Episode 162: Chuck Borough the Atheist, Agnostic, Believer

230 comments on “Episode 162: Chuck Borough the Atheist, Agnostic, Believer”

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      Just finished listening. I like Chuck a lot. I bet he is helping a lot of people by his attitude and candidness about the church. I wish there were more like him. It would be nice to look back on your life in later years and be able to say you have made a difference in some people’s lives. That’s possibly the one thing I wish I could be better at: making a positive difference. I think John and Zilpha are good at it. Hopefully I can do the same, and get better and better at it.

      One thing I am pretty certain is that I will not be advising people to remain active in the church if they do not believe. I think that is terrible advice to most people, but I guess it could be good for some, though I admit I can’t imagine who that might be right now. Chuck said he gave that advise to a couple who had family ties in the church and children who might benefit from the church’s programs. That may be true, though personally I think stirring up a¬†little¬†family¬†controversy¬†might be a good thing. Taking people out of their comfort-zones might be a good thing. If a very believing Mormon family discovers one of their close relatives (whom they know well and respect) leaves the church that might have a positive affect on the believer. It might make him/her begin to question how they look at the outside world. Maybe non-believers aren’t as evil as the church tries to make us think.

      I dunno, I guess I’m saying that a little adversity might do some people some good.

  1. Megan Reply

    This was a fascinating talk, but I’m baffled by Mr Borough’s continuing belief that ONLY the Mormon church can provide a healthy environment to raise children. Perhaps I was hearing this as a more strong and stringent statement than it really was? It seemed very out of character given the rest of the interview which seemed to embrace an egalitarian world view that saw good in many, many places (including in Brigham Young which was interesting).

    I was raised by loving, intelligent parents who certainly did everything they could to inoculate me against some of the more damaging beliefs – such as racism, sexual shame, misogyny etc – and yet I was still damaged because they could not know everything that I was hearing and absorbing AND they couldn’t understand how those things would effect me personally. My mum still doesn’t understand simply because she is a different person and her experience with these doctrines and teachings is therefore different.¬†

    In contrast, I raised my own three children outside of the church Рoutside of any church. My oldest was 7 when we left and is the only one with even vague memories of attending. All three kids are successful, yes Рgood grades, good jobs Рbut much more importantly they are passionate, intelligent, engaged people, interested in their community and their world, committed to living good lives and supporting others in the same goals. 

    From what he said I think that Mr Borough would agree that there are a large number of ways to successfully and lovingly raise children, and that while the Mormon church can work beautifully for some, it is by no means a guarantor of success for many others and can, in some cases, cause a great deal of unintended harm.

    • Matthew Crowley Reply

      Megan I hear that a lot too.  The church is the only way to raise children.  What people are saying there, really, is that it is a good way and the way they have chosen.  But I can checkmate that statement in 3 questions or less about the non-members they know.  MOST people successfully raise good, moral, happy children outside of Mormonism.  More than 99%. 

    • Scott Reply

      I generally agree with Megan. I suppose Chuck was thinking more about the good things that come with being a part of a supportive community (which many religions provide). But there is a lot of nonsense that comes along with it. It is not only possible but far preferable to raise children outside the church and find other ways to provide the social environment (free of BS) that kids need.

  2. Megan Reply

    One more thing – the claim that Young didn’t… what was the phrase… ‘hate’ black people is a little difficult to reconcile with his own words:

    “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind….Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin.”and”Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.”I mean, that’s pretty hateful language right there, isn’t it?¬†

    • Zilpha Reply

      I agree with you Megan. I don’t think B.Y. was a very tolerant or understanding kind of guy. I think he was conceded and felt he was deserving of things others weren’t. He didn’t care for women much. He frequently said discriminatory remarks about Chinese people and blacks. But I think what Chuck means is that B.Y. really thought he was a good guy and was acting as he thought God wanted him to based on his ignorance and prejudice (but of course, he would not have seen himself as ignorant or prejudiced, but rather a blunt speaker of truth). Does thinking you’re doing good count for doing good?

      • Chuck Borough Reply

        Interesting question – Did God (or do we) see Saul as good because he was doing as he believed was good? He was made an apostle awfully soon after he was helping with the killing of Christians. I think believing folks would have to see this as God seeing a good man that only needed conversion, so his direction for the good would be changed. I really have seen “bad” men changed into “good” ones primarily because that’s what they wanted to be all along, but didn’t know how. I’m mixed on Brigham and do believe he brought some very bad doctrine into the Church. WIthout Brigham, what would the Church be today? Can some of it be fixed? (Well yes – that stupid doctrine is gone (essentially.))

        • Megan Reply

          Again, I like that you take such a loving view of humanity, but I don’t think the Saul/BY comparison works. Saul – whom (let’s be honest) is only known to us through a series of ancient texts that have been filtered to produce not only an acceptable ‘Saul/Paul’ but acceptable philosophy – killed Christians, had a conversion, and ceased persecuting Christians [whether he continued to persecute others who were now counter to his belief system is unclear]. Young campaigned for the position of prophet, was recognized as such (by a large portion of LDS at the time) and then in his role as prophet – post appointment went on to act and speak in ways that caused a great deal of harm and suffering – arguably even death.

          BY’s conversion came well before his influential works. I admit I have a jaundiced view of the man, so I would really love to know if you have something I can read about how a change came over him that separates the racist, misogynist, greedy person from a loving, egalitarian man who seems to speak for God. I will totally admit that my knowledge of BY’s life and teachings is not extensive so if I’m doing him a disservice I would honestly like to be corrected. From what I do know (with superficial reading and understanding), his damaging beliefs, teachings and practices are consistent throughout his life.

    • Anonymous Reply

      You mispelled mispelled (unless you are English, of course, and the way you spelled it is the correct way in Great Britain).:-)

      • Chuck Borough Reply

        Ha – my guess is you looked it up to confirm that it had the two l’s. (smile)

        • Anonymous Reply

          Actually, no.¬† I already knew “mispelled” had two l’s (not that I am always a perfect speller, mind you, but that word is just not one of the words that I have trouble remembering how to spell).¬† Since writing that post, however, I did a little searching and found that “mispelt” is indeed a variant past tense form of the verb “mispell” commonly used in Great Britain.¬† So, if poopants is British, I owe him (or her) an apology for suggesting that he/she doesn’t know how to spell or conjugate verbs properly. ūüôā

  3. brandt Reply

    Hate to be “that guy,” but just a clarification on receiving the priesthood after baptism.

    Most wards and branches will confirm someone to the Aaronic Priesthood pretty soon after baptism.¬† However, Melchizedek Priesthood usually has a waiting period – I would like to say it’s usually about a year, however, it all depends on the bishop/branch president.¬†

    Temples are always a 1-year period.

  4. DefyGravity Reply

    I’m not sure I can get behind his definition of truth. I agree that many religions are not about truth, but I don’t think truth can only be something you can prove scientifically. That’s assuming science doesn’t change, that it can’t be proved wrong, which doesn’t hold up historically. I think truth can exist outside a scientific context, and can exist in a religious and spiritual context. His definition sounds more like “fact” to me. But that’s coming from an artist not a scientist.

    • Matthew Crowley Reply

      What you are saying is that truth can exist without any evidence that it is truth. ¬†Because science is just a method whereby you test the evidence for a proposition. ¬†So can agree with you, there may be things that are true for which there is currently little or no evidence. ¬†The problem is, you can’t ever know that those things are true until the evidence appears.¬†

      • Chuck Borough Reply

        It’s not that religion doesn’t have lots of truth in it; it does. It also has lots of false. But it’s not “about” these things. It doesn’t try much to correct the false things. Science also has lots of false, but it’s “about” the search for truth, so it fights inside itself and corrects as much as it can when things are false. Scientists love to prove one another wrong. We love what Einstein did to all the laws of Sir Isaac Newton. Nobody had more respect for Newton than Einstein did, yet Einstein proved Newton’s work inaccurate. If Newton had been alive to see it, he would have been full of wonder. I like to say that science knows how to repent and loves to do it, while religion hates to repent and wants to keep everything the same forever. That “conservative” nature in religion also has value, like the value of traditions, etc. I think of religion as trying to conserve what has been found to be good, while science is trying to find something new all the time. Science knows it will be wrong about many things, while sometimes religion thinks it’s¬†right no matter how much data to the contrary.

        • DefyGravity Reply

          I agree with you about religion, just not how you seemed to define truth. Both science and religion can be wrong, so I don’t see that either can be said to be the only place of truth. Both have the same problem with truth, one is just more aware of it then the other.
           

          • Chuck Borough

            Science and Religion both have hypotheses – ideas they think may be true..

            Religions say that a living being put the universe together.

            Science said that the Sun rotated around the Earth.

            Now evidence come in: The evidence indicates the Earth goes around the Sun instead of the other way around.

            So – science throws out that old hypothesis about the Sun going around the Earth..

            New evidence comes in from millions of dedicated scientists in billions of hours of tedious research – indicating that the universe had to be here in order for evolution process to have its time and for life forms to develop.

            So does Religion throw out the hypothesis? No. It throws out the data and keeps the hypothesis.

            That’s the salient difference.

          • Chuck Borough

            Yes – science is certainly not the only place of truth. Science is not a place at all. The methodology is “about” finding truth, but truths exist all around us without any scientific method at all. I like science because it is so willing to find its own faults and continually improve itself. Religion can improve too, but usually very slowly and with much resistance.

      • DefyGravity Reply

        There is, in fact, no way to “prove” anything if you’re waiting for scientific evidence. It’s hard to move forward if you’re hanging out waiting for something to be proven true that may never be. Then you move forward with something proved true, then 2 years later it’s disproved. You can never prove anything.permanently, so I don’t see that using that definition of truth doesn’t hold up. So how can science be any truer then any other way of finding truth?

        • Matthew Crowley Reply

          I’m not sure we are talking about the same thing. ¬†What is “scientific evidence” for example? ¬†I’m just talking about any evidence of whatever description. ¬†If you believe something is true it is because you think there is evidence for that proposition. ¬†Right? ¬†My point is that either there is some evidence of some kind for something or there is not. ¬†It is possible that there are things that are true for which there is no evidence, but how would you ever know? ¬†

          Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “prove.” ¬†You can go down a very deep hole arguing that nothing is ever knowable, but that is useless. ¬†All of us as a practical matter weigh evidence every day and when we feel we have enough of it we act on it. ¬†Sometimes we act on very little evidence because it is all we have to go on. ¬†But no one is saying “wait until you are certain there is no counter evidence” because that is impossible. ¬†

          Scientific method is the best way to find truth, to answer your question, because it weighs evidence.  It is a tool for helping you decide what is reality and what is not.  Of course, a person can decide to believe something in the absence of evidence or on scant evidence.  All scientific method would have to say about that is that when the evidence is scant or non-existent that you should not repose a high degree of confidence in what conclusions you would draw from it.  But it could never rule out that you might be right. 

      • Chuck Borough Reply

        Bingo. Insects know very little “truth,” yet a thousand truths about their environment make it possible for them to flourish on this planet.

  5. Chuck Borough Reply

    If it is acceptable for Chuck to chime in here, I could clarify some things.

  6. Chuck Borough Reply

    I don’t think for a moment that Mormons are the only ones who can do a good job raising familes. I saw many others doing a great job of the same. The advice to this particular couple had to do with existing relationships and long-term investments. I didn’t give the same advice to several other couples who were quite comfortable in their new positions. Even on my mission, I was not motivated to try to effect conversion for people who were already happy with their various religions. I much enjoyed seeing changes in people’s lives when it was a positive thing. Concerning activity (without believing) – I do believe much of it, but it’s about the good in it, not the truth in it. (Much like the loving and giving Santa Claus, though more serious.) God is not a fact, but good religion (and bad religion) are facts.

  7. Chuck Borough Reply

    Concerning Brigham Young.¬† There’s no question that he had negative feelings about a whole race of people, possibly the most important race historically of all races (we are discovering.) Please know that I have fought against that “Satanic” doctrine all my life. It’s not about whom I love, but about whom I respect as my equals. That’s what Brigham was missing. He did quite a lot for women, for example, but I think he lacked respect for them as equals. I think Utah was the second state in which women got the national vote. Heck, if they were “equals,” they could have had more than one husband. (How would that go down for Brigham?)

    • Megan Reply

      Thank you for both clarifications!

      I was pretty sure that your parenting comments were maybe not representing your full, nuanced opinion – in fact, that’s why I commented is because I felt it was possible that the interview was easy to misinterpret and I hoped you would hop on to explain more fully.

      On the Brigham Young issue – I was surprised to hear you defend him in the way you did, particularly as it was clear that you yourself had found the racist practices of the church particularly destructive and insidious. I share those feelings and have similar emotions towards his opinions and actions towards women. I think the damage he did was immense and extended far beyond the time frame of his own life. I wonder if you’re drawing a line between the intention of the individual (ie was he trying to commit an evil or unrighteous act) and the behaviour and effect of an individual? I agree that Young was not intentionally doing wrong, and that, to the contrary, he believed he was being utterly righteous. However, the harm that he did, small and large, is not something I can overlook. Looking at his life as a whole I see a man driven by greed, lust and ego. I see someone who was willing to justify anything he wanted on the grounds that he spoke with and for God, someone who took wherever he could, someone who set the lives of others at little or no value, and someone who, through his position, poisoned many of the doctrines of the church in ways that are still felt to this day. While I’m willing to concede that, like all of us, he was a complex man, I cannot see him, most specifically within his role as prophet, seer and revelator, as a good man.

      Having said that, one of the things that came across about you very clearly is that you have an amazingly loving view of humanity, that you purposefully look for the good and admirable in people, and that can be a wonderful thing. I especially loved your kindness in telling that poor sweet woman in the – was it Baptist? – Sunday school that her beloved family member was NOT burning in hell for all eternity. It seems to me that you have been working to counter the needless guilt and pain that so often come with religion and that is a really wonderful thing to do.

      • Chuck Borough Reply

        It made me feel some emotion to read what you said here. I remember when I told that woman that how strongly I felt I was telling her the truth. I don’t know what’s going on that makes the universe work, but I do know some things that are not happening. She is within a circle that will doubtless have her “back to the truth” as time goes along, but my guess is she will at least have hopeful “doubts” the rest of her life. It’s easy to hope that beliefs like that one are not true.

  8. Adam Reply

    Thanks John and Zilpha for taking the time to have Chuck on.¬† His message has helped and continues to help me time and time again in my life.¬† My friends and I introduced J and Z to Chuck.¬† I am the guy he referrences in the podcast who hosted the two speaking engagements in Salt Lake City.¬† He was an absolute riot both times.¬† He rubbed a lot of our guests (conservative mormons)¬†the wrong way, but I found Chuck to be one of the most thoughtful, genuine, honest, intelligent and courageous people that I have ever met.¬† It was our honor and pleasure to have him back a second time.¬† I’d welcome Chuck to my home with open arms anytime.¬†
    My wife and I are also the couple he refers to in the podcast to whom he gave the advice to return to church.  I support the advice that he gave us.  That is what makes Chuck so great; he doesnt give cookie cutter answers.  His advice was indeed different for each person present.  In our particular situation, I really believe his advice to be sound.  He was in no way suggesting that we needed to believe in the doctrine, act any differently, sustain our leaders, pay tithing, etc.  He was just saying that if it can bring a net positive into our lives as a family then by God damn the rest.  He in no way suggested that the mormon church was the only way; it was simply his opinion that it was as good as any other. 
    As an agnostic, believing, atheist myself I am thankful for the likes of Chuck Borough.  I am grateful his message continues to be spread.   

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      What a nice note to read, Adam. It’s a little cold in the house tonight (at least for California) – but I think I’ll feel quite warm when we go to bed – just having a good feeling.

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      Excellent comment, thanks so much for sharing! How nice to hear from the very person mentioned.

      I was wondering why he would advise anybody to remain active. Maybe you can clarify why you think it’s a good thing to raise your children in an institution that teaches such black and white thinking as the LDS church does. I for one want anything but for my own kids to be raised Mormon. There is too much good out there in the world than for them to grow up thinking they have “the full truth” and that others are misled, evil, or anything but just as good as they are. I feel the church endorses closed-mindedness and arrogance in ignorance – if that makes any sense. I’m very curious to hear how you view it, and how you think your kids will fare better in the church than outside of it.

      Thanks Adam! ūüôā

  9. Grant Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful episode. I really enjoyed it while slaving away in the basement of the Clyde Building at BYU, the happiest place on earth. I personally wish that I could be more open here at school about my beliefs (or lack thereof), but have reason to suspect that such openness would be ill received. That being said, I am considering it. Chuck, your candidness with others is an inspiration to me. 

  10. Nancy Reply

    I immediately ordered “The Little Hardback”by Chuck Borough after listening to this episode and I will make more orders for Christmas gifts. Thank you so much for introducing such a great thinker and writer to all of us who follow Mormon Expressions.

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      I have already addressed and packaged “That Little Hardback” to send to you in the morning. Thank you for your friendship and thoughts.
       

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      Nancy – By the way, if you do like the book and decide to order for Christmas, just go ahead as Amazon has set it up, but when I send them, say if you ordered six, I will send ten or so. (I have lots of them; I bought 5000. (smile) – All over the house, under the bed, under the pool table, under the piano, you know – – .)

  11. Eye Reply

    I enjoy listening to Mormon Expression and find your take on Mormonism and religion interesting. I also find it interesting how often I hear in your podcasts how Mormonism and Christianity are the same ” we both believe in God and Jesus, Jesus died on the cross for our salvation..etc”. However Mormons believe in a very different God and Jesus than Christians. This has been stated by the Mormon president Hinckley as well. Christians do not believe in a god that was once a man and became a god nor a jesus that was brought into the world by a physical relationship between god and Mary. Christians believe God is a spirit and worship him as such and that Jesus is both God and man and that is how and why he came to earth. Now I know the trinity is a difficult sell, however for the LDS church to change the definitions of Christian terms ¬†and specifically the Godhead and then claim we are the same and believe in the same Jesus/God is a deliberate misrepresentation of Mormonism. In the Christian church if one has the wrong God and the wrong Jesus it does not matter what else we may agree on, it is not Christian. Having “Christian behaviors” makes one a good, nice person but not a Christian.
    I believe definitions should mean and stand for something and when they are redefined by the Mormon church that the Mormon church has an obligation to be honest and state they have very different definitions for Christian terms. I believe Christians have the obligation to defend their beliefs and the Christian definitions that have been in use and excepted for the past several centuries, [ over 1800 years]. This is interpreted by Mormons as being ” anti-mormon” and throwing out the persecution card. I find the Mormon definitions of Christian terms “anti-Christian”.

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      Sorry Eye but I don’t buy it. True, by what you describe, Mormons believe in a very different “God” but I don’t really see how the Jesuses are so different. They are both based on what can be known of Jesus through the New Testament. So how are they so very different? The only difference you describe is Jesus in relation to God – which is only a relationship. It’s like saying Luke Skywalker is very different from A New Hope to Empire because in the first his father is “Anakin Skywalker” but in the second his father is actually Darth Vader. To me, he’s still the same guy regardless of who or what his father is. You’ll have to explain it better than that to convince a simple-minded fellow like me.

      I mean, aren’t Christians supposed to worship NT Jesus? Or who exactly are you referring to?

      • Eye Reply

        The Jesus of the NT is not “my brother” but God in the human form. Coming to earth Jesus never relinquished his divinity, He is both God and Man. This is a Christian belief that has been accepted for centuries by Christian churches. What makes one a Christian is believing the core essential doctrines of Christianly, we can differ on the none essentials hence why one sees Lutherans, Methodists, Evangelicals etc.
        It is this core belief that Mormonism will never be accepted within the circle of the Christian faith. 
        It would be like me saying that I am a Mormon but I do not believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, nor is Mr Monson, that the temple is not needed for me to live forever with heavenly father and that men do not hold the priesthood. Why would I expect the Mormon church to accept me as a Mormon when I find their core doctrines in error.
        If the Mormon church wants to redefine who the NT Jesus is fine, but be HONEST that you are redefining who Jesus is so potential converts know what they are getting into, also that mormons and non-mormons can have a meaningful conversation. I have been told that the average mormon does not realize that mormonism has redefined Christian terms but the LDS leadership is fully aware of their deception and I find that behavior abhorrent.
        I am not opposed to churches outside the Christian faith, and do not judge their eternal condition on their non-Christian faith. God is the judge not me! I am oppose to the LDS church saying we are all Christians when Mormons have redefined Christian definitions. I get irritated at the persecution card and the “anti-mormon” rhetoric thrown out by Mormons when ever they choose not to hear and understand why Christians do not accept them with in the Christian faith family.

