Mormonism No Longer a Cult, according to Billy Graham

Billy Graham met with Mitt Romney last week. According to the press secretaries of each, Graham told Romney he’d do “all I can” to help get Romney elected. It seems that one of those things is to remove the long-standing statements about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints being a cult from the BGEA website:

A Billy Graham Evangelistic Association article labeling Mormonism a cult has been removed from the group’s website following the 93-year-old televangelist’s meeting with the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney last week.

Graham pledged to do “all I can” to help Romney get elected during the meeting

The Citizen-Times at 4:56 p.m. on Thursday captured the article, which said cults are “Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists, and others.”

Graham met with Romney at his Montreat home just hours before. The article is not on the association’s Website today. [Mormonism 'cult' claim vanishes from Graham site | The Asheville Citizen-Times | citizen-times.com]

Some, like Steve Knight, have questioned whether Billy is being played like a puppet by son and heir, Franklin, in these, his last days. According to Steve,

Billy Graham is 93 years old, in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease (among a host of other age-related ailments). He’s been having fluid drained from his brain on a regular basis for over a decade. When I worked for BGEA and Mr. Graham was still leading evangelistic crusades around the country, it was well-known that all of his sermons, articles, letters and books were ghostwritten — and had been for quite some time.

If Billy is being used in this way by Franklin, it’s shocking.

But, in any case, here’s the point: Evangelicals say that the Bible and theological orthodoxy are the most important things for a Christian to abide by. And yet, time and time again, evangelicals will forsake these tenets for political expediency.

I’ve been quite candid on this blog: I do not think that the LDS church is a Christian church. I do not think that the Mormon faith is Christian. I think it’s a sect — or call it another religion — that drew inspiration from Christianity at its birth. (I think it’s too big and diverse to call it a cult.) But it’s not Christian.

It seems that Graham, like many other evangelical leaders, is supporting Romney. That’s totally fine. But to sweep under the rug their long-standing teaching that the LDS Church is a cult is not only disingenuous, it’s downright deceptive.

  • http://thatsajennstory.com/ Jennwith2ns

    That’s a shame. I suspect Steve Knight is right. I love Billy Graham and (given he is friends with my Grandma and she is also 93 and I’m witnessing what the ravages of time are doing to her, too) I suspect some personal slack might be cut–but agree about the political expediency thing in general across the evangelical board. It’s depressing–and a little frightening.

    • http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com Bot

      Here are the characteristics of a cult:
      • Small? The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) has 14 million members in 132 countries. In America, there are more Mormons than there are Presbyterians or Jews.
      • Excessive devotion? Mormons are devoted to the Savior, but in appropriate measure He would approve of.
      • Unethical techniques? Ask the pie-throwers to name one.
      • Control by isolation? Even if Mormons wanted to, this would be impossible with 14 million members in 28,000 congregations throughout the world.
      • Control by threats? Again, evidence? Mormon missionaries may be exuberant, but do not threaten.
      • Dependency on the group? The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is just the opposite. Mormons want members to be self-reliant and independent so they in turn can help others.
      • Powerful group pressure? Only if that’s the way the critics prefer to define love.
      • Strange? Guilty as charged. Mormons plead guilty to all the strange things that were done by Christians in New Testament times that were lost during the great falling away in the aptly named Dark Ages, among them temple worship, baptism by immersion by the father of the family, vicarious baptism for the dead, definition of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as separate but united in purpose, salvation requiring both grace and obedience to commandments, prophets and apostles, unpaid clergy, and continual revelation to guide His Church

      • Rev. John E. Conner

        AND if you’re not happy with The Bible, feel free to “discover” your own i.e. “The Book of Mormon”…things that make you go hmmmm….

        • RDW

          Amen!

      • Dennis Chabot

        The first “standard” for all Christians is belief in the virgin birth. Ask a Mormon if the believe in the virgin birth. The second is belief that Jesus was the son of God ON EARTH. How do they say it?…… EPIC FAIL…….

      • Judy Torochuk

        Anyone on this thread ever heard of the Nicene Creed? “I believe…in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the father before all wolds, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made…

        Please explain to me how someone who can not affirm the creed the church has affirmed from the beginning can be considered a Christian.

        • Maggie

          I consider myself Christian. I read the Bible. I do my best to follow the teachings of Jesus (yet, like so many of us, often fall short). However, I reject the Nicene Creed, and I don’t foresee accepting it in the future. It’s considered a summary of the Bible, but it is ONE church’s summary of the Bible — the one that won out after wiping out (or demolishing, destroying) any others that didn’t agree. Too many people are stuck on one definition of a Christian, yet there are so many different types of Christians, including ones who don’t believe in the Nicene Creed. (To me, anyone that follows the Nicene Creed is merely of a branch of the Catholic Church. If Mormons don’t follow the Nicene Creed it doesn’t make them any less Christian.)

          It is my suggestion to simplify the definition of what is a Christian to be “a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ.” (dictionary.com) I believe this one to be the most all-encompassing. It makes Christianity inclusive, not exclusive, and wasn’t that a part of what Jesus taught?

      • http://www.wecreatedgod.com John Sonnenberg

        No doubt Mormonism is a cult (a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols. ). But, so are most religions.
        Few memebers would agree, but I was raised Baptist, and certainly did not think I was in a cult. But I was. Once I got out and looked at it from the outside, its obvious Baptists are members of a cult as much as Mormons and many others. The mind-control, lies, and deception my church pull on me was just short of abuse.
        So do we elect a cult member to be President? Personally, I have no problem with Mitt’s faith. He shows little sign of being a true beleiver. A guy has to sign up for some religion/cult to get elected, and Mitt is no dummy. If anyone thinks a guy like Bill Clinton really was a believer, they probably are cool-aid drinking cult memebers themselves.
        Mitt’s Mormon faith should worry anyone who thought he was serious. Just look at it:
        http://wecreatedgod.com/my-faith-defines-me/
        But, I don’t worry. He’ll do fine, and it is unlikely he will ask all Americans to change underwear.

    • John Levi
    • debbie

      Graham is wrong about Mitt Romney

      The Real Mitt Romney the Weather-Vane Candidate
      http://mittromney2012potus.blogspot.com/

      Exposing Romney an interview with Debbie McCord-Skousen – on Jeenyus Corner
      http://mittromney2012potus.blogspot.com/2012/10/exposing-romney-interview-with-debbie.html
      Harassment by active Mormon Church members and people getting ready to leave the Mormon Church exacerbated the abuses inflected. Scott Romney, Ronna Romney McDaniel the daughter of G. Scott Romney, Mitt’s Michigan Financial bundler David T. Fischer, along with active Mormon Church, Skousens, are discussed on the blog are discussed on the blog and during the interview

  • http://thatsajennstory.com/ Jennwith2ns

    P.S. I also agree that Mormonism isn’t Christian, for the record.

  • Keith Rowley

    This just makes me sad.

  • Neal

    Thank you for writing this. I find it chilling that so many evangelicals hate Obama so much that they are willing to hand the reins over to a Mormon. And yes, it is sad and pathetic that Franklin Graham is using his father in this way. Seems like a case of elder abuse to me.

  • http://www.butnotyet.com JoelR

    I don’t know if Mormonism is a cult, a sect or just a different kind of Christian belief, but I do agree that BGEA’s actions on this are deceptive. I also agree with Steve Knight, who believes Graham is being used and manipulated by his son, Franklin. Almost everything coming BGEA is much more in line with Franklin’s fundamentalism and goes against much of what Billy has taught and preached over the years. That’s just sad.

  • Michelle

    How convenient….

  • Charles

    Evangelicals do not get to define who/what is Christian for other than their own. Nor does Tony for that matter. They have no more standing than any other branch of those who look to Jesus’ teaching as signposts. We all just have opinions about the roots of our beliefs. Oh, from my my perspective, Franklin has been off the rails for decades. Again, it’s all just opinion.

    • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

      The issue is not about what the definition is. The issue, this organization had one official statement, then made a political statement, and the same day, changed a theological one. Their actual belief is drawn into question by actions like that.

      • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

        In fact, their abrupt about-face says a lot about their theology, doesn’t it?

        • Evelyn

          I think the about-face reveals the fact that calling Mormons non-Christians was a political statement in the first place – it had nothing to do with theology. It was all about politically defining the BGEA and trying to bring more people under it’s political umbrella.

          When the church so often mixes politics and religion it is difficult to separate political maneuvering from theologically-principaled action. This case makes it apparent that the BGEA isn’t all about adhering to non-politically-inspired (i.e. theological) beliefs.

          • Curtis

            Certainly calling Mormons non-Christians was originally political in nature. But it originates long before the BGEA existed. For that matter, Mormons claiming to be Christian was political as well. Because if Joseph Smith’s followers claimed they were not Christian, they would have certainly been condemned to exile and death.

            It is right to explore the political nature of the relationship of the LDS church to Christianity, both at the origin of the LDS church, and in this electoral cycle today.

    • GaryS

      Surely I can define exactly what “Christianity” is. It is well defined, again and again, in the New Testament. Perhaps I’m a bit older than some who would defend Mormonism. I’ve been a Christian for almost 40 years. As a child in church it was common knowledge that Mormons themselves rejected the term “Christian.” Mormons believe that my “misguided” Baptist beliefs have fallen short and that the Book of Mormon was provided to clarify and sanctify the Holy Bible I regularly hold in my hands.

      The word “cult” is amorphous. People bog down in semantics by trying to label this one or that one with the words of Man. I’ll state it plainly and back it up with scripture: Mormonism is accursed and so is anyone who brings it to others as Gospel. How do I know this? Easy as pie: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” [Galatians 1:8] What is The Book or Mormon? By its own words it is “another Gospel of Jesus Christ.” And who brought Joe Smith this gospel? An angel, Moroni, that’s who. I don’t know how Mormons get around that one, but it’s been apparent to Christians since the inception of this accursed book and its accursed teachings.

      If you believe the Bible and plant its teaching within your heart, if you believe solely upon the Blood of Christ for your salvation, if you repent of your sins and ask them washed by the Blood shed at Calvary – you are a Christian. Period. If you need other gospels to win your salvation, gospels written by other men or even those brought by angels – you are not. You are accursed. Please, please, please! Let the Mormons stay in their temple! Bear them no evil will! Let the Christians continue to try and win their souls for Christ! But DO NOT YOKE yourself to them. This goes for the Billy Grahams of the world, as well as for anyone proclaiming to be Christian.

