Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dear Mr. Bills Can't Get No Respect

Mormons, it seems, have a deep need to be accepted by Christians. We'd be more than happy to accept them as brothers and sisters, if that is, they weren't duplicitous people. Like so many before them and after, they try to play "guilt by association," but in reverse. They play "legitimate by association." If they can associate themselves with Christ, so they seem to reason, this is enough to make them Christians. Such is not the case. In a sense, they remind me of people who want to legalize drugs. They say that they want it for "medicinal" use, but in reality, they're using it to get high. Its “reefer madness” for Mormons.

Today, an op ed appeared in my local paper titled, “Misinformation abounds about Mormons.” The article is from Mr. Wayne Bills, business consultant, a member and lay minister in the LDS Church.

Since this gentleman resides in my community, and there are readers of this blog who live in that community, I am taking the time to respond, for this looks like a response to a letter to the editor I wrote that our local newspaper published. With that in mind.. Normally, I wouldn’t bother placing it on this blog since it isn’t a detailed apologetic, but it is relevant because, (a) the writer proves what many of us have been saying is true, and (b) it is representative of what many folks might encounter in public when meeting Mormons.

Since this article is not online, I have to quote it without a link. I’ll summarize shorter bits in order to take on the main piece near the end. I will endeavor to quote as much as possible, and I will follow Mr. Bills’ order, letting him frame the arguments for us.

Mr. Bills dislikes it that “too many people in our community,” and nation have taken the liberty of telling him what he believes.

The irony here is that he then proceeds in his op. ed. to tell people who differ with him what they believe, and then he has the audacity to tell us what he thinks they should believe and how they act.

He says that people want to “misrepresent” his beliefs.

Unfortunately, he names two “misrepresentations” which, as we shall are not misrepresentations at all.

Mormon is a nickname first used years ago that stuck. Lately, it seems, many people not only misrepresent my beliefs, but they want to use the term “Mormon” in a derogatory fashion, or even in what some have labeled a “bigoted” way.


a. Mr. Bills is a lay minister in the LDS church. He should know that the term is used because the LDS church uses it to describe their own members today.

b. The fact that it has its origins as a nickname is irrelevant to its present usage. Ironically, the original letter that I sent to the newspaper used “LDS” instead of “Mormon” but the newspaper itself changed it to “Mormon,” presumably so readers would better understand what was being said.

c. Perhaps he did not do this due to the word limit imposed by the newspaper, but note that he gives no examples of who has done this. Rather, he simply uses the term “bigoted,” as if this is some sort of emotive appeal.

d. That said, I believe he is referring to the way people refer to Mormonism as a “cult.” This is understandable, since he wishes to be identified as a type of Christian. Of course, the word “cult” has been dumbed down by the media to refer to groups like David Koresh’s followers and others like it, so that the proper usage is generally ignored. This usage congers images of secret societies and suicide pacts. This is, of course, not at all what we in Christian apologetics have in mind. Rather, we have in mind a much older and more proper definition of the term, “that which differs from historic, fundamental doctrine.” The fundamental articles of faith for a Protestant would be basic Theology Proper, Christology, Pneumatology, and a soteriology that included justification by faith alone. Roman Catholics and others would deny the last article. Both groups would rightly construe Mormonism as a “cult,” however, on the basis of the first three articles. Simply put, they cannot give any of us a credible profession of faith.

He then says that too many people have chosen to listen to someone else about what he believes but never asked him.

This is likely true, but if people like, for example, James White, Hank Hannagraaf, or Sandra Tanner have misrepresented his beliefs then he needs to demonstrate that. Later, he will begin trying to correct some of these misrepresentations. More on that below.

He draws a distinction between those who are “passively misinformed” and those who actively try to “spread lies.” It’s worth noting that we are about 1/3 through his article, and he has yet to demonstrate these assertions. So far, he’s all emotion and no documentation.

Apparently there are those who would employ strategies of fear and divisiveness to drive “we – they” wedges between people and groups.

1. What strategies?

2. Truth is divisive.

“We” are right and “they” are to be demeaned and shunned.

