Sunday, May 29, 2005

Romney, Mormonism, and the Presidency

Hugh Hewitt posts about a Terry Eastland article on Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's potential run for the presidency in 2008. The article basically asks the question of whether America is ready for Mormon president.

Look, as a Christian, I have real problems with Mormonism. Claiming to be part of the Christian faith, Mormonism nonetheless rejects three fundamental tenets of Christian belief:
1. The divinity of Jesus.

2. The Trinity.

3. Salvation solely by faith in a gracious God and not our good works.
This is why Christian theologians refer to Mormonism as a "sub-Christian cult."

But frankly, even among Christians who take this view of Mormonism, I detect no prejudice against Mormon officeholders or political candidates and see no reason to suppose that Christians or other Americans would spurn Romney because of his religious affiliation.

There have been numerous prominent Mormons in American national life. Ezra Taft Benson was Dwight Eisenhower's Secretary of Agriculture. Romney's father, who was governor of Michigan following a successful career as an auto executive, was the frontrunner for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination until a comment he made about the Johnson Administration "brainwashing" him on the Vietnam War torpedoed his candidacy. By now, in the American context, these two figures represent ancient history and in the intervening years, Mormonism has become part of the American mainstream.

The only way I can see Romney's Mormonism harming his bid for the 2008 Republican nomination is if he gave indications of an intent to give his faith preferential treatment.

Having said all that, I still think that John McCain is the leading candidate for the Republican nomination in 2008.

UPDATE: Matt at Stones Cry Out thinks that Romney's Mormonism will be a bigger problem than I do.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt has also linked to this post. Thanks to both you and Matt!


Anonymous said...

"3. Salvation solely by faith in a gracious God and not our good works."

Just for the record: Do you consider Catholicism to be "sub-Christian" as well?

What do you think of James 2:14-25?

Anonymous said...

BTW, in posting the above I mean no offense, it is a sincere question. I've been reading your blog "religiously" for a while now and am interested in your thoughts.

Sometimes little posts do not come out as nuanced as I would like so I just wanted to adjust the tone.

Mark Daniels said...

Good questions.

First, I do not see Catholicism as a sub-Christian cult. Although there are differences I have with Roman Catholic theology--if there weren't, after all, I would be Roman Catholic--they uphold the three fundamental Christian beliefs I referenced above. Namely, they believe in the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity (a word not used in Scripture, but a reality continuously upheld there), and salvation as an act of charity (grace) by God.

As to James 2:14-25, this is an important passage. Clearly, as the late Biblical scholar, Father Raymond Brown, pointed out, there were differences of opinion and varying nuances of opinion in the first-century Church. Brown and others identified at least four "parties" of belief in the early church, each championed by a Biblical figure. There were the Judaizers, led by James, the brother of Jesus; the Hellenists, led by Stephen; and there were two moderating parties, one represented by Peter and the other by Paul.

But the differences they exhibit on the issue of how one is "justified" by God through Christ are more differences of emphases than anything else.

What I see James saying is essentially what Jesus was saying when He reminded us that we are known by our "fruits," the actions that result from the seed of faith planted in our lives. We are saved by what God has done for us in Christ and our faith in Christ. But once that salvation is given, God begins to remodel us from the inside out and we begin to be transformed. I believe that James is suggesting that if our lives don't give evidence of God's grace working in us, our faith may be more talk than anything else.

Martin Luther wrestled with James, particularly because of this passage. But I have come to believe that James presents us with just another face of the diamond of faith.

I hope that these answers help.

Thank you so much for visiting the site and for leaving your comments.

God bless you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for answering! I never expected a response so quickly.

The Bible certainly does give us a lot to contemplate. I think you give a very good interpretation of the passage.

I find that passage from James very motivational and I keep it bookmarked.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

With the official name of the church being the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" one wonders how people claim that the church does not recognize the divinity of Jesus? Theological debates aside, I believe that Evangelicals are looking for honest, God fearing people who are serious about their faith who will work for good judges and a conservative social agenda. These are the things Chuck Colson sees in Romney.

Thomas said...


Mormons do believe in the divinity of Christ. I think you may have mixed us up with the Jehovah's Witnesses, who, as I understand, do not. Ditto the Trinity, although Mormons do not believe the persons of the Trinity are consubstantial.

