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

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Let's Get Biblical: What Does the Bible Have to Say about the Definition of "Christian"?

I have long endured critics who say that we are not Christian based on the Bible. No amount of sincere witnessing of one's faith in the Savior of mankind and of one's acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Redeemer, as Son of God, as Creator, and as the promised Messiah will satisfy those who choose never to be satisfied. They will always find an objection, some reason why your Jesus is a different Jesus. But for those with open minds who have wondered if our critics are right, let's take a look at what the Bible actually says about the definition of Christians.

The word "Christian" occurs only 3 times in the Bible. Each occurrence, however, gives us some insight into the debate about who can be called Christian. If you're going to start casting people out from Christianity on the basis of the Bible, you had better start with what the Bible has to say about this term.

Here are the three occurrences, in order: Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and 1 Peter 4:16. If you're not willing to accept people's proclamation of belief in Christ as the commonsense and gracious standard for being Christian and instead want a more exclusionary definition rigorously based on the Bible, these are the key verses to understand. Now let's see what they have to teach us, in context.

Acts 11:26, in the Context of Acts 11:15-30
15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the LORD Jesus.

21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.

23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:

26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:

30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
In verse 26, we learn that the term "Christian" was what others called the disciples, who in the New Testament tended to call themselves "saints" rather than "Christians" per se (e.g., Acts 9:13, Eph. 2:18-20 and many others). The term obviously stuck and spread and we are certainly happy with it, though "saints" still applies in the original biblical sense. But what do we learn about these people in Antioch who were called Christians? The next verse gives us a telling clue: "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch." OK. If we want to whittle down the definition of "Christian" based on how the Bible uses that term, we can suggest that real biblical Christians will have prophets among them, or rather be willing to receive prophets sent from Church headquarters.

The context of Acts 11 tells us more. It shows a Church suffering persecution, with active apostles and disciples reaching out to diverse geographical regions and doing missionary work. They preached repentance (note "repentance unto life" in verse 18). They had baptism by water and the gift of the Holy Ghost. They had a central organization that sent Church leaders to preach and conduct the work of the Church in remote regions. They exhorted believers to "cleave unto the Lord."

Finally, in light of a prophet warning of famine to come, the Church organized temporal relief efforts to help the saints cope with food shortages.

So far I'm feeling rather comfortable with what the Bible has to say about "Christians." Prophets, gift of the Holy Ghost, baptism, missionary work, organized central ministry with broad outreach via apostles and disciples, and organized Church welfare efforts, and perhaps even something compatible with a food storage program to cope with predicted famine in advance (might be reading too much into the text there). OK, my testimony is still intact.

Acts 26:28, in the Context of Acts 26:22-29
This is Paul's famous encounter with King Agrippa. Here's part of it:
22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:

23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.

25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.

27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
Agrippa, not Paul, the term "Christian," but that's no problem. What was the persuading that Paul was doing? He was teaching the basics: that Christ suffered for us, that he was killed and resurrected (yes, a real, physical Resurrection), that there were witnesses of the real and tangible resurrected Lord who had seen Him, and that He continued to be a light to the world. He wasn't getting into fine metaphysics or details of theology and complex interpretations of scripture, but the basics.

Paul, in his teachings, emphasizes the word of the prophets. Again, "prophets" and "Christians" are being paired in the Bible. We also ask the world, "Believest thou the prophets?" Paul, though, was referring to the writings of past prophets, though he himself as an ordained apostle called by Jesus Christ through revelation was also a modern prophet.

We also learn that outsiders like Agrippa called the Christian religion an expression of madness. Check.

Believing in the basics of Christ as Savior and resurrected Lord, accepting apostles and prophets, and being called crazy: testimony still intact.

1 Peter 4:16, in the Context of 1 Peter 4
1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.

16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Hmm. Gospel preached to the dead, list of sins to avoid and emphasis on the need to obey the Gospel, future accountability to God, and need to live in the Spirit now. I'm still OK with this. My testimony has survived yet another challenge. How's that anti-testimony doing, fellow Christian?

Fortunately, I don't require that others pass through all these hoops to be called Christian. If you sincerely believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, welcome to the club! Of course, there are some very cool things we'd like you to consider adding to your faith to strengthen your covenant relationship with the Lord and your understanding of the majesty of His Atonement, but we can talk about that later.

56 comments:

LdsNana said...

Excellent post! I'll definitely file this one for future reference and recommendation.

tDMg

Anonymous said...

The term "Christian" simply means "follower of Christ". The difference between Christians and Mormons really hinges on the "Christ" you are following. Christians believe in a tri-une God, three in one, while Mormons focus on three separate and distinct beings, their "Christ" being one of those. It's a bit like pretending a tulip is a rose and no amount of evidence to the contrary will change your mind.

Lamdaddy said...

Anonymous, if you believe in the authority of the Bible, you'll have to acknowledge the conditions that the word "Christian" was used in it. You'll notice that "tri-une God" doctrine was not included in reference to the word "Christian" in the Bible (nor does it appear anywhere else in the Bible, for that matter). So far, Jeff's definition of Christian makes much more sense from a biblical standpoint.

Papa D said...

Very good discussion of what the Bible actually says when it uses the term "Christian", Jeff. It's this type of parsing of the actual text and the attendant non-parsing of the text by many of those who say we aren't Christian that illustrates exactly why we believe we are Christian and many others don't.

It also is fascinating to me that we are the inclusivists and people like Anonymous are the exclusivists. Certainly worth considering, when paired with the silly claim that we believe only Mormons will be saved.

mkprr said...

