Researching Mormonism – a Lutheran Bishop’s advice

by Rusty Lindquist on June 24, 2008 · 25 comments

A lot of non-Mormons find my blog through search engines, and I’m often surprised at the search phrases they use that lead them here.  Many are derogatory, some surprise me (e.g. can Mormons swim in a public pool?),

But many I get illustrate a complete lack of understanding about what Mormons truly believe, which is why I dedicate so many posts to providing them answers.  I hope that some, at least, are doing so because they are genuinely curious about Mormonism, and want accurate answers.

To them, and truly to all, I support the following recommendation, provided by a very wise and prominent Lutheran, Krister Stendahl.

Krister Stendahl was a Swedish theologian and New Testament scholar.  With a doctorate in New Testament studies, he was a professor (and later the dean) of the Divinity School at Harvard University, before being elected as Bishop of Stokholm in 1984.

In 1985, when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) wanted to build a temple in Stockholm Sweden, there was a lot of vocal opposition, a large part of which seemed to be based on inaccurate understandings about Mormonism.  In response, Krister Stendahl presented Stendahl’s three rules of religious understanding at a press conference.  These were his 3 rules:

  1. When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion, and not its enemies.
  2. Don’t compare your best to their worst.
  3. Leave room for “holy envy” (willingness to find elements in another’s religion that you admire and would like to adopt).

To his points, I would suggest that if you’re trying to learn more about Mormonism, then ask a Mormon.  And don’t think that the worst Mormons you hear about are an accurate representative sample of all Mormons.  And finally, be genuine – don’t just seek to reprove/refute, but to understand.  Otherwise, all you’ll discover is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  After all, you may just find something you like.

In support of Stendahl’s rules, I’m creating a new page “Ask a Mormon”, where you can feel free to ask me (an actual Mormon) anything you wish to know about Mormonism.

Rusty

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 uft36 June 24, 2008 at 8:43 PM

Hi, Rusty!
Great post. We need more people to learn these rules before posting articles and comments here on Wordpress and other blogs. There seems to be a lot of misguided people out there writing about how wrong our beliefs are and how we are not a Bible-based Church. These rules would go for LDS members, as well, when we talk to other faiths and learning from them. They have a lot to offer as well. I really like all your articles. Keep up the great work you do.

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2 Michelle Glauser June 25, 2008 at 4:34 AM

I like his advice and intend to use it with other religions as well. As for the swimming pool thing, I wonder if someone invited the missionaries to swim and they declined because of the no-swimming rule.

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3 The Pilgrim June 25, 2008 at 7:24 AM

I’m not sure if you’ll be interested, but here’s some more info on Mormonism:

(link removed because it contained garbage)

From Rusty – while I don’t mind people posting non-mormon opinions on my site, I won’t let it become a banner for anti-mormon thoughts and advertisments. Obviously.

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4 Margaret June 25, 2008 at 10:13 AM

I’m with Michelle and uft36. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. There is no need to attack others and we can learn from anyone. I took a peek at the above web site. Looks interesting. I might learn a few things.

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5 Jack Fuller June 25, 2008 at 12:22 PM

The historic Christians and many former Mormons are correct. Our doctrine often appears inconsistent and at best confusing if not duplicitous. One prophet says one thing and another something else. It is confusing to many members too and, I suspect, reason enough for some people to leave the faith. In such cases it is easy to blame the disillusioned and say failure to understand is their fault. I hear that frequently. It is unfair to always blame them. I think we Mormons are accountable to learn and thoroughly understand LDS Doctrine so we know what it is and is not before we point at anyone else as uninformed, misguided or not trying hard enough.

We cannot blithely go about our business occasionally discussing doctrine and what we teach while not knowing ourselves. In that, members can be just as guilty of bearing false witness as those who deliberately choose to misinform others when they know better. It is with that in mind that I have chosen to participate in these discussions. First, to confront what I do and don’t know and then to find out from authoritative, documented LDS sources what is correct and make that information available where I can. My faith is not challenged except by my own lack of knowledge. I entreat His presence when I write and have faith He is with me when I do what He finds favorable.

