Rethinking “Mormon Morality”

Rethinking “Mormon Morality” December 28, 2011

“Mitt Romney’s a good moral person, but he’s not a Christian.”Pastor Robert Jeffress.

“When Mormons seem to be so nice & have good family values, what makes them wolves in sheeps clothing?”A questioner on Yahoo! Answers.

“We can have a lot of fun at the Mormons’ expense because there’s stuff in their religion that may seem silly to outsiders . . . But these are really nice people who believe what they do wholeheartedly.”“South Park” and “Book of Mormon” Co-Creator Matt Stone.

In my almost six-year-long journey as an “Evangelical for Mitt” I’ve been told a few things with almost numbing repetition and certainty:  First, Mormons are “nice people” with “good values.”  Second (and by extension), Mitt Romney is a “good family man.”  Finally — and emphatically — evangelicals should never obscure their opposition to the LDS church and it’s “false gospel.”  In other words, Mormon morality was the obligatory and cursory compliment before the decisive theological blow.  Mormon morality was presumed, and so was Mormon apostasy.  But over the years, as I got to know more Mormons, spent more time in scripture, and experienced more of the dysfunctional world of American evangelicalism, something about this message simply wasn’t adding up.

*** *** *** ***

I grew up in the churches of Christ, autonomous fundamentalist congregations born out of the American Restorationist Movement in the Second Great Awakening.  The message of the restorationists was relatively simple: the pure Gospel message had been distorted and destroyed by the denominational churches.  Convinced that creeds divided and led to apostasy, one of the core slogans of the historical church of Christ was “No creed but Christ.”  Concerned that a thousand years of Christian teaching and tradition had led believers astray, the church of Christ looked to the Bible alone (more specifically, the New Testament) for wisdom.  Many times I heard the statement: “Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent.”

The founding fathers and leaders of the early church of Christ, men like Alexander Campbell and David Lipscomb, led a movement that ultimately became radically Arminian, truly sectarian, and functionally deist.  In other words, salvation was entirely a matter of individual choice, only those who chose to join the church of Christ would be saved, and God’s supernatural interference in the Earth’s affairs had almost entirely ceased.  This left members of the church in quite a fix: salvation was earned by their choices, God would not aid church members in making the right choices, and any choice other than the church of Christ led to damnation.  Salvation was easily lost.  Youth ministers (“pastor” is not a word the church of Christ uses) regaled teens with the story of the poor damned girl who died driving to her baptism.  My wife, the very week after her baptism, “went forward” after church to confess the sin of uttering a mild curse word — a sin she was convinced (and she was taught) was a mortal stain on her formerly-redeemed soul.  Suffice to say, moral purity was highly recommended.

For me, there was one tiny little problem that theology: I didn’t believe it.  In fact, my church made me angry.  One fifth grade Sunday after enduring yet another lesson about the damnation of my Baptist, Methodist, or Presbyterian friends, I grabbed one of the Bibles from my parent’s shelves and started reading.  And kept reading.  (I’d like to say that I read it as voraciously as I did Lord of the Rings, but that’s not quite right).  When I finished reading, I turned to my parents and made a declaration: I wasn’t going back to Sunday School until my teacher apologized for telling me that my Christian friends were going to Hell.  The core of my legal case was Romans 10.

My teacher apologized.  In writing.  A young lawyer was born.

I think it was two years later when our pulpit minister disappeared.  Well, he didn’t really “disappear,” he just vanished from the pulpit — he ran off with the church secretary.  Three years later my first youth group friend “came forward” to confess her pregnancy.  By high school graduation, our youth group’s behavior was indistinguishable from my public high school classmates, except we were fantastic a cappella singers.  As the “good kid” (it’s amazing how devotion to Dungeons & Dragons and science fiction can act as a firewall for teen purity), I felt more of an outsider in my own church than I did in my public school.

Needless to say, I left the church.  But I never left Christ.  In His infinite mercy, he taught me about grace, he gave me the eternal security I never thought I’d feel, and I realized I can do nothing without Him.  In other words, He empowers and enables all that is good in my life.

*** *** *** ***

Why the autobiographical diversion?  Because God and virtue are not separate.  In the first 22 years of life, I lived and breathed a culture and theology that placed absolute importance on moral purity — a moral purity that could (and must be) obtained without God’s divine help — but that same culture reeled from its own failure.  I left the church of Christ just as hundreds of thousands of its members cried out for something different, a Gospel of grace, not works, and a God who lives, not a historical figure who wrote the rules and then departed this world.  And by God’s grace, the church of Christ is changing, with congregation after congregation springing to life, a truly new life.

I made my first Catholic friends in law school (yes, that late) and was deeply moved by the depth of Catholic teaching combined with the vital reality of the Holy Spirit in their lives (it turns out that the Spirit of God was moving throughout the last 2,000 years).  When I first darkened the doors of a Presbyterian church it was — with all due apologies to John Denver — like coming home to a place I’d never been before.  And what about those crazy pentecostals?  Nancy became a Christian in David Wilkerson’s church in Times Square, and I spent six of the best years of my life at Trinity Assembly of God in Georgetown, Kentucky.

If scripture and life have taught me — clearly and unmistakably — that Christ enables virtue, what then can we say about the LDS church?  Is it right to so quickly say, “they’re moral people, but . . .” with such certainty?  Are we not taught “By their fruits you shall know them?”  Are we not also taught that “fruits” in fact come from the Holy Spirit.  Yet we so quickly dismiss those “good” and “moral” Mormons in spite of manifest virtues that my fellow Presbyterians should envy.  Who has the lowest divorce rate in America?  Yes, Mormons who marry Mormons.  Who gives more money to charity than evangelicals?  Mormons (Utah is our most charitable state).  Evangelicals talk a lot about young people serving God (and some go on short mission trips), but Mormons — well, who hasn’t met a Mormon missionary?

Does this mean that Mormons are Christians because of their good works?  No, of course not.  We are saved by faith, not by works.  But the presence of abundant fruit means that those of us in the evangelical world, an evangelical world that is overrun with pornography, divorce, and infidelity, should perhaps be a bit more humble in our judgments of our Mormon friends and neighbors.

*** *** *** ***

Twenty years ago this fall I was very far from home, sitting in a law school dorm room hallway, and defending myself from a raging attack from my secular left classmates.  They were mocking my faith, mocking me, and mocking my family.  I felt very much alone.  A door opened and a 3-L walked out, our RA.  He sat next to me and proceeded to give his own testimony of faith, speaking of his love for Jesus Christ in words far more moving, far more eloquent than I could ever craft.

My RA?  A Mormon.

Four years ago, Nancy had the enormous privilege of spending months working with Ann Romney on an as-yet unpublished book project.  She came away from that experience calling Ann her “Mom mentor,” an agent of God’s grace who taught her how better love and serve our family (she even started making pancakes every Saturday for breakfast, though sadly using Bisquick more often than Ann’s recipe).  The lessons Nancy learned from Ann have enriched our lives in very real and meaningful ways.

In case you didn’t know, Ann Romney is a Mormon.

During that same time, I had the privilege of serving my country in Iraq with the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment.  We had exactly two LDS members in our 780-man unit.  One was my paralegal.  The other?  My roommate.  When my wife organized an effort to send care packages to every single member of my unit, more than 2,000 packages arrived.  Where did they come from?  Most came from Tennessee (my home) and . . .

From Utah.

Who is a Christian?  God knows who has called on His name. If, however, we are told that we know a tree by its fruits, perhaps we need to have more respect for the Mormon spruce.  And maybe, just maybe, our comments about Mormons shouldn’t begin with, “They’re good and moral people, but . . .”

Instead, how about, “They’re good and moral people, and . . .”

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Larry

    Sound soteriology finds absurd any effort to equate morality with salvation … it flies in the face of a most fundamental biblical truth. Namely, that “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph 2:8,9).

    I’ve met more than a few very moral, kind and generous people who are NOT Christians. They were quite intentional in their rejection of Christianity … they felt it unnecessary and silly … a “slaughter house religion”. And yet, they maintained a rather lofty set of morals.

    So what? In the words of my friend and mentor Harald Bredesen “they’ll be the nicest people turned away from heaven”. Morality no more qualifies Mormonism (or liberates it from its status as false and dangerous) than it would any other religion.

    Jesus said simply “Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them”.

    Paul echoes His warning …

    I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 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. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal 1:6-12)

    The immutable standard against which every claim is indexed ought to be God’s Word … nothing else. Against that standard, Mormonism fails utterly.

  • flataffect

    As a Mormon, I appreciate your comments. As a believer in Christ, I appreciate your testimony.

    Here is a verse from the Book of Mormon you should know about: 2 Nephi 25:23 –
    For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

    James wrote that faith without works is dead, but works without faith are also in vain.

    I think what offends me most about the claim that Mormons aren’t Christians is that Christ himself will make that judgment, not me or you. It’s not a decision delegated to theologians. I would never presume to decide who isn’t a Christian, although I believe that I can recognize a real believer most of the time.

  • Karen

    Larry,
    As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for over 40 years, I can say emphatically you really don’t know what you’re talking about. Just as you quoted many Bible scriptures to prove your point, I could quote just as many, if not more, that proves you’re wrong, but what would be the point? You have your mind made up and you would rather listen to your pastor use his/her sermon time to try to build up his own religion by knocking down another. You would rather visit websites ran by people who hate the Mormon church than learn for yourself what it is we really believe.

    I’m so glad I go to church every week and am uplifted by being taught about Jesus Christ and His life and what can I do to improve my own and try to become more like Him. I’m so glad I am taught that only the absolute worst of sinners (those who deny the Holy Ghost) will be going to Hell and all others will go to different levels of glory, depending on their righteousness on earth and that death is not the end, that repentance can still take place in the spirit world before the final judgment. The apostle Paul speaks of those glories in 1 Corinthians in the Bible you claim to read. I’m so glad to know that there is only ONE Jesus Christ and when He comes to rule on earth again, we will all bow our knees and we will all confess that Jesus is the Christ. I can’t wait to see the looks on other people’s faces when they see us bowing and confessing to the SAME Jesus Christ. 🙂

    You could walk into any Mormon church anywhere in the world and NOT ONCE will you hear us talk badly about another religion. In fact, our beloved prophet Gordon B. Hinckley (now deceased) often said, “Bring with you all the good your faith has and let’s see if we can add to it.” So I invite you to visit http://www.lds.org or http://www.mormon.org and LEARN FOR YOURSELF what it is we truly believe. At mormon.org if you click on “Our People” and then click on “Meet Mormons” and then in the search bar type in Karen M, you can see my profile. I’ve answered many FAQ’s people of other faiths have asked about our church. They are my own words. I’m wearing a red shirt and there is a red pillow behind me. You can also enter your own personal information and that will bring up people your own age or only males, etc. and you can read their profiles too. There are thousands and thousands of profiles to choose from.

    Have fun! 🙂

    Karen

  • Emric

    Larry;

    IMO, you are missing the whole point, which i believe relates more specifically to the ease with wich we judge other’s faith, motives, Christianity… and i am afraid your words make you a perfect example of that. It’s not about what the scriptures say, its about how you use them to place judgement on others which is completely contradictory to the Spirit by which they were given.

    It isn’t your place nor anyone else’s to judge the Author’s Christianity or the Mormon’s. It is certainly not something Christ would advocate (see Matthew 7).

  • Lisa Rice

    David… I enjoy reading your articles (and Nancy’s!) as they always intrigue me and get me thinking. Regarding Mormons, I do agree that they are more “moral” than many – if not most – evangelicals I know, but I agree with Larry who responded that morality and the theology of salvation are not on the same plain.

    The scary truth is that Mormonism is a cult. A cult is a group that promotes false theology regarding at least one member of the Trinity – the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. In the case of Mormonism, there’s a major false belief and teaching about Christ. According to one website, here are the big problems:

    1. The Deity of Man is Promoted

    Mormons teach that man can become God, and that God was once a man:

    “God himself, the Father of us all, is a glorified, exalted immortal resurrected man!” (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 322-23, 517, 643)
    “…God himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man and sits enthroned in yonder heavens…” (Journal of Discourses, V6, P3, 1844)
    “As man is, God once was: as God is, man may become.” (Lorenzo Snow, quoted in Milton R. Hunter, the Gospel Through the Ages, pp. 105-106)

    This is plain and simple heresy. Nowhere does the Bible say or imply that God was ever a man, or that man can become God! Malachi 3:6 says, “For I am the LORD, I change not…” How could this be true if God was once a man? Genesis 1:1 states that God existed “in the beginning” before man was ever created. John 4:24 states that God is a “spirit,” and Jesus tells us in John 1:18 that no man has seen God at any time. Numbers 23:19 says that “God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent.” God has always been God, and no one has ever “become” God.

    2. The Deity of Jesus Christ is Denied

    The Deity of Jesus Christ is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, yet the Mormons deny this truth. Exalting man to “god status” is apparently alright, but Jesus Christ is not acknowledged as the eternal Son of God in the Mormon church. The Mormon Jesus was a preexisting spirit who was exalted, just as Mormon followers hope to be exalted someday.