@ anon, Thanks for your concern. It seems however that you might be mistaken about the scriptural LDS doctrine on the nature of God. I encourage you look for yourself to see what our scriptures say about the unity of the Father Son and Holy Ghost. For your convenience I have listed some of the many references emphasizing this oneness in restoration scripture. This list can be found by looking in the Book of Mormon Index under the word “one” before replying, please read at least half of these references in context.
2 Ne 31:21, Mosiah 15:2-5, Alma 11:44; 2 Ne 11:27,36; Morm.7:7 D&C 20:28; 35:2; 50:43; 93:3. Also see the testimony of the 3 witnesses.
I also encourage you to look up the word “unity” in the topical guide of an LDS printing of the King James Version of the Bible for more similar references.
As far as I know (correct me please if I am wrong) , 1 John 5:7 is the only biblical scripture that without question emphasizes the oneness of all THREE members of the Godhead, the Father Son and Holy Ghost.

mkprr said...

@ Anon continued..

Of course LDS doctrine ALSO does teach that in one way the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are individuals. I assume you will see this as a contradiction so stick with me please.

If you were to describe to me what a penny looks like you might tell me it has a picture of Abraham Lincolns head on it. I might later look at a penny and see the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. At that point I could either label you as a deceiver and a liar, or I could flip the coin over and realize what you were telling the truth. Is it so blasphemous to suggest that describing the nature of God might be at least as complex as describing a coin?

A contradiction only exists when two statements cannot simultaneously be true. The oneness and separateness of the Godhead all makes sense in light of Jesus Christ’s statement recorded in John 17:11. (note that after this prayer Jesus’ disciples don’t seem to have physically morphed into one physical being but still in some sense retained their individuality and could still be distinguished from each other)

No set of scripture emphasizes with more clarity the Unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost than do the Book of Mormon and the D&C. Sure there are other ways of interpreting biblical scripture outside of how the mormons do, but I for one can’t see how our understanding of God contradicts anything in the Bible.

Hopefully something in my rambling makes some sense.

Quantumleap42 said...

Jeff, I like that in defining what a Christian is you did not rely on the standard approach of, "Christian = X" but more on looking at the context in which the term appears in the Bible, and why people were given that name. By looking at the context we see what else was expected of people who were called "Christians", and not what declared to be "Christian" several hundred years later.

I find it interesting that when someone like our friend Anonymous insists that we are not Christian, it is because we are no trinitarians and do not hold to the decree of the Fourth Ecumenical Council (which oddly enough does not automatically make us Non-trinitarian). But there have been many Christians did not, and do not (not just Mormons!), agree with what was decided through the Ecumenical Councils. By insisting that being Christian is contingent on being a trinitarian, in the strictest sense of the word, whitewashes over the many varieties of how theologians have viewed the question of the relation between the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. We only have to look at Tertullian, who originated the term "Trinity", to see that he referred to the Trinity as "three people, one substance". Under Anonymous's strict definition of Christianity, even "the founder of Western theology" would not be a Christian.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

It is an unsavory game, Quantum. Good comments.

Anon, the tri-une concept of three persons of one substance is not taught in the Bible. One can argue that it's consistent with the Bible, but show me the beef. Your beef is that we don't agree in how we interpret statements on God's oneness, though we fully accept Christ's statement that He and the Father are one. The issue is in what way are they one? Here there is room for discussion without the unsavory innovation of defining Christians as those who agree with you. To understand the issues regarding the oneness of God, and to see that there is a strong biblical case for a unity of heart, mind, and will rather than of substance, see my LDSFAQ page on the oneness of God.

While Arius, clinging to John 14:28 (says the Father is greater than the Son), lost in the great philosophical battle regarding the nature of God's oneness, his allegedly errant non-Trinitarian doctrine did not get him branded as non-Christian. Maybe heretical and errant, but he and many others were not kicked out of Christianity for failure to accept the formulation for the Trinity that finally prevailed centuries after the New Testament was written. No one that I know of ever seriously argued that he had been worshiping a false, demonic Jesus because his metaphysics was off.

I think what Anonymous meant when he said "Christians believe in a tri-une God" is "Christians believe exactly the way I believe. Since you have a belief that differs, you must not be Christian." I believe Anon is one of the proud owners of the old CultMaster 2000 software kit. It's dated and in need of major revisions as soon as some volunteer step forward, but it is still the state of the art on anti-cult ministry software, with powerful tools capable of proving anyone besides the registered owner is a member of cult. Awesome tool. Use with caution - and love.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Oh, thanks LDSNana! Appreciate all your work with social media, by the way.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bunker said...

I never could understand that term "Mormons don't worship the same Jesus" Does that term make any sense to anyone else besides those non Mormon so-called Christians? Does their Christ have a different last name? Was their (non Mormon Christians) Savior not born in Bethlehem like our Savior was? Seriously seems like a poor excuse and not well thought out defense of Mormons-aren't-Christians bashing.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff Lindsay: said...

This post is not an excuse to throw out all the slurs anti-Mormons use to attack LDS religion. They've been dealt with on other posts here. Let's have some discussion about the topic: what does the Bible actually say about the definition of Christian? And critics, how does your Christianity stack up with what the Bible says about the term Christian? If we required, for example, that true "Christians" have prophets and apostles among them, would you be cool with that? I don't think it would be terribly fair, but it would be more biblically based than, say, requiring that true Christians have to accept man-made creeds that came centuries after the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Mainstream Christians believe in one God. We believe in multiple Gods. Our Jesus cannot be the same as theirs, as their Jesus is God, not the son of God.

O Magnum Mysterium. Oh Great Mystery. Simply love those who critisize you.

I said...

Anonymous,

Saying that the only way to be Christian is to believe in the "tri-une" God is exactly the same as saying that the only way to be Christian is to believe in a left-handed Christ or a green-eyed Christ because none of these distinctions (tri-une, left-handed, green-eyed) are biblical.