From the Book of Mormon book of Mosiah (that is, canonized Mormon scripture, and as doctrinally dispositive as it gets):

"1 AND now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.

2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—

3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—

4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth."

Now, I don't fault you for your error; many Mormons themselves are inexcusably hazy about their own doctrine, and they haven't had their opinions formed by certain evangelical (uncharitable expletive deleted) whose discussion of Mormonism is not in the best of faith. (Not that I'm naming names *cough Calvary Chapel cough*). There is a dismaying tendency of many to leap on the most sensational statements of past Mormon leaders, while ignoring the clear, generally accepted statements of doctrine. I have yet to see any convincing argument that Mormons do not believe that Jesus was divine, that the persons of the Trinity (which Mormons refer to by the scriptural term "Godhead") are not one God, or that salvation is ultimately and finally a gift of a gracious God.

Mormons have the essential Christian doctrines, which I define as a belief in the divinity of Christ and the ultimate necessity of his atoning sacrifice for salvation, regardless of whatever a man's works might be. They also seem to have an absolute boatload of 19th-century theological filigree. But if Mormons' Christianity is discounted because they've swallowed a little warmed-over Masonry along with the Christian essentials, shouldn't Catholics' and Protestants' Christianity likewise be discounted, to the extent their traditions have from time to time incorporated doctrines and practices that were not divinely inspired? (Witch burning, anti-Semitism, slavery-justifying theories -- you can add to the list.)

Personally, I avoid as presumptuous the practice of discounting the Christianity of any person willing to be called by Jesus' name. (In the immortal words of Maude Flanders, "That's for a vengeful God to decide.")

Mark Daniels said...

I thank everyone who has stopped by and left their comments.

1. Mormon teaching does include references to the Trinity. But it holds that there is not just one God, but many gods, including three separate gods: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. There is no oneness in essence, as the Bible teaches, among the three Persons of the single God.

Two good passages to consult for the Christian understanding of the Trinity are Deuteronomy 6:4 and First Corinthians 8:4-6.

2 & 3. Mormon teaching effectively denies Christ divinity because He is in a subordinated role to God the Father and because His death on the cross does not accomplish what the Bible holds Christ accomplished there. In a tract called "What Mormons Think of Christ," a Mormon elder, Bruce R. McConkie writes that Christ's death made it possible for sinful human beings to obey God's law and thereby, earn salvation.

Salvation--being saved from sin and death--is, according to the Bible, God's gift to those with faith in Jesus Christ. Check out John 3:16, among many Biblical passages pointing to this reality. Christ's righteousness and His atoning death on the cross pay the price for our sins. We are incapable of doing this. Mormon theology disagrees.

Good places to go for references to the divinity of Jesus are John 1 and Colossians 1, among others.

As I said in my original post, I have problems with Mormon teaching and believe it inconsistent with Biblical Christianity. But I don't believe his adherence to Mormonism would be grounds for Mitt Romney to be repudiated as a presidential candidate. I continue to believe that while he may have certain built-in advantages in the important New Hampshire primary, Romney is probably not to be taken seriously as a contender for President.

Anonymous said...


With all due respect, I honestly feel you are straining at hairs here-- I can't tell whether it's intentional or inadvertant, but your statements are incorrect nevertheless: Mormon theology is in complete harmony with both Deuteronomy 6:4 and First Corinthians 8:4-6.

You have quoted scriptural references, all of which Mormonism espouses and regularly teaches, and then state without reasonable argument or establishment that Mormon theology disagrees.

I would have to see the actual text of McConkie's tract before being able to reliably comment on it, but in reading between the lines of your paraphrasing, I see a dependance upon Christ expressed, rather than a subordination and de-edification: It is indeed correct (and in harmony with Mormon theology) that salvation is impossible without Christ.

Where most evangelical Christians misinterpret the distinction between their doctrine and LDS doctrine is that while both believe that all men are wholly dependant on Christ's sacrifice to overcome sin and death, LDS doctrine, after accepting salvation, looks beyond it to statements from Christ such as "in my Father's house are many mansions" (which early protestant writers such as John Wesley interpreted as a description of varying degrees of glory within Heaven) and His commandment to become perfect even as God is perfect; and the assertion of the apostle that we can be joint-heirs with Christ if so be that we suffer with Him; as well as the numerous references to being judged according to our actions.
These aspirations to do one's best after having accepted Christ as Savior and Redeemer do NOT negate His sacrifice or divinity, it depends completely upon it. Were it not for salvation in the first place, there would be no way to reach those mansions, no way to obey the commandment to become perfect, essentially no kingdom to inherit.

