I Am Not a Mormon

From the combox

I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, not because of archaeology, or history, or linguistics, or any other secular discipline. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ for the exact same reason that you are a member (and leader) of the Roman Catholic Church: because it bears good fruit in my life.

This person’s comment should put paid once and for all the idea that The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints is a Christian religion in any sense at all. His comment (and I have received several like it) indicates the current state of teaching in the Mormon religion. That is to say, it is all about fruit. That is to say, “Those Mormons sure are nice folks. Their religion must be right.” or “Since I’ve become a Mormon I’ve been so much happier. Why, God even inspires my art!”

If this is what Mormonism is, then it is the perfect religion for the United States. You can be a squeaky clean, nice, successful person if you become a Mormon! In other words, they have a product to sell. It’s a product that will make you happy! Sign up here and join us!

I can understand this. It is always tempting to re-package a religion to make it sell. In fact, if you were going to make up a religion isn’t that what you’d do? You’d come up with a big benefit at a low cost, and since this makes so much sense and is just the sort of religion you would invent if you were inventing one then it does make one suspect that this is exactly what happened with Mormonism? Someone invented it.

I’m happy to say that Catholicism isn’t really about making me happy or healthy or successful or neat and tidy. It’s not really about good orthodontics. I can get all that elsewhere without belonging to a religion. Heck, I could do that by going to the gym, eating Raisin Bran and following a self help course. I could just read How to Win Friends and Influence People or The Power of Positive Thinking.

I am not a Catholic because it “bears good fruit” or makes me a nice person. Religion is not a set of table manners.

I’m a Catholic for the salvation of my soul. For those who missed the old, old story it goes like this:

Like the rest of the human race, I am a sinner, separated from God and headed for an eternity of darkness. But God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son who took human flesh of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He lived, suffered and died for the sins of the world in a mysterious and powerful sacrifice. He rose again on the third day and now is seated at the right hand of the Father. All dominion power and authority have been given to him. He shared that authority with his apostles and instituted the Catholic Church and through that church the sacraments of my salvation have been given through God’s great grace. By faith in his saving action, and by a lifetime of taking up my cross and following him I have received the forgiveness of sins and the hope of the salvation of my eternal soul.

I hope there is ‘good fruit’ in my life, but that is God’s doing and is (like fruit) the end result not the essential reason.

UPDATE: Mormonism proposes a solution for a non-existent problem. Like most of the Protestant based sects invented in the 19th century in America, it begins with Primitivism. This is the idea that the Catholic Church became corrupt and apostatized some time long ago. The newly invented religion therefore is a restoration of the “primitive” Church. This article shows why the basic assumptions of Primitivism are wrong, and why the proposed solutions are even worse.

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • Maggie White

    I am Roman Catholic because in my heart and soul, I know that Catholicism is the one true, universal religion. God revealed himself to us through the Sacred Traditions, including Sacred Scripture, handed down to the Catholic Church from Jesus Christ.

  • christina jeffrey

    This observation by Father matches my own experience visiting a Morman service. It consisted largely of testomonies as to the wonderful feelings one gets about their faith when one is a Mormon.

    • Maggie White

      Christina, there is no better feeling than to be Catholic. Two months ago, my cousin’s baby was baptized and soon after, she posted baby Gabrielle’s baptismal pictures on Facebook, along with the caption, “Gabrielle is now Catholic!” Unlike other religions, Catholics receive Sacraments (of which Baptism is one), that are sacred signs instituted by Christ to give grace, and grace provides spiritual nourishment for the human soul (the most wonderful feeling one can get from faith).

  • Dawn

    Amen.

  • William Dalebout

    As someone raised Mormon I can tell you this represents a pretty dramatic slide in Mormon theology and culture. The last step before complete oblivion.

    When I was a child there was no relativism in Mormonism. Mormonism was true because Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God who restored the one true and living church. Miracles were a daily occurrence, and we were all generals and heroes on the front lines in the war between Heaven and Hell.