Matthew Chapman said...

It is interesting that in both the Bible AND the Book of Mormon, "Christian" is something that other people call the followers of Christ...

(Alma 46:15)

Maybe I am only Christian if other people say I am...

Papa D said...

Good point, Matthew. If "Christian" started out as an insult ("those damned, cultish followers of that guy, Jesus, whom they call the Christ"), that's just one more thing "Mormons" have in common with the early Christians.

Oh, the irony.

CF said...

I really think that, as LDS members, we need to stop trying to play their game.

After a while, it's time to realize that the problem with Evangelicals is not that they are honestly "confused" about our doctrine and simply need us to explain it better. The truth lies in the fact that they don't want to understand - they don't want to argue with us on principle and scripture. They know we are in the right and they are wrong - they simply plug their ears.

I don't really blame them for this. It would be difficult to have been raised in an Evangelical family your whole life, to find out that the truth lies with another Church. It's hard to tell yourself that you're wrong.

We need to stop acting like we need some sort of approval from them to be valid. Mormons are mainstream now. We have a plethora of Mormons in government, the media, in sports and in nearly every other facet of life. I even think it's likely that we'll have a Mormon president elected in 2012.

It's time we stop having this stupid argument with dishonest people that are not interested in listening at all. It's time start telling the truth and label them for what they are: "Trinitarians". Their doctrine stems, primarily, from a time far removed from Christ's life and the Bible.

We are the only true Christians left. That's what Joseph's message was when he restored the Church, not to have us fool around with defensive "please include me!" arguments.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CF said...

Anon:

It is absolutely, most definitely, a game that those like you are playing. It has nothing to do with what you or they believe to be right. It's pretty simple to distinguish between someone who honestly wants to learn about the Mormon faith and those who simply want to rile up and create contention.

You say that the LDS church suffers? In which way? Our membership continues to grow, our prominence in the world increases day-by-day, and we gain more respect as contributing members of society. The very fact that you make this statement tells me you are dishonest. If we were truly "suffering" why would you be so concerned about changing us?

You can envision me however you want, it doesn't change the fact that we are, indeed, right and you and other Trinitarian religions are most definitely, without a doubt, wrong.

I know for certain that attempting to put on a facade for "you" isn't going to change your grievances with the Church, so why should I waste me time arguing? Better to save my energy for someone who is interesting in honest learning.

Nate said...

Wow, it's amazing how judgmental those in the church can be towards one another: even when basing our presumptions upon a comment left on a blog. Do we really have to resort to accusations and name calling?

As to the aubject at hand, I did meet a fair share of people on my mission that wouldn't accept us as Christians. But the majority I met did, and respected that. One of my favorite experiences was with a group that we met in one city. Initially, they seemed intent on disproving us as Christians (as I'm sure they were told to do to poor LDS missionaries). They were respectful, though, and accepted that we believed in Christ, even if we disagreed on specifics. We were invited to a weekly Bible study that we genuinely enjoyed: it let us see these good Christians in a different light. It also let them see these LDS missionaries in a way that they hadn't before, I think replacing a lot od the misbeliefs that have been propogated about us. When were tranferred I think they genuinely accepted us as Christians.

Some will never accept us as Christians. And to most others, I believe only our actions will change their minds.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

CF, such posts are not for the deaf, but for those who can listen but who might otherwise be misled. It does make a difference and there is a need to help people not be scared off by deceptive arguments.

Anonymous said...

At CF,
I do not think that only having about 1% of the population being active LDS means you are quite mainstream yet. Certainly Mormons are known, but most people do not consider Mormons a Christian religion so getting elected to be POTUS might be a leap.

mkprr said...

Hey, Senate majority leader Harry Reid is LDS :)

Josh Cummings said...

Thanks, Jeff! While not as well-versed as you, I recently wrote on the topic from a different perspective. I'd love your opinion: http://bit.ly/are-mormons-christians

Again, great and thoughtful post.

Josh Cummings said...

Sorry for the double post, I thought blogger would add the hyperlink for me. Here is the link again: Are Mormons Christians?

netzach said...

mkprr said: As far as I know (correct me please if I am wrong), 1 John 5:7 is the only biblical scripture that without question emphasizes the oneness of all THREE members of the Godhead, the Father Son and Holy Ghost.

Interestingly, this 2-verse passage was not in the original text! It was added during the Middle Ages, and while it still appears in the King James Version, modern Bible translations such as the New International Version (NIV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the English Standard Version (ESV), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and others tend to either omit the Comma entirely, or relegate it to the footnotes. The official Latin text of the Catholic Church (a revision of the Vulgate) also excludes it.

For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comma_Johanneum

Anonymous said...

CF
I will try again. My many trinitarian friends are not dishonest, or playing games. They are good folk that do their best. They are not afraid of truth.

To put them down as less than good God fearing folks shows contempt.

They are living souls with families, parents, children. Refer to President Hinkleys words about them. He said they have great beliefs. We just have more than they do.

Meet them on their ground and love them.

mkprr said...

@ Netzatch,
Thanks for the link, I stand corrected, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants then seem to be the only Christian scriptures to emphasize the oneness of all three members of the Godhead.

Creek said...

CF- I can tell you from experience (as a former Evangelical) that it's difficult to get Evangelicals to listen to you because the Evangelical message of salvation is ultra simple and easy. They believe that confessing with one's mouth that one is a sinner and accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior ensures an eternity in heaven. It literally takes 10 seconds for them to "get saved". No work. No fuss. After that, it's all a "personal relationship" with Jesus, so you don't have to explain your actions to anyone. No good deeds necessary.