Who is “demeaning” and “shunning” Mormons? I don’t recall anybody calling for them to be rounded up and taken to concentration camps, as if they should be sent to the pogroms like Jews in Nazi Germany. Nobody is telling Mormons to sit at the back of the bus. I myself am on record stating that the problem with respect to the presidential campaign isn’t with Mormons for the sake of their Mormons (and I stated this clearly in my letter); rather we are concerned about Romney’s candidacy because he hasn’t come clean about his beliefs while trying to paint himself, like Mr. Bills, as just another sort of Christian. He, like Mr. Bills, recasts certain ideas by redefining terms and investing them with new meanings and then calls himself a “Christian.” That is duplicitous. Mr. Bills makes it sound like we’re trying to excise them from American society. No, we just want them to be honest with us. We’d like men like Mr. Bills to own up to the truth, truth which, I might add, his Mormon ancestors would have had no problem stating clearly.

True Christians everywhere, if they are to be true to their own faith, must take a stand against these “we – they” wedges, and instead seek to apply the teachings of Jesus Christ, which he so beautifully summed up in two great commandments: Love God, and love thy neighbor.

1. Mr. Bills sounds just like an atheist or a person from the theologically liberal tradition out of the 19th and 20th centuries.

2. Exegetically, he hasn’t a leg to stand on. Here’s a sample of Jesus’ own teachings:

a. Matt. 8:6:

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

Note that this is written after the so often quoted “judge not that you be not judged” statement. One wonders how, if we are not to judge others at all, how we are to know what is a dog or a pig? “Dog” was a common derogatory term for “Gentile” and the “pig” is an unclean animal. Of course, Jesus does not advocate calling non-believers and Gentiles “dogs,” but he is telling us to judge justly and know the difference between what is right and wrong, true and false, “clean” and “unclean,” etc.

b. Matt. 8:15

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Of course, this teaching comes just a few paragraphs after the previous citation.

c. In the text Mr. Bills cited, Jesus is summarizing the two tables of the Decalogue. The first set Israel apart from the nations. Worship of God, the God described in the Bible, whose name is Yahweh, is what is included in “Love God.” Mormons, of course, do not believe that God is Yahweh. He is Elohim, a separate god. Mormons believe in a pantheon of gods. They do not worship the God of the Bible, therefore they do not worship the one true God. Therefore they do not love God at all, using Mr. Bills’ own yardstick.

d.

Acts 8 (New International Version)

20Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."

e. 1Timothy 1 (New International Version)

8We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.


f. Hebrews 10 (New International Version)

26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

g. 2 Peter 2 (New International Version)

1But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. 10This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

13They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—a beast without speech—who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness.

17These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."


h. We need not list all the taunt songs in the Bible. Suffice it to say that Mr. Bills seems to operate with a highly sanitized version of what the Bible teaches, including what Jesus teaches. He has neglected the fact that Jesus did not come to unite just anybody and everybody regardless of what they believed about God. He came to bring a sword between people, to divide them.

3. But if that’s not enough, let’s look at some representative Mormon teachings:

"Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the "whore of Babylon" whom the lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness." (Pratt, The Seer, p.255)

"And any person who shall be so wicked as to receive a holy ordinance of the gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent of the unholy and impious act." (Orson Pratt, OP-WA, "The Kingdom of God," no.2, p.6)

"...all other churches are entirely destitute of all authority from God; and any person who recieves baptism or the Lord's supper from their hands will highly offend God, for he looks upon them as the most corrupt people." (Orson Pratt, The Seer, pg. 255)

"After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christiandom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common orgin. They belong to Babylon." (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, p.324)

I wonder if Mr. Bills is ignorant of what his ecclesiastical superiors have written and stated publicly and of your group's own historical position, or is he simply duplicitous? Are they not representative of Mormonism? Pratt, for example, was one an LDS "apostle."

When we Christians say that Mormons are not Christians, Mr. Bills, we are simply taking your ecclesiastical community at its own word; this is not simply our view over and against your own. We are not "telling you what you believe," we are taking what your own authorities have stated at face value and reminding you of it. If you really think we are "telling you what you believe" perhaps it is because you are ignorant of what those authorities have actually stated.

By the way, Pratt's works are online for all to read here.

As you can plainly see, nothing has been taken out of context, so you can only make this appeal by cutting off the teaching of your own forebears. Since you say “True Christians everywhere should...” we can safely conclude, using your own yardstick, that these individuals were not true Christians. I wonder, what would Gordon Hinckley say about that?

Next he lists what he believes are the two most common myths about what he believes.