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      The Jesus the Mormons believe in is the one who was crucified that day for the sins of the world, the one who bled from every pore in the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s very probable this is the same Jesus you worship. If someone thinks my Dad was a plumber while I know he was a telephone man, that does not mean that other person does not know the same man I do. A Christian is not someone who gets all the technicalities as you require, but someone who accepts Jesus as his savior. Mormons do this with great enthusiasm. You probably accept children as Christians, even if they couldn’t pass a test on your definitions. It is probably important that Jesus taught love for one another, not all this infighting to try to prove which religion is his.

      • Megan Reply

        While this is definitely true, and I understand what you’re saying, I think that it ignores the core of what Eye and many other Christians are saying.

        The nature of God is fundamental to believers. It is not something that can be dissected from their belief. The question of the humanity or divinity of Christ is at the centre of how Christianity was defined – it grounds it. Many of early heresies were based on the trinity and Christ’s god/human status: Sabellianism, Docetism, Arianism, Nestorianism etc and because of this the doctrine of who Christ was and what constituted the godhead became fundamental to the definition of Christian belief. Believe that Christ was all god, not at all human? You aren’t a Christian! Believe that Christ was a human who was adopted by God and then acquired divinity? You aren’t a Christian!¬†

        BUT, and this is the point, that exclusion is on the side of the main-stream Christians. Mormon’s have every right to count themselves Christian based on their own definition of the word – just as the Nestorians in Iran have that right. What they cannot insist upon is acceptance by the main-stream Christian world because that would be insisting that those believers redefine their own core belief.

        It is not possible to over-state the importance of this – Mormons are asking main-stream Christians to recognize an utterly different definition of the trinity as valid and as part of their own tradition, they are asking them to deny, in other words, the singularity of their belief in God. The Mormon view of Christ cannot co-exist with the main-stream Christian view of Christ.

        So, do Mormon’s believe in the recorded individual known as Jesus as found in the NT – yes. Do they believe in the same Jesus that main-stream Christians do? No, absolutely not, and while Mormons can easily point out that the nature of Christ as defined by the majority of the Christian world includes a set of criteria that are not definitively and clearly present in the gospels but instead are based on the philosophical work of much later church fathers they cannot then go on to insist that this means those differences are unimportant.

        • Eye Reply

          Megan, thanks for your post. I agree that it is important for Mormons or anyone when describing themselves and using definitions that have a long,long historical acceptance that they clarify that their definition is different than the historical main stream Christian definition. Mormons do not do this! 
          Chuck here is a perfect example as to how far apart Christian are from Mormons understanding of who and what Christ did on the cross. Christians believe that Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our salvation means that if I were to die in 30 seconds Jesus save ME from my sins so I could live eternally with Heavenly Father at the moment of my physical death. Mormonism states that Jesus died for the sins of the world and that being done all mankind will be raised from the dead.[ two very different definitions of salvation] It stops there! Jesus by 
          Mormon doctrine] , did His part on the cross and now it is mankind’s turn to do their part by following all the commandments and ordinances prescribed by LDS doctrine. Not all mormons nor non-mormons have earned their right to live with Heavenly Father forever and ever. In Christianity it is not what I do, did or done, it is what Jesus Christ did for me on the Cross because He is both God and Man in One. I find it interesting that Mormons are even talking about Christ and the Cross, I have always read in Mormon books that their salvation was bought in The Garden of Gethsemane. I wonder if this is yet another example of the LDS church trying to move closer to Christian acceptance but again redefining ¬†historical Christian definitions.

          • Richard of Norway

            You’re all reising crazy in mybook.Who cares aboutthesemantics you describe? Seems a silly thing to getyour panties in a bunch over. Butif it makes you feel good knock yourself outto meyou just look likea crazy person arguing about”my dad is smarter than yours.”

            Mormons do thesamething with splinter groups: “They’re not*real* Mormons. Weare!”

            It’sall just so silly I find it hard to take any of you seriously.

          • Megan

            For the record Richard I’m an atheist. I’m just trying to clarify why main-stream Christians say and will continue to say that Mormons are not Christian.

            And your comparison with LDS actions in relation to off-shoots is quite apt Рthe inside group denying membership to the outside group. 

            Of course it’s meaningless to someone who doesn’t have a dog in the hunt, but for those who are really, really invested? It’s far from a simple matter of semantics.

            [again, I wanna point out that I’m one of those no-dog-in-the-hunt types, I’m just enjoying the discussion and hoping to maybe shed a little bit of light]

          • Eye

            Richard I am not saying my God is smarter than the Mormon God, but it is important to have our definitions clearly defined in order to have any meaningful conversation and understanding of each other. Other wise, like what has been happening for the past 179 years we talk past each other. 
            If that is crazy to you…..then I must assume you want neither clarity nor understanding of what Mormons or Christians believe. Why would you even want to post any comments except to demean those who wish to gain some understanding of each other.

          • Anonymous

            Like Richard, I totally reject the notion that either Mormons or other Christian denomination are justified in denying that those who do not entirely share their own particular concepts of God and Christ are Christians.  This has no more relevance to me than the Medieval arguments about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

            As much as I admire Megan and most all of her comments on this forum, I don’t buy her argument that “Main Stream Christianity” has any better justification for denying that Mormons are Christians than Mormons have for denying the Christianity of competing denominations, regardless of which side (if either) is correctly interpreting what is recorded in the New Testament about the life and mission of Jesus. To me, the only relevant consideration is that both sides believe in the existence of a divine being they call the Christ, and believe in the moral principles he taught of dealing honestly and charitably with our fellow beings.¬†

            I do appreciate, however, that Megan acknowledges that Mormons have the right to call themselves Christians, even if others do not agree.

            To me, for any Christian denomination to deny that any other Christian denomination is Christian because of differences in their respective core beliefs about Jesus of Nazareth is as unjustifiable as Republican conservatives denying that Liberal Democrats are fellow Americans, or vice versa because of differences, however profound, in their views about the legitimate role of Government in our democracy.

            Of course, they have the right to deny anything they want to deny, but that does not necessarily imply their denials are reasonable or just.

            BTW, eye, I sincerely think that for either Mainstream Christians of Mormons to accuse the other of not being Christians is itself demeaning and certainly not very conducive to gaining understanding of each other.

          • Megan

            @Gunnar1961:disqus  РI think I muddied more than I clarified!

            What I was trying to do was explain why mainstream Christians feel they cannot accept Mormons (who could be considered a modern Arian branch I suppose, although that’s simplistic) or other sects with alternate doctrinal teachings about the godhead. I was trying – apparently badly – to point out that for many of them it is far more than simple words, far more than widening a view-point because it comes down to very fundamental, very closely held beliefs.

            I was NOT trying to justify that view though! It is my personal opinion that anyone who believes in/follows the teachings of Christ is a Christian if that is how they self-identify (see… now I’m all worried about nuance of meaning so I immediately see that one can follow the teachings of Christ, which parallel the teachings of many other moral philosophers, without considering oneself a Christian. Sigh).

            In fact, I’d probably go farther than you, and show my heathen colours, by saying I don’t think someone has to necessarily accept the divinity of Christ in order to call themselves Christian – I know several people who are agnostics/atheists who consider themselves Christian because that is the moral system they choose to align themselves with.

            What really bothers me about the practice of denying membership – whether to the Christian world or, as in your example, to a community or even country – is that it creates resentment, misunderstanding, even hatred.

            In the words of Jack Handy – cant we all just get along?

          • Anonymous

            @Megan

            Thank you for that clarification!¬† I think that what you just said makes a lot of sense.¬† And you are not going farther than me when you say ” I don’t think someone has to necessarily accept the divinity of Christ in order to call themselves Christian.”¬† I agree with that completely.¬† I think there is ample room for doubt that even the real, historical Jesus really claimed himself to be divine, and that there is a strong possibility that the idea of his divinity is an example of the tendency of people to mythologize their heroes over time.¬† After all, the earliest of the 4 gospels included in the NT was not written until decades (perhaps as much as a century) after his death.¬† This is ample time for the mythologizing process to get started and well under way.

            I also strongly agree with your statement “that one can follow the teachings of Christ, which parallel the teachings of many other moral philosophers, without considering oneself a Christian.”

            You also said, “What really bothers me about the practice of denying membership – whether to the Christian world or, as in your example, to a community or even country – is that it creates resentment, misunderstanding, even hatred. In the words of Jack Handy – cant we all just get along?”

            Full agreement there!  I wish I could have said it as well as you did!

            Cheers!

            Gunnar

          • Chuck Borough

            Mormons, in some important ways, are still open on some of this. Many Mormons believe that when the “judgment” comes, we will all judge ourselves (under the direction of Jesus) – and that we will have what we are prepared for. They believe that each one of us will be as happy as it is possible to be, based on that preparation. Some Mormons believe that the ability to continue improving will go on forever, that there is no limiting God who would stop them from progress. Other Mormons believe that once we are “assigned” an eternal kingdom, though progress may continue within that kingdom, one cannot progress to a higher kingdom. The details are not in any of their scriptures, and so they are free to have some conjecture. Usually, those who take the more conservative view here, don’t like the discussion at all. It is all metaphoric for me, but I do like the discussion very much. It forms a way of feeling about our fellow man. Those Mormons with the more liberal view also view all people, Mormon or not, as having all these options to forever progress.

        • Richard of Norway Reply

          Thanks for your post. I know your not a believer based on your other comments here. I wasn’t referring to you but I can see it wasn’t very clear who I meant. When I say “All of you are crazy” I mean anybody who believes in the Bible as literal, historical truth.

          • Chuck Borough

            I think of this more as naive than as crazy. Kids who believe in Santa Claus are not crazy, but we hope they will grow out of it.

          • Richard of Norway

            Nice. (This is response to Chuck since the indentation has reached the limit, I can only reply to myself.)

            I don’t mean literally “certifiably¬†insane” but I do think it’s “crazy” as in pretty darn strange. Naive is certainly a better word for it. More apt. But it reminds me of Richard Dutcher’s character in his film Brigham City, where he told the non-LDS cop that he considers non-believers to be “naive” in the same way. I think believers do consider us arrogant, ignorant, and all of the adjectives which I would apply to them. So maybe they will have the last laugh. Hehe. ūüėČ

          • Megan

            Gotcha! Although I’m totally not denying the crazy label – just not on literal biblical beliefs!

      • Megan Reply

        Oh, and also:

        I think it’s really important to point out that it isn’t just the nature of Christ that is drastically different in Mormon belief, but the nature of God as well. Mormon’s do not like to think about the fact that they are essentially polytheistic, but it’s absolutely clear to the rest of the Christ-believing world that this is the case.

        Among the beliefs that were, at least when I was active, part of Mormon doctrine that are in opposition to main-stream Christianity are:

        1. God has a physical body and is essentially separate from Christ
        2. Christ is the God of the Old Testament
        3. Christ, under the direction of God, created this earth
        4. God is a created being Рie he did not always exist 
        5. God is not unchangeable but evolved and grew into perfection
        6. God is not omnipotent but is bound by external laws

        Do you see how these very, very major differences create a division between the two belief systems that is, to a main-stream Christian, completely impossible to overcome?

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        Excuse me Chuck but that’s nonsense. ¬†As the Ostlings said well in Mormon America:¬†

        “…it is ‘surely wrong’ to see Mormonism as a Christian derivative in the way that Christianity is a Jewish derivative, because the LDS faith is ‘in radical discontinuity with historic Christianity.'”¬†
        (Richard Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, “Mormon America”, p. 324)If we’re going to play the, “I’m going to change the established rules of inclusion to suite me so I can say that I’m a X too!” game then I would like to be called Mormon since . . .¬†I believe in the Book of Mormon.¬†Inasmuch as it’s translated correctly, of course. And since it’s been changed by the apostate LdS Church so many times it can hardly be completely trusted can it? That’s I also believe that the Book of Zelph is truer and more accurate than The Book of Mormon simply because it’s newer.¬†I believe that Joseph Smith, Jr. was a true Prophet of god.¬†I define “true Prophet” as someone who was encoded with Prophet engrams by the great god Xenu in the pre-existence on Kolob. And I believe that after 1835 Joseph Smith, Jr. was a fallen prophet and anything after that can be ignored.¬†I believe in the LdS Church.¬†I believe that the LdS Church is true as The Book of Mormon and the Book of Zelph. However, I reject the Articles of Faith of the LdS Church and the 1916 THE FATHER AND THE SON: A Doctrinal Exposition because they’re creeds and all creeds are corrupt simply because they’re creeds – just like god told Joseph Smith, Jr. in the sacred grove. And any church that holds to creed is obviously corrupt!¬†I believe in the Great Apostacy.¬†Thus, I believe that the modern LdS Church is apostate and must be restored back to the original, primitive, religion as defined by Xenu in the pre-existence. This revelation is ongoing and thus revealed to us by the Book of Zelph and whatever other books I define as “new revelation”. Therefore I reject the current LdS Church and the authority of it’s leaders as apostate and corrupt while continuing to believe ONLY in the original, pure and restored 1830-1835 LdS Church. Thus, I refuse to go through the corrupt Masonic Temple Endowments of the post-1835 apostate LdS Church and/or be baptized into today’s church of the devil!¬†I have Priesthood Authority.¬†Never-the-less, I have full Priesthood Authority because Xenu told me via a voice in my head that I do.In summary, this is what I believe:¬†¬†1) I believe in The Book of Mormon.2) I believe that Joseph Smith, Jr was a true Prophet of god.¬†3) I believe in the LdS Church.¬†4) I believe in the Great Apostacy.5) I have Priesthood Authority. So I’m just as Mormon as you are right?¬†

        • Chuck Borough Reply

          (Smile)¬†¬† I have to admit that this is interesting thought. You know, of course, that I myself don’t believe a person put the universe together, so essentially all religious dogma is metaphoric for me. I like it when it works for good, but see it much like I see Santa Claus. I had a hundred adults watching after my five kids as they grew, among then even Mormon school teachers, etc. That was a wonderful support. I really don’t care who is called a Christian or a Mormon; I only care that people care about one another.

          • Fred W. Anson

            Chuck part of caring for one another is respecting other’s boundaries and not violating them.¬†

            Moving boundaries – or in the case of modern Mormon claims that they are Christians, REDEFINING boundaries – isn’t caring for one another, it’s offensive disrespect of Christianity in general and Christians in particular.

            It’s just as offensive as if I mounted an army of proselytizing members and missionaries that told investigators that they were Mormons based on the criteria that I outlined above.¬†
            (and of course we would offer a free Book of Zelph to anyone interested) 

            No matter how sincerely felt or passionately believed that false-identity is deceptive, dishonest, and demonstrably false relative to the established criteria for inclusion in the people group “Mormon”. And those ‘Xenu Zelphons’ who hold to it would be in self-deception no matter how ignorant, well intentioned, innocent, naive they might be.

            It would be a disrespectful boundary violation of Mormonism in general and Mormons in particular.

            IMO, if Mormons want to see the rancor and polemics between the two groups diminish then they would do well to start individually and corporately acknowledging that they are not Christian – they’re Mormon, a unique and distinct, non-Jewish, non-Christian religion.¬†

            Mormon Matters podcast #37 (sorry I don’t have the link) made this point very well. ¬†I recommend it to you and others.

        • Anonymous Reply

          Fred, as much as I admire and respect you, I have to respectfully disagree with you that Chuck’s argument is fallacious.¬† Both Mormons and mainstream Christians believe in a man called Jesus whom they believe was the Christ or Messiah, and who atoned for mankind’s sins.¬† They both believe this man to be a God, or the God, and the Son of God.¬† Both believe in and try to practice the moral principles taught by this being.¬† Even if the Christ believed in by the Mormons is a different Christ than mainstream Christians believe in, they still both believe in a Christ who is the Saviour of mankind, and thus, they are¬†both Christians of a sort.¬† I’m sorry if you resent this, but for either side to deny that the other side is Christian is unreasonable, unjust and mean-spirited.¬† If¬†one¬†is fair-minded, I don’t see how one can logically avoid the conclusion that Mormons are, at the very least, a type of Christian.¬† If you want to insist that that Mormons and mainstream Christians are different types of Christians, I have no problem with that, for that has never really been in dispute.¬† Nor are they necessarily the only two types of Christians.

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      “Christians do not believe in a god that was once a man and became a god nor a jesus that was brought into the world by a physical relationship between god and Mary.”¬†¬† Some Christians do believe this. (smile)

  12. Chuck Borough Reply

    Since I posted that answer about Mormons and whether they are Christians or not, I’ve been thinking that I left some very important data out. It’s time to be truthful about some things. Mormons believe that just the words. “I believe” are not sufficient. They believe one must be baptized in order to “accept” Jesus as their personal savior. They also believe that another baptism, sometimes referred to as the baptism of fire must occur in order to have the Holy Ghost as one’s constant companion. This baptism of fire takes the form of essentially a blessing, by a laying on of hands, and the words “Recieve the Holy Ghost.” Because both of these baptisms require¬†“authority” from God, nobody else, other than Mormons, can perform these two baptisms. In effect, Mormons not only believe they ARE Christians, but they, in the most important sense,¬†believe they are the ONLY Christians, that everyone else’s baptisms are null and void and will not count in heaven. All this makes them a pretty big target, and the attacks claiming Mormons are not Christians are pretty small compared with their own claims that they are “The Only True Church,” and that all others, though they may teach many “truths” are entirely without God’s authority to perform any ordinances that have eternal efficacy.

    This has been improving over the years. We used to hear often, essentially every single testimony meeting, the words, “I know this is the only true church.” Now we hear instead, “I know the Church is true.” This is better, and it will continue to get better with another hundred years or so to improve. (Religions improve very slowly.)

    So when you hear someone say that Mormons are not Christians, instead of answering, “Yes, they are Christians,” answer instead, “Your Christianity is just as valid as ours,” and if you can mean that, you’ve arrived. When Mormons believe a baptism in the Baptist Church is just as valid as theirs, Mormons will be accepted.

    Mormons, I think to their credit, believe all people are saved from Adam’s problems, a free gift from the Savior to all. It’s regarding our own sins that only the Mormon Baptism is acceptable. Mormons also believe this has to do only with the “highest” heaven, and that other good people will receive a lesser, but still¬†immensely great, reward. It’s a very positive doctrine, except with regard to the highest heaven, which is reserved only for the “real” Christians, the Mormons.¬†

    • Megan Reply

      Really interesting stuff here. I was thinking about this subject as well (when I was SUPPOSED to be thinking about Old English prose, but never mind that…) and two things occurred to me that I haven’t really thoroughly evaluated yet.

      I was wondering if some of the inability to understand (on the Mormon’s part) comes from:

      a) the fact that doctrine is mutable in the Mormon church and therefore the idea of a doctrinal issue – particularly one that seems minor to Mormons – being so central to identity is baffling

      and/or

      b) maybe that Mormons seem to do very little musing on the nature of God and so do not really see how major those doctrinal Godhead differences are? I could be overstating this, but from an outside perspective the Mormon God – while logically much easier to understand than the Nicene trinity – has its own fairly major difficulties (ie how does a physical God who is subject to external laws that govern all the universe violate the laws of time and space in order to listen to and respond to prayers from everyone everywhere at all time, including the other planets he has created and is responsible for, all while dwelling near a distant star named Kolob?).

      The Catholic church has a long tradition of placing importance on understanding and exploring the nature of God. While the Mormon church did a great deal of that in the beginning, particularly in those heady days when JS and BY were producing new prophesies and revelations in a constant stream, I don’t see that as happening now. Perhaps the Adam-God debacle made people wary of it? Maybe correlation makes folks nervous of speculating outside of the provided literature? It’s a shame really, because here you have the one big religion that tells people they can grow and evolve to become like God and there seems to be no vibrant dialogue about what that really means.

    • Steve Redinger Reply

      From the perspective of the LDS PREPARATORY GOSPEL, Mormon teaching and practice parallels that of orthodoxy. ¬† Nevertheless, the Mormon Fulness of the Gospel with Eternal Progression is of a completely different world-view than historical Christianity. ¬† Eternal Progression even has its divine beings existing in a ¬†different kind of Cosmos than the God of orthodoxy. ¬† Most often when Mormonism is discussed in a critical way, the LDS Fulness of the Gospel is being examined. ¬†So Mormonism is usually labeled as non-Christian and even anti-Christian, mainly due to its grand theme known as “Eternal Progression”.

      • Anonymous Reply

        Irrelevant!¬† The fact still remains that Mormons worship, revere and try to live up to the moral principles taught by a being named Jesus with the title of “Christ”, which is Greek for “Messiah”, which simply means “The Annointed One.”¬† Even if it is true that the Christ they worship is not the same Christ other Christians worship, they are still a type of Christian, as they worship someone they regard as¬†“The Christ.”

        As for orthodoxy, there are several conflicting versions of Christian orthodoxy amongst the various Christian denominations, and I don’t accept that any of them are more or less entitled to call themselves Christians than any of the others.

