Friday, December 07, 2007

Mitt Romney, Mormonism, and Christianity

I have for a long time been somewhat conflicted about Mitt Romney's run for president for several reasons. While I am very interested in politics, I do not believe that this is the way that we will impact the world for Christ. No amount of laws can change hearts. For instance, the problem in the US is not that gay marriage may become legal. It is that people do not know Christ and that they are engaged in this lifestyle. (And no, I am not trying to elevate this sin above others here, just referencing a high profile, political issue that people are well aware of.) Also, the US Constitution says that there should be no religious test for office. So I cannot just reject Mitt Romney's run for president out of hand.

I also like Mitt Romney personally. He is a good administrator--something which we really need right now. And, though he has recently changed his positions, he is a strong social conservative. I identify with his values. I have to admit, however, that I am reluctant to see Mormonism be given a higher profile, particularly when it is confused with Christianity.

Yesterday, Romney gave a speech about his Mormon faith because he has been slipping in polls to Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who is overtly running as a "Christian leader" (this is flashed on the screen in his TV ads). And polls show that evangelicals are reluctant to vote for a Mormon. So he gave this speech, a la Kennedy's speech on Catholicisim, to let people know that he would not be controlled by Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City. He spoke of the religious plurality of the founders of the US Constitution. He spoke about the role of faith in the US. His rhetoric was soaring, inspiring, and I believe will help him politically.

One problem I have, however, with Romney's speech, is that he sought to paint the picture that Mormonism is Christianity, merely one of many branches. He said that he believed that Christ was the savior of the world and the Son of God.

On the surface, this would make Mormonism seem like Christianity. Most Mormons are good, moral people. They have great families, great values, and are good Americans. However, Mormonism--though it seeks to portray itself as such--is not Christianity. This is affirmed by both liberal and conservative Christians alike.

Mormons believe things totally at odds from Christianity:
  • They believe that God is a physical being with a physical body
  • They believe that God used to be a man on another planet
  • They believe that God the Father had a Father
  • They believe that there is a mother god
  • They believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three totally separate beings, not one
  • They believe that Jesus is a created being, and that Satan and Jesus are Spirit brothers
  • They believe that human beings can become their own gods
  • They believe in the pre-existence of humanity, that we were spirit beings in heaven before being born
  • They baptize for the dead
  • They believe in eternal marriage
  • They believe in salvation by works
  • They believe there is no salvation without recognizing Joseph Smith as a prophet
  • They believe in "another gospel of Jesus Christ" that was given to Joseph Smith by an angel
  • They believe in ongoing revelation of modern day prophets who are on the par with Scripture

For more information on their beliefs, go to http://www.carm.org/lds/lds_doctrines.htm. Hopefully I do not have to point out how these beliefs are totally at odds with Scripture and the historical understanding of the Christian faith. In short, while Mormons are good people who do a lot of great things, Mormonism is not Christianity. I certainly try to take the good in all people, faiths, cultures, and religions, and use this to point towards larger truth. However, I fear that some of our young (and older) people today are so unaware of biblical teaching and so (rightly) desiring of unity, that they may believe that there is really no difference between Christianity and Mormonism. There most certainly is a huge difference.

For the political reaction to the speech, see the following links.

http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/romney-speech-earns-mostly-positive-reviews-2007-12-06.html



What do you know about Mormonism? How can we best reach Mormons?

2 comments:

MattSmith said...

I believe your view of Mormonism and some of your facts are wrong... as I used to be Mormon. Some are dead on though. All in all, I don't see how Mormonism is not a Christian religion... but, you do this for a living so my basis for it is off.

I'd like to get together with you some time, we haven't been to church in a long time and I've got some questions whirling around in my brain. I work 2 full time jobs, so maybe I should just email you sometime...

James said...

Hi Matt. I was hoping, with your background, that you would give some of your thoughts on this. I would be interested in knowing what your experience was in Mormonism and what beliefs you were taught.

As with all faiths, what individuals believe may or may not match up with what their church officially believes. As I understand it, some of the beliefs of Mormonism are taught at a later point of one's entry into this faith. In my experience, many "Mormons" do not know about some of the more radical teachings of their church. This is also why each person must be taken individually.

As to Mormonism and Christianity, there are certain phrases and a certain language that both share. Both speak of Jesus Christ as the savior of mankind. However, what is meant by this for each group is radically different. For Christians, Jesus is qualified to be our Savior because as the Son of God, he is God and co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Christian understanding of who God is (Spirit, trinity) is radically different than the Mormon understanding (God is a physical being, Christ is separate from the Father, humans can all become gods). There is nothing more fundamental than the nature of God and Christ. This is why no Christian theologian sees Mormonism as Christianity.

Matt, I would love to talk with you and get your perspective on these things. I also some first hand accounts of those who have been in Mormonism, up to top levels. Most Mormons live great lives, with strong family values, doing much good, and I commend them for this.

I also would love to hear your questions. I know that you are working hard for your family. We have missed you very much, and hope that you will have some more time soon. Feel free to call me, or we'll set up a time to get together, or email me.

I appreciate hearing your thoughts and learning from your perspective. Hopefully we can help one another learn and grow.

James