  • TAZ

    First – I agree,Tony, I think that Mormonism is not Christianity. It is a sect. (By the way, I would say the same about a lot of emerging ministries as that began with a loose affinity to Christianity, but that’s a different topic.) Second – I have been surprised to see how President Obama’s policies and agendas have pushed evangelicals and conservatives to the point where they are willing to vote for a candidate that does not share their faith, because they believe that that candidate more closely represents their faith values. (Many of the extreme right-wingers, by the way, still don’t believe that the POTUS is a follower of Jesus AND they disagree with his policies and agendas. So, the choice for those folks is an easy one.) Third – this is not a surprise to some Lutherans who teach and maintain a “two-kingdom” distinction (not separation) when it comes to governance. Finally – I would think that it would excite many of your readers to see these folks, in the name of love, setting aside their faith beliefs to find peace and unity with their mormon neighbors. (And in case you didn’t catch it, the very last sentence is something that I see being taught by many “missional leaders”. It’s also something that is often deceptive and problematic at its core.)

    • Curtis

      There is nothing surprising about racism.

    • Curtis

      And if you don’t like the “R” word, I’ll phrase it another way.

      How can Obama’s policies and agendas be the cause of pushing evangelicals and conservatives to vote for a candidate that does not share their faith, if Obama’s policies and agendas are a mirror image of what evangelicals and conservatives have been asking for for almost a decade?

  • Evelyn

    Ok, so an agnostic can be a Christian and a materialist can be a Christian but a Mormon who has belief in God and also some beliefs about Jesus isn’t a Christian. Why can’t you just call them Christian Mormons like you call some people Christian Humanists or Christian Agnostics? You sound like the evangelical or fundamentalist Christians who don’t think progressives are Christian. Just because someone isn’t a Christian like you are a Christian and belongs to a political party that you are against doesn’t mean they aren’t Christian.

    BTW: I don’t consider myself Christian mostly because whenever I encounter a group of Christians, I find that I don’t share some of their core beliefs and I don’t fit in. However, Jesus is my main man right now which is a little weird. If I ever find a group of Christians that I identify with then I might be able to call myself Christian but I think it’s too late for that.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Evelyn, good point (as always). Because an “agnostic Christian” or a “materialist Christian” is not outright denying a core tenet of historic Christianity, nor are they adding something brand new to historic Christianity. They are nuancing historic Christianity, or honestly expressing doubts.

      Mormonism, IMHO, offers enough innovations and add-ons to Christianity to be considered a new religion.

      • Evelyn

        Yeah. I’ve taken a look at the book of Mormon and I’ve lived near one of those palatial temples that they won’t let outsiders enter into. In my mind I consider them to be more of a group of people who are, for some reason, believing the delusions of Joseph Smith rather than following the way of Jesus and I don’t personally believe them to be Christian. At the same time, I wouldn’t make public statements about this opinion given my overriding desire to be tolerant of other people’s beliefs and to assert that there is one God for everybody regardless of religious affiliation. So, my theological viewpoint is that there is no distinction between Christians and Mormons. They just have different points of view on a related (I’m not necessarily going to call it “the same”) subject.

        • Curtis

          If you were Norwegian, and a French person came up to you and insisted that they were Norwegian too, would you feel compelled to be tolerant of other people’s beliefs?

          I guess it would depend on the context, wouldn’t it? In most cases, you could laugh off the other person’s delusion, and claim, we are all part of one big human race, so calling yourself Norwegian or French doesn’t really matter.

          But if the states were higher, I image you wouldn’t be so tolerant. What if the French person is trying to qualify for the Norwegian ski team? What if the French person were trying to claim Norwegian social benefits? What if you were at a private club that only invited Norwegians, and this French person was intentionally trying to deceive others, even if only for social gain?

          There are many contexts where it is appropriate to be clear about what the definition of “Norwegian” is, and to assert when others do not meet that definition. The same with Christianity. To claim that all instances of asserting the definition of Christianity are instances of intolerance is failing to be sensitive to the context that is in place.

          • Evelyn

            I’m not Norwegian. I’m American and if a French person decided to call themselves American then I’d consider them an American.

            “Catholic” means everybody.

            You’re a snob.

          • Curtis

            I’ve been called worse. Even by my wife!

            But my point has been, people can call themselves whatever they want, but that does not remove the fact that things have definitions. U. S. Citizenship has a definition. A French person, who has a strong affinity for things American, may call them self an American, they may tell everyone they are American, I can have them over for lunch and entertain then as an American, but they still may not meet the definition of U. S. Citizenship. And I don’t even think a French person in that situation would consider it snobbish to point out the distinction. It is a simple statement of fact.

            Orthodox Christianity has a definition. Starting around 381 with the Nicene Creed. Hotly debated since then, to be sure, even to this day. No unlike immigration policy I suppose. But the fact that it is debated, and some Americans even disagree with it, does not mean it has a widely-held definition.

            Maybe part of being a snob is being a stickler for definitions?

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            Curtis,

            You might think that you’re being a stickler for definitions. But, you’re not. You are the one who is falsely equating orthodox Christianity with Christianity. By doing so, you are, in effect, saying that millions of people are not actually Christians.

            I’ve been thinking and writing about this for awhile:
            http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/beyond-the-bounds/

          • Curtis

            ” you are, in effect, saying that millions of people are not actually Christians.”

            And what harm would that cause? I’m certainly not disagreeable to them calling themselves Christian. It is nothing personal. They are just not part of a Christian church. I don’t see any harm in that.

      • http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com Bot

        Mormons are New Testament Christians. Most other Christians are Creedal (Fourth Century) Christians. End of argument.

        • Curtis

          Mormons, Christians, and followers of many other religions, including Muslims, all believe is some aspects of the New Testament. But each religion has additional teachings to clarify their views about the New Testament. Mormons have the Book of Mormon (that is why they are called Mormons) Christians have the Fourth Century creeds and a few other confessions, Muslims have the Koran, and so on.

          They all, in their own way, believe in the New Testament. But they all interpret the New Testament differently, and have supplemental teachings to clarify their doctrine. And they are all different religions.

    • Curtis

      There is more to Christianity that believing in Jesus. Words have consequences, and definitions matter. Christianity has a clear set of beliefs that have developed over thousands of years. Not everyone has to hold the same beliefs. Not everyone has to be Christian.

      I think some of the anxiety over this comes from the fact that Christians have a long history of not respecting other religions. So calling something non-Christian has a strong sense of judgement and condemnation attached to it. This is a very unfortunate and sad history.

      However, this does not necessarily have to be the case. It is possible for a person to be Christian and, at the same time, fully accepting and respectful of non-Christian religions. Unfortunately, most Christian still, to this day, may carry some bias against non-Christian religions.

      Still, it is fully accurate and appropriate for a Christian to explain what a Christian is, by definition, and how other religions are different. This can be done with full respect to all religions.

    • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

      You sound like you’re in a very similar boat to me – “Jesus is my main man right now.” And, thanks to many folks like Doug Pagitt, I am glad to say that I can call myself a Christian again. I can’t speak for you, but it sounds to me like you might be a Christian. No matter what any of “the deciders” have decided for you.

      • Evelyn

        Thanks Rob. It’s nice to think, at least for a little while, that there might be some group to which I truly belong.

    • Ginger Brasher-Cunningham

      Perhaps an United Church of Christ congregation is where you can find “your people.” :)
      Peace, Ginger (UCC minister)

      • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

        UCC churches have been one of the few that I could stomach over the last few years…

  • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

    This post is disappointing. I’m a mostly agnostic ex-evangelical pastor who’s been coming back around to Christianity for the last couple of years. The “emergent” approach to Christianity has been one of the few streams within the “big tent” that gives me hope for Christianity as a whole. But, one of the things that has been attractive to me has been the lack of drawing lines between us and them, who’s in and who’s out, who qualifies and who doesn’t.

    To avoid misquoting:

    I do not think that the LDS church is a Christian church. I do not think that the Mormon faith is Christian. I think it’s a sect — or call it another religion — that drew inspiration from Christianity at its birth. (I think it’s too big and diverse to call it a cult.) But it’s not Christian.

    This is sad to me. I don’t think anyone has the right to make these kind of claims. Maybe “emergents” aren’t so different from the rest after all…

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Rob, I’m sorry if you were hoping that I was a proponent of undifferentiated liberalism. I’m not. Surely I have the right to say that I consider some versions of Christianity to be orthodox and others not to be.

      Also, I don’t speak for “emergents.” No one does. It’s an affiliation based on affinities and relationships, not based on politics or doctrine.

      • Scott

        But Tony, your post is both separatist and fundamentalist; both of which you despise.

        • Curtis

          It seems to me it is the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that has been both separatist and fundamentalist, and is now softening its position out of political expediency. Tony is simply questioning the motives behind BGEA’s sudden change of message.

          To put it another way, if GBEA is suddenly all nicey-nice with non-Christian religions, can we expect a whole bunch of love from them for Islam coming any time soon? I doubt it.

          There is nothing separatist or fundamentalist to ask why BGEA is having this sudden theological change at this time.

        • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

          Scott, it is neither.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            I’ve written previously about how fundamentalist is not a belief, but rather an attitude:
            http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/fundamentalism-is-not-a-belief/

            I have not seen or heard Tony display this before.

            But, separatist might be a good assessment of this post…

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            Man I really hate typos. Sorry.

          • Curtis

            Rob,

            It all boils down to: How do you define “Christian”? It obviously must have a definition.

            Once you arrive at a definition of “Christian”, I’m not sure how calling something that does not meet that definition “non-Christian” can be labeled as separatist.

            How would you define “Christian”? Would you consider yourself separatist for calling religions that do not meet that definition “non-Christian”?

          • Scott

            Tony, it is both.

            You are withholding Christian fellowship with someone who claims to be a Christian – which Mormons do. Separatism is the refuse to embrace another on the basis of principle. You did that.

            You are espousing a core set of beliefs that must be held to be a Christian – which Mormons apparently don’t measure up to. Fundamentalism is a strict adherence to a necessary set of beliefs and militancy against those who do not hold it. By your comments in bold, you assumed the former and embodied the latter.

            It is both separatist and fundamentalist.

            A simple assertion to the contrary does not release your post from its true identity.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            Curtis,

            I’ve tried to find an all-encompassing definition of Christian for a long time. I haven’t found it. From my perspective, the only thing that makes one a Christian is that one has decided to self-identify in that way. Nothing more. Nothing less.

