Are Mormons Christians? During this campaigning for the Republican nomination for president, Mitt Romney's candidacy brings this question into the public arena. It is likely that if you have a Mormon neighbor, friend or co-worker, this question has arisen (or now may soon arise). Many Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints) will say something like this: "We believe in Christ the same as you do."
They seem so clean cut and morally upstanding. Their "Joe college" boys who ride their bicycles with white shirt and tie, including the neat, crew cut hair, look like the decent kind of boy every parent would like to introduce to his/her daughter. How can a church that represents itself with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir be anything but wholesome, heartland American? How dare you call them a cult! That is a vicious, judgmental accusation. Isn't it arrogant to say you are Christian and they are not?
You need to know that the name calling began with Joseph Smith. Mormons and members of any historic Christian denomination cannot both be Christians, and Joseph Smith himself demanded that we see it that way. In the publication "Joseph Smith Tells His Own Story", he claims to have met God in the year 1820. He said that God told him not to join any of the existing denominations, and that "all their creeds were an abomination in His sight." This, of course, includes my creed, the Westminster Confession of Faith (1648).
If what I believe is an abomination in the sight of God, then there is no way we are both Christian. Logically it is possible that all Christians up until 1820 were deceived and only Mormons are true Christians. Or it is possible that Mormons are following a cleverly devised cult, and historic Christianity is indeed the Christian faith. The one proposition that cannot be true is that "We believe in Christ the same as you."
The ambition of a good Mormon is to be god. Shockingly identical with the luring words of Satan when he spoke to Eve in the garden. "What we are now, God once was, and what God is now, we may become." That is a mantra for striving Mormons.
For historic Christianity, Christ bore our sins in his own body on the cross, and He merited the righteousness that justifies us before God, and we receive that righteousness by faith, not by works.
For the Mormon, though it is said that Christ died for our sins, what they mean is that Christ undid the plight of original sin and set us on the path of earning our place in the highest heaven we can attain by our works. How far you get is totally up to you, and based on just how good you can be.
That Christ died for our original sin in Adam is of little comparative value. This is true because the sin of Adam was a "good" sin. Mormon doctrine teaches that God allowed Adam to be put in a position that he had to choose to sin. The first commandment God gave Adam was to multiply and replenish the earth. The second command was not to eat of the forbidden fruit. Since Eve had been tricked into eating the fruit, Adam had to choose between joining Eve so they could multiply, or refrain from eating the fruit and letting the world go on without increasing the population. Mormons call Adam a good prophet because he made the right choice. And the guilt incurred by that good choice is the only thing Christ removed by his suffering and death on the cross. (A Study of the Articles of Faith" by James E. Talmage, p. 65).
My point is simply this: the way of salvation is 180 degrees different between Mormonism and Christianity.
Now when it comes to politics, it may be true that in our pagan culture (of course our nation was never truly a Christian country) Christians may find a number of moral points of agreement with Romney. It is conceivable that you will say this unbeliever (certainly that is what a cultist actually is) is preferable to other unbelievers who are candidates.
It is not my desire to address that subject in this brief post. Just don't be hoodwinked by the old hack that Mormons believe in Christ the same as other Christians. Whatever else you want to believe, that cannot be so.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Cupid, whose name means "desire", appears on this day, doing his mysterious thing. He is the god of lust, and when he hits you with his arrow--wow, the magic happens. Eros is a legitimate part of love, and more often than not, it is where a loving relationship begins.
I vividly remember the moonlight hike at family camp when I first held hands with my sweetheart. At the risk of evoking scornful laughter, I confess to you that this was a very erotic moment in our relationship. It was exciting and it was effective interpersonal communication.
I think love is grand, and I enjoy seeing it bud and blossom in sweet young people all around me. But there is a tragedy in our culture. So many of our young people stall out at the erotic level of a relationship. The American milieu has it's throttle stuck on sex, and not many know how to love because of this.
The excitement of a marriage of eros only, cannot last long. This is true simply because emotion is like that. The thrill of a roller coaster is momentary. The excitement of a touchdown is fleeting. Those who are addicted to adrenalin must necessarily seek a new and higher thrill.
Love, on the other hand, vividly remembers all those thrilling moments of eros (and plans to create more of them), but as it matures, it seeks the comfort and pleasure of the beloved. "It's not about me." When young lovers give of themselves for the good of the one loved, this creates a happy and thriving love. All you ever wanted from a spouse comes to pass as the natural flow of this kind of giving love develops a relationship. When I love her the way I should, she increases her caring and catering to me.
I am called to love her as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for her. She is to submit herself to me as the church does to Christ in all things. This doesn't just happen. It develops. And it all begins when you begin to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge. Herein is love: not that we loved God, but that he has loved us, and given us his Son as the propitiation of our sins. Not enough people understand that so go back and read the epistle of First John in the Bible.
I say Hooray for Valentine's Day! Hooray for eros! But especially hooray for the real and lasting love that comes after that!
Friday, February 10, 2012
Looking out over the hazy horizon, I saw the broad view of my home "town", Los Angeles. It's a city with which it is easy to hold a relationship of love/hate. Out there in the middle of those tall buildings there used to be a hospital named, "The Angeles Hospital." My mother gave me birth there in 1934, only those tall buildings were not there at that time. No building was allowed to be taller than the 454 feet of city hall until the 1950s.
We were standing on one of the terraces of the Griffith Observatory yesterday. It was our personal field trip of the day, and we discovered all over again, the wonder of our solar system. Dwarfed by the monster Jupiter, our little blue marble seems relatively insignificant, floating in the vast hollow of space. Then there is tiny Pluto (recently demoted from planet status) that looks like a pea at unimaginable distance. I suppose all this reaffirms the dogma of the atheist, but for me the awe of God's immensity is what impressed me. Once again I was thinking with David, "What is man that thou art mindful of him?"
The incredibly young and energetic take the dirt hiking path up to the entrance. We, on the other hand, found a space to park in the handicap lot. More power to the hikers! I can remember young and energetic years, but I have to reach way back. Oh, yeah, it was on one of those trails in Griffith Park where a human head and the severed hands were found by a hiker's dog just a few weeks ago. Another argument against trail hiking, as if I needed one.
When low blood sugar set in, we ate an energy bar and headed for a restaurant. Just down the hill from the observatory we found Louis' place. In ancient times this was the famous "Brown Derby" restaurant where Hollywood stars would hob nob. Rush hour traffic along Los Feliz Blvd. made it seem that you can't get there from here. But we finally did.
We had eaten here before, but not for some time. It was wonderful food and great service. And the price was so reasonable for all this. I ordered "Chicken Balsamica" from the engaging menu. My plate included braised spinach and roasted vegetables. I had found that wonderful combination of delicious food that was also good for me. Close enough to heaven for now.