) got together to vote on what they thought the Bible says, we are not Christian? Because we insist on stubbornly sticking to our own personal interpretation of the Bible and another book (The Book of Mormon) which we believe was written by prophets for a second witness to Christ’s divinity, we are not Christians? This is according to a bunch of evangelical fundamentalists who regularly meet together to bash and systematically spread lies about our church instead of just trying to follow Christ themselves? Under what authority are they claiming this, do they claim to speak for Jesus Christ Himself?

    In His day, Christ was mocked by the Pharisees and accused of teaching false doctrine and blasphemy. They killed Him for His supposed “blasphemy”. So knowing the tactic that Satan uses to bring down the truth, Jeffress could be now playing the part of the Pharisees without even knowing it. The Pharisees didn’t know how wrong they were either. The true Church of Jesus Christ has always been mocked and persecuted, it’s just sad that it is being done by others who profess to believe and follow Christ.

    We respect other points of view and their right to believe how they believe, why can’t these “anti-Mormons,” like Jeffress, do the same for us? Could it be because these pastors don’t want to lose the money of their congregation, so they are motivated to spread lies about another faith? Since Mormonism is the fastest growing Christian religion in the world, they are worried for a reason. By the way, Mormon tithing is not used to pay our leaders (they all have their own job and work for the church for FREE) it is only used to build Churches and temples and make materials for study in the church. Our members teach each other from the doctrines of the gospel with no other motive except to grow closer to God and lift each other.

    We keep politics out of the religious discussion, never is a candidate “endorsed” by our church. We just use the morals that we have been taught as a compass for deciding as individuals who to vote for.

    @Larry half of what you are saying about Mormons are outright lies and the other half are truths taken out of context and twisted to make them sound ridiculous even to a Mormon. I don’t know if these lies were just ingrained in you by your pastor or if you are a pastor who’s spreading them. Either way, you are sadly misinformed and ignorant of the beliefs of the LDS.

    It’s sad how many people have been brainwashed into believing these lies by their own pastor. Their tactics are systematic and remind me a little of what a cult does by lying to their people over and over. If and when they ever find out the truth, they will feel betrayed by those pastors.

    If you want to find out what Mormons actually believe, go to Mormon.org, ask a Mormon, or even order inexpensive Church materials from our distribution center(http://store.lds.org)and read them and you will see what we really teach in our church. In the meantime, us Mormons will keep trying to set an example and try to follow the Jesus Christ in the Bible and Book of Mormon, not the one made up by doctrines of men like the Nicene Creed.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      CK, a quick clarification: I don’t believe that *Mormonism* is the same as *Christianity* in its original or traditional forms, but that doesn’t mean that an individual *Mormon* cannot be a *Christian* at least in the sense of having an authentic and living relationship with Jesus Christ. In this post, I’m not taking a position on that question.

      On another note, I’d be interested in hearing sometime a frank conversation with Mormons about the advantages and disadvantages of paid and unpaid ministers. Both systems have their down-sides. And removing the profit motive doesn’t necessarily mean that the motives of those who teach and minister are pure, right?

      -Tim

      -Tim

      • CK

        Tim, Thank you for that clarification. That is a reasonable way to put it. Thanks.
        I think the profit motive is a lot stronger than you think. With profit there as a motive, the preachers income could be at risk, if he loses his congregation. Therefore, if a member of his congregation converts to Mormonism, he may start looking at the LDS church as a competitor or even his enemy if enough people leave his congregation. Without a profit motive, you just fulfill your duty to the church and try to do your best, having a career separate from this also means you don’t have as much time, so duties are shared as much as possible among all the members.
        In the LDS church, the congregation teaches each other. We take turns every Sunday the bishop asks a different member of the congregation to give a talk in sacrament meeting (the big meeting where we are all together). In my lifetime as a church member, I have never heard someone speak in sacrament meeting about another church’s teachings. Typical subjects are repentance, faith, charity, and those type of subjects. The Bishop usually asks the speaker to pray and rely on the scriptures/church doctrine when preparing a talk. Twice a year, we have general conference where the Prophet, apostles, and general authorities do speak. They also have their own careers, although many are retired and devote a lot of their free time to help the church. The only thing I have heard them say about other religions is that we need to be tolerant of others and try to set an example and be like Christ, those sorts of things. They ask us to never speak ill of other faiths. They ask us to basically turn the other cheek when it comes to anti-Mormon activities and trust God. They bear strong testimony of LDS beliefs as well.
        I guess what I don’t understand is these churches that have meetings dedicated to bashing and spreading incorrect information about the Mormons. They even make those weird anti-Mormon cartoons and videos and spread false rumors by literature. I just don’t get that. What is their motivation? Why do they have to do that? It reminds me of the propaganda that was spread in Nazi Germany (videos and literature) about the Jews. Those videos all creep me out and do not represent Mormon beliefs at all. When I mention the profit motive, that is just my way of trying to understand their motivations.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          CK, for what it’s worth, I’ve never attended a church where the sermon dealt with Mormonism and what the pastors thinks is wrong with it. This generally happens in adult education classes, but even there it’s pretty rare to have an adult education class on other religions or on ‘cults’. The miseducation of evangelicals about ‘cults’ typically happens through evangelicals’ own reading, or through radio programs, or the like. I don’t doubt that there are churches out there where the pastors will explain everything that he thinks is wrong with Mormonism in the midst of a sermon — but I’ve never been to one, and I think those are few and far between.