            I think if someone says “I am not a Christian,” we should take them at their word. Likewise, if Mitt Romney AND Pat Robertson want to call themselves Christians, great. We can have a discussion about the “event” of orthodoxy in a given time, place, etc. But, I don’t think the discussion about who or what is or is not Christian is meaningless.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            Argh! Another typo…correction:

            But, I don’t think the discussion about who or what is or is not Christian is meaningful.

          • Curtis

            Rob,

            But if someone says “I am a Christian, but I reject your Christian beliefs and refuse to participate with you in Christian worship, refuse to invite you to my Christian worship, and I must convince you that you are not a right Christian and that you must change your beliefs”. Are they still a Christian? That is exactly what Mormons have done.

            Mormons assert fundamentally different beliefs from orthodox Christians. That admit it themselves. Sure, they can grab the word “Christian” if they want to, but that does not make them Christian. In your words, “A simple assertion to the contrary” does not make it so.

            It is not wrong for a Christian to stand up and point out where Mormons will clearly admit that their beliefs are fundamentally different from Christianity.

            Look at it another way. What would Mormons lose by losing the word “Christian”? In an ideal world, they would lose nothing. Mormonism is a perfectly valid, honorable religion in its own right.

            Similarly, there are cases where a Christian may claim them self to be a Jew. After all, they believe in the same God and read the same Bible. A Christian can claim to be a Jew if they feel like it. And the “Jews for Christ” church can claim to be a more perfect Jewish church than an orthodox Jewish temple. But factually speaking, “Jews for Christ” is not a Jewish religion, and a Christian is not a Jew, and nobody would be surprised if a Jew stood up and asserted those facts.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            Curtis,

            I think you are pushing every single Mormon into a mold that doesn’t actually fit them all. Your first paragraph is a caricature.

            If two people are having a conversation about what they do and don’t believe, that’s great. Of course we can disagree.

            But, many Mormons were born into and grew up in a Mormon household – just like Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, etc. That doesn’t mean every single Mormon agrees with every single thing that they’re “supposed” to.

          • Curtis

            Yes, we are dealing in characterless to make a point. But I think my first paragraph is a pretty good summary of official Mormon doctrine. Please correct me if I am wrong.

            Again, I agree with you that individuals may differ from their official church position. But that does not remove the fact that churches have official positions, and official LDS doctrine is irrevocably incompatible with orthodox Christian doctrine, which is irrevocably incompatible with Jewish doctrine, and so on. Nothing bad about that, they are all great religions. Just different. I don’t see why we would want to pretend that they are not different.

            Of course, a follower of a Universalist tradition would argue, similar to your argument I suppose, that at a certain level, Mormons, Jews and Christians are all the same thing. That is fine, and I respect the Unilateralist point of view. But that does not remove my point of view as a Christian. I am a Christian, and that means something. I can clearly define that meaning to you, and I can clearly explain how that meaning is irrevocably incompatible with Mormon doctrine. No disrespect to anyone, they are just different.

            To pretend that Mormonism and Christianity do not hold fundamentally different doctrines strikes me as very dishonest, if that position comes from an adherent to either one of those great churches.

          • Curtis

            we are dealing in *caricatures*

            The only think I hate worse than automatic spell check is spelling!

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            Curtis,

            I am not saying 1 = 2. I am not saying that all religions are saying the same thing. I think there are great similarities – which, from my perspective, is more important than their differences.

            BUT, I am making a distinction between people who are, in the least, culturally part of a certain religion and those who agree with the “right beliefs” of their religion. Those are not always the same people. There is diversity within each cultural identifier. At a certain point, a negative stereotype of any religion becomes a form of racism – i.e. “Muslims are…” (the “new atheists” are geniuses at disguising their racism). Those kinds of statements are meaningless, unhelpful, and potentially dangerous.

            How you and I describe what we do or don’t believe is one thing. Saying I’m not a Christian – or vice versa – is another. I refuse to allow you to monopolize that word.

          • Curtis

            “I think there are great similarities – which, from my perspective, is more important than their differences.” I respect and accept that.

            Do you claim a cultural identity for yourself? If so, would you feel any urge to clarify the definition of your identity, if someone who an adheres to obviously different cultural identity tried to claim the same cultural identity as you?

            Cultural identity is very powerful and very meaningful. I don’t think it is wrong to speak up on behalf of one’s culture, especially when the difference with another culture is so obvious and clear. And that can be done without any disrespect to the other culture. If anything I have said is disrespectful, I apologize profusely. I’m just trying to clarify that there are strong and clear differences between Christian and Mormon doctrine, and the definition of Christian doctrine is very meaningful to me.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            Do you claim a cultural identity for yourself?

            Yes, I was raised a Christian and I can’t understand much of anything outside of a Christian identity. That said, I don’t intellectually assent to almost anything that would be considered orthodox Christianity. I also don’t “practice” any of the things that many Christians define as normative for all Christians (i.e. going to church, prayer, taking the Eucharist, etc.).

            I’m just trying to clarify that there are strong and clear differences between Christian and Mormon doctrine, and the definition of Christian doctrine is very meaningful to me.

            Yes, there are differences. But, you are equating someone who is a cultural Christian (which, I would argue, is most people who use that label) with someone who agrees with some form of Christian doctrine.

            Clarifying differences between specific ideas and specific times or places of specific definitions of orthodoxy is a different conversation than Deciding who is or is not a Christian – or which group is or is not Christian.

      • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

        Tony, I just noticed that you said “some forms of Christianity” are orthodox, and some aren’t. So, is Mormonism a “form” of Christianity? If so, how is not Christian but also a form of Christianity?

        • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

          Right, it’s a sect of Christianity. A branch. An offshoot. It’s an Abrahamic religion that found its genesis in Christianity. But it’s not Christian.

      • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

        Tony, in this post:
        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2010/08/31/jana-riess-asks-can-a-mormon-be-an-emergent-christian/

        Your questions revolve about emergent doctrines (the Trinity, the normativity of the Bible, and egalitarian leadership)…not relationships and affinities.

    • Curtis

      How can a religion not have a right to claim what their beliefs are, and how their beliefs are different, by definition, from other religions? It seems to me one can point out differences while still being respectful, which I think Tony has done in this case. (but maybe doesn’t always do ;-)

      The LDS church is, by definition, a different religion from Christianity. They don’t believe in the Trinity, for starters. (unless you want to get in a silly debate about what the definition of “is” is) Even they admit that. Not a big deal, there are thousands of good religions in the world. They don’t all have to be Christian.

      If a person is interested in religion and wants all religions to be treated equal, they should check out a UU church. They are pretty cool. But I don’t see anything wrong with a Christian defining what Christianity means and pointing out how it is different from other religions.

    • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

      Thanks for the response, Tony.

      My problem is with equating orthodoxy with Christianity. These two things seem to be distinct from my perspective. Orthodoxy is a list of “right beliefs.” Christianity is an extremely diverse cultural category. But, I don’t think this is merely semantics.

      I don’t have a problem with saying a certain group is a sect within Christianity. I’m not sure any group within Christianity isn’t a sect, a “distinctive system of beliefs or observances; party or school within a religion,” a “manner, mode, following, school of thought.” I don’t know that anyone has a “way” of being or doing Christianity that is not A way (rather than THE way).

      • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

        For example, MLK could not be considered “orthodox,” but I’m not sure most people would say “not Christian”:
        http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2658033/posts

        Or, your friend Pete Rollins, who doesn’t seem to “believe” any of the things that orthodox Christians do.

        Unorthodox? Yes. Christian? Of course!

        • Curtis

          Yes, but King identified himself with an orthodox church, the Southern Baptists, even while he dabbled in unorthodox thinking and ideas.

          It is one thing for an individual Christian to entertain and express unorthodox views. What thinking Christian does not, from time to time? It is another thing for an entire church body, an entire group of believers, to define themselves, as a group, by a set of teachings that are, by definition, unorthodox.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            I think this is all very sticky…but you used the word “believers.” Are you using that in a different way than you use the word Christian?

          • Curtis

            If a group of Christians got together and decided to start a church that that fundamentally disagreed with core Christian doctrine, it is my feeling that the people can still call themselves “Christians” (or whatever they want to call themselves) but the church would certainly be a non-Christian church. And an outsider looking at the church would clearly recognize that it is non-Christian church, and the adherents to that church would be, doctrinally, non-Christian as well.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            What would you consider “core Christian doctrine”?

            Where in the Bible do we even get a prescription for the kind of “church” you are referring to? (My argument is that all you will find are descriptions of people doing things – “the church” in any sense that we use the word today was a much later invention.)

            I just don’t think any of this Deciding for and against individuals and groups is necessary or helpful.

          • Curtis

            The Nicene Creed, from around 381 AD is core Christian doctrine. Is it Biblical? Is it true? Is it magic fairy dust from some planet? We can debate those and many other good questions forever. But it is the definition of core Christian doctrine.

            And I didn’t decide it. Some guys got together, probably had too much to drink, probably got in a bunch of fights and maybe even a few people got killed, and that is what they ended up with.

            It has been the definition of The Christian Church since then. Want to be a Christian? Great! Here’s your creed. Are you interested in spiritual issues and think Jesus is really cool? Great! You can call yourself whatever you want, but if you start a church that doesn’t believe the Nicene Creed, it is not a Christian church. It is some other cool, whacked out church, and I wish you well and look forward to worshiping and working together with you. But it is not a Christian church.

            Christian doctrine is a cultural identity that has deep meaning for many people. It can’t just be given away to anyone who thinks Jesus is cool but disagrees with core Christian doctrine.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            Curtis,

            Your lack of dickishness is refreshing. Seriously. Thank you.

            That said, I may require more than usual drinking tonight to relieve the pressure on my forehead from banging it against a wall.

            Cheers!

      • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

        Rob, I have argued in the past that orthodoxy is not a static set of beliefs that you opt in or our of. Building on Caputo and Kearney, I’ve argued that “orthodoxy is an event” (or “orthodoxy happens”). That is, the community of Christians determines what orthodoxy is and is not — it’s an ad hoc, on the spot judgement (I’ve compared it to an umpire calling a pitch in a baseball game). And, in this case, I’m saying that Mormonism is outside the strike zone. You’re free to disagree with me on that call. However, to say that there is no orthodoxy denudes Christianity of anything interesting, IMO.

        • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

          I am totally cool with the flexibility of the use of the word orthodox. Honestly, I don’t really care who is or is not orthodox.