    God is a Trinity (I Jn. 5:7), and the second Member of that Trinity is the Lord Jesus Christ. John 1:1 says that “the Word was God,” and John 1:14 tells us that “the Word was made flesh.” Jesus Christ is the Word incarnate, and John 1:1 tells us that the Word was God; so Jesus Christ is God.

    Jesus allowed Thomas to address Him as “My Lord and my God” in John 20:28. In Isaiah 9:6, He is called “The mighty God” and “The everlasting Father,” and we read in Micah 5:2 that Jesus is “from everlasting.”

    Our Lord allowed people to worship him in John 10:38 and in Matthew 14:33, and since He is “God with us” (Mat. 1:23) He also has power to forgive sins (Mk. 2:5). Jesus Christ is clearly Deity, yet this doctrine is denied by the Mormons.

    So what should be the response to a Mormon presidential candidate? That’s tricky. Do we want a man with a checkered moral past but who now professes correct biblical truths (Gingrich) or a man with an admirable moral slate and false biblical beliefs? I think the answer is that we, as intercessory believers, need to ask the Lord which candidate will have the most pliable heart in His hands. I, for one, am still on my knees with this question!

    Thank you for getting me thinking – once again. Best to you this New Year!

    ~ Lisa

  • @Larry –

    I wholeheartedly concur that “the immutable standard against which every claim is indexed out to be God’s Word … nothing else.” However, since no basis was provided on what grounds “Mormonism fails utterly,” I’m left to wonder.

    Is the problem that Mormons believe the Book of Mormon to be the literal fulfillment of John 10:16? If so, I’m assuming the problem is due to Revelation 22:18 and makes the (fallacious) assumption that the Holy Bible was written chronologically from beginning to end. If so, should we also toss out everything after Deuteronomy 4:2? I’d rather not. I enjoy reading the words God gave to ancient prophets. When I follow their counsel, I become a better man.

    Is the problem that Mormons believe in living prophets? Jesus clearly warned against false prophets in Matthew 7:15. Interestingly, He didn’t say “all prophets are false.” Instead, He counseled “Ye shall know them by their fruits” in verse 16. Considering the Source, that’s probably good advice for all religious leaders. Besides, when I follow the counsel of Mormon Prophets, I become a better man.

    Or is the problem merely one of definition? Evangelical Christianity is unwilling to share the “Christian” label with Mormons (to which Mormons take great offense). Thus members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aren’t Christians but members of the First Baptist Church of (Insert city here) are Christians. If it’s just a categorical problem, we should call it that and we can all be happy.

    I believe that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God the Eternal Father. He came to the earth which He created to suffer and die for the sins of all mankind. I love Him and worship Him as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He is the Light and the Life of the World. He is my Savior and Redeemer. He is my only Hope and the only One I’ll ever need. Unfortunately, I’m not “Christian.” I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am a Mormon.

  • Kayla

    Great comments, they are not only true but well written thank you.

  • Kayla

    To Lisa Rice, looks like you are well learned and have given much thought on the Mormons but you are completely wrong about what we believe regarding Jesus Christ not being the eternal son of God. We know and believe that Jesus Christ is the literal son of god born of a virgin in Bethlehem. He is our savior and redeemer and yes we do believe that we can one day become as God is, wouldn’t it only make sense for a parent (our heavenly father) to want us to become like him and in doing so provide a way in which we can be as He is? Just as he did with His physical son Jesus Christ. They are not one but two separate although they act as one in purpose. See mathew 3:16-17 where it states that Christ was baptized and the heavens opened and a voice was heard saying “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” was he talking about himself? That just rings hollow and senseless. You can find many scriptures in the bible about this same thing from Stephen being stoned and looking up into the heavens to see Jesus on the right hand of God. Uh… So… He splits himself in half appearing as two different people just for?… I don’t get that. Also when Christ is lifted upon the cross he weeps and speaks to his father and asks that they forgive these soldiers, same in the garden of gethsemene. So although you seem to have read many references on our religion you are emphatically incorrect about us not being Christians. We are we love, worship and revere or elder brother Jesus Christ as the creator of this earth and our very bodies and that he learned how to become so by watching his father, who is God.

  • Terry

    Larry–I always respect a person’s right to an opinion and to express that opinion. And I will take your post for exactly what it is: your own personal opinion.

    Rather than rehash what has already been said in correcting your misconceptions about Mormonism, I
    Days of labor donated to church welfare facilities — 777,381
    Employment and training placements — 168,713
    Total number of:
    Storehouses — 143
    Home storage centers — 102
    Production projects — 54
    Processing facilities — 23
    Storage and distribution facilities — 36
    Employment resource centers — 326
    Deseret Industries thrift stores — 43
    LDS Family Services offices — 79
    Humanitarian assistance rendered (1985-2010) — $1.3 billion
    Countries and territories served — 178
    Food — 63,377 tons
    Medical supplies — 14,345 tons
    Clothing — 93,196 tons
    Hygiene, newborn and school kits — 11.1 million
    Examples of missionary assignments: managing employment center, teaching English as a second language, teaching marriage and parenting skills, improving agricultural and medical practices, distributing clothing, supervising welfare projects and missionaries.
    Number of major disaster assistance efforts (1985-2010) — 201
    Recent examples of relief aid: 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2010 Chile earthquake, 2010 Pakistan flooding, 2009 Samoa tsunami, 2009 Philippines typhoon, 2009 Indonesia earthquake, 2008 Ethiopia famine, 2007 Peru earthquake.

  • Terry

    Please ignore my previous post. (There needs to be a “remove” feature allowing authors to change their mind about something they’ve posted.)

  • Edie Clemons

    Thank you David for your article! Just wanted to share my thoughts on my beliefs! Happy New Year everyone!
    http://mormon.org/me/1JM1/

  • Agkcrbs

    I’m assuming that you’re referring to the Bible as your standard, Larry. And yet, no committed Christian will hold very long to the idea that God through his Spirit has not touched them, called them, or spoken to them in some way. Christianity does not, and cannot, insist on a mute God. The canon of the Bible is not a divine straight-jacket, as if such a thing were possible. The canon is a protection, a measure by which we can accept or reject new teachings. LDS subsume into their own canon the entirety of the Protestant Bible, retaining a particular love for the King James in English; and however far other denominations insist LDS inspiration has strayed from God’s Word, LDS are still perfectly satisfied that their new scriptures are in harmony with the old. Other Christians, obviously, prefer instead to interpret LDS doctrine in a way that is contrary to their Biblical views. It’s possible to interpret things in different ways, but it’s not honest to assume that no other faithful person has any sincere way of seeing or reading things differently from you. LDS find the claim that they transgress, reject, or lack faith in the Bible to be severely uninformed if not ridiculous. They rejoice in their belief that God would not stop speaking to man, just because some factions of his believers demand that he should, seeing such a cessation as a bulwark of the sanctity of what God has already said. LDS are as nervous as any Christian about false teachings, but they think a confirmative outpouring of God’s revelations is not a threat to the Author of the ancient gospel, but a further evidence of his power.

  • Terry

    Nothing more embarrassing than a partial post. However, all the stats you see in my original post were a summary from the LDS church’s account of welfare help it provided to others world wide in 2010. It was meant as an example of the “good fruit” the LDS church is engaged in doing.

    I, too, have a profile up on http://www.mormon.org
    Just type in the search words “Omaha” and “Terry” if you’d like to see mine.

  • Larry

    Emric, declaring the truth of the gospel isn’t judgmental … its obligatory. Indeed, the most unloving thing a christian can do is to hold his silence when grave error is offered as truth.

  • Larry

    Karen, clearly articulating truth, especially as it pertains to the gospel of Jesus Christ is not “knocking down another”. Its obeying Christ’s command to proclaim the good news.

    Error exists in many forms … but in some it is especially egregious, dangerous … and even damning. The contradictions which exist between scripture and Mormon literature are not merely legion … they are profound and dangerous.

    Those who insist that there exists some harmony between LDS extra-biblical texts and the bible have either never conducted an actual examination or have not approached it objectively. Again, the contradictions are many and stunningly egregious.

    I do not labor to offend, I do labor to offer the truth … I am accountable to do so. I have taken the time (beginning some 30 years ago) to discover the beliefs of Mormons. I’ve also read the books of former Mormons who, upon a closer examination of their faith, were horrified by the error they had unwittingly embraced.

    It is no small matter, accuracy is important for every believer … but essential for a minister.

    I have met Mormons who, I believe, have received Christ … not, however, because of the LDS but in spite of them. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers doctrine which exists in such fantastic opposition to sound theology that one is forced to conclude it’s more than heretical … it is indeed a false religion.

    All of the anger and indignation offered by so many cannot change that fact …though it can cloud judgemen, handicap our objectivity … enslave us to error.

    Again, Paul’s warning …

    I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 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. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal 1:6-12).

  • Jack

    Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48

    And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. Exodus 33:11

    Search the scriptures Lisa . . . you will find literally dozens of reports of face to face associations and communications with our Heavenly Father and His beloved Son, our Savior. . . from Adam and Eve to John the Revelator. The Holy Scriptures found in the Old and New Testaments testify of a Living God who is our Heavenly Father, as Jesus taught.

    You will also find promises that they will come to us as we keep the commandments they’ve given: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:21

    The idea that our loving Father and His loving Son, the atoning one and our Savior, will deny salvation to any who simply don’t understand their teaching is so great a condemnation of them as to border on blasphemy. All who sincerely love them, seek them, and are lovers and seekers of truth . . . and who keep the commandments to the best of their understanding and ability, will . . . of absolute necessity . . . be recipients of their salvation.

    A favorite quotation:
    “So I walked a road of honest reason, searching . . . and I found each answer pointing like a light . . . in His direction.”

    Walk with me Lisa . . .

    Keep studying, keep searching, keep asking for understanding . . . and (because they love you) your spirit and mind and heart will be open to receiving even more of their truths than you now possess.

    I also am a “true blue, through and through” member of the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

  • Larry

    Agkcrbs … please see my response to Karen. BTW, your offering a particularly odius gnostic argument regarding inspiration. You would do well to read closely the warning of Paul to the Galatians …. the entire book (its short) is most instructive regarding the completeness of scripture.

  • Mark

    Lisa, either the Book of Mormon is true or it is false. If it is true, then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s true Church on the earth and Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. Have you read and prayed about the Book of Mormon? I have and I know it is the word of God. The Bible is battle ground. We could argue the Bible until doomsday and never get anywhere. I could give you just as many Biblical verses that contradict the interpretation of the verses you’ve cited. Good luck and I hope you will give truth a chance.
    Leaving that aside, Romney is running for Commander-in-Chief, not Pastor-in-Chief. Why let differences in religious tenets be the deciding factor? No one will ever meet that standard in a political contest unless they are of your faith. And none of us want Obama for another 4 years. I hope you will give Romney a chance. Thank you.

  • Larry

    David, I’m delighted to learn of your faith … it is clear, however, that you are not entirely aware of the complete teachings of your church. This is not an issue of categories or labels … but of doctrine. I encourage to thoroughly examine all of the literature and teaching offered by the LDS.

  • Jack

    Larry, the problem is not that David hasn’t read enough of the easily available literature of the Church of Jesus Christ . . . it is very easy to see that you’ve not only limited your reading of LDS literature, but have not sought the Holy Spirit’s guidance in understanding the line-upon-line, precept-on-precept fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    It does sound (usually) as though you’re sincerely interested in truth, and have a sincere love for the Savior, though colored by occupational biases.

    Keep learning, and prayerfully seek understanding . . . and because our Father and His Divine Son love you (more even than you know) you will eventually rid yourself of the theological falsehoods you’ve come to almost blindly accept.

  • Laura Hunter

    Larry, honey, you’re missing the point. Obviously, the author doesn’t agree with the doctrine of the Mormon Church or he’d have joined it by now. His point is that YOU are not the judge of who is and is not a Christian. God is. Always has been, always will be. And it is not necessary in the realm of politics or friendship or being a good neighbor to clarify that “Mormons are decent people, but they aren’t Christians.” Well you know what? We don’t agree with you either! But we don’t feel the need to walk around telling everyone how wrong you are.
    In reference to Paul’s warning about a “different gospel”, he may very well have been warning about any Protestant church, or the post New Testament creeds, or the way the Catholic Church so grossly changed the doctrines of Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints teaches what Christ taught when He established His church on the earth. It is the New Testament Church restored. There are no teachings to be found in the Book of Mormon that contradict the New Testament. Current protestant churches teach post New Testament creeds that are NOT found in the Bible. Such creeds have simply been taught so long that few people question them. It’s pretty easy to be born into a culture where the Bible is whole-heartedly accepted and no one questions the creeds of the 4th century because everyone you know agrees with them. But that doesn’t make them true. So, As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I could very well say, well that Larry, he’s a good, moral person… but he’s not a real Christian. But you don’t hear members of our Church say that. Because that’s not our job. God will judge you and me and everyone else. We can teach our beliefs without denegrating the beliefs of others. That’s how we roll. So you believe some things that I think are untrue…that doesn’t disqualify you from holding public office.