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6 Jack Fuller June 25, 2008 at 12:25 PM

It is important to keep in mind that the LDS Church does not recoil from discussing the things talked about here or elsewhere. It is also important to understand that as in any well run organization, opinions are just that – opinions and not doctrine or policy. I worked in government for twenty five years and this philosophy was part of that environment too. It isn’t just Church. It must be so in any organization or Church whether it is LDS, Catholic, Protestant or any other. Maybe the Baptists are different. I have heard they are.
So when someone in the Church says something that is contrary to or not in keeping with official Church doctrine we have to take it as opinion. Even pronouncements coming out of Church headquarters are subject to review. Dr. Robert Millet, former Dean of Religious Education at BYU discusses this phenomenon in his paper What is Doctrine? I posted it on my blog. I refer people there not to drum up traffic but rather to make this and other things easily available to those people who are interested. It is 20 pages and way too long to post anywhere else. Millet talks about how to address the very things people talk about here. It is quite telling and well worth the read albeit a bit of a long one. So, with Rusty’s indulgence, let me provide the link to that document. I think it will add to the discussion. But it is an easy read and footnoted as well. http://mormonthing.wordpress.com.

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7 Margaret June 25, 2008 at 2:22 PM

I just finished reading What is Doctrine? by Dr. Millett. Definitely worth the read! Wish I had found it before now. Thanks for posting it!

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8 Kita Kazoo June 27, 2008 at 1:54 AM

I disagree with Bishop Stendahl. I feel it is important to examine both the claims and beliefs of the adherents and the enemies. To take a look at all the facts from as many different ways as possible.

Truth can withstand examination.

From Rusty: Kita (great name by the way), I agree, truth can withstand examination, the problem is the tendency for people to only examine one side, or examine it in a way that simply reinforces what they already thought. which I think is what the good Bishop was addressing – just what you said – if you’re going to examine it, give it a chance.

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9 Ross Martin August 7, 2008 at 3:37 AM

DO NOT READ THAT CONTENDINGDEFEDING WEBSITE. After posting a great artcile about respecting other religions and not comparing wrost with best etc. this website flies in the face of it. It is anti-mormon propaganda with all the normal salacious lies, half truths and generalizations. Ignore it!

Why is it that supposed Christians feel they must try and destroy another religion…? So much for their belief in tolerance and love……..

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10 Jim B. August 7, 2008 at 5:56 AM

Ross,

“Why is it that supposed Christians feel they must try and destroy another religion…?”

Huh? Wasn’t destroying Christianity (the apostate church) Joseph Smith’s aim? Inherent to the Mormon faith is the proposition that all Christian churches outside the LDS faith are apostate and an “abomination”. You can’t damn the whole world and then whine when a few decide to fight back.

“Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the ‘whore of Babylon’ whom the Lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness.”

– Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 255

“If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

– Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 670

“God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the children of Israel, and He will make me be
god to you in His stead…and if you don’t like it, you must lump it!”

– Joseph Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 363

“This class of men, calling themselves Christian, uniting with the various forms of the pagan religion, adopting many of their ceremonies and institutions, became very popular, and finally some of the pagans embraced Christianity and were placed, as it were, upon the throne, and what they termed Christianity became very popular indeed. How long has this order of things existed, this dreadful apostacy, this class of people that pronounced themselves Zion, or Christians, without any of the characteristics of Zion? It has existed for some sixteen or seventeen centuries. It has spread itself and grown and gone into the four quarters of the earth. It is the great ecclesiastical power that is spoken of by the revelator John, and called by him the most corrupt and most wicked of all the powers of the earth, under the name of spiritual Babylon, or in other words Babel, which signifies confusion. This great and corrupt power is also represented by John as presenting a golden cup to the nations, full of all manner of filthiness and abominations.”

– Orson Pratt, Journal Of Discourses (Volume 14), p. 346

I could go on…

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11 JLFuller August 8, 2008 at 11:20 AM

There is an axiom which has been floating around Mormondom for a long time. It asks “Why should we spend time studying or reading somebody else’s religious thinking when you don’t spend enough time studying the only authorized one?” That makes a lot of sense in one respect. But it also suggests another important thing – we don’t spend enough time reading the B of M or the other standard works.

Pilgrim makes a good point according to his thinking anyway. What is unspoken is that his version of our theology is undocumented and without merit in so many cases that what he says is tainted. It is tainted because he presents his opinion and not the facts. Opinion is just a low form of entertainment and almost wholly without merit. But that is typical of most Evangelical postings. It is seen way too many times in Mormon postings too but I see much of the uninformed LDS notions fading away.

