Posts belonging to Category Mormonism

Around the Web – 5/14/2009

Discussion on Christianity and Mormonism

There is some fresh discussion on an earlier post about Christianity and Mormonism. Feel free to click on the post and join the discussion!

Related post:

Beliefnet Debate: Are Mormons Christian?

Are Mormons Christian? Beliefnet is currently hosting a debate on this question between Albert Mohler (president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Mormon novelist Orson Scott Card. Here is an excerpt from Mohler’s most recent exchange with Card.

“Are Mormons ‘Christians’ as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy?” . . . With the question structured that way, the answer is clear and unassailable – Mormonism is not Christianity.

When the question is framed this way, Mr. Card and I actually agree, as his essay makes clear. In his words, “I am also happy to agree with him [Mohler] that when one compares our understanding of the nature of God and Christ, we categorically disagree with almost every statement in the ‘historic creeds and doctrinal affirmations’ he refers to.”

Mr. Card would prefer that the question be put differently . . . If I were a Mormon I would share that concern and would try to define Christianity in some way other than traditional Christian orthodoxy. The reason is simple – traditional Christian orthodoxy and Mormon theology are utterly incompatible . . .

Mormonism uses the language of Christian theology and makes many references to Christ . . . But Christianity has never been defined in terms of merely thinking well of Jesus. Mormonism claims to affirm the New Testament teachings about Jesus, but actually presents a very different Jesus from the onset. A reading of Mormonism’s authoritative documents makes this clear . . .

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” as Mormonism is officially known, claims to be the only true church. As stated in the Doctrine and Covenants [1:30], Mormonism is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” According to Mormon teaching, the church was corrupted after the death of the apostles and became the “Church of the Devil.” Mormonism then claims that the true church was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith in the 1820s. This restored church was, Mormon theology claims, given the keys to the kingdom and the authority of the only true priesthood . . .

Mr. Card may complain that traditional Christianity defines the faith in a way that rejects Mormonism. Fair enough. But Mormonism rejects historic Christianity as it makes its own central claim – to be the only true church, restored on earth in the latter days.

You can read the full debate here.

Related post: Should Christians Call Mormonism a Cult?

Should Christians Call Mormonism a Cult?

Should Christians call Mormonism a cult? Is the word “cult” a useful term in public speech today? These are some of the questions John Mark Reynolds addresses in his article: On “Cult:” Is the Word Useful in Political Speech? The question is especially important to consider with a Mormon, Governor Mitt Romney, currently running for President.

Reynolds points out that the word “cult” has at least three different meanings associated with it. It can mean either:

  1. the religious practices of a particular group,
  2. a group that claims to be Christian but denies orthodox doctrine, or
  3. a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister (Oxford American)

The first definition makes no value judgments and could refer to any religion (including the Christian faith). The second definition makes a value judgment as regards the truth claims of a particular group, i.e. whether or not the group aligns with historic Christian teaching. The third definition makes a value judgment as regards the social acceptability of the group.

When Christians speak of Mormonism, Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. as cults, we usually mean the word in the sense of the second definition above. We simply mean that these are groups which claim to be Christian but do not hold to key points of historic Christian doctrine – teachings such as the trinity, the deity of Christ, salvation by faith in Christ alone, or the Bible as our sole authority for faith and practice. These are areas in which Mormons deviate from Christian belief, and so, in this sense of the word, we could properly term Mormonism as a cult.