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.