1. I’m not a Christian.

2. I don’t believe in the Bible.

He addresses them in reverse order.

One of the basic tenets of my religion clearly states, “We believe the Bible to be the Word of God...” I would guess that every active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (adult and teen) has a personal copy of the King James Bible. We read it in our homes; we teach from it in our services.

1. This response has all the merit of saying, “I read Ladies Home Journal, therefore I am female.”

2. When people say, “Mormons don’t believe in the Bible” they mean that Mormons don’t believe in what the Bible teaches. For a Mormon to say, “I believe the Bible” when seeking to be recognized as a fellow Christian is therefore problematic at best, dishonest at worst.

.3. Notice what Mr. Bills carefully leaves out. More about the meaning of that statement can be found here:

http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=bbd508f54922d010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=0e6639b439c98010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____#current

The Bible is not God’s final revelation to humanity, however, and neither is this collection of sacred writings complete. The Bible is not God’s final revelation to humanity, however, and neither is this collection of sacred writings complete. The Bible itself speaks of other authoritative books of scripture including books of Nathan the prophet and of Jehu and Enoch, the prophecy of Ahijah, the visions of Iddo the seer, and even missing epistles of Paul (see 2 Chronicles 9:29; 13:22; 20:34; 1 Corinthians 5:9; Jude 1:14). Other books of Latter-day Saint scripture—the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price—clarify the gospel as taught in the Bible and corroborate the truthfulness of the Biblical witness of Jesus Christ.

Also,

"Guided by the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Spirit of the Lord, it is not difficult for one to discern the errors in the Bible. (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 327).

and

What shall we say then, concerning the Bible's being a sufficient guide? Can we rely upon it in its present known corrupted state, as being a faithful record of God's word? We all know that but a few of the inspired writings have descended to our times,…What few have come down to our day have been mutilated, changed, and corrupted, in such a shameful manner that no two manuscripts agree….Add all this imperfection to the uncertainty of the translation, and who, in his right mind, could, for one moment, suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original?" (Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p. 47)

4. So, as we can see, Mr. Bills, like Mr. Romney, you told the truth – from a certain perspective, but you left out something important. You also neglected to inform your readers that it’s largely the last two of these ancillary books that form the content of the grid by which the Bible is studied and understood, and you have carefully omitted important information regarding where the Mormon Church actually cashes out on the Bible. You speak with a forked tongue.

Which leads me to another myth, the hurtful claim that I am not a Christian.

One can’t help but notice that this is a common refrain from Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others. Frankly, I’m just a wee bit tired of hearing this sad song repeated. This statement tries to convey distress; it’s a plea for sympathy. We should, one presumes try to walk in his shoes, as if we have nothing about which to be offended. In reality I am highly offended and “hurt” by his claim to be a Christian. I wonder has he ever bothered to consider how we orthodox Christians feel about these claims?

I grew up believing in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

Who denies this? Rather, the issue is what you mean by this.

I went to church regularly.

Christians should go to church, but church attendance does not make you a Christian.

I prayed. I read the Scriptures.

Neither of which make you a Christian any more that eating at McDonald's makes you a Big Mac.

My parents of course did the same. They taught me the basic principles of the Gospel: that Jesus Christ came to earth to atone for my sins to open the door that would one day enable me to return to the presence of God. Doesn’t that sound Christian to you?

Leaving aside the problems with a doctrine of general redemption, yes it does, “from a certain perspective.” The problem, of course, is that those of us that know what Mormonism actually teaches is not the same as what Christianity, and I’m being very broad here to include the Catholics and Orthodox here too, teaches. So, we’re back to the LDS Church taking historical terminology and investing it with new, redefined ideas.

Imagine my surprise to learn, as I got older, that most other Christian denominations claim that I’m not a Christian because my definition of the Trinity isn’t exactly the same as theirs.

1. We’re only taking your own word that we’re not Christians, so the anathema is mutual. See above.

2. Additionally:

Today [the devil] centers his powers on…using [the Bible] to prove such false doctrines as that God is a Spirit or that we are saved by grace alone without works."

Try looking up who said that. So, the difference isn’t just due to your view on the Trinity, at least for us Protestants, and your own theologians have stated that what we affirm is false doctrine.