          I’ve had a long, personal struggle with the use of the word Christian as a self-description. When I’m pressed, I probably don’t believe the majority of things that I grew up assuming to be true. I don’t “go to church.” But, I am totally okay with self-identifying with Christianity.

          The tone of this post, though, is that not only am I unorthodox…

          I am also NOT a Christian. This is a problem.

          (Also, I apologize if I’ve slightly hijacked your post.)

        • http://notapastor.wordpress.com notapastor

          That baseball illustration is a pretty good description of what you do here on the theoblogy. And by the looks of it, it’s very effective in generating energy and discourse, and orthodoxy. So whether or not we agree with the principle of ad hoc orthodoxy, we can see that once it’s set up, it does organically happen in practice.

          I tend to take the position that the same thing is happening with the idea of including the Mormon church in the vast realm of Christiandom. For a long time, Mormonism was called a “ball” and there was some energy in that conversation, but mostly Christians gave it little thought. This is the first time where major Christian leaders are calling it a “strike” and the energy is changing within the “committee.”

          I agree that a political agenda is driving the theological discussion. But, as we can see here, there’s more to it than just politics. Long after Mitt Romney is forgotten as “that guy who ran against Obama in 2012,” I think a basic relational component will persist. Mormons will seek inclusion and friends and family of Mormons will advocate for them, and Christianity will (IMO) change.

  • Curtis

    How often in history does politics drive theology? Probably more than we realize. One more reason for the kids to feel cynical about all things religious.

  • Michelle

    I agree that no one should determine what is Christian/or not. However, it is pathetic that Graham and his pals (i.e. Pat Robertson and the like) all the sudden switch their beliefs for “political expediency”. What seems to be underlying in it all is the innate racism of some (definitely not all) white evangelicals. Some of the Mormon tenants (baptizing by proxy, their writings that explicitly say dark skin is a curse from God, etc.) are of such great fallacy that to hear this update with Graham proves he and his pals are revealing their long time perspectives in life.

  • http://www.joebumblog.blogspot.com Joe Bumbulis

    Tony, I’d really appreciate a blog post outlining Mormonism, why it’s a sect, and why you believe it’s not Christian.

    • Curtis

      For starters, the LDS church does not believe that the Trinity is, simultaneously, three and one. This is a fundamental tenet of Christianity since around 400 AD. The LDS church rejects this core principle of Christianity.

      • http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com Bot

        The Trinity – -Jesus Christ’s church must teach that God and Jesus are separate and distinct individuals (John 17:11; 20:17), and that they have bodies of flesh and bone (Luke 23:36-39; Acts 1:9-11; Heb 1:1-3)

        A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration? The Nicene Creed’s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: “There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one.” Scribes later added “the Father, the Word and the Spirit,” and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. .

        Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. For example, it was an emperor (Constantine) . who introduced a term, homousious, which defined the Son as “consubstantial” (one being) with the Father. Neither term or anything like it is in the New Testament. Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.”

        Furthermore, 11 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were non-Trinitarian Christians http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/01/richard_price.php Thomas Jefferson rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, calling it “mere Abracadabra” and “hocus-pocus phantasm.” The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts and the Founders.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      I will write that on Thursday. In the meantime, see this.

  • Andrew

    I don’t think it’s about expediency, Tony. I think this demonstrates that 21st century American conservatism has become a religion that in practice is more important than the actual religious beliefs of its individual adherents. For many American conservative Christians, I suspect that a belief in tax cuts or the free market or “traditional marriage” may actually supercede Christian orthodoxy. And for that reason, a conservative Christian may actually believe that a conservative Mormon shares their values more deeply than a progressive Christian.

    So, is it deceptive, or a surprisingly honest admission that, for the Christian right, conservative dogma is actually more important than religious belief?

    • Curtis

      You mean the American Conservative Christian church has become a tool of the political right? This has been going on since about 1980. This is just one more clear piece of evidence.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      No, Andrew, if they admitted that, it would not be deceptive. I defy you to find a single evangelical leader who would admit that. Like, let’s see how Christianity Today covers this story…

  • Craig

    Myths and idealization aside, I wonder to what extent political expediency has always been a important factor in defining Christian orthodoxy. Home-school history textbooks will one day attribute all this to the hand of God shaping the political circumstances to unify his people through spirit-led heroes like Franklin Graham and Charles Colson.

    • Curtis

      Very good question. For example, it is fascinating to explore the politics that were at work when Luther was holed up at Wartburg Castle. The result of which was, of course, the Protestant Reformation and the Christian Church as we know it today.

      On the surface, to claim that politics and theology are somehow linked seems disturbing. But politics, after all, is nothing more than the relationships between people, and theology is the relationships between people and God. So perhaps politics and theology are inextricably tied to each other. They both deal with how people relate to each other. So, by extension, they both deal with how people relate to God.

      If God works through people, which Christians believe God does, then, by definition, God must work through politics. Because politics is nothing more than the way people work with each other. If God is at work in people, then God is in politics too.

      • Craig

        Curtis, I like the balance of your comment. I’d only point out that political relations (or, more specifically, the relationships of political power and influence) are not merely relationships between people. They are a distinctive kind of relationship between people. As point of logic, God can work through people, and even through relationships between people, without having to work through every kind of relationship between people.

        More substantively, I’d add that certain explanations of teachings of the church count as debunking explanations, where a debunking explanation is one that explains why the teachings are what they are without also justifying those teachings. When a debunking explanation is ready-at-hand, this rightly raises the skeptical suspicions. Explanations of that account for the church’s teachings in terms of political expediency would be debunking explanations. To say that debunking explanations rightly raise skeptical suspicions is not of course to say secure skeptical conclusions.

        • Curtis

          Very good points. To say that God works through people, but God does not work through every kind of relationship, is a very good distinction to make.

          Also, historically, God tends to work disruptively in society. God often does not work to support the status quo, even while those in power will always, without exception, claim to be on “God’s side”.

          The question of when God is at work and when God is not is tricky, especially when those in power will always claim to be on Gods side. Maybe the discernment comes down to Jesus’ words: “by their fruit you will know them”.

  • TAZ

    Andrew – I think that all people vote for political candidates that will try and uphold what they value. You don’t believe that conservatives are the only ones who do this? For example, one person might vote for a political candidate that has a moral compass based upon her faith that leads her to be against the death penalty, cautious in terms of entering into war, for a traditional view of marriage, and active in supporting the rights of and unborn, voiceless child. Another person, based upon what she believes, votes for a candidate whose values and moral compass align with ideals such as anti war, pro same-sex marriage, illegal-immigrantion hospitality, etc… The first voter might claim to be an atheist or a Christian (this is an actual woman that I know) and the second may claim to be a progressive “Christian” or atheist as well. If the first person encountered a person who claimed to be Christian, yet whose actions betrayed what they believe would flow in response – and encountered a second person who did not claim to be a Christian, but who valued action in this world that they believe is consistent with their world-view – they would vote for the person who claimed to be not a follower of Jesus. Because governance, in this world, is not a matter of electing a “pastor” or “priest” in chief. What they are going to DO, not who they believe in, is the factor that hangs in the balance. The same is true for the second voter and their encounter with the candidate. So, one would not want their church to “call” an atheist to serve as a pastor since they don’t believe in Jesus, but she might vote for the atheist to be president because she (the atheist) does reflect her values. It’s not that she’s giving up what she believes. Voting for the “christian” who does not reflect her world-view, sense of justice and mercy, understanding of relationships, etc – would be to sell out.

  • TAZ

    sorry for the typos – but I can’t edit them now.:)

  • Pingback: Billy Graham Sells Out Before Checking Out – Mormonism No ‘Cult’ | Notes from the Pastor's Office

  • Neal

    What I don’t see mentioned here is that many Mormons – perhaps just the leaders, of which Romney IS one – set out to deceive unsuspecting people that they are Christian. They actively try to blur the lines between Christian orthodoxy and their sectarian beliefs. They have repeatedly “refreshed” the Book of Mormon to scrub their image (e.g. their “former” beliefs about non-whites). Of course, they are free to believe whatever they want. Yes, I am bothered by their lack of fidelity to essential doctrines of the Christian faith, but I am especially bothered that they lie about it and pretend they are just another Christian group. Even more, I am grieved that Franklin Graham, etc are so ready to “throw Jesus under the bus” for temporal political gain.

  • http://Tlf8.com Robert

    Do we redefine the Gospel in light of our political choice?

  • http://www.religious-diplomacy.org/node/35 John W. Morehead

    I don’t know that Billy Graham said that. Questions have been raised about the accuracy of some reporting, as described in this essay at Religion Dispatches: http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/theeditors/6508/did_billy_graham_really_tell_romney_he%E2%80%99d_%E2%80%98help%E2%80%99/.

    Beyond that issue, it does appear that the senior Graham is willing to ditch the cult concern for his political views. I’ll let others battle that out, but I do believe that it is appropriate for evangelicals to set the cult concept and label aside as counter-productive to both understanding and in hopes of positive influence in sharing their views. This has been argued by a growing number of evangelicals, including the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization’s issue group on new religious movements in their extensive paper from 2004: http://www.lausanne.org/docs/2004forum/LOP45_IG16.pdf, to which I and others contributed, echoing similar sentiments in our book Encountering New Religious Movements which won the Christianity Today Book of the Year Award in the category of Missions/Global Affairs: http://www.amazon.com/Encountering-New-Religious-Movements-Evangelical/dp/0825428939.

    If we can stand back and reflect beyond the important issues of politics and its relationship to evangelical views on minority religions, beyond that there are important questions of religious understanding, civil engagement, non-compromising dialogue, and work toward the common good in the public square that the Grahams and broader evangelicalism might consider from fresh perspectives.

  • http://www.theird.org Faith

    We are electing a President, not a bishop or a pastor. We have had plenty of so-called Christian Presidents in the past whose fruit suggested otherwise. We have the opportunity to elect a good man, full of integrity and LOVE for this country, to stop the total radicalization of America. If you are too self-righteous and morally scrupulous to vote for a Mormon in order to bring our country back from the edge of the cliff, may God judge you.

    • Curtis

      Good points, that I think many would agree with. The irony is that since almost the founding of this country, many American Christians have taken the exact opposite position, and have taken a candidate’s religious affiliation as a sort of litmus test of their qualifications to be President. Glad we have all grown up and become big boys now!

      Maybe, since we can all agree that religion doesn’t matter, we can get religion out of other policies that are under active debate this election cycle? Gay marriage and healthcare come time mind. Or are we not that fully grown up yet?