  13. Buffalo Reply

    I’d say Mormonism is an okay environment for young children, but a really dysfunctional environment for teens. The teen years is where they get the heavy shame/guilt indoctrination.¬†

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      Probably will be surprised to hear it, but I think the Mormon experience is a wonderful one for older people (teens and up), but a system of brainwashing for little ones. The trick is to protect the little ones during that development so they can then take advantage of all the wonderful support and love for the rest of their lives. The notion that a six-year old “knows” he is in “the true church” or that “Joseph Smith was a Prophet” or that “God lives,” is silly. Are these the same six-year olds who believe in the Tooth Fairy? Even all these pretendings would be fine if the plan were to tell them the truth later, as they become more experienced, just like we do for Santa Claus. I believe all intelligent and thinking adults are better founded if atheist, just as they are no longer believers about a literal Santa Claus. But I also think they are very well off as thinking and feeling Mormons, a great organization with its share of faults.

  14. Chuck Borough Reply

    I think I didn’t say quite enough about what religion is about other than “truth.” Here is an “elegant” way to say it. (Elegant meaning simple but effective.) Santa Claus (at his best) is about love, acceptance, giving and kindness. All of these are more important than truth. The¬†“untruth” of his existence is trivial by comparison. Good religion is about things much more important than truth. Science is only about truth. Religion can also be very evil. Science, in general, is not about good or evil, but only about what is going on and what is not going on. It’s easy for science to “repent,” because it’s not generally a moral issue and therefore not emotional. A “scientist,” of course, may be emotional and just hate it when his theory is disproven, but a scientist is not science, only a human being. The scientific community will step all over him. Einstein once said, “Forgive me, Newton.”

  15. Chuck Borough Reply

    Admitting his reprehensible prejudice, my statement that my read on Brigham Young does not have him “hating” a whole race of people, this quote may clarify:

    “Do I say, Love your enemies? Yes, upon certain principles. But you are not required to love their wickedness; you are only required to love them so far as concerns a desire and effort to turn them from their evil ways, that they may be saved through obedience to the Gospel.” (DBY, 272).

    The problem is, and, with you, I do understand it. Hating this much about a group of people pretty much has the same effect as hating the people themselves. I’ve always put much of the blame for this stupid doctrine on Brigham. It’s becoming popular now to do this even in the Church, so that it doesn’t land on Joseph, but it was very unpopular when I was younger and claiming the doctrine did not come from Joseph. All they had was the D&C words saying we thought it unwise to teach bondservants, which is not the same as naming a race. It was about slavery, not race.

  16. Chuck Borough Reply

    Forgive me a quickie:

    Science smokes and then reads in magazines and newspapers about all the research showing that smoking is harmful, and then science quits smoking. 

    Religion smokes and then reads in magazines and newspapers about all the research showing that smoking is harmful, and then religion throws out the magazines and newspapers.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Yes! That is exactly the difference between the scientific and religious approaches to knowledge.  Your analogy based on the famous old joke about the smoker who was so frightened about all he read about the harmful effects of smoking that he gave up reading is a perfect illustration of that difference.

      Because we are not perfect or omniscient, the use of evidence and reason will occasionally result in error, but continued use of evidence and reason will almost certainly expose the error eventually, thus preventing its perpetuation.¬† On the other hand, when the faith-based approach to truth results in error, the perpetuation of that error is virtually guaranteed because those who mainly rely on that approach are so reluctant to concede the possibility that they might be mistaken, regardless of how abundant or compelling the contrary evidence.¬† After all, they got it from God (so they believe), and how could He be mistaken?¬† Right?¬† They too often can’t see that it is at least as arrogant and unreasonable to insist they could not be mistaken about God being the source of their convictions as it is to deny they could be mistaken about anything else.

      In fact, it often seems that the more absurd the doctrine or claim, the more likely it is that some pious idiot will claim divine authority for it and threaten eternal damnation and punishment for anyone who refuses to accept it.

  17. Chuck Borough Reply

    Of course we all understand that a religious person can be very scientific, and a scientist can be a blind follower.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Yes, it is as unfortunate that the latter sometimes is true as it is hope inspiring and gratifying that the former can also sometimes be true.

  18. Chuck Borough Reply

    I posted this in reply to one person, but also posting it here:
    Mormons, in some important ways, are still open on some of this. Many Mormons believe that when the “judgment” comes, we will all judge ourselves (under the direction of Jesus) – and that we will have what we are prepared for. They believe that each one of us will be as happy as it is possible to be, based on that preparation. Some Mormons believe that the ability to continue improving will go on forever, that there is no limiting God who would stop them from progress. Other Mormons believe that once we are “assigned” an eternal kingdom, though progress may continue within that kingdom, one cannot progress to a higher kingdom. The details are not in any of their scriptures, and so they are free to have some conjecture. Usually, those who take the more conservative view here, don’t like the discussion at all. It is all metaphoric for me, but I do like the discussion very much. It forms a way of feeling about our fellow man. Those Mormons with the more liberal view also view all people, Mormon or not, as having all these options to forever progress. show more show less

  19. Anonymous Reply

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAZD4DhhlBo
    Mormonism has formally designated a different set of identifying features to their Christ figure.  The Mormon Jesus even dwells in a different cosmos than the  Christ of orthodoxy and of all Biblical description.    It is plain and simple,  Mormonism has a new and strange Christ figure.  

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      If you view Christ as a metaphor, then the Mormons have a different metaphor. If you view Christ as a real person who lived and breathed, then Mormons believe in the same one you do, the one born of Mary in Bethlehem, etc., but believe him to be different from how you believe him to be. If you know my Dad and think he’s a Republican, you’re wrong about that, but it’s still my Dad you¬†know. Thomas Jefferson did not believe Jesus was God or a god, yet he knew about the same person you know about, but did not think him divine. He wrote the Jefferson “Bible,” which takes out all the magic but honors Jesus as the greatest teacher who possibly ever lived. It’s the same Jesus, no matter what you believe about him. I’m pretty much with Jefferson, but the Mormons believe He is divine and the creator of the universe. There’s no other Jesus that I know of anyone believing in. Fundamentalists have invented this little thing about Mormons having a different Jesus, but nobody knows about any other than the same one you have different thoughts about.

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        Chuck, respectfully, that’s Post Modern nonsense. ¬†

        A person is defined by reality not by one’s personal construct of how one chooses to perceive reality. ¬†I’m sorry but you don’t get to cobble together your version of who Jesus Christ any more than Thomas Jefferson did, The Jesus Seminar, Robert Millet, you or I do.¬†

        The final, absolute for Christians is the Bible – which states explicitly is “God breathed”. ¬†While it’s true that Atheists reject the authority of the Bible, Christians don’t. ¬†So one of the “rules” is that one can’t claim to be a Christian and reject Biblical authority any more than a one can claim to be Muslim and reject Koranic authority, or be Jewish and reject the authority of the Tanakh. ¬†

        And with that ground rule established, the Christ that Mormonism teaches is NOT only NOT the historic Christ of the Christ of the Christian Church (which, by the way, was established LONG before the Fundamentalist movement of the 20th Century) He’s not the Christ of the Bible. ¬†Period.¬†

        In fact, LdS Leaders have publicly acknowledged this throughout Mormon Church History and the body of evidence backs them up. ¬†Simply put the evidence does NOT support this odd Post Modern construct that you’re trying to sell.

        Let’s get specific:¬†

        “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'”¬†
        (June 20, 1998, The LDS Church News)

        “It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshipped by the Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”
        — Bernard P. Brockbank, LDS Seventy (Ensign, May 1977, p.26)¬†And this is from the good folks over at The Institute for Religious Research:¬†

        =====================================================
         Q: Are Jesus and Satan Spirit Brothers?
        =====================================================
        What the Bible teaches:
        ——————————–
        The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that Jesus is the unique Son of God; he has always existed as God, and is co-eternal and co-equal with the Father (John 1:1, 14; 10:30; 14:9; Colossians 2:9). 

        While never less than God, at the appointed time He laid aside the glory He shared with the Father (John 17:4, 5; Philippians 2:6-11) and was made flesh for our salvation; His incarnation was accomplished through being conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:34-35).

        What the Mormon Church teaches:
        ——————————–¬†
        By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that Jesus Christ is our elder brother who progressed to godhood, having first been procreated as a spirit child by Heavenly Father and a heavenly mother; He was later conceived physically through intercourse between Heavenly Father and the virgin Mary (D&C 93:21; Journal of Discourses, 1:50-51; Gospel Principles, p. 11-13; Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p. 129; Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 546-547; 742; Ezra Taft Benson, Come unto Christ, p. 4; Robert L. Millet, The Mormon Faith: Understanding Restored Christianity, p. 31). Mormon doctrine affirms that Jesus, all angels, Lucifer, all demons, and all human beings are originally spirit brothers and sisters (Abraham 3:22-27; Moses 4:1-2; Gospel Principles, pp. 17-18; Mormon Doctrine, p. 192).

        =====================================================
         Q: Is Jesus Christ the second person of the Trinity?
        =====================================================

        What the Bible teaches:
        ——————————–¬†
        The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost are not separate Gods or separate beings, but are distinct Persons within the one Triune Godhead. 

        Throughout the New Testament the Son and the Holy Spirit, as well as the Father are separately identified as and act as God (Son: Mark 2:5-12; John 20:28; Philippians 2:10,11; Holy Spirit: Acts 5:3,4; 2 Corinthians 3:17,18; 13:14); yet at the same time the Bible teaches that these three are only one God (see point 1).

        What the Mormon Church teaches:
        ——————————–¬†
        By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate Gods (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 370; Mormon Doctrine, pp. 576-577), and that the Son and Holy Ghost are the literal offspring of Heavenly Father and a celestial wife (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 2, p. 649).

        =====================================================
        ¬†Q: Does Christ’s Atoning Death Benefit Those Who Reject Him?
        =====================================================

        What the Bible teaches: 
        ——————————–
        The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that the purpose of the atoning work of Christ on the cross was to provide the complete solution for humankind’s sin problem. However, those who reject God’s grace in this life will have no part in this salvation but are under the judgment of God for eternity (John 3:36; Hebrews 9:27; 1 John 5:11-12).

        What the Mormon Church teaches: 
        ——————————–
        By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that the purpose of the atonement was to bring resurrection and immortality to all people, regardless of whether they receive Christ by faith. Christ’s atonement is only a partial basis for worthiness and eternal life, which also requires obedience to all the commands of the Mormon church, including exclusive Mormon temple rituals (Gospel Principles, pp. 74-75; Mormon Doctrine, p. 669).

        =====================================================
         Q: How Can We Make Ourselves Worthy Before God?
        =====================================================

        What the Bible teaches: 
        ——————————–
        The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross we are spiritually “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1,5) and are powerless to save ourselves. By grace alone, apart from self-righteous works, God forgives our sins and makes us worthy to live in His presence (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-6).¬†

        Our part is only to cling to Christ in heartfelt faith. (However, it is certainly true that without the evidence of changed conduct, a person‚Äôs testimony of faith in Christ must be questioned; salvation by grace alone through faith, does not mean we can live as we please ‚ÄĒ Romans 6:1-4).

        What the Mormon Church teaches: 
        ——————————–
        By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that eternal life in the presence of God (which it terms “exaltation in the celestial kingdom”) must be earned through obedience to all the commands of the Mormon Church, including exclusive Mormon temple rituals. Works are a requirement for salvation (entrance into the “celestial kingdom”) ‚ÄĒ Gospel Principles, p. 303-304; Pearl of Great Price ‚ÄĒ Third Article of Faith; Mormon Doctrine, pp. 339, 671; Book of Mormon ‚ÄĒ 2 Nephi 25:23).

        =====================================================
         Conclusion: The Mormon Jesus is NOT the Biblical Jesus
        =====================================================
        The Biblical points above constitute the common gospel believed by all orthodox Christians through the ages regardless of denominational labels. On the other hand, some new religions such as Mormonism claim to be Christian, but accept as Scripture writings outside of the Bible, teach doctrines that contradict the Bible, and hold to beliefs completely foreign to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles.

        Mormons share with orthodox Christians some important moral precepts from the Bible. However, the above points are examples of the many fundamental and irreconcilable differences between historic, biblical Christianity and Mormonism. While these differences do not keep us from being friendly with Mormons, we cannot consider them brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible specifically warns of false prophets who will teach “another gospel” centered around “another Jesus,” and witnessed to by “another spirit” (2 Corinthians 11:4,13-15; Galatians 1:6-9). Based on the evidence presented above, we believe Mormonism represents just such a counterfeit gospel.

        It has been pointed out that if one claimed to be a Mormon but denied all the basic tenets of Mormonism ‚ÄĒ that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon is true and divinely inspired, that god was once a man who progressed to godhood through keeping the laws and ordinances of the Mormon Church, and that the Mormon Church was divinely established ‚ÄĒ the Mormon Church would reject such a person‚Äôs claim to being a Latter-day Saint. One cannot fairly call oneself a Mormon if one does not believe the fundamental doctrines taught by the Mormon Church. By the same token, if the Mormon Church does not hold to even the basic biblical truths believed by the greater Christian community down through the ages, how can Christians reasonably be expected to accept Mormonism as authentic Christianity?

        If the Mormon Church believes it is the only true Christian Church, it should not attempt to publicly present itself as a part of a broader Christian community. Instead it should tell the world openly that those who claim to be orthodox Christians are not really Christians at all, and that the Mormon Church is the only true Christian Church. This in fact is what it teaches privately, but not publicly. 

        (source = http://www.irr.org/MIT/is-mormonism-christian.html )

        • Chuck Borough Reply

          So do you think that if one person thinks President Obama is a bad guy and another person thinks President Obama is a good guy – that there are two different President Obamas? If Mormons think Jesus had a father and you don’t think that, do you actually think that there are then two different Jesus’s?

          • Fred W. Anson

            It is¬†irrelevant¬†what I do or do not think or feel about Obama – that is a perception, nothing more.¬† It’s pure subjectivity.

            Obama is who he is regardless of what I or anyone else thinks. ¬†Opinions and perceptions don’t form reality, again, they are subjective constructs nothing more.¬†

            The objective reality is that Barak Obama is a human being with both a father and a mother as his DNA and physical body validates. And no one’s Post Modern construct of Obama as a Martian, Venuian, or Platonian will alter “real” reality.

          • Anonymous

            Hi Chuck-
            The specific details of Jesus’ identity as the Eternal Creator — and unique God, are critical to His Mission on Earth. ¬†Jesus specifically mentions this issue–(John 8:24)
            The Christ of Mormon Eternal Progression (EP) DOES NOT possess these identifying featuresРand has features about his origin and nature that contradict the notion that He is the unique strictly eternal creator.  So theologically the Mormon Christ (EP) does not have the power to save humans who live in this fallen creation in the same manner that the New Testament Christ does.   Mormons usually avoid discussing their Eternal Progression version of their Christ, and defend their position by using the Christ of the Mormon Preparatory GospelРand point to  Jesus of Nazareth, the historical figure.  This is a kind of semantic shifting tactic where Mormons jump back and forth between the Preparatory Gospel of Mormonism to the Fulness of the Gospel, and back again.  So on one hand the Mormon Jesus looks like the same Jesus of the BibleРbut on the other the Christ of Mormonism is not the same person described in the Bible.  

          • Chuck Borough

            Jesus also had DNA. The one you believe in (that you think is a different one) has the same DNA as the one the Mormons believe in. Only one guy – many opinions about Him.

        • Chuck Borough Reply

          I simply think that even when a Mormon leader speaks of worshipping a “different” Jesus, he is also wrong. He really means we believe many different things about him. He knows you worship the one born of Mary. It’s a language problem.

          • Fred W. Anson

            YOU WROTE:
            “I simply think that even when a Mormon leader speaks of worshipping a “different” Jesus, he is also wrong.”

            MY RESPONSE:
            And the body of evidence clearly demonstrates that it is you who is wrong and they are right.

            Furthermore, they are official voices of the LdS Church so their opinion can be considered authoritative as I understand LdS Theology. Was not Hinckley a “Living Prophet”?

            And, after all, when the prophet has spoken the thinking been done . . .
            (tongue firmly in cheek)

            Finally, they have presented evidence. I have presented evidence. You have presented one subjective Post Modern construct and absurdist straw man argument after another.¬†I’m sorry Chuck but, “Because I say so!” isn’t arguing from evidence it’s arguing from personal opinion.¬†

            Personally I will favor evidence over personal opinion – I’m funny that way.

        • Chuck Borough Reply

          “If the Mormon Church believes it is the only true Christian Church, it should not attempt to publicly present itself as a part of a broader Christian community. Instead it should tell the world openly that those who claim to be orthodox Christians are not really Christians at all, and that the Mormon Church is the only true Christian Church. This in fact is what it teaches privately, but not publicly.”

          This part I agree with completely, and have said so. Mormons do think they are the only Christians that have any authority to baptize, etc. That exclusivist religion, which I detest. I also detest the exclusivism of so-called fundamentalism, whether it be Christian, Muslim, or whatever. Nobody knows these things. We’re virtually as dumb as insects.

          • Fred W. Anson

            YOU WROTE
            “Nobody knows these things. We’re virtually as dumb as insects.”

            MY RESPONSE
            That’s not the issue here. ¬†The issue, if you will recall, is this: “Can Mormons legitimately claim to be ‘Christian’?”¬†

            The clear answer to that question both from the Biblical and Historical Evidence is, “No!”¬†

            As I stated before, if Mormons would simply stop claiming to be Christian it would greatly reduce the rancorous polemics and objections from those who have a legitimate historic and Biblical claim on the term. 

            Modern Mormonism is in fact it’s own unique Abrahamic religion (“The Fourth Abrahamic Religion” as many Theologians and Academics are calling it) and needs to own that fact rather than trying to fraudulently claim to be something that it isn’t.¬†

            And when it come to Christian History and Biblical orthodoxy we are NOT, ”¬†virtually as dumb as insects”, rather we have over 2,000 years of wisdom and insight borne out of hard experience to draw from.¬†

          • Anonymous

            @facebook-1416477869:disqus

            As I stated before, if Mormons would simply stop claiming to be Christian it would greatly reduce the rancorous polemics and objections from those who have a legitimate historic and Biblical claim on the term.

            Frankly Fred, I am disappointed at seeing you take what I regard as so unreasonable a stance.  I would modify it to say:

            If some (by no means all or even a majority of, as far as I can tell, unless you insist on defining mainstream Christians as only those who agree with you) mainstream Christians would stop insisting that Mormons are not Christians, it would greatly reduce the rancorous polemics and objections from those who claim to have the only legitimate historic and Biblical claim on the term.

            Though it is undenibly true that the Bible has more real history in it than the BoM, it is also undenaibly true that it also contains myths and and error.¬† I repeat again that I have yet to see any justification that is even the slightest bit compelling for concluding that the Bible is any more likely to contain the word of God than anything else that has ever been written.¬† Nor can it be denied that¬†even among “mainstream Christians” (or those who call themselves such)¬†there is considerable disagreement on how the historical claims are to be correctly interpreted.

          • Chuck Borough

            When I said “virtually as dumb as insects,” it’s not that I think an insect can build an airplane. It’s a division problem rather than an adding problem. Take all there is to know in the universe, put that in the denominator, and all we know or all the insects knows, put that in the numerator, and whether insect or human, the result is zero. We know nothing. The whole idea of gods is just an invention, one which can be useful or awful, depending upon whether we fight or cooperate.

        • Richard of Norway Reply

          Fred, I have to agree with Gunnar. (No surprise I’m sure)

          As much as I like and respect you I think you are being completely unreasonable here. Your arguments make sense only to you and those who think like you. From an outsider’s prospective, it’s a silly argument.

          Why on earth are you so invested in this anyway? What difference does it make to you if I call myself Napoleon, Mormons call themselves Christian, or Obama calls himself Republican in the next election?

          Sorry but it makes you and the other Christians here look like a bunch of crying babies. “Hubba-Bubba bubble-gum is best! And McDonalds Fries are better than Burger King’s!” (I remember arghuing this with a friend as a child, that’s why I bring it up. ūüėČ

          • Fred W. Anson

            YOU WROTE
            “From an outsider’s prospective, it’s a silly argument.”

            MY RESPONSE
            I see.

            So the fact that in order for a group to exist at all it must have¬†distinctives and those distinctives – or put another way, criteria for membership – can only be defined by the group and not outsiders is a “silly” argument?¬†¬†

            Respectfully Richard I don’t think that I’m the one who’s being unreasonable or silly here, mate.¬†

            YOU WROTE
            “Why on earth are you so invested in this anyway? What difference does it make to you if I call myself¬†Napoleon, Mormons call themselves Christian, or Obama calls himself Republican in the next election?”

            MY RESPONSE
            You can call yourself anything you like but until you fit the established criteria you’re not – period.¬†

            Since you don’t fit the established criteria for who Napoleon was you are clearly NOT Napoleon, in fact for you to do so would only get you labeled psychotic.¬†

            And do you mean to tell me that if Obama called himself Republican in the next election there wouldn’t be offense from The Republican party, let alone the Republican party membership? Don’t you think that cries of “liar”, “deceiver”, and “usurper” would fit the air?