    It’s a long way from there to “I do it ’cause it works for me” utilitarianism.

    This is why it’s impossible for me to take Mormonism seriously. It no longer takes itself seriously. It makes me very sad.

    • Cantornikolaos

      “This is why it’s impossible for me to take Mormonism seriously. It no longer takes itself seriously. It makes me very sad.”

      Wow! I was raised protestant and I can say the same thing. First, I was attending a traditional Reformed Baptist church where they used to play the organ and sing beautiful, classic hymns that had theology, and reverent praise. Then, I went to one of those non-denom freak-shows that as you say, doesn’t take itself seriously. I almost became agnostic or atheist after 4 years of that mess.

      I have heard that people are leaving Mormonism in droves. Is that true?

  • William H

    Yep, I am Catholic because Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. His life is historically verifiable. His Church is historically verifiable. My relationship with the Trinity is not about quid pro quo. It is not about looking like I have my life in check. I am living a sort of purgatory on earth, where my worlds and my idols are burned away the closer I move towards Christ.

  • http://saltlaketorome.wordpress.com/ SLTR

    As a person whom last Easter Vigil (2012) went from being an LDS to a Catholic..I have to say, I am a Catholic because in my heart and soul I believe it is the ONE true way. After 25 years as a Mormon, I started to study the Catholics, I was completely surprised about how right being a Catholic truly was.

    • chris a.

      i was born and raised Catholic, but wandered away for 20 years, bouncing from big box church to big box church. i recently redisovered my Catholic faith and got confirmed with you on Easter Vigil. after wandering around the protestant world for 20 years, i have determined that the Roman Catholic Church IS the ONE TRUE CHURCH. welcome to THE CHURCH, my friend !!

  • Vladyk

    Wasn’t there some Jewish guy who once said that “by their fruits you shall know them”?
    I thought it was Woody Allen at first, but a quick google search showed that that’s wrong. Can anyone help me out?

    • Maggie White

      No Vladyk, it was St. Matthew, one of Apostles of Jesus Christ. I believe what you are referring to can be found in Matthew’s book in the New Testament, 7:15 – 7:20 which states, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Can grapes be gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So then, every good tree produces good fruit, and the evil tree produces evil fruit. A good tree is not able to produce evil fruit, and an evil tree is not able to produce good fruit. Every tree which does not produce good fruit shall be cut down and cast into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.”

      St. Matthew goes on to say, “Not all who say to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does the will of my Father, who is in heaven, the same shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

      In my opinion, St. Matthew provides a strong message to us in this passage that it is critically important to be Catholic.

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

      Incidentally, Acts also has some choice words:

      If this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.

      Things of God persist.

      • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

        (How this applies to the Great Apostasy is left as an exercise to the reader.)

  • http://catholicsacristan.blogspot.com Wendell

    Maggie White’s statement really resonates with me.

    The testimonies here remind me of the stories in a little tome I’ve been re-reading lately for the umpteenth time. Frequent fliers of Fr. Longencker’s sites probably can guess the title of the collection to which I am referring. I’m confident Fr. Longenecker knows it :-)

    I’ve recommended the book many times over to folks with questions, especially those who are definitely on the path to Rome.

    Oh yeah… the book title – “The Path To Rome: Modern Journeys to the Catholic Church”.

  • veritas

    Father,
    Your brief but full explanation of the human condition and God’s answer to it is beautifully done. I only wish that we would hear that message loudly and clearly from all our priests and all our bishops – then we would have a people of God who would be truly alive in Christ.

    Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me.”

  • RGB

    Sounds like a reprise of Pelagianism, achieving salvation through good works and people’s own efforts and righteousness.

  • Thomas R

    Hmm well I guess I’m not a Catholic for the right reasons then. I tend to think I’m Catholic largely because it offers Truth, complete Communion with God, Forgiveness, and to an extent that it does make one a better person. A more Christlike person. Love of God and Neighbor is certainly very key.