    Secondly, let me just say that it is rather offensive that you, as an outsider, would suggest that you know more about what our Church teaches than we do. Not a good way to communicate with us- try a different tactic if you are going to keep this up.

    Faith without works is dead. We DO NOT BELIEVE our works save us. We are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. Alone. The Book of Mormon clarifies the fact that you cannot separate true faith from works:
    “And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.” II Nephi 31:19.
    The point is this: His grace saves us. His merit saves us. He is mighty to save. But does that mean we sit back and wait to see His salvation? NO! We go and we work and we fight and we serve and we give All that we have to Him. Our Savior taught, “ If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
    And even C.S. Lewis wrote in regard to the debate about faith vs. works: “It does seem to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is more important.”
    We are justified through grace, by faith. We are sanctified through the power of the atonement as we strive to obey. That’s what our Church teaches, what the Book of Mormon teaches and what the Bible teaches. Our Members don’t use the words justify and sanctify the way you do… we say things like righteousness and exaltation. It is the power of Christ that moves us to obedience. Our members are likely to take that assumption for granted, so you don’t hear us say it as often, but it is the truth.
    Now, may I just say: You would do well to find something better to do. We are not a false religion, we just don’t agree. And that’s OK. That’s the point of the article. We are good people, not because we are trying to earn our salvation but because we genuinely love the Lord. And we don’t sit around trying to figure out why or why not you do good things… we know that every good gift comes from God. (also something CS Lewis taught) Goodness comes from Christ.
    And finally, I have read much anti Mormon literature… I read The Book of Mormon while reading The Godmakers. That’s like reading an anti-Christian book while reading the Bible. When I put down the lies and opened my heart to pray, I found the truth. I don’t go to ex-Christians to find out what you believe. Give us the same respect. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ. It is His word. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and I pray that you do, too.

  • Larry

    Jack, the bible, though written over a period of thousands of years and by multiple authors enjoys extraordinary harmony … not just thematically but doctrinally. It enjoys the corroboration of science and history.

    Mormon literature enjoys none of these elements. It is a convoluted series of contradictions (not simply with scripture but with its own propositions) and is embarrassingly silly with regard to its handling of matters scientific, historical and geographical. It is simply seriousness … its completely unbelievable.

    You suggest a path fully at odds with Jesus command to “continue in My word” … in order that we may “know the truth”. You offer instead an existential approach which invites or perhaps assures error. Choices with eternal consequences demand a more precise approach.

  • Jack

    Interesting viewpoint, though substantially and significantly in serious error.

    The fact, of course, is that the major professing Christian religions today, fail miserably and almost totally to “continue in [His] word”.

    Thank goodness for the highly competent scholarship in ancient records and artifacts that is forcing the honest pastor, philosopher, teacher, and theologian of today to thoughtfully re-examine those authoritarian and self-contradictory precepts taught from so many pulpits, by so many paid preachers in today’s theologically and philosophically confused religious environment.

    Are you at all surprised that there is a considerably higher percentage of scientists, PhDs, and other graduate scholars among active members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints than among active members of any other major religion professing belief in Christ?

  • Tanya Robinson

    The bottom line folks…regardless of your beliefs, you have them and hold them dear to you. That’s something our country has fought for…freedom -and religion is one of the great freedoms we enjoy…NOW…Romney is an impressive man with deep entrenched experience in the world of business. I will vote for him based on that first…then because he is a man of high moral character…win/win..As someone posted earlier…we are not voting for the Pastor of the United States, we are voting on the Presient of the United States! We could use a new one.

  • David the Beloved,
    Thank you for your service. You are very brave to put yourself in danger in the face of idiocy. I have kept track of you and Nancy from the beginning of EFM. I placed Nancy’s name along with yours as Gentile of the Year in the Common Cause blog. You have stiff completion from Trey Parker and Matt Stone that wrote “Book of Mormon” on Broadway. Mormons of today are well versed on satire as a teaching tool, so as a novely Trey/Stone leads the competition, but I still have hopes for Nancy.
    As for Larry, what a charmer. When I was a teen sixty years ago, I was sometimes elected to play the part of Larry in the missionary discussions. We called him Mister Brown in those days. In the early Evangelical monasteries he was the Devil’s Advocate. I don’t wish Larry the same fate that was suffered by those olden teachers as the Advocate sometimes met unfortunate circumstances by those that lacked a sense of humor.
    Larry, poor puppy, you wasted thirty years listening to paid ministers and the disaffected. Better that you should have read the books of James and Hebrews and tried to figure out Christianity from that. The Bible is the word of God for sure, but some think it must have spring from a rock like a spring or written on a parchment by the finger of God as one perfect pronouncement.
    In reality blog items began to show up starting 30 or 40 years after the resurrection written under a variety of names and Paul, sent notes to places he had traveled, but no assembly of a Bible started for a hundred years. In the fourth century Emperor Constantine, fed up with the confusion in the new Roman Religion ordered 50 copies of all the books under one cover in Latin so he could dismantle the tax sucking pagan system of the time. He left the choice up to someone else since he was not yet baptized. It was not chronological, but grouped by category. Some books were eliminated. It was still a few years before James and Hebrews found their way into the Bible as it was called on a permanent basis. Larry, if you had read those two books you would not be as confused as you are today.
    Be nice to Larry. He served his purpose. Love him. You don’t have to expect him to get it. Now will someone say the prayer and remember to bless our soldiers that they may get home safely?

  • …and bless Larry that he gets it and bring our soldiers home safely…
    in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

  • Jack

    Father please bless the soldiers to get home safely . . .

    Amen

  • Michael Kovalenko

    David, once again thank you for a thoughtful and charitable article. Another scripture I think about when I hear self-professed Christians take it upon themselves to exclude Mormons from the “Jesus Club” is Luke 9:46-50. His disciples didn’t fully understand discipleship then either, and Jesus taught them a lesson today’s disciples should heed.

  • Tammy Pearce

    Beautifully said, Laura.

  • Emric

    God bless you Larry. You are a good dedicated soldier. Be careful where you point that sword of truth… It has 2 sharp edges.

  • Dennis L Thompson

    Mormons do not like it when their Church is labeled a cult by Christians. This bothers them and they want desperately to be accepted as Christian by the Christian community.

    Explain This:
    Joseph Smith said . . .

    (Regarding Joseph Smith’s alleged first vision where celestial personages appeared to him.) . . .) “My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right — and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight: that those professors were all corrupt . . .” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 5-6).

    “What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 270.)

    (In questions directed to Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. . .)
    First — “Do you believe the Bible?”
    If we do, we are the only people under heaven that do, for there are none of the religious sects of the day that do.”
    Third — “Will everybody be damned, but Mormons?”
    Yes, and a great portion of them, unless they repent, and work righteousness.” (Teachings, page 119.)

    Brigham Young said. . .

    “But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith jun., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong,” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, 1855, p. 171).

    John Taylor said . . .

    “We talk about Christianity, but it is a perfect pack of nonsense…. Myself and hundreds of the Elders around me have seen its pomp, parade, and glory; and what is it? It is a sounding brass and a tinkling symbol; it is as corrupt as hell; and the Devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century,” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, 1858, p. 167).

    “Where shall we look for the true order or authority of God? It cannot be found in any nation of Christendom,” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, 1863, p. 127).

    James Talmage said . . .

    “A self-suggesting interpretation of history indicates that there has been a great departure from the way of salvation as laid down by the Savior, a universal apostasy from the Church of Christ,” (The Articles of Faith, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, p. 182).

    Bruce McConkie said . . .

    “With the loss of the gospel, the nations of the earth went into a moral eclipse called the Dark Ages,” (Mormon Doctrine, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, Utah, p. 44).

    Joseph Fielding Smith said . . .

    “Again, following the death of his apostles, apostasy once more set in, and again the saving principles and ordinances of the gospel were changed to suit the conveniences and notions of the people. Doctrines were corrupted, authority lost, and a false order of religion took the place of the gospel of Jesus Christ, just as it had been the case in former dispensations, and the people were left in spiritual darkness,” (Doctrines of Salvation, page 266).

    The Book of Mormon says. . .

    “And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth” (1 Nephi 14:10).

    “And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose foundation is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence. . .” (1 Nephi. 14:17).

    The Doctrine and Covenants says . . .

    “Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face” (Doctrine and Covenants, 112:23).

    When the Mormon missionaries come to the door and do their “gospel” presentation, they mention an apostasy and the need for a prophet, their prophet, to restore the true Teachings of Jesus. Of course, these ‘restored’ teachings are completely false.
    Nevertheless, the Mormon church clearly condemns other religious systems. Those Mormons who complain about poor treatment should familiarize themselves with their teachers’ words.

  • Jon

    Lisa Rice
    I must say first that I do not believe that all these discussions here are good for much of anything. You believe whatever you believe and nothing much in these litte post from people you don’t know will change that. The spirit that testifies of the truthfulness of God is often lost if not driven away when we go about trying so hard to convince others of our knowledge. The reason I am posting this in reference to you is that I must tell you that most of your references to the Mormon church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, are just wrong. You spoke alot of words and opinions based on false information. I’m not goIng to debate these facts or try and convince you to change your mind. If you care to know the truth or the error in your knowledge of the Mormons, I suggest you meet with a couple and ask. I am a life long member of this church and I have met so many people that have so many opinions without any knowledge or truth to base that opinion on. You sound intelligent so don’t let that get in the way of learning the truth.

    Let me perfectly clear, your opinions of the Mormon Church are based on incorrect information. The question is, do you really want to know the truth?

  • Dennis L Thompson

    I do not dislike Mormons, but I can not fellowship with them as being a Christian either. There are many moral people on this earth. Mitt Romney has my vote, but if he pushed Mormonism, he would not have it. Many huge differences between Christianity and Mormonism.

    1) What is the Church?

    Mormons believe:

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true Church; all other churches are “wrong”, all their creeds an “abomination”, and all who profess them are “corrupt” (Joseph Smith?History 1:19, The Pearl of Great Price).

    Christians believe:

    The one true Church is the mystical, spiritual Body of Christ made up of all those from various denominations or churches (Acts 15:35-41; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 11:19; 12:13ff.; and Ephesians 4:4-13).

    2) Are there other Gods?

    Mormons believe:

    There are many gods who create and rule over other worlds, and worthy Mormons may become gods there some day. On those worlds, worship excludes the God of our world (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 576-7; Joseph Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 346-7; Abraham 4:1, The Pearl of Great Price; and Gospel Principles, 290).

    Christians believe:

    There is only one God who created and rules over everything in existence. To think that God did not create something like some other world is to simply devalue and weaken God (Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 4:39; Isaiah 40:12-20; 43:10; 44:6-8 and 24; and John 1:1-3).

    3) About the Trinity:

    Mormons believe:

    The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate gods, who are one in purpose and nature, but not in a Being they share eternally (Ibid.).

    Christians believe:

    The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons, who are eternally one in purpose, nature, and Being (Ibid.; Matthew 3:16; 4:10; and 28:16-19).

    4) Are men and God the same nature or species?

    Mormons believe:

    The nature of these gods is identical to the nature of man, and as such these humans had to become gods; they haven?t always been gods (Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345; Thomas C. Romney, The Life of Lorenzo Snow, 46; and Doctrine and Covenants 130:22).

    Christians believe:

    God has His own unique nature that man, a created being by definition cannot ever have. God is God by nature, and not by obtainment (Psalms 90:2; Hosea 11:9; Acts 14:15; Galatians 4:8; and 2 Peter 1:3-4).

    5) Is God married?

    Mormons believe:

    God the Father has at least one wife by which we on this world were all literally born as spirit children prior to taking on our tangible bodies of flesh and bones via our mortal parents (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 516-7; and Brigham Young, The Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, 50).

    Christians believe:

    Since God is not a man by nature it is impossible for Him as God to even have a wife. It is just as impossible for God to lie. Further, God does not even have a body that He would need to produce us. Marriage requires partiality, receiving counsel from the other partner, and compromise. But God cannot do these either. Finally, He does not need anything, let alone a wife, to become God (Ibid.; 1 Kings 8:27; and Hebrews 6:18).

    6) Does the Father have a Father?

    Mormons believe:

    God the Father had a Father whom He followed as Jesus had followed Him in order to become a god (Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 373).

    Christians believe:

    There is no other God before God. He is not so weak that He needed to serve and receive counsel from some other God in order to become God; He always was God (Ps. 90:2; Isa. 40:12-20; and Isa. 43:10).

    7) Is there anything that the Father did not create?

    Mormons believe:

    Thus God the Father did not create the planet that His Father had already created. No God for any world created all worlds. No God for any world created intelligence, matter, or the laws that govern them. These are eternal. Any person, including a God for any world, eternally existed as intelligence, and not as God (Ibid.; and Doctrine and Covenants 93:29; 131:7-8; and Abraham 3:21-24).

    Christians believe:

    There is only one Being who created and rules over everything in existence. To think that God did not create something like some other world is to simply devalue and weaken God (Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 4:39; Isaiah 40:12-20; 43:10; 44:6-8 and 24; John 1:1-3; and Acts 17:28).

    8) Is there anything that the Son did not create?