            Further, if you, as Napoleon, or Obama, as Republican, were to send out literally an army of proselytizers representing your group as “the restored Napoleons” or “the restored Repulican party” there would be valid and legitimate anger and offense because it is a deceptive misrepresentation of what both constitutes Napoleon and/or the Republican party.¬†

            Finally, I must ask Richard, if you’re not invested in this subject then why did you jump into the fray? ¬†

            It seems to me that you’re more invested than you may realize.

          • Anonymous

            @facebook-1416477869:disqus 

            But Fred, what a group¬†winds up being¬†called is rarely the exclusive province of the members of the group.¬† The names of most Native American tribes, for example,¬†were names (more often than not¬†derogatory) given them by other tribes.¬† Most tribes simply called themselves “the people.”

            Apparently, the earliest Christians simply regarded themselves as Jews who believed their long awaited Messiah had finally arrived.¬† Even today, there are messianic Jews who sincerely believe that Jesus Christ was their Messiah (though not divine or equivalent to God as most Christians believe).¬† The name “Christians” was intially given to them (derogatorily) by non-Christians (though it was not long before¬†they proudly accepted that designation for themselves, especially when large numbers of people who had never been Jews began to convert due hugely to the efforts of Paul).

            Do you really want to maintain that Mormons have no right to call themselves Christians if they sincerely believe they are?

            You surely have the right to deny that they are even a type of Christian if you want to, but I am not going to accept that it is either reasonable or just for you to do do.

        • Chuck Borough Reply

          I think Christ himself often rejected Biblical authority. Consider the woman they were stoning – –

      • Hick Preacher Reply

        Chuck, your analysis is not meaningful.  Your analysis is like saying that Zeus was said to be a God in the same way that the Emperor of Japan was said to be a God.   Though both were called divine, each was called so for different reasons. 
        The Mormon Jesus of Eternal Progression likewise is called divine for different qualities than the Biblical Jesus is called divine.

        • Anonymous Reply

          But¬†if both Zeus and the Emperor of Japan were designated as “Christs” or “Annointed Ones” by their worshipers, their worshipers would still be a type of Christian worshiper.

          • Anonymous

            Then Gunnar, Hindu worship of Krishna would then be Christian worship and followers of Krishna would be “Christians”!

          • Fred W. Anson

            Chuck, that’s yet more Post Modern absurdity. ¬†

            In order to be Zeus one has to match the nature of Zeus as delineated by criteria established by the Ancient Greek religion.  There is an established criteria. 

            In order to Emperor of Japan one has to match the criteria established by Shintoism. Again, there is an established criteria Рa set of tests Рthat one must pass. 

            Finally, in order to be the Jesus Mashiach (Christ in Greek, Messiah in anglicized Hebrew) one has to meet the criteria that was established by the Jewish Tahnakh. 

            Jesus isn’t, and can’t be, the Shinto Emperor, or Zeus the Greek father of the gods. He doesn’t meet the established criteria.¬†

            The Shinto Emperor can’t be Zeus or the Mashiach for the same reason.¬†

            And Zeus can’t be either Mashiach or Shinto Emperor for the same reason.¬†

            To claim that the terms, “Messiah”, “Japanese Emperor”, and “Zeus” are just words that can be applied hilly nilly to anyone or anything in a kind of Post Modern “truth is relative” construct is utterly fallacious.¬†

          • Anonymous

            So?¬† If they choose to designate themselves as such, I won’t argue with them about it.

          • Fred W. Anson

            @ Gunnar1961 

            YOU WROTE
            “So?¬† If they choose to designate themselves as such, I won’t argue with them about it.”

            MY RESPONSE
            I realize that you’re setting up a straw man but I’ll “bite” anyhow.

            Of course you wouldn’t argue, you’re an atheist with no personal investment in Christianity – why would you care?

            However, I believe that if you were a Christian you WOULD challenge BOTH Zeus and the Emperor of Japan on their claim to that they are Christ AND you would challenge their worshipers in their claim to be Christian when their so-called “Christ” clearly isn’t the Christ of Christianity.

            The term “Christ” and “Christianity” is now loaded. It can’t be used without 2,000+ years of historical precedent also coming along for the ride.

  20. martin jacobs Reply

    Gunnar 1961 wrote “Not all mainstream Christians deny that Mormons are Christians unless
    you define mainstream Christians as only those who agree with you.”

    I’ve just picked up this thread, and I’ll probably not get the “reply” thing right.

    Sorry, Gunnar, but your position makes no sense.

    Your premise ultimately relies on a “majority vote”. “Mainstream Christians” (presumably those who self-identify as Christian) believe many things, and sometimes they are wrong. I suspect that if you polled them and got some real data (which neither you or I appear to have access to at present) you’d find many of them trying to be generous, which is not a bad thing because generosity is a Christian virtue. Also, they hear the language of Mormonism’s Preparatory Gospel, which sounds like orthodoxy, and conclude that that is what Mormonism teaches. These “Mainstream Christians” probably have no access to the “Full Gospel” (not unlike most Mormons, I suspect), and they probably have no idea that a religion could encompass such profoundly opposing theologies, so they might give Mormons the benefit of the doubt. Further (sadly) many “Mainstream Christians” do not think theologically, so they tend to say “he seems like a nice guy, and he seems to believe in Jesus, so he must be a Christian”

    But, all this is utterly irrelevant.

    It is Mormonism that has drawn the boundaries, or, rather the Mormon Prophets. Your opinion carries no weight, and nor can it. Ever. Period. These guys get their directions from God (or gods, or the laws that the gods are subject to), not you, or me. The declarations of war by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and their successors on Christendom are scrupulously documented, all in the name of God and Jesus Christ, of course. Their appeals to “be” Christian are nothing more than disingenuous attempts to appeal to the prevailing religion of their time. The current mob are upholding this inglorious tradition by appealing to post-modern consumerism (“the ultimate arbiter of truth is the testimony of your own heart”). The problem, as I see it, is that this “on-again” “off-again” stance has no place in the Restorationist Religion of Joseph Smith, in which God literally dictated the rules.

    Mormonism (or, at least the current version) allows Mormons to stand on one side of the line, and then the other, as circumstances require (as if the ultimate authoritative scripture were Machiavelli’s “The Prince”). If Mormons want to appear Christian, they say “We are Christians”, but if they want to heap crap on the failings of their Christian neighbors, they say “We have nothing to do with those losers.” It presents a moving target, because there is no unmovable central truth in it.

    The irony of this self-centered religion is that you cannot critique Mormonism without critiquing the Mormon person. You no longer talk about the “truth” he subscribes to, but the person who subscribes to it. That’s because modern Mormonism is defined by what the believer believes, not by the living prophet. How far it has shifted from the “restored” gospel of Joseph Smith.

    As a self-identifying Christian (who takes the name with much consideration), I cannot afford myself these luxuries. When I say I am a Christian, I put myself in the same basket as a whole bunch of losers and idiots. (Most of the Christian people I know are actually magnificent human beings, but I cannot distance myself from the few who are, quite frankly, an embarrassment). I take a fixed position, which is well articulated in the Historic Creeds, and you can critique it as much as you like. If I were to abandon that position for something less jarring to the modern mind, then I would have fallen away from what it means to be Christian. Ultimately, I worship Jesus Christ; so do most of those “Mainstream Christians” that you refer to; so did the first Christians whose church Mormonism claims to have restored.

    The irony here, is that I am defenseless. But, as the Bible insists, God is my defense. You an critique me all you like, and you’d be right in your accusations. My defense is that I don’t believe in myself, but in a Christ who has overcome all my enemies, including death itself.

    If you want a line drawn in the sand between Christian and un-Christian, the worship of Christ is the most robust, contrary to the shoddy theology of various Christianisms, and revisionists like Dan Brown. Christians worship Christ – that’s why we bear the name “Christian”. Christians have always worshiped Christ, so the term has established historic credentials, whether you agree with it or not. Mormons do not worship Christ, on the instruction of their prophets, therefore it is misleading for them to call themselves “Christian”.

    Much as I would like Mormons to be included in the family of Christ, their self-exclusion of the worship of Christ takes them away from it. I can’t change that, and neither can you.

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      Your premise ultimately relies on a “majority vote”.

      Erm, wrong. No voting is required. You guys can choose to get offended over semantics and words but don’t expect Mormons to care a whole lot. You don’t have a copyright on the word Christian so they are free to use it if they feel it suits them. I should think the vast majority of people int he world have no problem with it. You choose to get hung up on it. That is fine. Personally I am very tired of this page getting hijacked by a bunch of overly sensitive Christians who care only about taking ownership of a word. I wonder how many of you have even bothered to listen to the podcast. There is so much more there to grab hold of and talk about. Yet you choose to gripe and rant about a word. A title. It’s really very silly. And I wish you would drop it or go away. But maybe that’s just me.

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        No Richard, we get offended over Mormons hijacking Christians words, terms, changing the content and then claiming to be “Christian”.¬†

        If that doesn’t offend you then I would like to offer you the hand of fellowship my fellow Ex-Mormon Atheist brother!¬†

        After all, I don’t believe in the Mormon God and I am as “Ex” as any former member of the LdS Church therefore I hereby declare myself an Ex-Mormon Atheist!¬†

        Easy peasy.
        Done.

        I am now an Ex-Mormon Atheist.

        • Anonymous Reply

          Come on now Fred!  You know that if you really believed you were an ex-Mormon athiest, Richard would not be offended by you calling yourself that (though we might be concerned about your delusional state if we knew you were never a Mormon).  If you falsely called yourself that, Richard (and I) would merely laugh at you, and you are the one who be offended if we took you seriously.

          • Fred W. Anson

            Thank you’ve just summed up exactly how we feel when Mormons claim to be Christians.

            However, I am disappointed that I’ll never be able to fulfill my lifelong dream of being an ExMormon Atheist without the painful inconvenience of being baptized into the Mormon Church first!

            Darn it Gunnar now my bubble’s burst!

          • Richard of Norway

            If Gunnar “just summed up exactly how [you] feel”, why are you spending so much time on the topic? He said we would laugh about it. We might chuckle a little and then shrug it off. Aren’t you reacting a little stronger than that?

          • Anonymous

            Thank you again, Richard!¬† Those were exactly my thoughts when I read Fred’s response.

            Fred, Judging by that response, it seems you are not actually offended after all when Mormons claim to be Christians, which seems to my befuddled mind to be very much contrary to what you have been arguing all along.¬† If you are not really offended by that, why all the fuss about it?¬† Why not just shrug it off and let the Mormons enjoy their “delusion?”

      • martin jacobs Reply

        The “majority vote” was what I picked up from Gunnar’s post. I take it as a kind of emotional blackmail (“why don’t you just accept what everybody else is doing?”).

        Actually, I don’t get offended if someone calls himself this or that. I would prefer it if more people thought the term “Christian” was something admirable, that they aspire to. I don’t have the franchise on the term, nor does my Church, or anybody’s. However, I would also prefer that they use it with some knowledge of what the word means, and for it to retain any meaning, it should not be stretched to fit whatever you like.

        But there is something more than semantics here. My objection to Mormonism (and pop-Christianity, for that matter) is it’s “make it up as you go along” approach. Anyone can get to define it, even Gunnar, which works just fine and dandy until you run into the express teachings of its founders. According to the Mormon myth, God dictated the rules to Joseph Smith, not to Gunnar (or at least that is how Smith saw it). Which one of them should I listen to?

        One profound downside of this “heresy” (that I can find the truth in my own heart) is the way it forces a person to justify his or her own self (because that is where the truth resides). It’s actually a highly damaging ethic, because it gets people tied up in knots in the labyrinth of their own motives and desires. The Christian Gospel, by contrast, gets us to look outside ourselves, to Christ. Mormonism, as far as I can determine from its “official” teachings, throws the believer’s focus back in himself (by a number of ways, not least being the Temple system), rather than outwardly, to Christ. It’s not the only Christianism to do it, but the effect is the same – a diminution of the worship of Christ.

        • Richard of Norway Reply

          Excellent comment! I agree with almost everything you say. I guess the problem seems to be that Biblical Christians have a very specific definition for the term while most other people, including a lot of Christians, generally give it a very basic meaning: “A follower of Christ”

          Now, one can get very technical about that last word and say that only 34% of the people who call themselves Christian are “true” Christians and the rest should stop trying to fool people, but I guess I think it seems like I silly thing to spend ones time doing. Probably because I am not a believer myself. I’m sure if I attended your church I would feel the way you do. And if I attended Fred’s Bible study groups I would feel the way he does. I’m not trying to infer that those who get upset about the “fake Christians” are wrong. I just think (personally) that there are so many better, more important things in the world to spend one’s time on.

          • Anonymous

            I agree 100%.¬† To anyone not invested in a very narrow, exclusionary definition of Christ and Christian orthodoxy, any “Follower of Christ”. who reveres him for the moral principles he taught of trying to love all our fellow beings, even our enemies, and treating them with honesty and charity can reasonably claim to be Christian, even if they don’t necessarily believe Jesus is literally God.

            I seriously doubt that anyone really fully knows everything about what the earliest followers of Jesus of Nazareth really believed.¬† There were already many (perhaps even hundreds) of mutually conflicting Christian sects by the time the Emperor Constantine (who was not even a Christian himself until he was babtized on his death bed) forced the disputatious leaders of many of these competing sects into one place and cobble together some consensus of Christian doctrine that he was willing to accept and could use to his advantage to consolidate his political power.¬† Not all of these various sects accepted that Jesus was actually devine.¬† I am quite sure that deciding what was and was not heretical was far more arbitrary than most Christians are willing to believe.¬† There were numerous, perhaps hundreds of various gospels that were considered for acceptance or rejection.¬† Even the four that finally made it into the current Christian canon¬† disagree¬†with each other on many points.¬† I can’t help¬†feeling¬†that it is at least somewhat arrogant for any current Christian denomination to claim surety about what ought to be “orthodox” Christian belief and deciding who does or not qualify as “orthodox” or “authentic” Christians.

          • martin jacobs

            Gunnar wrote “I seriously doubt that anyone really fully knows everything about what
            the earliest followers of Jesus of Nazareth really believed.”

            Gunnar, I’m sorry but I cannot allow your ignorance to go unchallenged on this point.

            No, we don’t know everything that the earliest followers of Jesus believed, but we do know what they thought was of primary importance to them.

            It’s not that difficult – the Christian community wrote the New Testament, promoted it and guarded it. The New Testament is their record of the most important things in their belief system and understanding of the world. That was why they wrote it. It was their “manifesto”. They formed it, and it formed them. They rejected any “gospel” that was opposed to it. It set their agenda, and they looked to it to direct their corporate and individual lives.

            If there were something else that was of paramount importance to them – something outside the New Testament (say, Temple ordinances, Melchizedek Priesthood), we can be confident that they would have written it down and placed it into their canon.

            Sorry to appear to rant, but I don’t know how plainly I can put it.

            I’m not arguing inerrancy here. Rather, that the New Testament comprehensively documents what the early Christians believed to be of paramount importance to them. (You’ll note that the central figure in the NT is not the believer, but a Divine Christ)

            Your objection appears to stem from common Mormon (and restorationist) propaganda. Of course, the Mormon movement has to throw doubt on the felicity of the New Testament, so that believers can be introduced to beliefs and practices that were considered anathema by the primitive Christian Church. In other words, these movements undermine the authority of the Bible by saying, effectively “Don’t listen to the Bible because [insert fog of argument here]; listen to me.”

            Unfortunately, this view simply does not stand up against what can be demonstrated from the historical record. This is where Mormonism fails as a restorationist movement – what it has “restored” looks nothing like the thing it claims to have restored.

            And we have a pretty accurate picture of what the Primitive Church looked like, because it is writ large in the New Testament.

          • martin jacobs

            ¬†Richard wrote ” I just think (personally) that there are so many better, more important things in the world to spend one’s time on.”

            Yes, and no.

            Yes, we could be arguing semantics and etymology forever, and it would only be of use if we were to publish a dictionary that people would actually be interested to read (a slim chance, given my linguistic skills, and the utter lack of profile that the world seems to give me (probably justifiably)).

            No, because these questions are fundamental to human existence. If I can put it non-religiously – they are about the context in which we live our lives, and we seem to operate under the belief (delusion?) that if we understand that context, life would be better (whatever “better” is).

    • Anonymous Reply

      I don’t know how you could have gotten the impression from anything I said that whether Mormons are justified in calling themselves Christians depends on a majority vote.¬† I neither said nor intended to imply anything of the kind.

      You would have a very hard time convincing any faithful Mormons or their leaders that “Mormons do not worship Christ, on the instruction of their prophets.”¬† I can’t think of anything more ridiculous than that (and you accuse me of making no sense!). The most you can reasonably say is that they do not worship Christ in quite the same way you do.¬† Can you document any instance where Mormon prophets have specifically instructed their followers to not worship Christ?

      • Richard of Norway Reply

        Great, now they’re going to run to the Tanner’s and grab those old quotes from Joseph Smith boasting about how he was a greater man than Christ, and Brigham’s nonsense about worshiping Adam, and…

        I think it would be more impressive if they would or could find anything in the last 50 or so years – heck, even 100 years – that instructs the Mormon masses to worship anything but Jesus of the NT.

        • Fred W. Anson Reply

          Richard, if Mormons are instructed to worship the Jesus of the NT then why is the Mormon Jesus so radically different a personality than the Jesus of the New Testament?

          This point, has been made several times over several podcasts here on Mormon Expression. 

          Furthermore, has Grant Palmer has noted in “The Incomparable Jesus” Mormons don’t even put very much emphasis on worshiping the Mormon Jesus – another point that has been repeatedly made¬†several times over several podcasts here on Mormon Expression.¬†

          My Mormon brother voiced his frustration over this the last time he saw me. ¬†He noted that one of his best friends in Utah reads the Book of Mormon through 5-times every year but has never read the Bible cover-to-cover even once.¬† How can Mormons claim to worship the Biblical Jesus if they don’t know what the Bible says?

          Finally, I think that the historical quotes from Mormonism’s founder and the Second President of the LdS Church – the two personalities that laid the foundation for modern Mormonism – are indeed germane to a contemporary discussion like this.

          • Anonymous

            I will concede that you made good point when you said, “How can Mormons claim to worship the Biblical Jesus if they don’t know what the Bible says?”

            I also concede Mormons, in general, don’t study the Bible very diligently.¬† Personally, the more I read the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, the more repulsed I am by the cruel, sadistic and monstrous God portrayed there, though I find the heartwarming story of love, loyalty and tolerance depicted in the Story of Ruth and Naomi to be quite appealing.¬† The New Testament depicting the love and moral teachings of Jesus of Nazareth can also be quite appealing.¬† I think also that whatever one thinks of the Bible, no one in our Western culture can rightfully regard oneself as truly, culturally literate without having at least a passing aquaintance with its contents.

          • Richard of Norway

            Good point. Feel free to change my last sentence to just plain “Jesus” or what ever makes you feel good. To me it doesn’t really matter. I am tired of the discussion and frankly find it a HUGE waste of time.

            I couldn’t care less what Mormons call themselves. I couldn’t care less if you want to call yourself an Ex-Mormon Atheist. If it makes you happy, fine with me. If you want to go around calling yourself Richard Harris of Norway I wouldn’t care. Knock yourself out.

            From what I know of you I think you’re a really nice guy. That is most important to me. Not your self-proclaimed name or title.

        • martin jacobs Reply

          Richard, why do you think it is irrelevant to “grab those old quotes”? We’re talking about the (alleged) prophet of the restoration here, and I would have thought it would be of paramount importance to know and understand what he said, and what he meant by it.

          • Richard of Norway

            I agree with you in general but on the topic of “are Mormons Christian?” I think it is more relevant to look at what they are taught and believe TODAY. Hardly any member is familiar with “those old quotes” and those views (Joseph a better man than Jesus, Adam-God, etc) are completely ignored by Mormons today.

          • martin jacobs

            (Sorry if I get the “reply” thing wrong here – I could not see a “reply” button on your post)

            …So, if the modern movement has ignored the “gospel” that was restored by Joseph Smith, is it not apostate?

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      “Mormons do not worship Christ” ?

      Here is one of the favorite hymns among Mormons: (Many Mormon leaders select this as their very favorite)

      I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
      No tender voice like Thine can peace afford. Refrain:I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;Every hour I need Thee;Oh, bless me now, my Savior,I come to Thee.I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
      Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh. I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
      Come quickly and abide, or life is vain. I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
      And Thy rich promises in me fulfill. I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;Oh, make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.

  21. Anonymous Reply

    Another excellent podcast.  The way Chuck Borough feels about the LDS Church is fairly close to the way I feel.  It is encouraging to me to find yet another confirmation that I am not alone.

