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?
- Evangelical Manages to Disparage Mormons While Trying to Defend Them (atheistrev.com)
- Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll: Mormonism is a cult (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Cult Leader Mark Driscoll Accuses Mormonism of Being a Cult (slog.thestranger.com)
- Mormons: Defending Faith in White House Race (maboulette.wordpress.com)
- “Are Mormons Christians?” (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Mormons beliefs once again under attack (sfgate.com)
- Is Mormonism a Cult (ourcommunityatfbcdc.wordpress.com)
- Romney, Mormons, and Cults (dickstersrandomthoughts.com)