          The profit motive is strong, to be sure. I don’t doubt that. But it can be overstated. Most pastors are good and decent people who try very hard to keep their priorities straight. At the same time, what do you think are some of the weaknesses of the all-volunteer model? Are you able to see strengths and weaknesses in both models?

          Given that I’ve heard multiple Mormons give me the same reasons why my faith’s teaching is incomplete and I need the LDS Church, it seems to me that there must be *some* education going on, especially to Mormon missionaries, about what’s lacking in other religious traditions. Is that not the case?

          God bless,

          Tim

  • Liz

    Once again a very good and measured read. I consider priestcraft to be when someone uses their religion for material gain, like Perry does. But you don’t see Romney being introduced by someone who says, “Wouldn’t you rather vote for the man who is Christian by conscience rather than one who claims the cloak of Christianity in order to reap material or political gain?” Romney is first class, though Huntsman might go there. Yikes this could get ugly. I prefer to see folks with common values stick together, and that includes protestants, Catholics, Jews and the rest of the traditional Americans. If you’re going to get divisive, only ego benefits. I also resent the “Im a Christian and you’re not because I say so, nanny nanny boo boo” stuff. So worn out.

  • Liz

    Christian is a nickname, anyways. The followers of Christ were actually called SAINTS. (reference the Saint James version of the Bible, Old and New Testaments). For those of you stating all the virtues you practice in order to show your devotion to Christ, only to be scorned and labeled a “non-Christian” by someone with a wild lifestyle who happens to go to the “right” church…. I’d rather be considered a SAINT, I guess. The modern day usage of Christian by many is to them, a birthright, or something you inherit. I like the old fashioned merit system of saint, where you become one by seeking it, not by buying it with money or by “membership” in the right congregation. Anyways, we all know who the real saints or even Christians are, because they act like it. They treat others well. I’m still struggling myself, but I won’t give up. Barack Obama condsiders himself Christian, you know. So clearly, it’s a wide, WIDE net.

  • eveh

    The thing that seperates a follower of Christ from others is those who belong to him have receieved the Holy Ghost. The Bible clearly says if you have not, you are not one of his. Read Chapter ten of Acts. How did they know his followers had received the Holy Ghost? It’s right there for you to read. God never changes.

  • Suzie

    Great article Tim. As a Mormon, I appreciate your tone and fairness. I have studied the creeds myself, always seeing them as the culmination of decades (and centuries) of discussion and debate among the early Christian leaders about, among other topics, the very nature of God. Perhaps I need to remember that traditional Christianity, as you say, believes that “the Holy Spirit guided the church into those creeds as the right and best interpretation of the Scriptures”.

    But since the creeds can’t be defended from the Bible, there is more than a little irony in the fact that Mormons are criticized for believing in revealed truth found outside of the Bible, while not accepting the creeds. Why is a 4th century revelation valid, but a 19th century revelation out of the question?