      • TAZ

        You keep missing the point, Curtis. People vote for candidates who are going to “do” something and “represent” what they “believe”. A Christian might vote for an atheist candidate who does not support gay marriage and/or healthcare because that candidates actions reflect values and morals that are consistent with their world-view. Faith didn’t say that religion doesn’t matter. Faith is saying that voting for a candidate who shares the values that flow from Faith’s faith is more important to him/her than voting for a candidate who claims a certain religion, but whose values and actions are inconsistent with what he/she believes flow from said religion or faith.

        • Curtis

          We all know that Romney can’t and won’t do anything about gay marriage and abortion. The president is not King. The president has to work with congress and the courts. The pace of change on gay marriage and abortion will be determined by the American people, not by the President, and the train has already left the station on both issues.

          Abortion and growing acceptance of gay marriage will not change with Romney in office. What will change will be dramatic changes to government programs that even conservative families rely on, continued uncertainly about healthcare, enormous profits for the very wealthy, and many other policy statements that Romney and his team have made very clear.

          Those who tell you to vote for Romney because of social issues have been sold a bill of goods, and they are trying to pass them on to you too, because they need the money that is currently used to support the programs your family uses, to support their own vision of American government.

          No President, by them-self, can change government on behalf what people believe. To claim otherwise is political rhetoric that has been around since George Washington.

          • http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com Bot

            Yes, President Obama should have worked with Congress to change “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which was passed by Congress. But King Obama ignores the Constitution. It is time we had a president which followed the Constitution.

    • Neal

      In what way is Romney a “good man”? He is a shape shifter, continually changing his positions on issues to suit whatever audience he is addressing. Yes, most politicians do this to some degree, but he is a world champ! In other contexts, his changing positions would be called what they are: lies. Hardly a “good man … full of integrity.”

      • Curtis

        He’s stuck by his wife and raised his kids. That counts as good to me.

        His habit of constantly lying through his big grin is quite annoying, and is why I could never vote for him without having an extra line to define which Mitt Romney I am voting for. But besides that annoying trait which is common of several other politicians, he is a good man.

      • http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com Bot

        Here’s a summary of Mitt Romney’s volunteer efforts:

        Volunteer campaign worker for his dad’s gubernatorial campaign 1 year.

        Unpaid intern in Governor’s office 8 years.

        Mormon missionary in Paris 2 years.

        Unpaid bishop and stake president for his church 10 years.

        Took no salary as president of the Salt Lake Olympics 3 years.

        No salary as Massachusetts governor 4 years.

        Gave his ENTIRE INHERITANCE to charity.

        That’s a grand total of 28 years of unpaid service to his country, his community and his church. Why? Because that’s the kind of man Mitt Romney is.

        And he’ll show you his:

        1) Un-doctored Birth Certificate!

        2) College transcripts! . Mitt did not use his father’s Mexican citizenship to seek preferential treatment.

        3) Law degree!

        4) Un-doctored Draft notice!

        5) And un-doctored Social Security card, and what state it’s registered in!

        When was the last time we elected a politician of this character, intellect, experience and integrity?

        • pagansister

          Big Frecking deal! Mitt’s charity work? Tax deductible. Paris for his church—almost mandatory for males in the LDS church. Paris—how hard was that to do? Really? That was a hardship on an already rich kid? Law degree? The President has one, as does Mrs. Obama. You seem to have fallen for all the lies about our President. That’s a shame.

    • http://www.wecreatedgod.com John Sonnenberg

      For many people, religion defines them. I know many beleivers who really do live their life around their faith. I was one of them, and understand this. Does Mitt’s faith define him? Look at the bizzar mormon faith:
      http://wecreatedgod.com/my-faith-defines-me/
      I hope he is not like Biden who said “my faith defines me.” Mitt seems like a great guy, but I don’t think his faith is his defining atrtribute. Look at his life, and it is not defined by any God or religion, so I think we can vote for him and not worry that he’ll be counfusing a weird dreams after eating spicy food with a revelation from God.

  • http://Tlf8.com Robert

    Do you believe because of our theological inconsistencies are the reason many reject the truth of Christianity?

    • Curtis

      But I think what Tony is asking for is SOME type of theological consistency. Maybe without all the baggage of judgement from the past, but some type of consistency.

      • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

        My problem is not primarily with people who change their minds, but with the attitude with which people hold their beliefs. We cannot avoid the former, but the latter, to me, reveals a lot about ones problematic psychological state. As Martin Marty pointed out, the religious can be divided between the mean and the non-mean.

        I came from the cult of Acts 29 (I’m totally comfortable using that word at this point). Many leaders within that network have prided themselves on being proud. It’s part of their DNA. There has been some public apologies about this. But, overall, there is a lot of meanness. When an idea is presented as the absolute, objective, indubitable truth and then magically repealed at a later date, I, personally, have a problem taking anything they say seriously. As Bill Maher just said last week, if God is on the side of conservative Christians, why are they wrong so often?

        Why not just take a breath and not think that your own thoughts are divine?

        Sadly, though, rather than doing something that I see as a relatively positive thing – more closely associating with Mormons rather than labeling them outsiders – Acts 29 as a whole continues to move further to the right. I very much doubt that Mark Driscoll – or John Piper – would call a Mormon a Christian.

        • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

          Here is something along the lines of how I use the word “cult”:
          http://www.csj.org/infoserv_cult101/checklis.htm

          The evangelical usage of the word doesn’t work in the real world.

        • Curtis

          In my view, calling Mormon non-Christian does no label Mormons as outsiders. It labels them as non-Christian.

          In our current, post-Christian world, Mormons and Christians are both outsiders, and they can work together toward a positive outcome. For every social conservative who wants to partner with Mitt Romney for positive change, there is a social liberal who wants to partner with Harry Reid (who is Mormon too, in case anyone forgot).

          We can honestly and respectfully call Mormons non-Christian even while we all pull together and work for positive change. I think even most Mormons would agree with that.

          The role of religion in politics, after all, is primarily a distractor, and the right-wing is fully aware of that fact. The American people spending all this energy fretting about Mormonism is exactly what people in power want us to do, rather than talk about healthcare or tax policy.

          Maybe, instead of a week of debating Mormonism before the election, a debate about clear policy differences between Romney and Obama would be more constructive.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            No, if I a Mormon claims he or she is a Christian, great! I’m not going to put myself in that seat. Maybe I would feel differently if I had some kind of vested interest in some orthodox Christian institution.

            If a Mormon wants to have a conversation about beliefs, we can go through historical theology together and whatever else.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            Here’s a hypothetical conversation between a Christian and a Mormon:

            Christian: You are not a Christian.
            Mormon: Yes I am.
            Christian: No you’re not.
            Mormon: Why?
            Christian: Because…blah blah blah
            Mormon: I am a Christian.

            The end.

          • Curtis

            “Maybe I would feel differently if I had some kind of vested interest in some orthodox Christian institution.”

            Ca-Ching! That is the difference between you and me. I have a vested interest in this thing called Christianity. Many Christians do. Thanks for the conversation; I’ve enjoyed it.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            I guess, for me, the version of Christianity that I navigate toward sees the idea of seeing Christianity in that kind of way (vested interest: a strong personal concern in a state of affairs resulting in private gain) as actually contrary to the way of Jesus. The Jesus that I am committed to refused “private gain” for the sake of the common good.

            But, I also try to distinguish between Christianity and what I referred to as “some orthodox Christian institution.”

            On your last point, agreed!

  • http://occupytheology.org Dale Lature (@dlature)

    It seems to me that Mormonism could rightly be called “Christian”; it’s just a different kind of accommodation of certain values, just as the Religious Right has an American Nationalistic flavor to it that is of varying degrees of contamination of a number of Christian “orthodoxies”. After all, if it’s based on “claims” and “belief” (and I certainly think it goes beyond that) , they have a proper claim to the mantle of “Christian”, since they do say Jesus is the son of God. But I don’t really hold that theological variant in any higher regard than I do the fundamentalist/Christian Right, which I also believe to be somewhat “cultic” (The “cult” being imperial/nationalistic)

    • http://occupytheology.org Dale Lature (@dlature)

      I agree wholeheartedly that the Christian Right is thoroughly hypocritical in its politics, and thoroughly brainwashed by the political right wing (such that its often hard to tell the difference) and convinced that the Republican party is the “moral” one. To so completely sell out to someone who still claims to be a Mormon adherent and extend pardon because he’s a Republican would seem such an obvious forsaking of their theological rigidities for the sake of aligning with a political party. But that’s part of the madness of the method, I guess.

  • http://www.dualravens.com/ravens Patrick O

    I’m not sure if this is really a big shift for Billy or that Franklin should be blamed.

    Billy Graham, from the beginning of his ministry, was willing to blur lines for the sake of a very focused message. All that matters is Jesus. He didn’t get into the bigger questions of theology or the divisive issues of churches. He called everyone into a relationship with Jesus.

    So he crossed denominational boundaries and even was willing to include Catholics (who Fundamentalists saw as arch-enemies). So Billy got in trouble for that, for not respecting the established boundaries.

    He also was very highly political. He was exceedingly anti-Communist and really in a lot of ways exemplified the Evangelical love affair with Republicans. He was Christian Right before there was a Christian Right, and was a political evangelist when Fundamentalists still very much thought any involvement in the world was forsaking the gospel.

    Indeed, one of the key markers between Fundamentalists and Evangelism in the earlier days (40s and 50s and early 60s) was Billy Graham. True Fundamentalists despised him for selling out. Meanwhile, Graham represented a more open and public message, focused on Jesus but inviting to all who would come to the table. So, too was Fuller Seminary shaped, and it is interesting how much Graham here resonates with a lot of what Rich Mouw (long time president of Fuller) has said about Mormons. I don’t think he would see Mormons as just another denomination, but he has engaged in significant dialogue with open arms and an open mind.

    I agree with Tony that Mormons are not Christians in any way that has meaning for the word Christian. They’re more like Muslims, influenced by Christianity but offering definite distinctions about who Jesus is, what he did, and what he is doing. Calling Mormons Christian is a bit like saying that Baptists are Jewish, as they believe in the Old Testament law and prophets and the promised Messiah.

  • http://coachsusan@quixnet.net susan frederick

    Question for all of you: Do you believe Jesus came to set up the religion we now call Christianity?

    • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

      Nope.

