Joel Osteen: Mormons Are Christians

On Sunday December 23rd, Joel Osteen was interviewed by host Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. Politics came up and Wallace asked Osteen what he thought about Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. The subject then turned to Mormonism. Here is the transcript of the conversation.

WALLACE: And what about Mitt Romney? And I’ve got to ask you the question,
because it is a question whether it should be or not in this campaign, is a
Mormon a true Christian?

OSTEEN: Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior, and that’s what I believe, so, you know, I’m not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are. And so, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a man of character and integrity to me, and I don’t think he would — anything would stop me from voting for him if that’s what I felt like.

WALLACE: So, for instance, when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, and the golden tablets in upstate New York, and God assumes the shape of a man, do you not get hung up in those theological issues?

OSTEEN: I probably don’t get hung up in them because I haven’t really studied them or thought about them. And you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don’t know. I certainly can’t say that I agree with everything that I’ve heard about it, but from what I’ve heard from Mitt, when he says that Christ is his savior, to me that’s a common bond.

Common bond? This is frightening. Joel Osteen is the pastor of the largest church in America, is seen on TV world-wide by millions of people and then goes and speaks on a subject he admits to know nothing about. He is so concerned about not offending or judging anyone that he inadvertently leads people astray with his ignorance.

I have been asked in the past why I am not a fan of Joel Osteen. Here is why; I believe a pastor is more than a positive, motivational speaker. Pastors are suppose to preach the WHOLE gospel, both the good news and the bad. The good news make no sense unless one understands the bad news. Osteen doesn’t like to preach about sin, but has failed to understand that without the knowledge of what sin is and how it offends God, we will still be lost in them. I can think all the positive thoughts in the world and turn my life into a worldly success, but unless I face the bad news, the good news will do me no good.

Pastors are to be teachers. Before one can teach, you need to know the difference between truth and error. To do that, you must first be willing to identify error. This is impossible to do unless you are willing to judge. In our politically correct society, judging is taboo and condemns the “judger” as one who is intolerant of others. Has it ever occurred to Osteen that by refusing to judge, he is also refusing to identify error and hence has no right to preach truth? You cannot declare something to be true without also identifying the opposite as false.

Pastors are supposed to protect their flocks. I don’t know any other way to put it than to say that Mormonism is a wolf. Sure, individual Mormons may be nice, moral, family loving people, but the system of belief is an abomination. Any belief system which teaches that men are Gods in embryo is straight from the pit of hell itself. It is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and must be identified as the danger that it is before more sheep are fooled into the wolf’s den.

Any shepherd who refuses to first identify danger and then protect his sheep from the wolves does not deserve the responsibility of being a pastor. In contrast to what we see happening with Joel Osteen, praise God for the Great Shepherd who was willing to lay down His life for His sheep. There is a passage of scripture which comes to mind and I think it fits this situation perfectly. John 10:11-15 states;

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

To see the conversation yourself, go to the Fox News web site. The part of the conversation about Mormonism is from 3:17 to 2:39 . It is possible to fast forward to that spot.

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23 Comments

  1. Hopefully, uninformed people like yourself should look at what Latter-day Saint leaders and scholars are teaching and emphasizing today, rather than your bizarre charicature of what we taught 150 years ago. See my blog at http://ldsfocuschrist.blogspot.com for what we are saying today.Have you somehow missed “Losing the Battle and Not knowing it?” and “The New Mormon Challenge”? you are an example of what the editors there call Evangelicals who for some unexplicable reason insist that Mormons believe things that they don’t. Regarding humans as Gods in Embryo, studies during the last few years have shown that the Eastern Orthodox belief in divinization is no different from our belief. You also need to know that many LDS interpret the King Follet discourse differently than it has been understood in the past. See the writings of Blake Ostler, Steven Robinson, and Robert Millet on my blog.I think Joel O’Steen has it right, and the thousands of his members and listeners agree. Folks on the fringe like yourselves are about to be disappointed. If we don’t stop fighting each other and concentrate on defeating secular humanism, postmodernism, and radical Islam together, we will both be toast, along with Christianity and western civilization. Love and thanks,Steve St.Clair

  2. Steve,I find it interesting that you openly admit that the doctrine the LDS church teaches today has changed from what it was 150 years ago, yet you either fail to grasp the basic definition and nature of the word truth, or are insistent on overlooking it in order to hold on to your current belief system. TRUTH: That which is consistent with itself and reality, objectively verifiable and does not change. The very fact that the teaching of the LDS church has changed is proof that it was in error to begin with. When you discover that the foundation of a structure is unstable and incorrect, you don’t keep changing the building to look stronger and more acceptable, you go back and fix the foundation or start over again. The humans as gods in embryo’s is one of many doctrines that show that Mormons are not followers of Jesus Christ – they are followers of Joseph Smith – their prophet, as Jesus never taught this and neither does the Bible. Just like Islam and the Jehovah witnesses, Mormon leaders have found the original 66 books of the bible inadequate and have sought to “fix” them through new revelations or interpretation which always ends up building upon a COUNTERFEIT foundation other that the one that my Lord and Savior laid down with his life: Salvation through trust alone in the biblical Christ alone. The reason JW’s, Mormons and Muslims feel they need to add to what Christ did on the Cross is because they have an inadequate Christ who is really no savior at all. Steve, examine your foundation my friend and stop trying to convince the world that your builiding is the same as ours, when it is laid upon the same foundation: the biblical Jesus Christ, then you will be welcome as a Brother.

