Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Who Scuppered the Chances of a Republican Victory in the U.S. Presidential Election?

The Evangelicals did! The Republicans had a winning candidate in the election. It was Mitt Romney. If he had been able to remain in the race, there is every likelihood that he would have prevailed over Barack Obama. The Evangelicals sabotaged his chances because of their hatred and jealousy of Mormonism. The Republicans have them to thank for their loss.

Mitt Romney was not only a strong candidate to win; he was also a man who was ideally suited for the job, with his track record of excellent economic management, at a time of serious economic and financial difficulties in the United States and abroad. The Evangelicals thought that if he won, that would be too good an advertisement for Mormonism, so they went into overdrive to do all in their power to ruin his chances of success. At first they embarked on a viscous round of negative campaigning centered on his religion. When they discovered that that strategy was not working (it was in fact counterproductive. Americans don’t like mixing politics with religion; even the religious ones don’t), then they finally hit on a winning strategy. They made Mike Huckabee to run as a stalking horse to draw away the Christian vote from Romney.

Huckabee was an outsider. He joined the race quite late in the campaign, almost as an afterthought. He and everyone else knew that he did not have a chance to win. So why did he do it? Well, he did have one qualification that suited the purpose of the Evangelicals: he was a Southern Baptist minister as well as being a politician. That made him the ideal candidate to draw the conservative Christian vote away from Mitt Romney—and it worked! He appeared from nowhere, and disappeared again into nowhere. He was like a meteorite that briefly appeared on the political horizon, and then just as quickly disappeared again. But that brief moment was sufficient for him to decoy the Christian vote away from Romney, thus robbing the Republicans of a winning candidate for the presidential election. Now they know whom to thank for their great loss.

I think that the Evangelicals and Mormons ought to declare a truce. They have more in common than they have differences. They share many of the same ideals. They can achieve a lot more by working together for the common good of society—the values that they share—than by working against each other. Romney’s agenda would have been closer to the Evangelicals’ than Obama’s. They have hurt themselves as well as their country by their unpatriotic act. When the country wakes up, I don’t think that they will easily forgive them for that. People have their own ways of punishing those who have deceived them, when they discover that they have been deceived.

Evangelicals will never be able to defeat Mormonism. It will go from strength to strength, and they won’t be able to stop it. In ten years time Mormonism will be twice as big; and in twenty years time it will be four times as big. What will they do about it then? The Evangelicals are “kicking against the pricks” (Acts 9:5) by fighting against Mormonism; and they will only hurt themselves in the process.

Mormonism has its own momentum. It will not grow faster or slower depending on who becomes the President of the United States—or who doesn’t. The only thing that will make it grow faster is opposition from its adversaries. Brigham Young said that you can only kick Mormonism upstairs, not downstairs! (JD 7:145.) That was a true statement born of experience. History and experience had taught him that Mormonism is strengthened and grows faster when it has been under the greatest pressure, and faced the greatest opposition. Evangelicals will only hurt themselves by fighting against Mormonism. Eventually they will have to come to terms with it and make peace with it, or suffer greater losses.



The purpose of this article was not to express disappointment with Obama’s victory, but to highlight the role of the Evangelicals (or of their leaders) in the Republican defeat. Obama is now the new President of the United States, and he deserves the support and good will of all Americans. He ran a good campaign, and deserves the victory he got. It was not his fault that he Republicans messed up.

Actually, the Republicans didn’t mess up. The Evangelicals (or rather their leaders) sabotaged their chances for them. What they need to do now is to put in place a mechanism in their party structure that will minimize the chances of that happening again. No religious group should have so much influence that they can change the course of political history contrary to the wishes of the majority of its citizens.

Imagine what would have happened if somebody had made Jesse Jackson to run alongside Obama in the Democratic primaries in order to split the Obama vote; chances are that neither of them would have won, and Hillary Clinton would have come out the winner. Well, that is what the Evangelicals did to the Republican Party.