I know many Evangelicals who vehemently defend their faith, but they can't provide a crumb of evidence for sola Scriptura or sola Fide, the cornerstones of their faith. They don't have a clue what the early church fathers believed or even what Martin Luther believed...but most will go see a Kirk Cameron Christian-themed movie in a second. Evangelicalism is a very "dumbed down" version of Christinity.

I have to disagree with you that you (Mormons) are the only real Christians left. I think it is Christ's job to decide who the real believers are. I'm a Catholic and I have no doubt I'll see many of my Mormon brothers in heaven.

Anonymous said...

I think the lesson learned here is in spite of evidence or facts that would prove your point, people will still hold on to their beliefs. It might be that the belief is so well in grained in them or that it was taught to them at such an early age that they will not question it, but in the end, they go back to that belief regardless of what they are given in terms of evidence.
Anyway, they are more apt to listen to what their heart is telling them than what facts you might offer up as proof. It isn't being deaf, it is holding on to truths that they know to be true.
That is not so hard for anyone here to understand I think.

Patrick said...

A man convinced agianst his will, is of the same opinion still.

Now repeat 10 times.

You think your behavior is based on what you know. In reality your behavior is based on what you feel.

Get into the heart of a man and you will change who he is.

Guy Briggs said...

@mkprr

There is one passage in the New Testament that deals with the one-ness of Father and Son. We Mormons use it along with the BofM and D&C scriptures.

The scene is the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ praying to his father. Christ thanks his father for the "disciples" given to him, and prays that they (the disciples) might be one in the same way that Jesus and the Father are one.

20 Neither pray I for these [disciples] alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:


"Even as" in verse 22 comes from the Greek "kathos" - often used in the New Testament in front of quotes ("as it is written" or "as the prophets have said") and in other situations where a translation of "just like" would be appropriate ("be merciful, as your Father in Heaven is merciful").

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Along related lines, there's only one verse in the Bible that uses the phrase "faith alone" (or "faith only" in some translations). It's James 2:24 - and it again raises questions about those who say we aren't Christian for not accepting their doctrine of salvation by "faith alone".

Another inconvenient irony.

J said...

An excellent close reading of the scriptures Jeff!

Keep up the good work!

Yo' Mama said...

Jeff- Thank you so much for your insight. You are truly an instrument in the Lord's hands!

Cindy said...

I'm sorry to hear that there are those who would make a judgment about your position with Christ based on your religion, as it seems as though the definition of Christian is simply as Paul states, those who "believed, and turned unto the Lord". And how can anyone know whether or not another person has done that? It seems as though true Christians, those who believe in Christ and have turned to Him, would all be looking to Him and not judging each other.

Papa D said...

Lance, you link to an explicitly anti-Mormon site run by anti-Mormon evangelicals. Your comment is disingenuous to the extreme. Jeff can delete it if he wants to do so or not, but "lying for the Lord" is an old evangelical trick, and I don't appreciate it at all.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Papa D - thanks for that catch. I deleted Lance M.'s comment since it was clear, based on the link he used, that he wasn't a sincere investigator who just couldn't handle the presence of some noisy kids in the LDS services that he allegedly attended.

Joshua said...

Here's a question for you (if you don't delete it, though you blog is reportedly "not just for Mormons"):

1) Are Christians Mormons?

The answer is, obviously, "no". There's no argument when the question is inversed. And don't forget that Joseph Smith himself said this:

"I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt..." - Joseph Smith, History 1:19 (in the "Pearl of Great Price")

So, it is always curious that Mormons want the label after their founder and succession of presidents made it clear that we Christians were, essentially, fools and didn't know anything.

That is why I strive so hard to preserve that distinction, in print, in person, and in the virtual world.

Interesting side note: None of the "personages" in his reported First Vision ever identified themselves.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

To say that the post-biblical creeds of other religions have departed from true Christianity is not to disavow Christianity, Josh. We have differences with where modern men have taken religion, but the LDS faith is all about Christianity - restoring early Christian doctrine, practices, ordinances and authority--from Jesus Christ.

And yes, the personages obviously identified themselves. The Father told Joseph to hear his Beloved Son. Any doubt who that is? It's Jesus Christ - from day one, from the First Vision on, from the first page of the Book of Mormon, from the first Article of Faith, from the first prayer of every LDS meeting each Sunday, it's all about Jesus Christ. And some have the audacity to say we don't believe in Christ and aren't Christian? Outrageous.

Joshua said...

You wrote:

"To say that the post-biblical creeds of other religions have departed from true Christianity is not to disavow Christianity, Josh."

I think that's a really good point.

Did Joseph Smith do Mormons the courtesy of defining for them which parts of their creeds were not wrong?

(After all, surely Christians from the resurrection and ascension onward held as part of their creeds that Jesus is the Son of God, no?)

The articles of faith that you brought up are interesting. Doesn't the third article say, "all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel"? What are those "laws and ordinances"?

You wrote:

"And yes, the personages obviously identified themselves. The Father told Joseph to hear his Beloved Son. Any doubt who that is?"

Yes, no names were used -- and both the identity and number of the personages depends on which version of the First Vision you're referencing, doesn't it? (You've got 9 to choose from.)

I would never say that all Mormons don't worship Christ. It's just a different Christ.

Some some simple yes / no questions will work to establish this:

1) Is "Christ" the spiritual brother of Lucifer?

2) Did "Christ" appear in the Americas?

And let me ask again for the sake of future readers:

If others of us don't believe that Jesus gave any other / new commandments than what are recorded in the New Testament; if we don't believe that He appeared in the Americas; if we don't believe Joseph Smith's claim to have seen both "the Father and the Son"; if we don't follow the "laws and ordinances" as defined by Mormons, are Christians Mormons? If Christians aren't Mormons, why is it OK for Mormons to want to be called Christians?