  3. Steve, I would like to add to what Rob said.First, you accuse Keith of being uninformed. I’m curious as to why, so I’ll ask you straight out: Why do you accuse Keith of being uninformed? He’s dedicated his entire professional life to studying “what the Latter-day Saint leaders and scholars are teaching and emphasizing today” (your own words quoted from above). I’d hate to think you made a gross generalization statement out of nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction based entirely in ignorance, but I’m confident that you did. However, rather than simply accuse you of ignorant slander (a sin LDS doctrine requires you to repent of), I’ll allow you the opportunity to explain yourself before I do so.Second, your words “rather than the bizarre charicature of what we taught 150 years ago” disturb me. It appears . . . and please correct me if I’m wrong in this, but it appears that you believe that what is being taught today is significantly different that what was taught “150 years ago.” Am I correct in my understanding of that part of your beliefs? If I am, then my follow-up question would be Why does it not trouble you that in a mere 150 years such significant difference of teaching occurs, especially in the light of D&C 1:37-39:”37 Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled. “38 What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”39 For behold, and lo, the Lord is God, and the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever. Amen.”If there is even one truly significant difference between what was taught “150 years ago” and what was taught today, then Mormonism condemns itself by the very words (above) that the LDS Church claims to speak for God. If D&C 1:37-39 above is correct, then anything that is taught differently from the word of the Lord, “whether spoken by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants,” is false, and anyone who teaches those different teachings is a false teacher.Conversely, if D&C 1:37-39 (above) is false, then Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, is a false prophet for falsely claiming to speak the word of the Lord.So either way, if there are significant differences being taught now from what was taught “150 years ago,” then we have problems, either then or now or both. So, to ask you directly, what is your full position on the matter of the differences in teaching between “150 ago” and now?You go on to say that “you [Keith] are an example of what the editors there [your blog] call Evangelicals who for some unexplicable reason insist that Mormons believe things that they don’t.” The inexplicable reason that you (and apparently those editors) seem to miss, is that we (Evangelicals like Keith and myself) evaluate the credibility and validity of Mormonism based on the LDS Scriptures. To significantly depart from the Scriptural basis of a religion is called Heresy. As such, anyone who caims the LDS Scriptures, and then teaches and/or believes something incompatible with those same scriptures is a heretic. One of the authors you point out, specifically Steven Robinson, I’ve been openly calling an LDS heretic ever since I read his book “Believing Christ” last year. Here’s why:I’m working from memory, so forgive me if I’m a page or two off on my citations.On page 1 and 2 (might be 2 and 3, but I don’t think so) he sets his premise, dead on in the heart of LDS doctrine and scripture, saying that making it to heaven (not just one of the three levels of heaven, but Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom) is not a matter of “balancing.” If you have even one sin on your record, you’re done! It’s not a matter of whether or not your “good deeds” outweight your “bad.” God is perfect, and he requires perfection (D&C 1:31), not a majority of good. Even a VAST majority of good is not sufficient. In this, he is 100% correct, both from the standpoint of LDS Doctrine and Scripture and from a purely Biblical, Evangelical standpoint.However, on page 25, he destroys his own premise. He likens faith in Christ, and the subsequent blessings of Christ’s atonement, to a marriage, using his own marriage as an example. He tries to pull in Protestant teachings (albeit innaccurately), in direct contridication to every single passage in LDS Scripture that I have ever come across that speaks on the subject in any way, shape, or form. This is where he demonstrates his heresy. He deviates from LDS Scripture, and attempts to teach something contrary. What is his heresy? This:In using his own marriage as an example of how Christ’s atonement works, he explains how that before he was married, his bank account was negative, but his wife-to-be had an account that was significantly in the positive. So, in the bank’s eyes, he was bad and his wife was good. However, when they got married, they merged their accounts into one account, and thus, because her positive amount was larger than his negative amount, in the bank’s eyes, he had a positive amount. Essentially, that when you weighed his negative account against her positive account, her greater positive amount absorbed his negative amount, and the resulting balance was positive, so he was financially “justified” before the bank by the end balance. He then explains that Christ’s atonement does the same thing for us. Christ’s goodness is more than our badness, and when weighed together, the resulting balance is positive, and that’s what makes us morally “justified” before God.However, the heresy is easy to spot if you go back to his premise on page 1 and 2 (see above). On page 1 and 2, his premise states that “it’s not a matter of weighing and balancing. If you have even one sin on your record, you’re done!” (That’s an almost verbatim quote, but I am working from memory, so if I have a few words slightly off, please forgive me. However, look it up! If I have the *content* wrong, you have an obligation to crucify me; no pun intended.)The problem with trying to apply both, diametriacally opposed teachings is that in doing so, not only are we NOT justified, because we still have sinned, but by Jesus having our sin on His record, we destroy Christ! (So much for the atonement)But wait, there’s more! 🙂 On page 52, he brings it right back into the heart of LDS Doctrine, with one of the most condemning concepts within LDS Scripture, essentially nullifying everything he’s said up to that point, including his heresy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a heretic, but at least he nullifies his heresy (and unfortunately for him, the entire premise of his book). On page 52 he brings in (and I think he actually quotes the passage from the Book of Mormon, but I may be wrong) the LDS version of the words of Jesus (I firmly believe that Jesus did not, nor would ever say this, but the Book of Mormon says He did) in that the blessings of His [Jesus’] atonement are contigent upon our “enduring to the end.” Enduring to the end means not sinning. I’ve had many people try to minimize the significance of that phrase by claiming that enduring to the end means only continuing in faith in Christ, but they miss the mark completely. In fact, if you try to apply that definition (or any other besides “not sinning”), and then use it within the context of LDS Doctrine, it makes no sense whatsoever. Look up Enduring to the End in Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie. He defines it pretty well! There are Many, Many, Many places that I can point to throughout LDS Scriptures and Doctrine that support McConkie’s definition, but there is not even one place that anyone has ever been able to show me that supports any other definition. Just read the book Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball, especially the chapter entitled “Enduring to the End.” Enduring to the End is the fifth and final step in the Repentence process (uh, the LDS Church’s repentence process, not Biblical repentance I have to clarify), and forgiveness only comes upon keeping all the commandments of the Lord until you die.So, essentially, regardless of how the blessings of the atonement are brought about, if you don’t stop sinning, in word, thought, and deed, both sins of ommission and commission, you receive no part in the blessings of the atonement; it’s as if there were no atonment made. See also Alma 42 for what Spencer W. Kimball calls “perhaps the greatest scriptural exposition” on the role of the atonement.Having gone on for way too long (and not long enough!), I summarize to say that the “modern-day” writers whom you claim to teach things differently from what was taught “150 years ago” are absolute LDS Heretics. That’s the “inexplicable reason” that we insist that Mormons believe things they don’t.To us, anyone who doesn’t believe LDS Scripture is not a Mormon.I’ll repeat that, because it’s so crucial.To us, anyone who doesn’t believe LDS Scripture is not a Mormon.It’s the exact same reason we believe that anyone who doesn’t believe and follow the Biblical teachings of Christ isn’t a Christian. Which is also why we claim that Mormons aren’t Christian; they neither believe nor follow the Biblical teachings of Christ. If they did, they wouldn’t be Mormon. The two are diametrically opposed and incompatible.Third, the claim that the Eastern belief in divinization is no different from the LDS belief of Gods in Embryo is immaterial as they would both be considered Biblical heresy. So I have no problem with your claim that the heretical teachings of the LDS church can be found in other heretical teachings as well.Fourth, if you think that Joel O’Steen has it right, then you expose yourself as an LDS heretic since Joseph Smith taught that the very words of Heavenly Father Himself were that there were only two Churches on the Earth, the one true church and the church of Satan. If Joel O’Steen isn’t Mormon, then by definition in LDS Scripture, he’s a Satanist. How can you possibly claim that a Satanist, by LDS Definition, has it right? Please anwswer this question even if you don’t answer any of the other questions I’ve posed.Fifth, your statement “if we don’t stop fighting each other and concentrate on defeating secular humanism, postmodernism, and radical Islam together, we will both be toast, along with Christianity and western civilization” I agree, with two reservations. One, Christianity will never die. 🙂 It has survived from it’s Jewish roots for at least six thousand years, and no, there has never been a great apostacy. God will not allow His Church to die.The second reservation I have about your above statement is that, although you’re correct in what you stated, my inference (and I believe your implication) is that the accuracy of your statement justifies a Doctrinal position. Your statement, although accurate, has absolutely no material bearing on religious, spiritual, or doctrinal grounds. It’s merely a social and political fact, but has absolutely nothing to do with religion, other than the religion of Islam.To end, please answer the following five questions, reiterated from above:1. Why do you accuse Keith of being uninformed?2. Do you believe that what is being taught by the LDS Church today is significantly different than what was taught “150 years ago?”3. If you do, then Why does it not trouble you that in a mere 150 years such significant difference of teaching occurs, especially in the light of D&C 1:37-39?4. What is your full position on the matter of the differences in teaching between “150 ago” and now?5. How can you possibly claim that Joel O’Steen, a Satanist by LDS Definition, has it right?If you (or anyone else) would rather email me directly rather than discuss things on Keith’s blog, I encourage you to email me at QuestionMormonism@Yahoo.com.P.S. Keith, sorry for the ‘novella’ length post. 🙂

  4. Steve,Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m a bit confused by some of your comments. I would appreciate it if you could clarify a few things for me.You accuse me of a “bizarre charicature” of what Mormonism taught 150 years ago. Could you please tell me where I have supposedly done that? I mentioned “Gods in embryo,” but that is taken from an official LDS Church teaching manual.Regarding Eastern Orthodoxy, Theosis is nowhere near the LDS concept of Godhood. If you stand by that statement, I would appreciate some references.Are Blake Ostler, Steven Robinson, and Robert Millet General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? I am in the habit of looking at LDS doctrine through official teaching manuals of the LDS Church. I’d be interested in reading new thoughts on the King Follet discourse, but it would have to be from an official source. Anything less and I would be guilty of that which you accuse me.Joel Osteen is flat wrong because he is uninformed. I find it interesting that you label me as uninformed when I have been studying Mormonism for more than 15years, yet you agree with Osteen when he admits that he doesn’t really know anything about it.