Pilgrim and the others who think like him and post on such sites as he suggests we read, like to quote from Brigham Young, Joseph Smith, Parley P. Pratt and others without knowing how to differentiate between personal opinion and doctrine. Many steadfastly refuse to accept that the current Church leadership says we as members, should know the difference too. Many of Pilgrims fellow travelers demand that we believe the same uninformed nonsense they do. Our refusal to follow their lead prompts howls that we are blindly following a false religion and ungodly men. That is why Pilgrim’s opinions are largely without merit – he has not done his homework.

Readers can know by a couple of things whether what Pilgrim and other like thinkers publish is worthwhile. If they quotes from The Journal of Discourses as their primary doctrinal source then they likely are wrong more often than not. The other thing is failure to provide current leadership quotes with proper foundation. Snipping out a line or two and claiming it is representative of the whole message is a sure sign of deliberate disinformation. So, can these people be trusted? Not to my way of thinking.

JLFuller
http://mormonthing.wordpress.com/

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12 JLFuller August 8, 2008 at 11:32 AM

Pilgrim’s signature lines ““The Christian God is the Mormon’s Devil.”
is an example of having no idea what Brigham was talking about. If he had done his homework and if he knew what the message was he would have discovered that Brigham’s intent was to disabuse listeners of the notion that the then current Christian leadership was following Christ’s way but rather was wholeheartedly deep into the ways of the world. The message was about worldliness.

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13 Tim September 24, 2008 at 1:45 AM

We mormons need to realize that we have not cornered the market on truth and goodness; there are many wonderful brothers and sisters not yet members of our church. We also need to acknowledge that some things said by church leaders, especially early ones, are not very productive and in some cases false (anybody read Mormon Doctrine lately?). I believe the most important thing we can stress to our non member friends is the role of the spirit in finding truth. Don’t rely on what this prophet or that prophet has said; read the scriptures and pray. I have found through enough dialog with my non member friends that this is a foreign concept to them–praying to know something. The fact is that the scriptures take second place in our beliefs and talking to the Lord is always number 1. This is a real eye opener for anybody willing to appreciate what that really means…..above all, don’t scripture bash with people—its very counterproductive. Love them, look for common ground, bear testimony and encourage them to pray through sincere love for your brother or sister. All else is quickly forgotten but the feeling of the spirit stays forever.

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14 Jim B. September 24, 2008 at 6:02 AM

Tim,

“The fact is that the scriptures take second place in our beliefs and talking to the Lord is always number 1.”

This seems one more difference between Mormons and Christians. Because of our inherited sin nature (Total Depravity), we cannot trust our intuition or “inner voice” alone. This is why the sufficiency of Scripture is so important. We submit our fallen minds and wills to the infallible Word of God.

Heb. 1:1-2a
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…”

2 Tim. 3:16-17
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

God Bless

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15 Rusty Lindquist September 24, 2008 at 9:40 AM

Jim B.

FYI – Mormons are Christian. It matters not what you’re personal definition of what being Christian is, the socially acceptable term defining Christianity is that one believes in Jesus Christ. It’s this sweeping social acceptance of definitions that allows humans to communicate and understand each other. If everybody simply decided to create their own definitions of widely used terms, we’d get nowhere. But what’s more, it’s inaccurate and dishonest to represent Mormons as not being Christians simply because your personal definition of Christianity is something other than what everybody else accepts – or the socially accepted definition of Christianity.

That aside, you’re misunderstanding what Tim is saying. He’s not suggesting we “trust our inner voice” or “listen to our conscience”, for indeed, that is fallible. What he’s saying is that we rely on the Holy Spirit, that it is sufficiently capable (as a divine being) to communicate to us, that we rely on the Lord, and His sufficient willingness and capability to communicate to us.

I don’t think that any Christian, regardless of the denomination, would assume either the Holy Ghost or the Lord is incapable and unwilling to communicate to us. So what Tim is saying, and what Mormons believe, is that we must “seek the Lord always”, and constantly endeavor to let his voice be our guide.

He doesn’t suggest we abandon scripture, or the voice of the Lord from the past, but rather we supplement that with the voice of the Lord in the present.

Also, realizing I was way behind on this particular thread, I read from the top down, and realized I had failed to comment where I should have.

On your comment up above, you ask “Wasn’t destroying Christianity (the apostate church) Joseph Smith’s aim?”