    I think non-Catholics can gain salvation. I don’t have the level of hostility to other religions you seem to have (I think you indicate Hindus worship demons, Mormonism should be scorned, etc) so if I see them in Purgatory I’m likely not going to harangue them about how dumb they were. The sadness is their beliefs are incomplete, misguided, etc. There’s no need to make them just wrong or something to get like this about.

    Hopefully I’ll avoid your blog in the future.

    • The Egyptian

      I’m sure you will, watch out, Fr is infectious,

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Stick around. We like having opposing views expressed here, and you’ll learn more about the truth of Catholicism. Our teaching on other religions is this: every religion has some beauty, truth and goodness in it–otherwise people wouldn’t be drawn to it. We teach that members of all religions may be saved by following the truth, beauty and goodness they have been given…so we’re not quite so negative as you make out–even though we do criticize other religions. (and our own when we go wrong)

      • Thomas R

        Yeah I think I might have overreacted, still it sounded pretty harsh.

        Mormonism I do think is wrong on some pretty fundamental basis. The idea of “eternal marriage”, in particular, seems patently against the New Testament. And the idea of Pre-Columbian Jewish civilization, with chariots and horses as I recall, is just daffy on all kinds of levels. But the “it makes me a better person” doesn’t set me off for some reason. I kind of think religion maybe should make you a better/holier person or help that or something.

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          Or course religion practiced properly will make you a better person, but that’s not the original purpose.

    • William H

      I think that after Vatican II there has been a huge misconception in the understanding of “No salvation outside the Church.” We know that God can give grace how he wishes in any extraordinary way, but if someone hears the message of the Church and refuses then he has decided on his own free will not to accept Jesus Christ in an ordinary grace.

      We are meant to evangelize and Father is doing that in a fantastic way by not diluting the truth of the Church. It is a whole lot better than sitting on apathetic evangelism and ignoring Christ’s command to go out and baptize.

      • Thomas R

        I certainly wasn’t meaning I’d be okay with a Catholic leaving the faith for Mormonism. And although I never thought of myself as “evangelical” I’m willing to evangelize in the sense of defending the faith and explaining why I’m of it.

        I’m just uncomfortable with things that strike me as going too hostile and condemnatory to other faiths. Maybe their loyalty/love of their Mormon relatives keeps them where they’re at. Maybe they’re ignorant. Whatever. Although I think many things in Mormonism are, at base, pretty dang wacky I’m uncomfortable with how far some of this conversation goes. Also something about being dismissive about “good fruits” and being “a nice person” struck me wrong. If I’m totally orthodox in my Catholicism, but I’m uncaring and unhelpful to my neighbor then it seems to me that yes I’d be sort-of “doing it wrong.” In the parable of sheep and goats Jesus, as I recall, very much values how we treat others.