  5. Whoops, I posted before thanked you again for stopping by. I look forward to your response.

  6. Hey Keith,Your Mormon “bud” Dale making my occaisional flyby. I just need a bit of clarification here: In what manner is Osteen “wrong”? Is it in his acceptance of Mitt Romney’s belief in Jesus Christ as a legitimate belief in the Savior? (I assume this is what you meant.)Really, does Osteen have to be utterly informed about Mormon theology and history to make such a claim? I personally would hope that if anyone questioned the sincerity AND legitimacy of my faith in Christ, they would do more than look to the theology (both traditional and contemporary) of my Church. Surely this has been the ideal of Protestant Evangelicalism since its inception, has it not? That is, to look beyond Church, establishment, and theology to the very heart of the sinner and believer. If not, our own religious biases might surely frustrate the ways in which Christ’s salvation might work through us. I’d like to think this is the spirit behind Osteen’s position on Romney (and maybe in his evangelizing, in general).But I also understand well the Evangelical commitment to an “authoritative” purging of all religious thought and movement that is deemed heretical and counter to the time-honored tenets of Protestant Fundamentalism (so-called “Biblical Christianity”).I just hope more of you guys will come to understand and admit the chasm between the two ideals. I strongly believe that Jesus’ vision and gospel contained (and contains) no such chasms.Just maybe this chasmless vision is the crux of what is “wrong” with Osteen’s ministry. If that’s the case, I personally hope the best for his endeavors.Sincerely,Dale Caswell.

  7. Interesting points Dale. Though I wonder if the heart of the issue is not splitting hairs between the religious biases of Protestant Evangelicalism, i.e., Protestant Fundamentalism (often pejoratively used) and the religious “biases” of Mormonism – as though we are comparing Granny Smith apples with Fuji apples – like Baptists and Methodists (shh, don’t tell any of them I placed them in the same camp). As I read the Osteen dialogue I got the sense that the topic was more theologically demanding, though I admittedly do not claim to know much about LDS beliefs. Though I think many (if not most who are aware) would agree that Islam and Christianity are not compatible or to be equated, I know many would say that we are ultimately worshipping the one true God – rooting such a claim in monotheism, as opposed to pantheism, atheism, or polytheism. But of course, while this is foundational to the Christian faith, Islam clearly relegates Jesus Christ to a lesser role. And yet, again, at least between these two religions we may engage in a monotheistic discussion, a foundational issue in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I am not equating these. Can we do so with Christianity and Mormonism? The question posed to Osteen was whether he believes Mormons are Christians. Without dissecting one’s heart or “personal faith,” shouldn’t Christian theology at least play a role in determining the answer to that question – be it Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox? I have always assumed (I guess wrongly) that the LDS church was itself an authoritarian structure with its own apostles and teachings (and scriptures) that have arisen from the days of Joseph Smith, who was warned to steer clear of Christendom’s rueful ways – that is, to theological formulations as they had been passed along. However, the Mormon contributions I am hearing seem to suggest at least tacitly that in fact LDS teachings do not have sway on doctrinal formulations for them or other Mormons interested in engaging theology and the world. Since clearly Mormonism is chronologically a subset of Christianity in the sense that it attempts to fit within the broader umbrella of Christian theology, shouldn’t the broader system place the greater control on whether the subset is compatible? If so, than can we agree that Mormons worship the Christian God, the God who differs from Islam and other religions, the monotheistic/triune God as worshipped by Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox? Are we really talking about religious “biases” or competing theological systems? Of course this takes the spotlight off Osteen.~a curious reader~

  8. In a quick response to the above two posts by Dale (Good to “see” you again, Dale! I enjoyed speaking with you in Manti last summer!) and anonymous, here’s the heart of the issue:Joel Osteen said that he believes that Mormons are Christians. Now, admittedly, it depends on how one defines “Christian.” If you define a “Christian” as anyone who claims a person named “Christ,” then yes, I would say that Mormons are Christians.However, to use such a definition is to make the term utterly meaningless, since it is not the name “Christ” that gives a theology its significance. I have to wholly reject such a definition. As a good friend of mine, Judy, once explained in a conversation with some LDS teenagers:”If all I have to do to be Christian is use the name of Christ, then I’m going to start my own Church called ‘Judy and Jesus Christ’ — That way, I’ll be a Christian no matter what I believe.” (Quotes used loosely, as its largely an abridged paraphrase.) The LDS teenagers said that that was ridiculous, which of course, was her point.A definition of “Christian” that I would accept is “someone who claims and attempts to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.” As brought up by anonymous (a curious reader), Islam and Christianity are fundamentally incompatible. Both have their roots in early Judaism (Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Hagar, and Ishmael), but on a theological level, they are absolutely incompatible.In the same sense, Mormonism and Christianity are likewise incompatible.As anonymous pointed out,”Since clearly Mormonism is chronologically a subset of Christianity in the sense that it attempts to fit within the broader umbrella of Christian theology, shouldn’t the broader system place the greater control on whether the subset is compatible? If so, than can we agree that Mormons worship the Christian God, the God who differs from Islam and other religions, the monotheistic/triune God as worshipped by Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox?”The answer is a clear “No,” because Mormons don’t worship a monotheistic/triune God. (I could write a dissertation about that!) That’s one of the greatest distinctions of Mormonism from Christiantity. It’s not the most damaging distinction, but it’s one that, by itself, makes Mormonism and Christianity incompatible. In LDS Doctrine, it’s clearly stated that one of the most damaging heresies ever put forth by Satan, is that of the Trinity. The LDS Church utterly rejects not only the concept of the Trinity, but also the eternal divinity of Jesus Christ. (I would expect that LDS readers will say I am dead wrong about that last part, but only because we use the terms differently, and to fully explain would require another post all of its own. I’ll gladly make that post, but I don’t have the time this morning.)As another example of why Mormonism and Christianity are not compatible is the fundamental premise of the LDS Church. The LDS Church was founded on the premise of a great apostacy.* * *This is Crucial!* * *This is Pivotal!* * *Please understand this next part!If Christianity and Mormonism were compatible, then there was never a great apostacy. If there was never a great apostacy, then the LDS Church is a complete and utter fraud. Mormonism was founded BECAUSE Mormonism and Christianity were not compatible.I’ll say it again, because everyone needs to understand that concept!Mormonism was founded BECAUSE Mormonism and Christianity were not compatible!Because of the foundational premise of Mormonism, IF Christianity and Mormonism WERE compatible, then the founding of the LDS Church was a complete and utter fraud!To argue otherwise, is to undermine the very conceptual foundation of the Restoration, which would make Joseph Smith one of the most conniving deceivers ever to walk the earth, according to Official Statements of the Presidents of the LDS Church.So, back to the question posed by Dale: “In what manner is Osteen wrong?”Osteen was wrong in claiming that Mormonism and Christianity were compatible. Yes, the two religions use very similar terminology. Yes, they look very similar on the surface. But they are not compatible, and cannot be equated. Theologically, to accept one is to reject the other. According to the LDS Church, God Himself claims that there are only two Churches on the Earth, the LDS Church and the Church of Satan, and the creeds of all Catholicism and all Protestantism (and any derivation thereof) are an “abomination”. It’s the fundamental premise of the LDS Church.If that claim is NOT true, then the LDS Church is a massive deception, and therefore incompatible with Christianity.If that claim IS true, then Catholicism and Protestantism are massive deceptions, and therfore incompatible with Mormonism.So in the end, there is absolutely no possible way that Mormonism and Christianity can be compatible. That’s where Joel Osteen was wrong. Which makes his statement egregious since he could be considered the pastoral authority to more Protestants than any other single individual. To be so wrong with such great influence, through admitted ignorance is intolerable. It’s irresponsible at best, and theologically criminal at worst.- – – – – – – – – – To address one last issue, simply because it was brought up by anonymous:”I know many would say that we are ultimately worshipping the one true God – rooting such a claim in monotheism, as opposed to pantheism, atheism, or polytheism.”I have to point out that the concept mentioned above is completely false. If I only own one car: a Geo Metro “Econ-box,” and someone else owns only one car: a C230 Mercedes, yes we both only ascribe to one car, but to say that we both ascribe to the SAME car is ludicrous. Just because two people say there is only ONE God, does not mean that it’s the SAME God. And the only way that point could be insignificant were if there really were no God(s) at all, and we’re simply projecting a false concept to promote a philosophy. And if we’re only promoting a philosophy, then religion is pointless, and ALL of it is a fraud. (I know that there are many people who believe that to be the case!)In closing, I apologize for not having more time this morning, otherwise I would respond more completely to the above posts. It’s not my intent to give an incomplete response, I just don’t have the time today. 🙁