No, restoring Christianity was Joseph Smith’s aim, and to do that, he had to be particularly clear about the truthfulness of the current Christian religions of that day. But that’s beside Ross’s point, which was that it’s strange how members of other Christian faiths seem so bent on refutation (destruction for destruction sake), and not on simply teaching the truth wherever possible so that men could hear the truth, and falsehoods could die on their own. Look at the life of Joseph Smith and tell me if you see a life of a man going around looking for opportunities to argue with preachers and other Christians. That’s not what he did. He wasn’t shy when someone sought him out to refute him, but he didn’t go looking for opportunities to argue doctrine. It was the same way with Christ. He would say it as it was, but he didn’t go around to the synagogs arguing doctrine, rather, he taught the truth whenever possible, wherever possible.

So it’s inaccurate, and untruthful, to attempt to use these quotes to imply otherwise.

Additionally, we live in an age of high sensitivity to “political correctness”. These words are strong, but I’d bet their style and nature, wasn’t any different than what was being spoken by other religious leaders at that day. Remember, it was the heated debate and strong words amongst other Christian leaders at that time that caused him such confusion to begin with, and led him to ask of God which of those religions were right.

So to pluck these quotes out of history and attempt to represent them as you have is inaccurate and misleading.

Regards,

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16 Jim B. September 24, 2008 at 11:52 AM

Rusty,

“FYI – Mormons are Christian. It matters not what you’re personal definition of what being Christian is, the socially acceptable term defining Christianity is that one believes in Jesus Christ.”

So, it does not matter what MY personal definition is, but it does matter what YOUR personal definition is? I don’t get to define what Christianity is, but YOU do? You’re undercutting your own argument here, Rusty. Your problem seems not to be with my act of defining, but with the content of my definition. Certainly you’re aware, Rusty, that your rejection of numerous orthodox Christian doctrines, and your simultaneous insistence on being recognized as orthodox, is itself a definition?

According to your above definition, Muslims, Baha’i, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. are all Christians. All these groups (and more) ascribe some kind of deity or supernatural-ness to Christ.

Christianity has NEVER defined itself in such broad terms. Christianity has ALWAYS excluded those who fail to adhere to certain essential doctrines (e.g. Deity of Christ, Trinity, Resurrection, Salvation by Grace through Faith, etc.).

Not exactly, my argument was that the definition of Christian is set by society, and while it’s each of our perogatives to disagree with that definition, to post your belief as socially normal (as in simply stating, and restating, that Mormons aren’t Christian), is misleading.

http://www.dictionary.com – Christian: “A person who believes in Jesus Christ”

Merriam-Webster – Christian: “One who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ”
etc…

Christians reserve the right to define their faith, just as Mormons have the right to define theirs.

OK, “I’m Christian”.

Two news items from 2000 and 2001 should suffice to demonstrate that my definition of Christianity vis a vis Mormonism is not unique:

(Salt Lake Tribune, May 11, 2000)

Delegates to the United Methodists’ national convention meeting in Cleveland on Wednesday said the LDS Church “does not fit within the bounds of the historic, apostolic tradition of Christian faith,” and that Mormons who convert to Methodism need to be re-baptized.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) and Southern Baptist Convention have issued similar assessments of Mormon doctrine.

(Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2001)

The Roman Catholic Church declared Thursday that Mormon converts must be rebaptized, a setback to the Mormon Church’s effort to characterize itself as a Christian denomination.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith declared that baptisms in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are “not the baptism that Christ instituted.”

————–

Saying our beliefs differ enough to require rebaptism is a far cry from saying “they’re not Christian”. We too, believe that Methodists and others who become Mormons must be rebaptized, but that doesn’t mean Methodists aren’t Christian.

I am neither a Methodist nor a Roman Catholic. And while I have differences with both denominations (fairly serious differences with Rome), both doctrinally fall within the scope of orthodox Christianity.

It’s strange that within what you call “orthodox Christianity” denominations can differ in their definition of Christ’s very nature (how they define the trinity), but still be Christian, yet somehow we’re not”.

My intention in insisting on this point is not to offend. I sincerely believe the most important component of fruitful inter-faith dialogue is honesty. It helps no one to blur legitimate lines of distinction. Clarity is more important than superficial agreement. Once clarity is established, we can work toward agreement.

I agree, honesty is best, but honesty and accuracy are distinguishable. You’ve been clear on what you accept as Christian (that’s honesty), I’m just asking that you don’t represent that as the socially acceptable answer (that’s accuracy), because that just causes confusion. When people ask “Are Mormons Christian”, what they mean is “Do Mormons believe in Jesus Christ”, and not “Are Mormon views of Jesus Christ identical to all other self-proclaimed Christian denominations?”