A straight fight between Romney and McCain would have led to a Romney victory; a straight fight between Romney and Huckabee would have led to a Romney victory; but the presence of all three of them together led to the Romney defeat, and with it the defeat of the whole party. That is a perversion of the democratic process. It shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

The Evangelicals basically said, We would rather have a Democrat in the White House than a Republican President who is a Mormon. The result of that was that they got a Democrat in the White House. If the Democrats had said, We would rather have a Republican become President than a Democrat who is black, they would have been in the same situation as the Republicans are. But they had the good sense not to—and they won. They deserved to.

When religion (or racism) starts taking over the course of events in a political party, that is bad news for any political party that allows it to happen. I fear there is a faction in the Republican party which is guilty of both. The Republicans need to figure out how they can prevent that situation from arising in the future.



A note about the leadership in the Evangelical Movement will be instructive. The Evangelicals do not have a centrally organized structure like the LDS Church or the Catholic Church. It is a loosely organized body of independently operated Churches. Their leaders are not “appointed” to that position, or paid a “salary” for it. They are more “self-appointed” than anything else. They “emerge” by demonstrating talent, oratory skills, and the ability to attract a crowd. At the local congregational level they may be appointed and be salaried ministers.

Then there is another group of people in the Evangelical movement whom I would describe as “activists” rather than “leaders”. They are a larger group than the first, and they tend to be more extreme and fanatical in their views. They are the “foot soldiers” in the Evangelical movement who do the dirty work for them. Lawrence O’Donnell’s TV rant on Mormonism is a typical example (he is is not Evangelical, but he drinks from the same trough). A lower quality video (wmv) file of the same show can be downloaded here. Hugh Hewitt’s radio interview with O’Donnell is an interesting follow-up, the transcript of which can be read here.

That video clip provides an interesting case study. All of Lawrence O’Donnell’s raving and ranting against Mormonism and Mitt Romney actually backfires, because everyone else on the show (none of whom are Mormons!) is made to defend Mormonism and Mitt Romney. Pat Buchanan does a great job of it, and so does everyone else in fact who is there.

The Evangelicals’ initial strategy of smear campaign against Romney based on his religion backfired quite badly. It is only when that strategy manifestly failed that they had to think of a different one, which finally worked—that of making Mike Huckabee to run as a stalking horse to split the conservative Christian vote. The only trouble with that strategy was that it worked too well! It not only put Romney out of the race; it brought down the entire Republican Party! Served them right I guess. With such friends, who needs enemies? LOL!

This post was revised on the 25th December 2008.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What is a Christian?

In the days when Jesus walked the face of the earth, His followers were not called “Christians”. The word “Christian” had not yet been invented—and would not be until quite some time after His death. In the days of Christ, His followers were called disciples.

The word disciple(s) occurs 272 times in the New Testament. The great majority of these relate to the discipleship of Jesus Christ. There are a few that don’t, because Jesus was not the only one that had disciples. The Pharisees and John the Baptist also had disciples. But the great majority of the references relates to the disciples of Jesus Christ.

The word disciple was applied to the followers of Jesus Christ not only during His lifetime, but also for some time after His death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. Here are some examples:

Matthew 28:

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

In this verse “teach” means “make disciples of.” The following are some more verses that illustrate this point:

Acts 1:

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, …

Acts 6:

7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied …

Acts 9:

1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, …

* * *

10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; …

* * *

36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, …

The word “Christian” occurs for the first time in the New Testament in the following context:

Acts 11:

26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

The word “Christian” was in fact a nickname applied to the followers of Jesus by the unbelievers; which is why it took a long time before it gained currency among the Christians themselves as a common adjective to be applied to them. The followers of Jesus still continued to be called “disciples” within the church for a long time after that, as the following verses illustrate:

Acts 13:

52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

Acts 14:

28 And there they abode long time with the disciples.

Acts 20:

1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.