  9. Since I was making rhetorical points throughout, I worried that maybe my implications were misunderstood since James took the time to answer some of them. My point, directly, was/is this: Christianity and Islam are not compatible. Christianity and Islam are closer to each other in foundational terms such as monotheism than are Christianity and Mormonism (some really do believe that we are all worshipping the same God. No, we aren’t.). In this way, Mormon theology is even more foreign to Christian theology than is Islamic theology (other differences notwithstanding). Mormonism has its own authoritarian system – at least I’ve thought so based on the additive scriptures, apostolic titles, and publications – which seems to be disregarded or ignored by certain LDS believers in the name of unity with a broader Christian identity. In this way, is at least appears that some Mormons want to be considered mainstream Christians as this offers legitimacy to the belief system in the eyes of onlookers. Yet, I argue, Christian theology even in its broadest consensus on Trinitarian issues (Catholic/Orthodox/Protestant) simply must have a voice in determining whether Mormonism is truly “Christian.” To simply “say” one is a Christian isn’t enough. The first post seemed to want more press for his own blog than to account for substantive differences that Osteen is openly ignorant about. We should not be seen as bantering biases, but theologically competing systems. In the end, I essentially agree with the above post.-still curious

  10. Dale,Thanks for dropping by! To answer your question, I’m not sure if I understand what you’re getting at. If you are saying that church membership does not dictate true faith in Christ, I would agree. However, in Romney’s case he is claiming his faith in Christ in conjunction with what Mormonism teaches about Him. That being the case, Romney’s claim must be rejected, not because it is Romney’s claim, but simply because he is parroting Mormonism’s claim. Since Mormonism’s claim to Christianity is a faulty one, anyone who aligns themselves with faulty claims also must be rejected.Regarding the “chasmless vision,” you lost me there. I don’t know what you mean by that at all, but am open to hearing you again about it.Thanks again for dropping by! I’m look forward to seeing you again in Manti!

  11. Still Curious said, “Yet, I argue, Christian theology even in its broadest consensus on Trinitarian issues (Catholic/Orthodox/Protestant) simply must have a voice in determining whether Mormonism is truly ‘Christian.’ To simply ‘say’ one is a Christian isn’t enough.”I agree 100%. Mormonism’s world view simply is not compatible with Christianity.

  12. Still Curious,Two things:1. Well put! You said in a few sentences what I tried to say in 100. (lol) Thank you!2. I apologize. 🙂 I had understood that your points were rhetorical, but failed to convey that understanding in my response. Please accept my apology if I came across as “countering” what you had posted. My intent was to expand, not to counter. I will be more careful in the future.

  13. James Lorenzen writes:“If Christianity and Mormonism were compatible, then there was never a great apostacy. If there was never a great apostacy, then the LDS Church is a complete and utter fraud. Mormonism was founded BECAUSE Mormonism and Christianity were not compatible.I’ll say it again, because everyone needs to understand that concept!Mormonism was founded BECAUSE Mormonism and Christianity were not compatible!Because of the foundational premise of Mormonism, IF Christianity and Mormonism WERE compatible, then the founding of the LDS Church was a complete and utter fraud!”The problem with this statement is that it presumes that “Christianity” and “Mormonism” are two incompatible ideas simply on nomenclature. Really your argument is settled before it even develops. But the basic issue really isn’t what “Mormonism” is and isn’t, it’s what “Christianity” is and isn’t. Is “Christianity” Catholic or Protestant, or both? Is it Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal, etc., or all of them? According to your own foundational conception of “Christianity”, James, the “monotheistic” trinity is the ultimate bill—that can be paid by arguably any of these systems, but not by “Mormonism.” If only the Jesus of the New Testament were quoted as defining the essence of his religion so succinctly in these terms! (I believe we discussed this literary challenge a bit in Manti, didn’t we James? I respected that you were not unaware of the real challenge of finding in the Bible a clear-cut concern, let alone foundation, for belief in a Trinitarian understanding of God.) Regardless, the Jesus that spoke in person to the teenage Joseph Smith never quibbles about the issue of which system does or doesn’t fit the bill of “Christianity;” rather, the issue Jesus raises with Joseph is which system was established directly by God? As Joseph relates, Jesus declared to him that God had ESTABLISHED “none of them,” Catholic or Protestant. They were “all an abomination in his sight” (for teachings such as the Trinity, I would gather).So to one who has the issue of “Christianity” all figured out in his or her own mind, Joseph Smith’s revelation is of course of little relevance. But the claim of Jesus Christ personally calling a prophet and restoring his church in the last days under the authority of Apostles—well that is a claim that seems to stir more than a few “Christians”—stir some with great interest, and some with great consternation and hatred. It always has. Its relevance is in its historical claim as a reopening of Christian revelation and authority. By Joseph Smith’s own claims, God established a church through him—NOT to oppose the “Christian” systems of the day, nor to challenge their fair use of the name “Christ”—but rather, to restore the truth and authority that Jesus had left to his original Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament. It is within this framework of restoration that we of course get many of those distinctly “Mormon” teachings, such as the belief in an anthropomorphic God (or rather, a theomorphic humanity), Jesus’ literal sonship to the Father, and mankind’s literal progeny relationship to the Father and fraternal relationship with Christ (and yes, with Lucifer the disinherited). Among other beliefs.To you, James, (and to Keith, and many others) these revelations categorically remove Joseph Smith’s system from the title “Christianity,” and disqualify his followers as being “Christian” (and “saved” in future heaven). And to the Mormons, I suppose there could be reason for denying any Catholic or Protestant the appellation “Christian” because they have not literally partaken of the inheritance of the Father through Christ’s name (as they have not accepted Jesus’ established church and priesthood). But I am glad to say that there has never been a mood among the Mormons to remove their Christ-believing neighbors from the namesake of their professed religion. As Christ is the Savior of all mankind, I would fear to ever cast such a scornful and haughty judgment on men and women who I simply do not know the hearts of. As any good Mormon believes, I simply do not have a proper eye to cast final judgment on any human. Nor does my religion cast final judgment. Only Jesus Christ casts final judgment. I can but call them to repentance and to accept the inheritance of the Father through baptism into Jesus Christ’s restored church. That is my belief, and I could care less how any other man might care to categorize it.Sincerely,Dale Caswell