  • Phillip

    As an LDS (self convert) member of 34 years and someone very active in inter faith work. I’m a little sad about the tone of some of the observations about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and what you tell us we beleive. This “fruits and roots” thread is very disappointing. When I (an engaged LDS member) hear observations with a subtext of “you are a cafeteria like religion that picks & chooses fruit that appeals – but your “patently man made religion” does not have lasting efficacy” . I think I should elevate the debate slightly to the reflections made by your own wonderful Cormac Murphy O’Connor when speaking to the monks of Downside Abbey (Benedictine) in the West of England in 2006:
    “In a society where people seek the “fruits” without the “roots”, monastic communities show by their lives that “it is the roots of our existence which need to be tended if our lives are to be joyful”, the Cardinal said in his sermon.
    He said a monastery “is not a flight from the fragility of human nature, but a way of meeting it and transforming it”. It is a place of “mutual caring and covenant relationships” where “people learn to relate, to love others, to meet the person behind the label, to live tenderness, to communicate, to forgive, to grow in freedom and to worship together.”
    All he says resonates with Mormons – we know that the roots are necessary before the fruits (of joy peace and happiness inherent in the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) can grow and be harvested – that’s why we were organised to be a lay Church by our founding members – I have a ” full time day job” and joyfully lay at the altar of the LDS Church Christian service programmes my humble and inept talents [from my year of Catholic Catechesis in 2008/09* - (yes to understand your beliefs I attended this excellent programme) - I think you call them charisms], I pay a tithe and teach 14 to 18 year old young men and women Seminary (LDS religious education classes) to prepare them for their lives and serving as LDS voluntary missionaries , as well as serve in other areas as asked by the Church. We all tend these ROOTS to bear the “fruits”; like Luke the physician, Matthew the tax collector and Paul / Saul the tent maker; rooted in our employment, we try to bear fruit for the Lord – best put in this pithy phrase from Neal A. Maxwell an LDS Apostle who died in 2004:
    “The Lord does not ask about our ability or inability, But only about our availability. 
    If we prove our dependability, 
    The Lord takes care of our capability”.
    Yes (I know the grace v works teachings will be rolled out and sent back against me and I will be pigeonholed as a “non Christian” anyway) – but maybe I will just conclude with these two observations of C.S.Lewis:
    (1) “Regarding the debate about faith and works: It’s like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most important.” Without works, faith is rendered impotent, and without faith, works are rendered impotent
    (2) “It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not close to the spirit of Christ. We do not see into men’s hearts. We cannot judge, and are indeed forbidden to judge. It would be wicked arrogance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Christian in this refined sense . . . When a man who accepts the Christian doctrine lives unworthily of it, it is much clearer to say he is a bad Christian than to say he is not a Christian.”
    C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1952), 11.
    * Meet our missionaries come to our LDS Catechesis – then post something interesting about us.

    • William H

      (2) “It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not close to the spirit of Christ. We do not see into men’s hearts. We cannot judge, and are indeed forbidden to judge. It would be wicked arrogance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Christian in this refined sense . . . When a man who accepts the Christian doctrine lives unworthily of it, it is much clearer to say he is a bad Christian than to say he is not a Christian.”

      Apples and oranges. You have already assumed that Mormonism is a valid Christian denomination and are part of Lewis’s conversation here. If the Book of Mormon was just merely a catechism of mormon beliefs as the Westminster Confession was to reformers then we’d have a different issue. But the Book of Mormon is by Mormon belief a public prophetic message that all must believe to be a part of your communion. It is not just extrabiblical and in need of great discussion and debate, it is supposed to be necessary (if I was mormon) for my faith structure. I know that some will say I am not being charitable, but if we are truly trying to be more like Christ; we must challenge ourselves to find truth where truth is at.

    • SteveD

      If you think that CS Lewis might be referring to a body which holds that ‘God was once a man’ (and quite possibly a sinner) and which regards belief in the Trinity as incomprehensible, then you really need to think again. Also your apparent belief that Catholics are ‘sola fide’ Christians demonstrates that you know little about Catholicism. I have long taken an interest in early Mormon history and have read many accounts of the early European converts who were persuaded to travel to ‘Zion’ (Utah) before the ‘imminent second coming’ and then reported the horrible heresies put forth and the terrible events that occurred in Brigham’s fiefdom. For anyone interested, let me suggest:
      http://www.archive.org/stream/lettersofapostat00infree#page/n6/mode/1up

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      You may be the nicest, sweetest people in the world and still believe and propagate a false doctrine which drives people away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ and imperil their souls.

  • Holls

    Fr. Dwight,
    What did Christ teach….”From their fruits ye shall know them.”
    and “Judge not lest ye be judged.”
    Concentrate on building up your own faith and not tearing down someone else’s.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      You want me to judge you by your fruits, but then you tell me not to judge. That’s a contradiction isn’t it?

      • The Egyptian

        You want me to judge you by your fruits, but then you tell me not to judge.
        Bada Bing, love to hate that line

  • Pingback: Regarding Mormonism

  • Patrick

    Here’s a question, though:

    Even if you were take the “bearing good fruit is what matters” hypothesis, for the sake of argument, has the LDS ever produced something on the order of a saint or martyr? Mormons are all very *nice* people, and very *polite people* – I’ve never met a Mormon who wasn’t nice and polite. But has the LDS ever produced someone like a Padre Pio or a Mother Teresa or even more exotic: Francis of Assisi or Clare of Assisi or any of the thousands of martyrs who were killed by the pagans for the Old Faith?

