Words & Mormons – Continued Again

Lisa N asks:

How does the “keepers of the book” thing work with Catholicism and the Pope?  Or is the Pope one of those “keepers of the book”?  Because Catholicism is certainly built on the idea that a contemporary guy’s policies and beliefs are part and parcel of the religion.

And Geoff J comments:

…You are indeed wrong.

Mormon doctrine does not say one must believe the Book of Mormon is scripture along with the Bible to “go to the place of eternal happiness called heaven”.  (See D&C section 76)  You really ought to study up on Mormonism before taking ill-informed potshots at it. 

 

Things are starting to get interesting around here. Before diving in deeper still, let me point out to those wandering into the conversation that, personally, I believe its about as likely that the Angel Moroni gave Joseph Smith thosetablets as it is likely that Jesus, the son of God, rosefrom the dead for our sins, forever and ever, etc. Moreover, I believe, to paraphrase Ian McEwan, that faith is, at best, morally neutral, and so am interested though not surprised to see and enjoy all these inflamed passions resulting from what seemed a dispassionate comment simply stating that Mormons are not Christians. To my thinking, its like saying Green is not Red, only to discover that red is outraged, demanding to be taken seriously as Green. Which then brings us into these murky waters of words and definitions and who does the defining. In the interest of forming some kind of private resolution, let me say, first, that if Red wants to be call Green, fine. But it will still be Red.

 

Geoff encouraged me to read up on Mormon theology. So I did. I’m happy and humbled to report that Geoff is right, Mormon doctrine indeed does not say one must believe the Book of Mormon is scripture along with the Bible to go to heaven. And at the risk of offending, I will add, sorry, but it comes down to theology, and, again, sorry, but the Christians get to define what a Christian makes.

 

To be a “Christian,” requires a rather central belief that Jesus is the Son of God, the only son of God, who died for the sins of mankind and so rose on up into heaven. That’s it. Believe that, you are a Christian. Don’t, not. Mormons don’t. Mormons believe that Jesus (Satan’s brother, btw) was a prophet or ason of God, not the only-begotten Son of God, who came to earth to die for our sins. This is a pretty basic deviation from a rather central truth of Christianity. To say nothing of the Mormon beliefs about what happened after the resurrection. Plus the mode of salvation, for Mormons, while lovely, isn’t biblicaly defined. Namely, Mormons believe that requirements for salvation are based on faith, baptism (by them), good works, keeping the commandments, membership in their church. To borrow from Richard G, a more private reader, “It’s a works-based righteousness for salvation, whereas orthodox Christianity asserts that the only saving righteousness is the imputed righteousness of Jesus, which comes through faith alone; good works do not save, they just demonstrate the presence of saving faith.”

 

Again, these more theological fine points are ignoring entirely the mysterious origins of the Book of Mormon.

 

Catholics, on the other hand, and Baptists, and everybody else, may disagree all over the place, and, yes Lisa, in Catholicism a contemporary guy’s beliefs do impact the teachings, but these branches off the Christian tree share a root belief in basic, orthodox doctrine having to do with the divinity of Jesus. The deal-breaker for Mormons, from an Orthodox Christian perspective, is in not requiring basic Christian tenets as the exclusive means of salvation.

 

Which raises the unpleasant question of what differentiates a cult from a religion? The answer being time and numbers.

 

A repetition: Mormons can be called Christians and Red can be called Green. I don’t care, per se, but do want to remind those who are still reading that, like a fossil in tar, a word has within a definition, which we can ignore, or not, but that definition will remain.

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4 Responses to “Words & Mormons – Continued Again”

  1. Mormons Are Christian Says:

    Mormons Are New Testament Christians, not Creedal Christians

    The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often accused by Evangelical pastors of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion. This post helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early Christianity’s theology relating to baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

    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. 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 prohibiting non-Christians from witnessing 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. For example, it was an emperor (Constantine) . who introduced a term, homoousious, which defined the Son as “consubstantial” (one being) with the Father. Neither term or anything like it is in the New Testament. Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.” Furthermore, 11 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were non-Trinitarian Christians http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/01/richard_price.php The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts and the Founders.

    Theosis

    Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, “The Son of God became man, that we might become God.” Irenaeus wrote in the late 2nd Century: “we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods” Justin Martyr in mid 2nd Century said: “all men are deemed worthy of becoming ‘gods,’ and of having power to become sons of the Highest” Clement of Alexandria explained “Saints . . pure in heart . . are destined to sit on thrones with the other gods that have been first put in their places by the Savior.” The Gospel of Thomas (which pre-dates the 4 Gospels, but was considered non-canonical by the Nicene Council) quotes the Savior: “He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him,” (Gospel of Thomas 50, 28-30, Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M.Robinson, 1st ed 1977; 3rd ed. 1988) For further information on this subject, refer to http://NewTestamentTempleRitual.blogspot.com The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) agrees with Early Christian church leaders regarding theosis.

    In the words of Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie: “There is and can only be one who is supreme, who is the head and to who all others are subject”. Becoming like God is not saying we will ever be equal to Him, frankly we won’t and can’t. He, and only He, will forever be worshipped by us.

    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 (28 percent of Episcopalians) agreed that Jesus was “without sin”, 70 percent of Mormons believe Jesus was sinless.

    The Cross and Christ’s Atonement:

    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. Furthermore, members of the church believe the major part of Christ’s atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ took upon him the sins of all mankind.