  14. Dale, you brought up some very important points! Allow me to clarify . . .You wrote:”The problem with this statement is that it presumes that “Christianity” and “Mormonism” are two incompatible ideas simply on nomenclature.”Yes! And No.Yes, because you are correct. If one presumes that my issue is with the “nomenclature,” then you are absolutely correct. However, my issue is not with the nomenclature. I attempted to explain that in my previous post, but I’ll clarify here.No. The issue that Keith and I have is not necessarily with the terminology. It is with the inclusion of Mormonism into the common belief system categorized by the modern understanding of the term “Christianity.”It is the *inclusion* that we take exception to. It is easy to send the wrong message because of the “nomenclature” of “Christian” as you pointed out. And it’s very important to understand that distinction. To adequately address both the issue of nomenclature and the inclusion into the established common belief system, we would have to coin a new word to describe the common belief system that so many term “Christian.” There are those that have attempted to do that. I have often heard the term “Evangelical” used instead of “Christian” to make that very distinction. The problem with that is, only those people who inherently understand the reason for the distinction will appreciate its use.Therein lies one of the biggest problems when a Mormon and “Evangelical” discuss the differences in their beliefs. One can only appreciate the distinction of terminology (nomenclature) after one inherently understands the reason for that distinction.To relate it back to Joel Osteen, we have to allow the use of the nomenclature “Christian” to mean what the general audience will understand it as representing: The common belief system categorized by the modern use of the term.Since Mormonism does not fit that common belief system, one cannot generalize the nomenclature to include Mormonism without defining the distinctively exclusive characteristics between Mormonism and the common belief system. Why? Because it’s communicating that Mormonism shares in that commmon belief system, which is wrong! The nomenclature is not the inherent problem, it’s the commonly held association of the common belief system represented by that nomenclature that is the problem. To indicate that Mormonism is compatible with the common belief structure, modernly represented by the nomenclature of “Christian,” is wrong. It’s the assocation, not the nomenclature.You also wrote:”According to your own foundational conception of “Christianity”, James, the “monotheistic” trinity is the ultimate bill—that can be paid by arguably any of these systems, but not by “Mormonism.””I would argue that the “monothestic” trinity is not the ultimate bill, however that could be perceived as splitting hairs on my part, because it is a vital characteristic.Continuing on your premise, you wrote:”If only the Jesus of the New Testament were quoted as defining the essence of his religion so succinctly in these terms! (I believe we discussed this literary challenge a bit in Manti, didn’t we James? I respected that you were not unaware of the real challenge of finding in the Bible a clear-cut concern, let alone foundation, for belief in a Trinitarian understanding of God.)”Yes, it is true that the word Trinity is never used throughout the Bible. However, the word Trinity was coined to represent a *concept* that is consistently throughout the Bible and all its teachings about God. That concept is that God the Father (YHWH-Yahweh), God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit are all the same being, and all claim responsibility for the exact same things. There are only two ways that this can be adequately explained. 1) The Bible is false. 2) The concept of the Trinity. “Trinity” is a modern “nomenclature” for a Biblical concept.You also wrote:They were “all an abomination in his sight” (for teachings such as the Trinity, I would gather).I have asked many Mormons, so I will ask you as well, what are the aspects of (to use more specific nomenclature) Protestantism that would qualify as these “abominations?” Now, I’ve never had anyone be able to adequately answer that question yet. So I’ll pose it to you to give you an opportunity.As far as your statement above, (hopefully without confusing the issue – although this is a seperate topic) the Book of Mormon itself actually teaches the concept of the Trinity. See Alma 11:44 and Ether 3:14 as two examples.Alma 11:44 (excerpt) – “Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God”Ether 3:14 (except) – “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son”Although not a difference between the Evangelical belief system and Mormonism, one of the disconcerting aspects of Mormon theology is that the LDS D&C Scriptures depart from Book of Mormon teachings, and teach something contrary. This is one of the main reasons I believe the LDS Church to be false. Their scriptures contradict themselves. But again, that’s a different topic. I’ll go back to something more relevant.Lastly, you wrote:”To you, James, (and to Keith, and many others) these revelations categorically remove Joseph Smith’s system from the title “Christianity,” and disqualify his followers as being “Christian””Again, just to reiterate for clarification, Mormonism is not removed from the “nomenclature,” it’s removed from inclusion into the common belief system represented by the nomenclature. However, since in the minds of the general public, the nomenclature cannot be independent from the common belief system associated with that nomenclature, the word “Christian” becomes more than a nomenclature, and becomes an official “Title” of sorts (like a trademark) for the belief system. To insist on using the nomenclature to be inclusive of Mormonism, one would have to actively redefine the term for his audience, to include a sufficient explanation of the differences between Mormonism and Christianity.Joel Osteen didn’t do that. And Joel Osteen, by his own admission, CAN’T do that. So therefore, his claim that Mormons are Christians is communicating that he believes that Mormon theology and Christian theology are compatible. Which is absolutely false, as demonstrated by the founding concept of the LDS Church; namely, the Great Apostacy.As a footnote, you wrote:”As any good Mormon believes, I simply do not have a proper eye to cast final judgment on any human. Nor does my religion cast final judgment. Only Jesus Christ casts final judgment.”I feel it necessary to challenge that statement, simply to clarify to anyone else reading this blog, what is to me, a distressing distinction of Mormonism. According to LDS Doctrine, Joseph Smith himself will judge the LDS people, and “no one will get into heaven without the approval of Joseph Smith,” because he has been made a “God unto [us].” I understand that that’s way off topic at the moment, but since you brought up the point of judgment, indicating that no good Mormon will cast final judgment, I can’t responsibly not comment on it.QuestionMormonism@Yahoo.com

  15. However one chooses to define Christianity, it simply cannot be divorced from history. Be it Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant, these all interrelate and exist within a historical continuum. They have all been historically defined as Christian. In the broadest terms allowable, each represents the same God in its worship and creedal formulations. And I think it is appropriate to begin with higher order issues rather than tackling 2nd, 3rd, or 4th order issues. That is to say, if we cannot even agree as to how many gods there are, let us not bother with issues of lesser definable status such as liturgy or ethics or social nuance or even important issues of authority, as these are affected by higher order principles. The rites, customs, writings, commentaries, prayers, beliefs, (etc.) of Christianity throughout the ages may be cumulatively labeled Christian within the ebb and flow of its own cathartic system of theological identity. This kind of tautology is allowable since Christinaity references itself as such. Admittedly these occur not without controversy! But this is how we today know anything about Christianity in the first place. I suggest reading some of the more nuanced hermeneutical discussions that articulate how thinkers cannot conceive of anything “outside” of their own cultural and socio-religious milieu. A great place to start is with “The Promise of Hermeneutics” by Roger Lundin, Clarence Walhout, and Anthony Thiselton. We must all rely to some degree on those who came before us in terms of what we can know, and this even applies to issues of transmission history of biblical manuscripts. Luther, Calvin, and the other reformers write with rich reference to the church universal (Iraneaus, Justin Martyr, Augustine, Aquinas, et al.). Evangelicalism is a product of its own time within this continuum and cannot be rightly understood apart from it. So too Mormonism in relationship to Christianity, since it was partially founded on the Bible.So without mitigating real differences within Christianity as the above “three” (C, O, P) relate, let’s not think we should be able to so quickly snip out a clear cut proof text to determine what is “Christian” and what is not apart from what we know of Christianity or apart from how our knowledge of Christianity has come to form our thinking. Yes, I am a protestant. If we’ve learned anything from Gnosticism it is that Christian language and theology have been bastardized for the needs of a select community. Language is adopted and replaced with different concepts, which lead to an entirely different theological construct. The Gnostics viewed themselves as the “true” Christians as opposed to its current orthodox treatments. Read the Gospel of Judas for instance. The villain of Christianity, Judas Iscariot, is elevated to the enlightened hero whereas all of the other disciples are wrong! We are not talking about nomenclature, as such. If all of Christendom is wrong and Mormonism has rediscovered the lost truth of it all, then Mormonism still cannot be “Christian.” Christianity is still known within its historical framework, its historical “life”, and on 1st order principles (which I say is God based on the subject of “theology”) this does not on any level include polytheism. It appears that Mormonism in its nascent stage wished to dissociate from its “apostate” parent, but today ride its coat tails in terms of its “nomenclature”, thus giving with one hand and taking with the other. Why not acknowledge this and own it!?curious