    Mormons believe:

    Jesus being the literal son of exalted human gods obviously did not create all things either. That is why He is referred to as Lucifer?s as well as our elder brother in the pre-earth life (Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel through the Ages, 15).

    Christians believe:

    Jesus existed prior to becoming man as “the only begotten God” (John 1:18, New American Standard). As such, He created everything that was ever created from the very beginning (John 1:1-3). To relativize this creation to only concerning the things of this world devalues and cheapens Jesus, who has not only the nature of man (1 Timothy 2:5), but also the nature of “God over all blessed forever” (Romans 9:5).

    9) Does the Son receive the same worship as the Father?

    Mormons believe:

    Jesus is not worshipped equally with the Father, since Jesus is not our begetter. Jesus is not even directly prayed to. Prayer is directed only to the Father in the name of Jesus (BYU Devotional [March 2, 1982], 17, 19, and 20).

    Christians believe:

    Since Jesus is God by nature, He is worshipped equally with the Father. Jesus receives both worship and prayer, and we are commanded to do so (Mt. 4:10; 28:16-19; Jn. 5:18-23; 14:14 [NAS]; Acts 7:59; 1 Cor. 1:2; and 1 Jn. 5:13-15).

    10) What role do good works play with our standing before God?

    Mormons believe:

    Good works are a necessary requirement of salvation and right standing before God (2 Nephi 25:23; Alma 5:27-28; 11:37; 34:33-35; Moroni 10:32; Doctrine and Covenants 42:18; 58:43; 82:7; 2nd Article of Faith; and Gospel Principles, 75-77).

    Christians believe:

    Salvation is a free gift that must be received through faith alone, and this automatically is demonstrated by the overall good life produced by it (Romans 4:5; 11:6; Galatians 3:11, 23-26; Eph. 2:8-10; 1 Jn. 5:10-13).

  • Dennis L Thompson

    Mormons Tithe out of Coercion

    Most people would be offended at any organization which teaches that in order to escape damnation, giving of your financial means is mandatory. Yet, this is exactly what Mormonism teaches.

    Mormonism teaches that there are three degrees of glory reserved for those who have passed on from mortality. These are called the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdoms. Within the celestial there are three more levels. LDS leaders have proclaimed that what a person believes and does in this life will be tantamount as to which kingdom that person will abide in the next life. Interestingly enough, any level lower than the top level within the celestial kingdom has been described as damnation.

    To clarify this we quote LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie. McConkie stated that salvation has varying degrees just as damnation has varying degrees. According to page 177 of his book “Mormon Doctrine,” he states that those who are damned are, “Those who fail to gain exaltation in the highest heaven in the celestial world, even though they do gain a celestial mansion in one of the lower heavens of that world.” He goes on to say, “The rejection of any covenant, the gospel, celestial marriage, or any other, assures the rebellious person of damnation.”

    If one hopes to obtain the celestial kingdom in the next life, he must practice what is known as “celestial law.” In the words of third LDS President John Taylor, “We are told that if we cannot abide the law of the celestial kingdom we cannot inherit a celestial glory” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.26, p.133).

    Brigham Young, Mormonism’s second president, stated that if a person hopes to obtain the celestial kingdom,

    “it requires a strict obedience to every point of law and doctrine and to every ordinance which the Lord reveals: in short, it requires a strict observance of every requirement of Heaven, to fully prepare a people for the possession and enjoyment of the celestial kingdom” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.10, p.286).

    Having said all this, it should be noted that paying a full tithe is a requirement under celestial law. Said Mormon Apostle James E. Talmage,

    “It is important to know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has observed this requirement from the early days of its history–not because it was operative in ancient Israel, nor because it was law and custom among the Jews in the days of Christ, but because it has been authoritatively established through modern revelation in the Church.”

    Talmage then quoted Doctrine and Covenants 119: 3-4, which reads,

    “And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my People. And after that, those who have thus been tithed, shall pay one tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them for ever, for my Holy Priesthood, saith the Lord.” (The Vitality of Mormonism, p.207 – p.20.

    Our argument is not against tithing per se, all of us at MRM freely give to the churches we attend. We do so, not as a means to escape “damnation,” but rather as a means of furthering the ministry of the church. Giving to our individual churches enables it to spread the Christian message whether it is at home or abroad. The Mormon may argue that he freely gives of his tithes to his church and that he does not feel he is being coerced into doing so. This may be true; however, it is the letter of Mormon law wherein the coercion lies, not an individual’s feelings about the law.

    Another important aspect of celestial law is participation in the temple endowment ceremony. But herein lies the catch. In order to enter an LDS temple, it is necessary to obtain a temple recommend. A recommend is granted only when the Mormon has been found faithful in numerous categories, including tithe-paying. If a Mormon does not pay his tithes, he cannot get a recommend. If he cannot get a recommend, he cannot go to the temple. If he cannot go to the temple, he cannot go to the celestial kingdom; hence he receives damnation in the next life. Consequently, if the Mormon wants to escape damnation, he is compelled to pay up, whether he likes it or not. This is tithing by coercion, not the biblical method prescribed in the Bible.

    Jesus never taught tithing. Nor did his disciples. Jesus taught giving and that all we have is God’s

  • Laura Hunter

    Dennis… Most of what you are saying is either un-true or taken out of context. One could do the same with verses of the Bible. (or sermons from evangelical pastors, for that matter) But WE won’t. Because despite the fact that we believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the one true Church, we do believe that other Christian Churches have much truth. We love them. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I pay my tithing because I love the ONE GOD of the universe. He has commanded it. So I do it with love in my heart knowing that all I have is a blessing from Him in the first place. We love you as a child of God, and we hope that one day you find something better to do than insult Christians who don’t subscribe to the exact same theology as you. Christ spent time his time with sinners, with believers, adulterers and liars with everyone. It’s a little funny to me that you wouldn’t even hang out with a lowly Mormon. (Hey– I think that’s kind of the point of the article, isn’t it?) You are welcome to fellowship with us anytime, because Jesus asked us to love everyone. Hope you have a great day.

  • Emric

    I am always intrigued by the defenders of truth. In my opinion, truth does not need defense, it just is. It is content and only asks to be held and cherished. It does not really care what people think or what understanding they have now evolved to. It only cares to make the embracer a better, wiser, more humble person. Also, It can only be sought after but not forced upon.

    You could say that truth is overrated. It “matereth not” how much of it you have and what length you might go to protect it but rather, it “matereth” what you do with the little amount that is entrusted to you.

    The spirit of the 4th century cross-bearing Latin warrior seems alive and well however. Even after centuries of absurd religious intolerance, inquisition, slaughter, suffering and bloodshed in the name of truth and righteousness, there are still individuals today that feel the need to unsheathe that sword of truth and hack, slice, dice indiscriminately their way to the holy land (AKA: the Kingdom of Heaven).

    Granted, battle hardened hordes of blood thirsty warriors served a definite purpose when it came to pushing back the Southern and Eastern Europe Mohammedan invasions and preserve some remnant of Greek, Roman and Christian heritage that make up today’s western civilization. The fact remains, there are both a spiritually uplifting and evil side to faith and religion – to any religion. Because they are imperfect and led by men who at some point in time will feel they need to sit in judgment of others… in the name of truth and righteousness. They might view themselves as soldiers of truth but forget they are to carry a message of peace.

    In this particular light, that holy land is turning out to be some sort of private club for likeminded truth mongering people. That is OK. There is a time for every purpose under heaven, even for likeminded people to sit in righteous judgment over the hearts, motives and faiths of others.

    My house and I will serve a different Lord and will skip that stop and get off at the next station.

    Yes, Mormons might be a peculiar people with peculiar beliefs, although that also is a matter of perspective. What rings true to Mormons and makes them feel at home, might not to someone else. The same goes for any other-than-yours belief system. To add to Mr. French’s point: what makes Mormons better People, Neighbors and Citizens deserves some consideration and respect. This kind of respect should extend to all, regardless of religion or creed, even the above mentioned Mohammedans.

    There is beauty in all religion and faith that promotes charity, compassion, betterment of the individual which is the essence of Christ’s message. No need to get hung up on technicalities. There is nothing technical about the Kingdom of Heaven. Only Truth, Love, Compassion, Charity, Understanding, Forgiveness, Humility, Light, Knowledge and plenty of time to enjoy it all. If you are going to get off at that station, you ought to start practicing those right away or you will definitely not feel at home. You might be stuck with the previously mentioned likeminded people.

    Mitt and his wife could be Muslim, Hindu, Buddhists or what they are: Mormons… it “mattereth not”. What matters is how they might be better people and potentially better public servants because of it.

    If you stare too long at their personal or Mormon imperfections, you won’t even see the giant beam that is stuck in your own eye.

    My advice: anything but tolerance isn’t worth the breath you will waist trying to enforce a truth that cannot be enforced.

  • Observer

    I have read all these comments with interest. From a political perspective I see two natural moral allies. David and Nancy French have done a impressive job articulating with openness and good humor why Governor Romney should become Commander in Chief not only despite his religion but because of his faith even though they do not share his chosen theology. Of the terms of this debate on religious issues it is apparent that there is a failure on the part of certain of the parties to acknowledge Article 6 of the US Constitution–there is to be no religious test!! Gov Romney has made it clear that he will not use the Officr to promote his the religion of his confession. Judge him on his ability to lead the whole country–and the world.

    As far as the exchanges here it is clear that neither side is using language consistent with each other. “Christian” means different things to different sects. In fact as used in the evangelical sense it means evidently those who accept the early creeds. A better term would be creedal Christian. Given that definition Mormon would likely agree they are not ” Christian ” by that definition and thus both could agree to disagree and be satisfied. However the term “cult” which is also being used in a private sectarian and code-word sense by some self-professed evangelicals, is not only offensive to Mormons, it is libelous in this political climate. Those who use it against any group or politician deserve to be called out for their bigotry. This sort of whispering campaign against a politician’s faith violates the principles of the Constitution and cannot be tolerated.

    To Larry:
    If this exchange were a debate on what Mormons believe, you have lost very badly. Quit before you embarrass yourself and your faith any further. In fact you would do well to apologize and move on. The issues facing this country are far too important than to debate issues of faith in this forum.

  • Carol

    Just a quick clarification… Here’s a definition of Christian: “following the teachings or manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus Christ.” And another one: “a religious person who believes Jesus is the Christ.”

  • Larry

    Emric, you’ve served a heaping helping of contradictions and non sequiturs … they may please you, but they do a great disservice to not only truth … but its essential purpose.

    Jesus urged us to “know the truth” as a ward against deception and its dread consequences. Your post ignores not only the reality of evil … but also its horrific aims and effects.

    When you offer counsel contrary to Jesus’ own words you’ve wandered into more than personal peril … you’ve made an effort to lead others into its maws with you.

    That’s not tolerance … Jesus explained that it is the blind leading the blind. You may call it tolerance … Jesus suggested it is, because of the harm it brings, evil. Both fall into the ditch.

    We must share truth when we may, unless we encounter those of whom Jesus warned would trample our pearls under foot and then turn to rend us. Or in the words of Paul …

    Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
    (1Ti 4:16) and …

    But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
    (2Ti 2:23-26)

    You cannot treat truth so lightly … given that Jesus declared, of Himself, that He is the truth, the way and the life.

    These are matters to prayerfully, and in the light of scripture, carefully consider.

  • Laura

    I don’t think Emric is saying that truth doesn’t matter. He’s trying to highlight the fact that you, Larry, are suggesting that differences in opinion on religion prohibit one from voting for an individual of a different religion. I personally know some evangelicals who believe Catholocism is a cult, so should you not vote for a Catholic? Or a Jew? Or in that same chapter of 1st Timothy, we are warned not to abstain from meat. So… maybe you should think about not voting for a Vegetarian either.
    You are missing the point.
    With regard to politics, friendship or general morality: No one cares if you and Mitt don’t go to the same Church. I can almost guarantee that you would agree more with Romney on issues of morality and spirituality than you do with Brack Obama.
    Obviously, we all think God cares whether we have “the truth” with regard to our salvation. But we’re talking about voting for a candidate. NOT joining his church.

  • Laurel

    You are totally missing the point! Read the article again instead of arguing with each other about whose theology is true and whose is false. David isn’t saying that Mormons are right in their doctrine, he’s saying that their moral views should be appreciated and respected. If the Holy Spirit works in them or through them it still doesn’t mean that their theology is correct – it means that they are agreeing with God that those things such as morality and generosity are good. Do you remember Romans 10 that David spoke of?
    I don’t agree with Mormon doctrine – I’m not a Mormon. But I can respect them when their actions are true and good. Respect and appreciation for people, even when they disagree with you is GOOD and I believe that it glorifies God and that He is pleased with our love for each other.
    It seems that very often Evangelical Protestants place a higher value on espousing their rightness than in treating others with love and respect. Be careful that in your “rightness”, you don’t become like the Pharisees.
    But then I’m Roman Catholic, so anything I say is anathema in their eyes too, because to them my theology isn’t correct either.
    I’m a “Catholic for Mitt Romney”.

  • Larry

    Laura, nowhere have I suggested Mitt Romney’s faith disqualifies him from office. Indeed, I have said often in response to David’s posts that it matters not a whit to me. You’re reading into my remarks your own projections.