While evangelicals often construe this distinction and a desire for accountability and personal responsiblity for one's actions (which evangelical Christians teach as well) in Mormons as "earning their way to heaven" it is either an ignorant (uninformed) or intellectually dishonest argument that overlooks prominant LDS scripture and theology-- which places salvation soley and squarely upon the shoulders of He who bore the cross.

Thomas said...

And so a political discussion devolves into a theological one, with the predictable result that the evangelical anoints himself judge of the genuineness of others' faith in Christ.

A couple of important points:

Bruce R. McConkie was a Mormon apostle, not just an "elder." (If elders had the right to make binding statements of Church doctrine, then my wild-eyed speculations would be canonical -- and God help us then!)

I do sympathize with evangelicals' difficulty in getting a clear picture of what it is that Mormons really believe. The Mormon hierarchy does often seem to keep things deliberately ambiguous. Possibly, this is because the Mormon Church's strength has always been its ability to create cohesive, unified Christian communities, and placing too much emphasis on dogma has historically just opened the door to doctrinal dissension. (Which is possibly why there are eleventy gazillion Protestant sects.)

Anyway, the point is that McConkie's thoughts on Christology aren't necessarily the teaching of the Church. The mechanism of the Atonement is left as something of a mystery in the Mormon Church. About all that appears to be universally recognized is that Christ's sacrifice was absolutely necessary for human salvation, and that people would have been entirely lost without it.

Mark, you are in effect claiming that Mormons "effectively" deny Christ's divinity (I see you've retreated from trying to claim they explicitly do so) because, as you claim, Mormons believe they "earn" their way into heaven, and therefore the work on the Cross did not have the effect the Bible teaches it does.

With respect, that's hogwash, and if you were intellectually honest, you would have to read Catholicism and Orthodoxy out of Christianity as well. The Mormon teaching on faith and works is remarkably similar to that of the apostolic churches. Namely, salvation is ultimately a gift of grace to those that accept Christ, BUT true, faithful acceptance involves more than a one-time oral confession; rather, it involves taking up one's cross and suffering with Christ, making at least a good-faith effort to follow His example.

Contradicting the inference you draw from this aspect of Mormon teaching, there are numerous unambiguous statements of Mormon teaching that Jesus is God, and that he is one with the Father. You're left to argue that Mormons may say that, but they don't really mean it.

Of course you don't agree with Mormon teaching; as you said regarding Catholicism, if you did agree, you might convert. I do believe you are in grave error in denying the Christianity of all Mormons. I like to think I recognize true saving faith when I see it, and there are some Mormons of my acquaintance on whose hearts God's law is so firmly engraved that it would be beyond presumptuous for me to call their conversion to Christ counterfeit.

(Mormons also like to alliterate, sometimes to absurd lengths.)

Mark Daniels said...

I have not and will not judge anyone's salvation. That's not my job.

But I do think one can discern whether doctrine is Christian or not.

Thank you though, for taking the time to frequent this site and offering your views. I'm glad that the "Comments" feature allows for this kind of dialog.

Thomas said...

Me, too. Unfortunately, I'm all but HTML-illiterate, so my blog ( is still without a conspicuous comments feature. So I can never tell if the few misguided souls that frequent my site are doing it because they find my sporadic posts interesting, or because they enjoy a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

Ironically, many Christians seem to be the last ones willing to admit Mormons are of a Christian faith; while Mormons, having been required to accept the divinity and atonement of Christ in order to obtain membership, are the first to be surprised at this view.

Anonymous said...

Mormons do not believe in the God of the Bible, nor do they believe that Christ is God incarnate. They do not believe in the virgin birth, and they believe Christ had several wives. Christ's father, they believe was born on another planet, worked hard enough to obtain godhood, and was rewarded with his own planet to populate and rule over. Christ they believe, grew up on another planet, worked hard to obtain god-hood, and was given earth to rule over. If we preform our temple duties well, and work hard , we will be given our own planet to rule over, which we will populate with our wife, or wives whom we will be having celestial sex with for all eternity. Certainly does not sound like any Christianity I have come to know.