* * *

7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; …

Acts 21:

4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: …

Interestingly, in modern LDS scripture the word disciple is used in preference to the word “Christian” when referencing the believers in Jesus Christ. The word “disciple” occurs 54 times in the Book of Mormon, and 23 times in the Doctrine and Covenants. The Book of Mormon is an ancient Hebrew-Christian text, so that is not surprising. But the Doctrine and Covenants is a completely modern book of revelations; and it prefers the word “disciple” over “Christian” when referring to the true followers of Jesus—as is the case in the New Testament. Here are some examples:

D&C 1:

4 And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.

D&C 18:

27 … and the Twelve shall be my disciples, and they shall take upon them my name; …

D&C 41:

5 He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple; and he that saith he receiveth it and doeth it not, the same is not my disciple, …

D&C 45:

32 But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; …

D&C 52:

40 And remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple.

D&C 84:

91 And he that doeth not these things is not my disciple; by this you may know my disciples.

D&C 103:

28 And whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple.

This leads us to the first important conclusion we must draw in our quest to define the word “Christian”:

Point #1: A Christian is a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

Having determined that a Christian is in fact a disciple of Jesus Christ, next we need to establish the criteria by which a true disciple can be identified. In the days of Christ, that was relatively easy. The disciples were those who followed Him and obeyed His instructions. The ordinary Jews or the Pharisees of that time did not appear to have any difficulty identifying the disciples of Jesus, as the following verses demonstrate:

Matthew 9:

14 … Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

Matthew 12:

2 … Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

Matthew 15:

2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? …

Matthew 17:

16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

Luke 9:

40 And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.

Luke 19:

39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

Of course, not all of those who followed Jesus were necessarily sincere in their discipleship; but Jesus had a way of driving away the insincere ones, and retaining only the sincere and committed disciples. Here are some examples of things He did or said that would drive away the insincere or uncommitted disciples:

Matthew 8:

19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

John 6:

64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

So in the days of Jesus it was not too difficult to identify His true disciples. Those who followed Him and “walked with Him” were His disciples. The question becomes a little harder when we look to the period beyond His earthly ministry. But luckily, Jesus has not left us completely clueless about that. He has given us many clues as to how we can still identify His true disciples, even after His death:

John 8:

31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed

John 13:

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:

8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Matthew 7:

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Luke 6:

46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

John 14:

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

* * *

21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 15:

10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

1 John 5:

2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

* * *

3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Matthew 7:

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Matthew 5:

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

These verses (and more that could be given) identify the characteristics of a true disciple of Jesus Christ. A true disciple is someone who believes in Jesus and lives by His commandments. However, since “believing” in Him is something that can be faked; therefore it is the second aspect of the criterion that is emphasized above all else in the scriptures cited. Anyone can falsely claim or pretend to “believe” in Jesus, and identify himself as a true disciple. But faking the “fruits” is not such an easy thing to do. That is why Jesus has made the fruits the determining factor by which a true disciple can be known, rather than the mere expression of “faith”. That was the major fault that Jesus found with the religious teachers and leaders of the Jews—they outwardly professed faith or belief, but lacked the “fruits” to prove it. He quoted to them the prophecy of Isaiah:

Matthew 15:

7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

So it is easy to fake a belief in Jesus Christ; but it is not so easy to fake obedience to His commandments. Hence Jesus has made that the final deciding factor by which a true disciple—a true Christian—can be identified. This leads us to the second and final conclusion in our attempts to define the word Christian:

Point #2: A Christian is someone who brings forth fruits expected of a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

Having determined an accurate barometer by which to decide what is and what is not a Christian, it is interesting to see how we can apply this criterion to various Christian churches, and see how they measure up against that standard. Of course, it is not a civil or charitable thing to do to try to judge another church’s Christian credentials. I think that we should allow every church or religion to define itself. If somebody told me that he is a Muslim or a Zoroastrian, I would take his word for it that he is what he claims to be, and respect him for his religion. I wouldn’t tell him that he is not really a Muslim or Zoroastrian; but he is a Jew or a Buddhist! However, since many Christian churches have taken it upon themselves to question the Christian credentials of Latter-day Saints, I think that makes it “open season” for them, and permits us to scrutinize them for their Christian credentials.

With so many thousands of churches in existence, it is not practicable to try to survey every one of them to see how they measure up against this standard—neither is it my intention here to determine which churches are truly Christian and which are not. The purpose of this article is to decide on an accurate, biblical and theological criterion by which the “Christianity” of a church or denomination can be determined. The application of the criterion I leave to others. But an example on how such a criterion might be applied in practice might be helpful.