    In my 57 years I have belonged to some 15 to 18 Mormon congregations in the U.S. and latin America, and known thousands of members who acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and the only way any of us can be saved. Even though we believe truth has been revealed in the last days, we don’t attempt to exclude others from being Christians. There is so much good in all of our faith traditions, and we all need to remember to respect that.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks, Suzie. As a minor point, let me say that the creeds are not considered “revealed” by creedal Christians like myself. They’re attempts to synthesize, clarify and catechize the truths found in revealed scripture. To the extent they are true, they ‘borrow’ their truth (so to speak) from the truth of the Bible. That said, I do believe (as I said) that the Spirit was at work guiding the church into these truths. That doesn’t make the creeds infallible. They can be refined, and have been refined, and in some respects their situated within a particular point in time (they translate biblical concepts into Greek and Latin philosophical terms, for one thing).

      Sometimes evangelicals criticize Mormons for their doctrine of continued revelation, but in some ways I think we should celebrate it, since the Mormon church has (from my point of view) moved closer to biblical Christianity. Substantially closer, in fact.

      -tim

      • Ivan

        Re: “moved closer to biblical Christianity”.

        I can see how one would think that, but I must disagree. Revelation guides the church, it is not nearly so simple as expediency. The core doctrines will always remain, while practices, emphasis, exhortations, methods may change depending on the changing needs of the people at that time. If you look at the history of the prophets over time, One God gave them many differing practices, emphasis, exhortations, methods, etc. God is the same, but the people are not. Please humor mefor a minute- How would sending Condi Rice as Secretary of State to Alabama, much less the middle east, back in the 1950′s have served the purposes of the country (assuming there was no law against it)? I would argue that it would not, but it would have been rather cruel. Imagine the environment for a black missionary supposing to teach whites in the south, or anywhere, when slavery was still ok in the minds of many. We (Americans) are a different people now than back in the day. Follow me? We can agree to disagree, but I just wanted to give you an example of how needs of the people, both members and non remain relevant in revelation.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          I know that’s how a Mormon would frame it, that the central doctrines have remained unchanged and what has changed is how it is applied or made relevant to different situations. I just don’t think that’s an accurate description of the things that have changed in Mormon teaching over time. It seems to me that some pretty important theological matters have changed — and even a change of emphasis, especially when it’s to the point of de-emphasizing a point so completely that it fails to show up in the education of the young, amounts to a substantial change in my view. That’s perfectly fine, in my view. I think the people of Israel gradually came to a better understanding of who God is and what God wants from us. So I don’t see this as unique to Mormons, or a judgment upon Mormons, at all. I celebrate that the general complexion and teachings of the LDS Church seem closer to traditional Christianity today than they were 100 years ago.

          Again, I know you’ll disagree. That’s fine. But that’s the way I see it. And if I can help evangelicals to see the ways in which the LDS Church has made positive steps, I think that will help build bridges.

          -Tim

          • Ivan

            “It seems to me that some pretty important theological matters have changed…”
            I am curious to know what, in particular, assuming it aside from preisthood and plural marriage, do you consider to be such. We can discuss this in direct email, if you’d like. As the moderator, I assume you can see my email. BTW- Your sincere responses have been much appreciated.

  • Robin

    I woke up the other morning with the newscaster saying that Jeffress says that Hinduism, Buddhism, and Mormonism are all false religions. He would have had a harder time saying that if he had used the real name of our church. Hindus do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, Buddhists don’t believe in Jesus, but to lump the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with them seems to show how off-base he is. My Baptist friend tells me that all a person has to do is accept Jesus as ones savior and one is saved. I assure you that all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wholeheartedly accept Jesus as our savior. He is the center of our faith, our lives, our testimonies. No man commeth unto the Father but by and through Him. Jesus is our advocate with the Father.
    You want to say that because we do not derive from the Nicene Creed that we are not Christians. It seems odd to base the origins of Christianity so many centuries after the time of Christ. Are the people before the Nicene Creed then sub-Christian? We claim to be the restored Church of Christ. You really need to pray and find out if that is true. We don’t spend our Sunday School classes talking about other religions and how they don’t measure up. We simply study the scriptures. I can tell by the scripted arguments that my friend uses against me when we try to talk religion, that she has been well versed in how to counteract a Mormon. As I read the comments on this website I hear those same scripted misinformed comments and I am sad that the other Christian churches feel the need to single us out and study how ‘wrong’ we are. Do you have classes that talk about how wrong the Methodists are, or the Presbyterians, or the Catholics? For some reason, I think you focus on proving us wrong instead. You will never hear such lessons at my church anywhere in the world. We have our Sunday School curriculum and week after week it is solely on the scriptures and understanding them. Our Sunday School teachers do not deviate from the lessons or go off on tangents about how awful some other church is. The only thing I have ever heard a church leader say about other churches is that you have much that is good. We simply can add to what you have already. A very Christian attitude if I do say so myself.
    Must there be all of this divisiveness? Can’t we all just be happy that we all love and follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? I know who the author of contention is and he loves to see good fighting good. Satan does not want us to work together to stamp out immorality and wickedness that is more and more rampant in the world. He would much rather have us fighting and hating each other. Let’s not give in to him. Pastor Jeffress is doing Satan’s will, not Jesus’ will. I hope he will see the light soon and stop.