  16. My apologies to James and Curious for not continuing our engaging dialogue here. Honestly, I intend to do so shortly–perhaps tomorrow, but for now a blown head-gasket two days ago has alterred my immediate plans a bit–on all levels.But I do have a rather straightforward question that I wish you would answer for me.Both of you are obviously committed to the polemical nomenclature of “Mormon” versus “Christian,” with the former having no fair place under the classification of the latter (unlike–I can only presume– “Catholics,” “Orthodox,” “Lutherans,” “Congregationalists,” “Presbyterians,” “Baptists,” “Methodists,” etc., etc.)This despite the fact that Mormons have always accepted the New Testament as a basic standard for their faith and theology (though they depart from some foundational hermeneutics of traditional Christianity), and despite the fact that they believe that Jesus Christ’s resurrection and blood atonement are the keys that bring eternal salvation to humanity. Despite the fact that they accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah that fulfills the Law of Moses, and despite the fact that they accept Jesus Christ as the ultimate mediator of humanity at the final judgment seat. These tenets have been an abiding commitment of the Mormon faith since the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830. Whatever doctrinal revelations and musings have further garnished Mormonism’s 175+ year history, none have in any way challenged any of these tenets, nor their foundational place in Mormon religion.Following Joseph Smith’s lead, the LDS Church still sees and declares itself the restoration of Jesus Christ’s church and priesthood.How this all earns the Mormon Church and people the fair place outside the realms of “Christianity” is beyond me. Obviously, Mormonism is not Catholic, nor Protestant, and certainly deviates from both these traditions in several ways that clearly make it “untraditional.” (Despite the Mormon church’s return to an apostolic and eccleciastical authority in general ways similar to Catholicism/Orthodoxy rather the scriptural authority system of later Protestantism.) And so my parting question: Why is Mormon religion more fairly classified and viewed as being un-Christian, rather than as a heterodox system of Christianity? In my own estimation any person who tries to classify me or my church as un-Christian is doing so from a completely irrational vantage. No matter how rational they may attempt to sound.Some may see the power of flight as a foundational tenet making a bird a “bird.” Perhaps Mormonism is an ostrich, peguin, or kiwi (or perhaps a new-hatched eagle, or just a do-do)–but anyone who claims its right to bird-hood is even less than Islam’s bat is just not looking close enough at the situation, or being honest enough with themselves.Sincerely,Dale Caswell.

  17. I wonder if Joe would have agreed with that?“If they want a beardless boy to whip all the world, I will get on top of a mountain and crow like a rooster: I shall always beat them… I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” Smith, Joseph Jun. History of the Church. Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1980. Volume 6, 408-409. John Holdon (Newport News)

  18. I’m not sure I understand the import of the above quotation, but it is funny.Dale, of course the foundation of my argument is that “Mormonism” isn’t Christian, theologically. I see that that might place you on the defensive, since it probably comes across as my attempt at de-legitimizing the right of your faith to exist. But I do not mean to use “Mormon” polemically any more than I mean that “Islam” isn’t Christian. Further, at the end of the day I believe that God is judge, and so I am not casting aspersions on where you stand before God. I do not know. I am attempting to evaluate “systems” of theology on a broad level, with particular focus on “theism.” I apologize if my language sounds cheeky, and I am happy to use other terms for issues of sensitivity. What shall I use? But to get to the heart of your question, which is certainly a good one, I agree essentially that Christianity is heterodox. After all I’ve swept Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant (with the tacit assumption that all of the “denominations” I’ve seen discussed here are compatible) into the same “category” for the sake of argument. One must speak broadly to do that. But I’ve tried to argue that a theology of “God” in Christian formulations and apprehension has far-reaching, even comprehensive, consequences. I’ve attempted to place the Christian triune God as a so-called “first order” principle for Christian identity – simply for this reason: the nature of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) has a direct impact on all other theological implications. Even the salvation Jesus offers is secondary to this issue since it is entailed by it. That may sound extreme, but let me illustrate. The Gnostics believed that Jesus’ redemption was a way out of the material mortal corruption under which all the cosmos was afflicted. His “gnosis” was a metaphysical aid to humans (potential deities), enacted through the cross and resurrection. Salvation comes from Jesus! But because Jesus in Gnostic polytheistic formulations (the aeons, pleroma, etc) isn’t similar to Jesus of Christian representations, his status as “savior” and by extension his actual salvation offered is acutely “other” than what the New Testament expresses. So are the Gnostics Christian? Gnosticism is derivative of Christianity, but should I say it is Christian because of its belief in Christ as a savior, the cross, and resurrection? No. And Gnosticism was not accepted as such, in fact. If our knowledge and conception of God acting in human history is derivative of God himself, and I believe this is a safe place to stand, and then if God is recast into mutually exclusive terms (only one God/many gods), the whole system is necessarily affected. I’ve already noted that I am not adept in Mormon theology, so I will defer on other important details for those who know more, including you. And I am willing to be corrected. But I must say that I would be very surprised to find out that – given what I do know of the LDS teachings on theistic plurality and in light of my prior postings and this one – Jesus Christ’s resurrection, blood atonement, eternal salvation to humanity, role as Messiah, relationship to Mosaic fulfillment and ultimate mediator of humanity in judgment would or even could follow suit with Christianity in its broadest expressions noted throughout this discussion. How is that possible? And why do you want it to be? Look, the LDS church has a right to exist. I just think it becomes troublesome and misleading to use the terminology of “traditional Christianity,” as you mention, with new meanings that are even contradictory with Christianity. The “hoi polloi” will get lost. It is clear that Mormonism in its mission to restore Christianity is incompatible with Christianity in the sense that the former wishes(ed) to supplant the latter. Do you at least agree with that? Or is there a reformation within the LDS?You said: “Some may see the power of flight as a foundational tenet making a bird a “bird.” Perhaps Mormonism is an ostrich, penguin, or kiwi (or perhaps a new-hatched eagle, or just a do-do)–but anyone who claims its right to bird-hood is even less than Islam’s bat is just not looking close enough at the situation, or being honest enough with themselves.”I think I know what you’re getting at here, but there are many points of possible comparison and connection with our discussion. I’ve already noted that the conception of God in Christian and LDS formulations are radically different. I don’t care for analogies because they break down so easily. For instance, a biological entity is difficult enough to even define, let alone compare with a philosophical and theological system. But I do not see that monotheism could be analogous in “traditional” Christian thinking to the power of flight for birds (a mere function of the greater mechanism), thereby eliminating other birds that don’t fly from the paradigm bird – if this is what you mean(?). Since Christian theology has been and is inherently dependent upon apprehending the God it worships – indeed living in the world with its mission in light of this God – it seems to me this ought to play crucial role in determining whether we are all discussing the same Jesus (and all of his attendant roles) in the first place. Otherwise, we ought to allow the Gnostics and all its modern pop spin-offs (theosophy, Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy, including reincarnation, etc.) into what is deemed normative, albeit “heterodox,” Christianity. Is this really so dishonest and irrational?curious