There are some large Evangelical charismatic “mega churches” (or their leaders) that have been involved in financial and moral scandals. I would say they are not bearing the right “fruits”. Some churches, like the Episcopalian in the United States, not only condone homosexual practices; but even ordain practicing homosexuals to their ministry. I don’t think that they are bearing the kind of “fruits” that Jesus would have approved of. I would be inclined to rank these very low in my scale of Christian credentials. The Catholic Church has had a long history of actions such as the Crusades or the Inquisition that would count as negatives in the list of “fruits”. At times in its history the Catholic priesthood has been very immoral and corrupt. They count as large negatives. But at the same time the Catholic Church has come a long way since those days, and instituted many reforms that cancel out many of the negatives. Of course, not everything in the history of the Catholic Church has been negative. The positive points outweigh the negative ones. I would be inclined to rank them higher in the scale of their Christian credentials than the mainstream Protestantism.

Some small fringe protestant groups like the Amish people have exemplified the “fruits” of discipleship far above their fellow Protestants or Catholics. I would be inclined to rank them higher than all the rest in the scale of Christian credentials.

There is one group, however, that scores lowest of all in my estimation in the scale of Christian discipleship; and they are the Protestant, right wing, conservative, Baptist, Calvinist, “Evangelical” Christian groups who not only have very little “good fruits” to show for themselves; but even reject it as a matter of theological principle. They say you don’t need to do good at all! All you have to do is “believe,” and you are done! It is one thing to accept a correct principle, but fail to live by it; it is quite another to adopt a totally false principle, and actively promote and teach it and live by it, and be ideologically fanatical about it. For the first there is a hope; for the second there is no hope! They fail the test of “judging them by their fruits” at the most basic level, because they don’t believe in any “fruits” at all! I would rank them the lowest of all in the scale of Christian credentials as true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Response to Dr. R. A. Mohler on Mormonism

In June of 2007 a debate was initiated by Beliefnet between Dr R Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and also Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Seminary (and a vocal critic of Mormonism); and Orson Scot Card, a freelance writer and a Mormon. During this discussion each posted three essays in response to the other arguing their case, which may be seen on Beliefnet’s website. The first article by Mohler was posted on 28 June 2007, and the last by Card on 26 July 2007. Each post attracted many comments from readers. As I studied these exchanges, I felt that Orson Card had not tackled the challenges to Mormonism presented to him by Dr Mohler head on, and Mohler was to some extent justified in claiming that his main objections had not been addressed. In this essay I will attempt to address his objections more directly. Mohler begins his first article, which he titles: Mormonism is not Christianity, with these words (emphasis added):

Are Mormons “Christians” as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy? The answer to that question is easy and straightforward, and it is “no.” Nevertheless, even as the question is clear, the answer requires some explanation.

The issue is clearly framed in this case. Christianity is rightly defined in terms of “traditional Christian orthodoxy.” Thus, we have an objective standard by which to define what is and is not Christianity.

We are not talking here about the postmodern conception of Christianity that minimizes truth. We are not talking about Christianity as a mood or as a sociological movement. We are not talking about liberal Christianity that minimizes doctrine nor about sectarian Christianity which defines the faith in terms of eccentric doctrines. We are talking about historic, traditional, Christian orthodoxy.

Notice that the criterion that is used here to determine the “Christianity” of Mormonism is what is termed “Christian orthodoxy”. That in itself raises some important questions, before we can even attempt to discuss Mormonism: What is “Christian orthodoxy,” and who gets to define it? For example, is the infallibility of the Pope part of Christian orthodoxy? If not, why not? What about the Immaculate Conception, the assumption of Mary, the seven sacraments, or Transubstantiation? Are these part of “Christian orthodoxy,” and if not, why not? How about the belief that the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon, or the Pope is the Anti-Christ? Those were the core beliefs of the Protestant Reformers and the Protestant Religion to which Dr Mohler belongs. Is that part of “Christian orthodoxy”? If not, why not? What has changed? What determines “Christian orthodoxy”?

The trouble with using “Christian orthodoxy” as a yardstick is that there is no generally accepted definition of it across mainstream Christianity that one can adopt. I have searched the Internet for such a definition, and found none. It is a yardstick that Dr Mohler can determine the size and length of it himself—very convenient!