Anonymous said...

Interesting discussion--I stumbled in on a link from Hewitt's site. Regarding the grace/works issue, here are a couple of additional quotes from The Book of Mormon that have been helpful to me:

2 Nephi 10:23-24
Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves--to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.

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.

Anonymous said...

It's also my understanding that only those who wear the "holy" underware, and have the secret password given to them at the endowment ceremony shall enter heaven, although, I'm not sure if heaven, and the celestial sex thing are one and the same.

Mark Daniels said...

This discussion has certainly taken a strange and circuitous route. Remember it began with my affirmation that while I had disagreements with Mormon theology, I didn't think that Mitt Romney's religious affiliation would prohibit Christians from voting for him. (I also said that I doubted that he would do well in a run for the presidency, even though as governor of Massachusetts, he would have a leg up in New Hampshire's primary.) I don't want that to get lost in this conversation.

Bob, you alluded to some things I was going to discuss.

And as to the Book of Mormon's use of the term, "grace," it certainly does use it. But the context makes clear that it is infused with a meaning totally unrecognizable to Christian theology. That is, grace is seen as a capacity for earning salvation, not as the gift of salvation itself to all with faith in Christ.

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether to find it disturbing or amusing that some (certainly not all) evangelist Christians devote themselves to an entire self-created genre of media establishing themselves as a greater authority on Mormon belief on topics such as grace and faith in Christ than Mormons themselves, dismissing assertions from the LDS community that the portrayal is inaccurate.

However, after some consideration on the topic, I feel it's best to put doctrinal disputations aside-- obviously if evangelist Christians and Mormon Christians agreed on points of doctrine, there would be no reason for the denominational distinction.
The political goals and values of conservative evangelists and conservative Mormons have plenty in common: preservation of traditional family and marriage, the culture of life, fiscal conservatism, free enterprise, self-reliance, support of military, etc.
In addition, evangelist and mormon conservatives come equally under fire by leftist social movements such as represented by the ACLU.

In other words, we have higher priorities to focus on than petty doctrinal disputes-- which, by the way, those in liberal/social circles will be only too happy to exascerbate to avoid a united conservative front.

Thought I must echo the sentiment expressed earlier that having a religious affiliation in common with a political candidate should not be relied upon as political qualification.

While I can't say that I know Mitt Romney well, both myself and my parents have been casually acquainted with him on a few occasions, and found him to be a very agreeable and genuine person.
Whether he has Presidential qualities or could muster the support to become President is seperate question; but having spent time in his person, hearing him speak, watching him interact with people, and observing his political positions and finding them generally in harmony with my own moderate conservative leanings, I would have no problem voting for him... but for me, it would depend on who else is running, who would be the strongest candidate, etc. Assuming Romney were to throw his hat into an '08 race, if he were to appear to have good momentum and be a solid threat to the opposition candidates, eroding his support based on doctrinal issues seems self-defeating.

In light of common political concerns, doctrinal disputes between religious conservatives would appear most benefical to the left.

Anonymous said...

The issue's are certainly more than "petty doctrinal disputes". Our very salvation hinges on it. Yes, many Mormons have us "Christians" beat in areas of works and morality, but Christ does not mince words. Read Mt. 7:1. Many will cry out to me Lord, Lord and I will say to them, "Depart from me you evil doers, I never knew you."

Mark Daniels said...

I must say that I regard the faith issues that have been touched on in this discussion as being vastly more important than whether or not persons of varying faiths agree politically. Politics deals with life in this world. It's important, but not eternally so...or only insofar as we conduct ourselves with love for God and love for neighbor in political decision-making.

But the questions of Jesus' identity, the nature of His divinity, and the meaning of grace are core issues. All eternity hinges on these questions.

To me, it smells of idolatry to give politics a higher place than God and I am deeply disturbed by the manner in which many in the Religious Right appear to subordinate Jesus Christ to a Pharisaic political agenda. That is a subtle form of salvation by works which the Bible clearly repudiates from cover to cover.

