Below, as promised, is the response from an old high school friend on the topic of Mormonism. I think you will find it both informative and very gracious. I’m grateful that Blair accepted my offer to share his beliefs via my blog. (If you’re late to this discussion, the first two posts that brought us to this point are here and here.)
I need to confess at the outset that I’m a bit conflicted. As a Christian and a pastor, part of my calling by God is to guard and teach the truth, shepherd those God has entrusted to my care, etc. I take that calling very, very seriously. Thus, I have been torn as to whether or not to post the following response.
So, if you will permit me to briefly share some preliminary remarks, I would be grateful. I’m doing this on the front end because I have no intention to follow up with 100 posts dissecting anything Blair says.
I guess I have come down on the side of sharing the following piece because, as Blair mentions in his article, nothing helpful can come from incorrect and unfair stereotypes of another person’s worldview. I have read Blair’s article and found it very informative. I agree too with what he said about people who hold similar values joining together in the culture war against evil and wickedness.
As I said, I have no intention of writing a “hit piece” after posting this response by Blair. Therefore, I’ll say here and now, as Blair points out (as well as Richard Mouw in his article), that there are significant differences that should not be glossed over, even though we do share some of the same vocabulary. It has been said that the devil is in the details. I would contend that God is in the details and that it would take more time than I want to devote to this topic and a fine-toothed theological comb to go line by line and show all the differences and why they matter.
I don’t believe Blair and I want to enter into a twelve-year dialogue, as Richard Mouw says he’s been a part of with various evangelicals and Mormon representatives. However, based on Blair’s very helpful response, I would agree with Mouw’s following thoughts on this subject…
So are Mormons Christians? For me, that’s a complicated question.
My Mormon friends and I disagree on enough subjects that I am not prepared to say that their theology falls within the scope of historic Christian teaching. But the important thing is that we continue to talk about these things, and with increasing candor and mutual openness to correction.
…Those of us who have made the effort to engage Mormons in friendly and sustained give-and-take conversations have come to see them as good citizens whose life of faith often exhibits qualities that are worthy of the Christian label, even as we continue to engage in friendly arguments with them about crucial theological issues.
Blair has provided this link as further clarification of Mormon doctrine. In addition to the links I’ve already shared in the first post, I would also encourage you to read this article and this article, which I believe are fair and gracious appraisals of Mormonism. I’m not going to recommend any “Cult Watchdog Websites” because I don’t think they will add to the discussion.
So, without any further qualifications and caveats, I encourage you to read the following and see what you think. Thanks again Blair for taking the time and effort to write this.
Grace and Truth,
Thanks for your post, blog and your thoughts. I appreciate your thoughtful consideration of doctrine without being mean-spirited. The articles you cited as well seem to be honest, well-reasoned perspectives on the question, also thankfully without being incendiary. There were some mistakes as to our doctrine. (i.e. we do believe Jesus is part of the Trinity) both large and small. Overall the doctrine cited is much more informed than past attempts I have read. It seems the information age has helped, since anyone can go right to the source at Mormon.org and not have to rely on the generations of rehashed errors about our doctrine. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I am grateful for the dialog.
As a Priesthood holder, former missionary and Gospel Doctrine teacher who teaches the Gospel weekly, I do take exception that I do not worship and serve Our Savior Jesus Christ. I accept him as my Savior and rely on him for remission of my sins. He is the only begotten Son sent to earth to atone for us. He died, was buried and was resurrected. He ascended into Heaven where and stands on the right hand of God. I profess and rely on that testimony daily. Having said that, I fully admit that our doctrine is not, as the articles say, “Orthodox” from the perspective of most Christian churches.
We do not:
1. Ascribe to the Nicene Creed or any other creed since we don’t consider them scriptural.
2. We are not Trinitarian as the article notes. We believe the Godhead is made up of three “distinct” personages, God the Father, Jesus Christ (the only begotten son) and the Holy Ghost.
3. Ascribe to being either Catholic or Protestant.
We do believe in:
1. Continuing revelation which I believe is the basis for most doctrinal differences. We believe this continuing revelation not only provides “further clarification” of some fuzzy areas but also guidance both personally and for leaders of the church. I have been a personal recipient to this and have helped others receive and recognize revelation. It is a miraculous and undeniable thing.
2. A restored Priesthood that traces its lineage ultimately to Jesus Christ himself.
Getting back to the Topic
So what do you call Latter day Saints? I think 1. Non-orthodox,2. Non-Trinitarian 3. Non-historical even 4.Fringe are all descriptions we can live with but to be called non-Christians are fighting words. If we are labeled non-Christians but teach Christian values, follow the Bible (albeit in conjunction with the Book of Mormon etc),Are baptized symbolizing our acceptance of him as our Savior, and partake of the Sacrament each Sunday in remembrance of his Atoning Sacrifice, then what are we?
In the end we need to be in the same camp. We have more similarities than differences. And to be honest, the doctrinal differences are not understood by those not in the ministry or students of theology. Shoot, there is not unity of doctrine among the “orthodox” churches, let alone us. In the grand scheme of things we fight the same atheistic, secular humanistic morality creep in our culture and try in our own ways to bring men closer to God and abhor sin. We should be united not divided.
Thanks again for your all you do. I know your heart is honest and your motives pure.