Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Every Religion Is Goofy - So Why the Emphasis on Romney's Mormon Faith?

I'm appalled at the thinly veiled religious bigotry that is being stirred up by some people in the media and elsewhere in the name of "covering" the Mitt Romney campaign. It almost seems as if there is a de facto religious test. If you want to be President, not only must we scrutinize and question your religious beliefs, but also the historical roots of your religion and all the apparent dirt we can find associated with it.

If the same standards were applied to other candidates, I think there would be public outrage.

Consider Hillary Clinton. Has there been scrutiny over the threat that her religious beliefs might pose to her abilities to serve as President? Have we heard details about some of the problems in the history of her religion and the quirks of Methodists? Have we been reminded that Methodists believe in some truly bizarre things - like the Old Testament? Has she had to defend the Methodist faith before sniveling atheistic journalists who ridicule her beliefs? No? Well, wouldn't that make for some grand entertainment?

Think what a skilled ax-man with the right anti-Methodist and anti-Christian literature could do with this little story from 1996, "Hillary Clinton Asks Fellow United Methodists to Continue Social Witness for Children":
Acknowledging the profound impact of the United Methodist Church upon her life, Hillary Rodham Clinton called upon the denomination to continue its social witness for the world's children.

The First Lady -- who was introduced by Arkansas Bishop Richard Wilke as a "warm and gracious friend" -- spoke here April 24 to about 3,700 people at the United Methodist General Conference.

Her 30-minute message, interrupted intermittently by applause, was accepted with a standing ovation at the end by fellow United Methodists. She shook hands with some of the conference participants as she left the Colorado Convention Center hall.

"I have to confess to you that I have not been this nervous ... since I read my confirmation essay on 'what Jesus means to me' at my home church," Clinton quipped as she stood before the podium.

During her youth, the First Lady and her family were active members of First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge, Ill. There, she said, she learned from ministers and lay leaders "the connection between my personal faith and the obligations I face as a Christian."

She also paid tribute to the work of Sunday school and vacation Bible school teachers and the lessons offered through such simple songs as "Jesus Loves the Little Children."

A line from that song, "Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight," has stayed with her more "than any earnest lecture on racism," Clinton noted.

The First Lady said she was "equally grateful" that her daughter Chelsea has had the same opportunities for faith and witness. The Clintons currently attend Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington D.C.

All young people need to experience spiritual growth and fellowship. "In today's world, churches are among the few places in society where young people can let down their guard," she noted.

With today's challenges, "we know we need to strengthen the spiritual and moral context of our lives," Clinton said, as well as cultivating "a new sense of caring" about responsibilities to the larger society.
Frightening - absolutely frightening. Here is a woman who, as a Methodist apparently having extreme loyalty to her faith, may very well make major decisions sometimes by turning to God or the Bible instead of "the people" (you know, the people of the New York Times, Hollywood, Haliburton, Ben Bernanke, etc.). Dare we allow such a person in the White House? And why have there been no questions about her underwear? This double standard must end. Equal abuse for all candidates!

And what about her loyalty to her favorite sports team, the Yankees? And the Cubs? And the Red Sox, Braves, and Brewers? Will those religious loyalties impair her judgment? Or has it already happened?

63 comments:

JayFlow22 said...

This double standard is something that comes along with the territory of being the only true and living Church on the face of the earth. I wouldn't expect the masses to be concerned with Methodists, or Baptists, or any other "traditional" Christian sect. It's the truth that causes Satan to stir up the hearts of others.
I look at the magnifying glass on Romney as a compliment...people generally hold Latter-Day Saints to a higher standard than other Christians. People could careless what Methodists are doing, but they keep tabs on the Mormons.

GraceAlone said...

Why do people generally hold LD saints to a higher standard jayflow22?

I think people are wary of Romney, firstly because there has never been any Mormon person standing for election. I think the same could be said if a person who is an American-born Chinese ran for presidency. People, would probably be keeping close tabs on him/her, purely because it would be the first time any person has done that. I don't know, people might start to dig into his/her past with connections to Chinese government. The general public and the media are very, very picky...it always has been.

You do have to admit though that if say an apixieist ran for presidency, there would also be close concern for them because of their strange belief. Romney is hounded by the media because Romney and the media both know some strange beliefs found in Mormonism.

jayflow22, I think your proposition that "the truth causes Satan to stir up the hearts of others" is a bit of a shot-in-the-dark comment. Rather, the general public are morbidly interested because there has never been any person who has had mormon beliefs run for presidency...

Guys, you do have to admit that parts of LDS doctrine is a little strange to the general public...

Russell said...

Letter from an athiest:

Have you heard the new talk about town? There's this fellow who claims to be a Messiah of sorts (no, not those old traditions of the Pharisees). He's an odd man. Not only does he have the audacity to believe the LORD is his father (?!?!) but his followers believe he was conceived miraculously, without intercourse? Sheer madness. It's good for barroom conversation though.

Added to that, the man who claims to be the Savior was some blue collar schmo from the "other side of the tracks" in Galilee. Always walking around, rambling some nonsense about "his Father"--his Father, my eye. Ole' Joe must get a scream out of that (and did he get roped into a situation--Mary going around philandering and then he gets stuck with the child).

Very charismatic, he must be. But he has the oddest crowd--some folks from the fishing docks (wouldn't ever let my daughter around there), Matt, that hack from the tax office. He goes by Jesus; he seems to be the most unremarkable man.

The gov't finally caught up with him a little while ago--he had really dropped a doozy when he said something about the temple being destroyed. They executed him, as they do with most subversives. Yet his minions have a made a kind of cult about him, meeting secretly, eating bread and wine, saying it symbolizes the flesh and blood of their slain leader. These cultists think of the darndest things.

Whoever he was, good riddance. Everyone knows that the age of the prophets was years ago (the Pharisees--the only REASONABLE religionists of the area--tell me something about a fellow named Elijah). Those who want to believe in the ancient mumbo-jumbo can if they want, but Jesus the carpenter? Please...

Sincerely,
Your loving athiest friend

WebWombat said...

Mormons are no more persecuted than any other religious tradition. JW's indeed, Catholics have it far worse than we do.

Are you even aware of the rash of anti-Catholic bigotry that emerged after the most recent anti-abortion decision by the Supreme Court?

And goodness, all religious people are looked at far harsher than their equivalent heathens. It's because they say they will act one way and they (often) act another.

Romney's faith is being focused on because it is unprecedented that a Mormon has a chance at the presidency currently. Smoot's election to the Senate caused a much larger stir. Ascroft's pentecostal faith was an issue as was Bush's Evangelical leanings. JFK's Catholic background was one central theme during that election.

Jayflow22... Mormons are the epitome of middle america. Their the perfect republicans, mom and apple pie types. Not persecuted, no Old Scratch involved just purile interest by the news media.

nathanielmacrae said...

From my (limited) experience and knowledge of Mormonism: it isn't actually as unique as people think it is. And Romney isn't as unique as people or even he would like to think that he is.

Mormonism, in my experience, take away Joseph Smith's psychotic episodes, LDS's teaching for baptism for the dead and maybe a few more things about the character of God is actually nothing more than Old Testament law keeping.

The difference between the gospel as taught in the Scritpures alone is: grace alone and the belief that Jesus is He says He is. All other religions (for this is all that they are) teaches either faith + works or works.

