20 October 2011

Romney and the Mormon Question

It was inevitable that the long standing clash between Mormonism and traditional Christianity would spill into the political arena with Mitt Romney being the Republican candidate to beat for the nomination to run for president in the coming election.  And, I suppose it was just a matter of time until a good Baptist pastor provocatively put this long history of differences in the headlines.  On Oct 7, pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist, Dallas made public remarks that Mormonism is a cult and its beliefs are outside the bounds of traditional Christianity.  Of course, these comments were met with the predicable political correctness from both the Left and Right.  Although, Jeffress's comments were not given with any spirit of animosity, the content of his statement alone is widely regarded as hostile to civilized, American society.  And frankly, I applaud him for subsequent comments that have been both civil and historically and theologically accurate.



I think much of the reaction from the media and public is founded on ignorance.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a.k.a. Mormons, is a recent religious movement, less than 200 years old, whereas Christianity is over 2,000 years old.  The rule of faith, including the canon of Scripture had been firmly in place for 1,400 years before Joseph Smith began the movement that would become Mormonism.  A cult is a deviation - which Mormonism is with its claims of further revelation through Joseph Smith.  Through the Book of Mormon and other writings (and through their living prophet) the Mormon faith has added significant doctrine and teachings that is totally unsubstantiated by the Bible and certainly not corroborated by any historical evidence.  From its beginning until this day, traditional Christian denominations have recognized Mormonism as deviant.  Just because they speak about Jesus, doesn't mean they are orthodox in matters pertaining to Him or other matters.

Since living in Hazard I have had considerable contact with Mormon missionaries-all young men from the American West in their 20s.  I've literally spent hours in conversation in my home.  We have eaten meals together, played basketball, and they have even come to hear me preach.  After much discussion with one of these young men, he came back to my house on another day.  He told me that after our conversations concerning the differences between my faith and his, he had determined that he could not call himself a Christian.  I asked him what he then considered himself.  He replied that he was a Mormon.  It seemed to be quite a revelation for him.  And let me say that I have enjoyed every minute spent with each Mormon missionary.  Without exception each one has been respectful, intelligent, winsome, and likable.  However, niceness and a moral center doesn't constitute a Christian.  This is the difference that we must recognize.

Could Mitt Romney be a good president?  Possibly.  I can't answer that question with any kind of certainty.  However, Christians who have a historical and theological awareness of Mormonism need not to back away from the facts.  It's important that our people in our churches understand the differences that exist that necessarily make Mormonism non-Christian.  Our conversation with each other, with the media or Mormons themselves should never be mean-spirited or condescending, but it should be honest and bold.  Now, whether as a Christian you could vote for a Mormon is a totally different question.     

2 comments:

  1. I would like to restate my quote and say, I belong to The Chruch Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, I know who I am, I know Gods Plan, I'll follow him with faith. Him being God with a BIG G.

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  2. Riley, great to hear from you! I've thought a lot about you and really miss our conversations. I learned much from you and I hope you are doing well. Strangely, we haven't had any missionaries here in Hazard for several months. I'm happy to claim you as my LDS friend - you're a delightful person. I hope you're reading the NT more these days.

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