    Definition of “Christian”: .

    But Mormons don’t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. They believe Christ’s atonement 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. . Early Christians had certain rituals which defined a Christian , which members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue today. . If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology, they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.

    • The Need for a Restoration of the Christian Church:

    The founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams, just prior to leaving the church he established, said this: “There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.” (Picturesque America, p. 502.) Martin Luther had similar thoughts: “Nor can a Christian believer be forced beyond sacred Scriptures,…unless some new and proved revelation should be added; for we are forbidden by divine law to believe except what is proved either through the divine Scriptures or through Manifest revelation.” He also wrote: “I have sought nothing beyond reforming the Church in conformity with the Holy Scriptures. The spiritual powers have been not only corrupted by sin, but absolutely destroyed; so that there is now nothing in them but a depraved reason and a will that is the enemy and opponent of God. I simply say that Christianity has ceased to exist among those who should have preserved it.” The Lutheran, Baptist and Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) churches recognize an apostasy from early Christianity. The Lutheran and Baptist churches have attempted reform, but Mormonism (and Roger Williams, and perhaps Martin Luther) require inspired restoration, so as to re-establish an unbroken line of authority and apostolic succession.
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .* * *

    • Christ-Like Lives:

    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 (28 percent of Episcopalians) agreed that Jesus was “without sin”, 70 percent of Mormons believe Jesus was sinless.

    The Cross and Christ’s Atonement:

    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. Furthermore, members of the church believe the major part of Christ’s atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ took upon him the sins of all mankind.

    Definition of “Christian”: .

    But Mormons don’t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. They believe Christ’s atonement 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. . Early Christians had certain rituals which defined a Christian , which members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue today. . If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology, they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.

    • The Need for a Restoration of the Christian Church:

    The founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams, just prior to leaving the church he established, said this: “There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.” (Picturesque America, p. 502.) Martin Luther had similar thoughts: “Nor can a Christian believer be forced beyond sacred Scriptures,…unless some new and proved revelation should be added; for we are forbidden by divine law to believe except what is proved either through the divine Scriptures or through Manifest revelation.” He also wrote: “I have sought nothing beyond reforming the Church in conformity with the Holy Scriptures. The spiritual powers have been not only corrupted by sin, but absolutely destroyed; so that there is now nothing in them but a depraved reason and a will that is the enemy and opponent of God. I simply say that Christianity has ceased to exist among those who should have preserved it.” The Lutheran, Baptist and Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) churches recognize an apostasy from early Christianity. The Lutheran and Baptist churches have attempted reform, but Mormonism (and Roger Williams, and perhaps Martin Luther) require inspired restoration, so as to re-establish an unbroken line of authority and apostolic succession.

    A Baptist minister says the Book of Mormon is consistent with Jesus Christ’s teachings in the New Testament: http://www.centerplace.org/library/bofm/baptistversionofbofm.htm

  2. Geoff J Says:

    To be a “Christian,” requires a rather central belief that Jesus is the Son of God, the only son of God, who died for the sins of mankind and so rose on up into heaven. That’s it. Believe that, you are a Christian.

    Ummm… I thought you said you studied up on Mormon doctrine. Apparently you missed the central tenets of Mormonism. Let me make it clear:

    MORMONS PERFECTLY FIT THAT DEFINITION

    (Sorry for the shouting but it is a little frustrating to see an otherwise intelligent sounding person spout such blatant falsehoods)

    Mormons don’t.

    FALSE

    Mormons believe that Jesus (Satan’s brother, btw) was a prophet or ason of God, not the only-begotten Son of God, who came to earth to die for our sins.

    FALSE

    Look, clearly you have been fed some serious BS by someone who is either an ignoramus or has an agenda. Mormons do indeed believe “that Jesus is the Son of God, the only son of God, who died for the sins of mankind and so rose on up into heaven”. So by your definition Mormons are Christian.

    Now this faith vs works side stuff is really entire beside the point we are discussing. Again, I recommend you check you sources next time. They are making your look a little silly at this point.

  3. Geoff J Says:

    Just to give you a few references (and there a gobs of them I could choose from in the Mormon canon including the Bible and non-Biblical scriptures Mormonism accepts) see these:

    “yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ”

    – Book of Mormon, Helaman 5:9, http://scriptures.lds.org/en/hel/5/9#9

    “Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh.”

    – Book of Mormon, Jacob 4:11, http://scriptures.lds.org/en/jacob/4/11#5

  4. Lisa N Says:

    I suspect your responses are less “impassioned” than “confused,” because you keep moving the goalposts a bit. First Mormons weren’t Christian because other Christians said so, then because they believe in the Book of Mormon, and now because they require good works (which, if I’m recalling 11th-grade English class correctly, was also a requirement for the John Edwards set, and I don’t remember anyone arguing that the Puritans weren’t Christian). Your argument seems to be coming down, more or less, to “Because I said so,” which is fine if you want to be that way, but don’t pretend it’s based on any actual fact.

    I don’t really care whether or not Mormons are Christian (I tend to think they are, given the belief in Christ and all), and I don’t know enough about Mormonism to argue the theological points, but your arguments seem to have giant holes in them that are bothering me intellectually. Not, you know, in a way that’s keeping me up at night, but certainly in an “I miss arguing with Rob” sort of way.

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