Here is an analogy of two religions compared to the true gospel of Jesus Christ:

A man, who cannot use his arms nor his legs has been thrown into a well. The only thing that he can do is to shout for help.

A Buddhist walks by, stops and listens to the man in the well. The Buddhist makes no attempt to physically help the man in the well, but instead, imparts some wise words: "There is no well. It only exists in your mind. You will only help yourself when you are enlightened enough to see that there is no well".

No help here.

A Muslim walks by, stops and listens to the man in the well. The Muslim makes some attempt to physically help the man in the well. And he says this, "I can meet you half way. If my part is to throw some rope down, your part is to hold on and then I can lift you out."

Remember, the man in the well has no use of his arms nor his legs. He cannot grip anything, so there is, again, no help here.

Jesus walks by, stops and listens to the man in the well. By this time, the man in the well is VERY DESPERATE and cries out, "PLEASE HELP ME!" Jesus says, "I will help". Jesus goes down into the well, grips the man up and places him onto his shoulders and carries him out of the well.

The man had no way of coming out of the wall by himself. Someone needed to carry him fully. The difference between Jesus and the other two is that Jesus does ALL THE WORK...the man, in his desperate cry, can but rest on Jesus' shoulders.


THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE between all other religions and the faith that is found in Jesus.

Mormonism, isn't actually all that unique and unless anybody can prove otherwise, is nothing more than Old Testament rule keeping...

And I agree, the media have made too much hype regarding Mitt Romney. I agree with what webwombat had to say about this...and jayflow22, your "It's the truth that causes Satan to stir up the hearts of others" comment is a bit far-fetched...Mormonism isn't actually all that unique =)

nathanielmacrae said...

Taking Jeff's Title, "Every Religion is Goofy" is VERY, VERY true. Each and every religion has its own idioms.

But out of all faith-systems, I think Biblical Christianity has to be the most absurd! All other religions require you to do something; Biblical Christianity requires you to give up the notion that you are your own god, then afterwards, do nothing!

Outrageous!

Russell said...

"Mormonism, in my experience, take away Joseph Smith's psychotic episodes, LDS's teaching for baptism for the dead and maybe a few more things about the character of God is actually nothing more than Old Testament law keeping."

So besides how we view ourselves and our God, there's no difference between us and other religions?

That reminds me of the pauper who compared himself to the king because they both had a hat.

And this may come as a surprise to you, but I agree with your depiction Jesus, fully. So I'm afraid, with all due respect, that you have been SERIOUSLY misinformed.

But hey, we're just wild-eyed crazies who can't be trusted...

Right?

Randall said...

Why the emphasis on Romney's Mormon Faith?

Because of comments like jayflow22's

"This double standard is something that comes along with the territory of being the only true and living Church on the face of the earth."

jayflow22 exemplifies why many Americans are wary of placing a Mormon in the White House.

Casual Mormon said...

nathanielmacrae, don't you think that story is a little bit unfair? You can't just tell a story about a buddhist man and a muslim man being of no help, while Christ himself comes by and actually helps. You're comparing common men to a deity. To keep your story consistent, you should have had an ordinary christian man be the third person to walk by the well.

Would the Christian man help(thereby performing some sort of "work")? Or would he just tell him to rely solely on Christ to be saved?

Casual Mormon said...

Also, I agree with the general premise of this blog post. The deeper aspects of all religions seem a little wacky when you look at them from afar.

I don't mind people asking questions about Romney's religion if it relates to his role as possible-president in some way, or even if it's genuine curiosity or confusion over our religion. But most of the questions/comments I hear are basically just "do you really believe this? Don't you think that's weird?", or are potshots like saying he doesn't believe in God.

For what it's worth, JayFlow22, I don't think you're way off. My only issue with that line of thinking is, what about all of the other religions that get hassled? Scientology is pretty hated by most mainstream Christians(I honestly know very little about it). Does that make it the true church? I don't believe so. Same with Jews. They've been persecuted way more than mormons, but I don't think it makes their religion the most correct.

Still, I can't imagine any sane, rational human spreading anti-mormon hate outside of a temple. There must be some higher power working through them...and it certainly isn't Christ.

Anonymous said...

I liked Mitt Romney before I found out he was a Mormon. I liked him after I found out, but I liked him before, also.
It's too bad about those flip-flops though.

Shawn said...

Hi nathanielmacrae!

Sorry you view on Christianity has been distorted by 4th century doctrines. We in the Church are not "Old Testament rule keepers" nor does Christianity say "do nothing".

Paul makes a excellent case in his Epistle to the Roman regarding saving Grace and the law. His main point, you can't be saved by the law/work, but only by Grace. We believe that. Regarding "rule keeping" or as I would put it, work in the Church, he in no way is abdicating our need, our requirement, to work and be "servants of righteousness". Through work, we show our devotion to Christ, He extends mercy through His grace, and the promise that our faith is not made "dead" comes true. (James 2: 17,20,26)

Regarding Jeff's post, the media does smack of hypocrisy, but I think the scrutiny and attention is great. Only furthering the word to all corners of the earth. Leaves us with the need to be prepared to answer the questions of those we come in contact with. Many may ridicule and reject the Gospel, but we will have done our part.

-Shawn



Romans 3
31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.


Romans 6
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin [saved by Grace], live any longer therein?

....

14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

nathanielmacrae said...

Shawn

Excellent response! I love the way that you REALLY understand Paul's letter to the Romans.

The reason as to why I say that Mormonism/Islam/Catholisicm/Buddhism, heck, even people who claim to be Biblical Christians is their understanding of the concept of grace...

Please do not misconstrue (and again, I reiterate that) even within churches who preach grace, some actually pay lip service to the magnitude of the subject! Even Biblical Christians MISS THE POINT and it can be quite evident by their fruits. Shawn, I am also guilty of paying lip service to grace when I choose to go my own way instead of listening to what God wants me to do...even in the little things.

Shawn, your explanation about law and works, written by Paul is excellent. But, can I invite you to look at it in a certain fashion? If the Bible is the Word of God, then there can be no contradictions.

The work that Paul (and James) wrote about is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS in response to grace! The work that we do when we have repented (emptied ourselves of ourselves - we no longer look to ourselves for help - but God alone) and accepted the work that God has already done (grace)...then everything that we do after that is in response to grace. Again, let me reiterate: the Bible, if it is the true Word of God does not and CANNOT contradict itself...

So, what is it? Does our salvation depend on grace alone? Does our salvation depend on grace + works? Or does our salvation depend on works alone?

I think you'd have to agree that the last option is definitely not the answer! Our works are nothing but filthy rags in God's sight...(they are filthy rags because it makes a mockery of the work that God through His Son has ALREADY DONE)...

So, let's take the second option: Works + Faith. If you have time, please read the book of Galatians 1: 6-9. Paul was apauled by the fact that this Galatian church were so quick to be accepting a different gospel of Jesus Christ! What was this different gospel? Look at Galatians 3... Paul says, "Galatians, you are foolish!" Why does Paul call them foolish?

False teachers were coming into the church and were re-introducing Old Testament law-keeping on top of what Jesus Christ has ALREADY DONE! Shawn, the whole point of Paul's letter to the Galatian church (and how it is important for us to know today) is that GOD HAS ALREADY DONE THE WORK! Any church, person or persons who approach you with a different gospel of Jesus Christ, LET HIM BE ACCURSED! These are not my words Shawn - these are Paul's words!

