Aren’t Mormons Christians? Mormons indeed claim to be “Christians in a very real sense.” But don’t let me or anyone else answer that question for you—check out the Mormon.org site and see what you think.
Here’s a short video that gets to the heart of the are-they-or-aren’t-they question.
For details, check out the Mormonism page from CARM. And here’s an interesting post from Justin Taylor.
We recently had a Mormon family (with seven young children) stay overnight in our home. Every one of the kids was loving, personable, well-mannered, empathetic, enthusiastic, and happy. Strikingly so—these were precious children. Their parents were very nice, and we enjoyed their visit.
So what’s that got to do with anything? Just that these were loving, personable, well-mannered, empathetic, enthusiastic, and happy people.
Personally, I confess to hating conflict. I wish we could just all get along. But I love Jesus Christ more than I hate conflict. Much more. Christ did not teach that anything goes, or that we should all just accept each other’s doctrines. Love each other? Absolutely. Accept apostasy? Absolutely not.
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Apostle Paul, Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV)
September 1st, 2012 at 11:11 am
And just so we all know the Gospel which Paul preached can be found, among other places, in Ephesians 2
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
September 1st, 2012 at 12:13 pm
My guess is that we will be hearing a lot more about Mormonism after the “exaltation” this past week of Governor Romney to official Presidential candidate status. Is this a step for him on the way to a kind of “deification” that 19th century Mormons confidently taught? As the former LDS leader Lorenzo Snow in 1840 said, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become”. It would appear that the founding prophet Joseph Smith thought that way about himself when he sought the office of the President of the United States some 170 years ago, though he was not so widely embraced back then as Gov. Romney is now.
So, this reveals the real problem for Mormons today. The Latter Day Saints are seeking to shed the wackier elements of their history by embracing a very pro-family, culturally conservative ethos that shares a lot of similarities with today’s American conservative evangelicalism. For example, many Mormons today are unfamiliar with Snow’s famous couplet. If they are, they probably chalk it up as just one one those mysteries of the faith that we can not explain.
But can the Latter Day Saints really escape history? Grant Palmer, an historian and former leading Mormon educator, and multi-generation Mormon descendant himself, wrote “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins”, for which he was subsequently disfellowshipped from the church. Palmer argues that while today’s Mormons emphasize some very positive elements of religious life, they are largely ignoring their history. And this history has significant implications for their faith. Was Joseph Smith truly a prophet of God, or was he a fraud? Did God truly reveal to him the doctrine of “plural marriage” (only to have it rescinded by a later generation of Mormons), or did he use his position in the community to seduce up to about 30 women, some whom were married to other men? Did God raise Smith up to restore the church and proclaim the Kingdom of God, or was he a traitor who sought to overthrow of the United States government? Was he somewhere in between on these things?
Regardless of what someone thinks about Gov. Romney’s politics, I think that we as Christians should see this cultural event of the 2012 election as an opportunity to focus not so much on the political debates, however important they are. If the subject of Romney’s Mormonism comes up in our conversations with people, we should challenge people to consider what is the relationship between history and faith. For many today, history does not matter at all — only having “faith” is what is important. If having “faith” makes you a nice person, as most Mormons I know are, what does difference does history make?
I hope that evangelical believers today will question that type of reasoning. History makes ALL of the difference with respect to the validity of faith. “Truth” is what is ultimately at stake, not simply being a “nice” person. If Jesus Christ did not bodily rise from the dead some 2000 years ago in Palestine, the biblical argument is that we are then still stuck in our sins and Christian faith is utterly meaningless.
The trouble for today’s Mormonism is that there is a large amount of historical evidence that has surfaced within the past thirty years that really challenges some of the basic claims of Mormon tradition. Sadly, this ignorance about Mormon history isn’t exclusively a Mormon problem. There are many evangelical believers today who function pretty much within the same Mormon paradigm of having “faith”; i.e. being a “nice” person, etc. while largely not paying any attention to the questions of biblical history.
As we talk with our friends in the coming months, let us engage them in things that really matter and pray that the God who intervenes in history will change hearts and minds.
September 1st, 2012 at 12:47 pm
Thanks once again for such a deep and insightful comment. Well said–the idea of taking even a little time to investigate and think things through is the heart of the issue. As you point out, there are too many people who don’t put faith to the test–their faith or someone else’s. Too often we relate to the outward appearance, without getting to the essence at the core. Christianity can withstand objective scrutiny. If only more people would dig deeper. This digging is the joy that I want to share through this blog. Thanks for helping!
September 4th, 2012 at 6:15 pm
A very timely blog on the heels of the RNC. I watched the convention with interest and was swayed to the Romney camp because of the numerous “pro-christian” sound-bites and “vanilla” pro-family posturing. God has pre-ordained all that has been and all that will be. So when I go to the voting booth, what is God’s will? Certainly the Mormon’ tenets are not Christian at the core. Does this mean I should vote for Obama? I would never venture a guess as to God’s plan. History showed us that Kennedy was a womanizer, Clinton had his indiscretions, FDR was unfaithful in marriage. The list of immoral presidents is long. What historical or religious messages do we take from the long line of past presidential indiscretions or actions?
I would never compare Romney to Hitler. But Hitler came into Europe in the most horrible manner. Hitler was pure evil. But God allowed him in power. Mormans believe the way to heaven is through Christ-like behavior. Romney may very well be God’s next choice for President of the United States. This fact strikes to the very core of apologetics. Why does God allow evil (whatever the degree)? I do not believe Romney is evil. Only time will show mankind God’s purpose in 2012 and in years to follow.
My only conclusion is that the “Mormon Discussion” will allow for a tremendous evangelical opportunity. The Mormon’s stand to gain the gates of heaven by realizing their folly. Christians stand to honor God in spreading the word of the true Christian Faith.”
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24
September 4th, 2012 at 9:33 pm
Thanks for the deep comment.
I probably should clarify. I really didn’t intend this in any way as a political post–please forgive my timing. On political matters I am as distracted and uniformed as most anyone else, and would not begin to offer voting advice.
What I was really aiming for was challenging people to understand Mormonism rather than assume (as too many people do) that because Mormons are such nice, moral people that they are like-minded Christians.