  22. Chuck Borough Reply

    I’m a scientist. I look at data to develop my best conclusions. Even then, the conclusions are never cast in stone.

    Here is the data on whether Mormons worship Jesus or not:

    First of all, words from some of their favorite hymns:

    1. “Oh Bless me now my Savior, I Come to Thee.”

    2. “Jesus the very thought of thee, with sweetness fills my breast.”

    3. “Jesus, Savior, pilot me.”

    4. “Jesus, my Savior true, Guide me to thee.”

    And then the Eucharist:

    Mormons almost never refer to it as the “Eucharist,” but as “The Sacrament.” The symbols (Bread and Water for Mormons) represent¬†the body and the blood of Jesus Christ. They take these symbols every Sunday, not just occasionally. It is the centrel element of the main Mormon meeting, and specifically it is called The “Sacrament” Meeting. This is every Sunday with a few exceptions for conferences.

    I visited Jewish meetings; they didn’t do this. I visited Islamic meetings; they didn’t do this. I visited Buddhist meetings; they didn’t do this. Why? They’re not Christians.

    All the data I’ve seen in sixty years of going to Mormon meetings tells me that their central focus is Jesus.

    I do not see Mormons raising their hands and waving back and forth and saying, “Thank you, Jesus.” If this is the definition of worship, then Mormons don’t do this. Mormons don’t speak directly to Jesus (which I think is just a silly rule) – but with an interesting exception that even most Mormons have not thought about. Mormons speak directly to Jesus in many of their hymns.

    My emphasis on data from long-standing hymns of the Mormon Church probably stems from my having been a music leader among Mormons for a long time.

    For my own self, I don’t like worship or obedience. I like love instead of worship, and I like respect instead of obedience. If I Worship and Obey God, how can I expect Him to return the favor and worship and obey me? But I may love God, and He may love me also. I may respect Him, and He may respect me also. (Bi-directional.)

    But Mormons really DO like both Worship and Obedience. That’s the way I read the data from them over a very long period. They Worship Jesus¬†constantly, but in a quieter way.

    • Fred W. Anson Reply

      Correct Mormons worship the Mormon Jesus.  They do NOT, however, worship the Jesus of the Bible. 

      You can quote from 100, or even a 1,000 Mormon hymns, and that fact will remain. 

      • Chuck Borough Reply

        Can we imagine how many billions of man-hours have been spent arguing trivia like this instead of helping the poor?

        • Fred W. Anson Reply

          Chuck, like many LdS Apologists, you seem to very good at deflection, distraction, misdirection, and demagoguery.

          Please argue to and from evidence going forward. And please show your debating opponents the respect of staying on point and not engaging in such rhetorical tactics.

          Thank you.

          Tell you what, if you will acknowledge that Mormonism and Mormons are NOT Christians – and will change your stance in this regard both now and going forward I will have no further arguments for you. Thus, you will no longer have to waste your time defending the “trivia” that Mormonism and Mormons are Christian and you can go back to helping the poor.

          • Chuck Borough

            The point is that we don’t have to solve this. We can remain on opposite sides of such a trivial argument and still go forward doing good works, if that’s what we decide top do. For me, the whole thing is silly; there is no person who put the universe together – just the invention of a very intelligent mammal.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Side noteРwhat Chuck lists are elements of the Preparatory Gospel of MormonismРan analog of Biblical teachings.   Mature Mormons move beyond the Preparatory Gospel into the Fulness of the Gospel, Eternal Progression, Many Gods- and a different Jesus Christ figure.

      Mormonism’s information is divided into two main domains or spheres of truth- the¬†
      Preparatory Gospel and the Fulness of the Gospel. ¬†Each division has its own Priesthood, sources of information, place of worship and theology— and even eternal destiny. ¬† The preparatory gospel is the watered-down public version that has people saying that Mormons are deceptive- having people join under the conditions of the preparatory gospel– then switching to the Fulness. ¬†

      • Anonymous Reply

        I will concede that Mormons have been often been and still are deceptive when approaching potential converts (and even towards long time members).¬† I don’t condone this any more than you do, which is why I no longer believe the Church is everything it claims to be, but I don’t think this justifies denying faithful, believing Mormons who are trying their best to live the moral principles that Jesus of Nazareth taught the right to regard themselves as Christians.

        • Anonymous Reply

          Gunnar– I do not believe that Mormon missionaries intend to be deceptive when teaching people toward Baptism. ¬† The Baptismal Covenant of the BoM and D&C when carefully examined is monotheistic to a triune God whom is strictly Eternal– this baptism is a life long covenant that is renewed every Sunday in the Ward Sacrament Meeting. ¬†So the primary covenant, and Ward life of the typical Mormon is an analog of what is Biblical. But when it comes the LDS Eternal Progression, that is when LDS doctrinal things change radically. ¬† ¬† Though the issue of Biblical infallibility often comes up– it is not directly related to the idea that Mormon Eternal Progression is a radical departure form anything “Christian”. ¬†To simply believe that the Bible is generally reliable, and¬†discernable in its grand themes is all that is required when it comes to comparing LDS Eternal Progression to Biblical teachings.
          About ‘other churches’– most Churches through out ‘orthodoxy’ ¬† do not have a conflict in what they teach overall. The notion that Churches are contending and fighting over doctrinal beliefs is a fable in our times, ¬†the continuation of this idea in LDS culture probably is a¬†vestige from the 1800s ¬†Stone-Campbell restoration debates of upper state New York.¬†

          • Anonymous

            I agree with you that Mormon missionaries are not intentionally deceptive.¬† Most of them have a limited and skewed perception themselves on what all is contained in Mormon Doctrine (which I am sure you agree with).¬† As for the Mormon idea of eternal progression, there are aspects of that appeal to me, and which I don’t think are necessarily precluded by anything in the Bible.¬† The idea of an eternal life after death has no appeal to me if it does not include opportunities to continue to learn and grow and experience new things and continue to enjoy the close relationships with loved ones acquired during mortality.¬† However, I find the prospect of eventually becoming a God like the Mormon God (and especially anything resembling the God of the Bible, particularly as depicted in the Old Testament) abhorrent.

            That the LDS “… notion that Churches are contending and fighting over doctrinal beliefs …probably is a¬†vestige from the 1800s ¬†Stone-Campbell restoration debates of upper state New York.”¬† Seems a valid point to me.¬† I am somewhat chagrined that that was not already as clear to me as it should have been before you pointed it out.¬† Thank you for that:–)

            However, I doubt that contending and fighting over doctrinal beliefs is entirely a thing of the past or that it will ever go away as long as religions exist, LDS culture or no LDS culture.  Even without religion, people will always find things to fight or argue passionately about.

            The important thing to me, though, is that none of this diminishes the validity of classifying all who revere and strive to follow the teachings and moral standards of Jesus of Nazareth, according to their own best understanding of his life and mission, as Christians, IMHO.

  23. Elder Vader Reply

    Just to count me correctly.¬† I’m in the 50% of your podcast listeners who is still an active member.¬† If you count going to church at least once per month as ‘active’.¬†

  24. Fred W. Anson Reply

    at Gunnar
    (sorry but the reply button has scrolled off to the right so I have to go to the top of the page – no choice mate, I have to go to the top of the discussion thread with this)

    YOU WROTE
    “As far as I can tell, those Christians who deny that Mormons are Christians do not even constitute a majority of all Christians.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Well Gunnar I’m disappointed that you have chosen to take such an irrational, unreasonable, and unsupportable stance.

    First, the majority of Christian Churches DO reject Mormonism as a legitimate Christian Denomination. Here’s a link to a partial list for your reference:
    http://www.apologeticsindex.org/m04.html

    YOU WROTE
    “Not all mainstream Christians deny that Mormons are Christians unless you define mainstream Christians as only those who agree with you.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Gunnar, I don’t make the rules, nor do you. The rules were in fact established long before you and I were born – or for that matter, our parents, their parents, or their parents.

    In order to be considered “Christian” a group and a person must conform to the established criteria for inclusion into the group. That criteria is the essential doctrines of the Christian Faith which I will include as a second post.

    YOU WROTE
    “Though it is undeniably true that the Bible has more real history in it than the BoM, it is also undeniably true that it also contains myths and error.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Gunnar, this is in fact irrelevant. The issue here isn’t whether one group or another’s sacred writ is reliable, the issue is, “Does Mormonism meet the established criteria for inclusion in the people group known as ‘Christian'”

    The established criteria for inclusion into the people group “Mormon” is that one must acknowledge that: a) Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and; b) The Book of Mormon is true and divinely inspired. This has been the case since 1830.

    The established criteria for inclusion into the people group “Christian” is that one must adhere to the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. This has been the case since the time of the Apostles as the non-Gospel books of the New Testament demonstrate.

    Now Christians don’t claim to be Mormon because they don’t meet the established criteria. Nor do we claim to be Muslims, or Buddhists, or Hindu, or anything but what we are: Christians.

    Why then do Mormons claim to ‘Christian’ when they don’t meet the established criteria for inclusion?

    YOU WROTE
    “Nor can it be denied that even among “mainstream Christians” (or those who call themselves such) there is considerable disagreement on how the historical claims of the Bible are to be correctly interpreted.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Christians can and will disagree on the non-essentials of the Christian faith and still meet the established criteria for inclusion into the people group “Christian”.

    However, as soon as a person, or a group deviates from the essentials of the Christian faith they can not, and should not, call them self a member of the people group “Christian” any longer.

    Again, it’s been that way for over 2,000 years now. It didn’t suddenly change in 1830 because an outsider – Joseph Smith, Jr. – decided that he would rewrite the rules of inclusion so he could resurrect all the old heresies of the ages yet still “join the club” too.

  25. Fred W. Anson Reply

    As promised to Gunnar in a prior post:

    Essential Doctrines of Christianity
    by Matt Slick

    The Bible itself reveals those doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith. They are:

    1) the Deity of Christ,

    2) Salvation by Grace,
    and 3) Resurrection of Christ,

    4) the gospel,
    and 5) monotheism.

    These are the doctrines the Bible says are necessary. Though there are many other important doctrines, these five are the ones that are declared by Scripture to be essential. A non-regenerate person (i.e., Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness, atheist, Muslim), will deny one or more of these essential doctrines. Please note that there are other derivative doctrines of scripture that become necessary also, the Trinity being one.

    1) The Deity of Christ
    Jesus is God in flesh (John 8:58 with Exodus 3:14).

    See also John 1:1,14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:8
    1 John 4:2-3: “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”

    The above verse needs to be cross referenced with John 1:1,14 (also written by John) where he states that the Word was God and the Word became flesh.

    1 John 4:2-3 is saying that if you deny that Jesus is God in flesh then you are of the spirit of Antichrist.
    John 8:24, “I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”

    Jesus said that if you do not believe “that I am” you will die in your sins. In Greek I am is ‘ego eimi,’ which means ‚ÄėI am.’ These are the same words used in John 8:58, where Jesus says “…before Abraham was, I am.” He was claiming the divine title by quoting Exodus 3:14.

    The Greek Septuagint is the Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek, done by Jews around 250 B.C. They translated Exodus 3:14 as ‘ego eimi’ “I AM”.)

    Jesus is the proper object of faith
    It is not simply enough to have faith. Faith is only as valid as the person in whom you put it. You must put your faith in the proper person. Cults have false objects of faith (false gods); therefore, their faith is useless — no matter how sincere they are.

    If you put your faith in a guru, a philosopher, or a past teacher (and not Jesus) to save you from your sins on Judgment Day, then you will be in a lot of trouble, no matter how sincere or strong your faith is. You might have great faith, but so what? Faith in something false has the same effect as no faith at all.

    The Doctrine of the deity of Christ includes:
    The Trinity
    There is one God who exists in three persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are all coeternal and of the same nature.

    Monotheism
    There is only one God in all existence (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8; 45:5,14,18,21,22; 46:9; 47:8). Mormons believe that many gods exist, though they serve and worship only one. Therefore, they are polytheists which excludes them from the camp of Christianity.

    The Hypostatic Union
    That Jesus is both God and man.

    The sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ
    The sacrifice of Christ is completely sufficient to pay for the sins of the world and it is only through Jesus’ sacrifice that anyone can be saved.

    As God
    Only a perfect sacrifice to God is able to cleanse us from our sins. This is why Jesus, who is God in flesh, died for us.

    He had to die for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2)
    Only God could do that.

    As man
    Jesus must be man to be able to be a sacrifice for man.

    As a man He can be the mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).

    This means that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Way International, Islam, etc., are outside of Christianity.

    2) Salvation by Grace
    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast,” (Eph. 2:8-9, NIV).

    “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:4).
    This verse and its context plainly teach that if you believe that you are saved by faith and works then you are not saved at all. This is a common error in the cults. Because they have a false Jesus, they have a false doctrine of salvation. (Read Rom. 3-5 and Gal. 3-5).

    You cannot add to the work of God.
    Gal. 2:21 says, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (NIV)

    “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin,” (Rom. 3:20).

    “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness,” (Rom. 4:5).

    “Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law,” (Gal. 3:21).

    Salvation is not universal resurrection as Mormonism would declare. Rather, it is the saving from God’s righteous judgment. Furthermore, salvation, which is the forgiveness of sins is accomplished by faith alone (Rom. 4:1-11).

    Roman Catholicism denies salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone. Therefore, Roman Catholicism is outside of Christianity.

    3) The Resurrection of Christ
    “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith,” (1 Cor. 15:14). “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins,” (1 Cor. 15:17).

    To deny the physical resurrection is to deny that Jesus’ work was a satisfactory offering to God the Father. It would mean that Jesus was corrupt and needed to stay in the grave. But, he did not stay because his sacrifice was perfect.

    These verses clearly state that if you say that Jesus did not rise from the dead (in the same body He died in — John 2:19-21), then your faith is useless.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Muslims deny Jesus’ physical resurrection. Therefore, they are outside of Christianity.
    The Gospel

    4) The Gospel
    “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal. 1:8-9, NIV).

    Verses 8 and 9 here in Galatians are a self declarative statement that you must believe the gospel. The gospel message which in its entirety is that Jesus is God in flesh, who died for sins, rose from the dead, and freely gives the gift of eternal life to those who believe.

    Furthermore, it would not be possible to present the gospel properly without declaring that Jesus is God in flesh per John 1:1,14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:8.

    1 Cor. 15:1-4 defines what the gospel is: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (NIV).

    Within these verses are the essentials:
    Christ is God in flesh (John 1:1,14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9);
    Salvation is received by faith (John 1:12; Rom. 10:9-10),
    therefore it is by grace;
    and the resurrection is mentioned in verse 4.

    Therefore, this gospel message automatically includes the essentials.

    5) Monotheism
    There is only one God (Exodus 20:3; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8)
    ‚ÄúYou shall have no other gods before Me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments,”
    (Exodus 20:3-6).

    We can see that God will visit iniquity on the descendents of those who do not follow the true and living God.

    Mormonism, for example, is not monotheistic. Mormonism teaches that there are many gods but only one is worshipped. Therefore, Mormonism is outside of Christianity.

    Secondary essentials
    Secondary essentials are necessary truths, but there is no self-declared penalty for their denial — yet they are still essential to the Christian faith. Again, by way of example, Jesus says that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by him, (John 14:6). I call this a secondary essential because there’s no penalty associated with its denial. Nevertheless, it is a statement of absolute truth and is an essential Christian teaching that cannot be denied.

    Jesus is the only way to salvation
    “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me,'” (John 14:6)
    Jesus declared that he was the only access to God the Father. To deny this is to deny what Jesus said.

    Jesus’ Virgin Birth
    ‚Äú’Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us,’‚ÄĚ (Matt. 1:23).

    Without the virgin birth, we cannot substantiate the doctrine of the incarnation of Jesus being God in flesh. This would put at risk what Jesus said above in John 8:24, where he said, “I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”

    Doctrine of the Trinity
    Matt. 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” (see also, Matt. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6.)

    This doctrine is not represented by a single verse per se, though it is hinted at. The doctrine of the Trinity is arrived at systematically by looking at the totality of Scripture. It is, nevertheless, the proper representation of scriptural revelation concerning the nature of God.

    The Trinity is denied by Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, The Way International, etc.
    (source = http://carm.org/essential-doctrines-of-christianity )

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      Do you honestly think a TBM could convince anybody that Mormonism is true by pasting an entire chapter of Mormon Doctrine into a Pentecostal message board thread?

      How is what you are doing supposed to be any more convincing? Why should any of us care what Matt Slick says about anything under the sun? Where is your power of discernment?

      You are really out on a limb here dude. Please reel in a little.¬†Cheers! ūüôā

  26. Sylvia's Brian Reply

    Hi Chuck.¬† I am a weekly listener to John and Zilpha’s podcasts.¬† Imagine how pleased I was to see your name pop up.¬† Great job.¬†

    Fred Anson–It’s always good to see someone spreading the peace that Jesus gives.¬† We get it. Mormons don’t believe in the Jesus.¬† You win.¬† Take your ball and go home.

    • Fred W. Anson Reply

      Apparently you missed the part where I acknowledge that Mormons do worship and believe in the Mormon Jesus. ¬†However, that does NOT make them “Christian” it makes them Mormon – a distinct and unique Abrahamic religion.¬†

      So Silvia’s Brian YOU win, you can take your ball and go home.¬†

      Again, if Mormons would stop claiming to be Christians I would have no argument. 

      “Spreading the peace the Jesus gives” doesn’t mean allowing error to stand unchallenged. If that were the case then Jesus was being quite unChrist like by contending with the Pharisees and Sadducees in the Temple complex. So yes, I am indeed spreading the same peace that Jesus gave. I’m sorry that seems to offend you.¬†

      Further, I’m merely doing what Christians were instructed by the Apostles to do and what Christ Himself did – I am contending for the Christian faith. I’m sorry if that offends you too:¬†

      “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly CONTEND for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
      — Jude 1:3 (KJV)

      “…we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God WITH MUCH CONTENTION.For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.”¬†
      — I Thessalonians 2:2-4 (KJV)

      • Sylvia's Brian Reply

        Fred–not offended at all.¬† I don’t believe in the Mormon Jesus or yours.¬† Just cracks me up when religious people argue about religion.¬†

        I wrote “Mormons don’t believe in the Jesus”.¬† Not capitalizing “the” might have made it hard for you to understand what I was saying.

      • Anonymous Reply

        I think insisting Mormons aren’t Christians is like insisting that Evangelicals don’t believe in the Bible since they believe in the rapture. While it may be true it is a mark of douche baggary to keep pointing it out.

        • Fred W. Anson Reply

          John, belief in the rapture is a non-essential doctrine. Christians have the liberty of believing or not believing in the rapture.

          Mormons are NOT Christians because they deviate from orthodoxy  on the essential of the Christian faith.  

          And name calling and insults aren’t going to change that fact. Sorry.

  27. Fred W. Anson Reply

    YOU WROTE
    “The point is that we don’t have to solve this. We can remain on opposite sides of such a trivial argument and still go forward doing good works, if that’s what we decide top do. For me, the whole thing is silly; there is no person who put the universe together – just the invention of a very intelligent mammal.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Glad to hear. ¬†Then since it’s such a “trivial matter” you should have no problem no longer referring to Mormons as “Christians” – right?¬†

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      “Glad to hear. ¬†Then since it’s such a “trivial matter” you should have no problem no longer referring to Mormons as “Christians” – right?¬†“No – this would be your “winning” the argument. What I’m saying is that neither of us need to win. Both sides feel misrepresented. Who’s right doesn’t matter to me because I’m on a third side. My side says both the Mormons and the Fundamentalists are wrong. There is no person who put the universe together. I don’t have to win that argument either; it’s just my position, and I don’t think anyone else needs to agree. I do think people on all three sides need to care about our fellow man, and there you have it.

      Our freedom of religion in this great country allows all three of these positions to flourish, or idol worship if anyone wants to do that. It’s a great freedom. It would be awful if this were, instead of a free country, a religion-based country, whether it be Chritianity or Islam or whatever. I would not argue that anyone needs to be an atheist, but I would argue with enthusiasm that all must be free to be any of these things.

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        I see.

        So does, “freedom of religion in this great country” also mean that people are allowed to misrepresent themselves to the public as something that they’re not? ¬† Would you have no objection if I started telling people that I’m an Mormon? Or an ExMormon? Or an Atheist? Or an ExMormon Atheist? Or Chuck Borough?¬†

        Does your “third side” preclude honesty? Integrity? Justice? And if yours is truly a “third side” why do you defend modern Mormonism’s ongoing deception that they are Christian? ¬†I haven’t seen someone who’s objective and detached in this discussion I’ve seen someone who’s invested in protecting this lie.¬†

        I’m not trying to silence Mormons and I endorse wholeheartedly their right worship freely. ¬†However, when they deceptively claim to be a part of people group that they do not meet the rules for inclusion in AND I happen to be a member of that people group, yes, I’m going to call “foul” just you would if I deceptively claimed to Chuck Borough.¬†

        Yet again, if Mormons would stop deceptively representing themselves as “Christian” I would have no argument here.