So, if grace + works is also a false doctrine, that leaves us with only one option left and that is: grace alone which saves us. Please note: salvation belongs only to God. It is Him alone who gives it to those who HE CHOOSES TO.

To look at this notion of grace, let us see what Jesus had to say about it all:

Two pieces of Scripture, the first one is John 6: 28-29 and the other one is Luke 15 (the parable of the prodigal son).

28Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Did you see that Shawn? The people came up to Jesus and said, "What WORK DO WE NEED TO DO TO DO GOD'S WORK?" And Jesus (cleverly) turns their question around saying that, "God's work - GOD HAS ALREADY DONE THE WORK, and all you need to do is to believe who God has sent"!

Who did God send? Jesus! All we need to do is to believe in the work that Jesus has ALREADY DONE! Outrageous!

It sounds too easy right? WRONG! To accept what Jesus has already done is the hardest thing to accept because it means that all the work that we have done is nothing! Grace is OFFENSIVE! It cuts to the heart!

So, let's continue with what else Jesus said in Luke 15. Grace doesn't come easy to us because to entertain the mere idea of grace, means we have EMPTY OURSELVES of who we are! I must decrease, that HE what? He must INCREASE! Repentance is the process of decreasing one's self...

So, let's look at Luke 15.

So, if you notice, the parable of the 'prodigal son' is the third and final parable that Jesus teaches. If you read any of the four gospels where Jesus teaches, it seems that He does this quite often. The best way to think of it is like that of a title fight between two boxers. Before the main event are other and lesser fights. Basically each fight prior to the main fight is to build up and work the crowd who are watching. Jesus does the same thing with telling parables. Notice in the first parable - the lost sheep - Jesus describes that when 1 out of the 100 sheep is lost and the shepherd finds it, there is celebration! And Jesus states that it is the same way in heaven over one sinner who REPENTS than over the 99 persons who do not need to repent.

So with the second parable - the lost coin. When the lady finds the lost coin - she rejoices and here Jesus AGAIN drives the point that in the same way, when one person REPENTS, there is CELEBRATION in heaven! Do you see where Jesus is going with the third parable? He's building up and building up...

So with the third and final parable (THE MAIN EVENT) - the prodigal son. So the three main characters are: the younger brother, the older brother, the father and the servants (and a few other extras). So the younger brother asks for his inheritance from his father and spends it frivolously and squanders all of his wealth in wild living. In effect, he misuses the gifts that his father has freely given. And with it, he commits sin and rebellion against his father. It seems the younger brother gets into a desperate situation to the point that he finds himself in the lowest of the lowliest situations - he eats pigs' food! Jesus wanted to drive this point because pigs (in Jewish culture) are the most unclean of animals. This younger brother is in despair.

It seems that when he 'comes around'. He remembers what it was like to live in his father's house and that even his father's servants were living a better life that what he is living now. Before he even decides to go to his father's house, he resolves in himself what he will do: to acknowledge that he is no longer worthy of being his son and beg his father to take him back as a servant.

Notice that Jesus states that even when the younger brother was still afar off, the father was filled with compassion and throws his arm around him! And the younger brother says to him what he has already thought and that was to beg that his father take him back in as a servant. Did you notice that Shawn? And this is point number one: did you notice that when the younger brother said, "'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.", the father did not answer his son with words, but with action to beckon his servants to lavish his son with MORE BLESSINGS?! The most significant of blessings is the ring! What does a ring mean Robert? Instant heirship! The ring simply meant that the title he instantly received was something that was FREELY GIVEN AND NO AMOUNT OF (extra) work could make him any more of an heir. Do you see the point here Shawn? The younger brother's part was that in his nothingness, he came to the father in REPENTANCE and his father showed him GRACE! Then what did they do? The father HAD A PARTY! Do you remember what Jesus likened when a sinner repents of their sin it to? A HUGE CELEBRATION IN HEAVEN! So, you can imagine the magnitude of the party that the father held! Robert, our heir-ship is not something to be worked for. It is something that is given freely! This is the gospel that the Bible teaches! Any other gospel that takes away or depreciates grace is a FALSE GOSPEL. To further drive the point that IT IS NOT ABOUT WORKS, Jesus continues on with the rest of the story…

It might be worth noting who was present when Jesus taught three parables. Verses 1 & 2, Luke wanted us to know that there were four different types of people and he groups them like into two categories: first, the publicans (tax collectors) who were deemed to be one of the lowliest of the low (apart from being the cheats of society, they effectively worked for the Roman empire - the tax collectors might as well have been the Romans themselves! because the tax collected funded the oppression they held over the Jews) and the 'sinners' - (again, from a societical perspective - the lowest people). And for the second group of people were: the Pharisees and teachers of the law! These guys were the head honchos. These were the people who upheld the law of Moses. These were obviously the ones who are worthy of heaven because of their works!?

So, to the next scene. Enter elder brother. Did you notice that the elder brother didn't even notice the HUGE PARTY that was going on? He had to find out from a servant what the party was all about! Shawn, what on earth was this guy doing in such a way that he didn't even notice what was going on? Answer: he was working the fields. He was too busy to notice what was going on. And when he eventually did find out, did you notice who came to him? It was the father - and it was not the elder son who approached the father. Why is this significant? Robert, in eastern and Jewish culture, for the host to leave a party is an insult to the rest of the guests. The father's absense meant that he put shame upon Himself to go to his son. Can you remember who it is in the Bible who had to leave His Father's presence, just so he could plead with God's enemies? Answer: It was Jesus! Robert, here is the doctrine of the Trinity right here in this parable! What was it that Jesus did that was SO SHAMEFUL to his father? Do you remember what Jesus said as He looked up to His Father? "Father, why have you forsaken me?" God the father was SO ASHAMED and SO AGHAST by the sin that God the Son took upon his shoulders, that God the Father had to turn away! He was repulsed by the sin. He was repulsed by all murderous acts, He was repulsed by the injustices, He was repulsed by sight of children being sacrificed to false idols, He was repulsed - even by the disobediency of a little child against his parent. Jesus took upon his shoulders the sin that you and I have made and will continue to make in the future!

Can you see the magnitude of what Jesus did? He did not come to abolish the Law! He came to fulfill it! And all of God's wrath was poured on His perfect and sinless Son and Jesus absorbed it all!!! What a Saviour!!! There is nothing that we can do to attain salvation and eternal life because HE HAS ALREADY DONE IT!

So, again, to further drive the point that IT IS NOT ABOUT WORKS, look at what Jesus said that the elder brother said to his father. After the father pleads with him, the elder brother says, "Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!" He is so livid that he can't even acknowledge that he is related to his younger brother, notice he identifies his younger brother, 'your son!' And do you notice what the father said in response? First he said, "My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours." The elder brother did not understand who he was in relation to his dad. He was always under the assumption that he had to earn his father's favour when that was not the case at all. Our heir-ship depends on who God is and what He has done - not what we do. Can you imagine the look on the Pharisees' faces when Jesus spoke this parable?!

IT IS NOT ABOUT GRACE + WORKS (THIS IS THE FALSE GOSPEL THAT GALATIANS TALKS ABOUT)...It is by grace alone and faith alone!


This is how I know that Jospeh Smith was just another one of those FALSE TEACHERS! If Joseph Smith was around during Paul's ministry, Paul would have made mince-meat out of him!