    Please don’t. I don’t support Mitt because of his actual record, speeches and now his unethical approach to campaigning. His faith is immaterial to me … always has been.

  • Jack

    The 11th Article of Faith . . . of the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:

    “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

    Sounds to me like something that Jesus and the meridian apostles taught . . . they, of course, battled evil, but taught all who were willing to learn . . . and invited those who were kind and open to the truth . . . (e.g. Nicodemus, Mary and Martha, etc. . . . and perhaps many like Larry and Lisa, eh?)

    Keep learning Larry, Lisa, and all seekers and professed followers of Christ . . . and thank you, David, for your Christian values, comments, and insights . . .

  • Catholic 3L

    On an issue slightly more germane to the thesis of the article, I think it a bit dishonest when Mormons or well-meaning Christians become upset when Catholics and/or other Christians deny Mormons the badge of Christian authenticity. Let me preface my ensuing comment by stating strongly that this issue is near and dear to my heart. My wife is practicing LDS. The topic that the post contends with has been debated under my roof with varying levels of tension and distress but always in the spirit of honesty.

    Let us consider a case in point. The Nicean creed, which all Christians share, says in part, “We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” That is to say, there is a singular Christian baptism which occurs in the name of the Trinitarian formula of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Christians are united in this belief.

    When I was received into the Catholic Church Easter 2010, I was not baptized with the Catechumens. Why? I was not a Catechumen but rather a Candidate for full communion. The Catholic Church acknowledged our singular Christian baptism.

    Catholics cannot acknowledge the Mormon baptism. The Mormon baptism does not convey a divine reality fundamental to the Christian faith. Thus, the Mormon baptism fails as a sacrament. Put differently, Mormons do not acknowledge the trinity and therefore Mormon baptism fails to reflect God as He truly is. The Catholic Church’s claim that Mormons are not Christians, to the extent of my knowledge, rises and falls on this point.

    Similarly and interestingly, Mormons would not acknowledge the Catholic baptism. If Mormons really possessed the ecumenical high-ground, then it would seem that they would acknowledge the Catholic baptism but they do not. In this way, Catholics, or less specifically Christians, and Mormons share in our dis-acknowledgement; at least on this point.

    Can we make a distinction between theological-Christianity and cultural-Christianity? Perhaps. Or, alternatively, we could make a “Big C” vs. “Little C” distinction, too. However you wish to slice the pie, Catholics, Evangelicals, and Mormons make disparate objective truth claims.

    These disparate claims are as profound and real as they are important. We need not wish them away. How dare we wish them away?! I would rather contend with the stern-faced opposition of Larry than the smiling dictatorship of relativistic ecumenism. I admit that ecumenism for most originates out of an atmosphere of respect. However, reducing diversity to common denominators makes ugly all participants because they cease to be what we sought to respect.

    I have learned through having a mixed faith marriage that we cannot simply whitewash our differences. We cannot ignore them. And, perhaps most importantly, true respect, which does not derive from the reductionism of ecumenism, entails acknowledging the reality of our difference regardless of how uncomfortable they make us.

    Vote Romney 2012.

  • Laura

    Obviously his faith is not immaterial to you, or you wouldn’t be here dissecting it. You are here on a website entitled Evangelicals for Mitt, responding to an article about his religion and how it is one of the reasons he is such an ethical, moral decent human being, thus worthy of our vote. And your only response is to attack his Christianity. So… I’m not reading into anything. Just coming to the logical conclusion that any normal human being would. You have a problem with our Church. I honestly hope that one day you can open your mind enough to consider others’ beliefs in an objective manner. I was trained and taught that Mormons are deceiving and misguided for so long that it took a very long time for me to even consider the possibility that it was my Pastors who were misguided. But when you open your mind and heart and pray, God will lead you. I truly hope you have a good night and find something more worthwhile to do.

  • Laura

    Catholic 3L: I think that ( at least I know I did) acknowledge that fact that we do not embrace the Nicene or other post New Testament creeds. And if one judges another’s Christianity based on that point, then certainly, we will bow out honestly and gracefully from wanting to belong to that club. But the Nicene creed has never defined Christianity. If one researches about the Nicene council, one will discover that it had very little to do with God’s will and very much to do with politics. I’m not comfortable with that method of obtaining doctrine. I will take my truth, my doctrine, from scripture. We embrace the teachings of the Bible, Old and New Testaments both. If one looks to the Bible, there is no doctrine of the Trinity. But I digress. The point, once and for all, is that God knows our hearts. He knows if I truly love and serve Jesus and he knows if you truly love and serve Jesus. He will be my judge. There is nothing dishonest about smiling and professing my belief in Christ, all the while knowing that others call me a liar or a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Honesty and Smiling are the only way to get through debates like this. I won’t go through my life angrily judging everyone else’s Christianity. That’s a miserable type of existence, imo. I can only speak the truth that is in my heart. And no one at the Nicene Council, in the Catholic Church, or anywhere else for that matter, can judge my belief in Christ. He was and is the Creator of this world, the Redeemer of all Mankind. I’m so thankful to know His peace. I truly hope that you do, too.

  • Steven

    Thank you for illustrating exactly what this article states, that Mormons are better at practicing what they preach than evangelicals. I myself am an evangelical, but the evangelical church is so hypocritical. We could do well to learn from Mormons, at least in the way we act. I congratulate them for being authentic and loving, because they are often better at it than we are, and your hateful response shows that perfectly. Though I may not agree with their beliefs and agree that Christ is the only way to God, we could learn a lot from the Mormons. Please think before you speak next time and think about how Christ would respond to this kinda thing, rather than your prideful, insecure. I say this in love. You are not doing anyone any favors. You are not loving your neighbor. Even if you and I disagree with their beliefs, we can find unity on our desire to love others. Please chill out.

  • Steven

    There are certainly better, more loving ways of doing so though. “Speak the truth in love”. Don’t be a pharisee man.

  • Steven

    This is why I personally cannot believe Mormonism. Too many major doctrinal contradictions to essential Christianity. You guys are still super nice people though. Some of my best friends are LDS.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I have never seen any evidence that religious beliefs are a useful predictor of moral behaviour in any people.

  • Once A Fanatic

    There isn’t a single scripture that Jesus wrote himself, so it is ALL received of man. Your interpretation of what is said and meant in the New Testament is no more valid than anyone else’s. Your use of it ‘unaltered by man’ as a spiritual sledgehammer is offensive unless you have the original texts, can read and speak Latin, Greek and Aramaic and can interpret it accurately to a modern American crowd. (btw, there are no original texts and therefore EVERYTHING in the NT has been ‘altered by man.;)

  • Once A Fanatic

    Except Paul didn’t ever quote Jesus. That’s probably because he didn’t know. So how did he know all these things he told the Galatians? He would have had to received his knowledge through the spirit… hmmm… strange that he should receive his witness in a personal revelation but no one else can–except you of course, since you seem to know more about what Paul meant than even his scribe.

  • You would be much better off competing with the goodness of Mormonism (trying to create better results than they do) than by to convince everyone it is evil/untrue, etc. because it’s a cult. Remember that Christianity was a cult to the Pagan AND the Jew, even Paul found it such, which is why he murdered Christians.

    If Mormonism is dangerous to you it is only because Christianity has found itself in the same past, with the same persecutions and cries of ‘cult! cult!’ It took nearly 2000 years for Christianity to evolve to whatever evangelical church you are going to now. Allow Mormons the same amount of time to evolve into myopic quasi-intellectuals that use an over translated text with no originals as a sledgehammer to some other poor similarly good people in the minority who believe differently than they do.

  • Paul? The person that is most quoted here as proof that Mormonism must be wrong. Either Jesus Christ appeared to him (well after his death/resurrection) or everything Paul said must be a lie.

  • Larry

    Gee whiz … stern faced? Really? : )

  • Celestial Reasonings

    “I think the answer is that we, as intercessory believers, need to ask the Lord which candidate will have the most pliable heart in His hands. I, for one, am still on my knees with this question!”

    Lisa,

    We praise God that in His power and grace we know that no matter who “wins” the election, our God holds the reins! Consider:

    Proverbs 21:1
    The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.

    Daniel 2:21
    He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings…

    Romans 13:1
    For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

    This assurance of God’s sovereignty allows me to I stand boldly with Martin Luther who said, “I’d rather be ruled by a wise (unbeliever) than a foolish Christian.”

  • Timothy Dalrymple

    Lisa, the word “cult” has a meaning in the English-speaking world, and it is not “a group that promotes false theology about at least one member of the Trinity.” If that were the definition, then everything but pure Christianity would be a cult. In fact, since there are so many differences of opinion even amongst (let’s say “orthodox” or non-Mormon) Christians on the proper theology of each member of the Trinity, it would follow that most varieties of Christianity are also cults.

    This is why I think we should leave the word “cult” out of it. If something claims to be Christian but makes false and dangerous claims on matters of great theological importance, then it is heresy. Given your views, you should call Mormonism a heresy. The word “cult” conjures up images of mind control and poisoned Kool-aid and sexual abuse. It’s a harmful word and a confusing word, and I think we should find another.

    You can, without giving up an inch of your personal beliefs, come to the conclusion that another word would be more clarifying and more charitable.

  • Celestial Reasonings

    Dennis,

    Thank you for the quotes; they make the point that Mormons, like evangelicals (and most other religious systems) are exclusionary. So the question is, “Which system do you believe?” May God, the Holy Spirit, bring each seeker to saving faith.

    As for, “Nevertheless, the Mormon church clearly condemns other religious systems. Those Mormons who complain about poor treatment should familiarize themselves with their teachers’ words.”

    It is at this point that the present discussion has repeatedly become problematic. No one is perfectly or completely familiar with their teachers’ words–this includes even the most fervent protestant Christians!

    If each responder would offer his or her thoughts and invite others to agree or disagree and provide support, I think the exchange of ideas and opinions would come to the fore and replace the pointless, discussion killing (personal) attacks.

  • Larry

    Timothy, I know you’ve stated this elsewhere … yet here, I get it. Though technically it may be true (though I think your suggestion that most strains of Christianity are likewise cults is a stretch) I can see that it would probably and unnecessarily cause offense.

    Well done and thank you.

  • Peter Breinholt

    Larry,
    I’ve appreciated the generally positive back-and-forth. Some of your responses have reminded me, however, of the story of the blind boy in John 9 to whom Christ gave sight. The Pharisees couldn’t accept the miracle because Christ didn’t keep the Sabbath. So the blind boy says: “Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). That is how I often feel as a Mormon. The point of David French’s essay is that whether Mormonism lines up neatly with traditional interpretations or not, it works. There is apparently a power in it that makes people who live it love others, give more generously, and experience joy and happiness beyond what they do without it. Perhaps one Gospel message is we should seek truth less like lawyers (and Pharisees) guarding a position, and more like scientists – willing to set aside bias and simply put spiritual claims to the test. What is true religion? Christ offered us a litmus test for how to tell if somebody is one of His disciples in the Gospel of John 13:35. “By this shall all men know ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another.” In another place the Apostle James said “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions and to keep himself unspotted from the world”. And elsewhere ‘”By their fruits shall ye know them”. My own experience is that Mormonism not only works, but it is a miracle. It has been the spiritual equivalent of this blind boy being given sight.

  • Katie

    As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called Mormons), I believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of mankind. I “believe all things, hope all things, have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy [I] seek after these things.”

  • Eightcowwife

    His occupational bias could be the desire for filthy lucre too. Read Titus 1:11 and Titus 1:7.

  • Nadia

    I don’t understand why people outside the church call us unchristian???? Everything we do is for Jesus Christ, we represent Him in all That we say and do. We try to become like Him because someday we will be just like Him. Afterall, he is our Brother and if that is so and He is a God then so like Him we shall be, Gods and Goddess. We obey his word, we follow his principle. We pray to Him and listen to the still small voice, the holy ghost, whom is a spokesman for Jesus Christ, prompting us whether by feelings, dreams, or wisdom helping us make the right decision so the path which we must take is the best one. We read The Book Of Mormon not because its a good read but because it is a journal of what was, not a storybook that has good points but because it is the word of God written by Prophets chosen of God. It is our moral compass and a reminder of what happened to those who foresaked the truth in order for them to enjoy the materialistic things of this world. They were destroyed for their wickedness because they turned away from God. We are not members of Mormon! That is not what we are or who we follow. Mormon was a Prophet in The Book of Mormon who has written in this book. Are name that we go by is: The church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints. We are christian and we believe in the bible, old and new as far as these books were translated correctly and we believe in the Book Of Mormon to be written by the word of God through His Chosen Prophets. We believe in God and we follow His ways. This is what I know to be true because it has been confirmed to me the of it through prayer, dreams and feelings.

  • Catholic 3L

    I have researched the Nicene Creed. If you say it was subject to a political process, then yes, to some extent you are correct. Politics, on a basic level, is the resolution of conflict. The Church has succeeded at bringing resolutions to theological disputes for 2,000 years. If you say that the governmental leadership of the Roman Empire aided in creating a platform for which to “hash out” the Nicene Creed, then yes, I will admit this point.