    This is a serious question, not a rhetorical one: I know nothing of the Mormon faith – perhaps they *have* turned out a Padre Pio-type, with the visions and the stigmata and whatnot – perhaps they turn out guys like that every year. Nevertheless: even if someone were to accept for the sake of argument the “fruit matters most” hypothesis, they’d have to admit the Catholic Church has turned out some eye-popping saintly-types the likes of which the world rarely sees. Catholics don’t have a vanilla-niceness to them, but wow, the Church has produced some extremely holy people in the last 2000 years.

    • The Egyptian

      http://youtu.be/kW52VzRcPY8
      nice* people, and very *polite people
      Mormon Missionaries Mock Catholicism in Colorado
      yup every one of um

      • Phillip

        Reference The Egyptian – Yes this is shocking an wrong – I add my personal apology to the official one the LDS issued:
        Statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
        “Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were dismayed this weekend to learn of the insensitivity and disrespect shown to religious artifacts of the Sangre de Cristo Catholic Church in San Luis, Colorado, and that Latter-day Saint missionaries were evidently responsible during their missionary service in 2006. Their actions do not represent the high standards of behavior for which our missionaries are known all over the world.
        The Church has begun a thorough investigation of the incident. We are providing the names of those involved to law enforcement officials and will continue to cooperate fully with those investigating the incident as well as with officials of the Roman Catholic Church. Those missionaries who have since returned home will face disciplinary action from the Church. The missionary who was still serving in Colorado has also been disciplined and his mission terminated. Church leaders will look for ways to repair the damage that has been caused to relationships with the community.
        Such actions of disrespect as depicted in photographs published on the Internet and in the news media are inexcusable. Respect for other faiths is a cardinal tenet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church has worked for many years side by side with leaders and members of other faiths, including the Roman Catholic Church, and has often helped them with construction or renovation of buildings for religious worship. We have also worked hand-in-hand with Catholic Charities in providing humanitarian assistance to alleviate suffering across the globe.
        The Church expresses its profound regret and sincere apologies to the members of the Roman Catholic faith, to the members of the Sangre de Cristo Catholic Church and the townspeople of San Luis, for this senseless act. We have also arranged for a meeting with Catholic leaders to offer our apologies.”
        Bruce Olsen, Managing Director of the Church’s Public Affairs Department.
        LINK TO THIS STATEMENT:
        http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=2819836&pid=1
        LINK TO A BLOG NEWS STORY ON THIS:
        “A senior representative of the local LDS community quickly stepped up to the plate to take charge of the situation. Robert Fotheringham, who is in charge of the LDS church’s missionary program in parts of four states, and whose region includes the San Luis Valley, confirmed that the three in the pictures were LDS missionaries assigned to the towns of Manassa and Sanford at the time, although he declined to name them.
        “We’re just mortified this has happened. This is not what we’re about,” Fotheringham said. He also said the three, who come from California, Idaho and Nevada, would face restrictions on their church memberships, although he declined to discuss the nature of the restrictions. LDS Church authorities can prescribe three penalties: Probation, disfellowshipment, or excommunication. Assuming that the perpetrators are penitent, probation, which means their temple recommends are suspended and that they would be removed from any positions of authority for a period of time, is the most likely sanction.”
        LINK:
        http://voice-of-deseret.blogspot.co.uk/2008/03/former-lds-missionaries-caught.html
        Again The Egyptian thank you for posting this – unacceptable behaviour and disrespect has no place in our Church – Our official 11th article of faith states: “11  We claim the privilege of worshipping 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.” – Apologies again.