  • Joel2012

    I am a second generation member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I believe in Christ. I have a deeply embedded belief that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I know that my Redeemer lives. Through His atoning sacrifice all mankind will be saved! I have been taught these sacred principles by my parents since I was a child; I teach these same principles to my children. I hardly need the endorsement of mainstream evangelicals to validate my religious convictions, I know I am a Christian. My family has fought the great battles of the ladder-day saints, and by latter-day saints I mean all of you my brothers and sisters living in these perilous times, such as the grassroots efforts on Proposition #8 in California, and many other noble and great causes. Through L.D.S. Humanitarian Services, hundreds of millions of dollars have been donated to help those who are victims of natural and man-made disasters. The L.D.S. Relief Society, the oldest woman’s service organization of it’s kind, blesses the lives of millions of individuals and families all around the world. The L.D.S. Church Welfare System is the model of self-sufficiency that others, including government officials worldwide, have tried to model. Faithful members of my church pay an honest 10% tithe of all their increases, as what is required in the holy scriptures. I can go on and on, but what has already been stated is more than sufficient to help others recognize the error in their judgments. In closing, I admire the love and support of many on this website, however it saddens me to acknowledge that despite the good intentions, many have still not come to the realization that we are all equals. I believe it’s time to come full circle, not through words, but by our actions and by our deeds. May the Holy Spirit touch your hearts and testify the truthfulness of my words. God bless!

    Matthew 7: 20-23

    “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks, Joel. An important testimony.
      -Tim

  • Rex

    Tim -

    As a Mormon, I enjoyed your article and careful thoughts. I learned from what you wrote and sincerely believe that the Spirit guided you, and that it can guide each of us to do a better job living by the best light we have. We need each other, probably more than we know.

    Earlier this week, I told a dear Evangelical friend that one of the things I appreciated most about her was the fact that she was secure in her own faith. She did not agree with Mormon theology, but she was not threatened by it. I think that is profound. The Lord promised His disciples that He would send the Comforter to help them once He departed, and that the Comforter gives a peace “not as the world giveth.”

    When I was a teenager, an Evangelical friend exposed me to the Nicene Creed and we had many discussions about it. As a teenager, I had learned to revere and honor Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and the Apostle Paul and the other Apostles or Prophets in the New and Old Testament.

    I felt uncomfortable that my Evangelical friend elevated these drafters of the Nicene Creed to be on an equal level to the Prophets and Apostles of the Bible. I’m still not comfortable with them, and I appreciate your clear explanation that you and other Evangelicals believe the Spirit guided them to formulate the current doctrine of the Trinity, etc., after years of scholarly debate.

    I no longer presume to judge another’s heart or destination after Judgment Day. Instead, I employ the “by their fruits ye shall know them” test given by the Savior Himself, and look for the good everywhere I can see it. I see much good in you and my other Evangelical friends, and believe that all of us must acknowledge God as the source of all good and that he does work through each of His children according to what light we have. That applies to you, to me, to Romney, to Perry, to Jeffers. We’re all fallible, and need the grace of God because we “see through a glass darkly” and proceed “line upon line.”

    Thanks, Tim, for the great article. I consider you a friend and as a brother. The Spirit brings a peace that the world wouldn’t understand, and there was much about your article that gave me a sense of peace.

    Rex

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      A moving and thoughtful note, Rex. Thank you very much. We’re talking at Patheos about how we can stage a conversation between a Mormon and an Evangelical over the issues presently in the air. I know it will be charitable and I hope it will be illuminating for all concerned!

      -Tim

      • Lance in TX

        I would love to read that once it is done.

  • Steve

    A tempest in a teapot. One cult’s members attack another cult’s members over which cult is more “culty.” The thing that strikes me most, though, as a neutral observer, is that the Mormons behave in a way more consistent with the teachings of Jesus than the legalist “Christians” who claim the exclusive ownership of his legacy. If Jesus is watching all this, I wonder with which group he sympathizes?