To go back to what you wrote about in Romans...our works is ALWAYS in response to the GRACE that we have been given! The work that we do AFTERWARD is done in THANKFULNESS in RESPONSE to the fact that God HAS ALREADY DONE THE WORK!

nathanielmacrae said...

The main bulk of the above comment has been taken straight out of a previous conversation with Robert... =0)

Russell said...

HOnestly (and this is a shame, given that it is the most important), this is my least favorite topic to have a dialogue on with evangelcial Christians.

We both lay claim to Christ's atonement--total and unequivocating. We both refuse to acknowledge the other's position as being legitimate.

You may not like this, nathanielmacrae, but I agree with everything you have said. I also agree with C.S. Lewis (I assume you acknowledge his position as an orthodox Christian) who said that the question was like asking which blade of the scissors is more necessary.

I also agree with Chesterton who, aside from the remarks about how everything--including our own belief that we can reason at all--is an act of faith. The discussion is one of terms and definitions, mindnumbingly circular and far too protean for a good dialogue's taste.

Our discussions of faith and grace seem to demonstrate the Heisenberg principle (if in metaphor) all too well--the second one of us shines a legitimate light on the other's theology, we run away lest we make ourselves vulnerable to the "opposition."

Like it or not, nathanielmacrae, you might well call me an evangelical Mormon, given that this title apparently portrays my theology more accurately than all the hot air that surrounds most dialogues between Evangelicals and Latter Day Saints.

Robert said...

Nat,

I noticed you hadn't bothered to take my name out of the posting as you copied and pasted it. I assume, then, you still have the information available, somewhere, since you took your blog down. My wife had been interested to read our last few posts when you did that. Can you make it available so people can see both sides of this chat (which seems well off-topic of Mormanity's original post in this thread)?

As for the claims Nat makes about our religion, I would invite you to read my posts on his blog, if he will reopen it. The Trinity is not the view of all churches other than ours, but in fact several churches realize the Godhead is comprised of three distinct beings. There are also churches that realize that "grace alone" is not what Christ taught, but that "faith without works is dead."

None of this discussion seems pertinent to why it is okay to point out that Mitt Romney is a Mormon any more than it should be okay to point out Joe Lieberman is Jewish or Barack Obama is black and neither should be trusted to be president. Bigotry should not be an acceptable form of critique in evaluating candidates. They should be evaluated on their record in public service, their private background of employment, and their stated platform for their campaigns. I can also accept evaluating their character, but simply pointing out that Mitt Romney should not be allowed to be president because he is Mormon does not sit well with me.

Interestingly, not everyone I know supporting him is Mormon, and not every Mormon I know is supporting him. If the church were going to want to control the country by him, you would think they would send a directive out that all members must vote for him. They don't (any more than they command anyone to vote for Harry Reid) because that is not the way of the church. That is not Christ's way.

Robert said...

Russell,

Excellent point from C.S. Lewis about the scissors. I agree with you, that in the end most Evangelical Christians have a very similar practice of grace and works, even though they debate how their practice should be described. I don't, however, agree with "everything" Nat says, because he claims Joseph Smith was a false prophet, and that he had delusions. I suspect you did not mean to agree with that, either, but I leave it to you to say that.

Robert said...

Oh, and one last thing about Nat's comments: if the man at the bottom of the well can only be saved by Christ physically removing him, then he may well drown. If, instead, he can be saved by the act of a Christian - who follows Christ's teachings - then perhaps we better understand that it our place to do Christ's work on the Earth today. He performed the work of the atonement, but we should notexpect that he do ALL good works on the Earth today.

nathanielmacrae said...

It isn't about being an Evangelical nor Mormon nor Methodism, Catholicism, Islam or whatever...

It's about what is written in the Bible for who Jesus really is. There are many muslims in the middle-east who are turning to Jesus (notice that it isn't Christianity because the word 'Christianity' has too many cultural connotations, usually of Americanisms & Anglo-Saxonism) for this same subject of GRACE! Many muslims are now realising that it is not of their works that they are saved, it is what Jesus has already done!

I think we will all be VERY surprised when we get to heaven and see people who we DO NOT EXPECT to see. It REALLY isn't about what denomination you are from, nor religion nor areligion...it is about those who call upon the name of the Lord when they are at their utmost need...

Robert, it is THAT simple. I might even see you in heaven just because there was a time in your life, in an hour desperation, you cried out to God for help!

Don't misconstrue: there is a need for correct doctrine! Jesus, in Mark 12: 18-27 Jesus corrected the Sadducees and rebuked them for NOT KNOWING SCRIPTURES.

(24Jesus replied, "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.) neither did they know the power of God!

As a side note: did you notice what Jesus said? There are NO MARRIAGES IN HEAVEN! Except of course, the marriage that the collective have with Jesus...

Our salvation belongs only to God! And He resides with those who are humble and of a contrite heart...those who are broken! And in their brokeness, they cry out for help because they know that they cannot do it!

Russell, Jeff, Robert, Shawn and anybody else who is a mormon...

If there hasn't already been a time in your life when everything has been stripped away from you, then hopefully there will be a time in the future (when Satan will come to tempt)...in your desperate hour of need, acknowledge that: YOU CANNOT DO IT and cry out to Jesus...and he will save you!

The people who have repented and cried out to Jesus ARE THE TRUE CHURCH! Evangelicalism, Methodism, Catholicism, Mormonism and such like, in of themselves are not found the one and true church...they are just denominations: a set of creeds that man has made to distinguish themselves from the other...

The true church are those who repent and believe Jesus for who he really is! Repentance is about acknowledging that you CANNOT DO IT! This is the confession of sin! What is sin? Sin is human pride! That is all that it is...and pride is when we belived Satan (Genesis 3) that we could be gods! We were never meant to be gods! There is only one God and it is only He who can occupy that role! As image-bearers we are only meant to worship, delight, enjoy and admire Him!

The reason why I am so compelled to write to Mormons is that the doctrine that the Mormon church teaches plays right into Satan's hands! Not only does Mormonism exalt man, but it exalts man even to becoming gods! Guys, Mormonism accepts and teaches the lie that Satan sold to Eve and to Adam!

Beware: God will bring His wrath against those who think they can occupy His role. Man's belief that they are or can be gods IS THE LIE! The very reason Shawn, you continue to to stay in the doctrine taught by the Mormon movement means that you do not have salvation...otherwise, you would have instantly rejected the whole notion of becoming gods...the same goes for you Robert.

There is only one truth. Any abberation from the truth is as good as a lie. The truth is that Jesus IS the only way, the only truth and the only life. Accept Him for WHO HE REALLY IS and WHAT HE REALLY HAS DONE and when the time comes when Satan comes to tempt you to despair, cry out to Jesus, acknowledge that you cannot do it and He will save you...

Those who have repented and acknowledge Him for who He really is - is part of Christ's true church...

Robert

Greetings! I am trying desperately hard to upload the 47 comment onto my webspace but my mirror is not letting me. Please, believe me that I am trying desperately hard to upload it. I could, if you want, send it you via email/MSN/Skype or whatever?

Nat

Robert said...

Nat,

Why not just put them back up on your blog the way they were? Why did you take it down?