  19. To Mr. Holdon:Joseph Smith Jr., whatever his flaws, was almost always acknowledged by those who really knew him (both Mormon and non-Mormon) as extremely gracious and loyal to his fellow men. This despite his fair share of charisma and flamboyance.While these last two traits are clearly seen in this above (and oft published) quote, the first two are often ignored simply because the context of the quote is generally ignored. This ignorance further leads to the erroneous conclusion that Mr. Smith was being highly arrogant in this instant–to the point of putting himself above Jesus.This statement was not intended as a theological statement! Nor was it a gross act of public back-patting. It was instead a highly flourished act of hat-tipping to a crowd of destitute, persecuted people who had stood by him in very hard times and through very terrible accusations. You’re a news guys, apparently, Mr. Holdon; so I’d advise you to go back and do something that’s become a lost art in your profession: check your sources.Also, as a news guy, you might want to get the word out on this oft-abused and misunderstood quote.More than any place, I like the people of the Bible Belt over all the places I’ve gone in this wide country (certainly more-so than the folks here in Utah). And I therefore find it an absolute, historical shame that Mr. Smith and his followers found themselves beat down in the Bible Belt some century and a half ago. But the fact is, it happened. History clearly shows, however, that the average citizen of the region had little to do with the beating, but sometimes even they got pulled into the frenzy.So what kind of citizen are you, Mr. Holdon? Would you have contributed to the beat down?Sincerely,Dale Caswell

  20. I didn’t offer any interpretation of the thing. Joe said it. And I did check my sources. I even gave the page number. Further, whether Joe was gracious to his fellow man is beside the point. I wonder if his many wives felt that true of his fellow “women.” I’m only a “News” man insofar as I’m from Virginia (Newport News, VA). You sound a little irritated.?.?.? Beyond that, I have no idea what you’re talking about. John Holdon (Newport News)

  21. Curious,I am very thankful for our exchange. Your thoughts have been thought out and cordial in a way I did not expect to get from this forum. I see and appreciate your commitment to Evangelical Protestantism, and understand your desire to keep Mormonism from gaining a ground of legitimacy in the Protestant America you care for and adore. I, believe it or not, care for and adore it too. My feelings for Protestant America and the Evangelical movement do in many ways go beyond respect. This despite the mocking, persecution and ill-spirit I have often received at Evangelicals’ hands for believing and following a faith that I would hope any good man or woman of faithful Evangelical standing would respect—if not endorse—if they could ever gauge the crux of why I do it.I am sorry that I haven’t responded directly to your last couple posts (really, my last post to you was just a general, heart-felt (but thought-out) retort), but I have been following your words closely, and have been very impressed, if not always convinced. I am trying to understand, and alas, I don’t have the time to respond right now in full. I’d like to address particularly your issue with the ancient Gnostic (“Christians” I’d add), because I find it a particularly appropriate example in dealing with the “Mormon”/ “Christian” dilemma. But I’m sorry that I don’t have the time. And that’s truly a shame considering the quality of your posts. We’ll get to it though, if you’ll be patient (and I sense that you will).Between you and James, it seems apparent that the main issue here in recognizing Mormonism as a legitimate form of Christianity is the nature of God. I really haven’t answered this question directly, and I’m sorry, but I can assure you it’s not for lack of a response—but for too much of one. On the one hand, I’d say its that main theological divide between Mormonism and Traditional Christianity’s hope to ever find a serious ecumenical platform (that, and of course, the Mormon Church’s insistence that it possesses Christ’s only legitimate priesthood and apostleship). On the other hand, it stands as the single most important theological renovation in Joseph Smith’s many revelations—and the only one, I think, that gives credence to the idea that Smith was called to restore Christianity in such an utter way that indeed justifies Jesus’ harsh summary of it as an abomination in his sight.So, we’ll agree, then, it’s a freighted issue between Mormons and their Christian neighbors; and it likely will remain so for some time—even if we can’t agree on its importance as a foundational tenet making one Christian or un-Christian.Though I won’t delve too deeply into the issue, I guess it bothered me a bit that my brother, Mr. St. Claire (whom I don’t know in any way), never came back to defend his claim that the Mormon concept of Deity was essentially the same as Orthodox theosis. Granted, his language was far too strong to not be summarily shot down by Keith; obviously, Mormonism, which is in no sense Trinitarian and only very loosely arguable as a form of Monotheism—therefore can not be considered essentially synonymous with Orthodox theology.On the other hand, as I understand it, the divide between Western and Eastern Trinitarianism very fairly allows room for the Mormons to enter the theological debate on the nature of the Christian God. As long as the Lutherans are able to re-evaluate the teachings of Martin, and Evangelical Protestants are able cite Jesus’ human form as an essential reflection of God—in order to find ground in this ecumenical dialogue; I think the Mormons, with their belief that the essence of God is to one day be transferred to humanity in its fullness—should rightly belong in this company. As far as I know, Mormonism is the only major movement in the Western Christian world that really embraces St. Athanasius’ famous theological tribute to Christ: “God became human so humans would become gods.” I seem to recall a few famous Mormon adages that say basically the same thing.A final comment on the opening words of your last post, Curious:“Dale, of course the foundation of my argument is that “Mormonism” isn’t Christian, theologically. I see that that might place you on the defensive, since it probably comes across as my attempt at de-legitimizing the right of your faith to exist. But I do not mean to use “Mormon” polemically any more than I mean that “Islam” isn’t Christian. Further, at the end of the day I believe that God is judge, and so I am not casting aspersions on where you stand before God. I do not know.”I really appreciate the respect and cordiality, Curious, even in the face of tough issues that probably won’t be untangled through a couple internet exchanges. But the last couple sentences I find particularly reassuring. I wish they formed the spirit of more of the exchanges with Evangelical Protestants that I encounter. I really believe it was the crux of the spirit that was behind Joel Osteen’s comments.Exchange with you again, soon.Sincerely, Dale Caswell