    • Phillip

      Patrick regarding your: “This is a serious question, not a rhetorical one: I know nothing of the Mormon faith – perhaps they *have* turned out a Padre Pio-type, with the visions and the stigmata and whatnot – perhaps they turn out guys like that every year. Nevertheless: even if someone were to accept for the sake of argument the “fruit matters most” hypothesis, they’d have to admit the Catholic Church has turned out some eye-popping saintly-types the likes of which the world rarely sees. Catholics don’t have a vanilla-niceness to them, but wow, the Church has produced some extremely holy people in the last 2000 years.”

      I think my gentle point (we misguided Mormons are always taught to respond in a Christ like manner) is exactly the challenge faced by all the rabid “you Mormons are completely wrong” replies to points any of us members of the LDS Church make. To openly say “I know nothing of the Mormon faith” but from that standpoint ask if we have turned out any “Padre Pio” types – begs the humble suggestion that you find out something about the faith of the adherents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and perhaps see if they have? The web site http://www.mormon.org is a good place to start – what you may find remarkable is that no official organ of the LDS Church will criticise another faith – and all LDS members are encouraged to be civil and respectful in their dialogue. I personally delight in the wonderful teachings, liturgy, and the many Catholic Saints that you rightly allude to. I love the Rose vestments your priests wear twice a year, St Lawrance – the patron Saint of cooks (because his martyrdom was being roasted to death on a griddle)!
      We in our Doctrine & Covenants in Section 88 teach [Verses 78 & 79]:  
      78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
      79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—”.
      I hope no Mormon would ever say “I know nothing of the [insert a faith] perhaps they *have* turned out a Padre Pio-type, with the visions and the stigmata and whatnot.” I hope we would find out about that persons faith, ask their adherents and with their help answer their own question.

      • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

        Phillip, you’re a real nice guy and I thank you for that, but I think it’s still fair to ask whether your religion is based on truth or a lie.

        • Phillip

          Father Dwight – In answer to your question – it really distils down to this statement from a Mormon Apostle :
          “Sudden Death Proposition”
          Jeffrey R Holland: “To consider that everything of saving significance in the Church stands or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and, by implication, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of how it came forth is as sobering as it is true. It is a ‘sudden death’ proposition. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is, or this Church and its founder are false, a deception from the first instance onward”.
          Christ and the New Covenant (1997), 345-46.

          Naturally as a self convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (as you are from a “born again” Bob Jones, Anglican background) to the Catholic faith. I am secure in my belief that, yes , Joseph Smith was a prophet and saw God and Jesus Christ; as you are in the truth and inerrancy of the magisterium and teachings of your new faith. Was Joseph Smith flawed / imperfect? Was the “rock” Petrus Peter flawed / imperfect? – Peter as recorded in scripture actually DENIED Jesus was the Christ THREE times.