  • Jay

    Now if we can only get a gay person to run as a republican presidential candidate, then the conservatives will become Gay affirming…

  • Simon

    I see the current move by fundamentalists to broaden their categories of who can be regarded as Christian as a good thing. For so long it seems that they have drawn the wagons tightly in a circle, excluding various streams such as Catholics, Orthodox (!), Syriac, Armenian, Coptics, Nestorians, Oneness Pentecostals, Armstrongists – some of which had pretty close theology to them on many points.

    Now, if the Mormons are OK, then that gives a licence for open arms of fellowship across a pretty broad steam of Christian traditions – a generous orthodoxy maybe? And such contact with the other might even be the hope of resuce for the Fundies from some of their heresies such as health’n’wealth and “Left Behind” eschatalogy.

    Pretty hard for them to at once say the tent is this wide and not hold their own beleifs a little less tightly , and not to learn from some of their sisters and brothers across Christian tradition, and for some of us to learn a little from our Fundamentalist brethren, who have been out of the conversation for too long.

  • Johnson, J.

    How did Unitarians make the list of cults? They’re one of the most tolerant religions you’ll find and they’ve been working for social justice causes for ages. One might say they’re a “cult” because they deny the trinity. So do Mormons. Maybe the Mormons, Catholic bishops and Evangelicals should all just merge to form the One True Republican Church of I Hate You and get it over with.

    • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

      Snap!

    • Curtis

      Bingo on the Trinity thing. But I think the term “cult” is a little archaic and demonizing. I disagree with calling the whole list “cults”.

      • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

        The secular use of the word cult is much more helpful.

  • vic

    In the mid-70′s I lived in nw NM, (across the 4 corners from Utah for the geographically challenged). There were Mormon kids, teachers, business people, etc. Even the Mormons who didn’t go to church would all say, “We’re not Christians, we’re Mormons!” I suspect that after Mitt’s pop’s failed presidential bid, the decision was made to (quietly) eliminate that publicly stated sentiment for political expediency. Younger Mormons express disbelief when told that statement. Older Mormons will (if they don’t go by the old Mormon edict that God thinks it’s ok to like to protect a brother Mormon or the Mormon church) begrudgingly and somewhat embarassingly admit they remember that slogan. But one has to wonder how a person’s judgement is impacted by the (Mormon) belief that after death, that person will become god of their own universe.
    Isn’t there some scripture about preachers and churches being led astray in the last days?

    • http://charityjilldenmark.wordpress.com Charity Jill

      Wow, thanks for sharing this. I wholeheartedly agree with the implications of your last statement…not to be alarmist, but to affirm that I believe in this election many Christians are being deceived.

    • http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com Bot

      Mormon teenagers have been judged to “top the charts” in Christian Characteristics by a UNC-Chapel Hill study.

      According to a 2012 Pew Forum poll of members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) 98 percent said they believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and 97 percent say their church is a Christian religion. They volunteer 7 times as many hours as does the general population, according to a 2012 University of Pennsylvania study. Mormons have a better understanding of Christianity than any other denomination, according to a 2010 Pew Forum poll.

  • vic

    typo alert:

    the old Mormon edict that it’s ok to LIE, not like, to protect the brother Mormon or the Mormon church.

  • http://mbjones.net Brandon

    I read this post, then the comments. Got confused and had to read the post again. Thought that kept running through my mind: missing the forest for an individual tree (in this case having the audacity to call out Mormonism as not part of the Christian stream.

    Anyways. Good post Tony. These are important critiques to make of our streams in the midst of election season.

    • Curtis

      Don’t you mean the Abrahamic stream? It certainly started before Christ. (unless you are Christian, in which case you believe Christ always existed as the Triune God, but we are talking about faiths that don’t believe that.)

  • roger flyer

    Any of you ever open the Book of Mormon? ‘Take up and read’ and then report back on what this has to do with orthodox Christianity. Seriously, it’s mind boggling to include it in the religion we know as Christianity.

    • Evelyn

      I agree.

    • http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com Bot

      Read the Third Book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon before you state it not a Christian religion.

      • Curtis

        Read the Nicene Creed before you state that it is.

  • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

    What Jesus didn’t say at John 13:35: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples: by establishing a narrow doctrinal orthodoxy and preparing belief tests. When you then fight with one another over who is or is not a Christian, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

    • Curtis

      I don’t think Jesus has any particular interest in the Christian church. Any interest beyond any other church on the planet. The Christian church wasn’t around when he was on the Earth, and he didn’t start it while he was here. He did call us to be disciples. The church came along later as one way, among many, to pursue Jesus’ calling.

      We don’t call churches Christian or non-Christian for Jesus’ sake. And while this was not true in the past, today, whether a church is Christian or non-Christian does not speak to the validity of the church or its work.

      Whether a church is Christian or non-Christian is now simple shorthand to understand what its core beliefs are. Nothing more, nothing less.

      • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

        I agree with you Curtis, that the Jesus portrayed in the Bible seemed thoroughly uninterested in setting up an institution.

        And that’s exactly why I posted the scriptural parody. Those who continue to wade or swim in the waters of institutional Christian religion miss the critical point made by their namesake: identity as a disciple of Jesus is not a factor of dogmatics or doctrine.

  • Dave Nash

    Quite probably. It has happened several times in the past years: locating the Billy Graham Meusem and Library in Charlotte and location of Ruth and Billy’s burial site. I have been greatly helped by BG and the Association in years past, especially as a young Christian, one might say that he was my hero of sorts until after seminary. I live in Asheville, NC.

  • Dave Nash

    Some, like Steve Knight, have questioned whether Billy is being played like a puppet by son and heir, Franklin, in these, his last days…. Quite probably. It has happened several times in the past years: locating the Billy Graham Museum and Library in Charlotte, and location of Ruth and Billy’s burial site. I have been greatly helped by BG and the Association in years past, especially as a young Christian, one might say that he was my hero of sorts until after seminary. I live in Asheville, NC.

  • Nicole

    I disagree that Mormons are not Christians. If a religious group is a sect, it is usually a sect of a larger religious idea or origin. For example, Sunnis and Shi’as have different break away points from each other in history, practice, and belief (mainly over Ali as the Prophet Mohammed’s rightful caliph), however both are considered sects of Islam. Same with Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism (and all of the different types of Mahayana Buddhism such as Chan/Zen, Tibetan (Vadrayana) , Tien-Tai, Pure Land), however they are considered Buddhism. Mormanism and Jehova’s Witnesses are both Christian in the sense that they are sects even if their aims and practices diverge at a certain point. They are sects in the same way that Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Armenian Churches are sects. The same way that Reform, Orthodox, Hasidic, are sects of Judaism and their aims and practices are very very different. Mormons, as I understand it, still consider themselves Christians in a sense, and I think they fit in the same models as I outlined above.

    As to Rev Billy Graham, it is sad that it took a political need for him to except Mormons less than evil.

  • Tony M

    I’ve been a Christian for 3 decades. I was LDS for my first 2 decades. The Deity & Divinity of Jesus, his Triune nature, are some of the core beliefs in Christianity. Mormons believe in a christ as do many other world faiths, sects, religions & beliefs. Hindus, Islamists, Jews, Bahá’í, Buddhists, Cultists, New Ageists & more. In Mormonism, it’s not the same Jesus who has saved, adopted, justified, sanctified me & the rest of the world. The LDS are Henothesists (the worship of One god without denying the existence of other gods). They are not Polytheists (belief in or worship of more than one god, multiples at the same time). Major differences in those terms. In Mormonism, christ is just one god amongst many, ruling his own world. He is the god of this world, Earth. He is a god in an endless group of gods. A council of gods centered on the planet Kolob. God the father/elohim, god the son/jesus/jehovah/christ, god the holy spirit/ghost, etc, are separate beings with their own separate bodies, souls & spirits. Mormons believe these gods rule these other worlds & they believe they can work to become gods too. There are endless volumes of Biblical & secular data to study & debate about on these topics. This data can support & nullify LDS ideology. That does not matter here in this thread (Mormonism No Longer a Cult, according to Billy Graham). The issue is stated. What do Billy Graham & others believe now? How & why have their beliefs changed since ‘yesterday’. Again, the LDS believe in Henotheism (not Polytheism, like the Egyptians or the Greeks). Their christ is the main god for this Earth & the savior for all the other gods’ planets as well (because Earth was the most sinful, he was crucified here on Earth for all beings everywhere). Mormons can become gods and goddesses through a process called The Plan of Exaltation. It’s an eternal progression to godhood. Then these new gods inhabit there own worlds or planets. They then begin to pro-create, populate, govern, rule over this new world. On & on… Confusing & strange stuff. You can’t make it up ;-). Years of de-programming for me & others are required to get back to normal. If Mormonism isn’t a cult, what is it? The definition of cult is a matter of perspective & opinion. It varies depending on where you stand.
    Mormonism is a Cult. Mormonism has been, is currently, always will be, a Cult. Nothing has changed because religious leaders, emotions, size, diversity, opinions, people, the world, politicians, beliefs, etc, have changed since Mormonism’s birth in 1830. The fine folks in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are not Christians. Christians who change their beliefs, doctrines, core values to conform to the context of the times & the ruler or king of the moment…. I love Billy Graham. I tolerate Romney. My vote has nothing to do with faith or ideologies. It’s a simple choice of character & follow-through. So that rules out Obama. I have family, friends & associates who are LDS. I love them, as does God. Again, Mormons are not Christians. God bless their souls.

    • http://charityjilldenmark.wordpress.com Charity Jill

      I’m grateful to hear an authority on the topic–thanks for sharing your story.

    • http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com Bot

      Theosis – - Jesus Christ’s church must represent man’s potential correctly 1 Corinthians 8:5-6, Psalm 82, John 10:34 “If we are children (of God),” wrote the apostle Paul to the Romans (8:17, New International Version), “then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” “To him that overcometh,” says the Savior to John the Revelator (3:21, KJV), “will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear.”

      Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, “The Son of God became man, that we might become God.” Irenaeus wrote in the late 2nd Century: “we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods” Justin Martyr in mid 2nd Century said: “all men are deemed worthy of becoming ‘gods,’ and of having power to become sons of the Highest” St. Jerome the translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible, (d. A.D. 419), wrote that “God made man for that purpose, that from men they may become gods. They who cease to be mere men, abandon the ways of vice, and are become perfect, are gods and sons of the Most High” Clement of Alexandria said worthy men “are called by the appellation of gods, being destined to sit on thrones with the other gods that have been first put in their places by the Savior.” Origen in reference to 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 said “Now it is possible that some may dislike what we have said representing the Father as the one true God, but admitting other beings besides the true God, who have become gods by having a share of God . . As, then there are many gods, but to us there is but one God the Father, and many Lords, but to us there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.” The Gospel of Thomas (which pre-dates the 4 Gospels, but was considered non-canonical by the Nicene Council) quotes the Savior: “He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him,” (Gospel of Thomas 50, 28-30, Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M.Robinson, 1st ed 1977; 3rd ed. 1988) For further information on this subject, refer to http://NewTestamentTempleRitual.blogspot.com The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) agrees with Early Christian church leaders regarding theosis.