    However, the truth of Christianity and, more particularly, the Rock of Peter does not rise and fall on the earthen vessels of men. If this were so, there would never be a Church. That is to say, all men fail. Catholic ecclesiology is of divine origins. I think it was either Waugh or Belloc who said (yes, I’m too lazy to look it up), and I paraphrase, “If the Church established by Christ were not divine, it would never have lasted this long.” Human efforts will never cause the complete apostasy that Mormons allege.

    I think Mormons hold a double standard in this regard. The Mormon Church has made curios modifications to doctrine contemporaneous with U.S. governmental pressures. Additionally, I have attended my fair share of “sacrament” meetings, stake conferences, and watched my share of general conferences on T.V. If the act of “sustaining” is not an institutionalized form of democracy, then I do not know what is. In other words, Mormonism it subject to political process too.

    Allegations of heresy, and therefore apostasy, due to political mandate are like allegations of Catholic/Christian exceptionalism against Mormons; they are stones in glass houses.

  • It profits very little to focus on churches, but it profits much focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Catholic 3L

    Definitions that are infinitely broad are meaningless. In order to be meaningful, we have to make some distinctions. The answer to your initial question lies in the body of your comment.

    The LDS understanding of God is not a classical definition of the God’s trinitarian nature. The LDS understanding of God is not that of classical theism. Actually, the LDS definition of God is not even classically deist. It is, in all regards, classically Mormon!

    You worship a God that Mormons equivocate with the Christian God. Similarly, just this morning, I ate an apple that I equivocated with an orange. In other words, the fundamental nature of God and Christ as you define Him are so fundamentally distinct from Christianity that it earns itself a separate categorical distinction within the theological taxonomy as it were.

    The corollary to expanding a definition beyond meaningful boundaries is to focus exclusively on the differences and forget our similarities. For instance, orthodox Catholics and orthodox Mormons (Pelosi and Reid aside) have a lot in common. This is especially evident in macro level cultural issues as they are played out politically. On a level of spiritual praxis, we share things in common too. But theologically, despite our similarities, we are distinct. To conflate these two theologies to fit them under the common banner of Christianity would do violence to both parties (see my post above.)

  • Catholic 3L

    I mean it affectionately! The meanest nuns are often my favorite nuns. Not to equivocate you with a nun per se! 🙂

  • Larry

    Peter, perhaps its our very different views of truth which are in conflict. I don’t view truth as merely knowledge … something which alters with perspective. It is not a primarily psychological phenomenon … it is a distinctly spiritual “thing”.

    While I do believe that scripture creates a context within which we may begin to accurately consider God (that is it organizes our thoughts in a manner consistent with who God is … and who He is not), I do not believe that scripture enjoys the capacity to actually reveal God.

    That is the Provence of God the Holy Spirit. He alone can unleash encounter with the living Jesus Christ. The logos is rather like a map … it guides us to our destination without claiming to be our destination. Truth isn’t a body of knowledge … it is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. That is, it’s not simply something we know, but rather someone we know.

    Maps are crucial though. They allow us to travel the roads which carry us forward toward our destination … and they, if we heed their markings, can keep us from routes which would carry us, unwittingly, away from where we wish to travel.

    I recall when maps available online where often woefully inaccurate. They appeared quite like other maps save for the simple fact that they were wrong. My conviction regarding their accuracy lay in the fact that I had nothing against which to gauge their truthfulness. Well, that and the fact that they appeared to be bona fide … they appeared to be the real thing.

    In this regard, scripture and the truth (and its truthfulness) are invaluable. It is, however, incomplete. Paul wrote …

    Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints … (Eph 1:15-18)

    Intimate communion is Christ’s aim for each of us. Mysteriously, in the person of the Holy Spirit, Jesus leaps from the pages of scripture and into the now. The “logos” becomes the “rhema” and Jesus becomes ceases to exist as more than a figure of literature or of history … He becomes living, personal and present … to me.

    Continuing in His word (John 8:31,32) then, becomes paramount in this intensely personal and progressive revelation of Jesus. It appears that God’s word allows me to begin thinking about God in terms consistent with who He actually is rather than who I simply imagine Him to be.

    Consequently, when He begins to speak, His voice resonates in my heart … that is, His word bears witness with the Word which I have hidden in my heart. In the absence of such guidance I might easily follow any voice.

    Interestingly, Jesus speaks of truth (in John 8) by contrasting it with the deception (cunningly disguised as truth) satan labors to enslave us with. The suggestion is obvious. Only by acknowledging and knowing the truth are we inoculated against satan’s lies. By the way, religion is a hotbed of deception. Remember, Jesus was addressing himself to the religious leaders of his day in that discourse.

    Truth then serves as a ward against my adversary … a touchstone as I navigate competing of truth … all of which seek my attention and fealty. Satan seeks to enslave me through deception … God labors to empower and free me from that enslavement through immutable truth … whose source He identifies as His word.

    Paul suggests much the same idea. He wrote …

    For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2Co 10:3-5)

    I don’t employ truth to gain advantage over people through clever argument. I share truth as a source of liberty and life. I offer it with humility and certainty to any who will hear. I should do no less.

    I have met Mormons whom I believe, are almost certainly Christians (again, in spite of, not because of Mormonism). Never-the-less, they are not free … not as they might be. I am of course thrilled that some have known Christ as Mormons … much like Paul thrilled at the preaching of Christ despite the motives of those who proclaimed Him …

    Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. (Philippians 1:15-18)

    There is great joy that comes with knowing Jesus … I yearn for that for every man.

  • Catholic 3L

    Christ presupposes Church. Our horizontal unity is closely tied to, if not inseparable from, our vertical unity. Such is the way of the cross. Focus on Christ, yes. But beyond that you make an impossible distinction.

  • Madison

    Amen, Catholic 3L. Amen.

  • Larry

    Peter, perhaps its our very different views of truth which are in conflict. I don’t view truth as merely knowledge … something which alters with perspective. It is not primarily a psychological phenomenon … it is a distinctly spiritual “thing”.

    While I do believe that scripture creates a context within which we may begin to accurately consider God (that is, it organizes our thoughts in a manner consistent with who God is … and who He is not), I do not believe that scripture enjoys the capacity to actually reveal God.

    That is the Provence of God the Holy Spirit. He alone can unleash encounter with the living Jesus Christ. The logos is rather like a map … it guides us to our destination without claiming to be our destination. Truth isn’t a body of knowledge … it is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. That is, it’s not simply something we know, but rather someone we know.

    Maps are crucial though. They allow us to travel the roads which carry us forward toward our destination … and they, if we heed their markings, can keep us from routes which would carry us, unwittingly, away from where we wish to travel.

    I recall when maps available online where often woefully inaccurate. They appeared quite like other maps save for the simple fact that they were wrong. My conviction regarding their accuracy lay in the fact that I had nothing against which to gauge their truthfulness. Well, that and the fact that they appeared to be bona fide … they appeared to be the real thing.

    In this regard, scripture and the truth (and its truthfulness) are invaluable. It is, however, incomplete. Paul wrote …

    Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints … (Eph 1:15-18)

    Intimate communion is Christ’s aim for each of us. Mysteriously, in the person of the Holy Spirit, Jesus leaps from the pages of scripture and into the now. The “logos” becomes the “rhema” and Jesus ceases to exist as more than a figure of literature or of history … He becomes living, personal and present … to me.

    Continuing in His word (John 8:31,32) then, becomes paramount in this intensely personal and progressive revelation of Jesus. It appears that God’s word allows me to begin thinking about God in terms consistent with who He actually is rather than who I simply imagine Him to be.

    Consequently, when He begins to speak, His voice resonates in my heart … that is, His word bears witness with the Word which I have hidden in my heart. In the absence of such guidance I might easily follow any voice.

    Interestingly, Jesus speaks of truth (John 8) by contrasting it with the deception (cunningly disguised as truth) satan labors to enslave us with. The suggestion is obvious. Only by acknowledging and knowing the truth are we inoculated against satan’s lies. By the way, religion is a hotbed of deception. Remember, Jesus was addressing himself to the religious leaders of his day in that discourse.

    Truth then serves as a ward against my adversary … a touchstone as I navigate competing offerings of truth … all of which seek my attention and fealty. Satan seeks to enslave me through deception … God labors to empower and free me from that enslavement through immutable truth … whose source He identifies as His word.

    Paul suggests much the same idea. He wrote …

    For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2Co 10:3-5)

    I don’t employ truth to gain advantage over people through clever argument. I share truth as a source of liberty and life. I offer it with humility and certainty to any who will hear. I should do no less.

    I have met Mormons whom I believe, are almost certainly Christians (again, in spite of, not because of Mormonism). Never-the-less, they are not free … not as they might be. I am of course thrilled that some have known Christ as Mormons … much like Paul thrilled at the preaching of Christ despite the motives of those who proclaimed Him …

    Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. (Philippians 1:15-18)

    There is great joy that comes with knowing Jesus more fully … I yearn for that for every man.

  • This was a phenominal article. I am a Mormon teen (cliche, let’s just get that out of the way) and I just would like to say that the feelings in this post are mutual, for me at least. I have many, many, many friends who are great Christian people and NOT Mormon. They are my friends because of their high values and standards. I love my church, and I believe it is true, however I am also very touched by other good Christians, such as yourself. Thank you for writing this article!

  • Peter

    Larry,
    I appreciate your words. Really. As I read, I kept thinking “Wait, that’s my line!” From the need for the Holy Ghost, to the role of scripture, to the map analogy (Mormons use that one too). To David’s original point, “encounters with the living Jesus Christ” as you so beautifully described them automatically spill over into manifestations of love, joy, humility and acts service. He was suggesting that when we see a genuine phenomenon, we trace the line backwards to the source – as Christ also suggested. It is common to dismiss the fruits of Mormonism as psychological effect, good organization, or brain washing, but it’s also lazy. There’s so much more there. As a Mormon, I appreciated David’s acknowledgement of that.

  • Brian

    I just want to thank David, the author, for writing such a clear and thoughtful treatment of the “judge not” principle in Christianity. Both the article itself and the thoughtful and heartfelt responses to it are inspiring.
    I do feel some concern about the contributor above who has spent so much of his time preaching anti-mormonism and so little to explain the truth he claims to hold so dear. Almost every line of “truth” in this responder’s hands is wielded as a weapon. Christ did not ever and will not ever teach this way (with the one exception of clearing the temple of merchants – perhaps this is what our extremist friend is trying to tell us?).
    I have to wonder if he has noticed that Christ and his disciples spent very little time preaching against anything. Whenever they did preach, it was always to clarify truth and to edify others.
    I could formulate a long response demonstrating everything claimed in the many diatribes above as false. But the extremist, like the pharisees before him, would not listen or even care until or unless he finds himself on his own road to Damascus (whether that road leads him to accept the exact same definition of Truth held by me or just to an open mind it is the same).
    The above use of the map as a metaphor is flawed. Since the test of a map is not its photographic similarity to another, but its ability to lead one to the desired location.
    I think it is important that we all recognize that Larry is filling the well understood role of the online troll and spending no discernable effort to actually contribute to the understanding of others on this thread. That said, I’d be delighted to hear what he actually has to say if he can find some way to state it that does not require him to focus solely on “this is wrong” (that list of grave errors is small and very precisely stated many times throughout the bible – and has far less to do with disagreement with the favored wording of one person or group than it has to do with contention). I, like many others on this thread I suspect, are far more interested in learning what is truth (both the upper and lower case variety). For now, I will use the standard of truth put forth by the Savior and by the author of the article that started this discussion, since no one has ever proposed any better standard that I have seen. I will judge truth by its fruits.

  • Laurel

    Oh, Mr. French, you certainly have gotten yourself in trouble with this article! People have come out in strength to tell you “how dare you impute goodness to people who don’t believe the way you do!” “How dare you communicate with them as equals and treat them with respect (and even admiration) at the same time knowing that their doctrines are different?” Oh wait, didn’t Jesus do that? Good job, sir!

  • Peter

    PS – As for Mormons not being free, and needing to know Christ more fully – I suppose it’s impossible to quantify that or get into the heart of a people. What we do have to work with are peoples’ testimonies and experiences . . . and their fruits. I appreciate that this article examined the fruits as an outward manifestation of what’s going on in the inside.

  • Ruth

    Please, let us lift, inspire and encourage others to Christ! Name calling and downing a religion which you are not a part of and haven’t the right to condemn on the level you are condemning is absolutely not what Christ would do. When the apostles saw men casting out devils, and commented to the Savior what did he say? “And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” (Luke 9:49–50) Why is it that Mormons who believe in Christ, follow Him and his commandments, who strive to be as he is, WHY ARE YOU SO AGAINST THEM?

  • Eightcowwife

    Beautiful explanation, thank you!

  • I may be in over my head here, but I’m a Mormon and I wanted to share a few thoughts. First, “Mormon” is just a nick-name. The official name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you want to shorten it, “the LDS Church” will do. Members can be referred to as “Mormons,” but we prefer “Latter-Day Saints.”