3. Not exactly the same?

Is our view simply another view alongside of yours? According to you, The Father is an exhalted man. According to you, Jesus is Yahweh. According to you, there is a pantheon of gods, only one of which is due our worship. According to you, the Trinity is composed of three beings.

According to us, the Father is identified as Yahweh. We agree that Jesus is also identified as Yahweh. According to us, there is one and only one God, Yahweh, and He exists as three subsistences, sharing a single essence, ergo a single being.

Which does the Bible teach? The Bible actually says explicitly that the Father is Yahweh in Isaiah 53:6. Are you unaware of the underlying Hebrew? This is also true in Matthew 22:41-45.

So, here we have not merely two differing interpretations of indeterminate weight, such that one is no better than the other. Rather, we have two contradictory readings of the text, and neither is simply a case of competing exegesis. Rather, it's a simple and forthright matter of what the text simply says. You said you believed the Bible. I submit that you do not, and I can’t help but notice you employ a phrase, “not exactly the same” as if the differences are minimal. Sir, we are strict monotheists; you are, by definition, a polytheist. What greater difference could there be? Your Christology is utterly unlike ours, for you make the Son a created being. Your doctrine of God is utterly unlike ours.

To be a Christian is not, “simply defined” as “a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ.” Mormon doctrine does not allow for the granting of personal salvation to those who trust in Christ alone to be reconciled to God.. I’ll walk you through the elementary logic here. You’ve committed a key fallacy: confusing words and concepts by equivocation. Words form and denote concepts. You believe in “Jesus Christ” but your Christology looks nothing like ours and is, in fact, contradictory to ours, and your doctrine of salvation does not resemble what any visible church, not even Rome or the Eastern Orthodox much less Protestant sect, has taught, for the end product is a literal divinization of man, whereby they become gods. That is heresy by any definition of any of the major groups under the broad umbrella of Christianity. Ergo, one of us is not even remotely a Christian. Your forefathers recognized this, as did mine. Why do you not do so?

If differences in denominational doctrines determine the degree of Christianity each Christian faith can claim, then there should be continuing debate among all of them. Are the Baptists more or less Christian than the Lutherans? What about the Methodists, Catholics, Presbyterians, etc? Each of them have different interpretations of certain parts of the Bible, and each have differences in their methods of worship, yet all of them get to claim the title of Christian. Some of them, apparently, even get to tell me that I am not.

1. We do that because Christ would do that too.

2. We do, in fact, debate theology all the time. We do that regularly.

3. However, we draw a distinction between an intramural debate and an extramural debate.

4. You deny fundamental doctrines that are definitional to the most broad usage of the term “Christian” because, for the most part, we draw distinctions between types and levels of error. Also, there is a difference between those doctrines which immediate arise from Scripture’s reading (Trinity, Christology, justification by faith alone) and are primary and those arising by derivation (the exact relationship of the 2 natures; the ordu salutis). To what extent then are can the doctrines in this latter category be considered fundamental?

1. If a doctrine is present and explicit in Scripture it is fundamental and foundational, ergo necessary.

2. The implicit or virtually present doctrine attains a fundamental or normative status when its formulation becomes an issue of debate between orthodox and heterodox Christians.

3. When the heterodox formulation leads to an erroneous and soteriologically dangerous understanding of the explicit and formal or primary doctrines.

5. Varieties of actual fundamental error include three types:

A. Against fundamentals – Direct Error

B. Against fundamentals – Indirect Error

C. Against fundamentals – Beyond the matter

The first is a direct attack. The Socinians directly attacked the Trinity and the divinity of Christ. Many Anabaptists, along with the Catholics attacked justification by faith alone directly. The second would be a doctrine that is subversive of a fundamental. Open theism denies God’s providence by denying infallible future foreknowledge. The attack is indirect, by way of libertarian freedom. Libertarianism itself denies no fundamental if it is construed in relation to prevenient grace, but, in this instance, it is the way it is employed by Open Theists that makes its use an indirect attack on a fundamental, for it is, in Pinnock’s case not only attacking the doctrine of God, but also introducing a post-mortem universalism. The third class involves faith in problematic and curious questions that do not arise from the Word of God plainly, like PPL or “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” or dogmatic statements about supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism, which even Twisse, the supralapsarian at the Westminster Assembly said was probably a question that was better not to have been asked.