Civic righteousness--even if the Religious Right was able to enshrine every shred of its political platform in US law--cannot and will not bring people closer to Christ or the free gift of salvation He offers to all with faith in Him.

Too often, members of the Church are taking their eyes off the ball. Our mission is to make disciples, to minister to the needs of the world, to engage in mutual service with those in the Church, to love God, to love neighbor. Politics, by comparison, is piddling, insignificant stuff.

Anonymous said...


I was actually attempting to put aside argumentative topics and return to what I thought was the original, more political bend of the post.

Perhaps I was wrong, and the original motive of the post actually was to highlight issues of doctrinal dispute?

In addition, my comments were not meant to suggest that politics are more important than salvation-- quite the opposite, as you both have rightly stated. I was merely suggesting that the agenda of the anti-religious left is a common threat that would serve the interests of Christians of all variety to defend together-- don't think that the likes of the ACLU will differentiate based on doctrinal subtleties.

While those differences may be important, focusing one's efforts on making cute wisecracks about the underwear worn by members of other faiths while the left asserts their agenda of making casual abortion, "medical" embryo harvesting and homosexuality the widespread culture of choice, the spiritual implications of one upon a great number of souls seem much weightier than the other... or maybe it's just me. *shrug*

Speaking of which, the garments LDS members wear beneath their clothes are in part symbolic of the "coat of skins" which God gave Adam and Eve to wear when leaving the Garden of Eden, and are worn as a symbol and a reminder of the commitment to keep the commandments of God. However one keeps in mind the desire to follow God, surely that underlying desire is not worthy of mocking from anyone with dignity and class. In addition, members of good standing in the LDS church are lay clergy and could be called upon to perform clerical duties at any time. The other significance of the LDS garments, then, is the same as the robes or collar of the priest or pastor, or the habit of the nun. However, since those members pursue other vocations for their living, rather than pursuing a clerical position as their means of living, it is worn discreetly beneath their clothes. Essentially, being "of the cloth," they simply wear "the cloth" in a more discreet manner. Surely one with dignity and class would not mock the robes of priesthood of another faith-- even if one disputes the authority of that priesthood, is it Christ-like to mock another on that basis? Surely one does not love their neighbor by doing so.
While I can see how an entire congregation of volunteer lay clergy could be considered threatening from a financial and influential perspective of a pastor/priest who is financially dependent upon their ministry, the implications of another's faith towards one's source of income does not in itself invalidate said faith.

Ultimately, while doctrinal questions are important, and an understanding of the true nature of Christ is the key foundation of both evangelical and LDS faiths, whatever their understanding of those topics may be, a debate of those points between those firmly rooted in each faith is unlikely to bear any fruit except contention, and I would suggest that such contention is more similar to the "works of the flesh" (Gal. 5:19-21) than is attempts to find common ground to build on, as the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal 5:22-23). Again, hence my attempt to move away from contentious issues and find commonalities.

But again, perhaps finding commonalities was never within the scope of intent behind this posting? (I don't know, I'm asking...)

Which is too bad if so, because I happen to highly agree that the mission "to make disciples, to minister to the needs of the world, to engage in mutual service with those in the Church, to love God, to love neighbor" is of higher importance than politics, and will actually yield greater influence on the well-being of others in the long run.
But one loses nothing by supporting political candidates who happen to agree with that mission, which again, I had thought was of relevance to the intent of this post. Having heard Romney speak in person on several occasions in non-political environments and contexts (pre-dating his entry into political office) I can attest that he does support that mission, doctrinal differences notwithstanding. Thus there would be no conflict of evangelical interest for such a candidate in that context.

Ah well. If the intent of this discussion was simply to protect the doctrinal interests of the author by/while slighting the doctrines of the faith of a particular political candidate, it is significantly less interesting to me personally than I had originally thought. (To those for whom such a debate is of interest, more power to them.)

However, I must thank you for the discussion and your civility while engaging in it. Just as I've felt that a promotion of positive values in the political arena is a benefit to all believers regardless of the affiliation of the promoters, I've always felt that a win on the side of bringing souls to Christ, regardless of affiliation, is a win for all believers in Christ. In that spirit, I wish you all the best in your endeavors.

Mark Daniels said...

I personally have no interest in making wisecracks about what people wear.