        • Chuck Borough Reply

          When people buy or sell a house, they are asked to fill out an identifying form for the title company. In it, I would say I was Chuck Borough, but also that I was married to Leona Borough on a certain date, where and when I was employed, addresses where I have lived, etc. This nails down who I am. You’re welcome, so far as I’m concerned, to call yourself Chuck Borough. There is another one, when I Google; he plays hockey.

          Anyone who cares to study the Mormon Church will find that there are plenty of these identifying records. They will make it clear that though Mormons believe in and worship the same person, Mormons believe many different things about that person. The differences are not hidden or secret, and there is no attempt to confuse you.

          Additionally, I don’t have a great tendency to “defend” Mormons, but I do have a strong feeling to defend freedom. Mormons consider themselves believers in Jesus Christ. That’s the end of it for me. They, like you, also tend to be exclusivist. I don’t like that about the Mormons, and I don’t like it about¬†anyone else¬†either, though even that feature is a freedom both they and you have. I do like good inclusivist religion, though it’s hard to find, but I don’t consider any religion to be fact-based. It’s all metaphoric, much like Santa Claus. I sometimes say to scientists, “Let’s not get rid of God; let’s treat him lovingly. like we do Santa Claus.”

          I am glad you would not forego electing Romney on the basis that he is not Christian. Many are arguing right now that they would not vote for him because “He is not a Christian.” I will cast my vote for Obama, of course, but if I wanted a Republican, it would be Romney.

          • Fred W. Anson

            So what I hear you saying Chuck is if someone claimed to be Chuck Borough but didn’t match the established criteria and body of evidence for that name then they would be a lying fraud – right?

            If so, thank you for proving my point.

            And that has nothing to do with freedom Chuck – that is unless you think lying should be a protected freedom – it’s common sense and intregrity.

            However, I must say that I hate your exclusivism! You seem to think that others shouldn’t be allowed to use your name if it suits their fancy, intentions, and personal agenda!

            You seem to imply that one’s name is worth protecting – pretty darn exclusionary there Chuck. Pretty freedom inhibiting!

          • Richard of Norway

            @facebook-1416477869:disqus 

            However, I must say that I hate your exclusivism! You seem to think that others shouldn’t be allowed to use your name if it suits their fancy, intentions, and personal agenda!¬†

            I don’t see that at all but maybe you have confirmation bias or are self projecting?

            Chuck said people are welcome to use his name if they want to. He said, “You’re welcome, so far as I’m concerned, to call yourself Chuck Borough.”

            How is that “exclusionary” (as you put it) in the least?

            You are really coming off as a spamming troll in this thread Fred. I know, you’re not COMPLETELY off topic, but you sure are nailing it down, loudly, with every tool in the shed. I should think one or two posts would have been enough. When will you put it to rest? We all know (and I think understand) your take on it. We get it. Some of us simply don’t agree with you. And frankly, no matter how much you try to shove your position down our throats (yes, that is how it feels) it isn’t going to change our minds.

            I don’t give a flying fuck what people call them self. Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Muslim. As long as they are good people, who say it with all sincerity and without malicious intent, I frankly do not, and will not understand why anybody would waste so much of their day(s) protesting the issue.

            Can’t you write another of your excellent blog posts instead?

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      I’m beginning to suspect that this enthusiasm to label Mormons as non-Christians has to do with the possible Republican nominee Romney. He is, by far, their best candidate, though I think he is unelectable by Republicans, the party that has always been the enemy of the Mormon Church, even though the Mormons are in love with that party. If Romney ran as a Democrat someday, he might be viable. Democrats, by and large, don’t care what your religion is. They believe in freedom of religion.

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        (eye rolls) 
        Chuck, honestly, where do you get this ridiculous stuff from? 

        Truthfully I, a registered Republican and an Evangelical Christian, look forward to a Mitt Romney Presidency AND the Christians at the Bible Study that I was at tonight felt the same way. ¬†Many mentioned that he stills to be competent and capable and that’s all that matters.¬†

        Further, ”¬†this enthusiasm to label Mormons as non-Christians” has been going on for 181-years now. ¬†Christians were denouncing Mormons claims to be “Christian” long before you and I were even born and if Mormon continue to make the claim without aligning their theology with Biblical Theology it will be going long after you and I are gone.¬†So simply put, you’re wrong.

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        Chuck just a quick footnote on when you said . . .  

        YOU WROTE
        ”¬†If Romney ran as a Democrat someday, he might be viable. Democrats, by and large, don’t care what your religion is. They believe in freedom of religion.”

        MY RESPONSE
        This is from William McGurn’s article, “The Cult of Anti-Mormonism” which appears in today’s Wall Street Journal:¬†

        “…many stories on the issue of Mr. Romney’s Mormonism invoke a striking May survey from the Pew Research Center. According to this survey, 34% of white evangelicals report themselves “less likely” to vote for a Mormon for president.

        That’s fair enough as far as it goes. The same Pew survey, however, shows something much less reported. This is that, overall, more Democrats than Republicans are hostile to a Mormon candidacy (31% to 23%). More interesting still is Pew’s finding that when it comes to this particular animus, “liberal Democrats stand out, with 41% saying they would be less likely to support a Mormon candidate.
        (source http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203633104576623254205029400.html )

        • Chuck Borough Reply

          That is interesting. I think that’s because almost all Mormon candidates are Republicans. If a Mormon were running as a Democrat, I think Democrats would not decide based on his religion. You’re talking about a real poll, however, and I’m just doing my ownthinking, so I could certainly be wrong. In the historical past, the rather rightist Christians were those fighting against the Mormons, but also these right wingers were often Southern Democrats, not Republicans. It’s really the right wing, and not specifically Republicans, that I think dislike Mormonism. In today’s world, that is mostly Republicans (you know, including Tea Party, etc. far from being Democrats of our era. Ask a Democrat today wht he thinks of Mormons, and he’s likely to be thinking of a conservative, as most Mormons are.

      • martin jacobs Reply

        Chuck, I don’t even live in your country. It’s not my place to comment on your choice of political leadership, other than to express my wish that you choose a wise one.

        We were talking about a different kind of Kingdom – one that unites me with some of the posters here, and that is something I do feel qualified to comment on.

        • Chuck Borough Reply

          I’m of the opinion that anyone is entitled. Many countries now have pretty good freedom of speech now, and I’m sure this internet is going to make that true just about everywhere.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Fred, a relevant point to me is that Mormons don’t intend to demean or insult other Christians by claiming to be Christians themselves (unless they insist that they are the only true Christians, which I would find extremely deplorable).¬† My problem is that I cannot avoid the perception that when other Christians deny that Mormons (or any other Christian denomination they don’t regard as “orthodox”) are also Christians, it is intentionally demeaning, and this is what I cannot abide.

      Fred, do you really think that the Jews mean the same thing by the word “Mashiach” (“Messiah”) that Christians do?¬† I am fairly certain that today’s Jews don’t believe that their Messiah, when he comes, will be God incarnate, nor do I think the Jews ever believed that.¬† “Messiah” (“Mashiach”) simply means “the Anointed One” as does the Greek “Kristos” from which “Christ” is derived.¬† What is there to prevent other cultures and religious traditions from designating their heroes or leaders by anointing them with oil as the Hebrews did, or looking forward to some future leader, prophet, saviour and/or demigod as “the anointed one?”¬† The ancient Jews concept of a Messiah, as I understand it, meant a future great leader or king descended from David that would restore the Davidic kingdom¬†to its traditional¬†boundaries and release them bondage and exile.¬† Jews both then and now would regard the idea that this Messiah is actually God to be blasphemous!¬† I’ll have to look it up again, but I think it is in the book Who Wrote the Bible where I read that the designation that the Messiah would be called “the Son of God” was not necessarily meant to be taken literally, as they also called their kings “Sons of God.”

      As for the Mormon concept of God, I’m sure you know as well as I do that Joseph Smith’s concept of God was initially very similar, if not identical to the trinitarian concept now endorsed by most Mainstream Christians.¬† The concept of God described in the earliest editions of the BoM seemed very much like that believed in by most Christians of Joseph Smith’s day (or, for that matter, today).¬† Even the current edition of the BoM does not clearly support the present day Mormon concept of God without a bit of poetic license and tweaking.¬† Nevertheless, support for the Mormon concept that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate beings that are one only in purpose–not in actual fact, is not hard to find in The Bible.¬† For one thing, why would Christ find it necessary to pray to himself in the Garden of Gethsemane?¬† In particular consider Luke 22:42 “Saying, Father if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”¬† If God and Christ are the same being, how could something be the Father’s will but not Christ’s will?

      Even stronger evidence is found in John 17:20-23:

      “20 Neither pray I for these 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 has sent me.
      22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one;
      23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made erfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

      Is Christ saying here that he expects his disciples to become literally one being, and that they will also combine with the Father and the Son into one literal being?  He specifically prayed for them to become one in the same way that He and the Father are one.  If He meant that His disciples were to become one only metaphorically, how is it possible to conclude with confidence that He was not also merely speaking metaphorically when He said He and the Father are one?

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        YOU WROTE
        “Fred, a relevant point to me is that Mormons don’t intend to demean or insult other Christians by claiming to be Christians themselves (unless they insist that they are the only true Christians, which I would find extremely deplorable).”

        MY RESPONSE
        Gunnar, does this sound familiar: 

        “My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)–and which I should join.

        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; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

        He again forbade me to join with any of them”
        ( http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,104-1-3-4,00.html )

        And I won’t even bother with the insulting demeaning content in regard to Christians and Christian Preachers that in the Temple Endowment ceremony until 1990. ¬†Further, I can pull out a long, long, long list of quotes from Mormon Leaders stating explicitly that Mormons ARE the ONLY true Christians.¬†

        Finally, have you read through the Missionary Cirricullum “Preach My Gospel” lately? ¬†It’s loaded with demeaning, diminishing comments about non-Mormon churches and their second class status relative to the “ONLY true and restored church”.¬†

        So on one hand the LdS Church wants to be accepted as “Christian” but on the other hand it wants demean, belittle, and depreciate mainstream, Biblical ¬†Christianity. ¬†Frankly, it’s just bizarre.¬†

        As for the rest of your post I will say it again: ¬†The criteria for inclusion in the people group “Christian” was established long before Joseph Smith arrived on the scene. ¬†All Mormons need to do to be part of the people group “Christian” is change their theology and doctrine to conform with the essential doctrines that I have posted previously. ¬†There’s really nothing more to be said here.¬†

          • Fred W. Anson

            Yes Richard that’s a promise but only if no more relativistic arguments about how those in an established shouldn’t apply inclusion criteria for membership in that group.

            Or that it’s OK if outsiders ignore that criteria for their new group and claim that they’re members of the group too even though they don’t match the established criteria.

            I will happily walk away as no more such unreasonable, irrational, and illogical claims are made.

        • Anonymous Reply

          I have alread said that I greatly deplore the past LDS efforts to characterize other Christian denominations as non-Christians at least as much as I deplore Evangelical Christians refusing to accept Mormons as a type of Christian.  They have not even the slightest justification for regarding any other Christiant denominations as any more abominable than themselves.

  28. Elder Vader Reply

    Chuck, I’m interested in the degree to which you are ‘allowed’ to participate in your ward.¬† I was taking the ‘I live the standards, and want to participate in the community, but I don’t believe…’ tack and I wasn’t allowed to baptize my son.¬† Since then I’ve disengaged quite a bit.¬† I listened to this podcast and your point of view resonates with me a lot.¬†

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      Of course a good and important question. Sometimes I am asked to participate in things that I don’t feel comfortable with, because I am not a believer of what would be reasonable to believe for that particular participation. If were asked to baptize someone who does not really know me but just “likes” me, I would explain and ask not to do that. When my own family wanted me “in the circle” when a grandson was confirmed, that was fully acceptable to me, becasue they knew everything they needed to know about me, and besides, I’m in a supporting role there, not doing the ordinance myself. Leading the music in my ward seems a good calling for me. I enjoy it. I’m well prepared for it, so it requires very little extra time – just the meeting itself, which I would be at anyway. I’ve been asked to participate in a blessing when someone was going to the hospital, etc. In these cases, for me, it depends on if that person knows me well enough to know who he or she is asking for.

      I’ve played “Santa Claus” for our ward Christmas parties, and nobody questioned me as to whether I believed in Santa Claus. I believe in the concept, the loving and caring symbol, so I oblige even though I don’t believe.

      Mostly it’s a matter of judgment. I think in some ways I’m a rara avis (rare bird) in the Church, but I have many froends there, and they have become used to me. I think the Church itself is coming more and more to have a need for members who are atheists. I know that’s a surprizing thing to say, but my experience tells me that there are many members not our of the closet on this – good members who value much in the Church. They need someone like me, who is clear on this and outspoken enough for them to see the support.

      When a good Bishop or someone asks me about getting a temple recommend and becoming “temple active,” I tell them that I would be willing to go through doing my own endowmwnts over and over, but that I would not be willing to go through using another person’s name. (You know – unless that person from the Spirit World somehow told them he wanted me to do that.) (smile)

      • Elder Vader Reply

        Thanks Chuck.¬† I haven’t come out of the closet so to speak.¬† I just drop annoying questions on gospel doctrine, and EQ classes.¬† And live with the tension.¬† I’ve been kind of struggling with where to go next.¬† I don’t want to be that guy who is always just being disruptive etc… but I’m not there, where I want to leave the church either.¬†

        • Chuck Borough Reply

          You are far from alone. Many in the Church do not believe what are important doctrines to the Church, and quite a few don’t believe there is a God at all, yet value the culture they have grown up in and hope not to have to give it up. Concerning disruption, my own theory is, “Disrupt a little, but not a lot; embarrass a little, but not a lot, tease a little, but not a lot, etc.” A “newer” “doctrine” in the Church is that we should not have “contention,” but “Contend, Contend, Contend for the Truth” are words in an old hymn. So I might say, “Contend a little, but not a lot.”

  29. Fred W. Anson Reply

    @ Gunnar
    (another reply button indented off the page Рsorry mate) 

    YOU WROTE
    “Do you really want to maintain that Mormons have no right to call themselves Christians if they sincerely believe they are?”

    MY RESPONSE
    Not just I but the entirety of Biblical Christianity holds to this stance. Further, Mormonism held to this stance up to the McKay Presidency when McKay realized that a shift was required if Mormonism was to continue to grow. Modern Mormonism is an aberration. 

    And your examples actually prove my point. 

    Indians may not have given themselves the name of their people group BUT there remains an established criteria for inclusion in the people group, “Indian” that you must meet in order to be included. ¬†I know this because I am one-eighth Canadian Indian but I am NOT considered an Indian based on their established criteria for inclusion.¬†No matter how sincerely I believe myself to be an Indian, I don’t meet the criteria that they have established for the people group “Indian”, therefore I’m not. Period.¬†

    So don’t claim to be an Indian I claim to be what I am an American of Anglo, Norwegian, and British descent with some Canadian Indian blood. ¬†

    So it was with Christians. ¬†No they didn’t come up with the name but it was clear that their belief in Jesus as Messiah as well as their body of unique doctrine meant that they were no longer Jewish. ¬†They were now the Second Abrahamic religion, they were Christians.¬†

    Likewise, so it is with Muslims. ¬†They didn’t come with the name but it’s clear their belief in Mohamed as Prophet, his revelations, and the resulting body of unique doctrine meant that they weren’t Jewish or Christian. They are the Third Abrahamic religion, they are Muslims.¬†

    And so it is with Mormons. ¬†They didn’t come with the name but it’s clear their belief in Joseph Smith as Prophet, his revelations, and the resulting body of unique doctrine means that they are neither Jewish or Christian. ¬†They are the Fourth Abrahamic religion they are Mormons.¬†

    YOU WROTE
    ” Even today, there are messianic Jews who sincerely believe that Jesus Christ was their Messiah (though not divine or equivalent to God as most Christians believe).”

    MY RESPONSE
    Unfortunately you have the disadvantage of making this false assertion to someone who attended a Messianic Jewish Church for a few years. Simply put you’re wrong.¬†

    Messianic Jews are Christians who were born Jewish who have come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. And since they have the liberty to do some (since it’s not part of the essential doctrines of the faith either way) they continue to observe Jewish tradition.¬†

    If you doubt any of this I can try to get some of my Messianic Jewish friends come on to the board and explain it to you.  Or, if you prefer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messianic_Judaism 

    YOU WROTE
    “You surely have the right to deny that they are even a type of Christian if you want to, but I am not going to accept that it is either reasonable or just for you to do do.”

    MY RESPONSE
    You are entitled to your opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.¬†

    Mormons do not mean the established criteria for the people group Christian.  They are NOT, therefore, Christians any more than I can claim to be an Indian.

    And, frankly, my old friend I find your adherence to this untenable stance unreasonable Рand stubbornly so.   

    • Anonymous Reply

      Unfortunately, I am still just as firmly convinced that it is your stance on this issue that is unreasonable, and even uncharitable, though it greatly saddens me to think of you as such. It smells too much like bigotry to me.

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        Gunnar, I’m not quite sure what part of, “I am really, really, really trying to get out of and off this thread so I can get to my next blog”

        And I am still firmly convinced that it is your stance on this issue that is unreasonable, illogical, relativistic, arbitrary, and unfair. ¬†It is the existing members of the group that get to determine the rules for exclusion in that group. If you don’t meet the existing criteria then you’re NOT in.¬†

        Period.

        To insist that someone is a member of an established group simply by saying that they are when they don’t meet the established criteria is absurd beyond belief! ¬†

        And in the case of Christianity the criteria had clearly been established for about 1830-years before Joseph Smith came along and attempted to change the rules.  That Biblical criteria, once again, is: 

        1) the Deity of Christ, 2) Salvation by Grace, and 3) Resurrection of Christ, 4) the gospel, and 5) monotheism.

        Further, he criteria has not changed since then and Mormons still fail to meet the criteria in 2011.  

        They can’t even meet the most basic tenet of Christianity: ¬†Monotheism.¬†

        On that criteria¬†failure¬†ALONE Mormons are not Christian. ¬†Period. ¬†Say what you will but that’s a fact. ¬†They are no more “Christian” than I am Mormon.¬†

        If you disagree with that fine, however, to accuse another of “bigotry” for merely stating the historical facts that are supported by volumes of ¬†theological evidence could be said to be it’s own form of bigotry my friend!¬†

        Now on this point why don’t we agree to disagree without resorting to name calling?¬†

        And again, I am really, really, really trying to get out of and off this thread so I can get to my next blog.  If you would let me do so by not posting provocative challenges requiring responses I would surely appreciate it. 

        Thank you.

        • Chuck Borough Reply

          Jesus believed His Father was God. That is Biblical. If you don’t believe as Jesus believed, then you are not Christian.

          Period.

          (This is tongue in cheek, but parallels some of these arguments.) I do believe you are Christian. So are the Mormons. I’m not.

  30. Fred W. Anson Reply

    @ Richard, point taken.  
    And you’re right this has delayed my next blog for far too long.¬†
    And I have deleted my last post.

    I’m done here.

  31. Hermes Reply

    My two cents on the argument as to who is really a Christian.¬† It is a bad question.¬† It is like asking, “Who is a real human being?”¬† “Who is a nice person?”¬† “Who is a true Scotsman?” (for the atheists and logicians out there).¬† You cannot own a descriptive adjective.¬† Constantine and the bishops at Nicaea tried really hard to create a monopoly on the meaning of the word Christian throughout the Roman empire.¬† They failed.¬† The Catholic church then attempted to maintain a monopoly on the meaning of the word in Europe.¬† They failed.¬† Now various Protestant sects want to claim a monopoly.¬† And they are failing.¬† Christians are scattered all over world, believing all kinds of things, and practicing all kinds of different rituals.¬† There is no such thing as an objectively true Christian.¬† There are only people who use the word Christian to describe themselves.¬† If you want to say something meaningful about yourself, you cannot be content to say, “I am a Christian,” and leave it at that.¬† Are you Catholic (which rite?), Orthodox (what rite?), Protestant (what sect?), etc.?¬† What do you think Jesus taught?¬† (Surprise!¬† Christians do not agree about the nature of Christ.¬† There are degrees of deviance, with some people being more alike than others, but we are all different.)