Francis Turretin lists five criteria in his Institutes (I.xiv.9):

1. Catholic or universal as necessary to salvation.

2. Necessary to salvation in such a way ignorance of it brings damnation; doubt brings danger; negation of it lead to impiety and heresy.’

3. All the faithful must consent without dissent over interpretation, under pain of Galatians 1:8. This was a restriction on the fundamentals as non-negotiables yet not to the error of excess of the Lutherans, in which all articles were non-negotiable.

4. All dogmas of the faith hark back to them as basic rules of truth are the basis for the analogy of faith.

5. The must be primary fundamentals or principal truths on which all other fundamentals rest and without which salvation would be subverted.

Witsius, in his Exercitationes (II.v.ii) added:

It must be of such nature that neither faith in Christ nor true repentance can exist without it (Heb. 11:6, 12:14). Thus, he adds the doctrine of grace; faith, repentance and conversion. Faith presupposes knowledge and knowledge of Christ is necessary to salvation. (I would add that this is also a denial of the meritocracy of Rome, since justification by faith alone is what he means when he speaks in these terms). This rests on His equality and dignity and identity of substance with the Father. Ergo, the doctrine of Christ, contrary to the Socinians is fundamental. In other words, he works from a teleology of salvation to work out what must be true if that is true. He is deducing his articles from what is known easily to what lies behind them.

6. We draw distinctions between a credible profession of faith and a saving profession of faith. To cite some examples:

In Reformed theology, we draw a distinction between a credible profession of faith and a saving profession of faith. For purposes of church membership, cooperation with other denominational entities, etc., since we cannot know of a certainty who is or isn't saved, we only require a credible profession of faith. A saving profession of faith lies solely between an individual and God.


For example, a Catholic that affirms the current dogmas of
Rome cannot offer a credible profession of faith to a consistent Protestant. But whether a Catholic can offer a saving profession of faith is a different question. The answer varies on a case-by-case basis. It is easier to say who isn't saved than to say who is.
To be a Christian is to be, among other things, a Christian believer. One must believe certain things, and not believe certain other, contrary things. On the one hand, some dogmas are damnable dogmas. On the other hand, the Bible lays out certain saving articles of faith. This is God's criterion, not ours. We did not invent it. By the same token, how God applies that criterion in any individual case is up to God, not to us. We are not the judge, God is the Judge. To take a concrete example, Scripture teaches Sola Fide (faith alone) (Romans; Galatians). An individual is saved by faith in Christ and saved by the sole and sufficient merit of Christ.

However, in Catholic dogma, one is saved by the merit of Christ plus the merit of the saints plus one's own congruent merit. And this results in a divided faith. That is why a Catholic cannot give a consistent Protestant a credible profession of faith. In fairness, Protestants are more prone to give a Catholic church member a pass on the credible profession of faith than they do a Catholic bishop or the Pope or some of their lay apologists, because they very clearly have bought into the full range of Catholic dogmas.

Any of the following creeds/confessions could supply the basis for a credible profession of faith:

1. The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Christian Religion

2. The Formula of Concord

3. The Baptist Faith & Message (any version)(http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp)

4. The C&MA statement of faith

(http://www.cmalliance.org/whoweare/doctrine.jsp)

5. The JFJ statement of faith (http://www.jewsforjesus.org/about/statementoffaith)

6. The EFCA statement of faith (http://www.efca.org/about/doctrine/)

7. The Campus Crusade statement of faith (http://www.ccci.org/statement_of_faith.html)

8. The AG statement of faith (http://www.ag.org/top/beliefs/truths.cfm)

These are all broadly evangelical affirmations of faith. Notice, not all are Reformed. Some are Lutheran; some are Arminian. By contrast, Trent or Vatican II does not supply the basis for a credible profession of faith. Still, it is possible for a Catholic to be saved, unlike a Muslim or Mormon or other suchlike.

It’s time to take a more Christian approach. Is it a Christian act to criticize, demean, or in any way undermine the faith of another? Of course not.
Then why do Mormons consider evangelical Christians an object of evangelism? Wouldn’t that be a way of seeking to undermine their faith? Why do they engage in apologetics? Perhaps the problem here is that Mr. Bills has more in common with an atheist than Christ, with liberals than believing Mormons.

Remember the Golden Rule? Let’s all practice that.

