Monday, June 04, 2007
Christianity Today, Mormonism, and Compromise
I stopped regularly reading Christianity Today several years ago. Why? Because it almost completely lacks any substance and shows perilously little discernment in its pages. The magazine seems to have become little more than cursory reporting and articles on the latest developments and fads in whatever someone labels "Christian." I don't need a sanitized Oprah magazine, and I can keep up-to-date with excellent worldview-based reporting from WORLD magazine.

Why should I go on a brief harangue about CT? Because its web site recently posted the article: "Mitt's Mormonism and the 'Evangelical Vote': Can conservative Protestants vote for a member of what they consider a cult?" This article is co-written by Robert Millet (a Mormon) and Gerald McDermott (an evangelical). As most of you know, I don't mind evangelicals discussing whether or not they can vote for a Mormon for President. But these words simply cannot go without a response:

Besides, Mormon beliefs are not as un-evangelical as most evangelicals think. Unlike Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For Latter-Day Saints, Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists agreed that Jesus was "without sin," Mormons were among the "most likely" to say that Jesus was sinless.

Most evangelicals would also be surprised to learn that the Book of Mormon contains passages that teach salvation by the merits and grace of Christ ("There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and race of the Holy Messiah" 2 Nephi 2:8) and others that require personal trust in Christ for salvation, such as 1 Nephi 10:4-6: "All mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer."

This article justifiably caused James White to go into apoplexy. He has produced a great response properly titled "Evangelical Apostasy." Make sure to read both posts: Part 1 and Part 2. Sharon Lindbloom at the Mormon Coffee blog also wrote a brief, helpful response with "Really -- What is Mormonism? Most Evangelicals Would Be Surprised."

With replies like these, I really have nothing to add. But I wholeheartedly agree with Roger Overton when he says:

There is too much ecumenism today at the expense of clear understanding of differences in fundamental beliefs. If we as Christians are not explicitly clear to our non-Christian Roman Catholic and Mormon friends that what their churches teach is a false gospel, then we are not truly their friends and are simply condemning them with a smile (as Piper puts it). If we are to be faithful to our call as Christ's followers and ambassadors to this world, we must live with a renewed boldness and submission to God's Word. And the fewer differences we see between Mormon beliefs, the Roman Catholic Church and Evangelicalism, the more fervently we should reject Evangelicalism as an abomination.

Strong words? Absolutely! Still, they are true and need to be heard. If this is the kind of superficial and deceptive dialogue that I have to look forward to when reading Millet and McDermott's upcoming book on Christ, then I will honestly be wasting my time.

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posted at 11:30 AM  
Comments (5)


5 Comments:
At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often misunderstood . . Some accuse the Church of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion . . This article helps to clarify such misconceptions

• Baptism: .

Early Christian churches, practiced baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family. The local congregation had a lay ministry. An early Christian Church has been re-constructed at the Israel Museum, and the above can be verified. http://www.imj.org.il/eng/exhibitions/2000/christianity/ancientchurch/structure/index.html
The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continues baptism and a lay ministry as taught by Jesus’ Apostles. . Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and not allowing non-Christians to witness them

• The Trinity: .

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration?

The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. . The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. . The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one."

Scribes later added "the Father, the Word and the Spirit," and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. . . .He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. .

Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. . Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. . The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.

• The Deity of Jesus Christ
Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS), Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists agreed that Jesus was "without sin," Mormons were among the "most likely" to say that Jesus was sinless.

• The Cross: .

The Cross became popular as a Christian symbol in the Fifth Century A.D. . Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) believe the proper Christian symbol is Christ’s resurrection , not his crucifixion on the Cross. Many Mormon chapels feature paintings of the resurrected Christ or His Second Coming.

• Christ's Atonement: .

But Mormons don”t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. . They believe Christ’s atonement in Gethsemane and on the Cross applies to all mankind. . The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”: . All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him divine, and the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. They all worship the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and address Him in prayer as prescribed in The Lord’s Prayer.

It”s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be authentic Christians. If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology , they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.

* * *

• Christ-Like Lives: . . .The 2005 National Study of Youth and Religion published by UNC-Chapel Hill found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group):

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . LDS Evangelical

Attend Religious Services weekly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71% . . . . 55%

Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life –

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . extremely important .. 52. . . . . . . 28

Believes in life after death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 . . . . . . 62

Believes in psychics or fortune-tellers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 . . . . . . 5

Has taught religious education classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 . . . . . . 28

Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 . . . . . . 22

Sabbath Observance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 . . . . . . 40

Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 . . . . . . 56

Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 . . . . . . 19

Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen

(very supportive) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65 . . . . . . 26

Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping

Teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality . . . . . 84 . . . . . . 35

 
At 8:06 AM, Blogger John said...

Anonymous,

While I appreciate your comment, there are many unsubstantiated claims and demonstrateable falsehoods in the article that you provide.

I obviously do not have time to delve into these problems here, but let me recommend a few articles that address these issues:

1) "We're Christians just like you!"

2) Mormonism 201, a rejoinder to Mormons on such topics as God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Trinity, Christ's Atonement, etc. Note: I contributed articles on the Trinity, the Pre-existence, and the Fall.

3) Who is the 'Living Christ' of Mormonism?

If you read these while being open to God's revealed truth, then you will see how none of the claims mentioned above are valid.

 
At 10:32 AM, Blogger Keith Walker said...

I received a response from one of the editors at Christianity Today regarding my e-mail to them. I have posted it and my reply to our blog.

www.evidenceministries.blogspot.com

 
At 8:53 PM, Blogger gerald mcdermott said...

This is Gerald McDermott, the
evangelical theologian some of you
think has embraced heresy by sugegsting that the Mormon Jesus and the classical Christian Jesus are one and the same.
The point of our op-ed in CT online
was to say that, when considering
presidential candidates, we are voting
for a president, not a theologian. And
that plenty of other presidents have
had wacky theologies.
On the LDS and Jesus, it is a fact that the Mormon view of Jesus is better than the Jehovah's Witness view, which is fully Arian.
They do indeed believe Jesus is fully God--altho, as some of you have rightly said, their Jesus was not
always God. He "grew" into God.
If you read my statement in context, you will see that I let stand uncorrected the evangelical [correct!] accusations that Mormons add to revelation and assert that humans are of the same species as Jesus and can someday attain his status. I also add that Mormons reject key Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and creatio ex nihilo.
If you read our forthcoming book
(Claiming Christ), you will see that in every chapter I make it clear that the LDS Jesus is not the Jesus of
classic orthodoxy.
Gerald McDermott

 
At 3:35 PM, Blogger John Divito said...

Dr. McDermott,

I have replied to your comment in a new post.

 

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