The point of my last comment was that in the grand scheme of things, politics isn't that important.

I didn't set out to bash anyone in my original post and I firmly believe that I haven't done so in my subsequent comments.

But in discussions, it does no good for the parties to them to ignore differences or the bases for the differences. That would be dishonest. Hopefully however, the truth, as we see it, can be spoken in love. That's what I try to do day-in-, day-out here on this blog and in my daily life.

I go back to my original point: I don't see any reason to object to Mitt Romney as a candidate for the presidency because he is a Mormon. I say that in spite of my being a Christian who has big issues with Mormon teachings.

Anonymous said...

The distinction of speaking the truth as one sees it, in love, is fair enough... (I hope my comments can also be seen in that light.)

Well said.

Thanks again for the discussion.

AST said...

Heh. There are a lot of returned missionaries out there who've heard these characterization of our views and just love to cite scriptures on these issues. If you want our views in a nutshell, read A Marvelous Work and a Wonder by LeGrand Richards.

I have always thought that the main reason that protestants, especially evangelicals, keep claiming that we are not Christians is two-fold. First, we have a lay ministry, so any minister of another church who joined our church would have to find a new job.
Second, we are growing very fast in spite of all the propaganda against us, and that is very threatening to protestant ministers, as Paul's preaching was to Demetrius in Acts 19. They are the source of attacks on, and mischaracterizations of, our doctrine like those posted in your blog.

You would do well to remember that the first Christians were also called a cult by those who persecuted and killed them.

Thomas said...


"But in discussions, it does no good for the parties to them to ignore differences or the bases for the differences. That would be dishonest."

Absolutely. But it would be no less dishonest than it is for one party to misrepresent the other party's position.

Now, it's possible to interpret certain Mormon teachings in multiple ways, some of them compatible with Christianity and others not. Many evangelicals seem predisposed to place that construction on those doctrines that is least compatible with classical Christianity.

That strikes me as evidence of ill will. When a friend misses an appointment, one doesn't automatically assume that he did it maliciously. One at least considers that he may have forgotten, or been detained unavoidably. Likewise, if evangelicals were friendly towards Mormons, they wouldn't instantly conclude, upon encountering certain teachings, that they imply a lack of belief in the divinity of Christ, and ignore every evidence to the contrary.

It is that kind of unfriendly prejudice -- the unwillingness to let Mormons explain their own beliefs, or to consider that individual Mormons, today, may actually possess genuine faith in Christ, no matter what Brigham Young said a hundred years ago -- that makes many Mormons distrust evangelicals' assertions that they would not be reluctant to elect a Mormon President. Human nature being what it is, it's hard to compartmentalize unfriendly thoughts.

There are individual Mormons who I believe do not have true faith in Christ -- who really are trying to earn salvation, and become pinched and miserable. There are others whose loyalty to the Church's hierarchical organization outweighs their loyalty to God. But I have also personally seen Mormons who possess the gifts of the Spirit that the Bible says come only through true faith.

I have seen many evangelicals display the same gifts. I have also seen evangelicals lack them. Many of them seem more attached to their Christian identity than to Christ himself. Although, as I said before, I'm reluctant to question the genuineness of another person's faith, there struck me as being very little of love, longsuffering, peace, gentleness, or truth in certain mischaracterizations of Mormon belief. (See Galatians ch.5 and Ephesians ch. 5.)

Anonymous said...

I am truely sorry for my comments about the under garments. They were indeed uncalled for, and if used as a tool to remind onesself of their ministry, then I have no problem with it, and actually admire the practice. It had been my understanding however, that Mormons believe the undergarments offer some sort of protection against evil, and provide an instant ticket into heaven at the time of death. AST, I really would like to hear what in my beliefs about the Mormon faith is propaganda against you? What part of what I said is untrue? If I am wrong, please tell me. Honestly, I would like to know, and am open to having my views changed. As for all laity being priests, I have no problem with that, and believe strongly in the priesthood of all believers. I believe churches can only be effective with strong lay leadership. Lastly, I would have no problem with a Mormon president.
As their social agenda would be in line with my Christian values.

Mark Daniels said...

Bob: I commend you for your quick apology and for your willingness to hear others out. What a positive statement about your faith in Christ! God bless you!