Of course the Golden Rule is utterly inapplicable here, for the Golden Rule deals with items like personal offenses, not apologetics or evangelism.. Mr. Bills uses the Golden Rule as a bludgeon with which to deny anyone the right to critique Mormonism, but he can only do so at the expense of excising himself from the ranks of those who practice it by critiquing their beliefs. Notice also that he appears to be defining “demean” as “tell me I’m not a Christian.” In the words of Baby Jane, slightly altered, “But you’re not Blanche, you’re not.”

And for all of us who are Christians, we should take that to the next level by applying the teaching of Christ found in the Book of John: “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you...”

I agree, but you, sir, are not a member of the covenant community, and this was directed at the members of that community with respect to each other, not to everybody without exception. Certainly, you are entitled to my respect, but it is precisely because I do respect you that I tell you the truth: You do not believe the Bible; you do not love God; and you are not a Christian. The Bible says that God will leave you in your sins and judge you for them all if you do not turn to Christ, the one true God incarnated as a man, fully God, and fully man, not a mode of God’s being, but a person, yet not a separate being, and cast yourself on His mercy by faith alone, rejecting all your works as filthy rags. Place you faith in Christ, the Christ of Christianity, the Christ of the Bible, not the false Christ of Mormonism who is simply antichrist. You and your Mormon brothers and sisters must do this in order to be called “Christians,” and until you do, you will continue to be denied the right to be called sons of God.

16 comments:

  1. Gene wrote:

    "Ironically, the original letter that I sent to the newspaper used 'LDS' instead of 'Mormon' but the newspaper itself changed it to 'Mormon,' presumably so readers would better understand what was being said."

    Several years ago, a newspaper printed a letter I sent about Islam. They not only changed the wording, but also left out sentences and some of the evidence I cited. What they printed was the same as what I sent them for the most part, but they did make some significant changes. When people read letters to the editor, they should keep in mind that a significant amount of editing sometimes occurs, in my case without the letter writer knowing about those changes ahead of time. The person who does the editing doesn't necessarily understand the significance of the wording of a particular argument or the importance of a particular line of evidence that's cited.

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  2. Christians like Huckabee often call Mormon Romneys members of a cult.

    But are Mormons a cult, or instead a way of following Christ that is closer to original first Christianity? Is the real cult the religion of Mainstream Christianity, that prays to a Trinity ManGod first created hundreds of years after Christ by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine?

    related video:

    HANK HANEGRAAFF: THE BIBLE ANSWER MAN

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1eKH7HbE68

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  3. 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 article 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. 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 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. 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.”

    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." . 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 (28 percent of Episcopalians) agreed that Jesus was “without sin”, 70 percent of Mormons believe Jesus was sinless. http://www.adherents.com/misc/BarnaPoll.html

    • 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 http://sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/207/2070037.htm , 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 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):


    1. Attend Religious Services weekly
    2. Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life – extremely important
    3. Believes in life after death
    4. Does NOT believe in psychics or fortune-tellers
    5. Has taught religious education classes
    6. Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline
    7. Sabbath Observance
    8. Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith
    9. Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily
    10. Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen (very supportive)
    11. Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality

    LDS Evangelical
    1. 71% 55%
    2. 52 28
    3. 76 62
    4. 100 95
    5. 42 28
    6. 68 22
    7. 67 40
    8. 72 56
    9. 50 19
    10. 65 26
    11. 84 35



    So what do you think the motivation is for the Evangelical preachers to denigrate the Mormon Church? You would think Evangelical preachers would be emulating Mormon practices (a creed to believe, a place to belong, a calling to live out, and a hope to hold onto) which were noted by Methodist Rev. Kenda Creasy Dean of the Princeton Theological Seminary, as causing Mormon teenagers to “top the charts” in Christian characteristics. (see http://MormonTeenagers.blogspot.com) It seems obvious pastors shouldn't be denigrating a church based on First Century Christianity, with high efficacy. The only plausible reason to denigrate Mormons is for Evangelical pastors to protect their flock (and their livelihood).

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  4. Not at all. It seems to reflect the simplicity of the New Testament without any incomprehensible creeds.

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  5. 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."


    The doctrine of the Trinity is hardly dependent on 1 John or the Nicene Creed. This might work against a Catholic, but the default mode of this blog is Calvnism. Try again.


    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. .