  • http://linkfromEFM V Phillips

    Dear Tim (cc: Larry),

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. As a caveat, I am not an official spokesperson, though I am a member of the LDS Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), commonly referred to as Mormon. These are entirely my personal views and should not be construed as official LDS theology.

    I appreciate both that you (Tim) have taken the time to try and understand more than most what it means to be a member of the LDS Church and what it means that we stand shoulder to shoulder on many of the critical issues of our time. I also appreciate that many devout evangelical Christians (like Larry) feel a need to defend the “purity” of what they believe the “true” faith to be–even though they still largely misrepresent LDS theology. This is typically accomplished by referring to the statements of past church leaders—then attempting to interpret those statements—then implying that those statements or interpretations are official church theology and the usual fare for LDS worship. This is simply not true.

    The official theology of the church resides within its standard works and the “authorized” statements or pronouncements of church leadership. The standard works of the church are the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. All other statements, books or sermons that are not officially authorized are the beliefs and opinions of that individual (even if they are leaders) and are not considered a part of LDS doctrine or “theology”.

    However, my primary point is that I believe you correctly used the terms “Historical”, “Traditional”, and “Evangelical” to delineate a specific form (or forms) of Christianity. If you think about this, I think it will broaden your view of what it means to simply be a “Christian”. If you or Pastor Jeffress or Larry or anyone else were to claim that members of the LDS faith do not qualify as “Historical” or “Traditional” or “Evangelical” Christians, you would not likely receive an argument—or at least you shouldn’t. The question is, do these terms define the whole of what it means to be a Christian?

    I also believe I understand the evangelical view that salvation comes not through works, but through faith alone–-in particular, faith or belief in and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (John 3:16). So according to evangelical belief, if I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior (which I wholeheartedly do)—if I accept His supernal gift and atoning sacrifice and the shedding of his blood upon the cross at Calvary for my sins, am I not saved? And if I (a “Mormon”) am saved, am I not a Christian?? Can a person be saved and still not be Christian? That is the great theological conundrum faced by many evangelicals for which I have yet to receive a compelling answer.

    Evangelicals accept the Biblical teaching that “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, if a man is SAVED, the fact that he may or will commit many sins does not nullify his “SAVED” condition. The evangelical Christian view of salvation does not contain asterisks or other conditions such as “UNLESS” or “IF” or “ONLY SO LONG AS”. It is definitive. A person is either “saved” or they are not.

    If that is so, do a “saved” person’s views of the gospel have to be in accordance with Larry or Pastor Jeffress’s views—or in accordance with the SBC or the Vatican? Are they saved only so long as their religious beliefs are sanctioned by ANY individual or group of individuals? Are they saved through Grace only if they believe that the Bible is the absolute and only authoritative word of God? If they cannot gain or lose their salvation through works or sin, does that not include the sin of “heresy” or “false beliefs” if that is what some may attribute to Mormons or Catholics or others? If so, then those assertions are not Biblical, and those who make them are likewise “adding” to the Bible and are therefore guilty of the very heresy for which they decry “Mormonism”.

    If I have misstated the evangelical view, please let me know.

    Members of the LDS church may have different religious views compared with other Christian faiths, including Catholics or other protestant churches. Consequently, those beliefs might reasonably mean that they (Latter-day Saints) would not be accurately termed “Evangelical” or “Traditional” Christians. However, it seems patently evident from evangelical teaching that all who come unto Christ–who have faith in and accept Him as their Lord and Savior–are “saved” and are therefore “Christian” by definition. Is that not so?

    In the same spirit with which you tried to illustrate some of the inherent differences in LDS vs. Evangelical belief, I humbly offer the following…

    The Bible clearly teaches that it is not a complete record of the ministry and teachings of our Lord… “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). In my mind, the very thought that the God who created all things in heaven and earth would limit his words to one volume of scripture seems ludicrous in the extreme. If other books or witnesses teach and testify of Jesus Christ and lead God’s children to the throne of Grace, what does it matter it’s source? It is my observation that many evangelicals seem to be more preoccupied with the infallible completeness of the Bible and defending it as such than they are about the Lord of whom the Bible testifies. Despite this difference, I have no compulsion to doubt that my evangelical brothers are in fact “Christians” and followers of the Lord, Jesus Christ—whatever spiritual limitations or blinders I may believe they are placing upon themselves.