Anonymous said...

When I weighed in the first time (in fact, the first time ever on this sort of internet exchange), I began to think I'd blundered into pretty hostile territory! I'm far more comfortable with the discussion's current direction. I know it's easy for things to get out of hand when such strong opinions are involved, so thanks very much for toning it down.

In my opinion a good but unofficial resource for answers about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jeff Lindsay's site:
It may be useful to anyone with and interest on this subject.

Thomas said...


Thanks for the expression of good will.

Regarding Mormon "garments," I refer you to Kevin B's 12:48 pm June 2 post. I, for my part, am an odd combination of ironclad political conservative and flaming Mormon liberal, so I'm at least willing to consider that they're part of the nineteenth-century cultural filigree I referred to earlier. Folklore about them protecting people from physical danger (yes, plenty of Mormons do believe that) strike me as a little medieval. Either way, I don't believe this aspect of Mormonism affects the question of whether Mormons believe the core Christian doctrines. If anything, they believe in "Christianity-plus."

I can pretty much categorically state that no Mormon believes wearing garments is an automatic ticket into heaven. Mormons believe salvation is by enduring faith in Christ.

On to your earlier post, one point at a time:

"Mormons do not believe in the God of the Bible"

Sure they do. The one born in Bethlehem to Mary, Roman social security number MCM-IV-VIII. Or do y'all believe in a different guy?

"nor do they believe that Christ is God incarnate."

Incorrect. See the scripture I posted above. You may be confusing us with the JW's, who do, as I understand, follow the monarchian heresy.

"They do not believe in the virgin birth"

Apparently based on some early Church leaders' speculations on precisely how it was that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mormon scriptures declare that Christ was born of the virgin Mary, and the present-day Church accepts this view.

"and they believe Christ had several wives."

Apparently dates back to a speculation voiced by early apostle Orson Pratt, who wondered (anticipating "The Da Vinci Code") whether Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were Jesus' wives. This idea was never generally adopted, and the present-day Church certainly does not take the position that Jesus was married.

"Christ's father, they believe was born on another planet, worked hard enough to obtain godhood, and was rewarded with his own planet to populate and rule over."

The "planet" part of this is entirely false. Mormonism does not teach that God lives on a "planet." There is a tradition that one particular star is closest to heaven -- which is NOT identified as a planet or similar part of the corruptible material universe -- but the modern Church's tradition leaves the precise characteristics of God's place a mystery.

"Christ they believe, grew up on another planet, worked hard to obtain god-hood, and was given earth to rule over."

Not really sure where this one comes from.

Part of what makes some evangelicals apoplectic about Mormonism is a "couplet" coined by a Church president around 1910, which goes "As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become." The former part of this couplet is, in fact, hard to square with God being an eternal, unchanging being, which is probably why it does not receive much emphasis. There are canonized Mormon scriptures that do declare that God is eternal, and therefore could have had no beginning. So it's not entirely clear what the first half of the couplet was meant to mean. Some speculate it refers to the divine Christ's having walked the earth as the Son of Man, having been made flesh.

"If we preform our temple duties well, and work hard , we will be given our own planet to rule over, which we will populate with our wife, or wives whom we will be having celestial sex with for all eternity."

See above re: planet. See Kevin B's post above re: the Mormon understanding of what it means to be an "heir of God and joint-heir with Christ." Mormons believe that when the saved become one with God in heaven, they receive more of God's attributes than most Christians generally believe, although the Orthodox do kind of come close with their concept of apotheosis.

You keep mentioning "temple duties." Mormonism does recognize more sacraments, or ritual ordinances, than most Protestant churches, and, like the Catholic churches, believes that they are an essential part of the process of accepting Christ's grace. That is one difference between them and Protestants, who believe the sacraments to be "outward and visible symbols of an inward and spiritual grace" rather than actual instruments by which grace is transmitted. Again, if we agreed on every point, we'd be attending the same church.

Your call on whether these differences amount to belief in a "different Jesus." I honestly can't see how they do, but I've been known to be wrong on occasion.

Anonymous said...


I must echo Mark... I sincerely thank you for taking the time to listen and consider-- the humility you've shown humbles me in turn.

Being able to come to a greater understanding of each other makes this discussion well worthwhile.