    1. Would you like to apply the same sort of liberal text criticism to you ancillary Scriptures? You argue like a Muslim.

    2. Erhman is an atheist. According to your logic, then, why not be an atheist? Why not adopt all of he says about the Bible? Your use of him is highly selective.

    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."

    What Athanaius meant and what you mean are not at all convertible. Try arguing this with Perry Robinson or another internet apologist for Orthodoxy. You have men become gods; the Orthodox line of thinking deals with participation in the nature of God.

    The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts. This,of course, displaces the common place misunderstanding of what Christians affirm regarding the Trinity. "Person" and "being" are not convertible, and no passage of Scripture says that the Trinity are made up of 3 separate divine beings, one of which is named Elohim, while another is Yahweh. I went over two texts above, and you simply cut and pasted the same piece of propaganda you've been posting about Mormonism on this blog and others when this topic arises. Why don't you actually try to interact with the arguments themselves,or are you simply another frivolous cultist who can't do anything but cut and paste?

    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.”

    Of course, we don't affirm the Trinity around here because of a creed. Try again.

    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.

    No, you affirm that he is divine, not that he is of the same essence as the Father and Spirit. You believe Jesus is Yahweh, the literal Son of God by sex with Mary. Try again.

    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. Please demonstrate this from Scripture.

    Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) believe the proper Christian symbol is Christ’s resurrection , not his crucifixion on the Cross You don't know the difference between the cross and a crucifix. The cross, by the way, has been used by Christians from the subapostolic age. So much for your claim to have restored the Ancient Church.

    They believe Christ’s atonement applies to all mankind. This is a Calvinist blog. We affirm particular redemption. Care to argue for general redemption?

    The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”:

    The dictionary definition is irrelevant.

    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.

    Did you even bother to read the quotes from your own representatives that flatly deny this is so? See above.

    If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology, they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.

    "Practices" are not interchangeable with "theology," and history is not our rule of faith.

    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.)


    And Roger Williams is relevant how? He is not our rule of faith. He is well known for his latitudinarianism and constantly evolving ecclesiology. He also believed in administrator baptism, so he would not recognize your church, since it cannot be directly traced by administration of baptism.

    • Christ-Like Lives:

    I eat at McDonald's, ergo I am a Big Mac.
    I talk about Star Trek, therefore I am the USS Enterprise.
    I teach an English class, ergo am I am the Webster's Dictionary.

    The actions of others do not define their Christianity. I went over this above. Why not try to interact with it instead of cuttiing and pasting them same well worn arguments?

    So what do you think the motivation is for the Evangelical preachers to denigrate the Mormon Church? Y

    Faithfulness to the Truth.

    You would think Evangelical preachers would be emulating Mormon practices (a creed to believe, a place to belong, a calling to live out, and a hope to hold onto)

    A creed to believe? But then you say Mormons have a disdain for "creeds." So,Mormons do use creeds. Why is yours better than ours? Pick one article of faith from your communion and argue it from Scripture. Let's see how you apart from your prefabricated cut and paste piece. Tell you what, take a representative article from www.answeringlds.org/and refute it.

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  6. MAC, why don't you give James White a call on Thursday (http://aomin.org/dividingline.html).

    He is a very knowledgeable theologian when it comes to the Trinity as well as Mormonism - it might do you good to have a discussion with him.

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  7. hostus twinkius1/22/2008 9:57 PM

    C'mon guys, don't you like the "cut and paste" method of apologetics? Why interact with arguments when you can regurgitate the standard line (which, or course, is irrefutable)?

    It's ironic that Mormons want to be considered Christians, all the while dishonoring the Person and Work of Christ...

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  8. Mormons Are Christian said:

    Not at all. It seems to reflect the simplicity of the New Testament without any incomprehensible creeds.

    1/22/2008 5:10 PM

    **********

    But since "the simplicity of the New Testament" isn't some verse, or couple of verses, then you must have in mind a summary or systemization of "the New Testament" in toto so that you can narrow its disparate teachings down into "the simplicity of the New Testament," and thus you have, contrary to your own stated position, something of a creed in mind, viz., "the simplicity of the New Testament."

    Go try your self-excepting fallacies out on someone else's blog.