Thanks in advance for any reply. That's all!

Papa D said...

"If Christians aren't Mormons, why is it OK for Mormons to want to be called Christians?"

Joshua, let me re-phrase your question in terms of another set and sub-set - one that has direct and obvious historical precedent:

"If If humans aren't African-American, why is it OK for African-Americans to want to be called humans?"

This is a simple question of sets and sub-sets. It's not any more complicated than that. If it's OK for people to disagree about some doctrines (and Protestants of different denominations have disagreed VIOLENTLY over lots of "foundational" doctrines over the centuries) and still be considered Christians - and if the only immutable concept which everyone within Protestantism MUST confess in order to be considered Christian is that Jesus is the Christ and Savior and Redeemer (which, in a nutshell, is the standard for Protestants who disagree vehemently about lots of other things) - and if, in fact, Mormons actually do confess this required concept (which, in fact, they do) - then the only way to exclude them from being Christian is to change the rules explicitly for them - to hold them to a different standard and definition than that to which others are held.

That's hypocrisy, pure and simple - since, just as African-Americans are humans no matter how others might have excluded them in the past from that category, Mormons are Christian no matter how others still exclude them from that category. It's a simple concept made complex by people who simply are unwilling to let go of the incorrect biases and prejudices of the past, just like White Supremists who still won't admit that African-Americans really are fully human.

Joshua said...

Papa,

Thanks for your reply. Please answer my question.

Are Christians Mormons?

No professing Christian begs to be called "Mormon". Why do you think that is? Personally speaking, after investigating the claims of Mormonism, and in particular reading and researching the Pearl of Great Price, let me say in all honesty that I have great difficulty understanding why Mormons are Mormons, too.

You wrote:

"If it's OK for people to disagree about some doctrines...and still be considered Christians..."

Do you consider the true nature of Who Christ is as merely "doctrine"?

Who and what Christ, the Lord Jesus, is an essential element.Does not Mormonism teach that its Christ is the spiritual brother of Lucifer?

You wrote:

"That's hypocrisy, pure and simple - since, just as African-Americans are humans no matter how others might have excluded them in the past from that category..."

I agree with you, Papa, that African-Americans are humans. Why? Correct historical information from the Bible.

Does not your analogy fail because in it later incorrect information pushes out previous correct information?

(If anyone would have read the book of Genesis they would have known that all people - regardless of color - come from the same original human couple, Adam and Eve.)

With the true Gospel of Jesus, the reverse has happened. Correct information about Who He is - the Son of God; the risen Savior of the World; not the brother of Lucifer - came first. Later "revelation" has confused the issue.

You wrote:

"It's a simple concept made complex by people who simply are unwilling to let go of the incorrect biases and prejudices of the past..."

Thank you for being candid. So, let me be candid, too: You brought up the issue of race, not me. However, let me stick to it.

Brigham Young, whom Mormons hold as a prophet, taught that blacks were inferior; that their black skin and flat noses were the "curse of Cain"; that they could never hold the Mormon priesthood.

Was he right or was he wrong?

And should I list the Book of Mormon references that place "dark skinned people" in a bad light? Let me:

1 Nephi 12:23
2 Nephi 5:21
Jacob 3:5
Alma 3:6
Mormon 5:15

Please don't be upset. All these predicaments that Mormons find themselves in - having to answer for the claims of past "prophets"; having a book that places blacks in a negative light; having a leadership that denied the Mormon priesthood to blacks for years; having to follow a Christ who is Lucifer's spiritual brother - they are all unnecessary.

The true High Priest and Apostle has already come. His Name is Jesus. We need no other high priest or apostle. He is the Son of God, the only Mediator between God and humanity.

Papa D said...

Brigham Young was wrong, imo. That was easy.

I answered your questions; you didn't address mine, at least substantively.

Many Protestants vary widely and fundamentally in how they view very basic, core doctrines - even regarding Jesus and how salvation works. Each denomination exists because, at some point, someone believed the other options were wrong in an important, fundamental way - so important and fundamental that it was necessary to break away and form a unique denomination.

I repeat, Mormons believe in and confess Jesus, the Christ. That is the core requirement within most of modern Protestantism to which Protestants are held in order to be called "Christian" by other Protestants. So, by the standard applied to non-Mormon Christians, Mormons also are Christian. It's only by applying a separate, doctrinal litmus test to Mormons that Protestants are able to exclude them from the ranks of "Christians".

There really is no rational debate for that specific point, given the wide diversity of doctrinal beliefs existent within mainstream Protestantism. Both my liberal and conservative theology professors at the Divinity School where I studied agreed with that. Iow, they agreed that *objectively* Mormons are Christian; they admitted openly that the rationale employed to claim Mormons are not Christian is *subjective* and *selective*.

You ask why Mormons want to be called Christian, but I have a hard time believing you don't know the answer to that question. We accept Jesus as the Christ, the son of the Living God, God incarnate, the Redeemer of the world, our Savior, the Creator, the Lamb of God - slain for the sine of the world, the Prince of Peace, the Word, etc. He is the center of our faith, the great Mediator for the Father - and his Atonement (his pre-existent godhood, his divine birth, his sinless and exemplary life, his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, his death at Golgatha, his resurrection and his living and loving interaction for us still) is the greatest work we will ever know. He is our friend and the source of the Holy Ghost, our Comforter.

Why would we NOT want to be called "Christian"?

Papa D said...

Joshua, just to be perfectly clear:

I have no desire to be called Protestant, and I have no desire to be seen as the same as Protestants - except in the fact that we both are Christian. There are MANY differences between your beliefs and mine, and there are more similarities than you probably realize, but, at the most fundamental level, Mormons don't want to be seen as Protestants.