    Second, take what has been said about the LDS Church and our beliefs by non-members about as seriously as you would take what I, having never attended any other church, could teach you about Catholicism or Presbyterianism or Buddhism.

    And lastly, we are Christians. In a nutshell, we believe the Bible to be the word of God. We accept the teachings of Jesus Christ. And as He taught, we try to love one another as He loves us, regardless of race, religion or creed. None of us are perfect. But we try.

    xo -E

  • Turnmeister

    3L,
    While almost right, you miss a couple of key points. No, we are not trinitarians, so what? That only became a requirement to Christianity thanks to the political formation of the Catholic Church and its various break away groups. If you look at the history of early Christianity there are quite a few competing groups that were killed off (literally). Even in the middle ages we still have mass slaughter of other groups that reject Catholic doctrine, not to mention the wars following the reformation.
    Therefore, what happened in essence is that non-Catholics were killed off until the reformation produced enough that they were able to survive as viable groups.

    The other assumption you make is this “Catholic ecclesiology is of divine origins. I think it was either Waugh or Belloc who said (yes, I’m too lazy to look it up), and I paraphrase, ‘If the Church established by Christ were not divine, it would never have lasted this long.’ Human efforts will never cause the complete apostasy that Mormons allege.”
    You assume longevity is evidence of purity. Protestants would disagree. Additionally, similar arguments could be made for Hinduism, Budism, and Islam. Just because the church survived to the present is not proof that it maintained correct doctrine, ask Martin Luther.

    Finally, Mormons believe in modern revelation and an open cannon. It is entirely consistent with our belief to say that the Lord can change the how the church operates. As I recall, Peter had a similar experience as the church grew and began to accept gentiles. The practice of consent is also consistent with New Testament behavior.

    It all comes down to who gets to control the term “Christian” if Catholics do, then Protestants are out in the cold. If certain flavors of Baptists do, then there are hundreds of millions of Catholics who will feel upset. I think it is fair to say Mormons are not traditional or trinitarian Christians, but that’s where the line should be drawn.

  • Larry

    Peter, these sort of discussions are challenging in an online forum. The dynamics which face to face encounters offer allow for much warmer and “human” exchanges.

    The words, tones, expressions and, well, presence of a person add so much to a discussion. Their absence leaves us filling in the blanks with our own ideas about the person … their intent and demeanor.

    Oh well. I am grateful though for the opportunity to speak with others even if the experience leaves something to be desired.

    I wish you well on your journey of faith and pray that it carry’s you to fullness in Him.

  • Samara

    Spot on with your comments. Articulated better than I could have done.

    Someone telling me that I am NOT Christian is the single most aggravating thing about discussions on religion. It kind of makes me wonder about motes and beams. . . :-/

  • Samara

    Can I say the prayer from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’? God Bless Larry and keep him far away from us. . . and please bless our troops and keep them from harm and bring them home safe.

  • William

    I am thirteen years old, mormon, and and happy to see that people aren’t going to rule out mitt because of his religion instantaneously. I’m not saying I and my family are instantly inclined to vote for him either.

    I know I seem too young to be discussing this, because I am, but I had a comment about the site, and something to say about our beleifs.

    Lisa Rice-

    Okay, we believe god was once a man. I will give you that one. However, we DO NOT deny that Christ is a god, and I am sad that people think we believe he is not the eternal son. What we do not believe is only that he and god are the same person. This is a misconception I have seen everywhere mormons are discussed.

  • MooBella

    I’m sure there are billions of forums to discuss religion, which always leads to Mormon bashing. This article has nothing to do with 95% of the comments!

    And if the LDS church is so pointless and false, why is it treated like such a threat to other religions? You’d think there are only 2 churches by all these useless judgemental arguments; the LDS church vs. The others!

    I’m not sure where my life is going in regards to my religion. What I do know in all my confusion is that I walk into church and I’m happy for no apparent reason; church gives me a relationship with my neighbors that I wouldn’t otherwise take the effort to make; church gives me endless opportunities to donate to the homeless and volunteer my time to those who suffer more than I do; church gives me a reason to tell the truth and love my family no matter how crazy; church gives me the desire to respect others; church gives me comfort in death and life; church gives me passion and love for Christ. If that’s not Christian or an uplifting tool of life in the name of Christ, than surely there is no God.

    It”s easy to debate what “truths” you agree with or don’t. It’s easy and especially human to judge the life choices of others and especially ourselves. what’s not easy, is to remember how hurtful these things are to humanity. What church makes me feel the love of Christ and my peers is not as important as making sure I honor myself by living the very things I believe as an example of their goodness to those witnessing it. I find being an example of my beliefs is much more beneficial and important than living in contention by constantly trying to convert others. Only God truly converts you.

    I don’t care what religion you are or if you naively think one religion or another is a cult or non-Christian. I care that you fully believe what’s in your heart and you live by what’s in your heart. That’s part of the message in this article. The author wants us to understand that Mormons specifically and in general try their whole lives to do good by God, others, and themselves. Making hurtful generalizations and judgements are wrong and pointless. He wants his article to bring positivity and more than just tolerance for each other. He begs for us to practice Respect.

  • nadia

    Being a person with a moderate education and much life experiences behind me, I find that people like you think to scientifically and therefore cannot believe because they cannot prove or see the results of the belief.
    I have seen much that science could not prove but I know that what I have seen was not created by my imagination and that what I had seen, touched, felt, and had spoken too is to divine to explain to you because you would find some excuse in explaining away what I had seen. I am not a perfect person and have many flaws but I know that God is always there for He is our Father and we are His children. Both my parents were converts to the church because they could not deny what they felt, saw and heard from the gospel which they knew when heard was the missing link to what their previous religion was lacking, that is the priesthood. My mother was a strict catholic and my father was roman catholic who was set on taking his vows to become a priest. The God they worshiped and the God they worship now are one and the same, with a different perspective which gives hope rather then condemns. They knew the truth when they heard it and it was no whimsical decision to join The Church Of Jesus Christ for joining was fraught with much difficulty but they had faith in God and they knew they’re decision was the right one because the Holy Ghost confirmed this to them. I know that you cannot comprehend that your and “my” God are one and the same, why you think so, well, only you can tell. I, however know that our supreme creater, my Heavenly Father will recognize those who have recognized Him. I understand you have your opinion but whether you are a genius or just mad, I know what I know and that’s all that’s important. I truly find it irritating that just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there it just means you cannot see because you are either not willing , able, or open minded enough to have your eyes open. Don’t preen on the top of your mountain proclaiming your picture of what is, is the only picture out there!!! God chooses His people (many are called but few are chosen). Read Alma The Younger in the Book Of Mormon if you haven’t already. You remind me of him before the angel appeared unto him. I just hope it isn’t to late for you my dear brother.

  • Liz

    Hi, I found this article interesting, as well as some of the comments. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I just wanted to say that we are taught that Faith is a verb or in other words, a action word. We are taught to have Faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus said come follow me, so we try to follow His example, and act as he would act, because faith without works is dead. If one does not act upon their faith, is it really faith? The scriptures say we are saved by grace after all that we can do. Grace is another word for power, so we are saved by God’s power after all that we can do. We are human and we are mortal and as such make mistakes. These mistakes leave us imperfect and unable by ourselves to be saved. God is just, and no unclean thing can enter the kingdom of Heaven. Yet God is merciful which is where the role our Saviour Jesus Christ played comes in. Jesus Christ atoned for our sins. Through his sacrifice, he paid our debt to God, so that God can remain Just. However for Jesus Christ to pay our debt, he asks us to repent of our sins, so he can claim us as His. When we repent, another action word, and make changes in our lives to become more like Jesus Christ, becoming more righteous, then and only then can He pay the debt to justice for us. The point is that we have to try to improve, to progress/repent of our sins, and then through the grace/power of God when we fall short of making it to Heaven, God can step in and bridge the gap for us! What greater news can their be then that, because God offers this opportunity to everyone! We all are children of God. We should find so much Joy and encouragement by that!!! 🙂

  • nadia

    well said. you said it better then i could:)

  • Liz

    Yes there is great Joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ!!! Yet, it is because of our religion(Mormonism as you called it) that brings us to know Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the central core of our beliefs. He is our foundation, and His teachings our guiding star. For we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, that our children may know to whom they can look for a remission of their sins, and be saved. For Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God, our Saviour, our Redeemer, Exemplar, the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God, the King of Kings!!! It is by ACTING on our faith in Jesus Christ that we repent of our sins, change our lives and progress, to become more like Jesus Christ. Through repentance the power of Jesus Christ’s atonement can have claim on us. There by saving us with eternal life. Jesus Christ has given this same opportunity to everyone, because we are all children of God. Jesus Christ is God’s son and we ALL can be saved by doing as he has asked when he said “Come follow me!!” 🙂

  • xeroxfiend

    I love these long religious debates. Everyone knowing ahead of time that no one can be persuaded and yet we continue to post. In truth, our posts have nothing to do with persuading everyone else, but with persuading ourselves that we are still right even though other intelligents disagree with us. This whole page is a testament to insecurity and self-protective behaviors.

    Why should a mormon care if an evangelical thinks he’s not a Christian? Well, mormons are taught that a Christian is anyone who believes in Christ. Evangelicals are taught that Christians are anyone who believes as they do. So when Evangelicals accuse Mormons of not being christians, Mormons hear “you don’t believe in Christ”, when what they are actually saying is “you don’t believe like me”, a statement that mormons would concede to with pride.

    I would like to address myself to mormons for a moment: Mormons … what if evangelicals started calling themselves Mormons, on the basis that they read the Book of Mormon daily, and treasure it because they believe it is a wonderful cookbook. Would you concede to them that they are indeed Mormons just like you?
    So Mormons, when a protestant says “you aren’t Christian”, and you start typing up a storm about why thats not true, just remember you are doing it to prove it to yourself, cause you and I both know that you aren’t gonna be persuading nobody, and furthermore they have every right to make that claim because it is inherently subjective and therefore non-threatening.

    Now, protestants … Really? you’re gonna tell Mormons that they aren’t valid because they are a new kind of doctrine that seems to disagree with the old? If there is any religious group that should understand what the Mormons have done its you. When they did their little restoration, they only called it that because the word reformation had already been secured by Joseph Smith’s forerunners Martin Luther, and John Calvin (among others). When your whole belief system is based on the idea that the old one was wrong and so you “protested” it, you can’t really tell new-age protestants like the Mormons to stop following your example. I’m sure back in Luther’s day the Catholic preachers were using scriptures like the ones Larry kept quoting about another gospel, and perverting the gospel. In Luther’s day he was the perversion, and the “another gospel” and I’m sure that his contemporary catholics didn’t let him forget it.

    So, protestants … as the originators of the concept that one can challenge the gospel, if he finds fault with it, and create new truths. As the original heretics who let time transform their heresy into legitimacy. Legitimize yourselves by accepting that mormons are following in your footsteps, and support their departure from your truths as a way of supporting your own history as it repeats itself.

    To all of you … religious people … when you say that your beliefs are true, and that no one else’s are, and that they must be corrected, you are denying your own subjectivity. You are pretending that your understanding of the Bible, or the Gospel is the definitive one. Even if there is a definitive truth, it ceased to be definitive as soon as you interpreted it. To deny your own subjectivity and say that everyone must believe as you do is to say that you are God. Because none of you are likely God, quit saying absolute things. Its too ironic to hear someone judge the Mormons for their belief that they are God-embryos when the judge himself acts the part of God in that very judgement.

    As a non-religious person I read these posts and see scared, insecure people. I don’t see people of faith. If you’re looking to convert people, show your faith by not being so threatened.

  • Larry

    xeroxfiend, that’s a pretty facile argument. You seem to have carved out a position that provides you with the comfort required to ignore important questions.

    I cannot imagine satisfying myself with such oversimplifications (I’m being generous) regarding questions whose answers may prove enormously consequential.

    You may wish to consider digging a bit deeper xeroxfiend … do the intellectual heavy lifting required by such complex questions.

  • Terry

    Well said, Laura. I think the following quote from C.S. Lewis would apply to certain folks who post on EFM:

    “I think we may accept it as a rule that whenever a person’s religious conversation dwells chiefly, or even frequently, on faults of other people’s religions, he is in a bad condition.” –C.S. Lewis, Collected Letters Vol. 3 p. 209

    For several years now, I have advocated the idea that the time was coming when people would lay aside their religious differences and band together in fighting those who are trying to tear this country down. Evangelicals for Mitt is a good example of that happening. Unfortunately, folks like Larry and others can’t seem to get over their misguided opinions of what Mormons stand for and what we believe. EFM, on the other hand, gets it. The moral compasses of both LDS and Evangelicals are pointing in essentially the same direction–and politically, that’s all that is needed to form a working partnership.

  • Terry

    Mormons believe….Christians believe…blah-blah-blah. WHO CARES?

    Debating whether or not LDS are considered by others as Christian or a Cult is a waste of time. Arguments like that rarely change anyone’s mind. The fact is, we LDS know who we are, and so does God. That’s why being accused of belonging to a cult has never bothered me. And I don’t know of many other LDS whom it does bother.