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  9. Mormons are Christians, the statistics you cite... you just can't conclude the truth of doctrine based on superficial statistics such as these. If prisoners who convert to Islam manage to shape up because of their self discipline, does that mean Islam is true? Are they better off in the long run? If they are more willing and enthusiastic to die for their cause, does that make Islam true? Why would you promote following a standard that you do not yourself follow in other areas of life? Perhaps Mormonism is to you only self help therapy... then I'd be interested to compare your stats to Osteenism, or to Oprah-anity to see who comes out on top. If science introduces a combination of genetic/drug/psychotherapy that produces better stats than yours 5 years from now, would you renounce Mormonism? Please note the virtues you list would also be Islamic or Jewish virtues. They are not specifically Christian.

    And what about all the evidence that proves Mormonism false, that you don't even mention? The botched 'Book of Abraham' translation, the 'Jewish' Native Americans, the complete lack of archaeological evidence, the back pedaling on the racist ideology, the multiple conflicting first vision accounts? At most you might argue Mormons have developed useful habits that Evangelicals should adopt, but you've not really made a case for Mormon doctrine.

    Also, how about some citations for statements like "The Nicene Creed's definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin." This is like when gay activists say stuff like "All references to homosexuality were only references to temple prostitution or pedophilia" and don't care to mention that these are the results of a few crackpot activists such as Mollenkott and Boswell that disagree with mainstream scholarship and Church history. Why resort to these facile drive-by tactics that you wouldn't buy into in other areas of scriptural interpretation?

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  10. IOW, Evangelicals will give you a fair hearing, but you can't expect them to just buy into this low-grade sloganeering you engage in (which you wouldn't buy into if it came from a source external to Mormonism). If you're not willing to put in the effort to make a cogent case, why bother in the first place? Would LDS really benefit from people that would be converted by such tactics? Would they really benefit from such shallow converts?

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  11. Christianity certainly hasn't benefited from shallow converts...

    As for Mormons...I'm always left wondering, if they really do believe they are Christian just like me, why do Mormon missionaries keep coming to my door to tell me I need to become Mormon to be saved? Frankly, I respect those Mormons far more than I respect "Mormons Are Christian."

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  12. Peter Pike,

    You didn't listen carefully enough to the LDS missionaries. Jesus Christ allowed all faithful people to reside with him in heaven (even Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals).

    What the missionaries wanted to share with you was the "fullness of the Gospel". This can be described as "having all the Father hath". Wouldn't you as a father want to bestow upon your children all the material and spiritual blessings you have? Why should our Father in Heaven be any different. Don't you see that our life here on earth is a preparation for something much grander? Your spiritual tradition can prepare you to reside with Jesus Christ. But there's more.

    We try not to disparage your religious traditions, please try not to disparage ours.

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  13. MAC said:
    ---
    You didn't listen carefully enough to the LDS missionaries.
    ---

    You presume too much. I've asked them point-blank whether they thought I was saved as a Christian. They said I was not. In fact, they quoted 1 Nephi 14:10 to me:

    ---
    And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.
    ---

    I said: "So the LDS is the church of the Lamb and all other churches--Catholic, Protestant, whatever--are of the devil?" To which they responded: "Yes."

    You said:
    ---
    We try not to disparage your religious traditions, please try not to disparage ours.
    ---

    For some reason, I think I'll take the claim that my church is of the devil as a "disparaging" remark.

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  14. You didn't listen carefully enough to the LDS missionaries. Jesus Christ allowed all faithful people to reside with him in heaven (even Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals).

    I should think that he did. I have discussed their beliefs with them directly from the Bible - and I've used the Greek New Testament in doing so much to the chagrin. Speaking for myself, I have certainly listened to them.

    Of course, according to you, the Scriptures have been "corrupted." That's why you rely on ancillary documents. Tell us, how do I know the Scriptures have been corrupted if I don't have a correct copy by which to compare them? We're left with trusting the Mormons. Why should I trust the missionaries?

    Also, it doesn't seem Orson Pratt agrees with the missionaries:

    "And any person who shall be so wicked as to receive a holy ordinance of the gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent of the unholy and impious act." (Orson Pratt, OP-WA, "The Kingdom of God," no.2, p.6). Pratt was an LDS Apostle.

    We try not to disparage your religious traditions, please try not to disparage ours.

    So, when Pratt calls Protestants, Catholics, et.al. "the whore of Babylon" that's not a disparaging remark?

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