Toward that end…
God Bless

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17 Jim B. September 24, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Rusty,

“What he’s saying is that we rely on the Holy Spirit, that it is sufficiently capable (as a divine being) to communicate to us, that we rely on the Lord, and His sufficient willingness and capability to communicate to us.”

Re-reading my comment to Tim, I realize I should have been clearer. I did not mean to say that Mormons rely on “intuition”. What I meant to say was that Mormons – according to Tim’s comment – rely on a supposed inner testimony of the Holy Spirit.

Of course, I agree the Holy Spirit is wholly capable of speaking to His people. I believe He has done so through the inspired words of Scripture. I also believe the Holy Spirit works today in applying the Word to save sinners and sanctify saints.

“He [Tim] doesn’t suggest we abandon scripture, or the voice of the Lord from the past, but rather we supplement that with the voice of the Lord in the present.”

Tim said, “The fact is that the scriptures take SECOND place in our beliefs and talking to the Lord is always number 1.” While I never said Tim believed we should “abandon scripture”, this clearly places the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit above Scripture. My point above, therefore, stands. If man is, as Scripture clearly defines him, in bondage to sin – every aspect and dimension of his being tainted – than no inner testimony can be 100% trustworthy. This is why the infallible Word of God is so important to the Christian. All of my inner promptings and testimonies must be submitted to the inerrant Word of God. I err. Scripture does not.

When he says “the scriptures take second place”, he’s not saying they take second place to our inner testimony (that was your invention). He meant that they take second place to communication we receive from him today.

Regarding “inner testimony”, that’s not quite what Tim was talking about. He was talking about current and personal communication with the Lord, not testimony, or some inner sense of belief. He’s saying that if the Lord tells me to do something today, that’s what matters most to me. The fact of the matter is that that communication will be reinforced by scripture, and illustrated in scripture. Very often, the communication we receive from the Lord is simply through scripture (and so by our dedication to diligent scripture study, we either let him communicate, or prevent it). Often, his communication will be in helping us see scripture, but understand meaning – very specific meaning to our unique and specific circumstances. But there are times, when he will communicate to you directly, and when he does, it’s not like you have to say “hang on, let me go re-read the Bible to see if I can accept that” (as we discuss in “An open canon”). As you say, the infallible word of God is just that, infallible, whether it be communicated today, or 2000 years ago.

“On your comment up above, you ask “Wasn’t destroying Christianity (the apostate church) Joseph Smith’s aim?”

No, restoring Christianity was Joseph Smith’s aim…”

Splitting hairs now, aren’t we? If the Christianity of Smith’s time (a Christianity identical to my own) was an abominable apostasy, and Smith’s new Church was to restore true Christian faith, how does it not follow that Smith’s aim was to essentially destroy (non-Mormon) Christianity?

This is why unconventional definitions make communication difficult. In your definition of Christianity, yes, this is true – the goal is to correct all incorrect doctrine, that all might know the truth (but still, and more on point to what Ross was saying), this wasn’t an overt endeavor, going around to various sects to refute their people or leaders). But in the social definition of Christianity, or the belief in Jesus Christ, his intent wasn’t to destroy, but to build, and build we have.

“But that’s beside Ross’s point, which was that it’s strange how members of other Christian faiths seem so bent on refutation (destruction for destruction sake), and not on simply teaching the truth…”

Does not truth-teaching necessarily entail some refutation of error? Again, the hypocrisy here is egregious. Smith and his early followers assembled together precisely because they believed they had REFUTED 18 centuries of apostasy! And please Rusty, don’t malign folks like me with “destroying for destruction’s sake”. You know full well that I and others spend a great deal of time and energy refuting Mormon error, because we believe eternity hangs in the balance. Believe it or not, Rusty, I love you and all the other Mormons reading this blog, and I pray specifically for you and your family regularly. (You have a lovely-looking family, BTW! I love big families!)

LOL, thanks, they’re simply awesome.

And by the way, I don’t hold you to that definition (destroying for destruction sake), you’re far more of a builder, providing scripture, interpretation, and voice of opinion, and usually respectfully, but that is not often true. As in the case above, “the pilgrim” and his link were not aimed to build, but to tear down.