Contrary to what many evangelicals believe, neither "Protestant" nor "evangelical" is synonymous to "Christian" - and that might be the heart of our disagreement.

Joshua said...

Papa D.,

Your sincere and very well written reply is appreciated. I also want to thank you for admitting that Brigham Young was wrong. He's wrong because the Scriptures (the Old and New Testaments) that prove him wrong, regardless of our opinions on the matter.

So can I assume that even though you think he was wrong on the status of blacks and the Adam/God doctrine he taught as doctrine, you would still consider him a "prophet"?

Personally speaking, I don't label myself "Protestant", or "Baptist" or other name. So, you'll get no argument about the terms from me. I think Paul dealt with such silliness in the past and gave us a record of it 1 Corithians 3:3,4:

"You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,' are you not mere men?"

Christendom does suffer from the same divisions that, indeed, are part of Mormonism, too:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sects_in_the_Latter_Day_Saint_movement

The divisions comes just as you said, "at some point, someone believed the other options were wrong in an important, fundamental way - so important and fundamental that it was necessary to break away and form a unique denomination". Is that not what Joseph Smith did? Yet he did more. He added new "scripture" (Which denominations has added additional "scripture"?), new laws, new ordinances, new priesthood, and many other things.

But let's look at it from a different angle:

Matthew 7:21 - "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. 22 Many 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?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"

How is it that they could call Him "Lord" and even do works in His Name, yet He would say that He never knew them?

So, is it not obvious that there is something more to being "Christian" than just saying words?

Teaching correct things about Him is so important. And, traditionally, Christians have taught true things about His life, His death, and His resurrection and more. Genuine apostles never taught that He visited the Americas; that He is the spiritual brother of Lucifer; that His Father was Adam; that the His Father is a glorified man; that He is the product of physical sexual reproduction between [g]od and Mary; that His atonement was accomplished in Gethsemane; that He offers conditional salvation.

To teach such things and teach other people to do so is, frankly, to disgrace His Name by bearing false witness.

And if I may, let me add one more quote, though the bulk of Mormon literature shows that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Mormons down through the years have always tried to distance themselves from Christians. A more recent example would be the very words of Gordon B. Hinckley, as recorded in the LDS Church News 1998/06/20. He said:

"In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints do not believe in the traditional Christ. 'No, I don't. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness [sic] of Times'"

By his definition, he and I don't believe in the same Christ, the risen Lord Jesus. There's a qualitative difference. What is the difference?

Joshua said...

I just wanted to add that evidence of the huge difference between Christians and Mormons is easily seen in the writings of past "apostles". Of course, I would contend that the people called "apostles" by Mormons are really not apostles were it for no other reason than that a true apostle would not say something untrue about God and His Son, Jesus, since part of genuine worship of God, the Father, is "in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). You may label my words "subjective" (that won't bother me), but here are just two of many samples for your consideration:

"Remember that God, our heavenly Father, was perhaps once a child, a mortal like we ourselves, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome, until He has arrived at the point were He is." - Orson Hyde in Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 123

And from president Lorenzo Snow's famous poem Man's Destiny:

"As Abra'm, Isaac, Jacob, too,
First babes, then men—to gods they grew.
As man now is, our God once was;
As now God is, so man may be,—
Which doth unfold man’s destiny."
- Lorenzo Snow, Improvement Era, June 1919, p. 660–61

Was the Mormon [g]od a child?

Did the Mormon [g]od grow into a "god"?

Did the Mormon [g]od sin? (I do, as do we all.)

How can I not conclude that Mormons believe a different [g]od, a different Christ, and a different gospel (reference Article of Faith #3)?

By the grace of God, genuine Christians don't have to deal with justifying such obviously unscriptural proclamations (and I'm sure similarly unscriptural proclamations have been uttered by Gnostics, Catholics, and others). We don't have to continually be lead astray by the most recent ramblings of fallible men. And, by the grace of God, neither do you.

Now, I've said too much. May I ask you some questions about the Mormonism you hold to?

1) What essential teachings and doctrines do Mormons believe are essential to salvation (reference Article of Faith #3)?

2) Where are any of those essential elements in the Book of Mormon? (I asked some Mormons just last night and they couldn't / wouldn't show me any.)

3) Is there anything essential to salvation in the Pearl of Great Price?

4) Why should I take the Book of Mormon, the D&C, and the Pearl of Great Price seriously?

5) Which edition of the Book of Mormon is correct (1830, 1852, 1912, 2009...)? (There are 20,000 major and minor differences between the 1830 edition and the current one. [I have the most recent edition; I've also got the 1830 edition on order.])

Many thanks!

Papa D said...

Joshua, I understand and appreciate everything you just wrote - but it just doesn't address the actual post Jeff wrote OR my own comments.

You say Mormons aren't Christian because they teach things differently than you do. It's that simple, and it's simply wrong.

Jesus gets to set the terms of who is a disciple (and he did so largely by requiring them to PROVE their discipleship by what they DID), and, in the Bible, Jews and Greeks were the ones who labeled his disciples "Christian" - in order to exclude them from the in-group of whom they perceived to be God's chosen people at the time and in order to label them in an identifiable way.

In our day, Christians have done the same thing to us. WE didn't start calling ourselves "Mormons" - other Christians did, for the same reason the Jews tried to exclude the early disciples who considered themselves Jews at the time. If those Jews hadn't denied the early saints the title of Jews (just a specific denomination - say Jesus-ites), the term "Christian" wouldn't even be in usage today - and if modern Christians hadn't denied the early LDS saints the title of Christians, the term "Mormon" wouldn't even be in usage today.

