Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mormons Aren't Christians, Are They? Aren't They a Cult?

The following is an excerpt of an excellent article by Orson Scott Card on Mitt Romney and the presidential race. I highly suggest reading it.

Let me save everybody a lot of time. If by "Christian" you mean "believes in the version of God and Christ taught in the Nicene Creed," then absolutely not. Right from the start, the founding prophet of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, rejected that view of God as a fantasy.

Of course, by our definition of "Christian theology," we're the only Christians. That's why we send out missionaries to preach to Baptists and Methodists right along with the heathens.

And let's remember that Catholics have historically had a pretty low opinion of the doctrines of Lutherans and Quakers and Presbyterians -- and vice versa.

But in America, we all agree to get along. In fact, it says it right there in Article 6 of the Constitution: "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

We've had plenty of Presidents who weren't Christians, most prominently Thomas Jefferson. But most of them hadn't served as missionaries for their atheistic or deistic beliefs, either.

So let's pretend that it matters. Theologically, Mormons are way outside the mainstream of Christianity.

But how do Mormons actually live?

Despite the efforts of our opponents to paint us as a "cult," we don't live in communes in Guyana. We hold regular jobs. Most Mormon kids go to regular schools.

We wear regular clothes. (OK, maybe a little more modest than most, but that's a good thing, isn't it?)

We don't smoke or drink or do drugs -- but that makes us safer drivers and more reliable employees and better company in small closed rooms, doesn't it?

Let's forget about doctrinal religion and look at practical religion. Mormons are people who take their worship of God seriously. We really try to live by the commandments of God, as we understand them -- and they're not a bad list of commandments.

In fact, they sound kind of like what most American Christians would aspire to. Get married, be faithful to your spouse, have babies and raise them right. Don't let your life be taken over by drugs or alcohol. Hold down a job and support a family. Go to Church. Contribute to charity. Help your neighbor when he needs a hand. Be honest in your business dealings.

If you think we're not Christians, fine. But we make decent neighbors and co-workers, most of the time. And since we all agree there should be no religious test to be President, then what difference can our doctrines possibly make?

In fact, when you come right down to it, can you think of any significant point on which Mormons would disagree with an ordinary conservative Christian's view of what a President ought to do?

We may have different opinions about the nature of God, but we still pray to the God of the New Testament and recognize Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, and try to obey his commandments, like any other practical Christians.

We Mormons treat President Bush's religious faith with respect and regard him as a Christian even though we think his theology is wrong; I think Methodists and Baptists and Catholics are mature and generous enough to treat a Mormon President the same way.


Blake said...

I'm still told that I need to read an Orson Scott Card book, maybe this article will count. I enjoyed it.

Bot said...

Could members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) be more "Christian" than Evangelicals? Protestants and Catholics subscribe to the Nicene creed, which was initiated by the Emperor Constantine in the Fourth Century to rid Scriptures of the Apocrypha, which made reference to the oral traditions of Jewish and early Christian temple worship.

First Century Christian churches, in fact, continued the Jewish temple worship traditions:
1) Baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family
2) Lay clergy
3) Anointing with holy oil after baptism
4) Then clothing in white clothing

Just check with the Israeli Museum to verify. And read Exodus Ch 29 for Aaron and his sons” ordinances. Jewish Temple practices were continued by Christians prior to Constantine”s corruption (see St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386) Lecture XXI). Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and not allowing non-Christians to witness them

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ being separate beings, united in purpose. To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and to whom was he speaking 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.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) have concern for their ancestors” spiritual welfare, so they practice proxy baptism. (1 Corinthians 15:29 & Malachi 4:5-6).

Only members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue these practices of First Century Christians. But Mormons don”t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. 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 the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament.

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

* * *
Furthermore, a UCLA study found that observant members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) in their 50s and 60s had one-twentieth the divorce rate, abuse rate, or substance abuse of a demographically similar group in Southern California.

And the National Study of Youth and Religion done by UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005 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

Lindsay said...

Good article. Thanks.