Christianity Today Misrepresents Mormonism

One of the blogs I check regularly is Mormon Coffee, the blog operated by the folks at Mormonism Research Ministry. I checked it on Friday and read a post about an article on Mitt Romney and Evangelical voters. In Sharon’s post she pointed out that the article misrepresented the differences between Mormonism and Christianity when it said, “Mormon beliefs are not as un-evangelical as most evangelicals think. ” I read through the rest of her post and decided to click on the USA Today article to see what else they had to say, only to be surprised that I had misread Sharon’s post. It was not the USA Today that made the mistake. I would have expected that magazine to say something like that. When I clicked on the link, I was taken to the Christianity Today website.

I learned that the article was co-authored by Robert Millet, a Mormon professor at BYU, and Gerald McDermott, a Christian professor of religion at Roanoke College. I decided to do a Google search on McDermott and see what I could find out about him. I was not happy to find out that he teaches a class on New Religions in America, which includes Mormonism. Before I found this out, I wanted to contact McDermott to inform him about some of the things that most Christians do not realize about Mormonism. But after I found out that he teaches on the subject of Mormonism, I had a new motivation for contacting him. Here is my e-mail to him.

Mr. McDermott,

I read your Christianity Today article co-authored with Robert Millet. I must say that I was very disappointed. I realize that the thrust of the article was more about Evangelicals voting for Romney than it was about the differences between Mormonism and Christianity, but there are some very dangerous omissions in your article. To mention that “Most evangelicals would also be surprised to learn that the Book of Mormon contains passages that teach salvation by the merits and grace of Christ,” yet not explain that the grace comes only after our best efforts is irresponsible and misleading to the readers who do not know what Mormonism teaches.

At first reading, I assumed that you didn’t know much about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and thought that I would write to you to inform you about some things that most Christians do not realize regarding Mormon theology. But after reading your profile on the Roankoe.edu web site, I was shocked to see that you teach courses on New Religions in America, which include Mormonism. Since this is the case, the motivation for writing this e-mail has now moved from information to rebuke.

I do not understand how a Christian who teaches on Mormonism can say, “Mormon beliefs are not as un-evangelical as most evangelicals think.” I have been a missionary to the Mormon people for more than 11 years and the biggest problem we face in our ministry is to overcome the misconception that statements like yours convey. Not only is Mormonism entirely “un-evangelical,” it is wholly un-Christian. Yes, Mormons hold to the deity of Christ… if you redefine deity as a species. Yes, the Book of Mormon speaks of “salvation by the merits and grace of Christ,” but it also states, “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2nd Nephi 25:23). Let us also not forget that Mormon Prophet/President
Spencer W. Kimball taught, “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by
Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation. (Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 206)
By pointing to Book of Mormon passages that seem to support Christianity, yet neglect to balance your article with the truth about Mormon doctrine is reckless and negligent.

I can only pray that you consider revising your article to reflect a more accurate
portrayal of Mormon doctrine. I am concerned that many unsuspecting Christians will read it and come to the erroneous conclusion that Mormonism is another valid Christian denomination. By saying that “there is still doctrinal distance between Mormons and evangelicals,” but refraining from explaining that those doctrinal differences are salvific by nature is to stumble those who do not know better. As a Christian pastor and professor of religion, you should know better. I look forward to your upcoming book, Claiming Christ: A Mormon-Evangelical Debate and can only hope that you will learn from this mistake in your future projects regarding Mormonism.

I will be praying for God to bless you with abundant wisdom and protection from deception.

Sincerely,
Keith Walker
Evidence Ministries

Not only did I contact Mr. McDermott, I also wrote an e-mail to the editor of Christianity Today and left an online comment for the article. Those two responses are presented below respectively.

Letter To The Editor

The article titled, “Mitt’s Mormonism and the Evangelical Vote” is a dangerous article and needs to be edited or removed from the web. It is coauthored by a Christian and a Mormon and completely misrepresents Mormon doctrine. It has been worded to minimize the differences between Christianity and Mormonism and will mislead the unsuspecting into possibly thinking that Mormonism is a legitimate Christian denomination. I have been a missionary toMormons for more than 11 years and the biggest problem we face is getting people to understand that Mormonism is not Christian. This article contains serious omissions and is too ambiguous to be helpful. I pray that you take your responsibility in the body of Christ seriously enough to correct this grievous error. I would appreciate a response to my e-mail. Thank you and God bless you for His glory.

Keith Walker
Evidence Ministries

Online Comment

This article is not helpful at all. The BoM does contain passages that mention
grace, but the article doesn’t disclose that Mormons couple that “grace” with
their own works. 2 Nephi 25:23 says “for we know that it is by grace that we are
saved, after all we can do.” Former Mormon Prophet/President Spencer W. Kimball
once stated, “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in
Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.” (Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 206)

Where is the balance in this article? What is the point of reporting that Mormons believe in grace, yet fail to mention that the “grace” is added only after the best we can do? It is obvious that Millet doesn’t want those distinctions made, but what about McDermott? I am grieved that Christianity Today has published a piece that does not reflect the Christianity of yesterday. The Apostle Paul says of grace, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” (Romans 11:6)

At this point, I’ve done what I can in an attempt to rectify this error and I ask that you help me. Prayerfully consider leaving a comment to the article, writing the editor of Christianity Today and sending an e-mail the Mr. McDermott. There is no gaurantee that our voices will be heard, but you can count on them not being heard if we don’t speak up.

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5 Comments

  1. thanks for your efforts KeithGod is goodjpu

  2. Hey Keith, I will also write these guys, but if you hear back from them, please post about what they said. I am curious to know if they will smarten up or think your way off. Rick b

  3. CT has responded to my e-mail. I will post it once I have a response ready. It will not be right away though because I’ve got our monthly newsletter to finish today.

  4. Well said Keith. Glad you said it. The response will no likely be entertaining.

  5. I also wrote to Mr. McDermott, and after composing the email, I had come to a critical point that I believe is often lost in such discussions. I feel that it’s so pivotal that it bears repeating.In a discussion of Mormonism, the distinguishing issue of grace vs. works is often referenced, and rightfully so.However, even if you believe that Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom is acheived by grace alone, just the fact that Mormonism teaches the *concept* of Exaltation should so far separate Mormonism from Evangelical Christianity, as to make their similarities nothing more than points of coincidence.The fact that the goal of Mormonism is to become a god and populate your own world with your own spirit children conceived from multiple Exalted wives, so completely removes Mormonism from the realm of Evangelical Christianity, that the issue of whether you achieve Exaltation by grace alone or not pales in comparison.If anyone claims to understand both Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity, yet presents the two religions as being similar by virtue of a Grace/Works position, that person is either completely misinformed concerning the nature of the two religions or is being intentionally deceptive.

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