          I have read (and loved and shared it with many LDS academics) your book “The Path to Rome” – in it you share this great insight – on how to see if authority exists in any religious faith.
          SEVEN CHARACTERISTICS OF AUTHORITY :
          #1 Historical – rooted in history and have a long term perspective which enables it to consider the whole development of thought. In addition, if this authority is historical it cannot be temporary. It must have stood the test of time.
          #2 Objective – It should itself be separate from any one philosophical viewpoint and be able to judge philosophical matters above the concerns of self- interest. It should also be able to give objective explanations for doing so.
          #3 Universal – It cannot be the authority of just one person, or nationality. Neither can it be the voice of one historical or theological grouping. It should be corporate in such a way that it transcends national, cultural and individualistic boundaries.
          #4 Particular – But if it is universal it must also be particular. This trait means it must be specifically identifiable. It cannot be a” vague body of teaching.” In other words it must speak with a clear and particular voice. 
          #5 Intellectually satisfying – In other words it must not only be intellectually coherent within itself, but it must be able to contend on the highest intellectual level with philosophers and theologians.
          #6 Scriptural authority. Since scripture is a primary witness to the revelation, this authority should be both rooted in scripture, and founded by scripture. 
          #7 Divinely given. If it fulfils the other six traits, then these are a good confirmation that the authority is not ephemeral and human in constitution, but is in fact of divine origin itself.
           Dwight Longenecker “The Path to Rome”. 
          Gracewing
          ISBN 978-0-85244-486-3
          I’m pleased to say I have held up my cherished LDS membership to the “mirror” you provided in your Seven Characteristics of Authority and I find it to be true – because yes Joseph Smith like Peter was a servant of the Lord (and not even perfect like you and I are ;) – and both were able to found Christ’s Church the Catholic Church founded by Christ through Peter and the original Apostles whose deaths occurred in the following way:
          The Twelve:
          Judas Iscariot, originally one of the Twelve, died after the death of Jesus. Matthew 27:5 says that he hanged himself, and Acts 1:18 says that he fell, burst open, and his “bowels gushed out.” Matthias was elected to take his place as one of the twelve.
          According to Christian tradition:
          (1) Peter, crucified upside-down in Rome circa 64 A.D. 
          (2) James, son of Zebedee was beheaded in 44 A.D., first of the twelve to die (since the addition of Matthias) 
          (3) John, son of Zebedee, natural causes due to old age, last of the twelve to die, only one of the twelve (or 13 counting Judas Isacariot) to die naturally (as mentioned by Christ at the end of his (John) Gospel.) 
          (4) Andrew, Peter’s brother, was crucified upon a diagonal cross. 
          (5) Philip was crucified in 54 A.D. 
          (6) Bartholomew (also known as Nathaniel) was flayed alive (skinned) and then beheaded; some sources locate his death at Derbend on the Caspian Sea. 
          (7) Matthew killed by a halberd in 60 A.D. 
          (8) Thomas was killed by a spear in Mylapore, Madras, India in AD 72. 
          (9) James, son of Alphaeus, beaten to death with a club after being crucified and stoned. 
          (10) Saint Jude went on a mission to the people of Mesopotamia and Persia (with Simon the Zealot) where they were both martyred. Jude by crucifixion.
          (11) Simon the Zealot was crucified in (after preaching in Egypt Mesopotamia and Persia – with Jude) in 74 A.D. 
          (12) Judas Iscariot, according to the gospels, hanged himself after betraying Jesus. 
          (13) Matthias, Judas’ replacement, was stoned and beheaded.
          This original Church founded by Christ over almost two millennia before was restored through the visitation of God and (on his right hand) Jesus Christ to the boy prophet Joseph Smith and officially organised on the 6April 1830 – I am a member (a self convert) from Catholicisim via Anglicanisim who joined the LDS Church in 1978. Can I empirically prove to you it is “true” – no – no more than I can prove the sun will rise tomorrow, what love is or completely describe in words the taste of honey – perhaps faith can only be developed in this way……

          • William H

            Actually the first premise starts with why I should listen to a mormon apostle and why does he have authority?

          • Jan

            One teensy, weensy, (read, GIANT) difference, Phillip – the LDS faith was founded by Joseph Smith, a mere man.

            The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ, the Son of God – NOT Peter, a mere man.

            As far as a restoration goes – Jesus was pretty straightforward when He walked on earth – while He did say He would be with us forever and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church, He NEVER said there would be a need of “restoration” of His Church.

            So, if you truly believe what you wrote, that there was indeed a Church founded by our Lord, Jesus Christ, then it stands to reason that you should be Catholic. The only way around this is that you would have to think that Jesus left out something incredibly vital in not telling mankind that there would be this horrific upheaval in need of restoration; or, you might believe He lied, whether through malice or ignorance; or perhaps you believe that He is not divine.

      • David

        The Mormon church has a long history of speaking ill of mainstream Christian churches. The Catholic church for many years was identified with “great and abominable church of the devil” described in the Book of Mormon. Until 1990 Christian ministers were depicted as hirelings of Satan in the LDS temple endowment. It is true that in recent years the Mormon church has toned down the rhetoric, but that’s probably more for public relation purposes than for any fundamental change in how they view other churches. Can’t internet Mormons for once be honest about their faith?