      To paraphrase Origin’s thoughts in the words of Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie: “There is and can only be one who is supreme, who is the head and to whom all others are subject”. Becoming like God is not saying we will ever be equal to Him, frankly we won’t and can’t He, and only He, will forever be worshipped by us

  • Jeff Straka

    I agree with Tony when he says: “I do not think that the LDS church is a Christian church. I do not think that the Mormon faith is Christian. I think it’s a sect — or call it another religion — that drew inspiration from Christianity at its birth. (I think it’s too big and diverse to call it a cult.) But it’s not Christian.”
    I was lazy in the past on not really learning about Mormonism. I just relied on what was floating around in the media (which included what the Mormon church spun). In the last couple of months, I’ve made a focused effort to learn about Mormonism and what I’ve learned makes be agree with what Tony. There are VAST differences in theology (one is that God is a flesh and bones MAN!) that point to this and the way their church conceals its own history (the mid-1800′s makes it FAR easier to discover facts vs. 2,000 years ago!) from members is disturbing. A good source to learn this is NOT from evangelicals but from Mormons and ex-Mormons themselves. Check out:
    http://mormonexpression.com/
    http://exmormonfoundation.org/conference-archive.html
    http://www.iamanexmormon.com/

  • Tracy

    Lt’s just simplify this. The advantage the Mormon Church and its candidate offer to sweeten the deal for evangelicals: it’s white.

    • http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com Bot

      You forgot about Mia Love, the Black GOP female candidate for the newly-created Fourth Congressional District in Utah.

  • Amonite

    “There is more to Christianity that believing in Jesus”

    Christian = ‘follower of Christ’. It was actually a label which the disciples (which termed themselves saints or disciples) were given by others as a term of derision – but they adopted it gladly.

    “19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

    22News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

    25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”

    Acts 11:19-28

    Note that is the good news about the Lord Jesus being spread here (not about any other god or prophet) and that the prerequisite for being a disciple of Christ (or saint or Christian, the synonymous terms) is that they “believed and turned to the Lord”.

    The Word of God, Christ Himself, determines what Christianity is. No Pope, no council, no individual christian or church denomination decides what is ‘orthodox’ for christianity. That’s as silly as modern politicians deciding the constitution menas something completely different from what it says based on a whim. The reason christians can declare certain claims (not individual christians) cultish or heretical is if the oppose the *actual word of God*. EG, the Pope’s declaration that he is equal in authority with God, or that one cannot be saved through Christ’s forgiveness alone, but must need further absolution of sins through an earthly priest. These are contrary to scripture, and therefore ‘unchristian’ claims. This does not mean that an individual catholic can’t be a christian. Only God knows the state of someone’s heart and their salvation. We can, however, say whether or not the claims of a group match with the gospel message.

    LDS is considered a cult for a number of reasons, most notably that they have accepted (like the catholic church) additional authorities as equal, even superior to, the word of God.

    “6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
    10Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
    11I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”
    Galatians 1: 6-12

    Note, that even if a man is taught another gospel, even by an apostle or an *angel from heaven*, Paul says he is to reject it, and whoever taught the false gospel is to be accursed! Nor does the greek term here simply apply to ‘contrary’ gospels, it simply means any gospel “from alongside of” or “in addition to” the scriptures of Jesus Christ. (And the first phrase means it is a gospel of inferior quality (that cannot save souls), not a gospel of the same kind that opens a path from God to man).

    I could go on here, by I will summarize with this: If religion was up to *man* to choose truth, or if truth was relative, or if God was made up – then yes. It really wouldn’t matter what the mormons claimed about God or what any given denomination claimed. However, you jhave to assume any of those premises a priori to get “no matter what anyone believes it’s all the same”. The Bible rests on the premise that it is the very word of God, that Jesus is the Way, the The truth, and the Life, and that the only way to God the Father is through the blood of Jesus Christ the Son. It does not say “you will be saved no matter what you believe” but only “you will be saved from captivity to sin and delivered safely into the kingdom of God only if you accept the free gift of Christ’s sacrifice”.

  • riyley hart

    As a Latter-Day Saint (y’know, the Mormons), I know I am a Christian. I have studied the Bible, and particularly the four gospels, all my life. I have made many inquiries into his life, his teachings, his disciples and his followers. And if you claim that the Mormons worship a different Christ than you do, I am quite sure that “our” Christ is closer to the Biblical account than yours. But such arguments are nonsense. I say let us all come to the Christ as his sheep, and let the Spirit bring us to one accord, not the vain imaginations of men.

    • Curtis

      “I am quite sure that “our” Christ is closer to the Biblical account than yours.”

      I never said Mormon’s weren’t right. They just aren’t Christian, in the creedal, orthodox sense of the word that most people assume it means.

  • Ford Guy

    What’s the definition of a Christian?? Someone who believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Redeemer. Believes in his teachings, and lives by his example. Anybody that believes in Christ is a Christian. Mormons are not any different than you and I. I am not a Mormon but i know a lot of them and they are some of the best people I know. The name of their church is ” The church of JESUS CHRIST of latter day saints”. How much more obvious does it need to be that they ARE in fact Christians. You don’t call Christians from other faiths non-christian, and they believe in different doctrine than you, so why would assume Mormons are non-christian. Personally i think it’s wrong and shameful. If you are a Christian, which i am as well, then you should enjoy the fact that their are so many other Christ loving Christians( aka mormons) out their in this world. You don’t have to believe what they believe or do what they do( or should i say don’t do, ie: drink coffee, alcohol, tobacco etc… haha) but they are people, no different than you and I, and they do love Christ.

  • Robin

    What’s interesting is the story of how Joseph Smith as a young boy was told by God’s messengers that no church at the time was true and he should start one. Very similar to the story of another religion’s beginnings some centuries before.

    • http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com Bot

      Jesus was twelve. Joseph Smith was fourteen.

  • jerry lynch

    This sums up a very sad and ugly period in Christianity: “evangelicals will forsake these tenets for political expediency.” True, yet it also seems that many Christians of various ilks will gleefully do the same. The divine reckoning that many pastors crone for the president and his policies and the state of the nation, should there be one, will be for them and those others who betrayed the message of Christ in exchange for the silver of worldliness.

  • http://wordshalfheard.blogspot.com Carol Kuniholm

    Park Romney, Mitt’s second cousin, an “apostate”, has described the Mormon church as “an insidious contemporary fraud.” Many have left Mormonism after exploring it’s historic roots. The record is clear: Joseph Smith was a convicted con artist, accomplished in spiritual scams, motivated by money, power, and the pursuit of women. Money, power, and a deep disregard for women have always been at the heart of the Mormon church, along with a willingness to say whatever is needed to maintain that power and control. I find it difficult to understand how any evangelical would endorse Romney without first trying to understand the culture that shaped him. As his cousin says, “Is the man in whom so many hope to place all of their hope and faith for a brighter future for America . . aware of the unmistakable, and incontestable evidence that his Church is a fraud? If he is aware, how do we escape the conclusion that he is a party to this fraud. . . If he is not aware that it is a fraud, amidst glaringly unmistakable evidence . . . then shall we not have profoundly serious questions about his judgment?”
    In a world that says “all religions are the same,” this would be a great time to explain that no, some religions endorse exploitation of women, while others insist women are of equal value and worth; some endorse deception of all except those in power, while others insist on truth, even when it hurts.

  • http://thesacredgrove_nathair.blogspot.com Nathair /|\

    All religions are cults. The word comes from the Greek for the practices of a religion. What matters is how dangerous a given cult is.
    Latter-Day Saints have restored 1st century Christianity. To deny them that status is also to deny Peter, Paul, etc. the same status.
    I am disappointed that it required political expediency to force Graham’s organization to do the right thing.

  • http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com Bot

    If there had been no Nicene Creed or Emperor Constantine, Catholic and Protestant theology would be quite similar to Mitt Romney’s In fact, there would likely be no need for the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) to restore Jesus Christ’s church. Mormons’ theology is based on New Testament Christianity, not Fourth Century Creeds. For example, the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views on Baptism, Lay Ministry, the Trinity, Theosis, Grace vs. Works, the Divinity of Jesus Christ are closer to Early Christianity than any other denomination. And Mormon teenagers have been judged to “top the charts” in Christian Characteristics by a UNC-Chapel Hill study. Read about it here:

    http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com/

    According to a 2012 Pew Forum poll of members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) 98 percent said they believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and 97 percent say their church is a Christian religion. They volunteer 7 times as many hours as does the general population, according to a 2012 University of Pennsylvania study. Mormons have a better understanding of Christianity than any other denomination, according to a 2010 Pew Forum poll.

    11 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (including several presidents) were non-Trinitarian Christians, as is Mitt Romney, who is as faithful as the most devout Founder. How long has it been since we had a president who attended church every Sunday?

    Contrast Mitt Romney’s faith to that of Barack Obama: Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who was the Obamas’ pastor for twenty years, says “it is hard to tell if Barack Obama converted from Islam to Christianity”. Wright says “church is not Barack’s thing” .

    • Curtis

      If there had been no Nicene Creed or Emperor Constantine, Catholic and Protestant theology would not exist.

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  • Stephen

    This issue is amazing to me.

    First, Billy Graham ministries has done something patently wrong. They have become spiritually expedient for the sake of the country and government. They are doing exactly what Obama is doing: giving power to the government – making government the central belief system. And that’s sad. BG couldn’t have said, “I don’t believe in what MItt Romney believes in spiritually, but I agree with him politically.” What’s wrong with that? Politics makes strange bedfellows.
    That being said, the question of Mormonism vs Christianity: How does Mormonism define who Jesus is and was, and how does it differ from the tenants of Christianity? If you answer that question, you’ll find why Mormonism is NOT Christianity. If one claims to be a Christian, but believes in a different god that the Chrisitian’s God, what does that mean?