  • Terry

    Larry-based on the tone of your posts to date, I have a very hard time believing that Mitt’s Mormonism plays absolutely no part in your decision not to support him. That is your right, of course, but something seems to have clouded your judgement of him. Perhaps an example of his “unethical approach to campaigning” that you alluded to is in order.

  • xeroxfiend

    I would love to know more on this matter. Please, complicate my simplicity.

    Is it not facile, an over simplification, and glaring irony to say that the sum of my errors is that my assertions aren’t complicated enough? What’s more is that facile is the whole point of these posts. Heavier lifting is for the article itself, or for books. My facile response was crafted to match your facile assertions earlier in the discussion. If I was guilty of anything it was being too wordy. If you require heavy lifting in a post article comment, you must give heavy lifting. But of course, that would be inappropriate, because brevity and conciseness are considered virtues in a comment section.

    I remember debate in college. When you don’t know how to challenge an assertion, challenge how it was made. I guess i better stop typing before I go from facile to heavy lifting and post something entirely inappropriate for a comments section.

  • SteveA

    I don’t know him personally, but I believe that Mitt is a moral and good man with principles based in truth. I believe he would serve all of us well as Americans. I am convinced he will stand where it is right to stand, and in the right way. He will be President, not king nor dictator. A capable and just leader… not, nor should he, or anyone else, be (as President of the United States) construed or propped up to be an ecclesiastical authority. That will not be his job.

    I think the Constitution made that clear.

  • Larry

    Xeroxfiend, spend some time perhaps at the Veritas Forum ( link here http://www.veritas.org ) depending upon your location, you may be able to attend live events.

    You’ll discover contemporary discussions (and robust debate) about these very matters. It’s a forum that encourages difficult questions and fearless exploration.

    You might enjoy it. Now as to my assertion that your arguments were facile … well, your posits were based in shallow assertions which reflected historical error and logical fallacies.

    Obviously, you won’t agree with my appraisal. I don’t blame you … no one enjoys having their opinion dismissed by others … I’ve offered ample evidence of that I think : ).

    Consider a visit to these forums though. Expose yourself to their arguments … and if possible air your ideas in a forum where thinking Christians might respond. You may discover there’s far more to consider than you’ve realized.

  • Catholic 3L

    If Christianity involves believing in God, specifically the “Word of God” and in Jesus Christ, also the “Word of God,” then we must then define who God and Jesus Christ are. As I mentioned above, a definition needs to provide sufficient data to make the definition of the word(s) being defined meaningful.

    We can talk about tertiary doctrines that share resemblances. However, since Christianity or, more particularly, Catholicism is highly deductive we can start with the theology of God’s nature to discern whether, in regards to Catholicism vs. Mormonism, we are talking about apples to apples or apples to oranges.

    In short, the God and Christ professed by members of the LDS Church is not the God and Christ professed by the Catholic Church or Christians generally. The LDS god is non-transcendent, contingent, and non-trinitarian. By Catholic definition, the LDS god is not God. Therefore, LDS Christology is off kilter. And, therefore, LDS, soteriology is amiss as well.

    Well, so what, some may say, “Catholics and protestants have different formula for certain theology as well.” True. However, we do not have divergent concepts of God’s nature. These differences earn Mormonism a different classification within the theological taxonomy.

    As I have said above several times and in several ways, this does not mitigate our cultural similarities. Moreover, we should strive for language that encapsulates our similarities without compromising our distinctions, such is true respect and true ecumenism. I firmly hold that applying the word Christian to both faith traditions is too broad a rendering of the definition of Christian.

  • Tj

    Larry wouldn’t do well in a personal discussion. He wouldn’t be able to copy and paste all his responses. we love you lary but I think it’s time you leave your mothers basement, take a shower, and leave the hate and bias behind you. Best of luck buddy.

  • Nayajja

    Larry, thank you for quoting New Testament verses with which I, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, agree wholeheartedly: “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8,9

    Might I also add a few verses in the words of Jesus Christ himself?

    “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15.

    “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21.

    Christ tells us that our works matter and that just confessing Jesus as our Lord will not save us: Jesus is telling us it is not enough to simply say “I believe.”

    Yet in the next breath, Christ warns about the folly of thinking our works will save us: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matt 7:22-23.

    I have often marveled at how difficult it seems for so many fellow Christians to reconcile the New Testament teachings on the relationship of faith and works.

    As already quoted by flataffect, the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi beautifully reconciled these teachings about grace on one hand, and works on the other:

    “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
    * * *
    “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
    2 Nephi 25:23

    Larry, you quote Paul’s warning in Galations 1:6-12. I have no problem with that warning, because the gospel we “Mormons” preach is indeed the gospel preached by Paul. Are you, unawares, preaching something else?

    Written in love,

    Nayajja

  • xeroxfiend

    once again, my assertions haven’t been challenged, just described. What are the fallacies.

  • Kim

    Awesome testimony Karen. . . . thanks for this!

  • Larry

    Nayajja, thank you … the book of Mormon as well as the additional extra-biblical texts simply cannot endure the scrutiny applied to the biblical canon. The criticisms of LDS texts are not a product of bias but disciplined scholarship.

    It’s terribly tempting to dismiss these criticisms I’m sure … however, an objective review of there substance might offer you a great deal to consider.

    You should at least be aware of this … the differences between orthodox Christianity and LDS beliefs are enormous. We are separated by ideas so divergent that the divide is simply unbridgeable.

    The differences aren’t semantic … aren’t by degrees. Mormonism isn’t merely another genus … its an entirely separate order. That is to say, they are so entirely dissimilar that though the personalities which they have in common (e.g. Jesus, God) share the same names … they are worlds apart in substance.

    The Jesus of orthodox Christianity is not remotely compatible to the Jesus of Mormonism … they share only a name. Which is to say one is right … the other wrong, or more precisely false.

    Given that, a humble and objective search for truth is in order.

  • Robert Bennett

    @Noelle – So? Everything that Paul said is true. Jesus Christ appeared to Paul (well after his death/resurrection), just like He appeared to Joseph Smith (well after His death/resurrection). Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Why do you deny God the power to be God? Can not He raise up a stone (Vermont farm boy) to be a child of Abraham, a follower of His Son, or even a Prophet? I declare to you that He can, and did, for with God all things are possible. It is not because of my faith that I believe, but because of the works of God (His love for me) that I believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. My faith in Him is perfect, it is a perfect knowledge that surpatheth all understanding and it is from the Holy Ghost that has testified to me of the restoration of all things in these, the Latter-days.

  • Catholic 3L

    Tj wouldn’t do well in a personal discussion…We love you Tj but I think it’s time you leave your mothers basement, take a shower, and leave the hate and bias behind you. Best of luck buddy.

  • Laura Hunter

    Lisa, Thanks for your thoughts. I really do understand where you are coming from because I was taught the same thing growing up. Please consider the fact that the doctrine of the Trinity as found in the Nicene creed teaches that the three members of the Godhead are one being; one substance, one. Our Church teaches that they are one in purpose, one in will, one in doctrine. But not one being. The concept that they are one being is a post New Testament concept that was a compromise reached by various Church leaders and political leaders of the day. If you really look at the teachings of the Bible, (with an open mind and heart) you will see that God is three separate and distinct beings. Hence the multiple references to Christ being seen on the right hand of God. Or to Christ praying to His Father (John 17:11) that we as believers will become one as they are one. (and also… why would Christ pray to Himself?) The teaching here is that we strive to be one in unity, in purpose, as they are one. Not that we become one physical being. In addition, if you look at the original Greek transcripts of the Bible, the word used in Genesis (and throughout the Old Testament, for that matter) for God is Elohim, which means “many Gods”. This does not (/strong> mean that we subscribe to polytheism, but that the GOD of the universe is really a Godhead, three beings: the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Our Church teaches that Jesus Christ created the world under the direction of the Father. The trinity, as defined by the creeds of the 4th century, is not found in the Bible. But I will say that , and I hope that you will hear me, I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I know that He is and was God, that the reason He could atone for the sins of mankind; for my sins and yours is that He is God. I hope that you will open your mind and heart and allow yourself to see that the goodness in us comes from Christ. It comes from our desire to worship and follow Him… not from an effort to prove anything or earn anything. We love God.

  • Laura Hunter

    I posted this above in reference to Lisa’s comments above. But I think that Catholic 3L and Larry might be interested as well.
    Thanks for your thoughts. I really do understand where you are coming from because I was taught the same thing growing up. Please consider the fact that the doctrine of the Trinity as found in the Nicene creed teaches that the three members of the Godhead are one being; one substance, one physical entity. Our Church teaches that they are one in purpose, one in will, one in doctrine. But not one being. The concept that they are one being is a post New Testament concept that was a compromise reached by various Church leaders and political leaders of the day. If you really look at the teachings of the Bible, (with an open mind and heart) you will see that God is three separate and distinct beings. Hence the multiple references to Christ being seen on the right hand of God. Or to Christ praying to His Father (John 17:11) that we as believers will become one as they are one. (and also… why would Christ pray to Himself?) The teaching here is that we strive to be one in unity, in purpose, as they are one. Not that we become one physical being. In addition, if you look at the original Greek transcripts of the Bible, the word used in Genesis (and throughout the Old Testament, for that matter) for God is Elohim, which means “many Gods”. This does not (/strong> mean that we subscribe to polytheism, but that the GOD of the universe is really a Godhead, three beings: the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Our Church teaches that Jesus Christ created the world under the direction of the Father. The trinity, as defined by the creeds of the 4th century, is not found in the Bible. But I will say that , and I hope that you will hear me, I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I know that He is and was God, that the reason He could atone for the sins of mankind; for my sins and yours is that He is God. I hope that you will open your mind and heart and allow yourself to see that the goodness in us comes from Christ. It comes from our desire to worship and follow Him… not from an effort to prove anything or earn anything. We love God.

  • Robert Bennett

    The point that Larry is really missing is the same point that Martin Luther missed… The simple translation error of “conviction”: belief or credo and faith or fedis in Latin and pistis in Greek. Pistis can be translated as credo or fedis. Belief in Christ is different than Faith in Christ. When Martin had this understanding (difference) come into his mind, I am sure that it came as a revelation or gift of the Spirit. It was overwhelming.
    Belief in Christ does not lead us unto salvation (even the devils have a belief or knowledge of Christ) but Faith in Christ does… as in “Faith without works is dead”. It is Faith that allows us to change and to follow Christ. This is where Larry and Martin both failed, trying to swallow the camel of “I Believe!” (Mormons can’t swallow the camel – they don’t believe in Christ) and ignoring the Faith that is evidenced by their works. The “Works” is the elephant in the room of David French’s article. It is Faith in Christ that saves, that allows Grace to come into our lives, allows us to accept the Atonement, abandon our sins, and become perfect even as our Father in Heaven is perfect; not the Scriptures (For ye think that salvation is in the letter of the law, but they testify of Me.) If ye love Me, do what ye see Me do. Martin got hung up on the two sides of the coin of Faith and Works. He saw the “heads” but failed to realize that there was another side… Just like Larry, the boy who was blind. An understanding of Faith opened Martin’s eyes, but he was so blinded by the light, that the darkness that he had sat in for so long prevented him from seeing the two-dimensional coin for what it was. Joseph Smith had this same revelation in reading James 1:6 … he was not blinded by the light but was called to be a Prophet by The Light of the World, because he asked in Faith, nothing wavering. That is how I found out, through Faith. And that is how I show my Faith, through my works… That is what makes me a Christian, not by what Larry says I am or aren’t. Clearly, he doesn’t know. I love my Savior and I know that He knows it, because He loved me first. God, I love that.

  • Catholic 3L

    I wasn’t using the abovementioned quote as an argument from longevity. The quote was an illustration of the Church’s divine origins. In other words, the Church persists despite the actions of men; the same actions that you pointed with varying levels of accuracy. Christ, the Word of God who IS God, made a covenant with the Church. That is say, the gates of hell will not prevail against it. You illustrated the point not the exception. But, all this talk is off topic. I acknowledge your attempt to provide an apology for your faith; it’s tempting for me to do the same – to think of it, I just did. 🙂

    The main thrust of my arguments throughout this thread has not been Catholic apologetics. I want to get across the point that Catholics and, Christians et al., have an interest in who is included within certain definitions. These definitions are important to both Mormons and Catholics (in my own case). I used the example of baptism in my initial post. Neither Churches acknowledge each other’s baptism. For further analysis you can read my post above.

    For a Catholic, or a mainline evangelical, to deny the LDS Church the theologically loaded name “Christian” does not denote a lack of respect but rather a theological reality. The bottom line is that we can apply or deny each other certain acknowledgements without dismissing our similarities.

  • Robert Bennett

    Martin Luther had a similar experience, the existing paradime was corrupt. Does that explain it for you? The Mormon Church does not condem other religious systems. You should familiarize yourself with THE Teacher’s words… There will be a restoration of all things before He comes again…. Acts 3:21. That is what Joseph Smith was all about, not condeming anyone. In fact, he was martyred for his faith and works, just like the Apostles of old. It is Faith AND Works that changes the world, not belief. Of course, these restored teachings are completely true and prophesized of by Christ, himself! Acts 3:19-21