Asking whether Mormonism is Christian or not according to the arbitrary criterion of “Christian orthodoxy,” as determined by Dr Mohler, is like determining whether the Earth is flat according to the criteria laid down by the Flat Earth Society. Well, according to that criteria it probably is! But those are hardly objective criteria by which to determine whether the earth is flat or not. Card’s biggest mistake was to agree to debate Mormonism on the basis of this narrow, limited, biased, one sided, sectarian definition of what constitutes true Christianity. Mormonism teaches that historical Christianity is in fact Apostate. So what Mohler identifies as “orthodox Christianity” is in fact “Apostate Christianity”. The question posed therefore amounts to: “Is Mormonism Christian according to the standard of Apostate Christianity?” Well, I should think not! Card made a fundamental error to agree to debate Mormonism on the basis of such a flawed criterion. If a criterion is to be used, it should be one that is acceptable to both sides; not one that Mohler and Beliefnet have cooked up between them to corner Mormonism.

Dr Mohler has also been a shade dishonest in his use of this criterion. When Card raised an objection to it, in his second article Mohler responds with these words:

The first matter of concern is to clarify the question. When I asked, “Are Mormons ‘Christians’ as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy?,” I was stating the question exactly as it was put to me [by Beliefnet]. The words “as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy” were part of my assignment, not my imposition.

Well and good—but there is a catch. The catch is that Dr Mohler does not limit himself strictly to that conditional definition. He portrays that criterion as being the soul, legitimate, valid, and objective criterion by which the Christianity of Mormonism (or any other church) can be determined. For example, the title of his first article reads: “Mormonism Is Not Christianity”. No sign of the limited conditionality based on a flawed criterion. The title of his third article reads: “Mormonism Is a Sincerely False Gospel”. Again, no sign of the limited conditionality based on a flawed criterion. He follows that subtle deception throughout his articles. Here are a couple of typical quotes from his first and second articles:

Nevertheless, Mormonism is not Christianity by definition or description.

Of course, the only way we know this is because we do have an objective standard by which to judge what is and is not Christianity, and that is the very “traditional Christian orthodoxy” that Mr. Card and Mormonism reject.

The answer to that is, Who says? Was that decided by Beliefnet too? By what right? Who gave Beliefnet the right to lay down the criterion by which the Christianity of any religion should be determined? Dr Mohler wants to have his cake and eat it. When the arbitrary and flawed nature of his criterion is pointed out to him, he backs off and says, “That wasn’t me, that was Beliefnet!” But when nobody is looking, he portrays it as the soul objective criterion by which the Christianity of a religion can be determined—not a very honest way to debate religion.

Dr Mohler’s arguments against Mormonism are rather primitive and limited, and contain very little that is of any substance. He says that the question was put to him “theologically;” but there is very little of “theological” substance that he puts forward as an argument. Most of his criticisms consist of generalized comments that one cannot respond to except with another generalized comment. Here is a typical example from his second article:

Mormonism uses the language of Christian theology and makes many references to Christ. Mr. Card wants to define Christianity in a most minimal way, theologically speaking. If I were arguing the other side of this question, I would attempt the same. But Christianity has never been defined in terms of merely thinking well of Jesus. Mormonism claims to affirm the New Testament teachings about Jesus, but actually presents a very different Jesus from the onset. A reading of Mormonism’s authoritative documents makes this clear.

Well, it is impossible to argue against that (in the same amount of space at least), except by making another generalized statement of the same length to the contrary, which would not be very enlightening to anybody.

The paucity of any solid arguments that he brings against Mormonism, however, also makes it an easy subject for rebuttal. His entire arguments in the three articles that he has put forward can be summarized in just a couple of short sentences, as follows:

1. Mormonism is not Christian because it does not conform to the standard of “historical Christian orthodoxy” (as he chooses to define it himself).

2. For a theological justification he merely cites LDS rejection of the historical Christian doctrine of the Trinity and the nature of Christ, without offering anything by way of detailed theological analysis or discussion.