Thankfully, to everyone reading this, Nat is not who decides we will receive exaltation. I am equally thankful I am not the one who decides. As for becoming gods, I had a great talk with my branch president today after church. He was discussing with his mother-in-law (a Presbyterian) what it means to become a god. He asked her, "What does damnation mean?" She explained that it means to kept apart from God, and to be kept from continuing to grow. He agreed, saying, "So, what you are saying is that damnation is the stopping of your progress?" She did. He then explained that the idea of eternal exaltation is that we can progress forever, and eventually become gods with our own knowledge and power, our own ability to love the way Heavenly Father loves us and to teach our children has he teaches us. Anything less than eternal exaltation is therefore damnation. Similarly, eternal worship of a being who will never allow us to become greater than we are now sounds a lot more like Satan than Christ to me.

Robert said...

Oh and Nat, the scriptures don't say the old brother did not notice the party. They say plainly he DID notice. We studied this lesson in Sunday School today. A quote that really hit me comes from a General Authority who explained that the brother of the prodigal was not worse than the prodigal. In fact, the scripture plainly states that the father told him, "Son, thou art ever with me, all that I have is thine." In other words, he will receive exaltation for never waivering from following his father. The prodigal, conversely, is told that he is forgiven and is no longer cut off, but it is clear he has already received his reward and will not be exalted in the highest degree of glory. He will not be put into Outer Darkness, either, though, which is why their is great rejoicing.

Mormanity said...

Nat, I am disappointed with this thread-jacking. As I've told you before, the comments on my blog are not intended to be a forum for you or anyone else to launch into off-topic tirades against LDS doctrine and to preach your particular form of Christianity.

I will again ask you to respect the rules for this blog, and to understand that I'm awfully close to deleting your comments as inappropriate and disrespectful. If the temptation to condemn other Christians for not identically sharing your doctrines is too great to resist, may I suggest you do that on your own blog and not here?

I am surprised that you would judge someone who believes in Christ and seeks to follow Him with a sentence of eternal damnation because they've got some aspect of their theology wrong. I respect your right to disagree when somebody takes the Bible literally when it speaks of the divine potential of human beings - "gods" being the actual term that is used in several places (John 10:33-35, for example). But how can you say that damnation is assured for someone who believes in something of that nature, whether it's a Mormon or C.S. Lewis or modern Orthodox Christians or the many early Christians who accepted forms of the Christian doctrine of theosis? If we are saved by grace, isn't it enough to accept Christ as our Savior and to turn our lives to Him (or let Him turn our lives to Him)? Do we have to get all the details of your theology correct as well or be damned? Do we have to pass a detailed theological test to ensure our doctrinal purity? And will it stop there? Do we have to also know all the hymns in your song book, and all the prayers and creeds in your prayerbook? Do we have to be Nat clones to be saved?

I think it would do you good to read The Apostolic Fathers - the earliest writings of Christians after New Testament times - to understand some of the differences between your views and their ancient views regarding salvation, grace, and works. You might see that the LDS position in general - if you ever wish to understand it - is on solid ground with other solid Christians.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to continue the thread-jacking, but I couldn't resist.

Does the act of confessing Jesus as your Savior count as a "work"?

Matthew 7:21 "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

Grace is undeniably essential. We could not be saved without it. But that doesn't keep the One who offers grace from putting conditions on who receives that grace, even if it is simply a confession of faith - or also doing the will of the Father.

Anonymous said...

All religions are goofy. But some are more goofy than others. And it appears that Americans may be unwillingly to tolerate a leader who practices one of the more goofy ones. I don't think a Scientologist candidate would get very far either. I'm not saying this is right, just that this feeling exists among the public. Racial, sexist or homophobic prejudice isn't right either but a black, woman or gay candidate would encounter much more resistance than a Mormon white male. Don't be so freaking surprised about this - you know EXACTLY why Romney is facing scrutiny about his faith...

Robert said...

Actually, anon from 6:53 PM, I do not see Barack Obama for being black or Hillary Clinton for being a woman getting nearly the scrutiny Mitt Romney is getting for being a Mormon. I see plenty of questions regarding stances on issues for all of them, but that is not the same comparison, because Mitt is the only one facing scrutiny for his religion (and they are not facing nearly that much for the corresponding things you raised).

Zelph Himself said...

Resistance from the media for a woman, black, or gay candidate? What media sources do you use? The KKK Kourier? The media is falling all over itself trying to keep Hillary and Barack looking good. When have there been real hardball questions to either? And if either of them were gay, do you think they'd say one word critical of that??

Anonymous said...

And to add to the threadjack (feel free to delete this, Jeff, if you wish), Jesus' own teachings are explicitly clear that we can't be forgiven unless we too forgive. Is forgiving others faith, or is it works? And John tells is in his epistle that we have to "walk in the light" if we want to be cleansed from sin. Is "walking in the light" faith, or is it works?

dakwegmo said...

Nat. you said "If the Bible is the Word of God, then there can be no contradictions." How do you resolve the contradiction among the gospels as to what was written on the sign affixed to the cross?

Matthew 27:37 - THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS
Mark 15:26 - THE KING OF THE JEWS
Luke 23:38 - THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS
John 19:19 - JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS

Every translation of the Bible that I've seen retains these subtle differences. They're not major, and certainly nothing that's going to effect your salvation, but they can't all represent a perfect account of what actually happened.

Luke suggests that the sign was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, so it's possible Pilate didn't translate perfectly, and each of the gospel writers was recording only one of the translations, but that still leaves an odd man out. At least one of the gospels has to be wrong on this account. And if it's wrong about this detail the,n what other details could it have missed?

If I had been taught to believe the Bible was perfect, my faith would have been shaken the first time I encountered this dilemma. However, I have never had any such expectation. The Bible was written by men, compiled by men, and translated by men. Even though I believe the original others were prophets or otherwise inspired of god, I accept their humanity and the imperfection that implies.

Russell said...

You're right--I should have qualified that I agree w/everything EXCEPT...

in any case, I really do think that the bottom line here is not only that all religions have irrational, unprovable assumptions (virgin birth, resurrection being the two shining stars in this arena), but that all PHILOSOPHY, even thought itself has irrational assumptions. What we should be asking about Mitt is not whether he believes unprovable assumptions but whether his ability to function with the basic assumptions given hiim by the Constitution of the United States.

Even the hardline empiricists themselves hold an unprovable assumption--that is, that empiricism has any merit as a method of inquiry. :)

Anonymous said...

Nat, you say that the Bible is free from error and contradiction. Which Bible would that be? There are different collections of texts and numerous different translations. So which one is the perfect and complete one, and why is it better than the others that may contradict it in many ways?

Russell said...

I know I'm as guilty as anyone on this, but could we please adhere to Jeff's request and all clam up on non-Mitt/relgion in politics threads?

nathanielmacrae said...

I am happy to discuss the God's Work vs. Man's Work hijacked thread elsewhere (if anyone is willing to host it in their blog...

Mormanity
I can only say a sincere thank you for choosing to keep the posts that I have made...Jeff, I really can't thank you enough =) And please, please, please accept my deepest apologies for hijacking your original post. My bad. I just hope you can appreciate just how passionate I am about what the gospel of Jesus is about, just as you are passionate about Mormon theology is about. Again, thank you...

casual mormon

I have only just noticed your post tucked away up there. And yes, I do see your point. Comparing man to divinity is NOT FAIR WHATSOEVER! But I guess, that my use of Jesus who saved the man in the well - is exactly that! No man can save us except Him alone...