Still, I couldn’t agree more (which is why my statements are not hypocritical), and as I said above, you DO have to correct error – that’s one of the primary purposes of this blog. But my point again is in the approach. In this endeavor to correct error, I could have sought out all blogs belonging to orthodox Christians, and gone to their comments and said how wrong they are, and that their mislead, and all the other kinds of insults that so frequently surface on Mormon blogs. But instead, I chose to start my own blog, teach the truth, and let people decide as they will, allowing all opinions and voices, along with discussion, so long as they are respectful. That’s what Ross was talking about, and I agree with him.

That’s the approach of Joseph Smith, that was the approach of Jesus Christ.

“Additionally, we live in an age of high sensitivity to “political correctness”. These words are strong, but I’d bet their style and nature, wasn’t any different than what was being spoken by other religious leaders at that day.”

I wonder what softer 21st Century words you would use to communicate “abomination”, “apostasy”, “whore of Babylon”, etc. As I’ve stated elsewhere, I have no problem with this language. I do have a problem with 21st Century Mormons playing the victim when critiqued, whilst the foundation of the LDS faith is a damning critique of orthodox Christianity. I long for the honest and clear language of men like Smith and Young.

I agree. 1 Peter, 3:15 “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh.”

Which is why I started allowing anyone to ask questions on my blog (some of which I still need to get to), not because of some groteque, self-absorbed confidence in my own abilities, but because I trust in the Lord, have access to the fullness of the Gospel and direct revelation, and know that “no weapon formed against thee shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17).

I like what the late prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley said on the matter… “Fundamental to our theology is belief in individual freedom and inquiry, thought, and expression. Constructive discussion is a privilege of every Latter-day Saint.

Still, as Paul suggests, we should be engaged in “speaking the truth in love”. which is why I appreciate your comments above – just because you disagree with Mormons, doesn’t mean you don’t love them. But that’s rare. That’s the kind of people I like to have dialogue with, and that results in the kind of constructive discussion Pres. Hinckley spoke of.

God Bless

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18 Jim B. September 24, 2008 at 12:56 PM

Rusty,

“Saying our beliefs differ enough to require rebaptism is a far cry from saying “they’re not Christian”.”

[Deep breathing… trying to remain calm and charitable…]

Yes, breathing is good, I’m appreciating it now more than ever… but that’s off topic…

YES, IT DOES!!! Did you even read the excerpts?

Here’s the first again:

Delegates to the United Methodists’ national convention meeting in Cleveland on Wednesday said the LDS Church “DOES NOT FIT WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF THE HISTORIC, APOSTOLIC TRADITION OF CHRISTIAN FAITH,” and [THEREFORE] that Mormons who convert to Methodism need to be re-baptized.

The second, in its entirety, says the exact same thing. Rusty, perhaps you are truly ignorant of this, not growing up in (orthodox) Christian circles. Let me help you out. I grew up in a Christian home and have attended church at several different Protestant denominations. Without exception, ALL reject Mormonism as a Christian denomination; ALL use the ugly “C-word” to describe your faith. ALL. This is not open for argument. No Christian denomination considers Mormons to be Christians. Only Mormons consider themselves Christians. Again, I’m not trying to be mean. This is reality.

Breathing…

P.S. I am truly ignorant of much of this, my childhood (pre-adoption, 11 yrs old) was religion-less, but I was aware that you’re not the only one to make this claim, even on this blog, it frequently surfaces in the comments.

The reason the Roman Catholic rejection of Mormon baptism was a “setback”, is because Rome typically accepts baptisms from other Christian denominations. Rome’s rejection of Mormon baptism was an EXPLICIT REJECTION OF MORMONISM!

That is too bad. It’s not surprising though, especially given the commercialization of religion. Fortunately, we haven’t noticed any difference (“No weapon formed against thee shall prosper”). Still, it’s too bad.

And regarding your one-sentence definitions of “Christian”:

Those weren’t my definitions, that’s the dictionary.

Which Jesus? Which teachings? This just brings us back to the beginning: the LDS faith teaches a different Jesus and a different “Christianity” than those taught for two millennia of Church history.

What if I told you I worshiped “Jesus”, but the Jesus in my mind was my German Shepherd? The mere profession of a name does not a Christian make. The “Jesus” of Mormonism is radically different than the Jesus embraced by orthodox Christians for the last two millennia. Thus, Mormons are definitionally not Christians.

I may call myself a German Shepherd, but I can’t lick my nether-regions.

**sigh**

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19 Rusty Lindquist September 24, 2008 at 1:40 PM

Great discussion. Comments above where appropriate….