    • http://thesacredgrove_nathair.blogspot.com Nathair /|\

      Here is how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints defines Christ:
      As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

      He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.

      He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

      We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

      He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).

      Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

      “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).

      Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

      “For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

      “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).

      We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).

      We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

      We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.

      • Curtis

        So Mormons aren’t real keen on the Nicene creed, then?

        • http://thesacredgrove-nathair.blogspot.com Sam Smith

          Nope. Mormons only care about what God says, not what philosophers say.

          • Curtis

            Then they aren’t Christians, in the common definition of the word.

  • John

    The connection and source of the endorsement is much more simple than we realize: Mark DeMoss is adviser to both Mitt Romney and Franklin Graham. Look him up. I’ll wait.

    To the best of my knowledge Billy Graham has never endorsed a candidate before. This is all very sickening to me.

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  • DoctorD

    Oh, it’s still a cult. (All religions are.)
    And Billy is a senile old coot.

    • pagansister

      Why is “Billy a senile old coot”? He is a man of 93, who is suffering the ravages of old age and to add to that he has Parkinson’s. It is a terrible disease—I watched my mother die of it. She was not a senile old coot. You may not agree what Rev. Graham did in his life, but why would you be that disrespectful? I’m SBNR, and I don’t believe as he did/does. His son, Franklin, is living off his Dad’s reputation. He is the one, IMO that deserves no respect.

  • pagansister

    Having not read the other comments above, someone may have said this already. I remember when JFK was the candidate for President—there were many worried that he was Catholic. He made a point of saying that he would be running the country—not the church, or words to that effect. I don’t think Romney has said that. If so, I obviously missed that. Personally I don’t care if a president belongs to a faith or not. I’m not a fan of Romney and i won’t be voting for him, but not because he is a Mormon. My brother-in-law is a Mormon. (my sister isn’t). The fact that Billy Graham’s son, IMO, is exploiting his father in this way is outrageous. I have a feeling that Mr. Graham really isn’t that aware of what is happening. My mother died of Parkinson’s and her last years she had no idea what was happening.

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  • A. Lee

    As a member of the Mormon faith, I can say that the LDS faith is indeed a Christian faith. Christian religion is defined as:
    1. Christian religion – a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior
    Mormonism is monotheistic, based on both the Old and New Testament, and emphasizes Jesus as The Savior. Despite what you may say about mormons not believing in the Bible. We do use the Bible, quite frequently. The Book of Mormon is an additional religious text we use exclusively to other religions.

    • Curtis

      I guess if freeonlinedictionary.com is a primary source for religious doctrine, you are probably right.

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  • Rockgod28

    The LDS Church is doing their best to remove cultural members from congregations around the world. We do not want cultural mormons at all. Why?

    Mormonism is not a culture. While there is history, scripture, fellowship and similar structure to other religions, Christianity in particular, the LDS Church rejects cultural Mormons. Mormons born in the faith, but have no faith. No testimony or living on borrowed testimony.

    Does that mean cultural Mormons are rejected? No, but they are not coddled, protected or allowed to just get through each Sunday coasting along. Testimony meeting, similar to witnessing in other churches, is changing. Many people express their gratitude to family, members, and others, but that is being done away. Fast and Testimony meeting is about Jesus Christ and expressing our belief in him.

    Mormonism is a religious lifestyle, not a cultural one or an identity.

    When I say, I am a Mormon, what I am saying is: I believe in Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. He took upon himself my sins and died for me on the cross. He fulfilled the will of His Father, Our Heavenly Father of our spirits, as an atoning sacrifice to become my Savior and Redeemer. By his grace and merits alone I am saved as long as I do everything I can to follow Him in faith.

    How can I say I have faith in Jesus Christ if I do not keep the commandments? Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” and “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

    So the question again is “How can I say I have faith in Jesus Christ if I don’t show by my actions or works that I love him and that I am his friend?”

    Do I make mistakes, sin, or fall short? Of course, but that is repentance because I have faith that if I change by making the choice to keep his commandments, love him, be his friend, that by his atonement I can be made clean and when I am weak sustained by his matchless power.

    A cultural Mormon does not do this. They are the salt that has lost its savor to be trampled under foot or luke-warm water to be spewed out of the mouth of God.

    A gospel centered life is not a cultural life, it is a religious one.

    So we are in agreement, a Mormon is not a cultural Christian. We do not share that culture or identify with that type of Christianity. We are religious followers of Christ. Latter-Day Christians or Saints.

    As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I am grateful that we have been removed from that list. Our worship has always centered around Christ. The core of the Book of Mormon is a testament of Jesus Christ, our worship services center around the Sacrament, the Lord’s Supper, to eat and drink in rememberance of Him of His death and suffering as our Savior for us.

    Temple worship is centered around Jesus Christ where we prepare ourselves to live with him again.

    Think about it. What is in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle as the Jews wandered in the wilderness or in the Temple of Solomon or Harod?

    The Ark of the Covenant. What was in the Ark of the Covenant?

    The Ten Commandments.

    So to get to the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place in the Temple of God, you learn and apply the Ten Commandments into your life. Yet that is not all. Jesus taught the rich young man and the lawyers and people of his time during his ministry that keeping the commandments is not enough to gain Eternal Life. How is that done?

    By following Him, to know him by following Him. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, might, mind and strength. The second great commandment is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The rich young man had his heart upon his treasures and possessions. The lawyer who asked who his neighbor was had his mind upon his cultural identity, and the Jews in power spent their strength and might upon gaining more political power.

    The gospel of Jesus Christ is not complicated. It is actually very simple. Keep the commandments and follow after Christ. Do that and you are a Christian, a follower of Christ.

    John said to Jesus in Luke 9:49 that they forbade a person casting out devils in his name. Jesus said in Luke 9:50 to his Apostles and disciples “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.”

    We are for the cause of Christ. We invoke and call upon his Holy name. By the authority of the written word of God do as Jesus commanded.

    Forbid us not to be Christian, to be men and women of Christ, who is our Master and Savior, in his name.

    Let God judge us; for he will judge us, just as he will judge you when He said in Matthew Chapter 7, all who call upon his name, prophesied and cast out devils and done many wonderful works in his name will be rejected and told to depart because he does not know us and we were workers of iniquity. But that is the Lord’s judgement. In that same chapter we are told how we judge. By their fruits and a wise man building his house upon a rock.

    So by the words of Jesus Christ, judge us by his judgement he commanded you to do. By our fruits and upon our foundations. If there is no fault in these two things, then obey the voice of the word of God from the Holy Bible, forbid us not to take upon ourselves the name of Christ and to be religious Christians.

  • cyndee

    twisted scripture. Talk about casting your pearls before swine!!!!! shame on Franklin….shame. Really!!!!!!! You know better what a cult is and what Truth is…..shame on you.

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  • rick satterthwaite

    As a former Mormon I can say with a degree of certainty that this religion is just that, a mere religion, a cult. It takes little more than a good Sunday School (I mean GOOD) education to see the tremendous blasphemy in almost every foundational teaching of Joseph Smith. That said, one must separate the secular position of president from that of a religious leader. I will vote for a president, not the leader of my church. If we want to look at our current president, Obama, he too is a member of a false religion. He believes in Black Liberation Theology, a system of collective salvation espoused by by the likes of Cone and Wright who believe that for white people to be saved they need to “denounce their whiteness” and look for social justice for salvation. We have no Christian on the ballot.

    • Curtis

      President Obama’s family regularly attends worship at Evergreen Chapel, a nondenominational church at Camp David. The same worship practice that George W. Bush had while he was in office. The chapel was built during the Reagan administration, with Ronald Regan choosing the location and making the first donation to get the chapel built.

      Are you saying Obama is less Christian than Reagan or Bush?

    • Sue

      Thour shalt now bear false withess against your brother. One of the 10 commandments. You do not have any personal momments from President Obama to support your claims about his embracing Black Liberation Theology. Post it if you do. Yes, I am calling your bluff. And don’t send some chopped and pieced Fox News piece to justify your sinful comment. I am saddened that as a white man you can not accept President Obama’s born again Christian experience. Then you bear false witness against him with racist charged accusations based on hearsay. Repent, Brother.

  • Sue

    Mormonism is a cult. Mormonism worships multi-thiestic gods as man becomes a god when he dies thereby proliferating heaven with gods. Women can only go to heaven at the invitation of her husband. This is one of the justifications for poligamy, ie. more invites for women to get to heaven. Interestingly, women do not become a god. Only men receive this promotion. Up until recently, dark skinned people were severly discriminated. This view changed when Mormon’s started running for national and statewide political office. Check this out on your own.

  • Carl

    Mormonism is a cult! Where in the Bible does it say that if I get married in the temple that I as male can become a god over my family? Where does it say that Jesus and Satan were brothers? Where does it say that good Mormons will go to the Celestial Heaven after death while I as a non-Mormon can’t reach that level of heaven and I will never see God? Where does it say that I cannot enter a temple without a temple recommendation from a Mormon bishop? Where does it say that I can surpass Jesus in perfection (after all we have all eternity to try)? Where does it say in the Bible that Jackson County, MISSOURI is new Zion? These are just a few common Mormon teachings. Did you know that Joseph Smith has rewritten the King James Bible because he preached the Catholic Church corrupted it? One example is Mormons believe we are saved by works, not GRACE. The Mormon Church is trying to take away the most beautiful gift of Christianity — I am saved by the GRACE of God. Mormons have five holy books — the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrines and Covenants. For insight into Joseph Smith, I encourage you to read the Doctrines and Covenants. Here’s the LDS (Mormon) link to the Doctrine and Covenants: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament?lang=eng
    Please don’t get me wrong, most Mormons that I have met are wonderful individuals. It is just that many of the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints are not Christian teachings.

  • Gorman

    Tony Jones is a liar.
    Franklin Graham did not say Mormonism was not a cult. He had an article removed from their website which labeled several groups as cults, not just Mormonism. He did not know the article was even on their website and as he stated, “If I want to win a person to Christ, how can I call that person a name? That’s what shocked me, that we were calling people names.”
    Anyone who has had any experience witnessing to people, knows you don’t call people names, no matter how accurate that name may be, but you present to them the gospel with love and concern for their soul.
    Billy Graham was called by God to preach the gospel and has won thousands to the Lord, some of whom I know personally. BGEA’s ministry is evangelism not apologetics and for Tony Jones, the spastic idiot, to print lies about the Graham’s is despicable.

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  • Robert Dmitri Madison

    Mitt Romney bears a strong family resemblance to Billy Graham.


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