    Mormons run into the same problem with their own descriptive adjective when they get mad at splinter groups (including the polygamist churches) who call themselves Mormons. “We aren’t those people!¬† They cannot steal our identity!¬† Blah, blah!”¬† Historically, those groups have every bit as much right as the LDS to the adjective Mormon.¬† When we get mad at them for using it (and daring to use it differently than we do), we only reveal our pettiness.¬† (Is religion about words for us?¬† Do we really care that much about adjectives, for Christ’s sake?¬† What is the New Testament really about, people?)¬† The only moral position is to let our actions speak for themselves.¬† If you want to get a message of goodness out into the world, you have to be good.¬† You cannot waste time fighting about stuff that (1) doesn’t really matter and (2) that you are never going to change by fighting.¬† The fact of the matter is that historical Christianity has always given birth to heretics, much to the chagrin of the orthodox.¬† Many Catholics would expunge the Protestant Reformation if they could.¬† Many Protestants would expunge the Mormon Restoration.¬† But history isn’t about what we would do.¬† It’s about what other people already did.¬† Historically speaking, Mormons are clearly a Christian offshoot, different from other offshoots but not categorically separate.¬† (The Mormon vision of Jesus, particularly in the Book of Mormon, is recognizably Protestant, with a few tweaks that drive Nicene believers crazy, though I had a professor at BYU who showed us how Mormons could embrace the Nicene creed, if we were willing to get creative with the meaning of the deliberately vague Greek words used to craft it.)

    Call us bad Christians, deviant Christians, heretical Christians, anti-Christ Christians, or whatever you want, really.¬† It doesn’t really matter, and it won’t really change anything (except insofar as it contributes to emotional sectarian feeling on both sides).¬† And that exclusivist streak that you find in us, that arrogance that presumes to judge other Christians and find them wanting?¬† That is vintage historical Christianity: Joseph Smith took it from the Christian movements around him.¬† (Read some of the proselytizing pamphlets from the era: slandering the other guy was the way to preach back then.)¬† Not only that, it goes all the way back: as far back as we are aware of groups of people calling themselves Christians, we find them at one another’s throats (literally or figuratively) over the fact that they cannot agree about stuff.¬† (Read the New Testament, especially Acts.¬† Notice Ananias, Sapphira, and the fight between Peter and Paul.)¬† Christ came to bring a sword, didn’t he?¬† But it is ultimately unfair to make partisan craziness uniquely Christian: we find it all over human history, before, after, and outside of Christianity (as well as all through it).¬† People separate into groups and fight about whose group is best.¬† If we’re lucky, we just call each other names.¬† If we’re not, we end up with wars.¬† C’est la vie.¬† I wish it weren’t so.¬† I used to think that Christians should be different.¬† But historical research has entirely wilted my naive optimism. ¬†

    • Anonymous Reply

      Fantastically good comments!  I hope Fred read and understood them.  I am in complete awe!

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        Oh good grief! Now I have no choice but to comment yet again.  
        (Richard and John please note I WAS done until my name was invoked)

        Yes, that’s a fantastically good commentary if you subscribe to an arbitrary, relativistic, revisionist view of history and completely ignore the role that Biblical authority plays – and has always played – in Christianity.¬†

        Again, for the Christian the Bible is the ultimate authority and the Bible defines who’s “in” and who’s “out”. ¬† As the essentials of the Christian faith that I posted stated well:¬†

        “These are the doctrines the Bible says are necessary.”
        Mormonism doesn’t even adhere to what the Bible tells us – and Christ affirmed – is the most basic tenet of Judeo-Christianity: Monotheism.¬†

        And this comment just exposes the author’s ignorance of Christianity:

        ”¬†Christians are scattered all over world, believing all kinds of things, and practicing all kinds of different rituals.”
        And your point is . . . ?  

        As long as they adhere to the essentials of the Christian faith, which once again are . . .

         1) the Deity of Christ, 
        2) Salvation by Grace, and
        3) Resurrection of Christ, 
        4) the gospel, and
        5) monotheism.

        . . . and so do Biblically they’re Christians. Period.¬†

        As for the rest – Bells, smells, robes, icons, dunking, sprinkling, spraying, speaking in tongues, not speaking in tongues, robes, no robes, celibacy, no celibacy, etc., etc., etc. – they are non-essential doctrines and Christians have the liberty to engage in them or not engage in them and remain Christian.

        As Augustine said well:

        “In essentials, unity.
        In not essentials, liberty.
        In all things charity.

        So you guys can spin all you want but the fact of the matter is this: Mormonism is NOT Christian because it deviates from what the Bible teaches on the essential doctrines of the faith.

        I’m not asking you to like it.
        I’m not asking you to agree with it.
        But I am asking you to respect by no longer referring to Mormonism as “Christian” when it’s not.

        The rules were in place long, long, long before Joseph Smith, Jr. showed up and they haven’t changed since. Sorry.

        Thank you.

        • Anonymous Reply

          Well, all I can say at this point is that this is another one of those things on which we have to agree to disagree.¬† Mormons will never agree that they are misrepresenting themselves by claiming to be Christian (certainly not deliberately so), and, like it or not, not even all “Mainstream Christians” insist that they are thereby misrepresenting themselves.¬† It doesn’t do you or anyone else any good for you to get so worked up about it. I still think that what Hermes said is by far the reasonable thing yet said on this forum about the issue.

          • Anonymous

            Gunnar, ¬†as a former LDS person,( now Evangelical) I consider this to be a valuable statement. ¬†And one that I should consider in depth. ¬†I think this Mormon-Christian labeling issue is directly tied to the LDS doctrine called ‘the Preparatory Gospel’- the religion of the LDS Ward Sacrament Meeting and Aaronic Bishopric. ¬† It is LDS Eternal Progression and Temple worship that contain the ¬†obvious ‘non-Christian’ aspects of Mormonism- but how can anyone separate the two religions that exist under one ¬†administration of the LDS Church? ¬† It seems as if Mormonism has two religions within. ¬†Two priesthoods too.

          • Anonymous

            @HickPreacher:disqus 

            I appreciate your comments.¬† I don’t think it is necessary to maintain or insist that there can only be one type of Christian.¬† As has been said by Zilpha and others, Mormons are certainly not the same as Mainstream Christians or Evangelical Christians, and it would dishonest of them to claim that, but I don’t think there is anything unreasonable or dishonest or necessarily offensive to acknowledge a more general classification of Christians that includes all who revere him as a great teacher of how to behave towards each other, and sincerely try to live the principles he taught. I’ll go even further than Zilpha–I don’t think they even necessarily have to believe that Jesus is divine!

            In an earlier reply to me you questioned whether Joseph Smith actually restored the original Christian Church or Gospel.  I agree that it is highly questionable that he did.  I also still question whether any current Christian denomination really knows what the earliest followers of Jesus believed.  We know that by the time of Constantine who was instrumental in establishing what became the Catholic Church, there were already numerous, contentious Christian sects all accusing and condemning each other for heresy, and numerous, mutually contradictory gospels and Christian religious documents.  What we have in the New Testament is simply what the counsel established by Constantine decided not to throw out.  I strongly suspect that Constantine, who was not even a Christian himself at the time, had a strong influence on what was finally decided.

            As for eternal progression, as I said to you before, I favor the idea (though it need not resemble the Mormon concept in all respects).¬† If eternal life does not include the possibility and opportunity to continue to progress by learning new things and having new experiences, I don’t want it! Without that, eternal life would quickly degenerate into eternal boredom, which would be a kind of hell to me!

        • Hermes Reply

          So would you join Augustine persecuting Donatists (breaking up their churches, destroying property, knocking some heads)?¬† When you look at what people do, you see that guys like Augustine are just smooth talkers: I don’t want any of his charity, since I think he was a jerk (an eloquent jerk, but still a jerk, kind of like another guy I know, a prophet with a rock in his hat).

          From my point of view, all doctrine is useless if it doesn’t lead us to real-life values that work (for us as individuals).¬† What inspires you may not inspire me.¬† But I don’t have to deny your reality to have mine.¬† You can believe whatever nonsense you need in order to function as a decent human being, and I will stick with the nonsense that keeps me sane.

          You don’t have to call Mormons Christian.¬† But you will make more friends among them if you don’t make a point of denying their Christianity (which can be as real as yours, from my objective position as a historian, and my subjective position as a lifelong member of the faith).

        • Zilpha Reply

          Methinks you protest too much.

          What I want to know is who is Matt Slick, and why does he get to decide who is “Christian” and who is not? Also, I totally agree that Mormons are not “Mainstream Christians.” But I think most of the world (probably excepting evangelicals) would consider anyone who believes that Jesus is divine and is the only way that humanity can be saved as Christian. Mormons definitely believe that Jesus is the God of the whole earth and that it is only through faith in Him, that we people be saved and can live with God after death.
          According to Essential Doctrines of Christianity
          by Matt Slick

          The Bible itself reveals those doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith. They are:

          1) the Deity of Christ, 2) Salvation by Grace, and 3) Resurrection of Christ, 4) the gospel, and 5) monotheism. Well just for fun, we’ll visit each of these “requirements.” If you know anything about what Mormons believe, you know that
          they believe that Christ is Deity, that Salvation only comes through the
          grace of Christ, that Jesus was, in fact, resurrected, that the gospel of Jesus
          as taught in the New Testament is essential and core to Mormonism (students of Mormonism in seminary spend just as much time on the New Testament as they do on The Book of Mormon (and let’s face it, the B of M is really just a retelling of the themes of the Old and New Testaments, anyway, it’s really nothing new), and
          that there is only one God (true, three personages, but one God. They act as
          one. Mormons only worship The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (just as most Christians do),
          nothing and noone else).

          So, really, with a few minor caveats, Mormons do fit the definition of Matt
          Slick, but like I said before, so what? Is Matt Slick a prophet? Unless
          you think so, you shouldn’t dogmatically believe what he says as truth,
          anyway. Are Mormons mainstream Christians? NO! But, are they Christians? YES! Their religion sprang from within the Christian tradition. It was a reform movement, but definitely still very Christian in nature.

          “I believe in Christ. He ransoms me. From Satan’s grasp, he sets me free. And I shall live with joy and love in his eternal courts above.”

          • Zilpha

            Obviously, I’m not a scholar of Mainstream Christianity, and I may be confused about the nuances involved in some of the terms they use, but I am an amateur (very amateur) scholar of Mormonism, and their is no doubt that their beliefs are based in Christianity. They love the New Testament gospels (they may tend to ignore the some of Paul’s writing, but they do love and know Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which is where Christ’s actions and teachings are recorded). Why do they love these gospels? Because they love Jesus Christ and believe in him. They believe he was what he claimed to be and they believe he was “the only begotten of the Father.” And they believe that if they believe in Him, He will save them.

            “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. Confused at the Grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified. That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.”

            Mormons believe this with their whole hearts, which is why it is so offensive to them when people who don’t really understand their religion try to tell them they’re not Christians. It hurts their hearts. Just as much as it would hurt your heart, Fred, if someone told you that you’re not a true Christian. Them saying that wouldn’t make it correct, but it would still be offensive, right? It would still hurt.

          • Priss

            There was a good Atheist Experience show a while back where Matt Dillahunty debated Matt Slick. Matt Slick didn’t come off too well. You can find it online. Funny enough, when I googled Matt Slick without putting Atheist Experience in the search bar also, there were a few hits explaining why Matt Slick isn’t a true Christian. Kind of priceless considering this discussion.¬†

    • martin jacobs Reply

      Can I play this game?

      I am a Mormon.

      I am a Mormon because I believe I am Mormon.

      I believe Joseph Smith was a psychotic liar and a fraud. His attempts to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon, set up a bank based on fraudulent accounting, 34 wives and radical revisions of his own revelation leave me with no other choice. I believe he never gave his followers a “revelation” without breaking it. If he met God in the grove, why did it have such little impact on him?

      I believe the Book of Mormon is pure fiction. It might be intensely boring as a work of literature, but it is basically harmless because it affirms that there is One God, who is unchanging (e,g. Moroni 8:18). I believe such a stance is utterly incompatible with the notion that God has wives, and is the product of an infinite number of heavenly fathers and wives before him.

      I believe the Book of Abraham is an offense to 1) the Book of Genesis, which it apes 2) any meaningful consideration of the word “translation” 2) 3rd Century Egyptian burial customs

      I believe Temple Ordinances are a complete waste of time, and they undo the work of Christ (who opened up access to the True Temple)

      I believe that the “burning of the bosom” is not a reliable arbiter of the truth (though it’s nice when one’s convictions are born out by observation)

      I refuse to give any money to the LDS movement.

      Like Joseph Smith, I drink tea, coffee and alcohol. Unlike Joseph Smith, I don’t smoke, but I don’t think those who do are disqualified from the Kingdom (though they should be more careful with their health).

      Unlike Joseph Smith, I have remained faithful to my one wife, and I wish more husbands would do the same.

      But, I am Mormon. I am a Mormon because I believe I am a Mormon.
       
      Am I?

      • Hermes Reply

        Yes, you are.  I too am a Mormon with idiosyncratic beliefs that put me
        at odds with churches (like the LDS).  From my point of view, there is
        really no such thing as a person who lives twenty or more years in a
        culture and then emerges from it untouched.  (Maybe some adult converts
        can give a few years and get out with little baggage, but we lifers are
        stuck.)

        I was born a Mormon, raised a Mormon, and I made myself a good Mormon in
        the LDS tradition, until I found that my Mormonism was not in line with
        the prophet’s party line.¬† They can execrate me.¬† They can
        excommunicate me.  But come what may, they cannot unmake me.  I will
        always be a Mormon, an atheist agnostic believing Mormon, to the day I
        die.¬† Being a Mormon doesn’t mean being a rag doll: I believe what I
        want, and I own my own morality.  I am responsible for myself (to
        myself, to others, and to whatever else is out there, e.g. God).

        The LDS church does not own Mormonism.  The LDS church does not own me. 
        But I am certainly a Mormon, and if I can be one, why not you?

        • Anonymous Reply

          Hermes, it seems then that we are now applying the terms of “Mormon” and ” Christian” in an ambiguous manner.
          The New Testament followers of Jesus Christ called their new worldview “The Way”. ¬†It is clear that Mormons have a different “WAY” in their worldview called “Eternal Progression” than that contained in the New Testament records.

          • Hermes

            From my perspective, Mormon and Christian are fundamentally ambiguous terms.¬† Even the New Testament records apostles disagreeing about “the Way” (specifically how Jewish it is supposed to be).¬† If Peter is a Christian, then I am one too.

        • martin jacobs Reply

          Hermes,

          Thankyou for your respectful reply, but I don’t think the LDS movement will allow it. The distinctive of Mormonism is it’s devotion to Joseph Smith and his legacy, and that is something that clearly repulses me.

          If I read you correctly, then you would consider yourself a “cultural” Mormon. The New Testament has much to say about cultural identity, and it’s the opposite of what many people presume. Contrary to common myth, the NT does not force cultural homogeneity on believers (e.g. consider the scenario portrayed in Rev 5:9-11). That’s probably not news to anyone familiar with the NT, but there are two very important corollaries to this;

          1 The “tribes and nations” are united not by the surrendering of cultural identity, but by the worship of God, in Christ

          2 Cultural identity does not qualify a person or a community for citizenship in the Kingdom.

          The NT Jews, for instance, were immersed in the “right” cultural identity up to their ears, yet they sensed they were still in exile at the time of Christ. The Jewish authors of the NT diagnose the scenario like this; there was no Davidic King, a foreign power was ruling over them, the Shekinah Glory was not in the Temple, and the land was full of demons. Something wasn’t working for them. The NT authors witnessed the ultimate expression of this collective and individual human failure because God came to them in person, and they killed him.

          (Please understand that when I say “them”, I mean “us”, and “me”, because “they” share “our” humanity; “we” share the same instincts of self-preservation and self-justification that led “them” to do what “they” did. If God came to us, “we” might very well kill Him too).

          So, what I get from this is that a person’s cultural identity is important as an intrinsic part of his or her humanity. Even so, it cannot be made to “work” unless it is re-aligned Christ-ward. Further, cultural identity cannot be used to claim immunity from the judgment of God because it, along with all the rest of our humanity, is answerable to Him.

          • Hermes

            I am part of the LDS movement, and I allow it.¬† I don’t see how it is possible not to.¬† (How am I going to deny your personal choice to describe yourself using an adjective whose only objective meaning you meet?¬† To the degree that you have been significantly influenced by Joseph Smith, you have a claim to the adjective Mormon, regardless of what anybody, including any LDS prophet, says.)¬† Those who try (ineffectually) not to allow it are being naive or malicious (or a combination of the two, which is entirely possible).¬† They think that their rhetoric and/or money can buy compliance.¬† They are wrong, just like all Christians throughout history who have tried to coerce others (more or less forcefully) to accept their particle flavor of orthodoxy or get out of the church.¬†

      • Anonymous Reply

        Likewise them I am a Mormon too. ¬† I have a history as a Mormon, I was educated, and conditioned culturally as a Mormon. ¬†Bearing this label however does not serve to identify other distinctive characteristics I have. But since I have a history as a Mormon, some of those Mormon qualities stuck to me- so someone someplace sometime could still label me as ‘Mormon’.¬†

        • Chuck Borough Reply

          Excellent. I am a Mormon. I am a physicist. I am a father. I am sometimes (according to some of my aquaintances) an asshole. I am a thousand things. Sometimes the physicist in me contradicts the Mormon in me. How could it not? Some Mormon scientists just try to deny their science to make that work. It’s easier for me to deny some of the inventions of my religion that are not borne out by evidence.

      • Chuck Borough Reply

        Very interesting, open, and much truth here, along with what I think may be more emotion than I feel. The truth is that ANY religion anywhere that claims there is a god who put the universe together is a fraud. There are no gods. There are no ghosts (or spirits). But these are not lies; these are like Santa Claus, things invented sometimes with a good purpose, sometimes not.

        Religion is not and never has been about “truth,” any more than Santa Claus is about truth. Is it good? That is the important question. It can be very good and it can be very bad. It is am amplifier of the social feelings of a group. Amplifiers are not true or false, but they amplify good or evil – or they amplify just a bunch of trivia that is neither good nor evil.

        All in all, my own view of Joseph Smith is that he did not ” know the truth.” Nobody does. Nobody knows one trillionth of the truth. Did he do good? Judging simply from the total result, my calculation¬†gives me a yes. Was Brigham good? Again, judging from the total result, my calculation gives me a yes. Would that I could have a thousanth the good influence on my fellow man.

        • martin jacobs Reply

          Chuck wrote “The truth is that ANY religion anywhere that claims there is a god who put the universe together is a fraud.”

          I don’t understand. Call it a failure to compute, if you will, but I can’t make sense of your statement.

          Are you saying

          1 Atheism is the only religion that denies a transcendent dimension to the cosmos, therefore it is not a fraud

          2 Theistic religions know there is no transcendent deity, therefore their dishonest promotion of the idea is a fraud

          3 There is a transcendent dimension to the cosmos, in which the concepts of “truth”, “lies” and “fraud” have meaning beyond a person’s self-interest

          My problem here is that 3 defeats 1, and 2 is plain wrong. I’m not arguing that all religions are not fraudulent, but the Christianity that I know places a very high cultural value on truth and truthfulness, and it sincerely believes in a Deity. So, that’s at least one exception to your empirical rule.

          If I understand the Big Bang correctly, not only did it “start” matter, and energy, but it also “started” time itself. So, the “thing” that caused the Big Bang, or perhaps the “context” in which the Big Bang occurred (occurs?), is necessarily beyond what we can measure or observe (because we can only measure or observe things in the context of matter, energy and time). The rest is inference. My point here, is the Big Bang points to a transcendent dimension to the cosmos, which defeats 1. OK, so we could reason for something “beyond” the Big Bang, but it would not be science (because of the observable/measurable thing). I’m not arguing that science is bad, or that it cannot be trusted, rather that it cannot, by necessity, tell us the whole story. There is something “beyond” what we can see.

          Going back to 3, I’m not arguing that atheists have no interest in “good”, or “evil’. Rather, they have no basis on which to judge it. They have no criteria beyond self-interest (or extended self-interest, at best), but this same self-interest motivates people to do all sorts of good and evil alike.

          The sun rises and sets, and some people sacrifice children in an attempt to acquire greater personal wealth. Without a transcendent truth, these things are neither “good” nor “evil”; they just “are”, and they were always going to be that way since the beginning of time. Those electrons spinning away in my brain, that give me the delusion of thought and choice, were always going to be where they are now, because there is no external influence telling them where to go (not even the entity that I call “me”). If I lived in an atheistic universe, there would be no-one to witness whether this insignificant collection of phenomena that I call “me” were “good” or “bad”, regardless of how “I” affected the other insignificant collections of phenomena that we call “human beings”. The concepts of “good” and “evil” are thus meaningless and void.

          So, when I hear an atheist calling religion “evil” or “fraudulent”, my reaction is that he or she is just pissing into the wind.

          • Hermes

            (1) Martin, atheism is one of few religions (Buddhism is another, as well as apophatic Christianity and Sufi Islam) that does not cramp the world with definitions that cannot be altered when reality shows them up.