  22. First, it appears as if I’ve taken too long to post. I got interrupted, and had to come back a few hours later. 🙂 In the interim, there have been a number of posts, so I apologize that I’m responding to Dale’s post a few times removed.With that said, please understand the the following does not take into account the posts in between, but I don’t want to rewrite the whole thing to allow for their inclusion. I ask for your understanding. :)That disclaimer having been made . . . .Dale, sorry to hear about the head-gasket. 🙁 I hope everything goes smoothly getting it taken care of, and that the disruption to your everyday life is minimal. Take whatever time you need. We’ll be here when you can again come and post!In the meantime, I’ll respond to your latest comments and then wait for you to repond as you are able.Dale wrote:”Both of you are obviously committed to the polemical nomenclature of “Mormon” versus “Christian,” with the former having no fair place under the classification of the latter (unlike–I can only presume– “Catholics,” “Orthodox,” “Lutherans,” “Congregationalists,” “Presbyterians,” “Baptists,” “Methodists,” etc., etc.)”Again, I am only “committed to the . . . nomenclature” as far as it conveys a meaning.A very wise man once taught me that “words are the vehicles that carry ideas.” And in this case, we have a traffic jam, if not a multi-car pile-up. :)There are many theological doctrinal “systems” that could claim the “nomenclature” of Christian, but of those, some are not compatible with the commonly held concept of Christianity.The word (vehicle) “Christian” carries with it a certain idea. If the idea that the word carries is contrary to how the word is being used, it’s inappropriate (unless the word is activley redefined).Thus with the term “Christian.”What the general public believes the term “Christian” to mean is incompatible with LDS Theology.Since the *meaning* carried by the word is incompatible with LDS Theology, one cannot responsibly use the term to describe the Mormon Church (unless the term is actively redefined).Again, it comes back to definition, which you’ve done to a certain degree with the rest of your post.Before I respond to those defining aspects, I’ll reiterate that I’m only attached to the “nomenclature” of Christian as far as the meaning of the word is perceived by the general public. Yes, I have a certain amount of personal attachment to it as well, but I recognize that, and am willing to set it aside for most conversational applications.For example, many times throughout this dialogue, Catholics have been grouped within the umbrella of Christianity. Now, because of the general public’s understanding of the word Christian, I haven’t challenged this inclusion. Catholicism meets the general public’s understood definition of Christianity. However, there are crucial departures from Biblical Doctrine within Catholic Theology. And while it is possible for someone to be both Christian and Catholic, Catholicism is not Christian from a purely theological perspective. I expect that there will be many who are surprised, shocked, or even offended by that statement. However, I do consider Catholicism to be a Christian “cult.” Now to clarify, there is enough similarity between Catholic Doctrine and Biblical Doctrine to allow someone to believe enough of the *basic* tenets of Catholicism to be considered Catholic, and still have a belief system that is Biblically sound enough to be considered, in my definition, a Christian.I’m going to stop that thread there however, as it has the potential to derail the entire conversation. Instead, I offer my email address: QuestionMormonism@Yahoo.com, to anyone who would like further discussion on that matter, separate from this blog.All of the above to say that Catholicism is an example of accepted inclusion under the umbrella of “Christianity,” purely because of the general public’s definition of the word. I use that example to demonstrate how the general public’s perception dictates, to a certain extent, the use of theological terms, and to contrast how, because of the general public’s perception, one has to *exclude* Mormonism from that umbrella, independent of any individual’s personal definition of the term “Christian.”Moving on . . . .Dale wrote:”This despite the fact that Mormons have always accepted the New Testament as a basic standard for their faith and theology (though they depart from some foundational hermeneutics of traditional Christianity)”While that statement is not entirely false, it is, at best, misleading. The LDS Church accepts the New Testament “as far as it is translated correctly.” However, there are crucial, *defining*, *foundational* teachings of the New Testament that are counter to many, if not all of the very underlying premises of LDS Scripture and Doctrine. In fact, The LDS Church has *changed* the New Testament writings in many places in order to attempt to give it the appearance of being in-line with LDS Doctrine.So to say that the LDS Church has “accepted the New Testament as a basic standard for their faith and theology” is untrue, except at the most basic of levels, which could be claimed even by Satanists. Again, although the nomenclature is not technically incorrect, the meaning conveyed by the nomenclature is, and therefore its use is unacceptable.Dale wrote:”and despite the fact that they believe that Jesus Christ’s resurrection and blood atonement are the keys that bring eternal salvation to humanity.”Again, this is misleading at best, and absolutely false at worst. We actually have the same problem here as we do with the term “Christian.” The term “eternal salvation” used here, and by the LDS Church, means something very different from what the general public (and Biblical teaching) deems it to mean.This is precisely one of the aspects of Mormonism that makes discussion of LDS Theology so difficult with those who have not deeply studied its tenets. According to the LDS Church, *everyone* is “saved.” In fact, in D&C 76:84, describing Joseph Smith’s vision of the three levels of heaven, it says that you can be saved to *hell*!D&C 76:81-92 (excerpts):81 – “And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser”84 – “These are they who are thrust down to hell.” 86 – “These are they who receive not of his [God’s] fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial; 87 – “And the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial.”88 – “for they shall be heirs of salvation.”89 – “And thus we saw . . . the glory of the telestial” 91 – “And thus we saw the glory of the terrestrial”92 – “And thus we saw the glory of the celestial”But, despite the fact that LDS Scripture teaches that you can be “saved” to hell, which is not at all the type of salvation understood by the general public by the use of the term “salvation,” the “keys” of the resurrection and blood atonement themselves, that you reference, are absolutely incompatible with the Biblical teachings of the atonement.The principle of the LDS Atonement is that it brings us back into the presence of God, to be judged by Him according to our actions, according to the Law. Therefore, salvation, in the terms of that understood by the general public, is based off of our ability to obey the law, to “endure to the end,” as its stated in LDS Scripture and Doctrine.One great example of this (there are 17 that I found in a quick search) appears in Mormon 9:29:Mormon 9:29″See that ye are not baptized unworthily; see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily; but see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God; and if ye do this, and endure to the end, ye will in nowise be cast out.”And another one, that while not containing the phrase “endure to the end,” is what past LDS Prophet Spencer W. Kimball expressed as “possibly the greatest scriptural exposition” on the subject. It can be found in Alma 42, especially verses 22-28, where Alma is instructing his son, Corianton.Salvation, therefore, in any sense that would be understood by the general public, unversed in the deeper tenets of LDS Doctrine, is dependent on us obeying the law. This concept is not only absolutely counter to the message of the Biblical gospel, it *destroys* the Biblical concept of the Atonement. Separate from mono-poly-homo-a-theism (or whatever other theism you want to insert), the fundamental issue of *how* one is saved according to LDS Doctrine is about as unChristian as you can get.The “Christian” concept is that we *can’t* live up to God’s standard, and therefore need a Savior, to Save us!, not a facilitator to allow us to save ourselves by obeying the law. This is one of the fundamental reasons that Mormons are not Christians. Yes, the LDS Church claims a “Jesus Christ” character, but it is a completely different “Jesus Christ” in both form and function, similar in name only.Dale wrote:”Despite the fact that they accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah that fulfills the Law of Moses”Again this is not correct. Although it is true that the LDS Church accepts that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, they do not accept that Jesus Christ fulfills the law of Moses. See my explanation above. If Jesus Christ fulfills the law of Moses, then there is nothing left for us to do to gain salvation (as in the LDS concept of the Celestial Kingdom as opposed to the LDS concept of general salvation). However, the LDS Christ does not fulfill the law. *We* are left to fulfill the law by obedience.Dale wrote:”How this all earns the Mormon Church and people the fair place outside the realms of “Christianity” is beyond me.”It earns the Mormon Church and people a fair place outside of Christianity, because it so distorts the Biblical principles about everything from the Character of God, through the Purpose of the Law of Moses, through the Character and Relationship of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirt, and through the concepts of Grace, Salvation, Heaven (ad nauseum) . . . , that they are “Christian” concepts in “nomenclature” only, having completely departed from all the Christian tenets that the nomenclature represents.Joseph Smith attempted to stand on the credibility of the Bible, and then created something that is truly anti-Biblical and anti-Christ (the tenets of which we have but barely scratched the surface of), according to Biblical principles. I know that may come off as very harsh, but it is the absolute truth.Dale wrote:”Why is Mormon religion more fairly classified and viewed as being un-Christian, rather than as a heterodox system of Christianity?”Because, as I stated above, the “nomenclature” is the only aspect of Mormonism that could be considered “Christ”-ian, but even then, only because the central character of the LDS theological framework happens to be named Jesus Christ. It was a deliberate naming, so that the LDS Church could borrow credibility by claiming a common figure, but that figure is common in name only. The precepts and tenets of every other theological framework that claim a character of the same name are completely incompatible. Therefore, Mormonism is truly not Christian, in every way but nomenclature. And since there is no commonality except for that nomenclature, to claim only the nomenclature, but reject the major points of significance that the nomenclature represents, makes use of the nomenclature illegitimate; misleading at best, and a complete lie at worst. Unless, of course, you actively redefine the term.However, if you actively redefine the term without removing all significant meaning, you end up with a “nomenclature” that would probably declare all commonly held “Christians” as non-Christians, simply because the belief systems are so contrary to one another.Dale wrote:”Some may see the power of flight as a foundational tenet making a bird a “bird.” Perhaps Mormonism is an ostrich, peguin, or kiwi (or perhaps a new-hatched eagle, or just a do-do)–but anyone who claims its right to bird-hood is even less than Islam’s bat is just not looking close enough at the situation, or being honest enough with themselves.”Yes! Absolutely! Undeniably! I agree 100%! However, you’re misapplying the principle. According to your principle, the “bird-hood” that you are claiming a right to, is that Mormonism is a “religion.” The concept of a divine being is the foundational tenet making a religion a religion. However, just as you state that Mormism may be an ostrich, penguin, or kiwi, it certainly is *not* Christian, as it contains none of the characteristics of Christianity, other than a commonly named, central figure.QuestionMormonism@Yahoo.com

  23. Unfortunately, I think this is now a dead thread. :(However, if it comes back to life, someone please email me at QuestionMormonism@Yahoo.com and let me know! Thanks. 🙂

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