Some Thoughts on Mormonism and Politics

I grew up in the United Methodist Church… and one thing I’ve learned about my denomination over the last 45 years is that, Lord knows, we never want to offend anyone at any time. Yet, even within that environment, I still grew up being taught that Mormonism was a cult. I don’t think I ever learned what was meant by the word cult. I just always assumed it meant something along the lines of “not Christian,” and yet not quite a world religion. Instead, it was a “sub-something” at best or something to be feared at worst. Those aren’t very flattering descriptions. Thus, I can see why folks would not welcome being considered members of a cult.

Over the last week a great deal of controversy has come from the pastor (apparently connected with Governor Rick Perry) who dared to call Mormonism a cult… in public. The press has made much of this, as though this was a novel idea. Again, I can see why the word “cult” would be offensive. And yet, on my bookshelves I have several books that address the subjects of world religions and cults. In every single one of them Mormonism is listed in the cults section of the book. All of these books were written before this election cycle.

I understand why an organization or institution would not want to be called a cult. I’m fine with that. I have no problem not calling Mormonism a cult. However, I don’t think they would be any more happy being called a “non-Christian religion,” which is what I think we have to say they are (especially if any of those books on my bookshelves are even close to being accurate). It’s my understanding that even the left-leaning World Council of Churches, at one time, would not permit Mormons to become members because they were not trinitarian. I don’t know if that is still the case.

At any rate, I thought it would be helpful to share four articles that I’ve read in the last couple of days that address the issue of how Christians ought to think of Mormonism… not Mormons. These writers also address the relationship between religion and politics and address the question of whether or not the two should ever meet in voting for a candidate. These four authors are all evangelicals, (though of different traditions), but they do not all agree on how to understand these issues. Certainly worth reading and thinking about.


Mormonism, Democracy, and the Urgent Need for Evangelical Thinking by Al Mohler

There are numerous ways to frame these questions wrongly. Our responsibility as evangelical Christians is to think seriously and biblically about these issues. The first temptation is to reduce all of these issues to one question. We must address the question of Mormonism as a worldview and judge it by the Bible and historic Christian doctrine. But this does not automatically determine the second question — asking how Mormon identity should inform our political decisions. Nevertheless, for evangelical Christians, our concern must start with theology. Is Mormonism just a distinctive denomination of Christianity?

Click here to read the whole article.

My Take: This Evangelical Says Mormonism Isn’t A Cult by Richard Mouw

We evangelicals and our Mormon counterparts disagree about some important theological questions. But we have also found that on some matters we are not as far apart as we thought we were.

I know cults. I have studied them and taught about them for a long time. It’s worth noting that people have wondered whether I belong to a cult, with a reporter once asking me: “Evangelicalism, is that like Scientology and Hare Krishna?”

Click here to read the whole article.

Is Mormonism a Cult or a Christian Denomination? by Timothy Tennent

My own view is that whether a candidate is a Christian or not is only one of a myriad of considerations which one must weigh in an overall decision to vote for or against a candidate.  I would never say that someone being a Christian carries no political weight for me at all. However, I would also not say that someone being a Christian or not carries the entire weight in my decision.

Click here to read the whole article.

The Mormon Factor: Why Mitt Romney Makes Some Nervous by Stan Guthrie

Of course, Martin Luther, the great German Protestant Reformer, is believed to have said, “I would rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian.” In other words, Luther (assuming he really did say it) would have preferred an intelligent Muslim in charge of the government over an incompetent Christian. This principle speaks to the fact that the government is not the same as the church, and that, at least in some cases, competence trumps ideology.

This reminds me of something Christian author and radio host Hugh Hewitt told me the first time Romney ran. “I’m not looking for a pastor,” Hewitt said. “I’m looking for a president.”

Click here to read the whole article.


One thought on “Some Thoughts on Mormonism and Politics

  1. I dont see any articles or references from the Mormon church. You quotes others but fail to give a balanced approach in allowing the church to make note of what they believe. Pretty disheartning considering it’s 2011 and we should be past all this religious hatred.

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