    Lastly, it is entirely inconsequential to any person’s salvation whether or not you or I or Larry or Pastor Jeffress either sanction their beliefs or are willing to pronounce them a Christian. Thankfully, salvation is a uniquely personal matter between the individual and the Lord. In my view, this discussion is only important as a means of furthering understanding and discourse and bringing people together for common goals and purpose.

    I would be grateful for your thoughts. Thank you again.

    Yours sincerely,

    V Phillips

  • Mark C.

    What a great read this article and these responses have been. It is so refreshing to read an article like this and see an evangelical speaking clearly about religious differences instead of resorting to name calling (I speak only from my own life experiences).

    Another poster said it well–we, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–could properly be termed non-Creedal Christians. We certainly do not believe in the validity of the Nicene Creed, but respect your right to do so, just like you respect our right not to.

    I would find it much more respectful for an evangelical to say, “Mormons say they believe in Jesus Christ and call themselves Christians, but as an evangelical I do not believe they are Christian for (x,y,z)…. reasons.”

    The “misguiding” that Tim is referring to is, to me, the response from evangelicals or baptists which I have encountered throughout my life which so often seems to intone, “Because you do not believe in Christ the same way that I do, you cannot accept him as your Savior and you cannot and do not worship him as the Son of God and the only way whereby salvation can be gained.” –That type of attitude–when someone tries to step between you and Christ, has to end, and it has to start with me and you and your children and my children as we learn to love each other and speak respectfully of our differences in our beliefs regarding Jesus the Christ, our Savior, Lord, and King.

    • hj ross

      Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

  • Stan

    In the 11th article of “The Articles of Faith” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints it says: We claim the privilege 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. The LDS church doesn’t tell its congregation who to vote for, a good example is Harry Reid of Nevada. Reid a democrat and a Mormon. I won’t say anything bad about Pastor Jeffries but Rick Perry is going suffer the consequences by association.

  • Bobbi

    I wonder if Hilary Clinton would consider becoming a Republican and pro life and for marriage between a man and a woman? She could uphold the party platform as well as anybody else!

  • Liz

    Seems like Mr. Jeffress has an easy way of figuring out who’s Christian and who isn’t. So do I. I check to see if they have that fish sticker on that back of their car. Problem solved. Except for the folks that are a bit more sophisticated than that.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      The fish sticker is definitely the clearest and most unmistakable indicator of authentic Christian faith. Good call.

    • Ivan

      LOL!!! Great one!
      I suppose if they have a Romney sticker next to it, you can take it to the bank (as long as you didn’t catch your glimpse as they cut you off on the freeway). ;)

    • CK

      Yes! I am going to go get one of those stickers now. You’re awesome! LOL! Thanks for that!

  • hj ross

    Christianity has changed since i was a child in the 50′s. Mitt Romney would be a breath of fresh air compared to Obama.
    Robert Jeffress is a southern Baptist, and any good Pentecostal knows that Baptist are not saved unless they have the Holy Spirit( ie: HOLY GHOST). The Baptist reject the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in their platform doctrine. Basically they throw out the book of Acts and rely on Romans chapter 10 for basic salvation. Its sad that the Doctrine of Christ has become doctrines of man made organizations with Christ relegated to the back of the bus and just along for the ride. another problem is, American Christianity is a extension from ole Roman Catholicism, (that’s the reason they are called ) Protestants.
    Jesus never taught pray this little prayer with me and thou will be saved! The scriptures are clear, only those who are lead by the Spirit are the sons of God, they must first have the Spirit. ( Acts 2:4 ).

  • Nayajja

    Wow! Thank you Tim and thanks to all you thoughtful people who have posted on this article. After reading so much of contention in so many places, it is a delight to read the thoughtful and courteous discussion here on this topic.

    If all Romney’s candidacy did was to give impetus to more discussion like this, it would be worth it.

    “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35

  • Roxy

    My major concern with Mormonism is their refusal to in the past admit people of color to the pulpit. I do not know where they stand at this moment. Their racism and sexism does not endear me to their religious creeds–whatever they may be. I could not vote for a person who joined any institution that excluded people of color from their pews and pulpits. Never forget, always remember. Their doctrines are exclusionary. That to me is a problem. One Mormons page indicated that blacks had tails. Also, man has one less rib than a woman.


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