That is easy to answer. In response to the first objection my answer is, What he calls “Christian orthodoxy” I call Apostate Christianity; and Apostate Christianity cannot provide the standard by which to measure true Christianity. The LDS Church teaches that historical Christianity is Apostate. It went into Apostasy in the first century; and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Restoration of the original and true form of Christianity. Apostate Christianity cannot by any stretch of the imagination provide the yardstick with which to measure true Christianity. Some other criterion would have to be used that could be acceptable to both sides.

As for his criticism of the LDS rejection of traditional Trinitarianism, that has already been addressed and discussed hundreds of times. The most recent example I can think of is the address given by LDS Apostle Elder Jeffrey R Holland in the October 2007 General Conference entitled: “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent”. In this sermon Elder Holland makes a convincing case for the separate identity of the members of the Trinity or the Godhead, which is the LDS theological position. If Dr Mohler is a serious theologian, let him rebut that, instead of making generalized attacks on Mormonism which cannot be pinned down to anything.

For the remainder of this post I am going to quote selected passages from Mohler’s three articles which require special comments, and briefly comment on them:

From his first article.

Once that is made clear, the answer is inevitable. Furthermore, the answer is made easy, not only by the structure of Christian orthodoxy (a structure Mormonism denies) but by the central argument of Mormonism itself—that the true faith was restored through Joseph Smith in the nineteenth century in America and that the entire structure of Christian orthodoxy as affirmed by the post-apostolic church is corrupt and false.

What does he mean by “the structure of Christian orthodoxy”? There is no such thing. There are a thousand and one Christian churches in the world, each of whom have their own “structure”—and each claims to be the right one. There is no such thing even as a “Christian orthodoxy,” never mind its “structure”.

Mormonism rejects Christian orthodoxy as the very argument for its own existence, and it clearly identifies historic Christianity as a false faith.

Not true. That is not the theological position of Mormonism. We believe that historical Christianity was able to generate genuine faith in Christ; and all such as have believed and lived by the commandments will be saved. We believe that historical Christianity contains many gospel truths, but also errors. We believe that as the result of the Apostasy the priesthood authority of it was lost, but not its ability to generate saving faith in Christ (see 3 Nephi 16:6–7; D&C 10:53–56).

Contemporary Mormonism presents the Book of Mormon as “another testament of Jesus Christ,” but the Jesus of the Book of Mormon is not the only begotten Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, or the one through whose death on the cross we can be saved from our sins.

That is an utter falsehood and a blatant lie. Mohler claims that he has read the Book of Mormon, and I believe him. Anybody who has read the Book of Mormon will know that that is not true. Here is a link to search results for the word “Christ” in the Book of Mormon. It finds all the recorded instances of it, and quotes the verses in which they occur. The reader can judge for himself the truth of Mohler’s assertion.

Normative Christianity is defined by the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the other formulas of the doctrinal consensus.

The LDS Church would not have any problems with the Apostles’ Creed. It is with the councilor creeds that the theological problems begin to arrise. The Apostles’ Creed was not written by the church councils. It dates back to the obscure history of early Christianity, and its teachings are acceptable to LDS.

From his second article.

At the same time, I was glad the question was asked in this manner, for it is the only way I can provide an answer that matters. The question could surely be asked in other ways and we could attempt to define Christianity in terms of sociology, phenomenology, the history of religions, or any number of other disciplines. In any of these cases, someone with specific training in these fields should provide the argument.

The question could simply refer to common opinion—do people on the street believe that Mormonism is Christianity? But then the matter would be in better hands among the pollsters.

In any event, the question was framed theologically, and it was framed by Beliefnet in terms of “traditional Christian orthodoxy.” With the question structured that way, the answer is clear and unassailable—Mormonism is not Christianity. When the question is framed this way, Mr. Card and I actually agree, as his essay makes clear.

That is a bit disingenuous. There is another criterion that can be used to determine the Christianity of Mormonism, acceptable to both sides, that Mohler knows about but chooses to ignore—that is the Bible. That is the criterion that the Protestant Reformers used during the Reformation to challenge Catholicism. “Christian orthodoxy” was not the criterion that was used—for a good reason. At that time the Catholic Church owned “Christian orthodoxy,” whichever way you wanted to define it! The Protestant Reformers would not have stood a chance if they wanted to use that as their criterion; therefore Sola Scriptura became the order of the day. Now with Mormonism, Sola Scriptura seems to have gone out of fashion, or conveniently forgotten about; and “Christian orthodoxy” become suddenly fashionable! Very convenient! If Beliefnet is willing to extend to me the invitation, I am willing to challenge Dr Mohler to a debate on Mormonism based on the Bible as the criterion. Let’s see if they will accept!