Surely, you understand the irony of that, don't you?

Again, I return to the double standard. Excluding Mormons from the full set of Christians is hypocritical. As Jeff said in another post recently, where's the line between when a saved Christian loses his salvation by joining the LDS Church? If he's accepted and confessed Christ, and if that's all he has to do to be saved, does joining the LDS Church invalidate that salvation - and HOW can it invalidate something that is not dependent on any kind of "works", based solely on one particular "work"?

Catholics, by the way, are as Christian as you and I are - but they also are excluded by many Protestants from that classification. Motes and beams and all that jazz.

Oh, and if all you're going to do is cloud the central issue by listing a bunch of problems you have with Momron doctrine, this conversation will stop. I've already said there are many differences, but that's not what this post and discussion are about. The issue is NOT if there are differences - or even how many differences there are; it's about whether or not differences mean anything if the ONE similarity that is required of everyone else is there.

Joshua said...

Papa D.,

Please, share with us what you see to be the Mormon definition of a "Christian".

I apologize if you feel offended and sorry that I got a little off topic (I was in a rush when I wrote it). However, I thought that if Mormon "prophets" taught a [g]od who is not God and a Christ who is not the Christ, then it was very relevant to the conversation. (Stressing source and substance is something which is very important to me because I live in a mostly Buddhist society in which people don't care to distinguish things too much.)

Joshua said...

Papa D.,

I sincerely appreciate your time and interaction. Because of that, I went back and re-read Jeff's post entirely.

Jeff brought up Acts 11:26, which is good:

"And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."

Notice the next to last sentence:

"And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people."

What were they teaching? Were they teaching anything from the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, or the D & C? If so, which part?

Now, we wouldn't disagree that the term "Christian" existed when Joseph Smith founded Mormonism in 1830. And you rightly pointed out the origin of the word and its use.

So, why would Christians of Joseph Smith's time want, as you have rightly pointed out, to use the word "Mormon" instead of "Christian"? Why would they want to make the distinction? Did any Mormon leaders complain about it? (Even modern dictionaries make the distiction.)

And I went to the countryside today and thought about your responses. Then the perfect analogy to express my viewpoint came to mind. (Now, I'm not trying to offend you or anyone else. Most parts of Mormon teaching and texts greatly offend me, too.) I think I've established that throughout the years Mormon leaders have made it very clear that the "Christ" and "God" that they teach is not the same as those detailed in the Scriptures. (You'll likely disagree, but the implication is obvious and overt to anyone reading quotes above.)

So, the differences between Mormonism and Christianity can be compared to a song and its parody (Jeff and I are both Weird Al fans). From the outside, they sound nearly the same; similar melody, same tempo and beat, similar instrumentation and production. Yet they are vastly different. How?

Content and source. One originated before the other. One is the genuine product of the original composer. One is created for different purposes.

What do you think of that comparison? Is it fair? Why or why not?

(I personally think this comparison is more appropriate than your African-American one because, simply put, nobody chooses to be black, yet people choose to be Mormons.)

Now, we have not even touched on salvation yet. Would you like to?

I think we would see very, very major differences there, too. In fact, notice how Jeff even ended his article:

"Of course, there are some very cool things we'd like you to consider adding to your faith to strengthen your covenant relationship with the Lord and your understanding of the majesty of His Atonement, but we can talk about that later."

I don't want to speak for Jeff, but I think he would say that the bulk of those "very cool things" would be not optional; they would likely be essential to enable a Mormon to live with [g]od.

(Take your time to answer, please. I'm taking the family to the circus and I've got a lot of reading to do. I'll try to get back on here on Thursday. Stay well!)

Papa D said...

I just typed a lengthy response and lost it when I tried to publish it. A summary version is:

The early Christian saints didn't teach from the New Testament, either (not even the Gospels), so your first question is irrelevant. Seriously and completely irrelevant.

I already answered the next set of questions - and early Mormon leaders DID complain about not being accepted as Christians. However, IF "Christian" was being defined to mean "exactly like Protestants" they agreed that they weren't "Christian" by that definition. (Every quote you can find makes that point perfectly clear, when read in its entirety and not quoted out of context.)

Your analogy is false for the EXACT same reason I've been saying over and over again that your definition of Christian isn't legitimate. "Christianity vs. Mormonism" is not an accurate construct, since there is NO monolithic organization called "Christianity" in which all the various "Christians" collectively agree on all core doctrines - even something as central as how someone is saved. Seriously, Joshua, different Protestant ministers argue vehemently with each other about even that doctrine. There simply is no unified "Christianity" against which Mormonism can be juxtaposed.

How about we agree to the following:

Mormons are Christian according to the definition employed by many Christians among themselves - and even according to the definition many Christians employ toward Mormons, whom they accept as Christian. However, Mormons are not Christian by your definition - the definition employed by many evangelicals, especially.

I can accept that without hesitation. I consider myself to be Christian, but I do not consider myself to be Christian as you define it.

Are you OK with that?

Joshua said...

Papa D.,

I can see the extent of your adherence to Mormonism and that your post takes on the voice of a teacher. That's fine. I'm just not willing to be your pupil.

You continue to maintain that Mormons are Christians, whatever the word means to you. That's fine.

You continue to insist that my definition isn't "legitimate". To claim that it isn't legitimate would imply that you have some predetermined standard and authority by which you judge things as legitimate. So, please, share with us your definition of a Christian in clear, concise English. Then tell us by what authority you have to define it and the source of that definition.

Resist the tendency to say, "accept Jesus" equals "Christian". The phrase isn't in the New Testament. (And, furthermore, as I mentioned before, we have not even touched on salvation, because, rest assured, it would mean something completely different to you and I.)