        I was raised LDS, served a mission, and married in a Mormon temple. By the grace of God I was received into the Catholic Church Easter 2012.

    • Joe the psychiatrist

      (i´m certainly going to regret getting involved in this, but…) the “saint argument” isn´t at all valid, since the catholics (leaving out the orthodox) are the only ones who churn out saints by the bucket-load. the mystical experiences of numerous saints are only tolerable if seen through the prism of time; today most of them would receive a diagnosis of mental illness (into which the Mormon´s founder would fit beautifully too, by the way). When the Church proposes to beatify JP II for curing a nun of Parkinson´s disease, it turns the whole thing into sillyness. Just another version of evangelical speaking in tongues – a show for the masses.
      people tend to confuse religion with faith – religion is hard, vague, full of uncertainty. it´s a journey with no certainty at the end (that´s why its a FAITH). Religion, though, is great – full of rules and rituals, and mechanistic processes whereby you get an infusion of salvation, colour and song, and – best of all – tons of other people who are wrong, thereby making you right.
      Remember that the first TRUE catholic was probably St Paul, who if he had lived now would probably have been CEO of some mega corporation (very dynamic, great leadership skills, comes from nowhere, takes over, leaves the original guys in the sidelines… speaks like he invented it…)
      God bless (yes i do believe in Him(s))

  • Chaitea

    I have loads of mormon friends and have been to a number of church services out of respect to my friends’ who came to visit me from overseas. I think Father Dwight, you have hit the nail on the coffin. It also reflects on the niceties of their religious art work, which I find so monotonous, pasteurized and sanitized. You never get to any crucifixion scenes, I want my ‘Christ’ to look a bit bloody with real suffering. Instead an LDS Christ is always majestic looking with a chiseled face it can be hard to appreciate.

    Why I am Catholic, well I think Oscar Wilde summed it up nicely it is “for saints and sinners alone – for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do” (and also the Mormon church.)

    • LMA

      “I want my Christ to look a bit bloody ….” Well, there you go. That’s a sound theological argument if I ever heard one. Sheesh. And you people criticize the Mormons for following their feelings rather than their heads.

      • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

        Not at all. This is simply a personal reflection of St Paul’s words, “We preach Christ and him crucified.”

  • veritas

    As an Australian I am puzzled by the incredible amount of space and time spent on American Christian blogs discussing Mormonism.

    For us in Australia Mormonism is simply seen as some sort of weirdo American 19th Century sect. By even the most basic definitions it is certainly not Christian and should not claim to be.

    Even fairly liberal Protestants accept that to be called Christian you need to in some way acknowledge the Blessed Trinity and Jesus Christ as the Second Person of that trinity – God (not A god, one of many) and Man.

    Sorry people, you can’t just redefine everything and then get upset because someone says you are not Christian. Mormons may now be very nice people, I’m sure many of them are, but their religion is a false man made sect, nothing more. It contradicts almost every article of the faith as taught for 2000 years.

    As I said, in Australia it is seen simply as an historically recent American sect. Given the amount of attention it is getting on this and other websites it must pull a bit of influence in the States.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      They have big slick advertising campaigns, ubiquitous zealous missionaries and a presidential candidate.

    • http://ideasaboutgodandtheworld.wordpress.com/ Alejandro

      They have their own state for Cthulu’s sake! It’s also because of Mitt Romney, who is the most likely candidate and who could give Obama a run for his money.

  • Pingback: Mormon in the Time of Mitt Romney and the Anti-Mormon Backlash : Go Girl Magazine

  • Manuel Gerardo Monasterio

    Do you know that Mormons have baptized post-mortmem and endowed under its Temple Rituals the following:
    Father Pio di Pietrelcina, Father Escriva Balaguer and theologians Urs Von Balthasar, Jacques Maritain,Frederick Copleston…And many others like Bonhoeffer,C.S.Lewis and Chesterton. I have proofs of it for anyone interested.


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