            (2) Catholics know that the earth does not lie at the center of the universe.¬† Protestants with a modicum of common sense know that the earth is not 6000 years old.¬† I know that Santa Claus will not be delivering toys to anyone’s house via flying sled this year.

            (3) Reality is out there.¬† It doesn’t care what you think about it.¬† It just is.¬† You can describe it well or poorly, but if past experience is any gauge, the more dogmatically you insist on the absolute truth of your definition, the less useful it will be (to you or anyone else: absolute truth kills people intellectually, socially, and sometimes even physically).

          • Chuck Borough

            The statement is not that there cannot be any god, but that there cannot be a god who put the universe together. The universe was about as it is now before any life form could develop.

          • martin jacobs

            (I don’t know why, but I can only reply to certain posts. So, I am forced into the rather vulgar position of replying to my own. So, sorry everyone, this is not an attempt at self-aggrandisement, it’s just a rather klutzy operator trying to find somewhere appropriate to post something)

            Hermes wrote “Reality is out there.¬† It doesn’t care what you think about it.¬† It just
            is.  You can describe it well or poorly, but if past experience is any
            gauge, the more dogmatically you insist on the absolute truth of your
            definition, the less useful it will be (to you or anyone else: absolute
            truth kills people intellectually, socially, and sometimes even
            physically)”

            Actually, I agree to most of this.

            Describing something well or poorly is the root of this particular discussion. Debating the definitions of “Christian” and “Mormon” are instructive, because they shed light (and not a little heat) on the meanings that the words are designed to convey.

            I subscribe to what I call “model theory” (as a profession, I do computational flood modelling). Words are models, and they will never hold the fullness of the prototype.

            I also fully subscribe to the notion that “reality is out there”. I’m currently thinking that the Great Heresy of our time is the notion that you find the truth by looking into your own heart (a heresy that is promulgated by Mormonism, pop-Evangelicalism, many other Christianisms but most prominently by secular consumerism). I have already commented on the poisonous effects of this heresy on discussions like these – it seems we cannot comment on religious “truth” without wounding a person’s heart, so we back off. The Great Heresy has so permeated western thinking, that we’re not even aware that there could be an alternative, but that’s another thread and another discussion.

            However, I can’t reconcile myself to your apparently derogatory view of “absolute truth”. Perhaps that’s because I believe that the “absolute truth” is God Himself (per Jesus’ statement in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life”), and I have a highly beneficent view of God (based on the observation of His behavior at the Cross).

            It might appear weird to most people (even church-goers) that the vision of God that I immerse myself in is the God-become-human vision of the New Testament. This is not a vision that entitles me to dominate others, or to suppress their intellect, but rather serve them.

            I’m going to sign off now. Thank you all for your time, and thank you all for your considered and thoughtful responses. I may be back, but you’re welcome to visit any time at http://martinofbrisbane.blogspot.com/.

            I’d like to sign off with probably the first surviving text ever written by the Christian community, predating even the Gospels. It sets the Christians’ vision, agenda and modus operandi. If there is a “ground zero” of Christianity, this is it. It also answers your objection about the perils of “dogma” in a profound and surprising way…

            In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: ¬† Who, being in very nature God, ¬†¬†¬†did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; ¬†rather, he made himself nothing ¬†¬†¬†by taking the very nature of a servant, ¬†¬†¬†being made in human likeness. ¬†And being found in appearance as a man, ¬†¬†¬†he humbled himself ¬†¬†¬†by becoming obedient to death‚ÄĒ ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†even death on a cross!
              Therefore God exalted him to the highest place    and gave him the name that is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,    to the glory of God the Father.

            Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)

          • Richard of Norway

            @1bc8dbf25614f6499d2a4ef27e614ab8:disqus 
            My apologies for the bad comments-form design. We have limited the amount of responses-to-comments to a maximum of 4 deep. Before there was no limit and comments 5, 6+ became unreadable (with only 1 word on each line). So this new format is for readability, though it does cause some confusion when discussions run so deep as they often do here. Again, I wish there was a better way to solve this but for now this is what we have. Don’t feel bad about having to reply to yourself. We all have to do it sometimes and I hope none of us are accused of¬†self-aggrandisement for it either. ūüėČ

            Keep ’em coming. I like your posts and am glad you found your way over here. Cheers!

          • Chuck Borough

            “1 Atheism is the only religion that denies a transcendent dimension to the cosmos, therefore it is not a fraud¬† ”

            No – I was speaking as a physicist, not as an atheist. But a question: If someone¬†believe that no mouse made the universe, is that belief a religion? I think when atheism is called a “religion,” it’s really anti-theism that’s being talked about. I’ve met them; they’re not just atheists; they hate religion. That is dogma, and much like a religion itself.

            The scientists I’ve known who are atheists aren’t really interested in any of all this. It’s not a religion, just the lack of any.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Wow Hermes.¬† I’m impressed.¬† I’ve been on the “Mormons aren’t Christians” bandwagon for quite a long time.¬† This is the first “argument” that has made me reconsider my position.¬† I’ve got some thinking to do.¬† ūüôā

  32. Fred W. Anson Reply

    @ @7060898692332b024f66aebba241cbad:disqus 
    Well, I never dreamed that I would publicly arguing with our beloved Zilpha – this is a first, and a shock! ¬†However, as much as it pains me to do so I’m afraid that we must ultimately agree to disagree. However, I hope that we can still maintain a mutual respect in the end.¬†

    I will quote from the Ostlings yet again: 

    “…it is ‘surely wrong’ to see Mormonism as a Christian derivative in the way that Christianity is a Jewish derivative, because the LDS faith is ‘in radical discontinuity with historic Christianity.'”¬†
    (Richard Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, “Mormon America”, p. 324)There’s just no escaping this fact. ¬†Mormonism takes Christian words, terms, concepts, and forms, strips them of their original meaning and then replaces it with Mormon meaning. ¬†This too is a fact – one that even TBM Mormons will acknowledge.¬†Thus when a Christian and a Mormon wax poetic – or even give testimony – of Jesus Christ the synaptic firings are forming a mental understanding of two entirely different Christs. For the Christian that Christ MUST be the Christ of the Bible, for the Mormon that’s pretty much secondary to their understanding of Christ from Mormon Church doctrine and scripture (after all the Bible is corrupt so it can pretty much be ignored. It’s a secondary, optional, source for truth – right?).¬†The same thing is true of a Muslim. ¬†Their Christ is the Christ of the Koran. ¬†It is a different Christ.¬†And the Jew could really care less about this false Messiah.¬†

    The end result is the same as it is with Christianity relative to Judaism: It is a new and unique Abrahamic religion; and Islam relative to both Christianity and Judaism: It is a new and unique Abrahamic religion.¬†For a Mormon to claim to be “Christian” is as ridiculous as a Christian claiming to be a Jew, or a Muslim claiming to be Christian or Jewish – it’s¬†fallacious¬†and wrong.¬†Mormons are just Mormons – not Christians, not Jews, not Muslims – and they should proudly acknowledge that fact – as they did before the McKay Presidency started the gentle descent into, “Hey! We’re Christians too!”¬†Mormonism is the Fourth Abrahamic religion.¬†And I am really, really, really trying to get out of and off this thread so I can get to my next blog (which, BTW, has NOTHING to do with this topic). ¬†I only responded because it was you Zilpha. ¬†

    You may have the last word if you wish to.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Fred, you said, “For a Mormon to claim to be “Christian” is as ridiculous as a Christian claiming to be a Jew, or a Muslim claiming to be Christian or Jewish – it’s¬†fallacious¬†and wrong.”

      I don’t think this is nearly as ridiculous as you think it is.¬† Christ himself was Jew, and I don’t thing there is much reasonable doubt about the fact that his earliest followers, at least while he was alive and probably for some time immediately (who knows how long) after his death regarded themselves as Jews.

  33. Chuck Borough Reply

    When we say that a specific claim is true, that’s one thing, but what does it mean to say a religion is true? Is the claim that there is no error in the entire system? Surely that must be highly unlikely.

  34. Fred W. Anson Reply

    A new footnote to our discussion from the Mormon side of the divide (posted yesterday on Common Consent): 
    Stop Saying That!!
    October 12, 2011 ‚ÄĒ Kristine

    In the last few days, in response to the dustup over Mormonism‚Äôs ‚Äúcult‚ÄĚ status, lots of Mormons have been insisting that of course we are Christian, that it‚Äôs unkind of Evangelical Christians to say that we‚Äôre not. The argument that we are Christians generally includes reference to 1) the name of our church (‚ÄúJesus Christ‚ÄĚ is even in a big font!), 2) a citation of 2 Nephi 25:26 (‚ÄúAnd we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins‚ÄĚ) 3) personal belief in Christ as Savior, and 4) our efforts to follow Jesus, to ‚Äúbe like Him.‚ÄĚ

    (4) The fact that we would include the idea that we are ‚Äútrying to be like Jesus‚ÄĚ in our response suggests our total ignorance of the questions that are at stake for our Evangelical friends and interlocutors. Mormons are ‚Äútrying to be like Jesus‚ÄĚ in a way that is fundamentally offensive to many Christians, because we believe that we are consubstantial with Christ in a way that is antithetical to most Christian soteriology. Evangelicals (and traditional Christians much more broadly) believe that Jesus has to be fully God in order to work Atonement, because the entire creation is fallen. We can‚Äôt save ourselves because we‚Äôre part of that creation. If Jesus is part of what God created‚Äďas Mormons vehemently insist he is‚Äďthen he‚Äôs also tainted by the Fall and therefore unable to perform Atonement. Of course this theological problem doesn‚Äôt resonate for us, since we don‚Äôt believe in the same kind of Fall as traditional Christianity, either. But that doesn‚Äôt mean that it isn‚Äôt a real and serious problem which principled Christians are right to take seriously as a marker of what counts as Christian.

    The fact that theology is generally less important to Mormons than practice does not excuse our ignorance of what is at stake theologically for our friends in the Christian world. In many contexts (Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants, anyone?), Mormons are actually pretty scornful of the notion that being a nice, good person who follows the Golden Rule counts as salvific Christianity, so we really ought to be able, with a bit of study, to get our heads around this and stop making the vacuous suggestion that trying to do good works suffices to make a Christian.

    (3) Likewise, personal belief in Jesus as Savior is not considered sufficient to merit exaltation in Mormon teachings‚Äďthere‚Äôs no reason why we should insist that our personal feelings about Jesus should be persuasive to traditional Christians any more than their experience of being saved or born again excuses them from our requirement of baptism and confirmation if they decide to profess Mormonism. Loving Jesus is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for being either Christian or Mormon (or both).

    (2) This verse is lovely, and may be the best evidence we‚Äôve got of our devotion to Jesus. Alas, it comes from the Book of Mormon, the very existence of which excludes us from most Christian denominations, which aver some version of scriptural inerrancy‚Äď‚ÄĚWe affirm that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write. We deny that the finitude or falseness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God‚Äôs Word.‚ÄĚ [1] You can see why telling people who ‚Äúdeny that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever corrects or contradicts it [and] further deny that any normative revelation has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings‚ÄĚ that we have ‚ÄúAnother Testament of Jesus Christ‚ÄĚ that corrects mistaken notions perpetuated by the Bible and clearly demonstrates our Christianity, might be unpersuasive, and might even seem like a complete contradiction to them.

    (1) I‚Äôm going to try not to be snide about prooftexting based on the name of the church, but it will be difficult, particularly since we just made a big fuss in General Conference about who gets to call themselves ‚ÄúMormon.‚ÄĚ[2] Naming is, by its nature, the process of attaching a series of essentially arbitrary signs to a person or object. That we imbue the name of our church with great significance, and believe that it should tell the world a great deal about us, is unsurprising. It should, however, be likewise unsurprising that our semiotics will be interpreted differently by outsiders, and that our signals will look different from the outside than they do from inside. Angle of incidence, angle of refraction, etc. Our own resistance to taking the name of a church as evidence of its claim to affiliation is surely clear from our response to the many churches that have some variant of ‚ÄúLatter-day Saint‚ÄĚ in their title. The name of our church shows that we think of ourselves as devoted to Jesus Christ, but it just shouldn‚Äôt be expected to do much work in terms of persuading other people who define ‚ÄúChristian‚ÄĚ more specifically.

    I understand that some accusations that Mormons are not Christian are borne of pure political nastiness, and really are attempts to demonize or make Mormons ‚Äúother.‚ÄĚ That is, of course, reprehensible; there‚Äôs no excuse for insisting that only Christians whose beliefs meet some particular test ought to hold office in this country. Moreover, I don‚Äôt think that the ‚Äútraditional‚ÄĚ definition of Christianity is uncontestable‚Äďthere are plenty of arguments to be made about whether a religion centered in the person of Jesus Christ should be called ‚ÄúChristian,‚ÄĚ regardless of whether its tenets conform to the accretion of theological principles that became attached to the history of Jesus of Nazareth. But we have to actually make those arguments. It won‚Äôt do to just keep asserting ‚Äúyes we are!‚ÄĚ as though that were an adequate response to the large questions inherent in the apparently simple question of whether Mormons are Christian. We need to be better educated so that we can tell the difference between prejudice and the principled religious and theological objections of Christians who are skeptical of Mormon Christianity, and so that we can articulate the nature of our ‚Äúotherness‚ÄĚ more clearly, both to our friends and to ourselves. We shouldn‚Äôt need the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to point out to us that we‚Äôre the ones who said we didn‚Äôt want to be creedal Christians! If we don‚Äôt now have a seat at the table of traditional Christianity, it‚Äôs not entirely their fault‚Äďit has an awful lot to do with the fact that we walked out of the party and slammed the door on the way out (words like ‚Äúabomination‚ÄĚ have that effect). If we want to rejoin the conversation, it would be better for us not to self-righteously instruct the dinner guests about their duty to admit us on our own terms. Far better to see what‚Äôs on the menu and ask (nicely, because Mormons are good at nice!) if we can bring funeral potatoes or green jello.

    [1] from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

    [2] Here‚Äôs the rule, as articulated by a friend of mine: We‚Äôre not Mormon, unless someone else is saying they‚Äôre Mormon, and then we are and they‚Äôre not. Oops, that was kind of snide. Sorry.”
    (source http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/10/12/stop-saying-that/ ) 

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      I understand some of these arguments in the context intended. It’s like arguing that Superman can’t get too near to kryptonite. That is true within the context of the Superman story. But the reality is that there is no Superman. Jesus may indeed have inspired everyone to share the food they were hiding for their own security, but he did not do the magic trick of making lots of bread out of a little. He was a magnificent teacher, evidently.

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      Mormons believe a non-existent god exists. So do you. It’s like arguing over what the correct names of the Santa Claus reindeer are. I say Donder; you say Donner. Who cares; neither exists in reality. They are metaphors. Creationism is a fact; men created all the gods.

  35. Chuck Borough Reply

    I take a walk with Scruffy, my Jack Russel Terrier, every morning to a local McDonalds, stop and have my decaf and sausage biscuit and read the newspaper. Today, there was a FULL page article on whether Mormons are Christians or not with a prominent picture of Mitt Romney at the top. It was not a paid-for advertisement, but there and considered newsworthy.

    I think the discussion here has been interresting, and I have enjoyed it. It brings three sides to light. 1. Mormons are not Christians. 2. Mormons are¬†Christians. 3. It makes no difference. We’ve all heard this before, but it’s becoming a much bigger discussion right now, because of this candidacy.

    There was nothing in this podcast at all on this subject, yet a large part of the after-discussion has been on this topic.¬†I do concede that it’s been interesting, and maybe better all-sides information than the article I just read had in our morning paper.

  36. Chuck Borough Reply

    Reading through some of these quotes from Brigham Young (I was not familiar with some of these worst ones) – my gosh, I guess he did hate a whole race of people. I would still chalk it up to his ignorance. (Kind of like some Americans who now hate Muslims, even the good ones.) Prejudice is a real invader.

    • Hermes Reply

      Not to defend Brigham, but many people of his era, including many abolitionists, failed to treat those of other races with humanity. 

      Modern investigation is slowly showing that this has less to do with race as such, and much more to do with the fact that people naturally assume that those who are significantly different (“other”) must be dangerous (or sub-human).¬† This explains why the “old guard” in America has always hated immigrants (whether they were Irish, German, Polish, or Hispanic).¬† Immigrants are perceived as coming from another order, competing with the local order, and seeking to overthrow it: that they look different is kind of an afterthought (as the successive waves of them prove: now that the Hispanics are arriving, the identifying characteristics of earlier immigrant populations have ceased to draw ire; ironically, the biggest contributor to a lot of the continuing wrath directed at African-Americans is not that they are black per se, but that people persist in misconstruing them as a subversive group bent on overthrowing the status quo).¬† Racism is actually just good, old-fashioned tribalism.¬† “My people are better than your people!¬† My tribe is better than your tribe!¬† My God is better than your God!”¬† And the pissing match on the playground goes on.¬† It is sad that we as a species remain caught in this trap, even today.

  37. Ozpoof Reply

    I loved listening to this. Chuck’s stories are great. I feel sorry for missionaries who are so scared and brainwashed that they endure physical stress to deny themselves natural stress reducing hormones and some peace of mind.

    At that age, if you don’t get it out of your system, so to speak, that’s all you think about – sex, women (or men) wanking, nit wanking, how to wank without getting caught. How can anyone have their mind on ANY job when they are always ‘backed up’.?

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      Thanks for this input. I’ve met and talked with so many who have suffered this way, and it is so uneccessary. It takes no prescription, no psycho-analysis – only open and honest talking to bring about some understanding of the situation. It’s the silence that is the problem. There is no disease except the cloud of ill-founded guilt.

  38. Chuck Borough Reply

    My kids believed in Rudolph. I told them they were not Clausians, because the real Santa Claus has eight reindeer, not nine. Poor little kids will burn in Hell.

  39. Chuck Borough Reply

    Wake up, children. The whole God thing is a child-like belief. I do love children, even the adult ones. No living thing ever developed before the universe cooled and became essentially as it is now, but the belief is not harmful where it is inclusive and not judgmental.

  40. Chuck Borough Reply

    Mormons believe they are th eonly true Christians. Others believe the Mormons are not Christians and that they are Christians. Both beliefs are exclusive and judgmental and do great harm.

  41. James Reply

    Zilpha you were truly inspired to interview Mr Borough …… I think we would all be active if we had guys like this in the wards…. He maybe one of coolest most genuine people left on the planet

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      Wow. It’s hard not to feel warm after a compliment like that. I do love people, and I always feel that’s what religions should be about.

  42. Chuck Borough Reply

    Interesting note: With this election and fundamentalists frustrated over Romney vs Obama, Billy Graham has declared that Mormons are no longer classified as a cult, but as a christian denomination. Now of course, Billy Graham is not the end all of definers of Christianity, but this notion of Mormons not being Christians is going away, for sure.

    • Martin Jacobs Reply

      Chuck,

      You’re statement “Billy Graham has declared that Mormons are no longer classified as a cult, but as a christian denomination.” is a plain misrepresentation. I have been informed that …

      Those who have contacted the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association have been told that the organization’s position on Mormonism in general and the
      LdS Church in particular remains unchanged. For example Bill McKeever of
      Mormonism Research Ministry reports the following:

      ‘We called the BGEA on October 24 and talked to a representative. When we asked if the media were putting words into BGEA‚Äôs proverbial mouth‚ÄĒthat ‚ÄúMormonism was no longer a cult‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒthe spokesman fully agreed that the BGEA‚Äôs action was being misinterpreted. He added that nowhere did the association ever make such a statement. According to Ken Barun, We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”‘

      However, I have also been informed that …

      “BGEA Media Relations Director Brent Reinhart confirmed to Christian News Network that Franklin Graham was the ultimate decider in the removal of the web page.”

      You might want to thank Franklin, rather than Billy for the apparent removal of the stigma.

      A couple of points here;

      * Yes, I agree that the Grahams are not the final arbiters on what is or is not Christianity, but they’ve got a well-informed view

      * Removal of a web page reference does not an endorsement make

      * Extrapolating the removal of the web page to the “official” acceptance by Evangelicals of Mormonism as a Christian denomination is nothing but wishful thinking.

      * The idea of Mormonism not being Christian is surely not going to go away until Mormonism radically overhauls its fundamentals

      To all the ‘outsiders’, this might seem like little more than fence-mending, but I hope that most bystanders would agree that you don’t add to the issue by misrepresenting your interlocutor.

      Putting my cards firmly on the table, I’m an evangelical who lives outside the US and has no part in US politics. However, I might add that I am dismayed that my Evangelical self-identity appears to have been commandeered to serve a particular right wing US political agenda. To me, the term should be associated with the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ, which transcends political and national categories. It seem that I now have to use it guardedly, but if it’s going to drag me into defending a political agenda that I don’t agree with (and can’t vote on), I might have to abandon the term altogether, albeit reluctantly. In other words, I’d rather keep my fidelity to Christ than to the term ‘evangelical’.

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