Nevertheless, if I were a Mormon arguing that Mormonism is Christianity, I would be very reluctant to suggest that those I am seeking to persuade should read the Book of Mormon. Nothing will more quickly reveal the distance between Mormon theology and historic Christianity.

For his information, the Book of Mormon is the greatest conversion tool of Mormonism, with the possible exception of the Joseph Smith Testimony.

Mormons want their religion to be seen as another form of Christianity. In other words, they want to identify with what from their inception they sought to deny.

Wrong! Mormons want their religion to be seen as a Restoration of the original and true form of Christianity; not as another form of Apostate Christianity.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” as Mormonism is officially known, claims to be the only true church. As stated in the Doctrine and Covenants [1:30], Mormonism is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.”

Dr Mohler does say some true things about Mormonism on rare occasions (not intentionally I am sure!) and this is one of them.

According to Mormon teaching, the church was corrupted after the death of the apostles and became the “Church of the Devil.”

False! That is not the position of the LDS Church, as explained above. There is such a thing as the church of the devil; but that is not how it is defined in LDS theology. It is defined as follows:

2 Nephi 10:

16 Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God.

“Whore of all the earth” is euphemism for the church of the devil. Thus “church of the devil” consists of those only who fight against Zion (meaning the true Church of God), not just to anybody who is a Christian of some other denomination.

Mormonism then claims that the true church was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith in the 1820s. This restored church was, Mormon theology claims, given the keys to the kingdom and the authority of the only true priesthood.


Why would Mormonism now want to be identified as a form of Christianity, when its central historical claim is that the churches commonly understood to be Christian are part of the Church of the Devil?

Too many falsehoods stuck together. Fact 1: Mormonism sees itself as the Restoration of the original and true from of Christianity; and therefore does not need to seek to identify itself with Apostate Christianity. Fact 2: Mormonism does not see historical Christianity as the church of the devil.

From his third article.

Indeed, the subtitle printed on The Book of Mormon is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” A “testament,” that is, other than that accepted by the historic Christian churches.

That is a misstatement of the LDS position. In the Doctrine and Covenants the Restoration is identified as the “new and everlasting covenant”. “Everlasting” means that it is not a “new covenant”. It is the same covenant that was made in ancient times; but it is renewed in our time because of the Apostasy. The Apostasy means that the old covenant was broken. The Restoration means that that old covenant was renewed to us by means of a new dispensation of the gospel. But it is the same old covenant that was renewed. It is not “another covenant”.

Here is the bottom line. As an Evangelical Christian—a Christian who holds to the “traditional Christian orthodoxy” of the Church—I do not believe that Mormonism leads to salvation. To the contrary, I believe that it is a false gospel that, however sincere and kind its adherents may be, leads to eternal death rather than to eternal life.

Misstated. What that means is that as a representative of an apostate Christianity, he has rejected the new dispensation of the gospel in the latter days which is a Restoration of the only and true form of Christianity. There is nothing new about that of course. Apostate religions have always rejected and opposed new dispensations of true religion. The bad news is that it is this rejection of the new dispensation that leads to death and damnation.

And thus I must end where I began. Mormonism is not just another form of Christianity—it is incompatible with “traditional Christian orthodoxy.”

The bottom line is that Mormonism is not another form of Apostate Christianity. It is a Restoration of the original and true form of Christianity. And it certainly is incompatible with Apostate Christianity.

On the subject of the Apostasy, it is worth noting that Mormons were not the first to come up with that idea. The Protestants recognized it first. They also describe it in more or less the same terms. There are two major differences however: (1) In Protestantism the Apostasy takes on a virulent anti-Catholic form, which in the LDS Church it doesn’t. (2) We define the Apostasy mainly in terms of the loss of the priesthood of the Church, which places Protestantism firmly in the same Apostate camp as Catholicism!