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20 Margaret September 24, 2008 at 4:37 PM

Jim B
I’d just like to give my perspective on this discussion. If I remember correctly, you are a Reformed Baptist (correct me if I’m wrong). I was raised as an American Baptist in the northeast. I was baptized at age 12 by immersion by the pastor after taking classes. At age 18 I left the small town for the big city and college. I no longer had friends at church, and nothing felt right. I attended several denominations and none of them felt right either. For the next 3 years I only attended church when I went home to my family and friends. I felt that if a church was right, it should be right wherever you went-not just at home.

At 21 I was introduced to the Mormons. The teachings were vastly different than those I had known. Even so, they seemed familiar. They answered my questions.
I felt the spirit. I went to Church and I felt like I had come home. I prayed and received an undeniable answer to my prayers. It didn’t matter that the teachings were different, or that my friends and family told me I was foolish, or that the pastor I had known in my teens told me I was making the biggest mistake of my life. The Spirit bore witness to me that the Book of Mormon and the Church of JesusChrist of Latter-Day Saints were true and that was all that mattered then and all that matters now. It doesn’t matter to us what Protestant Conferences or leaders of any kind say or think, or what has been orthodox or tradition for centuries. All that matters is what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have told our Prophets and what the Spirit bears witness to us. That is what matters.

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21 Margaret September 25, 2008 at 8:02 AM

I might add that by our Prophets, I include all of the scriptures.

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22 Bob Loblaw December 2, 2008 at 10:02 PM

Well, there is certainly an interesting discussion here. So much to comment on… First I want to tackle the idea of depending on a personal witness from the Holy Ghost first and foremost and scripture second. As a faithful LDS member I think this is a silly thing to argue about. The Church teaches and encourages us to read the scriptures (especially the N.T. and the B.O.M) daily. See “Scripture Power” words in a song taught to children from the age of 3. http://www.lds.org/cm/pdf/ScripturePower_eng.pdf. That being said, the Savior himself taught that the Holy Ghost was the great Comforter to teach us all things. Christ taught his disciples that the Holy Ghost would be available to them after He left them. (See John 14:15-26; 15:26; 16:13 & 1 Cor 2:11-15). We need both the scriptures and the Spirit to stay close to our Savior.

Next, for what Mormons are, are we Christians or not? Well, I have read the many posts on this blog and others trying to debate this point and my conclusion is simply: Mormons believe in Jesus Christ as described in the New Testament of the King James Version of The Holy Bible. Other churches can try to discredit Mormonism, but since our Church has further light and knowledge regarding Christ other churches feel the need to distinguish us from them (except when they need the Mormon vote or campaign contributions). To point to facts like the rejection of baptism by the Catholic Church as evidence that Mormons are not Christian is reframing the discussion. Mormon beliefs fundamentally disagree with the Catholic version of baptism and correctly point out the flaws of infant baptism. In fact, there is a chapter in the Book of Mormon condemning the practice of infant baptism. I seriously doubt anyone in the LDS/Mormon community was holding their breathe for the Vatican’s approval of our beliefs in baptism.

If the “Christian” community would get over themselves and focus on the similarities between us they would recognize a significant force for truth, and righteousness to aid against the battle of evil, satan and secularism. I do not see how insisting that Mormons are not Christian simply because there is a difference in scripture interpretation. We all believe Jesus Christ is Deity, the Son of God, the Savior of mankind. In a world full of skeptics, cynics, and doubters why wouldn’t the “Christian” community welcome support from Mormons in defending and upholding true principles? The overwhelming support of many “Christian” leaders after the Proposition 8 issue in CA towards the LDS Church was inspiring to me. See here:

http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/catholic-bishops-decry-religious-bigotry-against-mormons

There are many other articles linked on this site worth reading.

In a world of declining morality and increasing attacks on families and living according to Christian principles I believe it is time to stop quibbling amongst ourselves and focus on the true enemies to God. We think of ourselves as believers in Christ (and sorry I cannot compare my Savior to a German Shepherd – how disrespectful).

You may disagree with our doctrine, but you cannot deny the fruits of our beliefs – strong families, healthy moral lifestyles, etc. I only ask you to please allow me to worship Christ according to the light and knowledge I have received from His Holy Spirit, without ridiculing me or telling me that I really don’t believe in Christ.

God Bless.

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23 Margaret D December 2, 2008 at 11:08 PM

Amen. Well said. Thank you!

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