Now, if we say that someone "accepts Christ" is all, then we ignore everything related to that (the source and accuracy of the information about who He is; what He has done; what He will do; where He came from, etc.), then it makes the entire discussion useless. Such a definition would mean Gnostics are Christians; Yi-Kuan Tao adherents are Christians; even sects of Buddhism can be considered Christian! After all, each "accepts Jesus", using their own terms and conditions.

You missed the point of me asking you what the early Christians were teaching. Of course they didn't have the completed New Testament! No one was implying that. What was the content of their message?

Do you think that they taught that Jesus was the brother of Lucifer? Or the need for polygamy to live with [g]od? Or get married in a temple? Or tithing? Or going on a mission for 2 years chosen by a computer system? Or to get temple recommends?

A quote out of context?! Papa D., what is a quote if it's not a sentence taken out of its context? (There's a limit to the text that can be posted in a message.) Readers: You can double-check any of the quotes and see if I used them to paint any picture other than the obvious one. Papa D., you can do it, too. That's why I left the references! You're an intelligent person, but that is a weak argument. Don't just accuse me, show me.

If you can't admit that the quotations I used regarding the Mormon teaching that [g]od was once a man who obtained "godhood" (I saw a Mormon bishop [I think] outside of general conference stuttering when asked if [g]od had ever sinned); that its "Christ" is not the traditional Christ of the New Testament don't mean something else in context, then all I can do it pray for you. (That is why I do not consider you my brother or that the Christ that you and I believe in is the same Christ.)

You also ignored the last part of my previous post. That is the core of Mormonism and why it differs so much from the teachings of Jesus and His disciples.

Let's end the conversation here on this note because nothing I can say is going to convince you that I'm seriously concerned about a group of people claiming to be Christian, yet teach things contrary to Old and New Testament revelation:

When the glorified Jesus Christ appears, you stand before Him and say that you believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet and told you true things about Jesus' God and Father and that you're a Christian. I'll stand before Him and say that I believed none of Joseph Smith's claims because I found both him and his sources unreliable and fraudulent, and that I'm a Christian.

Then we will see His response, OK?

Joshua said...

I'll add this, my final note on this thread:

Mormon leaders throughout the years have always made a distinction between Mormons and "Christians". (And I'll add the references so that if anyone accuses me of taking quotes out of context, they can look for themselves.)

1 Nephi 14:10 - "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."

NOTE: Mormonism claims to be the only true church. What does that make everyone else? Why would the only true church want to be called by the name of the church of the devil?

George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, p.324 - "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."

John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225 - "And Christianity, at the present time, is no more enlightened than other systems have been. What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing; yet these very men assume the right and power to tell others what they shall and what they shall not believe in. Why, so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God."

(The quotes are relevant because they deal with how Mormons and even the Book of Mormon define who is the church and, consequentially, who is truly following Jesus.)

I must admit that I take offence when others like myself who are not "Latter-day Saints" (nor will ever be) are called not just a fools, but "the veriest fools"; told that we know "nothing" of the things of God.

Personally speaking, I am not smart and I don't know very much. However, what I do know about God comes through His inspired Word (Old and New Testaments), His creation, and, most intimately, the teachings of Jesus, as contained in the New Testament, the content of which formed what the true apostles taught.

Mormons, such as Papa D., like to concentrate on the matters that separate denominations, though Mormonism itself suffers from the same problem. There are, however, several points on which Christians agree.

Joshua's dictionary:

Christian - someone who follows the teachings of Jesus.

No Christian would ever teach untrue things about their Master, Teacher, and Lord -- Jesus. If He didn't appear to the Nephites or to Joseph Smith, yet someone teaches that He did, then it is a lie and that person is not a Christian. (I choose substance over form and political correctness.)

And I'll repost this, too:

Let's end the conversation here on this note because nothing I can say is going to convince you that I'm seriously concerned about a group of people claiming to be Christian, yet teach things contrary to Old and New Testament revelation:

When the glorified Jesus Christ appears, you stand before Him and say that you believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet and told you true things about Jesus' God and Father and that you're a Christian. I'll stand before Him and say that I believed none of Joseph Smith's claims because I found both him and his sources unreliable and fraudulent, and that I'm a Christian.

Then we will see His response, OK?

Papa D said...

"I can see the extent of your adherence to Mormonism"

as can I to yours to something else

"I'm just not willing to be your pupil."

*Sigh*

Joshua, I never asked you to be my pupil. I have said multiple times I'm fine with you believing what you believe and I believing something different. I'm trying to convert you to Mormonism in this conversation. Seriously, I meant it when I said I have no illusion about changing your mind. I just think denying Mormons are Christian because of doctrinal diffrences while allowing that members of other denominations who disagree about even core doctrines ARE Christian despite those fundemantal differences is hypocritial - and seeming to beleive that their is a united consensus on these topics within "Christianity" sans Mormonism is . . . naive.

If I have any questions left, the core one is quite simple:

"In your mind, are Catholics Christian?"

I really don't want a long, detailed explanation. A simple "yes" or "no" will suffice. If you don't want to answer that way, please don't bother answering. I don't want to read a treatise on "why" they are or aren't; I'm just curious about the final answer you would give.

"Then we will see His response, OK?"

OK. I have no problem with that - none at all. I think he will say you and I both are Christians who did our absolute best to follow him according to our best understanding and by following our own consciences, and I will embrace you as a fellow Christian. If I'm wrong, you can mock me as I burn in Hell and thank God you aren't like the Mormon sinner. I'm fine with that.

Papa D said...

Meant to say I'm NOT trying to convert you.

Makes a pretty big difference. LOL