So, hey. I bit the bait and I will continue with the story of the Christian man in relation to the man in the well.

For the sake of it, instead of calling the Christian 'Christian', I shall instead call him 'a follower of Jesus'. The word, 'Christian' although its original intention means Christ-like has in these days so many negative attachments. To a muslim, the word Christian brings about a whole load of connotations of Westernised American/English/Anglo-Saxon fat people who sit around complaining about life... =)

So, here is the story of the follower of Jesus.

So, the Buddhist did not help, neither did the muslim.

The follower of Jesus (Christian) walks by and notices the man in the well. He hears him cry out and the disciple of Jesus answers his call. Now, the follower of Jesus remembers how Jesus Himself saved him and so offers to save the man in the well just as Jesus had saved him. He makes his way down into the well and puts the man onto his shoulders, just as Jesus had done with him.

On their way back up, the follower of Jesus (Christian) loses his footing and both tumble back into the bottom of the well. The follower of Jesus breaks one of his arms and now cannot manage to help the man. So, the follower of Jesus sits in silence and prays. A moment later Jesus walks past, sees both that are in the well, goes down, carries puts BOTH OF THEM onto His shoulders and carries them up out of the well.


Do you see that? Even the Christian couldn't help the guy out! He had full intentions of helping, just as Jesus had helped him, but could not, ultimately, help the man in the well! Only Jesus saves! All glory goes to Him! Not to man. It has never ever been about us, it has always, always been about Him!

Robert, Shawn or anybody else who holds to Mormon theology

It is not about works per se. It is about God's work VS. Man's work...the salvation that is given does not matter whether anyone comes from an Evangelical church, nor a methodist, nor another religion altogether. It is about when someone who comes to the end of their tether, repents and instead of seeking help from himself, looks up and seeks help from God by simply believing that Jesus is who He really is...

If I may use the Mormon church for example: it is far more likely for the follower of Joseph Smith's teaching to receive salvation when they fail to receive a temple invitation! Guys, it is far easier for the Mormon brother to receive true salvation if they fail to make it to the priesthoods! Do you see this? This goes completely contrary to the Mormon teaching which says, that you need to accomplish this, this n' this and that needs to be done to receive exaltation(!)...to receive godhood?! What?! If people would just read the Bible for what it is worth, people would see that Jesus' teaching GOES COMPLETELY CONTRARY to what the world thinks about attainment of salvation. In order to increase, we must DECREASE! ie. realise that is is never about our works! It is never about us!

Why would it be far more likely that the Mormon who does not recieve a temple recommendation receive salvation and not those who strive to be able to receive a temple invitation and/or be ordained into the priesthoods?

Do you remember Luke 15? Who were the two sets of people who were listening to Jesus as He spoke the parable of the prodigal son? The Pharisees (those who WORKED for salvation) and the prostitutes/publicans/"sinners" (those who were the marginalised in society...these guys were the failures of society and in their acceptance of their failures DID NOTHING!). In their NOTHINGNESS, they were more willing to accept Jesus' works because they didn't have anything else to hold on to!

What is the second commandment? "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." People generally think, "Oh ok, no Baal for me then..."

Or if they were more intelligent than that, they'd think "Oh, that means I shouldn't worship money or even family or work above God then..."

But people have failed to notice themselves AS THE OTHER GODS! God HATES OTHER GODS! Man on earth live to think AS IF THEY ARE GOD HIMSELF! The one true God HATES it.

It has always been about Man's work VS God's work

Or another way:

The one true God VS Man who think that they are gods.

All that is needed is for us to believe in the work of Jesus. To believe in one sense, requires no effort at all (no work needed here) but in another sense it is THE HARDEST THING TO DO because to believe that Jesus has already done the work, means that all our work is has meant nothing -which does completely against our human heart.

I'm willing to discuss this in someone else's blog...that way I don't annoy Jeff anymore!

Jeff, thank you for choosing to my responses. I really appreciate it =)

Nat

Anonymous said...

Ignoring all previous comments and rambling off-topic thread jackings, let me say this: was Hillary's religion ever at open war with the federal government? Was Hillary (or any of the other candidate's) religion ever lead by a man who claimed his church upheld the law while living in illegal relationships with multiple women? Those might be just a couple of the reasons people are rightfully wary of Mormons. Another? They tend to be weird and zealous and generally have a persecution complex. Sprinkle in a little self righteousness, and you got yourself somebody to be rightfully suspicious of. Present company excluded of course.

Russell said...

Anon:

Your comment deserves a nice, fat roll of the eyes. Remarkable. Absolutely remarkable.

No one is wary that Harry Reid is going to subvert American democracy or definitely that he's 'clanninsh' (except for the hard right, but for different reasons). No one in their right mind thinks J. Willard Marriott is amassing wealth to build-up his own army of Mormon mercenaries. Then you have Mark Willes, member of the Fed. Reserve Board in the late 70s. My personal favorite is Jack Anderson, the muckraking and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist of the Washington Post (he exposed the Nixon administration on the Indo-Pak. war)--hardly a paragon of clannishness and no more a subverter than Woodward and Bernstein (in fact was much forerunner in this field). Of course, George Romney cannot be left out--had a real shot at the nomination till the "brainwashed" gaffe. He made his name in actually being defiant of the Mormon bodypolitik (and to an extent, Elder Ezra Taft Benson) by fully supporting Civil Rights for the African Americans. Not only this, but NONE of these men made their fortunes behind the Zion Curtain, but DC, Minnesota, Michigan, and Nevada.

A clannish group of subversives, eh? From the way you talk, we'd better round up every Mormon in the country since we're just waiting to launch the siege of Zion on the government. No offense, man, but those arguments are utterly devoid of any legitimacy or foundation in fact. Anon, you REALLY need to stop being so ill-informed on the real Mormon America. It does not reflect well on your ability to reason. Criticize if you like, but do so in an informed way.

Robert said...

Nat,

You have continued to disrespect Jeff's request. You obviously refuse to reopen your own blog to discuss these matters. Why expect anyone else to host them? To anyone reading, Nat took his blog down after a comment I made asking him who he appeared to be acting more like when he suggested he really only wanted to learn about Mormonism and had some honest questions that his Mormon friends would not answer, then he turned the blog into something very much like he has done here, attacking our beliefs and calling us delusional Satan worshippers. I asked him to search his heart and consider if he was acting more like Christ or more like Satan. Take that for what you will.

Maybe Nat's thread jacking is actually pertinent here in a peculiar way. The media wants to make Mitt Romney out to be simply "the Mormon guy" to keep people from taking a hard look at what he stands for and realizing they might support him. They are "campaign jacking" in the same way Nat is thread jacking. Thank you for the illustration, Nat. Now, please, I ask you to respect Jeff's request.

Anonymous said...

Russ. Thanks for twisting my words and mangling my intent.
I merely intended to express that, given the history and legacy of the Mormon church, and Joseph in particular, and the fact that members are expected to consider him second only to Christ, it is no wonder people would be suspicious of a member of this faith holding the most powerful office on the plantet, Fed board members notwithstanding. A Mormon will never be President. Joseph proved that.

Russell said...

