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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Is Our Future President Part of a Cult?

Well everyone, welcome to the end of the world.  Ya, I said it.  All of you who have held on tight to your eschatological views and fought the pre, post, or a millennial fight.  It’s time to find out who is right!  And for the others of you who couldn’t care less about eschatology but loved Tim Lahayes, Left Behind series, it’s all starting now.  That’s right, we have a Mormon pursuing the Republican vote in order to run for Presidential office!!! *GASP*

I hope you are all hearing the ridiculousness of my introduction but in recent blog news many have not found these statements so off base.  The pastor of First Baptist Church – Dallas went public about a week ago with his assertion that Mormonism is a cult.  Many others have been encouraging their congregants not to vote Romney because a vote for Him is a vote supporting a cult.  In response, Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, wrote an article for CNN defending Romney and explaining that many Mormons are in fact Christian.  (and the fundamentalists shudder)  He states that, “While I am not prepared to reclassify Mormonism as possessing undeniably Christian theology, I do accept many of my Mormon friends as genuine followers of the Jesus whom I worship as the divine Savior.”

Then earlier this week well-known pastor Mark Driscoll entered the conversation with a very lengthy article which basically said that yes in fact Mormonism is a cult.  He does concede that there may be some Mormons who believe in Jesus and disagree with the teachings of their church, a concession that I appreciate, but he goes on to say that, “the Mormon church could never be considered orthodox unless it made some serious and massive changes to it’s theology.”

James Emery White, the author of a blog called Church and Culture, puts forth two different definitions.  He mentions first the popular definition which brings to mind things like poison cool aid and group suicide, and states that with this definition Mormonism is not a Cult.  Then he gives what he believes to be an accurate definition of a cult.  He defines a cult as, “a religious group that denies the biblical nature of God, the full divinity of Jesus Christ, and that we are only saved through His atoning death on the cross through grace.”

Come on James, with this definition the title cult now includes: many Jews, Atheists, Buddhists, and almost all Dallas Cowboy fans. While Driscoll puts forth a much more intelligent definition, I think Mouw, brings insights to the table that are both helpful and intriguing.

Mouw points out several anti-cult characteristics of Mormonism and I have to agree with his viewpoint that in fact Mormonism, as a whole is not a cult.  Sure there are sects of Mormonism that display features of cult-like behavior, but if we are honest, there are Evangelical Baptist’s that make me more uncomfortable than any Mormon I’ve ever met… Westborough anybody?

Cults do not establish cutting edge universities like BYU, staffed by PHD’s from Ivy league schools all over the world.  Cults do not enter into open theological discussions with Presidents of Evangelical Universities to discover similarities and fight for unity.  (Something that Mouw and several from BYU have been doing for quite some time)

Are their things within many Mormon churches that appear cult-like? Sure but do we need to throw the baby out with the bath water?

I am of the opinion that Mormons and Christians can in fact find enough common ground to share Jesus.  My hope and my dream is that both sides can be mature enough to intellectually discuss similarities and differences without choosing sides in an effort to destroy one another. Unfortunately the probability of these two groups finding a way to coexist peacefully is dubious at best.  Christianity has been known for being very close minded to anyone who seems to think differently, and the exclusivity and naivety of phrases like, “they don’t believe in the same Jesus as I do”, is not only condescending and arrogant but unhelpful.

I’m greatly encouraged by Mouw’s efforts to cross the bridge that has divided Mormonism from Christianity and to seek mutual respect.  I had several Mormon friends growing up and to be honest they lived out my faith better than I did.  They had a passion for the poor and needy and we dedicated to fellowship and evangelism in a way that I only dreamed of.  I hope and pray that their view of Jesus as savior is legit and if so, who cares if they ride bikes and wear special underwear.

With all that said, I’m curious to hear what you think?  There is a lot here so feel free to respond to any of it.  I usually try to keep myself out of politics but I couldn’t resist this one.  So here it is… Will you vote, or not vote for Romney based on his Religion?  Or will you do the right thing and examine his politics, his vision, and his ability to successfully lead a country?

Do you feel that there is any possibility for Mormons and Christians to unite? Should we even be seeking such an ally?

For Mouw’s Article Click Here

For Driscoll’s Article Click Here

For White’s Article Click Here

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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Politics, Religion

 

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Valued or Used

A box of General Mills’ Cookie Crisp breakfast...

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Have you ever noticed that there are way too many kinds of cereal?  I was walking down the cereal aisle as that very thought entered my mind.  As I am looking past all of the boxes of sugar encrusted corn starch, I hear a familiar sound: a child not getting his way.  There is a specific pitch the whine of a young child has that drives me insane.  A little boy is apparently in severe need of Cookie Crisp, and his mother decides it’s not an appropriate choice for him.  I soon decide cereal is no longer an important necessity, and as I vacate the aisle to regain my sanity I see the battle continuing to wage.

The temper tantrum that ensues when someone doesn’t get their way is not limited to the young, or to the cereal aisle.  I see it all the time amongst those who don’t feel life is going the way it should, and more often than not, I find myself doing the same.  When bills no longer are able to be paid, when I don’t get the job I deserve, or even when tragedy strikes, I throw a fit.  Not because I don’t trust Jesus, but because He isn’t making my life the way I feel it needs to be.  Like a kid in the cereal aisle, when I don’t get what I want I get mad at God.  I live my life correctly, I do all the right things, and none of the wrong, and still my life isn’t going the way it should.  I make promises to myself on God’s behalf thinking God will honor them as long as I live the good Christian life.  So when my life falls apart, I get mad at God for not holding up His end of a promise He never made!

And with this attitude, I am an idolater.

I take the one thing I am supposed to value above all else, and instead of doing such I use it to further my selfishness.

For many of us, Jesus has turned into nothing more than a way to get what we want out of life.   If our marriage isn’t what we think it should be, then we come running to Him.  When we don’t have the money to pay our bills and have nowhere else to run, we fall on our knees and cry out to Him.  When a loved one suddenly dies we, amidst tears, cry out for answers.  All of these situations are the perfect time to chase after Christ and seek comfort and answers in Him, but it seems to only be during these situations we do such. We should pray for comfort in such times and we should indeed be confident Christ can and will carry us through; but what if it doesn’t play out how we want it to?  So often we turn to Him only when there is something we cannot get or do ourselves, and He quickly falls out of mind when we feel we have life under control.

Jesus is supposed to be:“… Like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  Matt 13:44

Christ is supposed to be someone that we value, someone we cherish, not an item to be wielded as a fix-all.  He is turned into a “break glass in case of emergency” and fails to hold our attention when life goes well.  We will never value something that we only turn to as a whining child pleas with his mother for his favorite cereal.  If satisfaction in Christ is not something we long for everyday, then He will never be more than a Santa Claus who when we sit on His lap we make our requests known, and come Christmas morning we are pissed that the gifts are all wrong.

We have trained people to treat Jesus as a means to an end and when we don’t get out of Him what we want, we throw him away.  To me, this sounds a lot more like a genie in a bottle than a savior, than a God.  Is this something valued?  Is this a Jesus that we treasure?  Or is this something we simply drop our wish list in front of and only give further thought to when He doesn’t meet our demands?

~ Aaron

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2011 in Philosophy, Religion

 

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