We both know JOseph was living in a VERY different time and was a very different person than MItt Romney. The only reason George Romney was not a serious contender (and likely nominee) in the Republican race was because of his Vietnam gaffe (and the untimely production of Manchurian candidate--see Dr. Andrew Johns work on this in the MIchigan Historical Review). Finally, the Mitt Romney of the 2008 campaign (not the slightly left-tilting ROmney of1994--one of the reasons I am wary of voting for him) is hardly resembles Joseph Smith. Joseph was a religious revolutionary who essentially turned traditional American Christianity on its head, at least in terms of the Church's concept of power. Mitt Romney's life (except for his pro-choice jaunt) has been a blend of Leave it to Beaver conservatism and Wall Street yuppism. No scandals, few blackmarks, and hard-driving executive ethos.

Anon, I reiterate that your belief that a Mormon can never be president is at best anachronistic and at worst, hateful. Norman Peale (the famed author of The Power of Positive Thinking) supported Nixon for similar reasons--a Catholic should never be president. What you are writing is propaganda in effect (if not in intent) and should be seriously revisited in the name of AMerica's political religion.

dakwegmo said...

Anon, your objections objections to Romney's candidacy aren't very reasonable based on the criteria you've stated. If we exclude every candidate with ties to organizations that once had a conflict with the Federal Government, we'd be eliminating citizens of eleven Southern States, because of the civil war. We'd also have to eliminate anyone of German, English, Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Native American ancestry, because all of these groups (and many more) have been at war with the U.S.

I'm not sure what your second point is there. Are you saying the American people should oppose Romney, because A) Joseph Smith broke the law, B) Joseph Smith was a hypocrite, or C) Joseph Smith was a polygamist? You seem to be saying one, or maybe all, of those things, but what does this have to do with Romney? Did he break the law? Is he a hypocrite? What about a polygamist?

I think you're going to need to do better in showing us why Romney's religion should be an issue.

Lastly, I'm pretty sure that being weird, zealous, and self-righteous are prerequisites for holding a national political office in the U.S.

nathanielmacrae said...

Mitt Romney's religious views in Mormonism should never have been the issue; but I guess if he didn't see this coming then he is naive.

I hardly think that he is naive though; Romney will have known that this was coming to him. He and his team would have actively pre-prepared contingency plans for when the media hits.

The media (as always) do hit hard; and more so out of ignorance. Whenever we, the general public, venture out into unknown territory, we always take the cautious route - our lives are at stake! I agree with Jeff. I'm not appalled as such, although it is all VERY absurd; just quietly laughing to myself to see just how finickety the general public are...

It really does not surprise me that the media have concentrated all their efforts on focusing upon Romney's religious views. I think people, in general and in their ignorance, go with what is familiar - even when the majority don't even know the deeper meanings of what the familiar is!

Most wars and altercations are born out of ignorance...

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness it will only take one "yes or no" question to get Mitt out of the race: "do you believe Joseph Smith has done more for the salvation of mankind than anyone except Jesus Christ?"
Game over.

Russell said...

You underestimate evangelicals' political abilities, my friend. They are FAR more sophisiticated politicos than you give them credit for.

RWW said...

I'm curious: Who would be the appropriate person to esteem as second only to Jesus Christ?

Anonymous said...

Is it even appropriate to rank a mere mortal next to deity? Hardly.

Russell said...

I think that, yet again, this obsession with the question of Joseph's "ranking" of the prophets is misleading. I really don't think it will be a problem, esp. in light of the veneration other religions give to their founders What Christian can honestly besmirch our respect for Joseph when they themselves attend "St. Peter's" cathedral? At least we have the name going for us :)

When John Taylor wrote that line, the purpose was not to draw up some eternal hierarchy of who is the best prophet. After all, Joseph himself (almost incessantly) insisted that he "was not a great deal more righteous than other man" that a prophet was only a prophet when acting as such.

Take issues with Joseph's status if you like, just don't exaggerate our veneration of Joseph. No good (and faithful) historian I am aware of has a problem in this regard--they are QUITE aware of Joseph's foibles. So pick another a chestnut. This one is getting stale already :)

dakwegmo said...

When has any politician ever answered a simple yes or no question with a simple yes or no? If Romney chose to answer this question directly, he surely wouldn't respond with a simple yes or no. The issue is too complex.

Anonymous said...

No it isn't.

Russell said...

Anon,

Your silence to my response is deafening. I'll probably now hear that my response was inane, silly, etc. that it didn't deserve the dignity of a response (ironic--that's what many politicians say when a snide remark hits a nerve). Just know again that your question IS a reductionist view and frankly, not representative of the nuances of Mormon theology.

And if you still want to answer with a "no, it isn't," then let's just talk about something else. No need to burden Jeff's blog with such dull exchanges.

dakwegmo said...

Anon, I wouldn't answer your question with a simple yes or no.
If I answered yes, anyone hearing my response would assume that I believe what Joseph Smith did was in some way comparable to what Christ did for our salvation. While I think restoring the gospel was important, it pales in comparison to Christ's suffering for our sins.

If I answered simply no, many people would assume that I believe someone other than Joseph Smith is second to Christ in bringing about the salvation of man. I wouldn't want to leave that impression, because I don't think any man has done more the Joseph Smith did, though there are many who have also done quite a bit.

So anon, there's probably a little more complexity than you seem to think.

bwgilbert said...

All Jewish, Christian and Islamic sects have polygamous roots. Yes, even the Methodists. This is a non-issue. As far as faith and grace and works is concerned—simple matter of semantics and hair-splitting. I think all Christian theology believes in divine intervention when we can no longer help ourselves like that poor fellow in the well (how did he get down there anyway?)

As far as addressing the big divide between Mormons and Christians, it is the same width as the divide between Methodists and Christians and equal to the distance between Baptists and Christians, Catholics and Christians, Pentecostals and Christians—you get my point. The Mormon Church is a group of Christians who worship the same God and Jesus as every other Christian believer. The dirty liberals will stop at nothing to discredit Governor Romney and they have their money placed on discrediting the LDS church as the most direct route. First they tried to exploit the notion that “Mormon’s” are not widely accepted among other Christian groups (absolutely false,) then it was the whole polygamy thing (explained above) next it will come to blatant fabrications and distortions such as Latter Day Saints don’t believe in God or that they blindly follow their leaders who are actually filled with malice and contempt for the law and our country. They will cite so-called historical documents (i.e. old anti-Mormon literature) to make their case for historical accuracy. There are two “historical” movies coming out one that portrays Brigham Young as the perpetrator of the Mountain Meadows massacre and the other is about Joseph Smith’s political interests—of course with mentions of alleged “secret” plural marriages with young women that were still married to other men.

I don’t mind seeing historical movies, but geez why can’t they simply use a little academic prudence? I mean, just because someone published something a long time ago it doesn’t become true with age. Historical documents aren’t necessarily like a fine wine that gets better over time—in other words, even crap can turn into petrified crap. (sorry kiddies)

Anonymous said...

Why not Jerry Falwell as the mortal who did the most good? He reached millions.

nathanielmacrae said...

bwgilbert

Do you consider this as old anti-Mormon material? Or is it still the case?

"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens...I say, if you were to see him to-day, you would see him like a man in form -- like yourselves, in all the person, image, and very form as a man....it is necessary that we should understand the character and being of God, and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and will take away and do away the veil, so that you may see....and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p. 3).

Is the idea that God was once man still widely accepted in Mormon doctrine? I'd really appreciate if someone could just clarify this for me?

Nat

Anonymous said...

Yes, that doctrine is still widely accepted and taught.

nathanielmacrae said...

Shocking.

Russell said...

Accepted, yes. For practical purposes, it's more of a footnote than a thesis--an assumption that is seldom talked about simply because it's not nearly as relevant to Christ as other things, such as enduring to the end.
It's probably been nearly four years (if my memory serves me correctly) since I've heard such things in a church setting. Today, we sang a hymn about following the Savior, talked about our covenant relationship with him and about how we could heed his example in teaching others. Pretty deep stuff, eh :)

It's been a VERY long time (something like four years) since I've heard that quote used in church (and that quote is a fairly common one; if you were going to talk about the subject, it is considered the paragon of quotations).

Please understand: Latter Day Saints do not sit around church all day conspiring about what God's mortality was like or what our godhood would be like. We simply believe that the family unit on earth is representative of the family unit in heaven. It's NOT a deep concept. It's bordenline commonsensical (though, of course, Voltaire himself noted that common sense was anything but common).

nathanielmacrae said...

VERY shocking...

nathanielmacrae said...

It can dressed up however you like Russell but it really is still VERY SHOCKING.

The word idolatry comes to mind whenever I read what Joseph Smith wrote/declared about his take on the nature of God. Joseph Smith WAS A VERY SPECIAL PROPHET, but I'm sorry to say though that it seems his 'specialness' ranks only with those who are branded 'false'. If Joseph had lived in Paul's or any New Testamtent/Old Testament apostle/prophet era, he would have been made minced meat and branded a heretic.

Joseph Smith's take on the nature of God would be like a nation, instead of following the president's direction, follows Mickey mouse...THEY'RE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. It insults the president and makes the nation a laughing stock. Sorry to be so blunt.... =(

Russell said...

"Sorry to be so blunt.... =("

Don't worry. I've seen FAR worse. And don't think that you're witnessing to some poor yokel Mormon with a naive, brainwashed testimony. I've dealt with some pretty hearty opposition in my blogging days :)

But Mickey MOuse?! You're saying it makes God look bad by me saying that he is not an amorphus "essence" without any feelings, but a bonafide father? If so, then I'll pass on the word to my dad that I'm going to start going to the fog for counsel; after all, following a mere man turns my family into a laughing stock, no?

But I would agree in one respect. It is shocking, shocking because many these ideas of God are largely not of JOseph Smith's concotion--at least according to some evidence recently discovered. And besides, what makes the concept of deification that much more outrageous than the Immaculate Conception? Because "the Bible says so"?

A good starting point for study would be Ernest Benz's Imago Dei: Man as the Image of God. Benz was a prominent theologian (authored 50 books) at the University of Marburg and, as though it needed saying, not a member of the faith. He talks much of the unio mystica between God as archetype and man as his mirror image. Call him a nutty intellectual if you like (there are plenty of them), but don't call the Mormon belief alien to traditional Christianity; it simply ain't true.

Also, take a look at some writings of Iraneus, Against All Heresies, for some insight how he viewed God's anthropomorphic nature; it logically follows that Father would indeed have lived a life as Christ would have lived (1:522). There are also some interesting elements in the Garden of Eden literature that shows the serpent consistently telling Adam and Eve that God was once a man. Was the serpent lying or was he attempting to co-opt understood truth for his own purposes? You decide (see the Chronicles of Jerahmeel, 47; Pentatuch with Targum Onkelos; the Midrash Rabbah 1:150-51).

At any rate, this talk on the deification of God remains, as before, remote topic from my immediate salvation. One of these days, folks will have to come to grips with idea of "evangelical Mormonism" or really, Mormonism as it always has been :)

nathanielmacrae said...

Hehe.

No Russell, I don't think you are some poor yokel Mormon with a naive, brainwashed testimony. Although reading through some of your references, I'm thinking maybe that you're some poor yokel Mormon with a far gone, brainwashed testimony! Next you'll be confessing that you use the Necronomicon as a basis for your baptism of the dead weird-thing that you Mormon lot do! ;)

nathanielmacrae said...

I think the Bible's description is not at all what you say that God is. You must come to realise that God IS THE SOURCE OF ALL THINGS Russell. There is nothing that comes into or out of Himself that was not in there already.

We, as humans, are only a mere reflection of Him! He is THE ABSOLUTE. Furthermore, we know that 'absolute truth' exists because Jesus Himself IS the truth!

As I have mentioned in another blog: philosophers get stumped by when they come across this Jesus guy because when they approach the subject of 'truth', they think that truth is objective. It is objective, but in actual fact, truth is a person! Truth, in a weird paradoxical kind of way, is SUBJECTIVE?! The Truth was always a person - Jesus! And because we know that Jesus is immovable (He does not change) we can also know that truisms do not change. Therefore we can also know that the universe (His creation) is a world that has absolutes! That is why mathematics/logic/law etc. work - because of Jesus, because He is truth itself! Creation is a reflection of its Creator!

If you will, God Himself IS THE GOLDEN STANDARD. God IS reality itself. Whenever we move away from Him, we enter into un-reality! (I'm sounding about as weird as you are Russell!)...

Please don't misconstrue: the world of philosophy and (christian) apologetics are good, but in of themselves, you will not see salvation...it is the work of the Holy Spirit who rests upon the truth of who Jesus really is...

Rightbackatcha... =)

Russell said...

Honestly, you sound more like a Greek philospher than I do. It's ironic also that you accuse me of absorbing philosophy when I have numerous friends who have lost their beliefs not just in Mormonism but in the existence of a God over philosophy. And since when has it been fashionable to call Mormons overly able to engage in philosophical debates? SOunds like any stick is good enough to beat Mormonism...:)

In my neck of the woods (out in her yokel-ville), we believe in reason, argumentation, and evidence. I see none of that. On the other hand, I just cited some references from ancient texts, from early believers in Christ upon whom much of Christiantiy bases their understanding of the truth. If you don't want to play by the generally established rules of evidence and argumentation, talk to some other yokel.

Again, you're going to need to accept that we believe Christ's atoning blood, that we believe him to be the Son of God, the only hope for the world or frankly, for ourselves. That's the truth. Period. Unless I were hired as some mercenarial hack for the Mormons (a laughable proposition considering that the frontline proponents of Mormon theology pay their own way), I wouldn't be caught dead defending anything I view as theological tripe.

Time to come back to reality nathanielmacrae; Mormons believe fully in Christ's atoning blood and therefore are Christians.

bwgilbert said...

It seems that nathanielmacrae thinks he has it all figured out--shockingly. I wonder for whom he plans to elect in 2008???

Could it be possible that nathanielmacrae went to Harvey's Bakery in Dover, NH to break doughnuts with Al Michaud?

Robert said...

Well, bwgilbert, you may not know this but Nat lives in England. So, unless they vote to throw out the government, he may not elect anyone in 2008, or 2009, or... well, you get the picture.

Russell, as always, I really appreciate your points. You point straight to the heart of the matter with Nat.

bwgilbert said...

It is interesting to me that this is supposed to be a discussion about the role of religion in the wake of a U.S. presidential race. It seems strange there are limies making posts on this string who seem to be ignorant to the topic at hand (i.e. American Politics.) It is typical for Europeans (in my opinion) to point out problems without trying to offer any type of solution. I suggest that these parties move on to some other website and find somebody who enjoys reading off-topic tangents.

It seems to me that they could likely find a far better use of their time and efforts.